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Cuthbert and Hildemer’s Wife Cuthbert’s friend comes asking for a priest to attend his dying wife — so long as it isn’t Cuthbert.
Anglo-Saxon Britain 410-1066
Music: William Williams

© James Denham, Geograph. Licence: CC BY-SA 2.0. Source

About this picture …

The large grassy area in the centre of the picture, framed by a tree-lined bend in the River Tweed, is the site of Old Melrose Abbey, founded in 651 by St Aidan of Lindisfarne; beyond it lie the Eildon Hills. St Cuthbert was Prior of the Abbey from about 664 until he left to become a hermit on Inner farne in 676. This view, looking west from the slopes of Bemersyde, is said to have been Sir Walter Scott’s favourite; some two miles ahead, in the town of Melrose itself, lies a later abbey, founded in 1136 by the Cistercians and ruined in the English Reformation.

Cuthbert and Hildemer’s Wife
St Cuthbert’s miracles not only brought healing or deliverance from danger, but left others wiser and kinder for having lived through them. In this example, his friend Hildemer learnt that illness, and specifically mental illness, is nothing for a Christian to be ashamed of.

WHEN Cuthbert was at Melrose Abbey,* Hildemer, one of King Ecgfrith’s captains, rode up in distress. His wife, it seemed, was dying, and needed a priest. But when Cuthbert with a faraway look muttered ‘I must go myself’, Hildemer’s distress only grew.

It broke his heart that Cuthbert, a frequent guest at the couple’s home, would see his wife’s pitiable and witless convulsions, no doubt caused by an evil spirit. Might his friend even doubt she was really a Christian? He said nothing, but tears pricked his eyes.

“Do not weep!” remarked Cuthbert suddenly as they rode. “You dare not mention them, but the seizures make me think no less of her as a Christian. Devils torment the innocent too. Before we reach your house she will be freed; when she takes these reins her cure will be complete.” They duly arrived to find her weak but rational, and on touching the reins of Cuthbert’s horse she announced herself fitter than ever.

Miracles of St Cuthbert Next: ‘Your Child Shall Be Healed’

Not the Cistercian monastery founded in 1136 and now largely ruined, but an older monastery founded by St Aidan in 651, about two miles to the east. Cuthbert was Prior of the Abbey from about 664, until he took up the life of a hermit on Inner Farne in 676.


Based on ‘A Life of Cuthbert’, by St Bede of Jarrow (?672-735).

Suggested Music

Trio Sonata Op. 1 No. 5 in C minor

Preludio: adagio

William Williams (?-1701)

Performed by Camerata Köln.

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