The Thin Place
I shall be posting every week a brief history of the Celtic Saints.
Week One begins with Aidan
Bishop and Abbot of Lindisfarne (580 -651)
He cultivated peace and love, purity and humility:
he was above anger and greed, despised pride and conceit;
he set himself to keep and teach laws of God,
and was diligent in study and in prayer.
Often called the “Apostle of Northumbria,” Saint Aidan arrived in Lindisfarne, also known as Holy Island, from Iona in the year 635.
He came at the request of King Oswald, who required the services of a bishop to help convert the pagan population. It was there, at
Lindisfarne, to the royal residence of Bamburgh, that Aidan established a bishopric.
Using Lindisfarne as his base, Aidan founded additional religious outposts in other areas of the north, including, most famously a
monastery in Melrose in the Scottish Borders. An Irish speaker, he used Oswald as his interpreter when addressing the Anglo-Saxon
court. Lindisfarne, cut off from the mainland twice a day, was a remote and austere place, perfect for someone of Aidan’s quiet demeanour
and serious disposition.
Born in Ireland, Aidan studied under Saint Sean on Scattery Island before becoming a monk at Iona. Aidan replaced Corman, the first missionary
bishop to the Angles, a rigid man who referred to the native population as barbaric and hopelessly stubborn to teach.
Aidan felt Corman’s behaviour to be unduly harsh and unreasonable as well as unwarranted. In contrast Aidan’s warmth and intelligence convinced
the eiders that he, Aidan, was the perfect man for the job. He was kind a compassionate, a devoted teacher who committed himself to his new Land
and the people he served. He taught by example; what he said and what he did were one and the same.
Shortly after Aidan arrived ,he built a school, a mission, and a church. Everyone regardless of their station in life, received the same level of education.
Thus, he treated everyone, whether lowly beggar and the highest of kings, with the same respect and dignity he sought for himself.
Aidan loved to walk, to meet people, to bring an element of joy to those he encounted in his daily travels. Having no interest or need for earthly possessions,
he would routinely hand out gifts or monies, to the poor and needy.
There is a story of Aidan being given a horse by a king named Oswin, Aidan met a beggar on the road, who asked for alms, stepping down from his horse
offered the animal to the shocked man.
He was a beloved figure-humble to a fault-who managed to bring the best out of almost everyone.
Aidan died on August 31 in 651. Today, an eleven-foot statue of Aidan stands near the Lindisfarne Abbey ruins. In one hand he holds a crozier, indicating
that he was a bishop; in the other he holds a torch. Even now, he continues to light the way…
Praying with Celtic Saints, by June Skinner Sawyers ~
Robin Mark‘s Music