Who was Cuthbert?
In his lifetime, Cuthbert (635-687) was an influential churchman who was Prior of Melrose and then of Lindisfarne. He was a venerated religious figure, and a successful preacher who was responsible for the spread of Christianity in the North of England. After his death, his grave in Lindisfarne, and the places to which his incorrupt body was subsequently moved – Chester Le-Street and Ripon – became the greatest focus of pilgrimage in early medieval England until the death of Thomas Becket in 1170. Cuthbert’s body has been in Durham since 995, and the grave is still a shrine to which pilgrims travel.
Why is Cuthbert Important?
In his life, Cuthbert’s importance lay in his role as a preacher and hermit. Accounts of his life show that he embodied the values of humility, simplicity and tolerance, and he must have been revered as a model Christian. He is also reported to have performed many healing miracles and was treated as a saint upon his death.
Eleven years after his death, it was discovered that Cuthbert’s body was incorrupt. This, along with miracles associated with the shrine, led to the blossoming of a pilgrimage cult that was unrivalled in Britain for almost five hundred years.
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