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and the treasurer resumed the course of life he had per-
sued for so many years with credit to himself and ad-
vantage to the diocese, content in his own mind with
having refused the office, which might have aroused his
pride, and which certainly would have diminished his
opportunities of self-sacrifice. Virtue invariably arouses
the spirit of detraction, and Theophilus, by his refusal of
the bishopric, was thrust into public notice, and attracted

4. —^



IJ< , *

February 4.] ^. TkeOphUuS. 89

public attention. The consequence was, that the evil-
minded originated slanders, which circulated widely, pro-
duced a revulsion of feeling towards Theophilus, and,
what was generally reported, was accepted as substantially
true. These stories reached the ears of the new bishop,
he sent for the archdeacon, and, without properly inves-
tigating the charges, concluded he was guilty, and deprived
him of his ofifices.

One would have supposed that the humility which had
required the holy man to refiise a mitre, would have
rendered him callous to the voice of slander, and have
sustained him under deprivation. But the trial was too
great for his virtue. He brooded over the accusations
raised against him, and the wrongs inflicted upon him, till
the whole object of his desire became the clearing of his
character. He sought every available means of unmasking
the calumnies of his malingers, and exposing the falsity oi
the charges raised against him. But he found himself
unable to effect his object; one man is powerless against
a multitude, and slander is a hydra which, when maimed
in one head, produces others in the place of that struck
off. Baffled, despairing, and without a friend to sustain
his cause, the poor clerk sought redress in a manner
which, a month before, would have filled him with horror.
He visited a necromancer, who led him at midnight to
a place where four cross-roads met, and there conjured
up Satan, who promised to reinstate Theophilus in all
his offices, and, what he valued more, to completely
clear his character. The priest, to obtain these boons,
signed away his soul with a pen dipped in his own blood,
and abjured for ever Jesus Christ and His spotless
Mother.

On the morrow, the bishop, discovering his error, how
we know not, sent for Theophilus, and acknowledged

jj, ^ij(



90 Lives of the Saints. [February 4,

publicly that he had been misled by false reports, the
utter valuelessness of which he was ready frankly to
acknowledge ; and he asked pardon of the priest, for
having unjustly deprived him of his office. The populace
enthusiastically reversed their late opinion of the treasurer,
and greeted him as a Saint and confessor.

For some days all went well, and in the excitement of a
return to his former occupations, the compact he had made
was forgotten. But after a while, as reason and quietness
resumed their sway, the conscience of Theophilus gave him
no rest. His face lost its colour, his brow was seamed with
wrinkles, an unutterable horror gleamed out of his deep-
set eyes. Hour by hour he prayed, but found no relief
At length he resolved on a solemn fast of forty days. This
he accomplished, praying nightly in the Church of the
Blessed Virgin, tiU the grey of morning stole in at the
little window of the dome, and obscured the lamps. On
the fortieth night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him,
and rebuked him for his sin. He implored her pardon
and all-prevailing intercession, and this she promised him.
The following night she re-appeared, and assured him that
Christ had forgiven him at her prayer. With a cry of
joy he awoke ; and on his breast lay the deed which
had made over his soul to Satan, obtained from the evil
one by the mercy of the holy Mother of God.

The next day was Sunday. He rose, spent some time
in acts of thanksgiving, and then went to church, where
the divine liturgy was being celebrated. After the reading
of the Gospel, he flung himself at the bishop's feet, and re-
quested permission to make his confession in public. Then
he related the circumstances of his faU, and showed the con-
tract signed with his blood to the assembled multitude.
Having finished his confession, he prostrated himself before
the bishop, and asked for absolution. The deed was

*— ^



Febmary4.] ^. Modau & B. Rabanus Maurus. 91

torn and burned before the people. He was reconciled,
and received the blessed Sacrament; after which he re-
turned to his house in a fever, and died at the expiration of
three days. The story is probably a mere religious romance.



S. MODAN, AB.

(7TH CENT.)

[Aberdeen Breviary : — froni which almost all that is known of his life
is gathered,]

S. MoDAN was first monk, and then abbot of Mailros, in
Scotland, and preached the faith in Stirling and at Falkirk,
when old he retired among the mountains of Dumbarton,
and there died. His body was kept till the change of
religion, with honour, in the church of Rosneath.



