Calendar of Scottish Saints – Saint Walthen or Waltheof, Abbot


A.D. 1160. He was the son of Simon, Earl of Hunting don, and Maud, grand-niece of William the Conqueror. After the death of her first husband, Maud married David, King of Scotland, one of the sons of Saint Margaret. The early life of the young Walthen was consequently spent at the Scottish Court, where he edified all who knew him by his purity of life and diligent practice of the Christian virtues. Desiring to embrace the religious life, Walthen left Scotland, and entered the monastery of Nostell in Yorkshire, belonging to the Austin Canons. His holiness, attested by miracles, procured the esteem of his contemporaries, and led to his appointment, while still young, as Prior of the monastery of Kirkham, in the same county. Attracted by the reputation of the Cistercians, he resolved to pass into that Order, and was encouraged in his purpose by Saint Aelred, Cistercian Abbot of Rievaulx, who became his attached friend. In spite of the remonstrances of his religious brethren, and the avowed indignation of his kindred, Walthen persevered in his resolution, and took the Cistercian habit at Rievaulx, where he eventually made his profession as a monk.

He was made Abbot of the Scottish abbey of Melrose, which he ruled till his death. In the later years of his life he was nominated Archbishop of Saint Andrew’s; but his humility shrank from the burden, and he prevailed upon his religious superiors to prevent the election. He died at Melrose at an advanced age. Many miracles are attributed to him, even during life, and fifty years after death his body was found to be incorrupt.

MLA Citation

  • Father Michael Barrett, OSB. “Saint Walthen or Waltheof, Abbot”. The Calendar of Scottish Saints, 1919. CatholicSaints.Info. 9 June 2014. Web. 18 May 2021. <>