THE STORY of little St Hugh of Lincoln is one of the darker
moments of English Christianity. Aged just nine, Hugh obviously met a violent
death in 1255. His body was discovered in a well, and he was buried in the
cathedral. Rumours spread that he was a victim of ritual murder by the Jews:
that he had been abducted by a wealthy Jew, scourged, crowned with thorns, and
crucified. Nineteen Jews were executed, and others imprisoned, and little Hugh
became a saint. That was 750 years ago, and much has been done in recent years
to mend relations between Christians and Jews.
Earlier this month in Lincoln Cathedral, not only did Dr Edward Kessler,
director of the Cambridge Centre for Jewish-Christian Relations, deliver the
2005 Grosseteste Lecture on Jewish-Christian relations to an audience of 180,
but 50 Jewish and Christian guests shared a shabbat (sabbath) meal in
the Chapter House. Dr Kessler's 14-year-old daughter, Shoshana, lit the
shabbat candles, and her father said the prayers. It was almost
certainly the first shabbat meal to be held in the cathedral.