B. HRABANUS MAURUS, B. C.
(a.d. 856.)

[From his Ufe by Rodolph the priest, monk of Fulda, d. 865 ; and various
writers of a later period.]

Rabanus, or Hrabanus Maurus, was one of the
most illustrious writers of the 9th century. He was bom
at Mainz, in the year 788. When very young he was
sent to the monastery of Fulda, where he was brought
up. From thence he was sent to Tours, where he studied
for some time under the famous Alcuin. He returned
afterwards to Germany, into his monastery, where he was
entrusted with the government of the novices, was
afterwards ordained priest in the year 814, and at last
chosen abbot of Fulda, in 822. After he had managed
this charge twenty years, he voluntarily quitted it, to satisfy



92 Lives of the Saints. [February 4

the monks, who complained that his studies so engrossed
his time that the affairs of the monastery were neglected.
He retired to Mount S. Peter, and was shortly after chosen
archbishop of Mainz or Mayence, in the year 847. He
held a council in the same year for the reformation of
discipline; and died in 856.

As a mystical interpreter to Holy Scripture, his com-
mentaries will ever be read. He was a voluminous writer
on various subjects, sacred and profane, and was certainly
one of the most learned men of his day.



S. NICOLAS OF THE STUDIUM, C.
(868.)

[Greek Mensea for this day. Authorities : — Life by a contemporary
monk in his monastery,]

This glorious confessor was born in Crete, and was
the son of pious parents, who educated him from earliest
infancy in the the fear of God. At the age of ten he was
sent to Constantinople, to see his kinsman Theophanes.
He found him a monk of the order of the Sleepless Ones,'
in the monastery called the Studium. He entered the
same order, and fulfilled his monastic duties with regularity
and devotion. Having set a brilliant example, he was
deemed worthy to be invested with the priesthood. Then
broke out the furious persecution of the Iconoclasts, about
which a few words must be said in this place.^

When God was made Man, He was put at once into
the most intimate relation with men; and just as it is
lawful for any son to have a portrait of his father or mother,

iFor information on this Order, see Jan. 15, S. Alexander.

* See for more information on tiie Iconoclastic heresy the life of S. Tarasius,
Feb. 35th.



^ -*

February 4.] ^. NicolaS. 93

SO did it become lawful and reasonable that he should
have a picture of that God-Man, who is dearer to him
than father or mother. The picture served as a constant
reminder, an evidence for the Incarnation. It is a sermon
declaring God to be made Man. But the Arians, who denied
the divinity of our Lord, were most hostile to sacred
representations of Christ, and with reason, for these pictures
were a testimony against them. At first the Arian attack
on the foundation doctrine of the Incarnation was open.
But, when the theological statement of that mystery was
made so plain that there was no opposing it by counter
statement, Arianism adopted other tactics, and appeared
as Iconoclasm, or war against sacred pictures. He who
disbelieved, or only coldly acquiesced in the Incarnation
of God, saw that this chief comer-stone of Christianity
could only be uprooted by chilling the ardour of Christian
affection. And no better method of chilling that affection
could be devised, than the obliteration of representations
of Christ, His acts. His passion, and of His mother, and
His Saints; then there was some prospect of religious
acceptance of this dogma sinking into cold intellectual
apprehension, and thence it could be dislodged without
difficulty. After the reconciliation of large congregations
of Gnostics and Arians with the Catholic Church, they
maintained that icy worship which had preceded their
separation, they adored God as a Spirit, but actually,
though they had ceased to do so formally, overlooked
His manhood. These reconciled bodies afforded a fund of
passive prejudice and aversion of small account so long as
Catholic princes were on the throne, but which, in the fortune
of a soldier, might produce serious results to the Church.

Of such adventurers, the most fortunate was the Emperor
Leo III., who, firom the mountains of Isauria, ascended to
the throne of the East. He was ignorant of sacred and



