John Henry Newman.

Lives of the English saints (Volume 2) online

. (page 31 of 33)
Online LibraryJohn Henry NewmanLives of the English saints (Volume 2) → online text (page 31 of 33)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Trinitatis. Oramus ut sem-
per nobis fide plenis esurirc
detur ac sitire justitiam, sic-
que opus ejus, confortati salu-
taris escae gratia, faciamus,
ut non in judicium, sed in re-
medium, sacramentum quod
accepimus, habeamus. Per
Dominum nostrum.



Collect at the End of Mass.

O Lord Christ, who wiliest
that the faithful should feed on
Thy Body, and be made Thy
Body, grant that what we have
taken may be for the remission
of our sins ; and that the Divine
nourishment given by Thy bless-
ing, may so be mingled with
our soul, that the Flesh being
subject unto the spirit, and
brought into peaceful agreement,
may be obedient, and not con-
tend, through the Holy Spirit,
who liveth and reigneth, in the
unity of the Father and the Son,
coeternal, for ever and ever. Amen.



COLLECTIO IN FINE MiSS/E.

Christe Domine, qui ettuo
vesci corpore, et tuum corpus
effici vis Fideles, fac nobis in
remissioncm peccaforum esse
quod sumpsimus : atque ita
se anima; nostrse divina ali-
monia per benedictionem tu-
am facta permisceat, ut caro
spiritui subdita, et in consen-
sum pacificum subjugata ob-
temperet, non repugnet, per
Spiritum Sanctum qui in
unitate Patris et Filii, co-
aeternus vivit et regnat in
saecula saeculorum. Amen.



The solemnities for the Festival of St. German are
described, according to Bona, in the jMozarabic Missal.
A sermon preached by Hericus on that day, whether the
1st of October or the 31st of July, is still preserved.
He there compares German to Elijah, especially in the
matter of abstinence. P^lijah however, he observes, was



HIS CANONIZATION. 273

fed by ravens, but St. German usually eat only once a
week, and then barley bread alone. He shows how he was
a Doctor of the whole world, and had obtained a rank
among the chief members of Christ's body ; and how his
great holiness procured him distinction in every coun-
try. He claims him especially for Gaul as her Apostle ;
and ends his sermon by a prayer addressed to St. Ger-
man. This latter practice he had justified in a special
work on the miracles of St. German. ^ He there blames
those who say that the souls of the Saints are in Abra-
ham's bosom, or in a place of refreshment, or under the
Altar of God, and not able to be present at their tombs
and wheresoever they please. He aj^i^eals to St. Je-
rome's language against Vigilantius. The Saints, he
says, follow the Lamb wherever He goeth, therefore
they may be any where. As they enjoy the presence
of God, who knoweth all things, they themselves know
every thing in nature, but they are especially present
at their earthly remains. (It may here be remarked
that St. Thomas Aquinas restricts their knowledge to
what is going on in the earth.) And by way of proving
his belief in this respect, he describes himself as falling
down before the sepulchre, kissing the sacred stone,
and humbly venerating his patron as if he were sus-
pended over his head, and ever worshipping with
fidelity the place where his feet had stood. In short,
he bids men honour St. German and the rest of the
Saints with pious devotion, and implore them with
earnest aifection.

St. German, we have seen, was buried in the chapel
of St. Maurice. In process of time Queen Clothilde, the
wife of Clovis, who was married in 493, and died in

> S 124. ch. iii.



274 HIS CANONIZATION.

543, built a large Basilica over the tomb of the Bishop. ^
On which occasion St. Lupvis, different from St. Lupus
of Troyes, came with her from Burgundy to Auxerre ;
and was subsequently buried there himself. Her eldest
son, Clothaire, afterwards employed St. Desiderius,
then Bishop of Auxerre, to build a beautiful Freda
over St. German's remains, that is, a little covered
chapel such as we see in Cathedrals now. It was
adorned with silver and gold, and bore the inscription
of the royal builder. Ingundis, his wife, presented
valuable vessels and vestments, especially a golden cup
studded with precious stones, and bearing the name of
the Queen. This spot soon became famous for its
miracles, according to Hericus.^ Old men in his time
asserted they had seen numberless cures performed on
the sick, the possessed, the deaf and the dumb. The
testimony of St. Nicetius in his letter to Queen Chlo-
dosuinda, in 565, has already been given.' St. Gregory
of Tours relates, that in the time of Queen Teudechild,
Nonninus, a tribune, having come from Auvergne to
Auxerre for religious motives, struck off a small piece
of the stone from the tomb of St. German, whereupon
he immediately became as stiff as brass."* Having con-
sidered the guilt of his presumption, he made a vow to
consecrate the relic in a Church he intended to erect in
honour of St. German in Auvergne. And after having
made the vow, was released at once from the punish-
ment. " Into this same Church which Nonninus
erected at Mozac, in Auvergne," continues Gregory,
"I myself went, in company with my uncle Avitus,

' Hcric. Ch. iv. de Mir. § 39. Beaunier Abbayes de France,
torn. ii. p. 840. Gallia Christ.

