Hush Listen to the staccato silence descend across continents as the air rarifies with a million gasps of breathlessness at the very whisper of the name.
St.Bede's as in a flash it conjures a mosaic of myriad images, opens the floodgates of submerged memories and sets the hearts of a multitude aflutter.
It's true. St. Bede's has always been magical. Located on the shores of the Marina in Madras, standing distinctly between the Santhome Cathedral
on the left and the Russian embassy on the right, the school has nurtured in true Anglo-Indian style the growth and education of countless number of
students since its inception in 1907, and its boarding has been home to thousands of Anglo-Indian boys over the last century.
A century that's right! Soon after Lord Curzon announced the new scheme of European education for the whole of India in 1906-07, the Bishop of Mylapore,
Dr. Theotinius Vieira de Castro opened a school separate from the San Thome High school for the benefit of Anglo-Indian children. It opened with 55 pupils
in a rented building on the premises of the present school for the deaf and dumb on Santhome High Road. The first Batch of High School candidates from
St. Bede's appeared for the European High School examination in 1909, and one of its students emerged topper in the Presidency. In 1914 the school shifted
to a nearby location, and the new St. Bede's boarding was started with just three inmates. However, it was not until 1934 that the school was able to move
to its permanent premises.
In the last chapter of his great work on the "Ecclesiastical History of the English People" Bede writes about his own life: "From that time I have spent
the whole of my life within that monastery, devoting all my pains to the study of the Scriptures, and amid the observance of monastic discipline and the daily
charge of singing in the Church, it has been ever my delight to learn or teach or write. In my nineteenth year I was admitted to the diaconate, in my thirtieth
to the priesthood, both by the hands of the most reverend Bishop John [St. John of Beverley], and at the bidding of Abbot Ceolfrid. From the time of my
admission to the priesthood to my present fifty-ninth year, I have endeavored for my own use and that of my brethren, to make brief notes upon the Holy
Scripture, either out of the works of the venerable Fathers or in conformity with their meaning and interpretation."
It is plain from Bede's letter to Bishop Egbert that the historian occasionally visited his friends for a few days, away from his own monastery of Jarrow,
but with such rare exceptions his life seems to have been one peaceful round of study and prayer passed in the midst of his own community. How much he was
beloved by them is made manifest by the touching account of the saint's last sickness and death left us by Cuthbert, one of his disciples. Their studious
pursuits were not given up on account of his illness and they read aloud by his bedside, but constantly the reading was interrupted by their tears.
"I can with truth declare", writes Cuthbert of his beloved master, "that I never saw with my eyes or heard with my ears anyone return thanks so unceasingly
to the living God." Even on the day of his death (the vigil of the Ascension, 735) the saint was still busy dictating a translation of the Gospel of St. John.
In the evening the boy Wilbert, who was writing it, said to him: "There is still one sentence, dear master, which is not written down." And when this had been
supplied, and the boy had told him it was finished, "Thou hast spoken truth", Bede answered, "it is finished. Take my head in thy hands for it much delights me
to sit opposite any holy place where I used to pray, that so sitting I may call upon my Father." And thus upon the floor of his cell singing, "Glory be to the
Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost" and the rest, he peacefully breathed his last breath.
The title Venerabilis seems to have been associated with the name of Bede within two generations after his death. There is of course no early authority
for the legend repeated by Fuller of the "dunce-monk" who in composing an epitaph on Bede was at a loss to complete the line: Hac sunt in fossa Bedae . . . .
ossa and who next morning found that the angels had filled the gap with the word venerabilis. His sainthood was recognised 50 years after his death in 735;
his body was later taken from Jarrow to Durham Cathedral, where it lies in the Galilee Chapel. In 1899 he was belatedly named a Doctor of the Church.