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plements of war, strong holds, silver and gold ; for of
these she has none ; but by the visible tokens of a
Divine ministry ; by the weapons of God."^

The memory of this battle is still preserved by the
inhabitants of Flintshire ; and the place where the
armies were situated, bears even now the name of
Maes Garmon, or the Field of German. It is about a
mile from Mold. A glance at the map will show
that the mountainous natiu-e of the country aiforded
both scope for an ambuscade and a convenient locality
for the landing of the Barbarians. To this event, which
goes in history by the name of the Alleluiatic Victory,
Gregory the Great three hundred years after seems to
have alluded, in his Commentary on the Book of Job :
" The Faith of the Lord," he says, " has now found
entrance into the hearts of almost all people •,^ and has
united in one bond the Eastern and Western regions.
Behold the tongue of the Briton, once wont to howl in
barbarous sounds, has since learnt to resound the He-
brew Alleluia in praise to God. The ocean once so
boisterous is become subservient to the will of Saints ;

' Sermons on Subjects of the Day, p. 274.
"■ Vid. apud Usserium, p. 333., and Alford, an. 429.


and its rage, which the ami of princes is unable to
tame, is fettered by the simple word of God's Priests."

It may seem somewhat strange to the student that
Gildas should not have made mention of this signal
event, in his History of Britain, previous to the Saxon
Conquest. In that work the name of St. German is
not once mentioned. It may be answered that Gildas,
in another work which, according to the earliest tra-
dition, he was supposed to have written, did probably
give a special notice of St. German and his deeds.
Walfrid of Monmouth tells us that through St. Ger-
man and St. Lupus, God manifested many miracles,
which Gildas in his Treatise had clearly set forth.
And we learn that besides his History and Epistle,
Gildas wrote an account of the victory of Aurelius
Ambrosius who lived about this time. ^ And though
it may be said that the History of Nennius is often
attributed to Gildas by early writers, yet we have no
proof that this particular work was the same as the
History which now is given to Nennius ; besides wliich
Nennius himself in many parts of his book may be
looked upon as the Transcriber of Gildas. But fur-
thermore in Gildas's acknoAvledged history, he is any
thing but circumstantial, and he confesses himself that
he wrote from foreign report, and not from the records
of native writers, ^ adding that pi'ecision in that account
was not always to be expected of him. And in truth
much of his history is vague and applicable to any
revolution caused by foes from without and dissensions
within. Again Gildas was further removed from the
times he describes than Constantius, and even sup-

' See Usher, 335 and 101.
^ Transmarinu relatione, p. 13.


posing he had nowhere commemorated St. German's
great deeds, the contrary of which is more probable,
yet the confusion which the Saxon Conquest had
thrown over the past, and the straits to which Gildas
was exposed through emigration, might accovmt for
important omissions. But there is more than this, it is
believed that in one of his indefinite descriptions of the
state of the Britons he has expressly alluded to the
Alleluiatic Victory, when he says, " Then for the first
time the Britons obtained a victory over the enemy
who for many years had occupied their land, because
they confided not in man hut in God, according to the
saying of Philo : ' when human aid fails, one must have
recourse to Divine assistance.' Then the daring ene-
mies rested for a season ; but the corruption of the
Britons afterwai'd returned ; the public foes retired
from the land, but not the nation from their crimes."

Now the great objection to this view is, that Gildas
assigns the event in question to a time subsequent to
the embassy of the Britons to Aetius, which took place
in 446. Therefore, it may be said, it could not coin-
cide with St. German's first mission, tvhich we have
assigned to 429, though it might if the chronology of
Bede and others be preferred to that of Prosper. But
without making this any ground for delaying St. Ger-
man's first mission, for the authority of Gildas in this
point w^ould be next to none, still it is very conceivable
that Gildas may have referred the victory against the
barbarians to his second mission,^ which in fact did
take place after the embassy to Aetius, that is, in 447 ;
or may altogether have confounded the two visits of
the Saint to this Island, which is the more probable, as

' The learned Carte in a note inclines to this also, p. 182.


his imitator, Nennius, wlio is so full about St. German,
does not seem to have been aware of them, and Gildas
aiFords no trace of having been acquainted with Con-
stantius's work ; both he and Nennius following autho-
rities of their own. The learned moreover are agreed
that the chronology and precision of Gildas are by no
means to be pressed without examination. Yet as there
is reason also to think he would not have mentioned
a fact without foundation for it, the passage above
quoted is conceived to be a real and distinct reference
to the Alleluiatic Victory, which was so especially the
gift of Heaven.

