Saint Bede the Venerable
Father of the Church
St. Bede was born in 672 and at the age of seven began monastic training at the Benedictine monastery of St. Peter in Wearmouth.
His schooling completed he moved to the twin monastery of St. Paul in Jarrow where he spent the rest of his days. It is likely that he travelled no further than north to Lindisfarne and south to York.
Bede spent his whole life writing.
He was the author of 45 volumes including text-books and translations, hymns and other verse, letters and homilies.
Bede wrote all of his own work, he said of himself ” I am my own secretary; I dictate, I compose, I copy all myself.”
He asked for no assistance with his work until his last illness at the age of 62 when he was unable to write. Bede was then working on a translation of St. John’s Gospel and engaged the help of a young scribe called Wilbert.
On Tuesday 24th May 735 Bede took grievously ill but continued to teach, he cheerfully suggested to his pupils that they learn quickly as he may not be with them long.
The next day Bede taught until nine in the morning. He then dictated part of his book to Wilbert.
That evening Wilbert said to Bede ” Dear master, there is still one sentence that we have not written down.”
Bede said “Quick, write it down.”
Wilbert then said “There; now it is written down.”
Bede replied “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 Bede then as he lay upon the floor of his cell sang the Gloria and as he named the Holy Spirit he breathed his last breath.
His only possessions – some handkerchiefs, a few peppercorns and a small quantity of incense were shared amongst his brother monks as he had wished.
In 1022 Bede’s remains were taken from Jarrow by a monk called Alfred and brought to Durham.
They were first buried with the body of St. Cuthbert and the head of St. Oswald.
In 1370 his bones were moved to a shrine in the Galilee Chapel which was destroyed in 1540 during the Reformation.
Bede’s remains were re-buried in the present place in 1831.
Bede was declared Venerable by the church in 836 and was canonised in 1899. He was named “Doctor of the Church” by Pope Leo XIII because of his work and piety.
St. Bede is the Patron Saint of scholars and historians.