Saint of the Day – 9 March – Saint Bosa of York OSB (Died c 705) Fourth Bishop of York, Benedictine Monk, ecclesiastical reformer St Bosa was highly regarded by the Venerable St Bede who praised his humility and sanctity.
Nothing is known of the birth or early life of Bosa. Bosa was a Northumbrian, educated at Whitby Abbey under the Abbess St Hilda. He subsequently joined the Monastery as a Monk and became one of five men educated at Whitby who went on to become Bishops. The other four were Oftfor, Ætla, St John of Beverley, and St Wilfrid II.
In 678, after Wilfrid was removed from the Bishopric of York and banished from Northumbria, the Diocese of York was divided into three. Bosa was appointed to the now greatly reduced Diocese of York, which included the sub-kingdom of Deira, thanks to the support of King Ecgfrith of Northumbria and St Theodore of Tarsus, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Bosa was Consecrated in his Cathedral at York in 678 by Theodore but Wilfrid declared that he was unable to work with Bosa because he did not consider him to be a member of the Catholic Church. Bosa’s episcopate lasted nine years but with Wilfrid back in favour, in 687, Bosa was removed just as his predecessor had been. He returned to York in 691, after Wilfrid was once again expelled. While Bishop, Bosa introduced a communal life for the clergy of the Cathedral and set up a continuous liturgy in the Cathedral.
The date of Bosa’s death is unknown; he was still alive in 704 but must have died before 706, when his successor was named. His successor at York was St John of Beverley, the Bishop of Hexham. A contemporary writer, the Venerable St Bede, praised Bosa as a man of “singular merit and sanctity.” St Bede also praised Bosa’s humility. Bosa was also responsible for the early education of St Acca, later Bishop of Hexham, who grew up in his household.
Bosa appears as a saint in an 8th-century liturgical calendar of York, the only sign that he was venerated as a saint before the Norman Conquest of England. The 16th-century English antiquary John Leland included Bosa in his list of saint’s resting places in England, giving it as York.