“The Most Holy Place in England”
For the second year running, the pilgrims from St Robert’s had glorious weather for their pilgrimage to Holy island. Fr Lawrence says that the sun always shines on his pilgrimages.
Lindisfarne – known as “Holy Island” because of the many saints who have lived their. It is known as “The Cradle of Christianity” to English speaking people. St Aidan and his monks came here from Iona on the west coast of Scotland in 635AD to preach the Gospel. On the night of St Aidan’s death in 651AD a teenage Anglo Saxon named Cuthbert saw a vision of Aidan being escorted to heaven. Cuthbert took this as a sign that he should enter the monastic life. He became the bishop of Lindisfarne and a great leader of the English church. After his death the famous Lindisfarne Gospels were dedicated to him, his body remained incorrupt, miracles occurred at his shrine, multitudes came to it, which is why Alcuin, the great scholar to the court of the Emperor Charlemagne, wrote that Lindisfarne was ‘the most holy place in England’ and a king declared it should be known as Holy Island. In 793 Lindisfarne became the first place to be destroyed by Viking invasions. Cuthbert’s shrine ended up at Durham Cathedral, and the Benedictine Community there built a daughter priory on Lindisfarne about 1150, the remains of which are still standing.
Christians have been making pilgrimages to Holy Island for over fourteen hundred years. Pilgrimages are good for the soul. They go back to the very beginnings of human existence. The Bible is full of people going on pilgrimage. Jesus himself made many pilgrimages to Jerusalem for the Passover and other Jewish festivals. Why go on pilgrimage? The Pope tells us that “a pilgrimage reminds us that we have no permanent place on earth but are rather on a journey to the heavenly city (Heb 13:14).” A Pilgrimage helps us to understand that we are on a journey to God. When we go on pilgrimage we take time out of our regular routine and we give time to God. It is very true that we do not have to go to a special place to find God. We can find him at home whenever we pray. However, our human spirit seems to benefit from stepping out of our regular routine and doing something different. This is exactly what Jesus was saying in the Gospel when he said to his Apostles “You must come away to some lonely place all by yourselves and rest for a while.” Holy Island is a place of peace and refreshment where many people have discovered God in a new way.
On Holy Island we feel very close to the beauty of creation just like the Celtic monks who settled here in 635AD and lived very close to nature and felt a great affinity to the sea and the land and to the God who made them.
This is a pictorial presentation of our pilgrimage:
When we arrived on the island we had a most glorious picnic and then celebrated Mass in St Aidan’s Catholic Church.