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Full text of "The monks of the West : from St. Benedict to St. Bernard"

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The biograjiners of Columba. — His different names. — His royal origin. — lue supreme 
kings of Ireland : the O'Neills and O'Donnells ; Red Hugh. — Birth of Columba; vision 
of his mother. — His monastic education; jealousy of his comrades; Kieran; the two 
Finuians; the school of Clonard. — Vision of the guardian angel and the three brides. 
— The assassin of a virgin struck by deatli at the prayer of Columba. — His youthful 
influence in Ireland; his monastic foundations, especially at Durrow and at Derry; his 
song in honor of Derry. — His love for poetry; his connection with the travelling 
bards. — He was himself a poet, a great traveller, and of a quarrelsome disposition. — 
His passion for manuscripts, i^ougarad of the hairy legs and his bag of books. — Dis- 
pute about the Psalter of Finnian; judgment of King Diarmid, founder of Clonmao- 
noise. — Protest of Columba; he takes to flight, chanting the Hymn of Confidence, and 
raises a civil w.-ir. — Battle of Cul-Dreimhne; the Cathac or Psalter of battle. — Synod 
of Teltown; Columba is excommunicated. — St. Brendan takes part with Columba, 
who consults several hermits, and among others Abban, in the Cell of Tears. — The 
last of his advisers, Molaise, condemns him to exile. — Twelve of his disciples follow 
him; devotion of the young Mochonna. — Contradictory reports concerning the first 
forty years of his life Page 1 



Aspect of the Hebriaean arcnipeiago. — Columba nrst lanas at uronsay, but leaves it 
because Ireland is visible from its shores. — Description of lona. — First buildings of 
the new monastery. — What remains of it. — luithuBiaBm of Johnson on lauding there 



In the eighteenth century. — Columba bitterly regrets his country. — Passionate elegies 
on the pains of exile. — Note upon the poem of Alius. — Proofs in his biography of the 
continuance of that patriotic regret. — The stork comes from Ireland to lona, . Page 24 



Moral transformation of Columba. — His progress in spiritual life. — His humility. — 
His charity. — His preaching by tears. — The hut which formed his abbatial palace at 
lona. — His prayers ; his work of transcription. — His crowd of visitors. — His severity 
in the examination of monastic vocations. — Ai'dus the Black, the murderer of Colum- 
ba's enemy King Diarmid, rejected by the community. — Penance of Libran of the 
Eusbes. — Columba encourages the despairing and unmasks the hypocrites. — Monas- 
tic propaganda of lona; Columba's fifty-three foundations in Scotland. — His relations 
with the people of Caledonia: First with the colony of Dalriadians from Ireland, 
whose king was his relative; he enlightens and confirms their imperfect Christianity. 

— Ambushes laid for his chastity. — His connection with the Picts, who occupied the 
north of Britain. The dorsum BritannicB. — Columba their first missionary. — The 
fortress gates of their king Brudus open before him. — He struggles with the Druids 
in their last refuge. — He preaches by an interpreter. — His respect for natural virtue. 

— Baptism of two old Pictish chiefs. — Columba's humanity : lie redeems an Irish cap- 
tive. — Frequent journeys among the Picts, whose conversion he accomplishes before 
lie dies. — His fellow-workers, Malruve and Drostan; theMonastery of Tears, . Page 34 



Passionate solicitude of Columba for his relatives and countrymen. — He protects King 
Aldan in his struggle with the Anglo-Saxons of Northumbria. — The same king is 
crowned by Columba at lona; the first example of a Christian consecration of kings. 

— The Stone of Destiny : the descendants of A'idan. — Synod or parliament of Drum- 
ceitt in Ireland. — Aedh, king of Ireland, and Aidan, king of the Irish colonists in 
Scotland. — The independence of the new Scottish kingdom is recognized through the 
influence of Columba. — He interposes in favor of the bards, whom the king had pro- 
posed to outlaw. — Power and excesses of that corporation. — By means of Columba, 
the good grain is not burned with the weeds. — The bards' song of gratitude in honor 
of their savior. — Columba, reproved by his disciple, desires that this song should not 
be repeated during his life. — Superstitious regard attached to it after his death. — In- 
timate union between music, poetry, and religion in Ireland. — The bards, transformed 
Into minstrels, are the first champions of national independence and Catholic faith 


against the English conquest. — Fiercely assailed, they yet continue to exist up to our 
own day. — Moore's Irish Melodies. — The Celtic muse at the service of the vanquished 
in the Ilighlands of Scotland as in Ireland, Page 64 



Cordial intercourse of Columba with the Irish princes. — Prophecy upon the future of 
their sons. — Domnall, the king's son, obtains the privilege of dying in his bed. — Co- 
lumba visits the Irish monasteries. — Popular enthusiasm. — Vocation of the young 
Idiot afterwards known as St. Ernan. — Solicitude of Columba for the distant monas- 
teries and monks. — He protects them from excessive labors and accidents. — He exer- 
cises authority over laymen. — Baithen, his cousin-german and principal assistant. — 
The respect shown to both in an assembly of learned men, Page 68 



Bis universal solicitude and charity during all his missionary life. — The eailor-monks : 
seventy monks of lona form the crew of the monastic fleet; their boats made of osiers 
covered with hides. — Their boldness at sea : the whirlpool of Corry vreckan. — Colum- 
ba's prayer protects them against sea monsters. — Their love of solitude leads them 
Into unknown seas, where they discover St. Kilda, Iceland, and the Faroe Isles. — Cor- 
mac in Orkney, and in the icy ocean. — Columba often accompanies them : his voyages 
among the Hebrides. — The wild boar of Skye. — He subdues tempests by his prayer; 
he invokes his friend St. Kenneth. — He is himself invoked during life, and after his 
death, as the arbiter of winds. — Filial complaints of the monks when their prayers are 
not granted. — The benefits which he conferred on the agricultural population disen- 
tangled from the maze of fables: Columba discovers fountains, regulates irrigations 
and fisheries, shows how to graft fruit trees, obtains early harvests, interferes to stop 
epidemics, cures diseases, and procures tools for the peasants. — His special solicitude 
for the monkish laborers : he blesses the milk when it is brought from the cow : his 
breath refreshes them on their return from harvest. — The blacksmith carried to 
heaven by his alms. — His relations with the layman whose hospitality he claims: 
prophecy touching the rich miser who shuts his door upon him. — The five cows of his 
Lochaber host. — The poacher's spear. — He pacifies and consoles all whom he meets. — 
His prophetic threats against the felons and reivers. — Punishment inflicted upon the 
assassin of an exile. — Brigands of royal blood put down by Columba at the risk of his 
life. — He enters into the sea up to his knees to arrest the pirate who had pillaged hla 
friend. — The standard-bearer of Ciesar and the old missionary, . Page 74 





Columba the confidant of the joys and consoler of the sorrows of domestic life.— He 
blesses little Hector with the fair locks. — He prays for a woman in her delivery; ho 
reconciles the wife of a pilot to her husband. — Vision of the saved wife who receives 
her husband in heaven. — He continues his missions to the end of his life. — Visions 
before death. — The Angels' Hill. — Increase of austerities. — Nettle-soup his sole 
food. — A supernatural light surrounds him during his nightly work and prayers. — 
His death is retarded for four years by the prayers of the community. — When this 
respite has expired, he takes leave of the monks at their work ; he visits and blesses 
the granaries of the monastery. — He announces his death to his attendant Diarmid. — 
His farewell to his old white horse. — Last benediction to the Isle of lona; last work 
of transcription ; last message to his community. — Ho dies in the church. — Review of 
bis life and character, Page 06 



His posthumous glory : miraculous visions on the night of his death : rapid extension of 
his worship. — Note upon his supposed journey to Rome, and residence there, in search 
of the relics of St. Martin. — His solitary funeral and tomb at lona. — His translation to 
Ireland, where he rests between St. Patrick and St. Bridget. — He is, like Bridget 
feared by the Anglo-Norman conquerors. — John de Courcy and Richard Strongbow 

— The Vengeance of Columba. — Supremacy of lona over the Celtic churches of Cale 
donia and the north of Ireland. — Singular privilege and primacy of the abbot of Ion 
in respect to bishops. — The ecclesiastical organization of Celtic countries exclusively 
monastic. — Moderation and respect of Columba for the episcopal rank. — He left 
behind him no special rule. — That which he followed differed in no respect from the 
usual customs of the monastic order, which proves the exact observance of all the pre- 
cepts of the Church, and the chimerical nature of all speculations upon the primitive 
Protestantism of the Celtic Church. — But he founded an order, which lasted se vera 
centuries under the title of the Family of Columb-Kill. — The clan and family spirit 
was the governing principle of Scottish monasticism. — Baithen and the eleven first 
successors of Columba at lona were all members of the same race. — The two lines, lay 
and ecclesiastical, of the great founders. — The headquarters of the order transferred 
from lona to Ke lis, one of Columba's foundations in Ireland. — The Coarbs. — Post- 
humous influence of Columba upon the Church of Ireland. — Lex Columcille, — Monas- 
tic Ireland in the seventh century the principal centre of Christian knowledge and piety, 

— Each monastery a school. — The transcription of manuscripts, which had been one of 
Columba's favorite occupations, continued and extended by his family even upon the 
continent. — Historic Annals. — The Festiloge of Angus the Culdee. — Note upon the 
Culdees, and upon the foundation of St. Andrews in Scotland. — Propagation of Irish 
monasticism abroad. — Irish saints and monasteries in France, Germany, and Italy. — 
The Irish saint Cathal venerated in Calabria under the name of San Catatdo, — Mona» 


tic university of Lismore: crowd of foreign students, especially of Anglo-Saxons, in 
Irish monasteries. — Confusion of temporal affairs in Ireland. — Civil vsrars and massa- 
cres. — Notes upon king-monks. — Patriotic intervention of the monks. — Adamnan, 
biographer and ninth successor of Columba, and his Law of the Innocents. — They are 
driven from their cloisters by the English. — Influence of Columba in Scotland. — 
Traces of the ancient Caledonian Church in the Hebrides. — Apostolical mission of 
Kentigern in the country between the Clyde and the Mersey. — His meeting with Co- 
lumba. — His connection with the king and queen of Strath-Clyde. — Legend of the 
queen's ring. — Neither Columba nor Kentigern acted upon the Anglo-Saxons, whB 
continued pagans, and maintained a threatening attitude. — The last bishops of con- 
quered Britain desert their churches, Pag«» 109 





Origin and character of the Anglo-Saxons. — They have not to struggle, like the Franks 
against the Roman decadence. — The seven kingdoms of the Heptarchy. — Institutions, 
social and political: government patriarchal and federal; seigneuryof the proprietors 
the witenagemot or parliament; social inequa^lity, the ceorte and the eoris ; individual 
independence and aristocratic federation; fusion of the two races. — The conquered 
Britons lose the Christian faith. Vices of the conquerors: slavery; commerce in 
human flesh. — The young Angles in the Roman market seen and bought by the monk 
Gregory. — P^lected Pope, Gregory undertakes to convert the Angles by means of the 
monks of his Monastery of Mt. Coelius, under the conduct of the abbot Augustin. — 
Critical situation of the Papacy. — Journey of the missionary monks across Gaul; their 
doubts; letters of Gregory. — Augustin lands at the same spot as Caesar and the Saxon 
conquerors in the Isle of Thanet. — King Ethelbert; the queen, Bertha, already a Chris- 
tian. — First interview under the oalTj ii^lh^lbuil ^I'ants leave to preach. — Entry of the 
missionaries into Canterbury. — The spring-tide of the Church in England. — Baptism 
of Ethelbert. — Augustin Archbishop of Canterbury. — The palace of the king changed 
into a cathedral. — Monastery of St. Augustin beyond the walls of Canterbury.— 
Donation from the king and the parliament, Page 137 



Joy of Gregory on learning the success of the monks. — His letters to Augustin: to the 
patriarch of Alexandria ; to Queen Bertha. — A new monastic colony sent out. — Letter 
to the king. — Advice to Augustin regarding his miracles. — Opinion of Burke.— 


Answer of Gregory to the questions of Augustin. — The Pope's arrangements for the 
heathen ; his admirable moderation. — Supremacy over the British bishops accorded to 
Augustin. — Opposition of the Welsh Celts. — Nature of the dissensions which sep- 
arated the British from the Roman Church. — Celebration of Easter. — Origin and 
insignificance of the religious dispute. — It is increased and complicated by patriotic 
antipathy to the Saxons.— First conference between Augustin and the British. — Mir- 
acle of the blind man. — Second conference; rapture.— The abbot of Bangor. — Au- 
gustin's threatening prediction concerning the monks of Bangor fulfilled by the fierce 
Ethelfrid of Northumbria. — Sequel of Augustin's mission. — He is insulted by the 
fishermen of Dorsetshire. — Foundation of King Ethelbert. — Bishops of London and 
of Rochester. — Laws of Ethelbert; the first reduced to writing. — Guarantee given to 
theChurchproperty. — Death of Gregory and Augustin, Page 161 



Special characteristics of the conversion of England. — All the details of it are known : it 
has neither martyrs nor persecutions ; it has been the exclusive work of Benedictine or 
Celtic monks. — All the Roman missionaries were monks; their monasteries served 
for cathedrals and parish churches. — Laurence, first successor of Augustin. — Mellitua 
at the council of Rome at 610; Pope's letter to Ethelbert; monks of Saxon origin.— 
Efforts of Laurence to reconcile the British ; his letter to the Irish bishops. — Conver- 
sion of the kings of East Anglia and Essex. — Foundation of Westminster; legend of 
the fisher; King Sebert the first to be buried there; monastic burials; Nelson and Wel- 
lington. — Canterbury and Westminster, the metropolis and national necropolis of the 
English, due to the monks. — Death of Bertha and of Ethelbert; the abbot Peter 
drowned. — Eadbald, the new king of Kent, remains a pagan; his subjects, as also the 
Saxons of the East, return to paganism. — Flight of the bishops of London and Roch- 
ester; Archbishop Laurence held back by St. Peter. — Conversion of Eadbald.— 
Apostasy of the kias of East Anglia; he admits Christ among the Scandinavian gods. 
— Mellitus and Justus, the second and third successors of Augustin, Page 187 



Ext«nt and origin of the Anglo-Saxon settlements in Northumbria; thanks to their com- 
patriot Bede, their history is better known than that of the others. — Ida and Ella, 
foimders of the two kingdoms of Deira and Bernicia; Bamborough and the Fair Trai- 
tress. —War of the Northumbrians and Britons: Ethelfrid the Ravager, conqueror of 
the Welsh and of the Scots under Aidan, the friend of St. Columba. — Edwin, repre- 
senting the rival dynasty, a refuge in East Anglia; on the point of being delivered over 
to his enemies, he is saved by the queen; vision and promise, — He becomes king of 
Northumbria and Bretwalda; list of Bretwaldas. — He marries the Christian Ethel- 
burga, daughter of the king of Kent. — Mission of Bishop Paulinus, who accompaniei 


the princess to York. — Influence of women in the conversion of the Saxons. — Fruit- 
less preaching of Paulinus; letters of Boniface V. to the king and queen. — Edwin 
saved from the poniard of an assassin; birth of his daughter; war against the West 
Saxons. — Hesitation of Edwin ; last eflTort of Paulinus. — Edwin promises to accept 
the faith after consulting his parliament. — Speeches of the high priest and of the chief 
captain.— Baptism of Edwin and of his nobility. — Bishopric and monastic cathedral 
of York. — The king and the bishop labor for the conversion of the Northumbrians. — 
General baptism by immersion. — Paulinus to the south of the Humber. — Foundations 
of Southwell and Lincoln.— Consecration of Honorius, fourth successor of Augustiu 
at Canterbury. — Letter of Pope Honorius to the two metropolitans and to King Edwin. 

— Prosperous reign of Edwin. — Conversion of East Anglia ; foundation of Edinburgh j 
conquest of Anglesea; public security; the woman and the foster-child; the copper 
cups ; the tufa of the Bret walda. — League of the Saxons and Britons of Mercia against 
the Saxons of Northumbria: Cadwallon and Penda.— Edwin is killed. — Flight of 
Paulinus and Ethelburga. — Overthrow of Christianity in Northumbria and East Anglia, 

— Check of the Roman missionaries; their virtues and their faults. — There remain to 
them only the metropolis and the abbey of St. Augustin at Canterbury, which continue 
to be the two citadels of Roman influence, Page 201 





The Celtic monks revive, in Northumbria, the work of conversion abandoned by the 
Roman monks. — Oswald, son of Ethelfrid, the Ravager, an exile among the Scots, ia 
baptized according to the Celtic' rite.— He returns to Northumbria, plants there the 
first cross, and gains the battle of Denisesburn over the Mercians and Britons.— He 
reigns over the whole of Northumbria, and makes it the predominant power in the 
Anglo-Saxon Confederation. His desire to convert his kingdom to Christ. — The 
Italian deacon, James, keeps Christianity alive in Deira; but in Bernicia everything 
has yet to be. — Oswald begs for missionaries from the Celtic monasteries.- Failure 
of the first missionary from lona: he is succeeded by Ai'dan. — Bede's eulogy of the 
Abbots of lona. — The religious capital of the north of England is fixed in the monastic 
isle of Lindisfarne : description of that island: its resemblance to lona. — Authority of 
the abbots of Lindisfarne even over the bishops. — Virtues of the monk-bishop Ai'dan : 
his disinterestedness : his care of children and slaves. — King Oswald acts as assistant 
and interpreter to the missionary A'l'dan. — Oswald marries the daughter of the King 
of Wessex, and converts his father-in-law. — Note regarding the local and provincial 
opposition of the monks of Bardeney. — 'War with Penda, chief of the coalition of the 
Britons and Mercians. — Battle of Maserfeld : Oswald is killed there at the age of thirty- 
eight.— Venerated as a martyr. — Miracles wrought at his tomb. — Prediction of 
Bishop Aldan with regard to his hand Page 231 




Oswald's successors in Northumbria : Oswy in Bernicia; Oswin in De'ira. — Oswin's inti- 
macy with Bishop Aidan. — The son of the mare and the son of God. — New outrages 
of Penda. — Aidan stops the burning of Bamborough. — Struggle between Oswy and 
Oswin. — Murder of Oswin. — Death of Aidan twelve years after his friend. — Tha 
double monastery of Tynemouth, built above the tomb of Oswin. — The wife of tha 
murderer dedicates a monastery to the expiation of the murder. — Reign of Oswy, who 
was venerated as a saint, notwithstanding his crime, because of his zeal for the truth. 

— Successors of Aidan at Lindisfarne, sent by the monks of lona. — Episcopate of the 
Scot Finan. — He builds the Cathedral of Lindisfarne of wood. — Caiman, second suc- 
cessor. — Novitiate at Melrose. — The young Anglo-Saxons go to study in Ireland. — 
The female monasteries of Northumbria. — He'ia, the first nun. — Hartlepool. — Ai'dan 
gives the veil to Hilda, princess of Deira: her rule of thirty years at Whitby. — De- 
scription of the place. — The six bishops who issued from the double monastery. Cead- 
rnon, the cowherd, vassal of Hilda; the first Anglo-Saxon poet; precursor of Milton, 
he sings the Paradise Lost; his holy life and death. —The Princess Ebba, of the rival 
dynasty, sister of Oswald and Oswy, foundress and Abbess of Coldingham : she also 
rules for thirty years. — Notable disorders in her monasteries. — Ferv.or and austerity 
of the Northumbrian monks: extraordinary fasts : different characteristics of Lindis- 
farne, Coldingham, and Melrose. — A precursor of Dante. — Foundation of Lastingham : 
Cedd, monk of Lindisfarne. — Testimony borne by the Romano-Benedictine Bede to the 
virtue, disinterestedness, and popularity of the Celtic missionaries. — Nevertheless, 

^resistance and opposition are not awanting. — Contrast and fickleness of character in 
the kings as in the people. — Joy of the natives of the coast on seeing the monks ship- 
wrecked, Page 246 



Influence of the three Northumbrian Bretwaldas and their Celtic clergy on the other 
kingdoms of the Heptarchy. 

t. East Anglia. — Vicissitudes of Christianity. — The king, converted by Edwin, is 
assassinated. — His brother, excited in France, returns a convert with the missionary 
bishop, Felix. — The king and the bishop evangelize East Anglia. — Supposed origin 
of Cambridge. — The Irish monk, Pursy, assists in their work. — The visions which 
make him a forernnner of Dante. — King Sigebert becomes a monk ; he issues from liis 
cloister to fight, armed with a staff, against Penda; ind dies on the field of battle. — A 
king-monk among the Cambrians perishes in the same way fighting against the Saxons. 

— Anna, the successor of Sigebert, is, like him, killed by Penda. 

2. Wessex. — Christianity is brought hither by King Oswald and the Italian bishop 
Birinus.- Oswald, son-in-law and godfather of the King of the West Saxons. — Pop 


ular rerses about Birlnus. — The son of the first Christian king, who had contlnned a 
heathen, and had been dethroned by Penda, is converted during exile; re-established 
In Wessex, he summons thither as bishop a Frank who had been educated among the 
Celts, but afterwards desires a bishop acquainted with Anglo-Saxon. — Foundation of 
Malmesbury and of Winchester. — An English abbot at Glastonbury. — The Anglo 
Saxons begin to occupy the episcopal sees. — A West Saxon becomes the first English 
Archbishop of Canterbury. — Ercombert, King of Kent, destroys the idols. 

•. Essex. — King Oswy converts his friend Sigebert, King of Essex, baptized by Finan 
In the villa of the Northumbrian king. — A monk of Lindisfarne becomes Bishop of 
London. — The first Christian king of Essex killed by his cousin, because he is too 
ready to forgive. — The first bishop dies of the plague, and thirty of his friends go to 
die on his tomb. — Relapse of the East Saxons into idolatry. — A new king and a new 
bishop, educated by the Celts, bring them back to the faith. 

t. Mercia. — Influence of the King of Northumbria and of the Bishop of Lindisfarne on 
the conversion of the Mercians. — The son of King Oswy, married to a daughter of the 
King of Mercia, converts the brother of his wife, and marries him to his sister. — The 
Celtic missionaries in Mercia. — Unexpected tolerance of the ferocious Penda towards 
his son and his converted subjects. But he continues his devastations in Northumbria. 
^ Last conflict between him and Oswy. — Battle of Winwae'd. — Defeat and death of 
Penda, the last hero of Saxon Paganism. — Oswy offers his daughter to God in acknowl- 
edgment of the victory, and founds twelve monasteries. — Final triumphs of the Nor- 
thumbrians and of Christianity. — Conquest and conversion of Mercia. — Its first five 
bishops issue from Celtic cloisters. — Opposition of the monks of Bardeney to the wor 
ship of St. Oswald. — The Mercians, revolting against the Northumbrians, nevertheless 
remain Cliristians. 

Summary. — Of eight Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, one only is exclusively converted by the 
Roman missionaries; four are converted by the Celtic monks alone; and two by the 
combined action of the Celts and of bishops sent from Rome, — Sussex alone remains 
to be won, where a Celtic colony resides without influence, Page 276 


DICTINE ORDER, 634-709. 



Birth and early years of Wilfrid. — Note on his biographer Eddi. — Protected by the 
Queen of Northumbria, he enters at Lindisfarne, then goes to Rome, where no Anglo- 
Saxon had yet been. — He passes by Canterbury and stops at Lyons, where he separatei 
from his companion Benedict Biscop, and where the archbishop wishes to give him hi* 
niece in marriage. — Wilfrid at Rome. — In returning by Lyons he receives the Romisii 


tonsure and escapes, against his will, from martyrdom. — Returned to England, he be 
comes the intimate friend of Alchfrid, son of King Oswy. — New monastery founded 
at Rivion, from whence the monks of the Celtic rituaV are expelled. — Popularity of 
Wilfrid. — He is ordained priest by a French bishop. — Southern Ireland had already 
adopted the Romish computation for the celebration of Easter. — The dispute on this 
question revived by Wilfrid in Northumbria, and division of the royal family. — The 
King Oswy follows the Celtic ritual ; his wife and son that of Rome. — Importance 
and nature of the Pascal difference. — Moderation of the Romish Church throughout 
the dispute. — A rivalry of influence mingles with the ritualistic dispute. — Assembly 
of Whitby , convoked by the king to end the controversy ; composition of the assembly : 
the two chambers : principal persons ; on the side of the Celts, the Abbess Hilda and 
her two communities, the Bishops of Lindisfarne and London; on the side of Rome, 
the young King Alchfrid, the old deacon James, and Wilfrid. — The authority of Co- 
lumba unwisely invoked. — '^'he king pronounces for the Romish Easter, and the as- 
sembly ratifies his decision. — Bishop Colman protests, abdicates, and returns to lona, 
carrying with him the bones of his predecessor St. A'idan, the Celtic apostle of Nor- 
thumbria, Page 303 



Colman founds a half-Saxon, half-Celtic monastic colony in Ireland. — He is succeeded 
in Northumbria by the Anglo-Saxon Eata as prior of Lindisfarne, and by Tuda, an 
Irishman converted to the Romish ritual, as bishop. — Dedication of the great Monas- 
tery of Peterborough, founded by the Christian descendants of Penda, the last Pagan 
leader; at which Mercians and Northumbrians, Celts and Romanists, are present 
together; speech of King Wulphere. — Pestilence of 664 ; death of Tuda; Wilfrid elected 
Bishop of Northumbria. — Treating the Anglo-Saxon bishops as schismatics, he goes 
to be consecrated by the Bishop of Paris at Compifegne, and removes his see from Lin 
disfarne to York. — On his return he is shipwrecked on the coast of Sussex, and fights 
with the natives. — Celtic reaction against Wilfrid; King Oswy replaces him during 
his absence by an Irish abbot, Ceadda. — Sanctity and popularity of Ceadda. — The 
Northumbrians obnerve the decree of Whitby as to the celebration of Easter, but refuse 
to retain Wilfrid as bishop — He retires to his Monastery of Ripon. — He resides with 
the Kings of Mercia and of Kent. — He assists the holy Queen Ermenilda in completing 
the conversion of the Mercians. — He introduces the Gregorian chant and the Benedic- 
tine rule into Northumbria. — The Kings of Kent and Northumbria leave to the Pope 
the choice of the new metropolitan of Canterbury. — The Pope chooses a Greek monk 
Theodore, and associates with him Adrian, an African, and the Anglo-Saxon Benedict 
Biscop. — They are all three seized on their way by Ebroin, but released, — The pontifi- 
cate of St. Theodore, the first metropolitan recognized by all England. — He re-estab- 
lishes Wilfrid in the see of York, who makes Ceadda bishop of the Mercians. — Holy 
and peaceful death of Ceadda, — Theodore and Adrian visit all England. — Theodore's 
AccleBiaBtical legislation; bis book of penance. — He consecrates the Celtic Cathedra/ 


of LindlBfarne. — He creates the parochial system as it now exists, and holds the first 
Anglo-Saxon council at Hertford. — He failg in increasing the number of bishoprics, 
but introduces the Benedictine order into the monasteries. — Literary development of 
the English monasteries due to Theodore and Adrian. — The Church of England ia 
constituted, and the English nation becomes a lever in the hands of the Papacy, . Page 228 


Wilfrid, reduced to a subordinate position, reconciles himself to King Oswy, who dies 
after a prosperous reign of twenty-eight years. — Extension of Northumbrian domina- 
tion, and of Wilfrid's jurisdiction towards the north. — At the commencement of the 
new reign, alliance between him and King Egfrid, who triumphs both in the insurrec- 
tion of the Picts and the invasion of the Mercians. — Episcopal virtues and austerities 
of Wilfrid. — His confirmation journeys ; the child resuscitated. — Wilfrid's monasteries 
become centres of public education. — Services which he renders to the arts; music, 
spread of the Gregorian chant. — Great architectural works at York, at Ripon, and 
especially at Hexham, where he builds the finest church on this side the Alps on land 
given by Queen Etheldreda. — Connection of Wilfrid with Etheldreda, the first and 
most popular of English female saints. — Her origin and connections. — Twice married, 
she succeeds in consecrating her virginity to God. — Wilfrid encourages her in her 
resistance to King Egfrid, and gives her the veil at Coldingham; Egfrid pursues her. 
— She flies to Ely. — Legends of her journey. — Foundation and monastic life at Ely.— 
The major-domo Owen. — Wilfrid continues to advise Etheldreda, — His quarrel with 
Egfrid provoked by the new queen, Ermenburga. — The Archbishop Theodore inter- 
feres in their disputes. — He deposes Wilfrid, and divides his diocese into three new 
bishoprics, which he confides to Celtic monks. — Wilfrid appeals to Rome. — The saints 
and great abbots of his country reniain indifferent or hostile. — Strange ignorance of 
ecclesiastical right, even among the saints, Page 355 



Wilfrid himself carries his cause to Rome. — A storm lands him in Friesland, where ho 
evangelizes the people. — He thus becomes the first of the Anglo-Saxon apostles of 
Germany. — Generosity of the King of the Frisians and King of the Lombards, both 
of whom refuse to deliver him up to Ebroin. — Wilfrid in Austrasia: Dagobert II.— 
Wilfrid at Rome. — Theodore and Hilda denounce him to the Pope St. Agathon. — Hit 
cause is tried by a council at which the Pope presides. — He obtains justice; but the 
principle of the division of dioceses is mamtained, aud the authority of the primate 
confirmed. Wilfrid hears at Rome of the death of Etheldreda.— He is present at th« 
Council against the Monothelites, and bears witness to the faith of all the Churches of 
VOL. II. b 


the British Isles. — He returns to England with the Papal charter for Peterborough.— 
He is repulsed by the king and assembly of the Northumbrians, and then imprisoned. 
— Connivance of Archbishop Theodore. — Wilfrid refuses to treat with the king. — He 
is put in irons at Dunbar: afterwards delivered by the intervention of the Abbess Edda 
of Coldingham, but exiled. — Obliged to leave Mercia and Wessex, where the brothers- 
in-law of Egfril reign, he takes refuge among the Saxons of the South, whom he con- 
verts to Christianity. — He teaches them to fish with nets, and frees the serfs on the 
domains of his new Abbey of Selsey. — His connection with the proscribed Ceadwalla, 
who becomes King of Wessex, and afterwards dies at Rome. — Theodore again dis- 
poses of the diocese of Wilfrid: St. Cuthbert is made bishop of Lindisfame. — King 
Egfrid ravages Ireland cruelly : in spite of the entreaties of Bishop Cuthbert he invades 
Caledonia, and perishes there. — Queen Ermenburga, informed by Cuthbert of the death 
of her husband, becomes a nun. — Consequences of the defeat of Egfrid. — The Saxon 
bishop of the Picts takes refuge at Whitby, where Elfleda, sister of Egfrid, had euc- 
oeeded Hilda.— Archbishop Theodore acknowledges his faults towards Wilfrid: he 
wishes to choose him as his successor : writes in his favor to the King of the Mercians 
and to the Abbess Elfleda. — Connection of Elfleda with Bishop Cuthbert. — Aldfrid, 
long an exile at lona, becomes King of Northumbria. — Wilfrid is recalled and re-estab- 
lished in his diocese. — Storms raised by him at Lindisfame, which he abandons to 
another bishop. — Death of Archbishop Theodore, Page 378 


Eupture of Wilfrid with King Aldfrid. — New accusations against Wilfrid. — He is exiled 
the second time. — He is received by the King of Mercia, who gives him the bishoprio 
of Lichfield. — He there lives eleven years in tranquil obscurity. — Theodore's successor 
hostile to Wilfrid, as also Abbot Adrian. — Assembly of Nesterfield. — Degrading pro- 
posals made to Wilfrid; he rejects them. — His speech. — He appeals to Rome. — Pre- 
cocious talent of the Anglo-Saxons in diplomacy and despotism. — King Ethelred of 
Mercia remains faithful to Wilfrid. — The monks of Ripon are excommunicated. — Wil- 
frid's third voyage to Rome. — Contrast with the first. — Pope John VI. — The trial 
lasts four months, and occupies seventy sittings. — Wilfrid is acquitted. — Returning 
to England, he falls ill at Meaux.— His friend Acca. — His life is prolonged in answer 
to the prayers of his monks. — He is reconciled to the archbishop. — He goes to visit 
his faithful friend Ethelred, now become a monk at Bardeney. — Aldfrid, King of Nor- 
thumbria, refuses to recognize the sentence of the Holy See. — He dies. — His successor 
expels Wilfrid within six days, but is himself dethroned. — National assembly on the 
banks of the Nid. — The Abbess Elfleda and the Ealdorman Bertfrid interpose on behalf 
of Wilfrid. — General reconciliation. — The Monasteries of Ripon and Hexham given 
np to him. — Influence of Anglo-Saxon princesses on the destiny of Wilfrid . Page 41 1 



Wilfrid's illness assembles all the abbots of his monasteries about him, — He divides his 
treasures : his farewell to the monks of Ripon. — His last journey to Mercia. — He con- 
secrates the Church of Evesham monastery. — Bishop Egwin of Worcester and the 
smiths.^ Vision of the three virgins in the forest. — Simon de Montfort, creator of the 
House of Commons, buried at Evesham. — Wilfrid narrates all his life to his successor 
Tatbert. — His death. — His funeral at Ripon. — His worship and his miracles. — He 
appears with St. Cuthbert to relieve Hexham against the Scots : the Christian Dioscuri. 

— His banner appears at the battle of the Standard. — Services which he rendered tc 
the monastic order, to the Church of England, to the universal Church, to the Eng-Iish 
nation. (Note on the Culdees of York.) — He begins that long succession of pontiff- 
confessors which has no rival out of the Church of England. — His character, . Page 43-1 




ST. CUTHBERT. — 637-687. 

Contrast between Wilfrid and the saints of the Northumbrian coast. — His glory eclipsed 
by that of Cuthbert. — Childhood of Cuthbert, a shepherd on the Scottish borders.— 
He becomes a novice at Melrose. — He evangelizes the Scottish marches. (Note upon 
the Monastery of Dull, cradle of the University of St, Andrews.) — His austerities : his 
baths: legend of the otters, — He goes from Melrose to Ripon, from which he is 
expelled by Wilfrid, along with all the Celtic monks. — He becomes prior at Lindis- 
farne, where he establishes the customs of Rome and the Benedictine rule. — His life 
at Lindisfarne in its cloistral and in its external aspect. — His extreme modesty. — He 
becomes a hermit in a cave of the Isle of Fame. — Popular traditions concerning this 
portion of his life. — The birds of St. Cuthbert, and the beads of his chaplet. — His 
charity towards the crowd of penitents who sought him there. — His hospitality. — His 
humility. — King Egfrid takes him from his rock to make him Bishop of Lindisfarne. 

— He continues both monk and missionary during his short episcopate. — His com- 
passion for the su-fferings of his penitents. — The mad countess. — The mother consoled. 

— His affection for his foster-mother, for Queen Etheldreda, and the great abbesses 
Ebba of Coldingham and Elfleda of Whitby. (Note upon the exclusion of women ft ctQ 
his monastery.) — His last visit to the Abbess Verca. — He returns to his rock to die. 

— The abbess's shroud. — Last exhortations of Cuthbert: his death. — His closest 
friend dies at the same hour on the same day. — Their annual interview upon the rocls 
of Fame. — Great and lasting popularity of his memory. — Translation of his rolics to 


Durham. — Magnificence and wealth of that cathedral, after 1 itledo the richest in the 
world. — Right of asylum. — Efficacy of his protection to t'.ie oppressed. — Alfred, 
Canute, and William the Conqueror. — The independence, almost sovereign, of Cuth- 
bert's successors under the Anglo-Norman monarchy. — He is invoked by the English 
against the Scottish invasions. — Battle of Neville's Cross. — His banner appears for 
the last time in the insurrection of the North against Henry VIII. — It is profaned and 
burned with his body. — His popularity at sea. — The sailor-monks. — Cuthbert, while 
a child, saw them like sea-birds on the waves. — His appearance to sailors in danger. — 
The hermit Ethelwold prays for the shipwrecked. — Grace Darling, the Christian 
beroine of these islands in the nineteenth century, Page 455 




Benedict Biscop represents science and art, as Wilfrid represents public, and Cuthbert 
spiritual, life. — His birth and conversion. — His four first expeditions to Rome. — He 
gains the heart of King Egfrid. — Foundation of Wearmouth. — He brings masons and 
glassmakers from France. — His fifth and sixth visits to Rome, from which he brings 
back many relics, books, and pictures. — Important works of painting in the new mon- 
asteries. — A Roman abbot teaches liturgical music to all the Northumbrian monasteries, 
and assures himself of the orthodoxy of the English clergy in respect to the heresy of 
the Monothelites. — Foundation of Yarrow. — Fraternal union of the two monasteries 
in imitation of their patrons Saints Peter and Paul. — Benedict takes his nephew Easter- 
■rtrine as his coadjutor. — The occupations of a Saxon noble transformed into a monk. — 
Death of Easterwine. — Severe illness of Benedict. — His last injunctions. — His touch- 
ing death by the side of his dying coadjutor. — After him Ceolfrid, the son of an ealdor- 
man, disciple of Wilfrid and Botulph, governs the two monasteries. — History of 
Botulph, the founder of Boston and apostle of the Benedictine order. — Ceolfrid, as 
abbot, takes great pains to increase the libraries. — He makes an exchange of a book 
for an estate with the King of Northumbria. — His desire to die at Rome. — Grief of 
the six hundred monks who accompanied him to the spot where he embarked. — Their 
letter to the Pope. — He is able to go only as far as Langres, where he dies. — How 
Christianity taught the barbarous Saxons to love each other, Page 493 



The king of the Picts requests Ceolfrid to send him architects, and arguments in favor 
of Roman unity. — Answer of Ceolfrid, in which he quotes from Plato.— The Pi eta 
abandon the Celtic peculiarities. — The monks of lona leave their monasteries rather 
than adopt the Roman ritual. —Their abbot, Adaranan, biographer of Columba, and the 
lust great personage of the Celtic Church. — His relations with King Aldfrid and the 


Abbot Ceolfrid. — He attempts in vain to lead the monks of lona back to Uonian rule, 
but has more success in Ireland, where he dies. — lona is brought back to Catholic 
unity by the Anglo-Saxon Egbert, the head of a colony of Saxon monks in Ireland. — 
His austere and holy life. — He loses his most intimate friend, who reproaclies him for 
desiring- to survive him. — He uses his influence with the Anglo-Saxons to send them 
as missionaries to Germany. — After thirteen years' struggle, ho overcomes the resist- 
ance of lona, and dies on the very day when the feast of Easter is celebrated by both 
parties together. — Ireland and Caledonia having been thus brought back to Catholic 
unity, only the Britons of Cambria and Cornwall remain outside its pale, by reason of 
their national antipathy far the Saxon conquerors. — Note upon Bede's injustice to them, 

— Attempt of St. Aldhelm to bring them in. — His royal birth, and education — half 
Celtic, half Roman — at Malmesbury and Canterbury. — He becomes Abbot of Malmcs- 
bury. — His literary fame greater than his merit; his vernacular songs; intellectual 
development of Anglo-Saxon cloisters. — Extent and variety of his studies. — His con- 
tinual solicitude for souls, — His great monastic character. — His zeal for preaching. — 
He interferes in favor of Wilfrid. — He goes to Rome to obtain the privilege of exemp- 
tion for Jlalmesbury, the monks of which persist in retaining him as abbot, even after 
his promotion to the episcopate. — Anecdote about the importation of Bibles. — Death 
of Aldhelm. — His exertions for bringing back Celtic dissenters. — His letter to the 
King of Cornwall. — The Britons of Cambria, who had resisted all the efi'orts of Roman 
and Saxon missionaries, adopt the Roman ritual by the influence of one of their own 
bishops. — Their pilgrimages to Rome. — End of the struggle. — Opinion of Mabillon. 

— Resistance proportioned to the dangers which beset the special nationality. — Union 
the work of Benedictines. — In the Britannic Isles, as among the Gauls, Celtic monas- 
ticism conquered and eclipsed by the Benedictine order, Page 511 



The entire history of this period is summed up in the Venerable Bede. — His works. — 
Encyclopaedical character of his genius. — His theological and scientific writings ; hJ8 
love for the classics. — His History of the English. —His scrupulous care to prove its 
truth. — His soul. — The love of virtue and truth evident in all his writings. — He is 
himself the type of the noble lives he records. — His life passed entirely in the cloister 
of Yarrow.— He is spared in his youth by the pestilence which carries off the whole 
community except himself and his abbot.— His difl'erent masters; his diligence in 
work. — His extensive connections. — His friendship with Abbot Ae<?a. — His works 
on Holy Scripture, — His celebrated letter to Bishop Egbert of York upon the abuses 
of ecclesiastical government and monastic life. — His bold freedom does not diminish 
his authority. — He is accused of heresy in popular drinking songs. — His intimacy 
with the monks of Lindisfarne. — Narrative of his death by an eye-witness. — His wor- 
ship and his relics. — Contrast between the country he lived in and the actual condition 
of Northumberland, ..... Page £48 

xviii CONTENTS. 



The stai of Northumbrla pales, notwithstanding the erection of the see of York into an 
archbishopric. — Sad end of the lineage of Oswy.— King Ceolfrid, to whom Bede ded- 
icates his History becomes a monk at Lindisfarne. — His successor Eadbert follows 
bis example. — Other monk-kings. — Almost each dynasty of the Heptarchy furnishes 
its share; in East Anglia, Sigebert, who dies on the field of battle ; in Essex, Sebbi, 
who leads back his people to the faith — his desire to die in solitude; and Ofl'a, who 
dies at Rome; in Mercia, which inherited the preponderating power of Northumbria, 
Ceonred, the travelling companion and fellow-novice of Oifa; Ethelred, founder, monk, 
and abbot of Bardeney. — Another Mercian king, Ceolred, dies in a debauch. —Ethel- 
bald, pursued by Ceolred, takes refuge in the marsh of Croyland with the hermit Guth- 
lac, who predicts to him that he will be King of Mercia. — What Guthlac had been 
before he became an anchorite. —His solitary life resembles those of some of the most 
illustrious saints in the monastic order. — Death of Guthlac. — Foundation of the cele- 
brated Abbey of Croyland upon the site of his cell. — Continuation and end of the reign 
of Ethelbald. — Remonstrances of the Anglo-Saxon missionaries in Germany. — The 
supremacy passes from Mercia to Wessex. — Three West Saxon kings abdicate to 
become monks or pilgrims to Rome: Centwin; Ceadwalla, the friend of Wilfrid, who 
lives just long enough to be baptized by the Pope; and Ina the friend of St. Aldhelm. 
— Reign of Ina, the legislator, victor, and pacificator of the Britons; restorer of the 
Celtic sanctuary of Glastonbury, the first protector of St. Boniface. — In consequence 
of a surprise prepared for him by his wife, he goes to Rome as a penitent to die, and 
'founds the Schola Saxonum, there. — Crowd of Anglo-Saxon pilgrims of both sexes to 
Rome, — Abuses and disorders. — False monks and false pilgrims, — The age of gold 
a chimera in the Church as elsewhere, Page 675 




The conversion and religious organization of England entirely the work of monks. — 
Their patience and perseverance ; letter of Bishop Daniel to the missionary Boniface ; 
no violence; mildness and toleration. — Their influence over the nature they had con- 
verted; evil survives, but the good outweighs it. — Alliance between the Church and 
secular society, without the exclusive preponderance of either. — These apostolic monks 
were no longer fathers of the desert, but the creators of a Church and nation. — Towns 
grow up around the gr eat co mmunities. — Tbfijaeaaaiailas give riaeJfLcatilfidijEils aja,d . 
parishes. — Propagation of the Benedictine order. — Protection assured to the mouastio 
order by the Councils of Beccancelde and Cloveshove. — Religious Instruction in the 
national tongue. — Musical liturgy. — Crosses in the open ur. — Services rendered ta 


edncation by monasteries and monastic bishops. — St. John of Beverley. — Fondness 
of the Anglo-Saxon students for horsemanship. — Services rendered to agriculture.— 
Position of the monks as landlords. — Close alliance between the monastic order and 
the Anglo-Saxon aristocracy. — Intervention in political matters. — Tlieir place in the 
national councils. — Authority, composition, and powers of these councils. — The dis- 
tinction between the temporal and spiritual is not forgotten. — Influence of monks in 
these assemblies, and through them on laws and manners. — They contribute to the 
formation of that national unity which, since the ninth century, has never been dis- 
turbed.— ^TJyElii-dev-«tion, to the cause of the poor: expiiition for the sins of the rich 
gives rise to public almsgiving. — Their zeal for the liberation of slaves; contest between 
an archbishop and an abbot for a young captive. — The rights of man as well as those 
of God vindicated by the monks throughout the history of their conquest of England. 
— Religion is too often left defenceless, but her ministers respect honor and the free- 
dom of thought in regard to the things of God. — The monastic missionaries perfect 
the national character without changing it; the spirit of the Saxons still lives in mod- 
ern England; modern liberty, self-government, and parliamentary rule are rooted in 
the Saxon times. — Conformity of monastic rules with the tone of Anglo-Saxon insti- 
tutions. — Splendor and prodigality of the aristocracy. — Motives of their gifts. — 
Abuse of their grants of land. — Folc-land and boc-land. — Monastic possessions 
exempt from military service and from taxes. — Public danger remarked by Bede. — 
Repression of many abuses by the Council of Cloveshove; it decrees against monastic 
luxury and wealth, and against the false ideas prevalent as to almsgiving. — The 
monastic riches arising from the munificence of kings and nobles soon excite envy ; 
fluctuations and oppressions noticed by St. Boniface; necessity of a limit which might 
be imposed by the Church herself on the increase of monastic possessions. — Their 
value forms a pretext for spoliation and heresy. — Lacordaire and Mabillon. — A Span- 
ish Benedictine martyred in 1608. — Before reaching this point England becomes the 
home of Christian propagandism and the instructress of the Teutonic races. — At the 
death of Bede, Boniface is already the apostle of Germany, . ........ , Page 599 




Convents of women as numerous and important as the monasteries of men, — Important 
position of women among the Teutonic races. — Contrast with the Romans of the Em- 
pire. — Among the Anglo-Saxons, descendants of the Cimbri, the influence of women 
even greater and happier than in other nations. — Importance of dynastic alliances.— 
Anglo-Saxon queens. 

The Teutonic barbarians, though less corrupt than the Romans, nevertheless required an 
immense effort of the Christian apostles to conquer their sensual excesses. — Th« 
debt owed by women to Christianity. — The Church could only emancipate women by 
the ideal of Christian virginity. — This virginity nowhere more honored than among 


the Anglo-Saxons. — Influence and authority of abbesses. They appear in the national 
councils. — Ceremonial of the solemn benediction of a nun. 


Anglo Saxon queens and princesses in the cloister. — The first nuns trained in France, 
at Faremoutier, Jouarre, and Chelles. — Saint Botulph and the two East Anglian 
princesses at Chelles. 

Each dynasty of the Heptarchy supplies its share of virgins, wives, and widows. 

The Northumbrian nuns already well known, except Bega. — Legend of this princess, an 
Irishwoman by birth. — Perpetual confusion of history and tradition. 

Ti^e yiscinjrs, or princesses of the Kentish dynasty. — Ethelburga, Queen of Northumbria, 
afterwards foundress of Lyminge. — Her sister Eadburga, and her niece Earnswida, 
foundress of Folkestone. — The legend of Domneva and her brothers. — The hind's 
run in the Isle of Thanet. — Great popularity of St. Mildred. — Legend of the box on 
the ear. — Mildred's sisters. — Milburga and the dead child. 

The Mercian princesses. — The race of the cruel Penda furnished the greatest number 
of saints and nuns. — Three of his daughters nuns, and four of his granddaughters 

The Uffings of East Anglia. — The three daughters of King Anna who fell in battle. — 
Withburga and her community fed on hind's milk. — Three generations of saints of 
the race of Odin at Ely, which had for its three first abbesses a Queen of Northumbria, 
a Queen of Kent, and a Queen of Mercia. — Wereburga, the fourth sainted Abbess of 
Ely, and the shepherd of Weedon. 

Nuns of the race of Cerdic in Wessex; the wife and sisters of King Ina. — St. Cuthburga, 
foundress of Winbourne. — The monastery of Fride8wida,.a West Saxon princess, ia 
the cradle of the University of Oxford: the kiss of the leper. 


Literary, biblical, and classical studies among the Anglo-Saxon nuns — chiefly at Bark- 
ing, under Abbess Hildelida. — St. Aldhelm addresses to them his Eulogy of Virginity ', 
his letters to other nuns. — Winbourne, another centre of intellectual activity. — ; 
Abbess Tetta and her five hundred nuns; the novices dance on the tomb of their 



Winbourne, a double monastery. — Origin of these singular institutions. — They flour- 
ished chiefly in the Irish colonies in Gaul; from thence introduced into England. — A 
monastery of men joined to every great abbey of women, and always governed by the 
abbess. — Interdicted by Archbishop Theodore. — The double monasteries disappeared 
after the Danish invasion; resemblance to the boys' schools managed by young girlij 
in the United States. — In the seventh and eighth centuries no disorders are remarked 
in them except at Coldingham. — What were the abuses of the Anglo-Saxon cloisters. 
— Splendor of dress; attempts upon the modesty of the nuns foreseen and punished by 
Anglo-Saxon legislation. — Decrees of Archbishop Theodore and Egbert against th* 
criminal relations of the clergy with nuns; their importance should not be exag 



The letters of St. Boniface contain the surest accounts of the state of bouU in the Anglo- 
Saxon cloisters. — All there was not calm and happiness. — Tender and impassioned 
character of the letters addressed by the nuns to Boniface and his companions. — The 
not less affectionate answers of the missionaries. — The three Buggas and the two 
Eadburgas. — Earnest desire to make pilgrimages to Rome. — Grievances of the Abbess 
Eangytha and her daughter, — How St. Lioba became connected with St. Boniface. — 
Other letters written to the saint by his friends : Cena, Egburga. - Lamcntatior of a 

uun for the absence of her brother. 


Excesses of feeling vanish before death, but death itself does not put an end to the sweet 
friendships of the cloister. — St. Galla. — Hilda and her friend ; Ethelburga and her 
friend ; the daughters of Earl Puch. — Visions of light. — The daughter of the King of 
Kent and the lay sister at Faremoutier.- The shining shroud at Barking; the extin- 
guished lamp. 


History has preserved only these names, but many others have disappeared after glorify- 
ing the Church and their country. — Masculine character of these Anglo-Saxon nuns: 
their monastic ideal unites the types of man, woman, and child. 

Conclusion. — The whole ancient Catholic world has perished except the army of sacri- 
fice. — Number and endurance of contemporary vocations Page 645 


I. lONA, Page 7.37 




V. HEXHAM Page 75i 





KINGS OF KENT, Page 754 








'• I Bend thee unto the Gentiles, to open their eyes, and to tarn them from darkness t« 
light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of 
sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified." — Acts xxvi. 18. 



The biographers of Columba. — His different names. — His royal origiD. 

— The supreme kings of Ireland : the O'Neills and O'Donnells ; Red 
Hugh. — Birth of Columba ; vision of his mother. — His monastic educa- 
tion; jealousy of his comrades; Kieran ; the two Finnians; the school of 
Clonard. — Vision of the guardian angel and the three brides. — The 
assassin of a virgin struck by death at the prayer of Columba. — His 
youthful influence in Ireland; his monastic foundations, especially at 
Durrow and at Derry ; his song in honor of Derry. — His love for poetry; 
his connection with the travelling bards. — He was himself a poet, a great 
traveller, and of a quarrelsome disposition. — His passion for manuscripts. 

— Longarad of the hairy legs and his bag of books. — Dispute about the 
Psalter of Finnian; judgment of King Diarmid, founder of Clonmacnoise. 

— Protest of Columba; he takes to flight, chanting the Hymn of Confi- 
dence, ajnA raises a civil war. — Battle of Cul-Dreimhne; the Cathac or 
Psalter of battle. — Synod of Teltown; Columba is excommunicated. — 
St. Brendan takes part with Columba, who con.sults several hermits, and 
among others Abban, in the Cell of Tears. — The last of his advisers, Mo- 
laise, condemns him to exile. — Twelve of his disciples follow him; devo- 
tion of the young Mochonna. — Contradictory reports concerning the first 
forty years of his life. 

St. Columba, the apostle and monastic hero of 
Caledonia, has had the good fortune to have his his- raphers o/ 
tory written by another monk, almost a contempo- ^*''"™*'* 

VOL. II. 1 


rary of his own, whose biography of him is as delightful as it 
is edifying. This biographer, Adamnan, was the ninth suc- 
cessor of Columba as abbot of his principal establishment at 
lona, and in addition was related to him. Born only a quar- 
ter of a century later, he had seen in his childhood the actual 
companions of Columba and those who had received his last 
breath.i He wrote at the very fountain-head, on the spot 
where his glorious predecessor had dictated his last words 
surrounded by scenes and recollections which still bore the 
trace of his presence, or were connected with the incidents 
of his life. A still earlier narrative, written by another ab 
bot of Iona,2 and reproduced almost word for word by Adam 
nan, forms the basis of his work, which he has completed bj 
a multitude of anecdotes and testimonies collected with scru 
pulous care, and which altogether, though unfortunateh 
without chronological order, forms one of the most living, at 
tractive, and authentic relics of Christian history.^ 
His differ- Like twenty other saints of the Irish calendar 
ent names. Columba bore a symbolical name borrowed from 
the Latin, a name which signified the dove of the Holy Ghost, 
and which was soon to be rendered illustrious by his country- 
man Columbanus, the celebrated founder of Luxeuil, with 
whom many modern historians have confounded him.* To 
distinguish the one from the other, and to indicate specially 
the greatest Celtic missionary of the British Isles, we shall 
adopt, from the different versions of his name, that of Co- 

* " Ut ab aliquibus, qui prassentes inerant, didicimus." — Adamnan, lib. 
ill. c. 23. 

* By Comyn the Fair (^Cummeneus Albus), the seventh bishop of lona, 657 
to 669. This narrative was first published by Colgan in the Trias Thauma- 
turga, afterwards in the first volume of the Acta Sanctorum, ordinis S. Ben- 
edicti, and finally by the BoUandists, vol. ii. June. 

^ Adamnan, who was born in 624, must have written the biography of St. 
Columba between 690 and 703, a period at wliich he gave up the liturgical 
traditions of the Scots and the direction of the Monastery of lona to settle 
near the Anglo-Saxon king of Northumbria, Aldfrid (Varin, Premier Me- 
moire, p. 172). Adamnan's work was first published by Canisius in his 
Thesaurus Antiquitatum in 1604; afterwards with four other biographiefl of 
the same saint by the Franciscan Colgan, in his Trias Thaumaturga (Lou- 
vain, 1647); by the BoUandists in 1698; and finally by Pinkerton, a Scotch 
antiquary of the last century. It has just been reprinted, after a MS. of the 
eighth century, by the Rev. Dr. W. Keeves, for the Celtic Archaeological 
Society of Dublin, with maps, glossary, and appendix; Dublin, 1857. This 
excellent publication, which is distinguished by an impartiality too rare 
among learned English authors, has rendered a considerable service both to 
the hagiography and to the national history of Ireland and Scotland. 

* Among others, Camden, in the sixteenth century; Fleury at certain 
points (book xxxix. c. 36) ; andAugustin Thierry, in the first editions of his 
Histoire de la Conquete d'Angleterre. 


iumba. His countrymen have almost always named liim Col- 
umhKill or Oille, that is to say, the dove of the cell, thus add- 
ing to his primitive name a special designation, intended to 
recall either the essentially monastic character of the saint, 
or the great number of" communities founded and governed 
by him.^ He was a scion of one of those great Hisroya) 
Irish races, of whom it is literally true to say that origin- 
they lose themselves in the night of ages, but which have re- 
tained to our own day, thanks to the tenacious attachment of 
the Irish people to their national recollections, through all 
the vicissitudes of conquest, persecution, and exile, a rank 
more patriotic and popular than that of mere nobility or aris- 
tocratic lineage. This was the great race of the Nialls or 
O'Donnells*^ {clan Domhnaill), which, native to and master 
of all the north-western part of the island (the modern coun- 
ties of Tyrconnell, Tyrone, and Donegal), held sovereign 
sway in Hibernia and Caledonia, over the two shores of the 
Scottish sea, during the sixth century. Almost xhemon- 
without interruption, up to 1168, kings, springing archsorsu- 
from its different branches, exercised in Ireland the kugs'of 
supreme monarchy — that is to say, a sort of pri- ^'■*^'^'^<^- 
macy over the provincial kings, which has been compared to 
that of metropolitan over bishops, but which rather recalls 
the feudal sovereignty of the Salic emperors, or of the kings 
of the family of Capet over the great vassals of Germany and 
France, in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Nothing 
could be more unsettled or stormy than the exercise of this 
sovereignty. It was incessantly disputed by some vassal 
king, who generally succeeded by force of arms in robbing 
the supreme monarch of his crown and his life, and replacing 

* "Qui videlicet Columba nunc a nonnullis. composito a cella et columba 
nomine, Columcelli vocatur." — Bede, Hist. Eccles., v. 9. "Eo quod mul- 
tarura cellarum, id est, monasteriorum vel ecclesiarum institutor, fundator 
et rector fuit." — Notker Balbulus, Martyrol., 9 Jun. 