- § 40. " See Introd. ■* Ch. 41, Gloria Confessorum.



HIS CANONIZATION. 275

Bishop of Auvergne, and on our entering a smell of
roses and lilies exhaled from the place, which we at-
tributed to the merits of the blessed German."

It would be long and tedious to enumerate the very
many miracles which Hericus, who wrote in the ninth
century, represents to have taken place either at Aux-
erre, or in other places where St. German was particu-
larly honoured. The following is selected, from many
much more astonishing in their character and efiects,
chiefly because the narrator was witness to it himself.
On the 31st of July,^ he says, when Soissons and all its
Churches and monasteries were resounding with the
praises of the Saint, he, (Hericus) proceeded with some
others to one of the Churches dedicated to St. German.
Before his arrival the bell began to ring of itself, and
only ceased when he had entered. There was no vestige
of any one, since all had previously dejDarted from the
Church ; and he himself considered the ringing as mira-
culous ; but however lest his testimony should be deemed
partial, he made no mention of it himself, but let his
companions spread the account. For the same reasons
it would be unfair in a historical point of view to omit
another miracle for which Hericus gives good testi-
mony. In the year 869,^ Adalricus of Sens, who had
been afflicted with an infirmity and contraction of the
limbs for twelve years, and had visited the tombs of
many other Saints in vain, came to Auxerre for the
festival of the first of October. A large multitude
were assembled from all quarters. Already half of the
vigil had elapsed, and the Psalm, " Te decet hymnus
Deus in Sion,"^ was being sung in the Church, when
suddenly the voice of Adalricus filled the place and

' § 67. - § 104. 3 Psalm Ixiv. or Ixv.



276 HIS CANONIZATION.

frightened the people and tlie choir, Avho were chaunt-
ing the divine office. The people rushed towards him
and found him senseless ; after a short space of time he
recovered, and regained his perfect strength, and was
alive in Hericus's time to confirm the account of his
cure.

In 859, took place the translation of St. German's re-
mains from the chapel of St. Maurice, and the Basilica,
which Queen Clothilde had erected, to a more splendid
edifice. The circumstances of it were these. '^ Con-
rad, or Chuonradus, was brother of Judith of Bavaria,
the second wife of Louis-le-Debonnaire, and conse-
quently was uncle to Charles-le-Chauve. He had
married Adelais, the daughter of Louis-le-Debonnaire.
Both were eminent for their pietj'. Conrad was, to-
gether with his other princely dignities. Commendatory
Abbot of St. German's monastery at Auxerre. It was
the sad custom of the age for powerful men to plunder
Ecclesiastical property, but there were some great ex-
ceptions.^ Among these was Conrad. He had long been
subject to a disease of the eye, which defied the art of
medicine,^ and he was about to undergo a caustic appli-
cation, when having risen once before sunrise, he ap-
proached the sepulchre of St. German, where the monks
were observing their vigil. The tomb happened to be
covered with herbs ; he applied some of them to his eye,
and immediately recovered the use of it. As a present
token of his gratitude, he offered up some golden
bracelets to the shrine ; but he contemplated greater
proofs of it hereafter. He soon communicated to his
wife his purpose of raising a more magnificent monu-
ment to St. German. Adelais eagerly entered into his

' Ilericus, B. ii. Ch. i. § 84. ^ § So. ^ § 86.



HIS CANONIZATION. 277

views, and went to visit the actual monastery. ^ A fa-
vourable piece of gi-ound was found, on the eastern side
of the town, where the hill presents a gentle declivity,
supposed to be well suited to an edifice. The most ex-
perienced architects were engaged, and a model of wax
was first made ; which being approved, the greatest ar-
dour was evinced in order to realize it. Some of the
monks were sent to Ai'les and Marseilles, to obtain the
materials of the fine ruins which remained there. The
spoils of paganism were thus destined to adorn a Chris-
tian monument. Having effected their object, they laid
the precious charge on barges and sailed up the Rhone.
As they journeyed, a violent storm came upon them,
and they were obliged to land at a spot where they
found a Church dedicated to St. German, and famous,
for the security which it was said to spread over the
country. After they had prayed there for some time,
they returned, and found the storm abated ; they again
embarked, and at last arrived safe at Auxerre. The
columns and other materials and ornaments which they
had brought, proved to be all in character and in pro-
portion with the building, a circumstance considered
miraculous by Hericus. One of the columns, being
placed upon its basis, was elevated by a number of
hands ; but all their efforts were unable to give it a
right balance ; and it was in the very act of falling,
and all had withdrawn to avoid the danger, when sud-
denly it rose again and placed itself without help in its
right position.

