(Cuthbert of Lindisfarne)


Just as the Celtic Saint Columba is forever associated with the Abbey at Iona, Saint Cuthbert is associated with the monastery of Lindisfarne on the Eastern coast of Northumbria. Lindisfarne is most famous as one of the first targets of the Viking raiders when they attacked Britain in 793 A.D., but for the preceding centuries it was the central base for Christian evangelization in the kingdoms of Northumbria and Mercia.

Cuthbert was a Northumbrian lad who joined the monastery at Melrose at age seventeen after seeing a vision of St. Aidan while watching sheep. He resided in the monastery for a short time but left to serve the King of Northumbria in a long running series of battles with the Kingdom of Mercia. He is known to have fought at the Battle of Winwidfield but returned to the monastery after completing his military service. During this time bishops from both the Roman and Celtic churches were working to resolve their differences. In 664 a Synod was called, an agreement was reached, and Cuthbert was appointed Prior of Melrose in order to help the Celtic monastery convert to Roman usages. His success at Melrose inspired the bishop to appoint him to be prior at Lindisfarne, the most important Abbey in the region and a bastion of Celtic chauvinism. Cuthbert's excellent reputation proceeded him and with great tact and patience he succeeded well in his task.

After ten years at Lindisfarne, Cuthbert sought greater solitude and removed himself to an uninhabited island nearby where he lived in great austerity. His voluntary removal from all the comforts and temptations of civilization only enhanced his already widely acclaimed reputation as a holy man. Eventually however, he was recalled to Lindisfarne to serve as bishop and died shortly thereafter.

Key events during the life of Saint Cuthbert of Lindisfarne:

St. Cuthbert born in Northumbria.
St. Aidan becomes first bishop of Lindisfarne.
Battle of Maserfield: Northumbrians defeat Mercians.
Vision while watching sheep caused Cuthbert seek for the monastic life at Melrose.
Fought in battle of Winwidfield, then returned to monastery.
Attended Synod of Whitby, which ruled that Celtic church would adopt Roman rites.
Became prior of Melrose
Sent to Lindisfarne, to help convert the Celtic monastery to roman usages.
Retired to seclusion on Farne island.
Appointed bishop of Lindisfarne
Returned to Farne island to die.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Saint Cuthbert's Peace  in  The Book of Saints and Friendly Beasts  by  Abbie Farwell Brown
Apostle of Northumbria  in  The Book of Saints and Heroes  by  Mrs. Lang
Story of Saint Cuthbert  in  Saint Christopher and Saint Cuthbert  by  Mary Macgregor
Saint Cuthbert  in  Our Island Saints  by  Amy Steedman

Image Links

The man on the White Horse comes to heal St. Cuthbert.'
 in The Book of Saints and Heroes

Why have you not given our handmaid her share?'
 in The Book of Saints and Heroes

How the horse sympathised with St. Columba
 in The Book of Saints and Heroes

Saint Cuthbert entertains an angel in the disguise of a pilgrim
 in Saint Christopher and Saint Cuthbert

It was the little grey road beneath on which his eyes were fixed
 in Our Island Saints

Short Biography
Caedmon Earliest known Anglo-Saxon poet. His story was related by St. Bede.
St. Aiden First Bishop of Lindisfarne.
Penda King of Mercia who warred with the Northumbrians.
Edwin of Northumbria King of Northumbria who converted to Christianity.