Lastly, if a conjecture may be hazarded, the very in-
distinctness in which Bede has involved his chronology
of this period, may have arisen from the confusion of
the two visits of St. German by Gildas, or at least by
his having postponed the Alleluiatic Victory. Induced
by Constantius, his chief authority on one hand, he
preserved the connexion between the first overthrow of
Pelagianism and the Victory, while on the other fol-
lowing Gildas as to the probable date of the latter, be-
cause Constantius had assigned none, he transferred
the combined circumstances to the late epoch of 449. ^
And this may account in some measure for his seemino-
neglect of St. Prosper's authority, (if indeed he was
acquainted with the copy of that writer's Chronicon
which has here been considered genuine,) namely, that
Gildas had referred the Alleluiatic Victory to a period
about twenty years later than that to which St. Pros-
per assigns the first overthrow of Pelagianism, and
Bede did not think himself justified in breaking the
connexion which Constantius had observed, a connexion

' See Epit. Eccl. Hist, et Sex ^Etat. Mundi.


which after all Constantius himself may (not impossi-
bly) have been misinlbrmed in.


English Traditions.

German and Lupus remained less than a year in Bri-
tain, but during that short time they rendered invalua-
ble services to the people. There are many difficulties
connected with this part of their history, as regards
those facts which are not specified by Constantius.
But it is manifest from numerous and circumstantial
traditions that they effected a reform in many ways in
the political constitution as well as in the Church.
Those changes which relate to the former wiU be re-
served for a subsequent consideration, since they pro-
perly belong to St. German's second visit to Britain,
during which he was brought more directly into inter-
course with king Vortigeini. The following few tradi-
tions, out of many, will illustrate the ecclesiastical and
moral improvements which are attributed to the sojourn
of German and Lupus in this country.

" The two Bishops," says an ancient record of high
authority, " after having extirpated the Pelagian her-
esy,^ consecrated Bishops in many places, but chiefly
among the Britons of the Eastern provinces (the
Welsh.) Foremost among these was the blessed Du-
bricius, a doctor of great learning, whom they conse-

' Apud Usserium, 79, and Stillingfleet, 207.


crated Archbishop, as elected by the king and the
whole diocese. When German had conferred this dig-
nity upon him, they appointed him his Episcopal See,
with the consent of Mouricus the king, the princes, the
clergy and the people, at Landaff, and dedicated the
place to St. Peter the Apostle."

From this centre issued many other distinguished
Bishops. Daniel was made Bishop of Bangor, and
Btutus Bishop of Llan Iltut. The whole island in
short was filled with the disciples of German. ^ Besides
St. Dubricius, St. Iltutus, we hear of St. Tlieliaus, St.
Sampson, St. Aidanus, St. David, St. Paulinus, St.
Cadocus, sm-named Sophus, or the Wise, (who went to
Eome and became Bishop of Beneventum in Italy,
where he was murdered before the altar,) St. Bi-iocus,
since first Bishop of St. Brieux in Brittany, St. Patrick,
St. German (called after St. German of Auxerre,) who
went to Scotland, and others. ^

Another tradition informs us that " when almost all
the inhabitants of Cambridge (which Usher will not
allow to be the Cambridge) had been endangered by
the adversaries of God (the Pelagians,) Vortimer, the
son of Vortigern, defended the students with a powerful
hand. From their body, it is added, the holy doctors,
German and Lupus, selected assistants to help them in
expelling the heresy and other errors while they pro-
claimed the way of God in various parts of the king-
dom. By God's aid they came to Caer Leon in Gla-
morganshire, where they not only taught the Sacred
Scriptures, but also instructed the youth in other liberal
sciences, wherein reason is the guide and nature the

' Collier, torn. i. p. 111. Alford an. 437.
Bosch. Comm. Praev. vii. Bolland. Usher 339.


