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and Priests, doubtless, were there, anxious to see what
foreign assistance might eiFect for the destruction of a
heresy which they had in vain endeavoured to stifle.
At the same time, a number of the laity were allowed
to assist, with their wives and children. It should
seem some vast and open place w^as selected for the
reception of all who were interested in the issue ; and
the publicity of the Conference in itself was desirable,
as a means of disabusing the people.

In all respects the contrast between the parties was
striking. The language of the Pelagians, says Con-
stantius, presented more of empty verboseness than
forcible argument. And, indeed, the general effect of
their harangues may have been such. But when we
reflect upon the maturity to which the heresy had
arrived, the acuteuess which ever characterized its
maintainers, the deep root it had taken in Britain, and
the difliculty which the Catholic Clergy had expe-
rienced in their struggle against it, we cannot but
modify the import of his expressions by the nature of
the circumstances. The most elaborate and subtle dis-
cussions of heretics may sometimes, to orthodox ears,
who do not perceive the drift of them, have the ap-
pearance of shallowness and iiTclevancy. Again, any
thing, in one sense, may be considered as unphilosoph-
ical and superficial which is not true. And after all,
it was the popular impression which Constantius was


concerned to transmit. On the other hand, he says
German and Lupus, who were profoundly versed in
the Scriptures and theological learning, and hy nature
eloquent, were able to support the arguments which
reason and conscience dictated to them, by the most
convincing appeals to authority and tradition. The
truth of this assertion is abundantly shown by the
result ; for their adversaries were completely silenced
by the answers they received, and even confessed their
own errors ; while the people, astonished at their sig-
nal discomfiture, were ready to lay violent hands upon

Some suppose this Council, which historically de-
serves an importance apart from the scanty records
which notice it, to have taken place at London, others
at Verulam or St. Alban's. The latter opinion, which
is the most favoiu'ed by critics, is derived from Mat-
thaeus Florilegus, who. wrote in 1307, a. d., and is,
therefore, no very safe authority. Camden tells us
that some old parchments of the Church of St. Alban's
bear witness that St. German went up to the pulpit,
and harangued the people, in the place Av^here there is
still a small chapel dedicated to him, Spelman and
Alford, who are followed by Colliex', incline to this
view.^ However, as German harangued the people
wherever he went, nothing can be inferred fi'om the
parchments of St. Alban's, as to this particular Synod.
And Constantius would rather lead us to suppose that
German removed from the place where it was held, to
go to St. Alban's, which could hardly be said had he

' See also Clutterbuck's Hertfordshire. He makes the odd
mistake of assigning this circumstance to 401, t. i. p. 6. Collier,
p. 103. i, Spelman Concilia. Alford, 429.

146 ST. German's first visit to Britain.

been in the. town. We are informed that the Acta, or
account of the proceedings, are still in existence,^ as
well as those of the Gallican Synod before mentioned ;
but in whose possession they are, is a mystery. Boe-
thius, a late writer, in his History of the Scotch, seems
indeed, to be the only authoi-ity for assigning the pre-
sent Council to London ; and yet it is the opinion
which tallies best with the probabilities of circum-
stances. London was at this time the most important
town in the south ; a Bishop resided there, who must
have been the Metropolitan, if not of the whole pro-
vince, yet of a great part of it. Besides, London was
in the way to St. Alban's.

Scarcely had the Conference ended, when an officer
in the Roman service, accompanied by his wife, ad-
vanced towards German and Lupus. He was a Tri-
bune, and at that time his office was one of great im-
portance, as it ranked next to that of Count or Duke.
In all great cities, there was a Tribune, who had both
the command of the troops and the superintendence of
the civil affairs, and was responsible only to the gover-
nor or Duke of the Province.'' The Tribune pre-
sented to the two Bishops his little daughter, who was
blind, and requested them to bestow such relief as lay
in their power. But he was desired to tiy first the
skill of their Pelagian adversaries, miracles having
always been considered by the Church the proper evi-
dence of true doctrine. But they who had now learnt
to think more humbly of themselves, united in demand-
ing her cure at the hands of German and Lupus. A
short prayer was then offered up, and German, full of

' Vid. Boll. Comm. Prsev. § 59. Tillemont, t. xv.
^ Dubos, torn. i. p. 80.

