Faricius

Life of St Aldhelm by Faricius

Translated and Edited by

Michael Winterbottom


I present here an on-line translation of Faricius’s Life of St Aldhelm, a difficult work not hitherto available in English. I edited the Latin in an article in The Journal of Medieval Latin 15 (2005), 93-147, having in the same year discussed the relationship between the two manuscripts and many details of Faricius’s language and style in Latin Learning and English Lore: Studies in Anglo-Saxon Literature for Michael Lapidge, ed. Katherine O’Brien O’Keeffe and Andy Orchard, 2 vols. (Toronto, 2005), i. 109-31. The present translation is equipped with notes aimed at the scholarly reader; they repeat in an adapted form the notes provided in the article mentioned above (pp. 139-47), while adding new material and recording places where the Latin text I assume differs from that printed there. The standard edition of Aldhelm’s writings is that of R. Ehwald in Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Auctores Antiquissimi xv (Berlin, 1919), to which I refer as ‘Ehwald’.


FARICIUS, LIFE OF ST ALDHELM


This work Bishop Osmund,2 second to none in uprightness,

Has sanctioned and placed in order in the canon.3

Here begins the dedication of the work that follows:


Dedication

I4 have resolved that especially to you, Osmund, most blessed bishop, and Hubald,5 a teacher ornamented by learning in the liberal arts, should be consecrated something worth your getting to know, and worthy of the ardent expectations of all my brothers. It concerns the works, so profound and so sublime, of the most holy bishop and most prized confessor of God, Aldhelm; works that have not previously, I think, come to be written down. It has been cobbled together as best I could with the help of the Lord, so far as my slender intellect allowed.6 2. I took this resolution because one of you,7 distinguished by perfect morals, priestly rank, and (what is greater than them) zeal for holy study and unshaken chastity, began8 to pursue the sublime ordinances of the saints not, like some, out of personal presumption; rather, it was at the prompting of the Holy Spirit that, before he rose to the heights of a bishopric, he embarked on the lawful path of doctrine, and preferred9 to be trained not so much in his own10 inventions as in the teachings of the holy fathers, in accordance with which he now in peace11 distributes to others the learning that belongs to him. With this man the very etymology12 of his name duly accords; for truly the mouth13 of his heart and the lip of his mouth shine unpolluted by any infection of thought or word.14 3. The other,15 filled quite full of the seven streams of philosophy16 and packed with the sentiments of the holy scriptures, famous for praiseworthy eloquence and ornamented by the highest degree of humility and pleasantness of character, has now gone up many steps towards the stars on the Israelite ladder that was made famous by the angels who climbed it.17 4. Your role therefore is to help out my rusticity by your devout prayers, to ensure that it is not engulfed in the abysses of such a mass of material; and it is the particular task of such great men to defend me by honeyed locutions, so that the sharp teeth of envy do not rebuke my lack of skill. And there is another task too assigned18 to you, to bring clarity to unhappy expressions in my book, and brilliantly to fortify my well-meant statements with your authority, so that emulation gapes in amazement, and the fame of my tranquillity rises high,19 while (what is more important) the prestigious greatness of your protection blossoms. 5. Above all, of course, I wish this, that the reader of this volume should be warned in advance that if perchance he thinks things in it to be, on account of the quality of the writing,20 either impossible or harsh, he should not measure them against the standard of his own poor abilities,21 but according to the dignity and permanence of the perfect virtues by which God glorifies his faithful ones in inconceivable perpetuity, He who predicted that those who believed in Him would do works ‘greater than these’.22 6. As for you, who are most acute in natural talent, dearer to me than breath, most excellent in the faith, though unequal23 in distinction of rank, wealth and birth, you both, I believe, live catholic lives. Look then at the requests of my insignificant person, and lead me right to the final goal, as you know that I wish, so that you may receive eternal merit from that most devout man,24 and have my service so far as I am able.


Here begins the preface to the life of Saint25 Aldhelm, bishop and excellent confessor

Preface

When I reflect carefully on the devout battles fought by the holy fathers, I think there are three reasons why those who, desiring to be of use to posterity, have written their stories, chose them in particular to bring into written form. The first, more praiseworthy than the rest, is to ensure that God, who suffers in their bodies the pains in whatsoever way inflicted on the faithful, and who supplies courage to the enduring, may be praised in his majesty. 2. Second, that the saints who have of their own free will suffered so many sweats, fasts, vigils, insults and chills from themselves or from their enemies, may be splendidly celebrated by those who after them observe the true faith. A third comes after, that we, their sluggish and feeble successors, may, by reading or hearing of their all-conquering exploits, and raising up the eyes of our mind, follow their unobstructed26 footsteps. 

3. That is why I, feeble and unlettered as I am, who nowise bear the burdens27 of a monk but only, unworthily, the name, am starting as best I can, though as a believer, to describe the birth and life, miracles and teaching, of Aldhelm, that most holy bishop. But I shall relate not only the miracles I have seen worked through him thanks to the supreme Creator, but also those which by careful research I have found written down on many pages in the vernacular28 or in Latin. 4. A part of these are still testified to in our day by privileges from Rome and the traditions of diverse kings, written down29 and witnessed by many bishops and abbots. I have also recorded what I have often heard to have been done through the merits of God’s servant from truthful persons living under the monastic Rule,30 and from others living catholic lives in different orders: things which they themselves saw with their mortal eyes or frequently heard from their elders, who now rejoice together in heavenly bliss before the gaze of God’s clemency. 5. The latter used to say that they had read a lucidly written volume containing his miracles, but that they had lost it in the times when the Danes were still harassing the church of Christ: everything dedicated to our God, whom they did not know, they either trampled underfoot or burned because anger overwhelmed their reason, or destroyed in any way they could. 6. What is more, our older fathers saw many of his doings, as pictured for the information of posterity by the first fathers31 on silver plates, <still> in place on the shrine made not long after his death, in which his blessed bones were being preserved.32 And as the shrine had by now virtually perished thanks to time and neglect, a certain bishop, helped by other servants of God, transferred the plates on to another, for novelty’s sake, to ensure that successors would know of Aldhelm’s deeds; and they are still to be seen on it.33 

7. There were, after the saint’s first dispositions, those who took a close and affectionate interest in this place, like Archbishop Dunstan, of whose sanctity there is no doubt, and a number of other prelates, whose sacred bones rest in the church. If they had not believed these stories handed down to them from the past they would certainly not have left them34 there unharmed till our day. We have been careful to leave out much of this material, picking out only a part of what seemed worth telling in view of the authority of my informants. Of course, what I myself often saw happen in my presence35 confirms the truth of what is told of the past. 8. In my view, no one should accuse me in this respect, for I observe that the blessed Gregory did just the same in his Dialogues. And, as he himself related,36 Luke the doctor too, ‘whose praise’, as the Teacher of the gentiles says, ‘is in the gospel through all the churches’,37 and Mark, patriarch of Alexandria and Peter’s disciple, certainly did not write down in the Gospel volumes what he had seen but only what he had heard.  9. Not that I (far from it!) am putting myself on the same level as them in the slightest degree, or am trying to make my and their informants in any way similar. But I genuinely believe that what was allowed to greater men in the greatest of all works was permitted in a tiny work to us, the lowest of the low, but true believers all the same. In the divine pages and scriptures we have found that many others did just the same. But the three we mentioned above, catholic in the purity of their faith, most holy in their conduct and works, we desire to imitate, as well as we can, in this respect, though coming a long way behind them.38


Here begins the life of St Aldhelm, excellent bishop and confessor.

Chapter 1. His ancestry; his life; his presentation in the church; the meaning of his name.

Let me turn my attention, then, to the genealogy of St Aldhelm, and, so far as the ability that God has given me allows, trace the lineage from which he sprang. He came of royal stock, descended from highly distinguished ancestors who had never failed to practise orthodox religion most scrupulously. Yet in his faith he was more brilliant than they, in his religious observance of greater worth, to the same degree as the rose surpasses the thorns from which it emerges and the lily its sod from which the flower swells. 2. His illustrious family was, so far as royal eminence is concerned, founded by Ine, the all-wise king of the English,39 who shone bright in life and character: a man highly energetic in warfare, well known for his good qualities. This most excellent ruler’s younger brother was Centwine, upright, rich in holiness, a fine and great man: or so we have often heard40 from very ancient documents in the English language, read in translation. Anxious to fulfil Paul’s precepts,41 and because he feared God above all, he lived with his wife in chastity. 3. He did not, as some are wont, visit his wife’s bedroom to satisfy the needs of the flesh, but rather to beget the kind of son (as Anna brought forth Samuel)42 who would, as Scripture teaches,43 love God with the whole strength of his mind. God observed his prayers from on high, and, as we read44 of the revered parents of St Nicholas, gave him the sort of son my little book purposes to display to you. 4. At the proper time, as the faithful do, he devoutly offered him up in church to God, by the hands of priests, and asked that he be made a catechumen.45 At God’s prompting, he gave him the name Aldelmus: Ald in the vernacular46 means ‘old’. Hence Aldelmus, ‘holy [almus] old man’.47 Indeed, though young in body, he lived his life with an old man’s mind, while doing works that commanded praise.


Chapter 2. Where he was handed over to study the bible; and concerning his manifold knowledge48 of it.

Later, as the years went by, the boy was weaned, and his father, a most devout Christian, sent him to study holy Scripture. God, in foreknowledge of the future, opened such a vein of talent in him in this field that his teacher was often secretly astonished how easily he took in and committed to memory what he put before him each day. This was because his mind was drenched in the dew of heaven. 2. For the grace of God was with him, the God who had said through the prophet: ‘Open your mouth, and I will fill it with my teaching.’49 This most holy man was expert in the details of three languages, not just spoken but written. He knew all the idioms of Greek eloquence wonderfully well, and could write and talk the language like a native. 3. Of course this was no surprise: the grace of the Holy Spirit had made its home in him, and what is more that famous King Ine had brought over from Athens a pair of master teachers of the language, to put his knowledge of letters on a sound basis. He also drank deep from the founts of Latin knowledge; no one since Virgil had a better grasp of the grammar (or so we read in old authors writing in Aldhelm’s vernacular). 4. Copies of the Prophets, the Psalms of David, the three books of Solomon,50 he knew well in Hebrew, and the law of Moses51 too. He had by heart and practised every day all that makes up52 the art of music, made possible by string, woodwind, and other varieties of melody. To abbreviate a long story, and cut down the great to small compass, for fear my words grow cheap in the ears of those who find them boring, he was replete with universal knowledge, like a man of the highest erudition in all fields.


Chapter 3. Where and how he used to live as a monk, and which fathers of the Old and New Testaments he imitated in various virtues

But why do I waste time on trivialities? Let me turn my pen to higher things, so as to be able to show how this most holy man lived from childhood on, to show as best our slight talent allows how he lived, associating with men while wearing the monastic habit, and imitating Paul and Antony, the first of the hermits.53 2. After being made a monk in the church of Meldunum,54 which was under the personal rule of the famous Leuthere (of whom I shall have more to say),55 Aldhelm dwelt among the other servants of God in such a manner that, though seen by men, he was mentally always among the companies of angels. Going beyond the precepts of the Rule, he so lived in this world that, out of the extreme chastity of his mind, he despised everything beautiful to look upon and agreeable to listen to, thinking them no more than perishable rubbish, grass for the burning. 3. This most devout man was following the example of the most upright fathers of the Old Testament, each in his own holy virtue of mind: Abraham in his estimable keenness to welcome guests, and in his unfailing obedience, which is believed to be what perfects good works, and Jeremiah who lived in ditches in the desert,56 laudably removed from the sight of men. Job too, a man to be praised for his supreme virtue, he unfailingly followed, in his ardent wish to endure, lest in him be found (God forbid!) what we read of elsewhere: ‘All virtue is a widow if it is not made firm by strong endurance.’57 4. In the fervour of his charity, he followed David maker of war, archetypal victor over Goliath (as Scripture relates), by avoiding the vice of envy; in chastity of both kinds,58 he followed John, the apostle dear to Christ, who, he knew, pleased God, in a way, more than others thanks to this purity too. 5. But in his determination to attain true compassion whom did this most just man try to follow if not the Maker of all things himself, who, to pay for the transgression of the whole human race, tasted in all its bitterness the cup of death when the time came? I pass over all this briefly, aiming not to bore anyone but to edify, for I want to come on to narrate, with the favour of the holy Spirit, other doings, many indeed, but all the work of one and the same man.


Chapter 4. How he used to make a girl rest with him, singing the psalms all through to enable him to overcome the devil

Altogether devoted to Christ as he was, he of his own free will used to bring upon himself, among other tests, the following martyrdom, so as to win for himself a tremendous triumph over the wicked Enemy. Whenever he felt the pricks of lust seething within him, he would arm his entire body with the impregnable breastplate of faith, and adorn his head with the helm of justice; lighting up his spirit with the fervour of heavenly glory, he would impose modesty upon his soul, the controller of carnal mischief, in the following manner. 2. He would make a girl, who was very pretty according by the filthy standards of our doomed flesh, rest with him on his couch in complete chastity until he had finished saying the whole psaltery through, his mind concentrated on heaven. In this way, the malign Spirit could in no wise stand up against him. What extreme praise is due to a man who felt not at all the abyss of the seething pit, even though he was just next to it!59 3. This is to be sure the honourable tree to which Solomon’s words testify,60 that planted by the running waters brought forth to the irrigating holy Spirit a root that never fails, virginity that dwells with the angels; he feared not the surge of feeling brought upon him by the Enemy from without, because he had been fully watered within by the dew of God. 4. He is also the great man of whom Scripture says: ‘Blessed is the man that is always fearful’.61 Following the precepts of our Lord,62 he girded his loins with outstanding chastity, and held burning lamps in his hands, destined as he was to enter with the Bridegroom into a spiritual and heavenly marriage.


