Our Patron Saint
Biography of St. Aidan
Aidan was the first bishop and abbot of Lindisfarne, the small island off the coast of northern England located between present day Berwich-on-Tweed and Bamburgh. A native of Ireland, he was born in the latter part of the sixth century and became a monk of Iona, where St. Columcille had established his monastery earlier.
When King Oswald of Northumbria requested a bishop to help convert his pagan subjects, Aidan was consecrated and arrived in Northumbria in 635. He made his headquarters on Lindisfarne.
From there he evangelized and founded missionary outposts, including a monastery at Melrose. Among his many Anglo-Saxon protégés were Hild of Whitby and Cuthbert.
Aidan’s biographer, the Venerable Bede (673-735) wrote more affectionately of Aidan than possibly any other saint, except Cuthbert. The qualities that appealed to Bede were the very ones that contributed to Aidan’s appeal as a teacher: passionate love of goodness tempered with humility, warmth and a gentle spirit.
Stories of Aidan also clearly reflect one of the most ancient and enduring traits of authentic Christian spirituality: concern for and love of the poor and strangers. Scholar Dom Gougaud calls Aidan the “true Apostle of England,” for it was Aidan’s missionary outreach in Northumbria that had such a lasting effect upon the conversion of the Saxons. The statue of Aidan which stands on Lindisfarne today shows him holding the torch of faith he brought to that part of England. Aidan died in 651. His feast day is August 31st.