Aidan

, bishop of Lindisfarne, or Holy island, in the 7th century, was originally a monk in the monastery of Iona, one of the islands called Hebrides. In the year 634, he came into England, at the request of Oswald king of Northumberland, to instruct that prince’s subjects in the | knowledge of the Christian religion. At his first coming to Oswald’s court, he prevailed upon the king to remove the episcopal see from York, where it had been settled by Gregory the great, to Lindisfarne, or Holy island; a peninsula joined to the coast of Northumberland by a very narrow neck of land, and called Holy island from its being inhabited chiefly by monks; the beautiful ruins of its monastery are still extant. In this place Aidan was very successful in his preaching, in which he was not a little assisted by the pious zeal of the king; who, having lived a considerable time in Scotland, and acquired a sufficient knowledge of the language, was himself Aidan’s interpreter 9 and explained his discourses -to the nobility, and the rest of his court. After the death of Oswald, who was killed in battle, Aidan continued to govern the church of Northumberland, under his successors Oswin and Oswi, who reigned jointly; the former in the province of Deira, the latter in that of Bernicia; but having foretold the untimely death of Oswin, he was so afflicted for his loss, that he survived him hut twelve days, and died in August 6^1, after having sat sixteen years. Bede gives him an extraordinary character; but at the same time takes notice that he was not altogether orthodox in keeping of Easter, in which he followed the custom of the Scots, Picts, and Britons. The same historian ascribes three miracles to bishop Aidan; two of them performed in his lifetime, and the other after his death. He was buried in his church of Lindisfarne; and part of his relics were carried into Scotlaud by his successor Colman in 664.

With respect to the miracles ascribed to Aidan, they will not now bear a serious discussion. It is said that he prescribed oil to calm a turbulent sea; and Dr. Kippis, in the new edition of the Biographia Britannica, supposes from this that the good bishop might have some acquaintance with the property (lately brought to light by Dr. Franklin) which oil has of stilling waves. But in the bishop’s case, we must have a miracle or nothing; for the quantity he prescribed was contained in a phial, which could not have calmed the sea; and Dr. Franklin’s discovery has never been of the smallest use in any respect. Of the excellence of his character, as an ecclesiastic, much may be believed. His speech to a priest who employed harsh measures in converting the English, is a great proof of his good sense. “Your want of success, brother,” said he, | seems to me to be owing to your want of condescension to the weakness of your unlearned hearers; whom, according to the apostolic rule, you should first have fed with the milk of a milder and less rigid doctrine, till, being nourished by degrees with the word of God, they were become capable of relishing the more perfect and sublime precepts of the Gospel.” The reason he gave for foretelling Oswin’s death is also very striking. “I forsaw that Oswin’s life was but short; for in my life, I never saw so humble a prince before. His temper is too heavenly to dwell long among us; and indeed the nation does not deserve the blessing of snch a governor.1

1

Mackenzie’s Scotch Writers, vol. I.—Gen. Dict.—Biog. Brit, new edit.— Milner’s Church History, vol. III. 116.