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Venerable Bede The Ecclesiastical History Of The English Nation

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Venerable Bede
The Ecclesiastical History Of The English Nation
page 111

bishop. On his death, Eolla succeeded in the bishopric. He also died some years since, and the bishopric has been discontinued to this day.


Coinred and Offa become monks.

IN the fourth year of the reign of Osred, Coinred, who had for some time nobly governed the kingdom of the Mercians, did a much more noble act, by quitting the throne of his kingdom, and going to Rome, where being shorn, when Constantine was pope, and made a monk at the relics of the apostles, he continued to his last hour in prayers, fasting and alms-deeds. He was succeeded in the throne by Ceolred, the son of Ethelred, who had been king before Coinred. With him went the son of Sighere, king of the East Saxons above-mentioned, whose name was Offa, a youth of most lovely age and beauty, and most earnestly desired by all his nation to be their king. He, with like devotion, quitted his wife, lands, kindred and country, for Christ and for the Gospel, that “he might receive an hundred-fold in this life, and in the world to come life everlasting.” He also, when they came to the holy places at Rome, receiving the tonsure, and adopting a monastic life, attained the long wishedfor sight of the blessed apostles in heaven.

Bishop Wilfrid dies.Of Wilfrid’s life.

The same year that they departed from Britain, the celebrated prelate, Wilfrid, died in the province of Inundalum, after he had been bishop forty-five years. His body, being laid in a coffin, was carried to his monastery, called Ripon, and there buried in the church of the blessed Apostle Peter, with the honour due to so great a prelate. We will now turn back, and briefly mention some particulars of his life. Being a boy of a good disposition, and behaving himself worthily at that age, he conducted himself so modestly and discreetly in all respects, that he was deservedly beloved, respected and cherished by his elders as one of themselves. At fourteen years of age he preferred the monastic to the secular life; which, when he had signified to his father, for his mother was dead, he readily consented to his heavenly wishes, and advised him to persist in his holy resolution. Accordingly he came to the isle of Lindisfarne, and there giving himself up to the service of the monks, he took care diligently to learn and to perform those things which belong to monastic purity and piety; and being of an acute understanding, he in a very short time learned the psalms and some books, before he was shorn, but when he was already become very remarkable for the greater virtues of humility and obedience: for which he was deservedly beloved and respected by his equals and elders. Having served God some years in that monastery, and being a clear-sighted youth, he observed that the way to virtue taught by the Scots was not perfect, and he resolved to go to Rome, to see what ecclesiastical or monastic rites were in use there. The brethren being made acquainted therewith, commended his design, and advised him to put it into execution. He then repaired to Queen Eanfled, to whom he was well known, and who had got him into that monastery by her advice and assistance, and acquainted her that he was desirous to visit the churches of the apostles. She, being pleased with the youth’s resolution, sent him into Kent, to King Earconbert, who was her uncle’s son, requesting that he would send him to Rome in an honourable manner. At that time, Honorius, one of the disciples of the holy Pope Gregory, and well instructed in ecclesiastical institutes, was archbishop there. Whilst he made some stay there, and being a youth of an active spirit, diligently applied himself to learn those things which he undertook, another youth, called Biscop, or otherwise Benedict, of the English nobility, arrived there, being likewise desirous to go to Rome, of which we have before made mention. The king gave him Wilfrid for a companion, with orders to conduct him to Rome. When they came to Lyons, Wilfrid was detained there by Dalfin, the bishop of that city; but Benedict hastened on to Rome. That prelate was delighted with the youth’s prudent discourse, the gracefulness of his aspect, the alacrity of his behaviour, and the sedateness and gravity of his thoughts; for which reason he plentifully supplied him and his companions with all necessaries, as long as they stayed with him; and further offered to commit to him the government of a considerable part of France, to give him a maiden daughter of his own brother to wife, and to receive him as his adopted son. He returned thanks for the favour, which he was pleased to show to a stranger, and answered, that he had resolved upon another course of life, and for that reason had left his country and set out for Rome. Hereupon the bishop sent him to Rome, furnishing him with a guide and plenty of all things requisite for his journey, earnestly requesting that he would come that way when he returned into his own country. Wilfrid arriving at Rome, by constantly applying himself to prayer and the study of ecclesiastical affairs, as he had before proposed to himself, gained the friendship of the most holy and learned Boniface, the archdeacon, who was also counsellor to the pope, by whose instruction he regularly learned the four Gospels, the true calculation of Easter, and many other things appertaining to ecclesiastical discipline, which he could not attain in his own country. When he had spent some months there, in successful study, he returned into France, to Dalfin; and having stayed with him three years, received from him the tonsure, and was so much beloved that he had thoughts of making him his heir; but this was prevented by the bishop’s

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