Saint Aidan de Lindisfarne
Évêque-abbé (✝ 651)
Moine missionnaire irlandais venant du monastère fondé par Saint Colomba sur l'île de Iona, il établit la religion chrétienne dans le district de Lindisfarne en Angleterre et devint, vers 635, évêque du pays qu'il avait converti.
A lire: saint Aidan, premier habitant de Holy Island de Lindisfarne - site en anglais.
À Lindisfarne en Northumbrie, l’an 653, saint Aidan, évêque et abbé. Homme de grande piété, d’extrême mansuétude et de sage autorité, il fut appelé du monastère d’Iona par le roi saint Oswald, et il établit dans cette île son siège épiscopal et son monastère, pour travailler efficacement à répandre l’Évangile dans ce royaume d’Angleterre.
L'évêque Aedan est né en Irlande à la fin du 6ème siècle, et mourut en 651. Saint Aidan fut disciple de saint Senan (8 mars) sur l'Ile Scattery, mais on ne sait rien de plus de certain sur sa vie antérieure à son entrée comme moine à Iona. Il fut bien accueillit par le roi saint Oswald (9 août), qui avait vécut en exil parmi les moines Irlandais à Iona et y avait demandé des moines pour évangéliser son royaume. Le premier missionnaire, Corman, n'eut pas de succès à cause de la rudesse de ses méthodes; dès lors Aidan fut envoyé pour le remplacer. Oswald accorda l'île de Lindisfarne ("Ile sainte") à Aidan pour y fonder son siège épiscopal; son diocèse s'étendra du Forth jusqu'à l'Humber.
Par ses actions, il montra que jamais il ne chercha ni n'aima les biens de ce monde; les présents que le roi ou les riches lui offraient, il les donnait aux pauvres. Il vint rarement à la table royale, et jamais sans y emmener l'un ou l'autre de son clergé, et se hâtant toujours de quitter pour rejoindre ses tâches. Le centre de son activité était Lindisfarne, au large de la côte du Northumberland, entre Berwick et Bamburgh. Là, il établit un monastère sous la Règle de saint Columcille (Columba d'Iona); il n'était pas inapproprié de l'appeler l'Iona anglais, parce que de là, le paganisme fut progressivement éliminé en Northumbrie et les coutumes barbares sapées. La communauté n'était pas autorisée à accumuler des richesses; les surplus étaient utilisés pour les besoins des pauvres et le rachat avec affranchissement des esclaves (manumission). De Lindisfarne, Aidan voyagea à pied à travers le diocèse, visitant son troupeau et fondant des centres missionnaires.
L'apostolat d'Aidan fut facilité par des miracles innombrables, rapportés par saint Bede (25 mai) qui rédigea sa biographie. Il fut aussi aidé par le fait qu'Aidan prêcha en Irlandais et que le roi fit la traduction. Saint Aidan fit entrer 12 jeunes Anglais dans son monastère, pour les y élever, et il était infatigable pour s'occuper du bien-être des enfants et des esclaves, et pour l'affranchissement de ces derniers, il utilisa pour leur manumission nombre des aumônes qu'on lui accorda.
Le grand roi saint Oswald assista son évêque de toutes les manières possibles jusqu'à sa mort à la bataille contre le roi païen Penda en 642. Une belle histoire préservée par saint Bède nous rapporte qu'Oswald était attablé pour dîner un jour de Pâques, saint Aidan à ses côtés, quand on lui apprit qu'un grand groupe de pauvres demandait l'aumône à la porte. Prenant un plat en argent massif, il le chargea avec la viande de sa propre table et ordonna de la distribuer parmi les pauvres, puis qu'on brisa le plat d'argent et qu'on en partagea les morceaux entre les pauvres. Aidan, nous dit Bède, prit la main droite du roi, disant "Que jamais cette main ne périsse!" Sa bénédiction s'accomplit. Après la mort d'Oswald, son bras droit incorrompu fut conservé comme sainte relique.