ST. German's first visit to Britain. 147

the Holy Ghost, called upon the Blessed Trinity,
pulled from his breast the little box of relics, which he
ever carried about him, and applied it to the eyes of
the girl. Her sight was restored at once. This mira-
cle, perfoi'med in the presence of so great a multitude,
gave the finishing stroke to Pelagianism. In those
parts the heretics were totally suppressed, and the
people restored to purity of faith. If we might credit
the assertion of the author quoted above, Boethius,
there were some who refused to renounce their false
tenets, and who were burnt at the stake by the civil
magistrates. It is true, the secular power had been
armed against the heresy, and some severities had been
exercised in Gaul through the imperial edicts ; but
that a deed of this magnitude should have been left
unnoticed by Constantius, when the context Avould
have required at least some allusion to it, seems suffi-
cient to disprove the supposed fact ; add to which, the
cruelty which half a century before had been dis2:)layed
against the Priscillianists, and had been so earnestly
deprecated by St. Martin, would have left an impres-
sion calculated to avert any unnecessary retui-n of it.

However, German and Lupus having concluded the
conference, proceeded to St. Alban's tomb at Verulam,
in order to retui-n thanks to God. In this they did but
comply with the custom of the country, in the veneration
of which St. Alban held the rank of Patron Saint. His
name is still familiar to most Englishmen, though his
history is involved in much obscurity. He has deserved
the honour of being called the first British Mai-tyr, and
was probably put to death in the persecution of Max-
imian, the colleague of Diocletian, the fury of which has
already been adverted to. The famous Abbey which
stiU stands over his relics, was not built till the year

148 ST. German's first visit to Britain.

700, by Offa, king of Mercia, consequently long after
German's visit. ^ But there was a Church or Basilica
already there at this time.

"Wlien German arrived, public prayers were per-
formed ; after which, he caused the tomb of the Saint
to be opened and deposited within some of the relics of
the Apostles and IVIartyrs which lie carried with him,
under the sense, says Constantiu.^, that there was a pro-
priety in joining in one receptacle the bones of those
who at the most distant parts of the world had exhi-
bited the same virtues. At the same time he took up
from the very spot where the blood of the Martyr had
been shed a handful of dust, which by the red stain it
still preserved, bore witness to the fury of persecution. ^
Tliis he subsequently took to Auxerre, where he built
a Church in honour of St. Alban, which, says Hericus,
was held in the highest veneration. It was such actions
as that just related, which excited the indignation of
the heretic Vigilantius, not long before the events under
consideration, when he exclaimed : " We have now to
see almost the rites of the Gentiles introduced under
pretence of religion, a little dust forsooth, enveloped in
a precious cloth and placed in a convenient vessel, which
men kiss and worship." In answer to which St. Jerome
said : " We do not adore even the Sun or tlie Moon, or
the Angels, much less the relics of Martyrs ; but we
do honour the relics of Martyrs in order to adore Him
for whom they are Martyrs. We honour the servants,
that their honour may redound unto that of their
Lord."^ But to return.

' See Moreri Diet, ad vocem. Bosch. Not. ad Const

-• Hericus Vita Mctr. B. iv. § 94. and De Mir. § 7.

' Vid. Apud Thorn. Aquin. Qu. xxv. Ast. 2.

ST. German's first visit to Britain. 149

Three centuries after, we are told, that king Offa
found at Verulam the coffin of St. Alban, Avhich had
been hidden, for fear of the barbarians, together with
these same relics of the Apostles and Martyrs which
German had there deposited. ^ On which occasion, the
people that were present, both clergy and laymen, were
so moved at the sight, that they shed tears of joy and

There is little or no credit to be attached to the story
of the Monks of Cologne, who in the middle ages as-
serted that German had carried the remains of St. Al-
ban to Rome, and that at a future tilne they were
brought to their city. The body in fact i-emained en-
tire at Verulam, where a chapel was afterwards built
in honour of St. German and his visit to the Martyr's
remains. This chapel in process of time formed a part
of the great Abbey of St. Albans. ^

After German had visited the shrine of St. Alban,
he met with an accident (the only one which is recorded
in his long life) which though not of a very serious
nature, yet impeded his progress. Having bruised his
foot, he was obliged to stop, and take up his abode in a
cottage. During his stay, a fire broke out in the neigh-
bourhood, which spread with so much the more rapid-
ity as the roofing of the houses was of thatch, a circum-
stance not unimportant in these days of antiquarian
research.^ Men from all sides came to warn him of the
danger, but he remained perfectly composed, and would

' Matt. Floril. apud Usseri. 329.

