St Bede, known as the ‘Venerable Bede’, was born in Monkton, Jarrow in the year 673 AD. At the age of seven he was sent to live at St Peter’s monastery in Wearmouth and later moved to the new foundation of St Paul in Jarrow. He remained there for the rest of his life, travelling no further than Hexham, Lindisfarne and York.
Bede’s scholarship was renowned throughout Europe. St Boniface wrote that he “shone forth as a lantern in the Church”. Bede himself tells us that he always “took delight” in learning and teaching.
St Bede’s most famous work is his “Ecclesiastical History of the English people”. Still widely read, the work is one of the most important primary sources for the history of Anglo-Saxon England. His other works included scriptural commentaries, two lives of St Cuthbert, books on chronology and nature and the first martyrology. He was the first writer to adopt the AD dating system. His last work was a translation of St John’s Gospel into Old English and a touching account of his death in 735 AD exists in a letter by Cuthbert, who became Abbot of Jarrow.
St Bede is buried in Durham Cathedral. The present tomb, built in 1831 is inscribed with Bede’s own words:
“Christ is the morning star, who when the night
Of this world is past brings to his saints
The promise of the light of life & opens everlasting day”
There is a museum in Jarrow, “Bede World”, dedicated to the memory and works of St Bede.
Copyright © 2013 St Bede's Pastoral Centre