St. Bede was born in 673, in the
territory of the twin monasteries of Jarrow and
Wearmouth. From the
age of seven he was brought up by the abbot of Wearmouth,
a leading scholar of the times, who along
with the abbot of Jarrow directed the education of St.
Bede. He appears to have spent the remainder of
his life at the monastery of Wearmouth and Jarrow.
He was ordained deacon in his nineteenth year and priest
in his thirtieth. He never held positions any
higher and in fact turned down the office of abbot because
he felt it would interfere with his “chosen
work of learning, teaching, and writing.” He taught
Latin, Greek, Hebrew, music, astronomy,
mathematics, grammar and rhetorics. These were all
subjects that were necessary for the service of
the church: languages for the study of the Scriptures,
astronomy and mathematics for the calculation
of Easter, rhetorics for preaching and instruction and
music for the church services. It was reported
that his students loved him and he was know as the
Venerable Bede, a traditional term of respect.
In addition to teaching and his other monastic duties he
wrote in all his spare time. He wrote thirty
books in Latin on various subjects including some verse
and a hymn. On his deathbed in 735, he was
dictating and completed a translation of the Gospel of St.
John. For five centuries after his death his
works were regularly used and copied.
Today his most important work is his Ecclesiastical
History of the English People. Written in 731, it is
primary source for the early history of the
Anglo-Saxons. It is preserved in some one hundred
manuscripts, a remarkable tribute to its popularity and
influence. The four manuscripts of the eighth
century are of the greatest value. His other
important historical work was the History of the Abbots of