Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Cuthbert of Lindisfarne (634–687)

Cuthbert was from Northumbria, Dunbar at the mouth of the Firth of Forth in modern-day Scotland. One night as a young boy tending flock he had a vision of the soul of Aidan being carried to heaven by angels. After this experience he joined the monastery of Old Melrose and became a monk (651), However after a short while he left and became a soldier for several years.

Eventually he returned to the monastery. There after his fame for piety, diligence, and obedience grew. When Alchfrith, king of Deira, founded a new monastery at Ripon, Cuthbert was appointed it's visitors' host. Illness struck the monastery in 664 and upon the death of the prior Cuthbert was appointed in his stead. He spent much time among the people, ministering to their spiritual needs, carrying out missionary journeys, preaching, and performing miracles.

After the Synod of Whitby, Eata, his old abbott called on him to impliment the synods Rulings at Lindisfarne. This was an ungrateful task, but Cuthbert disarmed opposition with his loving and patient nature.

He continued his missionary work, travelling the breadth of the country from Berwick to Galloway to carry out pastoral work and founding an oratory at Dull, Scotland complete with a large stone cross, and a little cell for himself, at a site which subsequently became a monastery then later the University of St Andrews.
In 676 he adopted the solitary life and retired to a cave. After a time he settled on one of the Farne Islands, south of Lindisfarne, there he gave himself more and more to austerities. While on the Farne Islands, he instituted special laws to protect the Eider ducks and other seabirds nesting on the islands; these may have been the first bird protection laws anywhere in the world. Consequently, eider ducks are often called cuddy ducks (Cuthbert's ducks) in modern Northumbrian dialects.

In 684, at a synod at Twyford (believed to be present day Alnmoth) Cuthbert was elected bishop of Lindisfarne. It was only after a visit from king Ecgfrith, that he agreed to return and take up the duties of bishop. He was consecrated at York on 26 March 685.

After the Christmas of 686, he returned to his cell on Inner Farne Island (two miles from Bamburgh Northumberland), where he eventually died. He was buried at Lindisfarne.

living water reprint from 2009

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