The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Saint Bede, The Complete Works of Venerable Bede, 8 vols. 
The Complete Works of Venerable Bede, in the original Latin, collated with the Manuscripts, and various printed editions, and accompanied by a new English translation of the Historical Works, and a Life of the Author. By the Rev. J.A. Giles (London: Whittaker and Co., 1843). 8 vols.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
Table of Contents
OPERA QUÆ SUPERSUNT OMNIA,
NUNC PRIMUM IN ANGLIA,
OPE CODICUM MANUSCRIPTORUM,
EDIDIT J. A. GILES, LL.D.,
ECCLESIÆ ANGLICANÆ PRESBYTER,
et coll. corp. chr. oxon. olim socius.
VENEUNT APUD WHITTAKER ET SOCIOS
IN THE ORIGINAL LATIN,
COLLATED WITH THE MANUSCRIPTS, AND
VARIOUS PRINTED EDITIONS,
A NEW ENGLISH TRANSLATION
OF THE HISTORICAL WORKS,
A LIFE OF THE AUTHOR.
BY THE REV J. A GILES. D.C.L.
late fellow of c.c.c., oxford.
WHITTAKER AND CO. AVE MARIA LANE.
LONDON: william stevens, printer, bell yard, temple bar.[Back to Table of Contents]
This volume contains all the other Historical Works, besides the Ecclesiastical History, written by the Venerable Bede. They are as follows:
DE SEPTEM MUNDI MIRACULIS.—OF THE SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD.
This short tract is found in the folio editions of the works [Bas. i. 474. Col. i. 401—7], from which it has been reprinted. Manuscripts of it are either not in existence,or are scarce. It may well be doubted whether it is a genuine work of Bede; indeed, the contrary is by far the most probable. It is retained in this edition, on account of the curious information which it contains.
MARTYROLOGIUM DE NATALITIIS SANCTORUM.
This work was first discovered by Henschenius, and published in the Acta Sanctorum [Præf. tom. i. Jan. p. 40. et Proleg. ad Mens. Mart. tom. ii. § 5 seqq.] from six MSS. Henschenius was aware that the Martyrology which occurs in the folio editions is spurious, because Ado and Usuardus both say that Bede’s geniune work was left incomplete to a considerable extent. He was consequently better prepared to recognize a fragment of Bede’s real production in Queen Christina’s library at Rome; and afterwards he found at Dijon the whole work, with additions by a later hand inserted in the parts which Bede was known not to have filled up. Henschenius at first attributed it to Florus, but afterwards to Bede. Smith published it cum Auctario Flori, in his folio edition, and Eckarthus published a continuation to it from a Wirceburg MS. in Comm. de Rebus Franciæ Orientalis et Episcopis Wirceburg. tom. i. p. 829, 830. Wirceb. 1729. See Mabillon, Act. Ben. sec. iii. pt. i. p. 560. and Oudin. Comment. tom. i. p. 1692. The Martyrology published in the folio editions, [Bas. iii. 380—487. Col. iii. 277—360.] and separately Antwerpiæ, 1565, is, as has been before stated, spurious, and is taken from Ado.
Bede’s second Martyrology, in hexameter verse, found in D’Achery’s Spicilegium, tom. x. p. 126, ed. nov. ii. 23. [see also Mabillon, Acta Bened. sec. iii. i. p. 560. and sec. iv. ii. p. 85.] will be found among Bede’s poetical works in the first volume of this series.
Another Martyrology, forming a sort of almanac, and entitled Ephemerissive Computus Vulgaris, found in the folio editions [Bas. i. 242—266. Col. i. 191—213] was written by Wandelbertus Prumiensis. See Oudin. Comment. tom. i. p. 1683.
Two other tracts, entitled Liber Annalis, and forming a kind of Martyrology, are found in Martene and Durand’s Collectio Veterum Scriptorum, vol. vi.; but they are of no importance, and the editors themselves allow that very little of them can claim to be the production of Bede.
VITA BEATI FELICIS CONFESSORIS. — THE LIFE OF THE HOLY ST. FELIX.
The Saint and Confessor Felix was a priest of the Church of Nola in the fifth century. His life was first composed by Paullinus in verse, which was turned by Bede into the prose narrative now before us. The work is found in the folio editions [Bas. iii. 255—262. Col. iii. 185—190] and in the Acta Sanctorum ad Jan. 14, tom. i. p. 943, ed. Ant. 1643. It is inserted in Smith’s edition, corrected from a careful revision of the two previous editions, but Smith was unable to discover any MS. copies of it. In the Harleian Collection at the British Museum is a splendid Passionale, in three very large volumes, Nos. 2800—2802, of the thirteenth century, in which occurs this life of Felix. It is not found in Stevenson’s edition, which relates to English history only. It is here printed from an accurate collation of the texts of Smith, of the Basil edition, and the Harleian Passionale. The variations are given at the end of the volume.
VITA SANCTI CUTHBERTI.—THE LIFE OF ST. CUTHBERT.
This is in substance the same as the metrical legend De Miraculis Sancti Cuthberti, which will be given among the poetical remains of Bede in the first volume. It is, however, much more valuable than the other. It is dedicated to Eadfrid, bishop of Lindisfarne, or Holy Island, who died 721. It is found in the folio editions, [Bas. iii. 209—254. Col. iii. 152—185.] and in Mabillon’s Acta Bened. sec. ii. Smith gives a text based on five MSS. viz. a Benedictine, Harleian, two in the Bodleian, and one in the possession of a friend. Stevenson used Smith’s edition, together with two MSS. [Harl. 1117, fol. 2, and Cotton. Vitel. A. xix.] For the present edition a MS. in the Arundel Collection  has been collated with the editions of Smith and Stevenson.
VITA ABBATUM WIREMUTHENSIUM ET GIRVENSIUM. — THE LIVES OF THE ABBOTS OF WEREMOUTH AND JARROW.
This very interesting memoir of the abbots of the united monasteries of Weremouth and Jarrow is mentioned by William of Malmesbury, [Gest. R. A. i. 3.] but is not found in either of the folio editions of the works. It was first published by Ware, Dublin, 8vo, 1664, from a MS. in the Cottonian Library. Wharton afterwards republished it from the same MS. Lond. 4to, 1693. Smith included it in his folio edition of Bede’s Historical Works, using three MSS., one in the Durham Library, another in the library of Pembroke College, Cambridge, and a third in the library of Merton College, Oxford. Lastly, Stevenson, in his recent edition of Bede’s works connected with English history, used the text of Smith, and collated it with the Harleian MS. and the Durham MS. b. ii. 35. For the present edition the Burney MS.  has been collated with the preceding.
LIBELLUS DE SITU HIERUSALEM, SIVE DE LOCIS SANCTIS. — OF THE SITUATION OF JERUSALEM, OR OF THE HOLY PLACES.
This curious tract is not mentioned in Bede’s index to his own writings; but as he quotes it in his Ecclesiastical History, [v. 17, 18.] it evidently must have been written before that index was drawn up. It is found in the folio editions, [Bas. iii. 487—498. Col. iii. 363—370.] in that of Smith, who used two MSS., one in the Bodleian, the other in the library of C. C. C. Oxford, and in Mabillon’s Acta Bened. sec. iii. pt. ii. p. 502. It is reprinted from the edition of Smith, and the collations of a MS. in the King’s Library at Paris will be given hereafter in an Appendix.
The miraculous parts of this narrative have given occasion to critics of censuring the credulity of the author; but it will be remembered that Bede is no more than the narrator of what he found related as a fact by another. See Campbell’s Memoir in Biographia Britann. The work professes to be an epitome of a larger treatise on the same subject, which Adamnan, its author, compiled from the narrative of Arculph, a French bishop, and presented to Alfrid, king of Northumberland, to whose court he came about the year 701.
These are all the existing historical works of Bede, except his Chronicle, which in this edition will be restored to its proper place as part of De Temporum Ratione, among the scientific works. The Life of Anastasius is no longer extant.
In the folio editions of Bede’s Works are found several other lives, which were not written by him. The life of St. Vedast was written by Alcuin; those of Columbanus, Eustathius, Bertolfus, Burgundofara or Fara, and Attalus, by Jonas; that of Patricius, by Probus; and that of Arnoldus, by Paulus Diaconus.
[Back to Table of Contents]
DE SEPTEM MUNDI MIRACULIS, MANU HOMINUM FACTIS & OF THE SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD.[Back to Table of Contents]
DE SEPTEM MUNDI MIRACULIS, MANU HOMINUM FACTIS.
Quod primum est, Capitolium Romæ, salvatio civium, major quam civitas, ibique fuerunt gentium a Romanis captarum statuæ, vel deorum imagines, et in statuarum pectoribus nomina gentium scripta, quæ a Romanis capta fuerant, et tintinnabula in collibus eorum appensa. Sacerdotes aut pervigiles diebus et noctibus per vices ad harum custodiam curam habentes intendebant: si quælibet earum moveretur, sonum mox faciente tintinnabulo, ut scirent quæ gens Romanis rebellaret. Hoc autem cognito, Romanis principibus verbo vel scripto nunciabant, ut scirent ad quam gentem reprimendam exercitum mox destinare deberent.
SECUNDUM, Pharus Alexandrina super quatuor cancros vitreos per passus viginti sub mari fundata est. Hoc namque mirum quomodo tam magni cancri fieri possent, vel quomodo deportari et non frangi valerent, qualiter fundamenta cementitia desuper hærere potuerint, vel quomodo sub aqua cementum stare valeat, et quare cancri non franguntur, et quare non lubricant desuper jacta fundamenta.
Tertium, in Rhodo insula Colossi imago ærea centum triginta sex pedum fusilis facta: hoc mirum, qualiter tam immensa moles fundi potuisset, vel erigi et stare.
Quartum miraculum, simulacrum Bellerophontis ferreum cum equo suo in summa civitate suspensum, in aëre sistere, nec catenis penditur, nec desuper ullo stipite sustentatur, sed magni lapides magnetum in archivolis habentur, et hinc et inde in assumptionibus trahitur, et in mensura æquiparata consistit: est autem estimatio ponderis circa quinque millia librarum ferri.
Quintum miraculum, Theatrum in Heraclea, de uno marmore ita sculptum est, ut omnes cellulæ et mansiones muri et antra bestiarum, ex uno solidoque lapide factum sit: super septem cancros de ipso lapide sculptos appendens sustinetur; et nemo in gyro ipso tam secrete aut solus aut cum aliquo loqui potest, quod ipsum non audiant qui in gyro ædificii sistunt.
Sextum miraculum, balneum quod Apollotaneus cum una candela consecrationis incendit, Thermas perpetuo igne sine ulla administratione calentes facit.
Septimum miraculum, templum Dianæ, super quatuor columnas. Prima fundamenta percussa sunt arcuum, deinde paulatim succrescens super quatuor arcus eminentiores lapides arcubus prioribus suppositi. Super quatuor, octo columnæ et octo arcus positi: inde tertio ordine æqua ponderatione per quatuor partes succrescens, super eminentiores lapides positi. Super octo, sexdecim fundati sunt; super sexdecim, triginta duo: iste quartus est in quinto ordine: sexaginta quatuor columnæ finem faciunt tam mirabilis edificii.[Back to Table of Contents]
OF THE SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD.
THE first of the seven wonders of the world, made by the hand of man, is the Capitol at Rome, the very salvation of the inhabitants, and greater than a whole city. In it were statues of the nations subdued by the Romans, or images of their gods, and on the breasts of the statues were inscribed the names of the nations which had been conquered, with bells hanging from their necks. Priests or watchmen attended on these by turns, day and night, and showed much care in watching them. If either of them should move, the bell made a noise, and so they knew what nation was rebelling against the Romans. When they knew this, they communicated the information by word of mouth or by writing to the Roman princes, that they might know against what nation they were next to turn the Roman arms.
THE second is the Light-house of Alexandria, which was founded on four glass arches, twenty paces deep beneath the sea. The wonder is, how such large arches could be made, or how they could be conveyed without breaking; how the foundations, which are cemented together above, could adhere to them, or how the cement could stand firm under the water; and why the arches are not broken, and why the foundations cast in above do not slip off.
The third is the figure of the Colossus in the island of Rhodes, a hundred and thirty-six feet long, and cast of melted metal. The wonder is how such an immense mass could be cast, or how it could be set up and not fall.
The fourth wonder is the iron figure of Bellerophon on horseback, which hangs suspended in the air over the city, and has neither chains nor any thing else to support it; but great magnetic stones are placed in vaults, and so it is retained in assumption (position), and remains in balanced measure. Now the calculation of its weight is about five thousand pounds of iron.
The fifth wonder is the Theatre of Heraclea, carved out of one piece of marble, so that all the cells and rooms of the wall, and the dens of the beasts, are made out of one solid stone. It is supported on four arches carved out of the same stone; and no one can whisper in the whole circle so low, either to himself or to another, without being heard by every one who is in the circle of the building.
The sixth wonder is the Bath, which is such, that when Apollotaneus has lighted it with one candle of consecration, it keeps the hot baths continually burning without being attended to.
The seventh wonder is the Temple of Diana, on four pillars. Its first foundations are arched drains; then it increases gradually, upper stones being placed on the former arches. Thus: upon these four are placed eight pillars and eight arches; then in the third row it increases in a like proportion, and stones still higher are placed thereon. On the eight are placed sixteen, and on the sixteen thirty-two; the fourth row of stones is on the fifth row of arches, and sixty-four pillars complete the plan of this remarkable building.[Back to Table of Contents]
MARTYROLOGIUM DE NATALITIIS SANCTORUM;
BEATI FELICIS CONFESSORIS VITA.
FELICISSIMUM beati Felicis triumphum, quem in Nola Campaniæ civitate, Domino adjuvante, promeruit, Paulinus, ejusdem civitatis episcopus, versibus hexametris pulcherrime ac plenissime descripsit: qui quia metricis potius quam simplicibus sunt habiles lectoribus, placuit nobis ob plurimorum utilitatem eandem sancti confessoris historiam planioribus dilucidare sermonibus, ejusque imitari industriam, qui Martyrium beati Cassiani de metrico opere Prudentii in commune apertumque omnibus eloquium transtulit.
DE ORIGINE FELICIS.
Igitur Felix natus est in Nola quidem Campaniæ, sed patre Syrio, nomine Hermia, qui de oriente Nolam veniens, ibidemque quasi indigena inhabitans, genuit filium Felicem, eique defunctus reliquit hæreditatem substantiæ locupletis, cui tamen ipse promissæ in cœlestibus hæreditatis dona proposuit. Habuit autem et fratrem cognomine sui patris, id est, Hermiam, cum quo patrimonium divideret terrenum, qui longe a Felicis moribus agens, atque ideo felicitate indignus perpetua effectus est. Nam terrena solummodo bona diligere studuit, et Cæsaris potius quam Christi esse miles elegit.
At contra, Felix nominis sui mysterium factis exequens, mox a puero se divino famulatui subjecit, et crescente gratia virtutum, primo lectoris officium in ecclesia suscepit, ac post ad exorcistæ gradum provectus, immundos ex obsessis corporibus spiritus ejicere cœpit. Cumque et in hoc ministerio virtutibus clarus extitisset, non mora condignum meritis presbyterii gradum subiit.
DE MINISTERIO EJUS, ET PERSECUTIONE QUÆ EXORTA EST.
Nec minor in gradu mentis quam operis remansit, sicut et jam adveniens tentationum turbo probavit. Nam tempore eodem exorta infidelium persecutio, gravi ecclesiam certamine pulsavit: nec tamen portæ mortis portas filiæ Sion, ab annuncianda laude sui Creatoris avertere potuerunt. Cumque magistri auctoresque perfidiæ, primum suæ vesaniæ conflictum contra ipsos veritatis ac fidei Dominicæ magistros intendissent, primosque episcopos vel presbyteros ecclesiarum ad terrorem minorum, aut morti tradere aut ad negandam fidem cogere conspirassent: factum est, ut ministri erroris, et infesti furoris, Nolam quoque pervenientes, episcopum urbis illius nomine Maximum, virum doctrina, pietate, atque ætate venerabilem, ad tormenta quærerent. Quod ille animadvertens, memor Dominici præcepti, quod dictum est, “Cum vos persecuti fuerint in civitate ista, fugite in aliam,” petit ad tempus secessum loci remotioris, relicto ad tuitionem civitatis Felice presbytero, quem filii loco amplectebatur, atque hæredem suæ sedis accipere desiderabat. At persecutores ubi episcopum invenire nequiverunt, nihil morati manus in Felicem mittere contendunt, eumque primum quasi maximam post episcopum urbis arcem a constantia famosæ suæ virtutis dejicere volentes, vel blandiendo promissis, vel pœnis terrendo hoc facere satagunt.
QUOMODO IN VINCULA CONJICITUR.
Comprehensus igitur Felix ab adversariis furentibus, sed ipse multum de interna Spiritus Sancti consolatione confisus, mittitur in carcerem tenebrarum; manus simul et collum ferrea vincula stringunt: nervo pedes arctantur, fragmenta quoque testarum subter eum sternebantur, ne inter horrorem, et frigora longæ noctis ligatus, vel somnum, vel requiem capere aliquam, continuo horum acumine compunctus sineretur. Interea episcopus, qui ad montium latibula hostem fugiendo secesserat, et ipse non minore martyrium passione gerebat, quam si ferro vinctus, aut testis superpositus, vel flammis esset datus urentibus. Urebat namque animum illius cura maxima sui gregis: urebat et corpus fames, una cum gelidi rigore hyemis, qui inter spineta sine tecto et alimento jacens, noctem unam cum die pervigil sollicitis continuabat in precibus. Nec difficile membra senilia, et longis exhausta jejuniis, tanta vis malerum comprimens, ad mortem usque coëgit: sed ut superna pietas apertissime, quanta sui cura vir ille dignus esset, ostenderet, mittitur e cœlo angelus, qui beatum Felicem confessorem, vinculis exemptum, ad quærendum, recreandum, ac domi revocandum, antistitem ocyus venire præciperet. Erant autem plures eodem in carcere clausi, sed angelus adveniens soli Felici, qui pietatis gratia vinctus erat, apparuit, luce splendens corusca, et ipsam quoque domum gratia lucis adimplens, cujus voce simul et luce Felix motus intremuit. Ac primum quidem se somnii imagine illudi putavit: at angelus surgere illum, et se sequi exeundo præcepit: qui stupens ad imperium jubentis, causabatur se exire non posse, quia et vinculis, et claustro carceris, et custodum diligentia teneretur. Porro angelus iterata voce surgere illum propere, nihil obsistentibus vinculis, jussit, et dicto citius catenæ de manibus et collo ejus, et compedes cecidere de pedibus. Eduxit autem illum foras miro rerum ordine, aperta sibi quidem janua carceris, sed cæteris clausa; ita ut per ipsos custodes, quibus claudebatur, ignaros rerum iter agerent, ipso angelo instar columnæ Mosaicæ, et ducatum Felici, et lumen usque dum hostium manus evaderet, præsentiæ suæ fulgore præbente.
CARCERE EMISSUS, EPISCOPUM IN DESERTO PETIT.
Ut autem pervenit beatus confessor Felix ad locum deserti, quo episcopus secesserat, invenit eum ægra suspiria tenui flatu trahentem: et quidem gavisus, quod eum viventem invenerat, contristatus vero est multum, quod inventum morti proximum vidit. Itaque amplexus et osculatus est patrem, cœpitque tentare, si forte crebro anhelitu sui oris et sui fotu corporis, aliquid caloris posset gelidis ejus artubus afferre. Cum vero laborans, neque clamando, neque tangendo aliquid sensus vitalis in ejus posset vel animo excitare, vel corpore: sed neque ignem aut alimentum in proximo, quo eum rigentem ac tabescentem recrearet, haberet: tandem invento salubri consilio, flectit genua sua ad Patrem Domini nostri Jesu Christi, suppliciter obsecrans, ut ipse cœlitus eum juvaret, quo ministerium pietatis, quod jussus erat, erga patrem suum explere valeret. Nec mora, exauditus vidit pendentem vicinis in sentibus uvam: et illius esse munus agnovit, qui naturarum Conditor atque Auctor omnium, et aquam de petra produxit arida, et ipsam cum voluit in vinum convertit. Lætatusque multum hoc munere divinæ pietatis, tulit racemum, atque ad os episcopi morientis admovit: sed quia ille strictis dentibus instar mortui, utpote omni sensu et cordis et animæ carens, oblatum sibi gustum prorsus accipere nesciebat, tandem sanctus presbyter Felix felici manuum suarum luctamine aperuit arida ejus labia: et sic ori ejus resoluta uva, quantum potuit, succi salutaris infudit. Quo gustato, mox pater sensum et animæ recepit, et corporis, aperiuntur oculi, lingua quæ siccis hærebat faucibus ad loquendum soluta est: et ubi plene reviviscens, Felicem esse, qui ad se quærendum venisset, agnovit, paterna illum pietate complexus, et quare tam sero veniret conquestus, “Ubi,” inquiens, “tamdiu demoratus es, fili? Nam te jamdudum Dominus ad me venturum promiserat. Vides autem, quia si fragilitate victus corporis ad horam cessi, solidam tamen animi fidelis constantiam servavi, sicut etiam loci hujus, ad quem secessi, status indicat. Poteram quidem ad vicum aliquem sive aliam urbem, ubi ab hostibus essem tutus, intrare, si mihi vilis fides, et cara hæc vita fuisset: nunc autem cuncta hominum refugia declinans, ad deserta vero montium confugiens, divinæ tantum me gratiæ tuitioni credidi, ut videlicet me ipse quocunque modo vel ordine vellet, aut in hac vita conservaret, aut in futuram transferret. Neque vero me spes quæ in Deum erat, fefellit, sicut tuo manifeste probatur adventu, per quem ab ipso, ut ita dixerim, limine mortis sum revocatus ad vitam. Unde, nate mi, complere festinus cœptum pietatis opus curato, et impositum me humeris domum reportare satage.”
EPISCOPUM HUMERIS DOMUM PORTAT.
Quibus dictis Felix celerrime quod jubebatur, explevit: revectumque in humeris antistitem suam ad domum retulit, quam unica servabat anus. In tantum namque antistes venerabilis a mundi erat rebus alienatus, ut illi de omni turba domus, et summa census, anus una superesset. Pulsatis ergo foribus, hanc suscitavit Felix, surgentique ac januam aperienti dedit et commendavit episcopum. Tunc episcopus pro impenso sibi officio pietatis, beato Felici debitam gratiarum retulit actionem, et imposita capiti ejus dextera, paterna illum benedictione donavit: qui egressus inde, paucis diebus et ipse in domo sua, donec persecutionis turbo cessaret, delituit. Quod dum fieret deservit latebram, et lætantibus de suo adventu civibus sese lætum reddidit: ac per omnia digrediens, solabatur et confortabat verbo exhortationis animos singulorum, qui acerbitate præmissæ tempestatis non modicum fuerant conturbati. Nec solum verbo, sed et suo illos docebat exemplo, et prospera mundi, et adversa despicere, sola æternæ patriæ gaudia quærere, solam superni Judicis iram formidare.
PERSECUTIONE ITERATA, ITERUM FELIX SALVUS FIT.
Rursum mota persecutione quæritur Felix, veniuntque hostes usque ad habitaculum ejus, illum ocyus rapere, ac morti tradere sitientes, qui tum forte ab ædibus suis absens in medio civitatis cum amicis consistebat, sibique solito verbum fidei circumstantibus turbis prædicabat: quem eo loci esse audientes adversarii, mox strictis gladiis adcurrunt: sed pervenientes ad eum, mutato Divina provisione aut vultu ipsius, aut corde illorum, nequaquam eum quem optime noverant, agnoscere valebant. Interrogantibus ergo ipsum, ubi esset Felix: intellexit vir prudentissimus, divinitus actum esse, ne eum cognoscerent, ridensque inquirentibus, ‘Nescio,’ inquit, ‘Felicem, quem quæritis.’ Nec prorsus fefellit: nemo enim seipsum facie novit. Qui statim relinquentes eum, diverterunt alio: et quos forte obvios habebant, interrogabant, ubi esset Felix: e quibus unus causæ prorsus ignarus, et furere eos credens, cœpit objurgare eos dementiæ, qui præsentem non possent cognoscere eum, cum quo loquebantur: pariterque eis quo discederet ille, quem quærebant, ostendit; qui gravius furentes, statim vestigia beati Felicis insequuntur. At ille, adpropinquantibus ad se eis, admonitus tumultu præcurrente civitatis, et clamoribus attoniti adventu hostium vulgi, secessit in secretiorem locum: qui nil quidem munimenti firmioris habens, semiruti tantum muri erat fragmine præseptus; sed mox ut virum Dei recepit, miro Divinæ manus est opere tutatus; repentino etenim rudere concrevit ibidem agger, qui eundem locum præcluderet: sed et aranea Divino nutu, cui omnis creatura deservit, confestim nutantes ipso in loco telas suspendit. Quo cum pervenissent, obstupuerunt hostes, et presso gradu loquebantur mutuo, dicentes, ‘Nonne stultum est nos huc hominem quærendo ingredi, cum liquido appareat, neminem hic præisse? quia si quispiam intrasset, nequaquam hic aranearum fila integra remanerent, quæ etiam muscæ perrumpentes minimæ nonnunquam scindere solent. Constat ergo, quia qui huc secessisse Felicem dixit, astu fecit, ut nos ab ejus inventione longius abstraheret: ergo recedamus, ac dimittamus hic hominis latebras scrutari, ubi ipsa loci facies neminem intrasse præmonstrat.’ Sic delusa solicitudine quærentium, discedunt propere frementes: et non minus quam in Felicem, rabida mente frendentes in eum, qui se in loca talia suis dolis induxerat, ubi multa claruit sapientia pii Conditoris ac Protectoris nostri. Certe nonnunquam muri urbium altissimi ac munitissimi cives suos obsidentibus adversariis produnt, magis quam liberant: et humilem Christus famulum suum persequentibus armatis hostibus, tremulis aranearum casibus ne inveniri vel capi posset, abscondit, vere ut venerabilis pater Paulinus de his loquens ait,
Discesserunt ergo incumbente jam vespera hostes: et Felix, illis abeuntibus, liberior alias petit latebras, gaudens de adjutorio Divinæ protectionis, secumque decantans: ‘Nam etsi ambulem in medio umbræ mortis, non timebo mala, quoniam tu mecum es.’ Die autem facta, secessit in locum inter ipsa ædificiorum tecta secretiorem, ubi sex mensibus continuis ab hominum quidem notitia omnium segregatus, sed Divinæ præsentiæ gratia fruitus, manebat absconditus, videlicet juxta vocem Psalmistæ, In abdito vultus ejus a conturbatione hominum: qui etiam miro illum, atque hominibus inusitato ordine, tanto temporis spatio pavit. Manebat namque in vicinis ædibus quædam devota Deo mulier, cujus ministerio nescientis scienter ipse totius scientiæ fons et origo, Dominus utebatur. Coquebat enim panes mulier, coquebat alias escas in cibaria domus suæ: et facta in excessu mentis eo loci inferebat has, ubi Felix confessor latebat, ibique sumendas illi ponebat, ita ut neque huc se intrasse, neque redisse unquam scire posset: sed præparatas escas domi se posuisse credens, ita semper abibat, ponendæ memor, et positæ mox immemor escæ. Et sic beatum Felicem ferunt sex, ut dixi, mensibus eisdem latebris obscuri et angusti tecti mansisse ab humana quidem societate sejunctum, sed nunquam civium supernorum præsentia desertum: et parco nimirum victu, sed cœlitus ministrato, vitam duxisse Felicem.
QUOMODO DIVINIS FRUITUR COLLOQUIIS, ET EPISCOPATUM RENUIT.
Quo tempore perhibetur etiam divinæ collocutionis dono sæpius dignus fuisse habitus. Erat autem iisdem, in quibus morabatur, habitaculis cisterna vetus, de qua ipse in primis pauperem potum hauriebat; sed hæc quamvis nimio æstatis esset siccata calore, non tamen beato confessori unde viveret, defuit: etenim pius Conditor ac Provisor salutis nostræ, qui quondam sicco aëre cætero, unum solummodo vellus pluvia cœlesti perfudit, ipse confessori silente prorsus et sereno aëre, prout opus habebat, occulti roris gratiam, qua sitiens recrearetur, ministravit. Completo autem hoc tempore, admonitus est oraculo divino procedere de latebris, eo quod jam persecutionis turbo pertransisset: qui ut repentinus apparuit in publico, gratissime ab omnibus, quasi a paradiso veniens, susceptus est: cœpitque ex tempore fidem confirmare omnium, quæ sævitia tempestatis erat nimium convulsa. Interea Deo dilectus antistes Maximus, longa provectus ætate, diem clausit ultimum. Nec mora, Felix in episcopatum omnium judicio eligitur, qui ut confessor invictissimus et doctor extitit suavissimus: et quæ ore docebat, ipse cuncta opere complevit. Verum Felix, ut etiam humilitatis quantam in corde haberet sublimitatem, insinuaret, verecunda se voce, ne hunc gradum suscipere deberet, excusavit, dicens compresbyterum suum Quintum, multo dignius honorem præfati gradus posse subire, eo quod is septem diebus, antequam ipse, ad ordinem presbyterii fuisset promotus. Quod ita, ut postulabat, expletum est: susceptumque episcopatus officium, ita idem Quintus administravit, ut humiliter beatissimo confessori submissus, illum pro se ad populum sermonem facere juberet: et ipse plebem officio, Felix doctrina regeret. Qui videlicet Felix cum constantia confessionis, et virtute valde præclarus esset humilitatis, etiam summus voluntariæ paupertatis amator extitit. Possederat namque ex paterna hæreditate prædia multa, domosque, ac divitias plurimas: sed tempore persecutionis proscriptus cuncta amiserat. At vero pace ecclesiis reddita, cum posset sua jura repetere, nequaquam ultra volebat: sed amicis suadentibus, ut debita sibi jura reposceret, quæ recepta cum fœnore magnæ mercedis dispergere, ac dare pauperibus posset, nullatenus id facere consentiens, forti sententia suggestiones eorum repellebat, dicens, ‘Omnia mihi licent, sed non omnia expediunt. Absit enim ut res, quas causa confessionis perdidi, repetam; absit ut terrenas opes, quas cœlestium bonorum contemplatione semel contempsi, quasi hæc minus sola sufficiant, ulla ratione reposcam: quin potius pauper spiritu sequar Jesum, quo opulentius regni cœlorum dona percipiam: nec diffidendum, quin ille qui me et vinculis tenebrisque diri carceris eripuit, et ab hominibus secretum tanto tempore pavit, etiam cetero vitæ meæ spatio, jactantem in se cogitatum meum, ipse me enutriet.’ Hunc retinens animum beatus confessor, tria tantum jugera ruris modici, et hæc conducta, et unum hortulum proprii juris, unde viveret, habuit.
DE MORTE EJUS ET DE HONORIBUS QUOS POST MORTEM ADEPTUS EST.
Sed hæc utraque, ne uno quidem famulo adjutus, propria manu coluit: fructum autem ejusdem suæ messis, vel hortuli adultum cum pauperibus semper communicare gaudebat. Eandem autem et in habitu parsimoniam vir beatissimus sectabatur, ita ut simplici tantum vestimento, et quod nonnunquam vix sibi sufficeret, esset contentus: si quid vero superesset, pauperibus erogaret: et si forte aliunde contigit, ut geminum haberet indumentum, mox nudum meliore refovit.
Tali vivens pietate, vir et nomine et merito Felix, plenus dierum atque operum bonorum defunctus est: ac viam patrum secutus, æternam est receptus in gloriam, sicut etiam signa, quæ in ecclesia in qua sepultus est sunt facta, perplura testantur.
Erat enim ibi quidam rusticus, pauper rebus sed fide integer, qui angustam pauperiem duorum solummodo boum possessione sustentabat, vel ipse videlicet his utens, vel vicinis utendos, pacta mercede commodans: quos cum multa inops cura diligeret, atque servaret, quadam nocte furto ablatos perdidit; at mane facto, cum eos furatos certissime comperisset, amissa omni spe suæ quæsitionis vel inventionis, petit rapido cursu ecclesiam sancti Felicis, ibidemque adveniens ante fores domus sanctæ prosternitur, fixoque in terram vultu implorat et obsecrat sanctum Felicem reddere sibi boves, quas perdiderat: testatus multum cum lachrymis, nunquam seipsum, si non boves reciperet, exiturum. Quod dum die toto voce quidem rustica, sed fidelissima mente fecisset, superveniente vespera, ejectus est violentia turbæ, et sacris propulsatus ab ædibus. Venit autem domum, nec omittit continuis in lamentis noctem ducere pervigilem. Verum quia omnis qui petit accipit, et qui quærit invenit, et pulsanti aperietur, et sicut Psalmista ait, Desiderium pauperum exaudivit Dominus, medio noctis tempore, cum cæteris hominibus ac rebus omnibus quietis, ipse solus excitante suo dolore, ac paupertate pervigil faceret: mirum dictu, venere subito ad ostium ejus boves, quos quærebat, Divino videlicet nutu, et prædonibus erepti, ad domum Domini per loca avia inter tenebras noctis erroresque revocati: pulsantesque cornibus ostia ejus in quo manebat tugurii, jam sese advenisse signabant: sed ille multum tremens, non jam boves suos, sed fures sibi rursus adesse credens, diutius fores aperire tardavit, donec idem boves, quasi causam domini tardantis intelligentes, mugitu quoque emisso se esse, qui ad ostia domestica pulsassent, demonstrarent: receptis autem bobus rusticus, non rustice sed docte ac fideliter agens, festinavit primo mane debitas redditori suo gratias rependere: assumens enim secum boves, venit ad ecclesiam sancti Felicis, omnibus et illo iter faciens, et ibidem perveniens, beneficia quæ a sancto confessore percepisset, lætabunda voce replicans et ostendens: et quia multum plorans vel inquirendo suos boves, vel in recipiendo præ gaudio oculorum quoque aciem non minimum læserat: et hujus detrimenti solatium a beato Felice quærens, accepit: sicque domum redit, duplici gratiæ cœlestis munere repletus.
Cumque in honorem ejusdem beati confessoris, augustior ecclesia fabricaretur, erant in proximo ipsius ecclesiæ duo rustica ædificia importuna situ, simul et deformia visu, quæ omne decus ecclesiæ non parum sua obscuritate fœdabant. Volens autem venerabilis ac Deo dilectus antistes Paulinus tolli hæc ædificia, et emundari loca, in quibus sita fuerant, postulavit eos, ad quorum possessionem pertinebant, hanc beato Felici præbere reverentiam, ut ad illustrandum decorandumque locum ecclesiæ ejus privata sua tecta paterentur auferri. At illi preces ejus rustica obstinatione spernentes, magis se animas dare, quam suas possessiones relinquere posse dicebant. Cumque episcopum tæderet rusticos rixa vincere, victi sunt Divinæ potentiæ manu. Nam nocte quadam, quiescentibus cunctis, subitus ignis ex una cellarum earundem exoriens, vicina paullatim ædificia petere cœpit, ita ut magis magisque suis incrementis adauctus, et prope et longe posita habitacula cuncta consumpturus esse videretur. Tunc tantis excitatis fragoribus et globis ignium, cives accurrerunt, ut vel incendium, si possent, omnes aquas fundendo restinguerent: vel de suis singuli domibus, quæ possent, igni præripientes, auferrent. Cumque se nil valere posse conspicerent, cœperunt quærere Divinum, ubi humanum cessabat auxilium: advolant ergo duce episcopo ad ecclesiam sancti Felicis, flectunt genua, supernæ auxilia protectionis implorant: divertunt inde ad ecclesiam beatorum Apostolorum, quæ contigua erat ecclesiæ beati Felicis: et inde per intercessionem apostolicam cœlestis præsidii dona flagitantes. Ubi postquam oratum est, rediit domum episcopus, sumptamque de ligno Dominicæ crucis non grandem assulam, misit in medium incendii furentis, statimque immensa illa volumina flammarum, quæ tanta virorum manus, aquas spargendo nequiverat, ipse lignum addendo restinxit. Tanta etenim sanctæ crucis erat virtus, ut sese natura relinqueret: et ignis qui omnia solet ligna devorare, ipse ligno Dominicæ passionis velut exustus, absumeretur. Ubi vero tempestas tanta sopita, et mane redeunte cives dira noctis opera considerare venerunt, credunt non parva tantis incendiis damna esse perpessos: inventum est autem nihil prorsus exustum, nisi quod debebat aduri. Ex illis etenim domibus duabus, de quibus prædiximus, quas et homines consumere atque auferre disposuerant, unam flammis absumptam videbant. Quo facto multum erubuit rusticus ille, qui sua tecta contra decorem sanctorum ædificiorum stolida obstinatione defenderat, cernens se invitum nulla mercede perdidisse, quæ in gratiam sanctorum sponte nolebat amittere, et mox ipse, quod igni superfuerat de ædibus, propria cœpit manu abolere, quatenus ocissime omnis circa ecclesiam beati confessoris locus congrua sanctis claritate ac luce redderetur insignis. Ablata autem omni fœditate ruderum ac sordium earundem, perstabat beatus antistes Paulinus ecclesiam quam cœperat, ad perfectum deducere: cujus ædificium omne tribus annis perfecit, et in picturis atque omni ornatu suo debito fine conclusit: in qua felicissima beati Felicis vita et passio in æternum memorabilis celebratur, qui die quartadecima mensis Januarii consummato cursu certaminis gloriosi percepit coronam vitæ, quam repromisit Deus diligentibus se.
[Explicit liber de Vita et Confessione sancti Felicis, quem ego famulus Christi Beda de metrico opere beati episcopi Paulini simplici sermone transtuli.][Back to Table of Contents]
THE LIFE OF THE HOLY CONFESSOR SAINT FELIX.
THE blessed triumph of St. Felix, which, with God’s aid, he achieved in Nola, a city of Campania, has been described by Paulinus, bishop of that same city, most beautifully and most amply in hexameter verse; but as this is adapted rather to poetical than to plain readers, it has seemed good to me, for the benefit of many, to explain the same history of the holy confessor in prose, and thus to imitate the industry of that man, who translated the Martyrdom of the blessed Cassianus from the metrical work of Prudentius into simple and common language.
PARENTAGE OF FELIX.
Saint Felix was born at Nola, in Campania, of a Syrian father, whose name was Hermias, and who coming from the East settled at Nola, and there begat a son Felix, to whom he left a rich worldly inheritance, to which however he himself preferred the gift of heritage promised us in heaven. He had a brother named Hermias after his father, to take part in the family patrimony, but he had adopted a line of life repugnant to the character of Felix, and became unworthy of eternal happiness. For he studied only worldly goods, and preferred to become a soldier of Cæsar rather than of Christ.
Whereas, on the contrary, Felix (the Happy), following up the mystery of his name by his actions, devoted himself to the service of God from his boyhood, and showing forth fresh virtues every day, first undertook the duties of reader in the Church; and afterwards becoming exorcist, began to cast out unclean spirits from those who were possessed. In this capacity his merits shone more and more, and speedily elevated him to the rank of priest.
OF HIS MINISTRY, AND THE PERSECUTION RAISED AGAINST HIM.
Nor were his mind and actions unworthy of his rank, as the storm of persecution, which followed, made manifest. For at that time the unbelievers raised a violent persecution, and heavily assailed the Church. But the gates of death did not prevail against the gates of the daughter of Sion, so as to deter men from declaring their Maker’s praise. And when the authors of this treason had tried their first mad assault upon the leaders of the truth and faith of our Lord, and conspired together to slay the bishops and priests, or to make them recant their faith, to the terror of the rest, it came to pass that some of the leaders of the enemy came to Nola, to deliver over to torment its bishop, Maximus, a man venerable for learning, piety, and his gray hairs. But he, perceiving this, and mindful of our Lord’s precept, “When they shall persecute you in one city, flee ye to another,” escaped for a time into a distant place of refuge, leaving the defence of the city to the priest Felix, whom he embraced as a son, and desired to have as his successor in the see. When the persecutors were unable to find the bishop, they proceeded without delay to lay hands on Felix as the next chief safeguard of the city, and determined to cast him down from his far-famed constancy of virtue, either by persuasion and promises, or by threats and punishment.
HE IS THROWN INTO PRISON.
HE was, therefore, seized by his fierce adversaries, and, supported in his soul by Divine consolation, thrown into prison, where his hands and neck were enclosed in chains, his feet tied with a thong, and broken shells scattered under him, that in his terror and the chillness of the place he might be prevented by their painful galling from enjoying sleep or rest. Meanwhile the bishop, who had fled for safety to the mountains, was suffering no less martyrdom than if he had been thrown into prison, or given to the flames. Solicitude for his flock preyed upon his mind; whilst his body suffered from hunger and the severe cold of winter; for he lay among the brushwood without food or covering, and spent one whole anxious day and night in prayer. Nor was it surprising that such a load of misfortunes should almost sink into the grave an old man exhausted by long fasting. But the Divine love, to show how great was the merit of the blessed confessor Felix, sent down an angel to pluck him from his chains, and send him forth to seek the bishop and bring him home. There were others in the prison, but the angel appeared to him alone, shining in a brilliant light which filled the whole house. Felix was alarmed at the light and at the angel’s voice, and at first thought that he was dreaming. When the angel told him to rise and follow him out, he said that he could not, because he was bound in chains and carefully guarded. The angel told him again to rise without any impediment from the chains, and immediately his bonds fell from his hands, neck, and feet. By a wonderful course of events he led him out, though the door which was open to him was closed to the others, and they passed through the guards without their knowledge, whilst the angel, like the pillar of Moses, guarded Felix and lighted his path until he was clear of his enemies.
BEING DELIVERED FROM PRISON, HE SEEKS THE BISHOP IN THE DESERT.
When the blessed confessor had come to the desert where the bishop had taken refuge, he found him panting for breath, and his joy at having found him alive was damped by the probability of his immediate death. He clasped the aged father, and kissed him, tried to inspire life into him with his breath, and heat into his cold limbs by the application of his own body. But when, with all his cries and exertions, he could rouse neither his mind nor body to life, and had neither fire to warm nor aliment to sustain his cold and famished frame, he suddenly thought of a salutary plan, and bending his knees in prayer, besought the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ to aid him from heaven in fulfilling the required duties towards his holy father. He was immediately heard, and saw a bunch of grapes hanging on a thorn close by. He perceived that it was a gift from Him who is the Author of nature and Creator of all things, and who brought water out of the stony rock, and, when He pleased, converted it into wine. Rejoiced at this gift of Divine love, he gathered the bunch of grapes, and pressed it to the mouth of the dying prelate; but his teeth were closed as if in death, all sensation of his heart and breath had ceased, and he was unable to receive that which was offered to him. At length the pious priest by good fortune forced open his parched lips, and poured into his mouth as much of the juice of the grape as he was able. The father, at the taste, recovered both sensation and breath: his eyes opened, and his tongue, which had stuck to his dry palate, attempted to articulate words. After some time he revived, and seeing that it was Felix who had come to seek him, embraced him with paternal love, and asked him why he had come so late, saying, “Where have you lingered so long, my son? for God promised me some time ago that you should come. But you see that, though I yield for the moment, I have faithfully preserved my firmness of mind, as the place of my retreat clearly proves. I might have fled to some village or city, where I should have been safe; if my faith had been of no value to me, or less dear than life. But, you see, I have avoided all the haunts of men, and have fled to the mountains, trusting myself to the grace and protection of God, that, according to his good pleasure, He might preserve me for this life or exalt me to a better. Nor did my trust in God deceive me, as it proved by your coming, which has recalled me, so to speak, from death to life. Wherefore, my son, finish your work of piety; place me on your shoulders, and carry me home.”
CARRIES THE BISHOP HOME ON HIS SHOULDERS.
Felix complied with alacrity, and carried home the bishop to his house, which was in charge of only one old woman: so entirely removed from all worldly cares was this venerable prelate! Felix aroused her by knocking at the door, and when she opened the door he committed the bishop to her care. The bishop thanked the holy Felix for his labour of love, and placing his right hand upon his head, gave him his fatherly blessing. The priest, departing, concealed himself in the same way for a few days in his own house, until the storm of persecution had passed over. As soon as this happened, he left his concealment, and restored himself to the sight of his congratulating citizens. He went about everywhere, consoling and confirming their minds with words of exhortation; for, during the bitterness of the late persecution, they had been terribly cast down. He taught them not only by his word, but by his example, to despise the prosperities and adversities of this world, and to seek only the joys of the heavenly country, to fear alone the anger of the heavenly Judge.
UPON A RENEWAL OF THE PERSECUTION, FELIX IS AGAIN PRESERVED.
BUT the persecution was not yet over: Felix was again sought for; the enemy came to his house, and again essayed to seize him and deliver him over to death. He was by chance away from home, standing in the market-place with his friends, and teaching to the surrounding people, as was his wont, the word of God. His adversaries, hearing that he was there, rushed thither with drawn swords; but when they came to the place, either his countenance or their hearts were changed by a sudden act of Divine Providence, and they no longer knew him, though up to that day they had known him well. They, therefore, asked the priest himself where Felix was. The prudent man perceived that it was the work of God, and replied, smiling, “I do not know the man you are looking for.” And in this he spoke the truth; for nobody does know himself. Upon this, the persecutors turned their attention elsewhere, and asked those whom they met where Felix was. One of them, by chance, ignorant of their motives, and thinking they were out of their wits, began to reprove them for their folly in not knowing the man they had been talking to, and at the same time pointed out to them where he was gone. Fired to madness, they rushed after Felix, who, warned of their coming by the multitude of citizens that preceded, and by the clamours of the people, who were confounded at the enemy’s approach, withdrew to a secret place, which had no other defence than a fragment of a half-ruined wall. No sooner, however, had the man of God entered that place, than he was protected by a work of the Divine hand; for a mound of rubbish suddenly arose and closed in the place, and a spider, by Divine warning, immediately hung its floating web on the abandoned spot. The adversaries approached, and halted in awe, saying among themselves, “Is it not foolish for us to look for any one in this place? It is quite clear that no one has been here before ourselves; for, if any one had entered, these spider’s webs could not have remained whole, for even the smallest flies will sometimes break through them. The man who told us he was here must have done so deceitfully, to delay us longer from finding him. Let us return, and refrain from searching this place, the very appearance of which shows that no one has been here before us.” Thus foiled, they retraced their steps in anger, and fired with equal rage against him who had by his deceit led them to the place to witness the wisdom of our pious Creator and Protector. Surely the highest walls sometimes betray a beleaguered city, as well as defend it; for Christ protected his humble servant from detection and imprisonment at the hands of his armed enemies by a frail spider’s web, as the venerable father Paulinus says truly on this subject,—“Where Christ is with us, a spider’s web our wall shall be; where Christ is not, our wall a spider’s web shall be.” The evening was approaching when his enemies departed; and Felix, when they were gone, withdrew to a safer place of refuge, rejoicing in the Divine protection, and singing within himself,—“Though I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I will not fear evil, for Thou art with me.” When day dawned, he withdrew to a more retired place among the buildings of the city, where for six whole months he lived apart from men, relying on the protection of the Divine presence, according to the words of the Psalmist,—“His countenance was hidden from the fear of men;” and Providence fed him during this long space of time in a manner wonderful and unknown to men. For in a neighbouring house there lived a devout woman, whose services, though she was unconscious of the matter, the Lord, who is the fountain and origin of all knowledge, made use of to accomplish his designs. This woman used to bake bread and cook other provisions in her own bakehouse, and unwittingly carry them to the place where Felix was concealed, where she laid them down in such a way that he took them, and she never knew that she had either come or gone away; and believing that the food which she had prepared was at home, she always forgot that she had put it there, but never forgot to bring it. Thus they say the holy father remained for the space of six months in this obscure and narrow residence, apart from the society of men, but not abandoned by Heaven; and thus also he was fed on humble fare, but ministered to him by the Almighty.
ENJOYS DIVINE COMMUNICATIONS, AND REFUSES THE BISHOPRIC.
Moreover, he is said during this time to have enjoyed the privilege of intercourse with the Most High. There was also an old cistern in the same house, which supplied him with water; and though this was dried up by the heat of summer, yet water for his nourishment never failed the holy Felix. For the merciful Author of our salvation, who, when all around was dry, caused the fleece to drop with water, sent down from heaven, through the still and bright sky, a secret rain to refresh his fainting servant. At the end of six months he was admonished by Divine Providence to come forth from his retirement, as the fury of the persecution had now ceased. As soon as he appeared in public, he was received by all with congratulations, as if he was come from paradise; and he began from time to time to confirm their faith, which had been much shaken by the persecution. Meanwhile, God’s chosen servant, Bishop Maximus, died at an extreme old age, and Felix was at once, with the consent of all, elected to the bishopric. This most worthy confessor and teacher of the faith faithfully enacted in his own conduct the precepts which he had taught. But, to show what exalted humility was in his heart, he excused himself from undertaking this office, saying, that his fellowpriest, Quintus, was more worthy of it than himself, because he had been raised to priest’s orders seven days before himself. This suggestion was adopted, and Quintus was made bishop; but he, with great humility, deferred in every thing to Felix, and caused him to deliver the sermon to the people instead of himself; and whilst he ruled, as far as regarded outward authority, Felix was the fountain-head of doctrine. To his constancy in behalf of the faith which he professed, and his distinguished humility, he added the merit of voluntary poverty. For he originally possessed, by inheritance from his father, many farms and houses, and much money: but when he was proscribed during the persecution, he lost all. When peace was restored to the Church, and he had it in his power to resume his rights, he would not do so. His friends tried to persuade him that he might reclaim them with much interest, and spend the money, or give it to the poor; but he would not be prevailed on, saying, “All things are lawful, but all things are not expedient; far be it from me that I should set about recovering my earthly possessions, as if those in heaven, which I have preferred to them, are not sufficient. Rather let me be poor, and follow in spirit after Jesus, that I may reap a more abundant reward in his heavenly kingdom. Nor do I doubt that He who saved me from chains, and the dark prison, and so long sustained me away from the face of men, will feed me through the rest of my life if I cast all my care upon Him.” Such was the humility of the holy father: he would only take back a little garden as his own property, and three acres of land, for which he paid a rent.
HIS DEATH AND POSTHUMOUS HONOURS.
Moreover, he cultivated these with his own hands, without the assistance even of a single servant, and he took delight in bestowing on the poor a part of their produce. He displayed the same frugality in his dress, and was content with a single garment, which sometimes was hardly enough for him. Every thing superfluous he gave to the poor; and if by chance he obtained a second garment, he very speedily gave to some poor naked wretch the better of the two.
Such were the piety, reputation, and merits of Felix. He died full of days and good works; and following in the track of the old fathers, was received into everlasting glory, as is evident from many signs displayed in the church wherein he was buried.
There was a certain countryman, poor in worldly goods, but rich in faith, who supported himself in straitened circumstances by the possession of two oxen, which he used in his own work, and also let out for hire to his neighbours. These oxen, which he took great care of, were one night stolen; and their owner, in the morning, when he discovered the loss, without the slightest idea of searching for and finding them, ran to the church of St. Felix, where he threw himself prostrate on the ground before the doors of the sacred house; and, fixing his eyes on the earth, besought the holy man to restore him his oxen which he had lost, and vowed never to leave the church until he should recover them. He remained there all the day, uttering cries which savoured of a rustic dialect, but nevertheless evinced the faith which was in his heart. When evening came on he was ejected by the multitude, and thrust out of the sacred edifice. He then returned home, where he continued his lamentations all the night. But, because every one who asks receives, and who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened, and, as the Psalmist says, “The Lord hath heard the desire of the poor,” at midnight, when every thing was buried in sleep, and the poor man alone was kept awake by poverty and sorrow for his loss, on a sudden, wonderful to be related, the oxen which he was seeking came to the door, as if by Divine interposition, having returned safe from the hands of the robbers, through the wild country and the darkness of night, to their owner’s house. They knocked with their horns against the door of the house, to signify that they were come back; but the poor man, in fear and trembling, thinking that the thieves were returned, durst not open the door, until the oxen, as if understanding the cause of his delay, informed him who they were by lowing. The rustic, having thus recovered his cattle, acted by no means like a rustic on the occasion, but like a wise man and a faithful Christian; for the first thing which he did in the morning was to offer up thanks to Him who had restored them. He went to the church of St. Felix, and took his oxen along with him. He joyfully told every one who met him on his way thither, and also those who were at the church, the benefits which he had received from the holy confessor; and, inasmuch as by lamenting for his loss, or from joy at their recovery, he had done no small injury to his eyes, he offered up a petition to St. Felix, and got them cured; so that he returned home benefited in more ways than one, and full of joy.
