Saturday, 23 March 2013

With the Saints in Lent (39): Saint Ethelwald of Lindisfarne, 23 March

The opening of St Luke's Gospel in the Lindisfarne Gospels … in the 10th century it was recorded that the Lindisfarne Gospels were bound by Saint Ethelwald (Photograph: Wikipedia)

Patrick Comerford

Saint Ethelwald of Farne, a hermit who is also known as Oidilwald, is remembered today [23 March], the day he died on Lindisfarne in 699.

Saint Ethelwald was originally a Benedictine monk and a priest at Ripon Monastery and a disciple of Saint Cuthbert (see 20 March).

Saint Ethelwald was a hermit when he Ws chosen to succeed Saint Cuthbert as the Abbot of Lindisfarne in 687.

An inscription monk Aldred, added in the 10th century, recorded that the Lindisfarne Gospels were bound by Saint Ethelwald and the cover decorated with an impressed design. A jewelled casing was added to the book by Billfrith the hermit priest.

However, both Ethelwald’s and Billfrith’s work has disappeared, probably removed by Henry VIII’s commissioners at the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536. The cover and casing may have resembled those of the small book of Saint John’s Gospel and the Saint Cuthbert portable altar, both placed in Saint Cuthbert’s new tomb in 698.

The Venerable Bede writes about a miracle attributed to Saint Ethelwald. He says his prayers abated a severe wind storm that had threatened Guthrid and two other visiting monks from Lindisfarne with shipwreck
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When Saint Ethelwald died on 23 March 699, he was buried on Lindisfarne next to those of Saint Cuthbert and Saint Edbert. Later, his relics were carried from place to place with those of Saint Cuthbert until they were buried in Durham Cathedral.

Many miracles were attributed by Florence of Worcester to the intercession of Saint Ethelwald.

Tomorrow (24 March): Saint Macartan of Clogher.