St Bede

Bede was one of the first people to propose a calendar that would reckon the years backwards and forwards from the birth of Christ. He began the practice of referring to events after the birth of Christ using what is now familiar to us the notation AD (anno domini – ‘in the year of our Lord’).

Among his scientific works probably his most significant were his methods for

calculating Easter Day.

Today he is best known for his historical writing. He finished his ‘Ecclesiastical History of the English People’ in 731 which has earned him the popular title of ‘Father of English history’. Some of his work may not be as critically assessed as modern scholars would have done, but by the standards of any period in our history his work is masterful. His writings covered a very wide range of interests, from ornithology to 25 volumes of Scripture commentary and the first translation of the Bible into Old English. We no longer have the complete works of Bede, over the years parts have been lost or destroyed.

Bede was born in 672 or 673 AD, probably in Jarrow. We know nothing of his parents, whether he was of noble or common blood. We only know of his early years from his own writing.

When he was seven he went to school at Wearmouth Monastery where he became a pupil of St. Benedict Biscop the founder of the monastery.

A short time later he moved to Jarrow, another monastery founded by St. Biscop. Here he stayed, apart from occasional visits to friends, to Lindisfarne and York, for the rest of his life.

He was ordained at the age of 19 as a deacon and went on to become a priest 11 years later.

He spent his entire life writing and teaching.

He died on Ascension Day 735 and was buried at Jarrow. His remains now rest in Durham Cathedral.

© Holy Cross Church Haltwhistle 2013