FLORIN WEBSITE © JULIA BOLTON HOLLOWAY, AUREO ANELLO ASSOCIATION, 1997-2009:  FLORENCE'S 'ENGLISH' CEMETERY || BIBLIOTECA E BOTTEGA FIORETTA MAZZEI || ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING || WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR || FLORENCE IN SEPIA  ||  BRUNETTO LATINO, DANTE ALIGHIERI AND GEOFFREY CHAUCER || E-BOOKS || ANGLO-ITALIAN STUDIES || CITY AND BOOK I,II, III, IV, V || NON-PROFIT GUIDE TO COMMERCE IN FLORENCE || AUREO ANELLO, CATALOGUE Presentation with Power Point slides given in Italian on Monte Amiata, for the La Meta exhibition of the Codex Amiatinus, Lindisfarnce Gospels and Book of Kells facsimiles, 25 July 2009. The Appendix to this paper contains its source materials from Bede, etc. Nor did the story of Lindisfarne end in the eighth century. For its fourteenth century continuation, see http://www.umilta.net/whiterig.html



ALPHABET AND BIBLE

FROM THE MARGINS TO THE CENTRE

1



2
Ruthwell Cross, Woman Penitent

In the Gospel are written the words said by Christ:
"Amen, dico vobis, ubicumque praedicatum fuerit hoc evangelium, in toto mundo, dicetur et quod haec fecit in memoriam eius"'. Jesus says these words of the action of the woman who comes and washes his feet with her tears, anointing his head with oil from an alabaster vase. It is a story repeated in each Gospel, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John adding that she is Mary, Lazarus' sister and that that the perfumed filled the entire house (Matthew 26.12-13; Mark 13.3-9; Luke 7.37-50; John 11.2, 12.3-8).
3 We see in the Google map that the Bible and its Gospel truly become known to the ends of the earth, as Ceolfrith wrote in the CODEX AMIATINUS, 'extremis de finibus', even to Europe's margins, to the British Isles.
The first City and Book conference was organized in 2001, concentrating on the alphabet and the Bible. Following this we submitted a proposal to the European Union for the digitizing of the great Bibles and for holding exhibitions of their facsimiles at Jarrow, Reykjavik and Florence. But it was the year in which France strongly opposed religion. Our argument was that the base of European culture and its 'information technology' lies in the Alphabet and the Bible, neither of which originates but in Iraq, Egypt and Israel.
The semitic phonetic alphabet: aleph, beth, gimel, daleth, was then pirated by the Greeks to become their alpha, beta, gamma, delta. Even the Phoenician form was taken by the Etruscans - as we can see at Fiesole - reaching Germany, Scandinavia, Iceland, Greenland and Vinland. in the form of runes. Christianity is founded from three related alphabets, Hebrew, Greek and Latin. Wulfila would add the Gothic alphabet, Cyril and Methodius the slavic one, Glagolitic and Cyrillic, translating their Bibles from the Greek. The Roman letters used in the CODEX AMIATINUS, 710-716 A.D., in the LINDISFARNE GOSPELS, 715, and in the BOOK OF KELLS, c. 800, derive from Greek and Etruscan ones. By using this 'Information Technology' of the alphabet the Bible and the Gospel quickly spread across all of Europe.

I. Women and the Bible
I. Hulda and Ezra. Within the Bible, twice, we learn how the Bible was rediscovered, studied and taught in Jerusalem. The first time, in 621 B.C., it was the prophetess Hulda who said to the king Josiah what to do when the Torah was found in a cupboard in the Temple where it had been forgotten for centuries. She counselled that he should make all the people listen to the word of God (2 Kings 22.14-23.30; 2 Chronicles 34:14-33). The second time was when Ezra and Nehemiah at the return from exile in Babylonia in 458 B.C. had done the same, having all the people called together to listen to the words (Neemia 8.1-18).
II. 
Egeria, 381-384 A.D., pilgrimaged from Spain to Monte Sinai, Jerusalem and Constantinope, writing letters to her nuns telling of visits to the Holy Places, the VETUS LATINA BIBLE in hand, this a product of the work of Origen and of Ambrose's circle.
4-5 Jerome, Paula, Eustochium. Jerome, on the models of Hulda and Ezra and with the help of the funds and the work of the noble Roman ladies, Paula and Eustochium, translated the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into Latin, as the VULGATE, 386-406, in the cave next to that of the Nativity at Bethlehem. Monastic Bibles included the epistles Jerome wrote to these holy women as prefaces. Here we see illuminations of them in a Norman Bible from Jumieges, now in the Bodleian Library. These women, Egeria, Paula, Eustochium, like Monica, mother to Augustine, copied the Empress Helena, who converted her son Constantine and who pilgrimaged to Sinai and Jerusalem building the Basilica at Bethlehem above the cave of the Nativity. After them would be many other Christian women who made these pilgrimages, Bible in hand, among them Pega, Guthlac's sister, from Cambridgeshire to Rome, Guthrithyr from Iceland to Vinland (America) and then Rome in the year 1000, the Irish pilgrims Saint Andrea and Saint Brigida, friends of San Donatus, Bishop of Fiesole, founded San Martino a Mensola and Santa Brigida, Margaret of Jerusalem, who was born to her parents from Beverley in Yorkshire on pilgrimage in Jerusalem and who then returned there in later life, fighting in the seige with a cookpot on her head, Birgitta of Sweden, who had the Bible translated from Hebrew to Swedish, who pilgrimaged from Uppsala to Compostela, and then to Rome, Jerusalem and Bethlehem, returning to Rome to die, and Margery Kempe, who also pilgrimaged to Compsotela, Bergen, Gdansk, Rome, Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Reading Bede one finds that the conversions of pagan Anglo-Saxon kings and their kingdoms to Christianity took place through their queens, on the model of Helen to Constantine, who then taught their sons how to read and love the Bible.
6 Veneranda and Galla Placidia. The 390 fresco in the Domitilla catacomb shows Veneranda with Saint Petronilla. Beside St Peter's daughter is a capsa filled with scrolls and above them a codex. We see here women with the Bible at the same time that Jerome was beginning his translation with the hlpe of noble Roman women. In 440-450 the Ravenna mosaic in Galla Placidia's tomb shows a cupboard filled with the four Gospel volumes. Boethius would speak of the lack of his books in their cupboards of crystal and ivory when he was imprisoned by Theodoric in 524. 7 Cassiodorus succeeded him in office to the Arian Emperor, then retired to Calabria where he founded Vivarium with his great libry for his study of the Bible, creating the CODEX GRANDIOR and the NOVEM CODICES. At this same time Wulfila's Gothic Bible (already translated in 383) was copied in the CODEX ARGENTEUS, now in Uppsala, in letters of gold on purple parchment for this same Gothic Emperor Theodoric who had condemned the noble Roman senator Boethius to death.


8 Pilgrim Map I
9 Pilgrim Map II
10 British Isles Map

II. The RUTHWELL CROSS:
11 Ruthwell Church
12
Ruthwell Cross
Abbot Ceolfrith not only commissioned the making of the CODEX AMIATINUS at his monastery at Wearmouth Jarrow, he also, Bede tells us, sent sculptors to King Necthan of the Picts in Scotland beyond Hadrian's Wall.
Where we find at Ruthwell a great stone cross sculpted with this episode from the Gospels and later with runic letters that derive from the Etruscan/Phoenician alphabet, which present the poem of the DREAM OF THE ROOD. On the same cross is also sculpted Christ with his feet upon a lion and a dragon in the desert, while he holds in his hand a scroll, like the Isaiah scroll he held in the syngaogue in Nazareth (Luke 4.17), while the scene with the penitent woman Christ instead holds with a reverential gesture and a humeral veil, a bound volume of the Gospel, "hoc evangelium". 13 The sculptures of the 'inhabited vines' at Jarrow, Ruthwell, and Bewcastle can well be the work of the expert French and perhaps even Roman stone carvers acquired by Benedict Biscop for Wearmouth-Jarrow in Northumbria, which Abbot Ceolfrith then sent in 710 to King Nechtan of the Picts in Scotland. The RUTHWELL CROSS in Scotland uses both the Roman capital letters as sculpted on stone (as does Bede tend to use these capital letters, for example vs instead of us, "HOC REPARAVIT OPVS', above the portrait of Ezra in the CODEX AMIATINUS) and the Phoenician/Etruscan runes for the verses in Old English giving the 'DREAM OF THE ROOD' a narration of Christ's Crucifixion told from the Cross's viewpoint. Philip Roughton and Stephan Grundy, my former students, carried out research for me on the Finnish Havamal, where Oðinn, "spear-wounded", "geiri undaþr" (echoed in the smiþ strelum giwundad of the DREAM OF THE ROOD) hangs on the tree for nine days to learn the runes of life, snatched from the roots of Yggdrasil. This preaching cross combines pagan motives with Christian ones, imposing Roman art on Pictish/Celtic and Anglo-Saxon margins.
The psalm recited at Vespers by Jews and Christians with the verse "Super et basiliscum aspidem ambulabis, conculabis leonem et draconem" (Psalm 90/1.13), is echoed in the inscription, "IHS XPS/BESTIAE.ET.DRACONES.COGNOVERVNT.IN.DESER/TO. SALVA[T]OREM MVNDI./IVDEX.AEQVITATIS." and in the sculpture of Christ standing on the two beasts. Christ and Satan discuss this psalm during the temptation in the desert (Matthew 4, 5-7, Luke 4, 9-12). Bede notes that Benedict Biscop wanted to have on the south wall of St Peter's church in Wearmouth scenes from the Gospel, while on the north there would be scenes from St John's Apocalypse as a way of teaching even the illiterate. The RUTHWELL CROSS is a Gospel in stone, that echoes the Ten Commandments written on the stone tablets or the Titulus on the Cross in Hebrew, Greek and Latin. The Cross maps the Holy Places of the pilgrimage to Jerusalem and to Sinai, including the amusing account told by St Jerome of St Paul and St Anthony, "SCS PAVLVS ET ANTONI VS EREMITAE FREGERVNT PANEM IN DESERTO". It palimpsests in distant Ruthwell, beyond Hadrian's Wall in Scotland, far from Wearmouth-Jarrow, even further from Jerusalem, those Gospel words of the penitent woman: "ASTRVM VNGVENTI & STANS SECVS PEDES EIVS LACRIMIS COEPIT RISARE PEDES EIVS", '"Amen, dico vobis, ubicumque praedicatum fuerit hoc evangelium, in toto mundo, dicetur et quod haec fecit in memoriam eius"' (Matthew 26.12-13). Ceolfrith inscribes in the dedication to the CODEX AMIATINUS that it is being carried 'extremis de finibus'. 

