Bede Jarrett

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Bede Jarrett OP (22 August 1881 – 17 March 1934) was an English Dominican friar and Catholic priest who was also a noted historian and author. Known for works including Mediæval Socialism and The Emperor Charles IV, Jarrett also founded Blackfriars Priory at the University of Oxford in 1921, formally reinstating the Dominican Order at that university for the first time since the Dissolution of the Monasteries under King Henry VIII.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Greenwich as Cyril Jarrett, he was the fifth of six sons to parents Colonel H.S. Jarrett, Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire (CIE), and Agnes (Beaufort) Jarrett.[1][2][3] Beginning in 1891, Jarrett studied at Stonyhurst, and in August 1898 he joined the Order of Preachers (OP), also known as the Dominican Order, at St Dominic's Priory in London.[3] Jarrett continued to study at the novitiate in Woodchester and became a novice on 24 September 1898 under the new name of Friar Bede.[2][3] His religious name was for Bede, known as "the Venerable Bede", an early British Catholic saint sometimes called the Father of English History.[1][4] On 30 August 1900, Jarrett moved to continue his studies of philosophy, theology and history at Hawkesyard Priory and received minor orders and the subdiaconate, and diaconate in 1902.[2][3]

In 1904 Jarrett became the first Dominican friar since the Reformation to study at the University of Oxford;[5] he studied history and completed his degree in 1907.[1] On 18 December 1904, after his first term at Oxford, Jarrett was ordained in Woodchester.[2] To complete his formal education, in 1908 he received his lectorate in theology at Louvain.[1]


St Dominic's Priory became Jarrett's first and long-time station.[6] Appointed prior at the "unusually early"[2] age of 33 and beginning his position on 17 June 1914, Jarrett became the elected provincial two years after on 5 September 1916 and held the office until his death in 1934 after a record four successful elections.[2][6] His accomplishments at St Dominic's included expanding the Laxton Dominican School for Boys, beginning a series of Thomistic lectures sponsored by London University and launching missions in the Middle East and South Africa.[2] He felt it was important that Dominicans preach abroad rather than concentrate efforts domestically, a departure from the previous provincial who had not pursued the South African mission for that reason.[7]

Blackfriars Priory[edit]

Jarrett also founded the Blackfriars Dominican priory in Oxford.[2] Construction began on 15 August 1921; it took Jarrett eight years to raise the funds to build the new priory, the success of which peers attributed to his frequent trips to and fundraising in the United States.[8] The event earned a letter of congratulations and encouragement from Pope Benedict XV.[9] The priory opened in 1929 but was incomplete at the time of Jarrett's death.[2][10]

Writings and publications[edit]

Jarrett authored numerous books, prayers and articles, including five entries in the Catholic Encyclopedia.[11] He also purchased Blackfriars, a Dominican magazine renamed New Blackfriars in the 1960s, for £40 in 1919 and persuaded publisher Basil Blackwell to publish it, which prevented it from being discontinued.[12][13]


Jarrett died of sudden illness on 17 March 1934.[2] He is buried in St Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery in Woodchester.[14]


  • Jarrett knew author Graham Greene, also an Oxford graduate, and instructed his wife Vivien prior to her reception into the Catholic Church in 1922. He became godfather to Lucy Caroline Greene, their daughter, in 1933.[5] Greene biographers W.J. West and Michael G. Brennan speculate that Greene's relationship with Jarrett and Jarrett's works, including Mediaeval Socialism and Social Theories in the Middle Ages, influenced Greene's writings.[15][16]
  • The Encyclopedia of World Biography lists Jarrett's The Emperor Charles IV as the standard biography of Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV.[17]



