Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne
One of St Columba's monks from the monastery of Iona, Aidan was sent as a missionary to Northumbria at the request of King Oswald, who was later to become his friend and interpreter.
Consecrated Bishop of Lindisfarne in 635, Aidan worked closely with Oswald and became involved with the training of priests.
From the island of Lindisfarne he was able to combine a monastic lifestyle with missionary journeys to the mainland where, through his concern for the poor and enthusiasm for preaching, he won popular support. This enabled him to strengthen the Church beyond the boundaries of Northumbria. He died on 31st August 651.
Everlasting God, you sent the gentle bishop Aidan to proclaim the gospel in this land: grant us to live as he taught in simplicity, humility,
and love for the poor; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
According to Bede, St. Aidan’s “course of life was so different from the slothfulness of our times.” When you consider that Bede was an 8th century monk, we can begin to imagine the great monastic discipline of Aidan. Even before he left for England, St. Aidan was well-known for both his ascetic practices but also his great gentleness. His gentle example actually encouraged his fellow monks to extend their fasts on Wednesdays and Friday and to spend more time in prayer and learning.
For his new monastery and diocese, St. Aidan chose the rocky island of Lindisfarne which greatly appealed to his sensibilities. The island is cut off from the mainland at high tide but pilgrims can walk the causeway at high tide. Even today, the holy island feels remote. Any wealth that was given to St. Aidan was almost immediately given to the poor or used to free slaves. Some of these slaves followed Aidan back to Lindisfarne and were educated by him, and a few even became priests.
Feeling that a horse might be too decadent, Aidan preferred to walk.
He was known for conversing with anyone he encountered on the road, whether they were a peasant or a noble. From these trips he had converted and baptized countless people and earned more monks for his missions.
Soon, he had established (or re-established) parishes all over Northern England. A loving bishop with a missionary zeal can seem a rare thing these days.
St. Aidan of Lindisfarne shows us that such a bishop can change history.
From his rocky monastery, missionaries would travel
throughout Britain and parts of Europe with the same missionary zeal
of their founder.
Along with numerous parishes
and monasteries, the monks of Lindisfarne also gave us
an illuminated manuscript
and a medieval treasure.
ST AIDAN'S PRAYER FOR THE HOLY ISLAND
Lord, this bare island, make it a place of peace.
Here be the peace of those who do Thy will. Here be the peace of brother serving man. Here be the peace of holy monks obeying. Here be the peace of praise by dark and day. Be this Island Thy Holy Island. I, Lord, Thy servant, Aidan, make this prayer. Be it Thy care. Amen.
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.
and the blessing of The Sacred Three,
be with you, and remain with you,
now, and always. Amen.