Wednesday, 08 December 2021

Commemorating the Venerable Bede

WHEN readers glance through the Henley Standard today, the Thought for the Week column may well

WHEN readers glance through the Henley Standard today, the Thought for the Week column may well pass them by. But today the Christian world will remember the Venerable Bede.

So who was the Venerable Bede? He was born in 673 and was a monk of Jarrow. He was a renowned biblical scholar and the first English historian. The North claims him as he was born at Sunderland. He was educated from the age of seven at Wearmouth and Jarrow and it was here that he remained a monk for the rest of his life.

He was ordained a priest in 703 and devoted himself to the study of scripture. His special delight was always to learn, to teach and to write.

He wrote an impressive range of writings and his 25 works of scripture were his most important. Scholars regard his Ecclesiastical History of the English People, which Bede completed in 731, as the most important.

His life was mostly uneventful. He travelled little and had little to do with kings or their courts.

At the end of his life he was remarkably well informed about the Church of Northumbria, where Bede made lots of shrewd suggestions for the reform of the church which were never carried out.

A moving account of his death by the monk Cuthbert still survives and Anglo-Saxon missionaries who knew and used his homely scripture commentaries said that when news of his death reached the wider world Boniface wrote: “The candle of the church,  lit by the Holy Spirit, was extinguished.”

Bede’s history became a classic because of its information, listing of authorities, sifting of evidence and through this history we see Bede’s modesty and humility.

His remains were moved from Jarrow to Durham Cathedral in 1370 and still rest there today. We learn that Bede’s Acts of the Apostles survive in the Bodleian Library in Oxford. He was given the title of Doctor of the Church in 1899 by Pope Leo XIII.

Bede’s Feast Day has been kept since 1969 on May 25, two days before the current issue of this newspaper!

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