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St Bede The Venerable

25th May 2021

St Bede painting
Today is the feast day of St Bede. Nothing is known of Bede’s birth in 690, or of his parentage but at the age of seven he was taken to the Monastery of St Peter in Wearmouth, Sunderland, where he was entrusted into the care of the founding Abbot, St Benedict Biscop.  Bede is considered one of the most revered and respected men of his time and was bestowed with the title 'venerable' in acknowledgement of his wisdom and scholarly learning.

St Bede the Venerable, stands out in Church history for being one of the few saints treated with such saintly honour and respect whilst he was still alive. His early Christian instruction within the monastery, created an outstanding mind, being well versed in science, theology, philosophy, astronomy and mathematics, to name just a few. Combined with this extraordinary breadth of knowledge, his knowledge of the lives of the saints and his love and scholarship of Scripture, enabled him to write with such authority, that whilst still alive a Church council ordered some of his writings to be read publicly within the churches.

Bede The Scholar

Bede was ordained a deacon when he was 19 years of age and ordained to the priesthood when he was 30. All his time was taken up with his writings, forever gaining as much scholarly knowledge as he could and taking time to teach also. His writings include commentaries on the Pentateuch, selected books of the Bible, theology, historical works and biographies. His most famous work is Historia Ecclesiastica, (which he completed in 731) a history of the English Church and its people. This was an account of Christianity in England up to the year 729 AD and is noted as being a primary source of general English history. He has been styled as the 'father' of English history and the first to use 'Anno Domini - AD - to date events.

Apart from a few visits to Lindisfarne and York, Bede remained in his own monastery at Wearmouth, where he died on 25th May 735 and was buried at Jarrow. His 'venerable' title was formalised at the council of Aachen in 853 and in 1899 he was declared the only English doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XIII.

Durham Cathedral

In 1022, a monk named Alfred, took Bede's skeletal remains from Jarrow to Durham Cathedral, where they were interred alongside St Cuthbert. In 1370 they were moved to their own shrine in the Galilee Chapel, which was later destroyed during the Reformation in the 16th century. Bede's bones were then moved again and interred in the beautiful Galilee Chapel's altar tomb, bearing the Latin inscription HIC SUNT IN FOSSA BEDAE VENERABILIS OSSA - 'Here are buried the bones of the Venerable Bede'. The tomb still stands to this day and can be viewed in the video below.

Illuminated Manuscripts

In later years, Bede's manuscripts were repeatedly copied and provide some of the most beautiful pages of illuminated manuscripts that have come down to us. When we first starting designing cards for priests we wanted to capture the spirit of these beautiful pieces of artwork but to give them a modern twist. Initially, we began with Ordination Cards and featured many designs depicting this style: weaving Scripture quotes throughout each design we produced. Later, we added Ordination Anniversary Cards and we have recently redeveloped these, designing some really bright images, with relevant Scripture texts embedded within each image, celebratory and symbolic, just as Anniversary of Ordination cards should be.

As the years went by, we added to this style and our New Deacon and Diaconate Cards have brush script calligraphy Scripture quotes incorporated into watercolour designs, making them some of our best selling cards for a new deacon. Our Golden Jubilee Cards for priests had rich calligraphy texts on oil painted cross backgrounds and many were embellished with gold organza ribbon detail, to make them truly special cards and befitting of such special moments in the life of a priest.

From Silver Anniversary Cards for Priests to Diamond Jubilee cards for nuns, we incorporated Scripture text in an artistic way within our card designs, to create a modern style of 'illumination', which have always been well received.