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Two-minute tales from history, myth and fiction, accompanied by word games, grammar games and writing practice, all based on traditional school textbooks.

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The Bishop and the Chatterbox
Music: Sir Arthur Sullivan
One week into a Lenten retreat with the Bishop of Hexham, a boy’s miserable life is turned right around.
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)

DURING the Lenten fast, Bishop John and a few monks used to retire to a cottage in woodland across the Tyne, beside a graveyard dedicated to St Michael the Archangel. One year, John persuaded a young lad to stay with them whose head was all scabs and scales and sorry wisps of hair, and who had never been able to speak a word.

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Six Posts
St Wilfrid and the Sheriff’s Wife
St Wilfrid brings healing to the wife of his own gaoler.
Based on an account by Stephen of Ripon
(early 8th century)

THE King’s sheriff, Osfrith, was a married man. One day, his wife suddenly fell ill. First, she experienced a growing stiffness, which in time became a complete numbness in all her limbs. The sheriff found her cold to the touch, and flecks of foam appeared round her mouth.

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2
Belshazzar’s Feast
Music: Jean Sibelius
Prince Belshazzar’s disrespectful behaviour left him facing the original ‘writing on the wall’.

BELSHAZZAR threw a sumptuous feast for his noblemen; and being short of golden cups for his wine, he had his servants bring the sacred vessels stolen from the Temple in Jerusalem years before, and bade his lords toast their own gods from them.

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Elisha and the Fiery Horsemen
two-part story
Music: Sir Hubert Parry
The King of Syria goes on a mole-hunt, but Elisha does not seem to mind being his prime suspect.

NOT long after the affair with Naaman, Ben Hahad II, King of Syria, was at war with Israel.

To his annoyance, news of his troop movements kept getting back to Joram, the King of Israel. He suspected a mole among his generals, but they pointed the finger at Elisha, the Israelite prophet.

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Elisha and Naaman the Syrian
Music: Ignaz Moscheles
Naaman had very fixed ideas about what it takes to get a miracle.

NAAMAN, a captain in the service of Ben-Hadad II, King of Syria, suffered from leprosy.

Naaman’s wife had a Jewish maid, and one day she remarked that if only the prophet Elisha were here, Naaman would be better in no time.

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Cuthbert, the Bridle and the Book
Music: Sir John Blackwood McEwen
One of England’s most precious artefacts, the Lindisfarne Gospels, was nearly lost at sea.

IN about 882, the little band of monks who cared for St Cuthbert’s coffin boarded a ship at Workington, seeking refuge in Ireland from the Danish invasion. But three miles out a storm arose, washing their cherished, hand-painted copy of the Gospels overboard, and tossing their little ship ashore at Whithorn in Galloway.

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Cuthbert and the Dun Cow
Music: William Babell
The magnificent cathedral at Durham owes its existence to a missing cow.

THE monks who cared for the coffin and body of St Cuthbert decided (this was in 995, during the reign of Ethelred the Unready) that they would take the saint back from Ripon to Chester-le-Street, where he had rested through much of the previous century.