14 IV. CODEX AMIATINUS, 710-716.
In 679-680, the Anglo-Saxon monks Ceolfrith and Benedict Biscopi, educated by Irish scholars, in Rome acquired Cassiodorus' library, including the
CODEX GRANDIOR, an entire Bible, a pandect, and the NOVEM CODICES, the nine books, bringing these to Wearmouth-Jarrow in Northumbria. But it is Jerome's anthorized VULGATE rather than the text of the now lost Cassiodoran CODEX GRANDIOR that Ceolfrith had cipied into the CODEX AMIATINUS. Here we see Cassiodorus' book cupboard with the NOVEM CODICES on its shelves in the pandect of the CODEX AMIATINUS. The portrait of the prophet Ezra is considered to be also a portrait of the scholar Cassiodorus, 15 but it also reflects the portrait of Matthew as he is shown in the nearby and earlier LINDISFARNE GOSPEL, Paul Meyvaert noting that Wearmouth-Jarrow's Ceolfrith likely gave them a Bible illuminated with the Evangelists, that of Matthew being made from a tracing of the one in the CODEX GRANDIOR. It is possible that the young Bede has made this also a portrait of his Abbot Ceolfrith, fervently editing Christendom's Bible for use by the Summus Pontifex, the Pope. In turn, the figure is carefully garbed as the Summus Pontifex with the plate of gold across his brow, and the jeweled breastplate, Bede making use of Jerome's Letter to the noble Fabiola which carefully describes that garb. This is due to Bede mistakenly at the time believing that Esdra was Jerusalem's Pontifex, rather than her prophet. Professor Lucia Castaldi and Paul Meyvaert have shown that the Roman letters written onto this page are likely those in Bede's own hand and that their words certainly reflect Bede's vocabulary. While the words Ezra/Cassiodorus/Ceolfrith write in the Book are in Tyronian notes, shorthand.
Benedict Biscop founded Wearmouth, dedicating the monastery to St Peter, then Ceolfrith founded Jarrow, dedicating his monastery to St Paul, the two monasteries being twinned. He had three pandects made, two for the altars of the two churches, which were to be destroyed by Vikings, and the third as a gift to Pope Gregory in Rome.
16 Here we see a fragment, later used as a paste down in another book, in writing that is not insular but in a manuscript that came to Durham from Cassiodorus' library, a page from his NOVEM CODICES that has survived and which is written in uncials, the Roman capital letters used on vellum rather than on stone. Ceolfrith, by having this be the script for the CODEX AMIATINUS, is seeking to make their foundations be super-Roman, super-Papal. But in some ways, the CODEX AMIATINUS is insular, rather than Roman. It does not use Cassiodorus' VETUS LATINA text, but the VULGATA of Jerome, Paula and Eustochium, even to the extent of using Jerome's HEBRAICUM, preserved by Irish scholars, as seen in the  CATHACH, instead of the GALLICANUM for its Psalter. 17 Jewish Bibles had illuminations of the Tent of Meeting and of the Temple, Cassiodorus' CODEX GRANDIOR copying these. This is from the Duke of Sussex's Catalan Hebrew Bible, exhibited at the British Library's SACRED exhibition in 2007. The CODEX AMIATINUS only has the first of the two. 18 This illumination of the Tent of Meeting gives the cardinal points with their names in Greek, ANATOL, DYSIS, ARCTOS, MESEMBRIA, used so in Augustine on John and in the Irish Apocrypha, which spell out the name ADAM, earth. Bibles, whether the Torah, the Gospel, the Koran, are God's Temple. Ceolfrith then in his old age carried this great manuscript towards Rome, dying on the journey. 19 After a time this manuscript came to the monastery of San Salvatore at Monte Amiata and Ceolfrith's name was erased from the dedication page. Aeneas Piccolomini consulted this Bible when editing the new Vulgate. Finally, when it came to the Laurentian Library, it was discovered that this was the Ceolfrith Bible of which Bede had written.

V. THE LINDISFARNE GOSPELS, 698-715
20-22 The islands of Farne and Lindisfarne are near Wearmouth-Jarrow. 23-25 Saint Cuthbert died 20 March 698, then was translated, his body placed in a coffin sculpted with images similar to those in the BOOK OF KELLS, a little Bible being placed among the silk cloths enshrouding him. 26-28 To celebrate this event a magnificen Gospel altar book was also created circa 698-715. It uses most beautiful Celtic motives but also copies a Gospel book from the south of Italy, come, likely, by way of Wearmouth-Jarrow and its far more realistic and classical figures of the Evangelists. In 793 Lindisfarne was sacked by the Vikings, the monks fleeing to Durham. During the ship voyage with the body of their saint the Gospel fell into the sea - quod demersus est in mare - then was retrieved without damage because of the tightly clasped bejewelled binding, a binding that is now lost. Aldred, Provost of Chester-le-Street, in a colophon to the Gospel book, written around 950-60, attributed the work to

Eadfrith [Eadbert], bishop of the Lindisfarne church, originally wrote the book, for God and St Cuthbert and - jointly - for all the saints whose relics are in the island. And Ethelwald, bishop of the Lindisfarne islanders, impressed it on the outside and the inside and covered it - as well he knew how to do. And Billfrith, the anchorite, forged the ornaments which are on the outside and adorned it with gold and with gems and also with gilded-over silver - pure metal. And Aldred, unworthy and most miserable priest, glossed it in English between the lines with the help of God and St Cuthbert.

29-30 Here we see Aldred's Old English glossing of the Bible between the lines in insular minuscule centuries later than the exquisite insular half-uncials of the Bishop Eadfrith.
31 Another splendid
Gospel Book from Lindisfarne is the BARBERINI GOSPELS, now in the Vatican Library, scribed by Wygbald, 781-802, thus being Kells' contemporary. Its illuminated letters are typical of insular manuscripts, such as Kells, but its Evangelist portraits are said to be in continental style, as are those of the Lindisfarne Gospels.

VI. HILDA OF WHITBY:
Lindisfarne and Wearmouth Jarrow are in County Durham, Northumbria. Near to them in North Yorkshire is Whitby. Bede speaks of this monastery founded by the princess Hilda where there were both monks and nuns and from whom came five bishops. Bede tells the story of how the cowherd Caedmon began to sing the entire Bible in Old English to the harp, Hilda encouraging him. Thus we find that the Bible truly is found at the ends of the earth, 'extremis de finibus'.

VII. BOOK OF KELLS:
But there is another story. Ireland in the fourth century was much under the influence of the Coptic Church in Egypt. The CODEX BOBIENSIS (Torino, Biblioteca Nazionale G.VIII[1163], the VETUS LATINA BIBBIA, written in Africa, was preserved in the Irish monastery at Bobbio and believed to have been that of St Colombanus, their founder. The century in which Ireland began to be Christian was the century of the Empress Helena and her son, the Emperor Constantine, Eusebius of Caesarea being translated by Eusebius of Vercelli, the fresco of Saint Petronilla with the capsa full of scrolls and the codex of the Bible painted in the Domitillan catacomb, Jerome with Paula and Eustochium going from Rome to Bethlehem and translating there the VULGATA, and when Wulfila translated the Bible into the Gothic language for which he invented its alphabet. Jerome first translated Origen's Psalter as the GALLICANUM, then re-translated it as the HEBRAICUM.
Our San Frediano, the Irish Bishop of Lucca, is mentioned by St Gregory. He is perhaps the St Finnian who brought the HEBRAICUM to Ireland. In 561, Saint Columba copied it. In the tradition that Psalter is the CATHACH. The CATHACH uses the GALLICANUM, but collates it carefully with the HEBRAICUM.
32 In 700 the LIBRO DI DURROW, the prototype of the LIBRO DI KELLS, was written in Durrow Abbey, founded by Saint Columba. It is a VULGATA and opens with the letter of Saint Jerome to Pope Damasus. It is decorated with carpet pages (we recall that Muhamma died in 632). 33-34 Saint Columba already founder of Durrow Abbey, then went on pilgrimage with twelve disciples to Scotland where he found the Abbey of Iona. He died 9 June 587 while transcribing a Psalter. In 635 the Anglo-Saxon King Oswald, converting to Christianity, asked that Saint Aidan of Iona found Lindisfarne. 35 In 2006, just three years ago, a GALLICANUM Psalter was discovered in the Faddan More Bog in Ireland. Bernard Meehan, Keeper of the BOOK OF KELLS, dates it circa 800.
36-41 Circa 800, perhaps on Iona, perhaps at Kells after Iona was sacked by the Vikings in 806 and 63 monks were killed by them, the BOOK OF KELLS was made using the same text of the Bible as had the BOOK OF DURROW. It is the most recent, the most modern of these three Bibles, but it recalls the most ancient traditions, those of the Copts in Egypt, those of the Picts in Scotland. However, in its pages we do not see dark Egyptians but Irishmen with red hair and blue eyes.
 

