Venerable Bede was a church historian who wrote the history of Christianity in England up to his days. He was probably born in 673 in Northumbria, somewhere near the locality of Jarrow. When he was 7 years old, Bede was sent to the St. Peter's monastery in order for him to be guided and educated by St. Benedict Biscop (celebrated on the 12th of January).
In the anonymous writing entitled "The Life of Ceolfrith", there is the story of an incident which was probably related to the young Bede. The plague of 686 devastated the monastery of Ceolfrith, so that most of the monks died and only the abbot and a boy who was his disciple remained alive.
Saint Bede was ordained deacon at the age of 19 and became a priest at the age of 30. Bede loved all church services and considered that the angels were present at them together with the monks. Bede started his discipleship as a follower of Saint Benedict Biscop who was a monk at the famous Lerins Monastery and he raised his own monasteries too.
Saint Benedict brought many books to England from Lerins and from other European monasteries. This library helped Bede write his own books such as the 'Biblical Comments', the 'Ecclesiastic History' and the 'Hagiographies'.
Bede was not a perfectly objective historian. For instance, in the dispute with Celtic Christianity, he was somehow of on the side of the Romans. However, he had good and well-documented writings. His books were based on ancient documents, on ancestral traditions and on his personal knowledge.
In the year of 735, Venerable Bede got sick. About two weeks before Easter, he was feeling weak and had respiration problems, but without great pains. He was still very vivid and joyful and teaching his disciples every day, after which he used to sing Psalms and thanking God in his prayers.
He would often quote Saint Ambrose, the one who said "I have not led a life to be ashamed of amongst you and I am not afraid of death because God is merciful."
Apart from lessons and Psalms, Venerable Bede was also working on an Anglo-Saxon translation of the Gospel of John and of a book with quotations from the writings of St. Isidore of Seville. In the Thursday, before Lord's Ascension Bede had more and increased breathing problems and his legs started to swell.
He would say to those who wrote after his dictation to learn fast, for he did not know how much longer he would be able to continue until God would call him unto Him.
After an entire sleepless night, Venerable Bede continued his dictation in the morning of a Wednesday. At about 3 o'clock, there was a procession honoring the relics of the saints in that monastery after which the brothers went to attend the service, leaving Bede with monk Wilbert.
Wilbert remembered that there was still one chapter unwritten from the book that Bede was dictating but he would not disturb poor Bede on his dying bed. But Venerable Bede told him not to worry, to take the pen and write quickly.
At around 9 o'clock, Bede stopped and asked Wilbert to look in his case for pepper, incense and canvas and to call the priests of the monastery and give those to them. When they arrived, he spoke to each one in particular asking them to remember him in their prayers.
Then he said to them: "The time of my departure is at hand, and my soul longs to see Christ my King in His beauty." After finishing the last sentence in the book, Bede asked Wilbert to raise his eyes and see the church where he used to pray. After singing "Glory to the Father, to the Son and to the Holy Ghost", Venerable Bede went to see the Lord.
Although Venerable Bede died on the 25th of May, the Eve of the Ascension, he is celebrated on the 27th of May because the celebration of St. Augustine of Canterbury is fixed on the 26th. His body was first buried in the southern portal of the abbey church and later on he was moved near the altar.