study. And thus some became profound in astronomy
and other learning, and were able to observe the course
of the stars with success ; others foretold prodigies
which were to occur about that time among the Britons ;
while others despising the world and its enjoyments,
from love of a heavenly life cleaving to God alone,
turned their devout thoughts to the contemplation of
Holy Scripture and to Prayer ; among whom were
Tremerinus, Dubricius, Theonotus, Eldadus, David,
Swithunus, Dumianus, who laboured with constancy
and proficiency in the exposition of the Scriptures,"

Such accounts, while they illustrate the great activity
of German and Lupus, are also the foundation some-
what uncertain of the antiquity claimed for the imi-
versity of Cambridge. There may be some partiality
in prefen-ing the claims of Oxford as better supported,
but it is rather with a view to show the far spreading
influence of our Saints' fame, that the following inter-
esting circumstances are here produced.

" Li 88G, A. D., we are told, a fierce contention arose
in Oxford between GrjTnbald with the learned men he
brought with him and the old students whom he found
in that city. These last refused altogether to admit
the laws, forms and usages, which Grymbald introduced
into the Public Lectures. For the three first years the
open dissension was but small, and animosity remained
concealed. But afterwards it broke out with great
fury. To appease the disturbance, Alfred, that invin-
cible king, says the record, having through Grymbald
made himself acquainted with the causes, came to Ox-
ford to put an end to the controversy. Here he under-
went much labour in hearing and judging the disputes
of the parties. The sum of tlieir quarrel was as follows :
The old students afiirmed that before Grymbald came


to Oxford, letters had been in a flourishing condition
there ; although the numbers of the students had di-
minished of late from the tyranny of the Pagan con-
querors. Moreover they clearly proved by the au-
thority of the Ancient Annals, that the statutes and
regulations had been established by men of great piety
and learning, such as St. Gildas, Melkinus, Nennius,
Kentigern and others, who all grew old in Oxford in
the study of letters, and governed with peace and con-
cord. Furthermore that St. German also had come to
Oxford and spent half a year there, at the time when
he travelled through Britain to oppose the Pelagians ;
and he expressed, they affirmed, his admiration dis-
tinctly for the statutes of the place. King Alfred
having heard both sides, (we do not learn what the op-
posite school urged in their favour), exerted his au-
thority in recommending unanimity. He then de-
parted, charging them to follow each their respective
customs with mutual forbearance. But Grymbald
highly displeased at this arbitration, immediately left
Oxford for the Monastery of Winchester, which Alfred
had recently founded. Afterwards he caused his re-
mains to be buried in the vaults of the Church of St.
Peter at Oxford, which Grymbald had erected from
the very foundations with carefully polished stone P

Without pronouncing upon the authenticity of such
evidence, which Camden is more disposed to receive
than Usher, there is one circumstance relating to the
subject-matter which has not often been noticed, and
yet is of some importance. Li every large town, it has
already been remarked, public schools had been estab-
lished by the Roman government ; and, after the pat-
tern of Gaul and other provinces of the empire, Pro-
fessors of Letters, Science, and Philosophy, were main-


tained at the public expense. K, then, Oxford and
Cambridge existed in these early times, as chief towns,
(and it is probable they did) they would, as a matter
of course, have had their schools and literary appoint-
ments. The question then is, whether they were de-
stroyed by the Saxon invaders and only restored at a
later period, or whether, amid the general havoc occa-
sioned by the invasion, they alone survived, and trans-
mitted their learning and statutes to future generations.
Until this matter be settled, it is useless to seek for
Universities in Roman times, for all great towns then
were privileged with them. The doubt is, whether
the connexion remained unbroken, for which the above
evidence in favour of Oxford, seems to be in point.
Sed mdehunt alii.

On the whole, says Carte, there is no room to doubt
of the institution of schools of learning by St. Ger-
man, Avhich are attested by many ancient wi-iters, and
universally admitted by the learned critics and anti-
quarians of later ages. ^

But to advert, lastly, to another class of services
which German and Lupus are said to have rendered to
Britain, a document of the seventh century asserts
that they introduced the Galilean Liturgy into the
British Church. " The Blessed Cassian" it says, " who
lived in the IMonastery of Lerins with the blessed Hon-
oratus, and afterwards Honoratus the first Abbot, and
St. Cesarius, Bishop of Aries, and St. Porcarius, Abbot
also of Lerins, observed this Liturgical Use (the Gal-
ilean.) And in the same monastery with them were
the blessed German and Lupus as monks, and they
also followed the same Rule and the same Use in divine

' T. i. p. 182.


service. They, in process of time, obtained the dig-
nity due to their sanctity, and subsequently, in Britain
and in the regions of the Scots, came and taught, as
we read in the lives of the two Saints."

