Posted by: anna | January 25, 2010

Benedict Biscop again

I am very touched by several aspects of this story: travel, culture and friendship.

Most medieval people probably never left their home village. In fact this is probably true of most people until very recent decades, with exceptions such as war and mass migration. However, a surprising number of people in the Middle Ages, indeed in what is called the Dark Ages (what a misnomer) did travel, frequently and far.

And Benedict Biscop went repeatedly to Rome, both because he felt drawn to devotion there and to bring back the truth and fullness of the faith to his monastery in Britain, which then would have been, despite its several centures of Christianity, still a missionary outpost on the far edge of the known world – look at medieval maps and Britain and Ireland are stretched out at the border.

I wonder if anything is known about the books he brought back to Wearmouth? Nothing much turns up at first glance (or second) sur la Toile. Every book, every picture, every scribe or musician or scholar coming to England would have been treasured as a repository of learning, not only of ‘the right way’ to paint or build or sing but as a way of opening up a life nearer to God to the thirsty souls wanting to learn from them.

The story of the two old, ill monks being brought together by their community for a last earthly greeting is very moving. And then they continued their journey, together.

But I wonder one thing: the story says that when Benedict Biscop converted, that is, changed his life at the age of twenty-five, he gave up his lands, marriage and family. Does this mean that he gave up the prospect of marriage and family? or else what happened to his wife?


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