Chapter 5. By whom he was ordained priest and enthroned63 in the monastery, and concerning the governance of the brethren and the summoning of the people to church

Leuthere, that bishop to be praised for his life and behaviour, whom the revered priest Bede mentions in the Ecclesiastical History of the English,64 thought Aldhelm worthy to take on the sacerdotal office. Having asked him in person and encouraged others who were catholic in faith <to second him>, he advanced him to this important rank. The man of God lived a blameless life in this ministry for some time, until he was deservedly appointed by the same bishop to be father of the monks in Meldunum monastery. 2. He had not wanted to be placed over them. But everything that he tirelessly taught by means of his powerful oratory he brought to fruition, as a good pastor should, in appropriate action, ever desirous of making a profit from the talent that had been entrusted to him.65 At this period, the people of that province, though subject to our faith, were backsliders in practice: they did not come to church in great numbers, and they took no notice of the instructions of the priests. 3. Aldhelm admonished them kindly with honeyed words, and where it was fitting often unfurled language about God. He summoned the lay people to church in moderate terms, and fertilised them with salutary precepts. Here he was following the footsteps of Paul the teacher of the gentiles, who to start with offered milk66 to beginners, and only later on, when they had grown strong, fed them on solid food. 4. For every Saturday, when the biggest crowd of merchants came to the city from different parts, father Aldhelm, in imitation of the apostles,67 would meet them outside the bounds, and taking his stand on the bridge supply them with God’s food, until some of them, thanks to God’s grace and the efforts of His servant, dropped for the moment the merchandise they had come for68 and followed him of their own accord to the holy sheepfolds of the saints; staying on in the church they would listen reverently to the holy rites. After that, having done the business they had come on, they would go home again, their souls well fed by the divine office.


Chapter 6. How he went to Rome, and how his chasuble hung on a sunbeam

Aldhelm was continuing to persevere in doing good work when the supreme bishop of the apostolic see, Sergius,69 a man of great holiness, summoned him. Though he was far away, separated from him by vast tracts of land, rocky mountains, rugged valleys, and seas,70 Sergius had often heard what I am telling of concerning him, and much more that has been forgotten71 and will not be written down here. 2. As soon as the saint heard the instructions of the great father and of the Roman curia, he hastened on his journey, hard though it was; he was filled with intense joy, for he now had good reason to visit the thresholds of the prince apostles, which he had longed to see for so many years: though at the same time he was sad to leave his dear fellow-brethren, even for a short time and in body only. 3. When this man beyond all price arrived in Rome, happy to have carried out what obedience required of him (for without obedience it is impossible for anyone’s soul to be saved), he was honourably welcomed to talks with the pope, and in accordance with his wish enjoyed his company in every respect, thanks to the grace of God that dwelt in him.72 At this time he was granted by God, the object of his devotion, a boon unheard of in our time, that caused him to be revered the more by the great pope and the whole people. The praiseworthy man used to take his priestly vestments with him wherever he went, so that he would be able to carry out the offices entrusted to him. 4. While he was robed in them in the Lateran presbytery, to offer the sacraments, everyone was shown the following miracle after his proper and pious completion of the office of the mass. He was passing his chasuble to his attendants when, because the power of God’s majesty was without any doubt in command there, the garment suspended itself on a sunbeam73 as firmly and securely as if it was being supported by the help of some solid material. That chasuble is housed to this day in Meldunum church, and is held in great reverence for its sanctity, as is only fitting. 5. O, here indeed is a new prodigy of the great Elijah! Elijah, while his disciple looked on, was taken up to heaven by a fiery chariot;74 Aldhelm, while many watched in amazement, was served by a sunbeam in the city of Rome. Elijah travelled in clear light to a remote part of heaven; Aldhelm’s garment hung in an element of a similar nature. But far be it from me to put him on a level with Elijah! 6. Elijah, a great prophet, still lives, to fight against the son of iniquity, and what is more to anticipate the judgment of God75 by dying and rising again.76 But Aldhelm the holy confessor stands before the tribunal of God, rejoicing in the reward he has received, so that he may in his piety intercede there for all the faithful. But though their merits are not equal, they both (if it is proper to say what is only the truth) greatly pleased the Lord.


Chapter 7. How he caused a child only nine days old to speak in the presence of the common people of Rome

The holy man was spending some time with the pope after this, when the spirit of God put it into Sergius’s head to ask Aldhelm to baptize a baby boy whose paternity was for no obvious reason generally regarded as quite uncertain.77 As so often in almost all nations, the commoners spread rumours; and they thought the boy was the pope’s son. These ignorant folk were wrong in this view about so great a pope, who is made clear by his Register78 and other places in his writings to have been truly apostolic in the worthiness of his life. 2. The holy Aldhelm did what Sergius wished. The child was, it is said, no more than nine days old, but he catechised79 him in church, just like one of the faithful, and told him to proclaim to the thronging crowd if his father was the man alleged by the people. Straightway the infant, though exceedingly tiny, managed supernaturally to unblock the impediments to his tongue and did what the holy abbot told him to. He was granted the power of speech by God, and intelligible speech at that, and showed to everyone that he had not been begotten by the man named by the foolish people.80 3. There is nothing wonderful about this: it is no novelty. He who caused a braying ass to be capable of human speech81 is the same who, on the orders of a most devout man, made the tongue of this infant articulate. How worthy he is of praise, compact of extreme holiness, he who by such keen discernment freed a father82 from a sin that was unknown to him, and at the same time made clear to the people of so great a city what merit he personally enjoyed in the eyes of God.

4. One day in the queen of cities, Aldhelm, supremely learned in literary knowledge and among the most erudite of men, was entering the church of the apostles when he uttered verses83 in their praise. They are well worth84 recording:


Here flourishes the notable glory of a new church

Which emblazons the bright standards of a holy triumph.

(5) Here Peter and Paul, who bring light to the darkness of this world,

Outstanding fathers, who guide the reins of the people,

Are worshipped with constant hymns in the blessed hall.

O you who keep the keys of heaven, who unlock the gate to the sky,

Who open the dazzling realms of the Thunderer’s heaven,

Listen mercifully to the vows of your peoples when they pray,

Who bedew their wasted faces with floods of tears.

(6) Accept the sighs of those who groan for the sins they have committed,

Who burn away the sins of their life with flaming prayer.

Lo, Great Teacher (called Paul after your change of name,

But Saul when you desired to prefer the ancient rites to Christ)

Who began to perceive clear light after darkness:85

(7) Now open your ears in kindness to hear the voices of those who pray,

And as their protector hold out your hand like Peter to the trembling,

Who throng in great numbers the holy threshold of the hall,

So that here enduring forgiveness may be given for sins,

Flowing from generous Love and the fountain on high,

Which never at any time grows dry for the peoples who merit it.


Chapter 8. How he sought a privilege for the advantage of his churches, received it, and had it ratified by the kings of the English

When Aldhelm, that model for monks, had enjoyed the gracious86 company of the great man, the ruler of the highest see, and each (as is the custom between holy fathers) had profited from conversation with the other, he decided to go back home and resume his previous course of life. Then it was that he sought from the holy pope, for the advantage of his people in the future,87 so that they might duly carry out their services to God without any disquiet, the holy gifts that may be read below, not heavy pieces of gold or silver or any metal, for he had confidence in the morrow and did not require any help but God’s. 2. No, what he asked for was an edict, sanctioned by the supreme father’s authority, to the effect that he should make free from all lay service and from the seats, orders,88 injunctions and synods of bishops, the monasteries which with God’s approval he governed with such concern, that of Meldunum, where he had been enthroned as abbot (it had been founded by Meldun89 of holy memory, from whose stock he sprung), and a second, subject to it, established on the River Frome90 in honour of St John. 3. And if at any time they were in need of an ecclesiastic of any rank, or a priest, they should have him ordained by whomsoever they wished, providing he was a catholic bishop. But if the devout abbot happened to die, and it came to electing another, the man chosen by the religious congregation of the servants of God should by common counsel be promoted forthwith. 4. For by now the ambition of monks had waxed high: now a hireling wanted to come in, not like a shepherd through the door, but like a thief by another way.91 That is why Aldhelm, in his forethought for what concerned God, made the requests he did. But all this can be seen to have changed as a result of the vices of those dwelling there and the ambition of certain persons. The religious life has been virtually annihilated, the pope’s admonitions, embodied in the privilege itself, go for nothing: not just there, but in many places in England, <monks> have by God’s just judgment lost freedom of control over themselves and their possessions because they are enslaved to dishonesty and filthy lucre. 5. Liberty of this kind, as the pope says in the course of his speech,92 is owed and conceded to holy men who are absolutely upright. If such freedom of action were to be bestowed on those who serve their own wills and aim at earthly goods, it would cause no slight blemish to the beauty of life and the sanctity of the habit.93

6. The holy man brought this charter of liberty back to the monasteries specified above, and showed it to two kings currently ruling in England, his uncle Ine king of the Saxons, and Æthelred king of the Mercians.94 These men, very active kings full of zeal for God, gave them their authoritative approval, for they knew that the pope had afforded them his incorruptible sanction. 7. And they decreed that, whatever kind of foray or war disturbed their borders, the places belonging to the holy and knowledgeable Aldhelm should be free from all service; and they left <instructions>, in documents written in their own hand, for the same policy to be continued there by their successors. But there arose an opportunity for not keeping to it. Because they did not find the decrees of the great fathers sealed with wax figures, they (by their account) thought they did not need to observe them, and they took no notice of them. 8. As if an impression in perishable wax had more probative value than something laid down for observance by the pope or by royal law! The fact is that the cunning of certain persons had not yet been carried abroad by ship, and avarice, however transitory, had still not established such a regime of licence all over the world. Even now in the minds of many faith ruled unimpaired, and the cupidity of men was not yet making such claims for itself.95


Chapter 9. How on the orders of a holy synod he composed, against bishops of the Britons who were not celebrating Easter at the time laid down, a book by which he converted them to the custom of the apostolic see; and concerning the number of his books96

After this, some time passed. In Meldunum church the holy man went on enjoying peace in this world and the solace of angels. Osred was reigning as king of the English.97 Then, in AD 706, some so-called bishops of the Britons started to hold heretical views on the date of Easter and a number of orthodox church practices. 2. As a result, a holy synod of East Saxony, out of respect for Aldhelm’s sanctity, asked the revered abbot, who was still only a priest (he was holy in life and conduct, but was not yet a bishop),98 to compose a excellent book99 to bring about the complete extirpation of the malign and erroneous heresy that had now arisen among the Britons. 3. Aldhelm had a brilliant style; he was replete with wisdom and known far and wide for his holiness. Full of argument and master of syllogisms, he was intimate with lay writing and church doctrine alike. In fact, as Bede tells us,100 he was altogether prudent in every respect. Accordingly he filled his book with the practices of the Jews and the many inventions of the Egyptians in this area, together with the genuine traditions of the holy fathers, incorporating also the poem passed down to abbot Pacomius by angels,101 and the quite clear teaching of other religious persons; and despatched it to the heretics, by the agency of certain intimates in the faith who could be trusted to do this service for him. 4. Alone in affliction, he prayed constantly that God might see fit to snatch them from the toils of so dire a heresy. By these means he called back to orthodoxy102 both the bishops themselves and a countless multitude of people. Here we can ponder on the great mercy of Almighty God’s pity, which, where and when and how he wishes, fully justifies his saints, so that through them, even when they are absent in the body, he can work such striking miracles. 5. For our holy man did not travel there on foot, but brought them back to the way of truth by admonishing them in an excellent handbook and praying for them assiduously and supportively. Being full of the grace of God, he was here too following the example of the apostle, who used letters to summon back to a state of true faith the Corinthians and Galatians, and the Colossians too, who had been taken over by false apostles. Father Aldhelm was an apostle in this matter too, for, just as Paul and the others, at the urging of the Holy Spirit, set aside Barnabas103 for the work of God, so the holy synod too chose Aldhelm to take on the business we have described.

6. He also wrote104 Riddles, and a fine double book, in both prose and verse, in praise of virgins. He put together a little book, in seven forms, of flowers from the Old and New Testaments, and another on sevenfold reckoning taken from the teachings of the philosophers, which is pertinent to the sevenfold gift of the Holy Spirit. He wrote too a single volume urging charity between brothers. He composed another on the nature of lifeless things which are made to speak in metaphor. 7. On the rules for feet, metaplasm, synaloephe, scansion and ecthlipsis in verses. On the metrics of alternate interrogation and mutual reply, marked off by two letters.105 He also wrote various other works, for he was a man of very great all-round learning. His style was brilliant, and, as we have said, he was astonishingly learned in both secular and lay literature. This information, which we took from a very old codex found in a cupboard at Meldunum, we have thought it useful to include in this little volume.


