Little Saint Hugh of Lincoln

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Saint Hugh of Lincoln (1246 – 27 August 1255) was an English boy who is said to have been crucified in a ritual murder by the Jews of Lincoln. Hugh is known as Little Saint Hugh to distinguish him from Saint Hugh, otherwise Hugh of Lincoln. The style is often corrupted to Little Sir Hugh. The boy disappeared on 31 July, and his body was discovered in a well on 29 August. His feast day is held on 27 July.

While out playing with his friends, Hugh went missing. His friends told his mother that they had last seen him go into the house of a Jew named Copin, who had lured him in. Hugh's mother Beatrice went to Copin's house and later discovered the body of her murdered son in Copin's well. Accused of the murder by the courts, Copin confessed to the crime and stated that it was the custom of the Jews to crucify a Christian child every year. Copin and eighteen other Jews were put to death for the murder as a consequence.

It is said that a number of Jews had gathered at Copin's house and tortured the child, scourged and crowned him with thorns and crucified him in mock of death of Jesus Christ. At the tomb of Hugh, many miracles are said to have been wrought and so the canons of Lincoln transfered the body from the local parish church and buried it in great state at Lincoln Cathedral. During the Middle Ages, the martyrdom of St Hugh became a popular subject in ballad poetry, for instance it is mentioned in Geoffrey Chaucer's "Prioresses Tale".

Cultural influence

Meanwhile, the Cathedral in Lincoln was beginning to benefit from the episode, since Hugh was seen as a Christian martyr, and sites associated with his life became objects of pilgrimage. The legend surrounding Hugh that emerged became part of popular culture, and his story became the subject of poetry and folksongs. Geoffrey Chaucer in his Canterbury Tales makes reference to Hugh of Lincoln in "The Prioress's Tale". Pilgrims devoted to Hugh of Lincoln flocked to the city as late as the early 20th century, when a well was constructed in the former Jewish neighborhood of Jews' Court and advertised as the well in which Hugh's body was found. At St Hugh's College, Oxford, there is a plaster relief of Little St Hugh's icon - a pelican and a well - although the college is actually dedicated to the other Hugh of Lincoln.

In 1975 the English folk-rock group Steeleye Span recorded a politically correct version of "Little Sir Hugh" on their album Commoner's Crown. In the song, the murderer is fair witch "dressed in green". [1]

See also

Part of this article consists of modified text from Wikipedia, and the article is therefore licensed under GFDL.
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