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All Posts
Tagged Bible and Saints (106 posts)
page 1
1 The Bishop and the Chatterbox
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
One week into a Lenten retreat with the Bishop of Hexham, a boy’s miserable life is turned right around.
2 The Restoration of the Icons
By the early eighth century, sacred art was thriving in newly-Christian England, but in the East seeds of doubt and confusion had been sown.
3 Eddi’s Service
By Rudyard Kipling
(1865-1936)
Rudyard Kipling’s poem about St Wilfrid’s chaplain and an unusual Christmas congregation.
4 St Wilfrid and the Fishers of Men
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
Driven out of Northumbria, Bishop Wilfrid goes to the south coast and saves a kingdom from starvation.
5 St Bede and the Singing Stones
Based on The Golden Legend
(1275)
The Northumbrian monk is duped into wasting one of his beautifully-crafted sermons on a row of dumb rocks.
6 ‘Filioque’
It started as an honest mistake, became a diplomatic standoff, and brought down an Empire.
page 2
7 The Synod of Hatfield
Pope Agatho reached out to the English church to help him make his case at an important Council in the Imperial capital.
8 The Voice of an Angel
Based on a
Byzantine Tradition
A tenth-century Greek monk is joined by a total stranger for Mattins.
9 Twelve Poor Men and True
By Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)
Charles Dickens explains the thinking behind Jesus Christ’s choice of friends.
10 Birds of Paradise
By Cynewulf
(8th century)
Northumbrian poet Cynewulf paints a word-picture of heaven and the seraph-band that swoops and soars before the throne.
11 Taste and See
Wonder spread through a Tyneside monastery after Bishop Cuthbert asked for a drink of water.
12 The Last Commandment
By Cynewulf
(8th century)
Northumbrian poet Cynewulf imagines the farewell between Jesus and his Apostles, forty days after his resurrection.
page 3
13 St Bega
In Irish princess fled to Cumbria to escape the Vikings, clutching her precious silver bracelet.
14 Crayke Abbey
The long-lost monastery at Crayke in North Yorkshire was home to two saints with different but equally valuable gifts.
15 St Erkenwald, Light of London
The seventh-century Bishop of London helped kings and clergy to shine Christian light into the darkness of mere religion.
16 Undoubting Thomas
By Elfric of Eynsham
(955-1010)
Abbot Elfric praised St Thomas for demanding hard evidence for the resurrection.
17 Perilous Waters
King Saul’s jealousies drove those who loved him away, but David was a very different kind of leader.
18 The First Easter
In a translation from the Authorised Version of the Bible, published in 1611, St Mark recounts the discovery of Christ’s empty tomb.
page 4
19 Tamed by Wisdom, Freed by Grace
By Elfric of Eynsham
(955-1010)
Abbot Elfric expounds a Palm Sunday text to explain how Christianity combines orderly behaviour with intelligent and genuine liberty.
20 Breaking Death
By Elfric of Eynsham
(955-1010)
For Jesus Christ to step down alive from his cross would have been a mighty miracle, but not the mightiest.
21 At Heaven’s Gate
By Cynewulf
(8th century)
The eighth-century English bishop and poet Cynewulf takes us to the threshold of God’s holy city, and gives us a choice.
22 The Six Leaps of Faith
By Cynewulf
(8th century)
The eighth-century English bishop and poet Cynewulf explores a prophecy from the Song of Solomon.
23 Mothering Sunday
Mothering Sunday is a peculiarly British celebration of Christian faith, close family and responsible freedom.
24 Annunciation
By Cynewulf
(8th century)
Cynewulf reflects on the mystery of the appearance of the angel Gabriel to Mary.
page 5
25 The Blessings of Nicholas Mogilevsky
Passengers sharing Bishop Nicholas’s Moscow-bound flight found his blessings faintly silly, but that was when the engines were running.
26 St Chad and the Invisible Choir
Chad, the seventh-century Bishop of Mercia, seemed to be making a lot of music for one man.
27 The Night-time Disciple
Nicodemus did not allow intellectual doubts to get in the way of what he knew in his heart.
28 St Nicholas and the Empty Granary
The saintly Bishop helped the captain of a merchant ship to cut through the red tape, and save his town from starvation.
29 St Cuthbert and the Phantom Fire
The Northumbrian saint warned of an enemy who would stop at nothing to silence the good news.
30 The History of Susannah
A young Jewish woman in ancient Babylon falls victim to a heartless conspiracy.
page 6
31 Redeemed for Five Shillings
By Elfric of Eynsham
(955-1010)
Elfric, the tenth-century English abbot, suggests a practical way of thinking about the Presentation of Christ in the Temple.
32 Candlemas
A February celebration for which the faithful have brought candles to church since Anglo-Saxon times.
33 The Jerusalem Temple
The story of the once magnificent Temple in Jerusalem, the city God chose for Israel’s capital.
34 The Judgment of Solomon
The tenth-century King of Israel demonstrated his legendary wisdom in a delicate custody battle.
35 The Bearded Foreigner
