chapter  9
10 Pages

Verbum et exemplum docere

Bede, Cuthbert, Aidan and Mission in the Early English Church
WithBenedicta Ward

Bede gives a version of Gregory's encounter with English slaves in the market place in Rome that has all the elements of Gregory's understanding of the venture. Gregory wanted not numbers, structure or refinement of doctrine but individual care for people. Cuthbert was, by the unanimous consent of all, their choice as the Bishop of the church of Lindisfarne. Gregory then went to the Pope, not having himself yet reached that office. He urged him to send missionaries to the English in order to share with them the Christian faith, declaring that he himself was ready to take up the task, if seen fit to do so. For Aidan, as for Gregory, Bede and Augustine, the basis of mission was neither force nor clarification of doctrine, but loving prayer and the Anglo Saxon Cuthbert, the great saint of the north, went even further into this way and saw prayer in solitude as being in itself the mission of Christ.