' Vid. Dugdalc, and a quotation from Matt. Paris, in Alford
ad an. 441.

^ Comp. Hallam Middle Ages, and an article in No. 3, Archse-
ologieal Journal.

150 ST. German's Frasx visit to Britain.

not suffer himself to be removed. All tlie buildings
around were burnt to the ground, while tliat in which
he was detained, as if by miracle, escaped the flames.

In the meantime, German continued to endure the
pain wliicli liis accident liad produced without accept-
ing any remedy. One night a person clad in white
garments appeared to him and raised him up. At that
instant he recovered the use of his leg, and prepared to
resume his journey. The reader will be reminded of
the angel who appeared to St. Peter.

About this time it is supposed St. Patrick, the future
Apostle of Ireland, came to visit St. German, and con-
sult him about his studies and the means of converting
men. This does not appear to have been the first in-
terview of these Saints. St. Patrick was probably under
the care and tuition of St. German several years before.
There are few things better attested than their friend
ship and intercourse, and in all the accounts of St.
Patrick's life, it is believed the names of both are united.
Yet the exact circumstances of their connexion are
seemingly uncertain and confused from the very variety
of the witnesses. William of Malmesbury dates their
intimacy from this journey of German to Britain ; and
a few years after, supposes German to have obtained
the sanction of Pope Celestine for sending St. Patrick
as Apostle to L-eland. ^ These events, however, belong
rather to a Life of St. Patrick. It is sufficient here to
commemorate that union Avhich existed between two
such eminent men ; and it may afford a further proof
of the holiness of both, that German was the friend of
Patrick, Patrick of German. Constantius says nothing

' Vid. Usher, p. 840. Bede and Capgrave apud Alford. 429.


about it, but his commentator, Hericus of Auxerre,
supplies the omission.

While German was detained by his accident, a great
number of sick persons came to see him to be cured of
their respective diseases. Others came to desire spiri=
tual instruction. German healed the first, and enlight-
ened the latter. The miraculous power which is as-
signed to him in healing sick people, can only be
compared with that which St. Peter and St. Paul pos-
sessed, concerning whom it is said, that by them, " they
were healed every one" whosoever had any disease.


The Alleluiatw Victory.

With the names of the Picts and Scots, who, it has
been seen, infested Britain during the early part of the
fifth century, that of the Saxons has been mentioned in
a previous chapter ; which the reader may either not
have observed, or may have looked upon as an ana-
chronism. According to the chronology that has been
adopted, the Invasion, properly so called, of the Saxons
and Angles took place nearly twenty years after the
first visit of German, that is, in 448, A. d., if we follow
Alford, or in 450 if Usher be heard. But it has been
proved beyond question, from contemjiorary writers,
that the Saxons made occasional descents uj)on the
island long before their final settlement. So early as
the beginning of the reign of Yalentinian I., that is,
about 364, the Britons were attacked by them. And
to secure them from the insults of this foreign enemv,


a subsequent emperor appointed a Comes Littoris Sax-
onici, that is, a Commanding Officer, to guard the coasts
of Britain which were most exposed to their assaults. ^
Nay, earlier even than this, in 28G, during the reign of
Diocletian, Entropius tells us that the Saxons, with the
Franks, infested the Districts of Belgica and Armorica,
the latter of which faces the southern coast of Britain,
which consequently must have shared in the calamity. ^
For all contemporary writers bear witness to the bold-
ness and extent of their piratical exploits. " The Saxons,
says Orosius the historian, Avho dwell on the shores of
the Atlantic (what we should call the North Sea), in
the midst of impassable marshes, are a nation terrible
for their coui-age and activity, and highly formidable to
the Roman power."^ "It is a mere amusement, says
Sidonius Apollinaris, for the pirate Saxon to cut tlirough
the British Sea in his pinnace of osier and skins."*
And in fact the Saxons in these light skiffs, similar in
materials to those described by Herodotus with regard
to the Armenians, used to undertake very distant expe-
ditions. They were known to have penetrated as far
as the Columns of Hercules at the extremity of Spain,
and Britain which lay foremost in their way naturally
became the object of continual aggression. What was
the precise situation of tlieir own country is not very
clear. The words of Orosius, just quoted, seem to show
that they occupied the coast of Germany which extends

' Ammian. Marcellin. Hist. Lib. 26. apud Usserium — Notit.
Imper — Collier.