At this time they desired to erect a more noble building in honour of the saint; and for this purpose wished to remove two small cottages of disagreeable exterior, which stood in the way, and presented a most unsightly appearance in the vicinity of the church. With this end in view, Bishop Paulinus requested their owners to pay respect to the holy Saint Felix, and suffer their private houses to be removed, in order to beautify and improve the church. The owners, however, perversely rejected his request, and said they would part with their lives rather than their property. The bishop despaired of being able to overcome their obstinacy, but this was speedily brought about by the Divine interposition: for one night, when all were asleep, a conflagration suddenly arose from one of those same cells, and began to spread to the neighbouring houses, apparently gaining fresh strength every moment, and likely to consume all the houses far and near. Roused by the noise and the flames, the citizens flocked together to put out the fire, by throwing water upon it; or, at all events, to save their property from the houses. But they found all human aid was unavailing, and they began to turn their attention to prayer. Led by the bishop, they thronged to the church of St. Felix, and on bended knees supplicated for assistance from on high. They then proceeded to the adjoining church of the Apostles, and put up the same prayer. After this, the bishop returned home, and taking a small splinter of the wood of our Lord’s cross, threw it into the midst of the fire. Immediately the flames subsided, and this small fragment of wood effected what so many men, with abundance of water, had not been able to accomplish. Such, indeed, was its power, that the usual nature of things was changed; and fire, which usually consumes every thing, was itself consumed by the wood of our Lord’s passion. When the conflagration was over, the citizens came in the morning to see what havoc had been committed during the night, and expected to find that they were great losers: but they found that nothing had been burnt, except what deserved to be burnt. Of the two houses before-mentioned, which even themselves wished to destroy, one was utterly consumed by the flames. The owner was put to shame by the thing; for he perceived that he had lost his house all the same, without meriting any obligation from the holy father; and immediately afterwards began to pull down with his own hands all that was still standing of both the houses, so that the whole space round the church might be cleared, and be rendered worthy the merits of the saint. When all the rubbish was removed, the Bishop Paulinus persevered in rebuilding the church, and accomplished the task in three years, adding pictures, and every other proper ornament. In this church are celebrated the blessed life and ever memorable passion of Saint Felix, who, on the 14th of January, finished his glorious career, and received the crown of life which God hath promised to those which love Him.
[The end of the Book of the Life and Confession of St. Felix, which I, Christ’s servant Bede, translated into prose out of the metrical work of the Holy Bishop Paulinus.][Back to Table of Contents]
DE VITA ET MIRACULIS SANCTI CUTHBERTI, EPISCOPI LINDISFARNENSIS.
Domino sancto ac beatissimo Patri Eadfrido Episcopo, sed et omni Congregationi Fratrum, qui in Lindisfarnensi Insula Christo deserviunt, Beda, fidelis vester conservus, salutem.
Quia jussistis, dilectissimi, ut in libro, quem de vita beatæ memoriæ patris nostri Cuthberti vestro rogatu composui, præfationem aliquam, juxta morem, in fronte præfigerem, per quam legentibus universis et vestræ desiderium voluntatis et obeditionis nostræ pariter assensio fraterna claresceret; placuit in capite præfationis et vobis qui nostis ad memoriam revocare, et eis qui ignorant hæc forte legentibus notum facere; quia nec sine certissima exquisitione rerum gestarum aliquid de tanto viro scribere, nec tandem ea, quæ scripseram, sine subtilissima examinatione testium indubiorum passim transcribenda quibusdam dare præsumsi. Quin potius primo diligenter exordium, progressum et terminum gloriosissimæ conversationis ac vitæ illius ab his, qui noverant, investigans, quorum etiam nomina in ipso libro, aliquoties ob indicium certum cognitæ veritatis apponenda judicavi, sic demum ad schedulas manum mittere incipio. At digesto opusculo, sed adhuc retento in schedulis, frequenter et reverendissimo fratri nostro Herefrido presbytero huc adventanti, et aliis, qui diutius cum viro Dei conversati vitam illius optime noverant, quæ scripsi legenda atque ex tempore retractanda præstiti, ac nonnulla ad arbitrium eorum, prout videbantur, sedulus emendavi; sicque omnibus scrupulorum ambagibus ad purum ablatis, certam veritatis indaginem simplicibus explicitam sermonibus commendare membranulis, atque ad vestræ quoque fraternitatis præsentiam asportare curavi, quatenus vestræ auctoritatis judicio vel emendarentur falsa, vel probarentur vera esse, quæ scripta sunt. Quod cum, Domino juvante, patrarem, et coram senioribus ac doctoribus vestræ congregationis libellus biduo legeretur, ac sollertissime per singula ad vestrum pensaretur examen; nullus omnimodis inventus est sermo, qui mutari debuisset, sed cuncta, quæ scripta erant, communi consilio decernebantur absque ulla dubietate legenda, et his, qui religionis studio vellent, ad transcribendum esse tradenda. Sed et alia multa nec minora his, quæ scripsimus, præsentibus nobis, adinvicem conferentes, de vita et virtutibus beati viri superintulistis, quæ prorsus memoriæ digna videbantur, si non deliberato ac perfecto operi nova interserere vel superadjicere, minus congruum atque indecorum esse constaret.
Dehinc admonendam vestræ almitatis coronam ratus sum, ut sicut ipse munus obedientiæ meæ, quod jubere estis dignati, promtus solvere non distuli, ita vos quoque ad reddendum mihi vestræ intercessionis præmium pigri non sitis; sed cum eundem libellum relegentes pia sanctissimi patris memoria vestros animos ad desideria regni cœlestis ardentius attollitis, pro mea quoque parvitate memineritis Divinam exorare clementiam, quatenus et nunc pura mente desiderare et in futuro perfecta beatitudine merear videre bona Domini in terra viventium: sed, et me defuncto, pro redemptione animæ meæ, quasi familiaris et vernaculi vestri, orare, et missas facere, et nomen meum inter vestra scribere dignemini. Nam et tu, sanctissime antistes, hoc te mihi promisisse jam retines, in cujus etiam testimonium futuræ conscriptionis religioso fratri vestro Guthfrido mansionario præcepisti, ut in albo vestræ sanctæ congregationis meum nunc quoque nomen apponeret. Sciat autem sanctitas vestra, quia vitam ejusdem Deo dilecti patris nostri, quam vobis prosa editam dedi, aliquanto quidem brevius, sed eodem tamen ordine, rogantibus quibusdam e nostris fratribus, heroicis dudum versibus edidi; quos si vos habere delectat, a nobis exemplar accipere potestis; in cujus operis præfatione promisi me alias de vita et miraculis ejus latius esse scripturum, quam videlicet promissionem in præsenti opusculo, prout Dominus dederit, adimplere satago. Orantem ergo pro nobis, beatitudinem vestram Dominus omnipotens custodire dignetur incolumem, dilectissimi fratres et domini mei. Amen.
CAP. I. —
QUOMODO PUER DEI CUTHBERTUS PER INFANTEM SIT PRÆDICTO EPISCOPATUI ADMONITUS.
Principium nobis scribendi de vita beati Cuthberti Hieremias propheta consecrat, qui anachoreticæ perfectionis statum glorificans ait, [Thren. iii. 27.] Bonum est viro cum portaverit jugum ab adolescentia sua; sedebitsolitarius et tacebit, quia levabit se super se. Hujus namque boni dulcedine accensus, vir Domini Cuthbertus ab ineunte adolescentia jugo monachicæ institutionis collum subdidit; et ubi opportunitas juvit, arrepta etiam conversatione anachoretica, non pauco tempore solitarius sedere atque ob suavitatem Divinæ contemplationis ab humanis tacere delectabatur alloquiis. Sed ut hæc in majore ætate posset, superna illum gratia ad viam veritatis paullatim a primis jam pueritiæ incitaverat annis; siquidem usque ad octavum ætatis annum, qui post infantiam pueritiæ primus est, solis parvulorum ludis et lasciviæ mentem dare noverat, ita ut illud beati Samuelis tunc de ipso posset testimonium dici, [1 Reg. iii. 7.] Porro Cuthbertus necdum sciebat Dominum, neque revelatus fuerat ei sermo Domini. Quod in præconium laudis dictum est pueritiæ illius, qui ætate major perfecte jam cogniturus erat Dominum, ac sermonem Domini revelata cordis aure percepturus. Oblectabatur ergo, ut diximus, jocis et vagitibus, juxta quod ætatis ordo poscebat. Parvulorum conventiculis interesse cupiebat, ludentibus colludere desiderabat; et quia agilis natura atque acutus erat ingenio, contendentibus ludo sæpius prævalere consueverat, adeo ut, fessis nonnunquam ceteris, ille indefessus adhuc, si qui ultra secum vellent certare, quasi victor lætabundus inquireret. Sive enim saltu, sive cursu, sive luctatu, seu quolibet alio membrorum sinuamine, se exercerent, ille omnes æquævos, et nonnullos etiam majores, a se gloriabatur esse superatos. Cum enim esset parvulus, ut parvulus sapiebat, ut parvulus cogitabat; qui postmodum factus vir, plenissime ea, quæ parvuli erant, deposuit.
Et quidem Divina dispensatio primitus elationem animi puerilis digno pædagogo compescere dignata est. Nam, sicut beatæ memoriæ Trumwine episcopus ab ipso Cuthberto sibi dictum perhibebat, dum quadam die solito luctamini in campo quodam non modica puerorum turba insisteret, interesset et ipse, et sicut ludentium levitas solet, contra congruum naturæ statum variis flexibus membra plerique sinuarent, repente unus de parvulis, triennis ferme, ut videbatur, accurrit ad eum, et quasi senili constantia cœpit hortari, ne jocis et otio indulgeret, sed stabilitati potius mentem simul et membra subjugaret. Quo monita spernente, luget ille corruens in terram et faciem lacrimis rigans. Accurrunt consolaturi ceteri, sed ille perstat in fletu. Interrogant quid haberet repentinum, unde tantis afficeretur lamentis. At ille tandem exclamans, consolanti se Cuthberto, ‘Quid,’ inquit, ‘hæc, sanctissime antistes et presbyter Cuthberte, et naturæ et gradui tuo contraria geris? Ludere te inter parvulos non decet, quem Dominus etiam majoribus natu magistrum virtutis consecravit.’ Audiens hæc bonæ indolis puer, fixa intentione suscepit, mœstumque infantem piis demulcens blanditiis, relicta continuo ludendi vanitate, domum rediit, ac stabilior jam ex illo tempore animoque adolescentior exsistere cœpit; illo nimirum Spiritu interius ejus præcordia docente, qui per os infantis extrinsecus ejus auribus insonuit. Nec mirandum cuiquam, parvuli lasciviam per parvulum potuisse, Domino agente, cohiberi, qui ad prohibendam prophetæ insipientiam in ore subjugalis muti rationabilia verba, cum voluit, edidit, in cujus laude veraciter dictum est, [Ps. viii. 2.] Quia ex ore infantium et lactantium perfecisti laudem.
QUOMODO GENU DOLENTE CLAUDUS EFFECTUS SIT, ET ANGELO MEDICANTE SANATUS.
Verum quia omni habenti dabitur et abundabit, id est, habenti propositum amoremque virtutum, harum copia superno munere donabitur; quoniam puer Domini Cuthbertus, quæ per hominum accepit hortamenta, sedulo corde retinebat, etiam angelico visu et affatu confortari promeruit. Nam subito dolore genu correptum illius, acri cœpit tumore grossescere, ita ut nervis in poplite contractis, pedem primo a terra suspensum claudicans portaret, dehinc ingravescente molestia, omni privaretur incessu. Qui die quadam deportatus foras a ministris atque sub divo recumbens, vidit repente venientem de longe equitem albis indutum vestimentis et honorabilem vultu, sed et equum, cui sedebat, incomparandi decoris. Qui cum adveniens mansueto illum salutaret alloquio, addit quasi per jocum inquirere, si aliquod tali hospiti præbere vellet obsequium. At ille, ‘Jam,’ inquit, ‘promtissime cuperem tuis astare devotus obsequiis, si non, exigentibus culpis, hujus languoris compede retinerer. Diu namque est quod molestia genu tumentis oppressus, nulla cujuslibet medicorum industria possum sanari.’ Qui desiliens equo ac genu languidum diligentius considerans, ‘Coque,’ inquit, ‘triticeam in lacte farinam, et hac confectione calida tumorem superungue, et sanaberis.’ Et his dictis, ascendens equum abiit. Ille jussis obtemperans post dies paucos sanatus est, agnovitque angelum fuisse, qui hæc sibi monita dedisset, mittente illo, qui quondam Raphaelem archangelum ad sanandos Tobiæ visus destinare dignatus est. Quod si cui videtur incredibile angelum in equo apparuisse, legat historiam Machabæorum, in qua angeli in equis, et ad Judæ Maccabæi et ad ipsius templi defensionem advenisse memorantur.
QUOMODO VENTIS ORATIONE MUTATIS, RATES OCEANO DELAPSAS REVOCAVIT AD LITTUS.
AB hoc autem tempore devotus Domino puer, sicut ipse postea familiaribus suis attestari solebat, sæpe in angustiis se vallantibus orans ad Dominum, angelica meruit opitulatione defendi, necnon etiam pro aliis in periculo constitutis, quia benigna pietate supplicabat, exaudiebatur ab illo, qui clamantem pauperem exaudire, et ex omnibus tribulationibus ejus consuevit eripere. Est denique monasterium non longe ab ostio Tini fluminis ad meridiem situm, tunc quidem virorum, nunc autem, mutato, ut solet per tempora rerum, statu, virginum Christo servientium, nobili examine pollens. Qui videlicet famuli Christi, dum ligna monasterii usibus apta per memorati alveum fluminis de longe ratibus veherent, jamque e regione ejusdem monasterii vehendo devenirent, ac rates ad terram educere conarentur, ecce, subito ventus ab occasu tempestivus assurgens abripuit rates, atque ab ostio fluminis trahere cœpit. Quod videntes e monasterio fratres, emissis in fluvium naviculis, eos, qui in ratibus laborabant, adjuvare nitebantur, sed vi fluminis ac ventorum violentia superati, nequaquam valebant. Unde facta desperatione humani adjutorii, fugerunt ad Divinum. Egressi namque de monasterio, et labentibus in oceanum ratibus, collecti in proxima obice flectebant genua, supplicantes Domino pro his, quos in tantum mortis discrimen jam jamque irruere cernebant. Sed provisione Divina, quamvis diu precantium vota sunt dilata, ut videlicet quanta esset in Cuthberto virtus precandi patesceret. Stabat enim in altera amnis ripa vulgaris turba non modica, in qua stabat et ipse. Quæ cum, aspectantibus cum tristitia monachis, raptas porro per mare cerneret rates, adeo ut quasi quinque aves parvulæ, quinque rates undis insidentes apparerent, cœpit irridere vitam conversationis eorum, quasi merito talia paterentur, qui communia mortalium jura spernentes, nova et ignota darent statuta vivendi. Prohibuit Cuthbertus probra deridentium, ‘Quid agitis,’ inquiens, ‘fratres, maledicentes his quos in letum jam trahi videtis? nonne melius esset et humanius Dominum pro eorum salute precari, quam de illorum gaudere periculis?’ At illi, rustico et animo et ore stomachantes adversus eum, ‘Nullus,’ inquiunt, ‘hominum pro eis roget, nullius eorum misereatur Deus, et qui veteres culturas hominibus tulere, et novæ qualiter observari debeant nemo novit.’ Quo accepto responso, ipse oraturus Dominum genua flexit, caput in terram declinavit, statimque retorta vis ventorum, rates cum his, qui ducebant, gaudentibus, integras ad terram ejecit, et juxta ipsum monasterium in loco opportuno deposuit. Videntes autem rustici erubuerunt de sua infidelitate, fidem vero venerabilis Cuthberti et tunc laude digna prædicabant, et deinceps prædicare nullatenus cessabant; adeo ut frater quidam nostri monasterii probatissimus, cujus ipse hæc relatione didici, sese hæc ab uno ipsorum rusticæ simplicitatis viro, et simulandi prorsus ignaro, coram multis sæpe assistentibus audisse narraverit.
quomodo cum pastoribus positus animam sancti aidani episcopi ad cœlum ferri ab Angelis aspexerit.
AT ubi gubernatrix vitæ fidelium gratia Christi voluit famulum suum arctioris propositi subire virtutem, altioris præmii gloriam promereri, contigit eum remotis in montibus commissorum sibi pecorum agere custodiam. Qui dum nocte quadam, dormientibus sociis, ipse juxta morem pervigil in oratione duraret, vidit subito fusum de cœlo lumen medias longæ noctis interrupisse tenebras. In quo cœlestium choros agminum terram petisse, nec mora, sumta secum anima claritatis eximiæ cœlestem rediisse ad patriam. Compunctus est multum hoc visu Deo dilectus adolescens, ad subeundam gratiam exercitii spiritualis, ac promerendæ inter magnificos viros vitæ felicitatisque perennis, confestimque Deo laudes, gratiarumque referens actiones, sed et socios ad laudandum Dominum fraterna exhortatione provocans. ‘Heu miseri,’ inquit, ‘qui somno et inertiæ dediti, non meremur semper vigilantium ministrorum Christi cernere lucem. En, ipse cum modico noctis tempore pervigil orarem, tanta Dei magnalia conspexi. Aperta est janua cœli, et inductus illuc angelico comitatu spiritus cujusdam sancti, qui nunc nobis in infirma caligine versantibus, supernæ mansionis gloriam ac Regem illius Christum perpetuo beatus intuetur. Et quidem hunc vel episcopum quemlibet sanctum, vel eximium de fidelium numero virum fuisse existimo, quem tantæ splendore lucis, tot ducentium choris angelorum, cœlis allatum vidi.’ Hæc dicens vir Domini Cuthbertus non parum corda pastorum ad reverentiam Divinæ laudationis accendit. Agnovitque, mane facto, antistitem Lindisfarnensis ecclesiæ Aidanum, magnæ utique virtutis virum, per id temporis, quo viderat raptum de corpore, cœlestia regna petiisse, ac statim commendans suis pecora, quæ pascebat, dominis, monasterium petere decrevit.
QUOMODO ITER FACIENS CIBOS, DOMINO PROCURANTE, PERCEPIT.
CUMQUE novum vitæ continentioris ingressum sedulo jam corde meditaretur, affuit gratia superna, quæ animum ejus arctius suo in proposito firmaret ac manifestis edoceret indiciis, quia quærentibus regnum Dei et justitiam ejus, et ea quæ ad victum corporis pertinent beneficio Divinæ promissionis adjiciuntur. Quadam namque die dum iter solus ageret, divertit hora tertia in villam, quam eminus positam forte reperit. Intravitque domum cujusdam religiosæ matrisfamilias paululum ibidem quiescere desiderans, et jumento potius, cui sedebat, quam sibi alimentum poscere curans; erat enim tempus incipientis brumæ. Suscepit ergo eum mulier benigne, rogavitque sollicite ut prandium parare atque illum reficere liceret. Negavit vir Domini, ‘Non possum,’ inquiens, ‘adhuc manducare, quia dies jejunii est;’ erat namque sexta Sabbati, qua plerique fidelium ob reverentiam Dominicæ passionis usque ad nonam horam solent protelare jejunium. Perstitit in rogando mulier, hospitalitatis studio devota. ‘Ecce,’ inquit, ‘in itinere, quo vadis, nullum viculum, nulla hominum habitacula reperies; et quidem longum restát iter, neque ante solis occubitum valet consummari. Unde precor antequam egrediaris accipias cibos, ne tota die jejunium sustinere, vel etiam procrastinare cogaris.’ At ille, quamvis multum rogante femina, rogantis instantiam religionis amore devincens, jejunus diem duxit ad vesperam.
Cumque, instante jam vespera, cerneret se iter, quod proposuerat, eodem die non posse finire, neque ulla in proximo hominum hospitia, ubi manere posset, adesse, ecce, subito iter faciens vidit juxta pastorum tuguria, quæ æstate infirmiter posita, tunc jam deserta patebant. Huc propter manendum ingrediens, equum in quo venerat alligavit ad parietem, collectumque fœni fasciculum, quem tecto ventus abstulerat, edendum illi apposuit. Ipse orando horam ducere cœpit, at subito inter psalmodiam vidit equum elato sursum capite tecta casæ carpentem ore, jusumque trahentem, atque inter cadentia fœna tecti involutum pariter decidere linteum; volensque dignoscere certius quid esset, finita oratione, accessit et invenit involutum linteo dimidium panis calidi et carnem, quæ ad unam sibi refectionem sufficere possent. Laudemque decantans beneficiis cœlestibus, ‘Deo,’ inquit, ‘gratias ago, qui et mihi pro amore ejus jejunanti, et meo comiti cœnam prævidere dignatus est.’ Divisit ergo fragmen panis, quod invenit, partemque ejus dimidiam equo dedit, reliquam suo esui reservavit, atque ex illo jam die promptior factus est ad jejunandum, quia nimirum intellexit ejus dono sibi refectionem procuratam in solitudine, qui quondam Heliam solitarium, quia nullus hominum aderat qui ministraret, ejusdemmodi cibo per volucres non pauco tempore pavit; cujus oculi super timentes eum, sperantes autem in misericordia ejus, ut eripiat a morte animas eorum, et alat eos in fame. Hæc mihi religiosus nostri monasterii, quod est ad ostium Wiri fluminis, presbyter nomine Ingwaldus, qui nunc longæ gratia senectutis, magis corde mundo cœlestia quam terrena carnalibus contemplatur aspectibus, ab ipso Cuthberto jam tunc episcopo se audiisse perhibuit.
QUOD EI TESTIMONIUM VENIENTI AD MONASTERIUM BOISILUS VIR SANCTUS IN SPIRITU PROPHETAVERIT.
INTEREA venerabilis Domini servus, relictis seculi rebus, monasterialem properat subire disciplinam, utpote cœlesti visione ad appetenda perpetuæ gaudia beatitudinis incitatus, ad tolerandam pro Domino esuriem sitimque temporalem epulis invitatus cœlestibus. Et quidem Lindisfarnensem ecclesiam multos habere sanctos viros, quorum doctrina et exemplis instrui posset, noverat, sed fama præventus Boisili sublimium virtutum monachi et sacerdotis, Mailros petere maluit. Casuque contigit, ut cum illo proveniens equo desiluisset, ingressurusque ad adorandum ecclesiam, ipsum pariter equum et hastam, quam tenuerat manu, ministro dedisset, necdum enim habitum deposuerat secularem, Boisilus ipse præ foribus monasterii consistens, prior illum videret. Prævidens in spiritu quantus conversatione esset futurus, quem cernebat, hoc unum dixit astantibus, ‘Ecce servus Dei!’ imitatus illum, qui venientem ad se Nathanael intuitus, ‘Ecce,’ inquit, ‘vir Israelita, in quo dolus non est!’ Sicut religiosus ac veteranus Dei famulus et presbyter Sigfridus solet attestari, qui eidem Boisilo hæc dicenti inter alios adstabat, tunc in ipso monasterio adolescens primis adhuc monachicæ vitæ rudimentis institutus, nunc in nostro, id est Girvensi, monasterio perfectum in Christo agens virum, et inter ægra spiritus extremi suspiria lætum vitæ alterius sitiens introitum. Nec plura loquens Boisilus pervenientem mox ad se Cuthbertum benigne suscepit, causamque sui itineris exponentem, quia, videlicet, monasterium seculo prætulerit, benignus secum retinuit. Erat enim præpositus ejusdem monasterii.
Et post dies paucos, adveniente viro beatæ recordationis Eata, tunc presbytero et abbate monasterii ipsius, postea Lindisfarnensis ecclesiæ, simul et ejusdem loci antistite, indicavit ei de Cuthberto, et quia boni propositi animum gereret exposuit, obtinuitque apud eum ut, accepta tonsura, fratrum consortio jungeretur. Qui ingressus monasterium confestim æqualem ceteris fratribus vitæ regularis observantiam tenere, vel etiam arctioris disciplinæ studiis supergredi curabat, legendi videlicet, operandi, vigilandi, atque operandi solertior. Sed et juxta exemplum Samsonis fortissimi quondam Nazarei, ab omni quod inebriare potest sedulus abstinebat; non autem tantam escarum valebat subire continentiam, ne necessariis minus idoneus efficeretur operibus. Erat enim robustus corpore et integer viribus, et ad quæcunque volebat aptus exercitia laboris.
QUOMODO ANGELUM HOSPITIO SUSCIPIENS, DUM PANEM QUÆRIT MINISTRARE TERRENUM, CŒLESTI AB EODEM REMUNERARI MERUERIT.
Cumque post aliquot annos regi Alfrido placeret pro redemptione animæ suæ locum quendam regni sui, qui vocatur Inrhipum, ad construendum ibidem monasterium, Eatæ abbati donare, tollens idem abbas quosdam e fratribus secum, in quibus et Cuthbertum, condidit ibi quod petebatur monasterium, atque eisdem quibus antea Mailros institutis disciplinæ regularis imbuit. Ubi famulus Domini Cuthbertus suscipiendorum officio præpositus hospitum, probandæ suæ gratia devotionis angelum Domini suo suscepisse fertur hospitio. Exiens etenim primo mane de interioribus monasterii ædibus ad hospitum cellulam, invenit inibi quendam sedentem juvenem, quem hominem æstimans solito mox humanitatis more suscepit. Nam lavandis manibus aquam dedit, pedes ipse abluit, linteo extersit, fovendos humiliter manibus suo in sinu composuit, atque ut horam diei tertiam etiam cibo reficiendus exspectaret, rogavit, ne, si jejunus iret, fame pariter et frigore lassaretur hiberno. Putabat namque hominem nocturno itinere simul et flatibus defessum niveis, illo requiescendi gratia diluculo divertisse. Negavit ille, et se cito iturum, quia longius esset mansio ad quam properaret, respondit. At Cuthbertus diu multum rogans, tandem adjuratione addita Divini nominis, ad manendum coegit; statimque ut, expletis horæ tertiæ precibus, vescendi tempus aderat, apposuit mensam, sumendas obtulit escas, et ‘Obsecro te,’ inquit, ‘frater, reficias, dum rediens panem calidum adfero, spero enim quia jam cocti sunt modo.’ At ubi rediit, non invenit hospitem, quem edentem reliquerat, explorat vestigia quo iret, sed nulla uspiam cernit, recens autem nix terram texerat, quæ facillime viantis iter proderet, et quo declinaret, monstraret. Stupefactus ergo vir Domini, et secum quærens de facto reposuit mensam in conclavi. Quod ingressus continuo obviam habuit miri odoris fragrantiam. Circumspiciens autem unde esset orta tanta odoris suavitas, vidit juxta positos tres panes calidos, insoliti candoris et gratiæ. Pavensque talia secum loquitur, ‘Cerno quod angelus Dei erat quem suscepi, pascere, non pasci veniens. En, panes attulit quales terra gignere nequit; nam et lilia candore, et rosas odore, et mella præcellunt sapore. Unde constat quia non de nostra tellure orti, sed de paradiso voluptatis allati sunt. Nec mirum quod epulas in terris sumere respuerit humanas, qui æterno vitæ pane fruitur in cœlis.’ Itaque vir Domini de ostensa miraculi virtute compunctus, majorem ex eo virtutum operibus curam impendebat; crescentibus autem virtutibus crevit et gratia cœlestis. Denique sæpius ex eo tempore angelos videre et alloqui, sed et esuriens cibis specialibus sibi a Domino præparatis meruit refici. Nam quia affabilis et jocundus moribus erat, plerumque dum ad exemplum vivendi præsentibus patrum præcedentium gesta referret, etiam quid sibi doni spiritualis superna pietas contulerit humiliter interserere solebat; et aliquando quidem palam, aliquando autem velate, quasi sub persona alterius, id facere curabat. Quod tamen qui audiere, quia de seipso dixerit intelligebant, juxta exemplum magistri gentium, qui modo aperte suas virtutes replicat, modo sub prætextu alterius personæ loquitur, [2 Cor. xii. 2,] Scio hominem in Christo, ante annos quatuordecim, raptum usque ad tertium cœlum.
QUOD SALVATO A LANGUORE CUTHBERTO BOISILUS MORITURUS QUÆ ESSENT VENTURA PRÆDIXERIT.
Interea, quia fragilis est et more freti volubilis omnis seculi status, instante subito turbine, præfatus abbas Eata cum Cuthberto et ceteris, quos secum adduxerat, fratribus domum repulsus est, et locus monasterii, quod condiderat, aliis ad incolendum monachis datur. Nec memoratus athleta Christi mutatione locorum mutavit mentem ab arrepto semel proposito militiæ cœlestis; verum diligentissime, juxta quod et ante facere consueverat, beati Boisili dictis pariter auscultabat et actis. Quo tempore, sicut Herefridus familiaris ejus presbyter, et abbas quondam monasterii Lindisfarnensis ipsum referre solitum testatur, morbo pestilentiæ, quo tunc plurimi per Britanniam longe lateque deficiebant, correptus est. At fratres monasterii illius totam pro ejus vita et salute orantes noctem duxere pervigilem; omnes enim quasi hominis sancti necessariam sibi ejus adhuc in carne præsentiam rebantur. Quod dum ipsi mane quidam de illis indicaret, nam nesciente eo fecerant, respondens statim, ‘Et quid jaceo?’ inquit, ‘neque enim putandum est, quia tot taliumque virorum preces Deus despexerit. Date baculum et caligas;’—confestimque exsurgens cœpit tentare incessum, baculo nitens, et crescente per dies virtute, sanitatem quidem recepit: sed quia tumor, qui in femore ejus parebat, paullatim a superficie detumescens corporis ad viscerum interiora prolapsus est, toto pæne vitæ suæ tempore aliquantulum interaneorum non cessabat sentire dolorem, videlicet ut juxta Apostolorum, [2 Cor. xii. 9.] ‘Virtus in infirmitate perficeretur.’
Quem cum famulus Domini Boisilus a valetudine sanatum cerneret, ait, ‘Vides, frater, quia liberatus es a molestia, qua laborabas, et dico tibi quod ea jam ultra tangendus non es, neque hoc moriturus in tempore; simulque moneo, ut quia me mors vicina præstolatur, discere a me aliquid quamdiu docere valeam non omittas. Non enim plusquam septem dies sunt, quibus mihi ad docendum sanitas corporis, et linguæ suppetat virtus.’ Respondit Cuthbertus, nihil hæsitans de veritate dictorum ejus, ‘Et quid, rogo, optimum mihi est legere, quod tamen una valeam consummare septimana?’ At ille, ‘Joannem,’ inquit, ‘Evangelistam. Est autem mihi codex habens quaterniones septem, quas singulis diebus singulas possumus, Domino adjuvante, legendo, et quantum opus est inter nos, conferendo percurrere.’ Factum est ut dixerat. Quam ideo lectionem tam citissime complere valebant, quia solam in ea fidei, quæ per dilectionem operatur, simplicitatem, non autem quæstionum profunda tractabant. Completa ergo post septem dies lectione, memorato arreptus morbo vir Domini Boisilus diem pervenit ad ultimum, et hoc magna exsultatione transcenso, gaudia perpetuæ lucis intravit. Ferunt illum his septem diebus omnia Cuthberto, quæ ei futura restabant, exposuisse; propheticus namque, ut dixi, et miræ sanctitatis erat homo. Denique præfatæ acerbitatem pestilentiæ triennio priusquam veniret Eatæ abbati suo prædixit fuisse futuram, nec se illa tollendum celavit; ipsum vero abbatem suum non ea moriturum, sed illo potius morbo, quem dysenteriam medici appellant, veridico, ut rerum exitus docuit, sermone præmonuit. Sed et Cuthberto, inter alia, quia episcopus esset ordinandus insinuavit. Unde idem Cuthbertus postmodum in secessu anachoreseos positus, dicere quidem nulli volebat, quia episcopum eum prædixerit futurum; sed tamen visitantibus se aliquoties fratribus, solebat multo cum dolore protestari, ‘Quia etiam si fieri possit, ut in caute permodicam domunculam habens deliteam, ubi circumferentes me undique fluctus oceani tumescentis a cunctorum mortalium visu pariter et cognitione recludant; nec sic quidem liberum me ab insidiis mundi fallentis æstimo, sed ibi quoque, quia qualibet ex causa philargyria me tentans abripere possit, vereor.’
QUAM SEDULUS ERGA MINISTERIUM VERBI CUTHBERTUS EXSTITERIT.
Post obitum ergo dilecti Deo sacerdotis Boisili memoratum præpositi officium Cuthbertus suscepit, et per aliquot annos spirituali, ut sanctum decebat, exercens industria, non solum ipsi monasterio regularis vitæ monita, simul et exempla præferebat, sed et vulgus circumpositum longe lateque a vita stultæ consuetudinis ad cœlestium gaudiorum convertere curabat amorem. Nam et multi fidem, quam habebant, iniquis profanabant operibus; et aliqui etiam tempore mortalitatis, neglecto fidei, quo imbuti erant, sacramento, ad erratica idololatriæ medicamina concurrebant, quasi missam a Deo conditore plagam per incantationes vel alligaturas, vel alia quælibet dæmoniacæ artis arcana, cohibere valerent. Ad utrorumque ergo corrigendum errorem crebro ipse de monasterio egressus, aliquoties equo sedens, sed sæpius pedibus incedens, circumpositas veniebat ad villas, et viam veritatis prædicabat errantibus, quod ipsum etiam Boisilus suo tempore facere consueverat. Erat quippe moris eo tempore populis Anglorum, ut, veniente in villam clerico vel presbytero, cuncti ad ejus imperium verbum audituri confluerent, libenter ea, quæ dicerentur, audirent, libentiusque, quæ audire et intelligere poterant, operando sequerentur. Porro Cuthberto tanta erat docendi peritia, tantus amor persuadendi quæ cœperat, tale vultus angelici lumen, ut nullus præsentium latebras ei sui cordis celare præsumeret, omnes palam, quæ gesserant, confitendo proferrent, quia nimirum hæc eadem illum latere nullo modo putabant, et confessa dignis, ut imperabat, pœnitentiæ fructibus abstergerent. Solebat autem ea maxime loca peragrare, illis prædicare in viculis, qui in arduis asperisque montibus procul positi, aliis horrori erant ad visendum, et paupertate pariter ac rusticitate sua doctorum prohibebant accessum. Quos tamen ille pio libenter mancipatus labori tanta doctrinæ excolebat industria, ut de monasterio egrediens, sæpe hebdomada integra, aliquando duabus vel tribus, nonnunquam etiam mense pleno, domum non rediret, sed demoratus in montanis plebem rusticam verbo prædicationis simul et exemplo virtutis ad cœlestia vocaret.
QUOMODO ANIMALIA MARIS, IN QUO PERNOX ORAVERAT, ILLI REGRESSO PRÆBUERINT OBSEQUIUM, ET FRATER, QUI HÆC VIDEBAT, PRÆ TIMORE LANGUESCENS, EJUS SIT ORATIONE RECREATUS.
Cum vero sanctus vir in eodem monasterio virtutibus signisque succresceret, famaque operum ejus circumquaque crebresceret, erat sanctimonialis femina et mater ancillarum Christi, nomine Ebbe, regens monasterium, quod situm est in loco, quem Coludi urbem nuncupant, religione pariter et nobilitate cunctis honorabilis, namque erat soror uterina regis Oswii. Hæc ad virum Dei mittens, rogavit, ut se suumque monasterium gratia exhortationis invisere dignaretur. Nec negare potuit quod ab eo caritas ex ancillæ Dei corde poposcit. Venit igitur ad locum, diesque aliquot ibi permanens viam justitiæ, quam prædicabat, omnibus actu pariter et sermone pandebat.
Qui cum more sibi solito, quiescentibus noctu ceteris, ad orationem solus exiret, et post longas intempestæ noctis vigilias tandem, instante hora communis synaxeos, domum rediret; quadam nocte unus e fratribus ejusdem monasterii, cum egredientem illum silentio cerneret, clanculo secutus ejus vestigia, quo ire, quidve agere vellet, dignoscere quærebat. At ille egressus monasterio, sequente exploratore, descendit ad mare, cujus ripæ monasterium idem superpositum erat; ingrediensque altitudinem maris, donec ad collum usque ac brachia unda tumens adsurgeret, pervigiles undisonis in laudibus tenebras noctis exegit. Appropinquante autem diluculo, ascendens in terram, denuo cœpit in littore flexis genibus orare. Quod dum ageret, venere continuo duo de profundo maris quadrupedia, quæ vulgo lutræ vocantur. Hæc ante illum strata in arena, anhelitu suo pedes ejus fovere cœperunt, ac villo satagebant extergere; completoque ministerio, percepta ab eo benedictione, patrias sunt relapsa sub undas. Ipse domum reversus, canonicos cum fratribus hymnos hora competente complevit. At frater, qui eum de speculis præstolabatur, perculsus pavore ingenti, vix præ angustia premente domum nutante gressu pervenit; primoque mane accedens ad eum sese in terram stravit, veniam de reatu stulti ausus cum lacrimis flagitavit, nil dubitans illum nosse quid ipse noctu egerit, quidve pateretur. Cui ille, ‘Quid,’ inquit, ‘habes, frater? Quid fecisti? Num nostrum iter nocturnum lustrando explorare tentasti? Sed ea solum conditione tibi hoc indulgeo commissum, si promiseris te, quæ vidisti, nulli ante meum obitum esse dicturum.’ In quo nimirum præcepto ejus secutus est exemplum, qui discipulis in monte suæ gloriam majestatis ostendens, ait, [Matt. xvii. 9.] ‘Nemini dixeritis visionem, donec Filius hominis a mortuis resurgat.’ Promittentem ergo quæ jusserat fratrem benedixit, pariterque culpam et molestiam, quam temerarius incurrebat, abstersit; qui virtutem, quam viderat, ipso vivente, silentio tegens, post obitum ejus plurimis indicare curavit.
QUOMODO NAUTIS TEMPESTATE PRÆCLUSIS SERENUM MARE AD CERTUM DIEM PRÆDIXERIT, ET ORANDO CIBOS IMPETRAVERIT.
CŒPIT inter ista vir Dei etiam prophetiæ spiritu pollere, ventura prædicere, præsentibus absentia nunciare. Quodam etenim tempore pergens de suo monasterio pro necessitatis causa accidentis, ad terram Pictorum, quæ Niduari vocatur, navigando pervenit, comitantibus eum duobus e fratribus, quorum unus postea presbyterii functus officio virtutem miraculi, quam ibidem vir Domini monstravit, multorum notitiæ patefecit. Venerunt autem illo post natalis Dominici diem, sperantes se, quia undarum simul et aurarum arridebat temperies, citius esse redituros; ideoque nec cibaria secum tulere, tanquam ocius reversuri. Sed longe aliter, quam putabant, evenit. Nam mox ut terram tetigere, tempestas fera suborta est, quæ iter eis omne remeandi præcluderet. Cumque per dies aliquot ibidem inter famis et frigoris pericula taberent, quo tamen tempore vir Dei non marcida luxu otia gerere, nec somnis vacare volebat inertibus, sed pernox in oratione perstare satagebat; aderat sacratissima Dominicæ Apparitionis dies. Tum ille socios blando, ut jocundus atque affabilis erat, sermone alloquitur. ‘Quid, rogo, tanta ignavia torpemus, et non quacunque parte iter salutis inquirimus? En tellus nivibus, nebulis cœlum horrescit, aer flatibus adversis furit, fluctibus æquor: ipsi inopia deficimus, nec adest homo qui reficiat. Pulsemus ergo Dominum precibus, qui suo quondam populo Maris Rubri viam aperuit, eumque in deserto mirabiliter pavit, orantes ut nostri quoque misereatur in periculis. Credo, si non nostra fides titubat, non vult nos hodierna die jejunos permanere, quam ipse per tot ac tanta suæ miracula majestatis illustrare curavit; precorque eamus alicubi quærentes quid nobis epularum in gaudium suæ festivitatis præstare dignetur.’ Hæc dicens, eduxit eos sub ripam, quo ipse noctu pervigil orare consueverat, ubi advenientes invenerunt tria frusta delphininæ carnis, quasi humano ministerio secta et præparata ad cocturam; flexisque genibus gratias egerunt Deo. Dixit autem Cuthbertus, ‘Videtis, dilectissimi, quæ sit gratia Dei confidenti et speranti in Domino. Ecce et cibaria famulis suis præparavit, et ternario quoque numero quot diebus hic residendum sit nobis ostendit. Sumite ergo munera, quæ misit nobis Christus, et abeuntes reficiamus nos, maneamusque intrepidi; certissima enim nobis post triduum serenitas cœli et maris adveniet.’ Factum est, ut dixerat; manente triduo tempestate pervalida, quarto demum die tranquillitas promissa secuta est, quæ illos secundis flatibus in patriam referret.
QUOMODO ITER FACIENS AB AQUILA MINISTRA ET VIATICUM PERCEPTURUM SE ESSE PRÆDIXERIT, ET PERCEPERIT.
Quadam quoque die cum prædicaturus, juxta consuetudinem suam, populis, de monasterio exiret, uno comite puero, jamque diu gradiendo fatigatis non parum adhuc restaret itineris, quousque ad vicum, quo tendebant, pervenirent, ait ad puerum, tentans eum, ‘Dic age, sodalis, ubi hodie refici disponas, an habeas aliquem in via ad quem divertere valeas hospitem?’ At ille respondens, ‘Et hæc ipse,’ inquit, ‘mecum tacito in corde tractavi; quia nec viaticum ituri tulimus nobiscum, neque aliquem in itinere notum habemus, qui nos suo recipere velit hospitio, et non parum adhuc itineris superest, quod jejuni sine molestia complere nequimus.’ Cui vir Dei, ‘Disce,’ inquit, ‘filiole, fidem semper et spem habere in Domino, quia nunquam fame perit, qui Deo fideliter servit.’ Et aspectans sursum, vidensque aquilam in alto volantem, ‘Cernis,’ inquit, ‘aquilam illam porro volantem? Etiam per hujus ministerium possibile est Domino nos hodie reficere.’ Talia confabulantes agebant iter juxta fluvium quendam, et ecce, subito vident aquilam in ripa residentem, dixitque vir Dei, ‘Vides ubi nostra, quam prædixi, ministra residet? Curre rogo, et quid nobis epularum, Domino mittente, attulerit, inspice et citius adfer.’ Qui accurrens attulit piscem non modicum, quem illa nuper de fluvio prendiderat. At vir Dei, ‘Quid,’ inquit, ‘fecisti, fili? Quare ministræ suam partem non dedisti? Seca citius medium, et illi partem, quam nobis ministrando meretur, remitte.’ Fecit ut jusserat, tulitque secum partem reliquam. Ubi tempus reficiendi aderat, diverterunt ad proximum vicum, et dato ad assandum pisciculo, se pariter et eos, ad quos intrabant, gratissimo reficiebant convivio, prædicante Cuthberto verbum Dei, atque ejus beneficia collaudante; et quia beatus vir cujus est nomen Domini spes ejus, et non respexit in vanitates et in insanias falsas. Ac sic resumto itinere ad docendum eos, quos proposuere, profecti sunt.
QUOMODO PRÆDICANS POPULIS PHANTASTICUM SUBITO IGNEM DIABOLI ET PRÆVIDERIT VENTURUM, ET VENIENTEM EXSTINXERIT.
EODEM tempore dum congregatis in quadam villula perplurimis verbum vitæ prædicaret, prævidit subito in spiritu antiquum hostem ad retardandum opus salutis adesse, moxque ejus insidias, quas futuras intellexit, docendo præoccupare curavit. Namque inter ea, quæ disputaverat, repente hujusmodi monita inseruit, ‘Oportet, carissimi, ut quoties vobis mysteria regni cœlestis prædicantur, intento hæc corde et sensu semper vigilantissimo audiatis, ne forte diabolus, qui mille nocendi habet artes, supervacuis vos curis ab æternæ salutis auditione præpediat.’ Et hæc dicens, denuo sermonis, quem intermiserat, ordinem repetiit, statimque hostis ille nequissimus phantasticum deferens ignem, domum juxta positam incendit, ita ut viderentur faces ignium totam volare per villulam, ac, juvante vento, fragor aera concutere. Tum exsiliens quasi ad exstinguendum ignem turba pene tota, quam docebat, nam paucos ipse manu missa retinuit, certatim aquas jactabat, nec tamen unda vera falsas potuit restinguere flammas, donec, orante viro Dei Cuthberto, fugatus auctor fallaciarum, ficta secum incendia vacuas reportaret in auras. Quod videns turba multum salubriter erubuit, rursusque ad virum Dei ingressa, flexis genibus instabilis animi veniam precabatur, confitens se intellexisse quia diabolus ab impedienda salute humana ne ad horam quidem vacaret. At ipse confirmans inconstantiam fragilium, rursus, quæ cœperat, vitæ monita exsequitur.
QUOMODO FLAMMAS DOMUS CUJUSDAM VERO IGNE ARDENTIS ORATIONE RESTINXERIT.
Nec tantum ignem phantasticum, sed etiam verum, quem multi frigidis fontium undis minime valebant exstinguere, ipse solus ferventibus lacrimarum rivulis compressit. Siquidem dum, more apostolorum, gratia salutiferæ instructionis universa pertransiret, devenit die quadam in domum cujusdam devotæ Deo feminæ, quam crebrius invisere curabat, quia et bonis actibus intentam noverat, et ipsa eum primis pueritiæ nutriebat ab annis, unde et mater ab eo cognominari solebat. Habebat autem domum in occidentali parte viculi, quam cum vir Domini Cuthbertus verbum seminaturus intraret, repente in orientali plaga ejusdem vici per culpam incuriæ domus incensa vehementissime cœpit ardere. Nam et ventus ab eodem climate non modicus assurgens, abripiebat ignitos fenei tecti fasciculos, et totam jactabat late per villam. Jactantes aquam qui aderant fortior flamma repulit, longiusque fugavit. Tum præfata Dei famula cucurrit concita ad domum, in qua virum Dei receperat, obsecrans ut orando succurreret, priusquam domus ipsius et tota simul villa periret. At ille, ‘Ne timeas,’ inquit, ‘mater, animæquior esto; non enim tibi tuisve hæc quamlibet vorax flamma nocebit.’ Statimque egressus ante ostium prosternitur in terram; quo adhuc orante, mutatur flatus ventorum, spiransque ab occasu totum tanti incendii periculum ab invasione villulæ, quam vir Domini intraverat, rejecit.
Sicque in duobus miraculis duorum patrum est virtutes imitatus: in phantasticis quidem prævisis et evacuatis incendiis, virtutem reverendissimi et sanctissimi patris Benedicti, qui simulatum ab antiquo hoste quasi coquinæ ardentis incendium ab oculis discipulorum orando pepulit; in veris vero æque victis ac retortis ignium globis, virtutem viri venerabilis Marcellini Anconitani antistitis, qui ardente eadem civitate, ipse contra ignem positus orando flammas compescuit, quas tanta civium manus aquam projiciendo nequiverat. Nec mirandum perfectos et fideliter Deo servientes viros tantam contra vim flammarum accipere potentiam, qui quotidiana virtutum industria et incentiva suæ carnis edomare, et omnia tela nequissimi ignea norunt exstinguere; quibus aptissime congruit illud propheticum, ‘Cum transieris in igne non combureris, et flamma non ardebit in te.’ At ego et mei similes propriæ fragilitatis et inertiæ conscii, certi quidem sumus quia contra ignem materialem nil tale audemus; incerti autem an ignem illum inexstinguibilem futuræ castigationis immunes evadere queamus. Sed potens est et larga pietas Salvatoris nostri, quæ indignis nobis et nunc ad exstinguenda vitiorum incendia, et ad evadendas in futuro pœnarum flammas, gratiam suæ protectionis impendat.
QUALITER DÆMONIUM AB UXORE PRÆFECTI, NECDUM ADVENIENS, EJECERIT.
Verum quia paulo superius quantum idem venerabilis Cuthbertus adversus simulatitias diaboli fraudes valuerit, exposuimus, nunc etiam quid adversus verum apertumque ejus furorem valeat, explicemus. Erat præfectus Egfridi regis Hildemerus nomine, vir religiosis cum omni domo sua deditus operibus, ideoque a beato Cuthberto specialiter dilectus, et cum itineris propinquitas congrueret, crebro ab eo visitatus. Cujus uxor cum eleemosynis et ceteris virtutum fructibus esset intenta, subito correpta a dæmone acerrime cœpit vexari, ita ut stridendo dentibus, voces miserabiles emittendo, brachia vel cetera sui corporis membra in diversa raptando, non minimum cunctis intuentibus vel audientibus incuteret horrorem. Cumque jaceret explosa et jam jamque videretur esse moritura, ascendit vir ejus equum, et concitus venit ad hominem Dei, precatusque est eum dicens, ‘Obsecro quia uxor mea male habet, et videtur jam proxima morti, ut mittas presbyterum, qui illam priusquam moriatur visitet, eique corporis et sanguinis Dominici sacramenta ministret; sed et corpus ipsius hic in locis sanctis sepeliri permittas.’ Erubescebat enim eam confiteri insanam, quam vir Domini sobriam semper videre consueverat. Qui cum parumper ab eo diverteret, visurus quem mitteret presbyterum cum illo, cognovit repente in spiritu quia non communi infirmitate, sed dæmonis infestatione premeretur conjux, pro qua supplicabat. Reversusque ad eum, ‘Non,’ inquit, ‘alium mittere, sed ipse ad visitandam eam tecum pergere debeo.’
Cumque agerent iter, cœpit flere homo et dolorem cordis profluentibus in maxillam lacrimis prodere; timebat enim, ne cum eam dæmoniosam inveniret, arbitrari inciperet, quia non integra Domino sed ficta fide serviisset. Quem vir Domini blande consolatus, ‘Noli,’ inquit, ‘plorare, quasi inventurus sim conjugem tuam qualem non velim. Scio enim ipse, quamvis te dicere pudeat, quia a dæmonio vexatur; scio etiam quia priusquam illo pervenerimus, fugato dæmonio, liberabitur, ac nobis advenientibus cum gaudio occurrens, has ipsa habenas sanissima mente excipiet, nosque intrare citius obsecrans, ministerium, quod consueverat, nobis sedulo impendet; neque enim tali tormento soli subjiciuntur mali, sed occulto Dei judicio aliquoties etiam innocentes in hoc seculo, non tantum corpore sed et mente captivantur a diabolo.’ Dumque hæc et hujusmodi verba in consolationem atque eruditionem illius perorante Cuthberto, appropinquarent domui, fugit repente spiritus nequam, adventum Spiritus Sancti, quo plenus erat vir Dei, ferre non valens. Cujus soluta vinculis mulier, quasi gravi expergefacta de somno, surrexit continuo, ac viro Dei gratulabunda occurrens, jumentum, quo sedebat, per frenum tenuit; moxque ad integrum recepto vigore mentis et corporis, eum cito descendere, atque ad benedicendam domum suam precabatur ingredi, devotumque illi ministerium præbens testabatur palam quomodo ad primum freni tactum, omni se molestia priscæ vexationis absolutam sensisset.
QUALITER IN LINDISFARNENSI MONASTERIO VIXERIT VEL DOCUERIT.
CUM ergo venerabilis Domini famulus multos in Mailrosensi monasterio degens annos multis virtutum spiritualium claresceret signis, transtulit eum reverendissimus abbas ipsius Eata in monasterium, quod in Lindisfarnensium insula situm est, ut ibi quoque regulam monachicæ perfectionis, et præpositi auctoritate doceret, et exemplo virtutis ostenderet; nam et ipsum locum tunc idem reverendissimus pater abbatis jure regebat. Neque aliquis miretur, quod in eadem insula Lindisfarnea cum permodica sit, ut supra episcopi, et nunc abbatis ac monachorum esse locum dixerimus; revera enim ita est. Namque una eademque servorum Dei habitatio utrosque simul tenet, imo omnes monachos tenet. Aidanus quippe, qui primus ejusdem loci episcopus fuit, monachus erat, et monachicam cum suis omnibus vitam semper agere solebat. Unde ab illo omnes loci ipsius antistites usque hodie sic episcopale exercent officium, ut regente monasterium abbate, quem ipsi cum consilio fratrum elegerint, omnes presbyteri, diaconi, cantores, lectores, ceterique gradus ecclesiastici, monachicam per omnia cum ipso episcopo regulam servent. Quam vivendi normam multum se diligere probavit beatus papa Gregorius, cum sciscitante per litterulas Augustino, quem primum genti Anglorum episcopum miserat, qualiter episcopi cum suis clericis conversari debeant, respondit inter alia, ‘Sed quia tua fraternitas, monasterii regulis erudita, seorsum fieri non debet a clericis suis; in ecclesia Anglorum, quæ, auctore Deo, nuper adhuc ad fidem perducta est, hanc debes conversationem instituere, quæ initio nascentis ecclesiæ fuit patribus nostris, in quibus nullus eorum ex his, quæ possidebant, aliquid suum esse dicebat, sed erant illis omnia communia.’ Igitur ad Lindisfarnensem ecclesiam, sive monasterium, vir Domini adveniens, mox instituta monachica fratribus vivendo pariter et docendo tradebat; sed et circumquaque morantem vulgi multitudinem, more suo, crebra visitatione ad cœlestia quærenda et promerenda succendebat. Nec non etiam signis clarior effectus, plurimos variis languoribus et tormentis comprehensos orationum instantia priscæ sanitati restituit; nonnullos ab immundorum spirituum vexatione, non solum præsens tangendo, orando, imperando, exorcizando, sed et absens vel tantum orando, vel certe eorum sanationem prædicendo, curavit; in quibus erat et illa præfecti uxor, de qua supra retulimus.
