ST. BEDE THE VENERABLE:
Father of English History and Doctor of the Church 672 – 735
St. Bede popularized our current way of dating time – devised by Dionysius a Roman abbot – from the birth of Christ as B. C. and A. D. or anno domini, which means “in the year of the Lord.”
Bede was born at Monkton, in the county Durham within the territory of Wearmouth, Northumbria, England in 673. He was educated by Benedict Biscop, abbot of Wearmouth. Bede was chiefly interested in prayer and study. It was the Bible that remained his chief study. He was first an oblate in the Benedictine order and later ordained a deacon when he was 19 and finally a priest at the age of 30.Besides saying the mass he was also a great preacher.
As our Lady’s homilist he wrote all the lessons for the Common of her feasts. In his writings, he abridged larger works to make acquiring knowledge of them easier for his countrymen. In this way did the Englishmen learn in simplified form the teachings of the four great western Doctors: Sts. Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine and Gregory. Bede wrote over 40 treatises on almost all fields of human knowledge especially on theology, science and history. He also wrote Latin poetry and a hymn in verse. His writings are said to be major influences on English literature. He is the only English doctor of the Church and the only Englishman who sufficiently impressed Dante to name him in his Paradiso.
He declined the office of abbot because he felt it would interfere with his chosen path of “learning, teaching and writing.” His title of “venerable” means “worthy” and was given to him for his scholarship and holiness. He merited his name Bede whichin Anglo-Saxon means prayer. Bede’s other delight was teaching. He himself taught all the subjects necessary for the service of the church such as music, rhetoric and languages. His whole effort was to teach history and doctrine exactly.
He died on May 25 and his feast day is celebrated on this day. He was canonized and named a Doctor of the Church in 1899 by Pope Leo XIII. His relics are to be found in the Galilee chapel of Durham Cathedral.
SOURCES of REFERENCE: Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Vol. II – pp 402 – 405; The Illustrated World Encyclopedia of Saints – p 126; Illustrated Lives of the Saints – Vol. I – pp 221 – 222; Butler’s Saint for the Day – pp 237 – 239; and others.