* There is a liistory of the saint in Irish by Magnus O'Donnell, who de- 
scribes himself as prince of Tyrconnell. It was put together in 1532, and 
the original MS. is to be found in the Bodleian. It is a legendary compila- 
tion, founded upon the narrative of Adamnan, but augmented by a crowd of 
fabulous legends, though at the same time by important Irish traditions and 
historical details in honor of the race of O'Donnell, which was that of the 
saint and of the historian. It has been abridged, translated into Latin, and 
published by Colgan in the Triades Thaumaturgce. This volume is the sec- 
ond of the author's collected works, entitled Acta Sanctorum Hihernice, seu 
sacra ejusdem insulcB antiquitates , which he was not able to finish, and 
which unfortunately includes only the saints of the first three months of the 
year. I have found a copy of this very rare collection in only one of all the 
Paris libraries, that of St. Genevieve. 


him upon the throne of Tara, with a tolerable certainty of 
being himself similarly treated by the son of the dethroned 
prince.^ Besides, the right of succession in Ireland was not 
regulated by the law of primogeniture. According to the cus- 
tom known under the name of Tanistry, the eldest blood- 
relation succeeded every deceased prince or chief, and the 
brother in consequence preceded the son in the order of 

After the English conquest, the warlike and 
O'Neills powerful race of Nialls was able to maintain, by 
o'Donneiis. ^i^t of daiintlcss perseverance, a sort of indepen- 
dent sovereignty in the north-west of Ireland. The 
names of the O'Neills and O'Donneiis, chiefs of its two prin- 
cipal branches, and too often at war with each other, are to 
be found on every page of the annals of unhappy Ireland. 
After the Reformation, when religious persecution had come 
in to aggravate all the evils of the conquest, these two houses 
supplied their indignant and unsubdued country with a suc- 
cession of heroic soldiers who struggled to the death against 
the perfidious and sanguinary despotism of the Tudors and 
Stuarts. Ten centuries passed in such desperate struggles 
have not weakened the traditions which link the saint whose 
history we are about to tell to those champions of an ancient 
faith and an outraged country. Even under the reign of 
Elizabeth, the vassals of young Hugh O'Donnell, called Red 
Hugh,^ so renowned in poetical records and popular tradi- 
tions of Erin, and the most dangerous antagonist of English 
tyranny, recognized in him the hero indicated in the prophetic 
songs of Columb-kill, and thus placed his glory and that of 
his ancestors under the wing of the dove of the cells, as under 
a patronage at once domestic and celestial.^ 

^ Let us recall in this connection the very ancient division of Ireland into 
four provinces or kingdoms : — to the north, Ulster, or Ultonia ; to the 
south, Munster or Mommonia; to the east, Leinster or Lagenia; to the west. 
Con naught or Cannocia. A distinct district, the antique Sacred Middle of 
Ireland, represented by the counties of JMeath and Westmeath, surrounded 
the royal residence of Tara, celebrated in Moore's melodies, and some ruins 
of which still remain. This district was exclusively dependent on the su- 
preme monarch. See the map annexed to this volume. 

^ Taken prisoner by the English in his cradle, he died at the age of twenty- 
nine, in 1002, at Simancas, where he had gone to seek aid from Spain. His 
brother, the heir of his power in Ireland, also died in exile in Home, where 
his tomb may still be seen in San Pietro in Montorio. 

• Reeves, Adamnan, p. 34. O'Cuekt, Lectures on the Manuscript Mate- 
rials of Ancient Irish History, 1861, p. 328. The eight great races of 
Ireland, sung by the bards and celebrated in the nati >nal history, are 
these : — 


The father of Columba was descended from one jhekm. 
of the eight sons of the great king Niall of the f,'"®i'*°L 
Nine Hostages,i*^ who was supreme monarch of all 
Ireland from 379 to 405, at the period when Patrick was 
brought to the island as a slave. Consequently he sprang 
from a race which had reigned in Ireland for six centuries ; 
and in virtue of the ordinary law of succession, might him- 
self have been called to the throne.^^ His mother belonged 
to a reigning family in Leinster, one of the four subordinate 
kingdoms of the island. He was born at Gartan, jjjgjjj^^jj 
in one of the wildest districts of the present county 7tii Decern- 
of Donegal — where the slab of stone upon which ''^'■'^-^• 
his mother lay at the moment of his birth is still shown. He 
who passes a night upon that stone is cured forever from the 
pangs of nostalgia, and will never be consumed, while absent 
or in exile, by a too passionate love for his country. Such 
at least is the belief of the poor Irish emigrants, who flock 
thither at the moment when they are about to abandon the 
confiscated and ravaged soil of their country to seek their 
living in America, moved b}' a touching recollection of the 
great missionary who gave up his native land for the love of 
God and human souls. 

Before his birth, his mother had a dream, which posterity 
has accepted as a graceful and poetical symbol of her son's 
career. An angel appeared to her, bringing her a veil 
covered with flowers of wonderful beauty, and the sweetest 
variety of colors ; immediately after she saw the veil car- 
ried away by the wind, and rolling out as it fled over plains, 

O'Neill ^ O'Moore ^ 

and > in the north. and > in the east. 

O'Donnell, ) O'Byrne, ) 

O'Brien ^ O'Connor S 

and > in the south. and > in the west. 

M"Carthy, ) O'Rourke, ) 

The principality of Tyrconnell, confiscated by James I., contained 1,165,000 
acres. "I would rather," said the most illustrious of the O'Neills in 1597, 
" be O'Neill of Ulster than king of Spain." Nevertheless the chiefs of these 
two great races are generally described by the annalists of the sixteenth and 
seventeenth centuries as earls of Tyrconnell, a title which had been con- 
ferred upon them by the English crown in the hope of gaining them over. 
Tlie articles upon the O'Neills and O'Donnells in Sir Bernard Burke's inter- 
esting work. Vicissitudes of Families, should be read on this subject. The 
posterity of the O'Donnells still flourishes in an elevated position in Austria. 
"* Because he had received nine hostages from a king whom he had con- 

" An ancient life of the saint, in Irish, quoted by Dr. Eeeves, p. 269, ex- 
pressly states this fact, and adds that he gave up his right to the throne only 
f r the love of God. 


woods, and moantains: then the angel said to her, "Thou art 
about to become the mother of a son, who shall blossom for 
heaven, who shall be reckoned among the prophets of God, 
and who shall lead numberless souls to the heavenly coun- 
try."i2 This spiritual power, this privilege of leading souls to 
heaven, was recognized by the Irish people, converted by 
St. Patrick, as the greatest glory which its princes and great 
men could gain. 

The Irish legends, which are always distin- 
of coium- guished, even amidst the wildest vagaries of fancy, 
*■ by a high and pure morality, linger lovingly upon 

the childhood and j^outh of the predestined saint. They tell 
us how, confided in the first place to the care of the priest 
who had baptized him, and who gave him the first rudiments 
of literary education, he was accustomed from his earliest 
*3'-ears to the heavenly visions which were to occupy so 
large a place in his life. His guardian angel often appeared 
to him; and the child asked if all the angels in heaven was as 
young and shining as he. A little later Columba was invited 
by the same angel to choose among all the virtues those 
which he would like best to possess. " I choose," said the 
. youth, " chastity and wisdom ; " and immediately 

the three three youug girls of wondcrful beauty, but foreign 
Bisters. ^^^^ appeared to him, and threw themselves on his 
neck to embrace him. The pious youth frowned, and repulsed 
them with indignation. '• What ! " they said ; " then thou 
dost not know us?" "No, not the least in the world." 
" We are three sisters whom our father gives to thee to be 
thy brides," " Who, then, is your father ? " " Our father is 
God, he is Jesus Christ, the Lord and Saviour of the world." 
" Ah, you have indeed an illustrious father. But what are 
your names?" "Our names are Virginity, Wisdom, and 
Prophec}^ ; and we come to leave thee no more, to love thee 
with an incorruptible love."^^ 

^^ "Quoddam mirae pulchritudinis peplum detulit, in quo veluti universo- 
ruii) decorosi colores tlorum depicti videbantur. . . . Peplum a se elongari 
volando videbat, camporumque latitudinem in majus crescendo excedere, 
montesque ct saltus niajore sui mensura superare. . . . Talem filium edJtura 
es tioriduni, qui quasi unus prophetarum Dei inter ipsos connumerabitur, 
innunierabiiiumque aniniaruni dux ad ccBlestem a Deo patriara est pra3desti- 
natus." — AuAMN., iii. 1. 

" " Ergo nc angeli omnes ita juvenili a^tate floretis, ita splendide vestiti 
ornatique inceditis ? . . . Age ergo, quid eligis ediscere. . . . Tres adsittere 
rirgines admirandi decoris et peregrini vultus, quas statira in ejus amplexus 
et oscula iinproviso ruentes, pudicitiae cultor contracta fronte . . . abigebat. 
Ergo ne nos nou agnoscis quaruiu basia et amores viliter aspernas? . . . 


From the house of the priest, Columba passed into the 
great monastic schools, whicli were not only a nursery for 
the clergy of the Irish Church, but where also young laymen 
of all conditions were educated. Columba, like many others, 
there learned to make his first steps in that monastic life to 
which he had been drawn by the call of God. He devoted 
himself not only to study and prayer, but also to the manual 
toil then inseparable, in Ireland and everywhere else, from a 
religious profession. Like all his young companions, he had 
to grind over night the corn for the next day's food : but 
wlien his turn came, it was so well and quickly done that his 
companions suspected him of having been assisted 
by an angel.^^ The royal birth of Columba procured of ws com- 
him several distinctions in the schools which were ^^^'^^' 
not always to the satisfaction of his comrades. One of the 
latter, named Kieran, who was also destined to fill a great 
place in Scotic legend, became indignant at the ascendency of 
Columba: but while the two students disputed, a celestial 
messenger came to Kieran and placed before him an auger, 
a plane, and an axe, saying, '' Look at these tools, and recol- 
lect that these are all thou hast sacrificed for God, since thy 
father was only a carpenter ; but Columba has sacrificed the 
sceptre of Ireland, which might have come to him by right 
of his birth and the grandeur of his race."^^ 

We learn from authentic documents that Columba 
completed his monastic life under the direction of yljfni^'^a. 
two holy abbots, both bearing the name of Finnian. Monastic 
The first, who was also a bishop, ordained him dea- cionard. 
con, but seems to have had him for a shorter time 
under his authority than the second Finnian, who, himself 
trained by a disciple of St. Patrick, had long lived in Cambria, 
near St. David. Columba's first steps in life are thus con- 

Prorsus quae sitis ignore. . . . Tres sumus sorores et sponsae tibi nuper a 
patre nostro desponsatas. . . . Eoquis vero est vester pater? . . . Magni estia 
profecto parentis filiae; pergite, quseso, etiani nomina vestra recludere." — 
O'DoNNELL, Vita qiiinta S. Columba, i. 36, 37, 38, ap. Colgan, Trias 
Thaumaturga, p. 394. 

'* " Ordinariae illis epulae cibarius panis ; labor vero in singulos per vices 
distributus, nocturna lucubratione grana eniolere, ex quibus hujusmodi panis 
pro communi omnium victu conficeretur. Id labori cum Culumba;, quia 
contubernalis esset, saepius obtigisset, prompte et humillime acceptavit." — 
O'DoNNELL, i. 42. 

'° " Delapsus e coelo bonus genius . . . terebram, asciam et securim Kie- 
rano prsesentans. Hscce, inquit, aliaque hujusmodi, quibus tuus pater 
carpentariam exercebat, pro Dei amore reliquisti. Columba vero Hiberniaa 
sceptrum avito suo et generis potentia sperandum antequam offerretur abre- 
nuntiavit." — O'Donnell, i. 44. 


nected with the two great monastic apostles of Ireland and 
Cambria, the patriarchs of the two Celtic races which up to 
this time had shown the most entire fidelity to the Christian 
faith, and the greatest predilection for monastic life. The 
abbot Finuian who ordained Columba priest, ruled at Clonard 
the monastery which he had founded, and of which we have 
already spoken — one of those immense conventual establish- 
ments which were to be found nowhere but among the Celts, 
and which recalled to recollection the monastic towns of the 
Thebaid. He had made of his monastery one great school, 
which was filled with the Irish youth, then, as always, con- 
sumed by a thirst for religious instruction; and we again find 
here the favorite number, so often repeated by Celtic tradi- 
tion, of three thousand pupils, all eager to receive the in- 
structions of him who was called the Master of Saints.^^ 

While Columba studied at Clonard, being still only 
Theassas- g^ doacon, an incident took place which has been 
youn^giri proved bv authentic testimony, and which faxed the 

falls dead ^ i i.j. x- i • i • • £ j. 

before him. general attention upon him by giving a farst evi- 
dence of his supernatural and prophetic intuition. 
An old Christian bard (the bards were not all Christians), 
named Gemmain, had come to live near the Abbot Finnian, 
asking from him, in exchange for his poetry, the secret of 
fertilizing the soil, Columba, who continued all his life a pas- 
sionate admirer of the traditionary poetry of his nation, de- 
termined to join the school of the bard, and to share his 
labors and studies. The two were reading together out 
of doors, at a little distance from each other, when a young 
girl appeared in the distance pursued by a robber. At the 
sight of the old man the young fugitive made for him with 
all her remaining strength, hoping, no doubt, to find safety 
in the authority exercised throughout Ireland by the national 
poets. Gemmain, in great trouble, called his pupil to his aid 
to defend the unfortunate child, who was trying to hide her- 
self under their long robes, when her pursuer reached the 
spot. Without taking any notice of her defenders, he struck 

'^ Vaein, Deiixicme Memoire, p. 47. " Magister sanctorum Hiberniae, 
habuit in sua scbola de Cluain-Evaird tria millia sanctorum." — Martyrol. 
Dunged, ap. Moore, History of Ireland, vol. i. cb. 13. The holy abbot 
Finnian died in 649. The other Finnian, the first master of Columb-Kill, 
is also known under the name of Finnbar, and was abbot at Maghbile (Down), 
and died in 579. It is believed that he was St. Fredianus (Frediano), bishop 
and patron of Lucca, where there is a fine and curious church under his 
invocation. Colgan has published the lives of both, 2Sth February and 18th 
March, Ada Sanctoriim HibernicB. The two saints are frequently confound • 
ed. — Compare Auamnan, i. 1 ; ii. 1 ; iii. 4. 


her in the neck with his lance, and was making off, leaving 
her dead at their feet. The horrified old man turned to Co- 
lumba. " How long," he said, " will God leave unpunished 
this crime which dishonors us?"' ''For this moment only," 
8!iid Columba, " not longer ; at this very hour, when the soul 
of this innocent creature ascends to heaven, the soul of the 
murderer shall go down to hell." At the instant, like Ana- 
nias at the words of Peter, the assassin fell dead. The news 
of this sudden punishment, the story goes, went over all 
Ireland, and spread the fame of the young Columba far and 

It is easy to perceive, by the importance of the ^^j^ fo^n^j^. 
monastic establishments which he had brought into tions in 
being even before he had attained the age of man- 
hood, that his influence must have been as precocious as it 
was considerable. Apart from the virtues of which his after 
life afforded so many examples, it may be supposed that his 
royal birth gave him an irresistible ascendency in a country 
where, since the introduction of Christianity, all the early 
saints, like the principal abbots, belonged to reigning fami- 
lies, and where the influence of blood and the worship of 
genealogy continue, even to this day, to a degree unknown in 
other lands. Springing, as has been said, from the same race 
as the monarch of all Ireland, and consequently himself eligi- 
ble for the same high oflSce, which was more frequently ob- 
tained by election or usurpation than inheritance — nephew 
or near cousin of the seven monarchs who successively 
wielded the supreme authority during his life — he was also 
related by ties of blood to almost all the provincial kings. ^^ 
Thus we see him, during his whole career, treated on a foot- 
ing of perfect intimacy and equality by all the princes of 
Ireland and of Caledonia, and exercising a sort of spiritual 
Bway equal or superior to the authority of secular sov- 

Before he had reached the age of twenty-five he had pre- 
sided over the creation of a crowd of monasteries. As many 

" " Carminator . . . habens secum carmen niagnificum." — Vita S. Fin- 
niani, ap. Colgan, Acta SS., p. 395. " Senex perturbatus tali subitatione 
Columbam eniinus legentem advocavit, ut ambo in quantum valuissent filiani 
a persequente defenderent. . . . Filiam sub vestimentis eorum jugulavit, et, 
relinquens jacentem mortuani super pedes eorum, abire coepit. . . . Quanto, 
sancte puer Columba, hoc scelus temporis spatio inultum fieri judex Justus 
patietur. . . . Eadem bora qua interfectse ab eo filiae anima ascendet ad 
coelos, anima ipsius interfectoris descendet ad inferos." — Adamnan, ii. 25. 

"* See the genealogical tables, Dr. Reeve's Appendix. 



as thirty-seven in Ireland alone recognized him as their 
founder. The most ancient and important of these founda- 
tions were situated, as was formerly that of St. Bridget at Kil- 
dare/^ in vast oak-forests, from which they took their name. 
The first, Durrow [Dair-macli, Roboreti campus), where a 
cross and well bearing the name of Columba are still to be 
seen, was erected in the central region called the umbilical, 
or sacred middle of Ireland. The other, Derry [Doire-chal- 
gaich, Rohoretum Calgachi), is situated in the northern part 
of the island, in Columba's native province, in the hollow of 
a bay of that sea which separates Ireland from Scotland. 
After having long been the seat of a great and rich Catholic 
bishopric, it became, under its modern name of Londonderry, 
one of the principal centres of English colonization, and was, 
in 1690, the bulwark of the Protestant conquest against the 
powerless efforts of the last of the Stuart kings.^*^ But noth- 
ing then indicated the possibility of those lamentable changes, 
nor of the miserable triumphs of inhuman force and wicked 

The young Columba was specially attached to Derry, 
where he habitually lived. He superintended with care not 
only the discipline and studies of his community, but exter- 
nal matters, even so far as to watch over the preservation of 

'^ See ante, p. 646. 

^^ Dr. Reeves gives in his appendix G a detailed enumeration of the thirty- 
seven foundations of Columb-Kill in Ireland. In the north of the island, 
and in his native province, we remark the name of Raphoe, until lately the 
seat of a diocese, and Tory, in an isle of the coast of Donegal; in the cen- 
tral district Sord, now Swords, seven miles from Dublin, which has retained, 
like Tory, its round tower; and Kells, which gained celebrity only in 801' 
as the refuge of the monks driven from lona by the tlireats of the Norsemen. 
This monastery was completed in 814, and from that day became the head- 
quarters of the Columbian monks. Here is still to be seen one of the finest 
round towers of Ireland (seventy feet high) ; an oratory called St. Columb- 
Kill's house; a cemetery-cross with this inscription on the plinth — Crux 
Patricii et Columbe. Two celebrated Gospels of the Trinity College Bible 
at Dublin are called the Book of Kells and the Book of Durrow. In the 
important work of Dr. Petrie, called Inquiry into the Origin and Uses of 
the Round Towers of Ireland^ 1845, 2d ed., p. 430, will be found an engrav- 
ing of a building near the cemetery of Kells, called St. Columba's house. 
It is a square building, 23 feet long, 21 broad, and 38 feet high, but not 
vaulted. The walls are 4 feet in thickness ; the roof is of stone, with 
two gables. It has little circular windows at a height of 15 feet. It was 
formerly divided into three chambers and two stories. In one of these 
chambers is to be seen a great flat stone 6 feet long, which is called the bed 
of Columba. Tiie roof of this building is entirely covered with ivy. In the 
isle of Tory a round tower, belonging to the monastery constructed by Co- 
lumba, still remains. Petrie (p. 389) also recognizes round towers in the 
buildings quoted in connection with the two miracles told by Adamnan, c. 
15, in which mention is made of bells and belfries. 


the neighboring forest. He would never permit an oak to 
be cut down. Those which fell by natural decay, or were 
struck down by the wind, were alone made use of for the 
fire which was lighted on the arrival of strangers, or distrib- 
uted to the neighboring poor. The poor had a first right, 
in Ireland as everywhere else, to the goods of the monks; 
and the Monastery of Derry fed a hundred applicants every 
day with methodical regularity .^^ 

At a more advanced age our saint gave vent to ^jsgoncrs 
his tenderness for his monastic creations in songs, in honor of 
an echo of which has come down to us. The text "'^^' 
of these songs, such as has been preserved, is probably later 
than Columba ; but it is written in the oldest Irish dialect, 
and it expresses, naturally enough, the sentiments of the 
founder and his disciples : — 

" Were all the tribute of Scotia '* mine, 
From its niidland to its borders, 
I would give all for one little cell 
In my beautiful Derry. 
For its peace and for its purity, 
For the white angels that go 
In crowds from one end to the other, 
I love my beautiful Derry. 
For its quietness and its purity. 
For heaven's angels that come and go 
Under every leaf of the oaks, 
I love my beautiful Derry. 

My Derry, my fair oak grove, 
My dear little cell and dwelling, 
Oh God in the heavens above ! 
Let him who profanes it be cursed. 
Beloved are Durrow and Derry, 
Beloved is Raphoe the pure. 
Beloved the fertile Drumhome, 
Beloved are Sords and Kolls! 
But sweeter and fairer to me 
The salt sea where the sea-gulls cry 
Wheti I come to Derry from far, 

" O'DONNELL, ap. COLGAN, p. 397, 398. 

'* Let us repeat here that the names of Scotia, Scotti, when they occur in 
works of the seventh to the twelttli century, are almost exclusively applied 
to Ireland and the Irish, and were extend(;d later to Scotland proper, the 
north and west of which were peopled by a colony of Irish Scots, only at a 
later ptiriod. From thence comes the name of Erse, Erysche, or Irish, re- 
tained up to our own day, by tlie Irisii dialect, otherwise called Gaelic. In 
Adamnan, as in Bede, Scotia means Ireland, and modern Scotland is com- 
prehended in the general title of Britannia. At a later period the name of 
Scotia disappeared in Ireland, and became identiiied with the country con» 
quered and colonized by the Scots in Scotland, like that of Anglia in Britain, 
and Francia in Gaul. 


It is sweeter and dearer to rae — 
Sweeter to me.'"'^ 

Nor was it only his own foundations which he thus cele^ 
brated : another poem has been preserved which is attrib- 
uted to him, and which is dedicated to the glory of the 
monastic isle of Arran, situated upon the western coast of 
Ireland, where he had gone to venerate the inhabitants and 
the sanctuaries.^ 

*' O Arran, my sun; my heart is in the west with thee. To sleep on thy 
pure soil is as good as to be buried in the land of St. Peter and St. Paul. 
To live within the sound of thy bells is to live in joy. O Arran, my sun, 
my love is in the west with thee." ^^ 

These poetic effusions reveal Columba to us under one of 
his most attractive aspects, as one of the minstrels of the 
national poetry of Ireland, the intimate union of which with 
the Catholic faith,^^ and its unconquerable empire over the 
His taste souls of that gencrous people, can scarcely be exag- 
for poetry, gerated. Columba was not only himself a poet, but 
lived always in great and affectionate sympathy with the 
bards who, at that time, occupied so high a place in the social 
and political institutions of Ireland, and who were to be met 
with everywhere, in the palaces and monasteries, as on the 
public roads. What he .did for this powerful corporation, and 
how, after having been their brother and friend, he became 

their protector and saviour, will be seen further on. 
^nnliitlon Let US merely state at present that, himself a great 
bardV'^ traveller, he received the travelling bards in the 

different communities where he lived; among others, 
in that which he had built upon an islet^^ of the lake which 
the Boyle traverses before it throws itself into the Shannon. 
He confided to them the care of arranging the monastic and 

'■^^ See Reeves, pp. 288, 289. The origin and continuation of this poem 
will be seen further on. 

^* "Invisit aliquando S. Endeum aliosque sanctos, qui plurimi in Ara. in- 
sula angelicanl vitam ducebant . . . in ea insula quam sanctorum vestigiis 
tritam et monunientis inclytam magno affectu venerabatur." — O'Donnell, 
book i. c. 105, 106. Compare Colgan, Act. SS. HibernicB, vol. i. p. 704-714. 
There were still thirteen churches on this island in 1645, with the tombs of 
St. Enda and of a hundred and twenty other saints. 

^^ Quoted in the Transactions of the Gaelic Society, p. 183. 

^ See ante, p. 645. 

^'' The ruins of a cliurch attributed to Columba are still to be seen there. 
Two miles from this island, on the banks of a cascade formed by the Boyle, 
as it tlirows itself into the lake (Loch Key), rises another monastery founded 
by him, and which became, in 1161, a Cistercian abbey of some celebrity — 
the Abbey of Boyle. 


provincial annals, which were to be afterwards deposited in 
the charter-chest of the community ; but above all, he made 
them sing for his own pleasure and that of his monks ; and 
the latter reproached him energetically if he permitted one 
of those wandering poets to depart without having asked to 
hear some of his chants, accompanied by his harp.^^ 

The monk Columba was, then, a poet. After Ossian and 
his glorious compeer of the Vosges, he opens the series of 
two hundred Irish poets, whose memories and names, in de- 
fault of their works, have remained dear to Ireland. He 
wrote his verses not only in Latin, but also and more fre- 
quently in Irish. Only three of his Latin poems survive ; 
but two centuries ago eleven of his Irish poems were still in 
existence,^^ which have not all perished, and the most authen- 
tic of Avhich is dedicated to the glory of St. Bridget, the 
virgin slave, patroness of Ireland and foundress of female re- 
ligious life in the Isle of Saints. She was still living when 
Columba was born.^^ Through the obscure and halting ef- 
forts of this infantine poetry, some tones of sincere and origi- 
nal feeling may yet be disentangled : — 

" Bridget, the good and the virgin 
Bridget, our torch and our sun, 
Bridget, radiant and unseen. 
May she lead us to the eternal kingdom! 
May Bridget defend us 
Against all the troops of hell, 
And all the adversities of life ; 
May she beat them down before us. 
All the ill movements of the flesh, 
This pure virgin whom we love, 
Worthy of honor without end. 
May she extinguish in us. 
Yes, she shall always be our safeguard, 
Dear saint of Lagenia ; 
After Patrick she comes first, 
The pillar of the land, 

** " Quidam Scoticus poeta. . . . Cur a nobis regredienti Cronano poetas 
aliquod ex more suae artis canticum non postulasti laudabiliter decantari?" 
— Adamnan, book i. c. 42. 

2® " Diversa poemata S. Columbse patrio idiomate scripta exstant penea 
me." — CoLGAN, Trias Thaumaturga, p. 472. He gives the title and quotes 
the first verse of each Irish poem. Dr. Keeves has given in his Appendix 
F the Irish text and English translation of two of these pieces, the MS. of 
which has passed from the hands of the Franciscans of Louvain, where the 
pious and patriotic Colgan wrote, to the library of Bourgogne at Brussels. 
They are also to be found in the Bodleian at Oxford, in a MS. which con- 
tains tliirty-six Irish poems attributed to Columba. 

^" He was born in 519, and she died in 523, according to the chronology 
of Colgan. 

VOL. II. 2 


Glorious among all glories, 
Queen among all queens. 
When old age comes upon us, 
May she be to us as the shirt of hair, 
May she fill us with her grace. 
May Bridget protect us." ^' 

It seems thus apparent that Cohimba was as much a bard 
as a monk during the first part of his life ; he had the vaga- 
bond indination, the ardent, agitated, even quarrelsome char- 
acter of the race. Like most Irish saints and even monks 
whom history has kept in mind, he had a passionate love for 
travelling ; 22 and to that passion he added another which 
brought him more than one misadventure. Books, which 
were less rare in Ireland than everywhere else, were never- 
theless much sought after, and guarded with jealous carQ in 
the monastic libraries, which were their sole depositories 
Not only an excessive value was put upon them, but they 
were even supposed to possess the emotions and almost the 
Hie passion passions of Kving beings. Columba had a passion 
for Mss. for fine manuscripts, and one of his biographers at- 
tributes to him the laborious feat of having transcribed with 
his own hand three hundred copies of the Gospel oi of the 
Psalter.33 He went everywhere in search of volumes, which 
he could borrow or copy, often experiencing refusals which 
he resented bitterly. There was then in Ossory, in the south- 
west, a holy recluse, very learned, doctor in laws and in 
philosophy, named Longarad with the white legs, 

Longarad 1 ' .-' ' ,, . , r . ^ • ^ i • i 

with the because m walking barefoot his legs, which were 
hairy legs, ^q^qj-q^^ ^j^]^ whitc hair, were visible. Columba 
having gone to visit him asked leave to examine his books. 
The old man gave a direct refusal ; then Columba burst forth 
in denunciations — '' May thy books no longer do thee anj 

'' '-Nos defendamur omni tempore 
Per nieam sanctam de Lagenia 
Suppar colunma regni. 
Post Patricium primarium : 
Quaj decor decorum 
Quae regina regia. . . . 
Erit post senium 
Nostrum corpus in cilicio : 
Ejus gratia respergamur. 
Nos protegat Brigicta." 

Trias Thaumat., p. 606. 

" ♦' Ou;nes regni provincias continuo peragrans, urbes, oppida, paga cir- 
cumiens." — O'Donnell, p. 398. 

^^ O'Donnell, ap. Colgan, p. 438. The same number has been seen 
above attributed to Dega. Irish narratives know scarcely any numerals but 
those of thre(" hundred and three thousand. 


good, neither to thee nor to those who come after thee, since 
thou takest occasion by them to show thy inhospitality," 
This curse was heard, according to the legend. As soon as 
old Longarad died his books became unintelligible. They 
still exist, says an author of the ninth century, but no man 
can read them. The legend adds that in all the schools of 
Ireland, and even in Columba's own cell, the leathern satchels 
in which the monks and students carried their books, un- 
hooked themselves from the wall and fell to the ground on 
the day of the old philosopher's death.^^ 

A similar narrative, more authentic but not less singular, 
serves as an introduction to the decisive event which ^(,^^^5^ 
changed the destiny of Columba, and transformed about the 
him from a wandering poet and ardent bookworm whleh"^' 
into a missionary and apostle. While visiting his wou'id^ave 
ancient master, Finnian, our saint found means to *'°Pj„'*t^. 
make a clandestine and hurried copy of the abbot's master's 
Psalter, by shutting himself up at night in the church ^^'"' 
where the Psalter was deposited, lighting his nocturnal work, 
as happened to I know not what Spanish saint, by the light 
which escaped from his left hand while he wrote with the 
right. The abbot Finnian discovered what was going on by 
means of a curious wanderer, who, attracted by that singular 
light, looked in through the keyhole, and while his face was 
pressed against the door had his eye suddenly torn out by 
a crane, one of those familiar birds who were permitted by 
the Irish monks to seek a home in their churches.^^ Indig- 
nant at what he thought a theft, Finnian claimed the copy 
when it was finished, on the ground that a copy made with- 
out permission ought to belong to the master of the original, 
seeing that the transcription is the son of the original book. 
Columba refused to give up his work, and the question was 
referred to the king in his palace at Tara. 

King Diarmid, or Dermott, supreme monarch of Ireland, 
was, like Columba, descended from the great king Kincroiar- 
TViall, but by another son than he whose great-grand- niid,^und- 
son Columba was. He lived, like all the princes of macnoise. 
his country, in a close union with the Church, which ^^8 or 548. 
fvas represented in Ireland, more completely than anywhere 
else, by the monastic order. Exiled and persecuted in his 

'* Festilogium of Angus the Culdee, quoted by O'Curry. 

'* " Admoto ad januae fissuram oculo, mirari coepit. . . . Grus quaedam 
cicurata, quae in ecclesia erat, incauti hominis oculum irapecto rostro cffodit." 
— O'DoNNELL. book ii. c. 1. 


youth, he had found refuge in an island, situated in one of 
those lakes which interrupt the course of the Shannon, the 
chief river of Ireland, and had there formed a friendship with 
a holy monk called Kieran, who was no other than the son of 
the carpenter, the jealous comrade of Columba at the monastic 
school of Clonard, but since that time his generous rival in 
knowledge and in austerity. Upon the still solitary bank ol 
the river the two friends had planned the foundation of a 
monastery, which, owing to the marshy nature of the soil, 
had to be built upon piles. '' Plant with me the first stake," 
the monk said to the exiled prince, "putting your hand undei 
mine ; and soon that hand shall be over all the men of Erin ; " 
and it happened that Diarmid was very shortly after called 
to the throne. He immediately used his new power to endow 
richly tne monastery which was rendered doubly dear to 
him by the recollection of his exile and of his friend. Thin 
sanctuary became, under the name of Cloumacnoise, one of 
the greatest monasteries and most frequented schools of Ire- 
land, and even of Western Europe. It was so rich in pos- 
sessions and even in dependent communities, daughters or 
vassals of its hierarchical authority, that, according to a pop- 
ular saying, half of Ireland was contained within the enclo- 
sure of Cloumacnoise. This enclosure actuallj'" contained nine 
churches, with two round towers ; the kings and lords of the 
two banks of the Shannon had their burying-place there for a 
'thousand years, upon a green height which overlooks the 
marshy banks of the river. The sadly picturesque ruins may 
still be seen, and among them a stone cross, over Avhich the 
prince and the abbot, holding between them the stake conse- 
crated by the legend, are roughly sculptured.^^ 

This king might accordingly be regarded as a 
of King" competent judge in a contest at once monastic and 
Diarmid. literary ; he might even have been suspected of 

^® Clonmacnoise, which is situated on the eastern bank of the Shannon, 
seven miles below Athlone, and was afterwards made a bishop's see, must 
not be confounded with Cloyne, though the Latin designation, Clonensis or 
Cluanensis, is the same. This great abbey is chiefly remarkable on account 
of its abbot Tighernach (1088), a much quoted historian, whose annals have 
been published in the second volume of Rerum Hibernicaruni Scriptores by 
O'Connor. Within its vast enclosure was a community of those lay monks 
called Culdees, of whom we shall have occasion to speak further on, who 
had been created by a lay brother of the monastery called Conn of the poor, 
by reason of his great charity. Later in the twelfth century it passed into 
the hands of the regular canons of St. Augustin, who retained it up to the 
general spoliation. — O'Cukry, p. 60. The Gentleman's Magazine of Feb- 
ruary, 1864, publishes a plan of the actual condition of Clonmncnoise, with 
a very interesting notice of the architecture of the ruins by Mr. Parker. 


partiality for Columba, his kinsman — and yet he pronounced 
against him. His judgment was given in a rustic phrase 
which has passed into a proverb in Ireland — To every cow 
her calf^ ^'' and consequently, to every book its cop3\ protestor 
Columba protested loudly. '* It is an unjust sen- coiumba. 
tence," he said, " and I will revenge myself." After thin 
incident a young prince, son of the provincial king of Con- 
naught, who was pursued fqr having committed an involun- 
tary murder, took refuge with Columba, but was seized and 
put to death by the king. The irritation of the poet-monk 
knew no bounds. The ecclesiastical immunity which he 
enjoyed in his quality of superior and founder of several 
monasteries ought to have, in his opinion, created a sort of 
sanctuary around his person, and this immunity had been 
scandalously violated by the execution of the youth whom ha 
protected. He threatened the king with prompt vengeance. 
" I will denounce," he said, " to my brethren and my kindred 
thy wicked judgment, and the violation in my person of the 
immunity of the Church; they will listen to my complaint, 
and punish thee sword in hand.^^ Bad king, thou shalt no 
more see my face in thy province until God, the just Judge, 
has subdued thy pride. As thou hast humbled me to-day 
before thy lords and thy friends, God will humble thee on 
the battle day before thine enemies." Diarmid attempted to 
retain him by force in the neighborhood ; but, evading the 
vigilance of his guards, he escaped by night from the court 
of Tara, and directed his steps to his native province of 
Tyrconnell. His first stage was Monasterboyce, where he 
heard from the monks that the king had planted guards on 
all the ordinary roads to intercept him. He then continued 
his course by a solitary pathway over the desert hills which 
lay between him and the north of Ireland; and as He flies, 
he went upon his lonely way, his soul found utter- thrsou^of 
ance in a pious song. He fled, chanting the Song of I'mst. 

"'^ " Le gach hoin a boinin, le gach leabhar a leabhran.'^ 
'^ " Scito, rex inique, quia amodo faciem meam in tua provincia non vide- 
bis donee. . . . Sicut me hodie coram senioribus tuis iniquo judicio despex- 
isti, sie te Deus asternus in conspectu inimicorum tuoruui te despiciet in die 
belli." — Anon. ap. Usserium, Zfe Primord. Eccles. Brit., cited by Colgan, 
p. 462. " Ego expostulabo cum fratribus et cognatis meis iniquum arbitriura 
tuum, ft contemptam in me temeratamque Ecclesiae immunitatem . . . et si 
non meam, at certe Dei regni atque Ecclesiae causam ducto in te exercitu 
vindicabunt." — O'Donnell, book ii. c. 7. This is assuredly a much mod- 
ernized version of Columba's declaration of war ; but the true facts are to be 
found in the unanimous statements of Irish tradition. Adamnan preserves 
a prudent silence upon all events anterior to the saint's mission to Scotland. 



Trust, which has been preserved to us, and which may be 
reckoned among the most authentic relics of the ancieut 
Irish tongue. We quote from it the following verses : — 

" Alone am I on the mountain, 
O royal Sun; prosper my path, 
And then I shall have nothing to fear. 
Were I guarded by six thousand, 
Though they might defend my skin, 
When the hour of death is fixed, 
Were I guarded by six thousand, 
In no fortress could I be safe. 
Even in a church the wicked are slain, 
Even in an isle amidst a lake ; 
But God's elect are safe 
Even in the front of battle. 
No man can kill me before my day, 
Even had we closed in combat ; 
And no man can save my life 
When the hour of death has come. 
My life ! 

As God pleases let it be ; 
Nought can be taken from it, 
Nought can be added to it : 
The lot which God has given 
Ere a man dies must be lived out. 
He who seeks more, were he a prince, 
Shall not a mite obtain. 
A guard ! 

A guard may guide him on his way ; 
But can they, can they guard 
Against the touch of death? . . . 
Forget thy poverty a while ; 
Let us think of the world's hospitality. 
The Son of Mary will prosper thee, 
And every guest shall have his share. 
Many a time 

What is spent returns to the bounteous hand. 
And that which is kept back 
Not the less has passed away. 

living God! 

Alas for him who evil works ! 

That which he thinks not of comes to him. 

That wliich he hopes vanishes out of his hand. 

There is no Sreod ^^ that can tell our fate, 

Nor bird upon the branch. 

Nor trunk of gnarled oak. ... 

Better is He in whom we trust, 

The King who has made us all. 

Who will not leave me to-night without refuge. 

1 adore not the voice of birds. 

Nor chance, nor the love of a son or a wr'fe. 
My Druid is Christ, the Son of God, 

'• An unknown Druidical term, probably meaning some pagan superstition 
of the same description as the flight of birds and the knots in the trees, men. 
Uoned immediately after. 


The Son of Mary, the great Abbot, 
The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. 
My lands are with the King of kings ; 
My order at Kells and at Moone." '*'' 

" Thus sang Columba." says the preface to this Song qf 
Trust, " on his lonely journey; and this song will protect him 
who repeats it while he travels." 

Columba arrived safely in his province, and im- hc raises 
mediately set to work to excite against King "viiwar. 
Diarmid the numerous and powerful clans of his relatives and 
friends, who belonged to a branch of the house of Niall dis- 
tinct from and hostile to that of the reigning monarch. His 
efforts were crowned with success. The Hy-Nialls of the 
North armed eagerly against the H3''-Nialls of the South, of 
whom Diarmid was the special chief.*^ They naturally ob- 
tained the aid of the king of Connaught, father of the joung 
prince who had been executed. According to other narra- 
tives, the struggle Avas one between the Nialls of the North 
and the Picts established in the centre of Ireland, But in 
any case, it was the north and west of Ireland which took 
arms against the supreme king. Diarmid marched to meet 
them, and they met in battle at Cool-Drewny, or Cul-Dreimhne, 
upon the borders of UJtoniaand Connacia, He was Defeat of 
completely beaten, and obliged to take refuge at *^^jj^j°° 
Tara. The victory was due, according to the an- coiumba 
nalist Tighernach, to the prayers and songs of Co- l^lJuat 
lumba, who had fasted and prayed with all his '^'™- 
might to obtain from Heaven the punishment of the royal in- 
solence,*^ and who, besides, was present at the battle, and 
took upon himself before all men the responsibility of the 

As for the manuscript which had been the object of this 

*" Moone, in the county of Kildare, where the abbatial cross of St. Co- 
lumba is preserved. The translation here printed is from the version given 
by Dr. Keeves, with some slight modifications. — Translator's note. 

*' " Contulit se ad domus Conalli, Gulbanis et Eugenii proceres carne sibi 
propinquos, et coram eis de mails injuriis querelam instituit." — Colgan, 
Act. SS. Uibern., vol. i. p. 645. Compare the genealogical table of the de- 
scfndants of Niall given by Dr. Reeves, p. 251, There were ten supreme 
kings of the branch of Hy-Nialls of the North, or of Tyrconnell, to which 
Columba belonged, and seventeen of the southern branch, of wliich Diarmid 
was a member. These kings alternated for two centuries, mutually killing 
and dethroning each other. See the notes of Kelly, to Lynch, Cambrensis 
Uversus, vol. ii. pp. 12, 15. 

** "Diem ineundi prajlii jejunio et oratione praevertit, Deura afflicte rogans 
ut regiiE insolentiae vindicibus sine suorum damno annuat victoriam." — 

O'DONNELL, loC. Cit. 


strange conflict ot copyright elevated into a civil war, it w*aa 
afterwards venerated as a kind of national, military, and re- 
ligious palladium. Under the name of Cathac, or Fighter, 
The Psalter ^^^^ Latin Psaltor transcribed by Columba, enshrined 
of Battle, in a sort of portable altar, became the national relic 
of the O'Donnell clan. For more than a. thousand years it 
was carried with them to battle as a pledge of victory, on 
the condition of being supported upon the breast of a clerk 
pure from all mortal sin. It has escaped as by miracle from 
the ravages of which Ireland had been the victim, and exists 
still, to the great joy of all learned Irish patriots.*^ 
Synod of Columba, though victor, had soon to undergo 

Teiite, 562. the double reaction of personal remorse and the 
excom-^ ^ condemnation of many pious souls,** The latter 
municated. punishment was the first to be felt. He was ac- 
cused by a synod convoked in the centre of the royal domain 
at Teiite,*^ of having occasioned the shedding of Christian 
blood, and sentence of excommunication was in his absence 
pronounced against him. Perhaps this accusation was not 
entirely confined to the war which had been raised on ac- 
count of the copied Psalter. His excitable and vindictive 
character, and, above all, his passionate attachment to his 
relatives, and the violent part which he took in their domestic 
disputes and in their continually recurring rivalries, had en- 
gaged him in other struggles, the date of which is perhaps 
later than that of his first departure from Ireland, but the 
responsibility of which is formally imputed to him by various 
authorities,**^ and which also ended in bloody battles. 

*' The annals of the Four Masters report that in a battle waged in 1497 
between the Q'Donnells and the MacDerniotts, the sacred book fell into the 
hands of the latter, who, however, restored it in 1499. It was preserved for 
thirteen hundred years in the O'Donnell family, and at present belongs to a 
baronet of that name, who has permitted it to be exhibited in the Museum 
of the Royal Irish Academy, where it can be seen by all. It is composed 
of fifty-eight leaves of parchment, bound in silver. The learned O'Curry 
(p. 322) has given a fac-simile of a fragment of this MS., which he does not 
hesitate to believe is in the handwriting of our saint, as well as that of the 
fine copy of the Gospels called the Book of Kells, of which he has also 
given a fac-simile. See Reeves's notes upon Adamnan, p. 250, and the 
pamphlet upon Marianus Scotus, p. 12. 

'•■' " Cum illata regi Diermitio clades paulo post ad aures sanctorum Hi- 
berniae pervenit, Columbam, quod tantae cladis vel auctor vel occasio fuisset, 
taxabant." — O'Donnell, ii. 5. " In synodo sanctorum Hiberni^ gravis 
querela contra S. Columbam, tanquam auctorem tarn multi sanguinis eflfusi, 
instituta est." — Colgan, Act. SS. Ilibern., p. 645. 

** Now Teltown, a little village near Kells, in the county of Meath. 

■•* Especially by the argument in Irish of the Latin poem of Columba 
called Alius prosator, which will be mentioned further on. This argument 
is quoted textually by Dr. Jieeves, p. 253. This author is of opinion that 


Coluraba was not a man to draw back before his q^^^^j. ^3„ 
accusers and judges. He presented himself before |^^g^gJJJP* 
the synod which had struck without hearing him. taiiesup 
He found a defender there in the famous Abbot Bren- 
dan, the founder of the Monaster}^ of Birr. When Columba 
made his appearance, this abbot rose, went up to him, and 
embi'aced him. "How can you give the kiss of peace to an 
excommunicated man ? " said some of the other members of 
the synod. *' You would do as I have done," he answered, 
" and you never would have excommunicated him, had you 
seen what I see — a pillar of fire which goes before him, and 
the angels that accompany him. I dare not disdain a man 
predestined by God to be the guide of an entire people to 
eternal life." Thanks to the intervention of Brendan, or to 
some other motive not mentioned, the sentence of excommu- 
nication was withdrawn ; but Columba was charged to win 
to Christ by his preaching as many pagan souls as the 
number of Christians who had fallen in the battle of Cool- 

It was then that his soul seems first to have been Heconsuita 
troubled, and that remorse planted in it the germs several con- 
at once of a startling conversion and of his future 
apostolic mission. Sheltered as he was from all vengeance 
or secular penalties, he must have felt himself struck so much 
the more by the ecclesiastical judgment pronounced against 
him. Various legends reveal him to us at this crisis of his 
life, wandering long from solitude to solitude, and from mon- 
astery to monastery, seeking out holy monks, masters of pen- 
itence and Christian virtue, and asking them anxiously what 
he should do to obtain the pardon of God for the murder of 
80 many victims.*^ One of these, Froech, who had long been 
his friend, reproached him with affectionate severity for 

the legendary writers have antedated all these troublesome occurrences out 
of consideration for the Apostle of Caledonia, in order to concentrate all 
his eccentricities in the earlier part of his life before his voluntary expiation. 
Adaninan, who follows no chronological order, keeps silence on most of the 
events which preceded the voluntary exile of the saint, and only mentions 
vaguely the synod by which he was excommunicated ; but he proves that 
after that exile Columba several times returned to Ireland, where his influ- 
ence was always very considerable. " Cum a quodam synodo pro quibus- 
dam venialibus et tam excusabilibus causis, non recte, ut post in fine claiuit, 
exconiniunicaretur Columba ... ad eamdem contra ipsum collectam venit 
congregationem. . . . Hoc tamen factum est in Teilte." — Book iii. c. 3. 

'" CoLGAN, loc. cit., p. 645. 

48 .. ptjtens . . . quo scilicet modo post necem multorum occisorum, be- 
nevolentiam Doi ac remissionem peccatorum obtinere mereretur." — Vita & 
Molassii, ap. Trias ThauTtiat., p. 461. 


having been the instigator of that murderous fight. " It was 
not I who caused it," said Columba with animation ; '' it was 
the unjust judgment of King Diarmid — it was his violation 
of ecclesiastical immunity which did it all." '* A monk," an- 
swered the solitary, would have done better to bear the in- 
jury with patience than to avenge it with arms in his hands." 
" Be it so," said Columba; " but it is hard for a man unjustly 
provoked to restrain his heart and to sacrifice justice. "^-^ 

He was more humble with Abban, another famous monk 
of the time, founder of many religious houses, one of which 
was called the Cell of Tears, because the special grace of 
weeping for sin was obtained there.^'^ This gentle and cou- 
rageous soldier of Christ was specially distinguished by his 
zeal against the fighting men and disturbers of the public 
peace. He had been seen to throw himself between two 
chiefs at the moment when their lances were crossed at each 
other's breasts ; ^^ and on another occasion had gone alone 
and unarmed to meet one of the most formidable rievers of 
the island, who was still a pagan and a member' of a sovereign 
family, had made his arms drop from his hands, and had 
changed first into a Christian and then into a monk the royal 
robber, whose great-grandson has recorded this incident.^^ 
When Columba went to Abban, he said, '' I come to beseech 
thee to pray for the souls of all those who have perished in 
the iate war, which T raised for the honor of the Church. I 
know they will obtain grace by thy intercession, and I con- 
jure thee to ask what is the will of God in respect to them 
irom the angel who talks with thee every day." The aged 
solitary, without reproaching Columba, resisted his entreaties 
for some time, by reason of his great modesty, but ended by 

^* " Non ego, sed iniquuni in me Diermitii regis arbitrium, et pr«varicatio 
ecclesiasticae imraunitatisisti prEelio et malis inde secutis causani prsebuit. . . . 
Praestaret religioso viro injuriam patienter perferre, quam pugnaciter pro- 
pulsare. Ita est, infit S. Columba, sed injuste provooato baud pronum est 
erumpentem animi motum, praesertira cum Justus esse videtur, cohibere." — 
O'UoNNKLL, Viia quinta, ii. 8. 

"' " Et istud monasterium a multis vocatur Cealt na nder, id est cellule, 
laorymarum : eo quod bominibus ibi a Deo pcenitentiales lacrymse . . . do- 
2^ntur." — Vita S. Ahhani, ap. Colgan, lib. i. p. 615. 

-•' "Tarn appropinquabat ad alterutrum, ut lanceae eoruni ante se mixt3 
essent invicem." — Ibid., p. 619. 

** " Quidam ex regali genere istius terrae . . . heros et tyrannus, qui sem- 
per occidit et rapit et vivit in latrociniis . . . videntes comites S. Abbani 
-rirum armigerum, liorridissimum in incessu et habitu, cum simili turl)a mili- 
tum . . . unusquisque hinc et inde ccepit se abscondere. Vir autem Dei 
fide armatus intrepidus viam ibat. . . . Ego autem qui vitam S. Abbani col- 
leg! sum nepos ipsius filii quern baptizavit." — Vita S. Abbani, ap. Colgan, 
Ub. 1. p. 617. 


consenting ; and after having prayed, gave him the assurance 
that these souls enjoyed eternal repose.^^ 

Columba, thus reassured as to the fate of the victims of 
his rage, had still to be enlightened in respect to his own 
duty. He found the light which he sought from a holy monk 
called Molaise, famed for his studies of Holy Scripture,^ who 
had already been his confessor, and whose ruined monastery 
is still visible in one of the isles of the Atlantic.^^ This se- 
vere hermit confirmed the decision of the synod ; TVT„,„i„„ 
but to the obligation of converting to the Christian condemns 
faith an equal number of pagans as there were of perpetual 
Christians killed in the civil war he added a new ^^'''^* 
condition, which bore cruelly upon a soul so passionately at- 
tached to country and kindred. The confessor condemned 
his penitent to perpetual exile from Ireland.^^ Columba 
bowed to this sentence with sad resignation — "What you 
have commanded," he said, " shall be done."^'^ 

He announced his future fate in the first place Devotion of 
to his relations, the warlike Nialls of Tyrconnell. the young 
" An angel has taught me that I must leave Ireland 
and remain in exile as long as I live, because of all those 
whom you slew in the last battle, which j^ou fought on my 
account, and also in others which you know of" ^^ It is not 
recorded that any among his kindred attempted to hold him 
back ; but when he acquainted his disciples with his intended 
emigration, twelve among them decided to follow him. The 
most ardent of all was a young monk called Mochonna, son of 
the provincial king of Ulster. In vain Columba represented 
to him that he ought not to abandon his parents and native 
soil. " It is thou," answered the young man, " who art my 
father, the Church is my mother, and my country is where I 
can gather the largest harvest for Christ." Then, in order 
to render all resistance impossible, he made a solemn vow 
aloud to leave his country and follow Columba — "I swear 

*' *' Ut ores pro animabus illorum qui occisi fuerunt in bello comniisso 
nuper nobis suadentibus, causa Ecclesise. . . . Et angelus ait : Requiem ha- 
bebunt." — Ibid., p. 624, after tlie MS. of Salamanca, which is more com- 
plete on this point than the ordinary text. 

^* " Visitavit S. Lasrianum confessorem suura. . . . Divinarum scriptu- 
rarum scrutator." 

** Innishmurry, on the coast of Sligo. 

** Vita S. Molassii, ubi supra. 

" " Quod iudictum est, inquit ad Molassium, fiet." — O'Donnell, ii. 6. 

** " Mihi, juxta quod ab angelo praemonitus sum, ex Hiberniae migrandum 
est, et dum vixero exsulandum, quod mei causa per vos plurimi extincti 
•ant." — Ibid., ii. 4. 


to follow thee wherever thou goest, until thou hast led me 
to Christ, to whom thou hast consecrated me." ^^ It was 
thus, says his historian, that he forced himself rather than 
offered himself as a companion to the great exile in the 
course of his apostolical career among the Picts — and he 
had no more active or devoted auxiliary. 

Columba accepted, though not without sadness, as has 
been seen, the sentence of his friend. He dedicated the rest 
of his life to the expiation of his faults by a voluntary exile, 
and by preaching the faith to the heathen. Up to this time 
we have had difficulty in disentangling the principal events 
of the first forty years of his life from a maze of confused and 
contradictory narratives. We have followed what has seemed 
to us the most probable account, and one most calculated to, 
throw light upon the character of the saint, his people, and 
his country. Henceforward we shall find a surer guide in 
Adamnan, who only touches very slightly upon the first half 
of his hero's life, and who, with an apparent contempt for 
the unanimous testimony of Irish witnesses, while agreeing 
that the departure of 'the saint took place after the battle in 
which the King of Ireland had been beaten by Columba's 
kindred,^'' attributes his departure solely to his desire for the 
conversion of the heathens of the great neighboring isle.^^ 




Aspect of the Hebridean archipelago. — Columba first lands at Oronsay, but 
leaves it because Ireland is visible from its shores. — Description of lona. 
— First buildings of the new monastery. — What remains of it. — Enthu- 

*' " Se peregrinationis socium non magis obtulit, quam obtrusit. . . . Tu 
milii pater es, Ecclesia mater, et patria ubi uberiorem bene merendi segetem 
et majorem Christo deserviendi ansam invenero. . . . Te quocumque ieris 
sequar, donee ad Christum perduxeris, cui me pridem consecraras." — 
O'DoNNELL, Vita Columbce, lib. iii. c. 24, 25, 26. 

6u "Post bellum Cule Drebene . . . quo tempore vir beatus de Scotia pere- 
grinaturus primitus enavigavit." — Adamn., i. 7. What is said of the poem 
called Alius, the composition of which was suggested by the remorse of 
Columba after his three battles, will be seen further on, p. 732. 

*' " De Scotis ad Britanniam pro Christo peregrinari volens, enavigavit." 
— Adamn., PrcBf. The MS. of Salamanca, quoted by Colgan, adds: "^Id 
(onvertendos ad Jidem Pictos." 


eiasm or Johnson on landing there in the eighteenth century. — Columbf. 
bitterly regrets his country. — Passionate elegies on the pains of exile. — 
Note upon the poem of Alius. — Proofs in his biography of the continu- 
ance of that patriotic regret. — The stork comes from Ireland to lona. 

He who has not seen the islands and gulfs of the western 
coast of Scotland, and who has not been tossed upon the som- 
bre sea of the Hebrides, can scarcely form any image of it 
to himself. Nothing can be less seductive at the first glance 
than that austere and solemn nature, which is picturesquo 
without charm, and grand without grace. The traveller 
passes sadly through an archipelago of naked and desert 
islands, sowed, like so many extinct volcanoes, upon the dull 
and sullen waters, which are sometimes broken by rapid 
currents and dangerous whirlpools. Except on rare days, 
when the sun — that pale sun of the North — gives life to 
these shores, the eye wanders over a vast surface of gloomy 
sea, broken at intervals by the whiteningcrest of waves, or by 
the foam}^ line of the tide, which dashes here against long 
reefs of rock, there against immense cliffs, with a forlorn roar 
which fills the air. Through the continual fogs and rains of 
that rude climate may be seen by times the summits of chains 
of mountains, whose abrupt and naked sides slope to the sea, 
and whose base is bathed by those cold waves which are 
kept in constant agitation by the shock of contrary currents, 
and the tempests of wind which burst from the lakes and 
narrow ravines farther inland. The melancholy of the land- 
scape is relieved only by that peculiar configuration of the 
coast, which has been remarked by the ancient authors, and 
especially by Tacitus — a configuration which exists besides 
only in Greece and Scandinavia.'^^ ^g jj^ ^[^q fiords of Nor- 
way, the sea cuts and hollows out the shores of the islands 
into a host of bays and gulfs, of strange depth, and as narrow 
as profouud.^^ These gulfs take the most varied forms, pene- 
trating by a thousand tortuous folds into the middle of the 

®* " Nusquam latius dominari mare, multum fluniinum hue atque illuc 
ferre, nee littore tenus adcrescere aut resorberi, sed influere penitus atque 
ambire, etiam jugis atque montihus inseri velut in suo." — Tacitus, Agri- 
colcB Vita, c. 10. " Diversorum prolixioribus promontoriorum tractibus, 
quae arenatis Oceani sinibus ambiuntur." — Gildas, vol. iii. p. 11, ed. Stevens, 

^ " Mare, quo latus ingens 
Dant scopuli, et multa litus se valle receptat." 

