Saint’s relic returns to England after nearly 500 years
CANTERBURY (ChurchMilitant.com) – The relics of St. Thomas Becket are being returned to Canterbury Cathedral for the first time since the Protestant revolution of the 16th century.
Saint Thomas was born in 1119, ordained archbishop of Canterbury in 1162 and died at the hands of the men of King Henry II in 1170. His remains were enshrined in the Cathedral in Canterbury until 1538 when they were destroyed by order of King Henry VIII.
But following the saint’s death in the 12th century, a bone fragment was sent to Hungary, where it has been venerated for the last 800 years at the Esztergom Basilica — the seat of the Catholic Church in Hungary.
After a brief tour in England it will be enshrined on the spot of the original shrine in Canterbury Cathedral.
Canterbury Cathedral, however, was confiscated by the Church of England in the 16th century, and to this day continues to be part of the Anglican Protestant church. Cardinal Péter Erdő, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, led the initiative to bring the relics back to England — which Cdl. Vincent Nichols, head of the bishops’ conference of England and Wales, considers a great move forward in ecumenism with the Church of England.
Although they are Protestant, high-church Anglicans retain many Roman Catholic practices, including veneration of saints’ relics.
Even among Anglicans, St. Thomas is seen as a patron saint of religious liberty. His life was dramatically portrayed in the 1964 film “Becket,” with Richard Burton playing St. Thomas and Peter O’Toole playing King Henry II.
Excommunication scene from the film “Becket”
Saint Thomas Becket had been excommunicating members of the royal court for violating the prerogatives of the Church. King Henry II, frustrated with Becket, is said to have remarked, “Who will rid me of this troublesome priest?” Four knights interpreted the king’s statement as a command and murdered St. Thomas while he was praying Vespers at the cathedral.
A contemporary who witnessed St. Thomas’ martyrdom describes it thus.
The wicked knight leapt suddenly upon him, cutting off the top of the crown which the unction of sacred chrism had dedicated to God. Next he received a second blow on the head, but still he stood firm and immovable. At the third blow he fell on his knees and elbows, offering himself a living sacrifice, and saying in a low voice, “For the name of Jesus and the protection of the Church, I am ready to embrace death.” But the third knight inflicted a terrible wound as he lay prostrate. By this stroke, the crown of his head was separated from the head in such a way that the blood white with the brain, and the brain no less red from the blood, dyed the floor of the cathedral. The same clerk who had entered with the knights placed his foot on the neck of the holy priest and precious martyr, and, horrible to relate, scattered the brains and blood about the pavements, crying to the others, “Let us away, knights; this fellow will arise no more.”
Saint Thomas Becket was considered patron saint of the men who fled England during its anti-Catholic persecution, became priests in France and Belgium, and returned to England to almost certain death by the government.
Cardinal Gerhard Müller says SSPX “must recognize the Pope and the Second Vatican Council”
VATICAN (ChurchMilitant.com) – Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, laying down clear parameters for the Society Of St. Pius X (SSPX) before they can be accepted into full communion with the Church.
In a June interview for the German publication Herder Korrespondenz, the prelate stated that if one “wants to be fully Catholic, one must recognize the Pope and the Second Vatican Council.”
The SSPX, a priestly group founded by Abp. Marcel Lefebvre, has expressed serious reservations about the documents of Vatican II, and has also acted in defiance of directives from the Holy Father, including offering the sacraments illicitly in its various chapels.
In 1988, Abp. Lefebvre ordained four bishops in disobedience to orders from Pope John Paul II. This resulted in the automatic excommunication of the four bishops, until 2009, when Pope Benedict XVI, in an act of good will, lifted the excommunications. Even so, Pope Benedict made clear the SSPX has “no canonical status” and that “its ministers do not exercise legitimate ministries in the Church.”
Since then, the SSPX has been in talks with the Vatican in the hopes of an eventual reconciliation and return to full communion with the Church.
Earlier this month, Pope Francis made several hints that the SSPX could come into full communion soon. In the French-Catholic publication La Croix, the Holy Father said the SSPX are “Catholics on the way to full communion” and that there is “good dialogue and good work taking place.”
Pope Francis also met with Bp. Bernard Fellay, superior general of the SSPX, in a private audience last month. The Pope said after the meeting that Fellay is “a man with whom one can dialogue.”
In Pope Benedict’s March 2009 letter clarifying the role of the SSPX, he explained that the reasons for the split were doctrinal in nature and not simply canonical or legal:
The fact that the Society of Saint Pius X does not possess a canonical status in the Church is not, in the end, based on disciplinary but on doctrinal reasons. … In order to make this clear once again: Until the doctrinal questions are clarified, the Society has no canonical status in the Church, and its ministers — even though they have been freed of the ecclesiastical penalty — do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church. … In light of this situation, it is my intention henceforth to join the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei — the body which has been competent since 1988 for those communities and persons who, coming from the Society of Saint Pius X or from similar groups, wish to return to full communion with the Pope — to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This will make it clear that the problems now to be addressed are essentially doctrinal in nature and concern primarily the acceptance of the Second Vatican Council and the post-conciliar magisterium of the Popes.
For the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis declared that SSPX priests are granted faculties to absolve sins in the confessional.
The devil uses whomever he can to throw up blockades for us on the road to Heaven.
May 25, 2016
To listen the audio on the Vortex: The devil and roadblocks click below:
The devil is real. He is your great enemy. And his entire reasons for being now is to destroy you.
In all but the most unusual of circumstances, his major weapon against you is other people and their weaknesses, faults, appetites, etc. He divides and sets people against one another. He is, as St. Peter describes him, a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. It’s why the refusal to talk about him, even admit his reality, is a preposterous reality in the Church among people in the Church these days.
But let’s go back to this point about him using other people. A person doesn’t have to know he is being used in order to be used. He can be an unwilling tool, as easily as he can be a willing tool — sometimes, even more easily.
Take, for example, the destruction that has been wrought on the Church by those charged with protecting the sheep. Let’s ask some questions here:
Is it feasible that the enemy would try and enlist leaders into his work of corrupting minds and hearts?
Is it possible that he would have some success in this area?
If he were able to corrupt various leaders, would he not try to do it in such a way that would raise the least amount of alarm?
Would he not try to twist just a little something here, or a little something there? One drop of arsenic, after all, goes a long way to killing.
Yet when we look over the landscape of a Church undergoing the greatest crisis in Her 2,000 years, we are reminded of Judas on that Holy Thursday night because the destruction is so complete and the betrayal so utter. How does the enemy get at the sheep with the shepherds standing right there? Well, he enlists their aid in his work.
For example, the Catholic Church is the greatest thing on earth, holding the keys to salvation in Her sacred hands. But if the individuals sharing in the keys could be persuaded to relax the efforts made to experience the power of the keys, that would be quite the coup. If the devil could use the shepherds to put up roadblocks to the faithful coming to the Church, that would be a tremendous victory for him.
So instead of their preaching the life-giving hard truths and helping people approach these truths in loving confidence and peace, he could get them not to present them, then he would have succeeded in blocking them from the easiest access to the truth, to salvation — not that it is all on the shepherds. But the lion’s share of it is. That’s why they are in charge. That’s why they have the staff. That’s why they have the authority, because they have the consequent responsibility to fight the enemy and protect the sheep.
But what a boon for the enemy to convince them that they are helping the sheep when they are in fact helping to kill them spiritually. So they become participants in the loss of faith in the Real Presence. They become active participants in the loss of Catholic identity. They transform little by little into tools of the diabolical, just as Judas did, by doing the work of eroding the Faith.
This is done largely by acts of omission, as opposed to acts of commission. In other words, it’s what they do not do or do not say where the work of the enemy is mostly accomplished. The plan of the devil is to remain as out of sight as possible. He does not want to be seen so he keeps himself hidden.
God says, “I Am Who Am.” Satan says, “I am who am NOT.”
So perhap the most ingenious roadblock he has constructed for people coming to the Church is to have the leaders of souls barely ever refer to him and his power to destroy. In fact, the icing on the cake is to have prelates proclaim or at least act as if there is never any real danger of going to Hell, despite Our Blessed Lord saying the exact opposite on many different occasions.
The Church is the means of salvation on earth. Outside of it there is no salvation. So the most effective roadblocks to an individual’s salvation would be those that deny or obscure this singular signature truth. From Hell’s point of view, the most effective communicators of this evil would be the shepherds themselves. If the devil could use as many of them as possible to work on people’s minds by the power of non-suggestion, what a multitude of souls he would ensnare.
They wouldn’t even have to say that much. The brilliance, in fact, would be that they would not really say anything. Their silence would be his most effective tool. And when they did say the occasional something, it would be a vague, unclear, “able to be interpreted a hundred different ways” kind of statement. Mix all this together and — voila — mission accomplished! Roadblocks all over the place of vagueness, lack of clarity, misleading vocabulary, misdirection, bad assumptions, horrible presumptions — which, of course, lead to everyone dropping their defenses, which is when he moves in for the kill.
We understand this concept of Satan and roadblocks best perhaps when we look back on Simon Peter throwing up a roadblock to Our Lord as He talked about His eventual death. He tells Simon Peter to “Get behind me, Satan.” Clear out of my way. Get out of my road. Do not attempt to block me from my mission of redemption and salvation.
Satan used an Apostle to try and block the path to salvation. He’s done it before and still tries to do it. Too many in the Church are content to let roadblocks remain: bad catechesis, absence of zeal, lack of fortitude. All these result in little people having their vision obscured, their vision of the glories of the Faith, their paths littered with roadblocks.
All this work of the enemy must be revealed. Pray that Our Lord strengthen the shepherds so they may become the removers of roadblocks, the clearers of paths to Him.
