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Lindisfarne, also called Holy Island, is a tidal island off the northeast coast of England, which constitutes the civil parish of Holy Island in Northumberland. Holy Island has a recorded history from the 6th century AD; it was an important center of Celtic Christianity. After the Viking invasions, and the Norman conquest of England, a priory was reestablished.
The monastery of Lindisfarne was founded about 634 by Saint Aidan, an Irish monk who was sent from Iona off the west coast of Scotland to Northumbria at the request of King Oswald. The priory was founded before the end of 634 and Aidan remained there until his death in 651. The priory remained the only seat of a bishopric in Northumbria for nearly thirty years.
Lindisfarne became the base for Christian evangelism in the North of England and sent a successful mission to Mercia. Monks from the Irish community of Iona settled on the island. Northumbria’s patron saint, Saint Cuthbert, was a monk and later abbot of the monastery, and his miracles and life are recorded by the Venerable Bede. Cuthbert later became Bishop of Lindisfarne. An anonymous life of Cuthbert written at Lindisfarne is the oldest extant piece of English historical writing.
In 793, a Viking raid on Lindisfarne caused much upheaval throughout the Christian west and is now considered the beginning of the Viking Age. There had been some other Viking raids, but according to English Heritage this one was particularly significant, because “it attacked the sacred heart of the Northumbrian kingdom, desecrating ‘the very place where the Christian religion began in our nation'”. The generally accepted date for the Viking raid on Lindisfarne is 8 June; Michael Swanton writes: “vi id Ianr, presumably [is] an error for vi id Iun (8 June) which is the date given by the Annals of Lindisfarne (p. 505), when better sailing weather would favor coastal raids.” Alcuin, a Northumbrian scholar in Charlemagne‘s court at the time, wrote: “Never before has such terror appeared in Britain as we have now suffered from a pagan race … The heathens poured out the blood of saints around the altar, and trampled on the bodies of saints in the temple of God, like dung in the streets.” During the attack, many of the monks were killed or captured and enslaved.
With the collapse of the Northumbrian kingdom, the monks of Lindisfarne fled the island taking with them St Cuthbert’s bones (which are now buried at the cathedral in Durham), who during his life had been prior and bishop of Lindisfarne; his body was buried on the island in the year 698.
- Ordnance Survey (2019), Holy Island, Ordnance Survey, retrieved 12 November 2019.
- Northumberland County Council (2013), Parish and town councils, retrieved 11 August 2013.
- Graham-Campbell, James; Wilson, David M. (2001), The Viking World (Google Books) (3rd ed.), London: Frances Lincoln Ltd, ISBN 978-0-7112-1800-0, retrieved 1 December 2008.
- “THE VIKING RAID ON LINDISFARNE”. English Heritage. 30 June 2017. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
- Swanton, Michael (6 April 2000) [c.1000], The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (New ed.), Phoenix Press, ISBN 978-1-84212-003-3.
- Marsden, John (1993). The Fury of the Northmen: Saints, Shrines and Sea-raiders in the Viking Age. London: Kyle Cathie. p. 41.
- Stenton, Sir Frank M. (1987) [first published 1943], Anglo-Saxon England, The Oxford History of England, vol. II (3rd ed.), OUP, ISBN 978-0-19-821716-9,
Accessed Wikipedia.org 07 June 2022.
ALSO ON THIS DAY
1688 – Seven bishops who refused to violate the English constitution by accepting an arbitrary Declaration of Indulgence promulgated by King James II without parliamentary approval, were arrested and taken to the Tower of London. They were found not guilty when tried.
1794 – A disciple of Rousseau named Robespierre and the French National Convention formally inaugurated a new religion. It was a form of deism, the belief that there is a God who, having created the universe, more or less disappeared. It didn’t work.
1862 – (Whitsunday) King George of Tonga and participants from Tonga, Fiji, and Somoa gather to celebrate Tonga’s new constitution and Christian government. Remembering with shame their former way of life, they break into sobs when they begin to sing “Jesus shall reign where’er the sun / Doth his successive journeys run.”
1936 – H. R. Mackintosh, a Church of Scotland theologian, and professor of systematic theology at New College, Edinburgh, died. He wrote The Doctrine of the Person of Jesus Christ, carefully assessing theologies and heresies regarding the understanding of Christ’s incarnation and arguing for the kenotic theory.
Accessed ChristianHistoryInstitute.org and Rhemalogy.com 07 June 2022.
Note: Photo in Header Chris Combe from York, UK – Holy Island Sunrise (again)
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