Erant autem quidam in monasterio fratres, qui priscæ suæ consuetudini, quam regulari mallent obtemperare custodiæ. Quos tamen ille modesta patientiæ suæ virtute superabat, et quotidiano exercitio paulatim ad melioris propositi statum convertebat. Denique sæpius in cœtu fratrum de regula disputans, cum acerrimis contradicentium fatigaretur injuriis, exsurgebat repente et placido vultu atque animo egrediens dimittebat conventum, ac sequenti nihilominus die, quasi nil objectionis pridie sustinuisset, eadem quæ prius monita eisdem dabat auditoribus, donec illos paulatim, ut diximus, ad ea, quæ vellet, converteret. Erat namque vir patientiæ virtute præcipuus, atque ad perferenda fortiter omnia, quæ vel animo vel corpori adversa ingerebantur, invictissimus, nec minus inter tristia quæ contigissent faciem prætendens hilarem, ita ut palam daretur intelligi, quia interna Spiritus Sancti consolatione pressuras contemneret extrinsecus.
Sed et vigiliarum atque orationis adeo studiosus exsistebat, ut aliquoties tres sive quatuor noctes continuas pervigil transegisse credatur; cum per tantum temporis neque ad lectum proprium veniret, neque extra dormitorium fratrum locum aliquem, in quo pausare posset, haberet. Sive enim locis secretioribus solus orationi vacabat, sive inter psallendum operabatur aliquid manibus, torporemque dormitandi laborando propellebat, seu certe circuibat insulam, quomodo se singula quæque haberent pius explorator inquirens, pariter et longitudinem sibi psalmodiæ ac vigiliarum incedendo allevians. Denique arguere solebat pusillanimitatem fratrum, qui graviter ferrent, si qui se nocturnæ vel meridianæ quietis tempore, importuna forte inquietudine suscitarent, ‘Nemo,’ inquiens, ‘mihi molestiam facit me excitando de somno, sed potius lætificat me qui exsuscitat; facit enim me, discusso torpore somni, utilitatis aliquid agere vel cogitare.’ Tantum autem compunctioni erat deditus, tantum cœlestibus ardebat desideriis, ut missarum solemnia celebrans, nequaquam sine profusione lacrimarum implere posset officium. Sed congruo satis ordine dum passionis Dominicæ mysteria celebraret, imitaretur ipse quod ageret, seipsum videlicet Deo in cordis contritione mactando; sed et adstantes populos sursum corda habere, et gratias agere Domino Deo nostro, magis ipse cor quam vocem exaltando, potius gemendo quam canendo admoneret. Erat zelo justitiæ fervidus ad arguendum peccantes, erat spiritu mansuetudinis modestus ad ignoscendum pœnitentibus, ita ut nonnunquam confitentibus sibi peccata sua his, qui deliquerant, prior ipse miserans infirmos, lacrimas funderet, et quid peccatori agendum esset, ipse justus suo præmonstraret exemplo. Vestimentis utebatur communibus, ita temperanter agens, ut horum neque munditiis neque sordibus esset notabilis. Unde usque hodie in eodem monasterio exemplo ejus observatur, ne quis varii aut pretiosi coloris habeat indumentum, sed ea maxime vestium specie sint contenti, quam naturalis ovium lana ministrat.
His et hujusmodi spiritualibus exercitiis vir venerabilis, et bonorum quorumque ad se imitandum provocabat affectum, et improbos quoque ac rebelles vitæ regularis a pertinacia sui revocabat erroris.
QUALEM SIBI IN INSULA FARNE, PULSIS DÆMONIBUS, HABITATIONEM FECERIT.
Ac postquam in eodem monasterio multa annorum curricula explevit, tandem diu concupita, quæsita, ac petita solitudinis secreta, comitante præfati abbatis sui simul et fratrum gratia, multum lætabundus adiit. Gaudebat namque quia de longa perfectione conversationis activæ, ad otium Divinæ speculationis jam mereretur ascendere; lætabatur ad eorum se sortem pertingere, de quibus canitur in Psalmo, [lxxxiv. 7.] ‘Ambulabunt sancti de virtute in virtutem, videbitur Deus Deorum in Sion.’ Et quidem in primis vitæ solitariæ rudimentis secessit ad locum quendam, qui in exterioribus ejus cellæ partibus secretior apparet. At cum ibidem aliquandiu solitarius cum hoste invisibili orando ac jejunando certaret, tandem majora præsumens, longinquiorem ac remotiorem ab hominibus locum certaminis petiit. Farne dicitur insula medio in mari posita,—quæ non sicut Lindisfarnensium incolarum regio, bis quotidie accedente æstu oceani, quem rheuma vocant Græci, fit insula, bis renudatis abeunte rheumate littoribus, contigua terræ redditur;—sed aliquot millibus passuum ab hac semiinsula ad Eurum secreta, et hinc altissimo, et inde infinito clauditur oceano. Nullus hanc facile ante famulum Domini Cuthbertum solus valebat inhabitare colonus, propter videlicet demorantium ibi phantasias dæmonum; verum intrante eam milite Christi armato galea salutis, scuto fidei, et gladio Spiritus, quod est Verbum Dei, et omnia tela nequissimi ignea extincta, et ipse nequissimus cum omni satellitum suorum turba porro fugatus est hostis.
Qui videlicet miles Christi, ut devicta tyrannorum acie monarchus terræ, quam adierat, factus est, condidit civitatem suo aptam imperio, et domos in hac æque civitati congruas erexit. Est autem ædificium situ pæne rotundum, a muro usque ad murum mensura quatuor ferme, sive quinque, perticarum distentum; murus ipse deforis altior longitudine stantis hominis: nam intrinsecus vivam cædendo rupem multo illum fecit altiorem, quatenus ad cohibendam oculorum simul et cogitatuum lasciviam, ad erigendam in superna desideria totam mentis intentionem, pius incola nil de sua mansione præter cœlum posset intueri. Quem videlicet murum, non secto lapide, vel latere et cæmento, sed impolitis prorsus lapidibus et cespite, quem de medio loci fodiendo tulerat, composuit. E quibus quidam tantæ erant granditatis ut vix a quatuor viris viderentur potuisse levari, quos tamen ipse, angelico adjutus auxilio, illuc attulisse aliunde et muro imposuisse repertus est. Duas in mansione habebat domos, oratorium scilicet, et aliud ad communes usus aptum habitaculum. Quorum parietes quidem de naturali terra multum intus forisque circumfodiendo, sive cædendo, confecit, culmina vero de lignis informibus et fæno superposuit. Porro ad portum insulæ major erat domus, in qua visitantes eum fratres suscipi et quiescere possent, nec longe ab ea fons eorundem usibus accommodus.
QUOMODO PRECIBUS AQUAM DE ARIDA PRODUXERIT, VEL QUALITER IPSE IN ANACHORESI PROFECERIT.
At vero ipsa ejus mansio aquæ erat indiga, utpote in durissima et prope saxea rupe condita. Accitis ergo vir Domini fratribus, necdum enim se ab advenientium secluserat aspectibus, ‘Cernitis,’ inquit, ‘quia fontis inops sit mansio quam adii; sed rogemus, obsecro, Illum, qui convertit solidam petram in stagnum aquæ et rupes in fontes aquarum, ut non nobis, sed nomini suo dans gloriam, de hac quoque rupe saxosa nobis venam fontis aperire dignetur. Fodiamus in medio tuguriunculi mei, credo torrente voluptatis suæ potabit nos.’ Fecerunt ergo foveam, quam in crastinum emanante ab internis unda repletam invenerunt. Unde dubium non erat, hanc orationibus viri Dei de aridissima ac durissima prius terra elicitam fuisse aquam. Quæ videlicet aqua mirum in modum primis contenta ripis, nec foras ebulliendo pavimentum invadere, nec hauriendo novit deficere, ita moderante gratia largitoris, ut nec necessitati accipientis superflueret, nec sustentandæ necessitati copia deesset.
Facta ergo, juvantibus se fratribus, mansione ac domibus præfatis, incipit habitare solus vir Domini Cuthbertus. Et primo quidem venientibus ad se fratribus, de sua cellula egredi, eisque ministrare solebat. Quorum dum pedes aqua calida devotus lavaret, coactus est aliquoties ab eis etiam se discalceare, suosque pedes illis ad abluendum præbere. Namque in tantum a cultu sui corporis animum sustulerat, atque ad animæ solius cultum contulerat, ut semel calceatus tibracis, quas pellicias habere solebat, sic menses perduraret integros. Aliquando etiam calceatus in Pascha, non nisi post annum, redeunte Paschæ tempore, propter lavationem pedum, quæ in Cœna Domini fieri solet, se discalceasse dicatur. Unde ob crebras preces incurvationesque genuum, quas calceatus exercebat, callum oblongum nec exilem in confinio pedum et tibiarum habuisse deprehensus est. Deinde, increscente studio perfectionis, includitur in suo monasterio, atque ab hominum remotus aspectibus, solitariam in jejuniis, orationibus, et vigiliis discit agere vitam, raro cum advenientibus de intus habens colloquium, et hoc per fenestram; qua primitus aperta et videri a fratribus, et fratres, quos alloquebatur, ipse videre gaudebat: exin, procedente tempore, et ipsam occlusit, nec nisi vel dandæ benedictionis, vel alterius cujuslibet certæ necessitatis gratia poscente reserabat.
QUALITER A MESSE, QUAM SUA MANU SEVERAT, VERBO VOLUCRES ABEGERIT.
LT primo quidem permodicum ab eis panem, quo vesceretur, accipiebat, ac suo bibebat e fonte; postmodum vero proprio manuum labore, juxta exempla patrum, vivere magis aptum ducebat. Rogavit ergo adferri sibi instrumenta, quibus terram exerceret, et triticum quod sereret; sed seminata verno tempore terra nullos usque ad medium æstatis reddidit fructus. Unde visitantibus se juxta morem fratribus, aiebat vir Dei, ‘Forsitan aut telluris hujusce natura, aut voluntas Dei non est, ut hoc in loco mihi triticum nascatur; adferte, rogo, hordeum, si forte vel illud fructum facere possit. Quod si nec illi Deus incrementum dare voluerit, satius est me ad cœnobium reverti, quam alieno hic labore sustentari.’ Allatumque hordeum dum ultra omne tempus serendi, ultra omnem spem fructificandi, terræ commendaret, mox abundanter exortum fecit fructum copiosum. Qui dum maturescere cœpisset, venere volucres et huic depascendo certatim insistebant. Ad quos piissimus Christi servus appropians, sicut post ipse referebat,—solebat enim sæpe, quia læti vultus et affabilis erat, ad confirmandam fidem audientium, aliqua etiam de eis, quæ ipse credendo obtinuerit, in medium proferre;—‘Quid tangitis,’ inquit, ‘sata, quæ non seruistis? An forte vos plus me his opus habetis? Si tamen a Deo licentiam accepistis, facite quod Ipse permisit; sin autem, recedite, neque ulterius aliena lædatis.’ Dixerat, et ad primam jubentis vocem, universa volucrum multitudo recessit, seque per omnia deinceps ab ejusdem messis invasione continuit. Et hic quoque venerabilis Christi famulus in duobus miraculis duorum patrum est facta secutus; in aqua, videlicet, elicita de rupe, factum beati patris Benedicti, qui idem pæne et eodem modo legitur fecisse miraculum; sed idcirco uberius, quia plures erant, qui aquæ inopia laborarent. Porro in arcessitis a messe volatilibus reverendissimi et sanctissimi patris Antonii sequebatur exemplum, qui a læsione hortuli, quem ipse plantaverat, uno onagros sermone compescuit.
QUOMODO CORVI INJURIAM, QUAM VIRO DEI INTULERANT, PRECIBUS ET MUNERE PURGARINT.
Libet etiam quoddam beati Cuthberti in exemplum præfati patris Benedicti factum narrare miraculum, in quo avium obedientia et humilitate palam contumacia et superbia condemnatur humana. Erant siquidem corvi multo ex tempore ejusdem insulæ sedibus assueti; quos cum die quadam vir Dei nidificantes, hospitiolum fratrum, de quo præfatus sum, rostro lacerare, ablatosque culmos, quibus tectum fuerat, ad fabricam nidi ore ferre conspiceret, coercuit eos levi protensione dexteræ, atque a læsura fratrum jam cessare præcepit. Spernentibusque imperium, ‘In nomine,’ inquit, ‘Jesu Christi, abite quantocius, neque in loco, quem læditis, ultra manere præsumatis.’ Vix verba compleverat, et confestim tristes abiere. Peracto autem triduo, unus e duobus rediit, et fodientem reperiens famulum Christi, sparsis lamentabiliter pennis, et submisso ad pedes ejus capite, atque humiliata voce, quibus valebat indiciis veniam precabatur admissi; quod intelligens venerabilis pater dedit facultatem remeandi. At ille, impetrata redeundi licentia, mox sodalem adducturus abiit. Nec mora, redeunt ambo, et secum digna munera ferunt, dimidiam videlicet axungiam porcinam; quam vir Domini adventantibus postea fratribus sæpius ostendere atque ad unguendas caligas præbere solebat; contestans eis quanta hominibus obedientiæ, quanta sit cura humilitatis habenda, cum avis superbissima injuriam, quam homini intulerat, precibus, lamentis et muneribus festinaret abluere. Denique ad dandum hominibus exemplum correctionis, multos deinceps annos in ipsa insula manebant et nidificabant, neque aliquid molestiæ cuiquam irrogare audebant. Nulli autem videatur absurdum a volatilibus formam discere virtutis, cum Salomon dicat, [Prov. vi. 6.] ‘Vade ad formicam, O piger, et considera vias ejus, et disce sapientiam.’
QUALITER EJUS NECESSITATIBUS ETIAM MARE SERVIERIT.
Non solum autem aeris, sed et maris animalia, imo et ipsum mare, sicut et aer et ignis, juxta quod in superioribus exposuimus, viro venerabili præbuere obsequium. Qui enim Auctori omnium creaturarum fideliter et integro corde famulatur, non est mirandum si ejus imperiis ac votis omnis creatura deserviat. At nos plerumque idcirco subjectæ nobis creaturæ dominium perdimus, quia Domino et Creatori omnium ipsi servire negligimus. Et ipsum, inquam, mare promtum famulo Christi, ubi opus habuit, impendebat officium. Disponebat namque parvulam sibi in suo monasterio, sed et quotidianis necessitatibus aptam, condere casulam, cui a parte maris, qua alluvione frequentium gurgitum excavata rupes altissimum nec brevem fecerat hiatum, basis supponenda erat, et hæc juxta latitudinem hiatus duodecim pedum longa. Rogavit ergo fratres, qui se visitaturi advenerant, ut cum redire vellent, lignum sibi longitudinis duodecim pedum ad faciendam domunculæ basim deferrent; qui promiserunt se libentissime facturos quod petiit. Sed ubi, accepta ab eo benedictione, domum reversi sunt, fugit mentem petitio patris; reversique die debito ad eum, non attulere quod rogabantur. Quibus ille benignissime receptis et oratione solita Deo commendatis, ‘Ubi est,’ inquit, ‘lignum, quod vos adferre rogabam?’ Tum illi reminiscentes petitionem ejus, suamque confitentes oblivionem, veniam de admisso precabantur. At vir mitissimus blando illos sermone consolatus usque ad mane in insula manere et requiescere præcepit, dicens, ‘Credo quia Deus non obliviscatur meæ voluntatis et necessitatis.’ Fecerunt ut dixerat, et exsurgentes mane viderunt, quia nocturnus oceani æstus lignum memoratæ longitudinis attulit, et in ipso insuper loco deposuit, ubi ædificium desuper erat imponendum. Videntes autem mox et viri venerabilis sanctitatem mirabantur, cui etiam elementa servirent; et suæ mentis tarditatem debito cum pudore culpabant, quos etiam insensibile elementum quam sit sanctis obtemperandum doceret.
QUOMODO MULTIS AD SE VENIENTIBUS MONITA DANS SALUTIS, FRAGILES EXPOSUERIT ANTIQUI HOSTIS INSIDIAS.
Veniebant autem multi ad virum Dei, non solum de proximis Lindifarnensium finibus, sed etiam de remotioribus Britanniæ partibus, fama nimirum virtutum ejus acciti; qui vel sua, quæ commisissent, errata, vel dæmonum, quæ paterentur, tentamenta profitentes, vel certe communia mortalium, quibus affligerentur, adversa patefacientes, a tanto sanctitatis viro se consolandos sperabant. Nec eos fefellit spes. Namque nullus ab eo sine gaudio consolationis abibat, nullum dolor animi, quem illo attulerat, redeuntem comitatus est. Noverat quippe mœstos pia exhortatione refovere, sciebat angustiatis gaudia vitæ cœlestis ad memoriam revocare, fragilia seculi hujus et prospera simul et adversa monstrare; didicerat tentatis multifarias antiqui hostis pandere versutias, quibus facile caperetur animus, qui vel fraterno vel Divino amore nudatus exsisteret; at qui integra fide roboratus incederet, insidias adversarii, Domino auxiliante, quasi casses transiret araneæ. ‘Quoties,’ inquit, ‘meipsum de alta rupe per præceps misere! quoties quasi ad interficiendum me lapides jactabant! Sed et aliis aliisque phantasiarum tentamentis me appetentes deterrere, ac de loco hujus certaminis conabantur eliminare, nec tamen ullatenus vel corpus meum læsura aliqua, vel mentem timore, contaminare valebant.’
Hoc quoque fratribus solebat crebrius intimare, ne conversationem ejus quasi singulariter excelsam mirarentur, quia contemtis secularibus curis, secretus vivere mallet. ‘Sed jure,’ inquit, ‘est cœnobitarum vita miranda, qui abbatis per omnia subjiciuntur imperiis, ad ejus arbitrium cuncta vigilandi, orandi, jejunandi, atque operandi tempora moderantur; quorum plurimos novi meam parvitatem longe et munditia mentis et culmine gratiæ prophetalis anteire. E quibus est venerabilis et cum omni honorificentia nominandus servus Christi Boisilus, qui me in Mailrosensi monasterio quondam senex adolescentem nutriebat, et inter erudiendum cuncta, quæ mihi erant ventura, prophetica veritate prædixit; et unum tantummodo restat ex omnibus ab eo mihi prædictis, quod utinam nunquam impleatur.’ Hoc autem dicebat, quia præfatus Christi famulus episcopatus eum gradu significabat esse functurum, cujus perceptionem ipse non parum desiderio vitæ secretioris horrebat.
QUOMODO ELFLEDA ABBATISSA ET PUELLA EJUS PER ZONAM IPSIUS SINT AB INFIRMITATE SANATÆ.
Neque vero sanitatum miracula per hominem Dei, tametsi longe ab hominibus positum, fieri cessabant. Siquidem venerabilis ancilla Christi Elfleda, quæ inter gaudia virginitatis non paucis famularum Christi agminibus maternæ pietatis curam adhibebat, ac regalis stemmata nobilitatis potiori nobilitate summæ virtutis accumulabat, multo virum Dei semper excolebat amore. Hæc eo tempore, sicut ipsa postea reverendissimo Lindisfarnensis ecclesiæ presbytero Herefrido, et ille mihi referebat, gravi percussa languore ac diu vexata, pæne visa est pervenisse ad mortem. Cui cum nil curationis valuissent adhibere medici, subito Divina intrinsecus gratia curante, paulatim morti subtracta est, nec tamen plene sanata. Nam dolor quidem interaneorum abscessit, membrorum vigor rediit, sed facultas standi vel ambulandi prorsus abfuit; quia nec ad standum erigi, nec nisi quadrupes valebat ingredi. Cœpit ergo tristis æternam timere debilitatem, nam et de medicorum auxilio jam pridem fuerat facta desperatio. Cui cum die quadam inter angustias tristium cogitationum veniret in mentem beata et quieta conversatio reverendissimi patris Cuthberti, ‘Utinam,’ inquit, ‘haberem aliquid de rebus Cuthberti mei, scio certe et confido in Domino quia cito sanarer.’ At non multo post advenit qui ei zonam lineam ab eo missam deferret; quæ multum gavisa de munere, et desiderium suum viro sancto jam cœlitus patefactum intelligens, succinxit se illa, et mane mox erecta ad standum, tertia vero die plene est reddita sanitati.
Post dies autem paucos cœpit ægrotare quædam de virginibus monasterii ipsius dolore capitis intolerabili. Quæ cum, ingravescente morbo, per dies videretur esse moritura, intravit ad visitandam eam venerabilis ejus abbatissa. Cumque eam graviter afflictam conspiceret, tulit memoratam viri Dei zonam, et hac illi caput circumligare curavit; quæ eodem mox die, abeunte dolore, sanata est, tollensque zonam sua condidit in capsa. Quam cum post dies aliquot abbatissa requireret, neque in capsa eadem, neque uspiam prorsus potuit inveniri. Quod Divina dispensatione factum intelligitur, videlicet, ut per duo sanitatis miracula Deo dilecti patris sanctitas appareret credentibus, et deinceps dubitandi de sanctitate illius occasio tolleretur incredulis. Si enim eadem zona semper adesset, semper ad hanc concurrere voluissent ægroti; et dum aliquis ex his forte non meruisset a sua infirmitate curari, derogaret impotentiæ non salvantis, cum ipse potius esset salutis indignus. Unde provida, ut dictum est, dispensatione supernæ pietatis, postquam fides credentium confirmata est, mox invidiæ perfidorum materia detrahendi est prorsus ablata.
QUID SCISCITANTI EIDEM ELFLEDÆ DE VITA EGFRIDI REGIS ET EPISCOPATU SUO PRÆDIXERIT.
Alio tempore misit eadem reverendissima virgo et mater virginum Christi Elfleda, rogavitque virum Dei, adjurans in nomine Domini, ut eum videre et de necessariis mereretur adloqui. Qui, ascensa cum fratribus navi, venit ad insulam, quæ Coquedi fluminis ostio præjacens, ab eodem accepit cognomen, et ipsa monachorum cœtibus insignis. Nam præfata abbatissa illo eum sibi occurrere rogabat; cujus potita colloquiis, cum multa ab eo quæ sciscitabatur audiret, ecce, repente in medio sermone advoluta pedibus ejus, adjuravit eum per nomen illud terribile ac venerabile superni Regis et angelorum ejus, ut diceret illi quam longo tempore victurus esset Egfridus frater illius, et regnum gubernaturus Anglorum; ‘Scio enim,’ inquit, ‘quia prophetiæ spiritu quo abundas, etiam hoc dicere potes, si vis.’ At ille expavens adjuramentum, nec tamen aperte volens quod petebatur revelare secretum, ‘Mirum,’ inquit, ‘quare sapiens femina et in sanctis erudita Scripturis, longa vocare velis tempora vitæ humanæ, dicente Psalmista, ‘quia anni nostri sicut aranea meditabuntur;’ et cum moneat Salomon, ‘Si annis multis vixerit homo, et in his omnibus lætus fuerit, meminisse debet tenebrosi temporis et dierum multorum;’ qui cum venerint, vanitatis arguuntur præterita: quanto magis is, cui unius solum anni vita superest, brevi videtur tempore vixisse, ubi mors adstiterit in januis!’
Hæc audiens illa fusis lacrimis præsagia dira deflebat; extersaque facie, rursus audacia feminea adjuravit per majestatem summæ Divinitatis, ut diceret, quem habiturus esset heredem regni, cum filiis careret et fratribus. Qui parum silens, ‘Ne,’ inquit, ‘dicas quia caret; habebit enim successorem, quem germana ut ipsum Egfridum dilectione complectaris.’ At illa, ‘Obsecro,’ inquit, ‘dicas quibus in locis sit ille.’ Qui ait, ‘Cernis hoc mare magnum et spatiosum, quot abundet insulis. Facile est Deo de aliqua harum sibi providere, quem regno præficiat Anglorum.’ Intellexit ergo quia de Alfrido diceret, qui ferebatur filius fuisse patris illius, et tunc in insulis Scotorum ob studium literarum exsulabat. Sciebat autem quia proponeret Egfridus eum constituere episcopum, volensque dignoscere si propositum sequeretur effectus, ita quærendo exorsa est, ‘O quam varia intentione dividuntur corda mortalium! Quidam adeptis gaudent divitiis, alii amantes divitias semper egent; tu gloriam mundi quamvis offeratur respuis; etiamsi ad episcopatum pertingere possis, quo sublimius apud mortales aliquid non est, tui claustra deserti huic gradui præfers.’ At ille, ‘Scio me,’ inquit, ‘tanto gradu dignum non esse, nec tamen judicium superni Gubernatoris uspiam effugere queo; qui si tanto oneri me subjiciendum disposuit, credo quia post modicum liberum reddat, et fortasse non amplius quam duobus annis exactis, solitam me meæ solitudinis remittat ad quietem. Præcipio autem tibi in nomine Domini et Salvatoris nostri, ne cui ante meum obitum, quæ a me audisti, referas.’ Cumque illi hæc et multa alia, quæ quærebat, exponeret, atque eam de quibus opus habebat instrueret, reversus ad insulam et monasterium suum, solitariam, ut cœperat, agebat sedulus vitam.
Nec multo post, congregata synodo non parva, sub præsentia piissimi ac Deo dilecti regis Egfridi, cui beatæ memoriæ Theodorus archiepiscopus præsidebat, unanimo omnium consensu ad episcopatum ecclesiæ Lindisfarnensis electus est. Qui cum, multis legatariis ac literis ad se præmissis, nequaquam suo loco posset erui, tandem rex ipse præfatus, una cum sanctissimo antistite Trumwine, nec non et aliis quamplurimis religiosis ac potentibus viris, ad insulam navigavit; genu flectunt omnes, adjurant per Dominum, lacrimas fundunt, obsecrant, donec ipsum quoque lacrimis plenum dulcibus extrahunt latebris, atque ad synodum pertrahunt. Quo dum perveniret, quamvis multum renitens, unanima omnium voluntate superatur, atque ad suscipiendum episcopatus officium collum submittere compellitur; nec tamen statim ordinatio, sed peracta hieme, quæ imminebat, expleta est. Atque ut verbis ejus propheticis per omnia satisfieret, Egfridus post annum Pictorum gladio trucidatur, et Alfridus in regnum frater ejus nothus substituitur, qui non paucis antea temporibus in regionibus Scotorum lectioni operam dabat, ipse ob amorem sapientiæ spontaneum passus exsilium.
QUOD ELECTUS AD EPISCOPATUM SERVUM COMITIS LANGUENTEM AQUA BENEDICTA CURAVERIT.
CUM ergo electus ad episcopatum vir Domini Cuthbertus suam remeasset ad insulam, atque aliquantulum temporis secretus Domino solita devotione militaret, evocavit eum venerabilis episcopus ejus Eata, atque ad suum colloquium Mailros venire præcepit. Quo expleto colloquio, dum domum redire cœpisset, occurrit illi comes quidam Egfridi regis, rogavitque obnixe, ut ad benedictionem dandam in villulam suam domumque diverteret. Quo cum pervenisset, et gratifico omnium susceptus esset officio, indicavit ei vir de infirmitate famuli sui, ‘Deo,’ inquiens, ‘gratias ago, sanctissime pater, quod nos videre nostramque domum intrare dignatus es, et vere credimus quia maximum nobis lucrum et mentis et corporis tuus præstet adventus. Est autem nobis famulus pessima diutius infirmitate cruciatus, et in tantum doloris hodie perductus, ut morienti similior quam languenti appareat. Extrema namque corporis parte præmortua, permodicum ore et naribus flatum trahere videtur.’ Qui confestim benedixit aquam, et dedit ministro comitis nomine Baldhelmo, qui nunc usque superest, et in ecclesia Lindisfarnensi presbyterii gradum officio tenens moribus implet, virtutesque viri Dei cunctis scire volentibus referre melle dulcius habet, qui et mihi hoc ipsum, quod refero, miraculum narravit. Huic ergo dans aquam benedictam vir Dei, ‘Vade,’ inquit, ‘et gustandam præbe languenti.’ Qui dictis parens adtulit aquam ægrotanti; quam dum tertio ori ejus infunderet, continuo contra morem se quietum dimisit in soporem; erat enim jam vespertina hora. Qui etiam silentio transegit noctem, et visitanti se domino suo salvus mane apparuit.
QUALITER IN EPISCOPATU VIXERIT.
SUSCEPTUM autem episcopatus ordinem venerabilis vir Domini Cuthbertus juxta præcepta et exempla apostolica virtutum ornabat operibus. Commissam namque sibi plebem et orationibus protegebat assiduis, et admonitionibus saluberrimis ad cœlestia vocabat, et, quod maxime doctores juvat, ea, quæ agenda docebat, ipse prius agendo præmonstrabat. Eripiebat inopem de manu fortioris ejus, egenum et pauperem a rapientibus cum. Tristes ac pusillanimes consolari, male autem gaudentes ad tristitiam, quæ secundum Deum est, revocare curabat. Solitam sibi parsimoniam sedulus exercere, et inter frequentiam turbarum monachicæ vitæ rigorem sollicitus observare gaudebat. Esurientibus alimenta, indumenta præbebat algentibus, ceterisque vitæ pontificalis insignibus rite decoratus incedebat. Cujus internis, id est, animæ virtutibus, ea quoque, quibus foras effulgebat, miraculorum signa testimonium dabant. Ex quibus aliqua breviter memoriæ commendare curavimus.
QUOMODO INTERITUM EGFRIDI REGIS, ET MILITIÆ IPSIUS, QUEM PRÆDIXERAT FUTURUM, IN SPIRITU VIDERIT ABSENS.
IGITUR dum Egfridus rex ausu temerario exercitum in Pictos duceret, eorumque regna atroci sævitia devastarat, sciens vir Domini Cuthbertus adesse tempus de quo anno præterito interroganti ejus sorori prædixerat, non eum amplius quam uno solum anno esse victurum, venit ad Lugubaliam civitatem (quæ a populis Anglorum corrupte Luel vocatur), ut alloqueretur reginam, quæ ibidem in monasterio suæ sororis eventum belli exspectare disposuit. Postera autem die deducentibus eum civibus, ut videret mœnia civitatis, fontemque in ea miro quondam Romanorum opere exstructum, repente turbatus spiritu, ut stabat super baculum, mœstam faciem deflexit ad terram, rursumque erigens se atque ad cœlum oculos adtollens, ingemuit graviter, et non grandi voce ait, ‘Forte modo discrimen factum est certaminis.’ At presbyter qui adstabat, intelligens de quo diceret, incauta velocitate ductus respondit, et dixit, ‘Unde scis?’ Nolens autem ille amplius de his, quæ sibi erant revelata, patefacere, ‘Nonne videtis,’ inquit, ‘quam mire mutatus ac turbatus sit aer? Et quis mortalium sufficit investigare judicia Dei?’ Attamen confestim intravit ad reginam, et secreto eam alloquens, erat autem dies Sabbati, ‘Vide,’ inquit, ‘mature illucescente secunda Sabbati, ascendas currum, quia die Dominico curru ire non licet, vadasque ad Regiam Civitatem et citissime introeas, ne forte occisus sit rex. Ego autem, quia crastina die ad vicinum monasterium, ob dedicandam ibi ecclesiam, venire rogatus sum, expleta dedicatione, te continuo subsequor.’
Veniente autem die Dominico, prædicans Verbum Dei fratribus ejusdem monasterii, finito sermone et faventibus cunctis qui aderant, rursus ita cœpit, ‘Obsecro, dilectissimi, juxta Apostoli monita vigiletis, stetis in fide, viriliter agatis, et confortemini, ne forte superveniens aliqua tentatio vos imparatos inveniat; sed memores potius semper illius Dominici præcepti, Vigilate et orate, ne intretis in tentationem.’ Putabant autem, quia non multo ante pestilentiæ clades et eos et multos circumquaque lata cæde straverat, eum de hujusmodi plaga jam reditura fuisse locutum. At ille rursus adsumto sermone, ‘Quondam,’ inquit, ‘cum adhuc in mea demorarer insula solitarius, venerunt ad me quidam de fratribus die sancto Dominicæ nativitatis, rogabantque ut de mea casula et mansione egrediens solennem cum eis et lætum diem tantæ venerationis transigerem, quorum precibus devotis acquiescens egrediebar, et consedimus ad epulas. At in media forte refectione dixi ad eos, “Obsecro, fratres, caute agamus nos et vigilanter, ne per incuriam forte et securitatem inducamur in tentationem.” At illi responderunt, “Obsecramus, hodie lætum agamus diem, quia natale est Domini nostri Jesu Christi.” Et ego, “Sic,” inquam, “faciamus.” Cumque post hæc aliquandiu epulis, exsultationi, ac fabulis indulgeremus, rursus admonere cœpi, ut solliciti exsisteremus in orationibus et vigiliis, atque ad omnes tentationum incursus parati. Et illi, “Bene,” inquiunt, “et optime doces; sed tamen, quia abundant dies jejuniorum, orationis, et vigiliarum, hodie gaudeamus in Domino. Nam et angelus, nascente Domino, evangelizabat pastoribus gaudium magnum, quod esset omni populo celebrandum.” Et ego, “Bene,” inquam, “faciamus sic.” Sed cum epulantibus nobis et diem lætum ducentibus, tertio ejusdem admonitionis verba repeterem, intellexere illi, quia non frustra hæc tam studiose suggererem, et expavescentes dicebant, “Faciamus ut doces, quia necessitas magna nobis incumbit, ut contra insidias diaboli et omnia tentamenta semper accincti spiritualiter vigilemus.” Hæc dicens ego nesciebam, sicut nec illi, aliquid nobis occursurum novæ tentationis; sed tantum instinctu mentis admonitus sum adversus subitas tentationum procellas statum cordis semper esse muniendum. At ubi reversi a me, mane ad suum, id est, Lindisfarnense monasterium, redierunt, ecce, quendam de suis morbo pestilentiæ obiisse repererunt; et crescente ac sæviente per dies, imo etiam per menses et annum pæne totum, eadem clade, nobilissimus ille patrum fratrumque cœtus spiritualium pæne universus migravit ad Dominum. Et nunc ergo, fratres, vigilate et vos in orationibus, ut si quid vobis tribulationis ingruerit, vos jam paratos inveniat.’
Hæc dicente venerabili antistite Cuthberto, rebantur, ut præfatus sum, quia de reditu pestilentiæ diceret. Sed post unum diem adveniens qui fugerat e bello, occulta viri Dei vaticinia miseris exponebat eloquiis. Probatumque est ipsa die eademque hora, qua viro Dei juxta puteum stanti revelatum est, cæsis circumtutoribus, regem hostili gladio fuisse prostratum.
QUOMODO HEREBERTO ANACHORITÆ OBITUM SUUM PRÆDIXERIT, COMITATUMQUE ILLIUS A DOMINO PRECIBUS OBTINUERIT.
Non multo post tempore, idem famulus Domini Cuthbertus ad eandem Lugubaliam civitatem rogatus advenit, quatenus ibidem sacerdotes consecrare, sed et ipsam reginam, dato habitu sanctæ conversationis, benedicere deberet. Erat autem presbyter vitæ venerabilis nomine Herebertus jamdudum viro Dei Cuthberto spiritualis amicitiæ fœdere copulatus. Qui in insula stagni illius pergrandis, de quo Derwentionis fluvii primordia erumpunt, vitam solitariam ducens, annis singulis ad eum venire, et monita ab eo perpetuæ salutis accipere, consueverat. Hic cum audisset eum illa in civitate demoratum, venit ex more, cupiens salutaribus ejus exhortationibus ad superna desideria magis magisque inflammari. Qui dum sese alterutrum cœlestis sapientiæ poculis debriarent, dixit inter alia Cuthbertus, ‘Memento, frater Hereberte, ut modo quicquid opus habes me interroges, mecumque loquaris, quia postquam ab invicem digressi fuerimus, non ultra nos invicem in hoc seculo carneis oculis videbimus. Certus sum enim quia tempus meæ resolutionis instat, et velox est depositio tabernaculi mei.’ Qui hæc audiens, provolutus ejus pedibus, fusis cum gemitu lacrimis, ‘Obsecro,’ inquit, ‘per Dominum, ne me derelinquas, sed tui sodalis memineris, rogesque supernam pietatem, ut cui pariter in terris servivimus, ad ejus videndam claritatem pariter transeamus ad cœlos. Nosti enim quia ad tui oris imperium semper vivere studui, et quicquid ignorantia vel fragilitate deliqui, æque ad tuæ voluntatis arbitrium castigare curavi.’ Incubuit precibus episcopus, statimque edoctus in spiritu impetrasse se quod petierat a Domino, ‘Surge,’ inquit, ‘frater mi, et noli plorare, sed gaudio gaude, quia donavit nobis superna clementia quod rogavimus eam.’ Cujus promissionem et prophetiæ veritatem, sequens rerum finis adstruxit; quia digredientes ab invicem non amplius se corporaliter viderunt, et unius ejusdemque momento temporis egredientes e corpore spiritus eorum mox beata invicem visione conjuncti sunt, atque angelico ministerio pariter ad regnum cœleste translati. Sed Herebertus diutina prius infirmitate decoquitur, illa fortassis dispensatione Dominicæ pietatis, ut si quid minus haberet meriti a beato Cuthberto, suppleret dolor continuus longæ ægritudinis; quatenus æquatus gratia suo intercessori, sicut uno eodemque diei tempore cum eo de corpore egredi, ita etiam una atque indissimili sede perpetuæ beatitudinis mereretur recipi.
QUOMODO UXOREM COMITIS PER PRESBYTERUM SUUM AQUA BENEDICTA SANAVERIT.
Quadam die dum parochiam suam circuiens, monita salutis omnibus ruribus, casis, et viculis largiretur, nec non etiam nuper baptizatis ad accipiendam Spiritus Sancti gratiam manum imponeret, devenit ad villulam cujusdam comitis, cujus uxor male habens quasi morti proxima jacebat. Cui jam venienti occurrens ipse comes, flexis genibus gratias egit Domino de adventu illius, et introducens eum benigno recepit hospitio. Cumque lotis more hospitalitatis manibus ac pedibus, resedisset antistes, cœpit referre illi vir de languore conjugis desperatæ, obsecrans ut ad aspergendam eam aquam benediceret. ‘Credo,’ inquit, ‘quia mox aut sanitati, Deo donante, restituatur, aut si moritura est perpetuam de morte transeat ad vitam, citiusque moriendo compendium tam miserabilis ac diutinæ vexationis accipiat.’ Annuit deprecanti vir Dei, et adlatam benedicens aquam dedit presbytero, præcipiens ut super languidam aspergeret. Qui introgressus cubiculum, in quo illa exanimi simillima jacebat, aspersit ipsam et lectulum ejus, sed et os illius aperiens gustum salutiferi haustus immisit. Res mira et vehementer stupenda! mox ut eam aqua benedicta contigit languentem, et quid erga eam gereretur prorsus ignorantem, ita plenam et mentis et corporis sanitatem recepit, ut confestim resipiscens benediceret Dominum, gratiasque referret ei, qui tales tantosque hospites ad se visitandam curandamque destinare dignatus est. Nec mora, exsurgens ipsis suæ sanitatis ministris ministerium sana præbuit, pulchroque spectaculo ipsa prima de tota tanti viri familia episcopo potum refectionis obtulit, quæ per ipsius benedictionem poculum mortis evasit; secuta exemplum socrus Apostoli Petri, quæ curata a febribus per Dominum, continuo surgens ministrabat Illi et discipulis ejus.
QUOMODO PUELLAM OLEO PERUNCTAM A DOLORE CAPITIS LATERISQUE CURAVERIT.
Neque huic dissimile sanitatis miraculum a venerabili antistite Cuthberto factum, multi qui præsentes fuere testati sunt; e quibus est religiosus presbyter Ethelwaldus tunc minister viri Dei, nunc autem abbas cœnobii Mailrosensis. Dum enim more suo pertransiret universos docendo, devenit in vicum quendam, in quo erant feminæ sanctimoniales non multæ, quibus timore barbarici exercitus a monasterio suo profugis, ibidem manendi sedem vir Domini paulo ante donaverat. Quarum una, quæ erat cognata præfati sacerdotis Ethelwaldi, gravissimo tenebatur languore depressa; per integrum namque annum intolerabili capitis et totius lateris alterius dolore vexata, funditus a medicis erat desperata. Indicantibus autem de illa viro Dei, et pro sanatione ejus obsecrantibus his qui venerant cum eo, miseratus ille miseram unxit oleo benedicto. Quæ ab illa mox hora meliorari incipiens, post dies paucos plena sospitate convaluit.
QUOMODO PER PANEM AB EO BENEDICTUM INFIRMUS SIT SANATUS.
Nec silentio prætereundum arbitramur miraculum quod ejusdem viri venerabilis virtute, quamvis ipso absente, patratum cognovimus. Meminimus supra Hildemeri præfecti, cujus uxorem vir Dei ab immundo spiritu liberaverat. Idem autem præfectus postea decidit in infirmitatem gravissimam, adeo ut, crescente per dies molestia, sterneretur in lectum, et videretur jam jamque esse moriturus. Aderant namque amici multi, qui ad consolandum venerant languentem. Cumque lecto jacentis assiderent, repente unus eorum intulit, quia secum haberet panem, quem sibi nuper vir Domini Cuthbertus benedictionis gratia dederat, ‘Et credo,’ inquit, ‘quia hujus gustu possit, si tamen fidei nostræ tarditas non obsistit, medelam recipere salutis.’ Erant autem laici omnes, sed religiosi. Conversi igitur ad invicem confitebantur singuli, quia absque ulla dubietate crederent, per ejusdem benedicti panis communionem eum posse sanari. Implentesque aqua calicem, immiserunt pauxillum panis illius, et dederunt ei bibere. Cujus statim ut viscera gustus ille aquæ per panem sanctificatus attigit, fugit dolor interaneorum omnis, fugit exteriorum tabitudo membrorum. Nec mora, expeditum a languore virum salus subsecuta confirmavit, atque ad laudandam famuli Christi sanctitatem, et admirandam fidei non fictæ virtutem, merito et ipsum et omnes qui celeritatem tam inopinatæ sanationis videre vel audiere sustulit.
QUALITER OBLATUM SIBI IN ITINERE JUVENEM MORITURUM ORANDO REVOCARET AD VITAM.
Quodam quoque tempore dum sanctissimus gregis Dominici pastor sua lustrando circuiret ovilia, devenit in montana et agrestia loca, ubi multi erant de circumpositis late villulis congregati, quibus manus erat imponenda. Nec tamen in montibus ecclesia vel locus inveniri potuit aptus qui pontificem cum suo comitatu susciperet. Tetenderunt ergo ei tentoria in via, et cæsis de vicina silva ramusculis, sibi quique tabernacula ad manendum, qualia potuere, fixerunt. Ubi dum confluentibus ad se turbis vir Dei Verbum biduo prædicaret, ac Spiritus Sancti gratiam nuper regeneratis in Christo per manus impositionem ministraret; ecce, subito apparuerunt mulieres ferentes in grabato juvenem, longæ ægritudinis acerbitate tabefactum, ponentesque in exitu silvæ, miserunt ad episcopum, rogantes, ut ad accipiendam benedictionem ad se hunc adferri permitteret. Quem cum ad se perductum acerrime vexatum conspiceret, jussit omnes secedere longius. Et ad solita orationis arma confugiens, data benedictione, pepulit pestem, quam sollicita medicorum manus pigmentorum compositione nequiverat. Denique eadem hora surgens et accepto cibo confortatus, reddita Deo gratiarum actione, regressus est ad eas, quæ se portaverant, feminas. Sicque factum est, ut quæ eum illo tristes languidum advexerant, cum eis inde gaudentibus et ipse sospes ac lætabundus domum rediret.
QUOMODO TEMPORE MORTALITATIS MORIENTEM PUERUM MATRI SANUM RESTITUERIT.
Eodem tempore pestilentia subito exorta illis in partibus gravissima nece incubuit, ita ut in magnis quondam refertisque habitatoribus villis ac possessionibus, vix parvæ raræque reliquiæ et interdum nullæ residerent. Unde sanctissimus pater Cuthbertus diligentissime suam lustrans parochiam, eisdem parvissimis, quæ superfuere, reliquiis ministerium verbi et necessariæ consolationis opem ferre non desiit. Adveniens autem in viculum quendam, ibidemque omnibus, quos invenerat, auxilio exhortationis adhibito, dixit ad presbyterum suum, ‘Putasne superest quispiam his in locis cui nostra visitatione et allocutione opus sit? an cunctis qui male habebant visis, jam transire ad alios licet?’ Qui circumspiciens omnia, vidit mulierem eminus stantem, quæ, extincto paulo ante filio, fratrem ejus jam morti proximum tenebat in manibus, lacrimisque faciem rigantibus præteritam pariter et præsentem testabatur ærumnam. Quam cum viro Dei ostenderet, nil moratus ille accessit ad eam, et benedicens dedit osculum puero, dixitque ad ejus matrem, ‘Ne timeas, nec mœsta sis; sanabitur enim et vivet infans, neque ullus ultra de domo tua hac mortalitatis peste deficiet.’ Cujus prophetiæ veritati ipsa cum filio mater multo exinde tempore vivens testimonium dabat.
QUALITER ANIMAM CUJUSDAM, QUI DE ARBORE CADENDO MORTUUS EST, AD CŒLUM FERRI CONSPEXERIT.
INTEREA dum præscius vicini sui obitus vir Domini Cuthbertus jam decrevisset animo, deposita cura pastoralis officii, solitariam redire ad vitam, quatenus excussa sollicitudine externa, inter libera orationum et psalmodiæ studia diem mortis, vel potius vitæ cœlestis, præstolaretur ingressum. Voluit prius, non solum sua circuita parochia, sed et aliis circa fidelium mansionibus visitatis, cunctos necessario exhortationis verbo confirmare, ac sic ipse desideratæ solitudinis gaudio refoveri. Quod dum ageret, rogatus a nobilissima et sanctissima virgine Christi Elfleda abbatissa, cujus superius memoriam feci, venit ad possessionem monasterii ipsius, quatenus ibidem et ipsam videre atque alloqui, et ecclesiam dedicare deberet; nam et ipsa possessio non pauco famulorum Christi examine pollebat. Ubi dum hora refectionis ad mensam consedissent, subito Cuthbertus aversam a carnalibus epulis mentem ad spiritualia contemplanda sustulit. Unde lassatis ab officio suo membris corporis, mutato colore faciei, et quasi attonitis contra morem oculis, cultellus quoque, quem tenebat, decidit in mensam. Quod dum presbyter ejus, qui adstabat et ministrabat, aspiceret, inclinatus ad abbatissam dixit silentio, ‘Interroga episcopum quid viderit modo; scio enim quia non sine causa manus ejus tremefacta cultellum deseruit, vultusque mutatur illius; sed vidit aliquid spirituale, quod nos ceteri videre non quivimus.’ At illa statim conversa ad eum, ‘Obsecro,’ inquit, ‘domine mi episcope, dicas quid videris modo; neque enim frustra lassata tua dextera cultellum, quem tenebat, amisit.’ Qui dissimulare conatus vidisse se quippiam secreti, jocose respondit, ‘Num tota die manducare valebam? jam aliquando quiescere debui.’ Illa autem diligentius adjurante ac flagitante, ut exponeret visionem, ‘Vidi,’ inquit, ‘animam cujusdam sancti manibus angelicis ad regni cœlestis gaudia ferri.’ Rursus illa, ‘De quo,’ inquit, ‘loco adsumpta est?’ Respondit, ‘De tuo monasterio.’ Adjecit nomen inquirere. Et ille, ‘Tu mihi,’ inquit, ‘die crastino missas celebranti nomen ejus indicabis.’ Hæc audiens illa, confestim misit ad majus suum monasterium, videre quis nuper raptus esset e corpore. At nuncius omnes ibidem salvos incolumesque reperiens, postquam, mane facto, reverti ad dominam cœpit, obvios habuit eos, qui corpus defuncti fratris sepeliendum in carro deferrent. Interrogansque qui esset, didicit quia quidam de pastoribus, bonæ actionis vir, incautius in arborem ascendens deciderat deorsum, et, contrito corpore, ipsa hora spiritum exhalavit, qua hunc vir Domini ad cœlestia ductum videbat. Quod dum rediens abbatissæ referret, statim illa ingressa ad episcopum jam tunc dedicantem ecclesiam, stupore femineo, quasi novum aliquid incertumque nunciatura, ‘Precor,’ inquit, ‘domine mi episcope, memineris ad missas Hadwaldi mei,’ (hoc enim viro erat nomen,) ‘qui heri cadendo de arbore defunctus est.’ Tunc liquido omnibus patuit, quia multiformis prophetiæ spiritus viri sancti præcordiis inerat; qui et in præsenti occultum animæ raptum videre, et quid sibi in futuro ab aliis indicandum esset potuit prævidere.
QUOMODO AQUAM GUSTANDO IN VINI SAPOREM CONVERTERIT.
Inde peragratis ex ordine superioribus locis, venit ad monasterium virginum, quod non longe ab ostio Tini fluminis situm supra docuimus; ubi a religiosa, et ad seculum quoque nobilissima famula Christi Verca abbatissa magnifice susceptus, postquam de meridiana quiete surrexerunt, sitire se dicens, ut biberet rogavit. Quærebant quid bibere vellet, rogantes ut vinum, sive cervisiam, afferri liceret. ‘Aquam,’ inquit, ‘date mihi;’ qui haustam de fonte aquam obtulerunt ei. At ille, data benedictione, ubi paullulum gustavit, dedit adstanti presbytero suo, qui reddidit ministro; et minister, accepto poculo, ‘Licet,’ inquit, ‘mihi bibere de potu, de quo bibit episcopus?’ Respondit, ‘Etiam, quare non licet?’ erat autem et ille presbyter ejusdem monasterii. Bibit ergo, et visa est ei aqua quasi in saporem vini conversa; tantique sibi testem volens adhibere miraculi fratrem, qui proxime adstabat, porrexit ei poculum; qui cum et ipse biberet, ejus quoque palato pro aqua vinum sapiebat. Aspectabant autem mirantes ad invicem, et ubi vacuum tempus ad loquendum receperunt, confitebantur alterutrum, quia viderentur sibi nunquam melius vinum bibisse; sicut unus ex ipsis postea in nostro monasterio, quod est ad ostium Wiri fluminis, non parvo tempore demoratus, ibidemque nunc placida quiete sepultus, sua mihi relatione testatus est.
QUOMODO INOBEDIENTES EI QUOSDAM FRATRES TEMPESTAS MARIS OBSEDERIT.
DUOBUS igitur annis in regimine episcopali transactis, sciens in spiritu vir Domini Cuthbertus appropinquare diem sui transitus, abjecit pondus curæ pastoralis, atque ad dilectum eremiticæ conversationis agonem quantocius remeare curavit, quatenus inolita sibi sollicitudinis mundanæ spineta liberior priscæ conpunctionis flamma consumeret. Quo tempore sæpius ad visitantes se fratres de mansione sua egredi, eosque præsens solebat alloqui. Libet autem referre quoddam tunc ab eo factum miraculum, quo clarius elucescat, quantum viris sanctis obtemperandum sit, etiam in his, quæ negligentius imperare videntur. Quadam die dum venissent quidam, egressusque ille exhortatorio eos sermone reficeret, post admonitionem completam subjunxit, dicens, ‘Jam hora est ut ad mansionem meam regrediar; vos autem, quia proficisci disponitis, primo sumite cibos, et aucam illam (quæ pendet in pariete) coquite et comedite, et sic in nomine Domini navem ascendite ac domum redite.’ Dixerat hæc, et, data oratione ac benedictione, suam mansionem introiit. Illi autem, ut præceperat, sumsere cibos; sed quia abundabant cibis, quos secum attulerant, aucam, de qua præceperat, tangere non curabant.
At cum refecti naviculam vellent ascendere, exorta subito tempestas fera omnem eis navigandi facultatem abstulit. Factumque est ut septem diebus fervente unda conclusi tristes in insula residerent; nec tamen culpam inobedientiæ, pro qua hujusmodi carcerem patiebantur, ad memoriam revocarent. Qui cum sedulo ad patris colloquium reversi, ac de reditus sui dispendio conquesti, patientiæ ab illo monita perciperent; septima tandem die egressus ipse ad eos, volebat mœstitiam eorum gratia suæ visitationis et consolationis piæ verbo lenire. Ingressus autem domum, in qua manebant, ut vidit aucam non fuisse comestam, placido vultu et læto potius sermone redarguit eorum inobedientiam, ‘Nonne,’ inquiens, ‘incomesta adhuc pendet auca? et quid mirum si vos mare non sivit abire? Citissime ergo mittite eam in caldariam; coquite et comedite, ut possit mare quiescere, et vos domum remittere.’
