Cuthbert becomes a monk
Cuthbert’s early life is shrouded in mystery. He was raised by a step mother as many better off Northumbrians she was called Kenswith. Later he would visit her at Wrangham, Northumberland.
As an 8 year old Cuthbert showed stamina and agility, running, jumping, wrestling and doing summersaults they used to “bend their bodies in unnatural forms.” Cuthbert told Trumwhine who later told the Historian Bede. Bede says that he was told from an early age that he would be a Bishop, by a young child who berated him for playing childish games. “It does not become a priest and prelate".
Some time later he became lame with a swollen knee which was healed by a passing stranger.
He may have fought for King Oswiu.
Cuthbert at Shields
One day on the banks of the Tyne he was in a large crowd who were watching as five ships manned by monks were being blown out to sea by a strong westerly wind, other monks prayed for them but the crowd of locals laughed and hurled abuse accusing the monks of ending their ancient rites and customs, but Cuthbert knelt down and prayed and the wind dropped and the monks landed safely.
One night (31st August 651) while shepherding on some hills he saw a vision of light and learned next morning that Aidan, Bishop of Lindisfarne, had died. He at once decided to become a monk.
Where was he? Some people think he was in the Lammermuir hills. How quickly could news have arrived from Bamburgh.? Some think it was near Wooler. Bede’s next story sees Cuthbert on a journey in winter by horseback that takes more than a day and crosses wild land with no villages only a summer shieling for shepherds where his horse finds a meal of bread and meat hidden in the straw roof.
He chose Melrose because of the reputation of the teacher Boisil, (the town at Melrose is called St Boswell`s today.). He arrived there on horseback with a travelling spear which suggests he was well to do. As he arrived Boisil said “Behold a servant of the lord.”. The book Boisil used to instruct Cuthbert was a prized possession of the Community of St Cuthbert.