Perseus, Sat. vi 

These lines of Perseus upon the Riviera of Genoa describe still bettc the 
western coast of Scotland. 

VOL. II. 3 


knd, as if to identify themselves with the long and winding 
lakes of the Highland interior. Numberless peninsulas, ter- 
minating in pointed headlands, or summits covered with 
clouds ; isthmuses so narrow as to leave the sea visible at 
both sides ; straits so closely shut between two walls of rock 
that the eye hesitates to plunge into that gloom ; enormous 
cliffs of basalt or of granite, their sides perforated with rents ; 
caverns, as at Stafifa, lofty as churches, flanked through all 
their length by prismatic columns, through which the waves 
of the ocean dash with groans ; and here and there, in con- 
trast with that wild majesty, perhaps in an island, perhaps 
upon the shore of the main land, a sandy beach, a little plain 
covered with scanty prickling grass ; a natural port, capable 
of sheltering a few frail boats ; everywhere, in short, a 
strangely varied combination of land and sea, but where the 
sea carries the day, penetrates and dominates everything, as 
if to affirm her empire, and, as Tacitus has said, " inseri velut 
in suoJ' 

Such is the present aspect — such must have been, with 
the addition of the forests which have disappeared, the as- 
pect of those shores when Columba sought them to continue 
and end his life there. It was from this point that he was to 
assail the Land of Woods,^* that unconquerable Caledonia, 
where the Romans had been obliged to relinquish the idea 
of establishing themselves, where Christianity hitherto had 

' appeared only to vanish, and which for long seemed to Europe 
almost outside the boundaries of the world. To Columba 
was to fall the honor of introducing civilization into the stony, 
sterile, and icy Escosse la Sauvage,^^ which the imagination 

, of our fathers made the dwelling-place of hunger, and of the 
prince of demons. Sailing by these distant shores, who 
could refrain from evoking the holy memory and forgotten 
glory of the great missionary ? It is from him that Scotland 
has derived that religious spirit which, led astray as it has 
been since the Reformation, and in spite of its own rigid nar- 
roAvness, remains still so powerful, so popular, so fruitful, and 

^* In Gaelic, Calyddon, land of forests, according to Augustin Thierry; 
according to Camden tliis name is derived from kaled, which means hard aniil 

^* See the expressions of Jean de Meung, Froissart, and others, collected 
by M. Francisque Michel, in his fine and learned work, Les Ecossais en 
France et les Franr^ais en Ecosse, printed by Gounouilhou, Bordeaux, 1862, 
p. .^.-5. The words addressed by St. Louis when sick to his son are well 
kt»own • "I pray thee to make thyself loved by the people of thy kingdom; 
for if thou rulest ill, I had rather that a Scot came from Scotland and 
reigned in thy place." — Joinville, p. 4. 


SO free.^^ Half veiled by the misty distance, Columba stands 
first among those original and touching historical figures to 
whom Scotland owes the great place she has occupied in the 
memory and imagination of modern nations, from the nolije 
chivalry of the feudal and Catholic kingdom of the Bi'uces 
and Douglases, down to the unparalleled misfortunes of Mary 
Stuart and Charles Edward, and all the poetic and rotnantic 
recollections which the pure and upright genius of Walter 
Scott has endowed with European fame. 

A voluntary exile, at the age of forty-two, from his native 
island, Columba embarked with his twelve companions *^^ in one 
of those great barks of osier covered with hide which the Celtic 
nations employed for their navigation. He landed ciiumb' 
upon a desert island situated on the north of the open- lamis at 
ing of that series of gulfs and lakes which, extending ^°'^*' 
from the south-west to the north-east, cuts the Caledonian 
peninsula in two, and which at that period separated the still 
heathen Picts from the district occupied by the Irish Scots, 
who were partially Christianized. This isle, which he has 
made immortal, took from him the name of I-Colm-Kill 
(the island of Columb-Kill), but is better known under that 
of lona.^^ A legend, suggested by one of our saint's most 
marked characteristics, asserts that he first landed upon 
another islet called Oronsay,'^^" but that, having climbed a hill 
near the shore immediately on landing, he found that he 
could still see Ireland, his beloved country. To see far off 
that dear soil which he had left forever, was too hard a trial. 
He came down from the hill, and immediately took to his 
boat to seek, farther off, a shore from which he could not see 
his native land. When he had reached lona he climbed the 
highest point in the island, and, gazing into the distance, 

®* This is evidenced by the wonderful outburst of the Free Kirk, produceil 
in 1843 by a local dispute upon the lay patronage of parishes, and which has 
established in almost every village of Scotland a new community and a new 
church, sustained by voluntary contributions in face of the oflScial Church, 
which continues to hold a portion of the ecclesiastical possessions of Catlio- 
lic times. 

*' See their names in Appendix A of Reeves. Let us at present remark 
two among them whom we sliall meet again further on — Baithen, Columba's 
secretary, and his successor as abbot of loiia, and Diormit or Dermott, iiis 
minister {ministrator), the monk specially attached to his person, after the 
young Mochonna, of whom mention has already been made. 

** The primitive name was Ify, Ilii, or / — tliat is to say, the isle, the isle 
par excellence. lona, according to various authors, means the blessed isle. 
This last word is written lova by Adamnan and the ancient authors ; but usage 
has turned it into lona. 

'"» To the south of Colonsay, not far from the large island ni Islay. 


found no longer any trace of Ireland upon the horizon. Ha 
decided, accordingly, to remain upon this unknown rock. One 
of those heaps of stones, which are called cairns in the Celtic 
dialect, still marks the spot where Columba made this de- 
siredly unfruitful examination, and has long borne the name 
of the Cairn of Farewell.*^^ 

Description Nothing could bc more sullen and sad than the 
of the isle aspect of this celebrated isle, where not a single 

or loni • • 

tree has been able to resist either the blighting 
wind or the destroying hand of man. Only three miles in 
length by two in breadth, flat and low, bordered by gray 
rocks which scarcely rise above the level of the sea, and over- 
shadowed by the high and sombre peaks of the great island 
of Mull,™ it has not even the wild beauty which is conferred 
upon the neighboring isles and shores by their basalt cliffs, 
which are often of prodigious height — or which belongs to 
the hills, often green and rounded at the summit, whose per- 
pendicular sides are beaten incessantly by those Atlantic 
waves, which bury themselves in resounding caverns hol- 
lowed by the everlasting labors of that tumultuous sea. Upon 
the narrow surface of the island white stretches of sand al- 
ternate with scanty pastures, a few poor crops, and the turf- 
moors where the inhabitants find their fuel. Poor as the 
culture is, it seems everywhere resisted and disputed by the 
gneiss rocks, which continually crop out, and in some places 
form an almost inextricable lab^a'inth. The only attraction 
possessed by this sombre dwelling-place is the view of the 
sea, and of the mountains of Mull and the other islands, to 
the number of twenty or thirt}', which may be distinguished 
from the top of the northern hill of lona.^'i Among these is 
Stafi'a, celebrated for the grotto of Fingal, which has been 
known only for about a century, and which, in the time of 
Columba, moaned and murmured in its solitary and unknown 

®® Cam cul ri Erin — literally, the hack turned on Ireland. Many histo- 
rians are of opinion that the isle had been formerly inhabited by Druids, 
whose burying-place is still shown — Clachnan Druineach. O'Donnell says 
that they resisted the landing of the Irish emigrants ; but Dr. Reeves con- 
tests this idea with A'ery strong arguments. His edition of Adamnan containa 
a detailed map of lona, with all the names of places in Celtic. 
70 14 Wliere a turret's airy head 
O'erlooked, dark Mull ! thy mighty Sound, 
Wliere tliwarting tides, with mingled roar, 
Part thy swarth liills from Morven's sliore." 

Walter Scott, Lord of the Isles, i. T. 
''' This hill, the highest in tlie ishnd, is only 320 feet above the level oi 
tlie sea. 


majesty, in the midst of that Hebridean archipelago which is 
at present haunted by so many curious admirer^ of the High- 
land shores and ruined feudal castles, which the great bard 
of our century has enshrined in the glory of his verse."^ 

The bay where Columba landed is still called the hay of 
the osier bark, Port' a Churraich; and a long mound is 
pointed out to strangers as representing the exact size of his 
boat, which was sixtj^ feet long. The emigrant did not re- 
main in this bay, which is situated in the middle of the isle ; 
he went higher up, and, to find a little shelter from the great 
sea winds, chose for his habitation the eastern shore, oppo- 
site the large island of Mull, which is separated from lona 
only by a narrow channel of a mile in breadth, and whose 
highest mountains,"^ situated more to the east, approach and 
almost identify themselves with the mountain-tops of Mor- 
ven, which are continually veiled with clouds. It was there 
that the emigrants built their huts of branches, for the island 
was not then, as now, destitute of wood."'* When First estab 
Columba had made up his mind to construct for him- |'iie™™* °' 
self and his people a settled establishment, the build- monastery. 
ings of the new-born monastery were of the greatest sim- 
plicity. As in all Celtic constructions, walls of withes or 
branches, supported upon long wooden props, formed the 
principal element in their architecture. Climbing plants, 
especially ivy, interlacing itself in the interstices of the 
branches, at once ornamented and consolidated the modest 
shelter of the missionaries."^ The Irish built scarcely any 
churches of stone, and retained, up to the twelfth century, as 
St. Bernard testifies, the habit of building their churches of 
wood. But it Avas not for some years after their first estab- 
lishment that the monks of lona permitted themselves the 
luxury of a wooden church ; and when they did so, great 

'* In the Lord of the Isles Scott has given a poetic itinerary of all the 
archipelago so frequented by St. Columba. The powerful Celtic dynasties 
who, under the title of Lords of the Isles, ruled tlie Hebrides during the 
middle ages, were of the clan Macdonald : their sway extended over the dis- 
trict of Morven, which is the part of the main land nearest to lona. 

" The highest mountain in Mull is 3178 feet in height. 

'* It is said that Columba retired in saltibus to pray. At present the in- 
habitants of lona have no other wood than that which is thrown by the sea 
upon the beach. See in the Appendix No. 1 some notes upon the present 
condition of lona. 

75 " Virgarum fasciculos ad hospitium constnienduni. . . . Binales audes." 
— Adamnan, ii. 3-7. Dr. Reeves has put together several ancient authori- 
ties upon the materials of chapels and churches in Wales and Brittany. 
" Virgis torquatis muros perficientes . . . musco silvestri solum et hederaa 
nexibus adornato. . . . Virgas et fenum ad materiaui cellae construendae . . ." 



oalcs, such as the sterile and wind-beaten soil of their islet 
could not produce, had to be brought for its construction 
from the neighboring shore. "^ 

Thus the monastic capital of Scotland, and the centre of 
Christian civilization in the north of Great Britain, came into 
being thirteen centuries ago. Some ruins of a much late" 
date than the days of Columba, though still very ancient, 
mingled among a few cottages scattered on the shore, still 
point out the site. 

" We were now treading," said, in the eighteenth century, 
the celebrated Johnson, who was the first to recall the atten- 
tion of the British public to this profaned sanctuary — " we 
were now treading that illustrious island which was once the 
luminary of the Caledonian regions, whence savage clans and 
roving barbarians derived the benefits of knowledge and the 
blessings of religion. To abstract the mind from all local 
emotion would be impossible, if it were endeavored, and 
would be foolish, if it were possible. Whatever withdraws 
us from the power of our senses, whatever makes the past, 
the distant, or the future predominate over the present, 
advances us in the dignity of thinking beings. Far from me, 
and from my friends, be such frigid philosophy as may con- 
duct us indifferent and unmoved over any ground which has 
been dignified by wisdom, bravery, or virtue. That man is 
little to be envied whose patriotism would not gain force upon 
.the plain of Marathon, or whose piety would not grow warmer 
among the ruins of lona ! " ''' 

Columba, who had been initiated into classic recollections, 
like all the monks of his time, had no doubt heard of Mara- 
thon ; but certainly it could never have occurred to him that 
a day would come in which a descendant of the race he came 
to save should place his humble shelter in the same rank with 
the most glorious battle-field of Hellenic history. 

Far from having any prevision of the glory of lona, his 
Columba ^^^^ ^^^ ^^^^^ swayed by a sentiment which never 
passion- abandoned him — regret for his lost country. All 
gretehVs his life he retained for Ireland the passionate tender- 
country. nQas of an exile, a love which displayed itself in the 
songs which have been preserved to us, and which date per- 
haps from the first moments of his exile. It is possible that 
theii authenticity is not altogether beyond dispute ; and that, 

'* " Cum roborea; . . . duodecim currucis congregatis, materiaB ad nos« 
truin renovandum tralierentur monasterium." 
^'' Boswell's Tou7' to the Hebrides. 


like the poetic lamentations given forth by Fortunalus in the 
name of St. Radegund/^ they were composed by his disciples 
and contemporaries. But they have been too long repeated 
as his, and depict too well what must have passed in his 
heart, to permit us to neglect them. " Death in faultless Ire- 
land is better than life without end in Albyn."' After this 
cry of despair follow strains more plaintive and submissive. 
In one of his elegies,"^ he laments that he can no longer sail 
on the lakes and bays of his native island, nor hear tho song 
of the swans, with his friend Comgall. He laments above all 
to have been driven from Erin by his own fault, and because 
of the blood shed in his battles. He envies his friend Cor- 
mac, who can go back to his dear monastery at Durrow, and 
hear the wind sigh among the oaks, and the song of the black- 
bird and cuckoo. As for Columba, all is dear to him in Ire- 
land except the princes who reign there. This last particular 
shows the persistence of his political rancor. No trace of 
this feeling, however, remains in a still more characteristic 
poem,^*' which must have been confided to some traveller as 
a message from the exile of lona to his country. In this he 
celebrates, as always, the delight of voyaging round the 
coast of Ireland, and the beauty of its cliffs and beach. But, 
above all, he mourns over his exile : — 

** What joy to fly upon the white-crested sea, and to watch 
tbe waves break upon the Irish shore ! what joy to row the 
little bark, and land among the whitening foam upon the Irish 
shore 1 Ah ! how my boat would fly if its prow were turned 
to my Irish oak-grove ! But the noble sea now carries me 
only to Albyn,^^ the land of ravens. My foot is in my little 
boat, but my sad heart ever bleeds. There is a gray eye 
which ever turns to Erin ; but never in this life shall it see 
Erin, nor her sons, nor her daughters.^^ From the high prow 

" See ante, p. 488. 

" Published by Reeves, Appendix, p. 275. 

®" Reeves, p. 285-87. The original text of this poem is in very ancient 

*' Alba, Albania, is the name generally applied by Irish writers to that 
part of Great Britain which afterwards became Scotland. It is evidently the 
same as Albion, and later took the form of Albany, which has been always 
employed in tlie heraldic language of the two kingdoms as a title borne by 
the princes of the royal house. Everybody knows that the widow of 
Charles Edward, when married a second time to Alfieri, called herself 
Countess of Albany. 

"* This seems to refer to a vow which he is said to have made at the mo- 
ment of his departure, to see neither man nor woman of his country — a 
vow which he evaded on his journey to the national assembly of Drum* 


I look over the sea, and great tears are in ray gra}'' eye when 
I turn to Erin — to Erin, where the song of the birds are so 
sweet, and where the clerks sing like the birds ; where the 
young are so gentle, and the old so wise ; where the great 
men are so noble to look at, and the women so fair to wed. 
Young traveller, carry my sorrows with thee, carry them to 
Comgall of eternal life. Noble youth, take my prayer with 
thee, and my blessing; one part for Ireland — seven times 
may she be blessed I and the other for Albyn. Carry my 
blessing across the sea — carry it to the west. My heart is 
broken in my breast : if death comes to me suddenly, it will 
be because of the great love I bear to the Gael.^^ 

^^ But it was not only in these elegies, repeated 

lasts a7i his and perhaps retouched by Irish bards and monks, 
' *■ but at each instant of his life, in season and out of 

season, that this love and passionate longing for his native 
country burst forth in words and in musings ; the narratives 
of his most trustworthy biographers are full of it. The most 
severe penance which he could imagine for the guiltiest sin- 
ners who came to confess to him, was to impose upon them 
the same fate which he had voluntarily inflicted upon himself 
— never to set foot again upon Irish soil.^^ But when, instead 
of forbidding to sinners all access to that beloved isle, he had 
to smother his envy of those who had the right and happiness 
to go there at their pleasure, he dared scarcely trust himself 
to name its name ; and when speaking to his guests, or to the 

Ceitt bj"^ covering his eyes with a bandage, over which he drew his cowl. — 

**^ The Gaoidhil or Gaedhil. This was tlie name which the Irish gave them- 
selves before the Roman missionaries had given them the name of Scoti. It 
is generally argued that the best known and most authentic, though in our 
opinion the least interesting, of Columba's Latin poems, dates from the first 
years of his sojourn at lona. It is called by the name of Alius, from the 
first word of the first verse — 

" Altus prosator vertustus dierum et ingenitus." 
It is composed of twenty-four stanzas. The first word of each verse begins 
with a different letter, in the order of the letters of the alphabet. Each 
Terse comments in very imaginative language on a text of Scripture, indi- 
cated in the argument, on such subjects as the Creation, the Fall, Hell, the 
Last Judgment, &c. The argument (in Irish) of this poem expressly states 
that it was suggested to Columba by liis desire to obtain the pardon of God 
for his three battles. The text has been published by Colgan. Dr. Todd 
announces a more complete edition. Colgan states formally that the poem 
was composed at lona. He adds that, according to some, the saint occupied 
some years in meditation on the subject before he wrote it; and that, ac- 
cording to others, he sent it to Pope Gregory the Great, who received it with 
the most sympathetic respect. 

^* See furtlier on an incident related by Adamnan, i. 22. 


monks who were to return to Ireland, he could only say to 
them, " You will return to the country that you love." ^^ 

This melancholy patriotism never faded out of ^3 gougj. 
his heart, and was evidenced much later in his life g^^^VpY 
by an incident which shows an obstinate regret for came from 
his lost Ireland, along with a tender and careful 
solicitude for all the creatures of God. One morning he called 
one of the monks and said to him, " Go and seat thyself by 
the sea, upon the western bank of the island ; there thou wilt 
see arrive from the north of Ireland and fall at thy feet a 
poor travelling stork, long beaten by the winds and exhausted 
by fatigue. Take her up with pity, feed her and watch her 
for three days ; after three days' rest, when she is refreshed 
and strengthened, she will no longer wish to prolong her 
exile among us — she will fly to sweet Ireland, her dear 
country where she was born. I bid thee care for her thus, 
because she comes from the land where I, too, was born." 
Everything happened as he had said and ordered. The even- 
ing of the day on which the monk had received the poor 
traveller, as he returned to the monastery, Columba, asking 
him no questions, said to him, " God bless thee, my dear 
child, thou hast cared for the exile ; in three days thou shalt 
see her return to her country." And, in fact, at the time 
mentioned the stork rose from the ground in her host's pres- 
ence, and, after having sought her way for a moment in the 
air, directed her flight across the sea, straight upon Ireland.^^ 
The sailors of the Hebrides all know and tell this tale ; and I 
love to think that among all my readers there is not one 
who would not fain have repeated or deserved Columba'a 

** " In tua quam amas patria . . . per multos eris annos." — Adamn., i. 17. 

*'® "Nam de aquilonali Hibernise regione qujedam hospita grus, valde fessa 
et fatigata, superveniet, coram te in litore cadens recumbet ; quam miseri- 
cordiler sublevare curabis, ad propinquam deportabis domuni ; et post ex- 
pleto recreata triduo, nolens ultra apud nos peregrinari, ad priorem Scotiaa 
dulcem, unde orta, renieabit regioneni . . . quam ideo tibi sic diligenter 
commendo, quia de nostras paternitatis regione est oriunda. . . . Benedicat 
te Deus, mi fill, quia peregrinae bene ministrasti hospitae . . . quae post ter- 
nos soles ad patriam repeaabit . . . paulisperque in aere viam speculata 
. . . recti volatus cursu ad Hiberniam se repedavit tranquillo." — Adamn., 
i. 48. 




Moral transformation of Columba. — His progress in spiritual life. — His 
humility. — His charity. — His preaching by tears. — The hut which 
formed his abbatial palace at lona. — His prayers ; his work of transcrip- 
tion. — His crowd of visitors. — His severity in the examination of monas- 
tic vocations. — AYdus the Black, the murderer of Columbs's eremy King 
Diarmid, rejected by the community. — Penance of Libran of the Rushes. 
— Columba encourages the despairing and unmasks the hypocrites. — Monas- 
tic propaganda of lona ; Columba's fifty-three foundations in Scotland. — 
His relations with the people of Caledonia : First with the colony of Dal- 
riadians from Ireland, whose king was liis relative; he enlightens and con- 
firms their imperfect Christianity. — Ambushes laid for his chastity. — His 
connection with the Picts, who occupied the north of Britain. — The do7-- 
sum Britannia. — Columba their first missionary. — The fortress gates of 
their king Brudus open before him. — He struggles with the Druids in 
their last refuge. — He preaches by an interpreter. — His respect for natu- 
ral virtue. — Baptism of two old Pictish chiefs. — Columba's humanity : 
he redeems an Irish captive. — Frequent journeys among the Picts, whose 
conversion he accomplishes before he dies. — His fellow- workers, Malruve 
and Drostan ; the Monastery of Tears. 

However bitter the sadness might be with which exile 
jBlled the heart of Columba, it did not for a moment turn him 
from his work of expiation. As soon as he had installed 
himself with his companions in that desert isle, from whence 
the Christian faith and monastic life were about to radiate 
over the north of Great Britain, a gradual and almost com- 
plete transformation became apparent in him. Without giv- 
ing up the lovable peculiarities of his character and race, he 
gradually became a model for penitents, and at the same 
time for confessors and preachers. Without ceasing 
cokimba^ to maintain an authority which was to increase with 
his prog- years, and which does not seem ever to have been 

ress in J ' . i • i i i i <• i j 

spiritual disputed, over the monasteries which he had lounden 
in Ireland, he applied himself at once to establish, 
on the double basis of manual and intellectual labor, the new 
insular community which was to be the centre of his future 
activity. Then he proceeded to unite himself in friendly 
relations with the inhabitants of the neighboring districts, 


whom it was needful to evangelize or confinn in the faith, 
before thinking of carrying the light of the Gospel further off 
to the north. He prepared himself for this grand mission by 
miracles of fervor and austerity, as well as humble charity, 
to the great profit in the first place of his own monks, and 
afterwards of the many visitors who came, whether from Ire- 
land or from the Caledonian shores, to seek at his side the 
healing or the consolation of penitence. 

This man, whom we have seen so passionate, so ^jj^ j,„^iii. 
irritable, so warlike and vindictive, became little by ty mid 
little the most gentle, the humblest, the most tender *"""^" 
of friends and fathers. It was he, the great head of the Cale- 
donian Church, who, kneeling before the strangers who came 
to lona, or before the monks returning from their work, took 
off their shoes, washed their feet, and after having washed 
them respectfully kissed them. But charity was still stronger 
than humility in that transfigured soul. No necessity, spirit- 
ual or temporal, found him indifferent. He devoted himself 
to the solace of all infirmities, all misery, and pain, weeping 
often over those who did not weep for themselves.^'' These 
tears became the most eloquent part of his preaching, the 
means which he employed most willingly to subdue inveter- 
ate sinners, to arrest the criminal on the brink of the abyss, 
to appease and soften and change those wild and savage but 
simple and straightforward souls, whom God had given him 
to subdue. 

In the midst of the new community Columba inhabited, in- 
stead of a cell, a sort of hut built of planks, and placed upon 
the most elevated spot within the monastic enclosure. Up 
to the age of seventy-six he slept there upon the hard floor, 
with no pillow but a stone. This hut was at once his study 
and his' oratory. It was there that he gave himself prayerand 
up to those prolonged prayers which excited the ^^^k. 
admiration and alniost the alarm of his disciples. It was 
there that he returned after sharing the out-door labor of his 
monks,^^like the least among them, to consecrate the rest of 
his time to the study of Holy Scripture and the transcription of 
the sacred text. The work of transcription remained until his 

^'' " Cum laborantibus laborabat, cum infirmantibus infirmabatur, cum 
flentibus semper, et cum non tlentibus saspe flebat. . . . Quando vel pervi- 
caces in nefarium aliquod facinus ruentes cobibere non poterat . . . lacry- 
mas ubertim emittebat." — O'Donnell, lib. iii. c. 40. 

*® '• Nullum borae momentulum transibat, quo non pie occupatum reperiri 
potuerit. ... In manual! laboratione cum aliis fratribus non secus ac eoruta 
minimus, coUaborabat." — O'Donnell, Vita quinia, iii. 37, .39. 


last day the occupation of his old age, as it had been the pas- 
sion of his youth ; it had such an attraction for him, and 
seemed to him so essential to a knowledge of the truth, thatj 
as we have already said, three hundred copies of the Holy 
Gospels, copied by his own hand, have been attributed to him. 
His crowd ^t "^'^s in the same hut that he received with un- 
v)f visitors, wearied patience the numerous and sometimes im- 
portunate visitors' who soon flowed to him, and of whom some- 
times he complained gently — as of that indiscreet stranger, 
who, desirous of embracing him, awkwardly overturned his 
ink upon the border of his robe.^^ These importunate guests 
did not come out of simple curiosity ; they were most com- 
monly penitent or fervid Christians, who, informed by the 
fishermen and inhabitants of the neighboring isles of the es- 
tablishment of the Irish monk, who was already famous in 
his own country, and attracted by the growing renown of his 
virtues, came from Ireland, from the north and south of Brit- 
ain, and even from the midst of the still heathen Saxons, to 
save their souls and gain heaven under the direction of a 
man of God.^ 

His scru- Far from making efforts to attract or lightly ad- 

puiousse- mittins: these neophytes, nothing in his life is more 
the exami- clearly established than the scrupulous severity with 
nation of ^v]^Jq|-^ }^q examined into all vocations, and into the 


admission of penitents. He feared nothing so much 
as that the monastic frock might serve as a shelter for crimi- 
nals who sought in the cloister not only a place of penitence 
and expiation, but a shelter from human justice. On occa- 
sion he even blamed the too great facility of his friends and 
disciples. One of the latter, Finchan, had founded upon 
Bigg,^i another Hebridean island, a community resembling 
that of lona, and possibly dependent upon it : he had there 
admitted to clerical orders, and even to the priesthood, a 
prince of the clan of Picts established in Ireland, Aedh or 
A'idus, called the Black, a violent and bloodthirsty man, who had 

«9 " Tuguriolum hospitiolum, in eminentiore loco fabricatum, in quo vir 
beatus scribebat. . . . Hospes molestus supervenit, sanctumque osculandum 
appetens, era vestimenti inclinatum efFudit atramenti corniculum." — Adam- 
nan, i. 25. 

*" Adaninan has among the list of the first companions of the holy abbot 
the names of two Saxons, one of whom was a baker, and also that of a 
Briton, who died first of all the lona monks. This was that Odhran or 
Grain who has left his name to the burying-ground, which is still called 
Reilig Oram. " Bonis actibus intentans qui primus apud nos in hac insula 
mortuus est." — Adamnan, iii. 6. 

" To the north of lona, near the large island of Skye. 


assassinated Diarmid, the king of Ireland. It was this king. 
as will be remembered, who pronounced the unjust sentence 
v,-hich drove Columba frantic, and was the occasion of all bis 
faults and misfortunes. The abbot of lona was not the less 
on this account indignant at the weakness of his friend. 
*' The hand which Finchan has laid, in the face of all justice 
and ecclesiastical law, upon the head of this son of perdition," 
said Columba, " shall rot and fall off, and be buried before 
the body to which it is attached. As for the false priest, the 
assassin, he shall himself be assassinated." This double 
prophecy was accomplished.^^ 

Let us lend an ear to the following dialogue which Libranof 
Columba held with one of those who sought shelter the Rushes, 
under his discipline. It will explain the moral and spiritual 
condition of that age better than many commentaries, and 
will, besides, show the wonderful influence which Columba, 
penitent and exiled in the depths of his distant island, exer- 
cised over all Ireland. It was one day announced to him 
that a stranger had just landed from Ireland, and Columba 
went to meet him in the house reserved for guests, to talk to 
him in private, and question him as to his dwelling-place, his 
family, and the cause of his journe}'. The stranger told him 
that he had undertaken this painful voyage in order, under 
the monastic habit and in exile, to expiate his sins. Colum- 
ba, desirous of trying the reality of his penitence, drew a 
most repulsive picture of the hardship and difficult obliga- 
tions of the new life. " I am ready," said the stranger, " to 
submit to the most cruel and humiliating conditions that 
thou canst command me." And after having made confes- 
sion, he swore, still upon his knees, to accomplish all the re- 
quirements of penitence. "It is well," said the abbot; "now 
rise from thy knees, seat thyself, and listen ; you must first 
do penance for seven years in the neighboring island of 
Tiree, after which I will see you again." "But," said the 
penitent, still agitated b}' remorse, " how can I expiate a per- 
jury of which I have not yet spoken? Before I left my own 
country I killed a poor man. I was about to suffer the pun- 
ishment of death for that crime, and I was already in irons, 

*^ " Finchanus, Christi miles, Aidura . . . regio genere ortuni, Cruthinium 
gente, de Scotia ad Britanniam sub clericatus habitu secum adduxit. . . . 
Qui valde sanguiniirius homo et multorum fuerat trucidator. . . . Dannitium 
totae Scotiae regnatoreni Deo auctore ordinatuni interfecerat. . . . Manua 
. . . contra fas et jus ecclesiasticum super caput filii perditionis, mox com« 
putrescet." — Adamnah, i. 36. 

VOL. II. 4 


when one of my relations, who is very rich, delivered me by 
paying the composition demanded. I swore that I would 
serve him all the rest of my life ; but after some days of ser- 
vice I abandoned him, and here I am, notwithstanding my 
oath." Upon this the saint added that he would only be ad- 
mitted to the paschal communion after seven years of peni- 
tence. When these were completed, Columba, after having 
given him the communion with his own hand, sent him back 
to Ireland to his patron, carrying a sword with an ivory 
handle for his ransom. The patron, however, moved by the 
entreaties of his wife, gave the penitent his pardon without 
ransom. " Why should we accept the price sent to us by the 
holy Columba? We are not worthy of it. The request of 
such an intercessor should be granted freely. His blessing 
will do more for us than any ransom." And immediately he 
detached the girdle from his waist, which was the ordinary 
formula in Ireland for the manumission of captives or slaves. 
Columba had besides commanded his penitent to remain with 
his old father and mother until he had rendered to them the 
last services. This accomplished, his brothers let him go, 
saying, '' Par be it from us to detain a man who has labored 
for seven years for the salvation of his soul with the holy 
Columba." He then returned to lona, bringing with him the 
sword which was to have been his ransom. '^ Henceforward 
thou shalt be called Libran, for thou art free, and emanci- 
pated from all ties," said Columba ; and he immediately ad- 
mitted him to take the monastic vows. But when he was 
commanded to return to Tiree, to end his life at a distance 
from Columba, poor Libran, who up to this moment had been 
so docile, fell on his knees and wept bitterly. Columba, 
touched by his despair, comforted him, as besl he could, 
without, however, altering his sentence. ''Thou shalt live 
far from me, but thou shalt die in one of my monasteries, and 
thou shalt rise again with my monks, and have part with 
them in heaven," said the abbot. Such was the history of 
Libran, called Libran of the Rushes, because he had passed 
many years in gathering rushes — the years probably of his 

^^ " Librjinus de Arundineto . . . plebeius nuper. sumpto clericatus habitu 
... ad delenda in peregrinatione peccaiiiina longo fatigatum itinere. . . . 
Cui sanctus, ut de suae poenitudinis exploraret qualitate, dura et laboriosa 
ante oculos nionasterialia proposuisset imperia. . . . Paratus sum ad omnia 
quaecumque mihi jubere volueris, quamlibet durissima, quamlibet indigna. 
. . . Surge et reside. . . . Quid agere oportet de quudam meo falso jura- 
mento? Nam in patria trucidavi liomuncionem. . . . Machaeram belluinis 


This doctor, learned in penitence, became day by He en- 
day more gifted in the great art of ruling souls ; the p«fi- 
and, with a hand as prudent as vigorous, raised up te»ts, and 
on one side the wounded and troubled conscience — the hypo- 
while, on the other, he unveiled the false monks and '""'*''^' 
false penitents. To a certain monk, who, in despair at hav- 
ing yielded during a journey to the temptations of a wo- 
man, rushed from confessor to confessor without ever find- 
ing himself sufficiently repentant or sufficient!}'' punished, 
he restored peace and confidence, by showing him that his 
despair was nothing but an infernal hallucination, and by in- 
flicting upon him a penance hard enough to convince him of 
the remission of his sin.^'^ To another sinner from Ireland, 
who, guilty of incest and fratricide, had insisted, whether 
Columba pleased or not, on taking refuge in lona, he imposed 
perpetual exile from his native country, and twelve years of 
penance among the savages of Caledonia, predicting at the 
same time that the false penitent Avould perish in conse- 
quence of refusing this expiation.^^ Arriving one day in a 
little community formed by himself in one of the neighboring 
islets,^^ and intended to receive the penitents during their 
time of probation, he gave orders that certain delicacies 
should be added to their usual repast, and that even the peni- 
tents should be permitted to enjoy them. One of the latter, 
however, more scrupulous than needful, refused to accept 
the improved fare, even from the hand of the abbot. " Ah ! " 
said Columba, " thou refusest the solace which is offered to 
thee by thy superior and myself. A day will come when 
thou shalt again be a robber as thou hast been, and shalt 

ornatara dolatis dentibus. . . . Ut quid nobis hoc accipere quod sanctus 
pretiuni misit Columba? Hoc non sumus digni . . . liberetur ei pius hie 
gratis ininistrator. . . . Continuo gratis liberavit servum . . . cingulum ex 
more captivi de lumbis resolvens. . . . Ut tanto tempore patri debitam, sed 
neglectam redintegres pietatem. . . . Nullo modo nos oportet fratrem it. 
patria retentare qui per septem annos apud S. Columbam in Britannia sahi- 
tem exercuit animae. . . . Tu Libranus vocaberis quod sis liber. . . . Qui 
ideo Arundineti est vocitatus, quia in arundineto multis annis arundines colli- 
gendo laboraverat." His death occurred long after that of Columba, at 
Durrow, one of the first of the great abbot's foundations in Ireland. — Adam- 
nan, ii. 39. 

'■* " Magna est, o frater, hallucinatio tua. Ego quindecim tibi annos in 
pane et aqua jejunandos pro poenitentja injungo, quo tibi vel ipsa poeniten- 
tiae gravitas persuadeat peccatuni tuum esse remissum." — O'Donnell, vol. 
i. c. 24. 

*' "Si duodecim annis inter Brittones cum fletu et lachrymis poenitentiam 
egeris, nee ad Scotiam usque ad mortem reversus fueris, forsan Deus peccato 
ignoscat tuo." — Adamnan, i. 22. 

*® Himba, the modern name of which is unknown. 


steal, and eat the venison in the forests whererer thou g(i est." 
And this prophecy too was fulfiUed.^^ 

Notwithstanding these precautions, and his apparent se- 
verity, the number of neophytes who sought the privilege of 
living under the rule of Columba increased more and more. 
Every day, and every minute of the day, the abbot and his 
companions, in the retirement of their cells, or at their out- 
door labors, heard great cries addressed to them from the 
other side of the narrow strait which separates lona from 
the neighboring island of Mull. These shouts were the un- 
derstood signal by which those who sought admission to loaa 
gave notice of their presence, that the boat of the monastery 
might be sent to carry them over.^^ Among the crowds who 
crossed in that boat some sought only material help, alms, oi 
medicines ; but the greater part sought permission to do 
penance, and to pass a shorter or longer 'time in the new mon- 
astery, where Columba put their vocation to so many trials. 
Once only was he known to have at the very moment of their 
arrival imposed, so to speak, the monastic vows, upon two pil- 
grims, whose virtues and approaching death had been by f 
supernatural instinct revealed to him.^^ 

Monastic The uarrow enclosure of lona was soon too small 

ofToifa*^*^^ for the increasing crowd, and from this little monas- 
Founda- fic colony issucd in succession a swarm of similar 
Columba in colouies, which wcut forth to plant new communities, 
Scotland. (laughters of lona, in the neighboring isles, and on 
the main land of Caledonia, all of which were under the au- 
thority of Columba. Ancient traditions attribute to him the 
foundation of three hundred monasteries or churches, as 
many in Caledonia as in Hibernia, a hundred of which were 
in the islands or upon the sea-shoie of the two countries. 
Modern learning has discovered and registered the existence 
of ninety churches, whose origin goes back to Columba, and 
to all or almost all of which, according to the custom of the 

®^ " Ut etiam pcenitentibus aliqua praecipit consolatio indulgeretur. ... 
Erit tempus quo cum furacibus furtive camera in sylva manducabis." — 
Adamnan, i. 21. 

^' " Alia die, ultra fretum lonae insulse clamatum est, quern sanctus, se- 
dens in tuguriolo tabulis suffulto audiens, clamorem. . . . Mane eadem 
quarta feria, alius ultra fretum clamitabat proselytus. . . . Quadam die, 
quemdam ultra fretum audiens clanlitantera, sanctus. . . . Valde miseran- 
dus est ille clamitans homo, qui aliqua ad carnalia medicamenta petiturus 
pertinentia, ad nos venit. . . . Ite, ait, celeriter peregrinosque de longinqua 
venientes regione, ad nos ocius adducite." — Adamnan, i. 25, 26, 27, 32, 43. 

"* " Apud me, ut dicitis, anni unius spatio peregrinari non poteritis, nisi 
prius monachicum promiseretis votum." — Adamnan, i. 32. 


time, monastic communities must have been attached.-*^ 
Traces of fifty-three of these churches remain still in modern 
Scotland, unequally divided among the districts inhabited by 
the two races which then shared Caledonia between them.^*^! 
Thirty-two are in the western isles, and the country occupied 
by the Irish-Scots, and the twenty-one others mark the prin- 
cipal stations of the great missionary in the land of the Picts. 
The most enlightened judges among the Scotch Protestants 
agree in attributing to the teachings of Columba — to his 
foundations and his disciples — all the primitive churches 
and the very ancient parochial division of Scotland.^'^^ 

But it is time to tell what the population was 
whose confidence Columba had thus gained, and ofCoiumba 
Tom which the communities of his monastic family p'jjpu/itfon 
were recruited. The portion of Great Britain which °^^j|'^- 
received the name of Caledonia did not include the 
whole of modern Scotland; it embraced only the districts to 
the north of the isthmus which separates the Clyde from the 
Forth, or Glasgow from Edinburgh. All this region to the 
north and to the east was in the hands of those terrible Picts 
whom the Romans had been unable to conquer, and who 
were the terror of the Britons. But to the west and south- 
west, on the side where Columba landed, he found ^,^g ^^.^^^ 
a colony of his own country and race — that is to 9?''"?^^°^ 
say, the Scots of Ireland, who were destined to be- lansin 
come the sole masters of Caledonia, and to bestow Scotland. 

*"*' Jocelyn, in bis Vie de St. Patrice, c. 89, attributes a hundred to liim ; 
and this number is increased to three hundred by O'Donnell, book iii. c. 32. 
Colgan has named sixty-six of which Columba must have been, directly or 
indirectly, the founder (six more than St. Bernard). Fifty-eight of these 
foundations were in Ireland. But Colgan regards as founded by him almost 
all the churches built in Scotland before his death in 597. Bede, iii. 4, 
seems to give Durrow and lona as the only direct foundations of Columba, 
and the others as proceeding from these two : "Ex utroque raonasterio plu- 
rima exinde monasteria per discipulos et in Britannia et in Scotia propagata 
sunt." But he evidently is in the wrong, so far at least as Derry is con- 
cerned. All the communities erected under the supremacy of the abbot of 
lona bore the name of Familia Columba-Cille. 

"" The enumeration of Dr. Reeves (Appendix H) might be much aug- 
mented, according to what he himself saN-s. The thirty-two churches or 
monasteries inter Scottos comprehended those of the Hebridean isles, such 
as Skye, Mull, Oronsay, even down to the distant islet of St. Kilda, one of 
the three churches of which bears his name. In those inter Pictos is includ- 
ed Inchcolm, an island near Edinburgh. These fifty-three, and the thirty- 
seven already brought to light by Dr. Reeves, make very nearly the number 
of one hundred given by the author of the Vie de St. Patrice. 

'*** See specially Cosmo Innes, the modest and learned author of the ex- 
cellent works entitled Scotland in the Middle Ages, 1860, and Sketches of 
Early Scottish History, 1861. 



Upon it. the name of Scotland.i'^^ More than half a century 
before, followins; in the train of many similar inva- 
sions or emigrations, a colony of Irish, or, according 
to the name then in use, of Scots; belonging to the tribe of 
Dalriadians,^*^* had crossed the sea which separates the north- 
east coast of Ireland from the north-west of Great Britain, 
and had established itself — between the Picts of the north. 
and the Britons of the south — in the islands and upon the 
western coast of Caledonia, north of the mouth of the Clyde, 
and in the district which has since taken the name of Argyll. 
The chiefs or kings of this Dalriadian colony, who were des- 
tined to become the parent stock of those famous and unfor- 
tunate Stuarts who once reigned over both Scotland and 
England, had at that time strengthened their growing power 
by the aid of the Niall princes who reigned in the north of 
Ireland, and to whose family Columba belonged. Columba 
had also a very close tie of kindred with the Dalriadians 
themselves, his paternal grandmother having been the daugh- 
ter of Lorn, the first, or one of the first kings of the colony.^°^ 
He was thus a relation of King Connal, the sixth 
related to succcssor of Lorn, wlio, at the moment of Columba'a 
their chiefs. g^pj^.jyg^]^ ]^g^(3 been for three years the chief of the 

Scotic emigrants in Caledonia. lona, where the abbot estab- 
lished himself, was at the northern extremity of the then 

103 -y^g again repeat what it required all the learning of Ussher, White, 
Colgan, and Ward to prove — namely, that the holy and learned Scotia of 
the ancients was Ireland. The name of Scotia became the exclusive pos- 
session of the Scotch — that is to say, of the Irish colonists in, Caledonia — 
only in the eleventh or twelfth century, in the time of Giraldus Cambrensis, 
at the moment when the power of the true Scots declined in Scotland under 
the influence of the Anglo-Norman conquest. The Bollandists have applied 
the very appropriate name of Scotia Nova or Iliberno- Scotia to the Scotic 
colonies in Scotland. — Vita S. Cadrog, ap. Act. SS. Martii, vol. i. p. 473, 
and Vita S. Domnani, Act. SS. Aprilis, vol. ii. 487. The modern English 
also use a title historically exact in describing as North Britain the kingdom 
of Scotland since its union with England. M. Varin, in the papers which 
we have already quoted, has proved the obscurity of the political and reli- 
gious origin of Caledonia. He remarks that, of the three primitive popula- 
tions successively noted in that part of Great Britain, the only one which has 
retained its name is that which was the last to arrive upon the soil, which from 
it is still called Scotland. He is even disposed to believe that Ireland 
sometimes claimed for herself the credit of the civil and religious acts ac- 
complished in her colony. 

'"■' These Dalriadians were themselves descended from Picts, who, under 
the name of Cruithne or Cruithnii, had long swayed a part of Ireland. — 
See Reeves, pp. 33, 67, and 94 ; O'Kelly, notes to the new edition of Cam,' 
brcnsis Eversus, of Lynch, vol. i. pp. 436, 463, 495. In Columba's time 
they still occupied the counties of Antrim and Down. 

'"* See the genealogical table of Reeves, p. 8, note 4. 


very limiteil domain of the Dalriadians, and might be ro 
garded as a dependency of their new state, not less than of 
that of the Picts, who occupied all the rest of Caledonia. Co- 
luraba immediately entered into alliance with this j)rince. 
He visited him in his residence on the main hxnd, and obtained 
from him. in his double title of cousin and countryman, a gift 
of the uninhabited island where he had just established hia 
community. ^^"^ 

These Scots who had left Ireland after the con- „ ,. , ^ 
version of the island by bt. ratrick were probably ens and 
Christians, like all the Irish, at least in name ; but tSlmpcr- 
no certain trace of ecclesiastical organization or of [i^^j^y "®' 
monastic institutions is visible among them before 
Columba's arrival at lona. The apostolate of Ninian and of 
Palladius does not seem to have produced a durable impres- 
sion upon them anymore than upon the southern Picts. ^'^' A 
new apostolical enterprise by Celtic monks was necessary to 
renew the work at which the Roman missionaries had labored 
a century before. ^^^ Columba and his disciples neglected no 
means of fortifying and spreading religion among their coun- 
trymen, who were emigrants like themselves. We see him 
in the narratives of Adamnan administering baptism and the 
other rites of religion to the people of Scotic race, through 
whose lands he passed, planting there the first foundations of 
monastic communities. Many narratives, more or less legenda- 
ry, indicate that this people, even when Christian, had great 
need to be instructed, directed, and established in the good 
way ; while at the same time the Dalriadians showed a cer- 
tain suspicion and doubt of the new apostle of their race, 
which only yielded to the prolonged influence of his self- 
devotion and unquestionable virtue. 

Columba was still in the flower of his age when he estab- 
lished himself at lona ; he was not more at the most than 
forty-two. All testimonies agree in celebrating his manly 
beauty, his remarkable height, his sweet and sonorous voice, 
the cordiality of his manner, the gracious dignity of his de- 
portment and person. ^^^ These external advantages, added to 

'"^ TiGHEENACH, Annoles ; Adamnan, 574, i. 7. 

'"' This explains the name of apostates given by St. Patrick to tlie Scots 
and Picts of his time — " Socii Scotoruni atque Pictoruni apostatarum . . . 
pessiniorum atque apostatarum Pictorum." 

'*"* The Irish Scots, newly converted, reconquered to Christianity the 
Scots of Caledonia. The Picts, forgetful of Ninian and of Rome, received 
the gospel the second time from Iliuornia in the name of Britain. — Vakin, 
2d paper. 

109 »'Erat aspectu angelicas. . . Omnibus carus, hilarein semper faciem 


the fame of his austerities and the inviolable purity of hia 
life, made a singular and varied impression upon the pagans 
and the very imperfect Christians of Caledonia. The Dalria- 
dian king put his virtue to the proof by presenting to him 
his daughter, who was remarkably beautiful, and 
m'ypurto clothed in the richest ornaments. He asked if the 
trial by the gjo-ht of a creaturo so beautiful and so adorned did 

Kiiij!^ aua o .,..,,. 

by a neigh- not oxcite somo luclmation m him. ''Without 
doubt," answered the missionary, " the inclination 
of the flesh and of nature ; but understand well, lord king, 
that not for all the empire of the world, even could its honors 
and pleasures be secured to me to the end of time, would I 
yield to my natural weakness." ^^^ About the same time, a 
woman who lived not far from lona spread for him a more 
dangerous and subtle snare. The celebrated and handsome 
exile having inspired her with a violent and guilty passion, 
she conceived the idea of seducing him, and succeeded in 
drawing him to her house. But as soon as he understood 
her design, he addressed to her an exhortation upon death 
and the last judgment, which he ended by blessing her, and 
making the sign of the cross. The temptress was thus de- 
livered even from her own temptations. She continued to 
love him, but with a religious respect. It is added that she 
herself became a model of holiness.^^^ 

^ostendens . . . cujus alta proceritas. . . ." — Adamn., Prcef., and i. 1. 
" Vir tantae deditus austeritati . . . tamen exteriori forma et corporis lia- 
bitu speciosus, genis rubicundus et vultu bilaris . . . semper apparebat 
et omnibus. . . . Colloquio afFabilem, benignum, jucundum et interior is 
laetitiasa Spiritu Sancto infusse indicia, hilari vultu prodentem se semper ex- 
hibebat." — O'Donnell, Vita quinta, 1. iii. c. 43. 

110 li Puellam valde speciosam purpura, auro, gemmis, aliisque id generis 
regii amictus ornamentis . . . exornatam . . . coram S. Columba sistit. 
. . . Percontatus an filise et pulchritudo et ornatus place^nt. Respondit 
eanctus omnino placere. Iterum compellat an non etiam ejus formaj ducatur 
complacentia. . . . liespondit se natura ad talem complacentiam propensum 
esse. Ecce, inquit rex . . . hiccine est qui nullo carnali desiderio inquina- 
tus depraedicatur? Tunc S. Columba . . . O rex, sciat altitudo tua, et si 
insita carnis propensio meam naturam ad prohibitas inclinet complacentias, 
pro universi tamen imperio, lionoribus et voluptatibus, si usque mundi iinem 
ad concederetur, me nolle talibus complacenter indulgere." — O'Donnell, 
lib. ii. c. 39. The king who figures in this anecdote does not appear to have 
been Aldan, as O'Donnell would assert. Aidan began to reign over the 
Scotic colony only in 574, eleven j'ears after the arrival of Columba at lona. 
It must have l)een his predecessor Connell. 

"' " Ipsum in lonam jam commorantem, multisque . . . percelebrem. 
. . . Quamdam de vicino feminam S. viri concupiscentia inflammat (antiquus 
serpens). . . . Deinde earn aucto crucis signo benedicens, ab omni mox 
tentationo libcram dimisit. . . . Casto deinceps amore, niagnaque reverentia 
coluit, ipsa tandem sanctitate Celebris." — O'Donnell, lib. ii. c. 25. 


But it was towards another race, very different coiumba 

/. 1 • r> • Til • becomes 

from his Scotic countrymen and mucn less accessi- themis- 
ble, that Coiumba felt himself drawn as much by the tTe^N^ruf- 
penance imposed upon him as by the necessities of era Pict8. 
the Church and of Christendom. While the Irish 555575. 
Scots occupied the islands and part of the western coast of 
Caledonia, all the north and east — that is to say, by far the 
greater part of the countrj^ — was inhabited by the Picts, 
who were still heathens. Originally from Sarmatia, ^j^^pj^^g 
according to Tacitus — according to Bede, descend- 
ants of the Scythians — these primitive inhabitants of Great 
Britain, who had remained untouched by Roman or Christian 
influences, owed their name to their custom of fighting naked, 
and of painting their bodies in various colors, which had 
been the wont of all the ancient Britons at the time of Cae- 
sar's invasion. We have already seen that the holy bishop 
Ninian more than a century before had preached the Chris- 
tian faith to the Southern Picts ^^^ — that is to say, to those 
who lived on the banks of the Forth or scattered among the 
Britons in the districts south of that river. But while even 
the traces,of Ninian's apostolic work seemed at that moment 
effaced, although destined afterwards to reappear, the great 
majority of the Picts — tlrose who inhabited the vast tracts 
to the north of the Grampians, into Avhich no missionary be- 
fore Coiumba had ever dared to penetrate ^^^ — had always 
continued heathen. The thirty-four years of life which Co- 
iumba had still before him were chiefly spent in missions, un- 
dertaken for the purpose of carrying the faith to the hilly 
straths, and into the deep glens and numerous islands of 
northern Caledonia. There dwelt a race, warlike, grasping, 
and bold, as inaccessible to softness as to fear, only half 
clothed notwithstanding the severity of the climate, and ob- 
stinately attached to their customs, belief, and chiefs. The 
missionary had to preach, to convert, and even at need to 
brave those formidable tribes, in whom Tacitus recognized the 
farthest off of the earth's inhabitants, and the last champions 
of freedom — ^Herrarum ac libertatis extremos ; " those bar- 
barians who, having gloriously resisted Agricola, drove the 
frightened Romans from Britain, and devastated and deso- 
lated the entire island up to the arrival of the Saxons ; and 

"* Book viii. chap. 1. 

113 iipiinius doctor fidei Christianae transiuontanis Pictis ad Aquilonem." 

— Bede, v. 9. '• Gentein illam verbo et exemplo ad fideni Christi convenit." 

— Ibid., iii. 4. 

46 . ST. COLUMBA, 

wliose descendants, after filling the history of Scotland with 
their feats of arms, have given, under the name of Eigli- 
landers, to the fallen Stuarts their most dauntless defenders, 
and to modern Engla,nd her most glorious soldiers, 

Columba crossed again and again that central mountain 
range in which rise those waters which flow, some north and 
west to foil into the Atlantic Ocean, and some to the south to 
swell the North Sea — a range which the biographer of the 
saint calls the backbone of Britain [dorsum Britannice), and 
which separates the counties of Inverness and Argyll, as now 
existing, from the county of Perth, and includes the districts 
80 well tuown to travellers under the names of Breadalbane, 
Atholi, and the Grampians. This was the recognized boun- 
dary between the Scots and Picts,ii* and it was here that 
the ancestors of the latter, the heroic soldiers of Galgacus, 
had held their ground against the father-in-law of Tacitus, who 
even when victorious did not venture to cross that barrier.ii^ 
Often, too, Columba followed the course of that long valley 
of waters which, to the north of these mountains, traverses 
Scotland diagonally from the south-west, near lona, to the 
north-east beyond Inverness. This valley is formed by a 
series of long gulfs and of inland lakes which modern indus- 
try has linked together, making it possible for boats to pass 
from one sea to the other without making the long round by 
the Orcadian Isles. Thirteen centuries ago reKgion alone 
could undertake the conquest of those wild and picturesque 
regions, which a scanty but fierce and suspicious population 
disputed with the fir-forests and vast tracts of fern and 
heather, which are still to be encountered there. 

The first glance thrown by history upon this watery high- 
way discovers there the preaching and miracles of Columba. 
He was the first to traverse in his little skiff Loch Ness and 
the river which issues from it ; he penetrated thus, after a 
long and painful journey, to the principal fortress of the Pict- 
ish king, the site of which is still shown upon a rock north 

"• Such at least is the assertion of Adamnan, ii. 46. But his contempo- 
rary Bede and all modern authors give another frontier. According to the 
latter, the Scots extended through all the west of the Caledonian peninsula, 
and the Southern Picts occupied, to the south of the Grampians, the coun- 
ties of Perth, Forfar, and Fife. See the map of Scotland in the eleventh 
century, in the Sketches of Early Scotch History, by Cosmo Innes. ^'Prse- 
dicaturus verbum Dei provincus septentrionaliuni Pictorum, hoc est, eis quae 
arduis atque horrentibus montium jugis ab australibus eoruni sunt regionibua 
eequestratEe." — Bedk, iii. 4. 

"* Walter Scott, History of Scotland, c. 1. 


of the town of Inverness. This powerful and redoubtable 
monarch, whose name was Bruidh or Brude, son of Malcolm, 
gave at first a very inhospitable reception to the Irish mis- 
sionary. The companions of the saint relate that, Heover- 
pridine: himself upon the royal mas-nificence of his comes the 

!• 1 1 11 iiii.1 resistance 

fortress, he gave orders that the gates should not be of King 
opened to the unwelcome visitor ; but this was not '^"' *' 
a command to alarm Columba. He went up to the gateway, 
made the sign of the cross upon the two gates, and then 
knocked with his hand. Immediately the bars and bolts 
drew back, the gates rolled upon their hinges and were 
thrown wide open, and Columba entered like a conqueror. 
The king, though surrounded by his council, among whom 
no doubt were his heathen priests, was struck with panic ; 
he hastened to meet the missionary, addressed to him pacific 
and encouraging words, and from that moment gave him 
every honor.^^*^ It is not recorded whether Bruidh himself 
became a Christian, but during all the rest of his life he re- 
mained the friend and protector of Columba. He confirmed 
to him the possession of lona, the sovereignty of which he 
.seems to have disputed with his rival the king of the Dalri- 
adian Scots, and our exile thus saw his establishment placed 
under the double protection of the two powers which shared 
Caledonia between them.^^" 

But the favor of the king did not bring with it stm-rrios 
that of the heathen priests, who are indicated by ]^'*^i'''*^- 
the Christian historians under the name of Druids or their last 
Magi, and who made an energetic and persevering '■®^"°*'- 
resistance to the new apostle. These priests do no.t seem 
either to have taught or practised the worship of idols, but 

116 "Bridio rege potentissimo." — Bede, iii. 4. "In prima sancti fatiga- 
tione itineris ad regem Brutleuni ... ex fastu elatus regio munitionis suaa 
superbe agens . . . bomo Dei, cum comitibus, ad valvas portarum accedens 
. . . tunc manum pulsans contra ostia, quae continuo sponte, retro retrusis 
fortiter seris, cum omni celeritate aperta sunt. Rex cum senatu valde per 
timescunt." — Adamn., i. c. 35. It is supposed that this royal fortress occu- 
pied the site of the vitrified fort of Craig Pharrick, on a rocls 1200 feet 
above the Ness, near its embouchure into the Moray Firth. These vitrified 
walls — that is to say, walls the stones of which have been dipped, instead 
of cement, into a vitreous substance produced by the action of fire — are to 
be found in some districts of Brittany and of Maine, and are everywhere 
imputed to the Celtic period. 

