On this day 661: Feast of St Boisil

Melrose Abbey, where St Boisil was the second Abbot. Picture: Wiki Commons
Melrose Abbey, where St Boisil was the second Abbot. Picture: Wiki Commons
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THERE is some dispute over when the Feast of St Boisil is celebrated. Certainly in early calendars, it was assigned to February 23rd.

St Boisil was the second Abbot of Melrose Abbey, following St Aidan before being later succeeded by his pupil St Cuthbert, regarded as the patron saint of northern England.

Despite Cuthbert being the more well-known of the three, Boisil was ‘famous’ enough to have the Roxburghshire village of Saint Boswells named after him.

Boisil was originally based at a monastery at Lindisfarne, where a group of monks grew tired of life by the sea.

In search of forgiveness for their tiresomeness, they travelled north along the River Tweed after convincing themselves that relocating would solve their problems, with Boisil one of them.

The group landed at ‘Old Mailros’ in Tweeddale, and acted as missionaries for the locals. Boisil became well known for his healing powers, impressing his fellow monks and the community alike.

Boisil became Prior, or Abbot of the Abbey at Old Mailros in 659, and healed his pupil Cuthbert who was struck down when a plague struck down the monastery’s inhabitants.

Incredibly, Boisil also foretold his own death - from a later outbreak of the plague. On his deathbed, he is said to have predicted Cuthbert’s rise to Episcopal glory.

St Boisil was buried at Melrose Abbey but his relics were removed in 1030 and taken to Durham, where St Cuthbert is also interred.


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