The gospel first came to the northern English in 627, when King Edwin of Northumbria was converted by a mission from Canterbury led by Bishop Paulinus, who established his see at York. Edwin’s death in battle in 632 was followed by a severe pagan reaction. A year later, Edwin’s exiled nephew Oswald gained the kingdom and proceeded at once to restore the Christian mission.
During his exile, Oswald had lived at Columba’s monastery of Iona, where he had been converted and baptized. Hence he sent to Iona, rather than to Canterbury, for missionaries. The head of the new mission was a gentle monk named Aidan (d. 651), who centered his work, not at York, but in imitation of his home monastery, on Lindisfarne, an island off the northeast coast of England. With his fellow monks and the twelve English boys he trained to be future ecclesiastical leaders, Aidan restored Christianity in Northumbria and extended the mission through the midlands.
Bede gave this account: “…the highest recommendation of his teaching to all was that he and his followers lived as they taught… all who walked with him, whether monks or lay-folk, were required to meditate, that is, either to read the scriptures or to learn the Psalms. This was their daily occupation wherever they went…”
Our Father in heaven,
We thank You for the life and ministry of Aidan. We humbly beseech You to stir within Justin Welby and the leaders of the Church of England a desire to read, meditate upon, and learn Holy Scripture. Amen.
Hat tip: SF