Saints and Stones: York Minster

Roman buildings, specifically military headquarters, were the first structures on the Minster site. When Constantine the Great was declared Roman Emperor in 306 A.D. in York, a small Christian community existed. By 312 A.D., when Constantine declared that Christianity be tolerated, York had its own bishop.

The organised Christian community disappeared during the pagan invasions that followed Roman withdrawal, but in 625 A.D. Christianity returned to York when St. Paulinus accompanied Ethelburga, a Christian princess from Kent in southern England, who came north to marry Edwin, the pagan king of Northumbria. Edwin accepted Christianity two years later and was baptised, along with his court, by Paulinus in a church built especially for the occasion - this building is traditionally regarded as the first York Minster.

A larger stone church was begun in 623-624 A.D. Finished during the reign of St. Oswald, it was dedicated to St. Peter as it is today. St. Wilfrid, who took over the see of York in 670 A.D., undertook an extensive restoration. In the period that followed St. Wilfrid's departure until the arrival of the Vikings, the Church in York went through a great period in its history. Egbert, who ruled from 732 to 766 A.D. and was the first archbishop approved by Rome, hugely expanded the cathedral school and library, which became famous throughout the Christian world. The school's most famous pupil Alcuin, wrote a verse in which he listed the books in the church library. Meanwhile, in 741A.D., the Minster Church had been burned down. The fire left the old church in ruins but the people of York were in a position to rebuild it and judging by the account of Alcuin it must have been a work of great splendour. He describes it as lofty, supported by columns, and having round arches and panelled ceilings. It contained thirty altars, and was surrounded by many beautiful side-chapels. In 868 A.D., the Danes captured York.

The church was damaged in 1069, but the first Norman archbishop, arriving in 1070, organised repairs. The Danes destroyed the church in 1075, but it was again rebuilt from 1080.

The Reformation led to the first Protestant archbishop, the looting of much of the cathedral's treasures, and the loss of much of the church lands. Under Elizabeth I there was a concerted effort to remove all traces of Catholicism from the cathedral; there was much destruction of tombs, windows, and altars.

About York Minster

York Minster Website
Wikipedia: York Minster
New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia: Ancient See of York
New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Paulinus
New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Wilfrid
New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Edwin
New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Chad
New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia: St. John of Beverley

Journey to York Minster

York Minster is located in the city of York in North Yorkshire England.

Ordnance Survey Map (SE6022652174)

Visitors Information

Visitors information may be found at the York Minster website. General area tourist information may be found at the Visit York website.

Additional Photos of York Minster

West Front of York Minster
West Front of York Minster
West Front Window, York Minster
York Minster Towers
Interior of the Nave, York Minster
Interior of the Nave, York Minster
Rose Window, York Minster
Open Bible in York Minster
Quire Screen, York Minster
Chapter House, York Minster
Chapter House Ceiling, York Minster
Roman Column Outside York Minster
Statue of Constantine the Great Outside York Minster

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