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St. Cuthbert, Sept. 4

posted Sep 3, 2014, 7:19 AM by Rochester Ordinariate
What on earth am I talking about St. Cuthbert for, when everyone knows that he is remembered on March 20, the anniversary of his death?  The answer, dear reader, is the fact the the Ordinariate Sanctorale has an optional memorial on this day.  Why is that?, you may ask.  The answer is that it is the memorial of the translation of his relics - which was really a great adventure.

Butler, in the Lives of the Saints, gives some of the back story:

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73).  Volume IX: September.
The Lives of the Saints.  1866.
September 4
The Translation of St. Cuthbert
BEDE relates, in the life of St. Cuthbert, that the saint charged his disciples before his death, that rather than ever fall under the yoke of schismatics or infidels, they would, when threatened with such a calamity, take with them his mortal remains, and choose some other dwelling. 1 In the year 875 the province of Northumberland was so cruelly infested by Danish pirates, and Lindisfarne was so much exposed to their continual ravages, that Sardulf, the bishop, Eadred, the abbot, and the community of the monks, left that place, and carrying with them that sacred treasure, wandered to and fro for seven years. 2 In 882 they rested with it at Concester, a small town a few miles from the Roman wall, where the bishop’s see continued one hundred and thirteen years, as Camden remarks. Both King Alfred and the Danish leader granted peace for a month to all persons that fled to the saint’s shrine, and Alfred gave to his church all the land that lies between the Tyne and the Tees, as Matthew of Westminster, or whoever is the author of that compilation called the Flores of the English history, assures us. In 995, in the fresh inroads of the Danes, Bishop Aldune retired with the saint’s body to Rippon, and four months after to Durham, a place strong by its natural situation, but not habitable, till the people of the country, on this occasion, cut down the wood, and raised a small church, and cells for the monks. The body of the saint remained without being tainted with the least corruption, as Hovenden and all our other historians prove it to have been found whenever it was visited; and many miracles were wrought at his shrine, accounts of which are found in the above-mentioned historians, and others, especially in the History of the Church of Durham, written in 1100, not by Turgot, the prior, as Seldon imagined, but by Simeon, a monk of that house, as Mr. Bedford proves in his accurate edition of this work. The author relates how, a little before his time, Bishop William had, by the authority of the Conqueror, placed the monks of Weremouth and Jarrow in the cathedral at Durham. A yearly memorial of the translation of St. Cuthbert’s body to Durham was kept on this day. See his life, and Simeon of Durham, Hist. Ecclesiæ Dunelmensis, published by Tho. Bedford, Londini, 1732. Hearne’s Ductor Historicus, on Lindisfarne, t. 2, p. 372; and the anonymous monk of Durham, in 1060, author of the History of the Transactions and Miracles of St. Cuthbert, in Mabillon sæc. Ben. 4, part 2, p. 275.  1
Note 1. Vit. S. Cuthb. c. 39. [back]
Note 2. Westmonast. ad eum annum. Malmesbur. l. 3, de Pontif. Simeon Dunelm. ad eum an. et sequ. Harpsfield, sæc. 7, c. 34. See the note on St. Ultan, inf. and Colgan, Act. SS. p. 695; Usher’s Primord, &c. [back]

More detail comes from the Catholic Encyclopedia:

St. Cuthbert was buried in his monastery at Lindisfarne, and his tomb immediately became celebrated for remarkable miracles. These were so numerous and extraordinary that he was called the "Wonder-worker of England". In 698 the first transfer of the relics took place, and the body was found incorrupt. During the Danish invasion of 875, Bishop Eardulf and the monks fled for safety, carrying the body of the saint with them. For seven years they wandered, bearing it first into Cumberland, then into Galloway and back to Northumberland. In 883 it was placed in a church at Chester-le-Street, near Durham, given to the monks by the converted Danish king, who had a great devotion to the saint, like King Alfred, who also honoured St. Cuthbert as hispatron and was a benefactor to this church. Towards the end of the tenth century, the shrine was removed to Ripon, owing to fears of fresh invasion. After a few months it was being carried back to be restored to Chester-le-Street, when, on arriving at Durham a new miracle, tradition says, indicated that this was to be the resting-place of the saint's body. Here it remained, first in a chapel formed of boughs, then in a wooden and finally in a stone church, built on the present site of Durham cathedral, and finished in 998 or 999. While William the Conqueror was ravaging the North in 1069, the body was once more removed, this time to Lindisfarne, but it was soon restored. In 1104, the shrine was transferred to the present cathedral, when the body was again found incorrupt, with it being the head of St. Oswald, which had been placed with St. Cuthbert's body for safety — a fact which accounts for the well-known symbol of the saint.