Saints of the Day

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Saint Herbert’s Island

Today is the feast of Saint Cuthbert – and also of his friend Saint Herbert, a hermit of Saint Herbert’s Island on Derwentwater in the Lake District. They were saints of the great days of the early Northern church and here is what Wordsworth had to say:

For The Spot Where The Hermitage Stood on St. Herbert’s Island, Derwentwater

If thou in the dear love of some one Friend 
Hast been so happy that thou know’st what thoughts 
Will sometimes in the happiness of love 
Make the heart sink, then wilt thou reverence 
This quiet spot; and, Stranger! not unmoved 
Wilt thou behold this shapeless heap of stones, 
The desolate ruins of St. Herbert’s Cell. 
Here stood his threshold; here was spread the roof 
That sheltered him, a self-secluded Man, 
After long exercise in social cares 
And offices humane, intent to adore 
The Deity, with undistracted mind, 
And meditate on everlasting things, 
In utter solitude.–But he had left 
A Fellow-labourer, whom the good Man loved 
As his own soul. And, when with eye upraised 
To heaven he knelt before the crucifix, 
While o’er the lake the cataract of Lodore 
Pealed to his orisons, and when he paced 
Along the beach of this small isle and thought 
Of his Companion, he would pray that both 
(Now that their earthly duties were fulfilled) 
Might die in the same moment. Nor in vain 
So prayed he:–as our chronicles report, 
Though here the Hermit numbered his last day 
Far from St. Cuthbert his beloved Friend, 
Those holy Men both died in the same hour. 

Image rights here.

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