Our Patron Saint
Saint Bede the Venerable
Patron of English writers and historians, Doctor of the Church, Father of English History
St. Bede, was a Benedictine monk and priest in the late 7th and early 8th century who became one of the early doctors of the Church and is considered the Father of English History. He is known for his scholarly works in the fields of English history, grammar, hymns, chronology and the lives of the saints. Many see Bede as the first modern historian because he was careful to separate fact from legend and cited his sources. It is largely the result of his efforts that the standard Christian calendar was widely adopted and the use of Anno Domini (A.D., year of our Lord, a system devised by Dionysius but popularized by Bede) for dating reference became popular.
Bede had much influence, his translations spread Christianity throughout England; his histories are one reason why so much is known of England at the time; his philosophies spread throughout Europe and his science described the Earth as a globe centuries before Columbus set out to prove it to sceptics. Through a dedicated pursuit of knowledge, he had a profound spirituality. He was deeply concerned about the neglect of the Sacraments by the people of his day and encouraged daily reception of the Holy Eucharist.
Benedicta Ward in her book, The Venerable Bede, tells us he was a man of exceptional learning but not an intellectual elitist. He was convinced the Gospel should reach all and was particularly anxious about those who were not near a place where Scriptures could be taught to them. He urged that basic texts be translated from Latin into English to aid in that endeavor. He believed that "Christianity was not a matter of magic or of rote; the mind must be filled according to its capacity in order to know the promises and commandments of God and so to know what to follow." Bede looked at creative ways of making the truth available to all, regardless of their abilities, their business, or their status in society. A story is told about the pleasure he found in two new frescoes that adorned the church in Jarrow because frescoes told "the story" to those who could not read.
His thirst for knowledge; his passion to make the sacred scriptures, tradition and the Sacraments available to all; his profound lived belief that religious and secular knowledge must have an influence on how one lives; that life must be lived in gratitude to God for the gifts given and for the good of others; learning not only to appreciate ones own special gifts but how to use these talents and graces to enhance ones relationship with God and others; and the wisdom of recognizing that ones own strength and ability comes from prayer, which enables one to find God in daily pursuits as well as in the wonders of creation, make Bede the Venerable a truly great "saint" for us today.
Perhaps, he can best be summarized by another saint, Boniface, who was the first to refer to Bede as "a candle of the Church which the Holy Spirit has illuminated". May we always strive to follow his example and may "that candle" always burn bright in the Catholic Community of St. Bede the Venerable in La Canada Flintridge.