Constantine came to York as a child. His father, the emperor Constantius, died the year following Constantine's arrival in York, and so his soldiers immediately proclaimed Constantine their leader.
Known as Constantine the Great, he united the Roman Empire and extended its reach, founding a new capital, Constantinople.
Constantine was also the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity, which had a huge impact on the history of the Western world; up until this point, Christians had suffered harsh persecution for their faith. Despite most Romans still worshipping the old gods of Rome, Constantine promoted the Christian faith and enabled Christians to worship freely. And it all started in York!
Saint Wilfrid was a monk and bishop who is remembered for bringing the Anglo-Saxon Church and the Roman Church closer together. At the Synod of Whitby, St Wilfrid successfully rejected Celtic practices, standardising Roman practices to the Church of these lands.
Wilfrid was a monk at the monastery of Lindisfarne in Northumberland but travelled widely across Britain and on to Rome and Lyon. To an Anglo-Saxon and Celtic Britain, he introduced the Benedictine Rule, improved the chanting of the liturgy and brought back religious treasures from Europe. St Wilfrid's legacy also extends to the many buildings he commissioned across York, Ripon, and Hexham.
After failed negotiations on behalf of the pope, King Ecgfrith exiled Wilfrid. Wilfrid fled to Sussex where he spread the Christian faith and founded a monastery. He was buried in Ripon.
William was elected Archbishop of York in 1141 but after only six years was removed by the Pope. William's replacement was so unpopular that the citizens of York barred him from entering the city. William left for Sicily but was called back to York when the new Archbishop and the Pope both died in 1153.
On his return to York, William stopped at Ouse Bridge. Crowds gathered on the bridge to welcome him, causing the bridge to collapse. William prayed to God to save those who were drowning and miraculously no one died.
This came to be known as the miracle at Ouse Bridge and it led to William being named a saint in 1224. St William’s tomb resides in the Western Crypt of York Minster.
St. Margaret Clitherow was executed for harbouring priests under Queen Elizabeth I’s reign and is one of the Forty Martyrs of England & Wales.
Converting to Catholicism in 1574, she was frequently fined for not attending Anglican church. She also held secret Masses in her home, where she also regularly hid Catholic priests.
Her home was raided in 1586 and she was arrested. Refusing to plead guilty to the crime of harbouring priests, a crime which carried the death penalty, she stated that only God could judge her.
She was executed by being slowly crushed to death.