A Japanese swordsman confronts a Russian monk for... actually, he’s not really quite sure.
36 Cuthbert, the Bridle and the Book
One of England’s most precious artefacts, the Lindisfarne Gospels, was nearly lost at sea.
page 7
37 St Nicholas the Wet
Two frantic parents implore St Nicholas’s help in rescuing their baby boy.
38 Aaron’s Rod
By Elfric of Eynsham
(955-1010)
The Victorian practice of hanging sugared nuts on a Christmas tree was bursting with Biblical symbolism.
39 Cuthbert and the Mystery Guest
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
A young monk was rewarded for taking his duties as guest-master seriously.
40 The Spy
In 1910, Constantine Zervakos, a young monk from the Greek island of Paros, found himself charged with espionage.
41 Not a Scratch!
Hapless extremists try to wipe out a miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary.
42 The Story of Esther
A young Jewish girl is chosen as the Queen of Persia, but quickly finds she has enemies.
page 8
43 St Helen Finds the True Cross
Based on ‘Elene’ by Cynewulf
(8th century)
The mother of the Roman Emperor goes to Jerusalem on a quest close to her heart.
44 Daniel and the Priests of Bel
An apparent miracle is revealed as sleight-of-hand.
45 Cuthbert and the Dun Cow
The magnificent cathedral at Durham owes its existence to a missing cow.
46 Cvthbertvs
Henry VIII’s experts declared that saints were nothing special, but St Cuthbert had a surprise for them.
47 The Spear of St Mercurius
Based on a sermon by
Elfric of Eynsham
Roman Emperor Julian was ready to destroy an entire Christian community over his wounded pride.
48 With Hymns and Sweet Perfumes
By
Elfric of Eynsham
Elfric imagines how the Virgin Mary went to her eternal home.
page 9
49 The Good Samaritan
Our responsibilities are not defined by laws or borne by governments. They are defined by mercy, and borne by love.
50 Bread from Heaven
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
Cuthbert trusted that keeping his promised fast would not do him any harm.
51 Wulfstan and the Seal of Approval
Based on an account by Charlotte Yonge
(1823-1901)
William the Conqueror’s purge of the English Church was halted by a humble bishop and a dead king.
52 Terror in the Deep
Irish monk St Columba is credited with being among the first witnesses to the ‘Loch Ness monster’.
53 The Story of Pentecost
Jesus’s apostles receive the gift of God’s Holy Spirit, and the startling effects quickly draw a crowd.
54 St Elizabeth the New Martyr
The grand-daughter of Queen Victoria was as close to the poor of Moscow’s slums as she was to the Russian Tsar.
page 10
55 Stick and Carrot
Based on a
Byzantine Tradition
The Virgin Mary and her son team up to get the best out of some careless monks.
56 St Mary of Egypt
Back in the 6th century, a young woman was ruining her own life and the lives of others.
57 The Lessons of History
By Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
England’s first and greatest historian explains why history is so important.
58 St Bede of Wearmouth and Jarrow
The mild-mannered, artistic monk was nevertheless a founding father of the English nation.
59 The Parable of the Ten Virgins
Five young women cared enough about a man’s wedding-day to make the smallest of sacrifices, and received the best of rewards.
60 St George, Patron Saint of England
George was born in Israel and served in the Roman army, yet makes an ideal patron for England.
page 11
61 St George the Triumphant Martyr
One of the Emperor Galerius’s most trusted generals openly defied him.
62 The Sunday of Palms and Willows
For centuries, northern countries from Russia to England have laid the catkins of the willow tree before Jesus as he enters Jerusalem.
63 High Beneath Heaven’s Roof
By Cynewulf
(8th century)
The Cross of Christ speaks, and tells of the amazing transformation from sign of shame to sign of redemption.
64 St Aidan Returns King Penda’s Fire
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
When Penda tried to burn down Bamburgh Castle, St Aidan turned the pagan King’s own weapons against him.
65 St Patrick of Ireland
After escaping from six years as a slave in Ireland, Patrick wanted only one thing: to go back.
66 Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve are set in a Garden of carefree delight, but the Snake swears they are victims of a cruel deception.
page 12
67 King Edwin and the Hand of Destiny
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
Forced from his throne and threatened with murder, Edwin makes a curious bargain for his deliverance.
68 Caedmon Learns to Sing
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
A shy and unmusical stable-hand suddenly began to sing wise and moving hymns.
69 Elisha and the Fiery Horsemen
The King of Syria goes on a mole-hunt, but Elisha does not seem to mind being his prime suspect.
70 The Man Born Blind
A man born blind is healed by Jesus, but finds himself a social outcast as a result.
71 St David of Wales
The popular monk was elected as bishop of Menevia in Wales in 550.
72 Noah’s Flood
God’s love proved to be bigger and stronger than all man’s wickedness.
page 13
73 Elisha and Naaman the Syrian
