Saturday, 9 April 2011

Saint Egbert of Lindisfarne (24th April)

Saint Ecgberht (or Egbert) (died 729) was an Anglo-Saxon monk of Northumbria and Bishop of Lindisfarne. As a youth he went on a perigrinatio, or pilgrimage far from home, traveling to Ireland. One of his acquaintances at this time was Chad. He settled at the monastery of Rathelmigisi (Rathmelsigi), identified with Mellifont in County Louth or else in Connaught. His Northumbrian travelling companions, including Æthelhun, died of the plague, and he contracted it as well. Thinking he would die, Ecgberht wept in repentance as he recalled his past sins, and he prayed that God spare him long enough to allow him to atone for the ill deeds of his youth, and he also vowed to remain on perpetual pilgrimage from his homeland of Britain, reciting the Psalter daily and fasting frequently. He miraculously recovered, and kept his vow until his death at age 90. While in Ireland, Ecgberht was one of those present at the Synod of Birr in 697, when the Cáin Adomnáin was guaranteed.
He began to organize monks in Ireland to proselytize in Frisia; many other high-born
notables were associated with his work: Saint Adalbert, Saint Swithbert, and Saint Chad.
Ecgberht arranged the mission of Saint Willibrord, Saint Wigbert and others to the
pagans. He was dissuaded from this by a vision related to him by a monk who had been a disciple of Saint Boisil (the Prior of Melrose under Abbot Eata). In 684, he tried to dissuade King Ecgfrith of Northumbria from sending an expedition to Ireland under his general Berht, but he was unsuccessful. Ecgberht eventually become a monk on the island of Iona, where he resided from 716 and gently persuaded the monks there to adhere to the Roman form of computing Easter, which had been adopted at the Synod of Whitby (664). He died on the first day that the Easter feast was observed by this manner in the monastery, on 24 April 729.
His feast day in the Eastern Orthodox Church, April 24, is found in both the Roman, Irish, and Slavic martyrologies and in the metrical calendar of York. Though he is now honoured simply as a confessor, it is probable that St. Ecgberht was a bishop.