Saints Saint Bede

Saint Bede, also known as the Venerable Bede, was an English Benedictine monk of the 7th and 8th centuries who is best known for his scholarly works on history and theology. Bede was a man of deep faith and piety, known for his meticulous historical writing and biblical commentary. His most renowned work, "The Ecclesiastical History of the English People," is a foundational document of English history.

Saint Bede, Doctor of the Church, monk, historian

Born in the year 673, in what is now known as the county of Tyne and Wear, England, Bede was entrusted to the care of the monastery of St. Peter and St. Paul at Monkwearmouth-Jarrow when he was only seven. This early introduction to monastic life shaped his devotion to God and his commitment to scholarly pursuits.

In this monastic environment, Bede had access to a rich collection of patristic literature and classical texts, inspiring his thirst for knowledge. He was ordained a deacon when he was 19, an unusually young age, which is a testament to his extraordinary abilities and intellectual promise. At the age of 30, he was ordained a priest, under Bishop John of Beverley.

Bede was a dedicated scholar and teacher. Although he never left the north of England, his writings were highly influential across Europe. He wrote extensively on a wide range of subjects, including grammar, chronology, and astronomy. But it was his historical and theological works that marked him out as one of the leading intellectuals of his time.

"The Ecclesiastical History of the English People," completed in 731, is his most celebrated work. It provides an invaluable chronicle of the conversion of the English people to Christianity. His method of dating events from the incarnation of Christ, Anno Domini (AD), in this work became the standard practice in Western culture.

Bede was also a profound interpreter of the Bible. His scriptural commentaries are a significant contribution to patristic literature. His interpretation of the Bible was driven by his conviction that one should not seek to interpret the Bible in a way that is at odds with the orthodox understanding of the Christian faith. This was an approach that influenced subsequent generations of Christian theologians.

Bede was not only a scholar but also a holy man, deeply committed to a life of prayer and worship. He was noted for his devotion to the Eucharist, his care for the poor, and his commitment to the monastic rule. His holiness of life was widely recognized during his lifetime and afterward.

Bede died on May 25, 735, and was buried at Jarrow. His influence, however, lived on. In 1899, Pope Leo XIII declared him a Doctor of the Church, a title given to saints recognized as having made a significant contribution to theology or doctrine through their research, study, or writing. This declaration further cemented Bede's reputation as one of the great scholars of the Christian Church.

Saint Bede is the Patron Saint of English writers and historians, England and the county of Tyne and Wear. Today, we celebrate his feast day on May 25. His life reminds us of the importance of intellectual pursuits in the service of the Church and of the value of careful historical study. The Venerable Bede continues to inspire those who seek to deepen their understanding of their faith and its history. His legacy as a historian, theologian, and saint endures, making him a pivotal figure in English Christianity.

Learn more about The Saints.