Fecerunt statim ut jusserat, contigitque miro ordine, ut cum ad præceptum viri Dei coctura in caldaria, foco agente, fervere cœpisset, eadem hora unda in mari, cessantibus ventis, suo a fervore quiesceret. Expleta itaque refectione, videntes mare placidum ascenderunt navem, et secundis flatibus cum gaudio simul et pudore domum remeaverunt. Pudebat namque eos inobedientiæ et sensus tardioris, quo vetabantur suum inter flagella Conditoris dignoscere et emendare reatum. Gaudebant quia intellexere tantam fuisse Deo curam de fideli suo famulo, ut contemptum ejus etiam per elementa vindicaret. Gaudebant quia videre tantam suimet curam suo fuisse Creatori, ut etiam manifesto miraculo ipsorum errata corrigeret. Hoc sane, quod retuli, miraculum, non quolibet auctore, sed uno eorum qui interfuere narrante cognovi, vitæ videlicet venerabilis monacho et presbytero ejusdem monasterii Cynemundo, qui plurimis late fidelium longævitatis et vitæ gratia jam notus exsistit.
QUANTA ÆGROTUS TENTAMENTA PERTULERIT, QUIDVE DE SUA SEPULTURA MANDAVERIT.
Repetiit autem insulam mansionemque suam vir Dei Cuthbertus mox peracta die solemni Nativitatis Dominicæ. Cumque eum navem ascensurum caterva fratrum circumstaret, interrogavit unus ex eis, veteranus et venerabilis vitæ monachus, fortis quidem fide, sed dysenteriæ morbo corpore jam factus imbecillis, ‘Dic nobis,’ inquiens, ‘domine episcope, quando reditum tuum sperare debeamus.’ At ille simpliciter interroganti, simpliciter et ipse quod verum noverat pandens, ‘Quando,’ inquit, ‘meum corpus huc referetis.’ Qui cum duos ferme menses in magna repetitæ suæ quietis exsultatione transigeret, et multo consuetæ districtionis rigore corpus mentemque constringeret, arreptus infirmitate subita, temporalis igne doloris ad perpetuæ cœpit beatitudinis gaudia præparari. Cujus obitum libet verbis illius, cujus relatione didici, describere, Herefridi videlicet, devotæ religionis presbyteri, qui etiam tunc Lindisfarnensi monasterio abbatis jure præfuit.
‘Tribus,’ inquit, ‘hebdomadibus continuis infirmitate decoctus, sic ad extrema pervenit. Siquidem quarta feria cœpit ægrotare, et rursus quarta feria, finita ægritudine, migravit ad Dominum. At cum mane primo inchoatæ infirmitatis venirem,—nam et ante triduum cum fratribus insulam adieram,—cupiens solitæ benedictionis et exhortationis ab eo solatia percipere, ut, dato juxta morem signo, me advenisse prodidi, processit ad fenestram, et salutanti se mihi suspirium pro responso reddidit. Cui ego, “Quid habes,” inquam, “domine mi episcope? an forte nocte hac tuus te languor tetigit?” At ille, “Etiam,” inquit, “languor me tetigit nocte hac.” Putabam quia de veteri sua infirmitate, cujus quotidiana pæne molestia consueverat excoqui, non autem de nova et insolita diceret. Nec plura interrogans, “Da,” inquam, “benedictionem nobis, quia jam tempus navigandi, ac domum repetendi adest.” “Facite,” inquit, “ut dicis, ascendite navem, ac domum salvi redite. Cum autem Deus susceperit animam meam, sepelite me in hac mansione juxta oratorium meum ad meridiem, contra orientalem plagam sanctæ crucis, quam ibidem erexi. Est autem ad aquilonalem ejusdem oratorii partem sarcophagum terræ cespite abditum, quod olim mihi Cudda venerabilis abbas donavit. In hoc meum corpus reponite, involventes in sindone, quam invenietis istic. Nolui quidem ea vivens indui, sed pro amore dilectæ Deo feminæ, quæ hanc mihi misit, Vercæ videlicet abbatissæ, ad obvolvendum corpus meum reservare curavi.” Audiens ego hæc, “Obsecro,” inquam, “pater, quia infirmantem et moriturum te audio, aliquos de fratribus hic ad ministrandum tibi remanere permittas.” At ille, “Ite,” inquit, “modo, tempore autem opportuno redite.” Cumque diligentius obsecrans, ut ministerium susciperet, nequaquam impetrare valerem; tandem interrogavi quando deberemus reverti. Qui ait, “Quando Deus voluerit, et ipse vobis ostenderit.” Fecimus ut jusserat, convocatisque mox in ecclesiam fratribus cunctis, jussi orationem fieri sine intermissione pro eo; “quia videtur,” inquiens, “mihi ex quibusdam verbis illius appropinquare diem quo sit exiturus ad Deum.”
‘Eram autem sollicitus de reditu propter infirmitatem ejus, sed quinque diebus obstitit tempestas, ne redire possemus; quod divinitus dispensatum fuisse rei probavit eventus. Ut enim Omnipotens Deus famulum suum ab omni labe mundanæ fragilitatis ad purum castigaret, utque adversariis ejus, quam nihil contra fidei fortitudinem valerent, ostenderet, voluit eum tanto tempore segregatum ab hominibus, et suæ carnis dolore et antiqui hostis acriori certamine probari. Ut autem, reddita tranquillitate, insulam repetivimus, invenimus eum suo monasterio egressum sedere in domo, in qua nos manere solebamus. Et quia necessitas quædam poscebat fratres, qui mecum venerant, renavigare ad proximum littus, ipse remanens in insula confestim patri ministerium præbere curavi. Siquidem calefaciens aquam abluebam pedem ejus, qui gratia diutini tumoris jam tunc ulcera habebat, ac, profluente sanie, cura indigebat; sed et vinum calefaciens attuli eumque gustare rogavi; videbam namque in facie ejus, quia multum inedia simul et languore erat defessus. Completa curatione resedit quietus in stratu, resedi et ego juxta eum.
‘Cumque sileret, dixi, “Video, domine episcope, quia multum vexatus es ab infirmitate postquam recessimus a te; et mirum quare nolueris, ut aliquos nostrum, qui tibi ministrarent, hic dimitteremus abeuntes.” At ille, “Dei,” inquit, “providentia et voluntate gestum est, ut præsentia et auxilio destitutus humano, aliqua paterer adversa. Postquam enim a me digressi estis, continuo cœpit ingravescere languor; ideoque de mea mansione egrediens huc intravi, ut quicunque vestrum mihi ministraturi advenirent, hic me invenire possent, nec meam mansionem necesse haberent ingredi. Ex quo autem ingrediens hac in sede membra composui, non movi me hinc, sed quinque diebus his et noctibus hic quietus permansi.” Cui ego, “Et quomodo,” inquam, “domine mi episcope, sic vivere potuisti? Num absque cibi perceptione tanto tempore mansisti?” Tum ille, retecto lectisternio, cui supersedebat, ostendit ibi cepas quinque reconditas, et ait, “Hic mihi victus erat his quinque diebus. Quotiescunque enim os ariditate ac siti nimia ardebat, hæc gustando me refrigerare ac recreare curavi.” (Videbatur autem una de cepis minus quam dimidia parte corrosa.) “Insuper et concertatores mei nunquam per omne tempus, ex quo in hac insula conversari cœpi, tot mihi persecutiones, quot in his quinque diebus, intulere.” Non audebam interrogare, quæ essent tentationes de quibus dixerat; tantum rogavi, ut ministros susciperet. Annuit ille, et quosdam nostrum secum retinuit, in quibus erat major Beda presbyter, qui ministerio ejus familiariter semper adesse consueverat. Ideoque donationum acceptationumque ejus omnium conscius erat indubius, quem ob id maxime secum manere voluit, ut si cujuslibet acceptis muneribus digna recompensatione non respondissent, illius admonitione recoleret et, priusquam obiret, sua cuique restitueret. Sed et alium quendam de fratribus specialiter, ut inter ministros sibi adesset, designavit; qui longo quidem ventris fluxu graviter ægrotabat, neque a medicis poterat curari; sed merito religionis, prudentiæ, et gravitatis dignus exstiterat, qui testis esset verborum, quæ vir Dei ultima diceret, vel quo ordine migraret ad Dominum.
‘Interea rediens domum narrabam fratribus, quia venerabilis pater in sua se insula sepeliri juberet. “Et videtur,” inquam, “mihi justius esse et multo dignius impetrare ab eo, quatenus huc transferri corpus suum, et juxta honorem congruum in ecclesia condi, permittat.” Placuerunt illis quæ dixeram, et venientes ad episcopum rogabamus, dicentes, “Non ausi sumus, domine episcope, contemnere jussionem tuam, qua te hic tumulari mandasti, et tamen rogandum videbatur nobis, ut te ad nos transferre et nobiscum mereamur habere.” At ille, “Et meæ,” inquit, “voluntatis erat hic requiescere corpore, ubi quantulumcunque pro Domino certamen certavi, ubi cursum consummare desidero, unde ad coronam justitiæ sublevandum me a pio Judice spero. Sed et vobis quoque commodius esse arbitror, ut hic requiescam, propter incursionem profugorum vel noxiorum quorumlibet; qui cum ad corpus meum forte confugerint, quia, qualiscunque sum, fama tamen exiit de me quia famulus Christi sim, necesse habetis sæpius pro talibus apud potentes seculi intercedere, atque ideo de præsentia corporis mei multum tolerare laborem.” At nobis multum diu precantibus, laboremque hujusmodi gratum nobis ac levem fore asseverantibus, tandem cum consilio locutus vir Domini, “Si meam,” inquit, “dispositionem superare, et meum corpus illo reducere vultis, videtur mihi optimum, ut in interioribus basilicæ vestræ illud tumuletis, quatenus et ipsi cum vultis meum sepulchrum visitare possitis, et in potestate vestra sit an aliqui illo de advenientibus accedant.” Gratias egimus permissioni et consilio illius, flexis in terra genibus, ac domum redeuntes frequentius illum exinde visitare non destitimus.
QUOMODO MINISTRUM SUUM A PROFLUVIO VENTRIS SANAVERIT ÆGROTUS.
‘Cumque, increscente languore, videret tempus suæ resolutionis instare, præcepit se in suam mansiunculam atque oratorium referri; erat autem hora diei tertia. Portavimus ergo illum, quia præ molestia languoria ipse non valebat ingredi. At ubi ad portam pervenimus, rogabamus, ut alicui nostrum liceret ad ministrandum ei pariter intrare; non enim per annos plurimos quispiam illuc præter ipsum intraverat. Qui, circumspectis omnibus, vidit fratrem, cujus supra memini, ventris fluxu languentem, et ait, “Walstod ingrediatur mecum,”—hoc enim erat nomen fratri. Qui cum ad nonam usque horam intus cum illo maneret, sic egrediens vocavit me, “Episcopus,” inquiens, “te jussit intrare ad se. Possum autem tibi rem referre novam permirabilem, quia ex quo ingrediens illuc tetigi episcopum deducturus eum ad oratorium, continuo sensi me omni illa longæ infirmitatis molestia carere.’ Non autem dubitandum supernæ pietatis hoc dispensatione procuratum, ut qui multos antea sospes adhuc valensque curaverat, hunc quoque moriturus curaret; quatenus hoc quoque indicio pateret, etiam corpore infirmatus vir sanctus quantum spiritu valeret. In qua profecto curatione sequebatur exemplum sanctissimi et reverendissimi patris Aurelii Augustini episcopi; qui dum pressus infirmitate, qua et mortuus est, in lecto decumberet, venit quidam cum suo ægroto, rogans ut eidem manum imponeret, quo sanus esse posset. At ille, “Si,” inquit, “aliquid in his possem, mihi hoc utique primitus præstitissem.” Rursus is qui venerat, “Te,” inquit, “visitare præceptus sum, siquidem in somnis dictum accepi, Vade ad Augustinum episcopum, ut ille tibi manum imponat et salvus eris.” Quo ille audito, mox ægrotanti manum benedicens imposuit; nec mora, sanatum ad propria remisit.
QUÆ ULTIMA FRATRIBUS MANDATA DEDERIT, ET UT, PERCEPTO VIATICO, INTER VERBA ORATIONIS SPIRITUM REDDIDERIT.
‘Intravi autem,’ inquit, ‘ad eum circa horam diei circiter nonam, invenique eum recumbentem in angulo sui oratorii contra altare; assidere cœpi et ipse; nec multa loquebatur, quia pondus ægritudinis facilitatem loquendi minoraverat. Verum me diligentius inquirente, quem hereditarium sermonem, quod ultimum vale, fratribus relinqueret, cœpit disserere pauca, sed fortia, de pace et humilitate, cavendisque eis, qui his obluctari quam oblectari mallent. “Pacem,” inquit, “inter vos semper et caritatem custodite Divinam, et cum de vestro statu consilium vos agere necessitas poposcerit, videte attentius, ut unanimes exsistatis in consiliis. Sed et cum aliis Christi famulis mutuam habetote concordiam, nec venientes ad vos hospitalitatis gratia domesticos fidei habeatis contemptui, sed familiariter ac benigne tales suscipere, tenere, ac dimittere curate; nequaquam vos meliores arbitrantes ceteris ejusdem fidei et vitæ consortibus. Cum illis autem, qui ab unitate Catholicæ pacis, vel Pascha non suo tempore celebrando, vel perverse vivendo, aberrant, vobis sit nulla communio. Sciatis quoque et memoria retineatis, quia si vos unum e duobus adversis eligere necessitas coegerit, multo plus eligo, ut eruentes de tumulo tollentesque vobiscum mea ossa recedatis ab his locis, et ubicumque Deus providerit incolæ maneatis, quam ut ulla ratione consentientes iniquitati schismaticorum jugo colla subdatis. Catholica Patrum statuta diligentissime discere atque observare contendite; ea quoque, quæ per meum ministerium vobis Divina pietas instituta vitæ Regularis dare dignata est, exercete solliciti. Scio enim, quia, etsi quibusdam contemptibilis vixi, post meum tamen obitum apertius qualis fuerim, et quam mea doctrina non sit contemnenda videbitis.”
‘Hæc et his similia vir Domini per intervalla locutus, quia vis, ut diximus, infirmitatis possibilitatem loquendi ademerat, quietum exspectatione futuræ beatitudinis diem duxit ad vesperam, cui etiam pervigilem quietus in precibus continuavit et noctem. At ubi consuetum nocturnæ orationis tempus aderat, acceptis a me sacramentis salutaribus, exitum suum, quem jam venisse cognovit, Dominici corporis et sanguinis communione munivit; atque elevatis ad cœlum oculis, extensisque in altum manibus, intentam supernis laudibus animam ad gaudia regni cœlestis emisit.
QUOMODO JUXTA PROPHETIAM PSALMI, QUEM, EO MORIENTE, CANTAVERANT, LINDISFARNENSES SINT IMPUGNATI, SED, DOMINO JUVANTE, ITERUM PROTECTI.
‘At ego statim egressus, nunciavi obitum ejus fratribus, qui et ipsi noctem vigilando atque orando transegerant, et tunc forte sub ordine nocturnæ laudis dicebant Psalmum quinquagesimum nonum, cujus initium est, “Deus, repulisti nos et destruxisti nos; iratus es, et misertus es nobis.” Nec mora, currens unus ex eis accendit duas candelas; et utraque tenens manu ascendit eminentiorem locum, ad ostendendum fratribus, qui in Lindisfarnensi monasterio manebant, quia sancta illa anima jam migrasset ad Dominum; tale namque inter se signum sanctissimi ejus obitus condixerant. Quod cum videret frater, qui in specula Lindisfarnensis insulæ longe de contra eventus ejusdem pervigil exspectaverat horam, cucurrit citius ad ecclesiam, ubi collectus omnis fratrum cœtus nocturnæ psalmodiæ solemnia celebrabat; contigitque ut ipsi quoque, intrante illo, præfatum canerent Psalmum. Quod superna dispensatione procuratum, rerum exitus ostendit. Siquidem sepulto viro Dei, tanta ecclesiam illam tentationis aura concussit, ut plures e fratribus loco magis cedere, quam talibus vellent interesse periculis.
‘Attamen post annum ordinato in episcopatum Eadberto, magnarum virtutum viro et in Scripturis nobiliter erudito, maximeque eleemosynarum operibus dedito, fugatis perturbationum procellis, ut Scripturæ verbis loquar, Ædificavit Hierusalem, id est, visionem pacis, Dominus, et dispersiones Israel congregavit. Sanavit contritos corde, et alligavit contritiones eorum; ut palam daretur intelligi quid significaverit psalmus, cognita beati viri morte, cantatus; quia, videlicet, post ejus obitum repellendi ac destruendi essent cives ejus, sed post ostensionem iræ minantis cœlesti protinus miseratione refovendi. Cujus sequentia quoque psalmi eidem sensui concordare, qui retractat intelligit. Impositum autem navi corpus venerabile patris, ad insulam Lindisfarnensium retulimus; quod magno occurrentium agmine chorisque canentium susceptum est, atque in ecclesia beati Apostoli Petri in dextera parte altaris petrino in sarcophago repositum.’
QUOMODO PUER DÆMONIACUS SIT HUMO, CUI LAVACRUM CORPORIS EJUS INFUSUM EST, IN AQUAM MISSA SANCTUS.
Sed nec defuncto ac tumulato Christi famulo, signa sanitatum, quæ vivens exercuerat, cessare potuerunt. Contigit namque puerum quendam in territorio Lindisfarnensium, atrocissimo dæmone vexari, ita ut sensu rationis funditus amisso clamaret, ejularet, et vel sua membra, vel quicquid attingere posset, morsibus dilaniare niteretur. Missus est ad energumenum presbyter de monasterio; qui cum solitus fuisset per exorcismi gratiam immundos fugare spiritus, huic tamen obsesso prodesse nil prorsus valebat; unde dedit consilium patri illius, ut impositum carro puerum ad monasterium deferret, atque ad reliquias beatorum martyrum, quæ ibi sunt, Dominum pro illo precaretur. Fecit, ut monuerat; sed noluere sancti Dei martyres ei petitam reddere sanitatem, ut quam celsum inter se locum Cuthbertus haberet, ostenderent. Cum ergo insanus ululando, ingemiscendo, et frendendo dentibus nimio cunctorum visus et auditus horrore concuteret, nec esset, qui aliquod remedii genus excogitare quivisset, tum ecce, quidam de presbyteris edoctus in spiritu per opitulationem beati patris Cuthberti illum posse sanari, venit clanculo ad locum, ubi noverat effusam fuisse aquam, qua corpus ejus defunctum fuerat lotum, tollensque inde modicam humi particulam immisit in aquam; quam deferens ad patientem, infudit in ore ejus, quo horribiliter hiante voces diras ac flebiles emittebat. Statim autem ut attigit aquam, continuit clamores, clausit os, clausit et oculos qui sanguinei et furibundi patebant, caput et corpus totum reclinavit in requiem. Qui etiam placido sopore noctem transegit, et mane de somno simul et vesania consurgens, liberatum se a dæmonio, quo premebatur, beati Cuthberti meritis et intercessione cognovit. Mirandum et bonis omnibus delectabile spectaculum, cum videres filium cum patre sospitem loca sancta circuire, ac sanctorum auxilio gratias sanissima mente referre, qui pridie præ insania mentis nec seipsum quis esset, vel ubi esset, poterat agnoscere. Qui ubi tota fratrum caterva adstante, vidente et congratulante, ad reliquias martyrum genibus flexis dedit laudem Deo Domino et Salvatori nostro Jesu Christo, jam et ab hostis verbere liberatus, et in fide firmior quam fuerat effectus, ad propria rediit. Ostenditur usque hodie fossa illa, cui memorabile infusum est lavacrum, quadrato schemate facta, ligno undique circumdata et lapillis intus impleta; est autem juxta ecclesiam, in qua corpus ejus requiescit, ad partem meridianam. Factumque est ex eo tempore, ut plures sanitatum operationes per eosdem lapides, vel eandem terram, Domino donante, fierent.
QUOMODO CORPUS IPSIUS POST UNDECIM SIT ANNOS SINE CORRUPTIONE REPERTUM.
Volens autem latius monstrare Divina dispensatio, quanta in gloria vir sanctus post mortem viveret, cujus ante mortem vita sublimis crebris etiam miraculorum patebat indiciis, transactis sepulturæ ejus annis undecim, immisit in animo fratrum, ut tollerent ossa illius, quæ, more mortuorum consumto jam et in pulverem redacto corpore reliquo, sicca invenienda rebantur, atque in levi arca recondita, in eodem quidem loco, sed supra pavimentum, dignæ venerationis gratia locarent. Quod dum sibi placuisse Eadberto antistiti suo medio ferme Quadragesimæ tempore referrent, annuit consilio eorum, jussitque, ut in die depositionis ejus, quæ est tertia decima kalendarum Aprilium, hoc facere meminissent. Fecerunt autem ita; et aperientes sepulchrum, invenerunt corpus totum, quasi adhuc viveret, integrum, et flexibilibus artuum compagibus multo dormienti, quam mortuo, similius. Sed et vestimenta omnia, quibus indutum erat, non solum intemerata, verum etiam prisca novitate et claritudine miranda parebant. Quod ubi viderunt fratres, nimio mox timore sunt et tremore perculsi, adeo ut vix aliquid loqui, vix auderent intueri miraculum quod patebat, vix ipsi quid agerent nossent.
Extremam autem indumentorum ejus partem pro ostendendo incorruptionis signo tollentes,—nam quæ carni illius proxima aderant prorsus tangere timebant,—festinarunt referre antistiti quod invenerant; qui tum forte in remotiore a monasterio loco, refluis undique maris fluctibus cincto, solitarius manebat. In hoc etenim semper Quadragesimæ tempus agere, in hoc quadraginta ante Dominicum natale dies in magna continentiæ, orationis, et lacrimarum devotione ducere consueverat. In quo etiam venerabilis prædecessor ejus Cuthbertus, priusquam Farne peteret, sicut et supra docuimus, aliquamdiu secretus Domino militabat. Attulerunt autem et partem indumentorum, quæ corpus sanctum circumdederant. Quæ cum ille et munera gratanter acciperet, et miracula libenter audiret, nam et ipsa indumenta quasi patris adhuc corpori circumdata miro deosculabatur affectu: “Nova,” inquit, “indumenta corpori pro his, quæ tulistis, circumdate, et sic reponite in theca, quam parastis. Scio autem certissime, quia non diu vacuus remanebit locus, qui tanta cœlestis miraculi virtute consecratus est. Et beatus est multum, cui in eo sedem quiescendi Dominus veræ beatitudinis auctor atque largitor concedere dignatur.” Adjecitque mirando, quæ quondam versibus dixi, et ait,
Hæc et hujusmodi plura ubi multis cum lacrimis ac magna compunctione pontifex tremente lingua complevit, fecerunt fratres, ut jusserat; et involutum novo amictu corpus levique in theca reconditum, super pavimentum sanctuarii composuerunt.
QUOMODO CORPUS EADBERTI EPISCOPI IN TUMULO VIRI DEI PONENTES, SARCOPHAGUM ILLIUS DESUPER POSUERINT.
INTEREA Deo dilectus antistes Eadbertus morbo corripitur acerbo, et crescente per dies multumque ingravescente ardore languoris, non multo post, id est, pridie nonas Maias, etiam ipse migravit ad Dominum; impetrato ab eo munere, quod diligentissime petierat, videlicet, ut non repentina morte, sed longa excoctus ægritudine, transiret e corpore. Cujus corpus in sepulcro beati patris Cuthberti ponentes, apposuerunt desuper arcam, in qua incorrupta ejusdem patris membra locaverant; ubi nunc usque, si petentium fides exigat, miraculorum signa fieri non desinunt. Sed et indumenta, quæ sanctissimum corpus ejus, vel vivum, vel sepultum, vestierant, a gratia curandi non vacant.
QUALITER ÆGROTUS AD TUMBAM EJUS SIT ORANDO CURATUS.
DENIQUE adveniens transmarinis e partibus clericus quidam reverendissimi et sanctissimi Wilbrordi Clementis Fresonum gentis episcopi, dum aliquot dies ibidem hospes moraretur, decidit in infirmitatem gravissimam, ita ut, invalescente per longum tempus molestia, jam desperatus jaceret. Qui cum victus dolore videretur sibi nec mori, nec vivere, posse, invento salubri consilio, dixit ministro suo, ‘Obsecro perducas me hodie post celebratas missas, adorare ad corpus sacratissimi viri Dei (erat enim dies Dominica); spero per gratiam intercessionis ejus his cruciatibus eripiar, ut vel sanatus ad præsentem vitam redeam, vel defunctus perveniam ad æternam.’ Fecit ille ut rogaverat, baculoque innitentem ægrotum in ecclesiam non parvo cum labore perduxit. Qui cum ad sepulchrum sanctissimi ac Deo dilecti patris genua curvaret, caput in terram demitteret, pro sua sospitate rogaret, tantas continuo vires suum corpus de incorrupto illius corpore accepisse persensit, ut absque labore ipse ab oratione resurgeret; absque adminiculo vel ministri ducentis, vel baculi sustentantis, ad hospitium rediret. Qui post dies paucos roborata ad integrum virtute, viam quam disposuerat peregit.
QUOMODO PARALYTICUS SIT PER EJUS CALCEAMENTA SANATUS.
ERAT in monasterio quodam non procul inde posito adolescens, ea, quam Græci paralysin vocant, infirmitate detentus, omni membrorum officio destitutus. Unde abbas ipsius sciens in monasterio Lindisfarnensium medicos esse peritissimos, misit eum illo, rogans ut infirmanti, si quid possent curationis conferrent. Qui cum, suo quoque abbate et episcopo jubentibus, diligenter illi adsisterent, et quicquid nossent erga eum industriæ medicinalis impenderent, nihil omnino proficere valebant; quin potius crescebat quotidie morbus et paulatim in deteriora vergebat, adeo ut, excepto ore, nullum pæne membrum posset loco movere. Cumque a carnalibus medicis diu frustra laborantibus desperatus ac desertus jaceret, confugit ad auxilium Medici cœlestis; qui in veritate petitus, propitius fit omnibus iniquitatibus nostris, et qui sanat omnes languores nostros. Rogavit namque ministrum suum, ut aliquam sibi portionem de incorruptibilibus sacri corporis adferret exuviis, quia crederet per hujus se virtutem ad gratiam sanitatis, Domino largiente, reversurum. Qui, consulto abbate, attulit calceamenta, quæ viri Dei in sepulchro pedes induerant, et ea pedibus dissolutis ægroti circumdedit; siquidem primo a pedibus eum paralysis apprehenderat. Fecit autem hoc noctis initio, cum tempus requiescendi adesset; statimque ille placidum dimissus in soporem, procedente intempestæ noctis silentio, cœpit alternis palpitare pedibus, ut palam qui vigilabant et videbant ministri animadverterent, quia donata per reliquias viri sancti virtute medicandi, sanitas optata a planta pedum in cetera membra esset transitura: at ubi consuetum in monasterio nocturnæ orationis signum insonuit, excitatus sonitu resedit ipse. Nec mora, solidatis interna virtute nervis, artuumque compagibus universis, ac dolore fugato, sanatum se esse intelligens surrexit, et in gratiarum actione Domino omne nocturnæ sive matutinæ psalmodiæ tempus stando persolvit. Mane autem jam facto, processit ad ecclesiam, videntibusque et congratulantibus universis, circuit loca sancta orando, et suo Salvatori sacrificium laudis offerendo. Factumque est ut pulcherrima rerum conversione, is qui dissolutus toto corpore illuc in vehiculo perlatus fuerat, inde strictis firmatisque membris omnibus, domum per se rediret incolumis. Unde meminisse juvat, quia hæc est immutatio dexteræ Excelsi, cujus memoranda ab initio mirabilia mundo fulgere non cessant.
QUALITER ANACHORITA FELGELDUS OPERIMENTO PARIETIS EJUS SIT A VULTUS TUMORE MUNDATUS.
Nec prætereundum arbitror quid miraculi cœlestis etiam per reliquias sanctissimi oratorii, in quo pater venerabilis solitarius Domino militare consueverat, Divina pietas ostenderit. Quod tamen utrum meritis ejusdem beati patris Cuthberti, an successoris ejus Ethelwaldi, viri æque Deo dediti, adscribendum sit, internus Arbiter noverit. Neque aliqua ratio vetat utriusque merito factum credi, comitante etiam fide reverendissimi patris Felgeldi; per quem et in quo miraculum ipsum, quod refero, sanationis completum est. Ipse est qui tertius ejusdem loci et militiæ spiritualis heres, hodie major septuagenario in magno vitæ futuræ desiderio terminum præsentis exspectat.
Cum ergo viro Domini Cuthberto ad cœlestia regna translato, Ethelwaldus ejusdem insulæ et monasterii colonus exsistere cœpisset, qui et ipse multos antea per annos in monachica conversatione probatus, rite gradum anachoreticæ sublimitatis ascendebat; reperit quia parietes præfati oratorii, qui tabulis minus diligenter coaptatis erant compositi, longa essent vetustate dissoluti, et separatis ab invicem tabulis, facilem turbinibus præbuissent ingressum. Sed vir venerabilis, qui cœlestis ædificii magis quam terreni decorem quærebat, sumto fæno, vel argilla, vel quicquid hujusmodi materiæ reperisset, stipaverat rimulas, ne quotidianis imbrium sive ventorum injuriis ab orandi retardaretur instantia. Cum hæc igitur Ethelwaldus ingressus locum vidisset, postulavit a frequentantibus se fratribus pelliculam vituli, eamque illo in angulo, quo et ipse et prædecessor ejus Cuthbertus sæpius orans stare vel genuflectere solebat, clavis affixam violentiis procellarum opposuit.
At postquam ipse quoque, expletis ibi duodecim continuis annis, gaudium supernæ beatitudinis intravit, ac tertius locum eundem Felgeldus inhabitare cœpit, placuit reverendissimo Lindisfarnensis ecclesiæ pontifici Eadfrido, dissolutum vetustate oratorium illud a fundamentis restaurare. Quod cum esset opus expletum, et multi devota religione a beato Christi athleta Felgeldo postularent, quatenus aliquam illis particulam de reliquiis sancti ac Deo dilecti patris Cuthberti, sive successoris ejus Ethelwaldi, dare debuisset; visum est illi divisam particulatim memoratam pelliculam petentibus dandam. Sed daturus eam aliis, prius in se ipse, quid hæc virtutis haberet, expertus est. Habebat namque vultum deformi rubore simul et tumore perfusum; cujus quidem futuri in eo languoris et prius, cum adhuc communi inter fratres vita degeret, aspicientibus in facie ejus signa patebant. At cum in solitudine remotus minorem corpori cultum, majorem adhiberet continentiam, et quasi diutino carcere inclusus, rarius vel fotu solis, vel aeris uteretur afflatu, excrevit languor in majus, faciemque totam tumenti ardore replevit. Timens ergo, ne forte magnitudine hujusmodi infirmitatis solitariam deserere vitam, et communem necesse esset conversationem repetere, fideli usus est præsumtione, speravitque se illorum ope curandum, quorum se mansionem tenere et vitam gaudebat imitari. Mittens enim præfatæ partem pelliculæ in aquam, ipsa aqua lavit suam faciem, statimque tumor omnis, qui hanc obsederat, et scabies fœda recessit; juxta quod mihi et primo religiosus quidam presbyter hujus monasterii Girvensis indicavit, qui se vultum illius et prius tumentem ac deformem nosse, et postea mundatum per fenestram manu palpasse, referebat; et ipse postmodum Felgeldus retulit, astruens quia res ita, ut presbyter narraverat, esset expleta, et quod ex eo tempore, cum inclusus per multa annorum curricula maneret, ut prius, immunem ab hujusmodi molestia vultum semper haberet; agente gratia Dei omnipotentis, quæ et in præsenti multos et in futuro omnes cordis et corporis nostri languores sanare consuevit, satiansque in bonis desiderium nostrum, sua nos in perpetuum misericordia et miseratione coronat. Amen.[Back to Table of Contents]
THE LIFE AND MIRACLES OF SAINT CUTHBERT, BISHOP OF LINDISFARNE.
To the holy and most blessed Father Bishop Eadfrid, and to all the Congregation of Brothers also, who serve Christ in the Island of Lindisfarne, Bede, your faithful fellow-servant, sends greeting.
INASMUCH as you bade me, my beloved, prefix to the book, which I have written at your request about the life of our father Cuthbert, of blessed memory, some preface, as I usually do, by which its readers might become acquainted with your desire and my readiness to gratify it, it has seemed good to me, by way of preface, to recal to the minds of those among you who know, and to make known to those readers who were before ignorant thereof, how that I have not presumed without minute investigation to write any of the deeds of so great a man, nor without the most accurate examination of credible witnesses to hand over what I had written to be transcribed. Moreover, when I learnt from those who knew the beginning, the middle, and the end of his glorious life and conversation, I sometimes inserted the names of these my authors, to establish the truth of my narrative, and thus ventured to put my pen to paper and to write. But when my work was arranged, but still kept back from publication, I frequently submitted it for perusal and for correction to our reverend brother Herefrid the priest, and others, who for a long time had well known the life and conversation of that man of God. Some faults were, at their suggestion, carefully amended, and thus every scruple being utterly removed, I have taken care to commit to writing what I clearly ascertained to be the truth, and to bring it into your presence also, my brethren, in order that by the judgment of your authority, what I have written might be either corrected, if false, or certified to be true. Whilst, with God’s assistance, I was so engaged, and my book was read during two days by the elders and teachers of your congregation, and was accurately weighed and examined in all its parts, there was nothing at all found which required to be altered, but every thing which I had written was by common consent pronounced worthy to be read without any hesitation, and to be handed over to be copied by such as by zeal for religion should be disposed to do so. But you also, in my presence, added many other facts of no less importance than what I had written, concerning the life and virtues of that blessed man, and which well deserved to be mentioned, if I had not thought it unmeet to insert new matter into a work, which, after due deliberation, I considered to be perfect.
Furthermore, I have thought right to admonish your gracious company, that, as I have not delayed to render prompt obedience to your commands, so you also may not be slow to confer on me the reward of your intercession; but when you read this book, and in pious recollection of that holy father lift up your souls with ardour in aspiration for the heavenly kingdom, do not forget to entreat the Divine clemency in favour of my littleness, in as far as I may deserve both at present with singleness of mind to long for and hereafter in perfect happiness to behold the goodness of our Lord in the land of the living. But also when I am defunct, pray ye for the redemption of my soul, for I was your friend and faithful servant; offer up masses for me, and enrol my name among your own. For you, also, most holy prelate, remember to have promised this to me, and in testimony of such future enrolment you gave orders to your pious brother Guthfrid, that he should even now enrol my name in the white book of your holy congregation. And may your holiness know that I already have written in heroic verse, as well as in this prose work, which I offer to you, the life of this same our father beloved by God, somewhat more briefly indeed, but nevertheless in the same order, because some of our brethren entreated the same of me: and if you wish to have those verses, you can obtain from me a copy of them. In the preface of that work I promised that I would write more fully at another time of his life and miracles; which promise, in my present work, I have, as far as God has allowed me, done my best to perform.
Wherefore it is my prayer for you, that Almighty God may deign to guard your holinesses in peace and safety, dearest brethren and masters of mine.—Amen!
CHAP. I. —
HOW CUTHBERT, THE CHILD OF GOD, WAS WARNED BY A CHILD OF HIS FUTURE BISHOPRIC.
The beginning of our history of the life of the blessed Cuthbert is hallowed by Jeremy the prophet, who, in exaltation of the anchorite’s perfect state, says, “It is good for a man, when he hath borne the yoke from his youth; he shall sit alone, and shall be silent, because he shall raise himself above himself.” For, inspired by the sweetness of this good, Cuthbert, the man of God, from his early youth bent his neck beneath the yoke of the monastic institution; and when occasion presented itself, having laid fast hold of the anachoretic life, he rejoiced to sit apart for no small space of time, and for the sweetness of divine meditation to hold his tongue silent from human colloquy. But that he should be able to do this in his advanced years, was the effect of God’s grace inciting him gradually to the way of truth from his early childhood; for even to the eighth year of his life, which is the first year of boyhood succeeding to infancy, he gave his mind to such plays and enjoyments alone as boys delight in, so that it might be testified of him as it was of Samuel, “Moreover Cuthbert knew not yet the Lord, neither had the voice of the Lord been revealed to him.” Such was the panegyric of his boyhood, who in more ripened age was destined perfectly to know the Lord, and opening the ears of his mind to imbibe the voice of God. He took delight, as we have stated, in mirth and clamour; and, as was natural at his age, rejoiced to attach himself to the company of other boys, and to share in their sports: and because he was agile by nature, and of a quick mind, he often prevailed over them in their boyish contests, and frequently, when the rest were tired, he alone would hold out, and look triumphantly around to see if any remained to contend with him for victory. For in jumping, running, wrestling, or any other bodily exercise, he boasted that he could surpass all those who were of the same age, and even some that were older than himself. For when he was a child, he knew as a child, he thought as a child; but afterwards, when he became a man, he most abundantly laid aside all those childish things.
And indeed Divine Providence found from the first a worthy preceptor to curb the sallies of his youthful mind. For, as Trumwine of blessed memory told me on the authority of Cuthbert himself, there were one day some customary games going on in a field, and a large number of boys were got together, amongst whom was Cuthbert, and in the excitement of boyish whims, several of them began to bend their bodies into various unnatural forms. On a sudden, one of them, apparently about three years old, runs up to Cuthbert, and in a firm tone exhorts him not to indulge in idle play and follies, but to cultivate the powers of his mind, as well as those of his body. When Cuthbert made light of his advice, the boy fell to the ground, and shed tears bitterly. The rest run up to console him, but he persists in weeping. They ask him why he burst out crying so unexpectedly. At length he made answer, and turning to Cuthbert, who was trying to comfort him, “Why,” said he, “do you, holy Cuthbert, priest and prelate! give yourself up to these things which are so opposite to your nature and rank? It does not become you to be playing among children, when the Lord has appointed you to be a teacher of virtue even to those who are older than yourself.” Cuthbert, being a boy of a good disposition, heard these words with evident attention, and pacifying the crying child with affectionate caresses, immediately abandoned his vain sports, and returning home, began from that moment to exhibit an unusual decision both of mind and character, as if the same Spirit which had spoken outwardly to him by the mouth of the boy, were now beginning to exert its influence inwardly in his heart. Nor ought we to be surprised that the same God can restrain the levity of a child by the mouth of a child, who made even the dumb beast to speak when He would check the folly of the prophet: and truly it is said in his honour, “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou perfected praise!”
HOW HE BECAME LAME WITH A SWELLING IN HIS KNEE, AND WAS CURED BY AN ANGEL.
BUT because to every one who hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance; that is, to every one who hath the determination and the love of virtue, shall be given, by Divine Providence, an abundance of these things; since Cuthbert, the child of God, carefully retained in his mind what he had received from the admonition of man, he was thought worthy also of being comforted by the company and conversation of angels. For his knee was seized with a sudden pain, and began to swell into a large tumour; the nerves of his thigh became contracted, and he was obliged to walk lamely, dragging after him his diseased leg, until at length the pain increased, and he was unable to walk at all. One day he had been carried out of doors by the attendants, and was reclining in the open air, when he suddenly saw at a distance a man on horseback approaching, clothed in white garments, and honourable to be looked upon, and the horse, too, on which he sat, was of incomparable beauty. He drew near to Cuthbert, and saluted him mildly, and asked him as in jest, whether he had no civilities to show to such a guest. “Yes,” said the other, “I should be most ready to jump up and offer you all the attention in my power, were I not, for my sins, held bound by this infirmity: for I have long had this painful swelling in my knee, and no physician, with all his care, has yet been able to heal me.” The man, leaping from his horse, began to look earnestly at the diseased knee. Presently he said, “Boil some wheaten flour in milk, and apply the poultice warm to the swelling, and you will be well.” Having said this, he again mounted his horse and departed. Cuthbert did as he was told, and after a few days was well. He at once perceived that it was an angel who had given him the advice, and sent by Him who formerly deigned to send his archangel Raphael to restore the eyesight of Tobit. If any one think it incredible that an angel should appear on horseback, let him read the history of the Maccabees, in which angels are said to have come on horseback to the assistance of Judas Maccabæus, and to defend God’s own temple.
HOW HE CHANGED THE WINDS BY PRAYER, AND BROUGHT THE SCATTERED SHIPS SAFE TO LAND.
From this time the lad becoming devoted to the Lord, as he afterwards assured his friends, often prayed to God amid dangers that surrounded him, and was defended by angelic assistance; nay, even in behalf of others who were in any danger, his benevolent piety sent forth prayers to God, and he was heard by Him who listens to the cry of the poor, and the men were rescued out of all their tribulations. There is, moreover a monastery lying towards the south, not far from the mouth of the river Tyne, at that time consisting of monks, but now changed, like all other human things, by time, and inhabited by a noble company of virgins, dedicated to Christ. Now, as these pious servants of God were gone to bring from a distance in ships, up the above-named river, some timber for the use of the monastery, and had already come opposite the place where they were to bring the ships to land, behold a violent wind, rising from the west, carried away their ships, and scattered them to a distance from the river’s mouth. The brethren, seeing this from the monastery, launched some boats into the river, and tried to succour those who were on board the vessels, but were unable, because the force of the tide and violence of the winds overcame them. In despair therefore of human aid, they had recourse to God, and issuing forth from the monastery, they gathered themselves together on a point of rock, near which the vessels were tossing in the sea: here they bent their knees, and supplicated the Lord for those whom they saw under such imminent danger of destruction. But the Divine will was in no haste to grant these vows, however earnest; and this was, without a doubt, in order that it might be seen what effect was in Cuthbert’s prayers. For there was a large multitude of people standing on the other bank of the river, and Cuthbert also was among them. Whilst the monks were looking on in sorrow, seeing the vessels, five in number, hurried rapidly out to sea, so that they looked like five sea-birds on the waves, the multitude began to deride their manner of life, as if they had deserved to suffer this loss, by abandoning the usual modes of life, and framing for themselves new rules by which to guide their conduct. Cuthbert restrained the insults of the blasphemers, saying, “What are you doing, my brethren, in thus reviling those whom you see hurried to destruction? Would it not be better and more humane to entreat the Lord in their behalf, than thus to take delight in their misfortunes?” But the rustics, turning on him with angry minds and angry mouths, exclaimed, “Nobody shall pray for them: may God spare none of them! for they have taken away from men the ancient rites and customs, and how the new ones are to be attended to, nobody knows.” At this reply, Cuthbert fell on his knees to pray, and bent his head towards the earth; immediately the power of the winds was checked, the vessels, with their conductors rejoicing, were cast upon the land near the monastery, at the place intended. The rustics blushing for their infidelity, both on the spot extolled the faith of Cuthbert as it deserved, and never afterwards ceased to extol it: so that one of the most worthy brothers of our monastery, from whose mouth I received this narrative, said that he had often, in company with many others, heard it related by one of those who were present, a man of the most rustic simplicity, and altogether incapable of telling an untruth.
HOW, IN COMPANY WITH SHEPHERDS, HE SAW THE SOUL OF BISHOP AIDAN CARRIED TO HEAVEN BY ANGELS.
But whereas the grace of Christ, which is the directress of the life of the faithful, decreed that its servant should encounter the merit of a more rigid institution, and earn the glory of a higher prize, it chanced upon a time that he was tending a flock of sheep entrusted to his care on some distant mountains. One night, whilst his companions were sleeping, and he himself was awake, as he was wont to be, and engaged in prayer, on a sudden he saw a long stream of light break through the darkness of the night, and in the midst of it a company of the heavenly host descended to the earth, and having received among them a spirit of surpassing brightness, returned without delay to their heavenly home. The young man, beloved of God, was struck with the sight, and, stimulated to encounter the honours of spiritual warfare, and to earn for himself eternal life and happiness among God’s mighty ones, he forthwith offered up praise and thanksgivings to the Lord, and called upon his companions, with brotherly exhortations, to imitate his example. “Miserable men that we are,” said he, “whilst we are resigning ourselves to sleep and idleness, we take no thought to behold the light of God’s holy angels, who never sleep. Behold, whilst I was awake and praying, during a moderate portion of the night, I saw such great miracles of God. The door of heaven was opened, and there was led in thither, amidst an angelic company, the spirit of some holy man, who now, for ever blessed, beholds the glory of the heavenly mansion, and Christ its King, whilst we still grovel amid this earthly darkness: and I think it must have been some holy bishop, or some favoured one from out of the company of the faithful, whom I saw thus carried into heaven amid so much splendour by that large angelic choir.” As the man of God said these words, the hearts of the shepherds were kindled up to reverence and praise. When the morning was come, he found that Aidan, bishop of the Church of Lindisfarne, a man of exalted piety, had ascended to the heavenly kingdom at the very moment of his vision. Immediately, therefore, he delivered over the sheep, which he was feeding, to their owners, and determined forthwith to enter a monastery.
HOW, ON HIS WAY, HE WAS SUPPLIED WITH FOOD BY GOD.
And when he now began with care to meditate on his intended entrance to a more rigid course of life, God’s grace was revealed to him, whereby his mind was strengthened in its purpose, and it was shown to him by the clearest evidence, that to those who seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness, the bounty of the Divine promise will grant all other things also, which are necessary for their bodily support. For on a certain day, as he was journeying alone, he turned aside at the fourth hour into a village which lay at some distance, and to which he found his way. Here he entered the house of a pious mother of a family, in order to rest himself a little, and to procure food for his horse rather than for himself, for it was the beginning of winter. The woman received him kindly, and begged him to allow her to get him some dinner, that he might refresh himself. The man of God refused, saying, “I cannot yet eat, for it is a fast-day.” It was the sixth day of the week, on which many of the faithful, out of reverence to the Lord’s passion, are accustomed to extend their fasting even to the ninth hour. The woman, from a motive of hospitality, persisted in her request. “Behold,” said she, “on the way you are going there is no village, nor house; you have a long journey before you, and cannot get through it before sunset. Let me entreat you, therefore, to take some food before you go, or else you will be obliged to fast all the day, and perhaps even till to-morrow.” But though the woman pressed him much, his love of religion prevailed, and he fasted the whole day until the evening.
When the evening drew near, and he perceived that he could not finish his intended journey the same day, and that there was no house at hand in which he could pass the night, he presently fell upon some shepherds’ huts, which, having been slightly constructed in the summer, were now deserted and ruinous. Into one of these he entered, and having tied his horse to the wall, placed before him a handful of hay, which the wind had forced from the roof. He then turned his thoughts to prayer, but suddenly, as he was singing a psalm, he saw his horse lift up his head and pull out some straw from the roof, and among the straw there fell down a linen cloth folded up, with something in it. When he had ended his prayers, wishing to see what this was, he came and opened the cloth, and found in it half of a loaf of bread, still hot, and some meat, enough of both to serve him for a single meal. In gratitude for the Divine goodness, he exclaimed, “Thanks be to God, who of his bounty hath deigned to provide a meal for me when I was hungry, as well as a supper for my beast.” He therefore divided the piece of bread into two parts, of which he gave one to his horse and kept the other for himself; and from that day forward he was more ready than before to fast, because he now felt convinced that the food had been provided for him in the desert by the gift of Him who formerly fed the prophet Elias for so long a time by means of ravens, when there was no man to minister unto him, whose eyes are upon those that fear Him, and upon those who trust in his mercy, that He may save their souls from death, and may feed them when they are hungry. I learnt these particulars from a religious man of our monastery of Weremouth, a priest of the name of Ingwald, who now, by reason of his extreme old age, is turning his attention, in purity of heart, to spiritual things rather than to earthly and carnal affections, and who said that the authority on which his relation rested was no less than that of Cuthbert himself.
HOW, AS HE WAS COMING TO A MONASTERY, BOISIL, A HOLY MAN, BORE TESTIMONY TO HIM BY PROPHESYING IN SPIRIT.
Meanwhile this reverend servant of God, abandoning worldly things, hastens to submit to monastic discipline, having been excited by his heavenly vision to covet the joys of everlasting happiness, and invited by the food with which God had supplied him to encounter hunger and thirst in his service. He knew that the Church of Lindisfarne contained many holy men, by whose teaching and example he might be instructed, but he was moved by the great reputation of Boisil, a monk and priest of surpassing merit, to choose for himself an abode in the abbey of Melrose. And it happened by chance, that when he was arrived there, and had leaped from his horse, that he might enter the church to pray, he gave his horse and travelling spear to a servant, for he had not yet resigned the dress and habits of a layman. Boisil was standing before the doors of the monastery, and saw him first. Foreseeing in spirit what an illustrious man the stranger would become, he made this single remark to the bystanders: “Behold a servant of the Lord!” herein imitating Him who said of Nathaniel, when he approached Him, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile!” I was told this by that veteran priest and servant of God, the pious Sigfrid, for he was standing by when Boisil said these words, and was at that time a youth studying the first rudiments of the monastic life in that same monastery; but now he is a man, perfect in the Lord, living in our monastery of Yarrow, and amid the last sighs of his fainting body thirsting for a happy entrance into another life. Boisil, without saying more, kindly received Cuthbert as he approached; and when he had heard the cause of his coming, namely, that he preferred the monastery to the world, he kept him near himself, for he was the prior of that same monastery.
After a few days, when Eata, who was at that time priest and abbot of the monastery, but afterwards bishop of Lindisfarne, was come, Boisil told him about Cuthbert, how that he was a young man of a promising disposition, and obtained permission that he should receive the tonsure, and be enrolled among the brethren. When he had thus entered the monastery, he conformed himself to the rules of the place with the same zeal as the others, and, indeed, sought to surpass them by observing stricter discipline; and in reading, working, watching, and praying, he fairly outdid them all. Like the mighty Samson of old, he carefully abstained from every drink which could intoxicate; but was not able to abstain equally from food, lest his body might be thereby rendered less able to work: for he was of a robust frame and of unimpaired strength, and fit for any labour which he might be disposed to take in hand.
HOW HE ENTERTAINED AN ANGEL, AND WHILST MINISTERING TO HIM EARTHLY BREAD, WAS THOUGHT WORTHY TO BE REWARDED WITH BREAD FROM HEAVEN.
SOME years after, it pleased King Alfred, for the redemption of his soul, to grant to Abbot Eata a certain tract of country called Inrhipum, in which to build a monastery. The abbot, in consequence of this grant, erected the intended building, and placed therein certain of his brother-monks, among whom was Cuthbert, and appointed for them the same rules and discipline which were observed at Melrose. It chanced that Cuthbert was appointed to the office of receiving strangers, and he is said to have entertained an angel of the Lord who came to make trial of his piety. For, as he went very early in the morning, from the interior of the monastery into the strangers’ cell, he found there seated a young person, whom he considered to be a man, and entertained as such. He gave him water to wash his hands; he washed his feet himself, wiped them, and humbly dried them in his bosom; after which he entreated him to remain till the third hour of the day and take some breakfast, lest, if he should go on his journey fasting, he might suffer from hunger and the cold of winter. For he took him to be a man, and thought that a long journey by night and a severe fall of snow had caused him to turn in thither in the morning to rest himself. The other replied, that he could not tarry, for the home to which he was hastening lay at some distance. After much entreaty, Cuthbert adjured him in God’s name to stop; and as the third hour was now come, prayer over, and it was time to breakfast, he placed before him a table with some food, and said, “I beseech thee, brother, eat and refresh thyself, whilst I go and fetch some hot bread, which must now, I think, be just baked.” When he returned, the young man, whom he had left eating, was gone, and he could see no traces of his footsteps, though there had been a fresh fall of snow, which would have exhibited marks of a person walking upon it, and shown which way he went. The man of God was astonished, and revolving the circumstance in his mind, put back the table in the dining-room. Whilst doing so, he perceived a most surprising odour and sweetness; and looking round to see from what it might proceed, he saw three white loaves placed there, of unusual whiteness and excellence. Trembling at the sight, he said within himself, “I perceive that it was an angel of the Lord whom I entertained, and that he came to feed us, not to be fed himself. Behold, he hath brought such loaves as this earth never produced; they surpass the lily in whiteness, the rose in odour, and honey in taste. They are, therefore, not produced from this earth, but are sent from paradise. No wonder that he rejected my offer of earthly food, when he enjoys such bread as this in heaven.” The man of God was stimulated by this powerful miracle to be more zealous still in performing works of piety; and with his deeds did increase upon him also the grace of God. From that time he often saw and conversed with angels, and when hungry was fed with unwonted food furnished direct from God. He was affable and pleasant in his character; and when he was relating to the fathers the acts of their predecessors, as an incentive to piety, he would introduce also, in the meekest way, the spiritual benefits which the love of God had conferred upon himself. And this he took care to do in a covert manner, as if it had happened to another person. His hearers, however, perceived that he was speaking of himself, after the pattern of that master who at one time unfolds his own merits without disguise, and at another time says, under the guise of another, “I knew a man in Christ fourteen years ago, who was carried up into the third heaven.”
