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Our priest, Helen, will be travelling the Way of the Saints from June 1-June 14 in Northeast England. The goal of Helen's study leave is to explore the spirituality of walking; to study the art of slowing down; and to develop a pattern of daily prayer.

Helen has invited anyone at home who wishes to come along with her to do so by walking, riding, wheeling, or simply enjoying a picnic on some of the North Shore's finest trails. Below you will find:

-Route information for seven different trails on the North Shore with a corresponding biography of a famous saint from our Anglican ancestry
-A Guide to Slowing Down - short, daily prayers (downloadable pdf)
-The Way of the Saints passport (downloadable pdf)

Feel free to travel the Way of the Saints on your own or with family and friends. Most importantly, enjoy!

1. The Way of Cuthbert — via The Green Necklace, 7.5 km
Route information located here

Cuthbert is regarded as the North’s most loved saint, born in 634, north of the River Tweed in what is now southern Scotland.  He was called to monastic life by the soul of a saint, as he was guarding sheep on a hillside. The saint was being carried to heaven accompanied by angels. Cuthbert realised this was Aidan who and is the inspiration behind Cuthbert becoming a monk at Melrose Abbey which at that time was in the ancient kingdom of Northumbria. Cuthbert spent time at the monastery in Ripon before returning to Melrose. He was sent to Lindisfarne after the Synod of Whitby in 664 where church leaders met and agreed that the Roman Christian tradition should take precedence over the Celtic Christian tradition. 

Whilst he was Prior at Lindisfarne he was moved to be a hermit and spend all his time in prayer.  He moved to the Inner Farne south of Lindisfarne which is where he was when the call came for him to be Bishop of Lindisfarne.  He was reluctant but accepted God’s calling.  After two years he knew he was dying and return to the Inner Farne where he died on 20 March 687.  His body was taken to Lindisfarne for burial and was taken to Durham in 995 following Viking raids on Lindisfarne, when, what had become known as the Community of Saint Cuthbert, left Lindisfarne searching for a safe place to settle. Durham Cathedral was subsequently built in Cuthbert’s honour to house his tomb and has been a centre of pilgrimage for almost a millennium. 

In his lifetime Cuthbert passed laws to protect Eider ducks, which are also known as Cuddy ducks named after him.  St Cuthbert is regarded as the world’s first environmentalist.

2. The Way of Bede — via Spirit Trail, 6.5 km
Route information located here

Bede was born by the Tyne in 673. Being poor but clever, he was sent aged seven for an education at the newly founded Wearmouth monastery. Soon after, he went to the twin monastery at Jarrow, where he stayed as a monk until his death on 27th May 735. In his own words: "I have devoted my energies to the study of the Scriptures, observing monastic discipline and singing daily the services of the church; study, teaching and writing have always been my delight."

St. Boniface called Bede "a light of the church, lit by the Holy Spirit." He is one of the Church's greatest historians – his most famous book the 'History of the English Church and People' is the fullest available record of those times. He did not travel beyond Northumbria, but mastered Latin, Greek and Hebrew and had a good knowledge of the classical scholars and early church fathers. He also wrote on natural history, poetry, Biblical translation and exposition of the scriptures and three Latin hymns. In the 11th century Alfred Westow, sacrist of Durham Cathedral, moved Bede’s bones from Jarrow to Durham – no little controversy. His remains are there, enshrined in the Galilee Chapel of Durham Cathedral.

3. The Way of Eadfrith — via Capilano Canyon/Rabbit Lane Loop, 5.3 km
Route information located here

Eadfrith was bishop of Lindisfarne from 698-721. He oversaw the creation of the Lindisfarne Gospels (687-721), the work of one scribe and illustrator; possibly Eadfrith was that man, before becoming bishop. Whether this, or only their commissioner, along with Bede's Life of Saint Cuthbert (720), the Gospels are one of the greatest treasures of Anglo-Saxon England. With a wide range of artistic influences, they are concrete evidence of a cross-cultural fusion from across Europe. They were used for the first time at the ceremony of Cuthbert’s 'elevation' under St. Eadberht, when his body was found to be undecayed.

But Eadfrith himself probably did not think his artistic work was the most important thing he did. For his 23 years as bishop he actively promoted the cult of St. Cuthbert, fostering links Wearmouth and Jarrow, through Bede. Eadfrith also restored Cuthbert’s former hermitage on Inner Farne installing another hermit, Felgild. Eadfrith was buried on Lindisfarne, but his relics went in Cuthbert’s coffin in 875, when the monks fled the island, and so made their way to Durham.

4. The Way of Hilda — via Lynn Valley Link Trail, 14.5 km
Route information located here

St Hilda (614-680) is mostly remembered for hosting the Synod of Whitby in 664 which set the course for the future of Christianity in England. She was a remarkable woman who lived at a time of continuous political and religious change. She was the great niece of King Edwin of Northumbria and she and her sister Herewith were raised in the royal court after the murder of their father.