Chapter 10. Concerning a short beam in his monastery that he made longer than the others106 by prayer

While the holy man was building a fine monastery at Meldunum in honour of the mother of God, the Virgin’s son, to win praise for himself, honour for his mother and fame for Aldhelm, showed forth for him the following remarkable event. When massive beams were being raised to the high church roof by an elaborate machine, one of them was found by the axe-wielders to be too short, though they had cut it carefully to match the length of the rest. 2. In fact almighty God shortened it, to suit his own pleasure, his intention being that in this too He might make known the merit of His servant. The workmen, much dispirited because …,107 were at a loss what to do, and they ran to the saint to get his advice. He was anxious at heart, but, confident of God’s mercy, he said to them cheerfully: ‘Hey, brothers, find out if it was in fact measured to match the rest, and put your trust devoutly in the help of the blessed mother of God: she who though a virgin gave sustenance to the man-God can easily do all we need in this problem.’ 3. Then, boldly approaching the timber, he exhorted the men to give it a mighty heave up without worrying about the length. The gang, propped up by the great father’s help, said a prayer to God in their hearts and immediately raised the beam he told them to. 4. Jesus Christ in his mercy was working with them, to reward his servant. They at once noticed that it was longer108 than the others, to whose measure it had previously been cut. The holy man was here too109 following the lead of Donatus, bishop of Arezzo,110 who by prayer alone mended a glass chalice that had been broken in an attack by pagans; and so too of our father, the wonderfully holy abbot Benedict, who from a distance employed sincere prayer to remove a hefty rock from a place where the brethren wanted to lay the foundations of a monastery.111 5. The Creator of the world lengthened the beam in the same way, though in a different type, as he made the rod of the priest of the people of Israel grow green and fertile.112 That prefigured the offspring born to an intact virgin, this displayed in advance that the holiness of the great man was growing immensely to the advantage of the church as it stood there.113 That brought forth fruit and leaves, this showed what the future works of father Aldhelm would be.

Let that suffice on this matter, as I want to pass on to other works of his.


Chapter 11. How he brought sailors to a calm anchorage, and without intending it received a bible from them free of charge

A short time later, father Berhtwald, archbishop of Canterbury,114 a man revered for his life and conduct, and very knowledgeable in literature and church matters,115 conceived the desire to have Aldhelm with him more often, if he could, because of his great sanctity and virtue, and the knowledge of liberal and divine writings his studies had given him. He therefore sent messengers asking him to come to him to confer on ecclesiastical matters. 2. Obliging as he was, the saint was happy to obey: he came, and stayed as long as Berhtwald wished. When the business he came for had been duly despatched, he chanced to visit Dover castle:116 God brought this about so as to make known the miracles of this holy man even in distant parts. When he was riding on horseback along the quay, some traders were trying to bring their ship to shore, but without success, despite three strenuous attempts, until this wonderful man gave his advice. 3. But first he asked them mildly if they were bringing something that might be useful for the daily purposes of the church. In their arrogance they spurned him because he was ill-dressed, and would not deign even to look at him. But God, for love of whom he had clothed himself so shabbily, exalted him, as He always exalts his own, in the presence of these men. 4. Their repeated attempts having failed, they were standing about dispirited and anxious, and were too tired to do anything more. Then one of the sailors117 said tearfully to his mates: ‘I hope and believe without a doubt that the man you see on the shore is a true Christian, whom we in our pride refused even to talk to. Our pride is cast down by his humility, our obstinacy worn down by his uprightness. 5. I don’t know what we are to do next, except ask with pure hearts for his pity, that his devout prayers may appease God and cause Him to grant us harbour and landfall.’ They put this plan into practice. In their dismay they begged the holy man to come to them without delay and help them with his prayers: he must inspect their boat and not refuse to take anything that was useful for his purposes. 6. Then the servant of God, not influenced by the gift they promised him, but because charity compelled him to offer them his help, went on board a dinghy and saw fit to set out forthwith in their direction. But as soon as the little craft felt the weight of the saint’s frame, the previously rough sea calmed itself for his voyage. Praising God in His servant, the crowd of sailors came into port rejoicing. 7. At once they offered the saint a volume made up of both Old and New Testaments. The saint did not reject their present, and indeed offered them larger gifts (though they refused them) from his own property in case (God forbid) anyone might conclude that he had been actuated by money when it was his supreme devoutness that had prompted him. Seeing this, they fell at his feet and asked him to commend them to God in his prayers. 8. What a man! Replete with charity, full of piety! In the footsteps of St Nicholas118 he both freed sailors from peril and made it clear to foreigners what God worked through His own faithful while they were still alive in the flesh. As for the book, which he had acquired by exercising his goodness, he took it to Meldunum monastery. It is there to this day, and the brethren look after it as carefully as their reverence for the great man requires. At the start of it, I have seen a curse in his own handwriting laid on anyone taking the book away from there.


Chapter 12. How he was brought to the high rank of bishop; how long and in what way he lived in that rank as a bishop of God

And so this man, filled with God, lived here as an outstanding abbot, until he was canonically brought to the office of bishop, by the laying on of hands by Berhtwald. That is my topic in what follows now.

2. In the time of Osred, the glorious king of the English,119 Hædde, that most holy bishop,120 whose praiseworthy life is narrated in the Ecclesiastical History by the venerable priest Bede,121 died and went to glory in heaven. His parish was so extensive that it could not be governed by a single man, and it was divided into two by the counsel of the church fathers and the kings.122 3. One part was ruled by Daniel,123 a man most energetic in many fields. To the rule of the other diocese this holy man Aldhelm124 was chosen by the primates, clergy, and a great multitude of people. As if of one mind and one voice, they proceeded according to the ancient rules of the canons. It went crucially in Aldhelm’s favour that when summoned he showed reluctance, and that he resisted as much as he could when he was led to the throne; for the father beloved to God was not drawn on by ambition, nor in the end could he be drawn back again by disobedience: he maintained the mean in both respects, and no good quality was denied him. 4. Truly there was in him what the apostle of the gentiles said in his letter to Timothy:125 ‘A bishop ought to be without censure.’ In this single precept of the apostle’s is contained all that follows, though to aid understanding individual details are specified. As St Gregory says of good prelates,126 Aldhelm, just as he was ahead in rank, excelled those subject to him in the abundance of all good qualities. 5. Whatever he preached from his mouth he displayed in advance by his actions, and he was puffed up by no pride.

He ruled his bishopric with great energy for four years, concerned to act as a bishop should. He was anxious to set fathers over the monasteries which he had by divine clemency ruled before becoming bishop. But the devout throng of the congregations, happy in their life under a loving father, rejected the idea of having any other patron but him while he still lived. 6. The Saint took account of their well-meant wishes; afraid of impairing the stability of the order by putting another in place, he remained their abbot as before. With the consent of King Ine and with his fellow-bishop Daniel as witness, he laid down a privilege,127 on pain of anathema, to prevent anyone of ecclesiastical dignity or high secular power presuming to appoint an abbot other than one chosen by the pious assembly of brethren. This privilege was at his instance cited in a holy synod of all England, and after ratification he placed it in the archive of Meldunum church. 7. It is kept there to this day. But, as was said above,128 sins get in the way and the laziness of prelates129 takes over; consequently, this, as I know, has been set at naught.

Hindered by the lay affairs involved in ruling a bishopric, he was not henceforward as potent in miracles as before. This always happens: for we read the same of the blessed bishop Martin of Tours.130 But it is right that a man be called most holy, even though he does not abound in the usual miracles, so long as he devoutly fulfils in every respect the office assigned him by God; and this our most just father did.


Chapter 13. How and where he died, and by what bishop (not just any bishop, but a most holy one) he was buried in Meldunum church.

After these achievements, let me come to his glorious passing.

After twice two years passed as bishop, he suffered a severe illness of the flesh. He called together the flock of monks, the catholic clergy and more or less all the people, and after preaching on the unity of peace and the bond of charity, in the absence of which no church can please God, he commended his sheep, like a good pastor, to the Lord. 2. He next asked his friends and domestics in the faith to inter his frail body in Meldunum monastery, which he had loved beyond all other. He offered up a worthy prayer to God, and, armed with the divine sacraments, he left this world in glory, to be welcomed by Michael and his band of angels. He died in the vill of Doulting,131 where he had gone while making the circuit of his parish as a dutiful pastor should, to serve the salvation of the sheep he was ruling under God’s supervision. The two congregations of the faithful began a pious dispute, though one conducted with all restraint, as to where the body of so great a patron should be carried for burial. 3. That party prevailed, with good reason, to whose church Aldhelm himself had ordered his body to be taken for burial. In Doulting, that is, the place where he came to the end of his life, a wooden chapel had been built; but after his death there a certain religious monk from Glastonbury made an oratory out of cut stone. When he was having it dedicated in Aldhelm’s honour, a old woman, who had long been bereft of her eyesight, had her vision given back and started to see like a young thing. 4. At that time, the holy Ecgwine, bishop of Worcester,132 who was like Aldhelm highly thought of for his learning and conduct, was proceeding in chains to Rome, in order to pray there. Prompted, as it is right to believe, by words spoken to him by God, the bishop came to Meldunum to give the dead bishop the due obsequies. When he had been buried in the appropriate way, the holy bishop completed the journey he had begun; and at Rome, by a divine miracle, the chains in which he was bound were loosed, as we read in the volume about his life.133

5. Aldhelm, our advocate with God, high on his throne in heaven, rules the flock of the place, his devoted subjects, by his constant prayers, and through him many benefits are granted there, to the praise of Him to whom is honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.


Chapter 14. How long134 he lay there, and in whose time and by whom, thanks to divine grace, he was raised from the ground and placed in a gilded shrine

I have duly run, within the limits imposed by my scanty intellect, over these details concerning the life of our most holy father Aldhelm, famous confessor and orthodox bishop: briefly, and, though in a rustic manner, with no divergence from the truth. Let me now come to the miracles that the Lord saw fit to work in the same monastery through Aldhelm after his death. 2. He was buried in the church of St Michael the archangel, next to the church the father had himself built, and lay there till the time of Eadwig,135 brother of King Edgar. Eadwig, Edgar’s predecessor, went astray in his feckless infancy, having no upright man to advise him. Hence he frittered away and divided the realm, distributing the property of the churches among intestine plunderers. 3. He took away the religious monks, both men and women, from the Lord’s sheepfolds, and placed in the churches clerics of both types,136 lustful men enslaved by the enticements of the appetite, who greedily pursued the profits of avarice: persons who had no love for canonical behaviour as they should have, but basely and shamelessly craved the desirable things of this world. 4. But almighty God took pity on Meldunum monastery, unwilling as He was that his light should long lie hidden under a bushel, but rather wishing to put it upon a candlestick, that it might shine to all.137 By the agency of the clerics who lived there then, men unlike those of whom I spoke before, he caused to be raised from the tomb that great treasure, Aldhelm’s body, adorned with such great virtues. He had it placed with all honour in a silver shrine, where to this day can be seen, engraved on gilded plates, some of his doings, those concerning the book and the beam and the boy and the chasuble.


Chapter 15. How long the most holy bones rested in the shrine; and concerning the things sent by Archbishop Dunstan for him there

His most holy bones lay for some time in the shrine I have described, until the holy Dunstan,138 thanks to God’s favouring clemency, took on the chasuble of the archbishopric of Canterbury, and the savage Danes began to bring their fury to bear on the English. Dunstan, hearing of the works of so great a man, and seeing every day139 the frequent miracles he performed, began to pay loving regard to that monastery above all others, excepting only the one140 in which he had himself been enthroned as abbot. 2. He began to put there from his own property many things suitable for service in church. Many are kept in the place to this day,141 together with his curses to be seen written on them in verse against anyone daring to remove them to the detriment of the church. 3. On the organ which the archbishop had given to honour the great father these lines142 are stamped in letters of bronze:

Bishop Dunstan gives the organ to holy Aldhelm.

Let anyone who has a mind to take them hence lose the eternal kingdom.

4. On the jug which he had had made to pour water, for the use of attendants at the altar, I have seen these verses written:

Archbishop Dunstan ordered this jug to be cast

To serve Saint Aldhelm in the temple.

5. On the gilded bell which hangs over the high table in the refectory, I have seen the following stamped in letters of pure gold:

May he never ascend to the hall of Elysium in heaven

Who takes this bell from the seat of the blessed Aldhelm.

6. There are other bells too, that the blessed Dunstan purchased for forty pounds. He gave much else besides which I leave unrecorded so as not to bore my hearers.


