St Aidan of Lindisfarne

Feast Day – 31 August

Aidan of Lindisfarne (died 31 August 651), known as the Apostle of Northumbria, 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 travelled ceaselessly throughout the countryside, spreading the gospel to both the Anglo-Saxon nobility and to the socially disenfranchised (including children and slaves).

After his death, Aidan’s body was inhumed at Lindisfarne, beneath the abbey that he had helped found. Though his popularity waned in the coming years, “in the 10th century Glastonbury monks obtained some supposed relics of Aidan; through their influence Aidan’s feast appears in the early Wessex calendars, which provide the main evidence for his cult after the age of Bede.”

His feast is celebrated on the anniversary of his death, 31 August. Reflecting his Irish origins, his Scottish monasticism and his ministry to the English, Aidan has been proposed as a possible patron saint of the United Kingdom.

Today, Aidan’s significance is still recognized in the following saying by Joseph Lightfoot, Bishop of Durham:

“Augustine was the Apostle of Kent, but Aidan was the Apostle of the English.”

—Bishop Lightfoot