I am in my father, and you in me, and I in you
In the north-east of England, along the banks of the mighty river Tyne, as it winds its way out to sea, stand the remains of one of the greatest seats of human learning in the seventh and eighth centuries. For a long time the site was neglected, lying amidst the debris of the industrial age. However today the great monastery of Jarrow is once more brought to life, with the creation of Bede’s World - a kind of historical theme park, where young and old can experience a day in the life of a monk, exploring the preparation of parchment, the writing with quill pens, the harvesting of herbs, from the monastery gardens, the care of animals and the rhythm of prayer in the old church of St. Paul’s.
Why am I telling you this? Because today the church celebrates Venerable Bede’s day. Bede is a minor saint, and very few places will pay much attention. However I always remember Ven Bede’s day, not just because it falls the day after my birthday and is therefore easy for me to remember, but because the first church of which Jonathan was vicar bore a dual dedication to St. James and St. Bede. In that humble little church, in the inner city parish of Gateshead, I first presided at the eucharist twenty years ago this coming week. Just to say that brings tears to my eyes. Moreover I was for a time privileged to be canon of Durham cathedral, where the bones of Bede rest in the great Galilee chapel. Hence I have a particular affection for the Venerable Bede.
So who was he?..