Saturday March 20th - St Cuthbert

St Cuthbert of Lindisfarne, Wonderworker of England

Best-loved saint of the North
Today is the feast day of St Cuthbert - monk, bishop and hermit in the Celtic tradition, and focus of pilgrimage for 500 years. An influential churchman, Cuthbert embodied the values of humility, simplicity and tolerance, but was responsible for the spread of Christianity in the North of England in the Early Middle Ages.

He is said to be the first person to protect birds, allowing eider ducks (locally Cuddy ducks) to nest on the altar steps.

Born about 635, Cuthbert entered Melrose Abbey as a novice following a vision, later leading a new monastery at Ripon. As Prior of Lindisfarne he evangelised the area and helped the church adjust to a time of great change. Feeling called to a life of solitude he spent 10 years as a hermit on Inner Farne, then reluctantly agreed to return as Bishop of Lindisfarne. Two years later feeling death approaching Cuthbert retreated to his island dying shortly after in 687.

St Cuthbert shrineCuthbert’s body on the move
His community fled Lindisfarne following the Viking invasion in 793 travelling around the North for years with his body and relics. They finally settled in Durham in 995, moving the body into a be-jewelled shrine in the new cathedral in 1104. It became a centre of pilgrimage which continues today but Cuthbert ’s ancient oak coffin now rests under a simple marble slab marked ‘Cuthbertus’ - much more appropriate for the way he lived his life.

Cuthbert’s advice to us all
His dying words are a testament of peace: “Always preserve divine charity among yourselves, and when you come together to discuss your common affairs, let your principal goal be to reach a unanimous decision."