The Venerable Bede or St. Bede (672–735) was the greatest of Anglo-Saxon scholars. His best known book was “The Ecclesiastical History of the English People”.
Born around 672-673 in Northumberland, in the northeast of England, he joined the monastery of Wearmouth-Jarrow at the age of seven. In 682 he settled in Jarrow. where he benefited from an important library. Some accounts suggest that the monastery had 200 books.
In 686, the plague broke out in Jarrow. Records indicate that all the Benedictine monks died except two – Ceolfrith and Bede. The two led all cults until more could be formed.
Around 692, Bede was ordained deacon. He became a priest at the age of 30. His life was spent in Jarrow except for a few visits to other monasteries. His days included prayer, scripture study, observance of monastic discipline, and writing.
Considered the most learned man of his time, he wrote or translated some forty books on many subjects, including theology, history, nature, science, music and poetry.
Known as the father of English history, his most popular book tells the story of the establishment and spread of Christianity in England and the rise of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. The work, “The Ecclesiastical History of the English People”, provided insight into a period of English history that would otherwise have been unknown. Scholars have praised it throughout the ages.
He wrote many Bible commentaries, focusing on his reading and interpretation of Scripture. His works in the Old Testament include commentaries on Genesis, Samuel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Proverbs. His books in the New Testament focused on Mark, Luke, and Revelation.
Bede was diligent even on the day of his death: May 25, 735.
Cuthbert, another monk, reported that Bede was busy dictating a translation of St. John’s Gospel that day. Wilbert, the boy scribe who wrote for him, said, “There is still one sentence left, dear master.
When Wilbert had written the last sentence, he told his master that it was over. Bede replied, “It’s over.” Then, seated on the floor of his cell, after singing: “Glory to the Father, to the Son and to the Holy Spirit”, he peacefully breathed his last.
St. Bede was called “Venerable Bede” after his death. He is buried in a tomb in Durham Cathedral in England. Saint Bede is the patron saint of scholars and historians.