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SAINT BEDE [THE VENERABLE] CONFESSOR, DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH—735 A.D. ^ | not given | Lives of the Saints

Posted on 05/25/2005 7:07:50 AM PDT by Salvation

Feast: May 27*
Almost all that is known of the life of Bede is derived from a touching description of his death written by a disciple, the monk Cuthbert, and a short factual account in the final chapter of his famous work, the <Ecclesiastical History of England>, from which we quote: "Thus much of the ecclesiastical history of Britain and especially of the English nation, have I, Bede, a servant of Christ and priest of the monastery of the Blessed Apostles, Peter and Paul, which is at Wearmouth and Jarrow, with the Lord's help composed as far as I could gather it, either from ancient documents or from traditions of the elders or from my own knowledge."

Bede was born on the lands of the monastery of Wearmouth and Jarrow, which stood on the River Tyne in northeastern England. At the age of seven he was given by his relatives to the Abbot Benedict to be educated. From that time he spent his whole life in the monastery devoting himself to the study of the Scriptures. He was a born scholar.

"Through all the observance of monastic discipline," Bede wrote, "it has ever been my delight to learn and teach and write." In his nineteenth year he was admitted to the diaconate and in his thirtieth to the priesthood, both by the hands of Bishop John of Beverley and at the bidding of the Abbot Ceolfrid. "From the time of my ordination up till my present fifty-ninth year I have endeavored for my own use and for that of the brethren to make brief notes upon the Holy Scriptures, either out of the works of the venerable fathers or in conformity with their meaning and interpretation." Bede then gives a list of his many writings,—works on science, chronology, poetics, and history, as well as commentaries on the Scriptures. He concludes with these pious words: "And I pray Thee, loving Jesus, that as Thou hast graciously given me to drink in with delight the words of Thy knowledge, so Thou wouldst mercifully grant me to attain one day to Thee, the fountain of all wisdom, and to appear forever before Thy face."

Beyond a few visits to friends in other monasteries, Bede's life was passed at Jarrow in one round of prayer and praise, writing and study. A fortnight before Easter in the year 735, he began to be much troubled by shortness of breath, and his brothers realized that the end was near. Nevertheless his pupils continued to study by his bedside and to read aloud, though their reading was often interrupted by tears. He for his part talked and read to them and sang praises to God. During the Forty Days from Easter to Ascension Day, he took time from his singing and instructing to start dictating two new books, one a translation of St. John's Gospel into Anglo-Saxon, and the other a collection of notes from se. Isidore.[1] On the Tuesday before Ascension Day he began to grow weaker. He passed the day cheerfully and kept on with his dictation, saying occasionally to the scribe: "Go on quickly; I do not know how long I shall hold out and whether my Maker will not soon remove me." After a wakeful night he began to dictate the last chapter of St. John. At three in the afternoon he sent for the priests of the monastery, distributed among them some pepper, incense, and a little linen which he had by him in a chest, and asked for their prayers and Masses. That evening the boy who was taking down his translation of the Book of John said: "There is still one sentence, dear master, that I have not written." That last sentence was supplied, the boy said it was finished, and the dying man murmured: "You have well said . . . all is finished. Now take my head in your hands that I may have the comfort of sitting opposite the holy place where I used to pray, and so sitting may call upon my Father." And on the pavement of his cell, the brothers around him singing "Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost," he peacefully breathed his last.

The title of "Venerable" by which Bede is usually known was a term of respect bestowed in ancient times on highly esteemed members of religious orders. We find it applied to Bede by the Council of Aix-la-Chapelle in 836, and it has clung to him through succeeding centuries. Though in 1899 he was named Saint and Doctor of the Church, "Venerable" remains his special designation to this day.

A Benedictine scholar, the late Cardinal Gasquet, has left a high tribute to Bede's literary work. "When we compare," he writes, "the work done under the inspiration of Bede at Wearmouth and Jarrow with the other literary efforts of the seventh and eighth centuries, one characteristic at once strikes us. The work of that northern school is what may be called 'thorough and scholarly.' . . . It will bear the test of examination; it carries with it evidence of wide reading and full knowledge, utilized with judgment and critical tact, and for this it became a model to subsequent generations. Whether we take Bede's <History> for chronology and the careful determination of dates; or his treatise on meter, which is really philological; or his Scripture commentaries, and compare them with the efforts of a century or two before, or even with those of a century or two later, we can at once detect the difference. ... Look at his <History>.... Reflect how this great record of our own country was composed. Remember that its author was a man who lived his whole life within the narrow circuit of a few miles, remember also the difficulty of obtaining information in those days. Still, to acquire knowledge, accurate knowledge, he went to work precisely as the historian would at the present day, never resting till he had got at the best sources of information available at the cost of whatever time or patience or labor it might involve. It is only now, in this age of minute criticism, that we can realize the full excellence of Bede's historical methods. The chief study of St. Bede and his fellow monks of Wearmouth and Jarrow was the Bible. It was from this monastery that has come to us the most correct manuscript of the Vulgate, a scientific achievement of the highest quality."