Naaman had very fixed ideas about what it takes to get a miracle.
74 St Wilfrid’s Debt
Based on an account by Stephen of Ripon
(early 8th century)
The Blessed Virgin Mary adds four years to the life of Bishop Wilfrid, and an angel suggests a suitable thank-you.
75 Macarius and the Hyena
Based on ‘The Lives of the Desert Fathers’
(4th century)
A monk of the Egyptian desert helped a desperate mother, and was richly rewarded.
76 Cuthbert and the Expert Witness
Based on the account by Reginald of Durham
(12th century)
A hungry monk thought he had got away with the tastiest of crimes, but St Cuthbert kept his promise to his beloved birds.
77 St Dwynwen
St Dwynwen was a 5th century princess regarded by some as Wales’s answer to St Valentine.
78 The Martyrdom of St Alban
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
Alban voluntarily swapped places with a priest, and was executed for being a member of a banned religious sect.
page 14
79 The Adoration of the Magi
Persian star-gazers hasten to Israel for the birth of a royal heir, but find that King Herod has had his fill of them.
80 The Martyrdom of St Stephen
Stephen was the first person to lose his life because he was a follower of Jesus Christ.
81 St Nicholas and the Golden Dowry
Nicholas used his inheritance to help three vulnerable girls escape a life of exploitation.
82 The Law of the Innocents
St Adamnán worked tirelessly to secure protection, rights and dignity for the women of Ireland.
83 St Nicholas and the Luckless Sailor
After surviving a terrible storm, a crew-member on St Nicholas’s ship met with a tragic accident.
84 The Dove and the Flame
By
Elfric of Eynsham
Elfric, Abbot of Eynsham in the reign of Æthelred the Unready, reflects on two appearances of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament.
page 15
85 The Miracle of St John of the Caves
The story of an unexpected escape through the heart of a hill.
86 St John of Damascus
John’s enduring influence is evident today in the rich sights and sounds of Christian liturgy.
87 David and Bathsheba
David’s scheme to steal another man’s wife succeeded, but he could not keep his secret from everyone.
88 The Martyrdom of St James the Great
James, brother of John the Evangelist, was executed for his faith by a close friend of the Emperor Caligula.
89 St Hild and the Synod of Whitby
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
The respected Abbess oversaw the English Church’s historic commitment to adopt Byzantine traditions.
90 How St Benedict Biscop brought Byzantium to Britain
By Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
The chapel of Bede’s monastery in Sunderland was full of the colours and sounds of the far-off Mediterranean world.
page 16
91 The Sacred Snakes of Kefalonia
Once a year, regular as clockwork, the little snakes slither into the convent for a Feast of the Virgin Mary.
92 St Andrew, Patron of Scotland
Scotland’s association with the brother of Peter is down to an early 8th century Bishop of Hexham.
93 The Miracle of Piso Livadi
Three fishermen let their tongues run away with them, and were left counting the cost.
94 Cyril and Hypatia
A ‘Christian’ mob kidnapped and murdered a much-loved professor of mathematics - for her politics.
95 The Parable of the Prodigal Son
Love doesn’t make people pay for past mistakes.
96 Daniel in the Lions’ Den
The King who condemned him to the den of lions felt far worse about it than Daniel did.
page 17
97 Belshazzar’s Feast
Prince Belshazzar’s disrespectful behaviour left him facing the original ‘writing on the wall’.
98 Cain and Abel
Smarting for his outraged ‘rights’, Cain lost his reason — but not God’s pity and love.
99 The Keeper of the Gate
Based on a
Byzantine Tradition
A widow cast her precious icon into the sea rather than see it dishonoured by government agents, but that wasn’t the end of the story.
100 St Wilfrid and the Sheriff’s Wife
Based on an account by Stephen of Ripon
(early 8th century)
St Wilfrid brings healing to the wife of his own gaoler.
101 St Wilfrid and the Angel of Light
Based on an account by Stephen of Ripon
(early 8th century)
St Wilfrid finds comfort during his tussle with the King of Northumbria
102 Cuthbert and the Miracle of the Wind
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
The young monk taught some hard-hearted pagans a lesson they’d never forget.
page 18
103 King Alfred and the Beggar
Based on the ‘Historia de Sancto Cuthberto’
(11th century)
An everyday act of charity triggered off a series of extraordinary events.
104 St Nicholas of the Cats
Based on a
Byzantine Tradition
A very unusual monastery with some very unusual protectors.
105 A Battle of Wills
Based on ‘A Book of Golden Deeds’ by Charlotte Yonge
(1823-1901)
Two strong and determined men refused to back down.
106 St Cuthbert and the Otters
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
An inquisitive monk spied on a guest’s night-time walks.
Authors
2 posts
Cynewulf (8th century)
6 posts
Charles Dickens (1812-1870)
1 post
Elfric of Eynsham (955-1010)
7 posts
Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)
1 post
which is ‘English Style’ ?

