As some of you might know, at the last workshop run by Heart Sent Messages, I was given the job of trying to find out who my next guide would be.
After some meditating on it and with help from Rachael Setford it was clear that I had been given St Aidan.
I had at least heard of him before, which was a big help. During my Monastic days in the North East I came across his name in lots of places. Hardly surprising as he is accredited as being the Apostle of Northumbria.
So I’ve spent the afternoon doing a bit of on line research and this is what I have come up with.
Born in Ireland, round about 590, Aidan entered the Noviciate at an early age. He is thought to have studied with St Senan in County Clare before joining the Monks at Iona. As with most things related to the Church in the Medieval Times, Bede is the main source of information. Bede clearly liked Aidan, although they disagreed on the date of Easter.
Bede wrote : His love of peace and charity, his Chasity and humility, his mind superior to anger, pride and vain glory. His Industry in keeping and teaching the heavenly commandments. His diligence in Reading and watching. His authority, becoming of a priest, in reproving the haughty and powerful and at the same time his tenderness if comforting the afflicted and reliving and defending the poor.
Aidan’s story really begins when King Oswald of Northumbria asked the Monks from Iona to restore Christianity to his kingdom. (Christianity being brought over by the Romans…..died of a bit in the North East and people has started to return back to the old pagan ways). Iona first sent a monk named Corman, who returned to Iona saying the Northumbrians where to stubborn to be converted. Aidan simply pointed out that Cormans’ methods where properly to harsh. Aidan got the job to go and sort out the Kingdom for Oswald.
Saint Aidan by Rowan Lewgalon
In 635 Aidan arrived at Bamburgh, the Royal City of Oswald. Oswald gave him the Isle of Lindisfarne to set up his Monastery. Which Aidan did, in the Irish style of a church surrounded by mud huts for the monks to sleep in, plus other communal buildings. One of which was a school. Aiden valued Education and sent up schools throughout the kingdom, teaching reading so that people could read the Bible for themselves. St Chad was a student of Aidan in one of his schools. Aidan’s approach to his Mission, was not to use the heavy handed methods of some of the early Saints but by walking around the kingdom, talking to the people as he went. Talking to them on there own level. Oswald accompanied him in the early days and Aidan didn’t speak English, but Celtic Irish. But he soon learned the langue of his King.
Bede writes : – He neither sought nor loved anything of this world, but delighted in distributing immediately to the poor whatever was given to him by kings and Rich men. Wherever on his way, he saw any, either rich or poor, he invited them, if pagan to embrace the mystery of faith or if they were believers, he sought to strengthen them in their faith and stir them up by words and action.
Aidan is pictured with the Stage and a Burning Torch. Legend has it that Aidan saved the Stage from a pack of hounds by miraculously making the stage invisible. In 651 Bamburgh was attacked by Vikings, Aidan seeing the city in flames from his Cell on Lindisfarne knelt and prayed for the safe deliverance of the City. Suddenly the wind changed direction and blow the smoke and flames back towards the invaders.
Aidan disliked pomp, on the occasions he was forced to attend Court, after taking a brief rest after dinning he would retire to the Parish church, where he would have tent, to Read and Pray.
Aidan’s fest day, the day the Church Celebrate him, is 31st August. Aidan died on the 31st August 651, leaning against the wall of the Parish Church in Bamburgh. He was buried at the Church on Lindisfarne. At some point half of his relics went back to Iona and the other half went to Glastonbury.
As I get to know Aidan, I’m looking forward to the insights he will share with me. As we communicate I hope I’ll be able to publish some of his thoughts for you all to share.
Love and light