Friday, August 31, 2012

Saint of the Day - Aiden of Lindisfarne

     Today is the feast day of St Aiden of Lindisfarne, one of the Saints of the British Isles for whom I've always had a fondness. 

     St. Aidan was born in Ireland in the latter part of the 6th Century. He was tonsured a monk at Iona (Scotland) in the community that St. Columba had founded earlier as a holy isle and staging ground for the evangelization of Britain. St. Aidan was chosen to evangelize Northumbria, because of his skilful and gentle manner of teaching. He was consecrated bishop and sent to Northumbria. He arrived at Lindesfarne in 635, establishing it as a second holy isle on the opposite coast of Britain, which became his see. He evangelized the native pagans. At times, he encountered rival gangs of young men, ready to do battle. He instructed them in the Gospel of Peace and they laid down their weapons, were baptized, and became monastics. St. Aidan held to the eastern traditions, which were the norm in Ireland. He taught and practiced the stricter fasting rules, the eastern date for Pascha and the collegial nature of church rule, giving preference to abbots over bishops. Many times, King Oswald would accompany St. Aidan on his missionary trips through the countryside, acting as an interpreter. St. Aidan was always teaching, preaching and encouraging, but he led by example. He was known by his asceticism and his almsgiving. King Oswin gave him a fine horse to use in his ministry. Aidan gave it with all of its fancy gear, to a beggar who asked for alms. He used some of what was given him to redeem slaves out of their slavery. Some of these became his disciples. St. Aidan sent missionaries out across England and as far as the Netherlands, establishing monasteries. He also tonsured the first nun in Northumbria, Hieu. He also persuaded Hilda to stay in England and supported her work of establishing monasteries for women throughout England. The godly bishop accomplished all of this and more in just sixteen years. He reposed in the Lord on August 31, 651. He was immediately acclaimed as "the Apostle to Northumbria." He was buried at Lindesfarne. In 664, when the Lindesfarne monastery succumbed to the pressure from Rome and accepted the Synod of Whitby, St. Colman took St. Aidan's relics and retired to Iona, which remained a stronghold of Celtic Christianity.

Hymn to St Aiden:
O holy Bishop Aidan, Apostle of the North and light of the Celtic Church, glorious in humility, noble in poverty, zealous monk and loving missionary, intercede for us sinners that Christ our God may have mercy on our souls.
This text taken from Come and See Icons

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