^-



-*



94 Lives of the Saints. [February 4.

profane letters ; but his education, his reason, perhaps his
intercourse with Jews and Arabs, had inspired the martial
peasant with a hatred of images ; and he held it to be the
duty of a prince to impose on his subjects the dictates of
his own conscience. In the reformation of religion, his first
steps were moderate and cautious ; he assembled a great
council of senators and bishops, and enacted, with their
consent, that all the images should be removed from the
sanctuary and altar to a proper height in the churches, where
they might be visible to the eyes, and inaccessible to the
devotion of the people. But it was impossible on either
side to check the rapid though adverse impulses of vene-
ration and abhorrence : in their lofty position, the sacred
images still edified their votaries, and exasperated their
enemies. He was himself provoked by resistance and
invective ; and his own party accused him of an imperfect
discharge of his duty, and urged for his imitation the
example of the Jewish king, who had broken without
scruple the brazen serpent of the temple. By a second
edict, he proscribed the existence, as well as the use of
sacred pictures; images of Christ, the Blessed Virgin, and
the Saints, were demolished, or a smooth surface of plaster
was spread over the walls of the edifice. The sect of the
Iconoclasts was supported by the zeal and despotism of six
emperors, and this topic involved the East and West in an
angry conflict of one hundred and twenty years. It was the
design of Leo the Isaurian to pronounce the condemnation
of images as an article of faith, and by the authority of a
General Council ; but the convocation of such an assembly
was reserved for his son Constantine Copron)rmus. This
council was attended by three hundred and thirty-eight
bishops of Europe and Anatolia, but not by those of the
Western Church, African Church, or that of Palestine. It
was, in fact, an assembly of those prelates who were weak



^ . — . — . _ . -— )5«

February 40 ^. NicOlttS. 95

enough to assist, fearing condemnation and exile if they did
not submit, ambitious enough to follow the caprice of the
reigning emperor, in hopes of emolument, and also of those
who heartily concurred with his semi-Arianism. After a
serious deliberation of six months, the prelates subscribed
such a decree as the emperor desired, condemning all visible
symbols of Christ,' except the Eucharisj:, as blasphemous
and heretical; and denouncing veneration for images as
the idolatry of Paganism. "As if," says a Catholic writer
of the time, " there were not this great difference between
the Christian image and the heathen idol, that tlie latter is
the thing worshipped, whereas the former is the represen-
tation of the person adored."

The first hostilities of Leo had been directed against
a lofty Christ on the vestibule, and above the gate, of the
palace, placed there to exhibit to all men that the emperors
had bowed before the King of kings. A ladder had been
placed for the assault, but it was shaken by a crowd of
women and zealots, and for their opposing the execution of
the mandate, severe and savage reprisals were taken. The
execution of the imperial mandates were resisted by fre-
quent tumults in Constantinople and the provinces, which
were quelled by the military, and much blood flowed.

In the cruel persecution that ensued, the monks, ever the
champions of the Incarnate God, suffered most severely.
Nicolas of the Studium, together with S. Theodore, the
abbot, or archimandite, of the monastery were called to
suffer. Nicolas was scourged with leather thongs on the
back and limbs, and his arms extended, so that they be-
came for a time paralysed. His back, which was lashed
and bleeding, was tenderly bathed with warm water and
healing lotions by S. Theodore, his superior, till it was

1 This very term " Symbol of Christ," as applied to the Holy Eucharist, is indi-
cation of heretical views on the Presence.

ij — — ^



^__ — ^

96 Lives of the Saints. [February 4.

healed. Both were driven into exile, and kept for three
years in nakedness, and without sufficient food and drink,
in a wretched prison. They were beaten again at Smyrna,
and further imprisoned for twenty-two months, with their
feet in the stocks. On the death of Leo, the confessors
were released, and visited S. Nicephorus at Chalcedon.
This took place during the absence of Constantine Cop-
ronymus, who had undertaken an expedition against the
Saracens. During this absence, his kinsman, Artavasdus,
assumed the purple, and everywhere the sacred images were
triumphantly restored. Constantine flew for refuge to his
paternal mountains; but he descended at the head of the
bold Isaurians, and his final victory placed the unfortunate
Catholics once more at the mercy of a brutal tyrant. This
monster of crime derived his name Copronymus from having
defiled his baptismal font. This incident of his infancy was
accepted as an augury of his maturity, and he did not belie
it. His reign was one long butchery of whatever was most
noble, or holy, or innocent, in his empire. In person the
emperor assisted at the execution of his victims, surveyed their
agonies, listened to their groans, and indulged, without
satiating, his appetite for blood,: a plate of noses was accepted
as a grateful offering, and his domestics were often scourged or
mutilated by his royal hand. His long reign was distracted
with clamour, sedition, conspiracy, mutual hatred,, and
sanguinary revenge. The hatred borne by this ruflSan
against monks and images was implacable. Images were
torn down and defaced with wanton mahce throughout the
empire by an officer called the Dragon, sent round for that
purpose; all religious communities were dissolved, their
buildings were converted into magazines or barracks ; the
lands, moveables, and cattle, were confiscated, and the
monks were mutilated in eyes and ears and limbs, with
refined cruelty.