Chapter 16. By whom and why he was placed in a tomb, and what befell the Danes who entered his monastery

Later, in the time of this most revered bishop, the Danes, a people with no faith and as yet ignorant of the true God, invaded the island of Britain with a large number of fleets. The English folk, terrified out of their wits by their ferocity, sang hymns with constant devotion to the supreme Trinity, as the frightened commonly do, asking God to save those he had redeemed, now standing firm in the catholic faith, from the extreme cruelty of the barbarians, and to keep undisturbed the blessed bodies of the saints where they lay; aided by their prayers, the faithful , obedient to His will, might escape the burden of the calamity brought upon them by their cruel enemies. 2. Then the bishop,143 aware of the perverse ways of the wicked foe, and reflecting on their filthy greed when they caught sight of precious metal, grew afraid that the Danes, lured on by love of the gold and silver on the shrine, would touch the relics of the great father with their polluted hands, treat them foully, and leave them in a worse state.144 If (heaven forfend!) they were to remove the church ornaments, they might throw away such a treasure145 at random. He therefore reverently drew the most holy body out of the shrine, wrapped it in silk cloths, and placed it in a stone tomb. 3. This translation, or, to put it better, this faithful concealment of the holy body, he carried out on 5 May, as many martyrologies bear witness. But God, guardian of the faithful, brought a reproach on the sinful race, through the merit of His servant, our father, Aldhelm. When the army of wicked men was ranging hither and thither through the whole area of England, it finally came to Meldunum monastery, where they had been told that the native people had brought a quantity of gold, confident that the great bishop would protect it. 4. The band was like a lion which goes ravening across the desert, not fearing anything that comes in its way: blinded by its burning desire for food, it seeks only what it may devour.146 The troop burst into the church, and in its madness approached the holy of holies. The instant one of them got hold of the forbidden object in his desire to take precious stones from the shrine, he was punished by God: he lost his sight and straightway fell on the paved floor. The rest of the crazed enemies made sure, willy-nilly, that all the other contents of the monastery were left behind, with the exception of what had already come into the hands of the wandering troop in the monks’ quarters, and eagerly took to their heels. 5. That is how, at the request of His servant, God freed the place from the madness of the thieves. Great indeed is the merit of this saint in the sight of God: as I have said, he rescued the people he loved from so fearful a danger. Let us147 too, therefore, beg with chaste hearts and pure voices that he may by his prayers purge us from our sins, unworthy though we are in life and conduct, and exalt us in mind before God, that with him we may after this life attain life in heaven, and see the Son sitting at the right hand of the Father: to whom be virtue, honour and glory with the Holy Ghost for ages beyond measure. Amen.


Chapter 17. Why he lay in that marble coffin for so long, and why the miracles he performed at that time were not recorded in writing.

1. Later, the Danish host, hateful to God for their appalling crimes and their eradication of the Christian faith, after battles with different outcomes in various places, after destroying castles and sacking many a city, when the whole country had been laid waste beyond measure in all directions, were for a time suffered by God to hold the kingdom under their misguided sway. The adherents to orthodoxy were weakened by lack of resources and many bodily afflictions. Churches were not frequented by the usual crowds of the faithful coming in, and bands of Christian monks and nuns alike did not assemble by day or night. 2. This is how it came about that the saint’s body rested long in the tomb where it had been placed by the holy Dunstan, that bishop famed for the virtues he united in himself. Though it lay hidden under an unprepossessing cover, almighty God distinguished it by great miracles. Often, at different times, Aldhelm freed many of both sexes from various illnesses that possessed them. Individual details will be given in order at the right places,148 as my faculties permit and memory of them149 has flourished, I mean the things that God worked through him after the destruction of the Danes’ savagery by preachers and the overcoming of their hateful daring by warriors. 3. Other things, great though they were, the ancients did not recall, what he did while the pagan period of the Danes lasted there: for there was a sore dearth of good men at that time, and bad men beyond counting, at the mercy of their sins. This has happened to many martyrs as well, and indeed even to certain of the disciples, whom the supreme Shepherd our Lord sent in advance through the cities before the coming of his own preaching: such a flood of persecution had overwhelmed them that none of them had the chance to commit the course of their actions to writing. 4. But their merit in the eyes of God remains none the less, and so too their authority among men, because men often witness major miracles that God sees fit to exhibit through the martyrs, as a result of which miracles that were previously not written down are kept safe in the heart of the faithful in unquestioned belief.150 And as I need to go on to relate works of this saint which were in no way inferior to those I have told before,151 though they were shown by God after the passage of many years, let what I have said suffice on this topic for the time being.


Chapter 18. How a substitute queen of the Danes was freed from paralysis in his monastery

1. A long time after the cruel kings of the Danes and Norsemen laid waste to Britain, they took away with them,152 as barbarians will, a number of pretty young women, among them a high aristocrat called Ælfhild.153 After being led captive, she took the fancy of one of the great men, thanks to her beauty. He abandoned the lawful marriage he had previously contracted according to the custom of his people, but death overtook him, and he died while keeping this woman as his concubine. 2. She, bereft of his counsel, was left high and dry among foreigners. The archimandrite of the Danes,154 wishing to bring about what in fact ensued (for he had no children), visited her for just a single night, though his wife was still alive, and begat a son. Learning of this, the king was moved to pity, for she was a newcomer. Influenced by love for the child he had fathered, he ensured its safety and the sustenance it needed by entrusting it to a certain God-fearing bishop; besides, he had a wary eye for his wife’s wrath. 3. The bishop, looking for recompense from the Lord, and anxious to win his lord’s good will, made sure the baby was well looked after until it was weaned. When the infant was off the breast, the king died. The nurse snatched up the child and went into hiding, for the queen was still living and she was afraid of running into danger from that quarter. Seven years later, they heard from many sources that she was not far away, in a remote area. The Danes then sent for her to bring the boy back to take up his father’s throne: as indeed happened. 4. But the king155 died after being in power for eighteen months. Then Ælfhild, regarding herself as bereft by her son’s death, and with her past troubles and future wretchedness much on her mind, decided to go home if she could. There she might, by the merits of the saints which God holds dear, win glory in heaven—for the things of this world now meant nothing to her. So she came to her native soil, Britain, and with the money she brought with her purchased the living of three vills. 5. She lived a quiet and peaceful life for quite a long while, without cease fearing God and revering the saints in the depths of her heart. But then, touched by God’s lash (for He knows how at one time or another to afflict his servants with it to ensure they make progress towards the better, as he once, out of His divine mercy, afflicted the long-suffering Job in the body, to set him up as an example to posterity and so that he might recognise who He was), she for three years suffered the weakening of the limbs they call in Greek paralysis. 6. She said her trouble came upon her like this. She had vowed before coming back from Denmark that she would never eat meat again, and she had kept the vow to the letter for a long time. But being urged by several respectable priests, whom she had joined for a meal, to taste <meat> for once, she gave in to their entreaties, though only just, and against her will. Soon God’s punishment struck her with the paralysis I spoke of. It is wonderful how almighty God burdens with different penalties people who sin for different motives, and how in all He does He shows himself to be a just judge and a kind Lord. 7. Ananias and Saphira, because they fell with evil intentions at heart, he did not delay to strike down with a sentence not to be taken back.156 But this woman, because she had sinned unwillingly and with some show of charity, He wished to correct only temporarily. In the light of these examples, each of us ought to make sure either not to make vows or, having made them, to keep to them, and not afterwards break what157 he offered to God because of some difficult circumstance.158 Anyway, this woman, clad159 in nuns’ veil, began to get herself driven round by her bodyguard in a carriage, to seek the help of saints. 8. But almighty God, not to reject the prayer of his faithful, whom he ever glorifies, but to magnify the reputation of his servant Aldhelm by exhibiting more frequent miracles, in his mercy did not release her from her dangerous illness until she came, as He had arranged, to the monastery of Meldunum. There, on the eve of the saint’s festival, she waited devoutly for God to console her by the merit of His servant: lying prostrate, for she could not stand. When, following solemn matins, the religious body of monks were singing the customary hymn in honour of our Redeemer’s mother, she was soon touched by God’s healing, and felt her limbs grow green that had previously been withered. She swiftly stood up cured, and went with no one to lead her to the place where the holy body rested. From that day she contributed all she could lay her hands on to the church of her healer. She lies there in peace after her death in the flesh.

Chapter 19. How a farmer was freed from a demon there on Ascension night

Now later at this same place, when they were celebrating the sacred vigil on Ascension night, the following very remarkable miracle took place. A countryman of the parish had, as his sins demanded, been taken over by a demonic power. Seeing him raving, projecting blasphemies against God and his faithful from his foaming mouth, and picking up, for use against them and their neighbours, rocks and flames, the arms that madness ministers to the insane,160 his relatives consigned him to iron chains, and thus day and night kept him under strict custody for some little time, so far as their uncouthness permitted. 2. Then, taking counsel with people they knew to be wiser, they made haste to take him around everywhere, bound tight as he was, to places where they had heard the bodies of saints rested. But the Maker of the world, who every day according to his custom exalts the humble and casts down the proud and haughty, reserved this mark of distinction to his servant, our most humble father Aldhelm. Coming with the madman to his monastery of Meldunum, they begged the monks who lived there in fraternal love to pray for God’s clemency, that He might, by the merit of his servant Aldhelm, show his usual miracles in the case of this demoniac. 3. The monks gave them this sound reply: ‘Today is the vigil of the Ascension of the Redeemer of all, the day on which he bore his flesh, received from the unsullied Virgin and made glorious by suffering death, to heaven, where God and man, the one Christ, He sits at the right hand of God to pass judgement, healing illnesses of body and soul. Wherefore, dearest brethren, spend the night in the church, and with intent hearts keep the sacred watch, believing with no shadow of doubt that He who so raised him that He made him rejoice with Him in heaven may himself show what you seek by means of Aldhelm.’ 4. While they stood for the night office before the picture of our Redeemer, God’s mercy touched the sick man for the merit of his servant, and expelled with due scorn him who possessed his frame, curing his sickness as if no trouble from that foul guest had ever afflicted him. Seeing this, all who were present, or had come after hearing the cries of gladness, rang bells and lauded the miracles of the eternal King in the secrecy of their hearts and aloud with their voices.


Chapter 20. How, on a Sunday in the monks’ choir, he healed a lame man who was going to Christchurch in the west country

On another occasion, there was the case of a sick man whose feet, hips and legs were so fused together that any journey he had to make he could only accomplish with difficulty on his knees, his legs trailing behind him.161 Tired out with the continual effort, he cast around in his mind, wondering how he might beg merciful God to show him pity and tell him which saint’s help he should ask for. The story flew the width of the whole province, and in the end he learned that almighty God, the merciful restorer of the human race, was accustomed to work miracles in an oratory called in English Christchurch162, with countless instances of the healing of people burdened by all kinds of illness. 2. So he began to make his way there as best he could, leaving (as it were) no footprints behind him:163 as a believer, he might be able to regain health. He took some days, though the journey was short, and only with difficulty managed to reach Meldunum monastery, which was on his route. As soon as the aged man entered the house, he felt some degree of healing lightness in his torpid limbs. 3. So he spent the night there, and next morning would have resumed164 the journey he had set his heart on, had not God, by the merit of his holy confessor, seen fit in his mercy to grant him kindly aid here. It was Vespers on Saturday, within the octave of the patron’s feast-day.165 In the morning, when the sun had grown hot and first Hour of the day had been sung by the resident brothers, the procession was already forming up when the sick man came into the choir, as best he could, with the others who wanted to follow the procession. 4. He lay praying until the congregation of monks passed as usual through the cloister and the offices and came back to where they had started. The troop of monks were singing, attended by the lay multitude, when the cripple, touched in a flash by God’s kindness, became as it were outside himself in a great stupor. He sped from the place where he lay, cured, as if he had never felt the slightest bodily impairment, and ran to the tomb that held the sacred body, to give God and his servant the poor thanks he could. 5. Seeing this, all those present praised the great works of almighty God, who had done such things at the prayer of his saint. The man who was cured like this lived in the monastery for a long time, bringing repute to the saint, and there survive there to this day many clad in the monastic habit who knew him well before and after. I have written down the story they told of him, to the glory of our Redeemer and the praiseworthy memory of this holy man.


