aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

On the suspension of worship services

In 7th Century Northumbria, a terrible epidemic swept through the countryside. The double monastery of Monkwearmouth-Jarrow was hard hit. Only two monks survived the pestilence: the elderly abbot and a young novice. Though it broke the abbot's heart, he said the two would have to cut short the daily hours; the two of them were not enough to sing all the psalms and so on for all the monastic offices. The boy protested. He said that they should sing them all.

And so they did. The young novice had, remarkably, already learned the entire sequence of offices the whole monastic community held in memory. He and the abbot fulfilled the mission of the abbey while they waited for new brothers to be sent or feel the call and join. So capable was the young novice -- and so prodigious his memory and so wide-ranging his thought -- that he was ordained deacon several years in advance of the usual canonical age. He was eventually ordained a priest, and went on to become the leading scholar of all Europe.

His name was Bæda. We know him as the Venerable Bede.

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