'" "Quae videlicet insula ad jus quidem Britannia pertinet, sed donatione 
Pictoruni qui illas Britanniae plagas incolunt, jamdudum monachis Scotorum 
tradita, eo quod illis praedicantibus fidem Christi perceperint. . . . Unde et 
Columba . . . praefatam insulam ab eis in possessionem monasterii faciendi 
accepit." — Bede, iii. 3, 4. Compare Reeves, p. 76. 


rather that of natural forces, and especially of the sun and 
other celestial bodies. They followed or met the Irish 
preacher in his apostolic journeys, less to refute his argu- 
ments than to hold back and intimidate those whom his 
preaching gained to Christ. The religious and supernatural 
character which was attributed by the Druids of Gaul to the 
woods and ancient trees, was attached by those of Caledonia 
to the streams and fountains, some of which were, according 
to their belief, salutary and beneficial, while others were 
deadly to man. Columba made special efforts to forbid 
among the new Christians the worship of sacred fountains, 
and, braving the threats of the Druids, drank in their pres- 
ence the water which they affirmed would kill any man who 
dared to put it to his lips.^^^ But they used no actual vio- 
lence against the stranger whom their prince had taken under 
his protection. One day, when Columba and his monks came 
out of the enclosure of the fort in which the king resided, to 
chant vespers according to the monastic custom, the Druids 
attempted to prevent them from singing, lest the sound of the 
religious chants should reach the people ; but the abbot in- 
stantly intoned the sixty-fourth psalm, " Eructavit cor meum 
verbum bonum : dico opera mea regi,^' with so formidable a 
voice, that he reduced his adversaries to silence, and made 
the surrounding spectators, and even the king himself, trem- 
ble before him.^^^ 

'He reach- ^^^ ^^ ^^^^ ^^°^ confiue himsclf to chanting in 
esbyan Latin ; he preached. The dialect of the Picts, how- 
in erpre or. ^^^j,^ being different from that of the Scots, and 
unknown to him, it was necessary to employ the services of 
an interpreter.12*^ But his words were not the less effica- 
cious on this account, though everywhere he was met by the 
rival exhortations or derisions of the pagan priests. His im- 
passioned nature, as ready to love as to hate, made itself 
as apparent in his apostolic preachings as formerly in the 

"^ Adamnan, ii 2. 

119 iL Dun^ cum paucis fratribus extra regis munitionem vespertinales Dei 
laudes ex more celebraret, quidam Magi." 

120 u Verbum vitse per interpretatorem sancto prsedicante viro." — Adamn., 
ii. 32. Bede states that there were five different languages spoken in Great 
Britain, and compares them with the five books, of the Pentateuch. " An- 
glorum videlicet" (that is to say, the Anglo-Saxons), " Britonum, Scottorum, 
Pictorum et Latinorum quae meditatione Scripturarum cseteris omnibus est 
facta communis." — Ilist. EccL, i. 1. The text, which is so important for the 
history of philology, is not less important as a proof to what point the 
knowledge of the Holy Scriptures had already spread among the Catholic 


struggles of his youth ; and ties of tender intimacy, active 
and never appealed to in vain, were soon formed between 
himself and his converts. One of the Picts, who, having 
heard him preach by his interpreter, was converted with tiis 
wife and all his family, became his friend, and received many 
visits from him. One of the sons of this new convert fell dan- 
gerously ill ; the Druids profited by the misfortune to re- 
proach the anxious parents, making it appear that the sick- 
ness of their child was the punishment of their apostasy, and 
boasting the power of the ancient gods of the country, as 
superior to that of the Christian's God. Columba having 
been informed hastened to his friend's aid: when he arrived 
the child had just expired. As soon as he had done all that 
in him lay to console the father and mother, he asked to be 
allowed to enter alone into the place where the body of the 
child was. There he knelt down and prayed long, bathed in 
tears ; then rising, he said, " In the name of the Lord Jesus 
Christ, return to life and arise ! " At the same moment the 
soul came back to the child's body. Columba helped him to 
rise, supported him, led him out of the cabin, and restored 
him to his parents. The power of prayer was thus as great, 
says Adamnan, in our saint as in Elijah and Elisha under the 
old law, or in St. Peter, St. Paul, and St. John under the 

While thus preaching faith and the grace of God 
by the voice of an interpreter, he at the same time for natural 
recognized, admired, and proclaimed among those ^"■*'^^- 
savage tribes the lights and virtues of the law of nature. 
He discovered the rays of its radiance in many an unknown 
hearer, by the help of that supernatural gift which enabled 
him to read the secrets of the heart, and to penetrate the 
darkness of the future ; a gift which developed itself more 
and more in him as his apostolic career went on. One day 
while laboring in his evangelical work in the principal island 
of the Hebrides, the one which lies nearest to the main 
land,^-^ he cried out all at once, " My sons, to-day you 

'21 «' Quidam plebeius " (this term is always used by Adamnan to express a 
layman, but at the same time a man either rich or of consideration). . . . 
" Magi parentibus ssepe cum magna exprobratione cceperunt illudere, suos- 
que quasi fortiores magnificare deos, Christianorura Deo quasi infirmiori 
derogare. . . . Hoc noster Columba cum Elia et Eliseo. . . . Petro et Pau- 
lo et Joanni . . . habebat sibi commune virtutis miraculum." — Adamnan, 
ii. 32. 

'^^ Skye, the same in which Charles-Edward took refuge in 1746, after tha 
defeat of CuUoden, and where he met Flora Macdonald. 

VOL. II. 5 


Baptism of will See an ancient Pictish chief, who has kept faith- 
Pictish fully rtll his life the precepts of the natural law, arrive 
theYsieof ^^ ^his island ; he comes to be baptized and to die." 
Skye. Immediately after, a boat was seen to approach the 

shore with a feeble old man seated in the prow, who was 
recognized as the chief of one of the neighboring tribes. Two 
of his companions took him up in their arms and brought him 
before the missionary, to whose words, as repeated by the 
interpreter, he listened attentively. When the discourse was 
ended the old man asked to be baptized ; and immediately 
aftei' breathed his last breath, and was buried in the very 
spot where he had just been brought to shore. ^^^ 

At a later date, in one of his last missions, when, himself 
an old man, he travelled along the banks of Loch Ness, 
always in the district to the north of the mountain range of 
the dorsum Britannioe, he said to the disciples who accompa- 
nied him, " Let us make haste and meet the angels who have 
come down from heaven, and who wait for us beside a Pict 
who has done well according to the natural law during his 
. whole life to extreme old age : we must baptize him 

Glen ur- bcforo he dies." Then hastening his steps and out- 
^^ '*'"*■ stripping his disciples, as much as was possible at 
his great age, he reached a retired valley, now called Glen 
Urquhart, where he found the old man who awaited him. 
Here there was no longer any need of an interpreter, which 
makes it probable that Columba in his old age had learned 
the Pictish dialect. The old Pict heard him preach, was 
baptized, and with joyful serenity gave up to God the soul 
which was awaited by those angels whom Columba saw.^^i 
piishu- In this generous heart humanity claimed its 

manity. rights no Icss than justice. It was in the name of 
humanity ,12° his biographer expressly tells us, that he begged 
the freedom of a young female slave, born in Ireland, and the 

12a (I Q £j;j^ hodie in hac terrula quidara gentilis senex naturale per totara 
bonura custodiens vitam, et baptizabitur et morietur. . . . Navicula cujus in 
prora advectus est decrepitus senex Geona9 primarius cohortis, quem bini 
juvenes de navi sublevantes, ante beati conspectum viri deponunt. . . . 
Verbo Dei a sancto per interpretem recepto. . . ." — Adamnan, i. 33. 

*** " Ultra Britannise dorsum iter agens. . . . Properemus Sanctis obviam 
angelis qui de coelis ad praeferendam alicujus gentilici animam emissi nos 
illuc expectant, ut ipsum naturale bonum per totam vitam usque ad extremam 
senectutem conservantem, priusquam moriatur, opportune baptizemus. . . . 
Sanctus senex in quantum potuit comites festinus prsecedebat . . . et cre- 
dens baptizatus est et continue laetus et securus, cum angelis observantibus 
ad Deum commigravit." — Adamnan, iii. 14. 

'■■'* " Scoticam postulavit servara . . . humanitatis miseratione liberal)' 
dara." — Ibid., ii. 33. 


captive of one of the principal Druids or Magi. This Druid 
was named Broichan, and lived with the king, whose foster- 
father ^^^ he was, a tie of singular force and authority among 
the Celtic nations. Either from a savage pride, or out of en- 
mity to the new religion, the Druid obstinately and cruelly 
refused the prayer of Colnmba. •' Be it so," said the apostle ; 
"but learn, Broichan, that if thou refusest to set free this 
foreign captive, thou shalt die before I leave the province. ' 
When he had said this he left the castle, directing his steps 
towards that river Ness which appears so often in his history. 
But he was soon overtaken by two horsemen who came from 
the king to tell him that Broichan, the victim of an accident, 
was dying, and fully disposed to set the young Irish girl free. 
The saint took up from the river bank a pebble, which he 
blessed, and gave to two of his monks, with the assurance 
that the sick man would be healed by drinking water in which 
this stone had been steeped, but only on the express condi- 
tion that the captive should be delivered. She was immedi- 
ately put under the charge of Columba's companions, and 
was thus restored at the same moment to her country and her 
freedom. i^"" 

The Druid, though healed, was not thereby rendered less 
hostile to the apostle. Like the magicians of Pharaoh, he 
attempted to raise nature and her forces against the new 
Moses. On the day fixed for his departure, Columba found, 
on reaching, followed by a numerous crowd, the banks of the 
long and narrow lake from which the Ness issues, and by 
which he meant to travel, a strong contrary wind and thick 
fog, as Broichan bad threatened, which the Druids exulted to 
see. But Columba, entering his boat, bade the frightened 

'^® The reciprocal duties of foster fathers and children (fosterage) were 
minutely regulated by the British laws. In the twelfth century, Giraldus 
Cambrensis still remarked that among the Irish foster brothers and sisters 
were united by a tie almost stronger and more tender than brothers and sisters 
of the same blood. Dr. Lynch, in his Cambrensis Eversus (first published 
in 1662, and re-edited by Prof. Kelly in 1850), enlarges upon the impor- 
tance of the tie which united the Irish princes and lords to their foster 
fathers and brothers. He recalls Mordecai, the foster-father of Esther, and 
Clitus, the foster-brother of Alexander the Great, among many examples of 
sacred and profane history which support his idea. His new editor asserts 
(ii. 141, 162) that at the Council of Trent the Irish bishop of Raphoe, Don- 
ald MacCongal, demonstrated thut fosterage and gossipred (cognato spiritua- 
lis) were the principal safeguard of the public peace in Ireland. 

'*' " Scito, Broichane, scito quia si milii hanc peregrinam liberare capti« 
vam nolueris, priusquani de hac revertar provincia, citius morieris. . . . 
Nunc formidabiliter correptus ancillulam liberare est paratus . . . eadem- 
<iue liora liberata faraula sancti legatis viri assignatur." — Adamnan, ii. 33. 


rowers set the sail against the wind, and the assembled peo- 
ple saw him proceed rapidly on his course, as if borne by 
favorable breezes, towards the south end of the lake, by 
„ which he returned to lona. But he left only to 

He com- r. . 

pietes in make a speedy return, and came so oiten as to ac- 
convorsioa compHsh the conversion of the Pictish nation, by de- 
ofthePicts. stroying forever the authority of the Druids in this 
last refuge of Celtic paganism.^'^^ This sanguinary and un- 
tamable race was finally conquered by the Irish missionary. 
Before he ended his glorious career he had sown their 
forests, their defiles, their inaccessible mountains, their savage 
moors, and scarcely inhabited islands, with churches and 

Hisfeuow- Columba's assistants, in his numerous missions 
workers. amoug the Picts, were the monks who had come 
with him, or who had followed him from Ireland. The fame 
of the obscure benefactors and civilizers of so distant a region 
has still more completely disappeared than that of Columba : 
it is with difficulty that some lingering trace of them is to be 
disentangled from the traditions of some churches whose sites 
may j^et be found upon the ancient maps of Scotland. Such 
was Malruve (642-722),^29 ^ kinsman of Columba, and like 
him descended from the royal race of Niall, but educated in 
the great Monastery of Bangor, which he left to follow his 
illustrious cousin into Albyn, passing by lona. He must 
' have long survived Columba, for he was for fifty-one years 
abbot of a community at Apercrossan,^30 upon the north-west 
coast of Caledonia, opposite the large island of Skye, before 
he met his death, which was, according to local tradition, by 
the sword of Norwegian pirates. 

Upon the opposite shore, in that striking promontory which 
forms the eastern extremity of Scotland, a district now known 
as Buchan, various churches trace their origin to Columba, 
and to one of his Irish disciples called Drostan. The tnoV' 
maer or chief of the country had at first refused them his 
permission to settle there, but his son fell dangerously ill, 

128 " Ventum tibi contrarium caliginemque umbrosam superinducam. . . • 
Christum invocat, cyiiibulamque asoendens nautis htesitantibus, ipse con- 
stanter factus velum contra ventum jubet subrigi . . . omnique inspectante 
turba, navigium flatus contra adversos mira occurrit velocitate." — Adam- 
NAX, ii. 34. Tlie place where he landed is at present occupied by Fort 
Augustus, at the commencement of the Caledonian Canal. 

'^' W. Reeves, St. Maelrubha, his History and Churches. Edinburgh, 
1861. Compare Act. SS. Bolland., vol. vi. August, p. 132. 

'^° At present Applecross. Twenty-one parishes in the north of Scotland 
were in primitive times dedicated to this saint. 


and he hastened after the missionaries, offering them the 
laud necessary for their foundation, and begging them to pray 
for the dying boy. They prayed, and the child was saved. 
After having blessed the new church, and predicted that 
none who profaned it should ever conquer their enemies or 
enjoy long life, Columba installed his companions in their new 
home, and himself turned to continue his journey. When 
Drostan saw himself thus condemned to live at a distance 
from his master, he could not restrain his tears ; for these old 
saints, in their wild and laborious career, loved each other 
with a passionate tenderness, which is certainly not the least 
touching feature in their character, and which places an in- 
extinguishable light upon their heads amid the darkness of 
the legends. " Then," Columba said, " let us call 
this place the Monastery of Tears ; " ^^^ and the great tery of 
abbey which lasted a thousand years upon that spot ^^'*"" 
always retained the name. '' He who sows in tears shall reap 
in joy." 

'^' Said Columb-Cille : "Let Dear (Tear) be its name henceforward." 
This incident is found in the Celtic language in the most ancient manuscript 
which exists relative to Scotland ; it has been recently discovered in Cam- 
bridge, and is of the ninth century. It is about to be published under the 
name of the Book of Deir. Cosmo Innes, Scotland in the Middle Ages, p. 
325. Whitley Stokes, Saturday Review, 8th December, 1860. The Mon- 
astery of Deir was rebuilt for the Cistercians by the Earl of Buchan in 1213. 
The prophecy of Columba was verified in the family of the Earl Marischal, 
head of the great house of Keith, who was, after the Reformation, the first 
spoliator of the monastery, which had been given to him by James VI. In 
vain his wife, a daughter of Lord Home, begged him not to accept the sacri- 
legious gift. He would not listen to her. The following night she saw in a 
dream a multitude of monks, clothed like those of Deir, surround the prin- 
cipal castle of the Earl, Dunnotter-Craig, which was situated on an immense 
rock on the coast. They began to demolish the rock witii no other tools than 
penknives : at this sight the Countess hastened to look for her husband, that 
he might stop their work of destruction; but when she returned the rock and 
the castle had already been undermined and overthrown by the penknivea 
of the monks, and nothing was to be seen but the fragments of the furniture 
floating on the sea. This vision was immediately interpreted as the an- 
nouncement of a future catastrophe, and the use of penknives as a sign of 
the length of time which sliould pass before ita fulfilment. From that mo- 
ment this powerful house began to diminish; and fianllj fell ia 1715 in th« 
Stuart rebellion. 





Passionate solicitude of Columba for his relatives and countrymen. — H« 
protects King Aldan in his struggle with the Anglo-Saxons of Northumhria. 
— The same king is crowned by Columba at lona; the first example of a 
Christian consecration of kings. — The Stone of Destiny : the descend- 
ants of Aldan. — Synod or parliament of Drumceitt in Ireland. — Aedh, 
king of Ireland, and Aidan, king of the Irish colonists in Scotland. — The 
independence of the new Scottish kingdom is recognized through the influ- 
ence of Columba. — He interposes in favor of the bards, whom the king 
had proposed to outlaw. — Power and excesses of that corporation. — By 
means of Columba, the good grain is not burned with the weeds. — The 
bards' song of gratitude in honor of their savior. — Columba^ reproved 
by his disciple, desires that this song should not be repeated during his 
life. — Superstitious regard attached to it after his death. — Intimate union 
between music, poetry, and religion in Ireland. — The bards, transformed 
into minstrels, are the first champions of national independence and Catho- 
lic faith against the English conquest. — Fiercely assailed, they yet con- 
tinue to exist up to our own day. — Moore's Irish 3Ielodies. — The Celtic 
muse at the service of the vanquished in the Highlands of Scotland as in 

It would not, however, be natural to suppose that the mis- 
sion of Columba among the Ficts could entirely absorb his 
life and soul. That faithful love for his race and country 
which had moved him with compassion for the young Irish 
girl in captivity among the Picts did not permit him to re- 
main indifferent to the wars and revolutions which were at 
the bottom of all national life among the Irish Scots as well 
as the Irish colony in Scotland. There was not a more marked 
feature in his character than his constant solicitude, his com- 
passionate sympathy, as v/ell after as before his removal to 
lona, for the bloody struggles in which his companions and 
Anxious relatives in Ireland were so often engaged. Noth- 
poiicitude ing was nearer to his heart than the claim of kin- 
forhis^r^ia" dred ; for that reason alone he occupied himself 
country-** without coase with the affairs of individual rela- 
men. tives. " This man," he said to himself, " is of my 


race ; I mast help him. It is my duty to pray for him, be- 
cause he is of the same stock as myself. This other is of kin 
to my mother," &c. And then he wor/ld add, '' My friends 
and kindred, who are descended like me from the Nialls, see 
ho they fight ! "^^^ ^^d from the far distance of his desert 
isle he fought with them in heart and thought, as of old he 
had aided them in person. He breathed from afar the air 
of battle ; he divined the issue by what his companions con- 
sidered a prophetic instinct, and told it to his monks, to hia 
Irish countrymen, and to the Caledonian Scots who sought 
him in his new dwelling. With better reason still his soul 
kindled within him when he foresaw any struggle in which 
his new neighbors the Dalriadian colonists were to be en« 
gaged, either with the Picts, whom they were one day to 
conquer, or with the Anglo-Saxons. 

One day towards the end of his life, being alone 
with Diarmid his minister (as the monk attached to lona rings 
his personal service was called), he cried out all at battle be- 
once, " The bell ! let the bell be rung instantly 1 " s'coul^a 
The bell of the modest monastery was nothing bet- their ene- 
ter than one of the little square bells made of beaten 
iron, which are still shown in Irish museums, exactly sim- 
ilar to those which are worn by the cattle in Spain and the 
Jura. It was enough for the necessities of the little insular 
community. At its sound the monks hastened to throw 
themselves on their knees around their father. " Now," 
said he, " let us pray — let us pray with intense fervor fbi 
our people, and for King Aidau ; for at this very moment the 
battle has begun between them and the barbarians." When 
their prayers had lasted some time, he said, " Behold, the 
barbarians flee ! Aidan is victorious ! " ^^^ 

The barbarians, against whom Columba rang his bells and 
called for the prayers of his monks, were the Anglo-Saxons 

"• " Quia est mihi cognationalis, et ex meae matris parentela. . . . Mei 
cognationales amici. . . . Nellis nepotes." — Adamn., ii. 40; i. 49; i. 7. 

133 " Subito ad suum dicili ministratorem Diormitium, Cloccam pulsa. . . . 
Nunc intente pro hoc populo et Aidano rege oremus; hac cum hora incipiunt 
bellum. . . . Nunc barbari in fugam vertuntur, Aidanoque quanquam infelix 
concessa victoria." — Adamn., i. 8. Tliis qua)iquam infelix refers to the 
fact that in tliis battle, de bello Miathorum (as this chapter of Adamnan is 
entitled), the king lost three hundred and three men and two of liis sons. 
His third son also fell in battle against the Saxons : " In Saxonia Celtica in 
strage." — Hid., c. 9. Adamnan speaks of the war as de bello Miathorum, 
but he does not explain if these Miathi, or MecetCB, who are always associ- 
ated with the Caledonians, were the allies or the enemies of the Dalriadian 


of Northumbria, who were still pagans, and whose descend- 
ants were destined to owe the inestimable blessings of 
Christianity to the monks of lona and the spiritual posterity 
of Columba. But at that time the invaders thought only of 
taking a terrible revenge for the evils which Britain, before 
they conquered it, had endured from Scoto-Pictish incur- 
sions, and of extending their power ever farther and farther 
Aldan, on the Caledonian side. As for King Aidan,i34 [-^q 
caildon^an ^^^ replaced his cousin-german. King Connall, who 
Scots, 574. Jiad guaranteed to Columba the possession of lona, 
as chief of the Dalriadian colony in Argyll. His accession 
to the throne took place in 574, eleven years after the arrival 
of Columba; and nothing proves more fully the influence 
acquired by the Irish missionary during this short interval 
than Aldan's resolution to have his coronation blessed by the 
Abbot of lona. Columba, though his friend, did not wish 
him to be king, preferring his brother; but an angel ap- 
peared to him three times in succession, and commanded him 
to consecrate A'idan according to the ceremony prescribed in 
a book covered with crystal which was left with him for 
that purpose.i^^ Columba, who was then in a neighboring 
island, went back to lona, where he was met by the new 
Conse- king. The abbot, obedient to the celestial vision, 
crated by laid his hauds upon the head of A'idan, blessed him, 
and ordained him king.^^e jjg inaugurated thus not 
only a new kingdom, but a new rite, which became at a later 
date the most august solemnity of Christian national life. 
The coronation of A'idan is the first authentic instance known 
in the West. Columba thus assumed, in respect to the 
Scotic or Dalriadian kingdom, the same authority with which 
the abbots of Armagh, successors of St. Patrick, were already 
invested in respect to the kings of Ireland. That this su- 
preme authority and these august functions were conferred 
upon abbots instead of bishops, has been the cause of much 
Burprise. But at that period of the ecclesiastical history of 

134 "^(3an, rex Scottorum qui Britanniam inhabitant." — Bede, i. 34. 

i3d i'Qui in manu vitreum ordinationis regum iiabebat librum." — Adajin., 
iii. 6. This is the famous Vitreus Codex which, according to a narrative 
given by Reeves, was only shown to Columba by the angel, and did not re- 
main in his hands. 

lae " Aidanum, iisdem adventantibus diebus, regem, sicut erat jussus, or- 
dinavit . . . imponensque manum super caput ejus, ordinans benedixit." — 
Martene {De Aniiquis Ritibus Ucclesicc, vol. iii. 1. ii. c. 10, in the treatise Be 
Solemni Regum Benedictione) says that the consecration of A'idan is the first 
known example of that solemnil/. 


Celtic nations the episcopate was entirely in the shade ; the 
abbots and monks alone appear to have been great and in- 
fluential, and the successors of St. Coluraba long retained this 
singular supremacy over the bishops. 

According to Scotch national tradition, the new 
king A'idan was consecrated by Columba upon a of Fate!°^ 
great stone called the Stone of Fate. This stone 
was afterwards transferred to DunstafFnage Castle, the ruine 
of which may be seen upon the coast of Argyll, not far from 
lona; then to the Abbey of Scone, near Perth; and was finaL 
ly carried away by Edward I., the cruel conqueror of Scot* 
land, to Westminster, where it still serves as a pedestal for 
the throne of the kings of England on the day of their coro- 
nation. The solemn inauguration of the kingdom of Aidan 
marks the historical beginning of the Scotch monarchy, which 
before that period was more or less fabulous. A'idan was the 
first prince of the Scots who passed from the rank of terri- 
torial chief to that of independent king, and head of a 
dynasty whose descendants were one day to reign over the 
three kingdoms of Great Britain.^^''' 

But to secure the independence of the new Scottish roy- 
alty, or rather of the young nation whose stormy and poetic 
history was thus budding under the breath and blessing of 
Columba, it was necessary to break the link of subjugation 
or vassalage which bound the Dalriadian colony to the Irish 
kings. All this time it had remained tributary to the mon- 
archs of the island which it had left nearly a century before 
to establish itself in Caledonia. To obtain by peaceable 
means the abolition of this tribute, Columba — who was Irish 
by heart as well as by birth, yet who at the same time was, 
like the Dalriadians, his kinsmen, an emigrant in Caledonia, 
and, like the new king, descended from the monarchs of 

"^ Aldan married a British wife, a daughter of those Britons who occupied 
the banks of the Clyde, and were neighbors of the Scots. With them for 
his allies, he made war vigorously, though unfortunately, as will be after- 
wards seen, upon the Anglo-Saxons. He survived Columba, and died in 
600, after a reign of thirty-two years. His direct descendants reigned up to 
689. They were tben replaced by the house of Lorn, another branch of the 
first Dalriadian colony, whose most illustrious prince, Kenneth Maculpine, 
reduced the Picts to recognize him as their king in 842. The famous Mac- 
beth and his conqueror Malcolm Canmore, the husband of St. Margaret, 
were both descended from Aidan_, or of the lineage of Fergus. The male 
line of tliese Scottish kings of Celtic race ended only with Alexander IIL in 
1283. The dynasties of Bruce and Stuart were of the female line. Accord- 
ing to local and domestic traditions, the great modern clans of Macquarie, 
Mackinnon, Mackenzie, Mackintosh, MacGregor, Maclean, Macnab, and 
Macuaughten are descended from thi; primitive Dalriadians. 


Ireland — must have seemed the mediator indicated by na« 
ture. He accepted the mission, and returned to Ireland, 
which he had thought never to see again, in company with 
the king whom he had just crowned, to endeavor to come to 
an agreement with the Irish monarch and the other princes 
and chiefs assembled at Drumkeath. His impartiality was 
above all suspicion ; for the very day of the coronation of 
Aldan he had announced to him, in the name of God, that the 
prosperity of the new Scotic kingdom depended upon peace 
with Ireland, its cradle. In the midst of the ceremony he 
had said aloud to the king whom he had crowned, " Charge 
your sons, and let them charge their grandchildren, never 
to expose their kingdom to be lost by their fault. The mo- 
ment that they attempt any fraudulent enterprise against my 
spiritual descendants here, or against my countrymem and 
kindred in Ireland, the hand of God will weigh heavily upon 
them, the heart of men will be raised against them, and the 
victory of their enemies will be assured." ^^^ 

The king of Ireland, Diarmid, who was, like Columba, of 
the race of Niall, but of the Nialls of the North, and whom 
our saint had so violently resisted, had died immediately 
after the voluntary exile of Columba. He perished, as has 
been mentioned, by the hand of a prince called Black Aedh, 
chief of the Antrim Dalriadians, who remained in Ireland 
when a part of their clan emigrated to Scotland. Some time 
afterwards the supreme throne of Ireland fell to another 
Aedh, of the southern branch of the race of Niall, and con- 
sequently of the same stock as Columba.^^^ He was also the 

138 a Inter ordinationis verba . . . prophetare coepit dicens : Tu filiis com- 
menda ut et ipsi filiis et nepotibus et posteris suis commendent ne per con- 
cilia mala eorum sceptrum regni hujus de manibus suis perdant. ... In me 
et in posteros meos . . . aut adversus cognatos meos qui sunt in Hibernia." 
— Adamn., iii. 5. Colgan, in remarking this passage in his preface, can- 
not refrain from returning sadly upon the atrocities committed in Ireland by 
the Scots and Britons of his time, under the last descendants of the Dalria- 
dian dynasty, James I. and Charles I. '" Unde modern! Scoto-Britanni, qui 
cognatos sancti Columbas in Hibernia nostris diebus ferro et flamma infestant, 
e suis sedibus pellunt et in ore crudelis gladii maetant, debent praedictam vin- 
dictam ore veridico Dei prophetae praedictam formidare, si inter posteros 
Aidani regis velint numerari; si non, certe non minus metuenda sunt ilia 
Bacri eloquii oracula, quibus dicitur : Qui gladio perimit, gladio peribit." — 
Trias Thauin., p. 320. 

139 rpj^g poet-historian, Thomas Moore, by a singular confusion, looks upon 
Aedh the Black, the murderer of King Diarmid, and Aedh, son of Aimnire, 
the king of the Drumkeath parliament, as the same person. — History of 
Ireland, pp. 254, 263, Paris edition. I spare the reader all the other Aedha 
or Aldus, who are to be found mixed up with the history of the age of Co- 
lumba in the inextricable Irish genealogies. My learned friend, M. Foisset, 


friend and benefoctor of bis emigrant cousin, to wbom be 
had given before bis exile tbe site of Derrjji'**^ tbe most im- 
portant of bis Irisb foundations. The iirst synod or parba- 
ment of Aedh's reign had been convoked in a place called 
Drumceitt/41 the Wliale's Back, situated in bis special patri- 
mony, not far from tbe sea and tbe gulf of Lough Foyle, 
where Columba bad embarked, and at tbe further end of which 
was bis dear monastery of Derry. It was there that he ra- 
turned with bis royal client, tbe new king of the 
Caledonian Scots, whose confessor, or, as the Irish oureiand^ 
termed \i, friend of his soul, be had become. i*^ The (^"J.^^'^-'f^e 
two kings, Aedh and Aidan, presided at this assem- irisli in 
bly, which sat for fourteen months, and tbe recob the synod 
lection of which has been preserved among tbe Irish keatu"™" 
people, tbe most faithful nation in the world, for more 
than a thousand 3'ears. 

The Irisb lords and clergy encamped under tents like sol- 
diers during tbe entire duration of this parliament.^'^^ The 
most important question discussed among them was no doubt 
that of tbe tribute exacted from the king of the Dalriadians. 
It does not appear that the Irisb king demanded tribute on 
account of tbe new kingdom founded by his ancient subjects, 
but rather on account of that part of Ireland itself, at present 
the county of Antrim, from whence tbe Dalriadian colonists 
had gone, and which was the hereditary patrimony of their 
new king.i'*'^ This was precisely the position in which the 
Norman princes, who bad become kings of England, while 

like a zealous Burgundian as he is, has pointed out to me the resemblance 
between the name of Aedh, which occurs so often among the Irisli princes 
and kings, and that of the ^dui, the first inhabitants of Burgundy. He 
thinks, with reason, tliat the Celts of Gaul, conquered by Caesar, had also 
lived, like their brethren in Ireland and Scotland, in clans, and is persuaded 
that the ^dui of Bibracte signified originally the clan of the sons of Aedh. 

''"' Ltnch's Cambrensis Eversus, vol. ii. c. 9, p. 16. 

'"" Dorsum CetcB in Latin, Drum Ceitt or Ceat in Irish, at present called 
Drurakeath, near Newtown Limavaddy, in the county of Londonderry. 

"^ Irish MS. quoted by lieeves, p. Ixxvi. note 4. 

^*^ " Condictuni regum."' — Adamnan. " CoUectis totius regni optimati- 
bus, universoque clero ... ad instar militum per papiliones et tentoria tur- 
matim dispersi." — O'Donnell, book iii. c. 2, 5. " Hiberniae proceribus 
Drum-Keathian ad leges (londendas coeuntibus etquatuordecim mensibus illic 
haerentibus." — Lynch, c. 9. Culgan, who lived in 1G45, narrates that the 
site of the assembly then was still frequented by numerous pilgrims, and 
that a procession was formerly celebrated there on the day of All-Saints : 
" cum summo omnium vicinarum partium accursu." — Acta Sanctorum Mi- 
bernice, vol. i. p. 204. The site is still to be seen upon an elevation at Koe 
Park, near Newtown Limavaddy. — Keevks, p. '61. 

"* Mooee's History of Ireland, vol. i. c. 12, p. 256. 


still dukes of Normandy, found themselves, five conturiea 
later, in respect to the kings of France. Columba, the friend 
The inde- of botli kings, was Commissioned to solve the difB- 
of the'new culty. Accordiug to some Irish authors, the Abbot 
kingdom of loua, wheu the decisive moment arrived, refused 
bytheiu- to decide, and transferred to another monk, St. Col- 
oTcoium- man, the responsibility of pronouncing the judgment. 
^^- At all events, the Irish king renounced all suzerainty 

over the king of the Dalriadians of Albania, as Scotland was 
then called. Independence and freedom from all tribute 
were granted to the Albanian Scots, who, on their side, prom- 
ised perpetual alliance and hospitality to their Irish coun- 

Columba had another cause to plead at the parliament of 
He inter- Driimceitt, which was almost as dear to his heart as 
fiTvorof the independence of the Scotic kingdom and colony 
tiie bards. Qf which he was the spiritual head. The question 
in this case was nothing less than that of the existence of a 
corporation as powerful as, and more ancient and national 
than, the clergy itself: it concerned the bards, who were at 
once poets and genealogists, historians and musicians, and 
whose high position and popular ascendency form one of the 
most characteristic features of Irish history. The entire 
nation, always enamoured of its traditions, its fabulous antiqui- 
ty, and local and domestic glory, surrounded with ardent and 
respectful sj^mpathy the men who could clothe in a poetic dress 
all the lore and superstitions of the past, as well as the passions 
and interests of the present. In the annals of Ireland, as far 
back as they can be traced, the bards or ollambli, who were 
regarded as oracles of knowledge, of poetry, history, and 
music, are always to be found. They were trained from their 
Power and infancy with the greatest care in special communi- 
thi*s'corpo-^ ties, and so greatly honored that the first place at 
ration. the royal table, after that of the king himself, was 
reserved for them.^^^ Since the introduction of Christianity, 
the bards, like the Druids of earlier times, whose successors 
they are supposed to have been, continued to form a powerful 
and popular band. They were then divided into three orders : 
the Fitcas,\\ho sang of religion and of war ; the Brelions, whose 
name is associated with the ancient laws of the country, 
which they versified and recited ; ^^"^ the Seanachies, who en- 

'"*^ Reeves, pp. Ixxvi. and 92. 

'^® Eugene O'Cukrv's Lectures on the MS. diaterials of Irish History. 
Dublin, 18G1. 

'*' The code known under the name of Laws of the Brehons continued to 


shrilled in verse the national history and antiquities, and, 
above all, the genealogies and prerogatives of the ancient 
families who were specially dear to the national and warlike 
passions of the Irish people. They carried this guardian- 
ship of historical recollections and relics so far as to watch 
over the boundaries of each province and family domain. ^*^ 
They took part, like the clergy, in all the assemblit^s, and 
with still greater reason in all the fights. They were over- 
whelmed with favors and privileges by the kings and petty 
princes, on whom their songs and their harp could alono 
bestow a place in history, or even a good name among their 
contemporaries. But naturally this great power had pro- 
duced many abuses, and at the moment of which we speak, 
the popularity of the bards had suffered an eclipse. A violent 
opposition had been raised against them. Their great num- 
ber, their insolence, their insatiable greed, had all been made 
subjects of reproach; and, above all, they were censured for 
having made trafBc and a ti'ade of their poetry — of lavishing 
praises upon the nobles and princes who were liberal to them, 
and making others the subject of satirical invectives, which 
the charm of their verse spread but too readily, to the great 
injury of the honor of families. The enmities raised w;hom 
against them had come to such a point, that King ^ropoB^8*tS 
Aedh felt himself in sufficient force to propose to proscribe. 
the assembly of Drumceitt the radical abolition of this dan- 
gerous order, and the banishment, and even outlawry, if not, 
as some say, the massacre of all the bards. 

It is not apparent that the clergy took any part wl)atever 
in this persecution of a body which they might well have re- 
garded as their rivals. The introduction of Christianity into 
the country of Ossian, under St. Patrick, seems scarcely, if 
at all, to have affected the position of the bards. They be- 
came Christians without either inflicting or suffering any 
violence, and they were in general the auxiliaries and friends 
of the bishops, monks, and saints. Each monastery, like each 
prince and lord, possessed a bard, whose office it was to sing 

re/^ulate the civil life of the Irish even under the Englisli conquest; it was 
only abolished under James I. at the beginning of the seventeenth century; 
it had lasted, according to the most moderate calculations, since the time of 
King Cortnac, in 266 — that is to say, fourteen centuries. 

'** " Rei antiquarias professores et poetas . . . quos tempore gentilismi 
Druidas, Vates, et Bardos . . . vocabant. . . . His ex officio incurabcbat 
. . . faniiliarum nobilium et praerogativas studiose observare ; regionura 
agrorumque metas ac limites notare ac distinguere." — O'Donnell, book iii. 
c. 2 and 7. 

VOL. II. 6 


the glory, and often to write the annals, of the coramunity.^*^ 
Notwithstanding, it is apparent, through many of the legends 
of the period, that the bards represented a pagan power, in 
the eyes of many ecclesiastical writers, and that they were 
willingly identified with those Druids or Magi who had been 
the principal enemies of the evangelical mission of Patrick in 
Ireland and of Columba in Scotland. ^^^^ Even in the legend 
of Columba ^^^ it is noted that some among them had deter- 
mined to make him pay for his ransom according to their 
custom, and had for this end addressed to him importunate 
solicitations, threatening, if he refused, to abuse him in their 

Notwithstanding, it was Columba who saved them. He 
who was born a poet and remained a poet to the last day of 
his life, interceded for them, and gained their cause. His 
success was not without difficulty, for King Aedh was eager 
in their pursuit ; but Columba, as stubborn as bold, made 
head against all. He represented that care must 
gJSa^m'^u'lt be taken not to pull up the good corn with the tares ; 
burned ^^^^^' ^^® general exile of the poets would be the 
with the death of a venerable antiquity and of that poetry 
^^^ ^' which was so dear to the country and so useful to 
those who knew how to employ it.^^^ The ripe corn must 
not be burned, he said, because of the weeds that mingle 
with it. The king and the assembly yielded at length, under 
condition that the number of bards should be henceforward 
limited, and that their profession should be put under certain 
rules determined by Columba himself. It was his eloquence 
alone which turned aside the blow by which they were 
threatened ; and knowing themselves to be saved by him, 
they showed their gratitude by exalting his glory in their 
songs and by leaving to their successors the charge of con- 
tinuing his praise.^^^ 

"* Hersart de la Villemarqub, La Poesie des Clottres Celtiqucs, Cor- 
respondant du,25 Novembre, 1863. 

150 "Poetje impudentes," says the legend of St. Colman, Boll. Act. SS. 
Junii, vol. ii. p. 27. 

151 <t Cum aliquot vernaculae seu Hibernicae poeseos professores, quos bar- 
dos vocant, eum nihil turn ad manuni habentem, non importune tantum, sed 
iraprobe divexassent, nescio quod donativum ab eo sub interminatione invec- 
tivi poematis contendentes." — O'Donnell, book i. c. 57. 

152 u jjg inter Antiquariorum vitia extirpanda, simul et interiret veneran- 
dae antiquitatis stadium. . . . Artem regno et recte usuris valde proficuam." 
— O'Donnell. 

'"' AH the authorities of Irish history, printed or in manuscript, confirm 
this tradition (see Keeves, p. 79, and Moore, p. 257). Adamnan alone 


Columba himself had a profound pleasure in this poetical 
popularity. The corporation of bards had a chief, Dalian Fer- 
gall, who was blind, and whose violent death (he was mur- 
dered by pirates) has given him a place among the holy mar- 
tyrs, of whom there are so few in Ireland, Immedi- gono-of 
ately after the favorable decision of the assembly, p:ra^tude 
Dalian composed a song in honor of Columba, and bards m 
came to sing it before him. At the flattering sounds thei^"^ 
of this song of gratitude the Abbot of lona could not savior. 
defend himself from a human sentiment of self-satisfaction. 
But he was immediately reproved by one of his monks,, Bai- 
then, one of his twelve original companions in exile, and who 
was destined to be his successor. This faithful friend was 
not afraid to accuse Columba of pride, nor to tell him that 
be saw a sombre cloud of demons fljnng and playing round 
his head. Columba profited by the warning. He imposed 
silence upon Dallan,!^^ reminding him that it was only the 
dead who should be praised, and absolutely forbade him to 
repeat his song.^^^ Dalian obeyed reluctantly, and awaited the 
death of the saint to make known his poem, which became 
celebrated in Irish literature under the name of Ambhra, or the 
Praise of St. Columbcille. It was still sung a century 
after his death throughout all Ireland and Scotland, fjous'deVo- 
and even the least devout of men repeated it with ^'?'? T"'?. 

, f 1 ■ 1 which this 

tenderness and fervor, as a saieguard against the sou-rwas 
dangers of war and every other accideut.i^ It even ^^^^^ ^ 

gays nothing of it; but he speaks of numerous songs in the Scotic lan- 
guage in honor of Columba, which circulated everywhere in Scotland and in 

'^■' " Composuit patrio serraone rhythmura ilium . . . qui in scholis Anti- 
quariorum publice perlegi et scholiis ac coramentariis exponi consuevit." — 
O'DoNNELL, book i. c. 6. This poem, which has been the subject of innu- 
merable commentaries, still exists in MS., and is to be published with all the 
Liber Ilymnorum by Dr. Todd. Colgan possessed a copy which seemed to 
him almost unintelligible : " Est penes me exemplar hujus operis egregie 
scriptum, sed seclusis fusis, quos habet annexos, commentariis, hodie panels, 
iisque peritissimis, penetrabile." — Ubi supra. 

*"" Vita Sandi Dallani Martyris, ap. Colgan, Acta Sandoruyn. Hibernice, 
p. 204. 

156 " Ejusdem beati viri per quaedara Scoticae linguae lauduin ipsius car- 
mina, et nominis commemorationem, quidara, quamlibet sceleratis laicae 
conversationis homines et sanguinarii, ea nocte qua eadem decantaveranc 
cantica, de manibus inimicorum qui eamdem eorumdem cantorum domura 
circumsteterant, sunt liberati. . . . Pauci ex ipsis, qui easdem sancti viri 
commemorationes, quasi parvi pendentes, canere noluerant decantationes 
. • . soli disperierunt. Hujus miraculi testes . . . centeni et amplius. Hoc 
idem ut contigisse probatur non in uno loco aut tempore, sed diversis locis 
et teniporibus in Scotia et Britannia, simili tamen modo et causa liberationis 
factum fuisse. Haec ab expertis uniuscujusque regionis, ubicumque res 

64 ST. COLUMBA, . 

came to be believed that every one who knew this Ambhra 
by heart and sang it piously would die a good death. But 
when the unenlightened people came so far as to believe that 
even great sinners, without either conversion or penitence, 
had only to sing the Ambhra of Columbcille every day in order 
to be saved, a wonder happened, says the historian and grand- 
nephew of the saint, which opened the eyes of the faithful, 
by showing to them how they ought to understand the privi- 
leges accorded by God to his saints. An ecclesiastic of the 
metropolitan church of Armagh, who was a man of corrupt 
life, and desired to be saved without making any change in 
his conduct, succedeed in learning the half of the famous 
Ambhra, but never could remember the other half. It was 
in vain that he made a pilgrimage to the tomb of the saint, 
fasted, prayed, and spent the entire night in efforts to im- 
press it upon his memory — the next morning he found that, 
though he had at length succeeded in learning the latter 
half, he had completely forgotten the first.^^'' 

The gratitude of the bards to him who had preserved them 
from exile and outlawry, has certainly had some share in the 
"wonderful and lasting popularity of Columba's name. Shrined 
in the national and religious poetry of the two islands, his 
fame has not only lasted in full brilliancy in Ireland, but it 
has survived even the Reformation — which has destroyed 
almost all other traces of their past history as Christians — 
in the memory of the Celts of Scotland. 
T .. . On the other hand, the protection of Columba 

Intimate . ' i\,. n i -i t • 

connection certainly confarmed the popularity oi the bards m 
and music the heart of the Irish nation. All opposition be- 
Sonin^'' tween the religious spirit and the bardic influence 
Ireland. disappeared from his time. Music and poetry after 
that period identified themselves more and more with eccle- 
siastical life. Among the relics of the saints the harps on 
which they had played found a place. At the first English 
conquest, the bishops and abbots excited the surprise of the 
invaders by their love of music, and by accompanying them- 
selves on the harp.i^^ Irish poetry, which was in the days 

eadem sitnili contigit miraculo, indubitanter didicimus." — Adamnan, i. 1. 
Let us add that the disciples of Columba continued to cultivate music and 
poetry after his death. A modern poet, James Hogg, has written some 
English verses, in themselves insignificant, to an old air which had been 
Bung by the monks of lona. — Whitelaw, The Book of Scottish Song. 
Glasgow, 1857. 

'*' VicoMTE DE LA ViLLEMAHQDE, Poesie des Cloltres Celtiques, after 
CoLGAN and O'Donnell, ubi supra. 

las u Hinc accidit ut episcopi et abbates et sancti in Hibernia viii citharas 


of Patrick and Columba so powerful and so popular, has long 
undergone in the country of Ossian the same fate as the re- 
ligion of which these great saints were the apostles. Rooted 
like it in the heart of a conquered people, and like it pro- 
scribed and persecuted with unwearing vehemence, it has 
come ever forth anew from the bloody furrow in which it was 
supposed to be buried. The bards became the most power- 
ful allies of patriotism, the most dauntless prophets of na- 
tional independence, and also the favorite victims of the 
cruelty of spoilers and conquerors. They made music and 
poetry weapons and bulwarks against foreign oppression, 
and the oppressors used them as they had used tlie priests 
and the nobles. A price was set upon their heads. But 
while tbe last scions of the royal and noble races, decimated 
or ruined in Ireland, departed, to die out under a foreign 
sky amid the miseries of exile, the successor of the bards, 
the minstrel, whom nothing could tear from his native soil, 
was pursued, tracked, and taken like a wild beast, or chained 
and slaughtered like the most dangerous of rebels. 

In the annals of the atrocious legislation directed The bards, 
by the English against the Irish people, as well be- formed into 
fore ^^^ as after the Reformation, special penalties "J.'"^**^'''^' 
against the minstrels, bards, rhymers, and genealo- chief cham- 
gists, who sustained the lords and gentlemen in their uatlonai 
love of rebehion and of other crimes,!*^*^ are to be |j°ngP™Jd 
met at every step. An attempt was made, under thecatho- 
the sanguinary Elizabeth, to give pecuniary recom- 
pense to those who would celebrate "her Majesty's most wor- 
thy praise." The bargain was accepted by none. AH pre- 
ferred flight or death to this salary of lies. Wandering over 
hill and dale, hidden in the depths of the devastated country, 
they perpetuated there the poetic traditions of their con- 
demned race, and sang the glory of ancient heroes and new 
martyrs, the shame of apostates, and the crimes of the sacri- 
legious stranger. 

in order the better to brave tyranny in the midst of a sub- 
dued and silent people, they had recourse to allegory and the 
elegies of love. Under the figure of an enslaved queen — or 

circumferre et in iis niodulando pie delectari consueverint. . . . Sancti 
Kevini cithara ab indigenis in reverentia non modica et pro reliquiis virtuo- 
8is et magnis usque hodie habetur." — Giualdus, Cambrics Descriptio, c. 12. 

>&9 j^yj, instance, at the parliament of Kilkenny under Edward I. 

>*" These are the words of an act of the time of Elizabeth, quoted by 
Moore, p. 267. 



of a woman loved with an everlasting love and fought for 
with despairing faithfulness, in face of the jealous fury of a 
step-mother — they celebrated again and again the Irish Fa- 
therland, the country in mourning and tears, once queen and 
now a slave. 1^^ The Irish, says a great historian of our own 
day, loved to make of their country a real being whom 
they loved, and who loved them. They loved to address her 
without naming her name, and to identify the austere and 
perilous devotion which they had vowed to her with all that 
is sweetest and most fortunate in the affections of the heart, 
like those Spartans who crowned themselves with flowers 
when about to perish at Thermopylge.^*^^ 

Up to the time of the ungrateful Stuarts, this 

ProscriDGQ • 

with vehe- proscription of the national poets was permanent, 
mence. increasing in force with every change of reign and 
every new parliament. The rage of the Cromwellian Protes- 
tants carried them so far as to break, wherever they met 
with them, the minstrel's harps ^^^ which were still to be found 
in the miserable cottages of the starving Irish, as they were 
eleven centuries before, at the time when the courageous 
and charitable Bridget saw them suspended on the wall of 
the king's palace.^^* Nevertheless the harp has remained 
the emblem of Ireland even in the official arms of the British 
empire ; and during all last century the travelling harper, 
last and pitiful successor of the bards protected by Columba, 
was always to be found at the side of the priest to celebrate 
The never- ^^^ '^^'^^^ mysterics of the proscribed worship. He 
theiess ucver ceased to be received with tender respect 
to^our own Under the thatched roof of the poor Irish peasant, 
•lay- whom he consoled in his misery and oppression by 

the plaintive tenderness and solemn sweetness of the music 
of his fathers. 

The continuance of these distinctive features of Irish char- 

161 u Erin of the sorrows, once a queen, now a slave." 

*^^ Adgustin Thierry, Dix Ans d' Etudes Historiques. 

163 " Eff'erati quidem excursores in obvias quasque lyras earum proscis- 
eione multis in locis iramaniter saeviant." — Lynch, Camhrensis Eversus, 
book i. c. 4, p. 316. This author, who wrote in 1662. feels himself obliged 
to give a detailed description of the harp, lest the instrument should disap- 
pear in the general ruin of Ireland. " Quare operae me pretium facturum 
existlmo, si lyrae forraani lectori ob oculos ponani, ne illius memoris gentis 
excidio . . . innexa obliteretur." Charles II., as soon as he was established 
on the throne, permitted the passing of an act of Parliament "against the 
Yagabond minstrels, to repress their rhymes and scandalous songs." 

'«♦ " Et vidit citliaras in domo regis, et dixit: Citharizate nobis citharia 
♦ estris." — Tertia Vita Sanctce Brigiice, c. 75, p. 636, ap. Colgan. 


acter through so many centuries is so striking, and the mis- 
fortunes of that noble race touch us so nearly, that it is 
difficult to resist the temptation of leaving behind us those 
distant ages, and of following through later generations the 
melancholy relics of all that has been discovered or admired 
in the most ancient days. We may be pardoned for adding 
that, if the text of those poetic and generously obstinate pio- 
tests against the enslavement of Ireland have perished, tlio 
life and spirit of them has survived in the pure and pene- 
trating beauty of the ancient Irish airs. Their harmonics 
and their refrains, which are inimitably natural, original, and 
pathetic, move the depths of the soul, and send a thrill 
through all the fibres of human sensibility. Thomas Moore, 
in adapting to them words which are marked with the im- 
pression of a passionate fidelity to the proscribed faith and 
oppressed country, has given to the Irish Melodies a popu- 
larity which was not the least powerful among those pleas 
which determined the great contest of Catholic Emancipation. 
The genius of Celtic poetry has, however, sur- -r^eceitic 
vived not only in Ireland, in the couutfy of Columba museattue 
and of Moore, but has found a refuge in the glens tite^van-" 
of the Scottish Highlands, among those vast moors §eoti'and° 
and rugged mountains, and beside the deep and as in ire- 
narrow lakes, which Columba, bearing the light of 
the faith to the Caledonian Picts, had so often traversed. In 
those districts where, as in a great part of Ireland, the Erse 
or Gaelic language is still spoken, the Celtic muse, always 
sad and always attached to the cause of the people, has been 
found in recent times, at the most prosaic moment of modern 
civilization, in the eighteenth century itself, inspiring the 
warlike songs and laments which the Highlanders have conse- 
crated to the conquered Pretender and his followers slain. 
And if we may believe a competent and impartial judge,^^^ 
the last eflusions of the soul of the Gaelic race surpass, in 
plaintive beauty and in passionate feeling, even those deli- 
cious Anglo-Scottish songs which no traveller can hear with- 
out emotion, and which have assured the palm, at least of 
poetry, to the cause of the Stuarts, which has been so sadly 
represented by its princes, and so ill served by events, but 
which the popular and national muse has thus avenged, even 
for the irremediable defeat of Culloden. 

*^* Charles Mackay, The Jacobite Songs and Ballads of Scotland from 
1688 to 174G, Introduction, p. 18. 




Cordial intercourse of Columba with the Irish princes. — Prophecy upon the 
future of their sons. — Domnall, the king's son, obtains the privilege of 
dying in his bed. — Columba visits the Irish monasteries. — Popular en- 
tbusiasm. — Vocation of the young idiot afterwards known as St. Ernan. 
— Solicitude of Columba for the distant monasteries and monks. — He 
protects them from excessive labors and accidents. — He exercises author- 
ity over laymen. — Baithen, his cousin-german and principal assistant. — 
Tlie respect shown to both in an assembly of learned men. 

Cordial In the national parliament of Drumceitt whicn 

between"^ saved the bards, and where all the ecclesiastical 
Columba chiefs of the Irish nation, along with their princes 
Irish and provincial kings, were assembled, Columba, 

prmces. already invested by his apostolical labors with great 
power and authority, *found himself surrounded by public 
homage, and tokens of universal confidence. To all the 
kings, whose kinsman and friend he was, he preached peace, 
concord, the pardon of affronts, and the recall of exiles, many 
of whom had found shelter in the island monastery which 
.owed its existence to his own exile.^^^ Nevertheless, it was 
not without trouble that he obtained from the supreme mon- 
arch the freedom of a young prince, named Scandlan, son of 
the chief of Ossory, whom Aedh detained in prison, in con- 
tempt of his sworn faith, and of an agreement to which Co- 
lumba himself had been a witness. The Loble abbot 
of the went to the prisoner in his dungeon, blessed him, 

future. ^^^^ predicted to him that he should be twice exiled, 
but that he should survive his oppressor, and reign for thirty 
years in his paternal domain. The king yielded on this 
point, but with a bad grace ; he feared the influence of the 
illustrious ex:ile, and had seen him return to Ireland with 
dissatisfaction. His eldest son had publicly ridiculed the 
monks of loua, and had thus drawn upon himself the curse 
of Columba, which brought misfortune, for he was afterwards 
dethroned and assassinated. But the king's second son Dom- 
nall, who was still young, took openly the part of the Abbot 
of lona, who predicted for him not only a long and glorioua 

'«" Adamnan, i. 11, 13. 


reign, but the rare privilege of dying in bis bed, on the con 
dition of receiving the Holy Communion every eight days, 
and of keeping at least one in seven of his promises ^^'' — a 
somewhat satirical limit, which betrays either the old con- 
tradictory spirit of the converted Niall, or the recollection 
of his own legitimate resentment against certain princes. 
His proJDhecy, extremely improbable as it was, in a country 
where all the princes perished on the battle-field or by a vio- 
lent death, was nevertheless fulfilled. Domnall, who was the 
third successor of his father, following after two other kings 
who were destroyed by their enemies, had a long and pros- 
perous reign ; he gained numerous victories, marching to 
battle under a banner blessed by St. Columba, and died, after 
an illness of eighteen months, in his bed, or, as Columba 
specified, with a precision which marks the rareness of the 
occurrence, on his down-bed.^*^^ His father, although recon- 
ciled to Columba, did not escape the common law\ The groat 
abbot bestowed upon him his monastic cowl, promising that it 
should always be to him as an impenetrable cuirass. After 
this, he never went into battle without putting on his friend's 
cowl above his armor. But one day when he had forgotten 
it, he was killed in a combat with the King of Lagenia or 
Leinster.169 Columba had previously warned him against 
waging war with the people of Leinster, which was the coun- 
try of his mother, and which he loved with that impassioned 
clan or family affection which is so distinctive a feature in 
his character. The Lagenians had not lost the opportunity 
of working upon this sentiment ; for one day, when he was 
at his Abbey of Durrow, upon their boundary, a numerous 
assembly of all ages, from children to old men, came to him, 
and, surrounding him, pleaded with such animation their 
kindred with his mother, that they obtained from him the prom- 
ise, or prophecy, that no king should ever be able to over- 
come them, so long as they fought for a just cause.i'*^ 

There is no doubt that, after the assembly of Revisits 
Drumceitt, Columba made many journeys to Ire- monaste- 
land. The direction of the various monasteries "es. 
which he had founded there before his voluntary exile, and 

'" Irish MS. quoted by Reeves, p. 38. 

1K8 " Super pluiiiatiunculain." —, i. 15. Compare c. 10. 

