Bede was only 7 yrs old when he was placed in the care of Benedict Biscop at the monastery at Wearmouth. Biscop had become the founder and abbot of Wearmouth in 674, and developed there a great centre of art and learning, based on the enormous collection of books he gathered from his visits to Rome and elsewhere. In 682 Biscop founded the monastery of Jarrow and placed Bede there under the abbot, Ceolfrith. Bede spent the remainder of his life at Jarrow, never travelling further from it than, perhaps, Lindisfarne or York.
Bede was ordained deacon at the young age of 19. Probably because of exceptional progress in his studies. He was ordained priest about 703 at the age of 30.
Bede used the library gathered by Benedict Biscop and Ceolfrith to the full, and became the greatest scholar of the western church of his time. He wrote extensively on chronology and on the lives of the saints and on the abbots of Wearmouth and Jarrow, and provided extensive commentaries on Scripture, based on the writings of earlier Christian theologians. His works on chronology are of significance because they helped to establish the custom of dating events from the birth of Jesus. The crown of his work was his 'Ecclesiastical History of the English People'. It is an outstanding work because of Bede’s careful attention to sources and his judicious and charitable treatment of contentious points. It is, within the limits of the information available to him, reliable and accurate. For the 6th and 7th centuries it remains the major source of English historical record. While his talents reached far beyond just that, it remains his outstanding work and most significant contribution to the church.
The character of Bede is evident in his works: he was an ardent and careful scholar. He did his work, he says, “amid the observance of monastic discipline and the daily singing in church”. He remained a devout scholar to the end, dictating his vernacular translation of John’s Gospel on his death-bed. The title “Venerable” (meaning “revered”) was ascribed to him more than a century later and indicates the respect with which he was regarded.
BORN: 673, near
DIED: 26 May 735 AD, Jarrow, England.