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The St. Cuthbert Gospel is the oldest surviving European book, and thus one of the most important volumes in the world. The Gospel is a Latin pocket edition of John that was originally placed in the Cuthbert’s tomb some time after his death in 687. The book most likely did not belong to Cuthbert, but was created at Monkwearmouth-Jarrow Abbey to be placed in his coffin when his body was translated to Lindisfarne at the end of the 7th century.
After an intense fundraising campaign, the British Library has acquired the book from British Province of the Society of Jesus for £9 million.
Saint Cuthbert (c. 634 – 20 March 687) was an Anglo-Saxon monk, bishop and hermit, associated with the monasteries of Melrose and Lindisfarne in the Kingdom of Northumbria. After his death he became one of the most important medieval saints of England, with a cult centred at Durham Cathedral. Cuthbert is regarded as the patron saint of northern England. His feast day is 20 March.
Cuthbert's fame for piety, diligence, and obedience quickly grew. When Alchfrith, king of Deira, founded a new monastery at Ripon, Cuthbert became its praepositus hospitum or guest master under Eata. When Wilfrid was given the monastery, Eata and Cuthbert returned to Melrose. Illness struck the monastery in 664 and while Cuthbert recovered, the prior died and Cuthbert was made prior in his place. He spent much time among the people, ministering to their spiritual needs, carrying out missionary journeys, preaching, and performing miracles.
After the Synod of Whitby, Cuthbert seems to have accepted the Roman customs, and his old abbot, Eata, called on him to introduce them at Lindisfarne as prior there. His asceticism was complemented by his charm and generosity to the poor, and his reputation for gifts of healing and insight led many people to consult him, gaining him the name of "Wonder Worker of Britain". He continued his missionary work, travelling the breadth of the country from Berwick to Galloway to carry out pastoral work and founding an oratory at Dull, Scotland complete with a large stone cross, and a little cell for himself, at a site which subsequently became a monastery then later the University of St Andrews. He is also said to have founded St Cuthbert's Church in Edinburgh.