SAINT BEDE the VENERABLE (672-735), priest and Doctor of the Church
Patron saint of lectors, scholars and historians
Today, the universal Church honors Saint Bede the Venerable, 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 and he was honored with the title “venerable”, which is ordinarily reserved for those who had already died and found to have lived a life of sanctity.
Born in 672 in Wearmouth, England, Bede entered the local Benedictine monastery when he was only seven years old, and was educated and lived there until his death at the age of sixty-three. He was ordained a deacon at the age of nineteen and a priest at thirty. He was an avid man of letters who spent his entire life serving the Lord through learning, teaching and writing.
The majority of his work consisted of commentaries on Sacred Scripture, which he endeavored to accomplish in full conformity with the teachings of the Fathers of the Church. He subordinated all his studies to the service of the interpretation of Scripture, which was, for him, the summit of all learning. He also completed works on mathematics, poetry, astronomy, philosophy, and music – in which he was a composer of several important early works of Gregorian Chant.
One of Venerable Bede’s enduring accomplishments, however, is in the field of history, for he became known as the “Father of English history”, due to his great work titled the Ecclesiastical History of the English People. Virtually nothing was known about pre-8th century England from sources other than his book, the driving theme of which is the manner in which violence and savagery had been constantly overrun by the spiritual, doctrinal, and cultural unity of the Church. At the time of Bede’s writing, all of England had been finally united under Christianity.
Venerable Bede was much loved and admired by his fellow monks in the monastery in which he lived, and he was also eagerly sought after by kings and other notables, even Pope Sergius I. 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.
On May 25, 735, Venerable Bede died of natural causes while praying his favorite prayer, the Doxology, as it was recited at that time – “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As in the beginning, so now, and forever. Amen.”
On November 13, 1899, Pope Leo XIII formally honored Saint Bede the Venerable with the title “Doctor Ecclesiae” – Doctor of the Church. His remains are interred in the Durham Cathedral in Durham, England.
We commemorate his feastday on May 25.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, americancatholic.org, catholicculture.org and newadvent.org)
(The following prayer is from the Collect of the Roman Missal from the Proper for Saint Bede the Venerable)
“O God, who brought light to Your Church through the learning of the priest, Saint Bede, mercifully grant that Your servants may always be enlightened by his wisdom and helped by his merits.
“Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”