Cedd was one of St.Aidan's pupils in the monastery school on Lindisfarne.
With him was certainly his brother Chad and possibly his other brothers
Caelin and Cynebil. Cedd seems to have been the oldest, and would have been
at least 12 years old when he came to the Island. In time had became a
priest, and was one of four missionaries chosen to take the Christian faith
to the Middle Angles when their king Peada became Christian and asked for a
mission. Then the king of the East Saxons also was converted and asked
Lindisfarne for missionaries; Cedd was sent to them and in time became their
bishop. Like Aidan he travelled round his area and founded many churches and
monasteries; one of his churches survives at Bradwell-on-Sea. Cedd was a
brave and determined bishop, not afraid to confront the king himself when
Christian values were at stake.
He did not lose touch with Northumbria and when he was offered the
opportunity to found a monastery there he chose the site now called
Lastingham, in the North York Moors. Like the Irish monks who had taught him
Cedd thought it important first to clear the place of demons and any trace of
spiritual evil, which he did by a 40- day fast. At the Synod of Whitby Cedd
was chosen to be the interpreter, which must mean that he was trusted by
everyone to be fair-minded.
But sadly, the year of the Synod was also a very bad year for plague, and
Cedd died of it at Lastingham in 664. After his death he appears again in
the story when Chad died, and he came to conduct his brother safely to
Cedd is the best example we have of an Irish-trained Lindisfarne missionary
working at a great distance from home. Without any doubt there were others,
of whom history has no record.
12. HENRY OF COQUET:
Coquet Island, in the North Sea at the mouth of the River Coquet (coh-kett)
and opposite Alnmouth and Warkworth, had a community of monks from an early
period, though it is not known who founded it or to which of the larger
monasteries it owed allegiance. It was there that St. Cuthbert, with some of
the Lindisfarne monks, at her request met Aeflaed (Elfleda) Abbess of Whitby.
Presumably they chose the site because it was easily accessible by sea for
both of them, and because it was able to offer hospitality for such a
meeting. In response to her questions Cuthbert here prophesied the death of
her brother King Edgfrith and the succession of her half-brother King
Aldfrith. In her turn she prophesied that Cuthbert would become a bishop.
Both prophecies came true.
Presumably the monastic community on Coquet Island was destroyed by the
Vikings, but after the Norman Conquest the island seems to have been in the
care of the monastery at Tynemouth. The only person to live there whose name
we know was Henry of Coquet, who died in 1127. He was Danish by birth, and
apparently left home and became a hermit to escape an unwelcome marriage! On
Coquet Island he lived a strict life, growing his own food and practising
austerities. Once he was almost persuaded by visiting Danes to return to
Denmark, but a vision of Christ crucified persuaded him to stay. His
reputation for holiness drew many visitors, but he finally died alone and his
body was buried at Tynemouth.
With him we may remember all the hermits and small communities whose names
and lives are lost to us, but who were a strong witness to people of their
own age and who so built up the tradition of the Church.