Bede Preached to a Heap of Stones (AD 672-735). On one occasion, we are told, the Venerable Bede preached to a heap of stones, thinking himself in a church; and the stones were so affected by his eloquence, that they exclaimed, "Amen, Venerable Bede!"
And I immediately began wondering who observed this, in order to report it. I mean, it obviously wasn't the Venerable Bede himself, for someone who can't tell the difference between a heap of stones and the inside of a church isn't going to be a particularly reliable person for reporting back, and anyway in this case "Venerable" is not simply an honorific but also a euphemism for either "barking mad" or "as comically blind as Mr McGoo"... (And what, I suddenly wonder, do those dates mean? If they were the Bede's dates, then he lived to the age of 63, which isn't really particularly venerable, not even for then. On the other hand, if it's how long he preached to the heap of stones for, I'm not surprised they gave him an "amen" at the end. They probably also had chorus of "For he's a jolly good fellow" followed by a whip-round in order to send him somewhere there weren't any stones.) (Right. I just googled, and those were his dates. Ignore that last parenthetical statement.)
Now, I think it's reasonable to assume that if the Venerable Bede mistakenly thought that he was in church, surely the hearty "Amen" from the stones would merely confirm his belief that he was in church, and then he'd wend his venerable way home having completely missed the fact that a miracle had just happened. Which means that either there had to be someone standing beside him, clearing his or her throat from time to time and trying to point out that they weren't actually in church after all, or possibly a particularly chatty rock mentioned it later, from whom the story came down to us...
, our honorary LJer