It appears Conrad did not live to see the remains
of St. German translated to the new building. In
859, Lewis of Germany, the brother of Charles-le-
Chauve, taking advantage of a faction in France, made

' §89.



278 HIS CANONIZATION.

war upon Charles, in spite of the league which had
been made at Verdun, in 843, resi)ecting the division
of Charlemagne's Empire bet^veen his three grandsons,
Lothaire, Lewis, and Charles. Charles-le-Chauve, con-
scious of the inequality of his forces, resolved to seek aid
from God ; and as he was on his way to meet the army of
his brother, he passed by Auxerre. It was the day of the
Epiphany, when accompanied by Bishops and Priests
alone, he approached the tomb of St. German, and had
it opened. The corpse appeared in perfect preserva-
tion. Charles having performed his devotions, the
Bishops were enjoined to cover the body with costly
garments, and pour balm and incense over it. After
which the translation took place to the Edifice raised
by Conrad. Proceeding thence, the king obtained a
complete victory over his brother without loss of blood,
and henceforth reigned in peace. Miracles were per-
formed during this translation. A young man, who
was a cripple, obtained his recovery Avhile in the act of
praying in the Church in the presence of the whole
people, and we may add in that of Hericus himself, our
authority, since he was monk of St. German's at that
time. Another on the same occasion regained the use
of his speech. From this time, the sixth of January,
besides the solemnities of tlie Epiphany, was celebrated
with an express commemoration of 8t. (Tcrman's trans-
lation ; to which purpose the Martyrology of Auxerre
for that day has the following notice : " At Auxerre
the translation of the body of St. German the Bishop
from tlie scimlchrc to the new crypt, was performed by
the Bishop of Auxerre, Abbo, in the presence and at
the request of Charles-le-Chauve, king of the French."
It appears then that the edifice which Conrad built
woii annexed to the original Chapel of St. Maurice, and



HIS CANONIZATION. 279

to the Monastery of St. German^ (not the same as that
which he in his life had founded,) and that the trans-
lation was but a short distance. This Monastery would
therefore have been a large enclosure with several edi-
fices contained in it, as we see in the vestiges of some
old and famous Abbeys.

Witliin the precincts there were many places of wor-
ship,^ and as many altars in honour of Saints. For the
remains of many other Saints were soon conveyed to
this sacred spot. Those of St. Urban and Tiburtius
were brought from Rome in 862, as a gift of Pope
Nicolas the First. ^ There were also the relics of the
Saintly Bishops wlio had governed the Church of
Auxerre, among whom were St. Peregrinus, the first
Bishop, and his successors.* On the right hand were
St. Urban and St. Innocent. Next to them St. Alodius,
the successor of St. German, St. Ursus, St. Romanus,
St. Theodosius, Bishops of Auxerre. Near the Pedum
(or Crosier) to the east, beside the altar, was St. Auna-
rius. Bishop of Auxerre. To the left was St. Tibur-
tius, sent from Rome, with five Bishops, Fraternus,
Censurius, the friend of Constantius the writer, Gre-
gorius, Desiderius, and Lupus, the latter of whom had
come from Burgundy, as we have seen, in company
with Clothilde, the wife of Clovis. Together with
these were St. Moderatus, a boy, St. Optatus, Bishop,
and two priests, St. Sanctinus and St. Memorius.^ In
process of time, many other sacred remains were there
deposited, among which were those of a Pope. Lo-
thaire, the son of Charles-le-Chauve, on his deatli-bed
gave orders that a light might be always kept burning
before the shrine.

' Bosch. Com.

' Orationum loca, § 123. Heric. =§108. "§117.

* See Beaunier, Abbayes de France. Bosch. Com.



