31 august

Aidan, episcop de Lindesfarne

Tropar (Glas 5)
O, sfinte Episcop Aidan, Apostol al Nordului si lumina a Bisericii Celte, maret in smerenie, nobil in nevoie, rivnitor calugar si iubitor misionar, mijloceste pentru noi nevrednicii pentru ca Hristos Dumnezeul nostru sa miluiasca sufletele noastre.

Sfintul Aidan s-a nascut in Irlanda in ultima parte a secolului al VI-lea. A fost tuns calugar la Iona (in Scotia) in comunitatea creata mai devreme de Sf. Columba ca un ostrov sfint si pamint neintinat pentru evanghelizarea Britaniei.

Sfintul Aidan a fost ales sa evanghelizeze Northumbria datorita felului sau daruit si blind de a invata pe altii. A fost hirotonit episcop si trimis in Northumbria. A sosit la Lindesfarne in anul 635, facind din locul acesta un al doilea ostrov sfint pe coasta opusa a Britaniei, care deveni resedinta sa episcopala. A crestinat pe pagînii locului. Uneori intilnea ganguri rivale de tineri gata sa se ia la bataie. Le propovaduia Evanghelia intru Pace si ei isi lasau jos armele, erau botezati si se faceau manastiresti.

Sfintul Aidan tinea la traditiile rasaritene, care erau regula in Irlanda. El invata si practica cele mai stricte rinduieli ale postului, data Pastelui rasaritean si natura colegiala a regulii bisericesti, preferind episcopilor pe stareti.

De multe ori, Regele Oswald avea sa il insoteasca pe Sf. Aidan in peregrinarile sale de evanghelizare a tinuturilor rurale, servindu-i ca interpret. Sfintul Aidan invata, predica si incuraja in permanenta, dar conducea prin exemplu. Era cunoscut pentru asceza si pentru milostenia sa. Regele Oswin ii dadu un cal frumos pentru a-i fi de ajutor. Aidan il dadu cu toata splendoarea harnasamentului sau, unui milog care cerea de pomana. A folosit o parte din ce primea pentru a elibera sclavi din sclavie. Unii dintre acestia devenira discipolii sai.

Sf. Aidan trimise propovaduitori peste tot prin Anglia si pina in Olanda, ridicind manastiri. El a tuns si primul calugar in Northumbria, Hieu. De asemenea a convins-o pe Hilda sa ramina in Anglia si a sprijinit-o in munca ei de ridicare a manastirilor de maici peste tot prin Anglia.

Acest episcop cu frica lui Dumnezeu a infaptuit toate acestea si inca multe altele in numai saisprezece ani. A trecut la odihna intru Domnul in ziua de 31 august 651. A fost imediat salutat ca „Apostolul Northumbriei”. A fost inmormintat la Lindesfarne.

In 664, cind manastirea Lindesfarne a cazut sub presiunea Romei si a acceptat Sinodul de la Whitby, Sf. Colman a luat moastele Sf. Aidan si s-a retras la Iona, care a ramas un bastion al Crestinatatii Celte.

During the seventh century Northumbria, comprising the kingdoms of Bernicia and Deira, was a battleground in which the fate of rival kings determined whether the Celtic or the Roman Church should be the prevailing missionary influence. In 616, when King Ethelfrith of Northumbria was defeated in battle and slain, his son Oswald took refuge in Scotland and was converted to Christianity at Iona. Edwin, the new king, also became a Christian, but under the influence of Saint Paulinus, bishop of York, whose allegiance was to Rome. After Edwin’s death in 633, Paulinus abandoned his work in northern England. Oswald returned from exile and eventually became king, whereupon he sent to Iona for a bishop who would preach the gospel in Northumbria.

The first Celtic bishop, Corman, soon returned to Iona, where he declared that the Angles of Northumbria were too stubborn and intractable. The historian Bede writes that, at a meeting to discuss the problem, an Irish monk called Aidan suggested that Corman had been unreasonably harsh with his unlearned listeners, and “did not first, as the Apostle has told us, offer them the milk of less solid doctrine”. It was immediately resolved to send Aidan to Northumbria as bishop.

Little is known of the saint’s early life, save that he may have studied under Saint Senan on Scattery Island, Co. Clare. He arrived in Northumbria c. 635, and with Oswald’s consent made his headquarters on the offshore island of Lindisfarne, close to Oswald’s castle at Bamburgh. It was a fruitful partnership, with Oswald having on occasion to interpret the words of Aidan, who lacked fluency in the English language.

When Oswald was killed in battle in 642, Aidan worked equally well with Oswin, king of Deira. Aidan preached widely throughout Northumbria, travelling on foot, so that he could readily talk to everyone he met. When Oswin gave him a horse for use in difficult terrain, Aidan quixotically gave it to a beggar soliciting alms. Oswin was angry until, as Bede recounts, Aidan asked if the son of a mare was more precious to the king than a son of God. Oswin sought Aidan’s pardon, and promised never again to question or regret any of his wealth being given away to children of God. Both Oswald and Oswin are venerated in England as saints and martyrs.

Scores of Scottish and Irish monks assisted Aidan in his missionary work, building churches and spreading Celtic Christian influence to a degree that Lindisfarne became the virtual capital of Christian England. The saint also recruited classes of Anglo-Saxon youths to be educated at Lindisfarne. Among them was Saint Eata, abbot of Melrose and later of Lindisfarne. In time, Eata’s pupil, Saint Cuthbert, also became bishop of Lindisfarne.

Aidan lived a frugal life, and encouraged the laity to fast and study the scriptures. He himself fasted on Wednesdays and Fridays, and seldom ate at the royal table. When a feast was set before him he would give the food away to the hungry. The presents he received were given to the poor or used to buy the freedom of slaves, some of whom entered the priesthood. During Lent Aidan would retire to the small island of Farne for prayer and penance. While there in 651, he saw smoke rising from Bamburgh, which was then under attack by the pagan King Penda of Mercia. He prayed for the wind to change, and many of the besiegers were destroyed by fire.

When Oswin was killed in 651 by his treacherous cousin Oswy, king of Bernicia, Aidan was grief-stricken. The saint outlived Oswin by a mere twelve days, dying in a shelter he had erected against the wall of his church in Bamburgh.

From the Appletree Press title: A Little Book of Celtic Saints.

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