Chapter 21. How he restored the sight of a man who had been blinded amid the perils of the sea

Among several other works commanding our reverence which almighty God revealed for the merits of his servant is the following remarkable miracle displayed there. In the time of William I, that most energetic king of the English,166 and of Abbot Warin,167 who governed that church according to the Rule, a fisherman was living on an island called in English Wichtland.168 He was compelled by his straitened circumstances to toil every day fishing in the deep, and sought his daily bread by his hand and skill, often subjecting himself to the dangers of the sea. 2. Now one day, while he roamed the waves, a cloud suddenly rushed straight at him and took away the sight of his eyes; perhaps it was what his sins demanded.169 Long did he wander over the trackless ocean, one wave after another confronting him. Finally he was helped by his friends on other vessels to make it to shore, where he was led home by a guide to his poor lodging. 3. The story of his blinding spread through the district; it met the ears of a group of his friends, who made it their business to come to ask how he had suffered the adversity of this unexpected loss. In a tearful voice he told them in detail what had happened to him. Then he proceeded to ask them what he should do, from which of the saints they expected he would find mercy. His assembled relatives (so it is said) replied with long faces: (4) ‘We don’t know how better to advise you on this matter, unless that you should hasten to the doors of Christchurch, over in the west, where God often performs miracles. According to popular rumour, different kinds of illness are got rid of in that place. There you should use pious prayers to ask for the clemency of almighty God, earnestly promise satisfaction for your past sins, and redeem your evil deeds by giving alms so far as you can, until the bountiful pity of his power restores you safe and sound to your old state of health.’ 5. His friends were rustics, but sensible people none the less; he took the good advice they lavished upon him, and proceeded to the monastery, where cripples of various kinds had gathered. Three years he dwelt there labouring under his infirmity; but the kind and merciful Father, who carries out in a moment whatever he wishes, refused to fulfil his desire all this time. But He did feel for him. The fact is that He knew in advance what was going to happen, and for whom He was in fact reserving the glory that would redound to his own praise; hence even by delaying He made the gift of health bring good from what had been ill.170 6. Finally, one night, lying in bed, the blind man was warned in a dream to make for the church of Meldunum, where the body of His servant Aldhelm rested, and there, with God’s help and at the urgent prayers of His saint, recover his long-lost sight. This said, forewarned by God, he was taken next day to Meldunum church, a companion going before him. For seven days on end he begged there for God’s mercy, with the help of His saints, by means of vigils and prayers: might Him who came to save sinners see fit to restore him to his former sight. 7. Meantime a man who so needed the grace of the Lord was being supported by the alms of the brothers. On the seventh day—for our Lord and Redeemer wished to show him mercy, and to publicise the fame of his faithful servant in this way too (confirming the saying ‘If you ask in my name, it will be given to you’)171—he recovered his lost sight thanks to the prayers of this saint and the suffrages of others who rest there, in the following manner. 8. On Sunday the monks had gone on their usual procession through the monastery cloister, and had returned to the church entrance, singing. The man was lying in the centre of the church in front of the crucifix, saying his prayers, when the grace of the Holy Spirit came down upon him to such effect that in everyone’s view blood dripped from his eyes and ran down over his face; the scales fell away and he shouted that now he could see. He got straight up and, though before he could go nowhere without being led, he now hastened to the tomb of the saint quite unaided. There he lay for a long time, weeping for joy; but eventually he got to his feet, and returned to where he had come from. All those present saw this and thanked God devoutly: to whom is honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Chapter 22. How and by whom he was raised and placed in a silver <shrine>

In what has preceded I told172 how the holy bones of our father Aldhelm were clothed in silk and placed honourably in a wooden coffin inside a marble tomb; this was done to escape the attentions of the perfidious Danes, and it was the work of the reverend archbishop of Canterbury, Dunstan. Now it is my task to tell what period separated the deaths of the two bishops, how long the bones lay there after Dunstan fell asleep, and how and by whom they were raised.173 2. Aldhelm had been ordained as abbot in the church of the apostles Peter and Paul at Meldunum by the blessed Leuthere, fourth bishop of the Saxons, in the 666th year of our Lord’s incarnation, or thereabouts, and as bishop, in the 705th year of the birth in the flesh of the same true Saviour, by Berhtwald, successor of Theodore, archbishop of Canterbury,174 a man of importance in the affairs of the church and one highly distinguished for his excellent morals. 3. He died in 709. By this reckoning the years total 43. Of these he lived as bishop for four blameless years, as has been said. The remainder he spent merely in the rank of abbot, not master of one abbey alone, however, but of many. He fell asleep in Christ 279 years before the death of Archbishop Dunstan, and his holy relics lay at rest where Dunstan had put them for 92 years after Dunstan’s passing. Their raising took place, as I witnessed, like this.

4. The monastery was under the control of Abbot Warin, a man of wide learning, well-versed in the doctrine relating to religious practice in a monastery, who ruled the flock entrusted to him, well-conducted as it was,175 as monastic tradition required. For some while he had had doubts about the holy body, and this led him to decree a three-day fast for his faithful congregation; they were to sing psalms devoutly at appropriate places, and to humble themselves in every way in the sight of divine clemency, so that by the mercy of almighty God they might discover the relics of the great bishop. 5. The religious congregation of Gloucester too (for it was joined to Meldunum by the tie of charity) observed the same fast on the orders of father Serlo,176 to be venerated for the religious practice of his monastery, on the days preceding the holy day of Pentecost. On the third day of the festival, after reverent observance of the morning office, the two abbots came, full of fear, to the tomb that held the holy corpse. With them were two brothers, who helped them lift the stone. 6. One of them, by name Hubert, another177 man of wonderful endurance (as he often told us, he suffered under the burden of some illness), as soon as he sensed the fragrance of the holy remains, knelt on the ground with the others and offered praise to the clemency of almighty God, which so justifies his holy men that their spirits may be honoured in heaven by their fellow citizens, the angels, and their bodies among mortals. 7. When he got to his feet after his urgent prayer, he found himself quite cured, as he often told us, and as I personally, with many others. bear witness, though we had known him previously as a pretty sick man. The abbots opened up the sarcophagus and left it like that without touching it till seven days later, when Aldhelm’s festival was due. 8. On the feast day the abbot sent for Osmund, the orthodox bishop of the diocese, a man to be honoured and praised for his humility, wisdom and holiness, and for the aforementioned pious abbot of Gloucester, together with a throng of clergy and many lay persons, a host of noblemen and troops of knights. In their presence Aldhelm’s raising took place for the second time178 since he was put in the tomb by Archbishop Dunstan, and he was honourably placed in a gilded shrine by the servants of God. From that day on, there have been many cures, granted by him and by the merits of the others who rest there.

Chapter 23. How on his feast day he restored fitness to a boy who had been lame for a decade179

No more than two years after this translation of the holy relics by the fathers I have mentioned, whom Abbot Warin had brought together for the purpose,180 Aldhelm’s sacred festival took place on the third day of the celebration of Pentecost.181 (Warin was the first182 [abbot of Meldunum] since the French took control of the English who had shown the monks there the example of habitual good behaviour, religious way of life, and knowledge of the monastic Rule.) 2. On the day on which the Holy Spirit filled the hearts of the faithful primates of the church with the idiom of different languages,183 for us to learn from, he wished, by the following remarkable act, to declare to the throng of people who flocked to Aldhelm’s festival what merit attached to the saint in the eyes of His majesty. A boy,184 who had for ten years (for that was his age) spent his life so deformed that his hips were attached to his legs and his soles to his buttocks, was supporting life in the monastery hospital by taking alms from the refectory tables. 3. Suppose the weather was such that the moderate amount of mud in the streets grew even greater, enough to be (as usual) something185 of an obstacle to people on journeys: if the poor cripple wanted to go somewhere, at whatever expense of effort, his calves and knees, not to speak of his intercoxal and private parts, would get inconveniently soaked with the dung in the roads. So the poor little boy froze even if the cold was not great, and grew very tired on any kind of journey.186 He had to lie there willy-nilly weeping until someone took pity on his cries and carried him in his arms to his customary lodging. 4. There were those who did not believe in his handicap; they had no notion why God had brought it about, or for which of his faithful He had reserved him for re-shaping. They would try to poke their hands between the fused parts, and with blameworthy intentions desired to straighten the sick child’s bent limbs. For they were used to seeing him constantly at play, like a boy without a care in the world; and so they thought he was making it all up, as many do, on someone’s instructions. Worn out by their damnable behaviour, the cripple would long fill the air with his cries, ceaselessly asking God’s help, so far as a boy knew how: might He take away the debility that handicapped him, so that he would not so often have to put up with the intolerable insults that some cast upon him. 5. Today we can see that this happened thanks to the merits of our bishop Aldhelm. For it was on the day of his holy festival, when the assembled monks were reverently celebrating the sacred vigils, and a great crowd of clergy and lay people was devoutly passing the night in the Lord’s house, and the verse of the praise-hymn ‘At whose sacred tomb the limbs of the sick are now often restored to health’187 was already being sung, when the following vision appeared to the lame boy as he lay in a trance. 6. In his sleep he seemed to see a man beautiful to look upon, dressed as a bishop, hair and beard snow-white, pleasant of face, kindly in appearance. This man took hold of his little legs, which had no power of movement, next to the feet, and pressing the palms of his hands gently on the boy’s knees straightened out the twisted limbs. 7. At once he jumped up cured, though before he had only been able to crawl on the ground, and made his way to the altar, relying on God’s mercy, as though he had never had any trouble from lameness before. The people rejoiced at such a prodigy and followed agog, singing hymns and carrying candles in their hands. He lay there some while in prayer. When he got to his feet, the people made him various offerings, for him to put on the altar of the Lord in gratitude to the saint. Afterwards, when the morning service was over, he told us all how health had come to him, thanks to God.


[Faricius speaks personally]


8. That year I was myself weighed down by much illness. Though I was unworthy and was void of any good work, I had remained there as a monk: perhaps God so willed it. One night, sleeping among the brothers in my bed, I dreamed that I was standing in prayer before the tomb I have often spoken of. And, behold, I heard as it were the breathing of someone asleep there. Then, terrified—for I was alone and hearing something so unexpected and unheard of—I raised my head a little and trembling looked inside [the tomb] to see what it was. 9. Straightway I saw an old man with venerable white hair and a face like an angel’s, lying on his back in the sepulchre as though on a bed: a bishop in his sacred robes, with staff and mitre, ring, gloves, and boots. If I were to see him now alive in the flesh, I should recognise him beyond all doubt, without anyone prompting me. He was neither tall nor that short in stature, but in between, just right; he was not so fat or so thin as to be unsightly, but in the middle, an appropriate and becoming size. 10. He stretched himself like someone waking from sleep, raised his body half way, and began to look around the monastery with a terrifying glare. Seeing this I slunk from the church, and woke just when I was going up to the brothers to tell them this tale. I recounted my vision to Warin, father of the monks, and many others, and kept it fresh by often going over it in my mind, which clung to the memory,188 until, just as God by the merit of his servant brought it about that I saw this miraculous sight, so He brought it about that I realised what a vision like this portended.


Chapter 24. How an archdeacon was cured of agonising pain in his shoulder blade by merely touching his coffin189

Three years after his revelation by the agency of the most religious bishop of the diocese, Osmund by name (him who around four hundred190 years later governed without blemish the parish that Aldhelm had ruled most energetically for only four years), of two reverend fathers of our order, Warin, abbot of Meldunum and Serlo abbot of Gloucester, and, as has been recorded earlier,191 of praiseworthy men making up a great multitude of persons of diverse ranks, God in His kindness was minded to show by the merits of his servant the miracle that will follow. 2. On the very day of Aldhelm’s bodily death, on which he went to heaven to receive in glory the reward for his labours, after the third hour, the sacred procession was wending its way, according to custom, in Meldunum, properly and reverently. It happened that there was present at the solemn ceremony a man of catholic belief, excellently trained in knowledge of the liberal arts, and especially to be praised for his expertise in divine scripture. He had been raised to the rank of archdeacon of the see,192 and was a well-known figure in our community, a man so devout that he made it his practice to come to the festival from wherever he was. 3. On this occasion he was so stressed by pain in his shoulder, his back and his whole arm down to the finger tips that he could scarcely get about on his own feet, or do anything called for by nature with that hand. But trusting in God by the agency of the praiseworthy merit of this saint, he went along pluckily with the first of them in his eagerness to touch the bier in which the holy body was being carried. Then they made a halt, as the monks usually do, before the church doors. The bearers of the holy body placed it across the doorway in such a way that no one could enter the church without bowing his head under it. 4. They do this every year to ensure the safety of the crowds coming in.193 Then the man I spoke of, Hubald by name, just like the woman who privily touched the hem of the Lord’s garments from behind and ‘stole’ health for herself,194 approached and, as though he was not touching it, timidly put his hand on the bier from below; and at once he was cured of his pain as if he had never had any discomfort in that area before. As we went into the church—for we were compatriots and he was my best friend—he rushed up to me in his happiness, his smiling face telling in its joy a different tale from the one it had told only a short while before. 5. He always looked cheerful, talked pleasantly, and was generally amenable.195 So now: he began to praise Saint Aldhelm in happy tones and well-chosen196 words: ‘A man to be praised for his qualities, high in sanctity, full of piety, packed with mercy, rich in charity, worthy to be praised far and wide, Saint Aldhelm, who cured me by his prayers quicker than a word could be spoken, who restored me to my old soundness of health by the mere touch of his bier, who has made me light and capable of anything just as if I were outside the bounds of humankind.’ 6. Hearing this, beside myself in my extreme joy, I began urgently to inquire of him if he really felt all the health throughout his body that he spoke of so happily. But he, extending his hands to heaven and casting his eyes upward, began to call the unspeakable clemency of the Saviour to witness, that he was in all truth in the state which he was reporting to me and to the many other respectable197 men at my side. Whereupon all of us in unison most devoutly rendered, so far as our understanding permitted, our thanks to God’s holy bishop, who had accomplished this out of his dear love, and to God himself, who always so magnifies those who serve him that, when and how they will, they may free from all adversity those who invoke him in purity of heart.


Chapter 25. How the same man was a second time freed from the pain in his shoulder and whole arm by the arrival198 of [Aldhelm’s] arm

Times press upon times, miracle on miracles.

The saint’s miracles and the cures of people grow.

