Pontiff Lauds a Maker of Christian Europe

Considers Contribution of Venerable Bede

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 18, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Venerable Bede contributed to the makings of a Christian Europe, says Benedict XVI, and thus it is right to pray that God raise up people of his stature.

The Pope affirmed this today in the general audience held in St. Peter’s Square. He dedicated his reflection to Bede, who lived from the early 670s to 735. The Holy Father concentrated on Bede’s contribution to Scripture studies, the history of the Church, and liturgical theology.

«Sacred Scriptures were the constant source of Bede’s theological reflection,» the Pontiff noted. «Having made a careful critical study of the text […] he commented on the Bible, reading it in a Christological vein, namely, re-uniting two things: On one hand, he listened to what the text was saying exactly, he really wanted to listen and understand the text itself; on the other hand, he was convinced that the key to understanding sacred Scripture as the unique Word of God is Christ and with Christ, in his light, one understands the Old and the New Testament as ‘a’ sacred Scripture.»

Benedict XVI affirmed that the history of the Church was a «topic loved by Bede.»

The scholar placed the center of history at the birth of Christ, creating a calendar that begins with the Incarnation, the Pope noted.

He continued: «[Bede] registered the first six ecumenical councils and their development. […] Finally, he wrote with documentary rigor and literary expertise the already mentioned ‘Ecclesiastical History of the English People,’ for which he is recognized as ‘the father of English historiography.’ […]

«The calculation elaborated scientifically by him to establish the exact date of the Easter celebration, and thus of the entire cycle of the liturgical year, became the text of reference for the whole Catholic Church.»

Finally, the Holy Father pointed to Bede’s contribution as «an illustrious teacher of liturgical theology.»

He said that Bede’s «way of making theology, interlacing the Bible, the liturgy and history,» enabled him to give a «timely message for the different ‘states of life.'»

The Bishop of Rome noted that Bede already in life enjoyed «fame of holiness and wisdom.» Just over a century after his death, he was equated with «a new sun that God had made arise not in the East but in the West to illumine the world.»

The Pope contended that «it is a fact that, with his works, Bede contributed effectively to the making of a Christian Europe, in which the different populations and cultures amalgamated among themselves, conferring on them a uniform physiognomy, inspired by the Christian faith.»

«Let us pray,» he thus concluded «that also today there be personalities of Bede’s stature, to keep the whole Continent united; let us pray so that all of us are willing to rediscover our common roots, to be builders of a profoundly human and genuinely Christian Europe.»

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