Saint Bede, the illustrious ornament of the Anglo-Saxon Church and its first English historian, was consecrated to God in 680 at the age of seven, and entrusted to the care of Saint Benedict Biscop at Weremouth.
He became a monk in the sister-house of Jarrow, which he would never leave, and there he trained no fewer than six hundred scholars, whom his piety, learning, and sweet disposition had gathered around him.
He was ordained a priest in 702.
To the toils of teaching and the exact observance of his Rule he added long hours of private prayer, with the study of every branch of science and literature then known.
He was familiar with Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. I
n a treatise which he compiled for his scholars, still extant, he assembled all that the world had then conserved of history, chronology, physics, music, philosophy, poetry, arithmetic, and medicine.
In his Ecclesiastical History he has left us beautiful lives of Anglo-Saxon Saints and holy Fathers, while his commentaries on the Sacred Scriptures are still in use by the Church.
It was to the study of the Divine Word that he devoted the whole energy of his soul, and at times his compunction was so overpowering that his voice would break with weeping, while the tears of his scholars mingled with his own.
Once he was accused of heresy by certain jealous ones, but this scholar who had always made a great effort not to depart from tradition, wrote a letter which vindicated him and stopped the bad reports.
He had little aid from others, and during his later years suffered from constant illness; yet he worked and prayed up to his last hour.
It has been said of him that it is easier to admire him in thought than to do him justice in expression.
The Saint was employed in translating the Gospel of Saint John from the Greek, even to the hour of his death, which took place on the eve of the Ascension in the year 735.
He spent that day joyfully, writes one of his scholars. In the middle of the afternoon he said: It is time that I return to the One who gave me being, creating me out of nothing… The moment of my liberty is approaching; I desire to be freed from the bonds of the body and to join Jesus Christ. Yes, my soul longs to see Jesus Christ its king, in the splendour of His glory.
In the evening a scribe attending him said, Dear master, there is yet one chapter unwritten; would you be disturbed if we asked you additional questions?
He answered, No; take your pen, and write quickly, which the disciple did.
He prayed then until his last breath.
Reflection. The Imitation of Christ says: The more a man is at peace within himself and interiorly simple, the more and deeper things does he understand without labor; for he receives the light of understanding from on high.
(SOURCE: Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894); Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 6)
Born in the diocese of Besançon in November of 1765, Saint Joan Antide lost her pious mother when she was 16 years old, and for several years took charge of the household and her family of younger brothers and sisters.
After many hesitations, her father permitted her to enter the Congregation of the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul in Paris in 1787.
She worked in various hospitals caring for the sick, until the Revolution in France brought about the dispersion of the Congregations.
She was ordered to abandon her religious habit in 1792, but refused and fled; she was struck so violently that she remained for eight months between life and death.
In 1793 she returned from Paris to her native village of Sancey on foot, begging her bread; there she opened a school and cared for the sick.
Times were growing ever more difficult, and Sister Thouret again had to depart, this time journeying to Switzerland, where she assisted a French priest who had gone into exile with a few members of his little community.
Again she cared for the sick; but the entire group was forced to move once again and go to Germany.
After two years she went to the village of Landeron in Switzerland.
There she met the Vicar General of Besançon, and he asked her to found a school and a hospital in that city.
In 1799 the foreseen school was opened at Besançon, and with a few novices the Foundress began work in France again.
She wrote a rule for her Daughters of Saint Vincent de Paul, as she called them to distinguish them from the larger group, the Sisters of Charity, of whom they were independent.
The Congregation’s members multiplied, as did their works; in 1802 they were given the direction of a house of detention at Bellevaux, sheltering more than 500 prisoners.
They opened schools in eastern France and Switzerland. The foundress was invited to go to Naples to take on the direction of a hospital and initiate other works; she accepted this invitation in 1810.
She remained in Naples until 1818, obtaining from Pope Pius VII the approval of her Institute in 1819.
Problems arising in Besançon caused her many sufferings, when the new bishop there desired to maintain the Community under diocesan authority.
Saint Joan Antide died in Naples in 1826, having left for her Sisters many examples of heroic virtue.
She was canonized in 1934 by Pope Pius XI, who invited the French nation to exult with joy on seeing its crown enriched by a new flower of holiness.
(SOURCE: Almanach Catholique français pour 1927; pour 1934 (Librairie Bloud et Gay: Paris, 1927, 1934).)