St. Cuthbert and the Otters

13 October 19 | Posted in Animals, Saints

St. Cuthbert (634-687 A.D.) was a Scottish shepherd boy until he was 15 when he became a monk in Melrose Abbey.  He is also associated with Lindisfarne. He was a monk, bishop and hermit. Cuthbert lived most of his life in Northumbria, a region in northeast England by the Scottish border.  While St. Cuthbert is famous for his protection of the eider ducks of Inner Fame island, he is known as the patron saint of otters. Many of his stories are taken from “The Life of St. Cuthbert” by St. Bede of Jarrow (672?-735 A.D.) 

Cuthbert liked solitary prayer and contemplation with only the seabirds and seals for company. It was his habit to walk alone down to the water after dark.  One of the monks was suspicious or intrigued about his behavior and followed him to see what he was doing in the dead of night. From his hiding place the monk watched Cuthbert wade out into the dark North Sea until the water reached his neck and pray with the rhythm of the waves.  At the first light of dawn he returned to the shore and knelt for more prayer.  Two otters followed him out of the water. They warmed his feet with their breath and snuggled against his body to warm him with their fur. After Cuthbert gave them his affectionate blessing they returned to the water. 

The curious monk confessed his spying and Cuthbert forgave him.  I thought the otter story was a little fanciful until I saw the behavior of this otter in a YouTube video.

 

 

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