This statement, of course, is faulty in many respects.
We do not hear of Cassian having lived at Lerins.
St. Victor, at Marseilles, was his monastery. Though
St. Lupus was monk at Lerins, St. German is nowhere
else said to have resided there, and the circumstances
of his life would not well admit of it. The main in-
formation, however, which the author intended to con-
vey, namely, that German and Lupus introduced the
Liturgical Use of Gaul into Britain, may nevertheless
be authentic. The Public Service of the Church at
that time was not so universally settled as to make this
introduction an irregularity, even supposing there were
no adequate sanction for it. Nor is tliis the place to
draw invidious distinctions between the Roman and
the Galilean Liturgy, as Stillingfleet and Collier are
pleased to do ;i we must beware of carrying modern
prejudices and controversies into the study of the
ancients, just as (to borrow an illustration from a re-
cent writer) we may not seek Calvinism in St. Augus-
tine, or Arminianism in St. Chrysostom.

1 Still. Orior. 221. Collier i. 112.



Si. German's Return to Gaul.

The two Bisliops, having accomplislied the object of
their journey, by suppressing the heresy of the Pela-
gians, and done other great deeds for the Britons, after
the lapse of about a year, embarked again for Gaul,
amid the acclamations of an immense multitude as-
sembled to see them off. They carried with them the
sacx'ed dust from St. Alban's tomb, and arrived safe at
the opposite coast. They afterwards parted company,
and returned to their respective Sees.

St. Lupus, of whom we must now take a final leave,
governed the Church of Troyes for many years, during
which he saved that city from the fury of Attila, king
of the Huns, and distinguished himself by his learning,
wisdom, and heroic sanctity. Notwithstanding a life
of excessive austerity, he protracted his existence to
the great age of ninety-six, and died in 470, in the
fifty-second year of his Episcopate, about twenty years
after the death of his old companion German. This
is one of those instances, among many others, which
made Lord Bacon wonder that the ancient Saints, with
their rigid asceticism, should have lived so long.

St. German was accompanied on his return by one
of his new disciples, St. Briocus, before mentioned.
St. Briocus was a Briton of a noble family. St. Ger-
man instructed him in the science of holiness, and
Briocus greatly profited by his precepts. After he had

ST. German's return to gaul. 169

drunk deep, says history, at the fountains of sound doc-
trine, he returned from Gaul to his country ; and there
taught his parents the true faith, and went about
preaching everywhere. Being desirous, howevei', of
improving more abundantly the talent of the Lord, he
retired to Ai'morica, or Brittany, in Gaul. Here he
effected the conversion of Count Conan, and baptized
him. Then collecting some persons anxious to lead a
religious life, he erected a Monastery at St. Brieux, so
called after himself, on the foundations granted by
Conan. He then received the Episcopal consecration,
from the Metropolitan of Tours, and presided over his
diocese with great honour for nearly thirty years.
Finally, having gone to Angers on ecclesiastical busi-
ness, he there breathed his last.^ St. Briocus may
be taken as a specimen of St. German's missionary

' Usher 997. Alford an. 437.


Page 61, lines 25 and 30, for Marmontier read MarmoMtier.
Page 119, line 18, for St. Jerome read St. Sulpitius.



Twelve Years.