Giraldus Cambrensis wrote of a lost BOOK OF KILDARE:

This book contains the concordance of the four Gospels according to St Jerome, with almost as many drawings as pages, and all of them in marvellous colours. Here you can look upon the face of the divine majesty drawn in a miraculous way; here too upon the mystical representations of the Evangelists, now having six, now four, and now two, wings. Here you will see the eagle; there the calf. Here the face of a man; there that of a lion. And there are almost innumerable other drawings. If you look at them carelessly and casually and not too closely, you may judge them to be mere daubs rather than careful compositions. You will see nothing subtle where everythings is subtle. But if you take the trouble to look very closely, and penetrate with your eyes to the secrets of the artistry, you will notice such intricacies, so delicate and subtle, so close together, and well-knitted, so involved and bound together, and so fresh still in their colourings that you will not hesitate to declare that all these things must have been the result of the work, not of men, but of angels.*

Stolen, it lost its cover of gold and precious gems in 1006. In 1953 it was rebound in four volumes and for years a page a day was shown in the Long Room of the Library of Trinity College in a glass case under a green velvet curtain next to Brian Boru's harp. Now the volumes are shown beneath the library in a special exhibition space with other Bibles, the BOOK OF ARMAGH, the BOOK OF DURROW. Two volumes of the BOOK OF KELLS can even travel to exhibitions held of it, while two volumes remain at home in Ireland. In Australia in the year 2000 the Aborigines delighted in seeing their 'dot' art in its marvellous pages.


42-43 Conclusion:
I prefaced my presentation at the City and Book conference celebrating the CODEX AMIATINUS in 2001 by explaining why I had requested of the participants contributions on the DREAM OF THE ROOD of Ruthwell and Vercelli and on the Life of St Gregory from Whitby, now at St Gall, both in their original versions contemporary with the writing of the CODEX AMIATINUS. Both the Vercelli and the St Gall manuscripts are now far from the British Isles, the first in Italy, the second in Switzerland, carried their by pilgrims. Similarly the FRANKS' CASKET, in whalebone - of a whale stranded on the shore it tells us in runes - has links with Florence, part of it now in the Bargello Museum.
With Professor Maria Giulia Amadasi's paper we learned of the connections between the Phoenician, Etruscan and Runic alphabet. Then visiting Fiesole we saw Etruscan inscriptions on stone that echoed those of the 'DREAM OF THE ROOD' in Ruthwell. In all this we see how Christianity came, through the 'Information Technology' of the alphabet and through its inclusion and celebration of women, quickly to the margins and then could return again to reinvigorate the centre: '"Amen, dico vobis, ubicumque praedicatum fuerit hoc evangelium, in toto mundo, dicetur et quod haec fecit in memoriam eius."'

Notes
* Quoted, Bernard Meehan, The Book of Kells (London: Thames and Hudson, 2000), p. 89.


Appendix: Sources

Bede's Autobiography, Ecclesiastical History of the English People.

With God's help, I, Bede the servant of Christ and priest of the monastery of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul at Wearmouth and Jarrow, have assembled these facts about the history of the Church in Britain snd of the Church of the English in particular, so far as I have been able to ascertain them from ancient writings, from the traditions of our forebears, and from my own personal knowledge.
I was born on the lands of this monastery, and on reaching seven years of age, I was entrusted by my family first to the most reverend Abbot Benedict and later t Abbot Ceolfrith for my education. I have spent all the remainder of my life in this monastery and devoted myself entirely to the study of the Scriptures. And while I have observed the regular discipline and sung the choir offices daily in church, my chief delight has always been in study, teaching, and writing.
I was ordained deacon in my nineteenth year, and priest in my thirtieth, receiving both these orders at the hands of the most reverend Bishop John of Beverley at the direction of Abbot Ceolfrid. From the time of my receiving the priesthood until my fifty-ninth year, I have worked both for my own benefit and that of my brothers, to complete short extracts from the works of the venerable Fathers on Holy Scriptures and to comment on their meaning and interpretation.

 

I. Hadrian’s Wall

Beda. Ecclesiastical History

Book I, Chapter 12

The Romans, in order to assist those allies whom they wre forced to abandon, built a strong wall of stone directly from sea to sea in a straight line between the towns that had been built as strong points, where Severus had built his earthwork. This famous and still conspicuous wall was built from public and private resources, with the Britons lending assistance. It is eight feet in breadth, and twelve in height, and, as can be clearly seen to this day, ran straight from east to west. In addition, they built towers at intervals Overlooking the south coast where their ships lay, because there was a danger of barbarian raids even from this quarter. Then they bade farewell to their allies, with no intention of ever returning.

Chapter 1

At the present time there are in Britain, five languages and four nations – English, British, Irish and Picts- Each of these have their own language, but all are united in their study of God’s truth by the fifth – Latin – which has become a common medium through the study of the scriptures.


II. Hilda and Caedmon of Whitby

Bede made use of earlier materials. This story is from the Life of St Gregory/ Liber beati et laudabili viri Gregorii pape urbis Rome de vita atque virtutibus, written by a monk or nun at Whitby, 713, and now at St Gall in Switzerland, and which Bede will retell in the Ecclesiastical History of the English People:

             Est igitur narratio fidelium, ante predic
tum eius pontificatum, romam venisse quidam
de nostra natione forma et crinibus candidati albis.
Quos cum audisset venisse, iam dilexit vidisse;
eosque albe mentis intuitu sibi ascitos, recenti/


 

Therefore to tell truly, it was before his pontificate, when there came to Rome some of our nation who were fair of form having blond curls. Those with him heard that they had come, now saw how he delighted in seeing them.

specie in consueta suspensus et, quod maximum est,
Deo intus admonente, cuius gentis fuissent inqui
sivit. (Quos quidam pulchros fuisse pueros
dicunt, quidam vero crispos iuvenis et decoros.)
Cumque responderent: 'Anguli dicuntur illi de qui
bus sumus'; ille dixit: 'Angeli Dei'. Deinde dixit:
'Rex gentis illius quomodo nominatur?' Et
dixerunt: Aelli; et ille ait: 'Alleluia, laus
enim Dei esse debet illic'. Tribus quoque illius
nomen de qua erant proprie requisivit. Et dixe
runt: 'Deire'. Et ille dixit: 'De ira Dei confugien
tes ad fidem'.

 

. . . . He questioned them as to whose people they were . . . . When they replied: 'We are those who are spoken of as Angles', he said, 'You are angels of God'. Then he said: 'What is the name of the king of these people'. And they said: 'Aelle', and he said: 'Alleluia, for God ought now to be praised. What is the tribe's name to which you belong?' And they said: 'Deira'. And he said: 'They shall flee from the wrath of God (De ira) to faith'.

[Gregory wished to undertake the missionary journey himself but was unable to do so as at that time the Roman people revolted. When Pope Benedict died, Gregory was elected Pope, and so sent Augustine, Mellitus and Laurence instead.]


Bede, Ecclesiastical History IV.

Hilda of Whitby

Chapter 22

Hilda, Abbess of the monastery of Streanaeschalch [Whitby], a most religious servant of Christ, after an earthly life devoted to the work of heaven passed away to receive the reward of a heavenly life on the seventeenth of November, 680, at the age of sixty-six. Her life on earth fell into two equal parts: for she spent thirty-three years most nobly in secular occupations, and dedicated the ensuing thrity-three even more nobly to our Lord in the monastic life. She was nobly born, the daughter of Hereric, nephew to King Edwin. With Edwin, she received the Faith and sacraments of Christ through the preaching of Paulinus, and she preserved this Faith inviolate until was found worthy to see her Master in heaven.

When she decided to abandon the secular life and serve God alone, she went to the province of the East Angles, whose king was her kinsman; for having renounced her home and all that she possessed, she wished if possible to travel on from there into Gaul, and to live an exile for our Lord’s sake in the monastery of Chelles, s that she might the more easily attain her eternal heavenly home. For her sister Hereswith, mother of Aldwulf, King of the East Angles, was already living there as a professed nun and awaiting her eternal crown. Inspired by her example, Hilda remained in the province a full year, intending to join her overseas, but she was recalled home by Bishop Aidan and was granted one hide of land on the north bank of the Riber Wear, where she observed the monastic rule with a handful of companions for another year.

After this, Hilda was made abbess of the monastery of Heruteu [Hartlepool], founded not long previously by Heiu, a devout servant of Christ, said to have been the first woman in the province of Northumbria to take vows and be clothed as a nun, which she did with the blessing of Bishop Aidan. But soon after establishing the monastery she left the town of Calcaria, which the English call Kaelcaestir, and settled there. Then Christ’s servant was appointed to rule this monastery, and quickly set herself to establish a regular observance, following the instructions of learned men: for Bishop Aidan and other devout men, who knew her and admired her innate wisdom and love of God’s service, often used to visit her, to express their affection and offer thoughtful guidance.

