The Northern Way

The Life of St. Eligius, 588-660

Book 2

52. Something wonderful succeeded all these wonders. For a certain woman mute and blind was once an oblate at the sepulchre of Eligius. One day when she awaited remedy from heaven, bereft and without speech, sleep at last depressed her and a dream claimed her limbs. And behold! suddenly while she rested she had a vision of holy Eligius standing before her and sweetly touching her eyes. Gesturing like a doctor with knife and shears, he gently cut the bonds on her tongue. And from this she was immediately cured, her eyes open and her freed tongue forming words. And after this, restored to health, she arose and went back to her own village.

53.

----Among other things I cannot be silent about what he did in a time of mortality in Paris.

54. It happened when an evil calamity depopulated the city of Paris, not a few virgins from the holy man's monastery where Aurea was abbess proceeded to the Lord. The blessed Eligius appeared one day to a certain adolescent in the basilica of the maidens, dressed in a white mantle covering a toga. The person who was there, in terror, sought a place to hide but the blessed man smoothly and kindly compelled him [eum], ordering that he should go immediately and tell the mother of the virgins to come to him with deputies from the virgins. He who heard this ran and soon found Aurea: "Arise, quickly, because the lord Eligius calls you to the church." Having heard this, with great joy, she hastened without delay; but when she finally arrived, the vision of the blessed man had disappeared. But the very church was a firm witness that he had been there for it was filled with cloud so thick that the candelabra were veiled and a distillation of dew was perceived. Then Aurea turned within herself, and understood that she was being called from this world. Immediately, convoking all her sisters, she began to say goodbye to each of them, sequestrating not a few of them from the others who would accompany her. Then she herself migrating to the Lord, the rest finally followed likewise, so that at that time from that same monastery as many as a hundred and sixty monachae died.

55. Now the news got around that miracles were being done through the most sacred body of Eligius. One illustrious man the graffio Garefred, coming to the basilica of the holy antistes said his prayers and then heard a great crowd of paupers crying out. And when he had a few in his presence to whom he could distribute alms, moved toward them by mercy, he began to express sorrow: "Never, o miserable ones, will you have such comfort, as you had with this blessed antistes! Oh, what cause could obstruct him who was ever active because of your misery, giving ear to your complaints, as so many make now and I, [am but] a miserable one!" And when he was crying out in this way he fell into a sort of ecstasy and the holy man came in a vision. And he was so consternated by the vision that he could barely stand there and suddenly he discovered gold in his hand and clothing which he could give to the poor and he did so at the same time. And with many companions who saw what had happened, he went out of the church and departed.

56. And let us not avoid this: the illustrious praepositus of the palace Ebroin-- whom the vulgar call major domo--had an adolescent son called Bobo, whom he and his wife greatly loved for he was their only child. Once the boy, struck to the marrow with disease began to weaken from fever which caused his parents great anguish which no one could solace. Steadily weakening, the boy began to fail and no one could help him as death seemed imminent. But as hope for his survival faded, the anxious parents confided in Eligius for their son believing in the antistes who had accomplished so many miracles. They would devote their son there and offered many gifts of thanks for the boy with grill ornament in every way fixed to the sepulchre at the same time. And this done, without delay by the intercession of the confessor the sickness left and the boy is convalescing even now, remaining in health and unharmed.

58. And let us know what he did lest silence hide the punishment visited on a certain man who was killed when greed for a field at Chaumont-en-Vexin pertaining to the basilica of St. Eligius invaded him. For when by evil order he was inclined to take an estate from his wealth, the abbot Sparvus of that same church opposed him energetically. And when the invasion had gone on for some time, he finally took the case to the royal palace and accepted judgment from the prince that, if he could take an oath (coniurare) in that holy place, it would vindicate his claim to part of the church. But he preferred that the same evil man who sought to invade it, should confirm his swearing. And when it was judged that the man should discharge his oath with many others according to Frankish law, the abbot himself forgiving that said: "I know that he wickedly invaded it, and therefore I ask, that each of the oath takers be asked, if it pleases God, to claim it by his personal oath." And when he said this, the word pleased the king's optimates and they decreed that it should be so. Thereafter they proceeded to the church of blessed Eligius and entered the place of his burial, awaiting the outcome of the affair. Thus the designated man, taking the business lightly, with importunate audacity placed his hand for the oath on the holy place. In the middle of the vow, he began to tremble and his body violently bent backward, his head twisted on his neck, and soon he fell with gnashing teeth and rolling eyes, his head down and foam issuing from his mouth. And he could say no words but these: "Abbot Sparvus, take your land." So he was struck by Divinity and there, prostrate on the ground, the miserable man met the death he had not feared with fortuitous caution. And all who saw were struck with awe, recognizing that the power there as everywhere came from Christ.