CHAP. VIII. —
HOW CUTHBERT WAS RECOVERED FROM SICKNESS, AND BOISIL, ON HIS DEATH-BED, FORETOLD TO HIM HIS FUTURE FORTUNES.
Meanwhile, as every thing in this world is frail and fluctuating, like the sea when a storm comes on, the above-named Abbot Eata, with Cuthbert and the other brethren, were expelled from their residence, and the monastery given to others. But our worthy champion of Christ did not by reason of his change of place relax his zeal in carrying on the spiritual conflict which he had undertaken; but he attended, as he had ever done, to the precepts and example of the blessed Boisil. About this time, according to his friend Herefrid the priest, who was formerly abbot of the monastery of Lindisfarne, he was seized with a pestilential disease, of which many inhabitants of Britain were at that time sick. The brethren of the monastery passed the whole night in prayer for his life and health; for they thought it essential to them that so pious a man should be present with them in the flesh. They did this without his knowing it; and when they told him of it in the morning, he exclaimed, “Then why am I lying here? I did not think it possible that God should have neglected your prayers: give me my stick and shoes.” Accordingly, he got out of bed, and tried to walk, leaning on his stick; and finding his strength gradually return, he was speedily restored to health: but because the swelling on his thigh, though it died away to all outward appearances, struck into his inwards, he felt a little pain in his inside all his life afterwards; so that, as we find it expressed in the Apostles, “his strength was perfected in weakness.”
When that servant of the Lord, Boisil, saw that Cuthbert was restored, he said, “You see, my brother, how you have recovered from your disease, and I assure you it will give you no further trouble, nor are you likely to die at present. I advise you, inasmuch as death is waiting for me, to learn from me all you can whilst I am able to teach you; for I have only seven days longer to enjoy my health of body, or to exercise the powers of my tongue.” Cuthbert, implicitly believing what he heard, asked him what he would advise him to begin to read, so as to be able to finish it in seven days. “John the Evangelist,” said Boisil. “I have a copy containing seven quarto sheets: we can, with God’s help, read one every day, and meditate thereon as far as we are able.” They did so accordingly, and speedily accomplished the task; for they sought therein only that simple faith which operates by love, and did not trouble themselves with minute and subtle questions. After their seven days’ study was completed, Boisil died of the above-named complaint; and after death entered into the joys of eternal life. They say that, during these seven days, he foretold to Cuthbert every thing which should happen to him: for, as I have said before, he was a prophet and a man of remarkable piety. And, moreover, he had three years ago foretold to Abbot Eata, that this pestilence would come, and that he himself would die of it; but that the abbot should die of another disease, which the physicians call dysentery; and in this also he was a true prophet, as the event proved. Among others, he told Cuthbert that he should be ordained bishop. When Cuthbert became an anchorite, he would not communicate this prophecy to any one, but with much sorrow assured the brethren who came to visit him, that if he had a humble residence on a rock, where the waves of the ocean shut him out from all the world, he should not even then consider himself safe from its snares, but should be afraid that on some occasion or other he might fall victim to the love of riches.
HOW CUTHBERT WAS ZEALOUS IN THE MINISTRY OF THE WORD.
AFTER the death of Boisil, Cuthbert took upon himself the duties of the office before mentioned; and for many years discharged them with the most pious zeal, as became a saint: for he not only furnished both precept and example to his brethren of the monastery, but sought to lead the minds of the neighbouring people to the love of heavenly things. Many of them, indeed, disgraced the faith which they professed, by unholy deeds; and some of them, in the time of mortality, neglecting the sacrament of their creed, had recourse to idolatrous remedies, as if by charms or amulets, or any other mysteries of the magical art, they were able to avert a stroke inflicted upon them by the Lord. To correct these errors, he often went out from the monastery, sometimes on horseback, sometimes on foot, and preached the way of truth to the neighbouring villages, as Boisil, his predecessor, had done before him. It was at this time customary for the English people to flock together when a clerk or priest entered a village, and listen to what he said, that so they might learn something from him, and amend their lives. Now Cuthbert was so skilful in teaching, and so zealous in what he undertook, that none dared to conceal from him their thoughts, but all acknowledged what they had done amiss; for they supposed that it was impossible to escape his notice, and they hoped to merit forgiveness by an honest confession. He was mostly accustomed to travel to those villages which lay in out of the way places among the mountains, which by their poverty and natural horrors deterred other visitors. Yet even here did his devoted mind find exercise for his powers of teaching, insomuch that he often remained a week, sometimes two or three, nay, even a whole month, without returning home; but dwelling among the mountains, taught the poor people, both by the words of his preaching, and also by his own holy conduct.
HOW CUTHBERT PASSED THE NIGHT IN THE SEA, PRAYING; AND WHEN HE WAS COME OUT, TWO ANIMALS OF THE SEA DID HIM REVERENCE; AND HOW THE BROTHER, WHO SAW THOSE THINGS, BEING IN FEAR, WAS ENCOURAGED BY CUTHBERT.
When this holy man was thus acquiring renown by his virtues and miracles, Ebbe, a pious woman and handmaid of Christ, was the head of a monastery at a place called the city of Coludi, remarkable both for piety and noble birth, for she was half-sister of King Oswy. She sent messengers to the man of God, entreating him to come and visit her monastery. This loving message from the handmaid of his Lord he could not treat with neglect, but, coming to the place and stopping several days there, he confirmed, by his life and conversation, the way of truth which he taught.
Here also, as elsewhere, he would go forth, when others were asleep, and having spent the night in watchfulness, return home at the hour of morning-prayer. Now one night, a brother of the monastery, seeing him go out alone, followed him privately to see what he should do. But he, when he left the monastery, went down to the sea, which flows beneath, and going into it, until the water reached his neck and arms, spent the night in praising God. When the dawn of day approached, he came out of the water, and, falling on his knees, began to pray again. Whilst he was doing this, two quadrupeds, called otters, came up from the sea, and, lying down before him on the sand, breathed upon his feet, and wiped them with their hair: after which, having received his blessing, they returned to their native element. Cuthbert himself returned home in time to join in the accustomed hymns with the other brethren. The brother, who waited for him on the heights, was so terrified that he could hardly reach home; and early in the morning he came and fell at his feet, asking his pardon, for he did not doubt that Cuthbert was fully acquainted with all that had taken place. To whom Cuthbert replied, “What is the matter, my brother? What have you done? Did you follow me to see what I was about to do? I forgive you for it on one condition,—that you tell it to nobody before my death.” In this he followed the example of our Lord, who, when He showed his glory to his disciples on the mountain, said, “See that you tell no man, until the Son of man be risen from the dead.” When the brother had assented to this condition, he gave him his blessing, and released him from all his trouble. The man concealed this miracle during St. Cuthbert’s life; but, after his death, took care to tell it to as many persons as he was able.
HOW, WHEN THE SAILORS WERE PREVENTED FROM SAILING BY BAD WEATHER, HE PREDICTED THAT IT WOULD BE FINE ON A CERTAIN DAY, AND HOW HE OBTAINED FOOD BY PRAYER.
Meanwhile the man of God began to wax strong in the spirit of prophecy, to foretell future events, and to describe to those he was with what things were going on elsewhere. Once upon a time he left the monastery for some necessary reason, and went by sea to the land of the Picts, which is called Niduari. Two of the brethren accompanied him; and one of these, who afterwards discharged the priest’s office, made known to several the miracle which the man of God there performed. They arrived there the day after Christmasday, hoping, because the weather and sea were both tranquil, that they should soon return; and for this reason they took no food with them. They were, however, deceived in their expectations; for no sooner were they come to land, than a tempest arose, and prevented them from returning. After stopping there several days, suffering from cold and hunger, the day of the holy Epiphany was at hand, and the man of God, who had spent the night in prayer and watching, not in idleness or sloth, addressed them with cheerful and soothing language, as he was accustomed: “Why do we remain here idle? Let us do the best we can to save ourselves. The ground is covered with snow, and the heaven with clouds; the currents of both winds and waves are right against us: we are famished with hunger, and there is no one to relieve us. Let us importune the Lord with our prayers, that, as He opened to his people a path through the Red Sea, and miraculously fed them in the wilderness, He may take pity on us also in our present distress. If our faith does not waver, I do not think He will suffer us to remain all this day fasting—a day which He formerly made so bright with his heavenly majesty. I pray you, therefore, to come with me and see what provision He has made for us, that we may ourselves rejoice in his joy.” Saying these words, he led them to the shore where he himself had been accustomed to pray at night. On their arrival, they found there three pieces of dolphin’s flesh, looking as if some one had cut them and prepared them to be cooked. They fell on their knees and gave thanks to God. “You see, my beloved brethren,” said Cuthbert, “how great is the grace of God to him who hopes and trusts in the Lord. Behold, He has prepared food for his servants; and by the number three points out to us how long we must remain here. Take, therefore, the gifts which Christ has sent us; let us go and refresh ourselves, and abide here without fear, for after three days there will most assuredly be a calm, both of the heavens and of the sea.” All this was so as he had said: three days the storm lasted most violently; on the fourth day the promised calm followed, and they returned with a fair wind home.
HOW HE FORETOLD THAT, ON A JOURNEY, AN EAGLE WOULD BRING HIM FOOD, AND HOW THIS TOOK PLACE ACCORDINGLY.
It happened, also, that on a certain day he was going forth from the monastery to preach, with one attendant only, and when they became tired with walking, though a great part of their journey still lay before them ere they could reach the village to which they were going, Cuthbert said to his follower, “Where shall we stop to take refreshment? or do you know any one on the road to whom we may turn in?”—“I was myself thinking on the same subject,” said the boy; “for we have brought no provisions with us, and I know no one on the road who will entertain us, and we have a long journey still before us, which we cannot well accomplish without eating.” The man of God replied, “My son, learn to have faith, and trust in God, who will never suffer to perish with hunger those who trust in Him.” Then looking up, and seeing an eagle flying in the air, he said, “Do you perceive that eagle yonder? It is possible for God to feed us even by means of that eagle.” As they were thus discoursing, they came near a river, and behold the eagle was standing on its bank. “Look,” said the man of God, “there is our handmaid, the eagle, that I spoke to you about. Run, and see what provision God hath sent us, and come again and tell me.” The boy ran, and found a good-sized fish, which the eagle had just caught. But the man of God reproved him, “What have you done, my son? Why have you not given part to God’s handmaid? Cut the fish in two pieces, and give her one, as her service well deserves.” He did as he was bidden, and carried the other part with him on his journey. When the time for eating was come, they turned aside to a certain village, and having given the fish to be cooked, made an excellent repast, and gave also to their entertainers, whilst Cuthbert preached to them the word of God, and blessed Him for his mercies; for happy is the man whose hope is in the name of the Lord, and who has not looked upon vanity and foolish deceit. After this, they resumed their journey, to preach to those among whom they were going.
HOW HE FORESAW A VISION OF A FIRE COMING FROM THE DEVIL WHILST HE WAS PREACHING, AND HOW HE PUT OUT THE SAME.
About the same time, as he was preaching the word of life to a number of persons assembled in a certain village, he suddenly saw in the spirit our old enemy coming to retard the work of salvation, and forthwith began by admonitions to prevent the snares and devices which he saw were coming. “Dearest brethren,” said he, “as often as you hear the mysteries of the heavenly kingdom preached to you, you should listen with attentive heart and with watchful feelings, lest the devil, who has a thousand ways of harming you, prevent you by superfluous cares from hearing the word of salvation.” As he said these words, he resumed the thread of his discourse, and immediately that wicked enemy, bringing supernatural fire, set light to a neighbouring house, so that flakes of fire seemed to fly through the air, and a storm of wind and thunder shook the sky. Nearly the whole multitude rushed forward, to extinguish the fire, (for he restrained a few of them himself,) but yet with all their real water they could not put out the false flames, until, at Cuthbert’s prayer, the author of the deceit was put to flight, and his fictitious fires dispersed along with him. The multitude, seeing this, were suffused with ingenuous blushes, and, falling on their knees before him, prayed to be forgiven for their fickleness of mind, acknowledging their conviction that the devil never rests even for an hour from impeding the work of man’s salvation. But he, encouraging them under their infirmity, again began to preach to them the words of everlasting life.
HOW, WHEN A HOUSE WAS REALLY SET ON FIRE, HE PUT OUT THE FLAMES BY PRAYER.
BUT it was not only in the case of an apparition of a fire that his power was shown; for he extinguished a real fire by the fervency of his tears, when many had failed in putting it out with all the water they could get. For, as he was travelling about, preaching salvation, like the apostles of old, he one day entered the house of a pious woman, whom he was in the habit of often visiting, and whom, from having been nursed by her in his infancy, he was accustomed on that account to call his mother. The house was at the west end of the village, and Cuthbert had no sooner entered it to preach the word of God, than a house at the other end of the place caught fire and began to blaze most dreadfully. For the wind was from the same quarter, so that the sparks from the kindled thatch flew over the whole village. Those who were present tried to extinguish it with water, but were driven back by the heat. Then the aforesaid handmaid of the Lord, running to the house where Cuthbert was, besought him to help them, before her own house and the others in the village should be destroyed. “Do not fear, mother,” said he; “be of good cheer; this devouring flame will not hurt either you or yours.” He then went out and threw himself prostrate on the ground before the door. Whilst he was praying, the wind changed, and beginning to blow from the west, removed all danger of the fire assailing the house, into which the man of God had entered.
And thus in two miracles he imitated the virtues of two of the fathers. For in the case of the apparition of fire above mentioned, he imitated the reverend and holy father Saint Benedict, who by his prayers drove away the apparition of a fire like a burning kitchen, which the old enemy had presented before the eyes of his disciples: and, in the case of the real fire which he thus extinguished, he imitated that venerable priest Marcellinus of Ancona, who, when his native town was on fire, placed himself in front of the flames, and put them out by his prayers, though all the exertions of his fellow-countrymen had failed to extinguish them with water. Nor is it wonderful that such perfect and pious servants of God should receive power against the force of fire, considering that by their daily piety they enable themselves to conquer the desires of the flesh, and to extinguish all the fiery darts of the wicked one: and to them is applicable the saying of the prophet, [Is. xliii. 2.] “When thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the fire kindle upon thee.” But I, and those who are, like me, conscious of our own weakness and inertness, are sure that we can do nothing in that way against material fire, and, indeed, are by no means sure that we shall be able to escape unhurt from that fire of future punishment, which never shall be extinguished. But the love of our Saviour is strong and abundant, and will bestow the grace of its protection upon us, though we are unworthy and unable in this world to extinguish the fires of vicious passions and of punishment in the world which is to come.
HOW HE CAST OUT A DEVIL FROM THE PRÆFECT’S WIFE, EVEN BEFORE HIS ARRIVAL.
But, as we have above related how this venerable man prevailed against the false stratagems of the devil, now let us show in what way he displayed his power against his open and undisguised enmity. There was a certain præfect of King Egfrid, Hildemer by name, a man devoted with all his house to good works, and therefore especially beloved by Saint Cuthbert, and often visited by him whenever he was journeying that way. This man’s wife, who was devoted to almsgiving and other fruits of virtue, was suddenly so afflicted by a devil, that she gnashed her teeth, uttered the most pitiable cries, and, throwing about her arms and limbs, caused great terror to all who saw or heard her. Whilst she was lying in this state, and expected to die, her husband mounted his horse, and, coming to the man of God, besought his help, saying, “My wife is ill, and at the point of death: I entreat you to send a priest to visit her before she dies, and minister to her the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ; and, also, that when she is dead, she may be buried in this holy place.” He was ashamed to say that she was out of her senses, because the man of God had always seen her in her right mind. Whilst the holy man was going to find out a priest to send to her, he reflected in his mind that it was no ordinary infirmity, but a visitation of the devil; and so, returning to the man who had come to entreat him in his wife’s behalf, he said, “I will not send any one, but I will go myself to visit her.”
Whilst they were going, the man began to cry, and the tears ran down his cheeks, for he was afraid lest Cuthbert, finding her afflicted with a devil, should think that she had been a false servant of the Lord, and that her faith was not real. The man of God consoled him: “Do not weep because I am likely to find your wife otherwise than I could wish; for I know that she is vexed with a devil, though you are afraid to name it: and I know, moreover, that, before we arrive, she will be freed, and come to meet us, and will herself take the reins, as sound in mind as ever, and will invite us in and minister to us as before; for not only the wicked but the innocent are sometimes permitted by God to be afflicted in body, and are even taken captive in spirit by the devil.” Whilst he thus consoled the man, they approached the house, and the evil spirit fled, not able to meet the coming of the holy man. The woman, freed from her suffering, rose up immediately, as if from sleep, and, meeting the man of God with joy, held the bridle of his horse, and, having entirely recovered her strength, both of mind and body, begged him to dismount and to bestow his blessing upon her house; and ministering sedulously to him, testified openly that, at the first touch of the rein, she had felt herself relieved from all the pain of her former suffering.
HOW HE LIVED AND TAUGHT IN THE MONASTERY OF LINDISFARNE.
Whilst this venerable servant of the Lord was thus, during many years, distinguishing himself by such signs of spiritual excellence in the monastery of Melrose, its reverend abbot, Eata, transferred him to the monastery in the island of Lindisfarne, that there also he might teach the rules of monastic perfection with the authority of its governor, and illustrate it by the example of his virtue; for the same reverend abbot had both monasteries under his jurisdiction. And no one should wonder that, though the island of Lindisfarne is small, we have above made mention of a bishop, and now of an abbot and monks; for the case is really so. For the same island, inhabited by servants of the Lord, contains both, and all are monks. For Aidan, who was the first bishop of that place, was a monk, and with all his followers lived according to the monastic rule. Wherefore all the principals of that place from him to the present time exercise the episcopal office; so that, whilst the monastery is governed by the abbot, whom they, with the consent of the brethren, have elected, all the priests, deacons, singers, readers, and other ecclesiastical officers of different ranks, observe the monastic rule in every respect, as well as the bishop himself. The blessed Pope Gregory showed that he approved this mode of life, when, in answer to Augustine, his first missionary to Britain, who asked him how bishops ought to converse with their clerks, among other remarks he replied, “Because, my brother, having been educated in the monastic rule, you ought not to keep aloof from your clerks: in the English Church, which, thanks be to God, has lately been converted to the faith, you should institute the same system, which has existed from the first beginning of our Church among our ancestors, none of whom said that the things which he possessed were his own, but they had all things common.” When Cuthbert, therefore, came to the church or monastery of Lindisfarne, he taught the brethren monastic rules both by his life and doctrines, and often going round, as was his custom, among the neighbouring people, he kindled them up to seek after and work out a heavenly reward. Moreover, by his miracles he became more and more celebrated, and by the earnestness of his prayers restored to their former health many that were afflicted with various infirmities and sufferings; some that were vexed with unclean spirits, he not only cured whilst present by touching them, praying over them, or even by commanding or exorcising the devils to go out of them; but even when absent he restored them by his prayers, or by foretelling that they should be restored; amongst whom also was the wife of the præfect above mentioned.
There were some brethren in the monastery who preferred their ancient customs to the new regular discipline. But he got the better of these by his patience and modest virtues, and by daily practice at length brought them to the better system which he had in view. Moreover, in his discussions with the brethren, when he was fatigued by the bitter taunts of those who opposed him, he would rise from his seat with a placid look, and dismiss the meeting until the following day, when, as if he had suffered no repulse, he would use the same exhortations as before, until he converted them, as I have said before, to his own views. For his patience was most exemplary, and in enduring the opposition which was heaped equally upon his mind and body, he was most resolute, and, amid the asperities which he encountered, he always exhibited such placidity of countenance, as made it evident to all that his outward vexations were compensated for by the internal consolations of the Holy Spirit.
But he was so zealous in watching and praying, that he is believed to have sometimes passed three or four nights together therein, during which time he neither went to his own bed, nor had any accommodation from the brethren for reposing himself. For he either passed the time alone, praying in some retired spot, or singing and making something with his hands, thus beguiling his sleepiness by labour; or, perhaps, he walked round the island, diligently examining every thing therein, and by this exercise relieved the tediousness of psalmody and watching. Lastly, he would reprove the faintheartedness of the brethren, who took it amiss if any one came and unseasonably importuned them to awake at night or during their afternoon naps. “No one,” said he, “can displease me by waking me out of my sleep, but, on the contrary, give me pleasure; for, by rousing me from inactivity, he enables me to do or think of something useful.” So devout and zealous was he in his desire after heavenly things, that, whilst officiating in the solemnity of the mass, he never could come to the conclusion thereof without a plentiful shedding of tears. But whilst he duly discharged the mysteries of our Lord’s passion, he would, in himself, illustrate that in which he was officiating; in contrition of heart he would sacrifice himself to the Lord; and whilst he exhorted the standers-by to lift up their hearts and to give thanks unto the Lord, his own heart was lifted up rather than his voice, and it was the spirit which groaned within him rather than the note of singing. In his zeal for righteousness he was fervid to correct sinners, he was gentle in the spirit of mildness to forgive the penitent, so that he would often shed tears over those who confessed their sins, pitying their weaknesses, and would himself point out by his own righteous example what course the sinner should pursue. He used vestments of the ordinary description, neither noticeable for their too great neatness, nor yet too slovenly. Wherefore, even to this day, it is not customary in that monastery for any one to wear vestments of a rich or valuable colour, but they are content with that appearance which the natural wool of the sheep presents.
By these and such like spiritual exercises, this venerable man both excited the good to follow his example, and recalled the wicked and perverse from their errors to regularity of life.
OF THE HABITATION WHICH HE MADE FOR HIMSELF IN THE ISLAND OF FARNE, WHEN HE HAD EXPELLED THE DEVILS.
When he had remained some years in the monastery, he was rejoiced to be able at length, with the blessing of the abbot and brethren accompanying him, to retire to the secrecy of solitude which he had so long coveted. He rejoiced that from the long conversation with the world he was now thought worthy to be promoted to retirement and Divine contemplation: he rejoiced that he now could reach to the condition of those of whom it is sung by the Psalmist: “The holy shall walk from virtue to virtue; the God of Gods shall be seen in Zion.” At his first entrance upon the solitary life, he sought out the most retired spot in the outskirts of the monastery. But when he had for some time contended with the invisible adversary with prayer and fasting in this solitude, he then, aiming at higher things, sought out a more distant field for conflict, and more remote from the eyes of men. There is a certain island called Farne, in the middle of the sea, not made an island, like Lindisfarne, by the flow of the tide, which the Greeks call rheuma, and then restored to the mainland at its ebb, but lying off several miles to the East, and, consequently, surrounded on all sides by the deep and boundless ocean. No one, before God’s servant Cuthbert, had ever dared to inhabit this island alone, on account of the evil spirits which reside there: but when this servant of Christ came, armed with the helmet of salvation, the shield of faith, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, all the fiery darts of the wicked were extinguished, and that wicked enemy, with all his followers, were put to flight.
Christ’s soldier, therefore, having thus, by the expulsion of the tyrants, become the lawful monarch of the land, built a city fit for his empire, and houses therein suitable to his city. The building is almost of a round form, from wall to wall about four or five poles in extent: the wall on the outside is higher than a man, but within, by excavating the rock, he made it much deeper, to prevent the eyes and the thoughts from wandering, that the mind might be wholly bent on heavenly things, and the pious inhabitant might behold nothing from his residence but the heavens above him. The wall was constructed, not of hewn stones or of brick and mortar, but of rough stones and turf, which had been taken out from the ground within. Some of them were so large that four men could hardly have lifted them, but Cuthbert himself, with angels helping him, had raised them up and placed them on the wall. There were two chambers in the house, one an oratory, the other for domestic purposes. He finished the walls of them by digging round and cutting away the natural soil within and without, and formed the roof out of rough poles and straw. Moreover, at the landing-place of the island he built a large house, in which the brethren who visited him might be received and rest themselves, and not far from it there was a fountain of water for their use.
HOW BY HIS PRAYERS HE DREW WATER FROM THE DRY GROUND, AND HOW HE GOT ON DURING HIS RETIREMENT.
But his own dwelling was destitute of water, being built on hard and stony ground. The man of God, therefore, sent for the brethren, for he had not yet withdrawn himself entirely from the sight of visitors, and said to them, “You see that my dwelling is destitute of water; but I pray you, let us beseech Him who turned the solid rock into a pool of water and stones into fountains, that giving glory, not to us, but to his own name, He may vouchsafe to open to us a spring of water, even from this stony rock. Let us dig in the middle of my hut, and, I believe, out of his good pleasure, He will give us drink.” They therefore made a pit, and the next morning found it full of water, springing up from within. Wherefore there can be no doubt that it was elicited by the prayers of this man of God from the ground which was before dry and stony. Now this water, by a most remarkable quality, never overflowed its first limits so as to flood the pavement, nor yet ever failed, however much of it might be taken out; so that it never surpassed or fell short of the daily necessities of him who used it for his sustenance.
Now when Cuthbert had, with the assistance of the brethren, made for himself this dwelling with its chambers, he began to live in a more secluded manner. At first, indeed, when the brethren came to visit him, he would leave his cell and minister to them. He used to wash their feet devoutly with warm water, and was sometimes compelled by them to take off his shoes, that they might wash his feet also. For he had so far withdrawn his mind from attending to the care of his person, and fixed it upon the concerns of his soul, that he would often spend whole months without taking off his leathern gaiters. Sometimes, too, he would keep his shoes on from one Easter to another, only taking them off on account of the washing of feet, which then takes place at the Lord’s Supper. Wherefore, in consequence of his frequent prayers and genuflexions, which he made with his shoes on, he was discovered to have contracted a callosity on the junction of his feet and legs. At length, as his zeal after perfection grew, he shut himself up in his cell away from the sight of men, and spent his time alone in fasting, watching, and prayer, rarely having communication with any one without, and that through the window, which at first was left open, that he might see and be seen; but, after a time, he shut that also, and opened it only to give his blessing, or for any other purpose of absolute necessity.
HOW HE SOWED A FIELD WITH BARLEY, AND KEPT OFF THE BIRDS FROM THE CROP BY HIS MERE WORD.
AT first, indeed, he received from his visiters a small portion of bread, and drank water from the fountain; but afterwards he thought it more fitting to live by the labour of his own hands, like the old fathers. He therefore asked them to bring him some instruments of husbandry, and some wheat to sow; but when he had sown the grain in the spring, it did not come up. At the next visit of the monks, he said to them, “Perhaps the nature of the soil, or the will of God, does not allow wheat to grow in this place: bring me, I beg of you, some barley: possibly that may answer. If, however, on trial it does not, I had better return to the monastery than be supported here by the labour of others.” The barley was accordingly brought, and sown, although the season was extraordinarily late; and the barley came up most unexpectedly and most abundantly. It no sooner began to ripen, than the birds came and wasted it most grievously. Christ’s holy servant, as he himself afterwards told it, (for he used, in a cheerful and affable manner, to confirm the faith of his hearers by telling them the mercies which his own faith had obtained from the Lord,) drew near to the birds, and said to them, “Why do you touch that which you have not sown? Have you more share than I in this? If you have received license from God, do what He allows you; but if not, get you gone, and do no further injury to that which belongs to another.” He had no sooner spoken, than all the flock of birds departed, and never more returned to feed upon that field. Thus in two miracles did this reverend servant of Christ imitate the example of two of the fathers: for, in drawing water from the rock, he followed the holy St. Benedict, who did almost the same thing, and in the same way, though more abundantly, because there were more who were in want of water. And in driving away the birds, he imitated the reverend and holy father St. Antony, who by his word alone drove away the wild asses from the garden which he had planted.
HOW THE CROWS APOLOGIZED TO THE MAN OF GOD FOR THE INJURY WHICH THEY DID HIM, AND MADE HIM A PRESENT IN COMPENSATION.
I AM here tempted to relate another miracle which he wrought in imitation of the aforesaid father St. Benedict, in which the obedience and humility of birds are a warning to the perversity and pride of mankind. There were some crows which had long been accustomed to build in the island. One day the man of God saw them, whilst making their nests, pull out the thatch of the hut which he had made to entertain the brethren in, and carry it away to build with. He immediately stretched out his hand, and warned them to do no harm to the brethren. As they neglected his command, he said to them, “In the name of Jesus Christ, depart as speedily as possible, and do not presume to remain any longer in the place, to which you are doing harm.” He had scarcely uttered these words, when they flew away in sorrow. At the end of three days one of the two returned, and finding the man of God digging in the field, spread out its wings in a pitiable manner, and bending its head down before his feet, in a tone of humility asked pardon by the most expressive signs it could, and obtained from the reverend father permission to return. It then departed and fetched its companion; and when they had both arrived, they brought in their beaks a large piece of hog’s lard, which the man of God used to show to the brethren who invited him, and kept to grease their shoes with; testifying to them how earnestly they should strive after humility, when a dumb bird that had acted so insolently, hastened by prayers, lamentation, and presents, to obliterate the injury which it had done to man. Lastly, as a pattern of reformation to the human race, these birds remained for many years and built their nests in the island, and did not dare to give annoyance to any one. But let no one think it absurd to learn virtue from birds; for Solomon says, “Go to the ant, thou sluggard, consider her ways, and be wise.”
HOW EVEN THE SEA WAS SUBSERVIENT TO HIS WANTS.
BUT not only did the animals of the air and sea, for the sea itself, as the air and fire, on former occasions which we have mentioned, exemplified their obedience to the venerable man. For it is no wonder that every creature should obey his wishes, who so faithfully, and with his whole heart, obeyed the great Author of all creatures. But we for the most part have lost our dominion over the creation that has been subjected to us, because we neglect to obey the Lord and Creator of all things. The sea itself, I say, displayed the most ready obedience to Christ’s servant, when he had need of it. For he intended to build a little room in his monastery, adapted to his daily necessities; and on the side towards the sea, where the waves had scooped a hollow, it was necessary to put some support across the opening, which was twelve feet wide. He therefore asked the brethren, who came to visit him, when they returned the next time, to bring him a beam twelve feet long, to support his intended building. They readily promised to bring it, and having received his blessing, departed; but by the time they reached home they had entirely forgotten the matter, and on their next visit neglected to carry the timber which they had promised. He received them mildly, and giving them welcome in God’s name, asked them for the wood which he had requested them to bring. Then they, remembering what they had promised, apologized for their forgetfulness. Cuthbert, in the most gentle manner, pacified them, and requested them to sleep there, and remain till the morning; “for,” said he, “I do not think that God will forget my service or my necessities.” They accepted his invitation; and when they rose in the morning, they saw that the tide had, during the night, brought on shore a beam of the required size, and placed it exactly in the situation where the proposed chamber was to be built. When they saw this, they marvelled at the holiness of the venerable man, for that even the elements obeyed him, and took much shame to themselves for their forgetfulness and sloth, who were taught even by the senseless elements what obedience ought to be shown to God’s holy saints.
HOW HE GAVE SALUTARY ADMONITIONS TO MANY WHO CAME TO HIM, AND EXPOSED THE IMPOTENT SNARES OF THE OLD ENEMY.
BUT many came to the man of God, not only from the furthest parts of Lindisfarne, but even from the more remote parts of Britain, led thither by the fame of his virtues, to confess the errors which they had committed, or the temptations of the devil which they suffered, or the adversities common to mortals, with which they were afflicted, and all hoping to receive consolation from a man so eminent for holiness. Nor did their hope deceive them. For no one went away from him without consolation, no one returned afflicted with the same grief which had brought him thither. For he knew how to comfort the sorrowful with pious exhortation; he could recal the joys of celestial life to the memory of those who were straitened in circumstances, and show the uncertainty of prosperity and adversity in this life: he had learnt to make known to those who were tempted the numerous wiles of their ancient enemy, by which that mind would be easily captivated which was deprived of brotherly or Divine love; whereas, the mind which, strengthened by the true faith, should continue its course, would, by the help of God, break the snares of the adversary like the threads of a spider’s web. “How often,” said he, “have they sent me headlong from the high rock! How many times have they thrown stones at me as if to kill me! Yea, they sought to discourage me by various trials of apparitions, and to exterminate me from this scene of trial, but were never able to affect my body with injury, or my mind with fear.”
He was accustomed to relate these things more frequently to the brotherhood, lest they should wonder at his conversation as being peculiarly exalted, because, despising secular cares, he preferred to live apart. “But,” said he, “the life of monks may well be wondered at, who are subjected in all things to the orders of the abbot, the times of watching, praying, fasting, and working, being all regulated according to his will; many of whom have I known far exceed my littleness, both in purity of mind and advancement in prophetic grace. Among whom must I mention, with all honour, the venerable Boisil, servant of Christ, who, when an old man, formerly supported me in my youth at Melrose Abbey, and while instructing me, he foretold, with prophetic truth, all things which would happen to me; and of all things which he foretold to me, one alone remains which I hope may never be accomplished.” Cuthbert told us this was a prophecy of Boisil, that this, our holy servant of Christ, should attain to the office of a bishop; though he, in his eagerness after the heavenly life, felt horrified at the announcement.
HOW ELFLED THE ABBESS AND ONE OF HER NUNS WERE CURED OF AN INFIRMITY BY MEANS OF HIS GIRDLE.
BUT though our man of God was thus secluded from mankind, yet he did not cease from working miracles and curing those who were sick. For a venerable handmaid of Christ, Elfled by name, who, amid the joys of virginity, devoted her motherly care and piety to several companies of Christ’s handmaids, and added to the lustre of her princely birth the brighter excellence of exalted virtue, was inspired with much love towards the holy man of God. About this time, as she afterwards told the reverend Herefrid, presbyter of the church of Lindisfarne, who related it to me, she was afflicted with a severe illness and suffered long, insomuch that she seemed almost at the gates of death. The physicians could do her no good, when, on a sudden, the Divine grace worked within her, and she by degrees was saved from death, though not fully cured. The pain in her inside left her, the strength of her limbs returned, but the power of standing and walking was still denied her; for she could not support herself on her feet, nor move from place to place, save on all fours. Her sorrow was, therefore, great; and she never expected to recover from her weakness, for she had long abandoned all hope from the physicians. One day, as she was indulging her bitter thoughts, she turned her mind to the holy and tranquil life of the reverend father Cuthbert; and expressed a wish that she had in her possession some article that had belonged to him; “for I know, and am confident,” said she, “that I should soon be well.” Not long after this, there came a person who brought with him a linen girdle from Saint Cuthbert: she was overjoyed at the gift, and perceiving that Heaven had revealed to the saint her wish, she put it on, and the next morning found herself able to stand upon her feet. On the third day she was restored to perfect health.
A few days after, one of the virgins of the same monastery was taken ill with a violent pain in the head; and whilst the complaint became so much worse that she thought she should die, the venerable abbess went in to see her. Seeing her sorely afflicted, she brought the girdle of the man of God to her, and bound it round her head. The same day the pain in the head left her, and she laid up the girdle in her chest. The abbess wanted it again a few days after, but it could not be found either in the chest or anywhere else. It was at once perceived that Divine Providence had so ordered it, that the sanctity of the man of God might be established by these two miracles, and all occasion of doubting thereof be removed from the incredulous. For if the girdle had remained, all those who were sick would have gone to it, and whilst some of them would be unworthy of being cured, its efficacy to cure might have been denied; whereas their own unworthiness would have been to blame. Wherefore, as I said before, Heaven so dealt forth its benevolence from on high, that when the faith of believers had been strengthened, all matter for detraction was forthwith removed from the malice of the unrighteous.
OF HIS PROPHECY IN ANSWER TO THE SAME ELFLED, CONCERNING THE LIFE OF KING EGFRID AND HIS OWN BISHOPRIC.
AT another time, the same Elfled, who was a most holy virgin, and mother of the virgins of Christ, sent for the man of God, adjuring him in the name of our Lord that she might be allowed to see him and to speak about certain things of importance. He therefore entered with the brethren into a ship, and went over to an island which is situated in the mouth of the river Coquet, from which it received its name. The island was also remarkable for the number of its monks. The abbess, who had requested him to meet her in this island, when she had enjoyed his conversation for some time, and the man of God had answered many questions that she put to him; on a sudden, in the midst of his conversation, she fell at his feet and adjured him, by the terrible and sacred name of our heavenly King and his angels, that he would tell her how long her brother Egfrid would live and govern the English nation. “For I know,” she said, “that you abound in the spirit of prophecy, and that, if you are willing, you are able to tell me even this.” But he, shuddering at the adjuration, and yet not being willing openly to reveal the secret which she had asked him, replied, “It is a wonderful thing that you, being a wise woman and skilled in sacred Scriptures, should call long the duration of human life: the Psalmist says, that ‘our years shall perish like a spider’s web,’ and Solomon advises, that if a man shall live many years, and shall have been prosperous in all of these, he ought to remember the gloomy time of many days, which when it shall come, the past is convicted of folly; how much more then ought that man, to whose life one year only is wanting, to be considered as having lived a short time when death stands at his door!”
On hearing these words she lamented the dreadful prophecy with many tears; but then having wiped her face, she with feminine boldness adjured him by the majesty of the Holy One, that he would tell her who would be the heir to the kingdom, seeing that Egfrid had neither sons nor brothers. After a short silence, he said, “Do not say that he is without heirs, for he shall have a successor, whom you shall embrace like Egfrid himself with the affection of a sister.”—“But,” said she, “I beseech you to tell me where he may be found.” He answered, “You behold this great and spacious sea, how it aboundeth in islands. It is easy for God out of some of these to provide a person to reign over England.” She therefore understood him to speak of Alfrid, who was said to be the son of her father, and was then, on account of his love of literature, exiled to the Scottish islands. But she was aware that Egfrid proposed to make him a bishop, and wishing to know if the effect would follow the intention, she began by inquiring in this manner: “Oh, with what various intentions are the hearts of men distracted! Some rejoice in having obtained riches, others always eager after them are still in want: but thou rejectest the glory of the world, although it is offered thee; and although thou mightest obtain a bishopric, than which there is nothing more sublime on earth, yet thou preferrest the recesses of thy desert to this rank.”—“But,” said he, “I know that I am not worthy of so high a rank; nevertheless, I cannot shun the judgment of the Supreme Ruler, who, if he decreed that I should subject myself to so great a burden, would, I believe, restore me after a moderate freedom, and perhaps after not more than two years would send me back to my former solitude and quiet. But I must first request you in the name of our Lord and Saviour that you do not relate to any one before my death the things which I have told you.” When he had expounded to her the various things which she asked, and had instructed her concerning the things which she had need of, he returned to his solitary island and monastery, and continued his mode of life as he had commenced it.
Not long after, in a full synod, Archbishop Theodore of blessed memory presiding in the presence of God’s chosen servant, the holy King Egfrid, he was unanimously elected to the bishopric of the see of Lindisfarne. But, although they sent many messengers and letters to him, he could not by any means be drawn from his habitation, until the king himself, above mentioned, sailed to the island, attended by the most holy Bishop Trumwine, and by as many other religious and influential men as he could: they all went down on their knees before him, and adjured him by the Lord, with tears and entreaties, until they drew him away from his retirement with tears in his eyes, and took him to the synod. When arrived there, although much resisting, he was overcome by the unanimous wish of all, and compelled to submit to undertake the duties of the bishopric; yet the ordination did not take place immediately, but at the termination of the winter which was then beginning. And that his prophecies might be fulfilled in all things, Egfrid was killed the year afterwards in battle with the Picts, and was succeeded on the throne by his illegitimate brother Alfrid, who, a few years before, had devoted himself to literature in Scotland, suffering a voluntary exile, to gratify his love of science.
HOW, WHEN ELECTED TO THE BISHOPRIC, HE CURED A SERVANT OF ONE OF THE KING’S ATTENDANTS BY MEANS OF HOLY WATER.
When Cuthbert, the man of God, after having been elected to the bishopric, had returned to his island, and for some time had served God in secret with his accustomed devotion, the venerable Bishop Eata called him and requested him to come to an interview with him at Melrose. The conversation being finished, and Cuthbert having commenced his journey homewards, a certain attendant of King Egfrid met him, and besought him that he would turn aside and give a benediction at his house. When he had arrived there, and had received the grateful salutations of all, the man pointed out to him one of his servants who was infirm, saying, “I thank God, most holy father, that you have thought worthy to enter our house to see us, and, indeed, we believe that your arrival will afford us the greatest profit both of mind and body. For there is one of our servants tormented with the worst infirmity, and is this day afflicted with such great pain that he appears more like a man dying than sick. For his extremities being dead, he seems only to breathe a little through his mouth and nostrils.” Cuthbert immediately blessed some water, and gave it to a servant whose name was Baldhelm, who is still alive and filling the office of presbyter in the bishopric of Lindisfarne, which he adorns by his good qualities. He also has the faculty of relating in the sweetest manner the virtues of the man of God to all who are desirous of knowing, and it was he that told me the miracle which I relate. The man of God, then, giving him the holy water, said, “Go and give it to the sick man to drink.” In obedience to these words he brought the water to the sick man, and when he poured it into his mouth the third time, the sick man, contrary to his usual custom, fell asleep. It was now evening, and he passed the night in silence, and in the morning appeared quite well when his master visited him.
OF HIS MANNER OF LIFE IN HIS BISHOPRIC.
THE venerable man of God, Cuthbert, adorned the office of bishop, which he had undertaken, by the exercise of many virtues, according to the precepts and examples of the Apostles. For he protected the people committed to his care with frequent prayers, and invited them to heavenly things by most wholesome admonitions, and followed that system which most facilitates teaching, by first doing himself what he taught to others. He saved the needy man from the hand of the stronger, and the poor and destitute from those who would oppress them. He comforted the weak and sorrowful; but he took care to recal those who were sinfully rejoicing to that sorrow which is according to godliness. Desiring still to exercise his usual frugality, he did not cease to observe the severity of a monastic life, amid the turmoil by which he was surrounded. He gave food to the hungry, raiment to the shivering, and his course was marked by all the other particulars which adorn the life of a pontiff. The miracles with which he shone forth to the world bore witness to the virtues of his own mind, some of which we have taken care briefly to hand down to memory.
HOW, THOUGH AT A DISTANCE, HE SAW IN SPIRIT THE DEATH OF KING EGFRID, AND THE END OF HIS WARFARE, WHICH HE HAD FORETOLD.
Now, when King Egfrid had rashly led his army against the Picts, and devastated their territories with most atrocious cruelty, the man of God, Cuthbert, knowing that the time was now come, concerning which he had prophesied the year before to his sister, that the king would live only one year more, came to Lugubalia (which is corruptly called by the English Luel) to speak to the queen, who was there awaiting the result of the war in her sister’s monastery. But the next day, when the citizens were leading him to see the walls of the town, and the remarkable fountain, formerly built by the Romans, suddenly, as he was resting on his staff, he was disturbed in spirit, and, turning his countenance sorrowfully to the earth, he raised himself, and, lifting his eyes to heaven, groaned loudly, and said in a low voice, “Now, then, the contest is decided!” The presbyter, who was standing near, in incautious haste answered, and said, “How do you know it?” But he, unwilling to declare more concerning those things which were revealed to him, said, “Do you not see how wonderfully the air is changed and disturbed? Who is able to investigate the judgments of the Almighty?” But he immediately entered in and spoke to the queen in private, for it was the Sabbath-day. “Take care,” said he, “that you get into your chariot very early on the second day of the week, for it is not lawful to ride in a chariot on the Lord’s day; and go quickly to the royal city, lest, perchance, the king may have been slain. But I have been asked to go to-morrow to a neighbouring monastery, to consecrate a church, and will follow you as soon as that duty is finished.”
But when the Lord’s day was come, whilst he was preaching the word of God to the brethren of the same monastery, the sermon being finished, he began again to teach his listening congregation, as follows:—“I beseech you, my beloved, according to the admonitions of the Apostle, to watch, remain stedfast in the faith, act manfully, and be comforted, that no temptation may find you unprepared, but rather that you may be always mindful of the precept of the Lord Himself, ‘Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.’ ” But some thought he said this because a pestilence had not long before afflicted them and many others with a great mortality, and that he spoke of this scourge being about to return. But he, resuming his discourse, said, “When I formerly lived alone in my island, some of the brethren came to me on the day of the Holy Nativity, and asked me to go out of my cabin and solemnize with them this joyful and hallowed day. Yielding to their prayers, I went out, and we sat down to feast. But, in the middle of the banquet, I suddenly said to them, ‘I beseech you, brethren, let us act cautiously and watchfully, lest, perchance, through carelessness and a sense of security, we be-led into temptation.’ But they answered, ‘We entreat you, let us spend a joyful day now, for it is the birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ!’ To which I agreed. Some time after this, when we were indulging ourselves in eating, merriment, and conversation, I again began to admonish them that we should be solicitous in prayer and watchfulness, and ever prepared to meet all temptations. But they replied, ‘You teach well; nevertheless, as the days of fasting, watching, and prayer are numerous, let us to-day rejoice in the Lord. For the angel manifested great joy to the shepherds when the Lord was born, and told them that it was a day to be celebrated by all people!’ ‘Well,’ said I, ‘let us do so.’ But when I repeated the words of the same admonition the third time, they perceived that I would not have suggested this so earnestly for no purpose, and said to me in fear, ‘Let us do as you teach, for it is incumbent on us to watch in spirit, armed against the snares and temptations of the devil.’ When I said these things, I did not know any more than they that any new temptation would happen to us; but I was only admonished, as it were instinctively, that the state of the heart is to be always fortified against the storms of temptations. But when they returned from me to their own home, that is, to the monastery of Lindisfarne, they found that one of their brethren was dead of a pestilence; and the same disease increased, and raged so furiously from day to day, for months, and almost for a whole year, that the greater part of that noble assembly of spiritual fathers and brethren were sent into the presence of the Lord. Now, therefore, my brethren, watch and pray, that if any tribulation assail you, it may find you prepared.”
When the venerable man of God, Cuthbert, had said these things, the brethren thought, as I have before stated, that he spoke of a return of the pestilence. But the day after, a man who had escaped from the war explained, by the lamentable news which he brought, the hidden prophecies of the man of God. It appeared that the guards had been slain, and the king cut off by the sword of the enemy, on the very day and hour in which it was revealed to the man of God as he was standing near the well.
HOW HE FORETOLD HIS OWN DEATH TO HEREBERT, THE HERMIT, AND BY PRAYERS TO GOD OBTAINED HIS ATTENDANCE.
Not very long afterwards, the same servant of God, Cuthbert, was summoned to the same city of Lugubalia, not only to consecrate priests, but also to bless the queen herself with his holy conversation. Now there was a venerable priest of the name of Herebert, who had long been united to the man of God, Cuthbert, in the bond of spiritual friendship, and who, leading a solitary life, in an island in the large marsh from which the Derwent rises, used to come to him every year, and receive from him admonitions in the way of eternal life. When this man heard that he was stopping in that city, he came according to his custom, desiring to be kindled up more and more by his wholesome exhortations in aspiring after heavenly things. When these two had drunk deeply of the cup of celestial wisdom, Cuthbert said, among other things, “Remember, brother Herebert, that you ask me now concerning whatever undertaking you may have in hand, and that you speak to me about it now, because, after we shall have separated, we shall see each other no more in this life. I am certain that the time of my death approaches, and the time of leaving my earthly tenement is at hand.” Upon hearing these words, he threw himself at his feet with tears and lamentations, saying, “I beseech you by the Lord not to leave me, but be mindful of your companion, and pray the Almighty Goodness that, as we have served Him together on earth, we may at the same time pass to heaven to see his light. For I have always sought to live according to the command of your mouth; and what I have left undone through ignorance or frailty, I have equally taken care to correct, according to your pleasure.” The bishop yielded to his prayers, and immediately learnt in spirit, that he had obtained that which he had sought from the Lord. “Arise, my brother,” says he, “and do not lament, but rejoice in gladness, for his great mercy has granted us that which we asked of Him.” The event confirmed his promise and the truth of the prophecy; for they never met again, but their souls departed from their bodies at one and the same moment of time, and were joined together in a heavenly vision, and translated at the same time by angels to the heavenly kingdom. But Herebert was first afflicted with a long infirmity, perhaps by a dispensation of holy piety, in order that the continual pain of a long sickness might supply what merit he had less than the blessed Cuthbert, so that being by grace made equal to his intercessor, he might be rendered worthy to depart this life at one and the same hour with him, and to be received into one and the same seat of everlasting happiness.
HOW, THROUGH HIS PRIEST, HE CURED THE WIFE OF AN EARL WITH HOLY WATER.
When he was one day going round his parish to give spiritual admonitions throughout the rural districts, cottages, and villages, and to lay his hand on all the lately baptized, that they might receive the Holy Spirit, he came to the mansion of a certain earl, whose wife lay sick almost unto death. The earl himself, meeting him as he entered, thanked the Lord on his knees for his arrival, and received him with kind hospitality. When his feet and hands were washed, according to the custom of hospitality, and the bishop had sat down, the man began to tell him about the sickness of his wife, who was despaired of, and besought him to consecrate some water to sprinkle on her. “I believe,” said he, “that by-and-by she will either, by the grace of God, be restored to health, or else she will pass by death to life eternal, and soon receive a recompense for so heavy and long-continued trouble.” The man of God assented to his prayers, and having blessed the water which was brought to him, gave it to the priest, directing him to sprinkle it on the patient. He entered the bedroom in which she lay, as if dead, and sprinkled her and the bed, and poured some of the healing draught down her throat. Oh, wonderful and extraordinary circumstance! the holy water had scarcely touched the patient, who was wholly ignorant what was brought her, than she was so restored to health, both of mind and body, that being come to her senses she blessed the Lord and returned thanks to Him, that He thought her worthy to be visited and healed by such exalted guests. She got up without delay, and being now well, ministered to those who had been instrumental in curing her; and it was extraordinary to see her, who had escaped the bitter cup of death by the bishop’s benediction, now the first of the nobleman’s family to offer him refreshment, following the example of the mother-in-law of the Apostle Peter, who, being cured of a fever by the Lord, arose forthwith and ministered unto Him and his disciples.
HOW HE CURED A GIRL OF A PAIN IN THE HEAD AND SIDE BY ANOINTING HER WITH OIL.
But the venerable Bishop Cuthbert effected a cure similar to this, of which there were many eye-witnesses, one of whom is the religious priest, Ethelwald, at that time attendant on the man of God, but now abbot of the monastery of Melrose. Whilst, according to his custom, he was travelling and teaching all, he arrived at a certain village, in which were a few holy women, who had fled from their monastery through fear of the barbarian army, and had there obtained a habitation from the man of God a short time before: one of whom, a sister of the above-mentioned priest, Ethelwald, was confined with a most grievous sickness; for during a whole year she had been troubled with an intolerable pain in the head and side, which the physicians utterly despaired of curing. But when they told the man of God about her, and entreated him to cure her, he in pity anointed the wretched woman with holy oil. From that time she began to get better, and was well in a few days.
HOW HE CURED AN INFIRM MAN BY CONSECRATED BREAD.
I MUST not here pass over a miracle which was told to me as having been worked by his holiness, though he himself was absent. We mentioned a prefect of the name of Hildemer, whose wife the man of God freed from an unclean spirit. The same prefect afterwards fell seriously ill, so that his malady daily increased, and he was confined to his bed, apparently near death. Many of his friends were present who had come to console him in his sickness. Whilst they were sitting by the bedside, one of them mentioned that he had with him some consecrated bread which Cuthbert had given him: “And I think,” said he, “that if we were in faith to give him this to eat, nothing doubting, he would be well.” All present were laymen, but at the same time very pious men, and turning to one another, they professed their faith, without doubting, that by partaking of that same consecrated bread he might be well. They therefore filled a cup with water, and putting a little of the bread into it, gave it him to drink: the water thus hallowed by the bread no sooner touched his stomach than all his inward pain left him, and the wasting of his outward members ceased. A perfect recovery speedily ensued, and both himself and the others who saw or heard the rapidity of this wonderful cure were thereby stirred up to praise the holiness of Christ’s servant, and to admire the virtues of his true faith.
HOW, BY PRAYER, HE RESTORED TO LIFE A YOUNG MAN WHOM HE FOUND AT THE POINT OF DEATH ON A JOURNEY.
AS this holy shepherd of Christ’s flock was going round visiting his folds, he came to a mountainous and wild place, where many people had got together from all the adjoining villages, that he might lay his hands upon them. But among the mountains no fit church or place could be found to receive the bishop and his attendants. They therefore pitched tents for him in the road, and each cut branches from the trees in the neighbouring wood to make for himself the best sort of covering that he was able. Two days did the man of God preach to the assembled crowds; and minister the grace of the Holy Spirit by imposition of hands upon those that were regenerate in Christ; when, on a sudden, there appeared some women bearing on a bed a young man, wasted by severe illness, and having placed him down at the outlet of the wood, sent to the bishop, requesting permission to bring him, that he might receive a blessing from the holy man. When he was brought near, the bishop perceived that his sufferings were great, and ordered all to retire to a distance. He then betook himself to his usual weapon, prayer, and bestowing his blessing, expelled the fever, which all the care and medicines of the physicians had not been able to cure. In short, he rose up the same hour, and having refreshed himself with food, and given thanks to God, walked back to the women who had brought him. And so it came to pass, that whereas they had in sorrow brought the sick man thither, he now returned home with them, safe and well, and all rejoicing, both he and they alike.
