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 do study you may use our Celtic Christian Studies Library at Lindisfarne Retreat, Holy Island10.0 am to 6.0 pm Mondays to Saturdays. This also includes sections on Pilgrimage, Emerging Church and Soul Friendship and a computer. To do a unit in our e-studies course enrol through our web site.
  6. If you wish to do academic study on Holy Island you may refer to the library’s source materials. Historian Canon Kate Tristram is willing to give talks/interviews.
  7. 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, our Deputy Guardian, 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 Ray.

  8. If you wish to set up a programme of travel to Celtic or pilgrimage places, see the book list.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. If you wish to have an in depth stay on Lindisfarne, we welcome you to book into our Open Gate Retreat Centre. You can contact the open gate using the link below.

    There are also other places to stay, see www

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 ctivities 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: 7.30 am Morning Prayer 8.0 am Holy Communion 5.30 pm Evening Prayer.
  • Sundays there is also 10.45 Parish Eucharist

St Cuthbert’s Centre (United Reformed)

  • Saturdays 8.0 pm informal worship
  • Daily Morning Prayer 9.0 am (silent prayer on Tues, Thurs and Sat)

St Aidan’s Roman Catholic:

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

The Open Gate Prayer Room:

  • 12.00 Midday Prayer and 9.00 pm Night Prayer Mondays to Fridays.

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 11.0 am on Wednesday and a prayer walk leaving St Cuthbert’s Centre at 1.30 pm 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.

The Community of Aidan and Hilda’s Resources Centre at The Open Gate is usually open. There are also other excellent shops of a general nature.

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)