Not long after, there befell the same honourable man, Hubald, an illness that is not to be passed over, for by God’s dispensation it was destined to be cured through the agency of the holy bishop Aldhelm. He was being afflicted by pain like that I have written of, from shoulder to finger tip, and so seriously that he could do nothing with it.199 2. The day of the glorious Ascension was at hand, when the flesh of our Redeemer, united to godhead, went up to heaven. On that day the procession was as usual being made ready wherever throngs of the faithful dwell. Hubert came to the church, though only with great difficulty, trusting implicitly in God’s mercy, that the burden of his pain could be lightened by the merits of this bishop Aldhelm, just as previously on his feast day in the monastery of Meldunum. 3. For there was in the church at Salisbury, where Hubald held the high position of archdeacon, part of the left hand of the bishop, worthy of God, decked with various gems and gold by Osmund, the most Christian bishop of the place; by its means, God had already worked many miracles there too. Its usual position was above the altar. But when it was being made ready by the servants to be carried to the procession marking that day, Hubald asked the bishop, who was much saddened by his great discomfort, to be allowed, if possible, to carry those relics200 of our holy father Aldhelm: perhaps, now as before, God’s mercy would come to his aid, through the merits of the man of God. 4. The bishop was overjoyed to hear this. He personally took it201 from the altar and gave it to Hubald, sharing his firm confidence in its efficacy. The procession set off, and by God’s aid Hubald led it, cured already by merely touching the bone. When they were back inside the sanctuary, the bishop along with the rest saw Hubald looking cheerful and as though he wanted to burst out to voice his joy and his praise of the saint. He came up to him, and addressed him in his usual agreeable manner: [5] ‘Tell me, my brother, how are you feeling? I see you are happy, and I think you have received a boon from God.’ He replied: ‘I feel happy and healthy in my body: indeed I never recall being better. The divine pity of almighty God has cured me, by the merits of his saint Aldhelm, as if no infirmity had ever found a place in me. 6. Behold, dearest brothers, a bishop dead now for four hundred years is still often working in the people what God, when he sent his disciples out into the entire world, said, amongst other things, in the Gospel: “They shall lay their hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”’202 This is also in a way like the holy feat203 of Eliseus:204 when his bones had touched a dead man they made it live. Eliseus stood mystically for the resurrection of Christ, who after his death in the flesh brought many back to life as well as himself. Aldhelm, true, did not serve as a type for the future; but he did instantly cure a man of agonising pain by a mere touch of the shrine containing his relics.


Chapter 26. How a horse belonging to the same archdeacon died

After the first vines, we normally plant others:

We look for a bigger crop of fruit, honours given by praises.205

This is how a206 saint fares among the people, nourished by miracles.


It happened that, one day during Aldhelm’s festival,207 this archdeacon, after he had received gifts of healing by the merits of the relics of this saint, despite being thirty and more leagues away,208 sent one of his clients with a horse and cart into the forest, to bring a load of wood for use in his kitchen. 2. One cleric in his entourage, Peter by name, a man of good life and ever intent on studying, said, a little anxiously: ‘It is not fitting for a wise man, one who is an example to many others, to do such things to meet his own needs, that is, to neglect the festivals of saints and the practices of our ancestors. If he acts like that he is committing two wrongs: first, by offending the saint, whom he ought to reverence greatly, he loses God’s favour; second, by setting bad examples to lesser folk, he causes many to stray from the straight path.’ 3. The holder of archdiaconal rank at once replied, more angrily than he should have: ‘They were the saint’s men,209 sir, and they often sympathise with us in our problems. They know we cannot live without sustenance, and so it is permitted to have their licence when we look for what is needed for our provisioning.’ 4. The servant, having chopped the wood and loaded the cart, was attaching the horse and getting ready to return home, having, as he thought, arranged everything satisfactorily, when the horse fell down dead without warning, though shortly before, on arrival, it had been plump and healthy. Seeing this, the servant, thinking over what his lord and the cleric had said, was scared stiff and brooked no delay on his journey back. Hearing this story, the lord archdeacon took fright, and from then on told all those subject to him to be quite sure to observe the saint’s feast day; and he told me the whole tale in praise of this memory.210


Chapter 27. How an archdeacon was saved from mortal peril by drinking water in which his relics had been washed

By the agency of the inconceivable mercy of almighty God, the fame of the great man’s miracles, which were so to say renewed after the second raising,211 began to increase greatly everywhere. For212 his ancient works were found sufficiently great to fly unfailingly through the ears of everyone, even those far away, and to stir the minds of all to love and venerate this most holy bishop. 2. In the end Osmund, the bishop dear to God who has been mentioned above, approached the father of the monastery213 both because he was getting such wonderful reports of the saint every day and because he was his successor, though after many years, in the hope of possessing some small portion of his holy relics. He prayed the abbot on his own behalf and that of his faithful flock: begged and besought; besought and supplicated; supplicated and demanded, that he give him something of his most holy predecessor. 3. Then the head of the monastery took counsel with the brothers. Many and various were the discussions they held over a long period. Finally it came to this: they yielded up, by common consent, part of the left arm214 to Osmund. For he was thoroughly upright, and they did not want to reject the prayers of such a great man. Then, because he had got his way, he affirmed that he would always in every way be a loyal subject of Aldhelm’s monastery. 4. Now it was the custom in our house, however improper, that on Maundy Thursday a215 parish priest of the diocese paid thirty pence to the bishop for receiving the chrism. This sum the bishop, with the assent of all his clergy, gave us in perpetuo, and under pain of excommunication barred his successors for the future from any way of getting it back. So cheirographs made with the consent of both parties are kept in the archives of the church as a reminder to their successors; this is not said because those living there are concerned about this particular number of pence, but to make it illegal for any of their successors to annul this decision. 5. Then the bishop, overjoyed at the gift, went away and got ready a shrine for the holy relics, decked with gold and precious stones. Now on All Saints’ Day, after Terce before the introit of the mass, he resolved to place the sacred treasure in a box216 made for the purpose. Holy water and incense, and a cross with a text, were brought there. The clergy and many lay people were waiting expectantly when he recalled an archdeacon of his, an upright and honest man who was then sick unto death, and sent for him, saying: (6) ‘Get up, and on the arms of your servants if need be, have yourself brought here to the church. Put your hope in God that by the merits of his most holy confessor Aldhelm He will have the mercy on you that we wish, so long as you are in no way hesitant.’ Hearing this, being a man devoted to God and trusting in the saint, he rose from his bed as best he could, and as though already getting his strength back, so complete was his faith, he came to the oratory, not on his own legs but carried by his servants. 7. The bishop summoned him and warned him to have no doubts, for he knew that this saint has in the past done like things to many a one. Touching the very top of the holy bone with water, he gave it to the sick archdeacon to drink. As soon as the liquid came in contact with his inward parts, he was made as healthy as if he had never before felt the weight of any illness. Then the archdeacon Everard217 (this was the name of the man who had been healed) began to praise God sedulously and to extol Saint Aldhelm in a loud voice. 8. Seeing this everyone thanked God and glorified his holy bishop. Then the office of the holy mass was celebrated. But when it came to the Alleluia, the archdeacon, who218 had been219 an excellent organum-singer, provided by his singing a fitting organum for it.220 A remarkable event enough, but not without precedent. Petronilla, when oppressed by fevers, recovered at Peter’s command, and thereupon ministered to him and his fellow-disciples.221 Drusiana, too, after being raised from the dead provided hospitality to her teacher, John.222 9. Again, a boy resurrected by our father Benedict, though torn in pieces by the assaults of the Enemy, returned to the masonry trade with the other workers.223 But this man, cured of long illness by our bishop in an instant with a drop of liquid, at once played the organ and sang. 10. Something like this is read also of Januarius, bishop of Beneventum:224 many years after his own death, he touched the bodily limbs of a dead man with the image of his limbs worked on linen, and revived him from death. In the case of this confessor of ours, a fragment of bone cured a man given up for dead, with no more than the water in which it had been washed. I had reliable persons to tell the tale especially225 of this miracle of his, to wit the oft-mentioned orthodox bishop and the archdeacon himself, as well as many truthful people.

Chapter 28. How he cured a paralysed woman226

In the seventh year of the reign of William II, son of William I, that very energetic king227 of the English, a man of war and courage, there lived a woman in the town of Culkerton.228 She was (they said) not of plebeian stock, or all that nobly born, but came on both sides from a family of intermediate position. She was quite young, strong and pretty, married to a knight of similar rank to hers; and she every day enjoyed the normal affluence appropriate to her status. While she was leading this prosperous life, she suddenly fell gravely ill. 2. She was so seized up in every limb that for some five years she could not get up from her bed without assistance. As happens to the sick, she was scorned even229 by her husband. And now almost bereft of possessions, with no others accruing, her limbs withered because of her long illness,230 she was quite at a loss what to do, where to turn or what plan to follow. But God took pity on her, as we believe, and she looked for help to the saints and to urgent prayer. 3. Eventually,231 falling asleep one night after an anxious vigil, she was shown the following vision. Someone addressed words of advice to her, telling her to make no delay in seeking out the monastery of St Aldhelm, where God would take pity on her in such a burdensome complaint. When she woke232 and went over in her mind what she had seen, she felt the old pain somewhat easing in all her limbs and her stiff joints everywhere getting some small relief from their usual condition. 4. In the morning, she was helped to rise from her bed and, though scarcely able to move, to make her way through the house, bent double. Then, grabbing what conveyance she could (for the feast day was imminent), she came to the monastery so often referred to. A great number of sick people were thronging the monastery precinct at that moment. She burst through them, and helped by a staff and people’s hands, pushed past sick persons getting in the way and healthy persons offering help, until she struggled at last to the longed-for tomb of the saint. 5. There she prayed, and in the sight of all immediately got to her feet cured, as if she had never been in danger from any infirmity. She then abandoned her stick, companions and conveyance, and courageously began a circuit of the monastery, praising the Lord and St Aldhelm His bishop. Then the abbot of the place, Godfrey233 by name, a good man with a council of wise persons to advise him, sought out suitable witnesses to the woman’s story in order to get at the truth, not because (heaven forfend!) he had any doubt about a miracle performed by father Aldhelm, having often seen such a thing before, but because he wished to make known to newcomers consecutive234 details of the way the event had gone, and also the length of time involved. 6. There were in fact many witnesses to what had taken place, including a knight called Ascelin, an entirely truthful person as I know, who over three years, for the sake of her sister, his wife, had provided her with sustenance. He deposed before witnesses, and I have summarised his words here as well as I could. This woman afterwards took back the man who had abandoned her because of her illness, and lived long and prosperously with him, in perfect health.


Chapter 29. How he made a paralysed girl whole235

I think it will be worth my while, dearest brothers, and I judge it useful for the edification of those who listen to me, if to the praise of God and for the fame of this saint I add miracles to follow on the heels of a miracle, just like a mason building a turreted house for some important person, who lays one stone on another to make it grow higher; and if, just as he joins one rock to another with cement to glue them firmly together, thus stabilising the structure, so I, in my concern for the truth, fit his ever-new miracles together as I write on the authority of my informants; [2] and if, just as the workman, together with his mates, is going to receive pay as well as high repute, so I, along with my informants, succeed in receiving from our patron236 rewards and fame in this life. Indeed I often warned them, when they were telling their stories, that if they wanted to please God they should at least aim at the goal of complete truth. Out of which,237 I have heard of the following works of the bishop of God from three truthful and Christian members of our order.

3. There was a girl of twelve, daughter of a countryman from the village known in English as Pucklechurch.238 She looked quite respectable considering her low status, but she had for five years and more been suffering from a fearful distortion. A brother of hers, feeling for her in her infirmity, put her on a horse and hurried her off to Meldunum, wanting to arrive in time for the feast day. She stayed there that night and then the day of the festival, praying God that by the merit of His servant St Aldhelm she might return to her old state of good health. 4. But on this occasion she was not heard, even though later on she was cured, at God’s will. Now who would venture to ask why it turned out that way? Who has ever ventured to dispute concerning the secrets of the Lord? Indeed the sense of the scriptural remark remains true in every detail,239 where the prophet, full of the holy Spirit, says: ‘For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counsellor?’240 For sure, no one, man or angel. 5. It was with some such plan unknown to us, some such intention of which no one was cognisant, that He refused then to do what it did please him to bring about later in the case of this girl, and by the same servant of his and in the same place. He put off what he did afterwards; he would not take pity then on one whom he took pity on subsequently. We do not know why his pity was not disposed to act then; let us instead respect what he afterwards did wish and did put into action. The sick girl in the end went back home without receiving the gift of health that was granted her later. She remained in the house of a God-fearing married woman, relying as she did, one way or another, on her help for clothing and food. 6. Then, when the annual feast day came round again, the woman put her on a conveyance and had her taken to the sheepfold of the pious father Aldhelm. As it happened, his sacred festival fell before the venerated day of the Lord’s Ascension, as often happens in accordance with the varying date of Easter.241 The ill girl stood there without sleeping for that night and then the day of the great festival; but as God had not yet decided to act, she did not receive the gift of health she had craved for so long. She stayed on there, however,242 till the coming Ascension Day, for she whole-heartedly longed for the help of God’s grace, not aware that it would come to her then by St Aldhelm’s aid.243 7. In fact, it is customary for God’s mercy to perform through him244 many works on that day, when his sacred relics are taken out for the procession.245 The holy day of the Lord came, and as usual the procession of the monks was arranged at the third hour. When they went out for the procession, they left the sick girl behind in all reverence,246 for she was not capable of going to the church. In the meantime she prayed to God as best she could. He took pity, and, as the outcome shows, was there for her in her prayers. 8. Prostrate before the crucifix she lay praying, weeping in heart and eyes alike. She had heard the voices of the monks as they left, and now she heard them again as they came back. She wanted to join them, but she could not. Finally, at the prayer of His servant, the power of the Redeemer turned the laments of this poor crippled woman into joy, and restored the soundness in all her limbs that she had not enjoyed before.247 Then, rising from the ground where she had lain so long, she began to run towards the saint through whom she had received the gift of health. When the monks and the people saw it, they gave boundless thanks to almighty God and his holy servant, Aldhelm.