Constance Cumbey, J.D. gives this thought-provoking and powerful talk, part of the Saint Michael’s Media Spiritual Warfare Conference 2009. Since the beginning the Christian faith has been challenged by responses to the question of origins that differ from its own. Ancient religions and cultures produced many myths concerning origins. Some philosophers have said that everything is God, that the world is God, or that the development of the world is the development of God (Pantheism). Others have said that the world is a necessary emanation arising from God and returning to him. Still others have affirmed the existence of two eternal principles, Good and Evil, Light and Darkness, locked in permanent conflict (Dualism, Manichaeism). According to some of these conceptions, the world (at least the physical world) is evil, the product of a fall, and is thus to be rejected or left behind (Gnosticism). Some admit that the world was made by God, but as by a watchmaker who, once he has made a watch, abandons it to itself (Deism). Finally, others reject any transcendent origin for the world, but see it as merely the interplay of matter that has always existed (Materialism). All these attempts bear witness to the permanence and universality of the question of origins. This inquiry is distinctively human (CCC: 285).
As Christianity has been de-emphasized in modern times, a new paganism has arisen in the form of the New Age seeking to pit ‘spiritualism’ against authentic religion. Discover what lies behind this threat to authentic worship of God as Michael Voris explains the history of the new Age and its significance in the modern world.
Please take a while to listen to these three talks, given by Michael Voris in Loveland, CO earlier this year. These three talks (each about an hour long) address spiritual warfare and the culture wars …. dispatches from Fort Salvation!
Readings & Reflections: Wednesday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time & St. Bede the Venerable, May 25,2016
Born in 673 A.D., Bede entered the monastery of Wearmouth in northeastern England at the age of seven, became a month, and was ordained. Bede never ventured further than fifty miles from the monastery. Drawing on the many manuscripts brought to Wearmouth from France, Bede produced his Ecclesiastical History of the English People and commentaries on Scripture for the edification of his fellow monks. His works show him as learned, steeped in the Church’s liturgical prayer, and eminently Catholic. Bede’s successor, William of Malmesbury, called him “marvelously learned and not at all proud.” Bede died in 735 and was named Doctor of the Church in 1899 A.D.
“Lord Jesus, your death brought life and freedom. Make me a servant of your love that I may seek to serve rather than be served.” In your Mighty Name, I pray. Amen.
Realize that you were ransomed from your futile conduct,
handed on by your ancestors,
not with perishable things like silver or gold
but with the precious Blood of Christ
as of a spotless unblemished Lamb.
He was known before the foundation of the world
but revealed in the final time for you,
who through him believe in God
who raised him from the dead and gave him glory,
so that your faith and hope are in God.
Since you have purified yourselves
by obedience to the truth for sincere brotherly love,
love one another intensely from a pure heart.
You have been born anew,
not from perishable but from imperishable seed,
through the living and abiding word of God, for:
“All flesh is like grass,
and all its glory like the flower of the field;
the grass withers,
and the flower wilts;
but the word of the Lord remains forever.”
This is the word that has been proclaimed to you.
R. (12a) Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
Glorify the LORD, O Jerusalem;
praise your God, O Zion.
For he has strengthened the bars of your gates;
he has blessed your children within you.
R. Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
He has granted peace in your borders;
with the best of wheat he fills you.
He sends forth his command to the earth;
swiftly runs his word!
R. Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
He has proclaimed his word to Jacob,
his statutes and his ordinances to Israel.
He has not done thus for any other nation;
his ordinances he has not made known to them. Alleluia.
R. Praise the Lord, Jerusalem. or:
The disciples were on the way, going up to Jerusalem,
and Jesus went ahead of them.
They were amazed, and those who followed were afraid.
Taking the Twelve aside again, he began to tell them
what was going to happen to him.
“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man
will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes,
and they will condemn him to death
and hand him over to the Gentiles who will mock him,
spit upon him, scourge him, and put him to death,
but after three days he will rise.”
Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee,
came to Jesus and said to him,
“Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”
He replied, “What do you wish me to do for you?”
They answered him,
“Grant that in your glory
we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.”
Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the chalice that I drink
or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”
They said to him, “We can.”
Jesus said to them, “The chalice that I drink, you will drink,
and with the baptism with which I am
baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John.
Jesus summoned them and said to them,
“You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles
But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve
and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
Reflection 1 – Servanthood
Servanthood is a call to personal involvement in the lives of others. It is a deep desire to obey God and go wherever He calls us to go. One’s servanthood is true and authentic when he allows God to set the course of His life and follows Him in faith. One becomes fully useable for God’s purpose and cause. Position, honor and glory, the money, the credit and the related recognition play only a minor role in one’s disposition and acceptance.
A true servant of God therefore gives of himself freely and serves, yet decides to remain in the shadows or the lower galleys. Without acknowledgment he is willing to give so that nobody knows what he has done and given. His heart and mind are so focused, not on public acclaim as a reward, not even on the eternal reward that can only be granted by God but in being able to serve Him and give glory to His Name, by being able to partake of our Lord’s Cross and being one with Him in joy and suffering. He gives without expecting anything in return from the person he has served and his service is void of manipulation or a desire to control others. He is “yielded” to the spirit, both to God and to others. Although He stands up for what is right in God’s eyes, He does not insist on his own way and preference. He gives thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and submits and defers to others in the fear and love of God.
Today we have to ask ourselves the more difficult questions to answer, “Do we truly have servants’ hearts? Are we willing to serve others without expecting recognition, rewards, or ‘rights’?” Have we paid lip service to servanthood?
We say we are servants, want to be servants, or wish we were better servants, yet the truth is we can still all grow in desire, ability, and effectivity as servants. To be a servant of God, one must be a doer and not just talk about being a servant. He does not only have a heart for service or a desire to be a better servant, but he is actually engaged in selfless service.
Jesus came to earth with the clear understanding that one day He would give His life for you and me. He knew He would be mocked, betrayed and persecuted yet He came because He had a fixed focus on God’s plan for mankind’s salvation. Jesus was committed to our Heavenly Father’s will.
We will never know how God will use us but in prayer He will reveal to us His will and plan for us. He may choose to use us to help a next-door neighbor, a brother who lives across the ocean or an elderly widow who needs to know that someone cares. It is out of love that we should serve. Service is the manifestation of love. Service is the evidence of genuine love. It is love in action. Service is a response to a call to servanthood. It is a decision to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. It is black or white, servant or not at all- what will be our choice?
Jesus carved out James and John out of the foundation upon which He eventually built His church. Yet we can all see that they were both jockeying for a place of honor in God’s kingdom. There is a reason Jesus brought this scenario into center stage. Maybe we too have been guilty of seeking honor, power, fame and influence whenever we do work for our Lord!
Jesus Himself reminds us today: “whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.”
Forego personal glory and honor in this world. Work for greatness in the eyes of God. Our service to others should be done in anonymity.
Heavenly Father, give me the grace to serve You and your church at whatever cost it may be. In Jesus, I pray. Amen.
Reflection 2 – You must be servant
In the gospel Jesus wedded authority with selfless service and with loving sacrifice. Authority without sacrificial love is brutish and self-serving. His disciples must drink his cup if they expect to reign with him in his Kingdom. The cup he had in mind was a bitter one involving crucifixion. What kind of cup does the Lord have in mind for us?
Here’s a story to challenge us. In the year 1347, the English army laid siege to the French coastal city of Calais. A high city wall cut off all its contact with the rest of the world. Soon starvation began to be felt. First the aged began to die off, then the babies whose mothers had no milk. Finally the defenders of the city became too weak to defend the city.
An envoy from the English came to announce unwelcome news: “My king will storm this city in the next three days and burn it to the ground. Everyone will have to die: men, women and children.”
The citizens asked, “Is there any way out for us?” “Yes,” answered the envoy, “If your six highest ranking men are willing to die to save the city. Early tomorrow morning they must put in an appearance at the English camp; they must be clad only in a shirt, be barefoot, and have a cord around their necks.”
The horrible news spread through the city like wildfire. What would happen? Would the elite think only of themselves? But the six most outstanding men spoke up and said, “We have always tried to faithfully serve the people of this city with our work and our wealth. Now we are willing to lay down our life for its citizens.”
At this the citizens of the city wept aloud, knelt down and prayed for those generous citizens. The next morning the six of them went over to the camp of the English king. He looked at them contemptuously and scornfully. An executioner stood by ready to behead them. But the queen threw herself at the king’s feet and begged him, “Please spare the city and these men who are willing to give their life for others.”
After a long delay the king changed his mind. He spared the city and the life of all its inhabitants because its most illustrious citizens were willing to lay down their life for their fellowmen. They proved themselves real public servants and they offered themselves as a loving sacrifice for peace of the city.
In the gospel, Jesus challenged his disciples not to be served but to serve as “the Son of Man give his life as a ransom for many” (Mk 10:45) and so his disciples had drink the cup that entails physical suffering and the painful struggle of martyrdom. But for many of us, it entails the long routine of the Christian life, with all its daily sacrifices, disappointments, set-backs, struggles, and temptations. A disciple must be ready to lay down his or her life in martyrdom and be ready to lay it down each and every day in the little and big sacrifices required. Are you willing to lay down your life and to serve others as Jesus did?
Reflection 3 – Are you able to drink the cup that I drink?
Was Jesus a pessimist or a stark realist? On three different occasions the Gospels record that Jesus predicted he would endure great suffering through betrayal, rejection, and the punishment of a cruel death. The Jews resorted to stoning and the Romans to crucifixion – the most painful and humiliating death they could devise for criminals they wanted to eliminate. No wonder the apostles were greatly distressed at such a prediction! If Jesus their Master were put to death, then they would likely receive the same treatment by their enemies.
Jesus called himself the “Son of Man” because this was a common Jewish title for the Messiah. Why must the Messiah be rejected and killed? Did not God promise that his Anointed One would deliver his people from their oppression and establish a kingdom of peace and justice? The prophet Isaiah had foretold that it was God’s will that the “Suffering Servant” make atonement for sins through his suffering and death (Isaiah 53:5-12). Jesus paid the price for our redemption with his blood. Slavery to sin is to want the wrong things and to be in bondage to destructive desires. The ransom Jesus paid sets us free from the worst tyranny possible – the tyranny of sin and the fear of death. Jesus’ victory did not end with death but triumphed over the tomb. Jesus defeated the powers of death through his resurrection. Do you want the greatest freedom possible, the freedom to live as God truly meant us to live as his sons and daughters?
