St. Bede (672?-735) was an English scholar and monk widely acknowledged as a saint even in his own lifetime. As a youth, he was sent to the monastery of St. Paul in Jarrow, and it was there that he remained for virtually the remainder of his life. Bede became a monk and a priest, and the monastery provided the ideal setting for his great spiritual growth. It also provided the opportunity for him to write and study. He once said, “I have devoted my energies to the study of the Scriptures, observing monastic discipline, and singing the daily services in the Church; study, teaching, and writing have always been my delight.”
Bede was an expert in many fields of learning, including natural philosophy, astronomy, arithmetic, grammar, Church history, and Scripture; he authored many books, including the famous History of the English Church and People, and was the first known writer of English prose. As his reputation spread, various kings and even the pope desired his presence as a scholar-in-residence, but except for a few months teaching in the school of the Archbishop of York, Bede remained in the monastery of St. Paul until his death.
Only a century after he died, St. Bede was unofficially given the title “Venerable” (worthy of honor), and in 1899 Pope Leo XIII declared him a Doctor (an eminent and reliable teacher) of the Church.
1. As the life of St. Bede shows, scholarship can lead to holiness; the Book of Wisdom states, “Resplendent and unfading is Wisdom, and she is readily perceived by those who love her, and found by those who seek her” (6:12).
2. Serving God is more important than one’s own reputation; rather than seeking honor as a scholar-in-residence, St. Bede preferred to continue his studying and writing in the obscurity of the monastery.
Other Saints We Remember Today
St. Gregory VII (1085), Pope
St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi (1607), Virgin
St. Urban I (230), Pope, Martyr
St. Madeleine Sophie Barat (1865), Virgin, Foundress