St Cuthbert is one of our Lancaster Diocesan Patrons together with Our Lady of Lourdes.
St Cuthbert was born about 634 and legend tells us that as a boy he used to tend sheep on the mountain-sides near the monastery of Melrose.
In the year 651, while watching his sheep, Cuthbert saw a vision of the soul of St. Aidan being carried heavenward by a throng of angels. Inspired by this he became a monk and eventually became Prior at Lindisfarne (Holy Island) where he spent much time in evangelizing the local people.
Cuthbert wanted more solitude and time for contemplation so went for a short period to either St Cuthbert’s Isle (off Holy Island) or, as some biographers suggest, St Cuthbert’s Cave in Northumberland. Eventually in 676 Cuthbert moved to the Inner Farne, where he lived in solitude and peace for a while.
While Cuthbert was on St Cuthbert’s Isle he would pray for long times at night on the shores of the sea in all weathers. Legend has it that the sea otters would come and sit at his feet warming them in the freezing North Eastern weather. Legend also has it that he, like St. Francis, conversed with the local ducks who would flock around him. Cuthbert is recognised as one of the world’s earliest wildlife conservationists and the Eider Duck is known locally in the North East as the Cuddy Duck or Cuthbert Duck in his memory.
Eventually, he left Holy Island and the Inner Farne when he was called back to active service as Bishop of Hexham in 684. For two years he travelled the length and breadth of the North of England.
Cuthbert had the reputation of being a saint and a worker of miracles. He returned to Inner Farne and died there on 20th March 687.
St Cuthbert was buried in his monastery at Lindisfarne, and his tomb immediately became celebrated for remarkable miracles. After his death, the Lindisfarne Gospels were written in his honour.
Cuthbert had asked that if ever the day came when the monks were to be forced to leave the monastery, they should take his bones with them. Years later, faced with a threat of invasion by the Danes, the monks fled, taking their precious burden with them. For over two hundred years the monks wandered about the north of England. Legend has it that that the monks rested the relics of St Cuthbert in Lytham in 878.
Finally, the monks settled at Durham and began the building of the famous Durham Cathedral which was to house the Shrine of St Cuthbert.
St Cuthbert’s memorial is kept on the 4th September.