Whitby (or Strenechal), Council of

Whitby (or Strenechal), Council Of

(Concilium Phamense). Whitby is a seaport town of England, County of York, North Riding, on the Esk, near its mouth in the North Sea. An ecclesiastical council was held there in 664. This was properly a conference between the English and Scotch bishops on the subject of the celebration of Easter. There were present on the English side Agilbert, a Frenchman, bishop of Dorchester, with his presbyter, Agathoi; Wilfred, a young Northumbrian priest, who had studied at Rome; Romanus, who had before contended the point with Finan, late bishop of Lindistarne; and an old deacon, James, whom Paulinus had left thirty years before. On the Scotch side were Colman, bishop of Lindisfarne; and Cedda, a bishop who acted as interpreter. Oswy, king of Northumbria, was also present, who opened the proceedings, and desired Colman to explain the nature and origin of the rites which his Church had so long practiced. The Scots alleged the example of St. John, Wilfred that of St. Peter, and the latter concluded his address in the following terms: "But for you (Colman) and your adherents, if, after having heard the decrees of the apostolic see, yea, of the whole Church. and these, too, confirmed by Scripture, you refuse to obey them, you certainly are guilty of sin. For, allowing your fathers to have been holy men, is their small handful in a corner of a remote island to be compared to the Church of Christ over the whole earth? And great as that Columba of yours may have been, is he to be preferred to the blessed prince of the apostles, to whom the Lord said, 'Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it; and to thee will I give the keys of the kingdom of heaven?"' — This fortunate quotation from Holy Scripture determined the king in favor of the Roman custom; he, as he said, fearing to contradict one who held the keys of heaven, and might peradventure refuse to open to him when he knocked. In this council, moreover, the affair of the tonsure was discussed, the Roman fashion differing from that in use among the Scotch, which the former pretended had been derived from Simon Magus. See Mansi, Concil. 6:491; Wilkins, Concil. 1:37.

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