HOW, AT A TIME OF SICKNESS, HE RESTORED A DYING BOY IN HEALTH TO HIS MOTHER.
At the same time the plague made great ravages in those parts, so that there were scarcely any inhabitants left in villages and places which had been thickly populated, and some towns were wholly deserted. The holy father Cuthbert, therefore, went round his parish, most assiduously ministering the word of God, and comforting those few who were left. But being arrived at a certain village, and having there exhorted all whom he found there, he said to his attendant priest, “Do you think that any one remains who has need that we should visit and converse with him? or have we now seen all here, and shall we go elsewhere?” The priest looked about, and saw a woman standing afar off, one of whose sons had died but a little time before, and she was now supporting another at the point of death, whilst the tears trickling down her cheek bore witness to her past and present affliction. He pointed her out to the man of God, who immediately went to her, and, blessing the boy, kissed him, and said to his mother, “Do not fear nor be sorrowful; for your child shall be healed and live, and no one else of your household shall die of this pestilence.” To the truth of which prophecy the mother and son, who lived a long time after that, bore witness.
HOW HE SAW THE SOUL OF A MAN, WHO HAD BEEN KILLED BY FALLING FROM A TREE, ASCEND TO HEAVEN.
BUT now this man of God, foreseeing his end approaching, had determined to lay aside the duties of his pastoral office, and return to his former solitary life, that by shaking off the cares of this life he might occupy himself amidst unrestrained psalmody and prayer in preparing for the day of his death, or rather of his entrance into everlasting life. He wished first to go round his parishes, and visit the houses of the faithful in his neighbourhood; and then, when he had confirmed all with such consolatory admonitions as should be required, to return to the solitary abode which he so longed after. Meanwhile, at the request of the noble and holy virgin, the Abbess Elfleda, of whom I have before made mention, he entered the estate belonging to her monastery, both to speak to her and also to consecrate a church therein; for there was there a considerable number of monks. When they had taken their seats, at the hour of repast, on a sudden Cuthbert turned away his thoughts from the carnal food to the contemplation of heavenly things. His limbs being much fatigued by his previous duties, the colour of his face changed, his eyes became unusually fixed, and the knife dropped from his hands upon the table. The priest, who stood by and ministered to him, perceiving this, said to the abbess, “Ask the bishop what he has just seen: for I know there was some reason for his hand thus trembling and letting fall the knife, whilst his countenance also changed so wonderfully: he has surely seen something which we have not seen.” She immediately turned to him and said, “I pray you, my lord bishop, tell me what you have just seen, for your tired hand did not let fall the knife just now without some cause.” The bishop endeavoured to conceal the fact of his having seen any thing supernatural, and replied in joke, “I was not able to eat the whole day, was I? I must have left off some time or other.” But, when she persisted in her entreaty that he would tell the vision, he said, “I saw the soul of a holy man carried up to heaven in the arms of angels.”—“From what place,” said she, “was it taken?”—“From your monastery,” replied the bishop; upon which she further asked his name. “You will tell it me,” said he, “to-morrow, when I am celebrating mass.” On hearing these words, she immediately sent to the larger monastery to inquire who had been lately removed from the body. The messenger, finding all safe and well, was preparing to return in the morning to his mistress, when he met some men carrying in a cart the body of a deceased brother to be buried. On inquiring who it was, he found that it was one of the shepherds, a worthy man, who, having incautiously mounted a tree, had fallen down, and died from the bruise, at the same time that the man of God had seen the vision. He immediately went and told the circumstance to his mistress, who went forthwith to the bishop, at that time consecrating the church, and in amazement, as if she were going to tell him something new and doubtful, “I pray,” said she, “my lord bishop, remember in the mass my servant Hadwald,” (for that was his name,) “who died yesterday by falling from a tree.” It was then plain to all that the holy man possessed in his mind an abundant spirit of prophecy; for that he saw before his eyes at the moment the man’s soul carried to heaven, and knew beforehand what was afterwards going to be told him by others.
HOW HE CHANGED WATER BY TASTING IT, SO THAT IT HAD THE FLAVOUR OF WINE.
When he had gone regularly through the upper districts, he came to a nunnery, which we have before mentioned, not far from the mouth of the river Tyne; where he was magnificently entertained by Christ’s servant, Abbess Verca,—a woman of a most noble character, both in spiritual and temporal concerns. When they rose from their afternoon repose, he said he was thirsty, and asked for drink. They inquired of him what he would have, whether they should bring him wine, or beer. “Give me water,” said he; and they brought him a draught from the fountain. But he, when he had given thanks and tasted it, gave it to his attendant priest, who returned it to the servant. The man, taking the cup, asked if he might drink out of the same cup as the bishop. “Certainly,” said the priest, “why not?” Now that priest also belonged to the same monastery. He therefore drank, and the water seemed to him to taste like wine. Upon which he gave the cup to the brother who was standing near, that he might be a witness of so great a miracle; and to him also the taste seemed, without a doubt, to be that of wine. They looked at one another in amazement; and when they found time to speak, they acknowledged to one another that they had never tasted better wine. I give this on the authority of one of them, who stopped some time in our monastery at Weremouth, and now lies buried there.
HOW SOME OF THE BRETHREN, FOR DISOBEDIENCE TO HIM, WERE DETAINED BY A STORM AT SEA.
When Cuthbert had passed two years in the episcopal office, knowing in spirit that his last day was at hand, he divested himself of his episcopal duties and returned to his much-loved solitude, that he might there occupy his time in extracting the thorns of the flesh, and kindle up to greater brightness the flame of his former humility. At this time he was accustomed to go out frequently from his cell, and converse with the brethren, who came to visit him. I will here mention a miracle which he then wrought, in order that it may be more evident to all men what obedience should be rendered to his saints, even in the case of commands which they seem to have given with carelessness or indifference. He had one day left his cell, to give advice to some visitors; and when he had finished, he said to them, “I must now go in again; but do you, as you are inclined to depart, first take food; and when you have cooked and eaten that goose, which is hanging on the wall, go on board your vessel in God’s name, and return home.” He then uttered a prayer, and, having blessed them, went in. But they, as he had bidden them, took some food; but having enough provisions of their own, which they had brought with them, they did not touch the goose.
Now when they had refreshed themselves, they tried to go on board their vessel, but a sudden storm utterly prevented them from putting to sea. They were thus detained seven days in the island by the roughness of the waves, and yet they could not call to mind what fault they had committed. They therefore returned to have an interview with the holy father, and to lament to him their detention. He exhorted them to be patient, and on the seventh day came out to console their sorrow, and give them pious exhortations. When, however, he had entered the house in which they were stopping, and saw that the goose was not eaten, he reproved their disobedience with mild countenance and in gentle language. “Have you not left the goose still hanging in its place? What wonder is it that the storm has prevented your departure? Put it immediately into the caldron, and boil and eat it, that the sea may become tranquil, and you may return home.”
They immediately did as he had commanded; and it happened most wonderfully that the moment the kettle began to boil, the wind began to cease, and the waves to be still. Having finished their repast, and seeing that the sea was calm, they went on board, and, to their great delight, though with shame for their neglect, reached home with a fair wind. Their shame arose from their disobedience and dulness of comprehension, whereby, amid the chastening of their Maker, they were unable to perceive and to correct their error. They rejoiced, because they now saw what care God had for his faithful servant, so as to vindicate him from neglect, even by means of the elements. They rejoiced, too, that the Lord should have had so much regard to themselves, as to correct their offences even by an open miracle. Now this, which I have related, I did not pick up from any chance authority, but I had it from one of those who were present,—a most reverend monk and priest of the same monastery, Cynemund, who still lives, known to many in the neighbourhood for his years and the purity of his life.
OF THE TEMPTATIONS WHICH HE UNDERWENT IN HIS SICKNESS, AND HIS ORDERS CONCERNING HIS BURIAL.
THE solemn day of the nativity of our Lord was scarcely over, when the man of God, Cuthbert, returned to his dwelling on the island. A crowd of monks were standing by as he entered into the ship; and one of them, an old and venerable monk, strong in faith but weak in body, in consequence of a dysentery, said to him, “Tell us, my lord bishop, when we may hope for your return.” To this plain question, he replied as plainly, “When you shall bring my body back here.” When he had passed about two months in the enjoyment of his rest, and had as usual subdued both his body and mind with his accustomed severity, he was suddenly seized with illness, and began to prepare for the joy of everlasting happiness, through pain and temporal affliction. I will describe his death in the words of him who related it to me, namely, his attendant priest Herefrid, a most religious man, who also at that time presided over the monastery of Lindisfarne, in the capacity of abbot.
“He was brought to the point of death,” said he, “after having been weakened by three weeks of continued suffering. For he was taken ill on the fourth day of the week; and again on the fourth day of the week his pains were over, and he departed to the Lord. But when I came to him on the first morning after his illness began—(for I had also arrived at the island with the brethren three days before)—in my desire to obtain his blessing and advice as usual, I gave the customary signal of my coming, and he came to the window, and replied to my salutation with a sigh. ‘My lord bishop,’ said I, ‘what is the matter with you? Has your indisposition come upon you this last night?’—‘Yes,’ said he, ‘indisposition has come upon me.’ I thought that he was speaking of an old complaint, which vexed him almost every day, and not of a new malady; so, without making any more inquiries, I said to him, ‘Give us your blessing, for it is time to put to sea and return home.’—‘Do so,’ replied he; ‘go on board, and return home in safety. But, when the Lord shall have taken my spirit, bury me in this house, near my oratory, towards the south, over-against the eastern side of the holy cross, which I have erected there. Towards the north side of that same oratory is a sarcophagus under the turf, which the venerable Abbot Cudda formerly gave me. You will place my body therein, wrapping it in linen, which you will find in it. I would not wear it whilst I was alive, but for the love of that highly favoured woman, who sent it to me, the Abbess Verca, I have preserved it to wrap my corpse in.’ On hearing these words, I replied, ‘I beseech you, father, as you are weak, and talk of the probability of your dying, to let some of the brethren remain here to wait on you.’—‘Go home now,’ said he; ‘but return at the proper time.’ So I was unable to prevail upon him, notwithstanding the urgency of my entreaties; and at last I asked him when we should return to him. ‘When God so wills it,’ said he, ‘and when He Himself shall direct you.’ We did as he commanded us; and having assembled the brethren immediately in the church, I had prayers offered up for him without intermission; ‘for,’ said I, ‘it seems to me, from some words which he spoke, that the day is approaching on which he will depart to the Lord.’
“I was anxious about returning to him on account of his illness, but the weather prevented us for five days; and it was ordered so by God, as the event showed. For God Almighty, wishing to cleanse his servant from every stain of earthly weakness, and to show his adversaries how weak they were against the strength of his faith, kept him aloof from men, and put him to the proof by pains of the flesh, and still more violent encounters with the ancient enemy. At length there was a calm, and we went to the island, and found him away from his cell in the house where we were accustomed to reside. The brethren who came with me had some occasion to go back to the neighbouring shore, so that I was left alone on the island to minister to the holy father. I warmed some water and washed his feet, which had an ulcer from a long swelling, and, from the quantity of blood that came from it, required to be attended to. I also warmed some wine which I had brought, and begged him to taste it; for I saw by his face that he was worn out with pain and want of food. When I had finished my service, he sat down quietly on the couch, and I sat down by his side.
“Seeing that he kept silence, I said, ‘I see, my lord bishop, that you have suffered much from your complaint since we left you, and I marvel that you were so unwilling for us, when we departed, to send you some of our number to wait upon you.’ He replied, ‘It was done by the providence and the will of God, that I might be left without any society or aid of man, and suffer somewhat of affliction. For when you were gone, my languor began to increase, so that I left my cell and came hither to meet any one who might be on his way to see me, that he might not have the trouble of going further. Now, from the moment of my coming until the present time, during a space of five days and five nights, I have sat here without moving.’—‘And how have you supported life, my lord bishop?’ asked I; ‘have you remained so long without taking food?’ Upon which, turning up the couch on which he was sitting, he showed me five onions concealed therein, saying, ‘This has been my food for five days; for, whenever my mouth became dry and parched with thirst, I cooled and refreshed myself by tasting these;’—now one of the onions appeared to have been a little gnawed, but certainly not more than half of it was eaten;—‘and,’ continued he, ‘my enemies have never persecuted me so much during my whole stay in the island, as they have done during these last five days.’ I was not bold enough to ask what kinds of persecutions he had suffered: I only asked him to have some one to wait upon him. He consented, and kept some of us with him; amongst whom was the priest Bede the elder, who had always been used to familiar attendance upon him. This man was consequently a most faithful witness of every thing which he gave or received, whom Cuthbert wished to keep with him, to remind him if he did not make proper compensation for any presents which he might receive, that before he died he might render to every one his own. He kept also another of the brethren with him, who had long suffered from a violent diarrhœa, and could not be cured by the physicians; but, for his religious merit, and prudent conduct, and grave demeanour, was thought worthy to hear the last words of the man of God, and to witness his departure to the Lord.
“Meanwhile I returned home, and told the brethren that the holy father wished to be buried in his own island; and I added my opinion, that it would be more proper and becoming to obtain his consent for his body to be transported from the island, and buried in the monastery with the usual honours. My words pleased them, and we went to the bishop, and asked him, saying, ‘We have not dared, my lord bishop, to despise your injunction to be buried here, and yet we have thought proper to request of you permission to transport your body over to the monastery, and so have you amongst us.’ To which he replied, ‘It was also my wish to repose here, where I have fought my humble battles for the Lord, where, too, I wish to finish my course, and whence I hope to be lifted up by a righteous Judge to obtain the crown of righteousness. But I think it better for you, also, that I should repose here, on account of the fugitives and criminals who may flee to my corpse for refuge; and when they have thus obtained an asylum, inasmuch as I have enjoyed the fame, humble though I am, of being a servant of Christ, you may think it necessary to intercede for such before the secular rulers, and so you may have trouble on my account.’ When, however, we urged him with many entreaties, and asserted that such labour would be agreeable and easy to us, the man of God at length, after some deliberation, spoke thus:—‘Since you wish to overcome my scruples, and to carry my body amongst you, it seems to me to be the best plan to bury it in the inmost parts of the church, that you may be able to visit my tomb yourselves, and to control the visits of all other persons.’ We thanked him on our bended knees for this permission, and for his advice; and returning home, did not cease to pay him frequent visits.
HOW, DURING HIS ILLNESS, HE CURED ONE OF HIS ATTENDANTS OF A DIARRHŒA.
“His malady now began to grow upon him, and we thought that the time of his dissolution was at hand. He bade his attendants carry him to his cell and oratory. It was the third hour of the day. We therefore carried him thither, for he was too feeble to walk himself. When we reached the door, we asked him to let one of us go in with him, to wait upon him; for no one had ever entered therein but himself. He cast his eyes round on all, and, fixing them on the sick brother above mentioned, said, ‘Walstod shall go in with me.’ Now Walstod was the man’s name. He went in accordingly, and stayed till the ninth hour: when he came out, and said to me, ‘The bishop wishes you to go in unto him; but I have a most wonderful thing to tell you: from the moment of my touching the bishop, when I supported him into the oratory, I have been entirely free from my old complaint.’ No doubt this was brought about by the effect of his heavenly piety, that, whereas in his time of health and strength he had healed many, he should now heal this man, when he was himself at the point of death, that so there might be a standing proof how strong the holy man was in spirit, though his body was at the lowest degree of weakness. In this cure he followed the example of the holy and reverend father and bishop, Aurelius Augustine, who, when weighed down by the illness of which he died, and lying on his couch, was entreated by a man to lay his hand on a sick person whom he had brought to him, that so he might be made well. To which Augustine replied, ‘If I had such power, I should first have practised it towards myself.’ The sick man answered, ‘I have been commanded to come to you: for some one said to me in a dream, Go to Bishop Augustine, and let him place his hand upon you, and you shall be well.’ On hearing this, Augustine placed his hand upon him, gave him his blessing, and sent him home perfectly recovered.
OF HIS LAST INSTRUCTIONS TO THE BRETHREN; AND HOW, WHEN HE HAD RECEIVED THE VIATICUM, HE YIELDED UP HIS SOUL IN PRAYER.
“I went in to him about the ninth hour of the day, and found him lying in one corner of his oratory before the altar. I took my seat by his side, but he spoke very little, for the weight of his suffering prevented him from speaking much. But when I earnestly asked him what last discourse and valedictory salutation he would bequeath to the brethren, he began to make a few strong admonitions respecting peace and humility, and told me to beware of those persons who strove against these virtues, and would not practise them. ‘Have peace,’ said he, ‘and Divine charity ever amongst you: and when you are called upon to deliberate on your condition, see that you be unanimous in council. Let concord be mutual between you and other servants of Christ; and do not despise others who belong to the faith and come to you for hospitality, but admit them familiarly and kindly; and when you have entertained them, speed them on their journey: by no means esteeming yourselves better than the rest of those who partake of the same faith and mode of life. But have no communion with those who err from the unity of the Catholic faith, either by keeping Easter at an improper time, or by their perverse life. And know and remember, that, if of two evils you are compelled to choose one, I would rather that you should take up my bones, and leave these places, to reside wherever God may send you, than consent in any way to the wickedness of schismatics, and so place a yoke upon your necks. Study diligently, and carefully observe the Catholic rules of the Fathers, and practise with zeal those institutes of the monastic life which it has pleased God to deliver to you through my ministry. For I know, that, although during my life some have despised me, yet after my death you will see what sort of man I was, and that my doctrine was by no means worthy of contempt.’
“These words, and such as these, the man of God delivered to us at intervals, for, as we before said, the violence of his complaint had taken from him the power of speaking much at once. He then spent the rest of the day until the evening in the expectation of future happiness; to which he added this also, that he spent the night in watchfulness and prayer. When his hour of evening-service was come, he received from me the blessed sacrament, and thus strengthened himself for his departure, which he now knew to be at hand, by partaking of the body and blood of Christ; and when he had lifted up his eyes to heaven, and stretched out his hands above him, his soul, intent upon heavenly praises, sped his way to the joys of the heavenly kingdom.
HOW, ACCORDING TO THE PREVIOUS WARNING OF THE PSALM WHICH THEY SANG AT HIS DEATH, THE BRETHREN OF LINDISFARNE WERE ASSAILED FROM WITHOUT, BUT BY THE HELP OF GOD WERE PROTECTED.
“I immediately went out, and told the brethren, who had passed the whole night in watchfulness and prayer, and chanced at that moment in the order of evening-service to be singing the 59th Psalm, which begins, ‘O Lord, thou hast rejected us and destroyed us; thou hast been angry, and hast pitied us.’ One of them instantly lighted two candles, and, holding one in each hand, ascended a lofty spot, to show to the brethren who were in the monastery of Lindisfarne, that the holy man was dead; for they had agreed beforehand that such a signal should be made. The brother, who had waited an hour on an opposite height in the island of Lindisfarne, ran with speed to the monastery, where the brethren were assembled to perform the usual ceremonies of the evening-service, and happened to be singing the above-named Psalm when the messenger entered. This was a Divine dispensation, as the event showed. For, when the man of God was buried, the Church was assailed by such a blast of temptation, that several of the brethren left the place rather than be involved in such dangers.
“At the end of a year, Eadbert was ordained bishop. He was a man of great virtues, learned in the Holy Scripture, and in particular given to works of charity. If I may use the words of Scripture, The Lord built up Jerusalem, i. e. the vision of peace, and gathered together the dispersion of Israel. He healed those who were contrite in heart, and bound up their bruises, so that it was then given openly to understand the meaning of the hymn which was then for the first time sung, when the death of the sainted man was known; namely, that after his death his countrymen should be exposed to be repulsed and destroyed, but after a demonstration of his threatening anger should again be protected by the Divine mercy. He who considers the sequel also of the above-named Psalm will perceive that the event corresponded to its meaning. The body of the venerable father was placed on board a ship, and carried to the island of Lindisfarne. It was there met by a large crowd of persons singing psalms, and placed in the church of the holy Apostle Peter, in a stone coffin on the right-hand side of the altar.”
HOW A BOY, WHO WAS POSSESSED BY A DEVIL, WAS CURED BY SOME DIRT, FROM THE PLACE WHERE THE WATER IN WHICH HIS CORPSE HAD BEEN WASHED HAD BEEN THROWN.
But even when the servant of Christ was dead and buried, the miracles which he worked whilst alive did not cease. For a certain boy, in the territory of Lindisfarne, was vexed so terribly by an evil spirit, that he altogether lost his reason, and shouted and cried aloud, and tried to tear in pieces with his teeth his own limbs, or whatever came in his way. A priest from the monastery was sent to the sufferer; but, though he had been accustomed to exorcise and expel evil spirits, yet in this case he could not prevail: he therefore advised the lad’s father to put him into a cart and drive him to the monastery, and to pray to God in his behalf before the relics of the holy saints which are there. The father did as he was advised; but the holy saints, to show how high a place Cuthbert occupied amongst them, refused to bestow on him the benefit desired. The mad boy, therefore, by howling, groaning, and gnashing his teeth, filled the eyes and ears of all who were there with horror, and no one could think of any remedy; when, behold, one of the priests, being taught in spirit that by the aid of the holy father Cuthbert he might be cured, went privately to the place where he knew the water had been thrown, in which his dead body had been washed; and taking from thence a small portion of the dirt, he mixed it with some water, and carrying it to the sufferer, poured it into his open mouth, from which he was uttering the most horrible and lamentable cries. He instantly held his tongue, closed his mouth, and shutting his eyes also, which before were bloodshot and staring hideously, he fell back into a profound sleep. In this state he passed the night; and in the morning, rising up from his slumber, free from his madness, he found himself also, by the merits and intercession of the blessed Cuthbert, free from the evil spirit by which he had been afflicted. It was a marvellous sight, and delectable to all good men, to see the son sound in mind accompany his father to the holy places, and give thanks for the aid of the saints; although the day before, from the extremity of his madness, he did not know who or where he was. When, in the midst of the whole body of the brethren looking on and congratulating him, he had on his knees offered up before the relics of the martyrs praise to the Lord God and our Saviour Jesus Christ, he returned to his home, freed from the harassing of the foe, and confirmed in the faith which he before professed. They show to this day the pit into which that memorable water was thrown, of a square shape, surrounded with wood, and filled with little stones. It is near the church in which his body reposes, on the south side. From that time God permitted many other cures to be wrought by means of those same stones, and the dirt from the same place.
HOW HIS BODY AFTER NINE YEARS WAS FOUND UNDECAYED.
Now Divine Providence, wishing to show to what glory this holy man was exalted after death, who even before death had been distinguished by so many signs and miracles, inspired the minds of the brethren with a wish to remove his bones, which they expected to find dry and free from his decayed flesh, and to put them in a small coffer, on the same spot, above the ground, as objects of veneration to the people. This wish they communicated to the holy Bishop Eadbert about the middle of Quadragesima; and he ordered them to execute this on the 20th of April, which was the anniversary of the day of his burial. They accordingly did so; and opening the tomb, found his body entire, as if he were still alive, and his joints were still flexible, as if he were not dead, but sleeping. His clothes, also, were still undecayed, and seemed to retain their original freshness and colour. When the brethren saw this, they were so astonished, that they could scarcely speak, or look on the miracle which lay before them, and they hardly knew what they were doing.
As a proof of the uncorrupted state of the clothes, they took a portion of them from one of the extremities,—for they did not dare to take any from the body itself,—and hastened to tell what they had found to the bishop, who was then walking alone at a spot remote from the monastery, and closed in by the flowing waves of the sea. Here it was his custom to pass the Quadragesima; and here he occupied himself forty days before the birthday of our Lord in the utmost devotion, accompanied with abstinence, prayer, and tears. Here, also, his venerable predecessor, Cuthbert, before he went to Farne, as we have related, spent a portion of his spiritual warfare in the service of the Lord. The brethren brought with them, also, the piece of cloth in which the body of the saint had been wrapped. The bishop thanked them for the gift, and heard their report with eagerness, and with great earnestness kissed the cloth as if it were still on the saint’s body. “Fold up the body,” said he, “in new cloth instead of this, and place it in the chest which you have prepared. But I know of a certainty that the place which has been consecrated by the virtue of this heavenly miracle will not long remain empty; and happy is he to whom the Lord, who is the giver of true happiness, shall grant to rest therein.” To these words he added what I have elsewhere expressed in verse, and said,—
When the bishop had said much more to this effect, with many tears and much contrition, the brethren did as he ordered them; and having folded up the body in some new cloth, and placed it in a chest, laid it on the pavement of the sanctuary.
HOW THE BODY OF BISHOP EADBERT WAS LAID IN THE GRAVE OF THE MAN OF GOD, AND THE COFFIN OF THAT SAINT PLACED UPON IT.
Meanwhile, God’s chosen servant, Bishop Eadbert, was seized by an illness, which daily grew more and more violent, so that not long after, that is, on the sixth of May, he also departed to the Lord. It was an especial mercy granted to his earnest prayers, that he left this life by a gradual, and not a sudden death. His body was placed in the grave of the blessed father Cuthbert, and upon it they placed the coffin in which the body of that saint lay. And to this day miracles are there wrought, if the faith of those who seek them admit of it. Even the clothes which had covered his blessed body, whether dead or alive, still possess a healing power.
HOW A SICK MAN WAS CURED AT HIS TOMB BY PRAYER.
Lastly, there came from foreign parts a certain priest of the reverend and holy Wilbrord Clement, bishop of the Fresons, who, whilst he was stopping at the monastery, fell into a severe illness, which lasted so long, that his life was despaired of. Overcome with pain, he seemed unable either to live or die, until, thinking on a happy plan, he said to his attendant, “Lead me, I beg of you, to-day after mass,” (for it was Sunday,) “to the body of the holy man of God, to pray: I hope his intercession may save me from these torments, so that I may either return whole to this life, or die, and go to that which is everlasting.” His attendant did as he had asked him, and with much trouble led him, leaning on a staff, into the church. He there bent his knees at the tomb of the holy father, and, with his head stooping towards the ground, prayed for his recovery; when, suddenly, he felt in all his limbs such an accession of strength from the incorruptible body of the saint, that he rose up from prayer without trouble, and returned to the guests’ chamber without the assistance of the conductor who had led him, or the staff on which he had leaned. A few days afterwards he proceeded in perfect health upon his intended journey.
HOW A PARALYTIC WAS HEALED BY MEANS OF HIS SHOES.
There was a young man in a monastery not far off, who had lost the use of all his limbs by a weakness which the Greeks call paralysis. His abbot, knowing that there were skilful physicians in the monastery of Lindisfarne, sent him thither with a request that, if possible, he might be healed. The brethren, at the instance of their own abbot and bishop also, attended to him with the utmost care, and used all their skill in medicine, but without effect, for the malady increased daily, insomuch that, save his mouth, he could hardly move a single limb. Being thus given over by all worldly physicians, he had recourse to Him who is in heaven, who, when He is sought out in truth, is kind towards all our iniquities, and heals all our sicknesses. The poor man begged of his attendant to bring him something which had come from the incorruptible body of the holy man; for he believed that by means thereof he might, with the blessing of God, return to health. The attendant, having first consulted the abbot, brought the shoes which the man of God had worn in the tomb, and having stripped the poor man’s feet naked, put them upon him; for it was in his feet that the palsy had first attacked him. This he did at the beginning of the night, when bedtime was drawing near. A deep sleep immediately came over him; and as the stillness of night advanced, the man felt a palpitation in his feet alternately, so that the attendants, who were awake and looking on, perceived that the virtue of the holy man’s relics was beginning to exert its power, and that the desired restoration of health would ascend upwards from the feet. As soon as the monastery bell struck the hour of midnight prayer, the invalid himself was awakened by the sound and sat up. He found his nerves and the joints of his limbs suddenly endowed with inward strength: his pains were gone; and perceiving that he was cured, he arose, and in a standing posture spent the whole time of the midnight or matin song in thanksgiving to God. In the morning he went to the cathedral, and in the sight of all the congratulating brethren he went round all the sacred places, offering up prayers and the sacrifice of praise to his Saviour. Thus it came to pass, that, by a most wonderful vicissitude of things, he, who had been carried thither weak and borne upon a cart, returned home sound in his own strength, and with all his limbs strengthened and confirmed. Wherefore it is profitable to bear in mind that this change was the work of the right hand of the Most High, whose mighty miracles never cease from the beginning of the world to show themselves forth to mankind.
HOW THE HERMIT FELGELD WAS CURED OF A SWELLING IN THE FACE BY MEANS OF THE COVERING OF THE WALL OF THE MAN OF GOD’S HOUSE.
Nor do I think I ought to omit the heavenly miracle which the Divine mercy showed by means of the ruins of the holy oratory, in which the venerable father went through his solitary warfare in the service of the Lord. Whether it was effected by the merits of the same blessed father Cuthbert, or his successor Ethelwald, a man equally devoted to the Lord, the Searcher of the heart knows best. There is no reason why it may not be attributed to either of the two, in conjunction with the faith of the most holy father Felgeld; through whom and in whom the miraculous cure, which I mention, was effected. He was the third person who became tenant of the same place and its spiritual warfare, and, at present more than seventy years old, is awaiting the end of this life, in expectation of the heavenly one.
When, therefore, God’s servant Cuthbert had been translated to the heavenly kingdom, and Ethelwald had commenced his occupation of the same island and monastery, after many years spent in conversation with the monks, he gradually aspired to the rank of anachoritish perfection. The walls of the aforesaid oratory, being composed of planks somewhat carelessly put together, had become loose and tottering by age, and, as the planks separated from one another, an opening was afforded to the weather. The venerable man, whose aim was rather the splendour of the heavenly than of an earthly mansion, having taken hay, or clay, or whatever he could get, had filled up the crevices, that he might not be disturbed from the earnestness of his prayers by the daily violence of the winds and storms. When Ethelwald entered and saw these contrivances, he begged the brethren who came thither to give him a calf’s skin, and fastened it with nails in the corner, where himself and his predecessor used to kneel or stand when they prayed, as a protection against the storm.
Twelve years after, he also ascended to the joys of the heavenly kingdom, and Felgeld became the third inhabitant of the place. It then seemed good to the right reverend Eadfrid, bishop of the church of Lindisfarne, to restore from its foundation the time-worn oratory. This being done, many devout persons begged of Christ’s holy servant Felgeld to give them a small portion of the relics of God’s servant Cuthbert, or of Ethelwald his successor. He accordingly determined to cut up the above-named calf’s skin into pieces, and give a portion to each. But he first experienced its influence in his own person: for his face was much deformed by a swelling and a red patch. The symptoms of this deformity had become manifest long before to the monks, whilst he was dwelling among them. But now that he was living alone, and bestowed less care on his person, whilst he practised still greater rigidities, and, like a prisoner, rarely enjoyed the sun or air, the malady increased, and his face became one large red swelling. Fearing, therefore, lest he should be obliged to abandon the solitary life and return to the monastery; presuming in his faith, he trusted to heal himself by the aid of those holy men whose house he dwelt in, and whose holy life he sought to imitate. For he steeped a piece of the skin above mentioned in water, and washed his face therewith; whereupon the swelling was immediately healed, and the cicatrice disappeared. This I was told, in the first instance, by a religious priest of the monastery of Jarrow, who said that he well knew Felgeld’s face to have been in the deformed and diseased state which I have described, and that he saw it and felt it with his hand through the window after it was cured. Felgeld afterwards told me the same thing, confirming the report of the priest, and asserting that his face was ever afterwards free from the blemish during the many years that he passed in that place. This he ascribed to the agency of the Almighty Grace, which both in this world heals many, and in the world to come will heal all the maladies of our minds and bodies, and, satisfying our desires after good things, crown us for ever with its mercy and compassion. Amen.[Back to Table of Contents]
VITA BEATORUM ABBATUM WIREMUTHENSIUM ET GIRVENSIUM, BENEDICTI, CEOLFRIDI, EASTERWINI, SIGFRIDI, ATQUE HUETBERTI.
Religiosus Christi famulus Biscopus, cognomento Benedictus, aspirante superna gratia, monasterium construxit in honorem beatissimi Apostolorum principis Petri, juxta ostium fluminis Wiri ad aquilonem, juvante se ac terram tribuente venerabili ac piissimo gentis illius rege Egfrido; idemque monasterium annis sedecim, inter innumeros vel itinerum vel infirmitatum labores, eadem, qua construxit, religione, sedulus rexit. Qui, ut beati papæ Gregorii verbis, quibus cognominis ejus abbatis vitam glorificat, utar, fuit vir vitæ venerabilis, gratia Benedictus et nomine, ab ipso pueritiæ suæ tempore cor gerens senile, ætatem quippe moribus transiens, nulli animum voluptati dedit. Nobili quidem stirpe gentis Anglorum progenitus, sed non minori nobilitate mentis ad promerenda semper angelorum consortia suspensus. Denique, cum esset minister Oswii regis, et possessionem terræ suo gradui competentem, illo donante, perciperet, annos natus circiter viginti et quinque, fastidivit possessionem caducam, ut acquirere posset æternam; despexit militiam cum corruptibili donativo terrestrem, ut vero regi militaret, et regnum in superna civitate mereretur habere perpetuum. Reliquit domum, cognatos et patriam, propter Christum et propter Evangelium, ut centuplum acciperet et vitam æternam possideret; respuit nuptiis servire carnalibus, ut sequi valeret Agnum virginitatis gloria candidum in regnis cœlestibus; abnuit liberos carne procreare mortales, prædestinatus a Christo ad educandos ei spirituali doctrina filios cœlesti in vita perennes.
Dimissa ergo patria, Romam adiit, beatorum Apostolorum, quorum desiderio semper ardere consueverat, etiam loca corporum corporaliter visere atque adorare curavit. Ad patriam mox reversus, studiosius ea quæ vidit ecclesiasticæ vitæ instituta, diligere, venerari, et quibus potuit prædicare, non desiit. Quo tempore Alfridus, supradicti regis Oswii filius et ipse propter adoranda Apostolorum limina Romam venire disponens, comitem eum ejusdem itineris accepit. Quem cum pater suus ab intentione memorati itineris revocaret, atque in patria ac regno suo faceret residere, nihilominus ipse, ut bonæ indolis adolescens, cœptum confestim explens iter, summa sub festinatione Romam rediit, tempore cujus supra beatæ memoriæ Vitaliani papæ; et non pauca scientiæ salutaris, quemadmodum et prius, hausta dulcedine, post menses aliquot inde digrediens ad insulam Lirinensem, ibidem se monachorum cœtui tradidit, tonsuram accepit, et disciplinam regularem monachi voto insignitus debita cum sollicitudine servavit; ubi per biennium idonea monasticæ conversationis doctrina institutus, rursus beati Petri Apostolorum principis amore devictus, sacratam ejus corpore civitatem repedare statuit.
Nec post longum, adveniente nave mercatoria, desiderio satisfecit. Eo autem tempore miserat Egbertus Cantuariorum rex de Britannia electum ad episcopatus officium virum, nomine Wighardum, qui a Romanis beati papæ Gregorii discipulis in Cantia fuerat omni de ecclesiastica institutione sufficienter edoctus; cupiens eum sibi Romæ ordinari episcopum, quatenus suæ gentis et linguæ habens antistitem, tanto perfectius cum subjectis sibi populis, vel verbis imbueretur fidei, vel mysteriis, quanto hæc non per interpretem, sed per cognati et contribulis viri linguam simul manumque susciperet. Qui videlicet Wighardus Romam veniens, cum cunctis, qui secum venere, comitibus, antequam gradum pontificatus perciperet, morbo ingruente, defunctus est. At vero Papa Apostolicus, ne legatariis obeuntibus legatio religiosa fidelium fructu competente careret, inito consilio, elegit de suis, quem Britannias archiepiscopum mitteret, Theodorum videlicet, seculari simul et ecclesiastica philosophia præditum virum, et hoc in utraque lingua Græca scilicet et Latina, dato ei collega et consiliatore, viro æque strenuissimo ac prudentissimo, Hadriano abbate. Et quia venerabilem Benedictum sapientem, industrium, religiosum ac nobilem virum fore conspexit, huic ordinatum cum suis omnibus commendavit episcopum, præcepitque ut, relicta peregrinatione, quam pro Christo susceperat, commodi altioris intuitu patriam reversus, doctorem ei veritatis, quem sedula quæsierat, adduceret, cui vel illo pergenti vel ibidem docenti, pariter interpres exsistere posset et ductor. Fecit Benedictus ut jusserat: venerunt Cantiam; gratissime sunt suscepti; Theodorus sedem episcopatus conscendit; Benedictus suscepit monasterium beati Petri Apostoli ad regendum, cujus postea præfatus Hadrianus factus est abbas.
Quod ubi duobus annis monasterium rexit, tertium de Britannia Romam iter arripiens solita prosperitate complevit, librosque omnis Divinæ eruditionis non paucos vel placito pretio emtos, vel amicorum dono largitos, retulit. Rediens autem ubi Viennam pervenit, emticios ibi, quos apud amicos commendaverat, recepit. At ingressus Britanniam, ad regem se Occidentalium Saxonum nomine Conwalh conferendum putavit, cujus et ante non semel amicitiis usus et beneficiis erat adjutus. Sed ipso eodem tempore immatura morte prærepto, tandem ad patriam gentem solumque, in quo natus est, pedem convertens, Egfridum Transhumbranæ regionis regem adiit; cuncta quæ egisset, ex quo patriam adolescens deseruit, replicavit; quo religionis desiderio arderet non celavit; quid ecclesiasticæ, quid monachicæ institutionis Romæ vel circumquaque didicisset, ostendit; quot Divina volumina, quantas beatorum Apostolorum sive martyrum Christi reliquias attulisset, patefecit; tantamque apud regem gratiam familiaritatis invenit, ut confestim ei terram septuaginta familiarum de suo largitus, monasterium inibi primo pastori ecclesiæ facere præciperet. Quod factum est, sicut et in proœmio memini, ad ostium fluminis Wiri ad lævam, anno ab incarnatione Domini sexcentesimo septuagesimo quarto, indictione secunda, anno autem quarto imperii Egfridi regis.
Nec plus quam unius anni spatio post fundatum monasterium interjecto, Benedictus, oceano transmisso, Gallias petens, cæmentarios, qui lapideam sibi ecclesiam juxta Romanorum, quem semper amabat, morem facerent, postulavit, accepit, attulit. Et tantum in operando studii præ amore beati Petri, in cujus honorem faciebat, exhibuit, ut intra unius anni circulum, ex quo fundamenta sunt jacta, culminibus superpositis, missarum inibi sollennia celebrari videres. Proximante autem ad perfectum opere, misit legatarios Galliam, qui vitri factores, (artifices videlicet,) Britanniis eatenus incognitos, ad cancellandas ecclesiæ, porticuumque et cœnaculorum ejus, fenestras adducerent. Factumque est, venerunt; nec solum opus postulatum compleverunt, sed et Anglorum ex eo gentem hujusmodi artificium nosse ac discere fecerunt; artificium nimirum vel lampadis ecclesiæ claustris, vel vasorum multifariis usibus, non ignobiliter aptum. Sed et cuncta, quæ ad altaris et ecclesiæ ministerium competebant, vasa sancta, vel vestimenta, quia domi invenire non potuit, de transmarinis regionibus advectare religiosus emtor curabat.
ET ut ea quoque, quæ nec in Gallia quidem reperiri valebant, Romanis e finibus ecclesiæ suæ provisor impiger ornamenta vel munimenta conferret, quarta illo, post compositum juxta regulam monasterium, profectione completa, multipliciore quam prius spiritualium mercium fœnore cumulatus rediit. Primo, quod innumerabilem librorum omnis generis copiam apportavit; secundo, quod reliquiarum beatorum Apostolorum martyrumque Christi abundantem gratiam multis Anglorum ecclesiis profuturam advexit; tertio, quod ordinem cantandi, psallendi, atque in ecclesia ministrandi, juxta morem Romanæ institutionis suo monasterio contradidit, postulato videlicet atque accepto ab Agathone papa archicantore ecclesiæ beati Apostoli Petri et abbate monasterii beati Martini Joanne, quem sui futurum magistrum monasterii Britannias, Romanum Anglis adduceret. Qui illo perveniens, non solum viva voce, quæ Romæ didicit, ecclesiastica discentibus tradidit; sed et non pauca etiam literis mandata reliquit, quæ hactenus in ejusdem monasterii bibliotheca memoriæ gratia servantur. Quartum, Benedictus non vile munus attulit, epistolam privilegii a venerabili papa Agathone cum licentia, consensu, desiderio, et hortatu Egfridi regis acceptam, qua monasterium, quod fecit, ab omni prorsus extrinseca irruptione tutum perpetuo redderetur ac liberum. Quintum, picturas imaginum sanctarum, quas ad ornandum ecclesiam beati Petri Apostoli, quam construxerat, detulit; imaginem, videlicet, beatæ Dei Genetricis semperque virginis Mariæ, simul et duodecim Apostolorum, quibus mediam ejusdem ecclesiæ testudinem, ducto a pariete ad parietem tabulato, præcingeret; imagines evangelicæ historiæ, quibus australem ecclesiæ parietem decoraret; imagines visionum Apocalypsis beati Johannis, quibus septentrionalem æque parietem ornaret, quatenus intrantes ecclesiam omnes, etiam literarum ignari, quaquaversum intenderent, vel semper amabilem Christi sanctorumque ejus, quamvis in imagine, contemplarentur aspectum; vel Dominicæ incarnationis gratiam vigilantiore mente recolerent; vel extremi discrimen examinis quasi coram oculis habentes, districtius se ipsi examinare meminissent.
IGITUR venerabilis Benedicti virtute, industria, ac religione, rex Egfridus non minimum delectatus, terram, quam ad construendum monasterium ei donaverat, quia bene se ac fructuose ordinatum ease conspexit, quadraginta adhuc familiarum data possessione, augmentare curavit; ubi post annum, missis monachis numero ferme decem et septem, et præposito abbate ac presbytero, Ceolfrido, Benedictus consultu, immo etiam jussu, præfati Egfridi regis, monasterium beati Apostoli Pauli construxit, ea duntaxat ratione, ut una utriusque loci pax et concordia, eadem perpetua familiaritas conservaretur et gratia; ut, sicut verbi gratia, corpus a capite per quod spirat non potest avelli, caput corporis sine quo non vivit nequit oblivisci, ita nullus hæc monasteria, primorum Apostolorum fraterna societate conjuncta, aliquo ab invicem tentaret disturbare conatu. Ceolfridus autem hic, quem abbatem constituit Benedictus, a primis instituti monasterii prioris exordiis adjutor illi per omnia strenuissimus aderat, et cum eo tempore congruo Romam discendi necessaria simul et adorandi gratia adierat. Quo tempore etiam presbyterum Easterwinum de monasterio beati Petri eligens abbatem, eidem monasterio regendi jure præfecit; ut quem solus non poterat laborem, socia dilectissimi commilitonis virtute levius ferret. Nec ab re videatur cuiquam duos unum monasterium simul habuisse abbates. Fecit hoc frequens illius pro monasterii utilitate profectio, creber trans oceanum egressus incertusque regressus. Nam et beatissimum Petrum Apostolum Romæ pontifices sub se duos per ordinem ad regendam ecclesiam constituisse, causa instante necessaria, tradunt historiæ; et ipse Magnus abbas Benedictus, sicut de illo beatus papa Gregorius scribit, duodecim abbates suis discipulis, prout utile judicavit, sine caritatis detrimento, immo pro augmento caritatis, præfecit.
Suscepit igitur memoratus vir curam monasterii regendi, nono, ex quo fundamentum est, anno. Permansit in eo usque ad obitum suum annis quatuor, vir nobilis, sed insigne nobilitatis non ad jactantiæ materiem, ut quidam, despectumque aliorum, sed ad majorem, ut Dei servum decet, animi nobilitatem convertens. Patruelis quippe erat abbatis sui Benedicti, sed amborum tanta mentis ingenuitas, talis mundanæ ingenuitatis fuit pro nihilo contemtus, ut neque iste monasterium ingressus, aliquem sibi præ ceteris ob intuitum consanguinitatis aut nobilitatis honorem quærendum, neque ille putaret offerendum; sed æquali cum fratribus lance boni propositi juvenis gloriabatur se regularem per omnia servare disciplinam. Et quidem cum fuisset minister Egfridi regis, relictis semel negotiis secularibus, depositis armis, assumta militia spirituali tantum, mansit humilis, fratrumque simillimus aliorum, ut ventilare cum eis et triturare, oves vitulasque mulgere, in pistrino, in horto, in coquina, in cunctis monasterii operibus, jucundus et obediens gauderet exerceri. Sed et abbatis nomine graduque assumto, eodem animo quo prius manebat ad omnes, juxta id quod quidam sapiens admonet, dicens, ‘Rectorem te constituerunt, noli extolli, sed esto in illis, quasi unus ex illis, mitis, affabilis, et benignus omnibus.’ Et quidem, ubi opportunum comperiebat, peccantes regulari disciplina coercens, sed magis tamen ingenita diligendi consuetudine sedulus admonens, ne quis peccare vellet, et limpidissimam vultus ejus lucem nubilo sibi suæ inquietudinis abscondere. Sæpe pro curandis monasterii negotiis alicubi digrediens, ubi operantes invenit fratres, solebat eis confestim in opere conjungi; vel aratri gressum stiva regendo, vel ferrum malleo domando, vel ventilabrum manu concutiendo, vel aliud quid tale gerendo. Erat enim et viribus fortis juvenis, et lingua suavis; sed et animo hilaris, et beneficio largus, et honestus aspectu. Eodem quo fratres ceteri cibo, semper eadem vescebatur in domo, ipso quo prius quam abbas esset communi dormiebat in loco, adeo ut et morbo correptus et obitus sui certis ex signis jam præscius, duos adhuc dies in dormitorio fratrum quiesceret. Nam quinque reliquos usque ad exitus horam dies in secretiori se æde locabat; qua die quadam egrediens, et sub divo residens, accitis ad se fratribus cunctis, more naturæ misericordis osculum pacis eis flentibus ac de abscessu tanti patris et pastoris mœrentibus dedit. Obiit autem per nonas Martias, noctu, fratribus matutinæ psalmodiæ laude vacantibus. Viginti quatuor annorum erat cum monasterium peteret, duodecim in eo vixit annis, septem presbyteratu functus est annis, quatuor ex eis monasterii regimen agebat; ac sic terrenos artus moribundaque membra relinquens, cœlestia regna petivit.
Verum his de vita venerabilis Easterwini breviter prælibatis, redeamus ad ordinem narrandi. Constituto illo abbate Benedictus monasterio beati Petri Apostoli, constituto et Ceolfrido monasterio beati Pauli, non multo post temporis spatio quinta vice de Britannia Romam accurrens, innumeris (sicut semper) ecclesiasticorum donis commoderum locupletatus rediit; magna quidem copia voluminum sacrorum; sed non minori (sicut et prius) sanctarum imaginum munere ditatus. Nam et tunc Divinæ historiæ picturas, quibus totam beatæ Dei Genetricis, quam in monasterio majore fecerat, ecclesiam in gyro coronaret, attulit; imagines quoque ad ornandum monasterium ecclesiamque beati Pauli Apostoli, de concordia Veteris et Novi Testamenti summa ratione compositas, exhibuit; verbi gratia, Isaac ligna, quibus immolaretur, portantem, et Dominum crucem, in qua pateretur, æque portantem, proxima super invicem regione, pictura conjunxit. Item, serpenti in eremo a Moyse exaltato, Filium hominis in cruce exaltatum comparavit. Attulit inter alia, et pallia duo holoserica incomparandi operis, quibus postea ab Alfrido rege ejusque consiliariis, namque Egfridum postquam rediit jam interfectum reperit, terram trium familiarum ad austrum Wiri fluminis juxta ostium, comparavit.
Verum inter læta quæ veniens attulit, tristia domi reperit; venerabilem videlicet presbyterum Easterwinum, quem abiturus abbatem constituerat, simul et fratrum ei commissorum catervam non paucam, per cuncta grassante pestilentia, jam migrasse de seculo. Sed aderat et solamen, quia in loco Easterwini virum æque reverendissimum ac mitissimum de monasterio eodem, Sigfridum videlicet diaconum, electione fratrum suorum simul et coabbatis ejus Ceolfridi, mox substitutum cognovit; virum scientia quidem Scripturarum sufficienter instructum, moribus optimis ornatum, mira abstinentiæ virtute præditum, sed ad custodiam virtutum animi corporis infirmitate non minime depressum, ad conservandam cordis innocentiam nocivo et irremediabili pulmonum vitio laborantem.
Nec multo post etiam Benedictus ipse morbo cœpit ingruente fatigari. Ut enim tantam religionis instantiam etiam patientiæ virtus adjuncta probaret, Divina utrumque pietas temporali ægritudine postravit in lectum; ut post ægritudinem morte devictam perpetua supernæ pacis et lucis quiete refoveret. Nam et Sigfridus, ut diximus, longa interiorum molestia castigatus diem pervenit ad ultimum. Et Benedictus, per triennium languore paulatim accrescente, tanta paralysi dissolutus est, ut ab omni prorsus inferiorum membrorum factus sit parte præmortuus, superioribus solum, sine quorum vita vivere nequit homo, ad officium patientiæ virtutumque reservatis, studebant in dolore semper Auctori gratias referre, semper Dei laudibus fraternisve hortatibus vacare. Agebat Benedictus advenientes sæpius ad se fratres de custodienda, quam statuerat, Regula firmare; ‘Neque enim putare habetis,’ inquit, ‘quod ex meo hæc, quæ vobis statui, decreta indoctus corde protulerim. Ex decem quippe et septem monasteriis, quæ inter longos meæ crebræ peregrinationis discursus optima comperi, hæc universa didici, et vobis salubriter observanda contradidi.’ Bibliothecam, quam de Roma nobilissimam copiosissimamque advexerat, ad instructionem ecclesiæ necessariam, sollicite servari integram, nec per incuriam fœdari, aut passim dissipari præcepit. Sed et hoc sedulus eisdem solebat iterare mandatum, ne quis in electione abbatis, generis prosapiam, et non magis vivendi docendique probitatem, putaret esse quærendam. ‘Et vere,’ inquit, ‘dico vobis, quia in comparatione duorum malorum, tolerabilius mihi multo est totum hunc locum, in quo monasterium feci, si sic judicaverit Deus, in solitudinem sempiternam redigi, quam ut frater meus carnalis, quem novimus viam veritatis non ingredi, in eo regendo post me abbatis nomine succedat. Ideoque multum cavetote, fratres, semper, ne secundum genus unquam, ne deforis aliunde, vobis patrem quæratis; sed juxta quod Regula magni quondam abbatis Benedicti, juxta quod privilegii nostri continent decreta, in conventu vestræ congregationis communi consilio perquiratis, qui secundum vitæ meritum et sapientiæ doctrinam aptior ad tale ministerium perficiendum digniorque probetur; et quemcunque omnes unanimæ caritatis inquisitione optimum cognoscentes elegeritis, hunc vobis, accito episcopo, rogetis abbatem consueta benedictione firmari. Nam qui carnali,’ inquit, ‘ordine carnales filios generant, carnali necesse est ac terrenæ suæ hæreditati carnales terrenosque quærant heredes; at qui spirituales Deo filios spirituali semine Verbi procreant, spiritualia oportet sint cuncta, quæ agunt. Inter spirituales suos liberos eum majorem, qui ampliori Spiritus gratia sit præditus, æstiment; quomodo terreni parentes, quem primum partu fuderint, eum principium liberorum suorum cognoscere, et ceteris in partienda sua hereditate præferendum ducere solent.’
Neque hoc reticendum, quod venerabilis abbas Benedictus ad temperandum sæpe longæ noctis tædium, quam præ infirmitatis onere ducebat insomnem, advocato lectore, vel exemplar patientiæ Job, vel aliud quid Scripturarum quo consolaretur ægrotus, quo depressus in infimis vivacius ad superna erigeretur, coram se recitari jubebat. Et quia nullatenus ad orandum surgere, non facile ad explendum solitæ Psalmodiæ cursum linguam vocemve poterat levare, didicit vir prudens, affectu religionis dictante, per singulas diurnæ sive nocturnæ orationis horas, aliquos ad se fratrum vocare, quibus Psalmos consuetos duobus in choris resonantibus, et ipse cum eis quatenus poterat psallendo, quod per se solum nequiverat, eorum juvamine suppleret.