When she had ruled this monastery for some years, constantly occupied in establishing the regular life, she further undertook to found or organize a monastery at a place known as Streanaeshalch, and carried out this appointed task with great energy. She established the same regular life as in her former monastery, and taught the observance of righteousness, mercy, purity, and other virtues, but especially of peace and charity. After the example of the primitive church, no one there was rich, no one was needy, for everything was held in common, and nothing was considered to be anyone’s personal property. So great was her prudence that not only ordinary folk, but kings and princes used to come and ask her advice in their difficulties and take it. Those under her direction were required to make a thorough study of the Scriptures and occupy themselves in good works, to such good effect that many were found fitted for Holy Orders and the service of God’s altar.

Five men from his monastery later became bishops – Bosa, Aetla, Oftfor, John and Wilfrid – all of them men of outstanding merit and holiness. Bosa was consecrated Bishop of York; of Aetla let it suffice to note that he became Bishop of Dorchester, and I shall tell how John of Beverley became Bishop of Hexham, and Wilfrid Bishop of York. Meanwhile I wish to speak of Oftfor, who having devoted himself to reading and applying the Scriptures in both Hilda’s monasteries, wished to win greater perfection, and travelled to Kent in order to visit Archbishop Theodore, of blessed memory. When he had continued his studies under him for some while, he decided to visit Rome, which in those days was considered an act of great merit. . . .

Christ’s servant Abbess Hilda, whom all her acquaintances called Mother because of her wonderful devotion and grace, was not only an example of holy life to members of her own community, for she also brought about the amendment and salvation of many living at a distance, who heard the inspiring story of her industry and goodness. Her life was the fulfilment of a dream which her mother Breguswith had when Hilda was an infant, during the time that her husband Hereid was living in banishment under the protection of the British king Cedric, where he died of poison. In this dream she fancied that he was suddenly taken away, and although she searched everywhere, she could find no trace of him. When all her efforts had failed, she discovered a most valuable jewel under her garments; and as she looked closely, it emitted such a brillian light that all Britain was lit by its splendour. This dream was fulfilled in her daughter, whose life afforded a shining example not only to herself but to all who wished to live a good life.

When Hilda had ruled this monastery for many years, it pleased the Author of our salvation to try her holy soul by a long sickness, in order that, as with the Apostle, her strength might be made perfect in weakness. She was attacked by a burning fever that racked her continually for six years; but during all this time she never ceased to give thanks to her Maker or to instruct the flock committed to her, both privately and publicly. For her own example taught them all to serve God obediently when in health and to render thanks to him faithfully when in trouble or bodily weakness. In the seventh year of her illness the pain passed into her innermost parts and her last day came. About cockcrow she received the Viaticum of the holy Communion, and when she had summoned all the handmaids of Christ in the monastery, she urged them to maintain the gospel peace among themselves and with others. And while she was still speaking, she joyfully welcomed death, or rather, in the words of our Lord, passed from death to life.

That same night it pleased Almighty God to make her death known by means of a vision in a monastery some considerable distance away, which she had founded that same year at Hackness. In this place there was a devout nun name Begu, who had vowed herself to God in Virginity in the monastic life over thirty years previously. As she was resting in the sisters’ dormitory, she suddenly heard in the air the well-known note of the bell that used to wake and call them to prayer when any of the sisters had died. Opening her eyes, as she thought, she saw the roof open, and a great light pour in from above and flood the room. While she gazed into this light, she saw the soul of God’s servant Hilda borne up to heaven in the midst of the light accompanied and guided by angels. Then she awoke, and seeing the other sisters lying around her, realized that what she had seen was either a dream or a vision. Rising at once in alarm, she ran to Frigyth, who was Prioress at the time, and with many sighs and tears told her that their Mother the Abbess Hilda had departed this life, and that she had seen her surrounded by angels in a great light, and ascending to the abode of eternal light to join the company of the saints in heaven. When she had heard the nun’s story Frigyth roused all the sisters, and when she had gathered them into the church, she rejoined them to pray and recite the psalter for the soul of their Mother. They did this for the remainder of the night, and at daybreak some brothers arrived from the monastery where she had died with news of her passing. The sisters replied that they already knew, and when they explained how and when they had heard it, it was evident that her death had been revealed to them by means of a vision at the very hour that the brothers said she had died. Thus with fitting harmony the mercy of heaven ordained that while some of her Community attended her death-bed, the others were made aware of her soul’s entry into eternal life, although these monasteries were about thirteen miles apart. . . .
 

Chapter 24

In the monastery of Streanaeshalch lived a brother singularly gifted by God’s grace. So skilful was he in composing religious and devotional songs that, when any passage of Scripture was explained to him by interpreters, he could quickly turn it into delightful and moving poetry in his own English tongue. These verses of his have stirred the hearts of many folk to despise the world and aspire to heavenly things. Others after him tried to compose religious poems in English, but none could compare with him, for he did not acquire the art of poetry from men or through any human teacher but received it as a free gift from God. For this reason he could never compose any frivolous or profane verses; but only such as had a religious theme fell fittingly from his devout lips. He had followed a secular occupation until well advanced in years without ever learning anything about poetry. Indeed it sometimes happened at a feast that all the guests in turn would be invited to sing and entertain the company; then, when he saw the harp coming his way, he would get up from table and go home.

On one such occasion he had left the house in which the entertainment was being held and went out to the stable where it was his duty that night to look after the beasts. There when the time came he settled down to sleep. Suddenly in a dream he saw a man standing beside him who called him by name. ‘Caedmon’, he said, ‘sing me a song’. ‘I don’t know how to sing’, he replied, ‘It is because I cannot sing that I left the feast and came here’. The man who addressed him then said: ‘But you shall sing to me’. ‘What should I sing about?’ he replied. ‘Sing about the Creation of all things’, the other answered. And Caedmon immediately began to sing verses in praise of God the Creator that he had never heard before, and their theme ran thus:

Praise we the Fashioner now of Heaven’s fabric
The majesty of his might and his mind’s wisdom,
Of the world-warden, worker of all wonders,
How he the Lord of Glory everlasting,
Wrought first for the race of men Heaven as a rooftree,
Then made he Middle Earth to be their mansion.

This is the general sense, but not the actual words that Caedmon sang in his dream, for verses, however masterly, cannot be translated literally from one language into another without losing much of their beauty and dignity. When Caedmon awoke, he remembered everything that he had sung in his dream, and soon added more verses in the same style to a song truly worthy of God.

Early in the morning he went to his superior the reeve, and told him about this gift that he had received. The reeve took him before the abbess, who ordered him to give an account of his dream and repeat the verses in the presence of many learned men, so that a decision might be reached by common consent as to their quality and origin. All of them agreed that Caedmon’s gift had been given him by our Lord. And they explained to him a passage of scriptural history or doctrine and asked him to render it into verse if he could. He promised to do this, and returned next morning with excellent verses as they had ordered him. The abbess was delighted that God had given such grace to the man, and advised him to abandon secular life and adopt the monastic state. And when she had admitted him into the Community as a brother, she ordered him to be instructed in the events of sacred history. So Caedmon stored up in his memory all that he learned, and like one of the clean animals chewing the cud, turned it into such melodious verse that his delightful renderings turned his instructors into auditors. He sang of the creation of the world, the origin of the human race, and the whole story of Genesis. He sang of Israel’s exodus from Egypt, the entry into the Promised Land, and many other events of scriptural history. He sang of the Lord’s Incarnation, Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension into heaven, the coming of the Holy Spirit, and the teaching of the Apostles. He also made poems on the terrors of the Last Judgement, the horrible pains of Hell, and the joys of the Kingdom of Heaven. In addition to these, he composed several others on the blessings and judgements of God, by which he sought to turn his hearers from delight in wickedne4ss and to inspire them to love and do good. For Caedmon was a deeply religious man, who humbly submitted to regular discipline and hotly rebuked all who tried to follow another course. And so he crowned his life with a happy end. . . .
 

III. Cuthbert of Lindisfarne and the Lindisfarne Gospels

Bede, Ecclesiastical History IV, Chapter 27

In the year of his death, 685, King Egfrith appointed as bishop of Lindisfarne the holy and venerable Cuthbert, who for many years had lived a solitary life in great self-mastery of mind and body on a tiny island known as Farne, which lies in the ocean about nine miles from the church. From his earliest boyhood he had always longed to enter the religious life, and as soon as he became a youth was clothed and professed as a monk. He first entered the monastery of Melrose on the banks of the River Tweed, then ruled by Abbot Eata, the gentlest and simplest of men, who later became Bishop of the church of Hexham or Lindisfarne. The prior of Melrose was Boisil, a priest of great virtues and prophetic spirit. Cuthbert humbly submitted himself to the direction of Boisil, who gave him instruction in the Scriptures and showed him an example of holy life.

When Boisil departed to our Lord, Cuthbert was made prior in his place and trained many men in the monastic life with masterly authority and by his personal example. He did not restrict his teaching and influence to the monastery, but worked to rouse the ordinary folk far and near to exchange their foolish customs for a love of heavenly joys. For many profaned the Faith that they professed by a wicked life, and at a time of plague some had even abandoned the Christian sacraments and had recourse to the delusive remedies of idolatry, as though they could expect to halt a plague ordained of God by spells, amulets, and other devilish secret arts. Following Boisil’s example, in order to correct such errors he often used to leave the monastery, sometimes on horseback but more frequently on foot, and visit the neighbouring towns, where he preached the way of truth to those who had gone astray. In those days, whenever a clerk or priest visited a town, English folk always used to gather at his call to hear the Word, eager to hear his message and even more eager to carry out whatever they had heard and understood. But Cuthbert was so skilful a speaker and had such a light in his angelic face, and such a love for proclaiming his message, that none presumed to hide his inmost secrets, but all openly confessed their wrong-doing; for they felt it impossible to conceal their guilt from him, and at his direction they blotted out by works of penance the sins that they had confessed. He used mainly to visit and preach in the villages that lay far distant among high and inaccessible mountains, which others feared to visit and whose barbarity and squalor daunted other teachers. Cuthbert, however, gladly undertook this pious task, and taught with such patience and skill that when he left the monastery it would sometimes be a week, sometimes two or three, and occasionally an entire month, before he returned home, after staying in the mountains to guide the peasants heavenward by his teachings and virtuous example.