Bede's writings include works on natural phenomena, chronology, and grammar, also commentaries on the Latin Fathers, and a <History of the Abbots>. He summed up and gave to the English people of his day the learning of Western Europe as well as an invaluable history of their own land. In all that he wrote he had the artist's instinct for proportion, and a literary feeling for interesting and picturesque detail. Yet, above all, Bede was the Christian thinker and student.

<Prefece to the> Ecclesiastical History

. . . <To the end that I may remove from yourself[2] and other> readers or hearers of this history all occasion of doubting what I have written, I will now tell you briefly from what authors chiefly I have gleaned the same.

My principal authority and aid in the work was the learned and revered Abbot Albinus who was educated in the church at Canterbury by those venerable and learned men, Archbishop Theodore[3] of blessed memory and the Abbot Adrian, and transmitted to me by Nothelm, the godly priest of the Church of London, either in writing or by word of mouth of the same Nothelm, all that he thought worthy of memory that had been done in the province of Kent and adjacent parts by the disciples of the blessed Pope Gregory, as he had learned the same either from written records or the traditions of his predecessors. The same Nothelm afterwards went to Rome, where by leave of the present Pope Gregory[4] he searched into the archives of the holy Roman Church and found some letters of the blessed Pope Gregory and other popes. Returning home, by the advice of the aforesaid most reverend father Albinus, he brought them to me to be inserted in my history.

Thus the writings of our predecessors from the beginning of this volume to the time when the English nation received the faith of Christ we have collected and from them gathered the material of our history. From that time until the present what was transacted in the church of Canterbury by the disciples of St. Gregory and their successors and under what kings these things took place has been conveyed to us by Nothelm through the industry of the aforesaid Abbot Albinus. They also partly informed me by what bishops and under what kings the provinces of the East and West Saxons, as also of the East Angles and the Northumbrians received the faith of Christ.

In short I was encouraged to undertake this work chiefly by the persuasions of Albinus.

In like manner, Daniel, the most reverend bishop of the West Saxons, who is still living, communicated to me in writing some facts regarding the ecclesiastical history of that province and the next adjoining it of the South Saxons, as also the Isle of Wight. And how through the pious ministry of Cedd and Ceadda the province of the Mercians was brought to the faith of Christ, which they had not known before, and how the East Saxons recovered it after having rejected it, and how those fathers lived and died, we learned from the brethren of the monastery which was built by them and is called Lastingham.... And what took place in the church of the province of the Northumbrians from the time they received the faith of Christ until this present, I learned not from any particular writer but from the faithful testimony of innumerable witnesses who might know or remember the same, besides what I had of my own knowledge....

And I humbly entreat the reader that if he find anything in this that we have written not recounted according to the truth, he will not impute the fault to me, who, as the true rule of history requires, have labored sincerely to commit to writing what I could gather from the general report for the instruction of posterity. Moreover, I beseech all men who shall hear or read this history of our nation that for my manifold infirmities of both mind and body they will offer up frequent supplications to the throne of Grace.

And I further pray that as reward for the labor wherewith I have recorded for the several countries the events which were most worthy of note and most grateful to the ears of their inhabitants I may have in recompense the benefit of their godly prayers.

<The Conversion of King Edwin of Northumbria>

The king, hearing these words, answered that he was both willing and bound to receive the faith which he taught; but that he would confer about it with his principal friends and counsellors, to the end that if they also were of his opinion, they might all together be cleansed in Christ the Fountain of Life. Paulinus[5] consenting, the king did as he said; for, holding a council with the wise men, he asked of everyone in particular what he thought of the new doctrine, and the new worship that was preached? To which the chief of his own priests, Coifi, immediately answered, "O King, consider what this is which is now preached to us; for I verily declare to you, that the religion which we have hitherto professed has, as far as I can learn, no virtue in it. For none of your people has applied himself more delightedly to the worship of our own gods than I; and yet there are many who receive greater favors from you, and are more preferred than I, and are more prosperous in all their undertakings. Now if the gods were good for anything, they would rather forward me, who have been more careful to serve them It remains, therefore, that if upon examination you find those new doctrines which are now preached to us better and more efficacious, we immediately receive them without delay."

