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St. Cuthbert, Abbot of Lindisfarne

The most popular saint in northern England, Cuthbert was born c. 634 into a well-to-do family. He was a shepherd before entering Melrose in 651, while Eata was abbot. When Eata left Melrose to found Ripon, Cuthbert accompanied him. Cuthbert became prior of Melrose c. 661, after he and Eata returned from Ripon, where they had refused to change Celtic rites for Roman rites. Cuthbert became known for his care for plague victims. After the Synod of Whitby, Cuthbert accepted Roman usage and went to Lindisfarne to be prior under Eata. In 676, Cuthbert resigned his post and became a hermit on the Inner Farne, where he became known as a protector of seabirds. Elected bishop of Hexham in 685, he traded bishoprics with Eata and became bishop of Lindisfarne instead. He died two years later on the Inner Farne. His relics were moved to Durham Cathedral, and his tomb was a popular pilgrim's destination until its destruction in 1538.

Cuthbert was an influence on the Venerable Bede, who wrote a life of Cuthbert; on King Alfred the Great; and on Aelred of Rievaulx. Cuthbert's name lives on in St. Cuthbert's beads, a type of seaweed.

Karen Rae Keck


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