Statue of St Aidan

The statue of St Aidan on Lindisfarne

On Holy Island of the Northumbrian coast there is a very striking sculpture of St. Aidan by Kathleen Parbury which she made in 1958.  It is in St. Mary's Churchyard, and is an arresting image, which one does not forget having seen it.  A quick on-line search will find it for you.

Yesterday was St Aidan’s day, and we may recall him and his companions on the journey of faith.  He established the monastery on Lindisfarne in the year 635.  This was a time of extraordinary richness of the flowering of the faith in that area of north east England.  When Aidan died, Cuthbert was 16 and when he died Bede was 12.  This succession of men of utter commitment, effectiveness in spreading the Gospel and sanctity we are left to contemplate as we stand and look at the figure of Aidan or think of the effect of Cuthbert or the writings of Bede, or visit the Galilee Chapel in Durham Cathedral, with its sense of the presence of these northern saints.

Aidan was a man who showed what be believed in the way he lived.  He would walk with his monks, reciting the whole psalter each day.  They knew the psalms all by heart.  It is said that when he came to Psalm 127 he would stop at the first verse, “Except the Lord build the house, their labour is but lost that build it”  as a reminder that what we seek to make, construct physically or put up on whatever way we do, it must be to the glory of God.

I think that Kathleen Parbury caught this sense of Aidan’s loving commitment in her work.

John Mann