Jesus did the unthinkable! He wedded authority with selfless service and with loving sacrifice. Authority without sacrificial love is brutish and self-serving. Jesus also used stark language to explain what kind of sacrifice he had in mind. His disciples must drink his cup if they expect to reign with him in his kingdom. The cup he had in mind was a bitter one involving crucifixion. What kind of cup does the Lord have in mind for us? For some disciples such a cup entails physical suffering and the painful struggle of martyrdom. But for many, it entails the long routine of the Christian life, with all its daily sacrifices, disappointments, set-backs, struggles, and temptations.
A follower of Jesus must be ready to lay down his or her life in martyrdom and be ready to lay it down each and every day in the little and big sacrifices required. An early church father summed up Jesus’ teaching with the expression: to serve is to reign with Christ. We share in God’s reign by laying down our lives in humble service as Jesus did for our sake. Are you willing to lay down your life and to serve others as Jesus did?
Whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. —Mark 10:43
Some people feel like a small pebble lost in the immensity of the Grand Canyon. But no matter how insignificant we judge ourselves to be, we can be greatly used by God.
In a sermon early in 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. quoted Jesus’ words from Mark 10 about servanthood. Then he said, “Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. . . . You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.”
When Jesus’ disciples quarreled about who would get the places of honor in heaven, He told them: “Whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43-45).
I wonder about us. Is that our understanding of greatness? Are we gladly serving, doing tasks that may be unnoticed? Is the purpose of our serving to please our Lord, rather than to gain the applause of people? If we are willing to be a servant, we can achieve true greatness. — Vernon C. Grounds
No service in itself is small, None great, though earth it fill; But that is small that seeks its own, And great that does God’s will. —Anon.
Little things done in Christ’s name are great things (Source: Our Daily Bread, RBC Ministries).
Reflection 5 – St. Bede the Venerable (672?-735 A.D.)
Bede is one of the few saints honored as such even during his lifetime. His writings were filled with such faith and learning that even while he was still alive, a Church council ordered them to be read publicly in the churches.
At an early age Bede was entrusted to the care of the abbot of the Monastery of St. Paul, Jarrow. The happy combination of genius and the instruction of scholarly, saintly monks produced a saint and an extraordinary scholar, perhaps the most outstanding one of his day. He was deeply versed in all the sciences of his times: natural philosophy, the philosophical principles of Aristotle, astronomy, arithmetic, grammar, ecclesiastical history, the lives of the saints and, especially, Holy Scripture.
From the time of his ordination to the priesthood at 30 (he had been ordained deacon at 19) till his death, he was ever occupied with learning, writing and teaching. Besides the many books that he copied, he composed 45 of his own, including 30 commentaries on books of the Bible.
Although eagerly sought by kings and other notables, even Pope Sergius, Bede managed to remain in his own monastery till his death. Only once did he leave for a few months in order to teach in the school of the archbishop of York. Bede died in 735 praying his favorite prayer: “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As in the beginning, so now, and forever.”
His Ecclesiastical History of the English People is commonly regarded as of decisive importance in the art and science of writing history. A unique era was coming to an end at the time of Bede’s death: It had fulfilled its purpose of preparing Western Christianity to assimilate the non-Roman barbarian North. Bede recognized the opening to a new day in the life of the Church even as it was happening.
Though his History is the greatest legacy Bede has left us, his work in all the sciences (especially in Scripture) should not be overlooked. During his last Lent, he worked on a translation of the Gospel of St. John into English, completing it the day he died. But of this work “to break the word to the poor and unlearned” nothing remains today.
“We have not, it seems to me, amid all our discoveries, invented as yet anything better than the Christian life which Bede lived, and the Christian death which he died” (C. Plummer, editor of Bede’s Ecclesiastical History).
SAINT OF THE DAY Catholic saints are holy people and human people who lived extraordinary lives. Each saint the Church honors responded to God’s invitation to use his or her unique gifts. God calls each one of us to be a saint.Click hereto receive Saint of the Day in your email.
Almost everything that is known of Bede’s life is contained in the last chapter of his Historia ecclesiastica, a history of the church in England. It was completed in about 731, and Bede implies that he was then in his fifty-ninth year, which would give a birth date in 672 or 673.[a] A minor source of information is the letter by his disciple Cuthbert[b] which relates Bede’s death.[c] Bede, in the Historia, gives his birthplace as “on the lands of this monastery”. He is referring to the twinned monasteries of Monkwearmouth and Jarrow, in modern-day Sunderland, claimed as his birthplace; there is also a tradition that he was born at Monkton, two miles from the monastery at Jarrow. Bede says nothing of his origins, but his connections with men of noble ancestry suggest that his own family was well-to-do. Bede’s first abbot was Benedict Biscop, and the names “Biscop” and “Beda” both appear in a king list of the kings of Lindsey from around 800, further suggesting that Bede came from a noble family.
Bede’s name reflects West Saxon Bīeda (Northumbrian Bǣda, Anglian Bēda). It is an Anglo-Saxon short name formed on the root of bēodan “to bid, command”. The name also occurs in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, s.a. 501, as Bieda, one of the sons of the Saxon founder of Portsmouth. The Liber Vitae ofDurham Cathedral names two priests with this name, one of whom is presumably Bede himself. Some manuscripts of the Life of Cuthbert, one of Bede’s works, mention that Cuthbert’s own priest was named Bede; it is possible that this priest is the other name listed in the Liber Vitae.
At the age of seven, Bede was sent to the monastery of Monkwearmouth by his family to be educated by Benedict Biscop and later by Ceolfrith. Bede does not say whether it was already intended at that point that he would be a monk. It was fairly common in Ireland at this time for young boys, particularly those of noble birth, to be fostered out; the practice was also likely to have been common among the Germanic peoples in England. Monkwearmouth’s sister monastery at Jarrow was founded by Ceolfrith in 682, and Bede probably transferred to Jarrow with Ceolfrith that year. The dedication stone for the church has survived to the present day; it is dated 23 April 685, and as Bede would have been required to assist with menial tasks in his day-to-day life it is possible that he helped in building the original church. In 686, plague broke out at Jarrow. The Life of Ceolfrith, written in about 710, records that only two surviving monks were capable of singing the full offices; one was Ceolfrith and the other a young boy, who according to the anonymous writer had been taught by Ceolfrith. The two managed to do the entire service of the liturgy until others could be trained. The young boy was almost certainly Bede, who would have been about 14.
When Bede was about 17 years old, Adomnan, the abbot of Iona Abbey, visited Monkwearmouth and Jarrow. Bede would probably have met the abbot during this visit, and it may be that Adomnan sparked Bede’s interest in the Easter dating controversy. In about 692, in Bede’s nineteenth year, Bede was ordained a deaconby his diocesan bishop, John, who was bishop of Hexham. The canonical age for the ordination of a deacon was 25; Bede’s early ordination may mean that his abilities were considered exceptional, but it is also possible that the minimum age requirement was often disregarded. There might have been minor orders ranking below a deacon; but there is no record of whether Bede held any of these offices.[d] In Bede’s thirtieth year (about 702), he became a priest, with the ordination again performed by Bishop John.
In about 701 Bede wrote his first works, the De Arte Metrica and De Schematibus et Tropis; both were intended for use in the classroom. He continued to write for the rest of his life, eventually completing over 60 books, most of which have survived. Not all his output can be easily dated, and Bede may have worked on some texts over a period of many years. His last-surviving work is a letter to Ecgbert of York, a former student, written in 734. A 6th-century Greek and Latin manuscript of Acts that is believed to have been used by Bede survives and is now in the Bodleian Library at Oxford University; it is known as the Codex Laudianus. Bede may also have worked on one of the Latin bibles that were copied at Jarrow, one of which is now held by the Laurentian Library inFlorence. Bede was a teacher as well as a writer; he enjoyed music, and was said to be accomplished as a singer and as a reciter of poetry in the vernacular. It is possible that he suffered a speech impediment, but this depends on a phrase in the introduction to his verse life of Saint Cuthbert. Translations of this phrase differ, and it is uncertain whether Bede intended to say that he was cured of a speech problem, or merely that he was inspired by the saint’s works.[e]
In 708, some monks at Hexham accused Bede of having committed heresy in his work De Temporibus. The standard theological view of world history at the time was known as the six ages of the world; in his book, Bede calculated the age of the world for himself, rather than accepting the authority of Isidore of Seville, and came to the conclusion that Christ had been born 3,952 years after the creation of the world, rather than the figure of over 5,000 years that was commonly accepted by theologians. The accusation occurred in front of the bishop of Hexham, Wilfrid, who was present at a feast when some drunken monks made the accusation. Wilfrid did not respond to the accusation, but a monk present relayed the episode to Bede, who replied within a few days to the monk, writing a letter setting forth his defence and asking that the letter also be read to Wilfrid.[f] Bede had another brush with Wilfrid, for the historian himself says that he met Wilfrid, sometime between 706 and 709, and discussed Æthelthryth, the abbess of Ely. Wilfrid had been present at the exhumation of her body in 695, and Bede questioned the bishop about the exact circumstances of the body and asked for more details of her life, as Wilfrid had been her advisor.
In 733, Bede travelled to York to visit Ecgbert, who was then bishop of York. The See of York was elevated to an archbishopric in 735, and it is likely that Bede and Ecgbert discussed the proposal for the elevation during his visit. Bede hoped to visit Ecgbert again in 734, but was too ill to make the journey. Bede also travelled to the monastery ofLindisfarne, and at some point visited the otherwise-unknown monastery of a monk named Wicthed, a visit that is mentioned in a letter to that monk. Because of his widespread correspondence with others throughout the British Isles, and due to the fact that many of the letters imply that Bede had met his correspondents, it is likely that Bede travelled to some other places, although nothing further about timing or locations can be guessed. It seems certain that he did not visit Rome, however, as he would have mentioned it in the autobiographical chapter of his Historia Ecclesiastica.Nothhelm, a correspondent of Bede’s who assisted him by finding documents for him in Rome, is known to have visited Bede, though the date cannot be determined beyond the fact that it was after Nothhelm’s visit to Rome.
