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LINDISFARNE, ABBEY OF

Former English abbey on Lindisfarne Island, or Holy Island, off the coast near Berwick-upon-Tweed, England. This early abbey and bishop's seat in northern England was of Celtic origin for, although Christianity had first been brought to the north through King ethelbert of kent's daughter, ethelburga, who had married edwin, the pagan king of Northumbria (627), and through her chaplain, Paulinus, who had become the first bishop of york, the Queen and Paulinus had fled south to Canterbury when Edwin was slain by the heathen king of Mercia in 632. Edwin's immediate successors apostatized, and the infant church in Northumbria collapsed. But when the Christian, oswald, who had been educated in an Irish school, became king of Northumbria, he asked the community of Celtic monks at iona to undertake the conversion of his Northumbrian domains. One of the monks, aidan, was consecrated a bishop and together with a group of missionaries, went to Northumbria (635), where he chose Lindisfarne for his abbey and episcopal seat. Aidan was succeeded (651) as bishop by another monk of Iona, fÍnÁn. His successor was colman, who withdrew to Iona and then to Ireland after the Synod of whitby opted for the Roman rather than the Celtic Easter date. By this time the missionaries from Lindisfarne had penetrated even beyond Northumbria into Mercia. In 685 St. cuthbert was consecrated sixth bishop; he was a man of the Iona tradition of spirituality, who retired to the neighboring island of farne to live as a hermit. Lindisfarne was the first monastery to suffer from Viking attacks, which began in 793. It continued as a bishopric until 875, when raids forced the monks to flee with Cuthbert's body to Chester le Street (c. 883). In 995 the see was finally transferred to durham. In the 11th century Lindisfarne Abbey was granted to the Benedictines of Durham, who supplied the island with monks until the suppression in 1536, when the property passed into the hands of the dean and chapter of Durham. The famous Book of Lindisfarne, or lindisfarne gospels, dating from c. 700, is now in the British Museum, London.

Bibliography: bede, Histoire ecclesiastique 3.4, 5, 17, 23, 26; 4.17, 27, 28; 5.1, 12, 23. g. f. browne, The Venerable Bede (new ed. New York 1919). w. levison, England and the Continent in the 8th Century (Oxford 1946). b. colgrave, ed. and tr. Two Lives of Saint Cuthbert (Cambridge, Eng. 1940); Life of Bishop Witfrid by Eddius Stephanus (New York 1927). j. earle and c. plummer, eds. Two of the Saxon Chronicles Parallel, 2 v. (Oxford 189299). f. l. cross, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church 811.

[j. ryan]

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Lindisfarne, Abbey of

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