9. There are, of course, many other things that I have often heard about this most blessed man not from just anybody but from persons embellished with ardour for the true faith. But so that readers may more easily and smoothly impress what I have said on their memories, to the praise of the eternal King and the unfailing fame of this saint, I have decided to leave them aside. For a mind intent on too many things usually has less command of details. But I have not written this account in ornate language, as learned writers do with their compositions, but have told the truth in any old way, to the praise of the saint himself and the glory of the eternal King. His perpetuality does not finish any more than it had a beginning; Threefold as He is in persons, He reigns in unity for eons without limit.248


Chapter 30. The order of events requires me to write the truth here:

I did this before, I shall do it in this part too.

In miraculous happenings let the last be concordant with the first.

This saint in his power always works wonders:

This writing is needed to redound to his praise.

2. There was an insignificant woman249 from the town known in English as Gillingham,250 around forty miles from the monastery of Meldunum. She got what she needed by the skill of her hands, and from no other source. She was by now thirty, as was said, yet she still lived in the same state of wretched poverty. And here she was, spinning on a Sunday after Vespers, when the sun was now going down. This she did contrary to the custom of the faithful and the decrees of the fathers, but to relieve her need. As a result she was soon struck down in the very act by God’s judgement, so that she could get little or no help from one side of her body. 3. She lived for four and a half years made wretched by this affliction, scarce able to move somehow round the neighbourhood, leaning on sticks and dragging one foot. Now there were at that time certain religious enthusiasts living near the town; and they kept urging her to make every effort she could to visit different churches in search of God’s mercy, that he might pity her so far as possible: perhaps by the help of the saints, whose assistance the poor woman should go to great pains to request, she might feel heaven’s aid too. 4. She obeyed them, as they were wise and of higher status, and began as best she could to visit monasteries said to be of repute everywhere within the stated area; sometimes travelling by herself, not picking up her foot but letting it leave a trace on the ground behind her. But she found that all this labour brought none of the improvement in her health she had craved for so long; the fact was that the time had not yet come for that part of her body, so seriously weakened thanks to her sins, to be made better by the merit of Aldhelm servant of God. 5. Finally, worn out by her repeated journeys, and having more or less lost hope in her prayers to the saints, she decided she was wasting her time persisting in her lengthy labour. So she put off for the future any thought of bodily cure, and started to take up residence in a place then famous for miracles,251 proposing to support life on the contributions of those coming there. Having stayed there for some time, she was addressed one day by a man she thought she had seen before. 6. ‘What are you doing here?’ he said. ‘Why are you hanging around here all this time? You have roamed about quite long enough, but haven’t yet arrived at the place where you are going to receive your health back. So get up and252 go as quickly as you can to the monastery of Meldunum: all sorts of miracle are often worked there thanks to the help of the holy men who rest in the place.’ 7. Hearing this, she believed him, being very anxious to regain her health, and next day set out eagerly on the journey, long though it was for her. She did not walk fast, and it took many days before she came to Meldunum, where subsequently she felt God come to her help by the mediation of the saints of the place. So she was in the town all Eastertide till Easter Monday. During this period she left the church only once a day, both because it was pretty hard for her to go back to the hospice twice, and also because she was waiting all the time for God’s pity to come to her rescue. 8. And it is my belief that it was by divine providence that there was so long a delay; it enabled people to get to know the sick woman, so that no one could later call into question what we saw beyond any doubt.253 For at Vespers on Easter Monday, when the processing monks were standing in front of the triumphant cross, and when the players who had represented the disciples and the pilgrim (as is the custom) in certain churches had finished their act,254 the paralysed woman, who was standing as best she could out of respect for the evening service, was touched by the power of God and fell to the ground. 9. All of us who were nearby in a group and saw this thought, wrongly, that she had had an epileptic fit. In fact, when the monks had gone away after completing the solemn office, she at once got to her feet cured, free of the burden of her old infirmity. Seeing this, the people were overjoyed, and hastened to spread the news of this remarkable happening everywhere. Then some brothers, who lived good lives, came to me, because many thought me a man of learning (though I was no such thing), and with cheerful hearts and joyful voices told me that God had just then, in answer to Aldhelm’s prayers, performed on the poor wretch who had fallen a miracle to command veneration. They wanted to bring her into the house and describe what had happened, to the praise of God. 10. I was one of them.255 Out of kindness, and because the time was not right, I moderated my joy and entreated them to keep this for the morrow, for I was anxious to go properly into the details of the event myself, so that I could describe it the better later on. Accordingly next day the people flocked to the church, bringing with them speakers of both languages, who would testify to the woman’s illness and return to health: respectable witnesses, whom I trusted because of their words and actions. Wherefore we paid the debt of praise we owed to God. As for the woman, she took on nun’s habit, put the world altogether behind her, and stayed there, devotedly serving God.




FOOTNOTES

1 Ed. and trans. M. Winterbottom (Oxford Medieval Texts, 2007). A second volume, published in the same year, contains R.M. Thomson’s introduction and commentary.

FOOTNOTES2 Bishop of Salisbury, 1078-99. He appears later (see 22, 25 and 27).

3 Obscure. The meaning may be that Osmund has sanctioned the reading of (extracts from) the Life during the liturgy. canon would then mean here a list of works approved for this purpose; but I know no parallel.

4 Faricius almost always uses the ‘royal we’ of himself. I use ‘I’ in such cases; but there is some room for doubt (as in the prayer at 16. 5, and at 30. 8 ‘credimus’. The commendatio draws much on the preface to Cassian’s Collationes.

5 Archdeacon of Salisbury, another Italian, who lived on t

o c. 1122. For miracles concerning him see 24-6.

6 Reading suffecit, as G p.c., Cassian.

7 Osmund.

8 Reading aggressus <est>, with Cassian.

9 Reading maluit (as G a.c.): so Cassian.

10 propriis not in this passage of Cassian, but found with adinventionibus in Gildas, Peter Damian.

11 There may be some special point in this phrase.

12 Faricius (fancifully) derives the name from os mundum.

13 Faricius uses oscillum, the diminutive of os, perhaps to avoid repetition (oris follows). os cordis is a locution found e.g. in Augustine.

14 Cf. Peter Damian, Epist. 10 (MGH Epp. Kaiserzeit 4. 1, p. 129) ‘nitidus absque ulla … peccati contagione’.

15 Hubald.

16 An allusion to the seven branches of the Nile or to the seven rivers of Paradise, to which are likened the seven liberal arts (trivium + quadrivium).

17 i.e. Hubald had climbed high towards perfection: see Caesarius, Serm. 87. 6 (CCCL 103, 360). The biblical allusion is to Gen. 28: 12.

18 Perhaps read debitum.

19 The fame of Faricius’s happy security is to grow like the protecting walls built for him by his patrons, and indeed like his patrons’ prestige too. Compare the image from castle building in 29. 1.

20 Dividing pro locutionis.

21 Faricius has adapted the whole sentence from Cassian (Coll. praef.) on the perceived impossibility and harshness of the eremitical life.

22 i.e. greater than Christ’s own works. My previous note is quite mistaken. The reference is to John 14: 12, where Jesus says: ‘Qui credit in me opera quae ego facio et ipse faciet, et maiora horum faciet’. Faricius therefore must be saying that, though what he writes of Aldhelm’s miracles may seem impossible, Aldhelm could indeed have performed them, on the principle here enunciated by Jesus; the critic should not judge by his own inability in this area. The allusion to style in ‘pro locutionis [not ‘prolocutionis’ as in my edition; Cassian has a quite different clause starting ‘pro’, though also including the word ‘qualitate’] qualitate’ is relevant only to the harshness of Faricius’s diction. This muddled statement is the result of inefficient adaptation of Cassian’s original words.

23 To each other.

24 Aldhelm.

25 For his early cult see D.H. Farmer, The Oxford Dictionary of Saints (ed. 3, Oxford, 1992), 13-14. When Faricius uses the word sanctus of Aldhelm, it is often not clear if he means to call him a saint or just a holy man.

26 Or possibly ‘follow their footsteps without stumbling’.

27 Reading onera.

28 barbarice.

29 Perhaps read inscriptae.

30 Faricius means The Rule, that of the Benedictines.

31 It is unclear why Faricius does not speak of brothers (i.e. monks) rather than fathers. The ‘first’ group made the silver plates. The ‘older’ group are the elders spoken of in §4; they had seen not only the lost book but the plates in their original position. We are not told what happened to the old shrine in the interval after Aldhelm was put into a stone sarcophagus to escape the Danes; we are informed in 16. 2 that the body was removed from the shrine at that stage. Presumably the shrine was kept in some safe place, unknown to the Danes.

32 For this shrine see below, 14. 5.

33 For the new shrine see below, 22 (events of 1080, about 15 years before Faricius was writing). There is no need for the lacuna marked in my Latin text: the object may be taken to be the stories pictured on the plates.

34 This suggests that Faricius is referring to the survival of the silver plates; in that case, read illesas. But the neuter plural might refer to the deeds seen on the plates (cf. the previous note).

35 Perhaps <in> presentia.

36 Luke 1. 1-3.

37 2 Cor. 8: 18.

38 longe incedendo seems to imply this.

39 King of the West Saxons, 688-726.

40 Apparently the translator read aloud to him. William of Malmesbury (GP 5 prol. 5) states that Faricius did not know English. For his use of vernacular documents see above, praef. 3.

41 1 Cor. 7.

42 1 Sam. 1: 20.

43 Mark 12: 30.

44 See the Vita by John of Naples, ed. A. Mai, Spicilegium Romanum 4 (Rome, 1840), 326: ‘quorum [sc. Nicholas’s parents] uota Deus ex alto prospectans non petitioni eorum defuit’.

45 Cf. Sulpicius Severus, Vita Martini 2. 3 ‘seque catechumenum fieri postulavit’.

46 barbarice.

47 In fact the name means ‘old helmet’.

48 One expects scientia.

49 An apparent conflation of Ezek. 2: 8 ‘aperi os tuum, et comede quaecumque ego do tibi’ with Ps. 80: 11 ‘dilata os tuum, et implebo illud’.

50 Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs.

51 Deuteronomy.

52 instrumenta does not seem quite to mean ‘instruments’ here, though it would include them.

53 Hermit saints of Egypt.

54 Faricius always gives this name to Malmesbury. William of Malmesbury too favoured this old name (see Gesta Pontificum 197. 2 ‘monasterium Meldunense, quod nunc corruptior aetas Malmesberiam nuncupat’).

55 At 5. 1. Leuthere was fourth (22. 2) bishop of the West Saxons, 670-?676.

56 Jer. 38. 6-13.

57 Cf. Prudentius, Psychomachia 174-7.

58 Of body and mind (cf. e.g. Augustine, Contra mendacium 19 [CSEL 41, 522]).

59 interesset. Could this = (or be corrupted from) inesset, ‘though he was in it’?

60 Ps. 1: 3 ‘tamquam lignum quod plantatum est secus decursus aquarum, quod fructum suum dabit in tempore suo’.

61 Prov. 28: 14.

62 Luke 12: 35.

63 As abbot.

64 Hist. Eccl. 3. 7, 4. 5, 4. 12.

65 Cf. Matt. 25. 14-30.

66 Cf. Hebr. 5. 12-14 (also 1 Cor. 3: 2).

67 I do not know what this alludes to.

68 Yet (it would seem) they had not yet been to market. So ‘come for’ must imply ‘come to sell’.

69 Sergius I, pope 687-701.

70 One feels that an adjective is lacking with equora.

71 Cf. Desiderius of Cassino, De miraculis S. Benedicti 1.3.

72 Cf. Rom. 8: 11.

73 Similar stories are found in other saints’ lives, e.g. that of Goar.

74 4 Kgs. 2: 11.

75 i.e. he avoided the Last Judgement by entering heaven in advance.

76 More appropriate to Christ than to Elijah, who prefigures him in ps-Eucherius (PL 50, 1182C).

77 I do not know what the force of utique is in this sentence. See also n. 225.

78 R.M. Thomson comments: ‘As far as I know, Sergius' Register doesn't survive. Faricius guessing?’

79 i.e. gave him the instruction proper to a more mature catechumen preparing for baptism.

80 I do not see the point of in hoc. Are the people foolish ‘in this respect’ at least?

81 Cf. Num 22: 28.

82 i.e. Sergius as a father of the church, not father of the child.