Saint Oswin (20 août), le successeur de saint Oswald, soutint aussi l'apostolat d'Aidan. Et lorsqu'en 651, Oswin fut assassiné par Gilling, Aidan ne lui survécut que 11 jours. Il mourût au château royal de Bamburgh, qu'il utilisait comme centre missionnaire, gisant contre un mur de l'église où une tente avait été dressée pour l'abriter. Il fut d'abord enterré dans le cimetière de Lindisfarne, mais quand la nouvelle église Saint-Pierre fut achevée, on y transféra son corps. Les moines de Lindisfarne, fuyant les attaques répétées des Vikings, abandonnèrent leur sainte île en 875, emportant les reliques de saint Oswald et saint Aidan placées dans le cercueil contenant le corps incorrompu de saint Cuthbert. Durant 100 ans, les moines errèrent, s'installant de ci de là, et fondant des églises. En 995, craignant une nouvelle attaque des envahisseurs Danois, les moines s'enfuirent à nouveau avec leurs précieuses reliques. Selon la tradition, quand les moines approchèrent de la ville de Durham, le cercueil devint de plus en plus lourd, et un moine eut un songe dans lequel Cuthbert dit que son corps trouverait son repos final à "Dunholme". Aucun des moines ne connaissait un tel lieu mais, interrogeant les villageois, ils entendirent 2 femmes parler d'une vache perdue qui se serait égarée dans "le Dunholme". Les moines investiguèrent ce détail et découvrirent que c'était un promontoire boisé sur une boucle de la Rivière Wear, où de nos jours se trouve la cathédrale de Durham.
Les moines de Glastonbury affirmèrent que dès le 11ième siècle, ils possédaient les ossements de saint Aidan de Lindisfarne (Northumberland). Nous savons que ce n'était pas le corps entier, car il est reconnu que la moitié du corps se trouve à Iona en Écosse, et une partie du restant se trouve à la cathédrale de Durham. Saint dont le corps n'était pas entier et pourtant le plus ancien enregistré, il semble qu'Aidan est le seul saint "nordique" dont les reliques furent amenées au sud à Glastonbury par Tyccea, bien qu'apparemment pas sous la menace Viking.
Saint Bède loue hautement l'Irlandais Aidan qui fit tant pour porter l'Évangile à ses frères Anglo-Saxons. "Jamais il ne rechercha ni n'aima quoique ce soit de ce monde, mais fit ses délices à distribuer immédiatement aux pauvres quoique ce soit que rois ou riches du monde lui donnèrent. Il traversa villes et pays à pied, jamais à cheval, sauf si pressé par une urgente nécessité. Partout où il rencontrait quelqu'un, riche ou pauvre, il l'invitait, si païen, à embrasser le mystère de la Foi; ou s'il s'agissait d'un croyant, il cherchait à le renforcer dans leur Foi, exhortant par des paroles et actions pour les aumônes et bonnes oeuvres."
Il écrivit que saint Aidan "était un homme d'une gentillesse remarquable, bon et modéré, zélé pour Dieu; mais pas complètement selon la connaissance..." Par cela, Bède veut dire qu'Aidan suivait et enseignait la Liturgie et les coutumes disciplinaires des Chrétiens Celtes, qui différaient de ceux de la Chrétienté continentale romaine. Montague note qu'un des efforts de l'éducation anglo-saxonne dirigée par les moines Irlandais était que l'écriture anglaise se distinguait par son orthographe irlandaise. Aidan amena en Irlande la coutume du jeûne du mercredi et du vendredi (voir Didachè).
