Aidan and Cuthbert

New Blue book on the proposed revised calendar for the Episcopal Church is out to be approved at this summer’s general convention. There are a large number of changes and many additions.

Cuthbert has a vision of Aidan being carried to heaven on the night he died, from a version of Bede's Life of Cuthbert.
Cuthbert has a vision of Aidan's soul being carried to heaven on the night he died, from a version of Bede's Life of Cuthbert.

One of the changes combines the feast day for Bishops Aidan and Cuthbert of Lindisfarne on August 31st (Aidan’s feast day). We have been saying for years that Cuthbert is the politically correct version of Aidan and now they will share a feast day. On top of that, they share Aidan’s feast day. I think that is appropriate given that Aidan is the founder of Lindisfarne and is probably more popular among the neo-Celtic movement, but I’m sure in terms of historic popularity, Cuthbert was more popular. Having the feast in August will remove it from the complication of possibly falling in Lent. It will also move Cuthbert from the shadow of St Patrick a couple days earlier. Overall, I can’t say that I mind too much, but it does decrease the number of early medieval and Anglo-Saxons feasts. This is more relevant because they are proposing to add so many post-Reformation people.

New proposed collect:

Everliving God, you called your servants Aidan and Cuthbert to proclaim the Gospel in northern England and gave them loving hearts and gentle spirits: Grant us grace to live as they did, in simplicity, humility and love for the poor; through Jesus Christ, who came among us as one who serves, and who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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7 thoughts on “Aidan and Cuthbert

  1. It seems a pity to lose the individual feasts for these two great saints. Though you could certainly say there is a precedent for major saints sharing a feast day in the Apostles Peter and Paul!

    What about Cuthbert’s other feast day, his translation on September 4th?

    Is Aidan really more popular among the neo-Celtic movement? I would have thought that Cuthbert’s connection with nature would have gained him a lot more attention. Or is it because Cuthbert appears as a transitional figure between the Celtic and Roman traditions, while Aidan is earlier and so more of a ‘pure’ Celt?

  2. I suspect that the translation feast on September 4 is probably only celebrated in Durham.

    Well, honestly, Aidan does have a more full list of accomplishments than Cuthbert. Cuthbert was only bishop for about 3 years, while Aidan was the apostle to Bernicia (at least), founder of Lindisfarne and its movement. Aidan was also bishop for something like 17 years. Aidan was also actually Irish, which may make him a little more favorable to the neo-Celtic Christian movement. There is an emerging church Community of Aidan and Hilda growing out there. I don’t know much about them.

    Of course both Cuthbert and Aidan have benefited tremendously from their hagiographer. Bede knew what he was doing. 🙂

    1. Cuthbert typifies the lifestyle and teachings of Aidan but he is politically correct because he accepts Rome. Aidan was not politically correct because of his rejection of Rome.

      1. Oh, I see. I can see that from Bede’s point of view. I thought you were commenting on a reason for the Episcopalian church to move Cuthbert’s commemoration.

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