Cuthbert likely was a Northumbrian Englishman, orphaned as a child. He tended sheep and fought the Mercians, then became a monk at Melrose Abbey, and later its abbot. In 664 he accompanied St. Eata to Lindisfarne, or Holy Island, off the northeastern coast of England, and later undertook long journeys on horseback or foot, ministering to Christians scattered around northern England and helping his monks accept Roman liturgical customs. After living as a contemplative for nine years on a remote islet, he was elected bishop of Hexham in 684. But he exchanged sees with Eata, becoming bishop of Lindisfarne. According to Bede’s history, Cuthbert was a holy, patient, practical leader, a miracle-worker beloved by all. He is a patron of sailors and of Northumbria.