> Commemoration: Cuthbert of Lindisfarne
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Annually on March 20
Cuthbert of Lindisfarne,
Bishop and Missionary
20 March 687
Cuthbert discovers a piece of timber, from a 12th-century manuscript of Bede's Life of St. Cuthbert
Almighty God, who didst call Cuthbert from following the flock To be a shepherd of thy people: Mercifully grant that, as he sought in dangerous and remote places those who had erred and strayed from thy ways, so we may seek the indifferent and the lost, and lead them back to thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Cuthbert was born in Northumbria in northern England about 625. One night, while tending a herd of sheep, he saw lights in the sky which he interpreted as a soul being escorted heavenward by a band of angels. Later, he learned that Aidan of Lindisfarne (31 August 651) had died that night, and he resolved to enter the monastic life. He was a monk at Melrose Abbey from 651 to 664, and when the Abbot, Eata, became abbot and bishop at Lindisfarne, Cuthbert accompanied him and was Prior there until 676. Although he had been brought up in the Celtic customs, he accepted the decrees of the Synod of Whitby in 663 which committed the English Church to following instead the Roman customs that had been introduced into Cantrbury by Augustine, and so he helped to minimize contention over the decision. Although his real preference was for the solitary life of a hermit, he recognized a duty to minister to the needs of the people about him. Year after year he made long journeys, on horseback and on foot, to Durham and throughout Northumbria, and in the regions of Berwick and Galloway, preaching to the scattered population in remote and sparsely settled areas, instructing them in the faith and encouraging them in the practice of it, urging them in times of sickness not to rely on charms or amulets, but to pray to God and put their trust in His mercy and love. Like Francis of Assisi, he had a remarkable rapport with animals, both wild and domestic.
Theodore, the Archbishop of Canterbury, made Cuthbert Bishop of Hexham, but he was a solitary by nature, and promptly exchanged bishoprics with Eata so as to remain at Lindisfarne. After two years, he retired to the neighboring island of Farne as a hermit, and died there the following year.