Another of the king's chief men, approving of his words and exhortations, presently added, "The present life of man, O King, seems to be, in comparison with that time which is unknown to us, like the swift flight of a sparrow through the room wherein You sit at supper in winter, with your commanders and ministers, and a good fire in the midst, whilst the storms of rain and snow prevail abroad; the sparrow, I say, flying in at one door, and immediately out at another, whilst he is within, is safe from the wintry storm; but after a short space of fair weather, he immediately vanishes out of your sight, into the dark winter from which he had emerged. So this life of man appears for a short space, but of what went before, or what is to follow, we are entirely ignorant. If, therefore, this new doctrine contains something more certain, it seems justly to deserve to be followed."

(Bede, Ecclesiastical History of England, ed. by J. A. Giles.)


1 Isidore of Seville was a learned Spanish ecclesiastic of the seventh century who wrote copiously on many subjects, including history, theology, grammar, and etymology.

2 Bede is addressing Ceolwulph, king of Northumbria, to whom he is sending a copy of his history for the king's approval.

3 Theodore of Tarsus.

4 Gregory III.

5 Paulinus had been sent to preach Christianity in Northumbria

Saint Bede, Confessor, Doctor of the Church. Celebration of Feast Day is May 27. * (old date),  May 25 (new date)

Taken from "Lives of Saints", Published by John J. Crawley & Co., Inc.

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KEYWORDS: confessor; doctor; england; history; saintbede; venerable
Saint Bede's feast day is May 25th.
1 posted on 05/25/2005 7:07:51 AM PDT by Salvation
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To: All
From Catholic Forum:

BEDE the Venerable

[icon of Saint Bede]
Also known as
Venerable Bede; Father of English History
25 May; formerly 27 May
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 his whole 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.
672 at Wearmouth, England
25 May 735
1899 by Pope Leo XIII
Prayer to...
monk writing at a desk; old monk dying amidst his community old monk with a book and pen; old monk with a jug;
Additional Information
Google Directory: Bede
Google Directory: Works
Print References
New Catholic Dictionary
He alone loves the Creator perfectly who manifests a pure love for his neighbor.   -Saint Bede the Venerable
Account of the death of St. Bede:
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

2 posted on 05/25/2005 7:10:12 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation
St. Bede the Venerable

May 25th. St. Bede the Venerable.

Bede was born in 673 near Sunderland, and from the tender age of 7 began to receive a Benedictine education, firstly from St. Benet Biscop at Wearmouth Abbey and then at Jarrow on the Tyne, where he was to become a monk and remain for the rest of his life. His scholarly work depended on the fine libraries which St. Benet Biscop had assembled; Bede's output consists of commentaries on the Scriptures writings, on a whole host of subjects including mathematics, poetry and timekeeping, and his famous 'Ecclesiastical History of the English People', which is such an important source of our knowledge of the development of Christianity in early Britain.

Bede never travelled but he had a very shrewd awareness of what was going on; in 735 he wrote a letter making suggestions to reform the Church in Northumbria, where not all was going well.

St. Cuthbert has left an account of Bede's death, which took place just after he had dictated the last sentence of his translation of St. John's Gospel. His name became famous on the Continent principally through his History, a work which reveals Bede's qualities of modesty and humility. Unlike many historians, he did not seek to score points against those of whom he wrote.

His sainthood was recognised 50 years after his death in 735; his body was later taken from Jarrow to Durham Cathedral, where it lies in the Galilee Chapel. In 1899 he was belatedly named a Doctor of the Church.

3 posted on 05/25/2005 7:12:16 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation

He's one of my favorites...his being a good historian. Me being a history major, I thought of him as my special patron all through college....

4 posted on 05/25/2005 7:26:21 AM PDT by Knitting A Conundrum (Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly With God Micah 6:8)
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To: Knitting A Conundrum

Didn't realize you were a history major. Hat's off to you!

Have you ever taught it?

5 posted on 05/25/2005 1:28:25 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation

Never taught history...ended up going into English in grad school cause I couldn't leave home and nobody had a program that I wanted to go into near at hand...but I am still passionate about it!

