NEWS
Home
Saturday, 13 July 2024
Benedict on St Bede PDF Print E-mail

VENERABLE BEDE: SAINT AND SCHOLAR

VATICAN CITY, 18 FEB 2009 (VIS)

In the general audience, held this morning in St. Peter's Square in the presence of 15,000 people, Benedict XVI dedicated his catechesis to St. Bede the Venerable.

 

Get the Flash Player to see this player.


 

Bede was born around the year 672 in the English region of Northumbria. When he was seven years old his family entrusted his education to the abbot of a nearby Benedictine monastery and he became, the Holy Father explained, "one of the most outstanding scholars of the early Middle Ages. ... His teaching and the fame of his writings brought him many friends among the principal personages of his day, who encouraged him to continue his work, which brought benefits to so many people".

"Sacred Scripture was the constant source of Bede's theological reflections". He considered "the events of the Old and New Testaments jointly" as "a way towards Christ", a testament to the same faith, "though expressed using different signs and institutions".

As an example of this, Benedict XVI mentioned Bede's interpretation of the construction of the Temple of Jerusalem: "Just as pagans also helped to build the ancient Temple by supplying materials and the technical experience of their master builders, so the edification of the Church involved apostles and masters who came not just from the ancient Hebrew, Greek or Latin peoples, but also from the new peoples, among whom Bede mentions the Irish Celts and the Anglo-Saxons".

The Pope then dwelt upon some of the saint's written works, such as the "'Chronica Maiora' in which he establishes a chronology which would become the basis of the universal calendar 'ab incarnatione Domini', ... and his 'Ecclesiastical History of the English People', for which he is known as the father of English historiography.

"The characteristic traits of the Church which Bede sought to underline are: catholicity, seen as faithfulness to tradition while remaining open to historical developments, and as the search for 'unity in diversity', ... and apostolicity and 'Romanitas'. In this context Bede considered it vitally important to convince the Churches of the Celts and the Picts to celebrate Easter together, in accordance with the Roman calendar".

"Bede was also a great master of liturgical theology, ... educating the faithful to celebrate the mysteries of the faith with joy, and to reflect those mysteries coherently in their lives while awaiting their full manifestation in the return of Christ".

"Thanks to his approach to theology - which involved a combination of the Bible, liturgy and history - Bede has a modern message for the various 'states' of Christian life", said the Pope. "He reminds scholars of two essential tasks: scrutinising the marvels of the Word of God so as to present them in a manner attractive to the faithful, and explaining dogmatic truths while avoiding heretical complications and keeping to 'Catholic simplicity', with the attitude of the meek and humble to whom it pleases God to reveal the mysteries of the Kingdom".

For their part, pastors "must give priority to preaching, not only through sermons and hagiographies, but also by using icons, processions and pilgrimages". To consecrated people, "Bede recommends focus on the apostolate, both by collaborating with bishops in various kinds of pastoral activities in support of young Christian communities, and by offering themselves for evangelising missions".

The scholar saint also affirmed that Christ "wants an industrious Church, ... one intent on cultivating other fields and vineyards, .... in other words on introducing the Gospel into the social fabric and cultural institutions". He also "exhorted the lay faithful to be assiduous in their religious education, ... He taught them how to pray continuously, ... offering all their actions as a spiritual sacrifice in union with Christ".

The Venerable Bede died in May of the year 735. "It is a fact", Pope Benedict concluded, "that with his works he made an effective contribution to the construction of a Christian Europe".