Based on St Bede’s Life of Cuthbert.
The historian Bede (c.672-735) was a monk at Jarrow, a short distance up the River Tyne from Tynemouth in North East England. It was at Jarrow that Bede heard this story, as told by one of those who had seen it a few years earlier.
THE monks of Tynemouth ventured out into the sea in five little boats, so they could pilot some ships, laden with building materials for the monastery, into the river.
At that moment, a sharp wind whipped up, and drove the helpless monks out into the North Sea, like so many seabirds bobbing up and down on the swell.
A small knot of spectators gathered, but all they could do was jeer that it served the monks right, for showing no respect to the kingdom’s pagan past.
Cuthbert, who was only a young lad, scolded them, but they would not offer one prayer for the monks. So he did it himself.
In that moment, the wind shifted round, and drove the little boats back to land. The crowd changed their tune after that; indeed, one of them would delight in retelling the tale to anyone who would listen, including the monks at Jarrow.