St. Bede the Venerable – May 25

St. Bede the Venerable – May 25

Continuing the series on patron saints of our oblates.  Today is the feast day of St. Bede the Venerable, patron of Chris Bede Lane, Obl.S.B. (and of me, Br. John-Bede Pauley, O.S.B., liaison for the St. Benet Biscop Chapter).  Name-day blessings to us both, Chris!

[The following is adapted from what is posted here.]

In the Galilee Chapel of the imposing Norman Cathedral of Durham lies the simple tomb of a Christian monk who has earned the title, “Father of English History.” Bede was born at Tyne, in County Durham, and was taken as a child of seven to the monastery of St. Peter’s, Wearmouth, which, along with St. Paul’s, Jarrow, was responsible for much evangelization in the north of England around the River Tyne and for great learning and art.

The scholarship and culture of Italy had been brought to Britain (very much under the direction of St. Benet Biscop, Bede’s abbot). Bede’s monumental, Ecclesiastical History, is the indispensable source for the history of Christianity in Britain before 700.

St. Bede (673-735), claimed by the Benedictines, wrote numerous hymns and other verse, the first martyrology with historical notes, letters, homilies, works on grammar, chronology, and astronomy.  He was aware that the earth is a sphere, and he is the first historian to date events Anno Domini. Bede is the earliest known writer to state that the solar year is not exactly 365.25 days long, so that the Julian calendar (one leap year every four years) requires some adjusting if the months are not to get out of step with the seasons.

In 1899, Pope Leo XIII declared St. Bede a Doctor of the Church.  Bede is the only native of Great Britain to achieve this designation.  (St. Anselm of Canterbury, also a Doctor of the Church, was originally from Italy.)  Bede’s scholarship and translations made the writings of both the Latin and Greek early Church Fathers accessible to his fellow Anglo-Saxons, thus establishing Patristic roots in English Christianity.

A modern version of his hymn for the Ascension:

A hymn of glory let us sing;
New songs throughout the world shall ring:
Christ, by a road before untrod,
Now rises to the throne of God….

O risen Christ, ascended Lord,
All praise to thee let earth accord,
Who art, while endless ages run,
With Father and with Spirit one.

Bede died on the Feast of the Ascension, Thursday, 26 May 735, on the floor of his cell, singing “Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,” and was buried at St. Paul’s, Jarrow.

[The photo is of the tomb of St. Bede in Durham Cathedral.]

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