Except for a few visits to other monasteries, his life was spent in a round of prayer, observance of the monastic discipline and study of the Sacred Scriptures. He was considered the most learned man of his time, and wrote excellent biblical and historical books.
Bede’s tomb in Durham Cathedral
Bede died on Thursday, 26 May 735 (Ascension Day) on the floor of his cell, singing Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit and was buried at Jarrow. Cuthbert, a disciple of Bede’s, wrote a letter to a Cuthwin (of whom nothing else is known), describing Bede’s last days and his death. According to Cuthbert, Bede fell ill, “with frequent attacks of breathlessness but almost without pain”, before Easter. On the Tuesday, two days before Bede died, his breathing became worse and his feet swelled. He continued to dictate to a scribe, however, and despite spending the night awake in prayer he dictated again the following day. At three o’clock, according to Cuthbert, he asked for a box of his to be brought, and distributed among the priests of the monastery “a few treasures” of his: “some pepper, and napkins, and some incense”. That night he dictated a final sentence to the scribe, a boy named Wilberht, and died soon afterwards.[g] Cuthbert’s letter also relates a five-line poem in the vernacular that Bede composed on his deathbed, known as “Bede’s Death Song”. It is the most-widely copied Old English poem, and appears in 45 manuscripts, but its attribution to Bede is not certain—not all manuscripts name Bede as the author, and the ones that do are of later origin than those that do not. Bede’s remains may have been transferred to Durham Cathedral in the 11th century; his tomb there was looted in 1541, but the contents were probably re-interred in the Galilee chapel at the cathedral.
One further oddity in his writings is that in one of his works, the Commentary on the Seven Catholic Epistles, he writes in a manner that gives the impression he was married. The section in question is the only one in that work that is written in first-person view. Bede says: “Prayers are hindered by the conjugal duty because as often as I perform what is due to my wife I am not able to pray.” Another passage, in the Commentary on Luke, also mentions a wife in the first person: “Formerly I possessed a wife in the lustful passion of desire and now I possess her in honourable sanctification and true love of Christ.” The historian Benedicta Ward argues that these passages are Bede employing a rhetorical device.
Bede’s scriptural commentaries employed the allegorical method of interpretation and his history includes accounts of miracles, which to modern historians has seemed at odds with his critical approach to the materials in his history. Modern studies have shown the important role such concepts played in the world-view of Early Medieval scholars.
He dedicated his work on the Apocalypse and the De Temporum Ratione to the successor of Ceolfrid as abbot, Hwaetbert.
Although Bede is mainly studied as a historian now, in his time his works on grammar, chronology, and biblical studies were as important as his historical and hagiographical works. The non-historical works contributed greatly to the Carolingian renaissance. He has been credited with writing a penitential, though his authorship of this work is still very much disputed.
Bede’s best-known work is the Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, or An Ecclesiastical History of the English People,completed in about 731. Bede was aided in writing this book by Albinus, abbot of St Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury. The first of the five books begins with some geographical background, and then sketches the history of England, beginning with Caesar’s invasion in 55 BC. A brief account of Christianity in Roman Britain, including the martyrdom of St Alban, is followed by the story of Augustine‘s mission to England in 597, which brought Christianity to the Anglo-Saxons. The second book begins with the death of Gregory the Great in 604, and follows the further progress of Christianity in Kent and the first attempts to evangelise Northumbria.These ended in disaster when Penda, the pagan king of Mercia, killed the newly Christian Edwin of Northumbria at the Battle of Hatfield Chase in about 632. The setback was temporary, and the third book recounts the growth of Christianity in Northumbria under kings Oswald of Northumbria and Oswy. The climax of the third book is the account of the Council of Whitby, traditionally seen as a major turning point in English history. The fourth book begins with the consecration ofTheodore as Archbishop of Canterbury, and recounts Wilfrid‘s efforts to bring Christianity to the kingdom of Sussex. The fifth book brings the story up to Bede’s day, and includes an account of missionary work in Frisia, and of the conflict with the British church over the correct dating of Easter. Bede wrote a preface for the work, in which he dedicates it to Ceolwulf, king of Northumbria. The preface mentions that Ceolwulf received an earlier draft of the book; presumably Ceolwulf knew enough Latin to understand it, and he may even have been able to read it. The preface makes it clear that Ceolwulf had requested the earlier copy, and Bede had asked for Ceolwulf’s approval; this correspondence with the king indicates that Bede’s monastery had excellent connections among the Northumbrian nobility.
The monastery at Wearmouth-Jarrow had an excellent library. Both Benedict Biscop and Ceolfrith had acquired books from the Continent, and in Bede’s day the monastery was a renowned centre of learning. It has been estimated that there were about 200 books in the monastic library.
For the period prior to Augustine’s arrival in 597, Bede drew on earlier writers, including Solinus. He had access to two works of Eusebius: the Historia Ecclesiastica, and also the Chronicon, though he had neither in the original Greek; instead he had a Latin translation of the Historia, by Rufinus, and Saint Jerome’s translation of the Chronicon. He also knew Orosius‘s Adversus Paganus, and Gregory of Tours‘ Historia Francorum, both Christian histories, as well as the work of Eutropius, a pagan historian. He used Constantius‘s Life of Germanus as a source for Germanus‘s visits to Britain. Bede’s account of the invasion of the Anglo-Saxons is drawn largely from Gildas‘s De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae. Bede would also have been familiar with more recent accounts such asEddius Stephanus‘s Life of Wilfrid, and anonymous Lives of Gregory the Great and Cuthbert. He also drew on Josephus‘s Antiquities, and the works ofCassiodorus, and there was a copy of the Liber Pontificalis in Bede’s monastery. Bede quotes from several classical authors, including Cicero, Plautus, andTerence, but he may have had access to their work via a Latin grammar rather than directly. However, it is clear he was familiar with the works of Virgil and withPliny the Elder‘s Natural History, and his monastery also owned copies of the works of Dionysius Exiguus. He probably drew his account of St. Alban from a life of that saint which has not survived. He acknowledges two other lives of saints directly; one is a life of Fursa, and the other of St. Æthelburh; the latter no longer survives. He also had access to a life of Ceolfrith. Some of Bede’s material came from oral traditions, including a description of the physical appearance ofPaulinus of York, who had died nearly 90 years before Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica was written.
Bede also had correspondents who supplied him with material. Albinus, the abbot of the monastery in Canterbury, provided much information about the church in Kent, and with the assistance of Nothhelm, at that time a priest in London, obtained copies of Gregory the Great‘s correspondence from Rome relating to Augustine’s mission. Almost all of Bede’s information regarding Augustine is taken from these letters. Bede acknowledged his correspondents in the preface to theHistoria Ecclesiastica; he was in contact with Daniel, the Bishop of Winchester, for information about the history of the church in Wessex, and also wrote to the monastery at Lastingham for information about Cedd and Chad. Bede also mentions an Abbot Esi as a source for the affairs of the East Anglian church, and Bishop Cynibert for information about Lindsey.
The historian Walter Goffart argues that Bede based the structure of the Historia on three works, using them as the framework around which the three main sections of the work were structured. For the early part of the work, up until the Gregorian mission, Goffart feels that Bede used Gildas‘s De excidio. The second section, detailing the Gregorian mission of Augustine of Canterbury was framed on the anonymous Life of Gregory the Great written at Whitby. The last section, detailing events after the Gregorian mission, Goffart feels were modelled on Stephen of Ripon‘s Life of Wilfrid. Most of Bede’s informants for information after Augustine’s mission came from the eastern part of Britain, leaving significant gaps in the knowledge of the western areas, which were those areas likely to have a native Briton presence.
Bede’s stylistic models included some of the same authors from whom he drew the material for the earlier parts of his history. His introduction imitates the work of Orosius, and his title is an echo of Eusebius’s Historia Ecclesiastica. Bede also followed Eusebius in taking the Acts of the Apostles as the model for the overall work: where Eusebius used the Acts as the theme for his description of the development of the church, Bede made it the model for his history of the Anglo-Saxon church. Bede quoted his sources at length in his narrative, as Eusebius had done. Bede also appears to have taken quotes directly from his correspondents at times. For example, he almost always uses the terms “Australes” and “Occidentales” for the South and West Saxons respectively, but in a passage in the first book he uses “Meridiani” and “Occidui” instead, as perhaps his informant had done. At the end of the work, Bede added a brief autobiographical note; this was an idea taken from Gregory of Tours‘ earlier History of the Franks.
Bede’s work as a hagiographer, and his detailed attention to dating, were both useful preparations for the task of writing the Historia Ecclesiastica. His interest incomputus, the science of calculating the date of Easter, was also useful in the account he gives of the controversy between the British and Anglo-Saxon church over the correct method of obtaining the Easter date.
Bede is described by Michael Lapidge as “without question the most accomplished Latinist produced in these islands in the Anglo-Saxon period”. His Latin has been praised for its clarity, but his style in the Historia Ecclesiastica is not simple. He knew rhetoric, and often used figures of speech and rhetorical forms which cannot easily be reproduced in translation, depending as they often do on the connotations of the Latin words. However, unlike contemporaries such as Aldhelm, whose Latin is full of difficulties, Bede’s own text is easy to read. In the words of Charles Plummer, one of the best-known editors of the Historia Ecclesiastica, Bede’s Latin is “clear and limpid … it is very seldom that we have to pause to think of the meaning of a sentence … Alcuin rightly praises Bede for his unpretending style.”
Bede’s primary intention in writing the Historia Ecclesiastica was to show the growth of the united church throughout England. The native Britons, whose Christian church survived the departure of the Romans, earn Bede’s ire for refusing to help convert the Saxons; by the end of the Historia the English, and their Church, are dominant over the Britons. This goal, of showing the movement towards unity, explains Bede’s animosity towards the British method of calculating Easter: much of the Historia is devoted to a history of the dispute, including the final resolution at the Synod of Whitby in 664. Bede is also concerned to show the unity of the English, despite the disparate kingdoms that still existed when he was writing. He also wants to instruct the reader by spiritual example, and to entertain, and to the latter end he adds stories about many of the places and people about which he wrote.