'^* Lynch, Cambrensis ^i'e?-SMS, with Kelly's notes, 17, 19. — O'Donneli., 
book i. c. 60. 

"" " Id prolixe afflicteque allegata cognatione flagitantes." — O'Donnell, 
loc. cit. Compare Reeves, p. 22\. 


of which he had kept the government in his own hands, must 
have led him often back ; but after that assembly, his visits 
were always made notable'by miracles of healing, prophecy^ 
or revelation, and still more by the tender solicitude of his 
paternal heart. Sometimes, towards the decline of his life, 
while traversing a hilly or marshy country, he travelled in 
a car, as St. Patrick had done : but the care ^vith which his 
biographers note this fact, proves that formerly the greater 
part of his journeys had been made on foot.^"i He did not 
limit himself to communities of which he was the superior 
or founder ; he loved to visit other monastic sanctuaries also, 
such as that of Clonmacnoise, whose importance has already 
been pointed out.^^^ And on such occasions the crowding 
and eagerness of the monks to pay their homage to the holy 
and beloved old man was redoubled ; they left their out- 
door work, and, crossing the earthen intrenchraent, which like 
the vallum of Roman camps, enclosed the Celtic monasteries, 
came to meet him, chanting hymns. When they came up to 
him, they prostrated themselves on the ground at his feet, 
ere they embraced him ; and in order to shelter him from the 
crowd during the solemn processions which were made in 
his honor, a rampart of branches was carried like a dais by 
four men, who eurrounded him, treading with equal steps.^^^ 
An ancient author even goes so far as to say, that on the oc- 
casion of his return and prolonged stay in his native country, 
he was invested with a sort of general supremacy over all 
the religious of Ireland, both monks and nuns.^"* 
Vocation of Duriug the journey from Durrrow to Clonmac- 
the idiot noiso, Columba made a halt at one of his own monas- 
known as torics, wherc a poor little scholar, " of thick speech, 
bt. Ernan. ^^^^ g^^^j more hcavy aspect," whom his superiors 
employed in the nieanest services, glided into the crowd, 
and stealthily approaching the great abbot, touched the end 
of his robe behind him, as the Canaanitish woman touched 
the robe of our Lord. Columba, perceiving it, stopped, 

171 "Pej. loca.aspera et inaquosa. . . . Pergunt sic tota die per loca as- 
pera, coenosa et saxosa." — O'Donnell, book iii. c. 17. Compare Adam- 
nan, ii. 43. 

'" See ante, p. 716. 

173 " Undique ab agellulis raonasterio vicinis . . . congregati . . . egressi 
, . . vallum monasterii, unanimes pergunt. . . . Quamdam de lignis pyra- 
midera erga sanctum deambulantem constringentes . . . ne sanctus senior 
fratrum multitudinis constipatione molestaretur." — Adamnan, i. 3. 

'^^ Vita S. Farannani Confcssoris, 15tli February, c. 3, in Colgan, Acta 
SS. IlihernicB, p. 377. This author, who wrote •jnly in the thirteenth cen- 
tury, cannot be considered of great authority. 


turned round, and, taking the child by the neck, kissed him. 
" Away, away, little fool ! " cried all the spectators. " Pa- 
tience, my brethren," said Columba : then turning to the 
boy, who trembled with fear, '' My son," he said, " open thy 
mouth and show me thy tongue." The child obeyed, with 
increasing timidity. The abbot made the sign of the cross 
upon his tongue, and added, " This child, who appears to you 
so contemptible, let no one henceforward despise him. He 
shall grow every day in wisdom and virtue ; he shall be 
reckoned with the greatest among you ; God will give to this 
tongue, which I have just blessed, the gift of eloquence and 
true doctrine." ^'^ The boy grew to manhood, and became 
celebrated in the churches of Scotland and Ireland, where he 
was venerated under the name of St. Ernan. He himself 
told this prophecy, so well justified by the event, to a con- 
temporary of Adamnan, who has preserved all the details 
for us. 

These journeys, however, were not necessary to lender care 
prove Columba's solicitude for the monks who filled of coiumb- 
his monasteries. He showed the same care when taut monks 
distant as when at hand, by the help of that mirac- f^de™"""*' 
ulcus foresight which came to the assistance of 
his paternal anxiety in all their spiritual and temporal neces- 
sities. One day, after his return from Ireland, he was heard 
to stop suddenly short in the correspondence or transcription 
in which he had been engaged in his little cell in lona, and 
cry with all his strength, " Help, help ! " This cry was ad- 
dressed to the guardian angel of the community, and the 
appeal was made on behalf of a man who had fallen from the 
top of the round tower which was then being built at Dur- 
row, in the centre of Ireland — so great was his confidence 
in what he himself called the indescribable and lightning 
speed of the flight of angels ; and greater still was his trust 

175 " Valde despectus vultu et habitu . . . cervicem pueri tenet, ipsuraque 
trahens ante faciera suam statuit. Omnibus dicentibus. . . . Dimitte, dimit- 
le, quare hunc infelicem et injuriosum retines puerum. . '. . Sinite, fratres, 
hunc. . . . O fill, aperi os et porrige linguam . . . cum ingenti treniore. 
... In hac vestra oongregatione grandis est futurus et lingua ejus salubri 
et doctrina et eloquentia a Deo donabitur. Hie erat eminens . . , postea per 
omnes Scotiae ecelesias faniosus et valde notissinius : qui bsec omnia supra • 
scripta verba Segineo abbati de se prophetata enarravit, meo decessore Failbeo 
intentius audiente . . . cujus revelatione et ego ipse cognovi haec eadem 
quae enarravi." — Adamnan, i. 3. St. Ernan died in 635. M. de la Ville- 
marque has cited this incident in his Legends Celtique, as a type of the ini- 
tiation of the children of barbarians into intellectual life by means cf tho 


in their protection.^'^ Another time, at lona^ in a day of 
chilly fog, such as occurs often in that sombre climate, he 
was suddenly seen to burst into tears. When asked the 
reason of his distress, he answered, " Dear son, it is not with- 
out reason that I weep. At this very hour I see my dear 
monks of Durrow condemned by their abbot to exhaust 
themselves in this dreary weather building the great round 
tower of the monastery, and the sight overwhelms me." The 
same day, and at the same hour, as was afterwards ascer- 
tained, Laisran, the abbot of Durrow, felt within himself 
something like an internal flame, which reawakened in his 
heart a sentiment of pity for his monks. He immediately 
commanded them to leave their work, to warm themselves, 
and take some food, and even forbade them to resume their 
building until the weather had improved. This same Laisran 
afterwards came to deserve the name of Consoler of the 
Monks, so much had he been imbued by Columba with that 
supernatural charity which, in monastic life, as in every 
other Christian existence, is at once a light and a flame, 
ardens et lucens}"''^ 

Authority Columba not only retained his superior jurisdic- 
oveT*thr''^ tion over the monasteries which he had founded in 
laymen. Ireland, or which had been admitted to the privi- 
leges of his foundations, but he also exercised a spiritual 
authority, which it is difficult to explain, over various laymen 
of his native island. On one occasion, he is known to have 
sent his cousin, friend, and principal disciple to the centre 
of Ireland, to Drum-Cuill, to pronounce sentence of excom- 
munication against a certain family, whose crime, however, 
is not specified. This disciple was Baithen, whom we have 
seen to be one of Columba's companions from the moment 
of his exile, and who warned his superior against the fumes 

''^ " In tuguriolo suo scribens, . . . Auxiliare, auxiliare. . . . Duo fra- 
tres adjanuam sancti . . . causam talis subtae vocis interrogant. . . . An- 
gelo qui nunc inter vos stabat, jussi. . . . Valde mirabilis et pene indicibilis 
est angelici violatus pernicitas, fulgure ut aestimo, celeritati paritas." — Adam- 
nan, iii. 15. 

'^^ " Quanta animi teneritudine . . . et quam mirabili divinitus infusae 
seientiae dono . . . non secus ac si oculis praesentes essent, intuebatur." — 
O'DoNNELL, ii. 65. "Quadam bruraali et valde frigida die, niagno molesta- 
tus moerore, flevit. . . . Non immerito, filiole, ego hac in bora contristor. 
meos videns monachos quos Laisrannus nunc gravi fatigatos labore in alicu- 
jus inajuris donius fabrica molestat . . . eodem memento horae Laisrannus 
. . . quasi quadam pyra intrinsecus succensus." — Adamnan. i. 29. Com- 
pare book iii. c. 15 for a similar incident relating to the same Monastery of 
Durrow and its round tower. Abbot Laisran was a near relative of Columba, 
and became his third successor at lona. 


of pride, at the time when the bards began to express their 
enthusiastic gratitude. The gentle Baithen, when he had 
arrived at the appointed place, after having passed the whole 
night in prayer under an oak, said to his companions, " No, I 
will not excommunicate this family before making sure that 
it will not repent. I give it a year's respite, and during the 
year the fate of this tree shall be a warning to it." Some 
time after the tree was struck by lightning ; but we are not 
informed if the family thus warned was brought to repent- 

Baithen was a man of tender soul, of whom we Baithen, 
would fain speak at greater length, if it were not p^i Feuow- 
needful to circumscribe the wide and confused worker. 
records of Celtic hagiography. Columba compared him to 
St. John the Evangelist ; he said that his beloved disciple 
resembled him who was the beloved disciple of Christ, by 
his exquisite purity, his penetrating simplicity, and his love 
of perfection. 1"^ And Columba was not alone in doing jus- 
tice to the man who, after having been his chief lieutenant in 
his work, was to become his first successor. One day in an 
assembly of learned monks, probably held in Ire- -restimon 
land, Fintan, a very learned and very wise man,^''^ tothechar- 
and also one of the twelve companions of Columba's boti[from 
exile, was questioned upon the qualities of Baithen. b°y"or™' 
" Know," he answered, " that there is no one on this leamed 
side of the Alps who is equal to him in knowledge 
of the Scriptures, and in the greatness of his learning." 
** What ! " said his questioners — " not even his master, Co- 
lumba? " " I do not compare the disciple with the master," 
answered Fintan. " Columba is not to be compared with phi 
losophers and learned men, but with patriarchs, prophets, and 
apostles. The Holy Ghost reigns in him ; he has been cho- 

17S It Nolo hac vice banc familiam excommunicare donee sciam an ad 
pcenitentiam convertatur, an non. . . . Dicebat quod ... in innocentia 
sincerissima et in simplicitate prudentissima. et in disciplina rigoris perfec- 
torum operum non dissimiles fuerunt." — Act. SS. Bolland., vol. ii. June, 
p. 238. Let us add what tbese Actes relate of bis incessant fervor in prayer : 
" Cum iter aliquod faceret aut alioquin alloqueretur . . . manus suas sub 
vestimento suo ad oranduni Deum menti alacri interim dirigebat. . . . Inter 
duas particulas ori appositas, simul inter duo sorbiliuncula . . . et quort 
difficilius est, tempore metendi cum manipulum in terra collectum portaret 
ad cervicem, alterna brachia ad coelum extendens, Tonantem interpellabat." 
— Ibid., p. 237. 

"* So much so, that tbe Bollandists suppose this Fintan, described as 
filius Lappani in tlie Acts of St. Baithen, to be tbe same as tbe Fintan; 
filius Atdi, of Adamnan, book ii. c. 32. Compare Eeevss, p. 144. 

VOL. II. 7 


sen by God for the good of all. He is a sage among all sages 
a king among kings, an anchorite with anchorites, a monk of 
monks ; and in order to bring himself to the level even of lay- 
men, he knows how to be poor of heart among the poor ; i^*' 
thanks to the apostolic charity which inspires him, he can re- 
joice with the joyful, and weep with the unfortunate. And 
amid all the gifts which God's generosity has lavished on him, 
the true humility of Christ is so royally rooted in his soul, 
that it seems to have been born with him." It is added that 
all the learned hearers assented unanimously to this enthu- 
siastic eulogium. 



His univeral solicitude and charity during all his missionary life. — The 
sailor-monks : seventy monks of lona form the crew of the monastic fleet; 
their boats made of osiers covered with hides. — Their boldness at sea : 
the whirlpool of Corryvreckan. — Columba's prayer protects them against 
sea monsters. — Their love of solitude leads them into unknown seas, 
where they discover St. Kilda, Iceland, and the Faroe Isles. — Cormac in 
Orkney, and in the icy ocean. — Columba often accompanies them : his 
voyages among the Hebrides. — The wild boar of Skye. — He subdues 
tempests by his prayer : he invokes his friend St. Kenneth. — He is him- 
self invoked during life, and after his death, as the arbiter of winds. — Filial 
complaints of the monks when their prayers are not granted. — The bene- 
fits which he conferred on the agricultural population disentangled fron: 
the maze of fables : Columba discovers fountains, regulates irrigations and 
fisheries, shows how to graft fruit trees, obtains early harvests, interferes 
to stop epidemics, cures diseases, and procures tools for the peasants. — 
His special solicitude for the monkisli laborers : he blesses the milk when 

'^^ " Scitote quod nullus ultra Alpes compar illi in cognitione Scriptura- 
rum divinarum et in magnitudine scientise reperitur. , . . Numquid ille 
sapientior est quam sanctus Columba nutricius illius? Ille enim non tam 
sapientibus litteratis, sed patriarchis et prophetis Dei et apostolis magis 
oomparandus est. . . . Vera humilitas Christi robustissime in eo regnat, 
tanquam a natura ei hsereret, . . . Cum hoc testimonium vir sanctus in me- 
dio sapientum proferret. . . . Ille enim sapiens cum sapientibus, rex cum 
regibus, anachoreta cum auachoretis, et monachus cum monachis . . . et 
pauper corde cum pauperibus." — Act. S. Bolland., vol. ii. June, p. 238. 


it is brought from the cow : his breath refreshes them on their return from 
harvest. — The bhicksmith carried to heaven by his alms. — His relations 
with the layman whose hospitality he claims : prophecy touching tlie rich 
miser who shuts his door upon him. — The five cows of his Lochaber host. 
— The poacher's spear. — He pacifies and consoles all whom he meets. — 
His proplietic threats against the felons and reivers. — Punishment inflict- 
ed upon the assassin of an exile, — Brigands of royal blood put down by 
Ci)lumba at the risk of his life. — He enters into the sea up to his knees 
t(t arrest tiie pirate who had pillaged his friend. — The standard-bearer of 
Caesar and the old missionary. 

During all the rest of his life, which was to pass p.jti,ej.jy 

in his island of lona, or in the neighboring dis- solicitude 

tricts of Scotland which had been evangelized by his the most' ^ 

unwearied zeal, nothing strikes and attracts the his- ™ai^ures of 

torian so much as the generous ardor of Columba's hismission- 

1 • mi 1 • (• I • 1 1 I'p ary life. 

chanty. Ihe history or his whole lite proves that 
he Avas born with a violent and even vindictive temper ; but 
he had succeeded in subduing and transforming himself to 
such a point that he was ready to sacrifice all things to the 
love of his neighbor. It is not merely an apostle or a monas- 
tic founder whom we have before us — beyond and beside 
this it is a friend, a brother, a benefactor of men, a brave and 
untiring defender of the laborer, the feeble, and the poor: it 
is a man occupied not only with the salvation but also with 
the happiness, the rights, and the interests of all his fellow- 
creatures, and in whom the instinct of pity showed itself in a 
bold and continual interposition against all oppression and 

Without losing the imposing and solemn character which 
always accompanied his popular fame, he will now be revealed 
to us under a still more touching aspect, through all the long 
succession of his apostolic labors, and in the two principal 
occupations — agriculture and navigation — which gave vari- 
ety to his missionary life. 

For navigation alternated with agriculture in Maritime 
the labors of the cenobites of lona. The same monkVol 
monks who cultivated tlie scanty fields of the holy i°"^- 
island, and who reaped and threshed the corn, accompanied 
Columba in his voyages to the neighboring isles, and followed 
the sailor's trade, then, it would seem, more general than now 
among the Irish race.^^^ Communication was then frequent, 

'*' " Lugbeiis quadam ad Sanctum die; post frugum veniens triturationera. 
. . . Idem simul cum sancto viro ad* Caput Kegionis {Cantyre) pergens, 
nauclerum et nautas adventantis barcae interrogans." — Adamnan, i. 28. 


not only between Ireland and Great Britain, but between 
Ireland and Gaul. We have already seen in the port of 
Nantes an Irish boat ready to carry away the founder of 
Luxeuil.1^2 The Gaulish merchants came to sell or offer their 
wines as far as to the centre of the island, to the Abbey of 
Clonmacnoise.i^^ In the life of our saint, seafaring popula- 
tions,^*^* are constantly spoken of as surrounding him, and re- 
ceiving his continual visits ; and exercises and excursions 
are also mentioned, which associate his disciples with all the 
incidents of a seafaring life. As a proof of this we quote 
four lines, in very ancient Irish, which may be thus trans- 
lated : — 

" Honor to the soldiers who live at lona; 
There are three times fifty under the monastic rule, 
Seventy of whom are appointed to row, 
And cross the sea in their leathern barks." 

Boats of These boats were sometimes hollowed out of the 

ed'with^^'^ trunks of trees, like those which are still found 
hides. buried in the hogs or turf-mosses of Ireland ; but 

most generally they were made of osier, and covered with 
buffalo-skins, like those described by Ccesar.^^^ Their size 
was estimated by the number of skins which had been used 
to cover them. They were generally small, and those made of 
one or two skins were portable. The abbot of lona had one 
of this description for the inland waters when he travelled 
beyond the northern hills {dorsum Britannice), which he 
crossed so often to preach among the Picts.^^^ At a later 

'*^ Vol. i. p. ,567. " Navis quae Scotorum couimercia vexerat," says the 
biography of St. Columbanus. 

"*^ Vita S. Kiarani, c. 31, cited by Reeves, p. 57. 
'^'' " Nautae, navigatores, remiges, nautici." 

185 u Corpus navium viminibus contextual coriis integebatur." — Bell. 
Civil., i. 54. 

*' Primum cana salix, madefacto vimine, parvam 
Texitur in puppim caesoque induta juvenco." 

LUGAN, iv. 
These boats were called in Celtic Curach, from which comes curriisa, or 
currica in monkish Latin. These osier canoes are still in use, under the 
name of coracle, in the Welsh seaports. They are composed of a liglit con- 
struction of willow lathes, covered either with skin or with tarpaulin. After 
their day's work the fishers put the coracle to dry, and, taking it on their 
backs, carry it to their cottage door. This has been seen by M. Alphonse 
Esquiros at Caermarthen. — Revue des Deux Mondes, loth February, 1865. 

186 " Mitte te in navim unius pellis. . . . Carabum ex duobus tantum coriis 
et demidio factum. . . . Nunc, nunc celerius nostram quara ultra rivum 
naviculam posuistis in doraum, hue citius advehite, et in viciniore domuncula 
ponite." — Adamnan, i. 34. 


period the community possessed many of a much larger size, 
to convey the materials for the reconstruction of the primi- 
tive monastery at lona, and the timber which the sons of Co- 
lumba cut down and fashioned in the vast oak forests which 
then covered the whole country, now so sadly deprived of 
wood. They went like galleys, with sail or oar, and were 
furnished with masts and rigging like modern boats. The 
holy island had at last an entire fleet at its disposal, manned 
and navigated by the monks.^^" 

In these frail skiffs Columba and his monks T^eir bold- 
ploughed the dangerous and stormy sea which ^'^^^ ** ^^^ 
dashes on the coasts of Scotland and Ireland, and penetrated 
boldly into the numberless gulfs and straits of the sombre 
Hebridean archipelago. They knew the perils to which their 
insular existence exposed them ; but they braved those dan- 
gers without fear, accustomed as they were to live in the 
midst of storms,^^^ upon an isle which the great waves of 
ocean threatened continually to swallow up. Not The whiri- 
less alarming was their position when the winds ^^rry/ 
carried them towards the terrible whirlpool, named vreckan. 
after a prince of the Niall family, who had been drowned 
there, the Caldron of Brechan, and which there was always 
a risk of being driven upon while crossing from Ireland to 
Scotland. The winds, when blowing from certain directions, 

'" This passage of Adamnan is very important for the history of tlie prim- 
itive Celtic navigation. " Cum dolatae per terram pineae et roboreae trahe- 
rentur longaj trabes et magncB naviiim, paritcr ct dornus matericB eveherentur. 
. . . Ea die qua nostri nautae, omnibus praeparatis, supra mcmoratarum ligna 
materiarum proponunt scaphis per mare et curucis traiiere. • . . Per longas 
et obligas vias tola die properis flatibus, Deo propitio famulantibus, et plenis 
sine ulla retardatione velis, ad lonaiu insulum omnis ilia navalis emigratio 
prospere evenit." — ii. 45. The words in italics are the text given by the 
Bollandists {Ada Sanctorum, Junii, vol. ix. p. 275), which seems to us pref- 
erable to that of the MS. tollowed by Dr. Reeves. There is here question 
of three kinds of boats : naves, scaphce, and curucce ; and it is evident that 
there must have been a workshop on the island for tlie building of the larger 
vessels, because great logs of wood were carried there destined to be em- 
ployed in the building of boats as well as for the monastic buildings. In 
another passage (Adamnan, ii. 35), a transport boat, oneraria navis, is 
spoken of, manned by monks, and laden with osiers, which the abbot (/O- 
lumba had sent for to a neighboring property : " Virgarum fascif.ulos ad 
hospitium construendum." 

188 " Die fragosae tempestatis et intolerabilis undarum magnitudinis. . . . 
Quis, ait (sanctus), hac die valde ventosa et nimis periculosa, lioft breve, 
fretum prospere transnavigare potest?" — Adamnan, i. 4. This recalls the 
lines of the poet — 

" Quid rigor aeternus coeli, quid frigora possunt, 
Ignotumque fretum ? " 

Claudian, in Consulat. III. Honor,, v. 54. 



hollow out in their whirl such terrible abysses about this 
spot, that even to our own time it has continued the terror 
of sailors. The holiest of Columba's guests passed it by with 
trembling, raising their hands towards heaven to implore the 
miracle which alone could save theni.^^^ But he himself, 
who one day was almost swallowed up in it, and whose mind 
was continually preoccupied by the recollection of his kin- 
dred, imagined that he saw in this whirlpool a symbol of the 
torments endured in purgatory by the soul of his relative 
who had perished at that spot, and of the duty of praying for 
the repose of that soul at the same time as he prayed for the 
safety of the companions of his voyage.^^*^ 
coiumba'd Oolumba's prayers, his special and ardently de- 
prayers sired blessing, and his constant and passionate in- 
them*^ tercession for his brethren and disciples, were the 

Bfa^moV-^^ grand safeguard of the navigators of lona, not only 
sters. against wind and shipwrecks, but against other 

dangers which have now disappeared from these coasts. 
Great fishes of the cetaceous order swarmed at that time in 
the Hebridean sea. The sharks ascended even into the 
Highland rivers, and one of the companions of Columba, swim- 
ming across the Ness, was saved only by the prayer of the 
saint, at the moment when he was but an oar's length from 
the odious monster, which had before swallowed one of the 
natives.i^^ The entire crew of a boat manned by monks took 
fright and turned back one day on meeting a whale, or per- 

169 "Nunc in undosis Charybdis Brecani aestibus valde periclitatur, am- 
basque ad coelum, in prora sedens, paluias elevat." — Adamnan, i. 5. "Est 
Torago perioulosissima marina, in qua, si qua navis intrat, non evadit." — 
Vita Sancti Eiarani, apud Reeves, 263. Compare Giraldus Cambrensis, 
Topogr. Hibernice, ii. 41. Walter Scott has not omitted this spot in liis poet- 
ical itinerary — 

" I would 
That your eye could see the mood 
Of Corry vreckan's whirlpool rude, 
When dons the Hag her whitened hood. . . . 
And Scarba's isle, whose tortured shore 
Still rings to Corryvreckan's roar." 
It must be remarked that as the name of Scotia has been transferred 
from Ireland to Scotland, the name of the abyss so feared by the sailors cf 
lona has also been transferred to the whirlpool which tourists see in the dis- 
tance between the isles of Scarba and lona, in the much-frequented roi'te 
from Oban to Glasgow. 

''*" " Ilia sunt ossa Brecani cognati nostri, quae voluit Christus ita nobis 
ostendi, ut pro defuncti refrigerio, ac pro nostro a praesenti periculo libera- 
tione simul apud Dominum intercedamus." — O'Donnell, ii. 21, apud CoL 
GAN, p. 434. 

'" Adamnan, ii. 27. 


haps ouly a shark more formidable than its neighbors ; but on 
another occasion, the same Baithen who was the friend and 
successor of Columba, encouraged by the holy abbot's bless- 
ing, had more courage, continued his course, and saw the 
monster bury itself in the waves. " After all," said the monk, 
" we are both in the hands of God, both this monster and 
I." 192 Other monks, sailing in the high northern sea, were 
panic-struck by the appearance of hosts of unknown shell- 
fish, which, attaching themselves to the oars and sides of 
the boat, made holes in the hide with which the framework 
was covered.i*^ 

It was neither curiosity nor love of gain, nor 
evbQ a desire to convert the pagans, which stimu- soutucie 
lated Columba's disciples to dare all the dangers of fnro^uu"*^™ 
liavigation in one of the most perilous seas of the known 
world ; it was the longing for solitude, the irresist- 
ible wish to find a more distant retreat, an asylum still fur- 
ther off than that of lona, upon some unknown rock amid the 
loneliness of the sea, where no one could join them, and from 
which they never could be brought back. They returned to 
lona without having discovered what they were in search of, 
sad yet not discouraged; and after an interval of rest t^- ^ „ 

.' o ' _ Discovery 

always took to sea agam, to begin once more their of st.KUda, 
anxious search.^^^ It was thus that the steep and iJies, and 
almost inaccessible island of St.Kilda,i^^made famous ^'='^'''»°<^- 

'** " Ecce cetus mirae et immensa9 magnitudinis, se instar montis erigens^ 
ora aperuit patula nimis dentosa. . . . Remiges, deposito velo, valde perter- 
riti . . . illam obortara ex belluino motu fluctuationem vix evaden potue- 
runt. . . . Cui Baitheneus : Ego et ilia bellua sub Dei potestate sunius. . . . 
^quor etcetum, ambabus manibus elevatis, benedicitintrepidus. . . . Bellua 
magna se sub liuctu immergens . . . nusquam apparuit." — Adamnan, i. 19. 
Up, to the eighteenth century whales frequented these parts, and they have 
been seen to capsize fishing-boats. — Martin's Western Islands, p. 5. The 
whales have disappeared, as have also the seals, which as late as 1703 sup- 
plied food to the Hebridean islands. The Monastery of lona kept a flock of 
them in a neighboring island : " Parvam insulam ubi marini nostri juria 
vituli gcnerantur et generant." A robber attempted to take them away, but 
sheep were given up to him in preference." — Adamnan, i. 42. 

'^3 " Qusedam, usque in id temporis invisae mare obtegentes occurrerant 
tetrae et infestse nimis bestiolae quae horribili impetu carinam et latera, pup- 
pinique et proram ita forti ferebant percussura, ut pelliceum tectum navis 
penetrale putarentur penetrare posse. Prope ranarum magnitudinem acu- 
leis permolestae, non volatiles, sed natatiles, sed et remorum palmulas infes- 
tabant." — Adamnan, ii. 42. 

J94 " Desertum in pelage intransraeabili invenire optantes." — Adamnan, 
ii. 42. " Baitheneus . . . benedici a sancto petivit cum ceteris, in mari ere- 
mum quaesiturus, post longos per ventosa circuitus aequora, eremo non re- ' 
perto, in patriam reversus." — Ibid., i. 20. 

"° Several religious buildings of a very early date, and a church dedicated 


by the daring of its bird-hunters, was first discovered ; then 
far to the north of the Hebrides and even of the Orcades, 
they reached the Shetland Isles, and even, according to some, 
Iceland itself, which is only at the distance of a six days' 
voyage from Ireland, and where the first Christian church 
bore the name of St, Columba. Another of their discoveries 
was the Faroe Islands, where the Norwegians at a later date 
found traces of the sojourn of the Irish monks, Celtic books, 
crosses, and bells.^^^ Corraac, the boldest of these bold ex- 
plorers, made three long, laborious and dangerous voyages 
with the hope, always disappointed, of finding the wilderness 
of which he dreamed. The first time on landing at 
theork- Orkney he escaped death, with which the savage in- 
'^®^®' habitants of that archipelago threatened all stran- 

gers, only by means of the recommendat'ons which Columba 
had procured from the Pictish king, himself converted, to the 
still pagan king of the northern islanders.^^'' On another 
occasion the south wind drove him for fourteen successive 

to St. Columba, were to be found in St. Kilda as late as 1768. The inhab- 
itants of the island, though Calvinists, still celebrated the saint's day by 
carrying all the milk of their dairies to the governor or farmer of the isle, 
which belonged then to a chief of the clan Macleod. This farmer dis- 
tributed it in equal portions to every man, woman, and child in the island. — 
See History of St. Kilda, by Kenneth Macaulay. This islet, which is the 
most western spot in Europe, is celebrated for the exploits of the bird- 
catchers, who are suspended by long cords over perpendicular cliffs. It has 
scarcely eighty inhabitants. The site of the chapel called that of Columba 
is still shown, with a cemetery and some medicinal and consecrated springs. 
St. Columba's day is still observed by the people. 

'^® Landnamabok, ap. Antiq. Celto-Scand., p. 14. Dicuil, who wrote in 
795, states that a hundred years before the Faroe Islands had been inhab- 
ited by " eremites ex nostra Scotia navigantes." — Ed. Letronne, p. 39. 
Compare Innes, Scotland in the Middle Ages, p. 101, and Lanigan, Eccles. 
History of Ireland, c. 3, p. 225, where the question of the first discovery 
of Iceland is thoroughly investigated. 

197 " Brudeo regi, praesenti Orcadum regulo, commendavit dicens : Aliqui . 
ex nostris nuper emigraverunt, desertum in pelago intransmeabili invenire 
optantes, qui si forte post longos circuitus Orcades devenerunt insulas, huic 
regulo cujus obsides in manu tua sunt, diligenter commenda . . . et propter 
supradictam S. viri commendationem, de morte in Orcadibus liberatus est 
vicina." — Adamnan, ii. 42. This passage will recall that of Ariosto, where 
he places in the Hebrides the scene of Olympia's deliverance by Roland, 
and attributes to the inhabitants of these islands the habit of exposing their 
women to sea monsters : — 

" Per distrugger quell' isola d'Ebuda 

Che di quante il mar cingu e la piu cruda. 

Voi dovete saper ch'oltre I'lrlanda, 

Fra molte, che vi son, I'isola giace 

Nomata Ebuda, che per legge manda 

Rubando intorno il suo popol rapace." 

Orlando Furioso, ix. 11-12. 


days and nights almost into the depths of the icy ocean, far 
beyond anything that the imagination of man had dreamed 
of in those days.^^^ 

Columba, the father and head of those bold and pious mari- 
ners, followed and guided them by his ever vigilant and pre- 
vailing prayers. He was in some respects present with 
them, notwithstanding the distance which separated them 
from the sanctuary and from the island harbors which they 
had left. Prayer gave him an intuitive knowledge of the 
dangers they ran. He saw them, he suffered and trembled 
for them ; and immediately assembling the brethren who "e- 
mained in the monastery by the sound of the bell, offered lor 
them the prayers of the community. He implored the Lord 
with tears to grant the change of wind which was necessary 
for those at sea, and did not rise from his knees until he had 
a certainty that his prayers were granted. This happened 
often, and the saved monks, on returning from their danger- 
ous voyages, hastened to him to thank and bless him for his 
prophetic and beneficent aid.^^^ 

Often he himself accompanied them in their voyages of 
circumnavigation or exploration, and paid many 
visits to the isles of the Hebridean archipelago dis- ngeJ&Id 
covered or frequented by the sailors of his commu- other He-^° 
nity, and where cells or little colonies from the great bnciean 
island monastery seem to have existed. This was 
specially the case at Eigg, where a colony of fifty-two monks, 
founded and ruled by a disciple of the abbot of lona, were 
killed by pirates twenty years after his death.^'^ This 

198 II Cormacus, qui tribus non minus vicibus eremum in Oceano laboriose 
quaesivit, nee tamen invenit." — Adamnan, i. 6. " Postquam a terris per in- 
finitum Oceanum plenis enavigavit velis . . . usque ad mortem periclitari 
coepit. Nam cum ejus navis a terris per quatuordecim sestivi temporis dies, 
totidemque noctes, plenis velis, austro flante vento, ad septentrionalis plagam 
coeli directo excurreret cursu, ejusmodi navigatio ultra humani excursus mo- 
dum et irremeabilis videbatur." — Ibid., ii. 42. 

199 u Eadem bora et sanctus noster, quamlibet longe absens corpore, spir- 
itu tamen prcesens in navi cum Cormaco erat. Unde . . . personante signo 
fratres ad orationem convocant. . . . Ecce enini nunc Cormacus cum suis 
nautis. . . . Cliristum intentius precatur : et nos ipsum orando adjuvemus. 
. . . Et post orationem cito surgit, et abstergens lacrymas . . . quia Donii- 
nus austrum nunc in aquilonarem convertit flatum, nostros de periculis com- 
membres retrahentem, quos hie ad nos iterum reducat." — Adamnan, ii. 42. 

^"'^ The tragedy of Eigg, which took place in 617, deserves special men- 
tion According to Irish annals, St. Donnan, the founder of the community, 
was the friend and disciple of Columba. Desirous of finding a more solitary 
retreat, he established himself with some companions in the island in Eigg. 
which was then inhabited only by the sheep of the queen of the country 
(many of the islets near Staffa are at present used as pasture). The queen- 


was a favorite spot which he loved to visit, no doubt to en* 
joy the solitude which was no longer to be found at lona, 
where the crowds of penitents, pilgrims and petitioners in- 
creased from day to day. And he took special pleasure also 
in Skye, the largest of the Hebridean isles, which, after the 
lapse of twelve centuries, was recalled to the attention of the 
world by the dangerous and romantic adventures of Prince 
Charles-Edward and Flora Macdonald. It was then scarcely 
inhabited, though very large and covered by forests, in which 
he could bury himself and pray, leaving even his 
boar of brethren far behind him. One day he met an im- 
^^^' mense wild boar pursued by dogs ; with a single 

word he killed the ferocious brute, instead of protecting it ; 
as in similar cases the saints of the Merovingian legends 
were so ready to do.^^'i He continued during all the middle 
ages the patron of Skye, where a little lake still bears his 
name, as well as several spots, and monuments in the neigh- 
boring isl 68.202 

While sail- Storms often disturbed these excursions by sea, 
hif monks ^°*^ ^^^'^ Columba showed himself as laborious and 
he stills the bold as the most tried of his monastic mariners, 
prayer. ^ When all Were engaged in rowing, he would not 

informed of this invasion of her territory, commanded that all should be 
killed. When the murderers arrived on the island it was the eve of Easter, 
and mass was being said. Donnan begged them to wait until mass was 
over. They consented, and when the service was at an end the monks 
gave themselves up to the sword. According to another version the queen 
or lady of the soil sent pirates (latrones) to kill them. They were surprised 
singing psalms in their oratory, from whence they went into the refectory, 
in order that they might die where the most carnal moments of their life had 
been passed. There were fifty-two of them. This is the version given by 
the Bollandists, vol. ii. April, p. 487. As if by the special blessing of these 
martyrs, this isle was still Catholic in 1703, and St. Donnan was venerated. — 
Martin's Journey to the Western Islands, p. 279. 

201 K Cum in Scia insula aliquantis demoraretur diebus, paulo longius 
solus, orationis intuitu, separatus a fratribus, silvam ingressus. . . . Vena- 
tici canes. . . . Uiterius hue procedere noles : in loco ad quem devenisti 
morere." — Adamnan, ii. 26. 

202 'j'l^js lake. has been drained by Lord Macdonald, the present proprietor 
of the island. The memory and name of Columba are distinctly to be found 
at miea Naornbh, where a well which he had hollowed in the rock, and the 
tomb of his mother Eithne, are still shown; and also at Tiree, so often men- 
tioned by Adanman under the name of Terra Ethice. In all the bleak islands 
of the western coast of Scotland, and especially of the district of Lorn 
(Argyllshire), there are sculptured crosses of curious and varied forms, 
tombstones, ruined cliapels, buildings of coarse construction and singular 
shape, Druidical stones, and churches more or less ancient, almost always 
dedicated to Columba. These are carefully described in a small volume with 
engravings, which has been published anonymously by Thomas Muir. a Leith 
merchant, entitled The Western Islands ; Edinburgh, 1861. 


remain idle, but rowed with them.^os We have seen 
him brave the frequent storms of the narrow and dangerous 
lakes in the north of Scotland."^^* At sea he retained the 
same courageous composure in the most tempestuous weather, 
and took part in all the sailors' toils. During the voyage 
which he made from lona to Ireland, to attend with King 
Aldan the parliament of Druraceitt, his vessel was in great 
danger; the waves dashed into the boat till it was full of 
water, and Columba took his part with the sailors in baling it 
out. But his companions stopped him. " What you are 
doing at present is of little service to us," they said to him ; 
*' you would do better to pray for those who are about to per- 
ish." He did so, and the sea grew calm from the moment 
when, mounting on the prow, he raised his arms in prayer. 

With these examples before them, his companions naturally 
appealed to his intercession whenever storms arose during 
any of his voyages. On one occasion he answered them, *' It 
is not my turn ; it is the holy abbot Kenneth who must pray 
for us." Kenneth was the abbot of a monastery in Ireland, 
and a friend of Columba's who came often to lona to visit 
him. At the very same hour he heard the voice of his friend 
echo in his heart, and, warned by an internal voice, left the 
refectory where he was, and hastened to the church to pray 
for the shipwrecked, crj'ing, " We have something else to do 
than to dine when Columba is in danger of perishing at sea." 
He did not even take the time to put on both his shoes be- 
fore he went to the church, for which he received the special 
thanks of his friend at lona ;^^^ an incident which recalls ic 
other Celtic legend — that of the bishop St. Paternus, who 
obeyed the call of his metropolitan with a boot upon one foot 

Qjj]y 206 

^"^ Vita S. Comgelli, ap. Colgan, p. 458. 

«"* See ante, p. 51. 

**•' " In mari periclitari coepit; totuiu namque vas navis, valde concussum, 
niagnis undarum cumulis fortiter ferebatur. NautaB turn forte sancto senti- 
nani cum illis exhaurire conanti aiunt : Quod nunc agis non magnopere nobis 
proficit periclitantibus, exorare potius debes pro pereuntibus. Et intentans 
precem . . . aquam cessat aniaram exinanire . . . dulcem fundere coepit. 
Saeva nimis insistente et periculosa tempestate : Hac in die non est meum 
pro vobis in periculo orare, sed est abbatis Cainnachi sancti viri. . . . Spi- 
ritu revelante sancto, supradictam sancti Columbas interiore cordis aure vo- 
cem audiens. . . . Non est tempus prandere quando in mari periclitatur 
navis sancti Columbse. . . . Nunc valde nobis proficit tuus' ad ecclesiam 
velox cum uno calceamento cursus." — Adamnan, ii. 12, 13. 

"^ "Vol. i. p. 472. Cainnach or Kenneth, a saint very popular in Scot- 
land, whose name has been borne by several Scottish kings, was abbot of 
Aghaboe, in the diocese of Ossory. Born about 517, he died in 600, and 


^ked'°' Under all these legendary digressions it is evi« 

everywhere dent that the monastic apostle of Caledonia, apart 
teroft^e^' from the prevailing efficacy of his prayers, had 
winds. made an attentive study of the winds and of all 
the phenomena of nature which affected the lives of the 
insular and maritime people whom he sought to lead into 
Christianity. A hundred different narratives represent him 
to us as the Bolus of those fabulous times and dangerous seas. 
He was continually entreated to grant a favorable wind for 
such or such an expedition ; it even happened one da}^ that 
two of his monks, on the eve of setting out in two different 
directions, came to him to ask, the one a north wind, and the 
other a south wind. He granted the prayer of both, but by 
delaying the departure of the one who was going to Ireland 
until after the arrival of the other, who went only to the neigh- 
boring isle of Tiree.^''' 

Thus it happened that from far and near Columba was in- 
voked or feared by the sailors as the master of all the winds 
that blew. Libran of the Rushes, the generous penitent 
whose curious history has been already recorded, wishing to 
return from Ireland to lona, was turned back by the crew 
of the boat which was leaving the port of Derryfor Scotland, 
because he was not a member of the community of lona. 
Upon which the disappointed traveller mentally invoked 
across the sea the help of his absent friend. The wind im- 
mediately changed, and the boat was driven back to laud. 
The sailors saw poor Libran still lingering upon the shore, 
and called to him from the deck, " Perhaps it is because of 
thee that the wind has changed ; if we take thee with us, 
art thou disposed to make it once more favorable ? " " Yes," 
said the monk ; " the holy abbot Columba, who imposed upon 
me seven years of penitence, whom I have obeyed, and to 
whom I wish to return, will obtain that grace for you." And 
the result was that he was taken on board, and the journey 
was happily accomplished.^^ 

left his name to the neighboring islet of Inch-Kenneth, near lona, which was 
visited by Johnson. 

207 i< Simul unanimes postulant ut ipse a Domino postulans impetraret 
prosperum crastina die ventum sibi dari diversa emigraturis via." — Adam- 
nan, ii. 15. 

""* " Cianiitans de litore rogitat ut ipsum nautae cum eis susciperent navi- 
gaturum ad Britanniam. Sed ipsi refutaverunt eum, quia non erat de mo- 
nachis sancti Columbae. . . . Videntes virura . . . secus flumen cursitantem 
... ad ipsum de navi clamitantes. . . . Qui statim, rate ascensa : In nomina 
Omnipotentis, ait, cui sanctus Columba inculpabiliter servit, tensis rudenti- 
bus, levate velum." — Adamnan, ii. 39. 


These events took place in his lifetime ; but during at least 
a century after iiis death he remained the patron, always 
popular and propitious, of sailors in danger. A tone of fa- 
miliar confidence, and sometimes of filial objurgation, may be 
remarked in their prayers, such as may be found among the 
Celts of Armorica and the Catholic nations of the south of 
Europe. Adamnan confesses that he himself and some other 
monks f>f lona, embarked in a flotilla of a dozen boats charged 
with oaken beams for the reconstruction of the monastery, 
were so detained by contrary winds in a neighboring island 
that they took to accusing their Columba. "Dear saint," 
they said to him, " what dost thou think of this delay ? We 
thought up to this moment that thou hadst great favor with 
God." Another time, when they were detained by the same 
cause in a bay near the district of Lorn, precisely on the 
vigil of St. Columba's day, they said to him, " How canst 
thou leave us to pass thy feast to-morrow among laymen, 
and not in thine own church ? It would be so easy for thee 
to obtain from the Lord that this contrary wind should become 
favorable, and permit us to sing mass in thy church ! " On 
these two occasions their desires were granted ; the wind 
changed suddenly, and permitted them to get to sea and 
make their way to lona in those frail boats whose spars, 
crossing upon the mast, formed the august symbol of redemp- 
tion. More than a hundred witnesses of these facts were 
etill living when the biographer of our saint wrote his his- 

This tender and vigilant charity, which lent itself to all 
the incidents of a sailor's and traveller's life, becomes still 
more strongly apparent during all the phases of his existence, 
in his relations with the agricultural population, whether of 
Ireland, which was his cradle, or of his adopted country Cale- 
donia. Amid the fabulous legends and aprocryphal and 
childish miracles with which Irish historians have filled out 
the gloi'ious story of the great missionary ,2^'^ it is pleasant to 

209 n Quodara niodo quasi accusare nostrum Columbam coepimus. . . . 
Placetne tibi, sancte, lisec nobis adversa retardatio? hue usque a te, Deo 
propitio, aliquod nostrorum laborum speravimus consolationum adjumen- 
tum, te ffistiniantes alicujus esse grandis apud Deum honoris. . . . Placetne 
tibi, sancte, crastinam tuse fostivitatis inter plebeios et non in tua eeclesia 
transigere diem ? . . . tui natalis missarum solemnia celebremus. . . . Pro- 
inde orantes nautse vela subrigunt . . . tum nautse antennas, crucis instar, 
et vela protensis sublevans rudentibus, prosperis et lenibus ventis eadem die 
appetentes insulam." — Adamnan, ii. 45. 

*'" Tlie pious Franciscan Colgan, wlio has included in his collection of 
Acta SanctoruTui Hihernia (unhappily incomplete) so many fables, has, notr' 

VOL. n. 8 


Benefits be able to discover the unmistakable evidence of 
upon'a^'rl ^lis intelligence and fruitful solicitude for the neces- 
cuiturists. sities, the labors, and the sufferings of the inhabi- 
tants of the rural districts, and his active intervention on 
their behalf. When the legend tells us how, with one stroke 
of his crosier, he made fountains of sweet waters spring in a 
hundred different corners of Ireland or Scotland, in arid and 
rockj districts, such as that of the peninsula of Ardnamnr- 
chan , 21^ when it shows him lowering, by his prayers, the 
cataracts of a river so that the salmon could ascend in the 
fishing season, as they have always done since, to the great 
benefit of the dwellers by the streara,^^^ we recognize in the 
tale the most touching expression of popular and national 
gratitude for the services which the great monk rendered to 
the country, by teaching the peasants to search for the foun- 
tains, to regulate the irrigations, and to rectify the course of 
the rivers, as so many other holy monks have done in all 
European lands. 

It is equail}^ apparent that he had with zeal and succesa 
established the system of grafting and the culture of fruit- 
withstanding, omitted a crowd of incredible narratives which his predecessors 
had adopted. '"Nonnulla . . . tanquam ex monumentis vel apocryphis, vel 
ex rerum forte vere gestorum niniia exaggeratione speciem fabulae prseferen- 
tibus, consulte oniittenda duximus. . . . Quia nobis apparent vel exegetum 
vel librarioruni (qui miris mirabiliora immiscuerunt) licentiis et comraentis 
ita essa depravata ut solum fabularutn speciem praeferant." — Trias Thau- 
maturga, p. 441. The BoUandists protested with still greater energy, and 
repeatedly, against the fables which they, nevertheless, thought themselves 
obliged to reproduce. " Vitae hujus auctor aliquid habere videtur de genio 
Hibernico, cui solet esse perquam familiare, ambulare in mirabilibus, in re- 
bus, inquam, supra fidem prodigiosis, ne dicam portentosis." — Vol. iii. 
August, p. 658. Compare the same volume, p. 742, and vol. ii. July, p. 241, 
and 299. 

ail " Tergemino pedi in terram ictu, tergeminos fontes erumpere fecit." — 
O'DoNNELL, book i. c. 8G; Adamnan, i. 12, ii. 10. 

^'^ " Columba ratus earn fluminis sterilitatem a prasdicta cataracta derivari, 
et in commune vergere accolarum dominorumque ejus ditionis damnum, flu- 
vium benedixit, rupique in Christi nomine jussit tantum subsidere quantum 
opus esset ut pisces ultro citroque libere commearent. Paruit confestim 
sancti viri imperio praefracta rupes et . . . facta est demissior, ut exinde et 
confluentium illuc piscium, praesertim vero salmonum (quorum et frequen- 
tissima et copiosissima ah eo tempore per universum Huvium fit captura) ascen- 
8ui non obsistat, et nihilominus subjecto vertici adeo promineat, ut videatui a 
naturalibus contra impetuose mentis fluvii ictum, magis sancti viri merito, 
quam innata agilitate conscendi." — O'Donnell, Vita Quinta, book ii. c. 92. 
The river here spoken of is the Erne, a river of Ulster, which throws itself 
into the sea after having crossed the two great lakes called Lough Erne. In 
recollection of this benefit the historian tells us that all the produce of the 
fisheries on Sf. Columba's day was left for the coarb — that is to say, for the 
abbot, who held the first rank among the successors of the saint in the mon- 
asteries he had founded. 


trees, when we read the legend which represents him to us, 
at the beginning of his monastic career in Durrow, the most 
ancient of his foundations, approaching, in autumn, a tree 
covered with sour and unwholesome fruit, to bless it, and 
saying, ** In the name of Almighty God, let thy bitterness 
leave thee, bitter tree, and let thy apples be henceforward 
as sweet as up to this time they have been sour ! "^13 ^^t 
other times he is said to have obtained for his friends quick 
and abundant harvests, enabling them, for example, to cut 
barley in August which they had sown in June — a thing 
which then seemed a miracle, but is not without parallel in 
Scotland at the present time.^^^ Thus almost invariably the 
recollection of a service rendered, or of a benefit asked or 
spontaneously conferred, weds itself in the legend to the 
story of miracles and outbursts of wonder-working prayer — 
which, in most cases, were for the benefit of the cultivators 
of the soil : it is evident that he studied their necessities 
and followed their vicissitudes with untiring sympathy. 

In the same spirit he studied and sought reme- mg^eai 
dies for the infectious diseases which threatened against 
life, or which made ravages among the cattle of the ^^' '"°^^'^^- 
country. Seated one day upon a hillock in his island, he said 
to the monk who was with him, and who belonged to the 
Dalriadian colony, " Look at that thick and rainy cloud which 
comes from the north ; it has within it the germs of a deadly 
sickness ; it is about to fall upon a large district of our Ire- 
land, bringing ulcers and sores upon the body of man and 
beast. We must have pity on our brethren. Quick, let us 
go down, and to-morrow thou shalt embark and go to their 
aid." The monk obeyed, and, furnished with bread which 
Columba had blessed, he went overall the district smitten by 
the pestilence, distributing to the first sick persons he met, 
water, in which the bread blessed by the exiled abbot, who 
concerned himself so anxiously about the lot of his country- 
men, had been steeped. The remedy worked so well, that 

"^ " Quaedam arbor valde pomosa . . . de qua cum incolae loci quoddam 
haberent pro niniia fructus amaritudine querimonium. . . . Vident lignum 
incassum abundos liabere fructus qui ex eis gustantes plus laederent quam 
deloctarent. ... In nomine omnipotentis Dei, omnis tua aniaritudo, o arbor 
amara, a te recedat; tua hue usque amarissima nunc in dulcissima vertantur 
poma. . . . Dicto citius eodemque momento, omnia poma ... in miram 
versa sunt dulcedinem." ^Adamnan, ii. 2. " Arborem plenam fructu qui 
erat hominibus inutilis prae nimia amaritudine," it is said in a similar legend 
told of another Irish saint, Mochoenoroc. — Ap. Colgan, Acta Sanctorum 
BihernicB, p. 592. 

"* New Statistical Account, quoted by Reeves, p. 469. 


from all parts both men and beasts crowded round the raes« 
senger of lona, and the praises of Christ and his servant 
Columba resounded far and wide.^^^ 

Thus we see the saint continually on the watch for those 
evils, losses, and accidents which struck the families cr 
nations specially interesting to him, and which were revealed 
to him either by a supernatural intuition or by some plain- 
tive appeal. Sometimes we find him sending the blessed 
bread, which was his favorite remedy, to a holy girl who had 
broken her leg in returning from mass ; sometimes curing 
others of ophthalmia by means of salt also blessed ; every- 
where on his evangelical journeys, or other expeditions, we 
are witnesses of his desire, and the pains he took, to heal all 
the sick that were brought to him, or who awaited him on 
the roadside, eager, like the little idiot of Clonmacnoise, to 
touch the border of his robe — an accompaniment which had 
followed him during the whole course of his journey to the 
national assembly of Drumceitt.^iQ 

His entire life bears the mark of his ardent sympathy for 
the laborers in the fields. From the time of his early travels 
as a young man in Ireland, when he furnished the ploughmen 
with ploughshares, and had the young men trained to the 
trade of blacksmith,^!^ up to the days of his old age, when he 
could only follow far off the labor of his monks, his paternal 
tenderness never ceased to exercise on their account its 
salutary and beneficent influence. Seated in the little 
wooden hut which answered the purpose of a cell, he inter- 
rupted his studies, and put down his pea, to bless the monks 
as they came back from the fields, the pastures, or the barns. 

2^* " Haec nubes valde nocua hominibus et pecoribus erit . . . velocius 
transvolans super Scotise portum . . . purulenta humanis in corporibus el 
in pecorura-uberibus nasci faciei ulcera. . . . Sed nos eorum miserati sub- 
venire languoribus, Domino miserante, deberaus. Tu ergo, nunc mecum 
descendens, navigationem pr£epara crastina die. . . . Cujus rumor per totam 
illam morbo pestilentiore vastatam regionem cito divulgatus, omnem mor- 
bidum ad sancti ColumbaB legatum invitavit populum . . . homines cum 
pecudibus salvati Christum in sancto Columba laudarunt." — Adamnan, ii. 7. 

216 u Maugina, sancta virgo . . . ab oratorio post missam doraum reversa 
titubavit. . . . Sorori et suae nutrici profecturam quae ophthalmias laborabat 
valde gravi labore. . . . Diversorum languores infirmorum invocato Christi 
nomine, sanavit ... ad regum pergens condictum in Dorsi Cete. Aut 
sanctae nianus protensione . . . aut etiam fimbriae ejus tactu amphibali." — 
Adamnan, ii. 5, 6, 7, 35. 

2'' " Conquerentibus agricolis deesse ad arandum ferramenta, araissum 
aratri vomerem (restitnit) ; juveneni quemdam . . . nunquam alias fabri- 
libus assuetum solo verbo protinus ferramentorum fabrum effecit; qui mox 
ad sancti imperium pro colonis vomerem, cultrumque faberrime cudit." — 
O'DoNNELL, Quinta Vita, i. 68. 


TLo younger brethren, after having milked the cows oi the 
community, knelt down, with their pails full of new milk, to 
receive from a distance the abbot's blessing, sometimes ac- 
companied by an exhortation useful to their souls.^^^ 
During one of the last summers of his life, the monks, of lona^^" 
returning in the evening from reaping the scant}' ^and^'r™*'*^ 
harvest of their island, stopped short as they ap- freshed by 
preached the monastery, suddenly touched with 
strange emotion. The steward of the monastery, Baithen, 
the friend and future successor of Columba, asked them, '' Are 
you not sensible of something very unusual here ? " " Yes,'' 
said the oldest of the monks, " every day, at this hour and 
place, I breathe a delicious odor, as if all the flowers in the 
world were collected here. I feel also something like the 
flame of the hearth which does not burn but warms me 
gently ; I experience, in short, in my heart a joy so unusual, 
so incomparable, that I am no longer sensible of either trou- 
ble or fatigue. The sheaves which I carry on my back, 
though heavy, weigh upon me no longer; and I know not 
how, from this spot to the monastery, they seem to be lifted 
from my shoulders. What, then, is this wonder ? " All the 
others gave the same account of their sensations. " I will 
tell you what it is," said the steward ; *' it is our old master, 
Columba, always full of anxiety for us, who is disturbed to 
find us so late, who vexes himself with the thought of our 
fatigue, and who, not being able to come to meet us with his 
body, sends us his spirit to refresh, rejoice, and console us," ^la 
It must not be supposed, however, that he re- 

. . The black- 

served his solicitude for his monastic laborers smith car- 
alone. Far from that, he knew how to appreciate vM^byWa' 
the work of laymen when sanctified by Christian '''™^- 

«i8 " Sedens in tiiguriolo tabulis sufTulto. . . . Juvenis ad januam tugurioli 
in quo vir beatus scribebat, post vaccarum reversus mulsionem, in dorso 
portans vasculum novo plenum iacte, dicit ad sanctum ut juxta morem tale 
benediceret onus." — Adamnan, i. 25, ii. 16, iii. 22. 

219 "Post messionis opera vcspere ad monasterium redeuntes. . . . Qu^.n 
dam miri odoris fragrantiam ac si universorum florum in unum sentio col- 
lectorum; quanquam quoque quasi ignis ardorem, non pcenalem, sed quodam 
modo suavem ; sed et quamdam in corde insuetam et incomparabilcm infu- 
sam lajtific:ationem, qua3 me subito consolatur et laetificat ita ut nullius nioero- 
ris, nullius laboris meminisse possim. Sed et onus quod nieo, quanquam 
grave, porto in dorso, ab hoc loco usque ad n)onasterium, in tantum relevatur, 
ut me oneratum non sentiam. . . . Sic omnes operarii sed singillatim profi- . 
tentur. . . . Scitis quod senior nostcr Columba de nos anxie cogitet et no3 
ad se tardius pervenientes ajgre ferat nostri memor laboris, et idcirco quia 
corporaliter obviam nobis non venit, spiritus ejus nostris obviaf gressibus, 
qui taliter nou consolans laetificat." — Adamnan, i. 37. 



virtus. '' See," he said one day to the elders of the raonau* 
tery, " at this moment while I speak, such a one who was a 
blacksmith yonder in Ireland — see him, how he goes up to 
heaven ! He dies an old man, and he has worked all his life ; 
but he has not worked in vain. He has bought eternal life 
with the work of his hands ; for he dispensed all his gains in 
alms ; and I see the angels who are going for his soul." 220 Jt 
will be admitted that the praise of manual labor, carried to a 
silly length in our days, had been rarely expressed in a man- 
ner so solemn and touching. 

