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St. Finan of Lindisfarne -  Nash Ford PublishingSt. Finan of Lindisfarne,
Bishop of Lindisfarne

(Died AD 661)

The first monk sent from Iona, to replace the noble St. Aidan as Bishop of Lindisfarne in AD 651, was the Irishman, St. Finan. His episcopate was prosperous and followed that of his predecesor in both policy and character. It lasted ten years and was not interrupted by any melancholy event, such as those which had troubled the life of Aidan, by taking, from him, his two Royal friends. St. Finan always lived on good terms and worked in close co-operation with King Oswiu of Northumbria; and, before he died, he had the honour of introducing, to the Church, the heads of the two other great Saxon kingdoms. For Sigebert, King of Essex and Peada, King of the Middle Angles, both came to seek baptism at the gates of Lindisfarne. This made way for the conversion of their respective provinces, which this holy prelate furnished with proper missionaries. After some time, he ordained the Scot, Diuma, as Bishop of Middle Anglia, Lindsey & Mercia and St. Cedd as Bishop of Essex. In the island sanctuary of Lindisfarne, St. Finan caused a cathedral to be built, not of stone, like that which Paulinus and Edwin had commenced at York, but, according to the Celtic custom and like the churches built by Columba and his Irish monks, it was made entirely of wood. It was covered with bent, that long rough sea-grass, whose pivot-like roots bind together the sands on the seashore and which is still found in great abundance on the island.

Finan's diocese was vast, embracing not only Bernicia and Deira, but the adjoining kingdoms over which the Northumbrian kings claimed suzerainty. Scottish scribes speak of a certain Prince Fergus - probably a close relation of King Domangart II - who, by his violence and other actions, had raised the indignation of the Scottish clergy and called down upon himself a sentence of excommunication from the Bishops of Lindisfarne, Finan and his successors. Bede was prejudiced against this holy prelate because of his adhesion to the Celtic ritual and resistance to the Irish missionary, Ronan, who pushed for the introduction of Roman usages. Finan did however agree to Wilfred travelling to Rome and even Bede admits to his great virtues, his contempt of the World, love of poverty and disinterestedness and great diligence in preaching the Word of God. He died on 17th February AD 661, was buried in his cathedral and priory church on Lindisfarne and succeeded in his episcopacy by St. Colman.

Partly Edited from S. Baring-Gould's "The Lives of the Saints" (1877).

 

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