6 posted on 05/25/2005 4:17:46 PM PDT by Knitting A Conundrum (Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly With God Micah 6:8)
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Comment #7 Removed by Moderator

To: All
American Catholic’s Saint of the Day

May 25, 2007
St. Bede the Venerable

Bede is one of the few saints honored as such even during his lifetime. His writings were filled with such faith and learning that even while he was still alive, a Church council ordered them to be read publicly in the churches.

At an early age Bede was entrusted to the care of the abbot of the Monastery of St. Paul, Jarrow. The happy combination of genius and the instruction of scholarly, saintly monks produced a saint and an extraordinary scholar, perhaps the most outstanding one of his day. He was deeply versed in all the sciences of his times: natural philosophy, the philosophical principles of Aristotle, astronomy, arithmetic, grammar, ecclesiastical history, the lives of the saints and, especially, Holy Scripture. From the time of his ordination to the priesthood at 30 (he had been ordained deacon at 19) till his death, he was ever occupied with learning, writing and teaching. Besides the many books that he copied, he composed 45 of his own, including 30 commentaries on books of the Bible.

Although eagerly sought by kings and other notables, even Pope Sergius, Bede managed to remain in his own monastery till his death. Only once did he leave for a few months in order to teach in the school of the archbishop of York. Bede died in 735 praying his favorite prayer: “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As in the beginning, so now, and forever.”

His Ecclesiastical History of the English People is commonly regarded as of decisive importance in the art and science of writing history. A golden age was coming to an end at the time of Bede’s death: It had fulfilled its purpose of preparing Western Christianity to assimilate the non-Roman barbarian North. Bede recognized the opening to a new day in the life of the Church even as it was happening.


Though his History is the greatest legacy Bede has left us, his work in all the sciences (especially in Scripture) should not be overlooked. During his last Lent, he worked on a translation of the Gospel of St. John into English, completing it the day he died. But of this work “to break the word to the poor and unlearned” nothing remains today.


“We have not, it seems to me, amid all our discoveries, invented as yet anything better than the Christian life which Bede lived, and the Christian death which he died” (C. Plummer, editor of Bede’s Ecclesiastical History).

8 posted on 05/25/2007 7:33:51 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Knitting A Conundrum
Doctors of the Church




St Bede, the Venerable, 673-735. Doctor of English History, Feast May 25th.

9 posted on 05/25/2007 7:58:44 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Knitting A Conundrum

I am reading Bede’s history right now. It’s wonderful, and so scholarly. Must be a true blessing for historians looking for early history.

Must look for his Anglo-Saxon translation of John. Is that in print?

And is Bede buried at his monastery? (Is it still there?)

10 posted on 05/25/2009 6:32:54 AM PDT by bboop (obama, little o, not a Real God)
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To: bboop

OK, the translation of John does not exist. And he is buried at Durham Cathedral in the Galilee Chapel. We were there but we did not KNOW! Must go back to the land of Yorkshire Pudding...

11 posted on 05/25/2009 6:44:39 AM PDT by bboop (obama, little o, not a Real God)
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To: All
Saint Bede the Venerable, Priest & Doctor of the Church

Saint Bede the Venerable,
Priest & Doctor of the Church
Optional Memorial
May 25th

Saint Bede the Venerable was born in England, he entered the Benedictine monastery of St. Peter and St. Paul. His writings were so full of sound doctrine that he was called "Venerable" while still alive.. He wrote commentaries on Holy Scripture and treatises on theology and history. Known as the fahter of English history, he was the first to date events anno Domini, or A.D. He died at Jarrow, England.

Source: Daily Roman Missal, Edited by Rev. James Socías, Midwest Theological Forum, Chicago, Illinois ©2003

The Venerable Bede — Joanna Bogle, Voices Eastertide 2009

you have enlightened your Church
with the learning of Saint Bede.
In Your love
may Your people learn from his wisdom
and benefit from his prayers.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen. +

First Reading: 1 Corinthians 2:10b-16
For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what person knows a man's thoughts except the spirit of the man which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who possess the Spirit.

The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. "For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ.

Gospel: Matthew 7:21-29
"Not every one who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to Me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and cast out demons in Your name, and do many mighty works in Your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you evildoers.'

"Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And every one who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it."

And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.

12 posted on 05/25/2009 5:40:27 PM PDT by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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