When this venerable servant of our Lord had spent many years in the monastery of Melrose and become renowned for his wonderful acts of virtue, the most reverend Abbot Eata transferred him to Lindisfarne to instruct the brethren there in the observance of regular discipline, both in his official capacity as prior and by his personal example. For the most reverend Father Eata was then Abbot of Lindisfarne as well. And in ancient times, the bishop used to reside at Lindisfarne with his clergy and the abbot with his monks, the latter being regarded as part of the bishop’s household. For Aidan, first Bishop of Lindisfarne, himself a monk, brought monks with him fro  Iona and established the regular life there. The blessed Father Augustine is known to have done the same earlier in Kent, which is shown in the letter addressed to him by the most reverend Pope Gregory. ‘In your case, my brother, having being trained under monastic rule, you should not live apart from your clergy in the Church of the English, which by God’s help has lately been brought to the Faith. You are to follow the way of life practised by our forefathers of the primitive church, among whom none said that anything which he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common’.
 

Chapter 28

Then Cuthbert with a growing sense of his religious vocation entered, as I have said, upon a life of solitary contemplation and silence. But, as I wrote a full account of his life and virtues both in heroic verse and prose a few years ago, it may suffice to record here a single incident. When he was about to leave for the island, he assured the brethren: ‘If God’s grace will enable me to live in this place by the labour of my own hands, I shall gladly remain there, but if it process otherwise, then, God willing, I will soon return to you’. Now the island had no water, corn, or trees, and being the haunt of evil spirits was very ill-suited to human habitation. But when the man of God came, he ordered the evil spirits to withdraw, and the island became quite habitable. And when he had expelled these hostile forces, the brethren helped him to build a tiny dwelling surrounded with a ditch, and such essential buildings as an oratory and a communal shelter. He then directed the brethren to dig a well in the floor of the shelter, although the ground was hard and stony and there seemed no hope whatever of finding a spring. But they did so, and through the faith and prayers of God’s servant it was found full of water the next day; and this spring still provides an ample supply of its heaven-sent bounty for those who come here. Cuthbert also asked for farming  implements and wheat to be brought him; but although he prepared the ground and sowed at the right season, when summer came, not a single ear of corn had come up, not even as much as a blade. So when the brothers paid their accustomed visit, he asked them to bring some barley, in case the nature of the soil and the laws of the divine Giver required that a crop of this grain rather than wheat should be sown. This he planted in the same soil as soon as it was brought, but after the proper season, when there was no hope of its maturing; nevertheless, a rich crop quickly sprang up, and gave the man of God the much desired opportunity to support himself by his own labour.

Thus Cuthbert served God in solitude for many years in a hut surrounded by an embankment so high that he could see nothing but the heavens for which he longed so ardently. Then it came about that a great Synod was held under the presidency of Archbishop Theodore of blessed memory, and in the presence of King Egfrid. This assembled near the river Alne at a place called Twyford, or the Two Fords, and the whole company unanimously elected Cuthbert as bishop of the church of Lindisfarne. But although many messengers and letters were sent to him, nothing could induce him to abandon his hermitage. At length the king in person, accompanied by the most holy Bishop Trumwine and other devout and distinguished men, took boat for the island. There they were joined by many of the Lindisfarne brethren, and the whole company knelt before him and adjured him in God’s name and begged him with tears to consent, until eventually they drew him, also in tears, from his dearly loved retreat, and brought him to the Synod. Still profoundly reluctant, he at length bowed to the unanimous decision of the whole assembly, and was persuaded to assume the burden of Episcopal dignity. He was chiefly influenced to do so by the prophetic words of God’s servant Boisil, who had foretold all that was to happen to him, and how he would become a bishop. His consecration did not take place at once but after the winter, which was then approaching, it was performed at York on Easter Day in the presence of King Egfrid by the Primate Theodore of blessed memory, assisted by six other bishops. In the first instance, Cuthbert was appointed to the bishopric of Hexham in place of Tunbert, who had been deposed: but since he much preferred to rule the church of Lindisfarne, where he had been trained, it was arranged that Eata should return to the see of Hexham, to which he had originally been appointed and that Cuthbert should assume the direction of the church of Lindisfarne.

As bishop he followed the example of the blessed Apostles and enhanced his dignity by his holy actions, protecting the people entrusted to him by his constant prayer and inspiring them to heavenly things by his salutary teachings. Like a good teacher, he taught others to do only what he first practised himself. Above all else, he was afire with heavenly love, unassumingly patient, devoted to unceasing prayer, and kindly to all who came to him for comfort. He regarded as equivalent to prayer the labour of helping the weaker brethren with advice, remembering that he who said, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God’, also said, ‘Love thy neighbur’. His self-discipline and fasting were exceptional, and through the grace of contrition he was always intent on the things of heaven. Lastly, whenever he offered the sacrifice of the Saving Victim of God, he offered his prayers to God not in a loud voice but with tears welling up from the depths of his heart. 


Chapter 29

When he had spent two years in his bishopric, Cuthbert returned to his island hermitage, God having made known to him that the day of his death was drawing near, or rather, the day of his entry into that life which alone may called life. In his usual simple way, he mentioned this fact to some people at the time in somewhat veiled terms, though such that they could be clearly understood later; but to others he spoke openly. . . .

The most reverend Father Cuthbert died on Farne Island, earnestly requesting the brethren to bury him in this place where he had served God so long. But at length he yielded to their entreaties and consented that his body should be taken back to Lindisfarne and buried within the church. This was accordingly done and the venerable Bishop Wilfrid held the see for a year until a successor could be appointed. Subsequently Eadbert was consecrated, a man who was well known for his knowledge of the Scriptures, his obedience to God’s commandments, and especially for his generosity in almsgiving. For each year, in accordance with the Law, he used to give a tenth not only of all his beasts but also of all his grain, fruit and clothing to the poor.
 

Chapter 30

In order to make more widely known the height of glory attained after death by God’s servant Cuthbert, whose illustrious life on earth had been marked by so many miracles even before his death, Divine Providence guided the brethren to exhume his bones. After eleven years, they expected to find his flesh reduced to dust and the remains withered, as is usual in dead bodies; and they prepared to place them in a new coffin on the same site but above ground level, so that he might receive the honours due to him. When they informed Bishop Eadbert of their wish, he gave approval and directed that it should be carried out on the anniversary of his burial.
 

 
St Cuthbert’s Coffin Carved with the Evangels’ Symbols of Angel, Lion, Bull, Eagle, their Names, except Luke’s, in Runes. On Display, Durham Cathedral.

This was done, and when they opened the grave, they found the body whole and incorrupt as though still living and the limbs flexible, so that he looked as if he were asleep rather than dead. Furthermore, all the vestments in which he was clothed appeared not only spotless but wonderfully fresh and fast. At this sight the brothers were awestruck, and hastened to inform the bishop of their discovery. At that time he was living alone at some distance from the church in a place surrounded by the sea, where he always used to spend Lent and the forty days before the Nativity of our Lord in fasting, prayer and penitence. It was here that his venerable predecessor Cuthbert had served God in solitude for a period before he went to Farne Island.

The brothers brought with them some of the garments in which the wholly body had been clothed. The bishop received these gifts with gratitude, and as he listened with joy to their account of the miracle, he lovingly kissed the garments as though they were still on the father’s body. ‘Clothe the body in new garments’, he said, ‘in place of those that you have removed, and place it in the coffin you have prepared. I have certain knowledge that the grave hallowed by so great and heavenly a miracle will not remain empty for long. And blessed is the man to whom our Lord, the Author and Giver of all bliss, shall grant the privilege of resting in it’. When the bishop had said this and more to the same effect in a trembling voice with tears and deep feeling, the brethren carried out his instructions: having clothed the body in fresh garments, they laid it in the new coffin, which they placed on the pavement of the sanctuary.

Not long afterwards, God’s beloved Bishop Eadbert was attacked by an illness that rapidly grew more serious, and in a short time he departed to our Lord on the sixth of May. Whereupon the brethren laid his body in the tomb of the blessed Father Cuthbert, and above it they placed the coffin containing the uncorrupt body of the Father. The miracles of healing that take place from time to time at the tomb bear witness to the holiness of them both. I have recorded some instances in my book on his life. And in this present history I have included further examples that have recently come to my knowledge.

_____

We recall the colophon to the Lindisfarne Gospels written by Aldred in 950-960:

+Eadfrith [Eadbert], bishop of the Lindisfarne church, originally wrote the book, for God and St Cuthbert and - jointly - for all the saints whose relics are in the island. And Ethilwald, bishop of the Lindisfarne islanders, impressed it on the outside and the inside and covered it - as well he knew how to do. And Billfrith, the anchorite, forged the ornaments which are on the outside and adorned it with gold and with gems and also with gilded-over silver - pure metal. And Aldred, unworthy and most miserable priest, glossed it in English between the lines with the help of God and St Cuthbert.


