The city of Worcester stands on the Avon, which flows down to the powerful Severn, surging southwards from the Welsh hills.Overlooking the river is Worcester Cathedral, an imposing edifice of stone. The cathedral as you see it now was a Norman construction, and Worcester's most famous son had a simpler building that was replaced after the Norman conquest. Bishop Wulfstan was less interested in stone buildings than he was in the true foundations of the church, its people, and he was committed to the church's mission to the poor and the needy.
The great-nephew of Archishop Wulfstan of York, [also a saint] who was dead before Wulstan became a bishop, the young Wulfstan, who was born in 1008, studied at the abbeys of Evesham [near Worcester] and Peterborough. He then became a clerk at Worcester cathedral, which meant that he was a minor cleric given to routine administrative duties. But his diligence in his duties and his chastity [he actually kept the celibacy rules and did not have a mistress or frequent brothels, as some clerics did] got him noticed and the bishop asked him to become a priest. He was ordained priest and later joined the Benedictine order in their abbey near Worcester,where his talents led him upwards first to the rank of novice master, supervising young monk, but next to he was promoted to prior,the assistant to the abbot.
By 1062 a problem had developed. Bishop Eadfrith was in trouble with the Pope. Eadfrith, who does not seem a bad guy, was guilty being bishop not only of Worcester, but also archbishop of York, besides having several other income streams. It is against church rules for a bishop to rule two dioceses and so Pope Nicholas the Second laid the law down. Drop one, so he was forced to step down from Worcester. Why did Eadfrith have two bishoprics? Easy, the trick was to have a few of them, get the revenues, appoint an underpaid, but devoted monk as suffragen/auxiliary bishop and then enjoy the profits. Wulfstan got the job and decided to run the diocese properly.
Then there came a problem. Strictly speaking Wulfstan should have been consecrated by his superior, Stigand of Canterbury, but Wulstan knew that Stigand had been uncanonically appointed [without papal consent] so he not only refused to be consecrated by him, but would not swear obedience, though he was happy to be consecrated by Eadfrith, by then safely at York, and later to swear obedience to Lanfranc,the Norman who succeeded Stigand at Canterbury.
Then in 1066 the Norman conquered England and most Saxon bishops were deposed, but Wulfstan was spared, as William the conqueror recognized a genunely good and holy man and an outstanding bishop. What helped Wulfstan's cause is that he was the first bishop to do homage to William. He was also willing to work well with Lanfranc.