During his exile Oswald had lived at Columba's monastery of Iona. He converted and was baptized there. As a result he sent to Iona, rather than to Canterbury, for missionaries.
The head of the first mission was a man of no tact, who soon returned home to report that the English were unteachable.
A fellow monk named Aidan suggested that his approach was too harsh. Aidan was sent to replace him.
He centered his work on Lindisfarne, an island off the northeast coast of England similar to Iona. With his fellow monks and the English youth he trained, Aidan restored Christianity in Northumbria. King Oswald often served as his interpreter. The mission extended through the midlands as far south as London.
Aidan died at the royal town of Bamborough, 31 August, 651. The historian Bede wrote of him: "He neither sought nor loved anything of this world, but delighted in distributing immediately to the poor whatever was given him by kings or rich men of the world. He traversed both town and country on foot, never on horseback, unless compelled by some urgent necessity. Wherever on his way he saw any, either rich or poor, he invited them, if pagans, to embrace the mystery of the faith; or if they were believers, he sought to strengthen them in their faith and stir them up by words and actions to alms and good works."