LETTER: In praise of a worthy patron

As a governor of Bede’s School, I thank John de Waal [letter May 22] for drawing attention to St Bede and confirm the school’s pride in bearing his name. The re-naming of the school a few years ago expresses veneration of an educator whose importance to England and Western Europe had been celebrated for centuries before his canonisation.

Throughout Bede’s life (673 to 735) our country was divided into separate kingdoms. He wrote his masterpiece “The Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation”, 200 years before his English nation became one kingdom and significantly King Alfred would be the first translator of his Latin text into English. It can be argued that Bede made as big a contribution as Alfred to the concept of Englishness.

In his 1958 introduction to “Ecclesiastical History” a few years after the defeat of Nazism, the historian David Knowles pointed out we had “been here before”. Bede’s time “was a dark age when Western Christendom was reduced to a narrow belt of lands ... and when the heritage of early Christian art and thought ... might have seemed to have been in danger of disappearing.” Bede played a seminal role in the Northumbrian Christianity from which derived the conversion of Germany and indeed the establishment of Charlemagne’s Western Roman Empire.

Bede’s School, in the commitment to knowledge and truth which it shares with all good educators, could not have a more worthy patron.

Patrick Tobin

Governor of Bede’s School

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