Bishop Rob recently welcomed a group of 36 Jewish delegates to Lincoln cathedral. Led by Dr Charles Landau, a historian and tour guide, they came to remember ‘Little Hugh’ and the blood libel of 1255.

Hugh of Lincoln (1246-1255) is buried in Lincoln Cathedral. He was found dead in a well and his ‘murder’ was blamed on the city’s long-established Jewish community in a case of ‘blood libel’ which is the anti-Semitic term given to describe the accusation that Jews murdered Christian children to use their blood as part of their religious rituals.

Following the false accusations, 92 Jews were imprisoned in the Tower of London and 18 were hanged for a crime they did not commit. Following Hugh’s death there were many revenge murders of other innocent Jews.

Whilst these atrocities were taking place, ‘miracles’ started being attributed to Hugh such as that a blind woman drank from the well and her sight was restored. On hearing this the canons of Lincoln Cathedral requested that his body be buried in the cathedral. Although Hugh was never canonised and he was venerated as a saint and his tomb became a place of pilgrimage up to 1290 when the Jews were expelled from England by King Edward I.

The first ever Jewish delegation to Lincoln to see Little Hugh was made in 1934 and was led by the Jewish Historical Society. This was poignant as it was at a time when there was rising antisemitism in Europe, and especially Germany. They met with civic and Church dignitaries to remember the atrocities committed against the Jewish people.

This recent visit was made in the spirit of Vatican II and tolerance, yet rising antisemitism. The group wanted to receive the words of Bishop Rob in an ecumenical spirit, to move on and not be living in the past.

Bishop Rob said: “It was a delight to welcome the Jewish pilgrims to the cathedral. We spoke about the challenge of the history associated with ‘little Hugh’ and the atrocities committed against the Jewish community, which are shameful. I offered a prayer to the pilgrims and gave thanks for the opportunity to say “Shalom”.

Dr Landau said: “We recognise the extraordinary lengths the church has gone to to remove unfortunate teachings, and we are lucky to be living in a post Vatican II world in England.

We ended our meeting with the words of the Psalms “May the Lord  bless you from Zion…Peace be on Israel.”

Pictured is Bishop Rob Gillian and Rabbi Ephraim Guttentag

The group outside the cathedral. 

Little Hugh's shrine in the cathedral.

An illustration of what the shrine looked like originally.