Aidan gets my vote

If England must have a patron saint, why can't it be St Aidan rather than St George? Peaceful Aidan gets my vote every time. St George wasn't English and never lived here. George was a Palestinian, a Roman soldier who died in Turkey. The legend about dragon slaying seems to come from something he did in Libya.

Yes, I know, St Aidan wasn't English either. St Aidan was born in Ireland and was a monk in Scotland, but at least he lived in what is now part of England  for a substantial time. What contribution did St George make England? None. St Aidan on the the other hand made a significant contribution to the needs of the people of the 7th century kingdom of Northumbria (north-east England) and has left an enduring Christian heritage.

Aidan is also a more attractive figure than St George, who is usually depicted as a warrior riding a horse with a sword in his hand. Aidan preferred walking, as he valued being on the same level as other people, especially the poor he met as he walked from village to village sharing the good news about Jesus. When King Oswald gave him a horse to make his travelling easier he gave it away to a beggar.

Aidan, missionary monk and Bishop of Lindisfarne died on 31 August 651 AD, which is why in the Church of England calendar he is commemorated today. He lived a simple life based around prayer, work to support the community and education. He founded a community on the tidal island of Lindisfarne off the Northumbrian coast and this was his missionary base. His name means 'little fire', which fits the passion in his heart for Christ and for the people he met as well as the light that shone from the way he lived following in Christ's footsteps.

Everlasting God,
you sent the gentle bishop Aidan
to proclaim the gospel in this land:
grant us to live as he taught
in simplicity, humility and love for the poor;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Collect from Exciting Holiness

You can read more about St Aidan at Wikipedia
There is more about the Holy Island of Lindisfarne here.


  1. What a great idea Nancy, I love that picture from Oakville too.

  2. Thanks Kirstin. I hadn't seen the painting from Oakville before until I searched for a St Aidan image for this post.

  3. Thankyou so much for this Nancy. I commented on Penelipiscopal's blog that i keep confusing him with The Venerable Bede. Glad to be clear about him.
    He does sound to have been rather a perfect example of what a Bishop should be.

  4. Ray - the Venerable Bede was born after Aidan had died, but much of the information about Aidan comes from Bede's 'Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum' (History of the English People).


Post a Comment