Lindisfarne is a cold, wild and lonely island, isolated from the rest of England by twice-daily tides. But its misty shores have witnessed strange and marvellous things. The story of Lindisfarne reaches far back into the mists of time, to another island, Iona. It was here that the Irish began to save civilization when St. Columba, or Columcille, arrived from Ireland in the year 576 AD with twelve companions.
The lonely ruins of Lindisfarne still stand today, mute testimony to the light of the Gospel carried by St. Aidan, which illuminated Anglo-Saxon England.
From here, Columba and his monks took the Gospel to the Pictish Tribes of Scotland – and founded another monastic community on Lindisfarne. Lindisfarne was to become as influential and significant as Iona in the development of Christianity in Britain, especially England.
Our story begins in 634 AD when Oswald became King of Northumbria. A recent convert, he wished to evangelise his subjects, so he sent to Iona for missionary monks. The Abbot of Iona, Segenius, dispatched Corman, an austere monk, who, on finding the Anglo-Saxons of Northumbria to be both barbarous and obstinate, promptly returned to Scotland.
Fortunately, the Abbot’s next recruit, Aidan, turned out to be a better choice. It was Aidan who selected Lindisfarne as a secluded and peaceful place, ideal for the monastic life – yet close enough to the Northumbrian capital, present day Bamburgh.
From Lindisfarne, Aidan preached the Gospel throughout the Kingdom of Northumbria, sometimes with the assistance of King Oswald who acted as interpreter. Aidan’s mission flourished; people donated land and money to establish churches and monasteries throughout the kingdom. Parents sent their children to be educated by the Celtic monks and four brothers who arrived there, Cynebil, Caelin, Cedd and Chad were ordained priests.
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