From Age of Bede, trans. David Hugh Farmer, Penguin, 1983.
____

Book V, Chapter 1

Cuthbert, the man of God, had a successor in the solitary life that he had lived on Farne Island before he became a bishop. This was a venerable man named Ethelwald who had received the priesthood many years previously in the monastery of Ripon and adorned the office by conduct worthy of it. To illustrate more clearly his virtue and the kind of life that he led, I will relate a miracle of his that was told me by one of the brethren among whom and for whose benefit it was performed; this was the venerable priest and servant of Christ Guthfrid, who afterwards presided as abbot over the brethren of the church of Lindisfarne where he had been brought up. 

‘I came with two other brothers to Farne Island’, he said, ‘wishing to speak with the most reverend Father Ethelwald. We were greatly inspired by his discourse and, having asked his blessing, were returning homewards. Then, while we were in the middle of the sea, the calm weather that was favouring our crossing suddenly changed. There followed a storm of such ferocity and violence that sail and oars were useless and we expected nothing but death. Having struggled unavailingly against the wind and waves for a long time, we looked back to see whether it were practicable to fight our way to the island we had left, but found the storm equally violent on all sides, so that in ourselves there was no hope for us of escape. But, as we looked into the distance, we saw that Father Ethelwald, the beloved of God, had come out of his cell on Farne and was watching our progress: for he had heard the roar of the gale and raging of the sea and had come out to discover how we were faring. When he saw us in distress and despair, he fell on his knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and prayed for our safety. Directly his prayer was ended, the raging sea grew calm, the severity of the storm lessened on all sides, and a following wind bore us over calm water towards the land. As soon as we had reached the shore and were lifting our little boat out of the surf, the wind that had dropped awhile for our sakes at once began to blow again and continued strongly all that day. So we realized that the short interval of calm had been granted by the mercy of heaven at the prayer of the man of God so that we might escape’.

The man of God remained on Farne Island for twelve years and died there; but he was buried on the island of Lindisfarne in the church of the blessed Apostle Peter next to the bodies of the above-mentioned bishops. These events took place in the time of King Aldfrid, who succeeded his brother Egfrid as King of the Northumbrians and reigned for nineteen years.

Chapter 2-6 give the miracles of St John of Beverley, Bishop of Hexham.

  

IV. Abbot Ceolfrith of Wearmouth Jarrow and the Ruthwell Cross. [Ruthwell, beyond Hadrian's Wall, had been briefly Anglo-Saxon from 634 to 685, then reverted to Pictish/British hegemony. It is close to Whithorn, where St Ninian converted the southern Pictish nation to Christianity in the fifth century]

Beda, Ecclesiastical History, V, Chapter 21 [710 A.D.]

At that time, Nechtan, King of the Picts, living in the northern parts of Britain, convinced after assiduous study of Church writings, renounced the error hitherto maintained by his nation about the observance of Easter and adopted the Catholic time of keeping our Lord’s Resurrection with all his people. In order to do this more smoothly and with greater authority, the king asked help from the English people, whom he knew to have based their practice long previously on the pattern of the holy Roman apostolic Church. So he sent messengers to the venerable Ceolfrid, Abbot of the monastery of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, which he ruled most illustriously as successor of the above-mentioned Benedict Biscop. This monastery stands at the mouth of the river Wear, and also close to the river Tyne at a place call In-Gyrwum [Jarrow]. The king requested Ceolfrid to write him a letter of guidance that would help him to refute those who presume to keep Easter at the wrong time; and although he was relatively well informed on these matters himself, he also required information about the form and reason for the tonsure that clergy should wear. In addition, he asked that architects be sent him in order to build a stone church in the Roman style, promising that he would dedicate it in honour of the blessed Prince of the Apostles and that he and his people would follow the customs of the holy apostolic Roman Church, as far as they could learn them in view of their remoteness from the Roman people and from Roman speech. The most reverend Abbot Ceolfrid complied with his devout wishes and requests, sending him the architects he asked for, together with the letter, [composed by Beda, concerning the dating of Easter and the tonsure, who in the letter also mentions Adamnan of Iona as understanding these arguments. Museum of Scotland possesses Hilton of Cadboll Pictish Class II stone, post 710, with inhabited vine frame.]

 

                          

Jarrow, inhabited vine                    Ruthwell Cross, inhabited vine             Hilton of Cadboll Pictish Stone, inhabited vine

 


Ruthwell Cross

 

V. Abbot Ceolfrith and the Codex Amiatinus

Beda: Dal Vite degli Abati di Wearmouth e Jarrow

Benedict Biscop, a devout follower of Christ, inspired by grace from on high, founded a monastery in honour of the most blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles, on the north bank of the Wear, towards the mouth of the river, with the help of the venerable and holy King Egfrid who gave the land for it. For sixteen years, despite his many illnesses and all his travels, Benedict ruled over it with the same care and conscientiousness he had given to its construction. To quote the words of the blessed Pope Gregory when he says, in praise of an abbot of the same name, that ‘He was a man of venerable life, rightly called Benedict since so much blessed by God. Even as a boy he had the outlook of an old man, his behaviour belying his age, and never gave himself to sensual pleasure’. He came of noble Angle lineage and his mind – no less noble than his birth – was constantly fixed on the life of Heaven. He was about twenty-five and one of King Oswiu’s thanes when the king gave him possession of the land due to his rank: but he put behind him the things that perish so that he might gain those that last forever, despising earthly warfare with its corruptible rewards so that he might fight for the true king and win his crown in the heavenly city. He left country, home and family for the sake of Christ and the Gospel so that he might receive a hundredfold in return and gain eternal life. He rejected the bond of earthly marriage so that in the kingdom of heaven he might follow the Lamb of spotless virginity. He refused to bring forth children in the flesh, being predestined by Christ to raise up for Him sons nurtured in spiritual doctrine who would live forever in the world to come.
 

Chapter 2

He therefore left his own country and went to Rome, where, in fulfilment of his long and ardent desire, he made sure he visited the tombs of the apostles and venerated their remains (653 A.D.). Directly he returned home he devoted himself wholeheartedly and unceasingly to making known as widely as possible the forms of church life which he had seen in Rome and had come to love and cherish. Then Alchfrid, King Oswiu’s son, determined to make the journey to Rome to worship at the tombs of the apostles and decided to take Benedict with him. But Alchfrid’s visit was countermanded by his father who made him stay at home in his own country and kingdom. Benedict, being a young man of sound natural abilities, set out at once undeterred and completed the journey with all haste (666 A.D.). This was during the reign of Pope Vitalian of blessed memory. This time, just as on his former visit, he took a delight in amassing a good deal of useful knowledge. After a few months’ stay he left for the monastery at Lérins, where he entered the community, received the tonsure, took vows as a monk and followed the discipline of the Rule with all due care. After two years’ training in monastic life, overcome again by love of the Prince of the Apostles, he made up his mind to tread once more the streets made sacred by the presence of St Peter’s body.
 

Chapter 3

Not long after a merchant vessel arrived and so he was able to have his wish. At this time Egbert, king of Kent, had sent a man named Wighard from Britain as bishop-elect to be consecrated in Rome, Wighard had been trained in Kent in every branch of church tradition by the Roman disciple of Pope Gregory. Egbert was eager to have him consecrated in Rome as his bishop, reckoning that, if he had a bishop of his own race and language, he and his people would be able to enter all the more deeply into the teachings and mysteries of their faith, since they would receive them at the hands of someone of their own kin and blood and hear them not through an interpreter but in their own native tongue. Wighard arrived in Rome, but before he could be consecrated he and all his companions fell victim to the plague. The pope, not wanting the godly embassy of the faithful to fail in its effect because of the death of the delegates, took counsel and chose one of his own associates to go back to Britain as archbishop. He chose Theodore, a man endowed with both secular and ecclesiastical learning and at home in both languages, that is in Latin and Greek. As his colleague and counsellor the pope appointed Abbot Hadrian, Theodore’s equal in energy and prudence and perceiving Benedict’s worth, wisdom, diligence and devotion, he put the newly consecrated bishop and his companions in his charge. He ordered him to give up the pilgrimage on which he had embarked for the honour of Christ, for the nobler purpose of escorting back to Egbert the teacher of truth he had so keenly desired and whom Benedict might serve in a double capacity as guide on the journey home and interpreter when teaching. Benedict did as he was bidden. They returned to Kent where they were very favourably received. Theodore was enthroned as archbishop and Benedict took charge of the monastery of St Peter, of which Hadrian was later to be abbot.
 

Chapter 4

After two years in charge of the monastery Benedict Biscop left Britain for Rome, this being the third time and completed the journey as successfully as before. He brought back a large number of books on all branches of sacred knowledge, some bought at a favourable price, others the gifts of well-wishers. At Vienne on the journey home he picked up the books he had left there in the care of his friends. When he reached Britain he thought he might pay a visit to Cenwalh, king of the West Saxons, whose friendship he had enjoyed and by whose kindness he had been helped on more than one occasion. At that very time, however, Cenwalh was carried off by a sudden and early death: so Benedict went back to his own people and, turning his steps to his own birthplace, visited Egfrid, king of Northumbria. He told the king all he had done since leaving home as a young man; he revealed his ambition to build up monastic life in the area and he expounded all he had learnt of church and monastic life, both at Rome and everywhere else; and he told him how many sacred books and holy relics of the blessed apostles and martyrs he had brought back. Egfrid took to Benedict so warmly that he immediately gave him from his personal property an area of land comprising seventy hides and ordered him to build a monastery there in honour of St Peter, the chief pastor of the church. The monastery was built, as I mentioned at the beginning, on the north bank of the mouth of the Wear [Wearmouth], in the year of our Lord six hundred and seventy-four, in the second indiction and in the fourth year of King Edgfrid’s reign.
 

