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Cuthbert

body, saint and durham

CUTHBERT, Saint, English anchoret, cenobite and bishop: b. about 633; d. Fame, Northumbria, 20 March 687. He is one of the three most eminent saints of the Church in England, the other two being Saint Edmund of Edmundsbury, and Saint Thomas a Becket, archbishop of Canterbury. The time and place and even the country of his birth are unknown, but the most trustworthy historians say he lived from 635 to 687. In his youth he entered the monastery of Melrose (the first Melrose), at that time within the limits of Northumbria, and after making his religious profession there was successively prior of that abbey, prior of Lindis farne, bishop of Hexham and bishop of Lindis farne, with intervals in which he withdrew from conversation with all men and lived a recluse hermit on the island of Farne. The fame of his sanctity, religious zeal and miracles was great in his lifetime; but grew steadily greater after his death, and many churches in England were dedicated to him. It is said that his body was found incorrupt when his tomb was opened .11 years after burial. When Norse corsairs threatened Lindisfarne in 875, the monks of Lindisfarne bore the remains to a place of safety inland, and for a time the body had no fixed resting place until deposited at Durham, where, enclosed in a splendid shrine, it re mained till the Reformation, an object of veneration and the supposed instrument of in cessant miracles. At the Reformation the

shrine, with its costly ornamentation, went to increase the king's treasure, and the body of Cuthbert was buried under the pavement of the Durham Cathedral. The coffin was lifted in 1827 and the body, or rather the skeleton, of the saint, was found wrapped in five robes of em broidered silk; there were three coffins, one within another, namely, an outermost one, made in 1541, within that 'another, believed to date from 1104, and then the cista, in which the relics were deposited when the body was dis interred in 698. His feast is observed on 20 March. His life has twice been written by the Venerable Bede and still earlier by a monk of Lindisfarne. Beside these are modern works, by Raine (Durham 1828) ; Eyre (London 1849; 3d ed., 1::7), and Fryer (London 1880).