The Commemoration of Bede the Venerable, Theologian
May 25, 2012
Today we remember Bede the Venerable (973-733/5 ad). He was the last of the Early Church Fathers and the first to compile the history of the English church. Born in Northumbria, Bede’s parents took him to a local monastery in northern England at the age of seven for his education, and he never left the monastic life. He became a deacon at age 19, which was quite early. (The conical age was twenty-five.) He was ordained a priest when he was thirty. He rarely left the monastery and devoted the rest of his life to teaching and writing. He once wrote, “I have spent all my life in this monastery, applying myself entirely to the study of the Scriptures; and, amid the observance of the discipline of the Rule and the daily task of singing in the church, it has always been my delight to learn or to teach or to write.”
Bede was, in fact, the most learned man of his time. He was a prolific writer. He published 25 commentaries on books of the Bible (he felt these were his best works), and it is said “his commentaries are still fresh today.” He also published works on the history of the saints, grammar, metrics, and chronology (he introduced the dating of years from the birth of Christ). Today he is probably known for his works on history. His careful use of sources provided a model for historians in the Middle Ages. His book The Ecclesiastical History of the English People, is still the best source of English history from 597 to 731, when the Anglo-Saxon culture developed and Christianity triumphed.
He had just finished a translation of the Gospel of John into Old English when he died. His most famous disciple, Cuthbert, reported that died with the words of the Gloria Patri on his lips. He received the title “Venerable” within two generations of his death and is buried in Durham Cathedral as one of England’s greatest saints.
Collect for the Day
Heavenly Father, you called your servant Bede, while still a child, to devote his life to your service in the disciplines of religion and scholarship. Grant that as he labored in the Spirit to bring the riches of your truth to his generations, so we, in our various vocations, may strive to make you known in all the world. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Appropriate prayers include
- For universities, colleges, and schools
- For students and teachers
- For biblical scholars and translators
- For the teaching and learning of history in general, and church history in particular
- For a life devoted to Christ
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert