Sadly, in my haste to share with you my exciting revelation about The Dun Cow in last Friday's post, I neglected some pretty important information, without which one might be tempted to jump to the conclusion that the whole bit about the monks carrying St. Cuthbert's coffin from place to place was just one more installment of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It wasn't.
First of all, the year was A.D. 875 when the monks left Lindisfarne with the remains of St. Cuthbert, sacred vessels, and books. The monks were not wandering aimlessly, but fleeing from murderous invading hoards who would desecrate and destroy. The fact that St. Cuthbert was a spiritual father to the monks in NE England, and that any manuscript would have been precious, it stands to reason that they would flee to protect themselves and their holy charge. The went from one monastery to the next, staying for a while, sometimes many years, before moving to another.
When St. Cuthbert's coffin was opened in 1104, the small 7th century Latin translation of the Gospel of John was found, believed to be the oldest intact book produced in Europe. It was sold to the British Library in 2011.
I should have waited for Mike from A Bit About Britain or James from J_on_Tour to write a post on Durham Cathedral.* Either would do a much better job with the history. So be looking forward to that. You might even coax them. Tell them that I sent you over to twist their arms. :-)
Looking east toward rood screen, quire, and chancel
A privilege to stay for Evensong Service, where we sat in the quire
Choir, chancel, east rose window
(Photos by Mr. C.)
(Photos by Mr. C.)
Modern tester over St. Cuthbert's shrine
Shrine of St. Cuthbert
Until the mid-16th century, the tomb was ornate, high off the ground, and bejeweled. Today's is a much simpler arrangement, thanks to Henry VIII. Note, in the background, the headless statue of St. Cuthbert. In their zeal to get rid of 'idols,' some forgot that idols are anything in our lives that we place ahead of God.
Much more to come, I'm afraid. We still haven't gotten to The Venerable Bede.
Tune in next week.
*It was a special treat for Mr. C. and me to meet bloggers Mike, his lovely wife, and James at Durham Cathedral, spending the afternoon touring the cathedral and attending Evensong. The natives were, indeed, friendly, and we so enjoyed our time with them.
Have a great weekend, everyone!
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