A GREAT work accomplished, a great event brought to
pass through him or before his eyes, a man's character
is at once altered ; he is suddenly raised in the scale of
being. The change is not merely outward, it is not a
mere shifting of position ; for though all before was in
preparation, and the materials were in readiness, yet
the corabinating power of one action seems to bring
out of them a new nature — a new life. Those elements
which were either disjoined or connected without unity,
now become one, and assume a shape and permanent
consistency. Moreover as all true knowledge resides
in the relation of ideas, and knowledge has a tendency
to produce confidence, when circumstances throw a
fresh light upon this relation, man seems to acquire a
further insight into his own character and condition,
and his confidence, whether in himself or in Him whose
instrument he is, is proportionably increased. We
have but to consider what the feelings are of a warrior
who has just gained his first great battle — what he was
yesterday, what to-day ; or again, the emotions and
thoughts of one who has escaped from the grasp of
death and been restored to health and powers of reflec-
tion ; or the ideas which unexpected preservation from
the terrors of the sea excite in the breast of those who
are safely landed ; and we shall understand something
of that mysterious change which one action, one event
can effect in man.

St. German's victory over the Pelagians is an in-
stance of such a change. His original Biographer is



indeed silent on the subject. Near in time to the cir-
cumstances of his life, Coustantius sees the Saint from
beginning to end ; and in one sense he may be right.
No one is chosen to be general who has not given proof
of his skill. St. German was doubtless well suited to
the great work he accomplished in Britain. Yet on
attentive reflection we cannot help looking upon him
as a higher being after than before. His pi-evious aus-
terities, prayers, acts of mercy, deeds of power and
energy were exercises and tokens of the same charac-
ter — but here is the sacrament, here God's seal and
justification. This is strengthened by a further consi-

As great actions are made the occasion of God's ap-
proval, so they are a kind of signal to men in general
to determine their appreciation of an individual charac-
ter. Whether it be from some vicious infirmity in the
large body of mankind, or from some wise provision of
Almighty God, so it is, that the greatest excellences
may fail to attract that notice which they ought, unless
some definite and producible object of men's ideas and
language be brought out by new circumstances. It is
surprising how general opinion changes by a new
phasis of the same qualities and powers. What before
was a timid and half-recognized regard becomes at
once avowed and ardent admii'ation.

Something of this kind is perceptible in St. German's
life. On the one hand he seems to be really a more ex-
alted being after his mission to Britain ; on the other he
is the object of an universal enthusiasm out of propor-
tion, as it were, with the natui'e of the change. It is
subsequently to that period, that we hear of multitudes
thronging from all quarters to obtain a sight of him, to
get his blessing, to try his miraculous gifts ; and that


the welfare of Gaul is sujjposed to be endangered if he
be not enlisted in its service, political as well as eccle-
siastical. What death accomplishes for other Saints,
stamping their virtues and achievements with a sure
seal, this was done for St. German, (it may be said
without partiality) by his Apostolic ministry in our
Island. Contrast with his the lives of other eminent
Saints. St. Chrysostom or St. Jerome, for instance,
were, if any, illustrious servants of Christ ; yet before
their death we can hardly say that they obtained that
acknowledged and unqualilied reverence which par-
takes of the honour paid to Canonized Saints. In the
case however of the tirst Apostles we think we discern
from the very beginning those tokens of a veneration,
ever after to belong to them. " The sick were brought
forth into the streets, and laid on beds and couches,
that at the least the shadow ol Peter passing by might
overshadow some of them."^ " From the body of Paul
were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons,
and the diseases departed from them, and the evil
spirits went out of them."^ Let the reader judge by
the history of St. German's life subsequent to his re-
turn from Britain, whether he did not obtain after the
first twelve years of his ministry a considerable portion
of that outward honour, which the immediate Ajjostles
of Christ owned from the beginning at Pentecost. It
is usually said that eveiy one Saint is exalted above all
others, according as he is made the object of particular
attention, or has local and accidental claims upon our
regard. But this can never serve as a test. A case
given, it cannot antecedently be pronounced of inferior

' Acts V. 15. 2 Acts xix. 12.


merits on a principle so vague as this. After all, the
facts which constitute the case must first be examined,
and to these in the present instance the reader is re-


The Towns of Gaul.

The return of St. German to Auxcrre was in the year
430. About a year had elapsed since his departure.
His absence had been much felt. For while he on one
hand raised the Church to a condition of great hon-
our in Gaul, on the other^he was called upon to act the
part of magistrate ; and his conduct showed that lie
knew how to defend the interests of his fellow-citizens.
Auxerre, as we have observed before, though impli-

Online LibraryJohn Henry NewmanLives of the English saints (Volume 2) → online text (page 23 of 33)