AT ubi uterque abbas lassatus infirmitate diutina, jam se morti vicinum, nec regendo monasterio idoneum fore conspexit; tanta namque eos affecit infirmitas carnis, ut perficeretur in eis virtus Christi, ut cum quadam die desiderantibus eis se invicem, priusquam de hoc seculo migrarent, videre et alloqui, Sigfridus in feretro deportaretur ad cubiculum ubi Benedictus et ipse suo jacebat in grabato, eisque uno in loco ministrorum manu compositis, caput utriusque in eodem cervicali locaretur, lacrimabili spectaculo, nec tantum habuere virium, ut propius posita ora ad osculandum se alterutrum conjungere possent, sed et hoc fraterno compleverunt officio. Inito Benedictus cum eo, cumque universis fratribus salubri consilio, accivit abbatem Ceolfridum, quem monasterio beati Pauli Apostoli præfecerat, virum videlicet sibi non tam carnis necessitudine, quam virtutum societate propinquum; et eum utrique monasterio, cunctis faventibus atque hoc utillimum judicantibus, præposuit Patrem; salubre ratus per omnia ad conservandam pacem, unitatem, concordiamque locorum, si unum perpetuo patrem rectoremque tenerent; commemorans sæpius Israelitici regni exemplum, quod inexterminabile semper exteris nationibus, inviolatumque perduravit, quamdiu unis iisdemque suæ gentis regebatur a ducibus; at postquam præcedentium causa peccatorum inimico ab invicem est certamine direptum, periit paulisper, et a sua concussum soliditate defecit. Sed et Evangelicam illam monebat sine intermissione recolendam esse sententiam, ‘Quia omne regnum in seipso divisum desolabitur.’
IGITUR post hæc revolutis mensibus duobus, primo venerabilis ac Deo dilectus abbas Sigfridus, pertransito igne et aqua tribulationum temporalium, inductus est in refrigerium sempiternæ quietis; introiit in domum regni cœlestis, in holocaustis perpetuæ laudationis reddens sua vota Domino, quæ sedula labiorum mundorum distinctione promiserat; ac deinde, adjunctis aliis mensibus quatuor, vitiorum victor Benedictus et virtutum patrator egregius, victus infirmitate carnis ad extrema pervenit. Nox ruit hibernis algida flatibus; diem mox sanctam nascitura æternæ felicitatis, serenitatis et lucis. Conveniunt fratres ad ecclesiam, insomnes orationibus et psalmis transigunt umbras noctis; et paternæ decessionis pondus continua divinæ laudis modulatione solantur. Alii cubiculum, in quo æger, animo robustus, egressum mortis et vitæ exspectabat ingressum, non deserunt. Evangelium tota nocte pro doloris levamine, quod et aliis noctibus fieri consueverat, a presbytero legitur; Dominici corporis et sanguinis Sacramentum, hora exitus instante, pro viatico datur; et sic anima illa sancta, longis flagellorum felicium excocta atque examinata flammis, luteam carnis fornacem deserit, et supernæ beatitudinis libera pervolat ad gloriam. Cujus egressui victoriosissimo, neque ab immundis spiritibus aliquatenus impediendo vel retardando, etiam psalmus, qui tum pro eo cantabatur, testimonium dat. Namque fratres ad ecclesiam principio noctis concurrentes, Psalterium ex ordine decantantes, ad octogesimum tunc et secundum cantando pervenerant Psalmum, qui habet in capite, ‘Deus, quis similis erit tibi?’ Cujus totus hoc resonat textus, quod inimici nominis Christi, sive carnales sive spirituales, semper ecclesiam Christi, semper animam quamque fidelem disperdere ac dissipare conentur; sed e contra ipsi confusi et conturbati sint perituri in seculum, enervante illos Domino, cui non est quisquam similis, qui est solus Altissimus super omnem terram. Unde recte dabatur intelligi cœlitus dispensatum, ut talis diceretur psalmus ea hora, qua exiret de corpore anima, cui, juvante Domino, nullus prævalere posset inimicus. Sextodecimo postquam monasterium fundavit anno, quievit in Domino confessor, secunda die iduum Januariarum, sepultus in ecclesia beati Apostoli Petri; ut quem degens in carne semper solebat amare, quo pandente januam regni cœlestis intrabat, ab hujus reliquiis et altari post mortem nec corpore longius abesset. Sedecim, ut diximus, annos monasterium rexit; primos octo per se sine alterius assumtione abbatis, reliquos totidem viris venerabilibus et sanctis Easterwino, Sigfrido, et Celfrido abbatis se nomine, auctoritate et officio juvantibus; primo quatuor annos, secundo tres, tertio unum.
Qui et ipse tertius, id est, Ceolfridus, industrius per omnia vir, acutus ingenio, actu impiger, maturus animo, religionis zelo fervens, prius, sicut et supra meminimus, jubente pariter et juvante Benedicto, monasterium beati Pauli Apostoli septem annis, fundavit, perfecit, rexit; ac deinde utrique monasterio, vel sicut rectius dicere possumus, in duobus locis posito uni monasterio beatorum Apostolorum Petri et Pauli, viginti et octo annos solerti regimine præfuit; et cuncta, quæ suus prædecessor egregia virtutum opera cœpit, ipse non segnius perficere curavit. Siquidem inter cetera monasterii necessaria, quæ longo regendi tempore disponenda comperiit, etiam plura fecit oratoria; altaris et ecclesiæ vasa, vel vestimenta omnis generis ampliavit; bibliothecam utriusque monasterii, quam Benedictus abbas magna cœpit instantia, ipse non minori geminavit industria: ita ut tres Pandectes novæ translationis ad unum vetustæ translationis, quem de Roma attulerat, ipse super adjungeret; quorum unum senex Romam rediens secum inter alia pro munere sumsit, duos utrique monasterio reliquit; dato quoque Cosmographorum codice mirandi operis, quem Romæ Benedictus emerat, terram octo familiarum juxta fluvium Fresca ab Alfrido rege in Scripturis doctissimo, in possessionem monasterii beati Pauli Apostoli comparavit; quem comparandi ordinem ipse, dum adhuc viveret, Benedictus cum eodem rege Alfrido taxaverat, sed prius quam complere potuisset, obiit. Verum pro hac terra postmodum, Osredo regnante, Ceolfridus, addito pretio digno, terram viginti familiarum in loco, qui incolarum lingua Ad Villam Sambuce vocatur, quia hæc vicinior eidem monasterio videbatur, accepit. Missis Romam monachis tempore beatæ recordationis Sergii papæ, privilegium ab eo pro tuitione sui monasterii instar illius, quod Agatho papa Benedicto dederat, accepit; quod Britannias perlatum, et coram synodo patefactum, præsentium episcoporum simul et magnifici regis Alfridi subscriptione confirmatum est, quomodo etiam prius illud sui temporis regem et episcopos in synodo publice confirmasse non latet. Temporibus illius tradens se monasterio beati Petri Apostoli, quod regebat veteranus ac religiosus, et in omni tam seculari quam Scripturarum scientia eruditus Christi famulus Witmer, terram decem familiarum, quam ab Alfrido rege in possessionem acceperat, in loco villæ, quæ Daldun nuncupatur, eidem monasterio perpetuæ possessionis jure donavit.
At ubi Ceolfridus post multam regularis observantiæ disciplinam, quam sibi ipsi pariter ac suis pater Benedictus providus ex priorum auctoritate contribuit; post incomparabilem orandi psallendique solertiam, qua ipse quotidianus exerceri non desiit; post mirabilem et coercendi improbos fervorem, et modestiam consolandi infirmos; post insolitam rectoribus et escæ potusque parcitatem, et habitus vilitatem; vidit se jam senior et plenus dierum non ultra posse subditis, ob impedimentum supremæ ætatis, debitam spiritualis exercitii, vel docendo vel vivendo, præfigere formam; multa diu secum mente versans, utilius decrevit, dato fratribus præcepto, ut juxta sui statuta privilegii, juxtaque regulam sancti abbatis Benedicti, de suis sibi ipsi patrem, qui aptior esset, eligerent; ipse beatorum Apostolorum, ubi juvenis cum Benedicto fuerat, Romæ loca sancta repeteret: quatenus et ipse ante mortem aliquamdiu seculi curis absolutus, liberius sibimet secreta quiete vacaret; et illi, sumto abbate juniore, perfectius juxta ætatem magistri, quæ vitæ regularis essent instituta, servarent.
OBNITENTIBUS licet primo omnibus, et in lacrimas singultusque genua cum obsecratione crebra flectentibus, factum est quod voluit. Tantaque erat proficiscendi cupido, ut tertia die, ex quo fratribus secretum sui propositi aperuit, iter arriperet. Timebat enim, quod evenit, ne priusquam Romam pervenire posset, obiret; simul devitans, ne ab amicis sive viris principalibus, quibus cunctis erat honorabilis, ejus cœpta retardarentur, et ne pecunia daretur illi a quibusdam, quibus retribuere pro tempore nequiret; hanc habens semper consuetudinem, ut si quis ei aliquid muneris offerret, hoc illi vel statim, vel post intervallum competens, non minore gratia rependeret. Cantata ergo primo mane missa in ecclesia beatæ Dei Genetricis semperque virginis Mariæ, et in ecclesia Apostoli Petri, pridie nonas Junias, quinta feria, et communicantibus qui aderant, continuo præparatur ad eundum. Conveniunt omnes in ecclesiam beati Petri, ipse thure incenso et dicta oratione ad altare, pacem dat omnibus, stans in gradibus, thuribulum habens in manu. Hinc, fletibus universorum inter litanias resonantibus, exeunt; beati Laurentii martyris oratorium, quod in dormitorio fratrum erat obvium, intrant; vale dicens ultimum, de conservanda invicem dilectione, et delinquentibus juxta Evangelii regulam corripiendis, admonet; omnibus, si quid forte deliquissent, gratiam suæ remissionis et placationis offert; omnes pro se orare, sibi placatos exsistere, si sint quos durius justo redarguisset, obsecrat. Veniunt ad littus; rursum osculo pacis inter lacrimas omnes dato genua flectunt; dat orationem, ascendit navem cum comitibus. Ascendunt et diacones ecclesiæ cereas ardentes et crucem ferentes auream, transit flumen, adorat crucem, ascendit equum et abiit, relictis in monasteriis suis fratribus numero ferme sexcentis.
Illo autem abeunte cum sociis, redeunt ad ecclesiam fratres, se ac sua Domino fletibus et oratione commendant: et post non grande intervallum completa horæ tertiæ psalmodia, rursum conveniunt omnes; quid agendum sit consulunt; orando, psallendo, et jejunando Patrem citius a Deo quærendum decernunt; monachis beati Pauli, fratribus videlicet suis, per eorum quosdam qui aderant, necnon et suorum aliquos, quid decreverint, pandunt. Assentiunt et illi, fit utrorumque animus unus, omnium corda sursum, omnium levantur voces ad Dominum. Tandem die tertia, veniente Dominico die Pentecostes, conveniunt omnes qui erant in monasterio beati Petri in concilium, adsunt et de monasterio beati Pauli seniorum non pauci. Fit una concordia, eadem utrorumque sententia. Eligitur itaque abbas Huetbertus, qui a primis pueritiæ temporibus eodem in monasterio non solum regularis observantia disciplinæ institutus, sed et scribendi, cantandi, legendi ac docendi fuerat non parva exercitatus industria. Romam quoque temporibus beatæ memoriæ Sergii papæ accurrens, et non parvo ibidem temporis spatio demoratus, quæcumque sibi necessaria judicabat, didicit, descripsit, retulit; insuper et duodecim ante hæc annos presbyterii est functus officio. Hic igitur electus abbas ab omnibus utriusque præfati monasterii fratribus, statim assumtis secum aliquibus fratrum, venit ad abbatem Ceolfridum, cursum navis, qua oceanum transiret, exspectantem; quem elegerant abbatem nunciant; ‘Deo gratias,’ respondit, electionem confirmat, et commendatoriam ab eo epistolam apostolico papæ Gregorio deferendam suscepit; cujus, memoriæ causa, putavimus etiam in hoc opere versus aliquot esse ponendos.
‘Domino in Domino dominorum dilectissimo, terque beatissimo papæ Gregorio, Huetbertus humilis servus vester, abbas cœnobii beatissimi Apostolorum principis Petri in Saxonia, perpetuam in Domino salutem.
‘Gratias agere non cesso dispensationi superni examinis, una cum sanctis fratribus, qui mecum in his locis ad inveniendam requiem animabus suis suavissimum Christi jugum portare desiderant, quod te nostris temporibus tam glorificum electionis vas regimini totius ecclesiæ præficere dignatus est, quatenus per hoc quo ipse impleris lumen veritatis et fidei, etiam minores quosque affatim jubare suæ pietatis aspergeret. Commendamus autem tuæ sanctæ benignitati, dilectissime in Christo pater et domine, venerabiles patris nostri dilectissimi canos, Ceolfridi videlicet abbatis, ac nutritoris tutorisque nostræ spiritualis in monastica quiete libertatis et pacis. Et primum quidem gratias agimus sanctæ et individuæ Trinitati, quod ipse, etsi non sine maximo nostro dolore, gemitu, luctu, ac prosecutione lacrimarum a nobis abiit, ad suæ tamen diu desideratæ quietis gaudia sancta pervenit; dum ea, quæ juvenem se adiisse, vidisse atque adorasse semper recordans exsultabat, etiam senio defessus beatorum Apostolorum devotus limina repetiit. Et post longos amplius quadraginta annorum labores curasque continuas, quibus monasteriis regendis abbatis jure præfuit, incomparabili virtutis amore, quasi nuper ad conversationem vitæ cœlestis accitus, ultima confectus ætate, et prope jam moriturus, rursus incipit peregrinari pro Christo, quo liberius prisca sollicitudinum secularium spineta, camino spirituali fervens compunctionis ignis absumat.
‘Deinde etiam vestræ paternitati supplicamus, ut quod nos facere non meruimus, vos erga illum ultimæ pietatis seduli munum expleatis; pro certo scientes, quia etsi vos corpus habetis ipsius, et nos tamen et vos Deo devotum ejus spiritum sive in corpore manentem, seu carneis vinculis absolutum, magnum pro nostris excessibus apud supernam pietatem intercessorem habemus et patronum.’ Et cetera, quæ epistolæ sequentia continent.
Reverso autem domum Huetberto, advocatur episcopus Acca, et solita illum in abbatis officium benedictione confirmat. Qui inter innumera monasterii jura, quæ juvenili sagax solertia recuperabat, hoc in primis omnibus delectabile et gratificum fecit; sustulit ossa Easterwini abbatis, quæ in porticu ingressus ecclesiæ beati Apostoli Petri erant posita; necnon et ossa Sigfridi abbatis ac magistri quondam sui, quæ foris Sacrarium ad meridiem fuerant condita, et utraque in una theca, sed medio pariete divisa, recludens, intus in eadem ecclesia juxta corpus beati patris Benedicti composuit. Fecit autem hæc die natalis Sigfridi, id est, undecimo kalendarum Septembrium, quo etiam die mira Dei providentia contigit, ut venerandus Christi famulus Witmer, cujus supra meminimus, excederet, et in loco ubi prædicti abbates prius sepulti fuerant, ipse, qui eorum imitator fuerat, conderetur.
Christi vero famulus Ceolfridus, ut supra dictum est, ad limina beatorum apostolorum tendens, prius quam illo pervenisset, tactus infirmitate diem clausit ultimum. Perveniens namque Lingonas circa horam diei tertiam, decima ipsius diei hora migravit ad Dominum, et crastino in ecclesia beatorum geminorum martyrum honorifice sepultus est, non solum Anglis genere, qui plus quam octoginta numero in ejus fuerant comitatu, sed et illius loci accolis, pro retardato tam reverendi senis desiderio, in lacrimas luctusque solutis. Neque enim facile quisquam lacrimas tenere potuit, videns comites ipsius partim, patre amisso, cœptum iter agere; partim, mutata intentione, qua Romam ire desiderarant, domum magis qua hunc sepultum nunciarent reverti; partim ad tumbam defuncti inter eos, quorum nec linguam noverant, pro inextinguibili patris affectu residere.
LRAT autem quando obiit annorum septuaginta quatuor, presbyterii gradu functus annis quadraginta septem, abbatis officium ministrans annis triginta quinque, vel potius annis quadraginta tribus, quia scilicet a primo tempore quo Benedictus in honore beatissimi Apostolorum principis suum cœpit condere monasterium, ipse illi comes individuus, cooperator et doctor regularis et monasticæ institutionis aderat. Cui ne prisci morem rigoris vel ætatis, vel infirmitatis, vel itineris unquam minueret occasio; ex die quo de monasterio suo profectus abiit usque ad diem quo defunctus est, id est, a pridie nonas Junias usque ad septimum kalendarum Octobrium diem, per dies centum quatuordecim, exceptis canonicis orationum horis, quotidie bis psalterium ex ordine decantare curavit; etiam cum ad hoc per infirmitatem deveniret, ut equitare non valens feretro caballario veheretur, quotidie missa cantata salutaris hostiæ Deo munus offerret, excepto uno, quo oceanum navigabat, et tribus ante exitum diebus.
OBIIT autem septimo kalendarum Octobrium die, anno ab incarnatione Domini septingentesimo sextodecimo, feria sexta, post horam nonam, in pratis memoratæ civitatis; sepultus in crastinum ad austrum ejusdem civitatis milliario primo in monasterio Geminorum, astante ac psalmos resonante exercitu non parvo tam Anglorum, qui cum eo advenerant, quam monasterii ejusdem vel civitatis incolarum. Sunt autem Gemini martyres, in quorum monasterio et ecclesia conditus est, Speusippus, Eleusippus, Meleusippus, qui uno partu matris editi, eadem ecclesiæ fide renati, simul cum avia sua Leonella, dignam loco illi sui martyrii reliquere memoriam, qui piam etiam nobis indignis et nostro parenti opem suæ intercessionis et protectionis impendant.[Back to Table of Contents]
THE LIVES OF THE HOLY ABBOTS OF WEREMOUTH AND JARROW, BENEDICT, CEOLFRID, EASTERWINE, SIGFRID, AND HUETBERHT.
THE pious servant of Christ, Biscop, called Benedict, with the assistance of the Divine grace, built a monastery in honour of the most holy of the apostles, St. Peter, near the mouth of the river Were, on the north side. The venerable and devout king of that nation, Egfrid, contributed the land; and Biscop, for the space of sixteen years, amid innumerable perils in journeying and in illness, ruled this monastery with the same piety which stirred him up to build it. If I may use the words of the blessed Pope Gregory, in which he glorifies the life of the abbot of the same name, he was a man of a venerable life, blessed (Benedictus) both in grace and in name; having the mind of an adult even from his childhood, surpassing his age by his manners, and with a soul addicted to no false pleasures. He was descended from a noble lineage of the Angles, and by corresponding dignity of mind worthy to be exalted into the company of the angels. Lastly, he was the minister of King Oswy, and by his gift enjoyed an estate suitable to his rank; but at the age of twenty-five years he despised a transitory wealth, that he might obtain that which is eternal. He made light of a temporal warfare with a donative that will decay, that he might serve under the true King, and earn an everlasting kingdom in the heavenly city. He left his home, his kinsmen and country, for the sake of Christ and his Gospel, that he might receive a hundredfold and enjoy everlasting life: he disdained to submit to carnal nuptials, that he might be able to follow the Lamb bright with the glory of chastity in the heavenly kingdoms: he refused to be the father of mortal children in the flesh, being fore-ordained of Christ to educate for Him in spiritual doctrine immortal children in heaven.
HAVING therefore left his country, he came to Rome, and took care to visit and worship in the body the resting-places of the remains of the holy Apostles, towards whom he had always been inflamed with holy love. When he returned home, he did not cease to love and venerate, and to preach to all he could the precepts of ecclesiastical life which he had seen. At this time Alfrid, son of the above-named King Oswy, being about to visit Rome, to worship at the gates of the holy Apostles, took him as the companion of his journey. When the king, his father, diverted him from this intention, and made him reside in his own country and kingdom; yet, like a youth of good promise, accomplishing the journey which he had undertaken, Biscop returned with the greatest expedition to Rome, in the time of Pope Vitalian, of blessed memory; and there having extracted no little sweetness of wholesome learning, as he had done previously, after some months he went to the island of Lerins, where he joined himself to the company of monks, received the tonsure, and, having taken the vow, observed the regular discipline with due solicitude; and when he had for two years been instructed in the suitable learning of the monastic life, he determined, in love for that first of the Apostles, St. Peter, to return to the city which was hallowed by his remains.
Not long after, a merchant vessel-arrived, which enabled him to gratify his wish. At that time, Egbert, king of Kent, had sent out of Britain a man who had been elected to the office of bishop, Wighard by name, who had been adequately taught by the Roman disciples of the blessed Pope Gregory in Kent on every topic of Church discipline; but the king wished him to be ordained bishop at Rome, in order that, having him for bishop of his own nation and language, he might himself, as well as his people, be the more thoroughly master of the words and mysteries of the holy faith, as he would then have these administered, not through an interpreter, but from the hands and by the tongue of a kinsman and fellow-countryman. But Wighard, on coming to Rome, died of a disease, with all his attendants, before he had received the dignity of bishop. Now the Apostolic Father, that the embassy of the faithful might not fail through the death of their ambassadors, called a council, and appointed one of his Church to send as archbishop into Britain. This was Theodore, a man deep in all secular and ecclesiastical learning, whether Greek or Latin; and to him was given, as a colleague and counsellor, a man equally strenuous and prudent, the abbot Hadrian. Perceiving also that the reverend Benedict would become a man of wisdom, industry, piety, and nobility of mind, he committed to him the newly ordained bishop, with his followers, enjoining him to abandon the travel which he had undertaken for Christ’s sake; and with a higher good in view, to return home to his country, and bring into it that teacher of wisdom whom it had so earnestly wished for, and to be to him an interpreter and guide, both on the journey thither, and afterwards, upon his arrival, when he should begin to preach. Benedict did as he was commanded; they came to Kent, and were joyfully received there; Theodore ascended his episcopal throne, and Benedict took upon himself to rule the monastery of the blessed Apostle Peter, of which, afterwards, Hadrian became abbot.
He ruled the monastery for two years; and then successfully, as before, accomplished a third voyage from Britain to Rome, and brought back a large number of books on sacred literature, which he had either bought at a price or received as gifts from his friends. On his return he arrived at Vienne, where he took possession of such as he had entrusted his friends to purchase for him. When he had come home, he determined to go to the court of Conwalh, king of the West Saxons, whose friendship and services he had already more than once experienced. But Conwalh died suddenly about this time, and he therefore directed his course to his native province. He came to the court of Egfrid, king of Northumberland, and gave an account of all that he had done since in youth he had left his country. He made no secret of his zeal for religion, and showed what ecclesiastical or monastic instructions he had received at Rome and elsewhere. He displayed the holy volumes and relics of Christ’s blessed Apostles and martyrs, which he had brought, and found such favour in the eyes of the king, that he forthwith gave him seventy hides of land out of his own estates, and ordered a monastery to be built thereon for the first pastor of his church. This was done, as I said before, at the mouth of the river Were, on the left bank, in the 674th year of our Lord’s incarnation, in the second indiction, and in the fourth year of King Egfrid’s reign.
AFTER the interval of a year, Benedict crossed the sea into Gaul, and no sooner asked than he obtained and carried back with him some masons to build him a church in the Roman style, which he had always admired. So much zeal did he show from his love to Saint Peter, in whose honour he was building it, that within a year from the time of laying the foundation, you might have seen the roof on and the solemnity of the mass celebrated therein. When the work was drawing to completion, he sent messengers to Gaul to fetch makers of glass, (more properly artificers,) who were at this time unknown in Britain, that they might glaze the windows of his church, with the cloisters and diningrooms. This was done, and they came, and not only finished the work required, but taught the English nation their handicraft, which was well adapted for enclosing the lanterns of the church, and for the vessels required for various uses. All other things necessary for the service of the church and the altar, the sacred vessels, and the vestments, because they could not be procured in England, he took especial care to buy and bring home from foreign parts.
SOME decorations and muniments there were which could not be procured even in Gaul, and these the pious founder determined to fetch from Rome; for which purpose, after he had formed the rule for his monastery, he made his fourth voyage to Rome, and returned loaded with more abundant spiritual merchandise than before. In the first place, he brought back a large quantity of books of all kinds; secondly, a great number of relics of Christ’s Apostles and martyrs, all likely to bring a blessing on many an English church; thirdly, he introduced the Roman mode of chanting, singing, and ministering in the church, by obtaining permission from Pope Agatho to take back with him John, the archchanter of the church of St. Peter, and abbot of the monastery of St. Martin, to teach the English. This John, when he arrived in England, not only communicated instruction by teaching personally, but left behind him numerous writings, which are still preserved in the library of the same monastery. In the fourth place, Benedict brought with him a thing by no means to be despised, namely, a letter of privilege from Pope Agatho, which he had procured, not only with the consent, but by the request and exhortation, of King Egfrid, and by which the monastery was rendered safe and secure for ever from foreign invasion. Fifthly, he brought with him pictures of sacred representations, to adorn the church of St. Peter, which he had built; namely, a likeness of the Virgin Mary and of the twelve Apostles, with which he intended to adorn the central nave, on boarding placed from one wall to the other; also some figures from ecclesiastical history for the south wall, and others from the Revelation of St. John for the north wall; so that every one who entered the church, even if they could not read, wherever they turned their eyes, might have before them the amiable countenance of Christ and his saints, though it were but in a picture, and with watchful minds might revolve on the benefits of our Lord’s incarnation, and having before their eyes the perils of the last judgment, might examine their hearts the more strictly on that account.
Thus King Egfrid, delighted by the virtues and zealous piety of the venerable Benedict, augmented the territory which he had given, on which to build this monastery, by a further grant of land of forty hides; on which, at the end of a year, Benedict, by the same King Egfrid’s concurrence, and, indeed, command, built the monastery of the Apostle St. Paul, with this condition, that the same concord and unity should exist for ever between the two; so that, for instance, as the body cannot be separated from the head, nor the head forget the body by which it lives, in the same manner no man should ever try to divide these two monasteries, which had been united under the names of the first of the Apostles. Ceolfrid, whom Benedict made abbot, had been his most zealous assistant from the first foundation of the former monastery, and had gone with him at the proper time to Rome, for the sake of acquiring instruction, and offering up his prayers. At which time also he chose priest Easterwine to be the abbot of St. Peter’s monastery, that with the help of this fellow-soldier he might sustain a burden otherwise too heavy for him. And let no one think it unbecoming that one monastery should have two abbots at once. His frequent travelling for the benefit of the monastery, and absence in foreign parts, was the cause; and history informs us, that, on a pressing occasion, the blessed St. Peter also ordained two pontiffs under him to rule the Church at Rome; and Abbot Benedict the Great, himself, as Pope St. Gregory writes of him, appointed twelve abbots over his followers, as he judged expedient, without any harm done to Christian charity; nay, rather to the increase thereof.
THIS man therefore undertook the government of the monastery in the ninth year after its foundation, and continued it till his death four years after. He was a man of noble birth; but he did not make that, like some men, a cause of boasting and despising others, but a motive for exercising nobility of mind also, as becomes a servant of the Lord. He was the cousin of his own abbot Benedict; and yet such was the singleness of mind in both, such their contempt for human grandeur, that the one, on entering the monastery, did not expect any notice of honour or relationship to be taken of him more than of others, and Benedict himself never thought of offering any; but the young man, faring like the rest, took pleasure in undergoing the usual course of monastic discipline in every respect. And indeed, though he had been an attendant on King Egfrid, and had abandoned his temporal vocation and arms, devoting himself to spiritual warfare, he remained so humble and like the other brethren, that he took pleasure in threshing and winnowing, milking the ewes and cows, and employed himself in the bakehouse, the garden, the kitchen, and in all the other labours of the monastery with readiness and submission. When he attained to the name and dignity of abbot, he retained the same spirit; saying to all, according to the advice of a certain wise man, “They have made thee a ruler; be not exalted, but be amongst them like one of them, gentle, affable, and kind to all.” Whenever occasion required, he punished offenders by regular discipline; but was rather careful, out of his natural habits of love, to warn them not to offend and bring a cloud of disquietude over his cheerful countenance. Oftentimes, when he went forth on the business of the monastery, if he found the brethren working, he would join them and work with them, by taking the plough-handle, or handling the smith’s hammer, or using the winnowing machine, or any thing of like nature. For he was a young man of great strength, and pleasant tone of voice, of a kind and bountiful disposition, and fair to look on. He ate of the same food as the other brethren, and in the same apartment: he slept in the same common room as he did before he was abbot; so that even after he was taken ill, and foresaw clear signs of his approaching death, he still remained two days in the common dormitory of the brethren. He passed the five days immediately before his death in a private apartment, from which he came out one day, and sitting in the open air, sent for all the brethren, and, as his kind feelings prompted him, gave to each of them the kiss of peace, whilst they all shed tears of sorrow for the loss of this their father and their guide. He died on the seventh of March, in the night, as the brethren were leaving off the matin hymn. He was twenty-four years old when he entered the monastery; he lived there twelve years, during seven of which he was in priest’s orders, the others he passed in the dignity of abbot; and so, having thrown off his fleshly and perishable body, he entered the heavenly kingdom.
Now that we have had this foretaste of the life of the venerable Easterwine, let us resume the thread of the narrative. When Benedict had made this man abbot of St. Peter’s, and Ceolfrid abbot of St. Paul’s, he not long after made his fifth voyage from Britain to Rome, and returned (as usual) with an immense number of proper ecclesiastical relics. There were many sacred books and pictures of the saints, as numerous as before. He also brought with him pictures out of our Lord’s history, which he hung round the chapel of Our Lady in the larger monastery; and others to adorn St. Paul’s church and monastery, ably describing the connexion of the Old and New Testament; as, for instance, Isaac bearing the wood for his own sacrifice, and Christ carrying the cross on which he was about to suffer, were placed side by side. Again, the serpent raised up by Moses in the desert was illustrated by the Son of Man exalted on the cross. Among other things, he brought two cloaks, all of silk, and of incomparable workmanship, for which he received an estate of three hides on the south bank of the river Were, near its mouth, from King Alfrid, for he found on his return that Egfrid had been murdered during his absence.
BUT, amid this prosperity, he found afflictions also awaiting his return. The venerable Easterwine, whom he had made abbot when he departed, and many of the brethren committed to his care, had died of a general pestilence. But for this loss he found some consolation in the good and reverend deacon, Sigfrid, whom the brethren and his co-abbot Ceolfrid had chosen to be his successor. He was a man well skilled in the knowledge of Holy Scripture, of most excellent manners, of wonderful continence, and one in whom the virtues of the mind were in no small degree depressed by bodily infirmity, and the innocency of whose heart was tempered with a baneful and incurable affection of the lungs.
Not long after, Benedict himself was seized by a disease. For, that the virtue of patience might be a trial of their religious zeal, the Divine Love laid both of them on the bed of temporal sickness, that when they had conquered their sorrows by death, He might cherish them for ever in heavenly peace and quietude. For Sigfrid also, as I have mentioned, died wasted by a long illness: and Benedict died of a palsy, which grew upon him for three whole years; so that when he was dead in all his lower extremities, his upper and vital members, spared to show his patience and virtue, were employed in the midst of his sufferings in giving thanks to the Author of his being, in praises to God, and exhortations to the brethren. He urged the brethren, when they came to see him, to observe the rule which he had given them. “For,” said he, “you cannot suppose that it was my own untaught heart which dictated this rule to you. I learnt it from seventeen monasteries, which I saw during my travels, and most approved of, and I copied these institutions thence for your benefit.” The large and noble library, which he had brought from Rome, and which was necessary for the edification of his church, he commanded to be kept entire, and neither by neglect to be injured or dispersed. But on one point he was most solicitous, in choosing an abbot, lest high birth, and not rather probity of life and doctrine, should be attended to. “And I tell you of a truth,” said he, “in the choice of two evils, it would be much more tolerable for me, if God so pleased, that this place, wherein I have built the monastery, should for ever become a desert, than that my carnal brother, who, as we know, walks not in the way of truth, should become abbot, and succeed me in its government. Wherefore, my brethren, beware, and never choose an abbot on account of his birth, nor from any foreign place; but seek out, according to the rule of Abbot Benedict the Great, and the decrees of our order, with common consent, from amongst your own company, whoever in virtue of life and wisdom of doctrine may be found fittest for this office; and whomsoever you shall, by this unanimous inquiry of Christian charity, prefer and choose, let him be made abbot with the customary blessings, in presence of the bishop. For those who after the flesh beget children of the flesh, must necessarily seek fleshly and earthly heirs to their fleshly and earthly inheritance; but those who by the spiritual seed of the Word procreate spiritual sons to God, must of like necessity be spiritual in every thing which they do. Among their spiritual children, they think him the greatest who is possessed of the most abundant grace of the Spirit, in the same way as earthly parents consider their eldest as the principal one of their children, and prefer him to the others in dividing out their inheritance.”
Nor must I omit to mention that the venerable Abbot Benedict, to lessen the wearisomeness of the night, which from his illness he often passed without sleeping, would frequently call a reader, and cause him to read aloud, as an example for himself, the history of the patience of Job, or some other extract from Scripture, by which his pains might be alleviated, and his depressed soul be raised to heavenly things. And because he could not get up to pray, nor without difficulty lift up his voice to the usual extent of daily psalmody, the prudent man, in his zeal for religion, at every hour of daily or nightly prayer would call to him some of the brethren, and making them sing psalms in two companies, would himself sing with them, and thus make up by their voices for the deficiency of his own.
Now both the abbots saw that they were near death, and unfit longer to rule the monastery, from increasing weakness, which, though tending no doubt to the perfection of Christian purity, was so great, that, when they expressed a desire to see one another before they died, and Sigfrid was brought in a litter into the room where Benedict was lying on his bed, though they were placed by the attendants with their heads on the same pillow, they had not the power of their own strength to kiss one another, but were assisted even in this act of fraternal love. After taking counsel with Sigfrid and the other brethren, Benedict sent for Ceolfrid, abbot of St. Paul’s, dear to him not by relationship of the flesh, but by the ties of Christian virtue, and with the consent and approbation of all, made him abbot of both monasteries; thinking it expedient in every respect to preserve peace, unity, and concord between the two, if they should have one father and ruler for ever, after the example of the kingdom of Israel, which always remained invincible and inviolate by foreign nations as long as it was ruled by one and the same governor of its own race; but when for its former sins it was torn into opposing factions, it fell by degrees, and, thus shorn of its ancient integrity, perished. He reminded them also of that evangelical maxim, ever worthy to be remembered,—“A kingdom divided against itself shall be laid waste.”
Two months after this, God’s chosen servant, the venerable Abbot Sigfrid, having passed through the fire and water of temporal tribulation, was carried to the resting-place of everlasting repose: he entered the mansion of the heavenly kingdom, rendering up whole offerings of praise to the Lord which his righteous lips had vowed; and after another space of four months, Benedict, who so nobly vanquished sin and wrought the deeds of virtue, yielded to the weakness of the flesh, and came to his end. Night came on chilled by the winter’s blasts, but a day of eternal felicity succeeded, of serenity and of splendour. The brethren met together at the church, and passed the night without sleep in praying and singing, consoling their sorrow for their father’s departure by one continued outpouring of praise. Others clung to the chamber in which the sick man, strong in mind, awaited his departure from death and his entry into eternal life. A portion of Scripture from the Gospels, appointed to be read every evening, was recited by a priest during the whole night, to relieve their sorrow. The sacrament of our Lord’s flesh and blood was given him as a viaticum at the moment of his departure; and thus his holy spirit, chastened and tried by the lengthened gallings of the lash, operating for his own good, abandoned the earthy tenement of the flesh, and escaped in freedom to the glory of everlasting happiness. That his departure was most triumphant, and neither impeded nor delayed by unclean spirits, the psalm which was chanted for him is a proof. For the brethren coming together to the church at the beginning of the night, sang through the Psalter in order, until they came to the 82nd, which begins, “God, who shall be like unto thee?” The subject of the text is this; that the enemies of the Christian name, whether carnal or spiritual, are always endeavouring to destroy and disperse the church of Christ, and every individual soul among the faithful; but that, on the other hand, they themselves shall be confounded and routed, and shall perish for ever, unnerved before the power of the Lord, to whom there is no one equal, for He alone is Most Highest over the whole earth. Wherefore it was a manifest token of Divine interposition, that such a song should be sung at the moment of his death, against whom, with God’s aid, no enemy could prevail. In the sixteenth year after he built the monastery, the holy confessor found rest in the Lord, on the 14th day of January, in the church of St. Peter; and thus, as he had loved that holy Apostle in his life, and obtained from him admission into the heavenly kingdom, so also after death he rested hard by his relics, and his altar, even in the body. He ruled the monastery, as I have stated, sixteen years: the first eight alone, without any assistant abbot; the last eight in conjunction with Easterwine, Sigfrid, and Ceolfrid, who enjoyed with him the title of abbot, and assisted him in his duties. The first of these was his colleague four years; the second, three; the third, one.
THE third of these, Ceolfrid, was a man of great perseverance, of acute intellect, bold in action, experienced in judgment, and zealous in religion. He first of all, as we have mentioned, with the advice and assistance of Benedict, founded, completed, and ruled the monastery of St. Paul’s seven years; and, afterwards, ably governed, during twenty-eight years, both these monasteries; or, to speak more correctly, the single monastery of St. Peter and St. Paul, in its two separate localities; and, whatever works of merit his predecessor had begun, he, with no less zeal, took pains to finish. For, among other arrangements which he found it necessary to make, during his long government of the monastery, he built several oratories; increased the number of vessels of the church and altar, and the vestments of every kind; and the library of both monasteries, which Abbot Benedict had so actively begun, under his equally zealous care became doubled in extent. For he added three Pandects of a new translation to that of the old translation which he had brought from Rome; one of them, returning to Rome in his old age, he took with him as a gift; the other two he left to the two monasteries. Moreover, for a beautiful volume of the Geographers which Benedict had bought at Rome, he received from king Alfrid, who was well skilled in Holy Scripture, in exchange, a grant of land of eight hides, near the river Fresca, for the monastery of St. Paul’s. Benedict had arranged this purchase with the same King Alfrid, before his death, but died before he could complete it. Instead of this land, Ceolfrid, in the reign of Osred, paid an additional price, and received a territory of twenty hides, in the village called by the natives Sambuce, and situated much nearer to the monastery. In the time of Pope Sergius, of blessed memory, some monks were sent to Rome, who procured from him a privilege for the protection of their monastery, similar to that which Pope Agatho had given to Benedict. This was brought back to Britain, and, being exhibited before a synod, was confirmed by the signatures of the bishops who were present, and their munificent King Alfrid, just as the former privilege was confirmed publicly by the king and bishops of the time. Zealous for the welfare of St. Peter’s monastery, at that time under the government of the reverend and religious servant of Christ, Witmer, whose acquaintance with every kind of learning, both sacred and profane, was equally extensive, he made a gift of it for ever of a portion of land of ten hides, which he had received from King Alfrid, in the village called Daldun.
BUT Ceolfrid having now practised a long course of regular discipline, which the prudent father Benedict had laid down for himself and his brethren on the authority of the elders; and having shown the most incomparable skill both in praying and chanting, in which he daily exercised himself, together with the most wonderful energy in punishing the wicked, and modesty in consoling the weak; having also observed such abstinence in meat and drink, and such humility in dress, as are uncommon among rulers; saw himself now old and full of days, and unfit any longer, from his extreme age, to prescribe to his brethren the proper forms of spiritual exercise by his life and doctrine. Having, therefore, deliberated long within himself, he judged it expedient, having first impressed on the brethren the observance of the rules which St. Benedict had given them, and thereby to choose for themselves a more efficient abbot out of their own number, to depart, himself to Rome, where he had been in his youth with the holy Benedict; that not only he might for a time be free from all worldly cares before his death, and so have leisure and quiet for reflection, but that they also, having chosen a younger abbot, might naturally, in consequence thereof, observe more accurately the rules of monastic discipline.
AT first all opposed, and entreated him on their knees and with many tears, but their solicitations were to no purpose. Such was his eagerness to depart, that on the third day after he had disclosed his design to the brethren, he set out upon his journey. For he feared, what actually came to pass, that he might die before he reached Rome; and he was also anxious that neither his friends nor the nobility, who all honoured him, should delay his departure, or give him money which he would not have time to repay; for with him it was an invariable rule, if any one made him a present, to show equal grace by returning it, either at once or within a suitable space of time. Early in the morning, therefore, of Wednesday, the 4th of May, the mass was sung in the church of the Mother of God, the immaculate Virgin Mary, and in the church of the Apostle Peter; and those who were present communicating with him, he prepared for his departure. All of them assembled in St. Peter’s church; and when he had lighted the frankincense, and addressed a prayer at the altar, he gave his blessing to all, standing on the steps and holding the censer in his hand. Amid the prayers of the Litany, the cry of sorrow resounded from all as they went out of the church: they entered the oratory of St. Laurence the martyr, which was in the dormitory of the brethren over-against them. Whilst giving them his last farewell, he admonished them to preserve love towards one another, and to correct, according to the Gospel rule, those who did amiss: he forgave all of them whatever wrong they might have done him; and entreated them all to pray for him, and to be reconciled to him, if he had ever reprimanded them too harshly. They went down to the shore, and there, amid tears and lamentations, he gave them the kiss of peace, as they knelt upon their knees; and when he had offered up a prayer he went on board the vessel with his companions. The deacons of the Church went on board with him, carrying lighted tapers and a golden crucifix. Having crossed the river, he kissed the cross, mounted his horse, and departed, leaving in both his monasteries about six hundred brethren.
When he was gone, the brethren returned to the church, and with much weeping and prayer commended themselves and theirs to the protection of the Lord. After a short interval, having ended the nine o’clock psalm, they again assembled, and deliberated what was to be done. At length they resolved, with prayer, hymns, and fasting, to seek of the Lord a new abbot as soon as possible. This resolution they communicated to their brethren of St. Paul’s, by some of that monastery who were present, and also by some of their own people. They immediately gave their consent, and both monasteries showing the same spirit, they all together lifted up their hearts and voices to the Lord. At length, on the third day, which was Easter Sunday, an assembly was held, consisting of all the brethren of St. Peter’s and several of the elder monks from the monastery of St. Paul’s. The greatest concord prevailed, and the same sentiments were expressed by both. They elected for their new abbot, Huetbert, who from his boyhood had not only been bred up in the regular discipline of the monastery, but had acquired much experience in the various duties of writing, chanting, reading, and teaching. He had been at Rome in the time of Pope Sergius, of blessed memory, and had there learnt and copied every thing which he thought useful or worthy to be brought away. He had also been twelve years in priest’s orders. He was now made abbot; and immediately went with some of the brethren to Ceolfrid, who was waiting for a ship in which to cross the ocean. They told him what they had done, for which he gave thanks to God, in approbation of their choice, and received from his successor a letter of recommendation to Pope Gregory, of which I have preserved the few passages which follow.
“To our most beloved lord in the Lord of lords, and thrice blessed Pope Gregory, Huetbert, his most humble servant, abbot of the monastery of the holiest of the Apostles, St. Peter, in Saxony, Health for ever in the Lord! I do not cease to give thanks to the dispensation of Divine wisdom, as do also all the holy brethren, who in these parts are seeking with me to bear the pleasant yoke of Christ, that they may find rest to their souls, that God has condescended to appoint so glorious a vessel of election to rule the Church in these our times; and by means of the light of truth and faith with which you are full, to scatter the beams of his love on all your inferiors also. We recommend to your holy clemency, most beloved father and lord in Christ, the grey hairs of our venerable and beloved father Abbot Ceolfrid, the supporter and defender of our spiritual liberty and peace in this monastic retirement; and, in the first place, we give thanks to the holy and undivided Trinity, for that, although he hath caused us much sorrow, lamentation, and tears, by his departure, he hath nevertheless arrived at the enjoyment of that rest which he long desired; whilst he was in his old age devoutly returning to that threshold of the holy Apostles, which he exultingly boasted, that when a youth he had visited, seen, and worshipped. After more than forty years of care and toil, during his government of the monasteries, by his wonderful love of virtue, as if recently incited to conversation with the heavenly life, though worn out with extreme old age, and already almost at the gates of death, he a second time undertakes to travel in the cause of Christ, that the thorns of his former secular anxieties may be consumed by the fire of zeal blazing forth from that spiritual furnace. We next entreat your fatherly love, that, though we have not merited to do this, you will carefully fulfil towards him the last offices; knowing for certain, that though you may possess his body, yet both we and you shall have in his devout spirit, whether in the body or out of the body, a mighty intercessor and protector over our own last moments, at the throne of grace.” And so on through the rest of the letter.
When Huetbert had returned to the monastery, Bishop Acca was sent for to confirm the election with his blessing. Afterwards, by his youthful zeal and wisdom, he gained many privileges for the monastery; and, amongst others, one which gave great delight to all, he took up the bones of Abbot Easterwine, which lay in the entrance porch of St. Peter’s, and also the bones of his old preceptor, Abbot Sigfrid, which had been buried outside the Sacrarium towards the south, and placing both together in one chest, but separated by a partition, laid them within the church near the body of St. Benedict. He did this on Sigfrid’s birthday, the 23rd of August; and on the same day Divine Providence so ordered that Christ’s venerable servant Witmer, whom we have already mentioned, departed this life, and was buried in the same place as the aforesaid abbots, whose life he had imitated.
BUT Christ’s servant Ceolfrid, as has been said, died on his way to the threshold of the holy Apostles, of old age and weakness. For he reached the Lingones about nine o’clock, where he died seven hours after, and was honourably buried the next day in the church of the three twin martyrs, much to the sorrow, not only of the English who were in his train, to the number of eighty, but also of the neighbouring inhabitants, who were dissolved in tears at the loss of the reverend father. For it was almost impossible to avoid weeping to see part of his company continuing their journey without the holy father, whilst others, abandoning their first intentions, returned home to relate his death and burial; and others, again, lingered in sorrow at the tomb of the deceased among strangers speaking an unknown tongue.
CEOLFRID was seventy-four years old when he died: forty-seven years he had been in priest’s orders, during thirty-five of which he had been abbot; or, to speak more correctly, forty-three, — for, from the time when Benedict began to build his monastery in honour of the holiest of the Apostles, Ceolfrid had been his only companion, coadjutor, and teacher of the monastic rules. He never relaxed the rigour of ancient discipline from any occasions of old age, illness, or travel; for, from the day of his departure till the day of his death, i. e. from the 4th of June till the 25th of September, a space of one hundred and fourteen days, besides the canonical hours of prayer, he never omitted to go twice daily through the Psalter in order; and even when he became so weak that he could not ride on horseback, and was obliged to be carried in a horse-litter, the holy ceremony of the mass was offered up every day, except one which he passed at sea, and the three days immediately before his death.
HE died on Friday, the 25th of September, in the year of our Lord 716, between three and four o’clock, in the fields of the city before mentioned, and was buried the next day near the first milestone on the south side of the city, in the monastery of the Twins, followed by a large number of his English attendants, and the inhabitants of the city and monastery. The names of these twin martyrs are Speusippus, Eleusippus, and Meleusippus. They were born at one birth, and born again by baptism at the same time: together with their aunt Leonella, they left behind them the holy remembrance of their martyrdom; and I pray that they may bestow upon my unworthy self, and upon our holy father, the benefit of their intercession and protection.[Back to Table of Contents]
DE LOCIS SANCTIS LIBELLUS, QUEM DE OPUSCULIS MAJORUM ABBREVIANDO BEDA COMPOSUIT.
DE SITU HIERUSALEM.
SITUS urbis Hierusalem pene in orbem circumactus, non parvo murorum ambitu assurgit, quo etiam montem Sion quondam vicinum intra se recipit, qui a meridie positus pro arce urbi supereminet, et major pars civitatis infra montem jacet, in planitie humilioris collis sita. Post passionem quippe Domini a Tito imperatore destructa, sed ab Ælio Hadriano Cæsare, a quo etiam Ælia nunc vocatur, instaurata multoque amplior effecta est. Unde est, quod cum Dominus extra portas urbis passus sepultusque sit, modo loca passionis et resurrectionis illius intra ejusdem mœnia cernantur, cujus in magno murorum ambitu octoginta quatuor turres, portæ vero sex visuntur. Prima porta David ad occidentem montis Sion: secunda porta vallis Fullonis: tertia porta Sancti Stephani: quarta porta Benjamin: quinta portula, id est, parvula porta, ab hac per gradus ad vallem Josaphat descenditur: sexta porta Thecuitis. Celebriores tamen ex his sunt tres exitus portarum: unus quidem ab occasu, alius a septentrione, tertius ab oriente. A meridie autem, aquilonale montis Sion supercilium supereminet civitati, et ea pars murorum cum interpositis turribus nullas habere portas comprobatur, id est, a suprascripta David porta, usque ad eam montis Sion frontem, quæ prærupta rupe orientalem respicit plagam. Situs quippe ipsius urbis a supercilio aquilonali montis Sion incipiens, ita est molli clivo dispositus, usque ad humiliora aquilonalium orientaliumque loca murorum, ut pluvia ibi decidens nequaquam stet, sed instar fluviorum per orientales defluens portas, cunctis secum platearum sordibus raptis, in valle Josaphat torrentem Cedron auget.
DE LOCIS SANCTIS QUÆ IN EA SITA SUNT.
INGRESSIS ergo a septentrionali parte urbem, primum de locis sanctis pro conditione platearum divertendum est ad ecclesiam Constantinianam, quæ Martyrium appellatur. Hanc Constantinus Imperator, eo quod ibi crux Domini ab Helena matre reperta sit, magnifico et regio cultu construxit. Dehinc ab occasu Golgothana videtur ecclesia, in qua etiam rupes apparet illa, quæ quondam ipsam, affixo Domini corpore, crucem pertulit, argenteam modo pergrandem sustinens crucem, pendente magna desuper ærea rota cum lampadibus. Infra ipsum vero locum Dominicæ crucis, excisa in petra crypta est, in qua super altare pro defunctis honoratis sacrificium solet offerri, positis interim in platea corporibus. Hujus quoque ad occasum ecclesiæ Anastasis, hoc est, resurrectionis Dominicæ rotunda ecclesia, tribus cincta parietibus, duodecim columnis sustentatur, inter parietes singulos latum habens spatium viæ, quæ tria altaria in tribus locis parietis medii continet, hoc est, australi, aquilonali, et occidentali. Hæc bis quaternas portas, id est, introitus per tres e regione parietes habet, e quibus quatuor ad Vulturnum, et quatuor ad Eurum spectant. Hujus in medio monumentum Domini rotundum petra excisum est, cujus culmen intrinsecus stans homo manu contingere potest, ab oriente habens introitum, cui lapis ille magnus appositus est, quod intrinsecus ferramentorum vestigia usque in præsens ostendunt. Nam extrinsecus usque ad culminis summitatem totum marmore tectum est; summum vero culmen auro ornatum, auream magnam gestat crucem. In hujus ergo monumenti aquilonali parte sepulchrum Domini in eadem petra excisum, longitudinis septem pedum, trium mensura palmarum pavimento altius eminet, introitum habens a latere meridiano: ubi die noctuque duodecim lampades ardent, quatuor intra sepulchrum, octo supra in margine dextro. Lapis qui ad ostium monumenti positus erat, nunc fissus est; cujus pars minor quadratum altare ante ostium nihilominus ejusdem monumenti stat, major vero in orientali ejusdem ecclesiæ loco quadrangulum aliud altare sub linteaminibus extat. Color autem ejusdem monumenti, et sepulchri, albo et rubicundo permixtus videtur. A dextra autem parte huic ecclesiæ cohæret beatæ Domini Genitricis ecclesia quadrangula. In platea, quæ martyrium et Golgotha continuat, exedra est, in qua calix Domini in scriniolo reconditus, per operculi foramen tangi solet et osculari. Qui argenteus calix, duas hinc et inde habens ansulas, sextarii Gallici mensuram capit: in quo est et illa spongia Dominici potus ministra. In loco autem illo, quo Abraham altare ad immolandum filium construxit, mensa est lignea non parva, in quam pauperum eleemosynæ solent a populo deferri. Lancea militis inserta habetur in cruce lignea in porticu martyrii, cujus hastile in duas intercisum partes, a tota veneratur civitate. Singula quæ dixi, ut manifestius agnosceres, etiam præ oculis depingere curavi.
(Deest figura in MSS.)
Hæc quidem omnia quæ commemoravimus sancta loca, extra montem Sion posita cernuntur, quo se ad aquilonem deficiens loci tumor porrexit. In inferiori vero parte urbis, ubi templum in vicinia muri ab oriente locatum, ipsique urbi, transitum pervio ponte mediante, fuerat conjunctum, nunc Saraceni quadratam domum subrectis tabulis et magnis trabibus super quasdam ruinarum reliquias vili opere construentes, oratione frequentant, quæ tria millia hominum capere videtur. Paucæ illic cisternæ in usum aquarum cernuntur. In vicinia templi Bethsaida piscina gemino insignis lacu apparet, quorum alter hybernis plerumque impletur imbribus, alter rubris est discolor aquis. Ab ea fronte montis Sion, quæ prærupta rupe orientalem plagam spectat, intra muros atque in radicibus collis fons Siloe prorumpit, qui alternante quidem aquarum accessu in meridem defluit, id est, non certis vel jugibus aquis, sed incertis horis diebusque ebullit, et per terrarum concava et antra saxi durissimi cum magno sonitu venire consuevit. In superiori montis Sion planitie, monachorum cellulæ frequentes ecclesiam magnam circumdant, illic, ut perhibent, ab Apostolis fundatam, eo quod ibi Spiritum Sanctum acceperint, ibique S. Maria obierit. In qua etiam locus cœnæ Domini venerabilis ostenditur. Sed et columna marmorea in medio stat ecclesiæ, cui adhærens Dominus flagellatus est. Hujus ergo ecclesiæ talis dicitur esse figura.
