Thursday, August 30, 2012

Aidan of Lindisfarne: Bishop, Apostle to Northumbria: 31 August 2012

St. Aidan of Lindisfrarne (??-31 August 651)

Little is known of Aidan’s young life.  It is believed that he was born in Canaught, Ireland, and educated at the Monastery at Leinster.  From there he went to St. David’s monastery in Wales where he studied for a few years.  He returned to Ireland and founded a monastery at Ferns, in Wexford.  It is believed he may have been Bishop of this area.  He eventually made it to the Isle of Iona, which had been the launching spot of Christianity to Scotland. 

Oswald, King of Northumbria requested a Bishop from Iona to Evangelise his Angles.  It is important to note that the Celts were already Christian, it was just the Pagan Invaders who were heathens.  The first bishop sent was Cormán, who met with little success.  When he returned to Iona, Aidan suggested that they should first be given the milk of less solid doctrine.  His good advice caused him to be sent to Northumbria, where he arrived in about the year 635.  He made his headquarters on the Isle of Lindisfarne, where he began a strong relationship with the king.  This was good for Aidan as his English wasn’t very well, so King Oswald would translate for him.  Aidan would travel from village to village, mostly converting people one by one.  A number of Scot and Irish monks from Iona also aided him.  He died from an illness, leaning against the buttress of a church in Bamburgh. 

His monks continued his work from Lindisfarne, which became the centre of evangelism of the English of Northern England.  This work continued until the time of the Danish invasions in the 8th century.   The school he founded was of great use in training up English ministers in Celtic Christianity.  Some miracles are attributed to him, but his greatest gift to us is demonstrating persistence, and caring for the poor.  When not teaching he would study the Bible and pray.  He fasted every Wednesday and Friday as did the primitive church, and his main concern was preaching the Gospel.  The venerable Bede said of him: 

"He neither sought nor loved anything of this world, but delighted in distributing immediately to the poor whatever was given him by kings or rich men of the world. He traversed both town and country on foot, never on horseback, unless compelled by some urgent necessity. Wherever on his way he saw any, either rich or poor, he invited them, if pagans, to embrace the mystery of the faith; or if they were believers, he sought to strengthen them in their faith and stir them up by words and actions to alms and good works." 

A note on the icon:  Purple is for a bishop.  The crosier is based on the crosier of Clonmacnoise, and the Gospel is the actual cover of the Lindisfarne Gospel. The horse stands for one given to him by the king, which he gave to a poor begger, and his name is written in Irish Gaelic. 

Psalm 104: 32-35

Isaiah 55:6-12

Romans 12:6-13

John 10:25b-30

Heavenly Father, you raised up your bishop Aidan to restore Christianity to Northumbria, raise up men and women to restore the faith of the United States and Europe.  This we ask through Yeshuah, who lives and reins with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting.  Amen.  (white)

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