Sunday, 25 May 2014

The Venerable Bede

In two of the entries I wrote last year, while on the Camino de Santiago in Spain, I unilaterally conferred the distinction of 'greatest theologian the British Isles ever produced', first on Blessed John Henry Newman, and then jointly on Newman and Blessed John Duns Scotus. But I was wrong on both counts, and it is to my shame that it has taken so long to correct these errors. The greatest theologian the British Isles ever produced is in fact St Bede the Venerable, who lived from ca.672-735AD. He is most famous nowadays for his commanding 'Ecclesiastical History of the English People', but in 1899 Pope Leo XIII made him a Doctor of the Church for his outstanding contribution to theology, in which he drew upon the magnificent library at his monastery in Jarrow, interpreting and translating the Church Fathers and producing exegetical works on the Old and New Testaments. Blessed John Henry Newman of course was English; Blessed John Duns Scotus was Scottish. Well, St Bede the Venerable, the greatest of them all, was a Geordie! Today, 25th May, would be celebrated as his feast day, if it wasn't for the fact that it falls on a Sunday. Mind you in Spain, when St James's Day (25th July) falls on a Sunday, the importance of celebrating his feast is greatly increased, and I'm not at all sure St Bede doesn't deserve to be accorded the same sort of distinction in this country! Anyone interested to learn more about this wonderful statesman among Christian scholars could start by looking at his entry in Wikipedia: St Bede the Venerable - please pray for us (and please accept my apology that I overlooked you when writing those posts last year!).