I have very fond memories of my childhood parish of St Bede’s, Clapham Park. I served Mass there as a boy, went to the Primary School there and was ordained priest there in 1975. Growing up I was never really curious about who Bede was. His statue was over the entrance, dressed in the black habit of a Benedictine and holding a book.
Today is his feast day. St Bede is chiefly known for his historical writing, such as “the Ecclesiastical History of the England People”and his “life of Cuthbert”. He wrote commentaries of the Scriptures and he popularised the method of calculating Calendar years from the supposed date of Jesus birth. This more than anything else ensured its universal acceptance in Western Christendom.
This is how he summed up is own life. “I have spent the whole of my life…devoting all my pains to the study of the Scriptures, and, amid the observance of monastic discipline and the daily task of singing in the church, it has ever been my delight to learn or teach or write.”
In the Office of Readings for today there is a touching account of his death. He was dictating the last sentences of his commentary of St. John propped up in bed. When he had finished dictating he asked to be laid on the floor and he sang the anthem “O King of Glory from the Office of the Ascension and died.
He was a man who lived an ordinary life extraordinarily well. We thank God for his writings which reveal to us a wonderful history of the early church in our land and ask him to inspire in us a great love of the Scriptures.