N.J. Higham argues that Bede designed his work to promote his reform agenda to Ceolwulf, the Northumbrian king. Bede painted a highly optimistic picture of the current situation in the Church, as opposed to the more pessimistic picture found in his private letters. 
Bede’s extensive use of miracles can prove difficult for readers who consider him a more or less reliable historian, but do not accept the possibility of miracles. Yet both reflect an inseparable integrity and regard for accuracy and truth, expressed in terms both of historical events and of a tradition of Christian faith that continues to the present day. Bede, like Gregory the Great whom Bede quotes on the subject in the Historia, felt that faith brought about by miracles was a stepping stone to a higher, truer faith, and that as a result miracles had their place in a work designed to instruct.
Bede is somewhat reticent about the career of Wilfrid, a contemporary and one of the most prominent clerics of his day. This may be because Wilfrid’s opulent lifestyle was uncongenial to Bede’s monastic mind; it may also be that the events of Wilfrid’s life, divisive and controversial as they were, simply did not fit with Bede’s theme of the progression to a unified and harmonious church.
Bede’s account of the early migrations of the Angles and Saxons to England omits any mention of a movement of those peoples across the channel from Britain to Brittany described by Procopius, who was writing in the sixth century. Frank Stenton describes this omission as “a scholar’s dislike of the indefinite”; traditional material that could not be dated or used for Bede’s didactic purposes had no interest for him.
Bede was a Northumbrian, and this tinged his work with a local bias. The sources he had access to gave him less information about the west of England than for other areas. He says relatively little about the achievements of Mercia and Wessex, omitting, for example, any mention of Boniface, a West Saxon missionary to the continent of some renown and of whom Bede had almost certainly heard, though Bede does discuss Northumbrian missionaries to the continent. He also is parsimonious in his praise for Aldhelm, a West Saxon who had done much to convert the native Britons to the Roman form of Christianity. He lists seven kings of the Anglo-Saxons whom he regards as having held imperium, or overlordship; only one king of Wessex, Ceawlin, is listed, and none from Mercia, though elsewhere he acknowledges the secular power several of the Mercians held. Historian Robin Fleming states that he was so hostile to Mercia because Northumbria had been diminished by Mercian power that he consulted no Mercian informants and included no stories about its saints.
Bede relates the story of Augustine’s mission from Rome, and tells how the British clergy refused to assist Augustine in the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons. This, combined with Gildas’s negative assessment of the British church at the time of the Anglo-Saxon invasions, led Bede to a very critical view of the native church. However, Bede ignores the fact that at the time of Augustine’s mission, the history between the two was one of warfare and conquest, which, in the words of Barbara Yorke, would have naturally “curbed any missionary impulses towards the Anglo-Saxons from the British clergy.”
At the time Bede wrote the Historia Ecclesiastica, there were two common ways of referring to dates. One was to use indictions, which were 15-year cycles, counting from 312 AD. There were three different varieties of indiction, each starting on a different day of the year. The other approach was to use regnal years—the reigning Roman emperor, for example, or the ruler of whichever kingdom was under discussion. This meant that in discussing conflicts between kingdoms, the date would have to be given in the regnal years of all the kings involved. Bede used both these approaches on occasion, but adopted a third method as his main approach to dating: the anno domini method invented by Dionysius Exiguus. Although Bede did not invent this method, his adoption of it, and his promulgation of it in De Temporum Ratione, his work on chronology, is the main reason why it is now so widely used.
The Historia Ecclesiastica was copied often in the Middle Ages, and about 160 manuscripts containing it survive. About half of those are located on the European continent, rather than on the British Isles. Most of the 8th- and 9th-century texts of Bede’s Historia come from the northern parts of the Carolingian Empire. This total does not include manuscripts with only a part of the work, of which another 100 or so survive. It was printed for the first time between 1474 and 1482, probably at Strasbourg, France. Modern historians have studied the Historia extensively, and a number of editions have been produced. For many years, early Anglo-Saxon history was essentially a retelling of the Historia, but recent scholarship has focused as much on what Bede did not write as what he did. The belief that theHistoria was the culmination of Bede’s works, the aim of all his scholarship, a belief common among historians in the past, is no longer accepted by most scholars.
Modern historians and editors of Bede have been lavish in their praise of his achievement in the Historia Ecclesiastica. Stenton regarded it as one of the “small class of books which transcend all but the most fundamental conditions of time and place”, and regarded its quality as dependent on Bede’s “astonishing power of co-ordinating the fragments of information which came to him through tradition, the relation of friends, or documentary evidence … In an age where little was attempted beyond the registration of fact, he had reached the conception of history.”Patrick Wormald described him as “the first and greatest of England’s historians”.
The Historia Ecclesiastica has given Bede a high reputation, but his concerns were different from those of a modern writer of history. His focus on the history of the organisation of the English church, and on heresies and the efforts made to root them out, led him to exclude the secular history of kings and kingdoms except where a moral lesson could be drawn or where they illuminated events in the church. Besides the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the medieval writers William of Malmesbury,Henry of Huntingdon, and Geoffrey of Monmouth used his works as sources and inspirations. Early modern writers, such as Polydore Vergil and Matthew Parker, the Elizabethan Archbishop of Canterbury, also utilised the Historia, and his works were used by both Protestant and Catholic sides in the Wars of Religion.
Some historians have questioned the reliability of some of Bede’s accounts. One historian, Charlotte Behr, thinks that the Historia’s account of the arrival of the Germanic invaders in Kent should not be considered to relate what actually happened, but rather relates myths that were current in Kent during Bede’s time.
It is likely that Bede’s work, because it was so widely copied, discouraged others from writing histories and may even have led to the disappearance of manuscripts containing older historical works.
As Chapter 66 of his On the Reckoning of Time, in 725 Bede wrote the Greater Chronicle (chronica maiora), which sometimes circulated as a separate work. For recent events the Chronicle, like his Ecclesiastical History, relied upon Gildas, upon a version of the Liber pontificalis current at least to the papacy of Pope Sergius I (687–701), and other sources. For earlier events he drew on Eusebius‘s Chronikoi Kanones. The dating of events in the Chronicle is inconsistent with his other works, using the era of creation, the anno mundi.
In his own time, Bede was as well known for his biblical commentaries and exegetical, as well as other theological works. The majority of his writings were of this type, and covered the Old Testament and the New Testament. Most survived the Middle Ages, but a few were lost. It was for his theological writings that he earned the title of Doctor Anglorum, and why he was made a saint.
Bede synthesised and transmitted the learning from his predecessors, as well as made careful, judicious innovation in knowledge (such as recalculating the age of the earth—for which he was censured before surviving the heresy accusations and eventually having his views championed by Archbishop Ussher in the sixteenth century—see below) that had theological implications. In order to do this, he learned Greek, and attempted to learn Hebrew. He spent time reading and rereading both the Old and the New Testaments. He mentions that he studied from a text of Jerome‘s Vulgate, which itself was from the Hebrew text. He also studied both the Latin and the Greek Fathers of the Church. In the monastic library at Jarrow were a number of books by theologians, including works by Basil, Cassian, John Chrysostom, Isidore of Seville, Origen, Gregory of Nazianzus, Augustine of Hippo, Jerome, Pope Gregory I,Ambrose of Milan, Cassiodorus, and Cyprian. He used these, in conjunction with the Biblical texts themselves, to write his commentaries and other theological works. He had a Latin translation by Evagrius of Athanasius‘s Life of Antony, and a copy of Sulpicius Severus‘ Life of St. Martin. He also used lesser known writers, such as Fulgentius, Julian of Eclanum, Tyconius, and Prosper of Aquitaine. Bede was the first to refer to Jerome, Augustine, Pope Gregory and Ambrose as the four Latin Fathers of the Church. It is clear from Bede’s own comments that he felt his job was to explain to his students and readers the theology and thoughts of the Church Fathers.
Bede also wrote homilies, works written to explain theology used in worship services. Bede wrote homilies not only on the major Christian seasons such as Advent,Lent, or Easter, but on other subjects such as anniversaries of significant events.
Both types of Bede’s theological works circulated widely in the Middle Ages. A number of his biblical commentaries were incorporated into the Glossa Ordinaria, an 11th-century collection of biblical commentaries. Some of Bede’s homilies were collected by Paul the Deacon, and they were used in that form in the Monastic Office.Saint Boniface used Bede’s homilies in his missionary efforts on the continent.
Bede sometimes included in his theological books an acknowledgement of the predecessors on whose works he drew. In two cases he left instructions that his marginal notes, which gave the details of his sources, should be preserved by the copyist, and he may have originally added marginal comments about his sources to others of his works. Where he does not specify, it is still possible to identify books to which he must have had access by quotations that he uses. A full catalogue of the library available to Bede in the monastery cannot be reconstructed, but it is possible to tell, for example, that Bede was very familiar with the works of Virgil. There is little evidence that he had access to any other of the pagan Latin writers—he quotes many of these writers but the quotes are almost all to be found in the Latin grammars that were common in his day, one or more of which would certainly have been at the monastery. Another difficulty is that manuscripts of early writers were often incomplete: it is apparent that Bede had access to Pliny’s Encyclopedia, for example, but it seems that the version he had was missing book xviii, as he would almost certainly have quoted from it in his De temporum ratione.[h]
The works dealing with the Old Testament included Commentary on Samuel,Commentary on Genesis,Commentaries on Ezra and Nehemiah, On the Temple, On the Tabernacle,Commentaries on Tobit, Commentaries on Proverbs,Commentaries on the Song of Songs, Commentaries on the Canticle of Habakkuk, The works on Ezra, the Tabernacle and the Temple were especially influenced by Gregory the Great’s writings.