Chapter 5

Only a year after work had begun on the monastery, Benedict crossed the sea to France to look for masons to build him a stone church in the Roman style he had always loved so much. He found them, took them on and brought them back home with him. So strong was his devotion to St Peter, in whose honour the scheme was begun, and so fervent his zeal in carrying it out, that within a year of laying the foundations, he had the gable-ends of the church in place and you could already visualize Mass being celebrated in it. When the building was nearing completion he sent his agents across to France to bring over glaziers – craftsmen as yet unknown in Britain – to glaze the windows in the body of the church and in the chapels and clerestory. The glaziers came over as requested but they did not merely execute their commission: they helped the English to understand and to learn for themselves the art of glass-making, an art which was to prove invaluable in the making of lamps for the church and many other kinds of vessel. He was also a dedicated collector of everything necessary for the service of church and altar – sacred vessels and vestments for instance – and saw to it that what could not be obtained at home was shipped over from abroad. 

Chapter 6

He was untiring in his efforts to see his monastery well provided for: the ornaments and images he could not find in France he sought out in Rome. Once his foundation had settled down to the ordered life of the Rule, he went off on a fourth visit to Rome, returning with a greater variety of spiritual treasures than ever before. In the first place he returned with a great mass of books of every sort. Secondly, he brought back an abundant supply of relics of the blessed apostles and Christian martyrs which were to prove such a boon for many churches in the land. Thirdly, he introduced in his monastery the order of chanting and singing the psalms and conducting the liturgy according to the practice in force at Rome. To this end Pope Agatho, at Benedict’s request, offered him the services of the chief cantor of St Peter’s and abbot of the monastery of St Martin, a man called John. Benedict brought him back to Britain to be choirmaster in the monastery. John taught the monks at first hand how things were done in the churches in Rome and also committed a good part of his instruction to writing. This is still preserved in memory of him in the monastery library. The fourth benefit Benedict brought back, and one not to be despised, was a letter of privilege from the venerable Pope Agatho, sought with Egfrid’s permission and indeed at his wish and exhortation, guaranteeing the monastery’s complete safety and independence by a grant of perpetual exemption from external interference. Fifthly, he brought back many holy pictures of the saints to adorn the church of St Peter he had built: a painting of the Mother of God, the Blessed Mary Ever-Virgin, and one of each of the twelve apostles which he fixed around the central arch on a wooden entablature reaching from wall to wall: pictures of incidents in the Gospels with which he decorated the south wall, and scenes from St John’s vision of the Apocalypse for the north wall. Thus all who entered the church, even those who could not read, were able, whichever way they looked, to contemplate the dear face of Christ and His saints, even if only in a picture, to put themselves more firmly in mind of the Lord’s Incarnation and, as they saw the decisive moment of the Last Judgement before their very eyes be brought to examine their conscience with all due severity.
 

Chapter 7

King Egfrid was deeply impressed by Benedict’s virtue, industry and devotion. Realizing how sound and fruitful an idea his original grant of land for building the monastery had turned out to be, he saw to it that another forty hides were added. A year later on, on Egfrid’s advice or, more accurately, at his command, Benedict chose seventeen monks from the community with the priest Ceolfrid as abbot to form the nucleus of a new foundation at Jarrow, dedicated to the apostle Paul and built on the understanding that the two houses should be bound together by the same spirit of peace and harmony and united by continuous friendship and goodwill. As the body cannot be separated from the head, through which it receives the breath of life, and as the head dare not ignore the body or it would die, so neither was anyone to attempt to disturb the brotherly love that would unite the two houses just as it had bound together the two chief apostles, Peter and Paul. Ceolfrid whom Benedict appointed abbot had been the greatest help to him in every way from the beginnings of the first foundation and had gone with him at a suitable time to Rome, both for learning what was necessary and for worship. . . .
 

Chapter 9

Shortly after Benedict had appointed Eosterwine abbot of St Peter’s and Ceolfrid abbot of St Paul’s he set off on his fifth journey from Britain to Rome and returned as always, with a rich store of countless valuable gifts for his churches: a large supply of sacred books and no less a stock of sacred pictures than on previous journeys. He brought back paintings of the life of Our Lord for the chapel of the Holy Mother of God which he had built within the main monastery, setting them, as its crowing glory, all the way round the walls. His treasures included a set of pictures for the monastery and the church of the blessed apostle Paul, consisting of scenes, very skilfully arranged, to show how the Old Testament foreshadowed the New. In one set, for instance, the picture of Isaac carrying the wood on which he was to be burnt as a sacrifice was placed immediately below that of Christ carrying the cross on which He was about to suffer. Similarly the Son of Man lifted up on the cross was paired with the serpent raised up by Moses in the desert. Amongst other things he also brought back two cloaks of incomparable workmanship, silk throughout, with which he later purchased three hides of land near the mouth of the river Wear on the south bank. It was from King Aldfrid and his councillors that this purchase was made, for Benedict learned on his return that King Egfrid had been slain. . . .
 

Chapter 12

I must not forbear to mention how the venerable abbot Benedict, to alleviate the tedium of the long nights when his illness often made sleep impossible, would call upon one of the monks to read aloud the story of Job, that model of patience, or any other passage of the Bible which might bring consolation to a sick man and lift him out of his depression to think cheerfully of higher things. As for him even to find sufficient voice to recite the psalms in their appointed order, this prudent man, spurred on by love of his faith, had several of the brethren come to him at every hour of prayer, both day and night. Formed into two small choirs, they sang the usual psalms antiphonally, so that he could join in with them as far as he was able and thus fulfil with their assistance what he had not strength to accomplish alone. . . .
 

Chapter 15

Ceolfrid was a man of acute mind, conscientious in everything he did, energetic, of mature judgement, fervent and zealous for his faith. It was Ceolfrid, as we mentioned above, who, at Benedict’s behest and with his aid, first founded St Paul’s monastery [Jarrow], saw its completion and ruled it for seven years. Then, for twenty-eight years after this both monasteries were under his wise rule; or, to be more accurate, he was abbot of one monastery in two different places, that of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul. He promptly saw to the completion of all the notable works of piety embarked upon by his predecessor; and, in addition to the other necessities which it fell to him to provide during his long tenure of office, he built several chapels. He also enlarged the stock of church plate, altar vessels and every kind of vestment. He doubled the number of books in the libraries of both monasteries with an ardour equal to that which Benedict had shown in founding them. He added three copies of the new translation of the Bible [Jerome’s Vulgate, one of these, the Codex Amiatinus] to the one copy of the old translation which he had brought back from Rome [Cassiodorus’ Codex Grandior]. One of these he took with him as a present when he went back to Rome in his old age, and the other two he bequeathed to his monasteries. For eight hides of land by the River Fresca he exchanged with King Aldfrid, who was very learned in the scriptures, the magnificently worked copy of the Cosmographers which Benedict had bought in Rome. The land went to the monastery of the blessed apostle Paul. Benedict, when still alive, had drawn up this arrangement with King Aldfrid, but died before the matter could be settled. Later, during the reign of King Osred, Ceolfrid traded the land together with a fair balance in money, for twenty hides at a place known locally as the township of Sambuce, because this new plot was nearer the monastery. He sent monks to Rome during the reign of Sergius of blessed memory to obtain an indult granting privileges for the protection of the monastery similar to those granted by Pope Agatho to Benedict. When it was brought back and produced before the assembled bishops and the noble King Aldfrid confirmed it with their signatures in the same way, as is well known, the former privilege was publicly confirmed in synod by the king and bishops of the time. . . .
 

Chapter 16

For many years Ceolfrid had carried out the discipline of observance of the Rule, a discipline which its father and provider had handed down on the authority of traditional practice for the benefit both of his monks and himself. All this time he had shown a diligence equalled by none in his ceaseless daily round of prayer and chant; had proved himself remarkably zealous in restraining evildoers, yet tactful in encouraging the weak and had practised a degree of abstinence from food and rink and a disregard for dress rarely found in those in authority. But now that he was old and full of days he realized that the defects of advanced age rendered him incapable of maintaining any longer, either by precept or by personal example, proper spiritual standards in those who were subject to him. He turned the matter over in his mind a long while and finally decided that it would be better were the brethren to choose, as the decree of their privilege and the Rule of St Benedict laid down, one from among themselves who was more suitable to be abbot. This he charged them to do. As for himself, he had it in mind to visit once more the shrines of the holy apostles in Rome, where he had gone with Benedict as a young man. This arrangement would give him respite for a while from the cares of the world and freedom to enjoy peace and solitude, wand would also enable the brethren, under the more active leadership of the younger man they would elect as abbot, to follow more perfectly the way of life enjoined by their rule.
 

Chapter 17

At first they all opposed his plan, falling to their knees and repeatedly imploring him with sobs and tears, but in the end he had his wish. Indeed, he was so keen to start that he set off only three days after revealing his secret intentions to the brethren, being afraid (and his fears turned out to be justified) that he might die before reaching Rome. At the same time he wished to avoid being delayed by his friends and the local nobility, by all of whom he was held in high esteem. Nor did he wish to be given money which he might not be able to repay at once, for it had always been his practice, whenever he was offered a gift, to give back as good as he had received, whether there and then or shortly afterwards. Accordingly on the morning of 5 June – which was a Thursday – as soon as Mass had been sung in the church of the Blessed Mother of God, the ever-Virgin Mary, and also in the church of the blessed Peter at which those present had made their communion, he at once prepared to depart. All assembled in St Peter’s church and after he himself had kindled the incense and prayed before the altar, he gave the kiss of peace to each of them, standing on the steps with thurible in hand. Forth they went from there, he sound of their weeping interrupting the litanies, and entered the chapel of the blessed martyr Lawrence, which stood across the way from the church, in front of the monks’ dormitory. He bade them his last farewell, urging them to preserve mutual love and to correct offenders, as the Gospel enjoins. He offered his forgiveness and goodwill to any who might have offended and begged any whom he might have rebuked too severely to be reconciled to him and to pray for him. They arrived at the shore: once again he gave them all the kiss of peace amidst their tears. They fell to their knees and, after he had offered a prayer, he and his companions boarded the boat. The deacons of the church embarked with them, carrying lighted candles and a golden cross. After crossing the river, he venerated the cross, mounted his horse and rode off, leaving behind him in his monasteries brethren to the number of around six hundred.
 

