Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Guthlake, Hermit, and Patron of the Abbey of Croyland

detail of a stained glass window of Saint Guthlac of Croyland; artist unknown, 19th century; Crowland Abbey, Lincolnshire, England; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsArticle

He was a nobleman, and in his youth served in the armies of Ethelred, king of Mercia: but the grace of God making daily stronger impressions on his heart, in the twenty-fourth year of his age he reflected how dangerous a thing it is to the soul to serve in wars which too often have no other motive than the passions of men and the vanities of the world, and resolved to consecrate the remainder of his life totally to the service of the King of kings. He passed two years in the monastery of Repandun, studying to transcribe the virtues and mortifications of all the brethren into the copy of his own life. After this novitiate in the exercises of an ascetic life, with the consent of his superior, in 699, with two companions, he passed in a fisher’s boat into the isle of Croyland, on the festival of Saint Bartholomew, whom he chose for his patron, and, by having recourse to his intercession, he obtained of God many singular favours. Here he suffered violent temptations and assaults, not unlike those which Saint Athanasius relates of Saint Antony: he also met with severe interior trials; but likewise received frequent extraordinary favours and consolations from God. Hedda, bishop of Dorchester, visiting him, ordained him a priest. The prince Ethalbald, then an exile, often resorted to him, and the saint foretold him the crown of the Mercians, to which he was called after the death of King Coelred, in 719. The saint, foreknowing the time of his death, sent for his sister Pega, who lived a recluse in another part of the fens four leagues off to the west. He sickened of a fever, and on the seventh day of his illness, during which he had said mass every morning, and on that day, by way of Viaticum, he sweetly slept in our Lord, on the 11th of April, 714, being forty-seven years old, of which he had passed fifteen in this island. See his life written by Felix, monk of Jarrow, a contemporary author, from the relation of Bertelin, the companion of the saint’s retirement, with the notes of Henschenius.

MLA Citation

  • Father Alban Butler. “Saint Guthlake, Hermit, and Patron of the Abbey of Croyland”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. CatholicSaints.Info. 11 May 2016. Web. 13 June 2021. <>