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The following post was written by Sam Miglarese, Co-Director of DukeEngage Durham since 2007. 


This is my 5th journey to Durham, England, for and with DukeEngage.

We have toured the Cathedral each time with registered docents who with pride recount the familiar story of the founding of the city of Durham by Monks from the monastery of Lindisfarne. The Vikings kept raiding the island and the Monks had enough and left with the incorrupt mortal remains of their Bishop, Cuthbert in 875. After many years they found their way to the peninsula overlooking the River Wear where the cart that held the coffin got stuck in the mud and would move only when they followed a milkmaid and her lost cow towards “Dunholme.” This was the sign they needed to finally place their beloved Cuthbert to rest.

St. Cuthbert’s Shrine at Durham Cathedral

But the fact is, of all my visits, I never was able to find my way to the Holy Island until this year July 2018. The schedule for our program is tight but after dropping off students at their worksites, Neil Hoefs (coordinator of DukeEngage Durham 2018) and I were driven by Cam Henderson of Experience Durham, to the Northumberland coast to make our Pilgrimage to that Holy Island on Monday, July 16, 2018. Finally, my relationship to the spirit of Durham is now complete albeit in reverse from the holy Monks of that island in 687. I began my Cuthbert journey first at his shrine in the magnificent Cathedral and now after many years worked my way back to the church called St. Peter’s where the Bishop was first buried after his return from his hermit life at the island of Inner Farne.

Sam Miglarese and Neil Hoefs at Lindisfarne.

I know the power of relics in medieval Christianity up to the reformation of 1517 and beyond. Cuthbert, as a revered saint, made Durham a Holy site and a place of spirituality ever since. I am afraid the legend and stories about his incorruptible body have obscured this mysterious man, bishop, and hermit.

So my Durham story now is complete and I ask all DukeEngage Durham Students present and future, “why would you not go to Lindisfarne?”

I recommend this journey be part of their story of service in Durham.

Sam Miglarese
DukeEngage Durham 2018