Saint Ethetwold or Ethelwold


Feast Day : 23 March

S. Ethetwold, or Ethelwold, was for some time a monk at Ripon, " where having received the priestly office," says Bede, " he sanctified it by a life worthy of that degree. After the death of that man of God, Cuthbert, this venerable priest succeeded him in the exercise of a solitary life, in the cell which the saint had inhabited in the islet of Fame, before he was made bishop." He found the oratory of Cuthbert so rudely put together, that the sea-wind shrieked in through the joints of the planks, and though patched up with clay and stubble, the chapel was so full of draughts that Ethelwold asked for and obtained a calf's skin, and this he nailed against the wall where he was wont to pray, to keep the wind from blowing into his ear. Bede says, " I will relate one miracle of Ethelwold, which was told me by one of the brothers who was concerned, and for whose sake it was wrought, Guthfried, the venerable servant and priest of Christ, who afterwards presided in quality of abbot over the church of Lindisfame, in which he was educated. I came, said he, to the islet of Fame, with two other brothers, desiring to speak with the most reverent father Ethelwold and when we had been comforted by his discourses, and having asked his blessing, were returning home, when on a sudden, as we were in the sea, the fair weather that was wafting us over changed, and so great and furious a storm fell on us, that neither sail nor oars availed, and we despaired of life.

" Having a good while struggled in vain with the wind and waves, we looked back at last to see if by any means we might return to the island, but found that we were equally beset with the tempest on all sides ; but we could perceive Ethelwold at the mouth of his cavern, contemplating our danger. For, hearing the howl of the wind, and the roar of the sea, he came forth to see how we fared. And when he saw our desperate condition, he bent his knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to pray for our life and safety. As he finished his prayer, the swelling sea immediately abated its violence, and the rage of the winds ceased, and a fair gale springing up bore us over the smooth waters to the shore. But no sooner had we arrived, and drawn our boat out of the water, than the same storm began to rage again, and ceased not all that day ; to the end that it might plainly appear, that this small intermission had been granted from heaven at the prayer of the man of God, that we might escape."

St. Ethelwold spent twelve years at Fame, and died there ; but he was buried in Lindisfarne, in the Church of St. Peter, near the bodies of SS. Cuthbert and Eadbert His bones were afterwards taken up in the time of the Danish ravages, 875, and were translated to Durham in 995, and more honourably enshrined in 1160.


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