Saint Bede the Venerable

Also known as

  • Venerable Bede
  • Father of English History

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Born around the time England was finally completely Christianized. Raised from age seven in the abbey of Saints Peter and Paul at Wearmouth-Jarrow, and lived there the rest of his life. Benedictine monk. Spiritual student of the founder, Saint Benedict Biscop. Ordained in 702 by Saint John of Beverley. Teacher and author, he wrote about history, rhetoric, mathematics, music, astronomy, poetry, grammar, philosophy, hagiography, homiletics, and Bible commentary.

He was known as the most learned man of his day, and his writings started the idea of dating this era from the incarnation of Christ. The central theme of Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica is of the Church using the power of its spiritual, doctrinal, and cultural unity to stamp out violence and barbarism. Our knowledge of England before the 8th century is mainly the result of Bede’s writing. He was declared a Doctor of the Church on 13 November 1899 by Pope Leo XIII.

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Readings

He alone loves the Creator perfectly who manifests a pure love for his neighbour. - Saint Bede the Venerable

On Tuesday before the feast of the Ascension, Bede’s breathing became labored and a slight swelling appeared in his legs. Nevertheless, he gave us instruction all day long and dictated cheerfully the whole time. It seemed to us, however, that he knew very well that his end was near, and so he spent the whole night giving thanks to God. At daybreak on Wednesday he told us to finish the writing we had begun. We worked until nine o’clock, when we went in procession with the relics as the custom of the day required. But one of our community, a boy named Wilbert, stayed with him and said to him, “Dear master, there is still one more chapter to finish in that book you were dictating. Do you think it would be too hard for you to answer any more questions?” Bede replied: “Not at all; it will be easy. Take up your pen and ink, and write quickly,” and he did so. At three o’clock, Bede said to me, “I have a few treasures in my private chest, some pepper, napkins, and a little incense. Run quickly and bring the priest of our monastery, and I will distribute among them these little presents that god has given me.” When the priests arrived he spoke to them and asked each one to offer Masses and prayers for him regularly. They gladly promised to do so. The priests were sad, however, and they all wept, especially because Bede had said that he thought they would not see his face much longer in this world. Yet they rejoiced when he said, “If it so please my Maker, it is time for me to return to him who created me and formed me out of nothing when I did not exist. I have lived a long time, and the righteous Judge has taken good care of me during my whole life. The time has come for my departure, and I long to die and be with Christ. My soul yearns to see Christ, my King, in all his glory.” He said many other things which profited us greatly, and so he passed the day joyfully till evening. When evening came, young Wilbert said to Bede, “Dear master, there is still one sentence that we have not written down.” Bede said, “Quick, write it down.” In a little while, Wilbert said, “There; now it is written down.” Bede said, “Good. You have spoken the truth; it is finished. Hold my head in your hands, for I really enjoy sitting opposite the holy place where I used to pray; I can call upon my Father as I sit there.” And so Bede, as he lay upon the floor of his cell, sang, “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.” And when he had named the Holy Spirit, he breathed his last breath. - from a letter on the death of Saint Bede written by the monk Cuthbert

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, any my spirit rejoices in God my savior.” With these words Mary first acknowledges the special gifts she has been given. Above all other saints, she alone could truly rejoice in Jesus, her savior, for she knew that he who was the source of eternal salvation would be born in time in her body, in one person both her own son and her Lord. “For the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” Mary attributes nothing to her own merits. She refers all her greatness to the gift of one whose essence is power and whose nature is greatness, for he fill with greatness and strength the small and the weak who believe in him. She did well to add: “and holy is his name,” to warn those who heard, and indeed all who would receive his words, that they must believe and call upon his name. For they too could share in everlasting holiness and true salvation according to the words of the prophet: “and it will come to pass, that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” This is the name she spoke of earlier when she said “and my spirit rejoices in God my savior.” - from a homily by Saint Bede

MLA Citation

  • “Saint Bede the Venerable“. Saints.SQPN.com. 27 August 2014. Web. 23 November 2014. <>