St Bede the Venerable (25th May)

Acts 19.1-8; Psalm 67; John 16.29-33

St Bede (ca672-735) is known as the Father of English History for his monumental Ecclesiastical History of the English Peoples, completed about 731. He is the only native of Great Britain to have been declared a Doctor (‘teacher’) of the Church. Many consider him the most important European scholar of the two centuries between the death of St Gregory the Great (604) and the coronation of Charlemagne in 800.

Born near present-day Jarrow, probably of a well-to-do family, he spent most of his life as a Benedictine monk in the double monastery of St Peter and St Paul in Northumbria. At the age of about 14 he survived the devastating plague of 686; he was said to be one of two surviving monks in his monastery who were capable of singing the whole of the office. He was ordained a deacon at the age of 19. About 702 (age 30) he was ordained a priest.

In addition to his astonishing historiography, he wrote scientific and theological works, the range of his interests running from music and metrics to scriptural exegesis. He died on the Feast of the Ascension; in 1020 his relics were translated to Durham Cathedral, where they remain today. His accomplishments remind us of the importance of the monasteries in the history of these islands, and encourage us to ask his intercession for monastics and scholars.

Posted in Daily Reflection.