Stories of St. Aidan

lindscriptorium

Holy Island, United Kingdom

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Artist's Description

Created: 2014

Words:

And Aidan declared the power of his God. Help us to tell of the battle already won. And Aidan listened to his God and willingly obeyed. Help us to surrender our selfish will. And Aidan embraced humility, love for all. Help us to tell of the passion of Christ.

Background:

This piece is a celebration of St. Aidan of Lindisfarne’s life. The images are based on three passages written by the Venerable Bede about Aidan.

Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation, Book III Bede

CHAPTER XVI

HOW AIDAN, BY HIS PRAYERS, SAVED THE ROYAL CITY WHEN FIRED BY THE ENEMY. [eA.D. 651.]

…during the time that he [Aidan] was bishop, the hostile army of the Mercians, under the command of Penda, cruelly ravaged the country of the Northumbrians far and near, even to the royal city; … Not being able to enter it by force,… he endeavored to burn it; … At that time, …Aidan resided in the isle of Farne, which is nearly two miles from the city;… When he saw the flames of fire and the smoke carried by the boisterous wind above the city walls, he is reported, with eyes and hands lifted up to heaven, to have said, “Behold, Lord, how great mischief Penda does!” … the wind immediately turning from the city, drove back the flames upon those who had kindled them, so that some being hurt, and all frightened, they forbore any further attempts against the city, which they perceived was protected by the hand of God.

CHAPTER XV

HOW BISHOP AIDAN FORETOLD TO CERTAIN SEAMEN A STORM THAT WOULD HAPPEN, AND GAVE THEM SOME HOLY OIL TO LAY IT. [A.D. 651.]

A certain priest, whose name was Utta… being ordered to Kent, to bring from thence, as wife for King Oswy, Eanfleda, the daughter of King Edwin, … and intending to go thither by land, but to return with the virgin by sea, repaired to Bishop Aidan, entreating him to offer up his prayers to our Lord for him and his company, who were then to set out on their journey. He, blessing and recommending them to our Lord, at the same time gave them some holy oil, saying, “I know that when you go abroad, you will meet with a storm and contrary wind; but do you remember to cast this oil I give you into the sea, and the wind shall cease immediately; you will have pleasant calm weather, and return home safe.” All which fell out as the bishop had predicted.

CHAPTER XIV

He [King Oswin] had given an extraordinarily fine horse to Bishop Aidan, which he might either use in Crossing rivers, or in performing a journey upon any urgent necessity, though he was wont to travel ordinarily on foot. Some short time after, a poor man meeting him, and asking alms, he immediately dismounted, and ordered the horse, with all his royal furniture, to be given to the beggar; … This being told to the king, … he said to the bishop, “Why would you, my lord bishop, give the poor man that royal horse, which was necessary for your use? Had not we many other horses of less value, and of other sorts, which would have been good enough to give to the poor, and not to give that horse, which I had particularly chosen for yourself?” To whom the bishop instantly answered, “What is it you say, O king? Is that foal of a mare more dear to you than the Son of God?”

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