Shrine of St. Frideswide, Christ Church Cathedral Oxford.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

St. Aidan of Lindisfarne; a father of the Anglican Church

St. Aidan by the Church of St. Mary on Lindisfarne; the site of his abbey.
St. Aidan of Lindisfarne can be treated equally as a father of the Church in England with Augustine of Canterbury and likewise of the whole Anglican Church. It was Aidan, who in A. D. 635 brought the light of Christ into the Kingdom of Northumbria, which then extended from the firth of Forth to the river Humber, and established the monastery of Lindisfarne as his episcopal seat. Aidan came on invitation of Oswald from the church of Iona, which was not under the bishop of Rome until the eleventh century, and evangelized in England as far south as London often travelling by foot. 
Bede later recorded of him "He neither sought nor loved anything of this world, but delighted in distributing immediately to the poor whatever was giver to him by kings or rich men of this world. He traversed both town and country on foot, never on horseback, unless compelled by some urgent necessity. Whenever on his way he saw any, either rich or poor, he invited them, if pagans, to embrace the mystery of the faith; or if they were believers, he sought to strengthen them in their faith and stir them up by words and actions to alms and good works."
St. Aidan died on August 31 in 651 and the Church in Bamburgh is built over the site of his death. He was buried on Lindisfarne but his bones were taken with the body of St. Cuthbert to Durham were they remain to this day. The altar in the center of the chapel of the nine altar is dedicated to his memory.
Aidan, as bishop, proved  wholly dedicated to Christ in his work as a missionary and in his effort to give to the poor. He is important to the Anglican Church not only as a father but also as model for bishops today and for what the church should look for in choosing bishops. Our codes of conduct in modern society has changed since the seventh century, but poverty has not gone away and not everyone has been fairly invited to "embrace the mystery of the faith." Words are powerful tools, but as Aidan shows us it is more than just preaching that Christians must do to follow in Jesus' footsteps. Aidan, his episcopal colleges and successors dedicated their lives to give Christ to the Father's children, it is our duty, as Christians, whether we are lay-people, priests or bishops, to make sure that the Anglican Church gives the faith of Christ, preserved and unviolated, to our own brothers, sisters and children. 

Heavenly Father, we thank you for your holy servant Aidan and his strength and commitment to bringing the light of your son to the Northumbrians and we pray that that we may muster the same strength and commitment to extend his mission, his kindness and our faith to all corners of the Earth. Amen

Icon of St. Aidan presenting the gospel to King Oswald at the Church of St. Aidan, Bamburgh. 

St. Aidan altar at Durham Cathedral.

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