St. Bede was born in 672 and at the age of seven began monastic training at the Benedictine monastery of St. Peter in Wearmouth. His schooling completed he moved to the twin monastery of St. Paul in Jarrow where he spent the rest of his days. It is likely that he travelled no further than north to Lindisfarne and south to York.
Bede spent his whole life writing. He was the author of 45 volumes including text-books and translations, hymns and other verse, letters and homilies. Bede wrote all of his own work, he said of himself " I am my own secretary; I dictate, I compose, I copy all myself." He asked for no assistance with his work until his last illness at the age of 62 when he was unable to write. Bede was then working on a translation of St. John's Gospel and engaged the help of a young scribe called Wilbert.
On Tuesday 24th May 735 Bede took grievously ill but continued to teach, he cheerfully suggested to his pupils that they learn quickly as he may not be with them long. The next day Bede taught until nine in the morning. He then dictated part of his book to Wilbert. That evening Wilbert said to Bede " Dear master, there is still one sentence that we have not written down." Bede said "Quick, write it down." Wilbert then said "There; now it is written down." Bede replied "Good. You have spoken the truth; it is finished. Hold my head in your hands, for I really enjoy sitting opposite the holy place where I used to pray; I can call upon my Father as I sit there." And Bede then as he lay upon the floor of his cell sang the Gloria and as he named the Holy Spirit he breathed his last breath. His only possessions - some handkerchiefs, a few peppercorns and a small quantity of incense were shared amongst his brother monks as he had wished.
In 1022 Bede's remains were taken from Jarrow by a monk called Alfred and brought to Durham. They were first buried with the body of St. Cuthbert and the head of St. Oswald. In 1370 his bones were moved to a shrine in the Galilee Chapel which was destroyed in 1540 during the Reformation. Bede's remains were re-buried in the present place in 1831.
Bede was declared Venerable by the church in 836 and was canonised in 1899. He was named "Doctor of the Church" by Pope Leo XIII because of his work and piety.
St. Bede is the Patron Saint of scholars and historians.
This is an extract from a Homily written by St. Bede:
"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my saviour."
With these words Mary first acknowledges the special gifts she has been given. Above all other saints, she alone could truly rejoice in Jesus, her saviour, for she knew that he who was the source of eternal salvation would be born in time in her body, in one person both her own son and her Lord.
"For the Almighty has done great things for me, and Holy is his name."
Mary attributes nothing to her own merits. She refers all her greatness to the gift of one whose essence is power and whose nature is greatness, for he fill with greatness and strength the small and the weak who believe in him. She did well to add: "and holy is his name," to warn those who heard, and indeed all who would receive his words, that they must believe and call upon his name. For they too could share in everlasting holiness and true salvation according to the words of the prophet: "and it will come to pass, that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." This is the name she spoke of earlier when she said "and my spirit rejoices in God my saviour"