Title Publication date Notes
Mediaeval Socialism 1914
S. Antonino and Mediæval Economics 1914
Meditations for Layfolk 1915 Later published under the title Classic Catholic Meditations[18]
Saint Catherine of Siena: Her Life and Times 1916 With Catherine Mary Antony
The Abiding Presence of the Holy Ghost in the Soul 1918 Later published under the titles He Dwells in Your Soul and The Little Book of the Holy Spirit[19]
Living Temples 1919
The Religious Life 1920
The English Dominicans 1921
Life of St. Dominic 1924
Social Theories in the Middle Ages: 1200–1500 1926
A history of Europe from earliest times to the present 1929
The Space of Life Between 1930
House of Gold: Lenten Sermons 1931
No Abiding City: Lenten Conferences Given at Our Lady of Victories 1932
Our Lady of Lourdes: Meditations on the Saleve Regina 1934
Contardo Ferrini 1934
The Emperor Charles IV 1935 Published after Jarrett's death[20]
Purity 1937


Title Publication date Editor(s) Notes
Letters of Bede Jarrett 1989 Simon Tugwell, Aidan Bellenger


  1. ^ a b c d Bullough, S. "Jarrett, Bede". New Catholic Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2015-07-26. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Delany, Bernard (May 1934). "Father Bede Jarrett, O.P.". Blackfriars. 15 (170): 303–312. doi:10.1111/j.1741-2005.1934.tb04225.x. 
  3. ^ a b c d Reeves, John-Baptist (June 1939). "Biography of Father Bede Jarrett, O.P.". New Blackfriars. 20 (231): 420–426. doi:10.1111/j.1741-2005.1939.tb00186.x. Retrieved 2015-07-26. 
  4. ^ "The Venerable Bede". Durham World Heritage Site. Retrieved 2015-07-27. 
  5. ^ a b Brennan, Michael (2010). Graham Greene: Fictions, Faith and Authorship. London: Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 4. 
  6. ^ a b "The Author". Catholic Education. Retrieved 2015-07-26. 
  7. ^ Denis, Phillipe (1998). The Dominican Friars in Southern Africa: a Social History, 1577–1990. Leiden, The Netherlands: Koninkijke Brill. 
  8. ^ Pepler, Conrad (April 1984). "Remembering Father Bede Jarrett 50 Years After". New Blackfriars. 65 (766): 186–190. doi:10.1111/j.1741-2005.1984.tb02664.x. Retrieved 2015-07-26. 
  9. ^ The Catholic Historical Review: Volume 1. Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America. 1922. pp. 396–399. 
  10. ^ "Obituary". The Tablet. 1936-04-18. Retrieved 2015-07-26. 
  11. ^ "Search results: Bede Jarrett". The Original Catholic Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2015-07-26. [permanent dead link]
  12. ^ West, W.J. (1997). The Quest for Graham Greene. New York City, New York: St.Martins Press. p. 36. 
  13. ^ Kerr, Fergus (October 2003). "The First Issue". New Blackfriars. 84 (992): 434–447. JSTOR 43250756. doi:10.1111/j.1741-2005.2003.tb06312.x. 
  14. ^ "Fr Bede Jarrett O.P.". Find a Grave. Retrieved 2015-07-26. 
  15. ^ West, W.J. (1997). The Quest for Graham Greene. New York City, New York: St Martins Press. p. 37. 
  16. ^ Brennan, Michael (Summer 2006). "Graham Greene's Catholic Conversion: The Early Writings (1923–29) and the Man Within". Logos. 9 (3): 134–157. doi:10.1353/log.2006.0022. 
  17. ^ "Charles IV (Holy Roman Empire)". Encyclopedia of World Biography. Retrieved 2015-07-27. 
  18. ^ Jarrett, Bede (2004). Classic Catholic Meditations. Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press. p. i. 
  19. ^ Jarrett, Bede (2005). The Little Book of the Holy Spirit (PDF). Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press. p. i. Retrieved 2015-07-27. 
  20. ^ Jarrett, Bede (1935). The Emperor Charles IV. London, UK: Eyre and Spottiswoode. 

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