83 For this poem (Ehwald, 12), and other witnesses to it, see my remarks in (ed. S. Echard and G.R. Wieland) Anglo-Latin and its Heritage (Turnhout, 2001), 112-13, published before the discovery of manuscript G of Faricius. William of Malmesbury made a revised version, reproduced in GP 197. 4-5. Faricius seems to be wrong to associate the poem with Rome; it was, according to GP 197. 3 (see Thomson’s commentary ad loc.), intended for a ‘new’ church built by Aldhelm at Malmesbury (St Peter’s).

84 Translating dignos.

85 The exact wording of these three lines is uncertain. See the n. in my printed edition, p. 141.

86 Translating benigno.

87 We should perhaps read <in> posterum.

88 ordinibus G, ordine C. Neither word is satisfactory, and there may be an importation from below`.

89 The Irishman Meildulf (Maeldubh). William calls him Meldum (GP 189. 2).

90 Somerset.

91 John 10. 1-2, 12.

92 See the bull as reported by William in GP 221.1. Faricius had clearly read the original document in full.

93 Referring, I take it, to the monks’ dress.

94 675-704. For Ine see 1. 2.

95 The moralising end of this chapter (from §7 ‘But there arose’) is found only in the Cotton manuscript, and may well not be original; it seems to have been intended to explain why seals had not been attached in an age when no one expected fraudulence, which is seen as an import from abroad (probably Rome itself). I do not understand ‘Deo dedita’; ‘does he mean that their cupiditas was a desire for God, not for themselves?’ (RMT).

96 Bede had listed some of them in HE 5. 18. 2, commenting on their polished style.

97 King of the Northumbrians, 705/6-716. See Thomson on GP 215.

98 In fact he became bishop around 705.

99 The Letter to Geraint (Ehwald, 480-6).

100 H.E. 5. 18.

101 For the poem ‘Nonae Aprilis’ see C.W. Jones, Speculum 18 (1943), 198-210.

102 Lit.: ‘to the rule of the true faith in the Lord.’

103 The name is written in capitals in G, no doubt for some good reason. Paul is added by a late corrector in C (cf. Acts 13: 2).

104 For these books see the apparatus in Ehwald, p. 59 (where the index is more intelligible); William of Malmesbury, GP 196. 1-5.

105 Two symbols mark off different speakers in this dialogue on metre.

106 A very odd thing to say, but matching the description in §4. More sensibly, GP 216. 2-3.

107 What Faricius wrote next is completely mysterious.

108 See n. 106.

109 Meaningless.

110 Not of Rieti, as the manuscripts say. See B. Mombritius, Sanctuarium (new ed., Paris, 1910), i. 418.

111 Gregory the Great, Dial. 2. 9.

112 Num. 17: 8 (Aaron).

113 The meaning of the last words is doubtful.

114 692/3-731.

115 The sense should be ‘in secular and ecclesiastical literature’ (cf. below, of Aldhelm).

116 On the coast about fifteen miles SE of Canterbury (twelve according to GP 224. 1).

117 Apparently not the helmsman (nauclerus).

118 Cf. above, 1. 3 with n. 44.

119 See above, n. 97.

120 Of the West Saxons, 676-705.

121 H.E. 5. 18, the source for what follows also.

122 ‘sinodali … consilio’ (GP 223. 2). The kings would include at least Ine and Osred (information R.M. Thomson).

123 Bishop of Winchester, c. 705-744.

124 Bishop of Sherborne, c. 705-9.

125 1 Tim. 3. 2.

126 Regula Pastoralis 2. 3 (PL 77, 28C).

127 See GP 225. 2-8; S.E. Kelly, Charters of Malmesbury Abbey (Oxford, 2005), no. 11 (pp. 159-65).

128 8. 7-8.

129 What of ad tempus? Note 17. 1.

130 Sulp. Sev. Dial. 2. 4.

131 Somerset.

132 693 x ?-717.

133 Dominic of Evesham, Vita S. Ecgwini, 5-6 (M. Lapidge, Analecta Bollandiana 96 [1978], 82).

134 Read quantum <temporis>, as in the title of c. 15.

135 King of England 955-9, followed by Edgar I (959-75).

136 Regular and secular canons (a later distinction).

137 E.g. Matt. 5. 15.

138 Archbishop of Canterbury, 959-88.

139 perendie is misused.

140 sc. Glastonbury.

141 ad id temporis is misused too.

142 For the three distichs, see M. Lapidge, Anglo-Latin Literature 900-1066 (London and Rio Grande, 1993), 153-5; and my remarks in the paper mentioned above (n. 83), 115 with n. 25.

143 Dunstan.

144 The final words are obscure.

145 i.e. Aldhelm’s bones.

146 Cf. 1 Pet. 5: 8 (of the devil).

147 Or just ‘me’.

148 Below, 18-21, miracles later than the Danish troubles (18. 1) but preceding the moving of the body to a new shrine in 1080 (as described in 22). The beginning of the period meant is uncertain.

149 exinde apparently = Fr. ‘en’, just like inde.

150 The wording is uncertain. Faricius’s point seems to be that, even though the miracles of early martyrs were not recorded in writing, people believe in them because more recent miracles have been witnessed that are attributable to the martyrs. So with Aldhelm’s unrecorded works.

151 In 6-7 (Rome), 10-11.

152 The expression is muddled; they presumably took these captives while ravaging the country.

153 Otherwise known only from William’s adaptation of the story in GP 259.

154 Presumably St Olaf Haroldsson, king of Norway 1012-30.

155 Apparently Magnus I the Good, bastard son of Olaf. He in fact reigned 1035-46.

156 Cf. Acts 5: 1-11. The pair are mentioned in Sergius’s bull (GP 221. 11).

157 i.e. his promises.

158 qua seems to stand for aliqua; intentione, if sound, is used very loosely.

159 tunicata is hardly the verb to give the meaning ‘taking the veil’.

160 Cf. Virg. Aen. 1. 150 ‘iamque faces et saxa uolant, furor arma ministrat’.

161 rigando. See my article in the Lapidge Festschrift [above, p. 1], p. 121 for the variant readings here. C’s ‘solo reptando manibus peragebat’ seems to be an emendation made in an attempt to meet the problems raised by G’s text, which I printed and here translate.

162 Hampshire. See also 21. 4.

163 A fit man would have ‘left no footprints’ in his haste; this cripple would have left none in any case.

164 Though recessurus is an odd word to convey this.

165 The story is a little obscurely told. Faricius means that the man felt somewhat better when, on a Saturday evening within eight days after Aldhelm’s feast day, he arrived at Malmesbury. The cure followed on the Sunday.

166 1066-87.

167 Abbot of Malmesbury 1070-c. 1091 (see also 22. 4, 23. 1).

168 The Isle of Wight.

169 tali occasione seems pointless.

170 If this is what Faricius means, he has not expressed it at all lucidly.

171 A botched citation of John 14. 13-14, conflated with 15. 7.

172 16. 2.

173 The dates stated or implied in 22. 2-3 are: c. 666: Aldhelm is made abbot; 705: he is made bishop; 709: he dies, after four years as bishop (a total of 43 years since he became abbot); 709 + 279 = 988: death of Dunstan; 988 + 92 = 1080: translation of Aldhelm’s bones.

174 668-90. For Berhtwald see above 11. 1.

175 One expects this formula to be attached not to the flock but to its pastor.

176 Abbot of St Peter’s, Gloucester, 1072-1104.

177 et ille: but who is the other?

178 Faricius means that Aldhelm was now translated for a second time, the first being when he was put in a tomb by Dunstan.

179 GP 269.

180 Though Warin himself was one of the two.

181 That is true of 1081 (the translation having occurred, according to Faricius 22. 2 [see n. 173], in the previous year). William of Malmesbury differs on all this.

182 A veiled criticism of Warin’s belligerent predecessor, Turold (abbot 1066/7-1070); for him see GP 264.

183 Pentecost (Whitsunday): Acts 2: 1-5 (repleuit totam domum; coeperunt loqui uariis linguis).

184 William, GP 269. 1 gives the boy’s name as Folcwine.

185 quo = aliquo, ‘in some measure’.

186 The comma should follow not constrictus but misellus.

187 A Sapphic stanza from the hymn ‘Iste confessor’ (Analecta Hymnica Medii Aevi 51 [Leipzig, 1908], 135.

188 mente inde suspensa, ‘my mind concentrated on it’?

189 See GP 270. 1-6. Faricius implies the date 1083/4.

190 A very rough approximation (Aldhelm 705-9, Osmund 1078-99). See also 25. 6, 27. 2.

191 22. 8.

192 Salisbury (cf. 25. 3).

193 The intention was presumably to prevent any dangerous stampede into the building.

194 See Matt. 9. 20-22.

195 Uncertain.

196 Again uncertain.

197 The force of the comparative honestioribus is unclear. In any case Faricius is as often (cf. 27. 10, 28. 5-6, 29. 1-2, 30. 9-10) stressing the credentials of the witnesses to the miracle.

198 Apparently alluding to the bringing out of the bone on Ascension Day.

199 That arm. Or perhaps ‘about it’.

200 Perhaps just ‘that relic’.

201 The bone, which was apparently removed from the reliquary at this point. But below (6) Hubald only touches the shrine.

202 Mark 16: 18.

203 sacro seems to lack a noun.

204 4 Kings 13: 21.

205 Not very clear; a saint is likened to a farmer expanding his vineyard: he performs more miracles because the earlier ones have been so highly praised. We should perhaps understand maiores again with honores (in effect ‘greater praise and honour’).

206 Or ‘the’.

207 This seems here to be thought of as covering a week (cf. n. 165).

208 Salisbury is about forty miles from Malmesbury.

209 Or ‘were holy men’. The reference is apparently to ‘the lesser folk’, (including) the monks of Malmesbury, who might be offended by Hubald’s action on Aldhelm’s day. The tense ‘were’ (fuerunt) is inexplicable.

210 The last phrase is obscure.

211 Reading releuationem.

212 Faricius seems to mean that even the old miracles, not to speak of the new, were so famous as to be known everywhere.

213 Still Warin (GP 269. 9).

214 Salisbury already possessed part of the left hand (25. 3).

215 Meaning ‘every’?

216 Despite the plural.

217 Everard of Calne, later bishop of Norwich 1121-45 (d. 1146).

218 I translate qui.

219 i.e. before his illness.

220 i.e. for the Alleluia. Cf. the account in William of Malmesbury, GP 269. 12, which should (I now think after consultation with R.M. Thomson) be translated: 'he sounded out with his voice [vocale] the organum above those singing the Alleluia, with all the skill in which he used to excel'. organum here and in Faricius means a ‘florid melody over a held note’ (DMLBS s.v. 9c).

221 Acta Sanctorum, Maii vii. 420C. Petronilla was in this story a daughter of Peter. Behind all this lies the gospel narrative (esp. Luke 4. 38-9), where Simon’s mother-in-law is cured of a fever by Jesus, and ‘immediately rising she ministered to them’.

222 J.A. Fabricius, Codex Apocryphus Novi Testamenti (Hamburg, 1703), 2: 542-54.

223 Gregory the Great, Dial. 2. 11.

224 Acta Sanctorum, Sept. vi. 785. The body was placed, limb for limb, on a painting of the saint, and came back to life.

225 I am uncertain of the reference of utique here; cf. also n. 77).

226 Cf. GP 272.

227 It is not made quite clear to which king this applies: presumably to William I, as in 21. 1. If Faricius is being exact, the miracle occurred between Sept. 1093 and Sept. 1094.

228 Glos., about five miles north of Malmesbury.

229 Or ‘positively scorned’.

230 The word order is strained.

231 Reading demum for denuo. But for another strange use of denuo see below on 29. 6.

232 Here cepisset seems superfluous and indeed misleading; cf. 28. 4 ‘a lecto cepit surgere’. For similar cases see E. Löfstedt, Philologischer Kommentar zur Peregrinatio Aetheriae (Uppsala, 1911), 210.

233 He seems to have taken office not later than 1091. Eadwulf succeeded him in 1106.

234 seriatim; but see n. 239.

235 GP 273. 1-6.

236 i.e. Aldhelm. We should perhaps add aeterna to qualify premia.

237 Obscure. Neuter or masculine?

238 Glos.

239 This seems to be what seriatim means here (as it may at 28. 5).

240 Is. 40: 13. But the citation is as in the reprise at Rom. 11: 34.

241 The year indicated seems to be 1093.

242 denuo seems to be adversative here (for a parallel see Löfstedt, op. cit. [n. 232], 177).

243 The exact wording of the Latin is uncertain.

244 Aldhelm.

245 Cf. 25. 2.

246 i.e. they left her behind for a good and considerate reason.

247 Not clearly expressed.

248 This paragraph seems to be misplaced; it reads like the concluding words of the whole life. Note that 29. 1 speaks of more than one miracle story to come, and observe 30. 1 ultima.

249 GP 276.

250 Dorset.

251 Perhaps Christchurch (cf. 20. 1).

252 Reading itaque <et>.

253 What follows, ‘we then heard <the story> of that dreadful paralysis and its due(?) resolution on the testimony of many’, is not appropriate here.

254 The Ludus Peregrini, a play performed on Easter Monday representing the meeting with the risen Christ on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24: 13-35).

255 Illogical.