Word Play: Spinner

Use these words together in a single sentence:

Gate. Health. Week.

JB Cramer was one of the finest pianists of his day, though his reverence for Mozart made his own music more popular in the drawing room than the concert hall.
By Percy Bysshe Shelley
(1792-1822)
Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley says that the pinnacle of political achievement is the government not of others, but of ourselves.
By John Keats
(1795-1821)
Poet John Keats speaks of the beauties of Autumn, her colours, her sounds and her rich harvest.
By Percy Bysshe Shelley
(1792-1822)
Poet Percy Shelley calls on November’s sister months to watch by the graveside of the dead Year.
Cut
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Polyword ‘Loco’
Make as many words as you can with the letters below. All your words must be at least four letters long, and must also include the highlighted letter. What’s the nine-letter word?

SEE how many words you can make using the letters below. All your words must be at least 4 letters long, and must include the letter (change).

We found commonly used words, plus one 9-letter word. Can you do better?

Use each letter only once. But if there are e.g. two As, you can used them both.

Don’t count proper nouns such as April, Zeus, or Newcastle (pretty much anything that has to be spelled with a capital letter at the start), or acronyms like HMRC.

Don’t just add -S for plurals or third person singular verbs, e.g. CAT → CATS or SPEAK → SPEAKS.

Note: You can find more Polywords and other games on our Nine Lives puzzle page, and most of our stories are accompanied by games with words, grammar and numbers.

More Puzzles
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with GOAT and finish with HERD.
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with ASH and finish with OAK.
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with BEEF and finish with STEW.
Do you know ‘a republic in the Pyrenees’ (7 letters), and ‘shallow in sentiment’ (5 letters)?
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with DOOR and finish with STEP.
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
A word-making and word-searching game with a dash of strategy to it.
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letters game

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