Saint Bede

Saint Bede the Venerable
Born: 673 Monkton, Jarrow, England
Died: 753, Jarrow
Feast Day: 25th May
Patron Saint: Scholars
Shrine: Durham Cathedral, England

Saint Bede was born in 673 in Monkton, Jarrow.  At the young age of 7 he was sent to St Peter’s monastery in Wearmouth, founded by St Benedict Biscop, moving to the new foundation of St Paul in Jarrow where he continued his studies with an abbot name Ceolfrid.  He was soon known for his devotion to prayer and study.

He was ordained as a deacon when he was 19.  He stayed there until his death going no further than Hexham, Lindisfarne and York. He entered the priesthood at about the age of 30 taking on responsibility for daily mass as well as the other duties of the monastery including cooking, farming etc.

Bede took delight in learning and teaching and his famous book “Ecclesiastical History of the English People” is one of the important sources of Anglo-Saxon history.  His other works include two books on St Cuthbert, a translation of St John’s Gospel, the first Martyrology and books on chronology and nature.

Bede was extremely pious and was known for his fasting and charitable works.  He declined a request to become abbot of the monastery preferring to concentrate on writing and teaching.  His works became renowned even in his lifetime and he was formally invited to Rome by Pope Sergius which he declined.  He received many visitors in Jarrow though and was widely known through his works.

Bede understood that love, rather than learning, was his life's purpose. “It is better,” he famously said, “to be a stupid and uneducated brother who, working at the good things he knows, merits life in heaven, than to be one who –  though being distinguished for his learning in the Scriptures, or even holding the place of a teacher – lacks the bread of love."

He died in 753 and is buried at Durham Cathedral, there is a museum in Jarrow dedicated to his memory. In 1899 Pope Leo XIII honoured Bede by naming him a Doctor of the Church, the only native of England to be so honoured.