It is also recorded that he took pleasure in the 
tions with society of laymen during his journeys, and lived 
whosThos^ among them with a free and delightful familiarity, 
pitaiity he This is oue of the most attractive and instructive 
phases of his history. He continually asked and 
received the hospitality not only of the rich, but also of the 
poor ; and sometimes, indeed, received a more cordial recep- 
tion from the poor than from the rich. To those who refused 
him a shelter he predicted prompt punishment. "That 
miser," he said, '' who despises Christ in the person of a trav- 
eller, shall see his wealth diminish from day to day and come 
to nothing; he will come to beggary, and his son shall go 
from door to door holding out his hand, which shall never be 
more than half filled." 221 When the poor received him under 
their roof, he inquired with his ordinary thoughtfulness into 
their resources, their necessities, all their little possessions. 
At that period a man seems to have been considered very 
The five poor in Scotland who had only five cows. This was 
ho^t^"/'^'^ all the fortune of a Lochaber peasant in whose house 
Lochaber. Columba, who Continually traversed this district 
when going to visit the king of the Picts, passed a night and 
found a very cordial welcome notwithstanding the poverty 
of the house. Next morning he had the five little cows 
brought into his presence and blessed them, predicting to his 
host that he should soon have five hundred, and that the blessing 
of the grateful missionary should go down to his children and 
grandchildren — a prophecy which was faithfully fulfilled.222 

220 u j'aber ferrarius non incessum laboravit, qui de propria manuum labo- 
ratione suarum prsemia felix comparuit seterna. Ecce nunc anima ejus 
rehitur a Sanctis angelis ad ccelestis patriae gaudia." — ■ Adamnan, iii. 9. 

*'^* " De quodani viro divite tenacissimo . . . qui sanctum Columbani 
despexerat nee eum hospitio receperat . . . et illius avari divitise. qui Chris- 
tum in peregrinis hospitibus sprevit. . . . Ipse mendicabit, et filius cum 
eemivacua de domo in domum perula discurret." — Ibid., ii. 20. 

*** " Hie Nesanus cum esset valde inops . . . hospitaliter et secundum 


Ifl the i^.iPi vlisti-ict of Locbaber, which is stil'. Gift of a 
x^ie 'jCOD'! of those ^reat deer-stalking expeditions gplar'^tothe 
in vh^'jh the British aristocracy deh'ght, our saint po'^^'ier. 
waf. one day accosted by an unfortunate poacher, who had 
not the of maintaining his wife and children, and who 
asked aliTiS iVotp him. '' Poor man," said Columba, " go and 
cut mo a rod i^ the forest." When the rod was brought to 
hiro. the abboc of lona himself sharpened it into the form of a 
spear. "When he had done this he blessed the improvised 
javelin^ and gave it to his suppliant, telling him that if he 
kept it carefally, and used it only against wild beasts, veni- 
son should iiever be wanting in his poor house. This proph- 
ecy also V, as fulfilled. The poacher planted his blessed 
spear w a distant corner of the forest, and no day passed 
that he did not find there a hart or doe, or other game, so 
thac he soon had enough to sell to his neighbors as well as 
to provide for all the necessities of his own honse.^'^ 

Columba thus interested himself in all that he saw, in all 
that went on around him, and which he could turn to the 
profit of the poor or of his fellow-creatures ; even in hunting 
or fishing he took pains to point out the happy moment and 
most favorable spot where the largest salmon or pike might 
be found.2-4 Wherever he found himself in contact with the 
poor or Avith strangers, he drew them to himself and com- 
forted them even more by the warm sympathy of his ne pacifies 
generous heart than by material benefits. He iden- g"feg^"i' 
tified himself with their fears, their dangers, and t^ose 
their vexations. Always a peacemaker and consoler, meets. 

vires unius noctis spatio ministrasset . . . ab eo inquirit cujus boculas nu- 
nieri haberet . . . quinque. . . . Ab hac die tuae paucae vaoculae crescent 
usque ad centum et quinque vaccarum nunieruin. Nesanus homo pie*' -''is 
erat cum uxore et filiis. . . . Vir sanctus, quadam nocte quum apud supra- 
memoratum . . . inopem bene hospitaretur, mane primo de quantitate et 
qualitate substantias plebeium liospitera interrogat." — Adamnan, ii. 2L The 
district of Locbaber, celebrated in the modern wars of Scotland, is situated 
upon the borders of the counties of Argyle and Inverness, on the way from 
lona to the residence of the Pictish king, and was consequently often crossed 
by Columba. 

223 44 piebeius pauperrimus. mendicus . . . quo unde maritam et parvuloi 
cibaret non habebat quadam nocte. . . . Miselle homuncio, tolle de silva 
contulum vicina et ad me cujus defer. . . . Quern sanctus excipiens in vera 
exacuit propria manu, benedicens et illi assignans inopi. . . . Quamdiu 
talem habebis sudcm, nunquam in domo tua cervinae carnis cibatio abundans 
deerit. Miser mendicuhis . . . valde gavisus . . . veru in remotis infexit 
terrulffi locis, qu£e 'ilvcstres frequentabant ferae . . . nulla transire poterat 
dies in quo non aut cervum aut cervam reperiret in veru infixo cecidisse." — 
Adamnan, ii. 37. 

"^ Ibid., ii. 19. 


be took advantage here of the night's shelter given him by 
a rich mountaineer to end a dispute between two angry 
neighbors ; ^-^ and there made a chance meeting in a High, 
land gorge with a countryman an occasion for reassuring the 
peasant as to the consequences of the ravages made in his 
district by Pictish or Saxon invaders. " My good man," he 
said, '' thy poor cattle and thy little all have fallen into the 
hands of the robbers ; but thy dear little family is safe — go 
Lome and be comforted.'' ^26 

Such was this tender and gentle soul. His charity might 
sometimes seem to have degenerated into feebleness, so 
great was the pleasure he took in all the details of benevo- 
lence and Christian brotherhood ; but let there appear an 
injustice to repair, an unfortunate individual to defend, an 
oppressor to punish, an outrage against humanity or misfor- 
tune to avenge, and Columba immediately awoke and dis- 
played all the energy of his youth. The former man 
reappeared in a moment ; his passionate temperament re- 
covered the mastery — his distinctive character, vehement 
in expression and resolute in action, burst forth at every 
turn ; and his natural boldness led him, in the face of all dan- 
gers, to lavish remonstrances, invectives, and threats, which 
the justice of God, too rarely visible in such cases, some- 
times deigned to fulfil. 

Among the many sufferers whom he found on his way, it 
is natural to suppose that the exiles, who were so numerous 
in consequence of the discords which rent the Celtic races, 
would most of all call forth his sympathy. Himself an exile, 
he was the natural protector of all who were exiled.^^^ He 
took under his special guardianship a banished Pict, of noble 
family, probably one of those who had received him wiith 
kindness, and listened to his teachings at the time of his 
first missions in Northern Caledonia. Columba confided, or, as 

225 n jn domo cujus plebeii divitis. . . . Fortgini noaiine . . . ubi cum 
sanctus hospitaretur, inter rusticanos contendentes duos . . . recta judica- 
tione judicavit." — Adamnan, ii. 17. 

228 a Ubi, ait, habitas . . . tuam quam dicis provinciolam nunc barbari 
populantur vastatores. Quo audito, miser plebeius maritam et filios de- 
plangere coepit. Valde mcerenteni consolans inquit : Vade, homuncule, vade, 
tua familiola tota in niontem fugiens evasit : tua vero omnia pecuscula . • , 
omnemque supellectilcm cum prjeda sasvi raptores rapuere." — Ibid., i. 46. 

227 " Almus patei', exsulum et depressorum pius patronus," says Manus 
O'Donnell (b. ii. c. 3), wlio was at once the grandnephew and biographer 
of the saint, with a sentiment only too natural to a scion of one of those 
great Irish families which have always preferred exile and destitution to 


the historian says, recommended, assigned in manum, ac- 
cording to the custom which came to be general in feudal 
times, his banished friend to a chief called Feradagh, who 
occupied the large island of Islay, south of lona, praying 
him to conceal his guest for some months among his clan and 
dependants. A few daj^s after he had solemnly accepted the 
trust, this villain had the noble exile treacherously mur 
dered, no doubt for the sake of the articles of value he had 
with him. When he received the news, Columba punish- 
cried, '-It is not to me, it is to God, that this mentoftii* 

' ' 8XIl(J 8 

wretched man, whose name shall be effaced out of assassin. 
the book of life, has lied. It is summer now, but before 
autumn comes — before he can eat of the meat which he is 
fattening for his table — he shall die a sudden death, and bo 
dragged to hell." The indignant old man's prophecy was 
reported to Feradagh, who pretended to laugh at it, but nev- 
ertheless kept it in his mind. Before the beginning of au- 
tumn, he ordered a fattened pig to be killed and roasted, and 
even before the animal was entirely cooked gave orders that 
part of it should be served to him, in order to prove, at the 
earliest possible moment, the falsehood of the prophesied 
vengeance. But scarcely had he taken up the morsel, when, 
before he had carried it to his mouth, he fell back and died. 
Those who were present admired and trembled to see how 
the Lord God honored and justified His prophet j^^^ and 
those who knew Columba's life as a young man recalled to 
each other how, at the very beginning of his monastic life, 
the murderer of the innocent maiden had fallen dead at the 
sound of his avenging voice.^^^ 

In his just wrath against the spoilers of the poor Robbers oi 
and the persecutors of the Church, he drew back ""oyairace. 
before no danger, not even before the assassin's dagger, 

228 " Quemdam de nobili Pictorum gonere exsulem, in manum alicujua 
Feradaclii divitis viri . . . diligenter assignans conimendavit, ut in ejus 
comitatu, quasi unus de amicis, aliquos menses conversaretur. Quem cum 
tali commendatione de sancti manu viri coniniendatuni suscepisset . . . tru- 
cidavit. . . . Non mihi, sed Deo infelix liomunculus mentitus est, ciijus 
nomen de libro vitse delebitur. . . . Antequani de suilla degustet came ar- 
boreo saginaUi fructu. . . . Despiciens irrisit sanctum. Scrofa nucum 
irapinguata nucleis jugulatur . . . de qua celeriter ex interita partem sibi in 
veru celerius assari praecipit, ut de ea impatiens prsegustans beati viri pro- 
phetationem destrueret ... ad quani exteiisam manum priusquam ad oa 
converteret . . . mortuus retro in dorsum cecidit. . . . Valde treniefacti, 
admirantes, Christum in sancto propheta iionorificantes glorificaruut." — 
Adamnan, ii. 23. 

*2* See ante, page 8. 


Among the reivers who infested Scottish Caledonia, making 
armed incursions into their neighbors' lands, and carrying on 
that system of" pillage which, up to the eighteenth century, 
continued to characterize the existence of the Scottish clans, 
he had distinguished the sons of Donnell, who belonged to 
a branch of the family which ruled the Dalriadian colony. 
Columba did not hesitate to excommunicate them. Exas- 
perated by this sentence, one of these powerful ill-doers, 
named or surnamed Lamm-Dess [Right-hand) took advantage 
of a visit which the great abbot paid to a distant island, and 
uudertook to murder him in his sleep. But Finn-Lugh, one 
of the saint's companions, having had some suspicion or in- 
stinctive presentiment of danger, and desiring to save hia 
father's life by the sacrifice of his own, borrowed Columba's 
cowl, and wrapped himself in it. The assassin struck him 
whom he found clothed in the well-known costume of the 
abbot, and then fled. But the sacred vestment proved im- 
penetrable armor to the generous disciple, who was not even 
wounded. Columba, when informed of the event, said noth- 
ing at the moment. But a year after, when he had returned 
to lona, the abbot said to his community, " A year ago 
Lamm-Dess did his best to murder my dear Finu-Lugh in 
my place ; now at this moment it is he who is being killed." 
And, in fact, the news shortly arrived that the assassin had 
just died under the sword of a warrior, who struck the fatal 
blow while invoking the name of Columba, in a fight which 
brought the depredations of these reivers to an end.^^*^ 

Some time before, another criminal of the same family, 
called Joan, had chosen for his victim one of the hosts of 
Columba, one of those poor men whom the abbot had en- 
riched by his blessing in exchange for the hospitality which 
even in their poverty they had not refused. This poor man 
lived on the wild and barren peninsula of Ardnamurchan, a 
sombre mass which rises up out of the waves of the Atlantic, 
and forms the most western point of the Scottish mainland. 
The benediction of the missionary had brought him good 
fortune, as had been the case with the peasant of Lochaber, 
and his five cows, too, had multiplied, and were then more 

^^ " In insula Himba commoratus. . . . Ille vero sceleratus, cujus nomen 
latine Manus dextera dicitur. . . . Usque in h:inc diem integratus est annus 
ex quo Lamm-Dess in quantum potuit Finn-Lughum meum meo jug^ulavit 
vice; sed et ipse, ut aestimo, liac in liora jugulatur. In aliqua virorura 
utrinque acta belligeratione, Cronani filii Baithani jaculo translixus in nom- 
ine, ut fertur, sancti Columi)£e, emisso, interimit, et post ejus interitum viri 
belligerare cessarunt." — Adamnan, ii. 24. 


than a hundred in number. Columba was not satisfied with 
merely enriching his humble friend, but gave him also a 
place in his affections, and had even bestowed upon him his 
own name : so that all his neighbors called him Columbain, 
the friend of St. Columba. Three times in succession, Joan, 
the princely spoiler, had pillaged and ravaged the house of 
the enriched peasant, the friend of the abbot of lona; the 
third time, as he went back with his bravos, laden with 
booty, to the boat which awaited him on the beach, he met 
the great abbot, whom he had supposed far distant. Columba 
reproved him for his exactions and crimes, and entreated 
him to give up his prey ; but the reiver continued his 
course, and answered only by an immovable silence, until 
he had gained the beach and entered his boat. As soon as 
he was in his vessel he began to answer the abbot's prayers 
by mockeries and insults. Then the noble old man plunged 
into the sea, up to his knees, as if to cling to the boat which 
contained the spoils of his friend ; and when it went off he 
remained for some time with his two hands raised towards 
heaven, praying with ardor. When his prayer was ended, 
he came out of the water, and returned to his companions, 
who were seated on a neighboring mound, to dry himself. 
After a pause he said to them, " This miserable man, this 
evil-doer, who despises Christ in his servants, shall never 
more land upon the shore from which you have seen him 
depart — he shall never touch land again. To-day a little 
cloud begins to rise in the north, and from that cloud comes 
a tempest that shall swallow him up, him and his ; not one 
single soul shall escape to tell the tale." The day was fine, 
the sea calm, and the sky perfectly serene. Notwithstand- 
ing, the cloud which Columba had announced soon appeared ; 
and the spectators, turning their eyes to the sea, saw the 
tempest gather, increase, and pursue the spoilers. The 
storm reached them between the islands of Mull and Colon- 
say, from whose shores their boat was seen to sink and per- 
ish, with all its crew and all its spoils.^^^ 

*^' " Columbanum, quern de paupere virtus benedictionis ejus dHem fe: it, 
valde diligebat. . . . Quidam malefactor homo, bonorum persecutor , c . 
prosequebatur sancti amicum Columbae. . . . Accidit ut tertia vice . . 
beatum virum, quem quasi longius positum despexerat, ad navem revertens 
moeste obviam haberet. . . . Immitis et insuadibilis permanens . . . navim- 
que cum praeda ascendens, beatum virum subsannabat et deridebat. Quem 
sanctus ad mare usque prosecutus est, vitreasque intrans aquas usque ad 
genua sequorests, levatis ad coelum ambis manibus, Christum intente precatur 
. . . Hie miserabilis homuncio, qui Christum in suis despexit servis, aJ 


We have all read in Caesar's Commentaries how, when he 
landed on the shores of Britain, the standard-bearer of the 
tenth legion threw himself into the sea, up to the knees in 
water, to encourage his comrades. Thanks to the perverse 
complaisance of history for all feats of force, this incident is 
immortal. Ceesar, however, moved by depraved ambition, 
came but to oppress a free and innocent race, and to bring it 
under tlie odious yoke of Roman tyranny, of which, happily, 
it has retained no trace. How much grander and more 
worthy of recollection, I do not say to every Christian, but 
to every upright soul, is the sight offered to us at the other 
extremity of the great Britannic Isle, by this old monk, who 
also rushed into the sea up to his knees — but to pursue a 
savage oppressor, in the interest of an obscure victim, thus 
claiming for himself, under his legendary aureole, the ever- 
lasting greatness of humanity, justice, and pity ! 



Columba the confidant of the joys and consoler of the sorrows of domestic 
life. — He blesses little Hector with the fair locks. — He prays for a 
woman in her delivery ; he reconciles the wife of a pilot to her husband. — 
Vision of the saved wife who receives her husband in heaven. — He con- 
tinues his missions to the end of his life. — Visions before death. — The 
Angels' Hill. — Increase of austerities. — Nettle-soup his sole food. — A 
supernatural light surrounds him during his nightly work and prayers. — 
His death is retarded for four years by the prayers of the community. — 
When this respite has expired, he takes leave of the monks at their work; 
he visits and blesses the granaries of the monastery. — He announces his 
death to his attendant Diarmid. — His farewell to his old white horse. — 
Last benediction to the isle of lona ; last work of transcription ; last mes- 
sage to his community. — He dies in the church. — Review of his life and 

portum, a quo nuper coram vobis emigravit, nunquam revertetur; sed nee ad 
alias quas appetit, terras . . . cum suis perveniet mails cooperatoribus. 
Hodie, quam mox videbitis, de nube a borea orta immitis immissa procella 
eum cum sociis submerget : nee de eis etiam unus remanebit fabulator. . . . 
Die serenissima, et ecce de mari oborta, sicut sanctus dixejat, nubes cum 
magno fragore venti emissa, raptorem cum praeda inter Maleam et Colcnsam 
insulas inveniens . . . submersit." — Adamnan, ii. 22. 


Br the side of the terrible acts of vengeance which have 
just been narrated, the student loves to find in this bold 
enemy of the wicked and the oppressor a gentle and familiar 
sympathy for all the affections as well as all the trials of do- 
mestic life. Rich and poor, kings and peasants, awoke in his 
breast the same kindly emotion, expressed with the same 
fulness. When King Aidan brought his children to him, 
and spoke of his anxiety about their future lives, he did not 
content himself with seeing the eldest. " Have you none 
younger?" said the abbot; "bring them all — let me hold 
them in my arms and on my heart ! " And when the younger 
children were brought, one lair-haired boy. Hector (Eochaidb 
Buidhe), came forward running, and threw himself upon the 
saint's knees. Columba held him long pressed to his heart, 
then kissed his forehead, blessed him, and prophesied for him 
a long life, a prosperous reign, and a great posterity .^^^ 

Let us listen while his biographer tells how he came to the 
aid of a woman in extremity, and how he made peace in a 
divided household. One day at lona he suddenly stopped 
short while reading, and said with a smile to his monks, " I 
must now go and pray for a poor little woman who is in the 
pains of childbirth and suffers like a true daughter of Eve. 
t^he is down yonder in Ireland, and reckons upon my prayers, 
for she is my kinswoman, and of ray mother's family." Upon 
this he hastened to the church, and when his prayer was 
ended returned to his brethren, saying — *' She is delivered. 
The Lord Jesus, who deigned to be born of a woman, has 
come to her aid ; this time she will not die." ^^^ 

^■'^ " Seel nunc si alios juniores habes, ad me veniant, et queni ex eis ele- 
gerit Doniinus regem, subito super meum irruit gremium . . . quibus acces- 
sis. . . . Ecbodius Buidhe adveniens in sinu ejus recubuit. Statimque sanc- 
tus eum osculatus benedixit." — Adamnan, i. 9. Columba had predicted that 
none of the four elder sons of the king should succeed him, and that they 
should all perish in war. The three eldest were actually killed in the battle 
for whicli Columba liad rung the bells of his new monastery (see page 55), 
and the fourth also died sword in hand " in Saxonia bellica, in strage." The 
kings of Scotland, whose lineage is traced to the Dalriadians, were probably 
descendants of the fair-haired Hector. 

'"^ " A lectione surgit et subridens ait : Nunc ad oratorium mihi properan- 
dum est ut pro quadam misellula deprecer femina, quse nunc in Hibernia no- 
men, hujus inclamitans commemorat ColumbEe, in niagnis parturilionis, ut 
filia Evae, difficillimai torta punitionibus . . . quia et mihi cognationis est 
. . . de parentela matris meas. . . . Ad ecclesiam currit. . . . Nunc pro- 
pitius Dominus Jesus, de muliere progenitus, opportune miscrae subveniens, 
prospere prolera peperit; nee hac vice morietur. Eadeni bora, nomen ejus 
invocans, absoluta salutem recuperavit. Ita ab aliquibus postea de Scotia et 
de eadeoi regione ubi mulier inhabitabat, transmeantibus, intimatum est.' — 
Adamnan, ii. 40 

VOL. TT. 9 


Herecon- Another day, while he was visiting an island on 
ciies a the Irish coast, a pilot came to him to complain of 

with he7' ^ his wife, who had taken an aversion for him. The 
husband. ^bbot Called her and reminded her of the duties im- 
posed upon her by the law of the Lord. '* I am ready to do 
everything," said the woman — •' I will obey you in the hard- 
est things you can command. I do not draw back from any 
of the cares of the house. I will go even, if it is desired, on 
pilgrimage to Jerusalem, or I will shut myself up in a nun- 
nery — in short, I will do everything except live with him." 

The abbot answered that there could be no question of 
pilgrimage or of a convent so long as her husband lived; 
" but," he added, " let us try to pray God, all three, fasting — 
you, your husband, and myself." 

" Ah," said the woman, " I know that you can obtain even 
what is impossible from God." However, his proposal was 
carried out — the three fasted, and Columba passed the whole 
night in prayer without ever closing his eyes. Next morn- 
ing he said to the woman, with the gentle irony which he so 
often employed, " Tell me to what convent are you bound 
after your yesterday's projects ? " '' To none," said the 
woman ; '' my heart has been changed to-night. I know not 
how I have passed from hate to love." And from that day 
until the hour of her death she lived in a tender and faithful 
union with her husband.^s* 

But Columba fortunately was connected with other house- 
holds more united, where he could admire the happiness of 
his friends without feeling himself compelled to make peace. 
From his sanctuary at lona his habitual solicitude and watch- 
ful sympathy followed them to their last hour. One day he 
was alone with one of the Saxons whom he had converted 
and attached to his communit}'", and who was the baker of 
the monks ; while this stranger prepared his bread, he heard 

'^* " De quodam guberneta. . . . De sua querebatur uxore quae . . . euin 
ad maritalera nuUo modo adniittebat concubitum. . . . Omnia quaecumque 
mihi prseceperis, sum parata, quamlibet sint valde laboriosa, adimplere, ex- 
cepto uno, ut me nuUo modo in uno lecto dormire cum Lugneo. Omneni 
domus curam exercere non recuso, aut etiam si jubeas, maria transiens in 
aliquo pueliarum monasterio permanere. . . . Scio quod tibi impossibile noo 
erit ut ea quaj . . . vel impossibiliavidemus, a Deo impetratadonentur. . . . 
Nocte subsequenti sanctus insomnis pro eis deprecatus est. . . . O femina, 
si, ut hesterna dieebas die, parata hodie es ad feminarura emigrare monas- 
teriolum? . . . Nunc quem beri oderam, hodie amo : cor enim meum hac 
nocte prffiterita, quo modo ignoro, in me immutatum est de odio in amorem. 
. . . Anima ejusdcm maritse indissociabiliter in amore conglutinata est 
mariti, ut ilia maritalis concubitus debita . . . nullo modo deinceps re- 
cusaret." — Adamnan, ii. 41. 


the abbot say, looking up to heaven — " Oh ! happy, happy 
woman ! She goes into heaven with a guard of angels." 
Exactly a year after, the abbot and the Saxon baker were 
again together. '* I see the woman," said Columba, " of whom 
1 spoke to thee last 3"ear coming down from heaven to meet 
the soul of her husband, who has just died. She contends 
with powerful enemies for that dear soul, by the help of the 
holy angels : she gains the day, she triumphs, because her 
goodman has been a just man — and the two are united again 
in the home of everlasting consolation." -^5 

This vision was preceded and followed by many others of the 
same description, in which the blessed death of many bishops 
and monks, his friends and contemporaries, were announced 
to him. They seem to have been intended to give him a 
glimpse of that heaven into which God was shortly to call 
him. Nor was it only at lona that these supernatural graces 
were accorded to him, for he did not limit his unwearied ac- 
tivity to the narrow enclosure of that island, any more in the 
decline of his life than in the earlier period of his emigration. 
Up to old age he continued to have sufficient strength and 
courage to return to the most northern regions Avhere he had 
preached the faith to the Picts ; and it was in one of his last 
missionary journeys, when upon the banks of Loch Ness, to 
the north of the great line of waters which cuts Caledonia in 
two, at a distance of fifty leagues from lona, that he was per- 
mitted to see the angels come to meet the soul of the old 
Pict, who, faithful during all his life to the law of nature, re- 
ceived baptism, and with it eternal salvation, from the great 
missionary's hands.^^*^ 

At this period the angels, whom he saw carrying to heaven 
the soul of the just and penitent, and aiding the believing 
wile to make an entrance there for her husband, continually 
appeared to him and hovered about him. Making all pos- 
sible allowance for the exaggerations and fables which the 
proverbial credulity of Celtic nations have added to the 

230 "Quidam religiosus frater, Genereus nomine, Saxo, pistor, opus pio- 
torum exercens. . . . Felix mulier, felix bene morata, cujus animam nunc 
angeli Dei ad paradisum eveliunt. . . . Ecce mulier, de qua te praesente 
dixeram praeterito anno. Nunc mariti sui religiosi cujusdam plebeii in aere 
obviat animae, et cum Sanctis angelis contra aemulas pro eo belligerat potes- 
tates; quorum adminiculo ejusdem homuncionis justitia sutfragante, a 
daeinoniacis belligerationibus erepta, ad aeternae refrigerationis locum anima 
ipsius est perducta." — Adaimnan, iii. 10. 

'■"^ See ante, page 50. "Ultra Britannise Dorsum iter agens, secus Nisa 
fluminis lacuia . . . sanctus senex." — Ibid., iii. 14. 


legends of their saints,^^^ no Christian will be tempted to 
deny the verified narratives which bear witness, in Cu- 
lumba's case as well as in that of" the other saints, to super- 
natural appearances which enriched his life, and especially 
his old age. Those wonderful soldiers of virtue and Chris- 
tian truth needed such miracles to help them to support the 
toils and live through the trials of their dangerous mission. 
They required to ascend from time to time into celestial 
regions to find strength there for their continual struggle 
against all obstacles and perils and continually renewed 
temptations — and to learn to brave the enmities, the savage 
manners, and blind hatreds of the nations whom it was the 
aim of their lives to set free. 

" Let no one follow me to-day," Columba said one morning 
with unusual severity to the assembled community : " I would 
be alone in the little plain to the west of the isle." He was 
obeyed ; but a brother, more curious and less obedient than 
the rest, followed him far ofi", and saw, him, erect and motion- 
less, with his hands and his eyes raised to heaven, standing 
on a sandy hillock, where he was soon surrounded by a crowd 
of angels, who came to bear him company and to talk with 
him. The hillock has to this day retained the name of the 
Angels' Hill.238 And the citizens of the celestial country, as 
they were called at lona, came often to console and strengthen 
their future companion during the long winter nights which 
'he passed in prayer in some retired corner, voluntarily ex- 
posed to all the torments of sleeplessness and cold.^^^ 

For as he approached the end of his career this great ser- 
vant of God consumed his strength in vigils, fasts, and dan- 

*^^ Let us quote on this point, from the most illustrious of hagiographers, 
Bollandus himself, in his prefatory remarks to tlie life of the first Irish saint 
who caiue before him : " Multa eontinet admiranda portenta, sed usitata apud 
gentem illam simplicera et sanctam; neque sacris dogmatibus aut Dei erga 
electos suos suavissim» providenticB repugnantia; sunt tamen fortassis non- 
nuUa imperitorum libratorum culpa vitiata aut amplificata. Quod in gentiliura 
suorum rebus gestis animadverti oportere nos docuit Henricus Fitzsimon 
societatis nostrae theologus, egregio rerum usu praeditus. . . . Satis est 
lectorem monuisse ut cum discretione ea legat quaa prodigiosa, et crebro 
eimilia miracula commemorant, nisi ab sapientibus scripta auctoribus sunt." 
— Ada Sanctorum, January, vol. i. p. 43. 

*"' Cnocan Aingel (colliculus Angelorum), in the map of the island by 

239 *' Cum ingentianimadversione dixit : Hodie . . . solus exire cupio, nemo 
itaque ex vobis me sequatur. . . . Ccelestis patriae cives . . . sanctum virum 
orantem circumstare . . . albatis induti vestibus, et post aliquam sermocina- 
tionera cum beato viro. . . . Quantae et quales ad beatum virum in hyemali- 
bus plerumque noctibus insomnen, et in locis rcmotioribus, aliis quiescentibus, 
orantem, angelicae fuerint et suaves frequentationes." — Adamnan, iii. 16. 


geroQS macerations. His life, which had been so full of 
generous struggles, hard trial, and toil in the service of God 
and his neighbor, seemed to him neither full enough nor pure 
enough. In proportion as the end drew neai' he redoubled 
his austerities and mortifications. Every night, according to 
one of his biographers, he plunged into cold water and re- 
mained there for the time necessary to recite an entire 
psalter.2^^ One day, when, bent by age, he sought, perhaps 
in a neighboring island, a retirement still more profound tlian 
usual, in which to pray, be saw a poor woman gathering wild 
herbs and even nettles, who told him that her poverty was 
such as to forbid her all other food. Upon which the old 
•abbot reproached himself bitterly that he had not yet come 
to that point. " See,"' he said, *' this poor woman, who finds 
her miserable life worth the trouble of being thus prolonged ; 
and we, who profess to deserve heaven by our austerities, 
we live in luxury ! " When he went back to his monastery 
he gave orders that he should be served with no other food 
than the wild and bitter herbs with which the beggar sup- 
ported her existence ; and he severely reproved his minister, 
Diarmid,-^! who had come from Ireland with him, when he, 
out of compassion for his master's old age and weakness, 
threw a little butter into the caldron in which this miser- 
able tare was cooked.^*^ 

The celestial light which was soon to receive ^^^ 
him began already to surround him like a garment natural 
or a shroud. His monks told each other that the roumis^him 
solitary cell in the isle of Himba, near lona, which f,octu?i!aT 
he had built for himself, was lighted up every ^^"rk and 
night by a great light, which could be seen through 
the chinks of the door and keyhole, while the abbot chanted 
unknown canticles till daybreak. After having remained 

"■*" O'DoNNELL, iii. 37. This incredible power of supporting cold in tlio 
damp and icy climate of tlie British Isles is one of the most marked features 
in the penances which the Irish saints inflicted on themselves. — See CoLGAir> 
Acta SS. Jlibernice. 

^'" MS. quoted by Reeves, p. 245, Appendix. The name of Diarmid or 
Diormid — the same as that of the king against whom Columba raised a civil 
war — was at a later date clianged into that of Dermott, which is still to be 
found among the Irish. 

^*'^ " Cum senio jam gravatus in quodam secessu ab aliis remotiori orationi 
vocali intentus deambularet. . . . Ecce paupercula hsec femina. . . . Et quid 
nos qui . . . laxius vivimus? . . . Diermitius . . . qui debebat eam misel- 
1am escani parare . . . per fistulam instillatoriam modicum liquefacti butyri 
et ollae . . . infudit. . . . Sic Christi miles ultimam senectutem in continua 
carnis maceratione ujque ad exilum . . . perduxit." — O'Donnell, Vita 
Quinta, iii. 32. 



there three days and nights without food, he came out, full 
of joy at having discovered the mysterious meaning of several 
texts of Holy Scripture, which up to that time he had not 
understood.'-^^^ When he returned to lona to die, continuing 
faithful to his custom of spending a great part of the night 
in prayer, he bore about with him everywhere the miracu- 
lous light which already surrounded him like the nimbus of 
his holiness. The entire community was involuntarily agitated 
by the enjoyment of that foretaste of paradise. One winter's 
night, a young man who was destined to succeed Columbaas 
fourth abbot of lona remained in the church while the others 
slept: all at once he saw the abbot come in preceded by a 
golden light which fell from the heights of the vaulted roof, 
and lighted all the corners of the building, even including 
the little lateral oratory where the young monk hid himself in 
alarm.2^* All who passed during the night before the church, 
while their old abbot prayed, were startled b}" this light, 
which dazzled them like lightning.^^^ Another of the young 
monks, whose education was specially directed by the abbot 
himself, resolved to ascertain whether the same illumination 
existed in Columba's cell ; and notwithstanding that he had 
been expressly forbidden to do so, he got up in the night 
and went groping to the door of the cell to look in, but fled 
immediately, blinded by the light that filled it^^^ 

These signs, which were the forerunners of his deliver- 
ance, showed themselves for several years towards the end 
of his life, which he believed and hoped was nearer its ter- 
mination than it proved to be. But this remnant of exist- 
ence, from which he sighed to be liberated, was held fast 
by the fihal love of his disciples, and the ardent prayers of 
so many new Christian communities founded or ministered to 

243 (£ j)g qyj^ doiiio immense claritatis radii, per rimulas valvarun? et claviura 
foramina, erumpentes, noctu videbantur. Carmina quoque spirita\ia et ante 
inaudita decantari ab eo audiebantur. . . . Scripturarum . • . qi;a3que ob- 
Bcura et difficillima, plana et luce clai-ius aperta, mundissimi cordis oculis 
patebant." — Adamnan, iii. 18. 

-** " Siniulque cum eo (ingreditur) aurea lux, de coeli altitudine descen- 
dens, totum illud ecclesiae spatium replens . . . et penetrans usqui in illiua 
exedriolae separatum conclave ubi se Virgnous in quantum potuit latitare 
conabatur . . . extcrritus." — Ibid, iii. 19. Virgnous, or Ferg'ja Brit, 
fourth abbot of lona, from 605 to 625. He told this incident to liia nephew, 
by wliom it was told to Adamnan. 

2« "Fulgurahs lax." — Ibid., iii. 20. 

246 a Cuidam suo sapientiam discenti alumno . . . qui, contra inte'dictum, 
in noctis silentio accessit . . . callide explorans . . . oculos ad clavium 
foramina posuit. . . . Repletum liospitiolum coelestis splendore cla» itudinis, 
quam non sustinens intueri, aufugit." — Ibid, iii. 20. 


by his zealous care. Two of his monks, one Irish and one 
Saxon, of the number of those whom he admitted to his cell 
to help him in his labor or to execute his instructions, saw 
him one day change countenance, and perceived in his face a 
sudden expression of the most contrary emotions : first a 
beatific joy, which made him raise to heaven a look full of 
the sweetest and tenderest gratitude ; but a minute after 
this ray of supernatural joy gave place to an expression of 
heavy and profound sadness. The two spectators pressed 
him with questions which he refused to answer. At length 
they threw themselves at his knees and begged him, with 
tears, not to afflict them by hiding what had been revealed to 
him. " Dear children," he said to them, " I do not wish to 
afflict you. . . . Know, then, that it is thirty years to-day 
since I began my pilgrimage in Caledonia. I have long 
prayed God to let my exile end with this thirtieth 3"ear, and 
to recall me to the heavenly country. When you saw me so 
joyous, it was because I could already see the angels who 
came to seek my soul. But all at once they stopped short, 
down there upon that rock at the farthest limit of the sea 
which surrounds our island, as if they would approach to 
take me, and could not. And, in truth, they could not, be- 
cause the Lord had paid less regard to my ardent prayer 
than to that of the many churches which have prayed for me, 
and which have obtained, against my will, that I should still 
dwell in this body for four years. This is the reason of my sad- 
ness. But in four years I shall die without being sick ; in four 
years, I know it and see it, they will come back, these holy 
angels, and I shall take my flight with them towards the 
Lord." 2i7 

At the end of the four years thus fixed he arranged iie takes 
everything for his departure. It was the end of monksat'^* 
May, and it was his desire to take leave of the tiieirwork. 
monks who worked in the fields in the only fertile part ol 
lona, the western side. His great age prevented him from 
walking, and he was drawn in a car by oxen. When he 

8" "Facies ejus subita, ruirifica et Isetifica hilaritate effloruit. . . . In- 
comparabili repletus gaiidio, valde Isetificabatur. Turn ilia sapida ct suavia 
Iffitificatio in moestara convertitur tristificationem. . . . Duo . . . qui . . . 
ejus tugurioli ad januam stabant . . . illacrymati, ingemisculantes. . . . 
Quia vos, ait, amo, tristificari nolo. . . . Usque in hunc praesentem diem, 
meae in Britannia peregrinationis terdeni completi sunt anni. . . . Sed ecce 
nunc, subito retardati, ultra nostras fretum insulae stant in rupe . • • cura 
Sanctis mihi obviaturis illo tempore, ad Dominum laetus emigrabo." — Adam* 
NAN, iii 22. 


reached the laborers he said to them, " I greatly desired to 
die a month ago, on Easter-day, and it was granted to me ; 
but I preferred to wait a little longer, in order that the fes- 
tival might not be changed into a day of sadness for you." 
And when all wept he did all he could to console them. 
Then turning towards the east, from the top of his rustic 
chariot he blessed the island and all its inhabitants — a bless- 
ing which, according ta local tradition, was like that of St. 
Patrick in Ireland, and drove, from that day, all vipers and 
venomous creatures out of the island.^^^ 

He visits On Saturday in the following week he went, lean- 

themonla-^ ^^S ^^ ^^^^ faithful attendant Diarmid, to bless the 
tic granary, granary of the monastery. Seeing there two great 
heaps of corn, the fruit of the last harvest, he said, " I see 
with joy that my dear monastic family, if I must leave them 
this year, will not at least suffer from famine." '' Dear 
father," said Diarmid, " why do you thus sadden us by talk- 
ing of your death ? " '^ Ah, well," said the abbot, '' here is a 
little secret Avhich I will tell thee if thou wilt swear on thy 
knees to tell no one before I am gone. To-day is Saturday, 
the day which the Holy Scriptures call Sabbath or rest. 
And it will be truly my day of rest, for it shall be the last of 
my laborious life. This very night I shall enter into the 
path of my fathers. Thou weepest, dear Diarmid, but con- 
sole thyself; it is my Lord Jesus Christ who deigns to invite 
me to rejoin Him ; it is He Avho has revealed to me that my 
summons will come to night." ^^ 

His fare- Then he left the storehouse to return to the mon- 

oid wmte^ astery, but when he had gone half-way stopped to 
horse. j-qqi r^^ g^ q^qi which is still marked by one of the 

ancient crosses of lona.^^*^ At this moment an ancient and 
faithful servant, the old white horse which had been em- 

248 iij^fj visitandos fratres operarios senex senio fessus, plaustro vectus, 
pergit. . . . In occiduainsulae lonse laborantes parte . . . ut erat in vehiculo 
sedens, ad orientem suam convertens faciem, insulam cum insulanis benedixit 
habitatoribus. . . . Ex qua die, viperarum venena trisulcarum linguarum 
usque in liodiernam diem nuUo modo aut liomini aut pecori nocere potuere." 
— Adamnan, ii. 28, iii. 53. 

^■•^ "Quod cum benedixisset et duos in eo frugum sequestrates acervos. 
. . . Valde congratulor meis familiaribus monachis, quia hoc etiam anno 
si a vobis emigrare me oportuerit, annum sufficientem habebitis. . . . 
Aliquem arcanum habeo sermusculum (sic). . . . Et mihi vere est sabbatum 
haec hodierna dies ... in qua post meas laborationum molestias gabbatizo. 
. . . Jam enim Dominus mens Jesus Christus me invitare dignatur." — 
Tbid, iii. 23. 

250 ipjjg monument called Maclean's Cross. 


ployed to carry milk from the dairy daily to tbe monastery, 
came towards him. He came and put his head upon his 
master's shoulder, as if to take leave of him. The eyes of the 
old horse had an expression so pathetic that they seemed to 
be bathed in tears. Diarmid would have sent the animal 
away, but the good old man forbade him. '' The horse loves 
me," he said, " leave him with me ; let him weep for my de- 
parture. The Creator has revealed to this poor animal what 
he has hidden from thee, a reasonable man." Upon which, 
still caressing the faithful brute, he gave him a last bless- 
ijjg_25i When this was done he used the remnants of his 
strength to climb to the top of a hillock from which he could 
see all the isle and the monastery, and there lifted up his 
hands to pronounce a prophetic benediction on the sanctuary 
he had created. " This little spot, so small and low, shall be 
greatly honored, not only by the Scots kings and people, but 
also by foreign chieis and barbarous nations ; and it shall be 
venerated even by the saints of other Churches." 

After this he went down to thfe monastery, entered his 
cell, and began to work for the last time. He was then oc- 
cupied in transcribing the Psalter. When he had come to 
the 33d Psalm and the verse, Inquirentes auteiti Dominum 
non deficient omni bono, he stopped short. " I must stop 
here," he said, " Baithen will write the rest." Baithen, as 
has been seen, was the steward of lona, and was to become 
its abbot. After this the aged saint was present at the vigil 
service before Sunday in the church. When he returned 
to his cell he seated himself upon the naked stones which 
served the septuagenarian for bed and pillow, and which 
were shown for nearly a century near his tomb.^^^ Then he 

251 " Media via ubi postea crux molari lapide infixa, hodieque stans . . . 
in margine cernitur viae. . . . Senio fessus, paululum sedens. • . . Ecce 
albus occurrit caballus, obediens servitor . . . caput in sinu ejus ponens 
. . . dominum a se suum mox emigraturum . . . coepit plangere uberumque 
quasi homo fundere et valde spumeas flere lacrymas. . . . Sine hunc, sine 
nostri amatorem, ut in hunc nieum sinum fletus efFundat amarissimi plangoris. 
. . . Moestum a se equum benedixit ministratorera." — Adamnan, iii. 23. 

252 u Monticellum monasterio supereminentera aseendens, in vertice ejus 
paululum stans, elevatis manibus, benedixit coenobiura : Huic loco, quam- 
libet angusto et vili, non tantura Scotorum reges cum populis, sed etiam 
barbararum et exterarum gentium regnatores cum plebibus suis. . . . Sedebat 
in tugurio Psalterium scribens. . . . Post talem perscriptum versum paginje, 
ad vespertinalem dominicae noctis missam " (note this singular expression for 
vigiles) " ingreditur ecclesiam. Qua consummata, ad liospitiolum revertens, 
in lectulo residet pernox, ubi pro straraine nudam habebat petram et pro 
pulvillo lapidem, qui hodie quasi quidara juxta sepulcrum ejus titulus stat 
nonumenti." — Ibid, iii. 23. 


intrusted to his only companion a last message for the com- 
munity : " Dear children, this is what I command with my 
last words — let peace and charity, a charity mutual and sin- 
cere, reign always among you ! If you act thus, following 
the example of the saints, God who strengthens the just will 
help you, and I, who shall be near Him, will intercede on 
your behalf, and you shall obtain of Him not only all the 
necessities of the present life in sufficient quantity, but still 
more the rewards of eternal life reserved for those who keep 
His law.253 

These were his last words. As soon as the midnight bell 
had rung for the matins of the Sunday festival, he rose and 
hastened before the other monks to the church, where 
he knelt down before the altar. Diarmid followed him, but 
as the church was not yet lighted he could only find him by 
groping and crying in a plaintive voice, " Where art thou, 
my father?" He found Columba lying before the altar, and, 
placing himself at his side, raised the old abbot's venerable 
head upon his knees. The whole community soon arrived 
with lights, and wept as one man at the sight of their dying 
father. Columba opened his eyes once more, and turned 
them to his children on either side with a look full of serene 
He dies in and radiant joy. Then with the aid of Diarmid he 
Qthjune"'^' ^aisod, as best he might, his right hand to bless 
597. ' them all ; his hand dropped, the last sigh came from 
his lips ; and his face remained calm and sweet like that of 
a man who in his sleep had seen a vision of heaven.^^* 

253 (I Hffic vobis, o filioli, novissima commendo verba, ut inter yos mutuam 
et non fictam habeatis charitatem, cum pace." — Adamnan, iii. 23. 

254 it Post quae conticuit. . . . Vix media nocte pulsata personante clocca, 
festinus surgens ad ecclesiam pergit, citiorque ceteris currens', solus intro- 
gressus juxta altare. Diormitius ecclesiam ingrediens flebili ingeminat voce .• 
Ubi es, pater? Et necdum allatis fratrum lucernis, per tenebras palpaiis, 
sanctum ante altarium recubantem invenit : quem paululum erigens et juxta 
sedens sanctum in sue gremio posuit caput. Et inter hccc coetus monachorum 
cum luminaribus accurrens, patre vise moriente, coepit plangere. Et, ut ab 
aliquihus qui prcesentes inerant didicimus, sanctus, necdum egrediente animo, 
apertis sursum oculis, ad utruraque latus cum mira vultus hilaritate et Isetitia 
circumspiciebat; sanctos scilicet obvios intuens angelos. Diormitius tum 
sanctam sublevat ad benedicendum sancti monachorum chorum dexteram 
manum. Sed et ipse venerabilis pater in quantum poterat, sinml suam 
movebat manum. Et post sanctam benedictionem taliter signiflcatam, con- 
tinue spiritum exhalavit. Facies rubens, et mirura in modum angelica visione 
exhilarata, in tantum remansit, ut non quasi mortui, sed dormientis videretur 
viventis." — Adamnan, iii. 23. The nanative of Adamnan is an almost 
literal reproduction of that of Cummian, the first known biographf r of the 


Suuli was the life and death of the first great apostle of 
Great Britain. We have lingered, perhaps, too long on the 
grand form of this monk, rising up before ns from tlie midst 
of the Hebridean sea, who, for the third part of a century, 
spread over those sterile isles, and gloomy distant shores, a 
pure and fertilizing light. In a confused age and unknown 
region he displayed all that is greatest and purest, and. it 
must be added, most easily forgotten in human genius : the 
gift of ruling souls by ruling himself.^^^ To select the most 
marked and grapliic incidents from the general tissue of his 
lil'e, and those most fit to unfold that which attracts the 
modern reader — that is, his personal character and influence 
upon contemporary events — from a world of minute details 
having almost exclusive reference to matters supernatural 
or ascetical, has been no easy task. But when this is done 
it becomes comparatively easy to represei;:^t to ourselves the 
tall old man, with his fine and regular features, his sweet and 
powerful voice, tlie Irish tonsure high on his shaven head, 
and his long locks falling behind, clothed with his monastic 
cowl, and seated at the prow of his coracle, steering through 
the misty archipelago and narrow lakes of the north of Scot- 
land, and bearing from isle to isle and from shore to shore, 
light, justice, and truth, the life of the conscience and of the 


One loves above all to study the depths of that soul, and 
the changes wliich had taken place in it since its youth. No 
more than his namesake of Luxeuil, the monastic apostle of 
Burgundy, was ho of the Picts and Scots a Columba. Gentle- 
ness was of all qualities precisel}' the one in which he failed 
the most. At the beginning of his life the future abbot of 
lona showed himself still more than the abbot of Luxeuil to 
be animated by all the vivacities of his age, associated with 
all the struggles and discords of his race and countr3\ Ho 
was vindictive, passionate, bold, a man of strife, born a 
soldier rather than a monk, and known, praised, and blamed 
as a soldier — so that even in his lifetime he was invoked in 
fight ; -•5'^ and continued a soldier, insulanus miles^^^'' even 
upon the island rock from which he rushed forth to preach, 
convert, enlighten, reconcile, and reprimand both piiucea 
and nations, men and women, laymen and clerks. 

*^* " Animaruni dux," said tlie angel who announced his birth to his mother. 
This expression is also found in Adaninan (i. 2), but placed in the mouth of 
Columba, and applied by him to anotiier saint. 

**^ See ante, page 94, note. ^^'' Ajdamnan, Prafat. 


He was at the same time full of contradictions and con. 
trasts — at once tender and irritable, rude and courteous, 
ironical and compassionate, caressing and imperious, grateful 
and revengeful — led by pity as well as bj wrath, ever moved 
by generous passions, and among all passions fired to the 
very end of his life by two which his countrymen understand 
the best, the love of poetry and the love of country. Little 
iuclined to melancholy when he had once surmounted the 
great sorrow of his life, which was his exile ; little disposed 
even, save towards the end, to contemplation or solitude, but 
trained by prayer and austerities to triumphs of evangelical 
exposition ; despising rest, untiring in mental and manual 
toil ; ^^^ born for eloquence, and gifted with a voice so pene- 
trating and sonorous that it was thought of afterwards as 
one of the most miraculous gifts that he had received of 
God ; 2^^ frank and loyal, original and powerful in his words 
as in his actions — in cloister and mission and parliament, on 
land and on sea, in Ireland as in Scotland, always swayed by 
the love of God and of his neighbor, whom it was his will 
and pleasure to serve with an impassioned uprightness. 
Such was Columba. Besides the monk and missionary there 
was in him the makings of a sailor, soldier, poet, and orator. 
To us, looking back, he appears a personage as singular as 
he is lovable, in whom, through all the mists of the past and 
all the cross-lights of legend, the man may still be reco g- 
nized under the saiot — a man capable and worthy of the 
supreme honor of holiness, since he knew how to subdue his 
inclinations, his weakness, his instincts, and his passions, 
and to transform them into docile and invincible weapons for 
the salvation of souls and the glory of God. 

258 " Nullum etiam unius horae intervallum transire poterat, quo nou 
orationi. aut lectioni, vel scriptioni, vel etiam alicui operationi, incumberet. 
Jejunationum et vigilarum indefessis laboribus, sine ulla intermissione, die 
noctuque ita occupatus, ut supra humanaui possibilitatem pondus uniuscu- 
jusque videretur specialis operis. Et inter hajc omnibus carus, hilarem sem- 
per faciem ostendens, spiritus sancti gaudio intimis lastificabatur praecordiis." 
— Adamnan, Prcef. ii. 

259 41 ^jj expertis quibusdani de voce beati psalmodiae viri indubitanter 
traditum est. Quae vox in ecclesia cum fratribus decantatis, aliquando per 
quingentos passus . . . aliquando per mille incomparabiliter elevata modo 
audiebatur. Mirum dictu 1 Nee in auribus eorum qui secum in ecclesia 
stabant vox ejus modum humanaevocis in clamoris granditate excedebat. . . . 
Similiter enim in auribus prope et longe audientium personabat." — Ibid., i. 37. 
In another passage he calls it " sermone nitidus." 




His posthumous glory : miraculous visions on the night of his death : rapid 
extension of his worship. — Note upon his supposed journey to Rome, and 
residence there, in search of the relics of St. Martin. — His solitary funeral 
and tomb at lona. — His translation to Ireland, where he rests between St. 
Patrick and St. Bridget. — He is, like Bridget, feared by the Anglo-Nor- 
man conquerors. — John de Courcy and Richard Strongbow. — The Ven- 
geance of Columba. — Supremacy of lona over the Celtic churches of 
Caledonia and the north of Ireland. — Singular privilege and primacy of 
the abbot of lona in respect to bishops. — The ecclesiastical organization 
of Celtic countries exclusively monastic. — Moderation and respect of 
Columba for the episcopal rank. — He left behind him no special rule. — 
That which he followed differed in no respect from the usual customs of 
the monastic order, which proves the exact observance of all the precepts 
of the Church, and the chimerical nature of all speculations upon the prim- 
itive Protestantism of the Celtic Church. — But he founded an order, which 
lasted several centuries under the title of the Family of Columb-Kill. — 
The clan and family spirit was the governing principle of Scottish monas- 
ticism. — Baithen and the eleven first successors of Columba at lona were 
all members of the same race. — The two lines, lay and ecclesiastical, of 
the great founders. — The headquarters of the order transferred from lona 
to Kells, one of Columba's foundations in Ireland. — The Coarbs. — Post- 
humous influence of Columba upon the Church of Ireland. — Lex Colum- 
cille. — Monastic Ireland in the seventh century the principal centre of 
Christian knowledge and piety. — Each monastery a school. — The tran- 
scription of manuscripts, which had been one of Columba's favorite occupa- 
tions, continued and extended by his family even upon the continent. — 
Historic Annals. — The Festiloge of Angus the Culdee. — Note upon the 
Culdees, and upon the foundation of St. Andrews in Scotland. — Propaga- 
tion of Irish monasticism abroad. — Irish saints and monasteries in France, 
Germany, and Italy. — The Irish saint Cathal venerated in Calabria under 
the name of San Cataldo. — Monastic university of Lismore : crowd of 
foreign students, especially of Anglo-Saxons, in Irish monasteries. — Con- 
fusion of temporal affairs in Ireland. — Civil wars and massacres. — Notes 
upon king-monks. — Patriotic intervention of the monks. — Adamnan, 
biographer and ninth successor of Columba, and his Law of the Innocents. 
— They are driven from their cloisters by the English. — Influence of 
Columba in Scotland. — Traces of the ancient Caledonian Church in the 
Hebrides. — Apostolical mission of Kentigern in the country between the 
Clyde and the Mersey. — His meeting with Columba — His connection 

VOL. II. 10 " 


with the king and queen of Stratli- Clyde. — Legend of the queen's ring. — 
Neither Columba nor Kentigern acted upon the Anglo-Saxons, who con 
tinued pagans, and maintained a threatening attitude. — The last bishopt 
of conquered Britain desert their churches. 

The influence of Columba, as of all men really superior to 
their fellows, and especially of the saints, far from ceasing 
with his life, went on increasing after his death. The super- 
natural character of his virtues, the miracles which were 
attributed tc his intercession with God, had for a long time 
left scarcely any doubt as to his sanctity. It was univer- 
sally acknowledged after his death, and has since remained 
uncontested among all the Celtic races. The visions and 
Miraculous miraclcs which went to prove it would fill a volume. 
then^^hTof ^^^ ^^® night, and at the very hour, of his death, a 
his death, holy old man in a distant monastery in Ireland, one 
of those whom the Celtic chroniclers ca,ll the victorious sol- 
diers of Christ,'^'^'' saw with the eyes of his mind the isle of 
lona, which he had never visited, flooded with miraculous 
light, and all the vault of heaven full of an innumerable army 
of shining angels, who went, singing celestial canticles, to 
bring away the holy soul of the great missionary. Upon the 
banks of a river,^i in Columba's native land, another holy 
monk, while occupied with several others in fishing, saw, as 
also did his companions, the sky lighted up by a pillar of fire, 
which rose from earth to the highest heaven, and disappeared 
only after lighting up the whole scene with a radiance as of 
the sun at noon.^*^^ 

^^'^ " Sanctus senex, Christi miles . . . Justus et sapiens . . . cuidam seque 
Christiano militi . . . suani enarravit visionem. . . . Christi victor miles." 

^''' The Finn, which, after having marked the boundary between the two 
countries of Tyrone and Donegal, throws itself into the Foyle, which flows 
by Derry. 

*®^ " Hac praaterita nocte media, . . . et in hora beati exitus ejus lonani 
insulam, ad quam corpore nunquam perveni, totam angelorum claritudine in 
spiritu vidi irradiatam, totaque spatia aeris usque ad aethera coelorum eorum- 
dem angelorum claritate illustrata; qui ad sane ipsius animam preferendam, 
de coelis missi descenderunt innumeri. Altisona carniinalia et valde suavia 
audivi angelicoriim coetuum cantica eodem raomento egressionis inter angelicos 
sanctae ipsius animaa ascendentes chores. . . . Ego et alii mecum viri labo- 
rantes in captura piscium in valle piscosi fluminis Fendae subito totum aerei 
iWustratum coeli spatium vidimus . . . et ecce, quasi quaedam pergrandis 
ignea apparuit columna, quae in ilia nocte media sursum ascendens ita nobis 
videbatur munduni illustrare totum sicuti aesteus et meridianus sol, et post- 
quam ilia penetravit columna coelum, quasi post occasum solis tenebrse suc- 
cedunt. Non tantum nos . . . sed et alii multi piscatores, qui sparsim per 
diversas fluininales piscinas ejusdem fluminis piscabantur, sicut nobis post 
retulcrunt, simili apparitione visa, magno pavore sunt perculsi." Adanuian 
takes pains to prove that be received the account of those nocturnal visions, 


Thus began the long succession of wonders by which the 
worship of Columba's holy memory is characterized among 
the Celtic races. This worship, which seemed at one time 
concentrated in one of the smallest islets of the At- Rapi^es- 
lantic, extended in less than a century after his tension of 
death, not only throughout all Ireland and Great ship even 
Britain, but into Gaul, Spain and Italy, and even to *^* ^°™*'' 
Rome,^®^ which some legends, insufficiently verified, describe 
him as having visited during the last years of his life, in order 
to renew the bonds of respectful affection and spiritual uniou 
which are supposed to have united him to the great pope St. 
Gregory, who ascended the pontifical throne seven yearg 
before the death of the Hebridean apostle.^^^ 

It was expected that all the population of the His funeral 
neighboring districts would hasten to lona and f"av"lt 
fill the island during the funeral of the great ^°°'^- 

the first, from old monks at lona, to whom it had been told by a hermit from 
Ireland ; and the second, from the very monk who had directed the fishing 
on that memorable night. 