Bede’s works included Commentary on Revelation,Commentary on the Catholic Epistles,Commentary on Acts, Reconsideration on the Books of Acts,On the Gospel of Mark, On the Gospel of Luke, and Homilies on the Gospels. At the time of his death he was working on a translation of the Gospel of St. John into English. He did this for the last 40 days of his life. When the last passage had been translated he said: “All is finished.”
Works on historical and astronomical chronology
De natura rerum, 1529
De temporibus, or On Time, written in about 703, provides an introduction to the principles of Easter computus. This was based on parts of Isidore of Seville‘s Etymologies, and Bede also included a chronology of the world which was derived from Eusebius, with some revisions based on Jerome’s translation of the bible. In about 723, Bede wrote a longer work on the same subject, On the Reckoning of Time, which was influential throughout the Middle Ages. He also wrote several shorter letters and essays discussing specific aspects of computus.
On the Reckoning of Time (De temporum ratione) included an introduction to the traditional ancient and medieval view of thecosmos, including an explanation of how the spherical earth influenced the changing length of daylight, of how the seasonalmotion of the Sun and Moon influenced the changing appearance of the New Moon at evening twilight, and a quantitative relation between the changes of the tides at a given place and the daily motion of the moon. Since the focus of his book was the computus, Bede gave instructions for computing the date of Easter and the related time of the Easter Full Moon, for calculating the motion of the Sun and Moon through the zodiac, and for many other calculations related to the calendar. He gives some information about the months of the Anglo-Saxon calendar in chapter XV. Any codex of Bede’s Easter cycleis normally found together with a codex of his “De Temporum Ratione”.
For calendric purposes, Bede made a new calculation of the age of the world since the creation, which he dated as 3952 BC. Due to his innovations in computing the age of the world, he was accused of heresy at the table of Bishop Wilfrid, his chronology being contrary to accepted calculations. Once informed of the accusations of these “lewd rustics,” Bede refuted them in his Letter to Plegwin.
In addition to these works on astronomical timekeeping, he also wrote De natura rerum, or On the Nature of Things, modelled in part after the work of the same title by Isidore of Seville. His works were so influential that late in the 9th century Notker the Stammerer, a monk of the Monastery of St. Gall in Switzerland, wrote that “God, the orderer of natures, who raised the Sun from the East on the fourth day of Creation, in the sixth day of the world has made Bede rise from the West as a new Sun to illuminate the whole Earth”.
Bede wrote some works designed to help teach grammar in the abbey school. One of these was his De arte metrica, a discussion of the composition of Latin verse, drawing on previous grammarians work. It was based on Donatus’ De pedibus and Servius‘ De finalibus, and used examples from Christian poets as well as Virgil. It became a standard text for the teaching of Latin verse during the next few centuries. Bede dedicated this work to Cuthbert, apparently a student, for he is named “beloved son” in the dedication, and Bede says “I have laboured to educate you in divine letters and ecclesiastical statutes” Another textbook of Bede’s is the De orthographia, a work on orthography, designed to help a medieval reader of Latin with unfamiliar abbreviations and words from classical Latin works. Although it could serve as a textbook, it appears to have been mainly intended as a reference work. The exact date of composition for both of these works is unknown.
Another educational work is De schematibus et tropis sacrae scripturae, which discusses the Bible’s use of rhetoric. Bede was familiar with pagan authors such as Virgil, but it was not considered appropriate to teach biblical grammar from such texts, and in De schematibus … Bede argues for the superiority of Christian texts in understanding Christian literature. Similarly, his text on poetic metre uses only Christian poetry for examples.
According to his disciple Cuthbert, Bede was also doctus in nostris carminibus (“learned in our songs”). Cuthbert’s letter on Bede’s death, the Epistola Cuthberti de obitu Bedae, moreover, commonly is understood to indicate that Bede also composed a five line vernacular poem known to modern scholars as Bede’s Death Song
And he used to repeat that sentence from St. Paul “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God,” and many other verses of Scripture, urging us thereby to awake from the slumber of the soul by thinking in good time of our last hour. And in our own language,—for he was familiar with English poetry,—speaking of the soul’s dread departure from the body:
Facing that enforced journey, no man can be
More prudent than he has good call to be,
If he consider, before his going hence,
What for his spirit of good hap or of evil
After his day of death shall be determined.
Fore ðæm nedfere nænig wiorðe
ðonc snottora ðon him ðearf siæ
to ymbhycgenne ær his hinionge
hwæt his gastæ godes oððe yfles
æfter deað dæge doemed wiorðe.:
As Opland notes, however, it is not entirely clear that Cuthbert is attributing this text to Bede: most manuscripts of the letter do not use a finite verb to describe Bede’s presentation of the song, and the theme was relatively common in Old English and Anglo-Latin literature. The fact that Cuthbert’s description places the performance of the Old English poem in the context of a series of quoted passages from Sacred Scripture, indeed, might be taken as evidence simply that Bede also cited analogous vernacular texts. On the other hand, the inclusion of the Old English text of the poem in Cuthbert’s Latin letter, the observation that Bede “was learned in our song,” and the fact that Bede composed a Latin poem on the same subject all point to the possibility of his having written it. By citing the poem directly, Cuthbert seems to imply that its particular wording was somehow important, either since it was a vernacular poem endorsed by a scholar who evidently frowned upon secular entertainment or because it is a direct quotation of Bede’s last original composition.
There is no evidence for cult being paid to Bede in England in the 8th century. One reason for this may be that he died on the feast day of Augustine of Canterbury. Later, when he was venerated in England, he was either commemorated after Augustine on 26 May, or his feast was moved to 27 May. However, he was venerated outside England, mainly through the efforts of Boniface and Alcuin, both of whom promoted the cult on the Continent. Boniface wrote repeatedly back to England during his missionary efforts, requesting copies of Bede’s theological works. Alcuin, who was taught at the school set up in York by Bede’s pupil Egbert, praised Bede as an example for monks to follow and was instrumental in disseminating Bede’s works to all of Alcuin’s friends. Bede’s cult became prominent in England during the 10th-century revival of monasticism, and by the 14th century had spread to many of the cathedrals of England. Wulfstan, Bishop of Worcester (c. 1008–1095) was a particular devotee of Bede’s, dedicating a church to him in 1062, which was Wulfstan’s first undertaking after his consecration as bishop.
His body was ‘translated‘ (the ecclesiastical term for relocation of relics) from Jarrow to Durham Cathedral around 1020, where it was placed in the same tomb with Saint Cuthbert of Lindisfarne. Later Bede’s remains were moved to a shrine in the Galilee Chapel at Durham Cathedral in 1370. The shrine was destroyed during the English Reformation, but the bones were reburied in the chapel. In 1831 the bones were dug up and then reburied in a new tomb, which is still there. Other relicswere claimed by York, Glastonbury and Fulda.
His feast day was included in the General Roman Calendar in 1899, for celebration on 27 May rather than on his date of death, 26 May, which was then the feast day of Pope Saint Gregory VII. He is venerated in both the Anglican and Roman Catholic Church, with a feast day of 25 May, and in the Eastern Orthodox Church, with a feast day on 27 May.
Bede became known as Venerable Bede (Lat.: Beda Venerabilis) by the 9th century because of his holiness, but this was not linked to consideration forsainthood by the Roman Catholic Church. According to a legend the epithet was miraculously supplied by angels, thus completing his unfinished epitaph. It is first utilised in connection with Bede in the 9th century, where Bede was grouped with others who were called “venerable” at two ecclesiastical councils held at Aachen in 816 and 836. Paul the Deacon then referred to him as venerable consistently. By the 11th and 12th century, it had become commonplace. However, there are no descriptions of Bede by that term right after his death.
Bede’s reputation as a historian, based mostly on the Historia Ecclesiastica, remains strong; historian Walter Goffart says of Bede that he “holds a privileged and unrivalled place among first historians of Christian Europe”. His life and work have been celebrated with the annual Jarrow Lecture, held at St. Paul’s Church, Jarrow, since 1958.
Jump up^Bede’s words are “Ex quo tempore accepti presbyteratus usque ad annum aetatis meae LVIIII …”; which means “From the time I became a priest until the fifty-ninth year of my life I have made it my business … to make brief extracts from the works of the venerable fathers on the holy Scriptures …” Other, less plausible, interpretations of this passage have been suggested—for example that it means Bede stopped writing about scripture in his fifty-ninth year.
Jump up^The key phrase is per linguae curationem, which is variously translated as “how his tongue was healed”, “[a] canker on the tongue”, or, following a different interpretation ofcurationem, “the guidance of my tongue”.
Jump up^The letter itself is in Bedae Opera de Temporibus edited by C. W. Jones, pp. 307–315
Jump up^The account of Cuthbert does not make entirely clear whether Bede died before midnight or after. However, by the reckoning of Bede’s time, passage from the old day to the new occurred at sunset, not midnight, and Cuthbert is clear that he died after sunset. Thus, while his box was brought at three o’clock Wednesday afternoon the 25th, by the time of the final dictation it was already Thursday the 26th.”
Jump up^Laistner provides a list of works definitely or tentatively identified as in Bede’s library.
Bede (1943). Jones, C. W., ed. Bedae Opera de Temporibus. Cambridge, MA: Mediaeval Academy of America.
Bede (2004). Wallis, Faith (trans.), ed. Bede: The Reckoning of Time. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. ISBN0-85323-693-3.
Bede (2011). Holder, Arthur G. (trans.), ed. On the Song of Songs and selected writings. The Classics of Western Spirituality. New York: Paulist Press. ISBN0-8091-4700-9.(contains translations of On the Song of Songs, Homilies on the Gospels and selections from the Ecclesiastical history of the English people).
Swanton, Michael James (trans.) (1998). The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. New York: Routledge. ISBN0-415-92129-5.
Brooks, Nicholas (2006). “From British to English Christianity: Deconstructing Bede’s Interpretation of the Conversion”. In Howe, Nicholas; Karkov, Catherine. Conversion and Colonization in Anglo-Saxon England. Tempe, AZ: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. pp. 1–30. ISBN0-86698-363-5.
