This is the second installment in my Saturday Saint’s series, wherein I showcase a saint whose life interests me. Last time I featured Stephen, the first Martyr. Beginning with this post, I will be going in alphabetical order, starting of course with the letter A. Today’s Saint is Aidan of Lindisfarne:
Aidan of Lindisfarne (died 31 August 651) was an Irish monk and missionary credited with restoring Christianity to Northumbria. He founded a monastic cathedral on the island of Lindisfarne, served as its first bishop, and traveled ceaselessly throughout the countryside, spreading the gospel to both the Anglo-Saxon nobility and to the socially disenfranchised (including children and slaves).
He is known as the Apostle of Northumbria and is recognized as a saint by the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Anglican Communion and others.
[Short bio taken from Wikipedia, the full article can be found here.]
I find Saint Aidan fascinating for several reasons. The first thing that impressed me was his down to earth style. While he came from a monastic background, he was more than willing to leave that solitude behind to go out in the world. Even more than that, he was still able to relate to the people he was trying to convert and strengthen the faith of. He never preached down to anyone, and used conversation and everyday contact to impress people. Given his success, I imagine that he was a very charismatic yet humble person.
I was also fascinated by the background of his missionary work. The area where he concentrated his efforts had been a formerly Christian region that had backslid to paganism. This meant his work was as much about bolstering the faith of the Christians already present who were watching that faith be swept away by paganism as it was about winning converts. That kind of example is necessary right now, because that same phenomenon seems to be occurring in the West in the present day. Christianity is being warped and replaced by paganism that is eerily, though unsurprisingly, familiar to what existed before. It should be comforting to those of us who keep the faith, and who try to bring light into an increasingly dark world, that there were those before us who blazed a trial for us.
Also, I thought it was kind of cool that you had an Irish priest who was trained in a Scottish monastery and did missionary work in England.