----gap----

61. Modolenus, a certain centenarius, a colonus of the town of Noyon, had a good wife, honest and devout, who once while she was living a quiet life was struck wickedly with a nasty pustule. The decay growing, it lay swollen over her whole body and, the wound growing gradually, only her burial remained for her husband's care. So one morning when the abbot entered the basilica of blessed Eligius for prayer, he met the husband weeping and wailing over his wife. He said that his mate was dead and asked pleadingly that she be buried in the basilica. And when he asked him if she was truly dead: "It remains the same whether she is or soon will be, when now she lies mute and all her body dying." But he hastened swiftly to the sepulchre of the confessor and taking up from it the oily liquor which had poured from it he hurried to the house of mourning. For in the night he had had a vision of Saint Eligius who had ordered him that he should heal the woman of her disease by means of that oily liquor. So entering the house, he saw the corpse lying swollen and cold, among the mourners. And approaching, confident in the saint's order, he anointed the corpse with the oil he brought and said: "This saint Eligius ordered that by the virtue in the name of Christ you shall arise healed of this illness." And immediately the holy oil penetrating her guts, she began to move her eyes and as though waking from a deep sleep she sighed. And then wonderfully, the swelling went down all over her body and she regained her strength and the woman sat up. Without delay, after that all pain fled from her body and not the least swelling remained on her skin and her face became rosy and she arose from her bed blessing and glorifying her creator who had recalled her from death. So healed from this effect, she began to compel them there that day to eat food and would allow no one to leave her house without sitting down and letting her serve them a little meal.

62. One day after this there was a theft in the area of Noyon, and when people sought someone to admit to the crime, a certain youth who gave signs of a guilty conscience was brought to judgment. For at that time the youth was in contention with his father and had attempted to ambush him. Thus when the occasion arose and he had successfully cleared himself of guilt, he began to try to shift it onto his father. All this led to a public dispute between them which involved many others who joined in an examination before the count and bishop. Thus they argued in turn, the son working to reflect calumny on the father and the father, as well as he could, defending himself as innocent of crime, and in this manner they contended before duke and bishop. Thus did we see fulfilled what the Lord predicted long ago in the gospel: "Sons will rise against parents and bear hatred for them." Some of the witnesses favored the son but others held that they could not believe it right for a child to judge a father. And when the altercation between them went on in this way for a long time, and it proved not to be easy to discover a solution, at last the bishop took counsel with the duke. When they could in no way find the truth of the matter, they committed the judgment to the most blessed confessor: "Because we know not whom to believe in this thing, holy Eligius, we commit this judgment to the sentence of God with our prayers." Then, standing together before the holy sepulchre, they awaited God's judgment through an oath. And behold! just as he began to take the oath the young man was seized by a demon and heavily crushed to earth and plucking at himself violently the miserable man was twisted, shaking and spuming and turning white. And all the witnesses were dumbstruck with awe, and they glorified the judgment which came from almighty God. So was it made publicly manifest, and went out from the church. After this, the young man's punishment continued for a long time until many people who sympathized with the wretch went to the father and asked him to pray for him and so all prostrated themselves in the church to the blessed confessor and asked that he would hear them at the judgment and so hear with mercy. And when they persisted for a long time in this prayer, at last by the commiserating grace of Christ the malign infestation fled and the youth was restored to wholeness.

65. One day, with the sun nearing vespers, when the clerics customarily say the vespertine prayers, it happened by an attack of negligence that everyone had gone out of the basilica, each to his own occupations and at that hour the guardians had stationed no one inside. Suddenly a man with a faulty conscience, burning with greed, as a thief in his frenzy grasps a secret friend, swiftly ran to the sepulchre and, looking carefully around here and there, impelled by wicked cupidity, when the miserable man discerned that there was no one present, he did not fear to snatch furtively one of the innumerable golden hangings that ornamented the sepulchre. But when he tried to grab one of the golden chains from which he saw it hanging and violently pulled it to him, it broke and, as soon as he drew it, a pulse of sound gushed out that carried to the guards some way outside, who believed that some great crash had occurred in the church. Whence rushing as fast as they could to the church, they found the thief with his plunder held by the Divinity on the threshold of the basilica, unable to take a single step forward. Surrounding him at that moment where the sound had drawn them, they interrogated him about what he was doing there. Then indeed the wretch, discovered in the midst of his theft, was compelled to reveal what he removed and confess he tried to flee silently but could not lift a foot over the threshold of the basilica. So with shame the thief restored it and asked pardon for his crime with all his heart and then he could move from the place, freely discharged though mercy.