Chapter 18

[The monks elect Hwaetberht abbot and send messengers to this effect with a letter from Hwaetberht to give to the Pope commending Ceolfrid. The messengrs reach Ceolfrid while he was still awaiting a ship in which to cross the ocean.]
 

Chapter 21

Ceolfrid, as we said before, pushed on toward the threshold of the apostles, but was struck down with sickness and ended his days before he arrived. He had got as far as Langres [in  France] about the third hour of the day and his soul took flight to the Lord at the tenth hour of that same day. The following day he was buried with all dignity in the church of the Three Brother Martyrs amidst the tears and lamentation not only of the eighty or more English men who made up his company but also of the local inhabitants who were deeply affected at the thought of so worthy an old man being disappointed in his wish. It was hard for anyone to restrain his tears at the sight of some of Ceolfrid’s party starting out to continue their journey without their father, while others revoked their intention of going to Rome, preferring to turn back for home to report the news of his burial; and the rest, in their undying love for him, remained to keep watch by his tomb in the midst of a people whose language they could not understand.
 

Chapter 22

At the time of his death he was seventy-four, having been in priest’s orders for forty-seven years. He had been abbot for thirty-five or to be precise, forty-three years, having been Benedict’s inseparable companion from the very beginning and having worked with him and havng taught the regular monastic life alongside him from the time Benedict first began to build the abbey in honour of the most blessed Prince of the Apostles. He would not allow considerations of age or infirmity or the difficulties of travel to soften the rigorous standards he had accepted as part of tradition; so, from the day he set out from his monastery till the day he died  (one hundred and fourteen days, from 4 June to 25 September) he saw to it that the psalter was recited twice – right through, every day – and this in addition to the canonical hours. And even when he had grown so weak that he could no longer ride but had to be carried on a horse-litter, after Mass was sung he made daily offering to God of the Mass, apart from the one day at sea and the three days before his death.
 

Chapter 23

He died shortly after the ninth hour on Friday, 25 September, in the seven hundred and sixteenth year from the Incarnation of Our Lord, on the sixth day of the week just after the ninth hour in the meadows just outside Langres. He was buried the next day to the south of the city, at the first milestone, within the monastery of the Three Brother Martyrs, in the presence of a vast concourse of people who came and sang the psalms – not only the Englishmen who had come out with him, but also monks from the monastery and the inhabitants of the town. . . .

From Age of Bede, trans. David Hugh Farmer from the Latin, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1983.

 

V. Books of Durrow and Kells

Iona and Columba

Beda, Ecclesiastical History III, Chapter 3

In the year of our Lord 565, when Justin the Younger succeeded Justinian and ruled as Emperor of Rome, a priest and abbot named Columba, distinguished by his monastic habit and life, came from Ireland to Britain to preach the word of God in the provinces of the northern Picts, which are separated from those of the southern Picts by a range of steep and desolate mountains.

The southern Picts, who live on this side of the mountains [beyond Hadrian’s Wall], are said to have abandoned the errors of idolatry long before this date and accepted the true Faith through the preaching of Bishop Ninian (V sec.), a most reverend and holy man of British race, who had been regularly instructed in the mysteries of the Christian Faith in Rome. Ninian’s own Episcopal see, named after Saint Martin and famous for its stately church, is now held by the English, and it is here that his body and those of many saints lie at rest. The place belongs to the province of Bernicia and is commonly called the Candida Casa (Whithorn), because he built the church of stone, which was unusual among the Britons.

Columba arrived in Britain in the ninth year of the reign of the powerful Pictish king, Bride son of Meilochen; he converted that people to the Faith of Christ by his preaching and example, and received from them the island of Iona on which to found a monastery. Iona is a small island, with an area of about five hides according to English reckoning, and his successors hold it to this day. It was here that Columba died and was buried at the age of seventy-seven, some thirty-two years after he had come into Britain to preach. Before he came to Britain, he had founded a noble monastery in Ireland known in the Irish language as Dearmach [Durrow], the Field of Oaks, because of the oak forest in which it stands. From both of these monasteries Columba’s disciples went out and founded many others in Britain and Ireland: but the monastery on the isle of Iona, where his body lies, remains the chief of them all. Iona is always ruled by an abbot in priest’s orders, to whose authority the whole province, including the bishops, is subject, contrary to the usual custom. This practice was established by its first abbot Columba, who was not a bishop himself, but a priest and monk. His life and sayings are said to have been recorded in writing by his disciples. But whatever type of man he may have been, we know for certain that he left successors distinguished for their purity of life, their love of God, and their loyalty to the monastic rule. In observing the great Feast of Easter they followed doubtful rules; for being so isolated from the rest of the world, there was no one to acquaint them with the synodical decrees about the keeping of Easter. But they diligently followed whatever pure and devout customs they learned in the prophets, the Gospels, and the writings of the Apostles. They held to their own manner of keeping Easter for another 150 years, until the year of our Lord 713.
 

Iona and Adamnan [703 A.D.]

Book V, Chapter 15

At this period, by the grace of God, the majority of the Irish in Ireland, together with some of the Britons in Britain, conformed to the logical and canonical time of keeping Easter. Adamnan, priest and abbot of the monks of lived on the island of Iona, was sent by his nation on a mission at Aldfrid, King of the English, and remained in his province for some while, where he observed the rites of the Church canonically performed. He was earnestly advised by many who were more learned than himself not to presume to act contrary to the universal customs of the Church, whether in the keeping of Easter or in any other observances, seeing that his following was very small and situated in a remote corner of the world. As a result he changed his opinions, and readily adopted what he saw and heard in the churches of the English in places of the customs of his own people. For he was a wise and worthy man, excellently grounded in knowledge of the Scriptures-

On his return home, he tried to lead his own people in Iona and those who were under the jurisdiction of that monastery into the correct ways that he had himself learned and wholeheartedly accepted; but in this he failed. Then he sailed over to preach in Ireland, and by his simple teaching showed its people the proper time f Easter. He corrected their ancient error and restored nearly all who were not under the jurisdiction of Iona to Catholic unity, teaching them to observe Easter at the proper time. Having observed the canonical Easter in Ireland, he returned to his own island, where he vigorously pressed his own monastery to conform to the Catholic observance of Easter, but had no success in his attempts. Before the close of the next year he departed this life. For God in his goodness decreed that so great a champion of peace and unity should be received into everlasting life before the time of Easter returned once more, and before she should be obliged to enter upon more serious controversy with those who refused to follow him to the truth.

Adamnan also wrote a book about the Holy Places, which is most valuable to many readers. The man who dictated the information to him was Arculf, a bishop from Gaul who had visited Jerusalem to see the Holy Places. Having toured all the Prmised Land, Arculf had travelled to Damascus, Constantinople, Alexandria, and many islands; but as he was returning home, his ship was driven by a violent storm on the western coast of Britain. After many adventures, he visited Christ’s servant Adamnan, who, finding him learned in the Scriptures and well acquainted with the Holy Places, was glad to welcome him and even more glad to listen to him. As a result, he rapidly committed to writing everything of interest that Arculf said that he had seen at the Holy Places. And by this means, as I have said, he compiled a work of great value to many people, especially those who live at a great distance from the places where the patriarchs and Apostles lived, and whose only source of information about them lies in books. Adamnan presented this book to King Aldfrid, and through his generosity it was circulated for lesser folk to read. The writer himself was sent back to his own land richer by many gifts. [Beda in Chapters 16-17, gives a précis of Adamnan’s book concerning Arculf’s pilgrimages.]
 

Book III, Chapter 3

In that year, 713, the most reverend and holy father, Bishop Egbert, an Englishman, who had spent many years in exile in Ireland for love of Christ, and was most learned in the scriptures and renowned for lifelong holiness, came and corrected their error on Iona, and they changed to the right canonical customs for observing Easter. This error was that they kept Easter not, as some supposed, on the fourteenth day of the moon, as do the Jews, but on the Sunday of the wrong week. For as Christians they knew well that the Resurrection of our Lord took place on the first day after the Sabbath and should always be kept on that day. But being barbarian and simple, they had not learned when this first day of the Sabbath, which is now called the Lord’s Day, should occur. Yet, since they did not fail in the fervent grace of charity, they were worthy to learn the full truth in this matter, in accordance with the Apostle’s promise, when he said: ‘And if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you’.
 

Book V, Chapter 22

Through Egbert’s teaching, the monks of Iona under Abbot Duunchad adopted Catholic ways of life about eighty years after they had sent Aidan to preach to the English nation [founding Lindisfarne]. God’s servant Egbert. remained thirteen years on the island, where he restored the gracious light of unity and peace to the Church and consecrated the island anew to Christ. In the year of our Lord 729, during which our Lord’s Easter was kept on the twenty-fourth of April, Egbert celebrated the solemnity of the Mass in honour of our Lord’s Resurrection and departed to him the same day.

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