*** "Et haec etiani eidem beatae memorise viro a Deo non mediocris est 
collata gratia qua noraen ejus non tantum per totam nostram Scotiam et 
omnium totius orbis insularum maximam Britaniiiam, clare divulgari pro- 
nieruit, in hac parva et extrema oceani Britannici commoratus (sic) insula; 
sed etiam ad trigonam usque Hispaniam, et Gallias, et ultra Alpes Penninas 
Italiam sitam pervenire, ipsam quoque Komanam civitatem, quae caput est 
omnium civitatum." — Adamnan, infinem. 

^^* According to an account given by Colgari (p. 473), the fiimous hymn 
Alius Prosator was composed by Columba while the envoys of St. Gregory 
the Great were at lona, and was sent by him to the Pontitf, who listened to 
it standing up, in token of respect. We are obliged to acknowledge the same 
want of proof in the tradition which connects tiie holy abbot of lona with the 
great wonder-worker of the Gauls, St. Martin, and which attributes to him a 
work similar to that of the great archbishop who, in our own days, has under- 
taken to restore to an honorable condition the profaned grave of his greatest 
predecessor, by rebuilding the basilica which covers that glorious sepulchre. 
According to the narrative of O'Donnell (book iii. c. 27), Columba, on his 
return from Rome, went to Tours to seek the gospel which had lain for a 
century upon the breast of St. Martin, and carried it to Derry, where this 
relic was exhibited up to the twelfth century. The people of Tours had for- 
gotten the situation of St. Martin's grave ; and when they begged Columba 
to find it for them, he consented, only on condition of being allowed to keep 
for himself everything found in St. Martin's tomb, except his bones. The 
legend adds that Columba left one of his disciples there, the same Mochonna 
who had followed him first to lona, and that he afterwards became bishop of 
Tours. This alone is sufficient to disprove the narrative, since at the only 
period in the life of Columba at which this journey could have taken place, 
the bishop of Tours was St. Gregory the historian, whose predecessor and 
successor are well known. Let us remark, at the same time, the curious 
traditional ties between the Church of Tours and that of Ireland, A'hich lasted 
for several centuries. St. Patrick, the apostle of Ireland, is supposed to 
have been the grand-nephew of St. Martin, and to have been encouraged by 
him in his mission. 


abbot ; and this had even been intimated to him before he 
died. But he had prophesied that the fact would be other- 
wise, and that his monastic family alone should perform the 
ceremonies of his burial. And it happened, accordingly, 
during the three days which were occupied with those ritee, 
that a violent wind made it impossible for any boat to reach 
the island. Thus this friend and counsellor of princes and 
nations, this great traveller, this apostle of an entire nation 
which, during a thousand years, was to honor him as its 
patron saint, lay solitary upon his bier, in the little church 
of his island retirement ; and his burial was witnessed only 
by his monks. But his grave, though it was not dug in 
presence of an enthusiastic crowd, as had been looked for, 
was not the less visited and surrounded by floods of succes- 
sive generations, who for more than two hundred years 
crowded there to venerate the relics of the holy missionary, 
and to drink the pure waters of his doctrine and example at 
the fountain-head. 

The remains of Columba rested here in peace up to the 
ninth century, until the moment when lona, like all the Brit- 
ish isles, fell a prey to the ravages of the Danes. These 
cruel and insatiable pirates seem to have been attracted 
again and again by the wealth of the offerings that were lav- 
ished upon the tomb of the apostle of Caledonia. They 
burnt the monastery for the first time in 801 ; again in 805, 
when it contained only so small a number as sixty-four 
monks ; and finally, a third time, in 877. To save from their 
rapacity a treasure which no pious liberality could replace, 

^ the body of St. Columba was carried to Ireland, 

of his re- And it is the unvarying tradition of Irish annals 
Down/fn that it was deposited finally at Down, in an episco- 
whlre^t'hey P^^ monastery not far from the western shore of the 
were laid island, between the great Monastery of Bangor on 
Patricklind the north, from which came Columbanus of Luxeuil, 
ofiiridget. ^^^ Dublin, the future capital of Ireland, to the 
south. There already lay the relics of Patrick and of 
Bridget; and thus was verified one of the prophecies in Irish 
verse attributed to Columba, in which he says 

"They shall bury me first at lona; 
But, by the will of the living God, 
It is at Dun that I shall rest in my grave, 
With Patrick and with Bridget the immaculate. 
Three bodies in one grave." '■^' 

** See Keeves, pp. Ixxix. 313, 317, 462 ; compare Col(^an, p. 446 These 


The three names have remained since that time insepara- 
bly united in the dauntless heart and fervent tenacious mem« 
ory of the Irish people. It is to Columbathat the oppressed 
and impoverished Irish seem to have appealed with the 
greatest confidence in the first English conquest in the 
twelfth century. The conquerors themselves feared coiumba 
him, not without reason, for they had learned to feared by 
know his vengeance. John de Courcy, a warlike Norman 
Anglo-Norman baron, he who was called the Con- '''"■°°^- 
queror ( Conquestor) of Ulster, as William of Normandy of 
England, carried always with him the volume of Columba's 
prophecies ; ^^^ and when the bodies of the three saints were 
found in his new possessions in 1180, he prayed the Holy 
See to celebrate their translation by the appointment of a 
solemn festival. Richard Strongbow, the fimous Earl of 
Pembroke, who had been the first chief of the invasion, died 
of an ulcer in the foot which had been inflicted upon him, 
according to the Irish narrative, at the prayer of St. Bridget, 
St. Columba, and other saints, whose churches he had de- 
stroyed. He himself said, when at the point of death, that 
he saw the sweet and noble Bridget lift her arm to pierce him 
to the heart. Hugh de Lacy, another Anglo-Norman chief 
of great lineage, perished at Durrow, ** by the vengeance of 
Columb-cille," says a chronicler, while he was engaged in 
building a castle to the injury of the abbey which Columba 
had founded, and loved so much.^'^'^ A century after, this 
vengeance was still popularly dreaded ; and some English 
pirates, who had pillaged his church in the island of Inch- 
colm, having sunk like lead in sight of land, their country- 
men said that he should be called, not St. Columba, but St. 
Quhalme'^^^ — that is to say, the saint of Sudden Death. 

A nation has special need to believe in these vengeances 
of God, always so tardy and infrequent, and which, in Ire- 
laud, above all, have scarcely sufiiced to light with a fugitive 
gleam the long night of the conquest, with all its iniquities 

three bodies were found at Down in 1185, after the disasters of the first Eng- 
lish conquest, and again united in one tomb by tlie bishop Malachi, and by 
John de Courcy, one of the great Anglo-Norman barons, conqueror {con- 
questor, according to the office) of Ulster. A special holiday was instituted 
by the Holy See in memory of this translation. The office for this festival, 
printed first at Paris in 1620, has been given by Colgan at the beginning of 
Ills precious work, Trias Thaumaturga. 

*** Kellet, note to Lynch, Cambrensis Eversus, vol. i. p. 386. 

*^' O'Donovan's Four Masters, vol. i. pp. 25, 75. 

^^ Quhalme in Anglo-Saxon meant sudden death, from whence the modern 
English word qualm. 

10* ' 


and crime. Happy are the people among whom the ever, 
lasting justice of the appeal against falsehood and evil ig 
placed under the shadow of God and the saints ; and blessed 
also the snints who have left to posterity the memory of their 
indignation against all injustice. 

As long as the body of Columba remained in his island 
grave, lona, consecrated henceforward by the life and death 
of so great a Christian, continued to be the most venerated 
sanctuary of the Celts. For two centuries she was the nur- 
sery of bishops, the centre of education, the asylum of reli- 
gious knowledge, the point of union among the British isles, 
the capital and necropolis of the Celtic race. Seventy kings 
or princes were buried there at the feet of Columba, faithful 
to a kind of traditional law, the recollection of which has 
been consecrated by Shakespeare ^""^ During these two cen- 
turies, she retained an uncontested supremacy over all the 
monasteries and churches of Caledonia, as over those of half 
Ireland ; ^''^ and we shall hereafter see how she disputed with 
the Roman missionaries the authority over the Anglo-Sax- 
ons of the north. Later still, if we are permitted to follow 
this narrative so far, at the end of the eleventh century, we 
shall see her ruins raised up and restored to monastic life by 
one of the most noble and touching heroines of Scotland and 
Christendom, the holy Queen Margaret, the gentle and noble 
exile, so beautiful, so wise, so magnanimous and beloved, 
who use^ her influence over Malcolm her husband only for 
the regeneration of the Church in his kingdom, and whose 
dear memory is worthy of being associated in the heart of 
the Scottish people with that of Columba, since she obtained 
by his intercession that grace of maternity which has mad? 
her the origin of the dynasty which still reigns over the 
British Isles.^'^^ 

^^' "RossB. Where is Duncan's body ? 
Macduff. Carried to Colmes-Kill, 
The sacred storehouse of his predecessors, 
And guardian of their bones." 

Shakespeare, Macbeth. 
27d u piurima exinde monasteria per discipulos ejus in Britannia et in 
Hibernia propagata sunt : in quibus omnibus idem monasterium insulanura, 
in quo ipse requiescit corpore, principatum tenet." — Bede, iii. 4. " Cujus 
monastorium in cunctis pene septentrionalium Scotorum et omnium Pictorum 
nionasteriis non parvo tempore arcem tenebat regendisque eorura populis 
prseerat." — Ibid., iii. 3. 

"" Orderig Vital, 1. viii. 702; Fordun, Scotichronicon,y. 37. On tha 
Bummit of the picturesque rock upon which Edinburgh Castle is built, may 
still be seen the chapel dedicated to St. Margaret, recently restored by ordei 
of the Queeu. She is the Christian Minerva of that Acropolis of the North. 


Let us here reconsider the privilege which gave to the 
abbots of loiia a sort of jurisdiction over the bishops of the 
neighboring districts ^"^ — a privilege unique, and which 
would even appear fabulous, if it were not attested by two 
of the most trustworthy historians of the time, the Venera- 
ble Bede and Notker of St. Gall. In order to explain this 
strange anomaly it must be understood that in Celtic coun- 
tries, especially in Ireland and in Scotland, ecclesiastical or- 
ganization rested, in the first place, solely upon conventual 
life. Dioceses and parishes were regularly constituted only 
in the twelfth century. Bishops, it is true, existed from the 
beginning, but either without any clearly fixed territorial 
jurisdiction, or incorporated as a necessary but subordinate 
part of the ecclesiastical machinery with the great monastic 
bodies ; and such was specially the case in Ireland. It is 
for this reason that the bishops of the Celtic Church, as has 
been often remarked, are so much overshadowed not only by 
great founders and superiors of monasteries, such as Co- 
lumba, but even by simple abbots.^'^ Nevertheless, it is evi- 
dent that during the life of Columba, far from assuming any 
superiority whatever over the bishops who were his contem- 
poraries, he showed them the utmost respect, even to such a 
point that he would not celebrate mass in the presence of a 
bishop who had come, humbly disguised as a simple convert, 
to visit the community of lona.^'^ At the same time the 

*" " Habet insula rectoreni semper abbateni presbyterum, cujus jura om- 
nis provincia, et ipsi etiam episcopi, ordine inusitato, debeant esse subjecti." 

— Bede, 1. iii. 4. Compare Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, ad an. 565, ed. Giles. 
"In Scotia insula Hibernia depositio sancti Columbae, cognomento apud suos 
Coluiub-Killi, eo quod multaruni cellarum, id est monasteriorum vel ecclesi- 
aruni institutor, fundator et rector exstiterit : adeo ut abbas monasterii, cui 
novissime prasfuit et ubi requiescit, contra morem ecclesiasticum primus om- 
nium Hibernensium liabeatur episcoporum." — Notker Balbulus, Marty- 
rologium. Mabillon quotes the cliarter of tbe Irish Abbey of Honau in Ger- 
many, where tlie signature of the abbot precedes those of seven bishops, all 
bearing Celtic names. — Annales Benedictini, vol. ii. Appendix, p. 70. Who 
were the bishops subject to the primacy of lona? If Colgan is to be believed 

— in PrcBf., Triad. Thaum., " prasrogativo forte jurisdictioni legimus con- 
cessum, quod ejus abbas primatuni et praecedentiam habeat ante omnes 
Scotorum episcopos" — it must be supposed that all the bishops of Ii-eland 
and Scotland were under its authority. 

'•^" See the curious incident narrated by Adamnan (i. 36), where a bishop 
hesitated to confer the priesthood on Aldus the Black before having the 
authority of the abbot of Tiree, an insular cella dependent upon lona. — 
"Episcopus non ausus est super caput ejus manum imponere, nisi prius 
presbyter Findchanus . . . suam capiti ejus pro confirmatione imponeret 

'"'* " Quidam proselytus ad sanctum venit qui se in quantum potuit occultabat 
bumiliter, ut nullus sciret quod esset espiscopus." — Adamnan, i. 4i. 


abbots scrupulously abstained from all usurpation of the 
rank, privileges, or functions reserved to bishops, to whom 
they had recourse for all the ordinations celebrated in the 
monasteries.2'5 ^^^ ^s most of the bishops had been edu- 
cated in monastic schools, they retained an affectionate ven- 
eration for their cradle, which, in regard to lona especiall}'', 
from which we shall see so many bishops issue, might have 
translated itself into a sort of prolonged submission to the 
conventual authoritj^ of their former superior. Five centu- 
ries later the bishops who came from the great French ab- 
beys of Cluny and Citeaux took pleasure in professing the 
same filial subordination to their monastic birthplace. 

The uncontested primacy of lona over the bishops who 
had there professed religion, or who came there to be conse- 
crated after their election, may be besides explained by the 
influence exercised by Columba over both clergy and people 
of the districts evangelized by him — an influence which 
was only increased by his death. 

Was Co- -D^^ *^^ great abbot of lona. like his namesake 

lumbathe of Luxeuil, Icavc to his disciples a monastic rule of 
aVe'riri his own, distinct from that of other Celtic monas- 
"■"^^•^ teries? This has been often asserted, but without 

positive proof — and in any case no authentic text of such a 
document exists.^'^ That which bears the name of the Hule 
of Columh-hill, and which has been sometimes attributed to 
him, has no reference in any way to the cenobites of lona, 
and is only applicable to hermits or recluses, who lived per- 
haps under his authority, but isolated, and who were always 
very numerous in Ireland.^''^ 

^" "Accito episcopo . . . apud supradictum Findchanum presbyter ordi- 
natus est." — Apamnan, i. 36. 

^'^ Colgan {Trias Thaum., p, 471) and Hoeften {Disquisitiones Monasticce, 
1. i. tr. 8^ p. 84) had in their hands the text of a rule attributed to Columba, 
and reprinted by Reeves in 1850, but both have acknowledged that it would 
be applicable only to anchorites. — O'Curry, Lectures, pp. 374, 612. The 
only proof of the existence of a cenobitical rule originated by Coluraba, ia 
the mention made of it by Bede in the address of Wilfrid at the celebrated 
conference of Whitby between the Benedictines and the Celtic monks, which 
will be discussed hereafter: " De Patre Vestro Columba et sequacibus ejus, 
quorum sanctitatem vos imitari et Regulam ac praecepta coelestibus signis 
confirmata." The word Eegula, however, which occurs so often in the lives 
of the Irish saints, can scarcely mean anything more than observance, disci- 
pline; each considerable saint had his own. Reeves has proved that the 
Ordo monasticus, attributed to Columba by the last edition of Holsteinus, 
does not go farther back than to the twelfth century. 

*" The recluses or anchorites, who passed their life in a little cell con- 
taining an altar, at which to say mass, sometimes solitary, sometimes attachel 
to their church (like that of Marianus Scotus at Fulda), existed for a very 


A conscientious and attentive examination of all tbe mo- 
nastic peculiarities which can be discovered in his biogra- 
phy 2'^ reveals absolutel}' nothing in respect to observances 
or obligations different from the rules borrowed by all the 
religious communities of the sixth century from the tradi- 
tions of the Fathers of the Desert. Such an examination 
brings out distinctly in the first place, the necessity for a 
vow ^''^ or solemn profession to prove the final admission of 
the monk into the community after a probation more or loss 
prolonged ; and, in the second place, the absolute conformity 
of the monastic life of Columba and his monks to the pre- 
cepts and rites of the Catholic Church in all ages. Authori- 
ties unquestionable and unquestioned demonstrate the exist- 
ence of auricular confession, the invocation of saints, the 
universal faith in their protection and intervention in tempo- 
ral affairs, the celebration of the mass, the real presence in 
the Eucharist, ecclesiastical celibacy, fasts and abstinences, 
prayer for the dead, the sign of the cross, and, above all, the 
assiduous and profound study of the Holy Scriptures.^^*^ 
Thus the assumption made by certain writers of having 
found in the Celtic Church some sort of primitive Christian- 
ity not Catholic, crumbles to the dust ; and the ridiculous 
but inveterate prejudice which accuses our fathers of having 
ignored or interdicted the study of the Bible is once again 
proved to be without foundation. 

As to the customs peculiar to the Irish Church, and which 
were afterwards the cause of so many tedious struggles with 
the Roman and Anglo-Saxon missionaries, no trace of them is 
to be discovered in the acts or words of Columba. There 

long time in Ireland. Sir Henry Piers has proved the existence of one of 
these recluses, and described his cell in the county of Westmeath in 1682. — 
Keeves, Memory of the Church of St. Duilech, 1859. 

*'* See the Appendix N to the volume of Reeves, entitled Institutio Hy- 
ensis. It is an excellent epitome of all the monastic customs of the period. 

279 u Votum monachiale voverunt . . . votum monachicum devotus vovit." 
--Adamnan, i. 31, ii. 89. 

**" To prove our assertion we indicate several passages from Adamnan : 

Auricular Confession is expressly pointed out in the history of Libranus, 
ii. 39. 

The Invocation of Saints at each page. Columba is even invoked during 
his life. Their protection and intervention in temporal affairs, ii. E, 16, 39, 

Tlie celebration of festivals and offices in their honor. 

The real presence — All the elements of the Eucharist. " A sancto jussus 
Christi corpus conficere. . . . Eucharistiae mysteria celebrate pro anima 
Bancta." — Colgan, Vita Prima, c. 8 ; Adamnan, iii. 12. 

Solemn mass on Sunday, iii. 12 ; on other days, i. 40. 


is no mention of the tiresome disputes about the tonsure, or 
even of the irregular celebration of Easter, except perhaps 
in a prophecy vaguely made by him on the occasion of a visit 
to Clonmacuoise, upon the discords which this difference of 
opinion in respect to Easter would one day excite in the 
Scotic Church.^si 

If Coluraba made no rule calculated, like that of 
founded by St Benedict, to last for centuries, he nevertheless 
coiumba. |g^j. ^^ j^jg (jigciples a spirit of life, of union, and of 
Hissucces- discipline, which was sufficient to maintain in one 
great body, for several centuries after his death, not 
only the monks of lona, but the numerous communities 
which had gathered round them. This monastic body bore 
a noblo name ; it was long called the Order of the Fair Com- 
pany ,2'''^ and still longer the Family of Columb-kill. It was 
governed by abbots, who succeeded Coiumba as superiors of 
the community of lona. These abbots proved themselves 
worthy of, and obtained from Bede, one of the most compe- 
tent of judges, who began to write a hundred years after the 
death of Coiumba, a tribute of admiration without reserve, 
and even more striking than that which he gave to their 
founder : — " Whatever he may have been," said the Venera- 
ble Bede, with a certain shadow of Anglo-Saxon suspicion 
in respect to Celtic virtue and sanctity, '' it is undeniable 
that he has lel't successors illustrious b}^ the purity of their 
life, their great love of God, and their zeal for monastic 
order ; and, although separated from us as to the observance 
of Easter, which is caused by their distance from all the rest 
of the world, ardently and closely devoted to the observance 
of those laws of piety and chastitj" which they have learned 
in the Old and New Testaments." ^^^ These praises are jus- 
tified by the great number of saints who have issued from 
the spiritual lineage of Coiumba ;^^* but they should be 
specially applied to his successors in the abbatial see of 
lona, and, in the first place, to his first successor, whom he 
had himself pointed out, the holy and amiable Baithen, who 

^^^ Adamnan, i. 3. 

282 "(jujus ordo dicebatur pulclirae societatis." — Vita Sancti Kiera7ii, 
apud HcEFTEN, op. cit., pp. Gl, 64. 

-"^ " Qualiscunque fuerit ijjse, nos hoc de illo certum teneraus, quia re- 
liquit, successores magna continenlia et divino amore regulasque nionasticsa 
insignes . . . pietatis et castitatis opera diligenter observantes." — Bede, 
iii. 4. 

*"* The number may be seen in Colgan, who names as many as a hundred 
and twelve, the most part of whom are commemorated in the Irish inar- 


was so worthy to be his lieutenant and friend, and could so 
well replace him. He survived Columba only three years, 
and died on the anniversary of his master's death.^^^ The 
cruel sufferings of his last illness did not prevent him from 
praying, writing, and teaching to his last hour. Baithen 
was, as has been said, the cousin-german of Columba, and 
almost all the abbots of lona who succeeded him were of the 
same race. 

The family spirit, or, to speak more truly, the preponder- 
clan spirit, always so powerful and active in Ire- cra^nfnthl 
land, and which was so striking a feature in the constitu- 
character of Columba, had become a predominating tic mona- 
influence in the monastic life of the Celtic Church. *='^'^™- 
It was not precisely hereditary succession, since marriage 
was absolutely unknown among the regular clergy ; but 
great influence was given to blood in the election of abbots, 
as in that of princes or military leaders. The nephew or 
cousin of the founder or superior of a monastery seemed the 
candidate pointed out by nature for the vacant dignity. Spe- 
cial reasons were necessary for breaking through this rule. 
Thus it is apparent that the eleven first abbots of lona after 
Columba, proceeded, with the exception of one individual, 
from the same stock as himself, from the race of Tyrconnel, 
and were all descended from the same son of Niall of the 
Nine Hostages, the famous king of all Ireland.^^*^ Every 
great monastery became thus the centre and appanage of a 
family, or, to speak more exactly, of a clan, and was alike the 
school and the asylum of all the founder's kindred. At a 
later period a kind of succession, purely laic and hereditary, 
developed itself by the side of the spiritual posterity, and 
was invested with the possession of most of the monastic 
domains. These two lines of descendants, simultaneous but 
distinct, from the principal monastic founders, are distin- 
guished in the historical genealogies of Ireland under the 
names of ecclesiastica progenies and of plebilis progenies?^'* 

sbs During his short abbacy, it is apparent that all was not unanimous 
adhesion and enthusiasm. A certain Bevan, described as a persecutor of the 
Churches, once sent to ask tlie remains of the meal which the monks of lona 
had just eaten, in order to turn them into derision. " Nee ob aliud hoc pos- 
tulabat, nisi ut causam blasphemiae ac despectionis fratrum inveniret.' 
Baithen sent to him what remained of the milk which had made the repast 
of tiie brethren. After he had drunk it, the scoffer was seized with such 
suffering, that he was converted, and died confessing his repentance. — Act. 
SS. BoLLAND., vol. ii- June, p. 238. 

*^* See the genealogical tabic given by Dr. lleeves, at page 313 of his edi- 
tion of Adamnan. 

**' Dr. lieeves has thoroughly examined this curious question in a special 


After the ninth century, in consequence of the relaxation o 
discipline, the invasion of married clerks, and the increasing 
value of land, the line of spiritual descent confounded itself 
more and more with that of natural inheritance, and there 
arose a crowd of abbots purely lay and hereditary, as proud 
of being the collateral descendants of a holy founder, as they 
were happy to possess the vast domains with which the 
foundation had been gradually enriched. This fatal abuse 
made its appearance also in France and Germany, but was 
less inveterate than in Ireland, where it still existed in the 
time of St Bernard ; and in Scotland, where it lasted even 
after the Reformation. 

It was never thus at lona, where the abbatical succession 
was always perfectly regular and uninterrupted up to the 
invasions and devastations of the Danes at the commence- 
ment of the ninth century. From the time of those inva- 
sions the abbots of lona began to occupy an inferior position. 
The radiant centre from which Christian civilization had 
shone upon the British Isles grew dim.^^^ The headquarters 
of the communities united under the title of the Family or 
Order of Columh-kill, were transferred from lona to one of 
the other foundations of the saint at Kells, in the centre of 
Ireland, where a successor of Columba, superior-general of 
the order, titulary abbot of lona, Armagh, or some other 
great Irish monastery, and bearing the distinctive title of 
Coarb, resided for three centuries more.^^^ 

We have lingered too long over the great and touching 
figure of the- saint whose life we have just recorded. And 
it now remains to us to throw a rapid glance at the influence 
which he exercised on all around him, and even upon pos- 

paper, On the Ancient Abbatial Succession in Ireland, ap. Proceedings of the 
Royal Irish Academy, vol. vii., 1857. 

^•^^ Magnns, king of Norway, after having conquered the Hebrides, visited 
lona in 1097, and annexed the islands to the bishopric of Sodor and Man 
(^Sodorensis), under the metropolitan of Drontheim, which destroyed the 
ancient ecclesiastical tradition in the island. In 1203, an abbot of Zona, who 
came from Ireland, and belonged to the family of Columba, is mentioned for 
the last time. In 1214, there is mention of a priory of the order of Cluny, 
the origin of which is unknown. — Lanigan, vol. iv. p. 347; Cosmo Innes, 
p. 110.' The temporal sovereignty fell to the famous Lords of the Isles. 
immortalized by Walter Scott, and whose tombs may still be seen there. — 
See Appendix A. 

^^^ See the detailed chronology of the forty-nine successors of Columba, 
and of tlieir arts and laws, from 597 to 1219, in the Ohronicon Hyense of 
Reeves, from page 359. These Coarbs have been strangely confounded by 
Ussher, Ware, Lanigan, and other writers, with the chorepiscopi of the con- 


This influence is especially evident in the Irish posthu- 
Church, which seems to have been entirely swayed ^ceof"^°' 
by his spirit, his successors, and his disciples, dur- coiumba 
ing the time which is looked upon as the Golden Irish 
Age in its history, and which extends up to the ^'^"'■*^^- 
period of the Danish invasions, at the end of" the eighth cen- 
tury. During all this time the Irish Church, which con- 
tinued, as from its origin, entirely monastic, seems to have 
been governed by the recollections or institutions Ltx co- 
of Coiumba. The words Lex Coluimbcille are found lumbcuie. 
on many pages of its confused annals, and indicate sometimes 
the mass of traditions preserved by its monasteries, sometimes 
the tributes which the kings levied for the defence of the 
Church and country, while carrying through all Ireland the 
shrine which contained his relics.^^ The continued in- 
fluence of the great abbot of lona was so marked, even in 
temporal affairs, that more than two centuries after his 
death, in 817, the monks of his order, Congregatio Colmnbcille, 
went solemnly to Tara, the ancient capital of Druidical Ire- 
land, to excommunicate there the supreme monarch of the 
island, who had assassinated a prince of the family of their 
holy chief.2^^ 

It has been said, and cannot be sufficiently re- 
peated, that Ireland was then regarded by all Chris- teiiwtua'i 
tian Europe as the principal centre of knowledge me^nt Xthe 
and piety. In the shelter of its numberless monas- aajlrj™"'*' 
teries a crowd of missionaries, doctors, and preach- 
ers were educated for the service of the Church and the 
propagation of the faith in all Christian countries. A vast 
and continual development of literary and religious effect ^^^ 
is there apparent, superior to anything that could be seen 
in any other country of Europe. Certain arts — those of 
architecture, carving, metallurgy, as applied to the decora- 
tion of churches — were successfully cultivated, without 
speaking of music, which continued to flourish both among 
the learned and among the people. The classic languages 
— not only Latin but Greek — were cultivated, spoken, and 
written with a sort of passionate pedantry, which shows at 
least how powerful was the sway of intellectual influences 
over these ardent souls. Their mania for Greek was even 
carried so far that they wrote the Latin of the church books 

290 'pj^jg occurred in 753, 757, and 778. 
**' Annals of Ulster, ann. 817. 

*** " Scripturarura tani liberalium quam ecclesiasticarum." 
VOL n. 1 1 


in Hellenic characters.^^^ And in Ireland more than any- 
where else, each monastery was a scliool, and each schooi 
a workshop of transcription, from which day by day issued 
new copies of the Holy Scriptures and the Fathers of the 
primitive Church — copies which were dispersed through 
all Europe, and which are still to be found in Continental 
libraries. They may easily be recognized by the original 
and elegant character of their Irish writing, as also by the 
use of the alphabet common to all the Celtic races, and after- 
wards employed by the Anglo-Saxons, but to which in our 
Caiii- day the Irish alone have remained faithful, Columba, 

fmlfitfoL'^of ^^ ^^^ been seen, had given an example of this un- 
Columba. wearied labor to the monastic scribes ; his example 
was continually followed in the Irish cloisters, where the 
monks did not entirely limit themselves to the transcription 
of Holy Scripture, but reproduced also Greek and Latin 
authors, sometimes in Celtic character, with gloss and com- 
mentary in Irish, like that Horace which modern learning 
has discovered in the library of Berne.^^* These marvellous 
manuscripts, illuminated with incomparable ability and 
patience by the monastic family of Columba, excited, five 
hundred years later, the declamatory enthusiasm of a great 
enemy of Ireland, the Anglo-Norman historian, Gerald de 
Barry ; and they still attract the attention of archeeologists 
and philologists of the highest fame.^^^ 

Historic Exact auuals of the events of the time were also 

annals. made out in all the monasteries. These annals re- 
placed the chronicles of the bards ; and so far as they have 
been preserved, and already published or about to be so, 

"^^ Reeves's Adamnan, pp. 158, 354. In a MS. life of St. Brendan this 
curious passage occurs : " Habebat . . . missalem librum scriptum Graecis 
litteris. . . . Et positus est ille liber super altare. . . . Illico jam litteras 
Graecas scivit sanctus Brendanus, sicuti Latinas quas didicit ab infantia. Et 
coepit missam cantare." 

^^* Orelli, in his edition of Horace, says that this Codex of Berne, with its 
Irish gloss, is of the eighth or ninth century : " Scotice scriptus, antiquissimus 
omnium quotquot adliuc innotuerunt." 

295 41 Haec equidem quanto frequentius et diligentius intueor, semper quasi 
novis obstupeo, semperque magis et magis admiranda conspicio." — Gikal- 
Dcs Cambrensis, Topogr. Iliber., ii. c. 38. Most of tliese admired and 
quoted MSS. in Continental or Anglo-Saxon libraries, are of Irish origin, as 
has been proved by Zeuss, Keller, and Reeves. The MSS. used by the cele- 
brated pliilologist Zeuss in the composition of his Grammatica Celtica 
(LipsijB, 1853) contain Irish glosses upon the Latin text of Priscian, at St. 
Gall, on St. Paul's epistles, at Wurzburg, on the commentary of St. Colum- 
banus upon the Psalms, which has been brought from Bobbio to Milan, and 
on Bede, brought from Reichenau to Carlsruhe. 


they now form the principal source of Irish history .^^ Ec- 
clesiastical records have naturally a greater place in them 
than civil history. They celebrate especially the memory 
of the saints, who have always been so numerous in the Irish 
Church, where each of the great communities can count a 
circle of holy men, issued from its bosom or attached to its 
confraternity. Under the name oi sanctilogy or festilog y (for 
martyrs were too little known in Ireland to justify the usual 
term of martyrology), this circle of biographies was the 
spiritual reading of the monks, and the familiar instruction 
of the surrounding people. Several oi ihe^e festilogies are in 
verse, one of which, the most famous of all, is at- ahj-us, the 
tributed to Angus, called the Culdee, a simple broth- Cui.iee. 
er, miller of the Monastery of Tallach.^^^ In this the prin- 
cipal saints of other countries find a place along with three 
hundred and sixty-five Irish saints, one for each day of 
the year, who were all celebrated with that pious and patri- 
otic enthusiasm, at once poetical and moral, which burns so 
naturally in every Irish heart. 

The name of Culdee leads us to point out in Thecui 
passing the absurd and widespread error which has ^^'^*' 
made the Culdees be looked upon as a kind of monkish order, 
married and indigenous to the soil, which existed before the 
introduction of Christianity into Ireland and Scotland by the 
Roman missionaries, and of whom the great abbot of lona 
was the founder or chief. This opinion, propagated by 
learned Anglicans, and blindly copied by various French 
writers, is now universally acknowledged as false by sincere 
and competent judges.^^*^ The Culdees, a sort of third 

*"* These precious collections were continued by the more recent Orders 
after the English conquest, and even after the lleformation, up to the 
seventeenth century. See especially the valuable collection entitled Annals 
of the Four Masters, that is to say, of the four Franciscans of Donegal, which 
come down to 1634. 

*" See the analysis made of it by O'Ciirry, Lectures, &c., pp. 364, 371, and, 
after liim, M. de la Villemarque in his Poesie des Cloitres Celtiques. 

^®* According to Dr. Reeves, the name of Culdee or Ceile Dei, answering to 
the Latin term Servus Dei, appeared for the first time in authentic history 
with the name of this Angus, wiio lived in 780. It was afterwards applied to 
the general body of monks, that is to say, to all the clerks living under a 
monastic rule in Ireland and Scotland. According to the lamented O'Curry, 
the Culdees were nothing more than ecclesiastics or laymen, attaclied to the 
monasteries, and whose first founder was .a St. Malruain, who died in 787 or 
792. This information, which tlie author has derived from the two princes 
of Irish erudition, aurecs perfectly with the conclusions of Dr. Lanigan in his 
very learned and impartial ecclesiastical iiistory of Ireland, vol. iv. p. 205- 
300; as also with those of the new BoUandists, vol. viii. of October, p. 86, 
Disquisitio in Culdeos, ap. Acta S. Keguli. According to the worthy con* 


order, attached to the regular monasteries, appeared in Ire- 
land, as elsewhere, only in the ninth century, and had never 
anything more than a trifling connection with the Columban 

Missionary ^^^^^ more striking than the intellectual develop- 
eiTortsof nient of which the Irish monasteries were at this 
monks^out period the centre, is the prodigious activity dis- 
of Ireland, pj^yg^] ]^y ^^q Irish monks in extending and multi- 
plying themselves over all the countries of Europe — here to 
create new schools and sanctuaries among nations already 
evangelized — there to carry the light of the Gospel, at 
peril of their lives, to the countries that were still pagan. 
We should run the risk of forestalling our future task if we 
did not resist the temptations of the subject, which would 
lead us to go faster than time, and to follow those armies of 
brave and untiring Celts, always adventurous and often 
heroic, into the regions where we shall perhaps one day find 
them again. Let us content ourselves v/ith a simple list, 
which has a certain eloquence even in the dryness of its 
figures. Here is the number, probably very incomplete, 
given by an ancient writer, of the monasteries founded out 
of Ireland by Irish monks, led far from their country by 
the love of souls, and, no doubt, a little also by that love 
of travel which has always been one of their special dis- 
tinctions : — 

Thirteen in Scotland, 

Twelve in England, 

Seven in France, 

Twelve in Armorica, 

Seven in Lorraine, 

Ten in Alsatia, 

Sixteen in Bavaria, 

Fifteen in Khetia, Helvetia, and AUemania; 

tinuators of the Acta Sanctorum, the Culdees were not monks, but secular 
brothers, or rather canons, and appeared at soonest in the year 800. At the 
same time our learned contemporaries remit to the ninth century that trans- 
lation of the relics of the apostle St. Andrew, who became the patron saint of 
Scotland in the middle ages, which the legends have attributed to the fourth 
or sixth. This translation, made by a bishop named Eegulus (Rule), occa- 
sioned the foundation of the episcopal see and town of St. Andrews on the 
east coast of Scotland, in the county of Fife, which was made metropolis of 
the kingdom in 1472, and possesses a university, which dates from 1411. 
Very fine ruins of tlie clmrches destroyed by the Reformers in 1559 are still 
to be seen there. Since the preceding note was written, a new publication, 
by Dr. Reeves, The Culdees of the British Islands as they appear in History, 
with an appendix of Evidences, Dublin, 1864, has summed up and ended all 
controversy upon this long-disputed question, and given the last blow to the 
chimeras of sectarian erudition. 
**' Reeves's Adamnan, p. 3G8. 


without counting many in Thuringia and upon the left bank 
of the Lower Rhine; and, fioally, six in Italy. 

And that it may be fully apparent how great was the 
zeal and virtue of which those monastic colonies were at 
once the product and the centre, let us place by its side 
an analogous list of saints of Irish origin, whom the grati- 
tude of nations converted, edified, and civilized by them, 
have placed upon their altars as patrons and founders of 
those churches whose foundations they watered with their 
blood : — 

A hundred and fifty (of whom thirty-six were martyrs) 

in Germany, 
Forty-five (of wliom six were martyrs) in Gaul, 
Thirty in Belgium, 
'' Thirteen in Italy, 

Eight, all martyrs, in Norway and Iceland.^*'*' 

In the after part of this narrative we shall meet many of 
the most illustrious, especially in Germany. Let us confine 
ourselves here to pointing out, among the thirteen Irish 
saints honored with public veneration in Italy, him who ia 
still invoked at the extremity of the peninsula as the patron 
of Tarento under the name of San Cataldo. 

His name in Ireland was Cathal, and before he g^^^ ^^^^^^ 
left his country to go on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, do, bishop 
and to become a bishop at Tarento, he had presided 
over the great monastic school of Lismore,^^^ in the south of 
Ireland.3°^ Thanks to his zeal and knowledge, this school 
had become a sort of university, to which he attracted ao 
immense crowd of students, not only Irish, but foreigners, 
from Wales, England, France, and even from Germany. 
When their education was concluded, a portion of them re- 
mained to increase the already numerous communities in the 
holy and lettered city of Lismore ; the others carried back 
with them to their difierent countries a recollection of the 
advantages which they owed to Ireland and her monks.^^ 

^^ Stephen White, Apologia, in Haverty's History of Ireland. 

^'" See his acts, in Colgan, p. 542-562, and the Bollandists, vol. ii. May, 
p. 569-578. Lanigan (vol. iii. p. 121-128) quotes a life of this saint in Latin 
verse by Bonaventura Moroni. His father, St. Donatus, is supposed to have 
been bishop of Lecce, in the same province as Tarento. 

^"^ See the legend of the founder of Lismore, Book VIII. chap. iii. 

303 u Egregia jam et sancta civitas est Lismor, cujus diniidium est asylum, 
in quo nulla mulier audet intrare, sed plenum est cellis et monasteriis Sanctis : 
et multitude virorum sanctorum semper illi manet. Viri enim religiosi ex 
omni parte Hiberniae, et non solum ex Anglia et Britannia confluunt ad eam, 
volentes ibi migrare ad Christum." — Act. Sand. Bolland., vol. iii. May, p. 
888. " Ad eam brevi excellentiam pervenit, ut ad ipsum audiendum Galli, 


Crowd of -^01' ^^ ^^ important to prove that, while Ireland sent 
foreifrn forth her sons into all the regions of the then known 
especially worM, numberless strangers hastened there to seat 
SajamllTn thomselves at the feet of her doctors, and to find in 
cloisters ^^^^^ ^^^^ Centre of faith and knowledge all the rem- 
nants of ancient civilization which her insular posi- 
tion had permitted her to save from the flood of barbarous 

The monasteries which gradually covered the soil of Ire- 
land were thus the hostelries of a foreign emigration. Un- 
like the ancient Druidical colleges, they were open to all. 
The poor and the rich, the slave as well as the freeman, the 
child and the old man, had free access and paid nothing. It 
was not, then, only to the natives of Ireland that the Irish 
monasteries, occupied and ruled by the sons of Coluraba, 
confined the benefits of knowledge and of literary and reli- 
gious education. They opened their door with admirable 
generosity to strangers from every country and of every 
condition ; above all, to those who came from the neighbor- 
ing island, England, some to end their lives in an Irish clois- 
ter, some to search from house to house for books, and mas- 
ters capable of explaining those books. The Irish monks 
received with kindness guests so greedy of instruction, and 
gave them both books and masters, the food of the body and 
the food of the soul, without demanding any recompense.^*''* 
The Anglo-Saxons, who were afterwards to repay this teach- 
ing with ingratitude so cruel, were of all nations the one 
which derived most profit from it. Prom the seventh to the 
eleventh century English students flocked into Ireland, and 
for four hundred years the monastic schools of the island 
maintained the great reputation which brought so many suc- 

Angli, Scoti, Teutones aliique finitarura regionum quam plurimi Lesiuorium 
conveniunt." — Officium S. Cataldi, ap. Lanigan, loco cit. This monastic 
town of Lismore, the seat of a bishopric since united with that of Waterford, 
must not be identified with anotlier bishopric called Lismore, situated in aa 
island of the Hebridean archipelago. The Irish Lismore is now specially 
remarkable for a fine castle of the Duke of Devonshire on the picturesque 
banks of the Blackwater. 

304 u Erant ibidem multi nobilium simul et raediocrium de gente Anglorura 
qui . . . relicta patria, vei divinas kctionis, vel continentioris vitae gratia illo 
secesserant. Et quidam niox se monasticae conversationi fideliter mancipa- 
verunt, alii magis circumeundo per cellas magistrorum lectioni operam dare 
gaudebant, quod omnes Scoti libentissime suscipientes victurn eis quotidianum 
Bine pretio, aliis quoque ad legendum et magisterium gratuitum prtebere 
curabant." — Bede, iii. 27, ad ann. 664. There still existed in Armagh, in 
1092, a locality called Trien-Saxon, inhabited by Anglo-Saxon students. — 
CoLGAN; Trias Thaum., p. 300; compare Lanigan, iii. 490, 493. 


ceasive generations to dip deeply there into the living watera 
of knowledge and of faith. 

This devotion to knowledge and generous munifi- xernbie 
cence towards strangers, this studious and intellec- confusiona 
tual life, nourished into being by the sheltering eneeiu 
warmth of faith, shone with all the more brightness ^'■'^'''"'^• 
amid the horrible confusion and bloody disasters which sig- 
nalize, .in so far as concerned temporal affairs, the Golden 
Age of ecclesiastical history in Ireland, even before the san- 
guinary invasions of the Danes at the end of the eighth cen 
tury. It has been said with justice that war and religion 
have been in all ages the two great passions of Ireland. But 
it must be allowed that war seems almost always to have car- 
ried the day over religion, and that religion did not prevent 
war from degenerating too often into massacres and assassi- 
nations. It is true that after the eighth century there are 
fewer kings murdered by their successors than in the period 
between St. Patrick and St. Columba ; it is true that three 
or four of these kings lived long enough to have the time to 
go and expiate their sins as monks at Armagh or lona.^^^ 
But it is not less true that the annals of the monastic family 
of Columba present to us at each line with mournful lacon- 
ism a spectacle which absolutely contradicts the flattering 
pictures which have been drawn of the peace which Ireland 
should have enjoyed. Almost every year, such words as the 
following are repeated with cruel brevity : — 




Bellum lacrymahile. 


Strages Magna, 

Bellum 'magnum. 



And above all, Jugulatio. It is the word which returns 
oftenest, and in which seems to be summed up the destiny 
of these unhappy princes and people. 

Such an enumeration should give rise to the reflection, 
what this wild tree of Celtic nature would have been without 

30S These kings are, according to the Annals of Tigherneach — 
Comgall, who died a monk at Lotra (? — perhaps Lure) in 710. 
Feailhbeartach, who abdicated in 729, and was a monk for thirty yearn 

at Armagh. 
Domhnall, or Donald III., who died at lona in 764. 
Niall Fiosach, who died at lona in 777, after having been a monk for 

seven years. 

The principal kings or monarchs of the island are alone mentioned here. 
As for the provincial kings, or chieftains of clans, who took tlie monastic 
habit, it would be impossible to count them. Many are named in the Cam 
brensis Eversus of Lynch, c. 30. 


the monastic graft. We can thus perceive with Avhat fero 
cious natures Columba and his disciples had to do. If not 
withstanding the preaching of the monks, a state of affairs 
so barbarous continued to exist, what might it have been 
had the Gospel never been preached to those savages, and 
if the monks had not been in the midst of them like a per 
manent iu carnation of the Spirit of God? 

The monks were at the same time neither less inactive 
nor more spared than the women, who fought and perished 
in the wars precisely like the men, up to the time when the 
most illustrious of Columba's successors delivered them 
from that terrible bondage. A single incident drawn from 
the sanguinary chaos of the period will suffice at once to 
paint the almost atrocious habits of those Celtic Christians, 
and the always beneficent influence of monastic authority. 
A hundred years after the death of Columba, his biographer 
Adamnan ^^^ ninth succcssor, Adamuan, was crossing a plain, 
the ninth' carrying his old mother on his back, when they 
ofcohimba, saw two bauds fighting, and in the midst of the bat- 
^Law^ofthe tie a woman dragging another woman after her. 
Innocents, whosc brcast shc had pierced with an iron hook. 
At this horrible spectacle the abbot's mother seated herself 
on the ground, and said to him, " I will not leave this spot 
till thou hast promised me to have women exempted forever 
from this horror, and from every battle and expedition." 
He gave her his word, and he kept it. At the next national 
assembly of Tara, he proposed and carried a law which ia 
inscribed in the annals of Ireland as the Law of Adamnan, 
or Law of the Innocents, and which forever freed the Irish 
women from the obligation of military service and all its 

At the same time, nothing was more common in Ireland 
than the armed intervention of the monks in civil wars, or 
in the struggles between different communities. We may 
be permitted to believe that the spiritual descendants of Co- 
iumba reckoned among them more than one monk of charac- 
ter as warlike as their great ancestor, and that there were 
as many monastic actors as victims in these desperate cen- 
tos " Lex Adaninani. . . . Adamnanus ad Hiberniara pergit et. . . dedit 
legem innocentiura populis." — Annales Ultonice, an. 696. Compare Petkie's 
Tara, p. 147. Reeves, pp. 51, 63, 179. The assembly was composed of 
forty ecclesiastics and thirty-nine laymen. They also decreed an annual 
tribute to be collected over all Ireland for the benefit of the abbot of lona 
and his successors. 


flicts. Two centuries after Columba, two hundred monks of 
his abbey at Durrow perished in a battle with the neighbor- 
ing monks of Clonmacnoise ; and the old annalists of Ireland 
speak of a battle which took place in 816, at which eight 
hundred monks of Ferns were killed. The Irish religious 
had not given up either the warlike humor or the dauntless 
courage of their race. 

Nor is it less certain that the studious fervor immortal 
and persevering patriotism which were such marked ^ftheTriuh 
features in the character of Columba remained the monks, 
inalienable inheritance of his monastic posterity — an in- 
heritance which continued up to the middle ages, to the 
time of that famous statute of Kilkenny, which h an in- 
effaceable monument of the ferocious arrogance of the 
English conquerors, even before the Reformation. This 
statute, after having denounced every marriage between the 
two races as an act of high treason, went so far as to exclude 
all native Irish from the monasteries — from those same 
monasteries which Irishmen alone had founded and occupied 
for eight centuries, and where, before and after Columba, 
they had afforded a generous hospitality to the British fugi- 
tives and to the victorious Saxons. 

But we must not permit ourselves to linger on the Irish 
coasts. We shall soon again meet her generous and intrepid 
sons, always the first in the field, and the most ready to 
expose themselves to danger, among the apostles and propaga- 
tors of monastic institutions, upon the banks of the Scheldt, 
the Rhine, and the Danube, where also they were eclipsed 
and surpassed by the Anglo-Saxons, but where their names, 
forgotten in Ireland, still shine with a pure and beneficent light. 

The influence of Columba, so universal, undoni- influence 
able, and enduring in his native island, should not of coiumba 
have been less so in his adopted country — in that 
Caledonia which became more and more an Irish or Scotic 
colony, and thus merited the name of Scotland, which it re- 
tained. Notwithstanding, his work has perhaps left fewer 
authentic traces there. AH unite in attributing to him the 
conversion of the Northern Picts, and the introduction or re- 
establishment of the faith among the Picts of the South and 
the Scots of the West. It is also pretty generally agreed to 
date from his times — even though there is no evi- Remains oi 
dence of their direct subordination to lona — the ealeXS 
great monasteries of Old Melrose,^*^' Abercorn, Tyn- church. 

'"^ Old Melrose, which was the cradle of the great and celebrated Cister- 


ninghame, and Coldiugham, situated between the Forth and 
the Tweed, and which afterwards became the centres of 
Christian extension among the Saxons of Northumbria. Fur 
ther north, but still upon the east coast, the round towers 
which are still to be seen at Brechin and Abernethy bear 
witness to their Irish origin, and consequently to the influ- 
ence of Columba, who was the first and principal Irish mis- 
sionar}'^ in these districts. The same may be said of those 
primitive and lowly constructions, built with long and large 
stones laid upon each other, without cement, which are to be 
found in St. Kilda and other Hebridean isles, and also upon 
certain points of the neighboring shore, resembling exactly 
in form the deserted monasteries which are so numerous in 
the isles of western Ireland.^'^^ Another relic of the primi- 
tive Church is found in the caves, hollowed out or enlarged 
by the hand of man, in the cliffs or mountains of the interior, 
inhabited of old, as were the grots of Subiaco and Marmou- 
tier, and as the caves of Meteores in Albania ^^^ are still by 
hermits, or sometimes even by bishops (as St. Woloc, St. Re- 
Apostie- gulus ^^^). Kentigern, the apostle of Strathclyde, 
Biiipofst. appears to us in the legend at the mouth of his 

° '^" ■ episcopal cave, which was hollowed out in the side 
of a cliff, and where the people looked at him from afar with 
respectful curiosity, while he studied the direction of the 
storms at sea, and breathed in with pleasure the first breezes 
of the spring. 

The bishop, Welsh by birth, has already been mentioned 
in connection with the principality of Wales, where, as we 
have already seen, he founded an immense monastery during 
an exile, the cause of which it is impossible to ascertain, but 
which was the occasion of a relapse into idolatry among his 
diocesans.^ii. The district of Strathclyde or Cumbria, on the 
west coasts of Britain, from the mouth of the Cl3''de to that 
of the Mersey — that is to say, from Glasgow to Liverpool — 

cian Abbey of Melrose, whose ruins are admired by all travellers and read- 
ers of Walter Scott. The site alone now remains. 

^"^ Studied carefully by Lord Dunraven and other members of the learned 
companj'^ called the Irish Archaeological and Celtic Society. 

•"** Curzon's BTonasteries of the Levant. 

*'*' See above, the note of the Bollandists upon the apostolic labors of St. 
Regulus. An auge or lavatory in stone is still shown near tlie ruined church 
of ytrath Deveron, which is called St. Woloc's bath, and where mothers 
came to bathe their sick children. This holy bishop lived in a , house built 
like the first church of lona. " Pauperculam casam calamis virainibusque 
contextam." — Breviarium Aberdonense, Propr. SS., p. 14. 

'" Acta SS. Bolland., vol. i. January, p. 819. 


W!<s occupied by a mingled race of Britons and Scots, whose 
capita] was Al-Cluid, now Dumbarton. A prince called Rod- 
erick (Rydderch Hacl), whose mother was Irish, and who 
had been baptized by an Irish monk, hastened, when the 
authority fell into his hands, to recall Kentigern, who re- 
turned bringing with him a hive of Welsh monks, and estab- 
lished definitively the seat of his apostleship at Glasgow, 
where Ninian had preceded him nearly a century before 
without leaving any lasting traces of his passage. Kenti 
gern, more fortunate, established upon the site of a burying- 
ground consecrated by Ninian the first foundation of the 
magnificent cathedral which still bears his name.^i^ 

It was consecrated by an Irish bishop, brought from Ire- 
land for the purpose, and who celebrated that ceremony with- 
out the assistance of other bishops, according to Celtic cus- 
toms. Kentigern collected round him numerous disciples, 
all learned in hoi}' literature, all working with their hands, 
and possessing nothing as individuals — a true monastic com- 
munity .^^^ He distinguished himself during all his episco- 
pate by his elForts to bring back to the faith the Picts of 
Galloway, which formed part of the kingdom of Strathclyde ; 
and afterwards by numerous missions and monastic founda- 
tions throughout all Albyn — a name which was then given 
to midland Scotland. His disciples penetrated even to the 
Orkney Isles, where they must have met with the mission- 
aries of lona.^i'^ 

The salutary and laborious activity of Kentigern must 
often have encroached upon the regions which were spe- 
cially within the sphere of Columba. But the generous 
heart of Columba was inaccessible to jealousy. He was be- 
sides the personal friend of Kentigern and of King Roder- 
ick.3^^ The fame of the Bishop of Strathclyde's apostolic 

''^ St. Mungo's. This is the name borne by Kentigern in Scotland, and 
means dearest. Kentigern seems to be derived from Ken, which means 
head, and Tiern, lord, in Welsh (Bolland., p. 820). The existing cathe- 
dral of Glasgow was begun in 1124 by Bishop Jocelyn, a monk of Melrose, 
who at the same time caused a life of his predecessor Kentigern, derived 
from ancient authorities, to be written by another Jocelyn, a monk of Fur- 

^'^ " Accito autem de Hibernia uno episcopo, more Britonum et Scotorura, 
in episcopuin ipsum consecrari fecerunt. ... In singulis casulis, sicut ipse 
sanclus Kentigernus, commorabantur. Unde et singulares clerici a vulgo 
Calledei nuncupabaiitur." — Jocelyn, Vita S. Kentig. This last passage, 
quoted by Reeves, The Culdees of the British Isles, p. 27, is not in the text 
giveu by the BoUandists. 

="* bee above, p. 8L 

"* Adamnan, i. 15. 

132 ' ST. COLUMBA, 

labors drew him from his isle to do homage to his rival. He 
His meet- arrived from lona with a great train of monks, whcm 
ingrwith he arranged in three companies at the moment of 
their entrance into Glasgow. Kentigern distributed 
in the same way the numerous monks who surrounded him 
in his episcopal monaster}'-, and whom he led out to meet the 
abbot of lona. He divided them, according to their age, 
into three bands, the youngest of whom marched first ; then 
those who had reached the age of manhood ; and, last of all, 
the old and gray-haired, among whom he himself took his 
place. They all chanted the anthem In viis Domini magna 
est gloria Domini, et via justorum facta est : et iter sanctorum 
frceparatum est. The monks of lona, on their side, chanting 
in choir the versicle, Ibunt sancti de virtute in virtutem : 
videbitur Deus eorum in Sion. From each side echoed the 
Alleluia; and it was to the sound of those words of Holy 
Scripture, chanted in Latin by the Celtic monks of Wales 
and Ireland, that the two apostles of the Picts and Scots met 
at what had been the extreme boundary of the Roman Em- 
pire and limit of the power of the Caesars, and upon a soil 
henceforth forever freed from paganism and idolatry. They 
embraced each other tenderly, and passed several days in 
intimate and friendly intercourse. 

The historian who has preserved for us the account of this 
interview does not conceal a less edifying incident. He con- 
fesses that some robbers had joined themselves to the follow- 
ing of the abbot of lona, and that they took advantage of the 
general enthusiasm to steal a ram from the bishop's flock. 
They were soon taken ; but Kentigern pardoned them. Co- 
lumba and his fellow-apostle exchanged their pastoral cross 
before they parted, in token of mutual affection.^i^ Another 
annalist describes them as living together for six months in 
the monastery which Columba had just founded at Dunkeld, 
and together preaching the faith to the inhabitants of Atho, 
and the mountainous regions inhabited by the Picts.^^'' 

I know not how far we may put faith in another narrative 

^" " Sancti viri famam audiens, ad ilium venire, visitare et familiaritatem 
ejus habere cupiebat . . . cum multa discipulorum turba. ... In tertia 
turma senes decora canitie venerabiles. . . . Appropinquantes ad invicem 
tancti in amplexus mutuos et oscula sancta ruunt. . . . Venerunt cum 
Bancto Columba quidam filii Belial ad furta et peccata assueti. ... In sig- 
num nnituae dilectionis alterius baculum suscepit." — Bolland., p. 821. The 
cross given by Columba to Kentigern was long preserved and venerated in 
Ihe Anglo-Saxon Monastery of Ripon, Yorkshire. 