Along with her sister and King Edwin, Hilda was converted and baptised by St Paulinus, but she was greatly influenced by Aidan, bishop of Lindisfarne who remained her mentor throughout his life. Hilda left secular life and became a nun when she was aged about 33, and soon afterwards became abbess of the established monastery in Hartlepool. Her ambition, however, was to establish her own monastery, admitting both men and women, a venture against many odds at that time. Hilda with faith, courage, leadership and determination founded the monastery in Whitby in about 660. Nothing of the monastery remains, it is the ruins of the 11th century monastery which stands on the headland today.

Bede, the 8th century historian and theologian praised Hilda for implementing a monastic regime that required strict observation of, "justice, piety, chastity" and "particularly of peace and charity". In her monastery, "no one there was rich and none poor, for they all had all things in common".

5. The Way of Oswald — via Maplewood Flats, 4.0 km
Route information located here

Oswald was born in about 605. He was the son of Aethelfrith, the king of Bernicia which is where southeast Scotland and Northumberland are today. Aethelfrith’s wife Acha was from the royal household of Deira which is the land roughly between the Tyne and the Humber which meant Aethelfrith now ruled over the joint kingdom called Northumbria.

In 616, Aethelfrith was killed by Acha’s brother Edwin and Acha and Oswald fled to Dal Riada which is now southwest Scotland. While they were in exile, Oswald was converted to Christianity.

There was peace and prosperity in Northumbria while Edwin was king, but in 633 he was killed in a battle against Cadwallon the king of Gwynedd and Penda of Mercia. For a short while, Eanfrith, Oswald’s brother became king, but he too was killed by Cadwallon and soon after this Oswald returned from Dal Riada and gathered a small army at Heavenfield near Hexham. Before the battle against Cadwallon, he set up a cross and prayed asking his soldiers to join in. The great victory that followed against the larger army, established Oswald as king over Northumbria and ushered in a golden age in which scholarship and the arts flourished. Oswald asked the monks on Iona to come and assist with the conversion of his people and he established St Aidan and his monastery on Lindisfarne.

Oswald was known for his great compassion and one occasion at Easter, Oswald was dining in his castle when a servant came in and told Oswald that a crowd of the poor were in the streets begging alms. Oswald at once ordered that his food be given to the poor and even had the silver dish broken up and distributed.

In 642, Oswald was killed in battle and his body parts were dismembered. These soon became valued relics and healing miracles were associated with them, giving rise to the cult of St Oswald. The head of St Oswald lies with the body of St Cuthbert in Durham Cathedral.

6. The Way of Godric — via Seymour Demonstration Forest and Fish Hatchery, 22 km
Route information located here

St Godric was born C1065 in Norfolk and had a varied career as a peddler and a merchant seaman, before in his 30s, having a visionary encounter with St Cuthbert on Lindisfarne that transformed his life. He then spent a number of years traveling around the Mediterranean and making pilgrimages to Rome, Jerusalem and Santiago before preparing for life as a hermit. He persuaded Ranulf Flambard, the Bishop of Durham, to give him land at Finchale where he settled for the last sixty years of his life living to over 100 before he died in 1170.

He lived a life of great austerity living on herbs, crab apples, honey and nuts and sleeping on the bare ground. He was much sought after for his sanctity and wisdom and gained a reputation as a miracle worker. He had a great affection for wild creatures and was reputed to allow snakes to warm themselves by his fire. He also has the distinction of composing the oldest songs in the English language for which we also have the original musical scores.

7. The Way of Ælfflæd — via the Centennial Seawall, 2 km
Route information located here

Ælfflæd was born in 653, the youngest daughter of King Oswiu of Northumbria and St. Enflæd. Oswiu vowed her to the service of God in thanks for victory over the pagan Mercians in 655. Ælfflæd was sent – with a large dowry – to Hilda, her second cousin, then living at Hartlepool. Two years later, Hilda founded the famous double monastery of Whitby out of this wealth. Ælfflæd lived at Whitby for sixty years, a teacher of holiness and famous for her surgical skill. She succeeded Hilda, and her mother Eanflæd, as abbess in 680, assisted by the retired St. Trumwine. Once, when seriously ill, Ælfflæd and others were cured by the girdle of St. Cuthbert which he sent to her. Ælfflæd worked a winding-sheet for Cuthbert in return and sent it to him, in which he was buried.

Archbishop Theodore asked for her intercession with St. Wilfrid when he was recalled from exile by her brother, King Aldfrith of Northumbria. Wilfrid was exiled a second time and it was Ælfflæd who effected a reconciliation. She outlived both Wilfrid and Cuthbert and was present at the latter’s ‘elevation’ in 698. She died at Whitby on 8th February 714.

Biographies sourced from