Cuthbert was born in Northumbria in northern England about 625. One night, while tending a herd of sheep, he saw lights in the sky which he interpreted as a soul being escorted heavenward by a band of angels. Later, he learned that Aidan of Lindisfarne (31 August 651) had died that night, and he resolved to enter the monastic life. He was a monk at Melrose Abbey from 651 to 664, and when the Abbot, Eata, became abbot and bishop at Lindisfarne, Cuthbert accompanied him and was Prior there until 676. Although he had been brought up in the Celtic customs, he accepted the decrees of the Synod of Whitby in 663, which committed the English Church to following instead the Roman customs that had been introduced into Canterbury by Augustine, and so he helped to minimize contention over the decision. Although his real preference was for the solitary life of a hermit, he recognized a duty to minister to the needs of the people about him. Year after year he made long journeys, on horseback and on foot, to Durham and throughout Northumbria, and in the regions of Berwick and Galloway, preaching to the scattered population in remote and sparsely settled areas, instructing them in the faith and encouraging them in the practice of it, urging them in times of sickness not to rely on charms or amulets, but to pray to God and put their trust in His mercy and love. Like Francis of Assisi, he had a remarkable rapport with animals, both wild and domestic.
Theodore, the Archbishop of Canterbury, made Cuthbert Bishop of Hexham, but he was a solitary by nature, and promptly exchanged bishoprics with Eata so as to remain at Lindisfarne. After two years, he retired to the neighboring island of Farne as a hermit, and died there the following year.
Propers for CUTHBERT, Bishop of Lindisfarne
ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who didst enkindle the flame of thy love in the heart of thy servant Cuthbert: Grant to us, thy humble servants, the same faith and power of love; that, as we rejoice in his triumph, we may profit by his example; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Epistle - Wisdom 7:7-14.
I CALLED upon God, and the spirit of wisdom came to me. I preferred her before sceptres and thrones, and esteemed riches nothing in comparison of her. Neither compared I unto her any precious stone, because all gold in respect of her is as a little sand, and silver shall be counted as clay before her. I loved her above health and beauty, and chose to have her instead of light: for the light that cometh from her never goeth out. All good things together came to me with her, and innumerable riches in her hands. And I rejoiced in them all, because wisdom goeth before them: and I knew not that she was the mother of them. I learned diligently, and do communicate her liberally: I do not hide her riches. For she is a treasure unto men that never faileth: which they that use become the friends of God, being commended for the gifts that come from learning.
The Gospel - St. John 17:18-23.
AS thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me though their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
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