280 HIS CANONIZATION.

When the Normans in the ninth century made
a violent irruption, the remains of St. German were
carefully buried, according to Nevelo, a contempo-
rary author, and remained thus till the beginning
of the tenth century. Such was the reverence in
which they continued to be held, that when Kobert,
king of France, in the succeeding age called a council
at Auxerre, and the relics of other Saints according to
custom were brought to it, Hugo, the Bishop, refused
to send those of St. German, urging that they were too
valuable. In great calamities however they were car-
ried about. In the time of William the Conqueror,
one of the fingers was amputated by a monk of Aux-
erre, and carried into England, where it became the
occasion of the foundation of the celebrated Monastery
of St. German, at Selby in Yorkshire, the noble abbey
of which still exists. The circumstances of it are
curious as illustrating the origin of a monastic estab-
lishment, but are too numerous for the present pm'pose.
In 1375, John, Duke of Berry, assigned a yeax'ly sum
of gold for the preservation of the coffin. At last in
1567, on the 27th of September, the Huguenots took
Auxerre. All are agreed that the remains of St. Ger-
man on this fatal occasion were violated, but the man-
ner is not quite certain. Le Beuf, a canon of Paris, in
his history of the Sacrilege, says that the Huguenots
on entering sent immediately a detachment to the mon-
astery of St. German, before the monks had time to
carry any thing away ; and that the whole wealth o
this opulent establishment fell into their hands. St.
German's tomb, with six others, he adds, was broken
up, and the sacred remains torn from their receptacles
and trampled upon. In this confusion it does not ap-
pear what was rescued ; but the prevalent opinion at



HIS CANONIZATION. 281

Auxerre in 1663, when Viola, the Prior of that institu-
tion, wrote his life of St. German, was, that the Hugue-
nots themselves under Divine impulse restored the
relics. Other accounts more or less probable were
current. But it is pretty certain that when the Bol-
landists published their Acts of St. German, there were
still existing at Auxerre a piece of the silk dress with
the imperial arms which Placidia had given ; a bone of
one of the fingers ; the sepulchre of stone ; the ashes
of the Saint ; and the fragments of the cypress cofibi,
the gift of the same Empress. These were probably
concealed from the Huguenots under earth. They
were officially declared to be the relics of St. German
by Seguier the Bishop, and are said to have efifected
miracles.

At Paris in the Church St. Germain I'Auxer-
rois, famous for its historical connexions, there was
before the Revolution a bone in a silver case belonging
to the Saint. At Verdun, Miege, and Montfaucon,
there were likewise some bones ; at Evreux a part of
the skull ; at Chessy some of the ribs. Pope Urban V.,
once abbot of St. German's, obtained a bone. The
following places, Lembrun, St. Julien d'Auxerre, St.
Remi at Reims, St. Pierre at Corbi, St. Pierre in
Champagne, Rennes, St. Stephen at Auxerre, Cahors,
Coutances, Gron near Sens, Metz, Nancy, Bayeux,
Caen, Cluni, Cologne, and a place on the banks of the
Meuse, called Rutilensis Carthusia, in the Latin — all
produced claims of a similar kind. Whether any relics
in France have been preserved from the revolutionary
profanations, is still to be learnt. Whether any survive
the Reformation and the Rebellion in England, at St.
Albans, St. Germans in Cornwall, or Selby in York-
hire, need hardly be enquired.



282 CONCLUSION.



CHAPTER XXVIII,



Conclusion.

Readers are now very capricious people. In many
cases, they will not let the writer suggest a moral
observation upon the facts he has related to them ;
they are disgusted if he do, and say it is unreal, or it is
common-place, or it is tedious, and the like. And yet,
in many others, they are very glad to find that the
author agrees with them ; and it greatly tends to re^
commend a book, if one be so fortunate as to touch
upon the right string ; and a sentiment or an opinion
here and there, Avhich approves itself, will make many
a dull book pass off for good. In the middle ages,
writers would altogether have discarded these and sim-
ilar niceties, and said just as much as they themselves
thought right, neither more nor less. But at present,
the matter is very different. There are plenty of per-
sons who read, but few who read what does not please
them, and moral and general reflections usually come
under this category. In the middle ages again, authors
were as different as readers. Writing was a kind of
sacred employment. Those who wrote books were
acknowledged by all to be deeply conversant with
their subject. Now, men write in order to become
conversant with it. Of course, persons who are con-
sidered fit to make books, are generally those who,
besides acquaintance with a subject, have natural
capacities for the task. Yet this was not a necessary
or invariable consequence in the middle ages. His-