Dans l'art, on représente Saint Aidan en évêque avec en main le monastère de Lindisfarne et un cerf à ses pieds (parce que la tradition rapporte que sa prière rendit invisible un cerf poursuivit par des chasseurs). Il peut aussi être représenté
(1) tenant une torche allumée;
(2) donnant un cheval à un pauvre;
(3) calmant une tempête; ou
(4) éteignant un incendie par sa prière. Il est particulièrement vénéré à Glastonbury, Lindisfarne, et Whitby
SOURCE : http://stmaterne.blogspot.ca/2008/08/saint-aidan-de-lindisfarne-abb-vque-et.html
Aidan (Aedan) of Lindisfarne B (RM)
Born in Ireland; died 651. Saint Aidan is said to have been a disciple of Saint Senan on Scattery Island, but nothing else is known with certainty of his early life before he became a monk of Iona. He was well received by King Oswald, who had lived in exile among the Irish monks of Iona and had requested monks to evangelize his kingdom. The first missioner, Corman, was unsuccessful because of the roughness of his methods, so Aidan was sent to replace him. Oswald bestowed the isle of Lindisfarne (Holy Island) on Aidan for his episcopal seat and his diocese reached from the Forth to the Humber. By his actions he showed that he neither sought nor loved the things of this world; the presents which were given to him by the king or other rich men he distributed among the poor. He rarely attended the king at table, and never without taking with him one or two of his clergy, and always afterwards made haste to get away and back to his work.
The center of his activity was Lindisfarne, off the coast of Northumberland, between Berwick and Bamburgh. Here established a monastery under the Rule of Saint Columcille; it was not improperly been called the English Iona, for from it the paganism of Northumbria was gradually dispelled and barbarian customs undermined. The community was not allowed to accumulate wealth; surpluses were applied to the needs of the poor and the manumission of slaves.
From Lindisfarne Aidan made journeys on foot throughout the diocese, visiting his flock and establishing missionary centers. Aidan's apostolate was advanced by numerous miracles according to Saint Bede, who wrote his biography. It was also aided by the fact that Aidan preached in Irish and the king provided the translation. Saint Aidan took to this monastery 12 English boys to be raised there, and he was indefatigable in tending to the welfare of children and slaves, for the manumission of many of whom he paid from alms bestowed on him.
The great king Saint Oswald assisted his bishop in every possible way until his death in battle against the pagan King Penda in 642. Oswald's successor, Saint Oswin, also supported Aidan's apostolate and when in 651, Oswin was murdered in Gilling, Aidan survived him only 11 days. He died at the royal castle of Bamburgh, which he used as a missionary center, leaning against a wall of the church where a tent had been erected to shelter him. He was first buried in the cemetery of Lindisfarne, but when the new church of Saint Peter was finished, his body was translated into the sanctuary.
Saint Bede highly praises the Irish Aidan who did so much to bring the Gospel to his Anglo-Saxon brothers. He wrote that Saint Aidan "was a man of remarkable gentleness, goodness, and moderation, zealous for God; but not fully according to knowledge. . . . " By which Bede means that he followed and taught the liturgical and disciplinary customs of the Celtic Christians, which differed from those of Continental Christianity. Montague notes that one effort of Anglo-Saxon education being conducted by Irish monks was that English writing was distinguished by its Irish orthography. Aidan brought to Ireland the Roman custom of Wednesday and Friday fasts (Attwater, Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Montague, Walsh).
In art, Saint Aidan is portrayed as a bishop with the monastery of Lindisfarne in his hand and a stag at his feet (because of the legend that his prayer rendered invisible a deer pursued by hunters). He might also be portrayed (1) holding a light torch; (2) giving a horse to a poor man; (3) calming a storm; or (4) extinguishing a fire by his prayers (Roeder), He is especially venerated at Glastonbury, Lindisfarne, and Whitby (Roeder).
St. Aidan of Lindisfarne
An Irish monk who had studied under St. Senan, at Iniscathay (Scattery Island). He is placed as Bishop of Clogher by Ware and Lynch, but he resigned that see and became a monk at Iona about 630. His virtues, however, shone so resplendantly that he was selected (635) as first Bishop of Lindisfarne, and in time became apostle of Northumbria. St. Bede is lavish in praise of the episcopal rule of St. Aidan, and of his Irish co-workers in the ministry. Oswald, king of Northumbria, who had studied in Ireland, was a firm friend of St. Aidan, and did all he could for the Irish missioners until his sad death at Maserfield near Oswestry, 5 August, 642. St. Aidan died at Bamborough on the last day of August, 651, and his remains were borne to Lindisfarne. Bede tells us that "he was a pontiff inspired with a passionate love of virtue, but at the same time full of a surpassing mildness and gentleness." His feast is celebrated 31 August.
