Sabbatical Studies

Guidelines for Enquiries about Sabbatical Studies

We receive more requests for advice than we can respond to. Each sabbatical requires different criteria, length and levels. Here are a few key points.

  1. Decide on your aims well before it begins.
  2. Is it a programme of study, light reading, pilgrimage, or places or groups to experience? Is it an unstructured time to unwind and attend to the inner being? Will you report back to someone?
  3. Do not overwork before it begins; start in a fit state.
  4. If you wish to do serious study, invite a current or retired lecturer to be your mentor, who will help you clarify information, issues and questions to explore. If this is not possible, one of our advisors, Dr. Gavin Wakefield, Director of Mission and Pastoral Studies at St. John’s College, Durham is willing to give a small amount of time to advice.

  5. If you wish to learn about The Community of Aidan and Hilda as a contemporary expression of Christian spirituality or new monasticism with a Celtic flavour, read A Pilgrim Way: new celtic monasticism for everyday people by Ray Simpson (Kevin Mayhew Ltd). Simon Reed, one of our Guardians, recommends the monastic practice of including in each sabbatical day some element each of prayer, study, and work (ideally something practical, manual or creative) - and a fourth element of something recreational. If you would like to talk with a member of the Community in your area email this request to our Regional Group Co-ordinator, Carol Few
  6. If you wish to set up a programme of travel to Celtic or pilgrimage places, see the book list.
  7. For first-time pilgrims in Ireland we recommend: Saint Patrick’s Centre, Co. Down, Glendalough, Clonmacnoise, Kildare, the Book of Kells at Holy Trinity College Dublin. In the Dingle area are places related to Brendan and the Gallus Oratory. These are all on the internet.
  8. If you wish to set up a programme of travel in northern Britain we recommend Iona, Whithorn, Ruthwell Cross, Lindisfarne, Bamburgh, Durham Cathedral, Bede’s World at Jarrow, Lastingham, Whitby – these mostly have web sites. We regret we are not a travel agency and suggest you contact local tourist offices re transport and accommodation.

What May Pilgrims Do When They Come to Lindisfarne?

Some simply use the time to off-load pressures, and to seek to find themselves and God in the stillness or wildness of the Island. A map of the island is available at The Lindisfarne Centre. Others join in the prayer services or activities of the Island’s Christian churches and groups. You may buy A Pilgrim’s Guide to Holy Island, by David Adam, at The Post Office. Ray Simpson’s Give Yourself a Holy Island Retreat suggests a week’s retreat programme on the island and at nearby mainland sites. His A Holy Island Prayer Book (Morehouse) includes thirty-five midday reflections each for a different site on the island

What public Christian worship and activities are there?

St Mary’s Parish Church:

  • Daily seven days: 7.30am Morning Prayer 8am Holy Communion 5.30pm Evening Prayer.
  • Sundays there is also 10.45 Parish Eucharist

St Cuthbert’s Centre (United Reformed)

  • Saturdays 8pm informal worship
  • Daily Morning Prayer 9am (silent prayer on Tues, Thurs and Sat)

St Aidan’s Roman Catholic:

  • Mass times vary with visiting groups. See notices on door.

The three church buildings are usually open during daylight. St Cuthbert’s has further information, and a steward to talk to at busy times.

In the season there is usually an ecumenical healing service at one of the three church centres at 11am on Wednesday and a prayer walk leaving St Cuthbert’s Centre at 1.30pm on Thursday.

Where Can I Find out More about the Celtic Christian Heritage?

The English Heritage Museum, by the Priory entrance is highly commended for its presentation of the region’s Christian history. A ticket also gives you access to the Priory ruins.

The state-of-the-art digital Lindisfarne Gospels at the Lindisfarne Centre brings this treasure to life.

The Post Office sells all the books by former Lindisfarne Vicar, David Adam. The Burning Light Bookshop sells Christian resources related to Celtic, monastic and creative arts. Mary Fleeson also runs the Lindisfarne Scriptorium there.

An Introductory Reading List

'Reading for Study', a little booklet published by Blackwell for £1, gives guidance for those who are unused to study. You can access a more extensive reading list related to the way of life of the Community of Aidan and Hilda here.

Desert Christians

  • Early Christian Lives (Penguin)
  • The Desert Fathers (Penguin)
  • The Lives of the Desert Fathers (Cistercian Publications)
  • Conferences by John Cassian (Paulist Press Classics of Western Spirituality)
  • The Life of Antony by Athanasius in Early Christian Lives (Penguin)
    To Prayer and Love: Conversations on Prayer with the Desert Fathers by Roberta Bondi (Burns & Oates)


  • Exploring Celtic Spirituality: historic roots for our future with study guide by Ray Simpson (Kevin Mayhew Ltd)
  • Restoring the Woven Cord: strands of Celtic Christianity for the church today by Michael Mitton (DLT) (published in the USA as The Soul of Celtic Christianity in the Lives of Its Saints)
  • The anthology Celtic Daily Light is a devotional introduction which has a list of sources at the back.
  • Writings of Patrick and Lives of Brigid in Saint Patrick's World by Liam De Paor (Four Courts Press)
  • Adomnan's Life of Saint Columba (Penguin)
  • Bede's Life of Cuthbert (in the Age of Bede - Penguin)
  • The Life of Samson of Dol (Llanerch Press)
  • The Ecclesiastical History of the English People by Bede (Oxford University Press)
  • Colonies of Heaven by Ian Bradley (Morehouse)

Celtic Pilgrimage Places

  • An Essential Guide to Celtic Sites and their Saints by Elizabeth Rees (Burns and Oates)