Bede the Venerable

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Bede the Venerable

Bede the Venerable, Saint (prayer) (673–735)

In Christian legend, Doctor of the Church.

Author of the Ecclesiastical History of the English People, a record of the conversion of England to Christianity as well as a secular history of the island.

Feast, 27 May.

In the conclusion to his major work (he also wrote saints’ lives and commentaries on the Bible) Bede says he was a “priest of the monastery of the blessed apostles, Peter and Paul, which is at Wearmouth [now Monkwearmouth] and Jarrow.”

He was born in the neighborhood of the monastery and was sent there to live at the age of seven.

He “wholly applied” himself to study of the Bible and “took delight in learning, teaching, and writing.”

When he was 19 years old he was made a deacon and became a priest when he was 30 years old.

In his Vita sancti Cuthberti Bede tells the story of how Cuthbert saved monks from drowning.

He describes how the legend circulated orally for generations among the local populace before Bede heard it in a live performance.

According to legend, Bede died while dictating the last words of his translation of the Gospel According to Saint John.

His title “Venerable” is a term of respect often bestowed on members of religious orders in his time.

There is a legend, however, with a different accounting for the title.

A priest, wishing to put an inscription on his tomb, left out a word, since he could not find a suitable one.

At night an angel came and wrote venerabilis (venerable).

In The Divine Comedy (Heaven, canto 10) Dante places Saint Bede, together with Saint Isidore of Seville and Saint Richard, among the great Doctors of the Church in the Heaven of the Sun.

In Christian art Saint Bede is portrayed as an old monk writing at his desk with a quill.

Last updated: November 19, 2012 at 22:38 pm

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