Grattan-Flood, William. "St. Aidan of Lindisfarne." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 31 Aug. 2015 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01233d.htm>.
St. Aidan, or Ædan, Bishop of Lindisfarne, Confessor
WHEN the holy king Oswald 1 desired the bishops of Scotland to send him a person honoured with the episcopal character to preach the faith to his Anglo-Saxon pagan subjects, and plant the church among them, the first person who came was of a rough austere temper, and therefore could do little good, and being soon forced to return home again, he laid the fault on the rude indocile dispositions of the English. Hereupon the Scottish clergy called a synod to deliberate what was best to be done. Aidan, who was present, told the prelate, on his blaming the obstinacy of the English, that the fault lay rather in him, who had been too harsh and severe to an ignorant people, who ought first to be fed with the milk of milder doctrine, till they should be able to digest more solid food. At this discourse the whole assembly turned their eyes upon him, as one endued with prudence, the mother of other virtues; and he was appointed to the great and arduous mission.
Aidan was a native of Ireland, (then called Scotland,) and a monk of Hij, the great monastery which his countryman, St. Columba, had founded, and to which the six neighbouring islands were given, as Buchanan mentions. He was most graciously received by king Oswald, who bestowed on him for his episcopal seat the isle of Lindisfarne. 2 Of his humility and piety Bede gives an edifying account, and proposes him as an excellent pattern for succeeding bishops and clergymen to follow. He obliged all those who travelled with him, to bestow their time either in reading the scriptures, or in learning the psalms by heart. By his actions he showed that he neither sought nor loved the good things of this world; the presents which were made him by the king, or by other rich men, he distributed among the poor, or expended in redeeming captives. He rarely would go to the king’s table, and never without taking with him one or two of his clergy, and always after a short repast made haste away to read or pray in the church, or in his cell. From his example even the laity took the custom of fasting till none, that is, till three in the afternoon, on all Wednesdays and Fridays, except during the fifty days of the Easter time. Our venerable historian admires his apostolic liberty in reproving the proud and the great, his love of peace, charity, continence, humility, and all other virtues, which he not only practised himself, but, by his spirit and example, communicated to a rough and barbarous nation, which he imbued with the meekness of the cross. 3 Aidan fixed his see at Lindisfarne, and founded a monastery there in the year of our Lord 635, the hundred and eighty-eighth after the coming of the English Saxons into Britain, the thirty-ninth after the arrival of St. Augustine, and the second of the reign of king Oswald. From this monastery all the churches of Bernicia, or the northern part of the kingdom of the Northumbers from the Tine to the Firth of Edinburgh, had their beginning; as had some also of those of the Deïri, who inhabited the southern part of the same kingdom from the Tine to the Humber. The see of York had been vacant thirty years, ever since St. Paulinus had left it; so that St. Aidan governed all the churches of the Northumbers for seventeen years, till his happy death, which happened on the 31st of August in 651, in the royal villa Bebbord. He was first buried in the cemetery in Lindisfarne; but when the new church of St. Peter was built there, his body was translated into it, and deposited on the right hand of the altar. Colman when he returned into Scotland, carried with him part of his bones to St. Columb’s or Hij. 4 He is named on this day in the Roman Martyrology. See Bede: Leland Collect. t. 1. p. 512. alias 366.
