How an Epidemic Gave Us an Epic Monk

You are probably familiar with the early Benedictine monk who goes by the name Venerable Bede. His Feast Day is May 25. He was one of the early giants in English Literature, right up there with Chaucer and company. His life, which began around 673, was highly influenced by a virulent epidemic that raged across England in multiple waves during his lifetime.

When he was a young lad of 7, his parents put him in the Benedictine monastery of Saints Peter and Paul, – apparently not an uncommon practice back in the day. When he was 13, he transferred to the newly founded monastery of Jarrow in Northeast England. Within months of the monastery’s opening, a plague ravaged the area. Within a year all the monks of Jarrow had died – save the Abbot and the teenaged Bede. The old man and the novice sang the Liturgical Hours together, alternating verses in an otherwise empty choir. Bede served the Abbot’s Mass throughout the dark days of the plague. No one else could be present.