Brown, George Hardin (1999). “Royal and Ecclesiastical rivalries in Bede’s History”. Renascence51 (1): 19–33.
Campbell, J. (2004). “Bede (673/4–735)” (fee required). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (revised May 2008 ed.). Oxford University Press.
Cannon, John; Griffiths, Ralph (1997). The Oxford Illustrated History of the British Monarchy. Oxford University Press. ISBN0-19-822786-8.
Chadwick, Henry (1995). “Theodore, the English Church, and the Monothelete Controversy”. In Lapidge, Michael. Archbishop Theodore. Cambridge Studies in Anglo-Saxon England #11. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 88–95. ISBN0-521-48077-9.
Ward, Benedicta (2001). “Bede the Theologian”. In Evans, G. R. The Medieval Theologians: An Introduction to Theology in the Medieval Period. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing. pp. 57–64. ISBN978-0-631-21203-4.
Approved by the Archdiocese of Guadalajara in 1911, the phenomenon is known as the “Miracle of Ocotlán” and took place one day before an earthquake that killed 40 and left the town in Jalisco State in ruins.
Before the start of Mass at the cemetery of the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception – presided over by the parochial vicar, Father Julián Navarro – two white clouds joined together in the northwest sky, where there appeared the image of Christ.
Those present and in nearby towns were deeply moved, made acts of contrition, and cried out begging, “Lord, have mercy!” This apparition of Christ was called “the Lord of Mercy” and in his honor, in September 1875, a new parish church was blessed, consecrated and dedicated to him.
Also among the faithful who witnessed the miracle were Father Julián Martín del Campo, pastor of the community, and Antonio Jiménez, the town’s mayor. Both of them sent letters to their respective superiors telling what had happened.
After the miracle, a record of the event was written down with 30 eye-witnesses attesting. Fifty years later, in 1897, by order of the then-Archbishop of Guadalajara, Pedro Loza y Pardavé, another record of the event was made, with 30 additional persons including five priests.
On Sept. 29, 1911, the Archbishop of Guadalajara at that time, José de Jesús Ortiz y Rodríguez, signed a document validating the apparition of Jesus Christ at Ocotlán, and the devotion and veneration given by the people of that area to the venerated statue of our Lord of Mercy located in the shrine of the same name.
“We must acknowledge as an historical fact, perfectly proven, the apparition of the blessed image of Jesus Christ Crucified… and that it could not have been the work of an hallucination or fraud, since it happened in broad daylight, in the sight of more than 2,000 people,” the cardinal said.
He also stated so that the Lord of Mercy would never be forgotten, the faithful must “gather together in whatever manner possible, after purifying their consciences with the holy sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion and solemnly swear in the presence of God, for themselves and their descendants, that year after year they will celebrate the October 3 anniversary.”
After its approval and to comply with the provisions of the Archbishop of Guadalajara, in 1912 they began public festivities in honor of the Lord of Mercy, recalling the Miracle of 1847. The celebrations currently last 13 days, from Sept. 20 to Oct. 3.
Later, in 1997, Saint John Paul II sent his Apostolic Blessing to the people of Ocotlán on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the miracle.
In an essay that appeared recently on National Catholic Reporter online, Professor Terrence Rynne of Marquette University offered five reasons that support abandoning Catholic Just War Theory and toward what he calls a positive vision of peace:
Modern wars have made the just war theory obsolete;
The rise of a Christology “from below”;
A clearer understanding of how the New Testament relates to contemporary problems;
A renewed appreciation of the way the early church practiced Jesus’ teachings on peace;
The compelling, thrilling saga of nonviolent action over the 60 years since Gandhi.
In this essay I’m going to address what I consider to be the most important of these reasons—the changing character of war—to see if it really does demand abandoning a millennium-and-a-half old tradition of Just War in favor of a half-century old tradition of non-violence.
Professor Rynne’s argument is that war has evolved in ways that render two of the key traditional criteria of just war—discrimination and proportionality—“null and void.” Whereas during the First World War, he asserts, civilian deaths were a mere 10 percent of total fatalities, “in modern wars, such as the internal conflict in Syria or the U.S. invasion of Iraq, civilian deaths … range from 80 percent to 90 percent of all war casualties.” He concludes from this that, “by the very criteria of the just war theory, in our era there is no such thing as a justified war.” Modern wars have made just war theory obsolete.
What are we to make of this claim? Well, to begin with, one might ask why, of all the wars that have been fought since Ambrose and Augustine first articulated the basics of Catholic Just War Theory, the baseline for asserting that today’s wars are inherently disproportional and indiscriminate should be the First World War. Why not the Thirty years War (some German states suffered civilian fatalities approaching 40 percent of the total population)? Why not the Hundred Years War (under 200,000 battlefield fatalities out of a total of about 3,000,000 total war-related deaths)? As even a cursory review of wars fought between the years 500 and 2000 indicate, the First World War was a statistical outlier in terms of the proportion of civilian to military fatalities. When judged against most of the wars fought over the past millennium-and-a-half, today’s wars are not particularly indiscriminate or disproportional. Indeed, depending on who is fighting them they may be decidedly less so than ever before.
Perhaps more important, however, is the logically prior question raised by Professor Rynne’s argument: how, precisely, are proportionality and discrimination defined within the CJW tradition? I say logically prior because unless and until we come to a correct understanding of what those two criteria entail (and do not entail) we will have insufficient grounds upon which to assess the empirical claim that contemporary warfare has mutated to the point where it is inherently disproportionate and indiscriminate and, therefore, universally unjust. Let’s take the principle of proportionality first. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, this principle requires that “the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated” (CCC 2309). With respect to jus ad bellum, this principle requires that the good expected when taking up arms be greater than the damage anticipated as a result of doing so. With respect to jus in bello, it means that the violence employed to achieve a just cause must not be excessive or needlessly harmful. The principle of discrimination, on the other hand, stipulates that “non-combatants, wounded soldiers, and prisoners must be respected and treated humanely” and that “every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation” (CCC 2314).
It is important to note, however, that while these principles are intended to limit the use of force, they are not intended to eliminate it. Proportionality is about limiting both the recourse to war and the degree of force actually employed in war. It is not about eliminating recourse to war altogether. Discrimination is about limiting non-combatant casualties. It is not about reducing non-combatant casualties to zero. The underlying logic at play here is the need to strike a balance between military necessity on the one hand and moral obligation on the other. Catholic just war theory recognizes this and provides us with a tool to strike that balance: the law of double effect. This law holds that an act—including an act of war—is just if it meets the following three conditions:
the act itself must not be intrinsically evil;
the evil effect must not be a desired end but an undesired side-effect of the act; and,
the good effect of the act must exceed the evil effect.
If these three conditions are met, an act of war is considered just, even if non-combatants are killed or wounded and even if the rates at which non-combatants are killed or wounded is historically “unprecedented.”
Approached from this perspective, Professor Rynne’s claim that “by the very criteria of the just war theory, in our era there is no such thing as a justified war” seems difficult to sustain. Not only does the empirical evidence not support this conclusion, but his argument seems built on shaky conceptual foundations as well. For Professor Rynne’s claim to be substantiated, we would have to inhabit a world in which no war-making entities were ever able to fight without violating the principles of proportionality and discrimination (as viewed through the prism of the law of double effect). But that is simply not the world we inhabit today. To be sure, there are plenty of war-making entities (both state and non-state actors) out there that operate with little or no regard for the laws of war. But there are also war-making entities (Western states) that have become more attentive than ever to those laws and to key principles such as proportionality and discrimination. For these states, military laws, regulations, technologies and doctrines have all converged around the moral obligation (and even military necessity) of minimizing non-combatant casualties. To the extent that these states and their armed forces are using force proportionally and discriminately in places like Iraq and Syria, they can be said to be fighting those wars justly—even if the same cannot be said of other parties to those conflicts.
This does not mean, of course, that Western militaries never kill or wound non-combatants. But that is a canard. The point is that, not only do Western militaries not deliberately target non-combatants, they go to great lengths to avoid putting them at risk. For these states and their armed forces, there is indeed such a thing as a justly fought war. The changing character of war, therefore, has not made just war theory obsolete. In fact, quite the opposite: it is now more necessary than ever.
Andrew Latham is a professor of political science at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota for the past two decades. He is the author, most recently, of Theorizing Medieval Geopolitics: War and World Order in the Age of the Crusades published by Routledge in 2012, and The Holy Lance, his first novel, published by Knox Robinson last year.
On Monday, Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin addressed the first World Humanitarian Summit and spoke at a round-table discussion, emphasizing that human dignity has to be at the heart of every response to the world’s difficulties.
The two-day summit was convened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and held in Istanbul, Turkey. Pope Francis sent Cardinal Parolin to lead the Holy See’s top-level delegation at the event.
In his address he emphasised Pope Francis’ support for the idea of convening this First World Humanitarian Summit, “hoping that it may succeed in its goal of placing the person and human dignity at the heart of every humanitarian response, in a common commitment, which can decisively eliminate the culture of waste and disregard for human life, so that no one will be neglected or forgotten, and that no further lives will be sacrificed due to the lack of resources and, above all, the lack of political will.”
“The human person should be the aim of any and every humanitarian action. This transcends politics and is ipso facto indispensable, even, and especially, in cases of disasters and conflicts. In our highly interconnected world, the use of force and armed conflicts affect, in different ways, all nations and peoples. No one is spared. A culture of dialogue and cooperation should be the norm in dealing with the world’s difficulties. Heavy reliance on military intervention and selfish economic policies is short-sighted, counter-productive and never the right solution for these challenges.
“Genocide, deliberate attacks against civilians, violence and rape of women and children, destruction of cultural patrimony are certainly the poison of criminal thoughts, but such ideas begin in human hearts and minds. Hence, prevention requires education and changes in formational models that will inculcate respect for the human person, especially the weakest and most fragile. Political leaders have a special responsibility to translate it into concrete actions and policies.
