A souvenir from the other Durham

Sep. 25, 2013 @ 12:32 PM

This summer, when the DukeEngage Durham Sister Cities program visited Durham, England, banners all over reminded them that the Lindisfarne Gospels exhibit was on display at Durham University. The Lindisfarne Gospels is a Medieval handwritten and illustrated book of the four Gospels of the New Testament.

“It’s a masterpiece of art and culture and religion,” said Sam Miglarese, co-director of the DukeEngage sister cities program along with Domonique Redmond, who both went on the trip to Durham, England, and saw the Lindisfarne Gospels exhibit. The exhibit is on loan from the British Library in London until Monday. They asked for one of the banners, but Redmond couldn’t fit it in her suitcase so it was shipped and arrived in Durham, N.C., a few weeks ago. On Friday, Redmond will present it to Durham Mayor Bill Bell and Duke Chapel Dean Luke Powery, who will display it in the university chapel.
The Lindisfarne Gospels are part of Northeast England history, as the Anglo-Saxon work of art, culture and Christianity was created by the St. Cuthbert community on Lindisfarne around 700. Medieval paintings precede each of the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and the text is written in Latin and was translated between the lines into Old English during the 10th century. It is the oldest surviving translation of the Gospels into English, according to the exhibit.
Lindisfarne, where a monastery was founded in 635, is also known as Holy Island and is off the coast of North Umberland. St. Cuthbert’s Shrine is in Durham Cathedral. As the days of the Lindisfarne Gospels exhibit in Durham wind down, tickets sales reached 95,000 since it opened in July.
There’s been another time a banner with Durham, England, hung in Durham, N.C. When the Broadway tour of “Billy Elliot” came to the Durham Performing Arts Center, part of the set included a Durham banner in the musical depicting the miners strike in Durham, England, under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
The banner from the Lindisfarne exhibit that will be hung permanently at Duke Chapel features an image of a cat with birds in its stomach, which is the painting for the Gospel of Luke. While the Lindisfarne Gospels on display in a glass case was open to just one page, a digital version of the book was available for viewing in the exhibit.
Redmond, whose DukeEngage trip was also her first trip to England, said the exhibit was “just beautiful” and the “energy around it was awesome.”
Miglarese said having the banner is a visible connection between Durham and Durham, and its display in Duke Chapel fits because of its religious significance. Both Durhams are communities reinventing themselves and using their local universities, he said.
Redmond said it was a blessing that the DukeEngage trip to Durham, England, happened to coincide with the Lindisfarne Gospels exhibit, resulting in the banner coming to its sister city.