Monday, February 17, 2014

17 February -- St Finan of Lindisfarne: Traditionalist

From Mrs D'Arcy's The Saints of Ireland:

Finan succeeded Aidan at Lindisfarne, the Irish mission based on the northeast coat of England.  Seventeen years earlier the Anglo-Saxon King Oswald had requested Irish missionaries from  Iona to teach Christianity to his people and Aidan had gathered all of Northumbria to the faith.  Beginning in 651, Bishop Finan carried forward into the other Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.  The English historian Bede tells that the people flocked joyfully to hear the Word, that "the English great and small were by their Irish masters instructed in the rules and observances of regular discipline."

There are a few paragraphs on St Finan on the Catholic Online website here.  Even though he was principally responsible for the conversion of the English midlands, he is probably best known for his stance in the controversy over the dating of Easter and other practices of the Irish church.  Finan held fast to his tradition, learnt from St Colmcille.  In the words of Mrs D'Arcy:

And although an Irish priest, Ronan, is on record as having tried strenuously to persuade Finan to change over to the universal date, even as the rest of Ireland had done, nothing could move Finan from the traditions of Colmcille.  Commendable in every way, blameful in none, Finan died as he had lived, true in every smallest way to the traditions of Iona and the holy men from whom he proceeded.  Aidan's regime won all of Northumbria. Under Finan, Celtic jurisdiction reached the Thames and the diocese of London where the Canterbury mission had failed.