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Cuthbert and the Weary Hawk : A bird of prey shattered the peace of St Cuthbert’s island, and was taught an unforgettable lesson.
Cuthbert and the Weary Hawk

Based on The Book of Saints and Friendly Beasts, by Abbie Farwell Brown (1871-1927) and ‘The Wonderful Virtues of St Cuthbert’, chapter CXI, by Reginald of Durham (? - c. 1190).

St Cuthbert (?634-687) loved the many birds of his island retreat, and before he died the saint promised them ‘St Cuthbert’s Peace’: that if they lived in harmony with one another, no man or beast would disturb them and go unpunished.

See also Cuthbert and the Expert Witness.

IN the days of Bartholomew,* a hawk from a neighbouring island flew over to Inner Farne, and slew the hermit’s tame sparrow, which used to feed out of his hand.

The hawk looked for a quiet spot for his meal, but having broken the peace of Cuthbert’s island, it was not right that he should enjoy any peace there himself.

To his dismay, the hawk discovered that he could neither escape the island nor land upon it, but must fly and fly without rest. In rising panic, he sought refuge in the chapel, where Bartholomew found the exhausted bird fluttering about uselessly by the altar, betrayed by a trail of sparrow-feathers.

Bartholomew took pity on the weary creature, and gently carried him to the shoreline, where he released him, blessing him in St Cuthbert’s name. But he did not forget to give the shamefaced hawk a lecture on leaving the birds of Inner Farne in peace.

* This was in the mid-12th century. Bartholomew, of Viking blood, died in 1193 and was regarded by some as a saint.

Based on The Book of Saints and Friendly Beasts, by Abbie Farwell Brown (1871-1927) and ‘The Wonderful Virtues of St Cuthbert’, chapter CXI, by Reginald of Durham (? - c. 1190).

More like this

Reginald of Durham (1) Lives of the Saints (96) History (406) St Cuthbert of Lindisfarne (13) St Cuthbert’s Peace (1) County Durham (12) Northumberland (26) Bible and Saints (111)

Picture: © Bill Boaden, Geograph. Licence: CC-BY-SA 2.0. View original
A sparrow at the cafe on Lindisfarne, also called Holy Island, the larger neighbour of Inner Farne and the place of which St Cuthbert was bishop.
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow

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