- Dubos, torn. i. p. 75.
' Ibid. 169.
" Sid. Apoll. Paneg. Aviti. See also Hegesippus Eccl. Hist.
Lib. V. Pliny. Hist. Lib. iv. ch. 16. Lucan Pharsal. Lib. iv.
Caesar. Comment. Lib. 1. Bell. Civ. Herod Clio. 194. ch.


between the Rhine and the Weser, known by the name
of Frieslancl. And such is the opinion of a, writer of
those parts, Bei'nardus Fiu'nerius, in his Annals of the
Frisian people.^

While German and Lupus were in Britain, one of
these plundering expeditions of the Saxons took place.
They joined their forces to those of the Picts, the eter-
nal enemies of the Britons, and made a descent upon
the coasts of North Wales, in Flintshire. They chose
a favourable spot for their attack, having rowed or
towed their boats up the river Dee, and landed under
the Welsh hills, near Mold. The Britons, who had as-
sembled to oppose them, found themselves unable to
cope with the peculiar tactics of their enemy, and were
constrained to remain within their own entrenchments.
The descriptions which have been left of the mode of
attack practised by the Saxons, wiU best explain the
reasons of their embarrassment.

In their light vessels, which they were careful to fill
with expert and resolute men, the Saxons never used
to lose sight of the land, if possible ; and indeed the
nature of their boats required but little depth of water.
When a storm came on, they took refuge in some creek,
or beneath the cliffs on the coast. At the return of the
fair weather, they again left their place of refuge, and
directing their course fx'om cape to cape, they stopped
wherever any occasion of plunder offered. The want
of our modern resources of artillery rendered all offen-
sive measures against these invaders quite useless. It
was a frequent custom with them, as in the present oc-
casion, to navigate up the rivers which came in their
way ; and sometimes they might have been found at

' Ed. 1609. Franecarse.


the distance of fifty leagues from the sea, like the Nor-
mans in the ninth century, whose predatory fleets were
seen in the Seine under the walls of Paris. When they
had advanced so for into the land as to begin to lack
depth of water, the men got ashore to lighten the boats
which they towed along. A whole army of them thus
used to descend upon those defenceless tracts of country
where the vigilance of the Maritime Commanders had
not prevented their progress. The chief means which
were employed to resist them consisted in the use of
a number of flat boats which the Roman Government
had stationed in the rivers, and bridges thrown across
the stream near the walls of cities to obstruct the pas-
sage of the enemy. ^ An extract from a letter of Sido-
nius Apollinaris will show how difficult it was to repel
them, and will illustrate some characteristics of their
manners as well as those of their allies the Picts and
Scots. He writes thus to a friend :

" I have been informed that you have given the sig-
nal of departure to your fleet, and are performing the
parts of both sailor and soldier, wandering along the
tortuous coasts of the sea in pursuit of those long
curved skiflTs of the Saxons. ^ Of course as many of
them as you perceive at the oar, you may reckon to be
so many arch-pirates ; for indeed all at once command,
obey, instruct, and learn to plunder. I have great
reason then in recommending precaution to you.
These of all our enemies are the most fierce. They
attack by surprise, and escape when discovered. They
despise your preparations, and yet, if you do not take
measures, they are instantly upon you. They never

' Vid. Dubos, p. 175 and 75.
- " Pandos myoparones."


pui'sue without success, never make away without im-
punity. Shipwrecks instead of alai'ming them, are a
mere exercise. With the perils of the sea they are
more than acquainted, they are familiar. If a tempest
supervene, they know this, that their designed victims
will be off their guard, and that they will escape no-
tice out at sea. And in the midst of the waves and
the rocks, there they play with danger, expecting shortly
a successfid descent. If, when about to set sail for
their own country, they weigh anchor before their
enemy's coast, they have this preliminary custom. Just
before they start, they decimate their captives for
cruel tortures, wliich are the more horrid from the
superstition that dictates them. They think that chance
which presides at the drawing of lots is of that equita-
ble nature, that all the iniquity which might be im-
puted to such frightful slaughter is as a matter of
course removed. And as if purified by these saci'ifices,
not rather polluted by the sacrilege, the perpetrators of
this bloody deed make it a point of religion to prefer
the death of their captives to any proffered ransom."

