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The Historical Works Of Venerable Bede

THIS holy priest had now, by Divine Grace, ruled the church with great devoutness in preaching the Gospel and with zealous piety about forty years, and during this time had, by his catholic doctrines, turned a multitude of persons to the purity of the Christian faith. The knowledge of God’s law spread every where; the holy name of Christ was heard in the mouths of all; charity of life was visible in their conduct, love of their heavenly country burnt in the breasts of all; on appointed days the whole people thronged to the church, and celebrated with great joy the proper feast-days of our Saviour; alms were distributed abundantly to the poor, from house to house; the word of God was every where preached daily, and at the canonical hours the clergy sung in the churches hymns of praise. “Blessed,” said they, “are the people who have these things: blessed are the people who have the Lord for their God!” For all lay down to rest in the beauty of peace, all took pleasure in the knowledge of truth, and delighted in the holiness of Christ’s religion. But when this holy preacher and priest, ripe in virtues as in years, was now thought fit to receive from the Lord the reward of his labours, he was taken with a violent fever in the city of Atrebata; the Divine mercy so regulating it that where he had laboured so zealously, he might from thence arrive at eternal felicity, and in the arms of his brethren render up his soul to his Creator. But God, in order to signalize the departure of his servant, caused a pillar of light to shine in the night from the top of the house in which the holy man was lying; and it seemed to remain there two hours, and to reach even up to heaven. When this was told to the man of God, he immediately saw that it portended his own death: and he called to him his sons, that by their prayers his soul might be commended to his Creator. Having bestowed on them the sweet counsel of paternal love, and the last words of charity, he was strengthened by the holy viaticum of Christ’s body and blood, and resigned his soul in the arms of his weeping brethren. O happy day for the holy priest! but most sorrowful for all the people, thus suddenly abandoned by so great a spiritual pastor—abandoned only by his bodily presence, for his intercession in the spirit will never fail them, if they continue to follow his precepts, and the example of his holy life. The clergy and much people assembled together, to perform the last obsequies of the reverend man: there were also other officers of the church, priests and deacons: but, wonderful to say, amid the voice of the earthly singers, as some pious men relate, a song was heard in heaven, and when they approached the bier on which the body was placed, and which was lying with all funeral honours in the midst of them, they found themselves unable to move it. Not knowing what to do, nor which way to turn, they asked the pious arch-priest Scopilio, who had been private secretary to the man of God, whether he remembered to have heard him give any instructions about his burial, being apprehensive that this might have happened because they intended to bury him within the walls of the city. Scopilio answered, that he had often heard him say no one ought to be buried in a town, which should be the abode of the living, not the resting-place of the dead. By his advice, therefore, they determined to bury him without the walls in the oratory which he had himself built; and immediately they lifted the bier with the greatest ease, and carried the holy body with lamps and hymns of praise to the place, where they buried him with great honours near the altar of the oratory. A noble treasure, in truth, was it which they here deposited in the ground! and miracles of Divine power are wrought there even to this day, such as those who have seen can tell better than the pen of the historian. In process of time, the house in which God’s chosen servant died caught fire, and a certain holy woman, called Habita, saw Saint Vedast come and put out the fire. Thus the house escaped destruction, as did also the bed on which the man of God had died, that all men might see how exalted must be his happiness in heaven, inasmuch as even his house and bed were not suffered to be burnt on earth; and by his exceeding merit, with the assistance of Divine Love, former miracles are daily related, and new ones performed. Blessed was the city of Attrebata, for such an excellent protector! Its mouldering walls are ennobled by his righteous deeds: all its people should rejoice in his holy intercession, and offer everlasting praise to Almighty God, who gave them so renowned a teacher, by whose preaching they have learnt the way of truth, and by whose prayers, if they continue in the firmness of the faith, and in holiness of life, they will remain safe from all adversity, and will arrive at the glory of eternal happiness through our Lord Jesus Christ, who reigns for ever and ever with the Father and the Holy Spirit, God, through ages of ages!—Amen!








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