Tag Archives: St Bede

Saint Bede, the Venerable

We honor the memory of a venerable Benedictine monk and Churchman, Saint Bede. He is the only English Doctor of the Church and a fine example of monastic learning and holiness. Most people relate to him as the historian of the English Church because of his famous work, Historia Ecclesiastica. 

Christ was his King. No other lord
Did Bede aspire to serve.
No other love could claim the heart
He gave without reserve.

From boyhood onward his delight
Was in the scriptures found,
Or singing praise to him who hung
Upon the Rood, thorn-crowned.

Like Easter night, Bede’s quiet cell
Saw Christ arising there;
And when Ascension dawned at last
The Son shone bright and fair.

To Christ the King of glory sing,
And God the Father praise,
Whose Spirit dwells in peaceful hearts
And guides them in his ways.

The text is an ancient monastic hymn. It was translated by Dame Catherine of Holy Trinity Monastery, Herefordshire, UK.

Saint Bede the Venerable

St Bede the Venerable.jpg

Today in 725, Saint Bede the Venerable, the sole English Doctor of the Church died, at his monastery in Jarrow. His liturgical memorial is kept today. Here is the account of his death.

“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.

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Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s coat of arms: Miserando atque Eligendo

The episcopal motto of the new Pope’s coat of arms, Miserando atque Eligendo (“By having mercy and by making decisions [in following Christ]”; it could also read, “by showing compassion [the Lord called] and by choosing [to follow Him]). The motto is extracted from a homily of Saint Bede the Venerable (Homily 21) on a passage from the Gospel of Saint Matthew read in the breviary on the saint’s feast on 25 May: “Vidit ergo Iesus publicanum, et quia miserando atque eligendo vidit, ait illi, Sequere me.” (Jesus looked at the publican, and because he looked with mercy and choosing, said to him, ‘Follow me.’)

Bergoglio knew who gazed upon him and decided to follow.

Saint Bede said,

Jesus saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office, and he said to him: ‘Follow me.’ Jesus saw Matthew, not merely in the usual sense, but more significantly with his merciful understanding of men.

He saw the tax collector and, because he saw him through the eyes of mercy and chose him, he said to him: ‘Follow me.’ This following meant imitating the pattern of his life – not just walking after him. Saint John tells us: “Whoever says he abides in Christ ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”

“And he rose and followed him.” There is no reason for surprise that the tax collector abandoned earthly wealth as soon as the Lord commanded him. Nor should one be amazed that neglecting his wealth, he joined a band of men whose leader had, on Matthew’s assessment, no riches at all. Our Lord summoned Matthew by speaking to him in words. By an invisible, interior impulse flooding his mind with the light of grace, he instructed him to walk in his footsteps. In this way Matthew could understand that Christ, who was summoning him away from earthly possessions, had incorruptible treasures of heaven in his gift.

The coat of arms will change soon.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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