FOR ALL THE SAINTS: AIDAN
An Irish monk who studied under St. Senan on Scattery Island, St. Aidan would become the first bishop and abbot of Lindisfarne, the small island off the coast of northern England. Lindisfarne continues to serve the church and receive pilgrims to this day.
An Irish native, Aidan was born in the latter part of the sixth century and became a monk of Iona, where St. Columba established his monastery.
King Oswald of Northumbria enlisted Aidan to help convert his pagan subjects. Aidan was so even-tempered that he was chosen to replace the original missioner to the Anglo-Saxons, who had proven too hotheaded for the job. Aidan arrived in Northumbria in 635. (Oswald had studied in Ireland, and became a great friend and supporter of St. Aidan; Oswald did much for the Irish missionaries until his death in battle at Maserfield near Oswestry, 5 August, 642.)
At Lindisfarne each monk had a soul friend and learned the psalms as personal prayers. From Lindisfarne, Aidan evangelized and founded mission outposts, including the monastery at Melrose.
Among his many Anglo-Saxon proteges were St. Hilda of Whitby and St. Cuthbert.
Stories of St. Aidan attribute to him the most ancient and enduring trait of true Christian spirituality: care and love for the poor and the stranger.
Bede, historian of the early English church and his biographer, wrote more affectionately of Aidan than any other saint.
The qualities that appealed to Bede were responsible for St. Aidan’s appeal as a teacher and pastor – a passionate love of goodness, tempered with warmth, humility, and gentleness. (The venerable Bede wrote that “he was a pontiff inspired with a passionate love of virtue, but at the same time full of a surpassing mildness and gentleness.”)
St. Aidan died at Bamburgh on the last day of August, 651, and his remains were carried to Lindisfarne. His feast day is 31 August.
For a good study of St Aidan, see David Adam, FLAME IN MY HEART.
See the web site: http://www.lindisfarne.org.uk/
published 15 October 2005