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Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne

I will go, Lord. I will hold this people in my heart.

Saint Aidan (Naomh Aodhán) was an Irish Monk and Missinoary who famously converted the Anglo-Saxons in Northumbria to Christianity. He is often known as the Apostle of Northumbria.

Much of Saint Aidan's life comes from writings of Bede - none of his early life is recorded except that he was likely born in Connacht and lived as a monk at Iona (founded by Saint Columba). At the time much of Britain had changed from Christianity (brought by the Roman Empire) to Paganism (brought by the Anglo-Saxons). Oswald of Northumbria, a young noble who had be exiled since 616 AD was baptized a Christian and returned to the throne of Northumbria in 634 AD, vowing to return Christianity to the kingdom. As soon as he had reclaimed the throne, Oswald sent messengers for help, begging the monasteries he had spent time with to send missionaries. The first of which, a Bishop Corman arrived but failed to convert many due to his difficult and harsh nature. Saint Aiden was sent as the replacement and consecrated Bishop in 635 AD.

Now Bishop, Saint Aiden allied himself with Oswald and chose Lindisfarne as the seat of his diocese. Following he early apostolic models of conversion, Saint Aiden would walk from village to village, talking o each at their own level and taking a personal, true interest in their lives. Very quickly he gained a reputation for charity and dedication toward those in need, famously providing room and board for orphans and using any contributions to pay for the freedom of slaves. The monastery he founded grew by leaps and bounds and quickly helped found churches and other Christian institutions throughout the Kingdom. Both Saint Pope Honorius and Saint Felix of Dunwhich both became close friends and grew to respect Saint Aidan greatly.

Saint Aidan became close friends with King Oswine of Deira when King Oswald passed. In 651, when a pagan army attacked the capital at Bamburgh, Saint Aidan could see smoke rising from his cell at Lindisfarne Abbey. He immediately fell to his knees in prayer and miraculously the wind changed course, blowing the black smoke towards the enemy. Believing the sudden change in wind and smoke to be the work of spiritual forces, the army retreated. Unfortunately, just a short time later, King Oswine was betrayed and murdered.

On August 31st, 651 AD, while ill from a missionary journey, Saint Aidan died leaning against the wall of the local church (now known as Saint Aidan's Church, Bamburgh). His death came only two weeks after the murder of King Oswine, his close friend. Saint Aidan was buried at Lindisfarne beneath the abbey he had founded. Today his feast is celebrated on August 31st in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches and on June 9th by the Lutheran Church.

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