66. One day a certain secular man from a noble family, through guilt or accident, made the prince in every way hostile. Evidently to avenge this mishap, he was led into the palace by princely order to be executed. There his sentence of death was proclaimed. He was meanwhile put for safekeeping with Amalbert, an illustrious man, Count of Noyon. When he had been in his custody some days, one day he understood from the frequent vulgar words of the servants that the capital sentence would be discharged against him on the next day. And hearing that, he feared greatly that he would die and had no hope of escaping. He believed that his only hope was to keep vigil during that night near Saint Eligius. And when, by asking and pleading most ardently, he gained the confessor's mausoleum, he spent the whole night in tears and groans, begging the holy antistes that he might extend his protection to him the next day. And it was done. After the matutinal hymns which the clerk sang by custom, the man suddenly fell into deep sleep, worn out by his sorrow. And behold! suddenly Saint Eligius stood before him, refreshing him with his kindly face, and began to console him, promising to be with the prince on the following day. He swore that the prince would in no way take his life for the fault but having been pardoned, he would return unharmed to his own place. And so it happened. The next day when the man was brought into the prince's court, as the holy man predicted, he was freed and went home rejoicing.

67. The reward of the work is that virtues were not only effected for those who attended upon the sacred body but to others near and far wherever his relics were distributed. Therefore these things which I tell were done in my own monastery. One of the brothers was hurt in the face with a terrible ulcer which the vulgar call a pustule. In that same monastery, there was an oratory in which relics of Saint Eligius has been deposited. Therefore, when the brother lay on his sickbed and the doctor prepared to treat the ulcer by heating an iron, the brother was overcome with fear and urged him to give up that operation with red hot iron. Confiding in the merits of the confessor, he asked that some of the healing oil that hung before the said antistes' relics be brought to him. As soon as it was brought he smeared it on his face and neck with the swelling pustule and, oh wondrous power! after the infusion of that liquor the cancer dried up at the root without the application of any fire and was removed at once so that no vestige or scar remained on the monk's face. I have added that which I know only from hearsay.

68. When blessed Eligius in his secular dress fabricated the tomb of St. Martin in the city of Tours, he lodged in the house of a certain matron outside the walls in the vicus. Naturally, when that woman noted the holy man intent upon his work and knew that he was prompt to all good works, frequent in prayer and most generous for the consolation of the poor, as he truly was, she believed him to be a servant of God. And one day when, as usual, he was being barbered by one of his servants, she seized upon the linen upon which the hair fell in order to collect whatever of his hair and beard she could and hid the linen in her chest. Years passed and the woman almost forgot about the whole thing. But after St. Eligius' death, when the woman lay at night in secret silence, she heard right in her cubicle a celebration of psalling with sweet modulations and when, curious about what this portended, she looked about, she noticed a great radiance luminously shining. And when she had seen it she was terrified with great fear and did not dare to remain that night in her lodging. For at no point could she recall what she had formerly done through faith. Meanwhile she called Ageric, abbot of the basilica of St. Martin, and expounded the case to him in order, weeping that she was unable to rest safely in her house at night. The abbot went to the house in which was the portent and began to inquire of the woman whether something might have been left there by the servant of God, whether she had been given something as a gift or eulogy by that holy man, whether or not she might have taken something sometime from the belongings of the saint. Then indeed, as through a dream, despite the length of time, remembering holy Eligius' hair, she struck her breast often while telling the matter in order, how she had taken some of the shorn hair of the blessed man out of faith. And immediately when the place was scrutinized, those same relics appeared aromatic as with pungent unguents, intact as when she had collected them. And then she cleaned them with liquid and great as was the merit of the antistes so greatly pleasing to God was the faith of that matron so that after the running of so many years in the same place by divine order prodigious miracles were displayed. For I have heard that after in that same house a place of prayer was built by the faithful. And there miracles similar to those at Noyon occurred.

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