>& — »J<



1^ )5<

February 4.] ^. NicolaS. 97

Under this emperor, Theophilus (829), Nicolas and
Theodore again suffered persecution. Theodore, and the
abbot Theophanes, kinsman of Nicolas, were mutilated
by certain verses being cut upon their brows. During
the persecution, S. Nicolas remained concealed ; on the
accession of the indifferent emperor, Michael III., (842),
he emerged from his hiding place, and was elected archi-
mandite of the Studium, the abbot Theodore being dead.
After exercising the government for three years, he resigned
it to Sophronius, and retired to Firmopolis, that he might
pass the remainder of his days in peace ; but it was not so
to be ; after four years he was recalled to the abbacy of the
Studium, on the death of Sophronius, and was at once
involved in conflict For the patriarch Ignatius, having
rebuked the Caesar Bardas for incest, and then excommuni-
cated him, the emperor Michael III., his nephew, was
persuaded to exile Ignatius, and to intrude Photius into the
Patriarchal see. The abbot Nicolas refused to communi-
cate with the intruder, and was consequently driven from
his monastery, and a monk, Achillas, was appointed in his
room. Nicolas was pursued Irom one retreat to another
by the hostility of the intruded patriarch, and after many
wanderings, rested in the Crimea. Upon the death of
Bardas and Michael, Bardas having been murdered by his
nephew Michael, and Michael by his successor, Basil I.,
(867), the patriarch Ignatius was recalled, and the patriarch
persuaded Nicolas to return to his government of the
Studium, where he died the following year.



VOL. II. 7

^ ■ *



98 Lives of the Saints. [February 4.



S. REMBERT, B. C.
(a.d. 888.)

[Roman Martyrology ; this being the day of his consecration to the Arch-
bishopric of Bremen and Hamburg. But in some German Martyrologies, on
June nth, the day of his death. Authority : — his life written by a coeval
author or authors].

This saint was bom at Thourout, in Flanders, where was
a monastic cell, that had been given by King Louis the Pious
to S. Anskar. As Anskar was at Thourout one day, he
noticed some boys going to church, and amongst them was
one who, by his gravity, pleased him ; and when the boy
entered the church, he crossed himself, and behaved with
so great reverence, that the archbishop went to him, and
asked his name. He told him that he was called Rembert.
Then S. Anskar took him and placed him in the little
monastery, and bade that he should be well instructed. In
after years, the apostle of Sweden called Rembert to assist
him in his mission ; and he loved his young friend greatly,
and prayed to God for three days incessantly that He would
grant to Rembert to accomplish the work that he, Anskar,
had begun, and to make them companions together in the
Heavenly Zion. After Anskar died, in 865, S. Rembert
was unanimously chosen Archbishop of Hamburg and
Bremen, and he superintended all the churches of Sweden,
Denmark, and Lower Germany. He also began a mission
to the Wends and Sclavonic race of Mecklenburg and
Brandenburg, which was attended with considerable
success. He sold the sacred ornaments of the Church to
redeem captives from the Northmen. On one occasion he
saw a party of these marauders pass, dragging after them a
poor girl, who raised her shackled hands towards the
bishop, and began to chant one of David's psalms. Then
S. Rembert leaped off his horse, and ran to the chief, and



1^— , )J«

Febmary4.J ^. Gilbert. 99

offered him the horse if he would release the captive
Christian maiden. And this he did, well pleased to obtain
so valuable a horse. S. Rembert died on June' nth, in
the year 888.

S. GILBERT OF SEMPRINGHAM, AB.
(a.d. 1189.)

[Roman, Anglican, Belgian, Benedictine, and Cistercian Martyrologies.
Authority : — his life, by a contemporary, published by Bollandus.]

