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Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume IX: September. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.

September 4

The Translation of St. Cuthbert

BEDE relates, in the life of St. Cuthbert, that the saint charged his disciples before his death, that rather than ever fall under the yoke of schismatics or infidels, they would, when threatened with such a calamity, take with them his mortal remains, and choose some other dwelling. 1 In the year 875 the province of Northumberland was so cruelly infested by Danish pirates, and Lindisfarne was so much exposed to their continual ravages, that Sardulf, the bishop, Eadred, the abbot, and the community of the monks, left that place, and carrying with them that sacred treasure, wandered to and fro for seven years. 2 In 882 they rested with it at Concester, a small town a few miles from the Roman wall, where the bishop’s see continued one hundred and thirteen years, as Camden remarks. Both King Alfred and the Danish leader granted peace for a month to all persons that fled to the saint’s shrine, and Alfred gave to his church all the land that lies between the Tyne and the Tees, as Matthew of Westminster, or whoever is the author of that compilation called the Flores of the English history, assures us. In 995, in the fresh inroads of the Danes, Bishop Aldune retired with the saint’s body to Rippon, and four months after to Durham, a place strong by its natural situation, but not habitable, till the people of the country, on this occasion, cut down the wood, and raised a small church, and cells for the monks. The body of the saint remained without being tainted with the least corruption, as Hovenden and all our other historians prove it to have been found whenever it was visited; and many miracles were wrought at his shrine, accounts of which are found in the above-mentioned historians, and others, especially in the History of the Church of Durham, written in 1100, not by Turgot, the prior, as Seldon imagined, but by Simeon, a monk of that house, as Mr. Bedford proves in his accurate edition of this work. The author relates how, a little before his time, Bishop William had, by the authority of the Conqueror, placed the monks of Weremouth and Jarrow in the cathedral at Durham. A yearly memorial of the translation of St. Cuthbert’s body to Durham was kept on this day. See his life, and Simeon of Durham, Hist. Ecclesiæ Dunelmensis, published by Tho. Bedford, Londini, 1732. Hearne’s Ductor Historicus, on Lindisfarne, t. 2, p. 372; and the anonymous monk of Durham, in 1060, author of the History of the Transactions and Miracles of St. Cuthbert, in Mabillon sæc. Ben. 4, part 2, p. 275.  1
Note 1. Vit. S. Cuthb. c. 39. [back]
Note 2. Westmonast. ad eum annum. Malmesbur. l. 3, de Pontif. Simeon Dunelm. ad eum an. et sequ. Harpsfield, sæc. 7, c. 34. See the note on St. Ultan, inf. and Colgan, Act. SS. p. 695; Usher’s Primord, &c. [back]