“Prevention of armed conflicts is possible. It is not a dream, nor an illusion. Regions enjoying peace, security and an absence of armed conflicts are proof of this claim. At important junctures in history, great leaders have made prophetic decisions, based on a deep sense and value of the dignity of the human person. By doing so, they have offered their nations the opportunity to build durable and inclusive communities, and have paved the way to a better future for everyone”.
Cardinal Parolin ended his speech by reiterating that “the Holy See is doing its part to build a real and concrete fraternity, among peoples and nations.”
The cardinal also participated at a round table dedicated to the theme “Political leadership to prevent and end conflicts.”
In the debate, attended by Ban Ki-Moon, the cardinal stressed that “in our troubled world rippling with dormant and sweeping conflicts, nothing is more important than preventing and ending hostilities. Wisdom recognises that ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’. Survivors of the death and destruction, massive displacements and destitution that these conflicts cause cry out for urgent action.”
He continued, “The Holy See is firmly convinced of the fundamentally inhumane nature of war and of the urgent necessity to prevent and to end armed conflicts and violence among peoples and States, in a way that is respectful of the common ethical principles that bind all members of the human family and constitute the bedrock for all human or humanitarian actions.”
He said that we “must no longer primarily rely on military solutions; but rather invest in development, which is essential to durable peace and security. Indeed, building durable peace and security means pursuing integral human development as well as addressing the root causes of conflict.”
Highlighting that the Holy See has long embraced this vision, he reaffirmed the following commitments:
The Holy See is committed to fostering, through “informal and formal diplomacy”, aculture of peace, active solidarity and full respect for inherent human dignity, built also on dynamic interreligious dialogue, ever convinced that religions must be a positive force in preventing and ending conflicts.
The Holy See is committed to employing its resources to encourage schools and social institutions to educate for peace and inclusive societies, which are essential to prevent conflicts.
The Holy See is committed to contributing to the collective work to prevent humanitarian crises in which disarmament can play a significant role in ensuring a peaceful coexistence among Nations, as well as social cohesion within them; it will never tire working towards nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, banning antipersonnel mines and cluster munitions, as well as preventing the expansion and deployment of new weapons systems such as lethal autonomous weapons systems.
Finally, citing Pope Francis’ address to popular movements in Bolivia last July, he said, “The Holy See believes that the primary commitment and goal of the international community must be the prevention of conflicts, by investing in sustainable and integral development that leaves no one behind, no matter how small, so as to have no family without lodging, no rural worker without land, no labourer without rights, no people without sovereignty, no individual without dignity, no child without childhood, no young person without a future, no elderly person without a venerable old age.”
“Having articulated the immense challenge before us”, he concluded, “the Holy See remains committed to doing its part to save lives and spare future generations from the scourges of war.”
Caritas president Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle has launched a video invitation to young people who work for Caritas organisations around the world to attend World Youth Day in Poland.
Pope Francis will join an estimated 2 million young people in Krakow for WYD from 25-31st July. The theme of WYD 2016 is: ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy’ (Mt 5:7).
In the one-minute clip in which young supporters of Caritas in Poland also appear, Cardinal Tagle says, “History tells us that young people are the beating heart of society. This is true of the Church, it is also true of the service of charity that Caritas stands for.
“We need your energy, passion, idealism and dedication to put love into action – a love that serves, a love that will transform the face of humanity.”
An event is planned on 27th July in which Cardinal Tagle will meet the young people of Caritas in Krakow.
Yesterday, after the audience in the Apostolic Palace, the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Professor Ahmad Al-Tayyib, granted an interview to the Vatican media. It took place at the residence of the Eyptian ambassador to the Holy See, and two reporters from Vatican Radio participated: Fr. Jean-Pierre Yammine, head of the Arabic Section, and Cyprien Viet, from the French Section, along with Maurizio Fontana of L’Osservatore Romano. The interview was recorded in audio and video by Vatican Radio and the Vatican Television Centre, and took place entirely in Arabic. It was translated into Italian by the Arabic Section of Vatican Radio.
1- John Paul II was the first Pope to visit the Grand Imam of al-Azhar during his visit to Egypt as part of the Great Jubilee of 2000. Today the Grand Imam is the first to visit the Pope in the Vatican on the occasion of the Jubilee of Mercy. What is the meaning of these important events?
In the name of Clement and Merciful God, I would first like to convey my thanks to His Holiness Pope Francis, for having welcomed me with my delegation from Al-Azhar, and for the warm welcome and affection reserved to me. Today we pay this visit as part of an Al-Azhar initiative, and the agreement between Al-Azhar and the Vatican to continue our holy mission, which is the mission of religions: “to make human beings joyful everywhere”. Al-Azhar has a dialogue, or rather a commission for interreligious dialogue with the Vatican, which was suspended in specific circumstances, but now those circumstances no longer exist, we resume the path of dialogue and hope that it will be better than before. And I am happy to be the first Sheikh of Al-Azhar to visit the Vatican and to sit alongside the Pope in an encounter of discussion and understanding.
2- A short while ago the Grand Imam met Pope Francis in the Vatican. What can we say about this encounter and the atmosphere in which it took place?
The first impression, which was very strong, is that this man is a man of peace, a man who follows the teaching of Christianity, which is a religion of love and peace, and following His Holiness we have seen that he is a man who respects other religions and shows consideration for their followers; he is man who also consecrates his life to serve the poor and the destitute, and who takes responsibility for people in general; he is an ascetic man, who has renounced the ephemeral pleasures of worldly life. All these are qualities that we share with him, and therefore we wish to encounter this man in order to work together for humanity in this vast field we have in common.
3- What are the duties of the great religious authorities and religious leaders in today’s world?
These responsibilities are heavy and grave at the same time, because we are aware, as we said also to His Holiness, that all the philosophies and modern social ideologies that have taken the lead of humanity, far from religion and far from heaven, have failed to make man happy or to take him far from wars and bloodshed. I believe that the moment has arrived for the representatives of the Divine Religions to participate strongly and in a concrete way to give humanity a new direction, towards mercy and peace, so that humanity can avoid the great crisis we are suffering now. Man without religion constitutes a danger to his fellow man, and I believe that people now, in the twenty-first century, have started to look around and to seek out wise guides to lead them in the right direction. And all this has led us to this meeting and this discussion, and to the agreement to begin to take a step in the right direction.
4- The University of Al-Azhar is engaged in important work in renewing scholastic texts. Can you tell us something about this project?
Yes, we renew them in the sense that we clarify the Muslim concepts that have been deviated by those who use violence and terrorism, and by armed movements that claim to work for peace. We have identified these erroneous concepts, and we have offered this as part of a curriculum to our students in middle and high schools, we have shown them the deviant side and the deviant understanding, and at the same time we have tried to make our students understand the correct concepts, from which these extremists and terrorists have deviated. We have established a world observatory, that monitors in eight languages the material disseminated by these extremist movements, and the distorted ideas that deviate youth. And today this material is corrected and then translated into other languages. Through the “Home of the Egyptian Family” – which reunites Muslims with all the Christian confessions in Egypt, and is a joint project between Al-Azhar and the Churches – we seek to offer an answer to those who take opportunities and wait in ambush to sow disorder, divisions and conflicts between Christians and Muslims. We also have the Muslim Council of Elders, chaired by the Sheikh of Al-Azhar, and this Council sends peace delegations to the various world capitals and carries out important activity in favour of peace and to promote genuine Islam. We held in the past, around a year ago, a conference in Florence, right here in Italy, on the theme “East and West”, or rather “The Collaboration between East and West”. In addition, we receive at Al-Azhar imams from mosques in Europe, as part of a two-month programme offering formation in dialogue, exposing erroneous concepts and dealing with the integration of Muslims in European societies and nations, so that they may be a resource for the security, prosperity and strength of those countries.
5- The Middle East is experiencing great difficulties. What messages would you like to give us in this regard, on the occasion of this visit to the Vatican?
Certainly. I come from the Middle East where I live and I suffer, along with others, the consequences of the rivers of blood and cadavers, and there is no logical reason for this catastrophe that we are living day and night. Certainly there are internal and external motivations, whose convergence has inflamed these wars. Today I am in the heart of Europe and I would like to make the most of my presence in this institution, so great for Catholics – the Vatican – to launch an appeal to the entire world so that it can unite and close ranks to confront and put an end to terrorism, because I believe that if this terrorism is neglected, the price will be paid not only in the east; both east and west could suffer together, as we have seen. Therefore this is my appeal to the world and to the free men of the world: to come to an agreement immediately and to intervene to put an end to these rivers of blood. Allow me to say something in this declaration: yes, terrorism exists, but Islam has nothing to do with this terrorism, and this applies to Ulama Muslims and to Christians and Muslims in the East. And those who kill Muslims, and who also kill Christians, have misunderstood the texts of Islam either intentionally or by negligence. A year ago Al-Azhar held a General Conference for Ulama Muslims, Sunni and Shiite, and invited the leaders of the Eastern Churches, of various religions and confessions, and even the Yazidi sent a representative to this conference under the aegis of Al-Azhar. Among the most salient points of the joint declaration, it was said that Islam and Christianity have nothing to do with those who kill, and we asked the West not to confuse this deviant and misled group with Muslims. We said with one voice, Muslims and Christians, that we are the masters of this land and we are partners, and each one of us has a right to this land. We have rejected forced emigration, slavery and the trade in women in the name of Islam. Here I would like to say that the issue must not be presented as persecution of Christians in the East, but on the contrary there are more Muslim than Christian victims, and we all suffer this catastrophe together. In summary, I would like to conclude on this matter by saying that we must not blame religions because of the deviations of some of their followers, because in every religion there exists a deviant faction that raises the flag of religion to kill in its name.
6- Before concluding, would you like to add anything?
I again express my heartfelt thanks, my appreciation and my hope – that I will carry with me – of working together, Muslims and Christians, Al-Azhar and the Vatican, to relieve human beings wherever they are, regardless of their religion and belief, and to save them from destructive wars, poverty, ignorance and disease.
[Working translation from the Italian translation of the Arabic original]
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