Saint Godric of Finchale (c. 1065 – 21 May 1170) came from a poor but virtuous Norfolk family. He took up the life of a pedlar, later becoming a merchant and sailor. It is said that he was owner and captain of the boat which took Baldwin I, the first king of Jerusalem, to Jaffa in the Holy Land. Saint Godric was described as vigorous and strenuous in mind, whole of limb and strong in body. He was of middle stature, broad-shouldered and deep-chested, with a long face and grey eyes most clear and piercing.
He spent many years at sea, trading and travelling, miraculously avoiding certain death several times. At Lindisfarne, Saint Godric experienced a spiritual vision of Saint Cuthbert, after which he decided to devote himself to God. He took up the cross and made pilgrimages to Jerusalem, Rome and the shrine of Santiago de Compostela in Spain. On his return to England, he continued to wander, living as a recluse in woods and caves. Around the turn of the century, Saint Godric was granted a hermitage at Finchale by the Bishop of Durnham, where he lived for 60 years until his death. During his time as a hermit, he placed himself under obedience to a local abbot and spent his days, in prayer, labour and penance. It is said that he gave wise counsel to men such as Thomas Beckett and Pope Alexander III.
There are four recorded songs of Saint Godric's: they are the oldest songs in English for which the original musical settings survive. He learnt the first song from Our Lady herself. In a vision, the Virgin Mary appeared to him together with two beautiful maidens dressed in shining white raiments. They promised to come to his aid in times of need; then Our Lady taught Godric a song of consolation to overcome grief or temptation, "Saintë Marië Virginë".
'Saint Mary, Virgin,
Mother of Jesus Christ of Nazareth,
Receive, shield, help your Godric;
Received, bring him on high with you in God’s kingdom.
Saint Mary, bower of Christ,
Purest of maidens, flower of mothers,
Efface my sins, reign in my mind,
Bring me to joy with that same God.'