It was this last practice mentioned by Sidonius,
which made probably Salvian some years before call
the Saxons emphatically the savage Saxons.^ It does
not appear the Picts and Scots were less cruel under
the similar influence of Paganism and superstition.
The two Apostles of those nations, St. Palladius and
St. Patrick, had not yet set out to convert them.

The combined forces of these nations were laying
waste the country of Flintshire, and forcing the Britons
who had assembled to oppose them, to remain within
their entrenchments, when a deputation arrived in the

' " Ferus Saxon," De Gubern.


parts Avhere German and Lupus were preaching, and
requested them as a last resource to come to the assist-
ance of the exposed army. They readily complied,
and hastening their progress, soon arrived near Mold,
in Flintshire, or as the Welsh call it, Guid-cruc, where
they found the Britons collected. Their arrival infused
at once joy and confidence into all hearts, as if holiness,
we are told, had been in itself an equivalent to a large
army. The two Prelates were then constituted Gene-
rals of the British Forces, one of the earliest instances
in which ecclesiastical rulers are known to have taken
the lead in military exploits.

It was now the season of Lent, that is, the spring of
the year 430. The Britons were wont to observe the
Forty Days with particular solemnity ; and the pre-
sence of German and Lupus now added to the strict-
ness of their observance. Every day the two Bishops
preached to the soldiers ; insomuch, says Constantius,
that there was a general wish to receive the grace of
Baptism ; and a great number were initiated into the
Church at the river Alen which ran beside the camp,^
By this we are to understand that there were as yet
many Pagans in Bi-itain, which the analogy of other
countries would confirm, or that there were many per-
sons, who, though professing the Clu-istian reUgion,
deferred their baptism till the last, according to a cor-
rupt custom very prevalent in all Christendom, which
was frequently reprobated from the pulpit, and of
which Constantine the Great had been a striking ex-
ample.® But this last cause, which has escaped the at-

' Alen is called Strat-Alen by the Welsh. See Camden.
- Vid. St. Chrys. ad Acta Apost. Horn. I., and Bingham, who
has explained the various reasons of the practice.


tentioii of critics, need not be taken alone. Probably
the Catechumens were a mixed number of both

The Saturday night, called the Great Sabbath, and
the following morning of Easter Day were the times
appointed in the Church for Baptism ; and apparently
were devoted to this purpose in the army of the
Britons. On Easter Day, which this year fell on the
30th of March, a temporary Church was erected with
the branches of trees, and adapted to the offices of
religion like churches in towns. ^ Hither the people
fresh from the waters of Baptism thronged to celebrate
the Resurrection of our Lord. "V^liile they were thus
employed, the enemy who received intelligence of what
was going on in the British army immediately seized
the opportunity, and advanced towards the camp.
Their march was announced just as the Solemnities
of Easter were concluded. The neophyte army filled
with extraordinary ardour prepared for battle. German
acted the part of commander. With some light troops
he proceeded to survey the country ; and fovxnd in the
direction which the enemy would necessarily take, a
valley surrounded with high hills. Here he posted the
body of his army. Soon after the Saxons and the Picts
arrived at the entrance of the valley, secure of victory,
and vmconscious of any ambuscade. Suddenly a loud
shout of Alleluia resounded in the mountains, and Al-
leluia passed from hill to hill, gathering strength as it
was re-echoed on all sides. Consternation filled them
at once ; and as if the rocks were ready to fall and
crush them, seized with a general panic they imme-
diately took to flight, leaving their arms, baggage, and

' Tillemont xv. 18.


even clothes behind them. A large number perished
in the river. The Britons who had remained motion-
less, and were bj order of German the authors of
the cry of Alleluia, now came forth to collect the spoils
of a victory which all acknowledged the gift of Heaven.
Thus says Constantius, did Faith obtain a triumph,
without slaughter, with two Bishops for leaders. Thus
might it be said with a modern writer, does the Church
conquer. " Not by strength of arm, by a soldiery, im-

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