Monday, October 31, 2011

Lindisfarne Gospels

One of the places that Lori and I enjoyed visiting when we lived in the North of England was Lindisfarne Island, also known as Holy Island. The Island is home to a now ruined monastery that was built in the 7th century. Besides the ruins the island is also known for being a tidal island. This means that you can only get on and off the island when the tide is low. And woe to those who miss that chance and attempt to cross while the tides is rising. There are pictures!

The island was also home to Saint Cuthbert and the Lindisfarne Gospels. The Gospels are well known for being some of the most beautiful illuminated manuscripts. The original Gospels were penned in Latin in the third century and an English translation was added in the 10th century. The Gospels (and the remains of Cuthbert) were eventually moved from Lindisfarne to Durham Cathedral as the island's inhabitants fled a viking invasion.

For quite a while the Gospels were held by the British Library, but there is a movement to return, them at least part time, to Durham Cathedral. In the mean time, you can view them online now that they have been digitally photographed.


  1. Thanks for providing such a lovely post to divert me from my lecture prep, John! Ah, Durham, how I love you!

  2. Since we were going over the gospel of Mark today in class, I showed this photo of the Lindisfarne Gospels (; one of my students is named Marcus, so I said, "There you go, Marcus, now you know how to spell your name in Latin!" We all got a good chuckle out of that one. He didn't know that about his name. That was fun; thanks for passing this on again. It was good to share the Lindisfarne gospels with my students while we are going over the gospels in general.

  3. Standing in the presence of the Book of Kells last year in Dublin, I was in awe not only of the illuminations but of the devotion that an entire community gave to the production of that manuscript. To them, the transcription of the Word of God was an act of worship that required the lives and skill and love of everyone involved. In our day of computer printing and multiple choices of translations, what can compare with such awe that prompted the acts of worship we see from Kells and Lindisfarne and others? These take my breath away - not because of their antiquity nor because of their artistry, but because the very presence of the Holy Spirit is traceable in every letter, on every page.