This S. Gilbert, of whom Henricus Chrysostomus, a
Cistercian chronicler, speaks as " a disciple of Bernard the
mellifluous, a man of apostolical zeal, of most severe and
rigid life, in purity conspicuous, illustrious for his gift of
prophecy, and the mirific performer of stupendous miracles,"
was bom about the year a.d. 1083, near the close of the
reign of WilHam the Conqueror. From an apparently con-
temporary pedigree he seems to have been related on the
mother's side to that monarch, who may have rewarded the
services of his father, " a bold and skilful warrior," with the
hand of one of his relations, in addition to the manor of
Sempringham, where Gilbert first saw the light. His mother
is said to have received, shortly before his birth, a miracu-
lous presage of the fiiture greatness of her child, a greatness,
however, of which few external tokens would seem to have
manifested themselves during his childhood; since one of
his biographers relates that as a child he was so dull and
spiridess as to provoke the contempt and ill-usage of even
the servants of his father's household. Driven by this mal-
treatment from his home and country, or more probably
sent from home by the care of his parents, who discerned in
him a greater aptitude for the cloister than for the camp, he
I passed some years in Gaul in the peaceful study of letters

*- .j<



lOO Lives of the Saints. [February 4.

and philosophy. His childish education completed, he
returned to England, and took up his abode with one of his
father's dependents. Here he fell in love with the daughter
of his host, and gave the first proof of his vocation to the
counsels of perfection ; for finding his passion increase daily
in strength, and fearing lest he should be overcome by it,
he fortified his soul by prayer and fasting ; and then seek-
ing the company of his beloved, he so wrought upon her by
his exhortations and entreaties, that he prevailed upon her
to join him in a vow of perpetual chastity, and she was one
of the first who afterwards became nuns under his rule.

He now took to keeping a school, and gathered together
a number of children of both sexes, to be instructed in the
rudiments of religion, and especially taught them to live an
orderly and pious life in the world, without as yet leading
them forward to the higher life of the cloister • and these
afterwards became the nucleus (primitise plantae) of his
order.

During this time he seems to have lived in the family of
the then Bishop of Lincoln, and to have been admitted by
him to the minor orders of the ministry ; for the next thing
related of him is that being presented by his father to the
united benefices of Sempringham and Torrington he most
willingly accepted the charge, and devoted the whole
revenue of his livings to charitable purposes. Such was the
fervour of his devotion at this time, that it is related that
having one day invited one of his companions to join him
in his prayers, the youth was so fatigued by the length of
the office, and the punctilious care with which Gilbert
genuflected whenever the holy names of God and of Christ
occurred, that he swore he would never pray with him
again.

After a while he was ordained priest by Alexander, Bishop
of Lincoln, who held him in such high esteem that he made



^— lj(

February 4.] S. Gilbert. lOl

him his confessor, and would have appointed him Arch-
deacon j but this Gilbert resolutely declined, saying, "that
he knew not of a shorter road to perdition.''

Persevering in his resolve to give his all to the poor, he
now for the first time formally constituted his religious
order, by assembling a number of poor girls, amongst them
the object of his youthful attachment, whom he made
cloistered nuns at Sempringham, and maintained them at
his own cost He next founded a monastery for male
religious, to whom he entrusted all the more responsible
affairs of the order, providing both nuns and monks with a
habit " expressive of humility."

To this time of his life we must probably refer his
miraculous escape from death by fire. The story is that a
great fire having broken out either in his own house, or in
the buildings immediately contiguous, Gilbert remained
sitting abstractedly in his window seat, praying and singing
psalms ; the fire devoured all before it until it reached the
spot in which he sat; there its progress was arrested,
and the flames died away on every side, leaving the saint
and his seat unharmed.

His order continued to expand, many religious flocked
to him, and gifts of manors and farms pouring in from all
quarters, many monasteries arose under his rule.

The charge of his Order now became so onerous that he
is said to have attended the general chapter of the order at
Citeaux, in the year 1140, for the purpose of formally
resigning his authority. To this, however, his brother
abbots refiised their consent, and Gilbert returned to his
labours, which he was to relinquish only with his life.

A peculiar interest attaches to this chapter, from the
circumstance related by the same writer,^ who tells us
of Gilbert's presence there, that the Pope Eugenius^ was

1 Gofredus in Vita S. Bemardi. " Eugenius III.



(j, : ij(

1 02 Lives of the Saints. [February 4,



present and took part in the proceedings, " not, however,
presiding as with apostoUcal authority, but in brotherly love
takino- his seat among the assembled abbots, as one of



Online LibraryS. (Sabine) Baring-GouldThe lives of the saints → online text (page 8 of 35)