(Deest figura in MSS.)
Hic monstratur petra, super quam lapidatus est sanctus protomartyr Stephanus extra civitatem. In medio autem Hierusalem, ubi cruce Domini superposita mortuus revixit, columna celsa stat, quæ æstivo solstitio umbram non facit, unde putant ibi mediam esse terram, et historice dictum: ‘Deus autem ante secula operatus est salutem in medio terræ.’ Qua ductus opinione Victorinus Pictaviensis, antistes ecclesiæ, de Golgotha scribens ita inchoat:
DE ACHELDEMACH, ET LOCO UBI SUSPENSUS EST JUDAS.
Portam David egredientibus, fons occurrit in austrum per vallem directus, ad cujus medietatem ab occasu Judas se suspendisse narratur. Nam et ficus magna ibi, ac vetustissima stat, juxta quod Juvencus ait:
‘Informem rapuit ficus de vertice mortem.’
Porro Acheldemach ad australem plagam montis Sion, peregrinos et ignobiles mortuos hodie quoque alios terra tegit, alios inhumatos putrefacit.
DE SUDARIO CAPITIS DOMINI, ET ALIO MAJORE LINTEO A SANCTA MARIA CONFECTO.
SUDARIUM capitis Domini post resurrectionem ejus mox Christianissimus quidam Judæus furatus, usque ad obitum, divitiis sibi affluentibus, habuit. Qui moriturus interrogat filios, qui Domini sudarium, qui cæteras patris velit accipere divitias. Major thesauros rerum, minor elegit sudarium. Et mox majori decrescunt opes usque ad paupertatem: fratri autem cum fide crescunt et opes; et hoc usque ad quintam generationem fideles tenuere. Hinc ad impios perveniens, divitias tantum auxit, ut Judæis, et hoc multo tempore, donec post longa litigia, quibus Christiani Judæi se Christi, infideles vero se patrum suorum affirmabant hæredes, Majuvias, Saracenorum rex, qui nostra ætate fuit, judex postulatus, accensa grandi pyra, Christum judicem precatur, qui hoc pro suorum salute super caput habere dignaretur. Missum ergo in ignem sudarium, veloci raptu effugiens evolat, et in summo aere diutissime quasi ludendo volucritans, ad ultimum cunctis utrinque intuentibus, sese leviter in cujusdam de Christiana plebe sinum deposuit, quod mane mox totus populus summa cum veneratione salutabat et osculabatur. Habebat autem longitudinis pedes octo. Aliud quoque aliquanto majus linteum in ecclesia illa veneratur, quod fertur a sancta Maria contextum, duodecim Apostolorum et ipsius Domini continens imagines, uno latere rubeum, et altero viride.
DE LOCIS CIRCA HIERUSALEM, ET ECCLESIA IN VALLE JOSAPHAT, UBI SEPULTA FUIT SANCTA MARIA.
CIRCA Hierosolymam aspera et montuosa cernuntur loca: hinc quoque septentrionem versus usque ad Arimathiam terra petrosa et aspera per intervalla monstratur: valles quoque spinosæ usque ad Tamniticam regionem patentes: ad Cæsaream vero Palestinæ ab Ælia, quamvis aliqua reperiantur angusta et brevia atque aspera loca, præcipua tamen planities camporum inest interpositis oliv etis. Distant autem septuaginta quinque millibus passuum, longitudo vero Terræ Repromissionis a Dan usque Bersabee, tenditur spatio centum sexaginta millium, ab Joppe usque Bethleem quadraginta sex millibus. Juxta murum templi vel Hierusalem ab oriente Gehennon occurrit, quæ est vallis Josaphat, a septentrionali plaga in austrum porrecta, per quam torrens Cedron, si quando pluviarum aquas recipit, decurrit. Hæc vallis et parva campi planities, irrigua et nemorosa, plenaque deliciis, lucum in se quondam Baali sacrum habuit. In hac turris est Regis Josaphat, sepulchrum ejus continens: cujus ad dextram de rupe montis Oliveti excisa et separata domus duo cavata habet sepulchra, hoc est, Simeonis senis, et Joseph Sanctæ Mariæ sponsi. In eadem valle Sanctæ Mariæ rotunda est ecclesia, lapideo tabulato discreta, cujus in superioribus quatuor altaria, in inferioribus unum habetur in orientali plaga, et ad ejus dextram monumentum est vacuum, in quo Sancta Maria Dei genetrix aliquandiu pausasse dicitur; sed a quo vel quando sit ablata nescitur. Hanc intrantes vident ad dextram insertam parieti petram, in qua Dominus nocte, qua tradebatur, oravit, vestigiis genuum quasi ceræ molli impressis.
DE MONTE OLIVETI, ET ECCLESIA IBI FUNDATA, UBI DOMINUS AD CŒLOS ASCENDIT.
Mons Olivarum mille ab Hierusalem discretus passibus, altitudine monti Sion par est; sed latitudine et longitudine præstat, exceptis vitibus et olivis raræ ferax arboris, frumenti quoque et hordei fertilis. Neque enim brucosa, sed herbosa et florida soli illius est qualitas. In cujus summo vertice, ubi Dominus ad cœlos ascendit, ecclesia rotunda grandis, ternas per circuitum cameratas habet porticus desuper tectas. Interior namque domus propter Dominici corporis meatum camerari et tegi non potuit, altare ad orientem habens angusto culmine protectum: in cujus medio ultima Domini vestigia cœlo desuper patente, ubi ascendit, visuntur. Quæ cum quotidie a credentibus terra tollatur, nihilominus manet, eandemque adhuc speciem veluti impressis signata vestigiis servat. Hæc circa ærea rota jacet usque ad cervicem alta, ab occasu habens introitum, pendente desuper in trochleis magna lampade, totaque die ac nocte lucente. In occidentali ejusdem ecclesiæ parte fenestræ octo, totidemque e regione lampades in funibus pendentes usque Hierosolymam per vitrum fulgent, quarum lux corda intuentium cum quadam alacritate et compunctione pavefacere dicitur. In die ascensionis Dominicæ, per annos singulos missa peracta, validi flaminis procella desursum venire consuevit, et omnes qui in ecclesia fuerint, terra prosternere. Tota ibi illa nocte lucernæ ardent, ut non illustrari tantum, sed et ardere mons per supposita loca videantur. Et hujus quoque basilicæ figuram præ oculis depingere placuit.
(Deest figura in MSS.)
Monumentum Lazari ecclesia ibidem extructa demonstrat, et monasterium grande in campo quodam Bethaniæ, magna Olivarum sylva circumdatum. Est autem Bethania quindecim stadiis ab Hierusalem. Tertia quoque ejusdem montis ad australem Bethaniæ partem ecclesia est, ubi Dominus ante passionem discipulis de die judicii loquitur.
DE SITU BETHLEEM, ET DE ECCLESIA, UBI NATUS FUIT DOMINUS, ET DE SEPULCHRIS DAVID ET HIERONYMI, ET TRIUM PASTORUM.
BETHLEEM sex millibus in austrum ab Hierosolyma secreta, in dorso sita est angusto ex omni parte vallibus circumdato, ab occidente in orientem mille passibus longa, humili sine turribus muro per extrema plani verticis instructo, in cujus orientali angulo, quasi quoddam naturale semiantrum est, cujus exterior pars nativitatis Dominicæ fuisse dicitur locus, interior Præsepe Domini nominatur. Hæc spelunca tota interius pretioso marmore tecta, supra ipsum locum, ubi Dominus natus specialius traditur, Sanctæ Mariæ grandem gestat ecclesiam. Petra juxta murum cavata, primum Dominici corporis lavacrum de muro missum suscipiens, hactenus servat: quæ si qua forte occasione vel industria fuerit exhausta, nihilominus continuo, dum respicit, sicut ante fuerat, plena redundat. Ad aquilonem Bethleem in valle contigua, sepulchrum David in medio ecclesiæ humili lapide tegitur, lampade superposita: ad austrum vero in valle contigua in ecclesia, sepulchrum S. Hieronymi. Porro ad orientem in turre Ader, id est, gregis, mille passibus a civitate segregata est ecclesia, trium pastorum Dominicæ nativitatis consciorum monumenta continens. Hæc relationem Arculphi Galliarum episcopi secutus dixerim. Cæterum Esdras aperte scribit, in Hierusalem David esse sepultum, via regia, quæ ab Ælia Chebron ducit, ab oriente Bethleem, ab occidente sepulchrum Rachel habens, titulo nominis ejus usque hodie signatum.
DE SITU CHEBRON, ET MONUMENTIS PATRUM ET ADAM.
Chebron in campi latitudine sita est, et ab Ælia viginti duobus millibus separata: uno ad orientem stadio speluncam duplicem in valle habet, ubi sepulchra patriarcharum quadrato muro circumdantur, capitibus versis ad aquilonem: et hæc singula singulis tecta lapidibus instar basilicæ dolatis, trium patriarcharum candidis: Adam obscurioris et vilioris operis, qui haud longe ab illis ad borealem extremamque muri illius partem pausat. Trium quoque fœminarum viliores et minores memoriæ cernuntur. Mambre collis mille passibus a monumentis his ad boream, herbosus valde et floridus, campestrem habens in vertice planitiem, in cujus aquilonali parte quercus Abrahæ duorum hominum altitudinis truncus ecclesia circumdata est. Egredientibus vero Chebron ad aquilonem in sinistra parte viæ occurrit mons pinosus, parvus, tribus millibus passuum a Chebron, unde Hierosolymam pinea ligna feruntur in camelis: nam in omni Judæa plaustra vel currus raro fiunt.
DE HIERICHO, ET LOCIS EJUSDEM SANCTIS.
HIERICHO ab Ælia orientem versus novendecim mille passibus abest, qua tertio ad solum destructa, sola domus Raab ob signum fidei remanet: ejus enim adhuc parietes sine culmine durant. Locus urbis segetes et vineas recipit. Inter hanc et Jordanem, quinque vel sex ab ea millibus separatum, grandia sunt palmeta campulis interpositis et inhabitatoribus Chananæis. Duodecim lapides, quos Josue de Jordane tolli præceperat, in ecclesia Galgalis facta altrinsecus juxta parietes ejusdem jacent, vix singuli nunc duobus viris elevabiles, quorum unus nescio quo casu fractus, sed ferro medicante reconjunctus est. Est juxta Hiericho fons uber ad potum, pinguis ad irrigandum; qui quondam sterilis ad generandum, parum salubris ad potandum, per Helizæum prophetam dum vas salis in eum mitteret sanatus est. Denique campus circumjacet septuaginta stadiorum in longitudinem, et viginti in latitudinem patens, in quo mirabilis hortorum gratia, varia palmarum genera, præstantissimi apum fœtus. Illic opobalsamum gignitur, quod ideo cum adjectione significamus, quia agricolæ cortice tenues virgulas acutis lapidibus incidunt, in quibus balsama generantur, ut per illas cavernas paullatim distillans humor se colligat lacrymis pulchre rotantibus. Caverna autem Græco nomine ὀπὴ dicitur. Illic cyprum, illic myrobalanum nasci ferunt. Aqua, ut cætera, fontium, illic tamen præstantior, æstate frigida, hyeme tepens: aer mollior, ut summa hyeme lineis utantur indumentis. Urbs ipsa condita in campo, cui supereminet mons diffusior et nudus gignentium: ægrum enim et jejunum solum, et ideo ab incolis desertum. Hic a Scythopolis urbis terra, usque ad regionem Sodomitanam et Asphaltios fines locus diffusus habetur. Adversus hunc mons supra Jordanem, ab urbe Juliade usque ad Zoaros Arabiæ Petrææ conterminos extentus, ubi etiam mons est Ferreus nuncupatus. Inter hos duos montes campus jacet, quem veteres Magnum appellavere, Hebraice autem Aulon; cujus longitudo ducentorum triginta stadiorum, latitudo centum viginti: exordium a vico Gennabara, finis usque ad Asphaltium lacum. Jordanis eum medium intersecat, viridantibus ripis fluminis alluvione, siquidem super ripas ejusdem, fructus arborum uberior est, alias longe exilior: arida enim sunt omnia præter oram fluminis.
CAP. X. —
DE JORDANE, ET MARI GALILÆÆ SIVE TIBERIADOS.
Ipsius Jordanis exordium vulgo putatur in provincia Phœnice, ad radices montis Libani, ubi Panium, id est Cæsarea Philippi, sita est. Unde et idem Panium, hoc est, spelæum, per quod sese attollit Jordanis, a Rege Agrippa decore admirabili extructum venustatumque accepimus. Est autem in Trachonitide terra fons rotæ qualitatem exprimens, unde et Phialæ nomen accepit, quindecim a Cæsarea millibus passuum discretus, ita jugiter plenus aquarum, ut neque superfluant, neque unquam minuantur. In hunc Philippus tetrarches ejusdem regionis paleas misit, quas in Panio fluvius ebullivit. Unde liquet in Phiala principium esse Jordanis, sed post subterraneos meatus in Panio cœpisse fluentum, qui mox lacum ingressus, paludes ejus intersecat: inde quoque cursus suos dirigens, quindecim millia passuum sine ulla interfusione progreditur usque ad urbem cui Julias nomen est: postea lacum Genesar medio transit fluento. Unde plurima circumvagatus Asphaltium, hoc est, Mortuum Mare ingressus, laudabiles prodit aquas. Est enim coloris albi, sicut lac, et ob hoc in Mari Mortuo longo tramite discernitur. Est autem Genesar, id est, mare Galilææ magnis sylvis circumdatum, in longitudine habens centum quadraginta stadia aquæ dulcis, et ad potandum habilis. Siquidem nec palustris uliginis crassum aliquid aut turbidum recipit, quia arenoso undique litore circumvenitur: sed et amœnis circumdatur oppidis, ab oriente Juliade et Hippo, ab occidente Tiberiade aquis calidis salubri: genera quoque piscium gustu et specie quam in alio lacu præstantiora.
CAP. XI. —
DE MARI MORTUO, ET NATURA EJUS, SIVE ADJACENTIS TERRÆ.
Mare Mortuum longitudine stadiorum quingentorum octoginta usque ad Zoaros Arabiæ, latitudine centum quinquaginta usque ad vicina Sodomorum protenditur. Nam et de puteis quondam salis post Sodomæ et Gomorræ et civitatum finitimarum combustionem inundasse certissimum est. Apparet vero procul de specula montis Oliveti cernentibus, quod fluctuum collisione commotum, salsissimum ejicit sal, et hoc sole siccatum accipitur, multis ubique nationibus profuturum. Aliter vero in quodam Siculo monte sal fieri dicitur, ubi lapides, de terra evulsi, verum salsissimum sal, et cunctis usibus aptissimum præbeant, quod esse sal terræ dicitur. Mortuum autem Mare appellatur, quod nihil recipiat generum viventium, neque pisces, neque assuetas aquis aves; tauri camelique fluitent. Denique si Jordanis auctus imbribus pisces illuc influens rapuerit, statim moriuntur, et pinguibus aquis supernatant. Lucernam accensam ferunt supernatare sine ulla conversione, nec extincto demergi lumine: quin et vas demersum arte qualibet difficile hærere in profundo, omniaque viventia, demersa licet et vehementer illisa, statim resilire: denique Vespasianum præcepisse, nandi ignaros revinctis manibus in profundum dejici, eosque omnes illico supernatasse. Aqua ipsa sterilis et amara, cæterisque aquis obscurior, et quasi adustæ præferens similitudinem. Vagari super aquas bituminis glebas certum est atro liquore, quas scaphis appropinquantes colligunt. Hærere sibi bitumen fertur, et nequaquam ferro præcidi, sanguini tantum mulierum menstruo vel urinæ cedere: utile est autem ad compagem navium, vel corporibus hominum medendis. Servat adhuc regio speciem pœnæ: nascuntur enim ibi poma pulcherrima, quæ et edendi cupiditatem spectantibus generant: si carpas, fatiscunt ac resolvuntur in cinerem, fumumque excitant, quasi adhuc ardeant. Sane in diebus æstatis immodicus per spatia campi æstuat vapor, unde et coalescente vitio nimiæ siccatis atque humi aridæ corruptior aer miserandas incolis conficit ægritudines.
DE LOCO IN QUO BAPTIZATUS EST DOMINUS.
In loco, in quo Dominus baptizatus est, crux lignea stat usque ad collum alta, quæ aliquotiens aqua transcendente absconditur: a quo loco ripa ulterior, id est, orientalis in jactu fundæ est, citerior vero ripa in supercilio monticuli grande monasterium gestat B. Johannis Baptistæ ecclesia clarum; de quo per pontem arcubus suffultum solent descendere ad illam crucem, et orare. In extrema fluminis parte, quadrata ecclesia est, quatuor lapideis cancris superposita, coctili creta desuper tecta, ubi Domini vestimenta cum baptizaretur servata esse dicuntur. Hanc non homines intrare, sed undique cingere ac penetrare solent. Ab eo loco, quo de faucibus maris Galilææ Jordanis exit, usque ubi Mare Mortuum intrat, octo dierum iter est.
DE LOCIS ET MELLE SYLVESTRI, ET FONTE SANCTI JOANNIS BAPTISTÆ.
Minimum genus locustarum fuisse, quo Joannes Baptista pastus est, usque hodie apparet, quæ corpusculis in modum digiti manus exilibus et brevibus, in herbis facile captæ, coctæque in oleo pauperem præbent victum. In eodem deserto sunt arbores, folia lata et rotunda lactei coloris et melliti saporis habentes, quæ natura fragilia, manibus confricantur et eduntur. Hoc esse mel sylvestre dicitur. Ibidem et fons S. Joannis Baptistæ ostenditur lucida aqua, lapideo protectus tecto calce perlito.
DE FONTE JACOB JUXTA SICHEM.
Prope civitatem Sichem, quæ nunc Neapolis dicitur, ecclesia quadrifida est, hoc est, in crucis modum facta. In cujus medio fons Jacob quadraginta cubitis altus, a latere ipso usque ad summum digitorum extentis, de quo Dominus aquas a Samaritana muliere petere dignatus est.
DE TIBERIADE ET CAPHARNAUM, ET NAZARETH, ET LOCIS IDIDEM SANCTIS.
Locus in quo Dominus panes benedixit et pisces citra mare Galilææ, ad aquilonem civitatis Tiberiadis, campus est herbosus et planus, nunquam ex illo tempore aratus, nullus suscipiens ædificia, fontem tantum, ex quo tunc illi biberunt, ostendens. Qui ergo ab Ælia Capharnaum pergunt, per Tiberiadem iter habent, deinde secus mare Galilææ, et locum benedictionis panum; a quo non longe Capharnaum in finibus Zabulon et Nephtalim, quæ murum non habens angusto inter montem et stagnum situ super maritimam oram orientem versus longo tramite protenditur, montem ab aquilone, lacum ab austro habens. Nazareth muros non habet, sed magna ædificia, duasque grandes ecclesias. Una est in medio civitatis supra duos fundata cancros, ubi quondam fuerat domus, in qua Dominus nutritus est infans. Hæc autem ecclesia duobus, ut dictum est, tumulis, et interpositis arcubus suffulta, habet inferius inter eosdem tumulos fontem lucidissimum, unde cives omnes aquas in vasculis per trochleas in ecclesiam extrahunt. Altera vero est ecclesia, ubi domus erat in qua angelus ad B. Mariam venit.
DE MONTE THABOR, ET TRIBUS ECCLESIIS SUPER EUM.
Mons Thabor in medio Galilææ campo, in tribus millibus manans ad Boream a Chenesareth distat, ex omni parte rotundus, herbosus valde et floridus, altitudine triginta stadiorum. Vertex ipse campestris et multum amœnus viginti et trium stadiorum spatio dilatatur, ubi grande monasterium grandi quoque sylva circumdatur, tres ecclesias habens, juxta quod Petrus ait, ‘Faciamus hic tria tabernacula;’ locus muro cinctus, grandia gestans ædificia.
DE SITU DAMASCI.
Damascus in campo sita, lato et amplo murorum ambitu, et crebris munita turribus, quam magna quatuor flumina interfluunt: ubi dum Christiani Sancti Joannis Baptistæ ecclesiam frequentant, Saracenorum rex cum sua gente aliam instituit atque sacravit. Plurima extra muros in gyro oliveta. A Thabor usque Damascum, septem dierum iter.
DE SITU ALEXANDRIÆ, ET NILO, ET ECCLESIA IN QUA REQUIESCIT MARCUS EVANGELISTA.
Alexandria ab occasu in ortum solis longa, ab austro ostiis Nili cingitur, ab aquilone lacu Mareotico: cujus portus cæteris difficilior, quasi ad formam humani corporis in capite ipso et statione capacior, in faucibus vero angustior, qua meatus maris accipit ac navium, quibus quædam spirandi subsidia portu subministrantur. Ubi quis angustias atque ora portus evaserit, tanquam reliqua corporis forma, ita diffusio maris longe lateque extenditur. In ejusdem dextera portus parva insula habetur, in qua Pharus, id est, turris est maxima, nocturno tempore flammarum facibus ardens, ne decepti tenebris nautæ in scopulos impingant, et vestibuli limitem comprehendere nequeant, qui et ipse semper inquietus est, fluctibus hinc inde collidentibus: portus vero placidus semper, amplitudinem habens triginta stadiorum. A parte Ægypti urbem intrantibus ad dexteram occurrit ecclesia, in qua Beatus Evangelista Marcus requiescit. Cujus corpus in orientali parte ejusdem ecclesiæ ante altare humatum est, memoria superposita de quadrato marmore facta. Circa Nilum Ægyptii aggeres crebros propter irruptionem aquarum facere solent, qui si forte custodum incuria rupti fuerint non irrigant, sed opprimunt terras subjacentes: et qui plana Ægypti incolunt, super rivos aquarum sibi domos faciunt transversis trabibus superponentes.
DE CONSTANTINOPOLI, ET BASILICA IN EA, QUÆ CRUCEM DOMINI CONTINET.
Constantinopolis undique præter aquilonem mari cincta, quod a Mari Magno sexaginta millibus passuum usque ad murum civitatis, et a muro civitatis usque ad ostia Danubii quadraginta millibus passuum extenditur, ambitu murorum juxta situm maris anguloso duodecim millia passuum circumplectitur. Hanc primo Constantinus in Cilicia juxta mare, quod Asiam Europamque disterminat, ædificare disposuit, sed quadam nocte ferramenta omnia ablata, missis qui requirerent, in parte Europæ, ubi nunc est ipsa civitas, inventa sunt: ibi enim fieri Dei voluntate intellecta est. In hac urbe basilica miri operis, quæ Sancta Sophia cognominatur, rotundo schemate a fundamentis constructa et concamerata, tribus cincta parietibus, et magnis sustentata columnis arcubusque sublimata est: cujus interior domus in aquilonali sui parte grande et valde pulchrum armarium habet, in quo capsa lignea ligneoque operculo tectas crucis Dominicæ tres particulas continet, longum videlicet lignum in duas partes incisum, et transversum ejusdem sanctæ crucis lignum. Hæc tribus tantum per annum diebus, hoc est, in cœna Domini, in parasceue, et in sabbato sancto, populis adoranda profertur: quarum prima capsa illa super altare aureum, duos cubitos altitudinis et unum latitudinis habens, cum cruce sancta patefacta componitur: accedensque primus Imperator, deinde cunctus per ordinem laicorum gradus sanctam crucem adorat et osculatur: sequenti die Imperatrix, et omnes matronæ vel virgines idem faciunt: tertia nihilominus die episcopi et cuncti clericorum gradus idem faciunt, et sic capsa reclusa ad supradictum armarium reportatur. Quamdiu autem super altare manet aperta, totam ecclesiam mirus odor perfundit. De nodis enim ligni sancti liquor odorifer oleo similis profluit, cujus etiam si aliquis infirmus modicam particulam contingat, omnem ægritudinem sanat.
HÆC de locis sanctis prout potui fidem historiæ secutus exposui, et maxime Arculphi dictatus Galliarum episcopi, quos eruditissimus in scripturis presbyter Adamnanus lacinioso sermone describens, tribus libellis comprehendit. Siquidem memoratus antistes, desiderio locorum sanctorum patriam deferens, terram repromissionis adiit, aliquot mensibus Hierosolymis demoratus, veteranoque monacho nomine Petro duce pariter atque interprete usus, cuncta in circuitu quæ desideraverat, vivida intentione lustravit: necnon Alexandriam, Damascum, Constantinopolim, Siciliamque percurrit. Sed cum patriam revisere vellet, navis qua vehebatur post multos anfractus vento contrario in nostram, id est, Britannorum insulam perlata est: tandemque ipse post nonnulla pericula ad præfatum virum venerabilem Adamnanum veniens, iter pariter suum et ea quæ viderat explicando, pulcherrimæ illum historiæ docuit esse scriptorem. Ex qua nos aliqua decerpentes veterumque libris comparantes, tibi legenda transmittimus, obsecrantes per omnia, ut præsentis seculi laborem, non otio lascivi corporis, sed lectionis orationisque studio tibi temperare satagas.[Back to Table of Contents]
THE BOOK OF THE HOLY PLACES, ABRIDGED BY BEDE FROM THE WORKS OF THE ANCIENTS.
THE city of Jerusalem is almost circular in its form, and the compass of its walls is by no means inconsiderable, and formerly included Mount Sion, which is close by, towards the south, and looks like the citadel of the town. The greater part of the city is lower than the mountain, and lies on the plain summit of one of the lower hills in the neighbourhood. After our Lord’s passion it was destroyed by the Emperor Titus; but was restored and enlarged by Ælius Hadrianus Cæsar, from whom it received the name of Ælia. This is the reason why the place where our Lord suffered and was buried is now within the walls, whereas it was at that time without. In the circumference of its walls, which is extensive, there are eighty-four towers and six gates. The first is David’s gate, to the west of Mount Sion: the second is the gate of the Fuller’s Valley: the third is St. Stephen’s gate: the fourth, Benjamin’s: the fifth is the Postern or little gate, through which we go down by steps to the Valley of Jehoshaphat: the sixth gate is called Thecuitis. The most celebrated of these are the three gates of egress; the first towards the west, the second towards the north, and the third towards the east. On the south the northern brow of Mount Sion appears above the city; and this part of the walls, with the interposing towers, is proved to have had no gates; namely, from David’s gate above-mentioned, to that front of Mount Sion which looks with a rugged precipice towards the east. For the position of the city itself is this: it begins from the northern brow of Mount Sion, and falls with a gentle slope towards the walls on the north-east, where it is lower, so that the rain which falls runs in streams through the eastern gates, and carries with it all the filth of the streets into the brook Cedron, in the Valley of Jehoshaphat.
OF THE HOLY PLACES IN IT.
When you have entered the city on the northern side, first of the holy places, as regards the order of the streets, you must turn out of the way to see the church of Constantine, which is called the Martyrdom. It was built in the most magnificent and princely style by the Emperor Constantine, to commemorate the finding of our Lord’s cross in this place by his mother Helena. To the west of this is seen the church of Golgotha, where too may be seen the rock which formerly bore the very cross that was fastened to our Lord’s body; but which now bears a very large silver cross, and a great wheel of brass hangs from above with lamps. Under the place of our Lord’s cross, a vault is hewn out of the rock, in which sacrifice is offered on an altar for honourable persons deceased, their bodies remaining meanwhile in the street. To the westward of this is the Anastasis, that is, the round church of our Saviour’s resurrection, encompassed with three walls, and supported by twelve columns. Between each of the walls is a broad space, containing three altars at three different points of the middle wall, on the north, the south, and the west. It has eight doors or entrances through the three opposite walls; four whereof front to the north-east, and four to the south-east. In the midst of it is the round tomb of our Lord cut out of the rock, the top of which a man standing within can touch; the entrance is on the east; against it is laid that great stone, which to this day bears the marks of the iron tools within, but on the outside it is all covered with marble to the very top of the roof, which is adorned with gold, and bears a large golden cross. In the north part of the monument is the tomb of our Lord, hewn out of the same rock, seven feet in length, and three palms above the floor; the entrance being on the south side, where twelve lamps burn day and night, four within the sepulchre, and eight above on the righthand side. The stone that was laid at the entrance to the monument is now cleft in two; the lesser part of it stands as a square altar before the door of the monument; the greater part makes another square altar in the east part of the same church, and appears under the linen cloths. The colour of the said monument and sepulchre appears to be white and red. Attached to this church on the right side is the square church of the blessed Mother of our Lord. In the street which unites the Martyrdom and the Golgotha is a seat, in which is the cup of our Lord concealed in a casket. It is touched and kissed through a hole in the covering. It is made of silver, has two handles, one on each side, and holds a French quart. In it also is the sponge which was used to minister drink to our Lord. But where Abraham built an altar whereon to sacrifice his son, there is a large wooden table, on which the people lay alms for the poor. The soldier’s lance also is kept inserted in a wooden cross, in the portico of the Martyrdom, and its shaft, which has been broken in two pieces, is an object of veneration to the whole city. All these particulars, which I have here mentioned, I have endeavoured to render more intelligible by the following picture.
(The drawing is wanting in the Manuscripts.)
Now all these holy places, which we have mentioned, are situated beyond Mount Sion, to which the elevated ground extends as it falls away towards the north. But in the lower part of the city, where there was a temple built in the neighbourhood of the wall, on the eastern side, and joined to the city itself by a bridge which formed a thoroughfare between, the Saracens have now erected there a square building, with upright planks and large beams placed, in the roughest manner, over some ruins of the walls, and they frequent the place for prayer. There is room for three thousand persons. There are a few cisterns there to supply water. In the neighbourhood of the temple is the pool of Bethsaida, marked by its two basins, one of which is generally filled by the rains of winter, the other is discoloured with red water. On that front of Mount Sion which has a rugged precipice facing the east, the fountain of Siloa bursts forth between the walls at the bottom of the hill. According as it receives an increase of water from time to time, it flows towards the south; therefore its waters are not sweet, but the day and hour of its springing up are uncertain, and it rushes with much noise amid the hollows in the ground and the hard rocks. On the level summit of Mount Sion are numerous cells of monks surrounding a large church, built there, as they say, by the Apostles, because they received the Holy Spirit in that place, and Saint Mary died there. The place of our Lord’s holy supper is shown within; and a marble pillar stands in the middle of the church, to which our Lord was tied when he was scourged. The figure of the church is said to have been something like this:—
(The drawing is wanting in the Manuscripts.)
Here is also shown, on the outside of the city, the rock on which the first martyr, Stephen, was stoned: but in the middle of Jerusalem, where the dead man came to life when our Lord’s cross was placed above him, stands a lofty pillar, which at the summer solstice does not throw a shadow, wherefore it is thought that the centre of the earth is in this place; and it has been said in history, “God, ages ago, hath wrought our salvation in the middle of the earth.” According to which opinion Victorinus, Bishop of the Church of Poitiers, writing of Golgotha, hath these words:
OF ACHELDEMACH, AND THE PLACE WHERE JUDAS HANGED HIMSELF.
AFTER passing out through David’s gate, we come to a fountain which runs through the valley towards the south. Half-way down the stream, on the western side, Judas is said to have hanged himself. For there is there a large and very ancient fig-tree, according as Juvencus writes:—
“And met grim Death from off the fig-tree’s bough.”
Moreover, Acheldemach, on the south side of Mount Sion, is still famed for the bodies of foreigners and ignoble people that are brought there, some to be buried in the ground, others to rot upon its surface.
OF THE NAPKIN FROM OUR LORD’S HEAD, AND OF ANOTHER AND LARGER TOWEL MADE BY THE VIRGIN MARY.
THE napkin from our Lord’s head was stolen after his resurrection by a most good and Christian Jew, who kept it till his death, and left no end of riches. On his death-bed he asked his sons which of them would have the napkin, and which his other treasures. The elder chose the worldly money; the younger took the napkin. In process of time the wealth of the former diminished until he was reduced to poverty; but the riches of the younger increased with his faith, and the napkin continued for five generations in the possession of the faithful. After this, it fell into unholy hands, and increased their wealth as much as it had done in the case of the Jews, and for a very long time; until, after long quarrels, the Christian Jews saying they were the heirs of Christ, and the unbelieving ones saying that they ought to inherit what had belonged to their fathers, Majuvias, king of the Saracens, who lived in our own times, was made umpire. He immediately kindled a large fire, and prayed Christ, who had deigned to wear this on his head for our salvation, to decide the question. The napkin was thrown into the fire, but rose out of it again most rapidly, and floated along, as if in sport, through the air; and at last, whilst both parties were looking on, it gently lowered itself into the bosom of one of the Christians, and was the next morning kissed and venerated by all the people. The length of it was eight feet. There is another rather larger in the same church, made by Saint Mary, having figures of the twelve Apostles, and of our Lord himself. One side of it is red, and the other green.
OF THE PLACES NEAR JERUSALEM, AND THE CHURCH IN THE VALLEY OF JEHOSHAPHAT, WHERE SAINT MARY WAS BURIED.
The country round Jerusalem is rocky and mountainous. The ground on the north, from that city to Arimathæa, is, at intervals, rough and stony. There are open valleys covered with thorns extending all the way to the region of Tamnitis; but from Ælia to Cæsarea of Palestine, though some narrow and craggy places are found for a short distance, yet the principal part of the way is a level plain, interspersed with olive-yards: the distance is seventy-five miles. The length of the Land of Promise, from Dan over to Beersheba, is a hundred and sixty miles, and from Joppa to Bethlehem forty-six miles. Near Jerusalem and the wall of the temple is Gehennon, which is the valley of Jehoshaphat, extending from north to south, and through it flows the brook Cedron, when it is swelled by a fall of rain. This valley, forming a small level plain, is well watered and woody, and full of delightful things: formerly there was in it a place dedicated to Baal. Here was the tower of King Jehoshaphat, containing his tomb; on the right side of it was a separate chamber, cut out of the rock of Mount Olivet, containing two hollow sepulchres, one of the old Simeon, the other of Joseph the husband of Saint Mary. In the same valley is the round church of Saint Mary, divided by slabs of stone; in the upper part are four altars; on the eastern side below there is another, and to the right of it an empty tomb, in which Saint Mary is said to have reposed for a time; but who removed her, or when this took place, no one can say. On entering this chamber, you see on the right-hand side a stone inserted in the wall, on which Christ knelt when he prayed on the night in which he was betrayed; and the marks of his knees are still seen in the stone, as if it had been as soft as wax.
OF MOUNT OLIVET, AND THE CHURCH FOUNDED UPON IT, WHERE OUR LORD ASCENDED TO HEAVEN.
The Mount of Olives is five miles distant from Jerusalem, and is equal in height to Mount Sion, but exceeds it in breadth and length; it bears few trees except vines and olive-trees, and is fruitful in wheat and barley; for the nature of that soil is not calculated for bearing things of large or heavy growth, but grass and flowers. On the very top of it, where our Lord ascended into heaven, is a large round church, having about it three vaulted porches. For the inner house could not be vaulted and covered, because of the passage of our Lord’s body; but it has an altar on the east side, covered with a narrow roof. In the midst of it are to be seen the last prints of our Lord’s feet, and the sky appears open above where he ascended; and though the earth is daily carried away by believers, yet still it remains as before, and retains the same impression of the feet. Near this lies a brazen wheel, as high as a man’s neck, having an entrance towards the west, with a great lamp hanging above it on a pulley, and burning night and day. In the western part of the same church are eight windows; and eight lamps, hanging opposite to them by cords, cast their light through the glass as far as Jerusalem; this light is said to strike the hearts of the beholders with a sort of joy and humility. Every year, on the day of the Ascension, when mass is ended, a strong blast of wind is said to come down, and to cast to the ground all that are in the church. The whole of that night lanterns are kept burning there, so that the mountain and the country beneath appear not only lighted up, but actually to be on fire. Of this church, also, I have thought proper to add below a resemblance.
(The drawing is wanting.)
The monument of Lazarus is indicated by a church built on the same spot, and a large monastery in a field at Bethany, in the midst of a large grove of olives. Bethany is fifteen furlongs from Jerusalem. There is also a third church on the same mountain, towards the northern side of Bethany, where our Lord spoke to his disciples, before he suffered, concerning the day of judgment.
OF THE SITUATION OF BETHLEHEM, AND THE CHURCH, WHERE OUR LORD WAS BORN; AND OF THE TOMBS OF DAVID AND HIERONYMUS, AND THE THREE SHEPHERDS.
BETHLEHEM is six miles distant from Jerusalem, towards the south, It is situated on a narrow ridge, surrounded on every side by valleys: it is a mile long from west to east, and has a low wall built along the edge of the brow of the hill. At its eastern angle there is a sort of natural cave, the outer part of which is said to have been the place of our Lord’s birth; the inside is called Our Lord’s Manger. The whole of this cave is covered within with beautiful marble, over the place where especially our Lord is said to have been born. It has above it the great church of St. Mary. Near the wall is a hollow stone, which received back from the wall the first water in which our Lord’s body was washed, when it was thrown away, and still retains the same. If by any accident or service it has been emptied, it nevertheless becomes again, in a short time, as full as before. To the north of Bethlehem, in a neighbouring valley, is the tomb of David, in the middle of the church, covered with a low stone, and with a lamp placed above it. In a church which stands in an adjoining valley, to the south, is the tomb of Jerome. Moreover, on the eastern side, in the tower of Ader, that is, of the Flock, at the distance of a thousand paces from the city, is a church, containing monuments of the three shepherds who were present at our Lord’s birth. I have stated these facts on the authority of Bishop Arculph. But Ezra writes in plain terms, that David was buried in Jerusalem, in the king’s way, which leads from Ælia to Cedron; that Bethlehem is to the east of it, and to the west is the tomb of Rachel, having her name inscribed upon it even to this day.
OF THE SITE OF HEBRON, AND OF THE MONUMENTS OF THE FATHERS AND OF ADAM.
Hebron lies in a broad plain, twenty-two miles distant from Ælia. One furlong to the east of it is a double cave in the valley, where are the tombs of the patriarchs enclosed by a square wall, with their heads lying to the north. Each of the tombs is covered with a single stone, worked like the stones of a church, and of a white colour, for those of the patriarchs. Adam’s is of meaner and more common workmanship, and lies not far from them at the furthest northern extremity. There are also some poorer and smaller monuments of three women. The hill Mamre is a thousand paces from the monuments, and is full of grass and flowers, having a flat plain on the top. In the northern part of it is Abraham’s oak, a stump about twice the height of a man, enclosed in a church. Passing through Hebron towards the north, one sees to the left a mountain of no great size, covered with fir-trees, at a distance of three thousand paces from Hebron. Fir-wood is carried from this place to Jerusalem on camels; for carriages and waggons are seldom seen throughout the whole of Judæa.
OF JERICHO, AND THE HOLY PLACES IN THOSE PARTS.
Jericho lies to the east of Ælia, and is distant from it nineteen thousand paces. It has been three times levelled to the ground; and the house of Rahab, in reward for her faith, is the only one which remains; for its walls are still standing, though without a roof. The place where the city stood now contains corn-fields and vineyards. Between this and the Jordan, which is about five or six miles distant, are large groves of palmtrees, with small plains interspersed, and inhabitants of the race of the Canaanites. The twelve stones, which Joshua ordered to be taken out of the Jordan, lie in the church of Galgalis, against the wall on each side. Each of them is so heavy that two men could hardly lift it: one of them has been by some accident broken in two, but the pieces have been again united by means of iron. Near Jericho is a fountain of plentiful water, good to drink and fit for irrigation, though it formerly was very ill adapted for fertilizing the ground, and very offensive to the taste; but it was purified by Elisha the Prophet, who threw a vessel of salt into it. Around lies a plain, seventy furlongs in length and twenty broad, in which are gardens of extraordinary beauty, with various kinds of palm-trees, and swarms of bees of surpassing excellence. Opobalsam, also, is here produced, which bears this name from the following circumstance:—The countrymen cut narrow channels in the bark with sharp stones, and the sap gradually oozing out through these openings, forms itself into pearl-like drops. Now the Greek word ope signifies a cavern, or opening. They say the cypress and myrobalanum are there produced. The water of the fountains, like other things, is there most excellent; in summer it is cold, in winter lukewarm: the air is so mild that they wear linen garments in the winter. The city itself is built in the plain, which it overlooks, and it is bare of animals; for the soil is sickly and hungry, and therefore abandoned by inhabitants. From the territory of the city Scythopolis to the region of Sodom and Asphaltus, extends an open country. Over-against this is a mountain above the river Jordan, extending from the city Julias to Zoar, which borders on Arabia Petræa, where also there is a mountain called the Iron Mountain. Between these two mountains is a plain, which the ancients called the Great Plain: its Hebrew name is Aulon. The length of it is two hundred and thirty furlongs; in breadth it is a hundred and twenty: it begins at the village of Gennabara, and ends at the lake Asphaltus. The Jordan divides it in the middle, and the banks are rendered most luxuriant by the deposits of the river; so that the produce of the trees is every where most abundant along the margin of the stream, but elsewhere it is rather scanty; for the soil, except where the river runs, is dry and barren.
OF THE RIVER JORDAN AND THE SEA OF GALILEE, OTHERWISE CALLED THE SEA OF TIBERIAS.
The sources of the Jordan itself are commonly thought to be in the province of Phœnicia, at the foot of Mount Libanus, where Panium, or Cæsarea Philippi, is situated. This town, Panium, so called as descriptive of the cave from which the river Jordan flows, is said to have been built up and adorned by King Agrippa with wonderful magnificence. In the country of Trachonitis, there is a fountain after the likeness of a wheel, from which it has received the name of Phiale, fifteen miles distant from Cæsarea, full of sweet water, and having this peculiarity, that it never overflows, and yet never can be diminished. Philip, the tetrarch of this district, threw straw into this fountain, which was again cast up by the river in Panium. It is therefore evident that the sources of the Jordan are in Phiale; but that, after passing underground, it resumes its course in Panium, and entering the lake, flows right through its shallows, and from thence proceeds without any break, for the space of fifteen miles, to a city named Julias, and thence divides the lake of Gennesar half-way on its whole course. After this it winds about for a long distance, and as it enters the Asphaltian, i. e. the Dead Sea, it presents a remarkable mass of waters. The colour of it is white, like milk; and for this reason it is distinguished by a long track in the Dead Sea. Now, the Sea of Gennesar, otherwise called the Sea of Galilee, is surrounded by large woods, and is a hundred and forty stadia in length. Its water is sweet and fit to drink; for it receives no mud or other coarse substance from any marshy pools, but is surrounded on all sides by a sandy shore, and has in its neighbourhood many pleasant towns. On the east lie Julias and Hippo; on the west is Tiberias, famous for its salubrious hot springs: the different kinds of fish which it contains are better, both in taste and in appearance, than those which are found in any other lake.
OF THE DEAD SEA, AND THE NATURE OF THE COUNTRY WHICH BORDERS ON IT.
THE Dead Sea is five hundred and eighty furlongs in length, and extends as far as the Zoari in Arabia. Its breadth is one hundred and fifty furlongs, as far as the neighbourhood of Sodom. For it is certain that it flowed also out of some salt-pits, after the burning of Sodom and Gomorrha and the adjacent cities. But it appears to those who look at it from the top of Mount Olivet, that the collision of the waves causes salt of a very strong kind to be thrown up, which, when dried in the sun, is collected, and is of considerable service to many of the neighbouring nations. Salt is said to be produced in a different manner from this in a certain mountain of Sicily, where large blocks of the strongest and most useful salt are hewn out of the earth: this is called rock-salt. The name of the Dead Sea is derived from this circumstance—that it does not sustain any kind of living thing; for there are neither fish in its depths, nor water-fowl swimming upon its surface; and bulls and camels float upon it. Indeed, if by accident the river Jordan, when swollen by storms, carries down any fish into it, they immediately die, and their dead bodies are seen floating on the languid waters. They say that a lighted candle will float without being upset, and that when the light is put out, it sinks; but that it is difficult for any thing else to be made stop at the bottom; and that every living thing, however different, and with whatever violence thrown in, instantly rises again. Indeed, it is recorded that Vespasian ordered some persons who could not swim to be thrown in with their hands tied behind their backs, and all of them rose and floated on the top. The water is bitter and unfertilizing, of a darker colour than other water, and tastes as if it had been burnt. It is certain that lumps of bitumen with a black liquor are seen swimming in the water, and the natives go out in boats and collect them. They say that the bitumen sticks together most firmly, and cannot be divided by any instrument of steel, but dissolves in urine, or in the blood of a woman. It is of use to fasten ships, and is applied medicinally to the human body. The whole region still bears marks of the judgment inflicted upon it. Apples of a most beautiful appearance are produced there, which make the mouths of the beholders water, but when gathered, they rot and moulder to ashes, and send forth smoke, as if still acted on by fire. In summer an excessive vapour floats over the whole plain; by which cause, and the great drought co-operating together, the air becomes corrupted, and the inhabitants are afflicted with dreadful distempers.
OF THE PLACE WHERE OUR LORD WAS BAPTIZED.
IN the place where our Lord was baptized, stands a wooden cross as high as a man’s neck, and sometimes covered by the water. From it to the further, that is, the eastern bank, is a sling’s cast; and on the nearer bank is a large monastery of St. John the Baptist, standing on a rising ground, and famous for a very handsome church, from which they descend to the cross by a bridge supported on arches, to offer up their prayers. In the further part of the river is a quadrangular church, supported on four stone arches, covered with burnt tiles, where our Lord’s clothes are said to have been kept whilst he was baptized. Men do not enter this church, but come together round it from all quarters: from the place where the Jordan leaves the Sea of Galilee, to where it enters the Dead Sea, is a journey of eight days.
OF THE LOCUSTS, THE WILD HONEY, AND THE FOUNTAIN OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST.
It was the smallest species of locusts which formed the food of John the Baptist, as is clear from the practice of the present day. Their bodies are short and slender, about the size of a finger, and are easily captured on the plants. When boiled in oil, they form a plain and humble kind of food. In the same desert are trees, having broad round leaves of a white colour and sweet taste, naturally weak, and easily bruised by the hands for eating. This is said to be what is meant by wood or wild honey. In the same place is shown St. John the Baptist’s fountain of the clearest water, having a stone roof covered with mortar.
OF JACOB’S FOUNTAIN, NEAR SICHEM.
Near the city of Sichem, now called Neapolis, is a church divided in four; that is, made in the form of a cross. In the midst of it is Jacob’s well, forty cubits deep, and as wide as from the side to the ends of the fingers. It was from this well that our Lord vouchsafed to ask water of the Samaritan woman.
OF TIBERIAS, CAPERNAUM, NAZARETH, AND THE HOLY PLACES IN THOSE PARTS.
The place in which our Lord blessed the loaves and fishes on this side of the Sea of Galilee, to the north of the city of Tiberias, is a plain, grassy and level, which has never been ploughed since those times, nor has ever been built upon; but there is the same fountain there from which those persons drank. Those who go from Ælia to Capernaum, pass through Tiberias, and from thence along the Sea of Galilee to the place where the loaves were blessed, from which it is no great distance to Capernaum on the borders of Zebulon and Naphtali. The town has no walls, and lies on a narrow piece of ground between a mountain and lake. On the seacoast towards the east it extends a long way, having the mountain on the north, and lake on the south. Nazareth has no walls, but large houses, and two great churches. One of these is in the midst of the city, built on two arches, where formerly was a house, in which our Lord was nursed when an infant. This church is built on two eminences, with arches connecting them, and has under it, between the eminences, a clear fountain, from which all the citizens draw water in vessels with pulleys for the use of the church. In the other church was the house in which the angel came to the blessed Mary.
OF MOUNT TABOR, AND THE THREE CHURCHES THEREON.
Mount Tabor is situated in the midst of the plain of Galilee, and is three miles distant from Gennesareth towards the north. It is round on all sides, covered with grass and flowers, and thirty furlongs high. Its top forms a pleasant meadow, twenty-three furlongs wide, whereon is a large monastery, surrounded by a thick wood, and containing three churches, according to the words of Peter, “Let us make here three tabernacles.” The place is surrounded by a wall, and contains some stately edifices.
DAMASCUS is situated in a plain, and surrounded by a broad and ample circuit of walls, strengthened with numerous towers, and intersected by four great rivers. The Christians frequent the church of Saint John the Baptist, but the king of the Saracens with his people has established and consecrated another. On all sides beyond the walls are numerous groves of olives. From Tabor to Damascus it is a journey of eight days.
OF ALEXANDRIA, THE RIVER NILE, AND THE CHURCH IN WHICH MARK THE EVANGELIST IS BURIED.
ALEXANDRIA extends to a great length from east to west. On the south it is bounded by the mouths of the Nile, and on the north by the Lake Mareotis. Its port is more difficult than the others, and has a resemblance to the human body; for in its head it is sufficiently ample, but at its entrance it is too narrow, where it admits the tide of the sea, together with such ships as run into the port to recover themselves and refit. But when one has passed the narrow neck and mouth of the harbour, the sea, still following the likeness of the human body, spreads itself far and wide. On its right-hand side is a small port, in which is the Pharos, a large tower, which is every night lighted up with torches, lest sailors might mistake their way in the dark and dash against the rocks, in their attempt to find the entrance, particularly as this is much impeded and disturbed by the waves dashing to and fro. The port, however, is always calm, and in magnitude about thirty furlongs. Towards Egypt, as one enters the city, there is a large church on the right, in which reposes St. Mark the Evangelist. The body is buried in the eastern part of the church before the altar, with a monument over it of squared marble. Along the Nile the Egyptians are in the habit of constructing numerous mounds, to prevent the irruption of the water, which, if the mounds were to be broken down by the neglect of the guardians, would not irrigate, but inundate and destroy the lands beneath. The Egyptians who inhabit the plains make their houses over canals, by laying tranverse planks thereon.
OF CONSTANTINOPLE, AND THE CHURCH THEREIN WHICH CONTAINS OUR LORD’S CROSS.
CONSTANTINOPLE is bounded on all sides except the north by the sea, which extends from the Great Sea to the walls of the city, sixty thousand paces, and from the walls to the mouth of the Danube, forty thousand. The circuit of the walls, which are angular, according to the line of sea, is about twelve thousand paces. Constantine was at first disposed to build it in Cilicia, near the sea which separates Europe and Asia; but on a certain night all the iron tools were carried away, and, when men were sent to fetch them, they were found on the European side; for there it was the will of God that it should be built. In this city is a church of wonderful workmanship, called the church of Saint Sophia, built up from its foundation of a circular shape, domed in, and surrounded by three walls. It is supported to a great height on columns and arches, and has in its inmost part, on the north side, a large and beautiful closet, wherein is a wooden chest with a wooden lid, containing three pieces of our Lord’s cross, that is to say, the long timber cut in two, and the transverse part of the same holy cross. These pieces are exhibited for the adoration of the people three times only in the year, namely, on the day of our Lord’s supper, the day of the preparation, and on the Holy Sabbath. On the first of these, the chest, which is two cubits long and one broad, is set out on a golden altar with the holy cross exposed to view: the Emperor first approaches, and after him all the different ranks of laymen, in order, kiss and worship it: on the following day the Empress and all the married women and virgins do the same; but on the third day the bishops and different orders of the clergy do it; and then the chest is shut, and carried back to the closet before mentioned. As long as it remains open on the altar, a wonderful odour spreads through the whole church. For an odoriferous liquor like oil flows from the knots of the holy wood, the least drop of which cures every complaint which a man may be afflicted with.
Thus much have I written concerning the holy places, following, to the best of my knowledge, the truth of history, and in particular the dictation of Arculph, bishop of Gaul, which Adamnan, that priest so learned in Holy Scripture, hath set down in his jagged style, and comprised in three books. For the above-named bishop, from a desire to see the holy places, left his native country, and went to the Land of Promise, where he stopped two months at Jerusalem, having an old monk, named Peter, for his guide and interpreter. He then with great zeal visited every thing all round, which he had longed to see, and travelled to Alexandria, Damascus, Constantinople, and Sicily. On his way home, the vessel in which he sailed, after much beating about, was carried by contrary winds to our island, that is, to Britain; and Arculph, after certain hazards, came to the above-named venerable man, Adamnan, and explained to him his voyage, and what he had seen. Adamnan was thus enabled to compose a most beautiful history thereof. From this book we have gleaned a little, and having compared it with the books of the ancients, have sent it for your perusal, beseeching you, by all means, to relieve your worldly labours, not by indolence or licentiousness, but by holy reading and earnest prayer.[Back to Table of Contents]
VARIÆ LECTIONES AD OPUSCULA HISTORICA.