31st August - St Aidan of Lindisfarne

Anne Newman wrote this 3rd September 2019

St Aidan of Lindisfarne was born in Connacht, Ireland in 590, possibly on Scattery Island.

Aidan is the Anglicised form of the original Old Irish Aedán, Modern Irish Aodhán ( little fiery one).

Saint Aidan is said to have been a disciple of St. Senan.

Nothing is known with certainty of his early life before he became a monk at the monastery on the Island of Iona, founded by St Columba.

St. Aidan established a monastery under the Rule of Saint Columcille at Lindisfarne, off the coast of Northumberland, between Berwick and Bamburgh. St. Aidan chose the rocky island of Lindisfarne which greatly appealed to his sensibilities. The island is cut off from the mainland at high tide but pilgrims can walk the causeway at high tide. Even today, the holy island feels remote.

Any wealth that was given to St. Aidan was almost immediately given to the poor or used to free slaves. Some of these slaves followed Aidan back to Lindisfarne and were educated by him, and a few even became priests.

St. Aidan was well-known for his great gentleness. His gentle example actually encouraged his fellow monks to extend their fasts on Wednesdays and Friday and to spend more time in prayer and learning.

Aidan of Lindisfarne is the patron saint of firefighters

St. Aidan was praying in his monastery when a pagan army attacked the royal town of Bamburgh. The invaders tried to climb on the walls, and set them ablaze. St. Aidan saw the fire and could smell the smoke from Lindisfarne and he began to pray for the town and all who dwelt inside.

The cries of St. Aidan were heard, for the wind abruptly changed and sent the flames and smoke towards the invaders. Bamburgh and the royal house was saved from destruction by the prayers of St. Aidan. This not only makes him a patron of Northumbria, but also of firefighters. With wildfires raging everywhere around the world, St. Aidan is a patron to call upon.


St. Aidan died on 31st August 651. The monks of Glastonbury claimed that they held the bones of St. Aidan of Lindisfarne (in Northumberland) as early as the 11th century. We know that this was not his whole body, as it was accepted that half of it lay at Iona in Scotland, and some relics were also claimed by Durham Cathedral.


In art, Saint Aidan is portrayed as a bishop with the monastery of Lindisfarne in his hand and a stag at his feet (because of the legend that his prayer rendered invisible a deer pursued by hunters). He might also be portrayed holding a light torch; giving a horse to a poor man; calming a storm; or extinguishing a fire by his prayers.

He is especially venerated at Glastonbury, Lindisfarne, and Whitby - read more at


Anne is sharing a series of events throughout the year - you can find them listed by clicking to the link Other Notable Dates and Festivals.