Note 1. See his life on the 5th of August. [back]
Note 2. Lindisfarne, so called from the river Lindis, is eight miles in circumference; it is only an island at high water, and remains a peninsula when the tide leaves the strand dry. From the great number of saints who lived and lie buried there, it was called by our ancestors holy island. [back]
Note 3. Bede relates many miracles and prophecies of St. Aidan, (l. 3, c. 15,) and gives the following portrait of the clergy and people of this nation soon after their conversion to the faith: “Wherever a clergyman or monk came, he was received by all with joy as a servant of God; and when any one was travelling on his way, they would run up to him, and, bowing down, would be glad to be signed by his hand, or blessed by his prayer. They gave diligent attention to the words of exhortation which they heard from him, and on Sundays flocked with great eagerness to the churches or monasteries to hear the word of God. If any priest happened to come into a village, the inhabitants presently gathering together were solicitous to hear from him the words of life; nor did the priests or other ecclesiastics frequent the villages on any other account but to preach, visit the sick, and take care of souls; and so free were they from any degree of the bane of avarice, that no one would receive lands or possessions for building monasteries, unless compelled to it by the secular power.” (Hist. l. 3, c. 26.) [back]
Note 4. The discipline of the Scottish monks, and of Lindisfarne, was derived from the oriental monastic rules, and very austere. Roger Hoveden, Simeon of Durham, and Leland in his Collectanea, (t. 2, p. 158, alias 171,) tell us that the monks of Lindisfarne used no other drink than milk and water till wine and beer were allowed them, from the rules of the western monks in 762, when Ceolwulph, king of the Northumbers, in the ninth year of his reign, resigned his kingdom to his nephew, and became a monk at Lindisfarne. He was buried at Ubba, and his body afterwards translated to the church of Northam, where it is said to have been honoured with miracles. He is mentioned in the English Martyrologies on the 28th of October. Finan, the second bishop of Lindisfarne, built a new church there of hewn oak, which he covered with reeds; it was consecrated by St. Theodore, archbishop of Canterbury; Eadbert, bishop of Lindisfarne, afterwards covered it all over with lead. Finan died and was buried at Lindisfarne, having held that see ten years. Colman succeeded him, and in the synod at Strenesbault refusing to receive the Roman custom of celebrating Easter, which St. Wilfrid maintained, having been bishop three years, returned into Scotland. Colman retired with many English and Scottish monks that followed, from the western islands of Scotland into the west of Ireland, where he built a monastery for them in an island called, in the Scottish or Irish language, Inisbofin, i. e., the island of the white calf. Tuda, a southern Scottish monk, succeeded him, but died of the plague in a year. Eata, one of the twelve English youths whom St. Aidan educated, was chosen to succeed him first as abbot, afterwards also in the bishopric. Having governed this see fourteen years, he was removed to Hexham, and St. Cuthbert chosen bishop of Lindisfarne. Eadbert succeeded him in 687, and died in 698. Eadfrid, then Ethelworth, and eight other bishops held this see, till the monastery and church being burned down by the Danes, bishop Eardulf translated this see to Cunecester or Chester upon the Street; and, in 995, Aldhun, the eighth from him, removed this see from Chester to Durham. This prelate, with the assistance of the Earl of Northumberland, and the people of the country, cut down a great wood which surrounded the spot which he chose for the church, and built a large city and stately church, into which he, three years after, translated the uncorrupted body of St. Cuthbert, in the three hundred and thirty-ninth year after his death, and the three hundred and sixty-first from the foundation of the see of Lindisfarne by St. Aidan, as Leland relates. (In Collectan. t. 1, p. 528, ex Hist. aur. Joan Eborac.) The see of York having been restored in St. Cedde, St. Wilfrid, and their successors; a bishopric being also erected at Hexham under Eata, Bosa, and St. John of Beverley, and their successors, till this church and city being laid waste by the Danes about the year 800, the see of Hexham became extinct in Panbricht, the last bishop who governed this see, though some give him a successor named Tidfrid, (Lel. Collect. t. 2, p. 159, alias 174,) and the see of Carlisle in 1133, in the person of Athelwold, and lastly that of Chester in 1542, the thirty-third of Henry VIII. the bishopric of Lindisfarne is long since parcelled out into many. [back]
Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume VIII: August. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.