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Unlike the very hierarchical Roman Church-
“In contrast, the Celtic church celebrated grace and nature as good gifts from God and recognized the sacredness of all creation. It had a love of mysticism and poetry, a deep respect for the feminine, included women in its leadership and allowed clerical marriages. The Celtic understanding of church leadership was rooted in its rural and agricultural communal culture, and the great Celtic monasteries emerged from this tribal system.”
The land for the monastery at Ripon was donated by King Aldfrith, who was the sub-king of the area under his father Oswig, King of Northumbria. To set it up, Aldfrith invited a group of monks from the Celtic monastery of Melrose, which at that time lay within the Kingdom of Northumbria.
In 655 Wilfrid had just finished his first visit to Rome and had arrived back at Lyon to spend another three years as guest of Archbishop Dalfinus of Lyon, getting his Roman tonsure and learning a great deal about the traditions and practices of the Roman church.
During 670-3 Ecgfrith had victories over the Picts in Scotland and during 673-5 over Wulfhere, king of Mercia, giving Wilfrid huge ecclesiastical influence not only over the whole of Northumbria but now to the north in Scotland and the south in Mercia (Midlands). With this influence came unprecedented wealth from the revenues of the vast estates and other royal gifts.
Following his reinstatement and drawing on his fabulous wealth, Wilfrid went on a great church building spree. Nothing could emphasise his disdain for the Celtic Christian culture more than the differences in design of his grand church buildings, furnishings and contents from the existing Celtic structures. Celtic churches were very simple small wooden affairs with thatched reeded roofs - spartan and (to Wilfrid) vulgar things. Wilfrid's plan was to build magnificent big stone buildings modelled on the great churches he had seen in Gaul and his travels to Rome.
Roger de Pont l’Évêque, Archbishop of York 1154-81, set about building a magnificent new church over Wilfrid’s crypt in order to promote pilgrimages to his tomb.