Thought for the Day by Angela Birkin (St Michael’s)
The Venerable Bede, Monk at Jarrow, Scholar, Historian, 735
Today in the Anglican liturgical calendar we remember a person who I first knew as the ‘Venomous Bead’ in ‘1066 And All That’ by WC Sellar and RJ Yeatman!
Born around 673, Bede was sent as a seven-year-old to Wearmouth monastery and later transferred to the new foundation at Jarrow, where he spent the remainder of his life, probably never travelling further than Lindisfarne to the north and York to the south. In about 692 he was ordained deacon at a relatively early age and priested when he was about 30.
Bede’s life was, to us, quiet and uneventful, but he spent it fruitfully as a scholar, theologian and historian. He was the first person to write scholarly works in the English language as well as in Latin.
Bede is best remembered for his “Ecclesiastical History of the English People’ completed in 731 which is still in print and is one of the most important sources for early English History. He covers the period to 729 beginning with the Celtic peoples, who were converted to Christianity during the first three centuries of the Christian era, followed by the invasion by Anglo-Saxon pagans in the 5th and 6th centuries and their subsequent conversion by Celtic and Roman missionaries. Bede is believed to be the first historian to date events from the birth of Christ.
In 1022 his bones were moved from Jarrow to Durham Cathedral and were buried alongside St Cuthbert. In 1370 they were moved to their own tomb shrine in the Galilee Chapel in the Cathedral. Bede’s shrine was destroyed during the Reformation, and his bones were moved and re-buried in the Galilee Chapel’s altar tomb which still stands today.
I found it very moving to visit Bede’s tomb in Durham Cathedral. Bede shows how a quiet life, well-lived and dedicated to God can be a great blessing to many. He is a man after my own heart!
“It has ever been my delight to learn or to teach or to write.” – Bede