Friday, May 25, 2012

I Thought I Wouldn't Write a Post, but Then I Went to Mass

... and it came to my attention that it is the Feast of the Venerable Bede, and that demands acknowledgment!  (What, you don't use daily Mass as your saints' calendar too?)

Bede is a Doctor of the Church (declared by Leo XIII in 1899), a monk who lived in England from about 673 to 735, during the tumultuous period that is quite properly referred to as the Dark Ages (distinct from the Middle Ages, which came later and were not dark at all, except to certain secular minds).  Besides being called "Venerable," Bede is also referred to by the title "Father of English History," since he wrote what was essentially the first history of the English people.

Bede has three claims on my attention.  In the first place, as an Anglophile, I can't very well ignore ... well, the Father of English History.  The fact that the Father was also a monk, with the fascinating handle "Venerable" (he as never been canonized—though now that they're making Hildegard official, maybe he'll be next?) makes it that much better.

Second, as an Arthurian buff, I have a bit of a grudge against Bede for failing to mention King Arthur in his history.  Of course, Bede was borrowing that part of his work from Gildas, who may have had had it in for Arthur (or whatever his real name was); but still ... how amazing would it have been if Bede had had the data necessary to write about the legendary king?  It would be like ... I don't know ... St. Thomas à Becket doing Robin Hood!  St. Thomas More doing Richard III!  (Oh, wait, that actually happened ... hm ...)

Finally—and this was what warmed by heart to Bede when I was first getting to know him—it is said of him that, despite all his considerable learning, his favorite prayer was the simple doxology;

Glory be to the Father,
and to the Son,
and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning,
is now, and ever shall be,
World without end.


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