20 March 2017
Today we celebrate the Feast of St Cuthbert, the patron saint of our Diocese and namesake of our charity.
Born in 634AD, as a boy Cuthbert used to tend sheep on the mountain sides near the monastery of Melrose in modern day Scotland. In 651AD, whilst watching his sheep, he saw a vision of St Aidan being carried to heaven by angels and this inspired him to become a monk.
He became prior at Lindisfarne where he spent much of his time evangelizing the local people, spreading the word of the gospel to all.
St Cuthbert first sought peace and solitude in the Inner Farne Island in 676AD, where he would spend long periods of time praying and making rosary beads from fossil crinoids. Crinoids are still washed up on local beaches today and are still known as Cuthbert's beads.
In 684AD, Cuthbert was called to become the Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle. He travelled throughout the North of England helping people and was known as a saint and miracle worker in his own lifetime. However, the pull of the Inner Farne Island was too strong and Cuthbert finally returned, spending the rest of his life in solitude and prayer.
Cuthbert died on the island on 20 March 687AD and his body was buried at the Lindisfarne Monastery. His tomb became the site of many miracles and the Lindisfarne Gospels were written in his honour.
Before his death, Cuthbert had expressed his wish that if the monks were ever forced out of the monastery they would take his remains, so with the threat of the Danes invading, the monks fled Lindisfarne and took Cuthbert's remains with them.
For over 200 years the monks and his remains wandered around the North of England until they finally settled in Durham and began to build Durham Cathedral to house Cuthbert's remains. Thousands of people still make the pilgrimage to Durham Cathedral each year to visit the remains of St Cuthbert.