St. Mary's Anglican Catholic Church

Diocese of the Midwest

All that we know of St Aiden is found in the Venerable Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People (EH). Aiden was born sometime around 590AD; and he was a monk on the Isle of Iona off the west coast of Scotland. Though the Gospel first came to Britain with the Roman Empire, in the early seventh century, Christianity in England was at a low point, much of the nation having fallen to pagan Anglo-Saxon invaders. King Oswald, who forged together the Kingdom of Northumbria in the north of England, was converted to the faith while in exile in Scotland; and he asked the Celtic Church there to send him a bishop to help convert his people. Aiden was consecrated bishop for Northumbria; and he asked the king to grant him the Isle of Lindisfarne as his see, taking up residence in 635AD. (EH III.3, 5) King Oswald was killed in the battle of Maserfield August 5, 641/2AD; and he is revered as a saint of the Church. Bishop Aiden formed a close friendship with Oswald’s successor, King Oswyn. Aiden died on August 31, 651,
Bishop Aiden was a successful preacher and pastor; and he was noted for his spiritual discipline. It was Aiden’s practice to make all of his missionary journeys through Northumbria on foot. Bede tells us, “whatsoever gifts of money he [Aiden] received from the rich, he either distributed, as has been said, for the use of the poor, or bestowed in ransoming such as had been wrongfully sold for slaves.” (EH III.5) The following story from is Bede’s account of the life of Aiden is in keeping.

“He [King Oswyn] had given a beautiful horse to Bishop Aidan, to use either in crossing rivers, or in performing a journey upon any urgent necessity, though the Bishop was wont to travel ordinarily on foot. Some short time after, a poor man meeting the Bishop, and asking alms, he immediately dismounted, and ordered the horse, with all his royal trappings, to be given to the beggar; for he was very compassionate, a great friend to the poor, and, in a manner, the father of the wretched. This being told to the king, when they were going in to dinner, he said to the Bishop, ‘What did you mean, my lord Bishop, by giving the poor man that royal horse, which it was fitting that you should have for your own use? Had not we many other horses of less value, or things of other sorts, which would have been good enough to give to the poor, instead of giving that horse, which I had chosen and set apart for your own use?’ Thereupon the Bishop answered, ‘What do you say, O king? Is that son of a mare more dear to you than that son of God?’” (EH III.14) In the words of the Apostle Paul, Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth. (1 Corinthians 10:24)