CONCLUSION. 283

tories, for instance, were written by men who had
been present at the facts related. It was a secondary
consideration whether they were fit persons to judge
of facts. Or again, they were written by men who
were known to be familiar with the tradition or the
inheritance of facts, which passed on religiously from
one generation to another. It did not follow, as a
matter of course, that they were good critics, or had
imagination enough to understand past ages ; although,
in reality, they did, in the majority of cases, possess
these endowments. From this cause, in a great mea-
sure, seems to have arisen that profound respect in
which books were held. "We hear of even secular
books, ornamented in the most costly style, with shining
clasps, to keep out the dust, and appropriate desks, to
expose them to the view of all. Writing, as was
before said, was a saci'ed avocation. It was the privi-
lege of the Religious in their holy seclusion : " Read,
write, and sing," says the author of the Imitation. It
was sanctified by the devout exercises of the monks,
and guarded from profane novelties by the attentive
vigilance of the Superior. Natural abilities came into
play here as elsewhere, but they were directed and
applied wisely. Guibert de Nogent, in the eleventh
century, is an instance of this. Pie was by nature very
quick, and ready at writing verses. When the Supe-
rior of his Monastery perceived his turn of mind, he
bid him be on his guard against a bad use of his
talents. Guibert Avas then obliged to write in secret,
for he felt he did not apply them to the honour of God ;
and subseqixently, this gave him violent pangs of con-
science, and brought from him a most humble con-
fession of guilt. Yet his abilities were not allowed to
remain dormant. At a fit time, he was appointed by
u



284 CONCLUSION.

his Abbot to compose a theological work, for the
instruction and edification of Christians.' Other occa-
sions also there were of writing. Men came back
from the Crusades : they were the proper persons to
write about the Crusades. Or again, others had been
the intimate friends of great men : these were the best
qualified to compose their Life, and make known their
private sayings. At present, subjects of this kind are
put into the hands of a good editor. But then, it was
the wise statesman and minister, who had been at all
the privy councils of his sovereign ; or it was the bosom
friend of a Saint, who knew his inward life. It mat-
tered little whether he was an ingenious, clever thinker,
and could illustrate a plausible theory or a favourite
principle. His work was precious from the circum-
stances of its composition. Contrary to the rule of
Aristotle, it was the morality or qualifications of the
writer, not of the composition, which constituted its
claims to the regard of the public. Men were far too
matter-of-fact and simple-minded to take up the tests
and canons of literary etiquette.

However, notwithstanding such great disadvantages,
arising from the present disposition of both writers and
readers, (be content, gentle reader, to bear part of the
blame) something like an attempt shall be hazarded, at
giving a practical turn to the variety of materials which
have come before us in St. German's Life. And to
avoid further preliminaries.

I. "NVliat are we to think of St. Mamertinus's won-
derful story, as related in the eighth Chapter ? That
he was a Pagan, and lost the use of his sight and hand,
and was induced by one Sabinus to go to Auxerre, to

' Vid. Vita Guib. Noving. b. i. chap. xvii. — [?]



CONCLUSION. 285

seek for St. German, and came at night into the Mons
Autricus, the Cemetery, and there fell asleep on the
tomb and in the cell of a departed Saint — this is
plain enough and indisputable. But what was that
which followed ? Was it a real thing, or was it a
vision ? And here the subject becomes serious, and we
must "put off our shoes from our feet, for the place
where we stand is holy ground." For what, indeed,
do we mean, when we draw a distinction between real-
ities and visions ? Is it untrue to say that everything
is real, that everything is the action of Almighty God
upon His creation, and especially upon His spiritual
creation, if such distinction may be made ? God works
by instruments, or what we view as instruments ; He
makes the things of the external world, objects, times,
circumstances, events, associations, to impress the action
of His Will upon men. The bad and the good receive
the same impressions, but their judgment concerning
them differs. The moral sight of the one is vitiated,
that of the others indefinitely pure. K, then, the only
real thing to us be the communication of the Divine
Mind to our mind, is there room to enquire whether
the occasion or medium of that communication is real ?
At least, it would appear that St. Mamertinus consid-
ered the enquiry superfluous. The very obscm'ity
which impends over his narrative, and which has pur-
posely been preserved in this Life, may, for aught we
know, be owing to the impossibility of drawing any
matei'ial distinctions between what are called real
events and visions or dreams. For it must be remem-
bered that Constantius introduces the very language of
St. Mamertinus into his Life of St. German. It was a
book which apparently had but recently come out, in
which St. Mamertinus published to the world the his-



286 CONCLUSION.

tory of his own mysterious conversion. And Con-
stantius seems to have a scruple in taking any liberties



Online LibraryJohn Henry NewmanLives of the English saints (Volume 2) → online text (page 31 of 33)