'" Hector Boetius, Uist. Scoiorum, 1. ix. 


of the same author, which seems rather borrowed from the 
Gallo-Breton epic of Tristan and Iseult than from monastic 
legend, but which has nevertheless remained Kentigern's 
most popular title to fame. The wife of King Rod- The legend 
erick, led astray by a guilty passion for a knight of q|,een'8 
her husband's court, had the weakness to bestow "ug. 
upon him a ring which had been given to her by the king. 
When Roderick was out hunting with this knight, the two 
took refuge on the banks of the Clyde during the heat of the 
day, and the knight, falling asleep, unwittingly stretched out 
his hand, upon which the king saw the ring which he had 
given to the queen as a token of his love. It was with difB- 
culty that he restrained himself from kiUing the knight on 
the spot; but he subdued his rage, and contented himself by 
taking the ring from his finger and throwing it into the 
river, without awakening the guilty sleeper. When he had 
returned to the town he demanded his ring from the queen, 
and, as she could not produce it, threw her into prison, and 
gave orders for her execution. She obtained, however, a 
delay of three days, and having in vain sought the ring from 
the knight to whom she had given it, she had recourse to the 
protection of St. Kentigern. The good pastor knew or di- 
vined all — the ring, found in a salmon which he had caught 
in the Clyde, was already in his hands. He sent it to the 
queen, who showed it to her husband, and thus escaped the 
punishment which awaited her. Roderick even asked her 
pardon on his knees, and offered to punish her accusers. 
From this, however, she dissuaded him, and hastening to 
Kentigern, confessed her fault to him, and was commanded 
to pass the rest of her life in penitence. It is for this reason 
that the ancient effigies of the apostle of Strathclyde repre- 
sent him as holding always the episcopal cross in one hand, 
and in the other a salmon with a ring in its mouth,^^^ 

But neither Kentigern, whose labors can scarcely Neither 
be said to have survived him, nor Columba, whose ^o^ri'lium- 
influence upon the Picts and Scots was so powerful ba aflect 
and lasting, exercised any direct or efficacious ac- saxons" 

^'* " Contigit reginam . . . pretiosum annulum ob immensum amorem 
sibi a rege eommendatum eideiii militi contulisse. . . . Discopulatis canibus. 
. . . Fatigatus autera miles extenso brachio dormire coepit. . . . Quuni ilia 
secreto militi in vanum mittens proferre non posset. . . Lacrymosis pre- 
eibus rem gestam sancto Kentigerno per nuntium exposuit. . . . Contristatus 
rex pro illatis regince injuriis, et veniam flexis genibus petens." — Bolland., 
J). 820; compare p. 815. 

VOL. n. 12 


whocou- tion upon the Anglo-Saxons, who became stronger 

ahvays ^^^ more formidable from day to day, and whose fe- 

pagan, and rocious incursions threatened the Caledonian tribes 

more no less than the Britons. It is apparent, however, 

formidable. ^^^^^ ^^^ ^^^^^ ^^^^^ ^f ^^^^^ ^j^ ^^^^ ^j^^^^ ^j^^ ^^^ 

pugnance, which had hardened into a system of repulsion, of 
the Welsh clergy for the Saxon race : express mention, on 
the contrary, is made in the most authentic documents con- 
nected with his history, of Saxon Monks, who had been ad- 
mitted into the community of lona. One of them, for in- 
stance, had the office of baker there, and was reckoned 
among Columba's intimates.^^^ Bat nothing indicates that 
these Saxons, who were enrolled under the authority of Co- 
lumba, exercised any influence from thence upon their coun- 
trymen. On the contrary, while the Scotic-Briton mission- 
aries spread over all the corners of Caledonia, and while Co- 
lumba and his disciples carried the light of the Gospel into 
the northern districts where it had never penetrated, the 
Christian faith and the Catholic Church languished and gave 
up the ghost in the southern part of the island under the 
ruins heaped up everywhere by the Saxon conquest. 

Paganism and barbarism, vanquished by the Gospel in the 
Highlands of the north, again arose and triumphed in the 
south — in the most populous, accessible, and flourishing dis- 
tricts — throughout all that country, which was destined 
hereafter to play so great a part in the world, and which al- 
ready began to call itself England. From 569 to 586 — ten 
years before the death of Columba, and at the period when 
his authority was best established and most powerful in the 
north — the last champions of Christian Britain were finally 
cast out beyond the Severn, while at the same time new 
bands of Anglo-Saxons in the north, driving back the Picts 
to the other side of the Tweed, and crossing the Humber to 
the south, founded the future kingdoms of Mercia and North- 
umbria. It is true that at a later period the sons of Columba 
carried the Gospel to those Northumbrians and Mercians. 
But at the end of the sixth century, after a hundred and fifty 
years of triumphant invasions and struggles, the Saxons had 

^*' Cummineus (apud Colgan, p. 320) mentions two Saxons: " Qiiidam 
religiosus frater, Genereus nomine, Saxo natione, pictor opera." And sub- 
sequently : "Duo ejus discipuli, Lugneus filius Bias et Pillo Saxo genera." 
Adamnan (iii. 10-22) corrects the conclusions which some authors have 
drawn from the word pictor by employing the words, oj^us pistorium exer- 
cens. See ante, p. 36. 


not yet encountered in any of the then Christian, or at least 
converted nations (Britons, Scots, and Picts), which they had 
assailed, fought, and vanquished, either missionaries disposed 
to announce the good news to them, nor priests capable of 
maintaining the precious nucleus of faith among the con- 
quered races. In 586 the two last bishops of conquered 
Britain, those of London and York, abandoned their churches 
and took refuge in the mountains of Wales, carrying with 
them the sacred vessels and holy relics which they had been 
able to save from the rapacity of the idolaters. Other hus- 
bandmen were then necessary. From whence were they to 
come ? From the same inextinguishable centre, whence light 
had been brought to the Irish by Patrick, and to the Britons 
and Scots by Palladius, Niniau, and Germain. 

And already they are here 1 At the moment when Colum- 
ba approached the term of his long career in his northern 
isle, a year before his death, the envoys of Gregory the 
Great left Rome, and landed where Cs&sar had landed, upon 
the English shore. 


IN ENGLAND, 597-633. 

** Hodie illiudt nobis dies redemptionis novae, reparationis antiquse, felicitatis teteme."— 
Christmas Office, Roman Breviary, 



Origin and character of the Anglo-Saxons. — They have not to struggle, like 
the Franks, against the Roman decadence. — The seven kingdoms of the 
Heptarchy. — Institutions, social and political : government patriarchal 
and federal ; seigneury of the proprietors : the witenagemot or parliament; 
social inequality, the ceorls and the eorls ; individual independence and 
aristocratic federation ; fusion of the two races. — The conquered Britons 
lose the Christian faith. — Vices of the conquerors : slavery; commerce 
inhuman flesh. — The young Angles in the Roman market seen and 
bought by the monk Gregory. — Elected Pope, Gregory undertakes to 
convert the Angles by means of the monks of his Monastery of Mt. Ccelius, 
under the conduct of the abbot Augustin. — Critical situation of the Pa- 
pacy. — Journey of the missionary monks across Gaul ; their doubts ; 
letters of Gregory. — Augustin lands at the same spot as Caesar and the 
Saxon conquerors in the Isle of Thanet. — King Ethelbert; the queen, 
Bertha, already a Christian. — First interview under the oak; Ethelbert 
grants leave to preach. — Entry of the missionaries into Canterbury. — 
The spring-tide of the Church in England. — Baptism of Ethelbert. — 
Augustin Archbishop of Canterbury. — The palace of the king changed 
into a cathedral. — Monastery of St. Augustin beyond the walls of Can- 
terbury. — Donation from the king and the parliament. 

Who then were the Anglo-Saxons, upon whom so many 

efforts were concentrated, and whose conquest is ranked, 

not without reason, among the most fruitful and most happy 

that the Church has ever accomplished ? Of all the Ger 

12* 137 


manic tribes, the most stubborn, intrepid, and independent, 
this people seems to have transplanted with themselves into 
the great island which owes to them its name, the genius of 
the Germanic race, in order that it might bear on this pre- 
destined soil its richest and most abundant fruits. The 
Saxons brought with them a language, a character, and in- 
stitutions stamped with a strong and invincible originality. 
Language, character, institutions, have triumphed, in their 
essential features, over the vicissitudes of time and fortune 
— have outlived all ulterior conquests, as well as all foreign 
influences, and, plunging their vigorous roots into the primi- 
tive soil of Celtic Britain, still exist at the indestructible 
foundation of the social edifice of England. Different from 
the Pranks and Goths, who suffered themselves to be speedily 
neutralized or absorbed in Gaul, Italy, and Spain by the 
native elements, and still more by the remains of the Roman 
Decadence, the Saxons had the good fortune to find in Brit- 
ain a soil free from imperial pollution. Less alienated from 
the Celtic Britons by their traditions and institutions — per- 
haps even by their origin — than by the jealousies and re- 
sentments of conquests, they had not after their victory to 
struggle against a spirit opposed to their own. Keeping 
intact and untamable their old Germanic spirit, their old 
morals, their stern independence, they gave from that mo- 
ment to the free and proud genius of their race a vigorous 
upward impulse which nothing has ever been able to bear 

The seven Starting in three distinct and successive emigra- 
onfe^™^ tions from the peninsular region which separates 
Heptarchy, the Baltic from the North Sea, they had found in 
the level shores of Britain a climate and an aspect like those 
of their native country. At the end of a century and a half 
of bloody contests they had made themselves masters of all 
that now bears the name of England, except the coast and 
the hilly regions of the west. They had founded there, by 
fire and sword, the seven kingdoms so well known under the 
title of the Heptarchy, which have left their names to several 
of the existing divisions of that country, where nothing falls 
into irreparable ruin, because everything there, as in nature, 
takes a new form and a fresh life. The Jutes, the first and 
most numerous immigrants, had established in the angle of 
the island nearest to Germany, the kingdom of Kent, and 
occupied a part of the coast of the Channel (the Isle of 
Wight and Hampshire). Then the Saxons, properly so called, 


spreading out and consolidating themselves from the east to 
the south, and from the south to the west, had stamped their 
name and their authority on the kingdoms of Essex, Sussex, 
and Wessex.^ Finally, the Angles laid hold of the north and 
the east, and there planted, first, the kingdom of East Anglia 
on the coast of the North Sea, and next that of Mercia in the 
unoccupied territory between the Thames and tlie Humber ; 
then, to the north of the latter river, the largest of all the 
Saxon kingdoms, Northumbria, almost always divided into 
two, Deira and Bernicia, the confines of which stretched 
away to join the Picts and Scots, beyond even :he limits 
which the Roman domination had lately reached. 

This race of pirates and plunderers, hunters and „ ,... , 

II f 1 • 1 • I 1 11 Political 

robbers or their kind, possessed nevertheless the amisociai 
essential elements of social order. They made this oTthe 
clearly apparent as soon as they were able to settle ga^^Jus. 
down, and to adjust their settlements on that insular 
soil which the Britons had not been able to defend against 
the Romans, nor the Romans against the barbarians of the 
north, nor these last against the hardy seamen from the east. 
The Anglo-Saxons alone have been able to establish there an 
immovable order of society, whose first foundations were laid 
when the missionary monks came to bring to them the lights 
of faith and of Christian virtue. 

At the end of the sixth century the Anglo-Saxons already 
formed a great people, subject, as the Celtic races had been, 
to the patriarchal and federal rule, Avhich so happily distin- 
guished those brave and free nations from the rabble cor- 
rupted by the solitary despotism of Rome. But among them> 
as among all the Germanic races, this government was 
secured by the powerful guarantee of property. 
The wandering and disorderly clan, the primitive 
band of pirates and pillagers, disappears, or transforms 
itself, in order to make room for the family permanently 
established by the hereditary appropriation of the soil ; and 
this soil was not only snatched from the vanquished race, 
but laboriously won from the forests, fens, and untilled moors. 
The chiefs and men of substance of these leading families 
formed a sovereign and warlike aristocracy, controlled by 
the kings, assemblies, and laws. 

The kings all belonged to a kind of caste composed of 

' Saxons of the East, the South, and the West. The existing county of 
Middlesex bears witness to the same origin ; it is the region inhabited by the 
Baxous of the Middle. 


„^ , . the families which professed to trace their descent 

TiiG Kincrs • ■*■ 

from Odin or Woden, the deified monarch of German 
mythology : ^ their royalty was elective and limited : they 
could do nothing without the consent of those who accepted 
The assem- them as chiefs, but not as masters. The assemblies, 
biies. which at first resembled those which Tacitus has 

recorded as existing among the Germans, and composed of 
tlie entire tribe {volk-mot) were speedily limited to the elders, 
to the wise men {witena-gemot) to the chiefs of the principal 
families of each tribe or kingdom, and to men endowed with 
the double prerogative of blood and property. They were 
held in the open air, under venerable oaks, and at stated 
periods ; they took part in all the affairs of the body politic, 
and regulated with sovereign authority all rights that were 
established or defended by the laws. 

The laws themselves were simply treaties of peace 
discussed and guaranteed by the grand council oi 
each little nation, between the king and those on whom 
depended his security and his power ; between the different 
parties in every process, civil and criminal ; between differ- 
ent groups of free men, all armed and all possessors of lands, 
incessantly exposed to risk their life, their possessions, the 
honor and safety of their wives, children, kindred, depen- 
dents, and friends, in daily conflicts springing from that 
.individual right of making war w^hich is to be found at the 
root of all German liberty and legislation.^ 
Social Disparity of rank, Avhich was in ancient times 

tie^sTceoWs the inseparable companion of freedom, existed 
wiAEoris. among the Saxons, as it did everywhere. The 
class of freemen — ceorls — possessors of land and of politi- 
cal power, who constituted the vital strength of the nation, 
had under them not only slaves, the fruit of their wars and 
conquests, but in much greater number servitors, laborers, 
dependants, who had not the same rights as they possessed ; 
but they in their turn acknowledged as superiors the nobles, 
the eorls, who were born to command, and to fill the offices 
of priest, judge, and chief, under the primary authority of 
the king.* 

* Ethblwerdi Chronic, lib. i. p. 474, ap. Savile. 

' Palgrave, The Rise and Progress of the English Commonwealth, Lon- 
don, 1832. Lappenderg, Geschichte von England, Hamburg, 1834. Kem- 
BLE, Codex Diplomattcus jEvi Saxonici (London, 1839-48), and The Saxons 
in England, London, 1849. Baron D'Eckstein, various notices and me- 

* Tlie Anglo-Saxon laws and diplomas, and particularly the charters of 


Thus that part of Great Britain which has since taken the 
name of England, was at this early period made up of an 
aggregation of tribes and independent communities, among 
which the exigencies of a common struggle against their 
warlike neighbors of the north and west helped to develop a 
gradual tendency towards union. It settled into an aristo- 
cratic federation, in which families of a reputedly divine 
origin presided over the social and mihtary life of each 
tribe, but in which personal independence was at the base 
of the whole fabric. This independence was alwa3's able to re- 
claim its rights when a prince more than ordinarily dexterous 
and energetic encroached upon them. Its influence was every- 
where felt in establishing and maintaining social life on the 
principle of free association for mutual benefit.^ All that the 
freemen had not expressly given over to the chiefs estab- 
lished by themselves, or to associates freely accepted by 
them, remained forever their own inviolable possession. 
Such, at that obscure and remote epoch, as in our own day, 
was the fundamental and gloriously unalterable principle of 
English public life. 

The British population, which had survived the fury of 
the Saxon Conquest, and which had not been able or willing 
to seek for refuge in the mountains and peninsulas of Wales 
and Cornwall, seems to have accommodated itself to the new 
order of things. When the conquest was fully achieved, in 
those districts where the indigenous race had not been com- 
pletely exterminated,*^ no traces of insurrection or of general 
discontent are to be found among the British ; and the opin- 
ion of those who maintain that the condition of the mass of 
the British population remaining in the conquered regions 
was not worse under the Saxon invaders than it had been 
under the yoke of the Romans, or even under that of their 
native princes, so reviled by their compatriot the historian 
Gildas, may bo admitted as probable.'^ It may even be sup- 
monastic endowments, constantly repeat this distinction between ceorls and 
eorls, which is found in the Scandinavian niytliology, between the Karls and 
the Jarls, tlie offspring of tiie intercourse of a god with two different women. 
See the song of tlie first Edda, entitled Rigsmal. The word ceorl is the 
parent of the churl of modern English; as eorl is perpetuated in earl. The 
one has fallen in dignity, the other has risen. 

° Kemble, Saxons in England, vol. ii. p. 312. 

^ It has been already stated that in some districts the Saxons annihilated 
the conquered population. But this was only in exceptional cases. See 
on this subject tlie excellent summary of Burke in his Abridged Essaij on 
the History of England — a work too much forgotten, thougli altogether 
■worthy of the greatest of Englishmen. 

' Such is, especially, the opinion of Kemble, who otherwise generalizes 


posed that this fusion of the conquerors and the conquered 
was productive of great benefit to the former. It would 
be hard to say whether the heroic tenacity which has be- 
come the distinctive characteristic of the EngHsh may not 
have been derived mainly from that vigorous race which, 
after having coped with Csesar, proved itself the only one 
among all the nations subjected to the Roman yoke capable 
of struggling for two centuries against the invasion of the 

But this assimilation ^ the two races could not 
quished but Operate to the prejudice of the Christian faith. 
kTse'the Unlike the barbarian invaders of the Continent, the 
Christian Saxous did uot adopt the religion of the people they 
had subdued. In Gaul, Spain, and Italy, Christian- 
ity had flourished anew, and gained fresh strength under the 
dominion of the Franks and the Goths ; it had conquered 
the conquerors. In Britain it disappeared under the pres- 
sure of the alien conquest. No traces of Christianity re- 
mained in the districts under Saxon sway when Rome sent 
thither her missionaries. Here and there a ruined church 
might be found, but not one living Christian amongst the 
natives;^ conquerors and conquered alike were lost in the 
darkness of paganism. 

It is not necessary to inquire whether, along with this 
proud and vigorous independence, in which we have recog- 
nized a rare and singularly advanced condition of political 
intelligence and social vitality, the Anglo-Saxons exhibited 
moral virtues of an equally elevated order. Such an asser- 
tion no one would be disposed to believe. Certainly *' there 
existed under this native barbarism noble dispositions un- 
known to the Roman world. Under the brute the free man, 
and also the man of heart, might always be discovered." i** 
Even more, intermingled with daily outbursts of daring and 
of violence there might also be found miracles of heroic and 
simple devotion — of sincere and lofty enthusiasm — which 
emulated or forestalled Christianity. But alongside of these 

too freely upon the exaggerations of history in relation to the oppression or 
extermination of vanquished nations. The events which since 1772 have 
occurred in Poland, in Lithuania, in Circassia, and elsewhere, prove that it 
is very possibje, even in the full light of modern civilization, and under 
princes consecrated before the altar of the living God, to proceed with an 
invincible determination to the destruction of human races. 

" La Borderie, p. 231. 

® BuKKE, Works, vol. vi. p. 216. 

'" Taine, Histoire de la Litterature Anglaise. 


wonders of primitive virtue, what miracles ot vice ^.^^_^ ^^ 
and crime,of avarice, lust, and ferocity ! The religion the con- 
of their Scandinavian forefathers, whose primi- <!"<''■""• 
tive myths concealed no small amount of traditional truth 
under symbols full of grace and majesty, was only too soon 
corrupted or obscured. It did not preserve them from any 
excess, superstition, or fetishism: perhaps not even from the 
human sacrifices which were known to all other pagan na- 
tions. What could be expected in point of morality from 
people accustomed to invoke and to worship Worden, the 
god of massacres, Freya, the Venus of the North, the god- 
dess of sensuality, and all these bloody and obscene gods of 
whom one had for his emblem a naked sword, and another 
the hammer with which he broke the heads of his enemies? ^^ 
The immortality which was promised to them in their Wal- 
halla but reserved for them new days of slaughter and nights 
of debauch, spent in drinking deep from the skulls of their 
victims. And in this world their life was but too often only 
a prolonged orgie of carnage, rapine, and lechery. The 
traditional respect for woman which marked the Germanic 
tribes was limited among the Saxons, as elsewhere, by sin- 
gular exceptions, and did not extend beyond the princesses 
or the daughters of the victorious and dominant race. 

Such mercy as they ever showed to the van- 
quished consisted only in sparing their lives in 
order to reduce them to servitude, and sell them as slaves. 
That frightful slave-traffic which has disgraced successively 
all pagan and all Christian nations was among them carried 
on with a kind of inveterate passion.^^ It needed, as we shall 
see, whole centuries of incessant efforts to extirpate it. Nor 
was it only captives and vanquished foes that they 
condemned to this extremity of misfortune and in immau 
shame : it was their kindred, their fellow-country- *"^"^'^' 
men ; even, like Joseph's brethren, those of their own blood, 
their sons and daughters, that they set up to auction and 
sold to merchants who came from the Continent to supply 
themselves in the Anglo-Saxon market with these human 
chattels. It was by this infamous commerce that Great 

" See the interesting chapter on tlie religion of the Germans in Ozanam's 
Germains avant le Ghrisiianisme, 1847. 

^^ " Venales ex Northunibria pueri, familiar! et pene ingenita illi nationi 
consuetiidine, adeo ut, siout nostra quoque s^cula viderunt non dubitarent 
arctissimas necessitudines sub praetextu minimorum commodorum distraliere." 

WiLLELMUS Malmesburibnsis, De Oestis Begum Anglorum, 1. 3. 


Britain, having become almost as great a stranger to the 
rest of Europe as she was before the days of Cassar, re- 
entered the circle of the nations, making herself known once 
more, as in the time of Caesar, when Cicero anticipated no 
other profit to Eome from the expedition of the proconsul 
than the produce of the sale of British slaves. ^^ 

Nevertheless, it was from the depth of this shameful abyss 
that God was about to evolve the opportunity of delivering 
England from the fetters of paganism, of introducing her by 
the hand of the greatest of the Popes into the bosom of the 
Church, and, at the same time, of bringing her within the 
pale of Christian civilization, 

Ano-io- Who will ever explain to us how these traffickers 

Saxon in men found a market for their merchandise at 

sold at Rome? Yes, at Rome, in the full light of Christian- 
Rome, j^y^ g-^ centuries after the birth of the Divine De- 
liverer, and three centuries after the peace of the Church ; 
at Rome, governed since Constantino by Christian emperors, 
and in which was gradually developing the temporal sov- 
ereignty of the Popes. It was so, however, in the year of 
grace 586 or 587, under Pope Pelagius II. Slaves of both 
sexes and of all countries, and among them some children, 
young Saxons, were exposed for sale in the Roman forum 
like any other commodity. Priests and monks mingled with 
the crowd that came to bid or to look on at the auction ; and 
among tho spectators appears the gentle, the generous^ the 
immortal Gregory .i* He thus learned to detest this leprosy 
of slavery which it was afterwards given him to restrict and 
to contend against, though not to extirpate it.^^ 

This scene, which the father of English history 
the Grlkt found amoug the traditions of his Northumbrian 
about ''and ancestors, and the dialogue in which are portrayed 
redeems with such touchiug and quaint originality the pious 
and compassionate spirit of Gregory, and at the 
same time his strange love of punning, has been a hundred 
times rehearsed. Every one knows how, at the sight of 
these young slaves, struck with the beauty of their counte- 

" "Britannici belli exitus exspectatur. . . . lUud cognitum est, neque 
argenti scripuluin uUum esse in ilia insula, neque ullam spera praedse nisi ex 
mancipiis." — Ejnst. ad. Attic, iv. 16. 

'* "Die quadam cum advenientibus nuper mercatoribus multavenalia m 
forum fuissent collata, niultique ad emendum confluxissent, et ipsum Gre- 
gorium inter alios advenisse, ac vidisse inter alia pueros venales positos." — 
Beue, ii. 1. 

'^ Joan. Diac, VitaS. Gregorii, iv. 45, 46, 47. b. Gkeg., Epist., iv. 9, 
13 ; vii. 24, 38, and elsewhere. 


nances, the dazzling purity of their complexions, the length 
of their fair locks (probably index of aristocratic birth) he 
inquired what was their country and their religion. The 
slave-dealer informed him that they came from the island of 
Britain, where every one had the same beauty of complex- 
ion, and that they were heathens. Heaving a profound sigh, 
" What evil luck," cried Gregory, " that the Prince of Dark- 
ness should possess beings with an aspect so radiant, and 
that the grace of these countenances should reflect a soul 
void of the inward grace ! But what nation are they of?" 
" They are Angles." " They are well named, for these An- 
gles have the faces of angels ; and they must become the 
brethren of the angels ii^ heaven. From what province have 
they been brought ? " " From Deira " (one of the two king- 
doms of Northumbria). '' Still good," answered he. '^ De 
ira eruti — they shall be snatched from the ire of God, and 
called to the mercy of Christ. And how name they the 
king of their country ? " '* Alle or ^lla." '^ So be it ; he is 
right well named, for they shall soon sing the Alleluia in his 
kingdom." 1*^ 

It is natural to believe that the rich and charitable abbot 
bought these captive children, and that he conveyed them at 
once to his own home — that is to say, to the palace of his 
father, where he was born, which he had changed into a 
monastery, and which was not far from the forum where the 
young Britons were exposed for sale. The purchase of these 
three or four slaves was thus the origin of the redemption 
of all England. 

An Anglo-Saxon chronicler, a Christian but a layman, who 
wrote four centuries later, but who exemplifies the influence 
of domestic traditions among that people by giving to his 
own genealogy a very high rank in the history of his race,^'^ 

'^ " Nee silentio praeterounda opinio quae de beato Gregorio traditione ma- 
joruni ad nos usque perlata est. . . . Candidi et la-'tei corpor.s, venusti 
vultus, capillorum forma egregia . . . crine rutila. . . . Intinic ex corde 
suspiria ducens . . . interrogavit niercatorem. . . . De Britanniae insula 
cujus incolarum omnis facies simili candore fulgescit. . . . Heu proli dolor! 
quod tam lucidi vultus . . . tantaque gratia frontispicii. . . . Bene An- 
gli quasi angeli, quia et angelicos vultus habent . . . Bene quia rex 
dicitur Aelle. Alleluia etenim in partibus illis oportet deoantari." — Bede, 
loc. cit. Paul Diac, Vita S. Gregorii, c. 14. Joan Diac, Vita S. Gre- 
gorii, i. 21. Gotselini, Historia Maior de Vita S. Augustini, c. 4. Lap- 
PENBERG, p. 138. The name of ^Ua fixes the date of this incident to a 
period necessarily prior to the death of this prince in 588. 

" Ethelwerdi Ohronic, lib. ii. c. 1. See his curious preamble to hif 
cousin Matilda, in Savile, and the remarks of Lappenberg, p. 65. 

VOL. II. 13 


says expressly that Gregory lodged his guests in C2e 
triclinium, where he loved to serve with his own hand the 
table of the poor, and that after he had instructed and bap- 
tized them, it was his desire to take them with him as his 
companions, and to return to tlieir native land in order to 
convert it to Christ. All authors unanimously admit that 
from that moment he conceived the grand design of bringing 
over the Anglo-Saxons to the Catholic Church. To this 
design he consecrated a perseverance, a devotion, and a pru- 
dence which the greatest men have not surpassed. We have 
already seen how, after this scene in the slave-market, he 
sought and obtained from the Pope permission to go as a 
missionary to the Anglo-Saxons, and how, at the tidings of 
his departure, the Romans, after overwhelming the Pope with 
reproaches, ran after their future pontiff, and, overtaking him 
three days' journey from Rome, brought him back by force 
to the Eternal City .is 

Scarcely had he been elected Pope, when his great 
and cherished design became the object of his con- 
stant thought. His intrepid soul dwells on it with an unfailing 
interest, and his vast correspondence everywhere testifies itsex- 
istence.i^ While waiting until he should discover the fit man to 
conduct this special mission, he never forgot the English slaves 
— the heathen children whose sad lot had been the means of 
revealing to him the conquest which God had in store for 
him, and whose brothers were to be found in the slave-markets 
of other Christian countries. He writes to the priest Can- 
didius, who had the management of the patrimony of the 
Roman Church in Gaul, '' We charge you to lay out the money 
which you have received, in the purchase of young English 
slaves, of seventeen or eighteen years of age, whom you shall 
train in the monastery for the service of God. In this way 
the coins of Gaul, which are not current here, will be put on 
the spot to a suitable use. If you can draw anything from 
the revenues which they say have been withheld from us, 
you must employ it equally either to procure clothing for the 
poor or to buy these young slaves. But as they will yet be 
heathens, they must be accompanied by a priest, who may 
baptize them if they fall sick by the way." ^o ^t last, in the 

*' See ante, vol. i. p. 361. 

'' Epist., ix. 108, ad Syagrium episc Augustodunensem. " Cum pro 
convertendis Anglis-Saxonibus, quemadtuodum in monacliatu suo proposu- 
erat, assiduis cogitationum fluctibus urgeretur." — Joan. Diac, ii. 33. 

20 (< Volumus ut dyectio tua . . . quatenus solidi Galliarum qui in terra 


sixth year of his pontijBcate, be decided to select as the 
apostles of the distant island, whither his thoughts continually 
carried him, the monks of the Monastery of St. Andrew, on 
Mount Coelius, and to appoint as their leader Augustine, the 
prior of that beloved house. 

This monastery is the one which now bears the Themonas- 
name of St. Gregory, and is known to all who have tery whence 
visited Rome. That incomparable city contains few apostles of 
spots more attractive and more worthy of eternal ^°s'and. 
remembrance. The sanctuary occupies the western angle 
of Mount Coelius, and the site of the hallowed grove and 
fountain which Roman mythology has consecrated by the 
graceful and touching fable of Numa and the nymph Egeria.^^ 
It is at an equal distance from the Circus Maximus, the baths 
of Caracalla, and the Coliseum, and near to the church of the 
holy martyrs John and Paul. The cradle of English Chris- 
tianity is thus planted on the soil steeped with the blood of 
many thousands of martyrs. In front rises the Mons Pala- 
tinus, the cradle of heathen Rome, still covered with the vast 
remains of the palace of the Csesars. To the left of the grand 
staircase which leads to the existing monastery, three small 
buildings stand apart on a plot of grass.-^ On the door of 
one you read these words — Triclinium Pauperum; and 
within is preserved the table at which every day were seated 
the twelve beggars whom Gregory fed and personally waited 
upon. The other is dedicated to the memory of his mother, 
Silvia, who had followed his example in devoting herself to a 
religious life, and whose portrait he had caused to be painted 
in the porch of his monastery .^3 

Between these two small edifices stands the oratory dedi- 
cated by Gregory, while still a simple monk, to the apostle 
St. Andrew, at the time when he transformed his patrimonial 
mansion into the cloister whence were to issue the apostles 
of England. In the church of the monastery, which now be- 
longs to the Camaldolites, is still#shown the pulpit from which 
Gregory preached, the bed on which he took his brief repose, 
the altar before which he must have so often prayed for the 
conversion of his beloved English. On the fagade of the 

nostra expendi non possunt apud locum propriuni utiliter expendantur. . . . 
Sed quia pagani sunt . . . volo ut cum eis presbyter transmittatur ne quid 
eegritudinis contingat in via, ut quos raorituros conspexerit, debeat baptizare." 
— Epist., vi. 7. 

*' Ampere, L'llistoire Romaine a Rome, pp. 4, 370, 498. 

** Gerbet, Esquisse de Rome Ghretienne, vol. i. p. 447. 

'^ Joan Diac. , Vita Gregorii, iv. c. 83. 


church an inscription records that thence set out the first 
apostles of the Anglo-Saxons, and preserves their names.^ 
Under the porch are seen the tombs of some generous Eng- 
lishmen who died in exile for their fidelity to the religion 
which these apostles taught them ; and, among other sepul- 
chral inscriptions, this which follows may be remarked and 
remembered : " Here lies Robert Pecham, an English Catholic, 
who, after the disruption of England and the Church, quitted 
his country, unable to endure life there without the faith, 
•ind who, coming to Rome, died, unable to endure life here 
without his country." ^^ 

Where is the Englishman worthy of the name who, in look- 
ing from the Palatine to the Coliseum, could contemplate 
without emotion and without remorse this spot from whence 
have come to him the faith and name of Christian, the Bible 
oi which he is so proud — the Church herself of which he has 
preserved but the shadow ? Here were the enslaved children 
of his ancestors gathered together and saved. On these 
stones they knelt who made his country Christian. Under 
these roofs was the grand design conceived by a saintly mind, 
intrusted to God, blessed by Him, accepted and carried out 
by humble and generous Christians. By these steps de- 
scended the forty monks who bore to England the word of 
God and the light of the Gospel along with Catholic unity, 
the apostolical succession, and the rule of St. Benedict. No 
country ever received the gift of salvation more directly 

^* The following is the exact text of the inscription transcribed by the 
friendly hand of an eloquent monk of our time and country, Father Hya- 
cinth, of the Barefooted Carmelites : — 













" Quoted in the address of M. Augustin Cochin to the Congress at Ma- 
lines, 20th August, 1863. 


from popes and monks, and none, alas ! so soon and so cruelly 
betrayed them. 

Nothing could be more sad and sombre than the critical 
etate of the Church at the epoch when Gregory re- state of the 
solved to put his project into execution. This great ''P'**'^- 
man — by turns soldier, general, statesman, administrator, 
and legislator, but always, and before all, pontiff and apostle 
— had need of more than human boldness to take in hand 
distant conquests, surrounded as he was by perils and dis- 
asters, and at a moment when Rome, devastated by plague, 
famine, and the inundations of the Tiber, mercilessly taxed 
and shamelessly abandoned by the Byzantine emperors, was 
struggling against the aggressions of the Lombards, which 
became every day more menacing.^^ It is not without reason 
that a writer more learned than enthusiastic represents the 
expedition of Augustin as an act as heroic as Scipio's de- 
parture for Africa while Hannibal was at the gates of Rome.^' 

Absolutely nothing is known of Augustin's history j^ypngy ^f 
previous to the solemn days on which, in obedience themonk- 
to the commands of the pontiff, who had been his arieT across 
abbot, he and his forty comrades tore themselves ^''"'" 
from the motherly bosom of that community which was to 
them as their native land. He must, as prior of the monas- 
tery, have exhibited distinguished qualifications ere he could 
have been chosen by Gregory for such a mission. But there 
is nothing to show that his companions were at that time ani- 
mated with the same zeal which inspired the Pope. They 
arrived without hinderance in Provence, and stopped for some 
time at Lerins, in that Mediterranean isle of the Saints where, 
a century and a half before, Patrick, the monastic apostle of 
the western isle of Saints, had sojourned for nine years be- 
fore he was sent by Pope Celestine to evangelize Ireland. 
But, there or elsewhere, the Roman monks received frightful 
accounts of the country which they were going to convert. 
They were told that the Anglo-Saxon people, of whose Ian. 
guage they were ignorant, were a nation of wild beasts, 
thirsting for innocent blood — a race whom it was impossible 
to approach or conciliate, and to land on whose coast was to 
rush to certain destruction. They took fright at these tales ; 
and in place of continuing their route, they persuaded Augus- 
tin to return to Rome to beseech the Pope to relieve them 

^* See ante, vol. i. p. 356. 

" Kemble, Saxoiis in England, vol. ii. p. 357. 



from a journey so toilsome, so perilous, and so useless.^^ In- 
stead of listening to their request, Gregory sent Augustin 
Letters of back to them with a letter in Avhich they were 
the Pope, ordered to recognize him henceforth as their abbot 
— to obey him in everything, and, above all, not to let thera- 
23djui7, selves be terrified by the toils of the way or by the 
^^^- tongue of the detractor. " Better were it," wrote 

Gregory, " not to begin that good work at all, than to give it 
up after having commenced it. . . . Forward, then, in God's 
name ! . . . The more you have to suffer, the brighter will 
your glory be in eternity. May the grace of the Almighty 
protect you, and grant to me to behold the fruit of your labors 
in the eternal country ; if I cannot share your toil, I shall 
none the less rejoice in the harvest, for God knows that I 
lack not good will." ^9 

Augustin was the bearer of numerous letters of the same 
date,20 written by the Pope first of all to the Abbot of Lerins, 
to the Bishop of Aix, and to the Governor of Provence, thank- 
ing them for the hearty welcome they had given to his mis- 
sionaries ; and next to the Bishops of Tours, of Marseilles, of 
Vienne, and of Autun ; and, above all, to Virgilius, Metropol- 
itan of Aries, warmly^recommending to them Augustin and 
his mission, but without explaining its nature or its aim. 

He acted differently in his letters to the two young kings 
of Austrasia and of Burgundy, and to their mother, Brune- 
haut, who reigned in their name over the whole of Eastern 
France. In appealing to the orthodoxy which distinguished 
beyond all others the Frank nation, he announces to them 
that he has learned that the English were disposed to receive 
the Christian faith, but that the priests of the neighboring 
regions (that is, of Wales) took no pains to preach it to them; 
wherefore he asks that the missionaries sent by him to en- 
lighten and save the English may obtain interpreters to go 
with them across the Straits, and a royal safe-conduct to 
guarantee their safety during their journey through France.^^ 

Thus stimulated and recommended, Augustin and his 

28 a Augustini sanctoruraque fratrum a maternis visceribus monasterialis 
ecclesise avulserunt. . . . Nuntiatur quod gens quani peterent imnianior 
belluis existeret." — Gotselinus, Ilistoria Maior, c. 3, <S. " Perculsi timore 
inert! . . . ne tarn pcriculosam, tarn laboriosam, tam inuiilem praedicationem 
adire deberent." — Bede, i. 23. 

** " Quatenus etsi vobiscum laborare nequeo, simul in gaudio retributionis 
inveniar, quia laborare scilicet volo." — B£i>E, i. 23. 

^» 23d July, 596. 

3> Epist. vi. 53-59. 


monks took courage and again set out upon their way. 
Their obedience won the victor}^ which the magnanimous 
ardor of the great Gregory had failed to secure. They 
traversed the whole of France, ascending the Rhone and 
descending the Loire, protected by the princes and bishops 
to whom the Pope had recommended them, but not without 
suffering more than one insult at the hands of the lower 
orders, especially in Anjou, where these forty men, in pil- 
grim garb, walking together, resting sometimes at night 
under no other shelter than that of a large tree, were re- 
garded as were-wolves, and were assailed (by the women 
particularly) with yellings and abuse.^^ 

After having thus traversed the whole of Frankish Ausustin 
Gaul, Augustin and his companions brought their lands where 
journey to a close on the southern shore of Great cssarTud 
Britain, at the point where it approaches nearest to s^ixonf had 
the Continent, and where the previous conquerors ^^^4™^ 
of England had already landed : Julius Csesar, who 
revealed it to the Roman world ; and Hengist with his Sax- 
ons, who brought to it with its new name the ineffaceable 
impress of the Germanic race. To these two conquests, a 
third — destined to be the last — was now about to succeed. 
For it is impossible to place in the same rank the victorious 
invasions of the Danes and the Normans, who, akin to the 
Saxons in blood and manners, have indeed cruelly troubled the 
life of the English people, but have effected no radical change 
in its social and moral order, and have not been able to touch 
either its language, its religion, or its national character. 

The new conquerors, like Julius Casar, arrived under the 
ensigns of Rome — but of Rome the Eternal, not the Impe- 
rial. They came to restore the law of the Gospel which the 
Saxons had drowned in blood. But in setting, forever, the 
seal of the Christian faith upon the soil of England, they 
struck no blow at the independent character and powerful 
originality of the people, whom, in converting them to the 
true faith, they succeeded in consolidating into a nation. 

On the south side of the mouth of the River Thames, and 
at the north-east corner of the county of Kent, lies a district 
which is still called the Isle of Thanet, although the name of 

^* " Tot homines peregrines pedestri incessu et habitu humiles quasi tot 
lupos et ignota monstra repulere. Mulierculae simul conglomeratas tanta 
. . . insania, tribulatu, despectu, subsannatione, derisione in sanctos Dei 
Bunt debacchatas. . . . Stabat juxta ulnrus ampla . . . siib hac sancti vo- 
lentes ipsa nocte requiescere." — Gotselinus, c 10. 


isle no longer befits it, avS the arm of the sea which at one 
time separated it from the mainland is now little better than 
a brackish and marshy brook. There, where the steep white 
cliffs of the coast suddenly divide to make Avay for a sandy 
creek, near the ancient port of the Romans at Eichborough, 
and between the modern towns of Sandwich and Ramsgate,^ 
the Roman monks set foot for the first time on British soil.^^ 
The rock which received the first print of the footsteps of 
Augustin was long preserved and venerated, and was the 
object of many pilgrimages, in gratitude to the living God 
for having led thither the apostle of England.^^ 

Immediately on his arrival the envoy of Pope Gregory 
despatched the interpreters, with whom he had been pro- 
vided in France, to the king of the country in which the 
missionaries had landed, to announce to him that they came 
from Rome, and that they brought to him the best of news 

— the true glad tidings — the promise of celestial joy, and 
of an eternal reign in the fellowship of the living and true 
God.36 . 

The king's name was Ethelbert, which means in Anglo- 
Saxon noble and valiantP Great-grandson of Hengist, the 
first of the Saxon conquerors, who himself was supposed to 
be a descendant of one of the three sons of Odin, he reigned 
for thirty-six years over the oldest kingdom of the Heptarchy 

— that of Kent — and had just gained over all the other 
Saxon kings and princes, even to the confines of Northum- 
bria, that kind of military supremacy which was attached to 

*' It is pleasant to know that in this same town of Eamsgate, on the shore 
where the Abbot Augustin landed, the sons of St. Benedict have been able, 
after the lapse of thirteen centuries, to erect a new sanctuary, near to a 
church dedicated to St. Augustin, designed and built by the liberality of the 
great Catholie architect Pugin. This monastic colony belongs to the new 
Benedictine province of Subiaco. 

** In a book entitled Historical Memorials of Canterbury, 1855, Dr. Stan- 
ley, Dean of Westminster, has examined and determined, with no less en- 
thusiasm than scrupulous exactness, the facts relative to the arrival of St. 
Augustin. He has confirmed the already old opinion which fixes the very 
place of his landing at a farm now called Ehbsfleet, situated upon a promon- 
tory, from which the sea has now withdrawn. 

^* Stanley, p. 14. Oaklev, Life of St. Augustin, 1844, p. 91. This 
life forms part of the interesting series of Lives of the English Saints, pub- 
lished by the principal writers of thePuseyite school before their conversion. 

^* " Mandavit se venisse de Roma et nuntium ferre optimum . . . a3terna 
in coelis gaudia et regnum sine fine cum Deo vivo et vero futurum." — Bede, 
i. 25. 

^^ The root Ethel, which we shall find in almost all the names, male and 
female, which we shall quote, corresponds to the German adjective edel, 


the title of Bretwalda, or temporary chief of the Saxon 

It was to be supposed that he would have a nat- Queen 
ural prepossession in favor of the Christian religion, i^ertha. 
It was the faith of his wife Bertha, who was the daughter 
of Caribert, king of the Franks of Paris, and grandson of 
Clovis, and whose motlier was that Ingoberga whose gentle 
virtues and domestic troubles have been recorded by Greg- 
ory of Tours.2^ She had been affianced to the heathen king 
of the Saxons of Kent only on the condition that she should 
be free to observe the precepts and practices of her faith, 
under the care of a Gaulo-Frankish bishop, Liudhard of 
Senlis, who had remained with her until his death, which 
occurred immediately before the arrival of Augustin. Tra- 
dition records the gentle and lovable virtues of Queen Ber- 
tha, and her judicious zeal for the conversion of her husband 
and his subjects. It is believed to have been from her that 
Gregory received his information as to the desire of the 
English to be converted, with which he had enlisted the 
interest of Brunehaut and her sons.^^ The great-grand- 
daughter of St. Clotilda seemed thus destined to be herself 
the St. Clotilda of England. But too little is known of her 
life : she has left but a brief and uncertain illumination on 
those distant and dark horizons over which she rises like a 
star, the herald of the sun of truth. 

Meanwhile King Ethelbert did not immediately permit 
the Roman monks to visit him in the Roman city of Can- 
terbury where he dwelt. While providing for their main- 
tenance, he forbade their leaving the island on which they 
had landed until he had deliberated on the course he should 
pursue. At the close of some days he himself went to visit 
them, but he would not meet them except in the open air. 
It is difficult to imagine what pagan superstition made him 
dread foul play if he allowed himself to be brought under 
the same roof with the strangers. At the sound of his ap- 
proach they advanced to meet him in procession. 

" The history of the Church," says Bossuet,*^ " contains 

^' Bede, i. 25; ii. 3, 5. 

*' Greg. Tdron., Hist. Franc, iv. 26 ; ix. 26. 

*" " Quam ea conducere a parentibus acceperat, ut ritum fidei ac religionis 
suae cum episcopo quem ei adjutorem fidei dederant, nomine Liudhardo, in- 
violatam servare licentiam haberet." — Bede, loc. cit. " Pervenit ad nos 
Angloruni gentem ad fidem Christianam Deo miserante desideranter velle 
converti." — S. Gregorii Epist., vi. 58; compare Epist., xi. 29. 

*' Discours sur VHistoire Universelle. 


nothing finer than the entrance of the holy monk Augustin 
into the kingdom of" Kent with forty of his companions, 
who, preceded by the cross and the image of the great king 
our Lord Jesus Christ, offered their solemn prayers for the 
conversion of England." At that solemn moment when, 
upon a soil once Cliristian, Christianity found itself once 
more face to face with idolatry, the strangers besought the 
true God to save, with their own souls, all those souls for 
whose love they had torn themselves from their peaceful 
cloister at home, and had taken this hard enterprise in hand. 
They chanted the litanies in use at Rome in the solemn and 
touching strains which they had learnt from Gregory, their 
spiritual father and the father of religious music. At their 
head marched Augustin, whose lofty stature and patrician 
presence attracted every eye, for, like Saul, " he was higher 
than an}^ of the people from his shoulders and upwards." *^ 

The king, surrounded by a great number of his followers, 
received them seated under a great oak, and made them sit 
down before him. After having listened to the address 
which they delivered to him and to the assembly, he gave 
them a loyal, sincere, and, as we should say in these days, 
truly liberal answer. ^' You make fair speeches and prom- 
ises," he said, '' but all this is to me new and uncertain. I 
cannot all at once put faith in what you tell me, and abandon 
all that I, with my whole nation, have for so long a time held 
sacred. But since you have come from so faraway to impart 
to us what you yourselves, by what I see, believe to be the 
truth and the supreme good, we shall do you no hurt : on the 
contrary, we shall, show you all hospitality, and shall take 
care to furnish you with the means of living. We shall not 
hinder you from preaching your religion, and you shall con- 
vert whom you can." By these words the king intimated to 
them his desire to reconcile fidelity to the national customs, 
with a respect for liberty of conscience too rarely found in 
history. The Catholic Church thus met, from her first en- 
trance into England, that promise of liberty which has during 
so many ages been the first and most fundamental article of 
all English charters and constitutions. 

Faithful to his engagement, Ethelbert allowed thejmission- 
aries to follow him to Canterbury,^?lTere he assigned them 
a dwellingy-wMeh-still exists under the name of the Stable 

** " Beati Augustini formam et personam patriciam, staturam proceram 
et arduam, adeo ut a scapulis populosuperemineret." — Gotsel , Vita, c. 45. 


Gate. The forty missionaries made a solemn entry into the 
town, carrying their silver cross, along with a picture of 
Christ painted on wood, and chanting in unison the response 
of their litany, " We beseech Thee, Lord, by Thy pity, to 
spare in Thy wrath this city and Thy holy house, for we have 
sinned. Alleluia." It was thus, says a monastic historian, 
that the first fathers and teachers of the faith in England 
entered their future metropolis, and inaugurated the trium- 
phant labors of the cross of Jesus.*^ 

There f\ js outside the town, to the east, a small church 
dedicated to St. Martin, dating from the time of the Romans, 
whither Queen Bertha was in the habit of going to pray, 
and to celebrate the offices of religion. Thither also went 
Augustin and his companions to chant their monastic office, 
to celebrate mass, to preach, and to baptize.** Here, then, 
we behold them, provided, thanks to the royal munificence, 
with the necessaries of life, endowed with the supreme bless- 
ing of liberty, and using that liberty in laboring to propagate 
the truth. They lived here, says the most truthful of their 
historians, the life of the apostles in the primitive Church — 
assiduous in prayer, in vigils, in fasts ; they preached the 
word of life to all whom they could reach, and, despising this 
world's goods, accepting from their converts nothing beyond 
what was strictly necessary, lived in all harmony with their 
doctrine, and ever ready to suffer or to die for the truth they 
preached. The innocent simplicity of their life, and the 
heavenly sweetness of their doctrine, appeared to the Saxons 
arguments of an invincible eloquence ; and every day the 
number of candidates for baptism increased.*^ 

Such fair days occur at the outset of all great undertak- 

" " Ad jussionem regis residentes, verbuin Dei vitae, una cum omnibus 
qui aderant ejus comitibus, praedicarent. . . . Pulchra sunt quidem verba et 
I)roniif;sa, sed quia nova sunt et incerta. . . . Nee probibemus quin omnes 
quos potestis lidei vestrae religionis prffidicando societis. . . . Crucem pro 
vexilla fcrentes argenteam et imaginem Domini salvatoris in tabuhi depictam, 
Isetaniasque canentes. . . . Pro sua simul et eorum propter quos et ad quos 
venerant salute aeterna . . . consona voce." — Bede, i. 25. "Tali devo- 
tione protu-doctoribus et in fide Cbristi proto-patribus Angliae metropolim 
suam cum triumphali crucls labore ingredientibus : Aperite portas," &c. — 
GoTSELiNUS, Hisioria Minor de Vita S. Aug., c. 12. 

** The existing church rebuilt in the thirteenth century, occupies the place 
of that which is forever consecrated by the double memory of Bertha the 
Queen and Augustin the Archbishop. The baptismal fonts are shown there 
in which, according to tradition, King Ethelbert was baptized by immersion. 

** "Paratum ad patiendum adversa qua;que, vel etiam ad moriendura ani- 
tnum habendo. . . . Mirantes simplicitatem innocentis vitae ac dulceilinem 
doctrinae eorum coelestis." — Bede, i. 2G. 


The spring- iiigs. TliGj do uot last, thanks to the lamentfcible 
chlfrch ^n*^ and incurable infirmity of all human things ; but yet 
England. they should never be forgotten nor remembered 
without honor. They are the blossoming time of noble lives. 
History serves no more salutary .purpose than in transmitting 
their perfume to us. The Church of Canterbury for a thou- 
sand years possessed unparalleled splendors ; no Church in 
the world, after the Church of Rome, has been governed by 
greater men, or has waged more glorious conflicts. But 
nothing in her brilliant annals could eclipse the sweet aud 
pure light of that humble beginning, where a handful of 
strangers, Italian monks, sheltered by the generous hospi- 
tality of an honest-hearted king, and guided by the inspira- 
tion of the greatest of the Popes, applied themselves in 
prayer, and abstinence, and toil, to the work of winning 
over the ancestors of a great people to God, to virtue, and 
to truth. 

Baptism of '^^^® good and loyal Ethelbert did not lose sio-ht 
Kin? of them; soon, charmed like so many others by the 

purity of their life, and allured by their promises, 
the truth of which was attested by more than one miracle, 
he sought and obtained baptism at the hand of Augustin. 
It was on Whit Sunday ,4^ in the year of grace 597, that this 
Anglo-Saxon king entered into the unity of the Holy Church 
of Christ. Since the baptism of Constantino, and excepting 
that of Clovis, there had not been any event of greater 
moment in the annals of Christendom.*'' 

A crowd of Saxons followed the example of their king, and 
the missionaries issued from their first asylumn to preach in 
all quarters, building churches also here and there. The 
king, faithful to the last to that noble respect for the indi- 
vidual conscience of which he had given proof even before 
he was a Christian, was unwilling to constrain any one to 
change his religion. He allowed himself to show no prefer- 
ence, save a deeper love for those who, baptized like him- 
self, became his fellow-citizens in the heavenly kingdom. 
The Saxon king had learned from the Italian monks that no 
constraint is compatible with the service of Christ.*^ It was 

« 2d June, 597. 

"^ Stanley, j). 19. 

*^ "Ipse etiain inter alios delectatus vita mundissinia sanctorum et pro- 
missis . . . qu£e vcre esse miraculorum quoque multorum ostensione firnia- 
verant. . . . Unitati se sanctas Ecclesise Christi crcdendo sociare. Quorum 
tidei et conversioni ita congratulatus esse rex perhibetur, ut nullum tamen 
uogerct ad Christianisnium : sed tantummodo credentes arctiori dilectione, 


not to unite England to the Roman Church, it was in urder 
to tear her from it, a thousand years after this, that another 
king and other apostles had to employ the torture and the 

In the meanwhile Augustin, perceiving that he should 
henceforward be at the head of an important Christian com- 
munity, and in conformity to the Pope's instructions, re- 
turned to France in order to be there consecrated 25t.h Dec, 
Archbishop of the English by the celebrated Metro- ^^''• 
politan of Aries, Virgilius, the former abbot of Lerins, whom 
Gregory had appointed his vicar over all the churches of the 
Frankish kingdom. 

On his return to Canterbury he found that the example ot 
the king and the labors of his companions had borne fruit 
bej^ond all expectation ; so much so, that at the festival of 
Christmas in the same year, 597, more than 10,000 Anglo- 
Saxons presented themselves for baptism ; and that sacra- 
ment was administered to them in the Thames at the mouth 
of the Medway, opposite that Isle of Sheppey, where is now 
situated one of the principal stations of the British fleet, 
and one of the grand centres of the maritime power of 
Great Britain.49 

The first of the converts was also the first of the The king's 
benefactors of the infant Church. Ethelbert, more ^erted?nto 
and more imbued with respect and devotion for the a monastic 
faith which he had embraced, desired to give a 
notable pledge of his pious humility by transferring to the 
new archbishop his own palace in the town of Canterbury, 
and establishing henceforth his royal residence at Reculver, 
an ancient Roman fortress on the adjacent shore of the island 
on which Augustin had landed. Beside the dwelling of the 
king thus transformed into a monastery for the archbishop 
and his monks, and on the site of an old church of the time 
of the Romans, a basilica which was hereafter to become, 
under the name of Christchurch, the metropolitan church of 
England, was commenced. Of this church Augustin was at 
once the first archbishop and the first abbot.^^ 

quasi concives sibi regni coelestis, aniplecteretur. Didicerat enini a doctor- 
ibus auotoribusque su£e salutis, servitium Cliristi voluntariuin, non coactitiurn 
esse debere." — Beue, i. 26. Yet Bede himself speaks, fartlier on, of those 
who had embraced the faith, " vel favore, vel timore regio." — ii. 6. 

*^ S. Gregor., Epist., viii. 30. Stanley, op. cit., p. 19. 

*" The immense cathedral of Canterbury, the reconstruction of which 
was begun by Lanfranc in the eleventh century, occupies the site of this earliei 
church and of the palace of Ethelbert. 

VOL. II. 14 


The Pope had at first designed, as the seat of the new 
metropolis, the city of London, a Roman colony already 
iamous from the time of the Emperors ; whereas he had, per- 
aaps, never heard the name of the residence of the Saxon 
kings at Canterbury. But London was not within the king- 
dom of Ethelbert, and the selection of the Pope could not 
prevail against the motives which determined Augustin to 
choose, as the head and centre of the religious life of Eng- 
land, the capital of the king who had become his proselyte 
and his friend, standing, as it did, in the region where he 
bad first landed on British soil, and whose inhabitants had 
welcomed him with such genial sympathy .^^ 
Abbey of But the splcudors and the influence of the 

tiu^"ca"n" official metropoHs were for long ages to be eclipsed, 
terbury. in the Opinion of the English people, and of the 
Christian world, by another foundation, equally owing its 
origin to Augustin and Ethelbert, the first archbishop and 
the first Christian king of England, To the west of the royal 
city, and half-way to that Church of St. Martin whither the 
queen went to pray, and where the king had been baptized, 
Augustin, always on the outlook for any traces which the 
old faith had left in Britain, discovered the site of a church 
which had been transformed into a pagan temple, and en- 
circled with a sacred wood. Ethelbert gave up to him the 
temple, with all the ground surrounding it. The archbishop 
forthwith restored it to its original use as a church, and dedi- 
cated it to St. Pancras, a young Roman martyr, whose mem- 
ory was dear to the Italian monks, because the Monastery 
of Mount CcbHus, whence they had all come, and where their 
father Gregory was born, had been built upon lands formerly 
belonging to his family. Round this new sanctury Augus- 
tin raised another monastery, of which Peter, one of his com- 
panions, was the first abbot, and which he intended to be the 
place of his own burial, after the Roman custom Avhich 
placed the cemeteries out of the towns, and by the side of 
the highroads. He consecrated this new foundation in the 
names of the apostles of Rome, Peter and Paul ; but it was 
under his own name that this famous abbey became one of 
the most opulent and most revered sanctuaries of Christen- 
dom. It was for several centuries the burying-place of the 
kings and primates of England,^^ and at the same time the 

^' Gregor., Epist., xi. 65. Willelm. Malmesburiensis, De Qest. Reg., 
i. c. 4, and De Doroheruensibus Episcopis, p. 111. 

*^ Ecclesiastical liistorians abound in testimonies of admiration for this 


first and brigliest centre of religious and intellectual life in 
the south of Great Britain, 

Seven years were needed to complete the monastery, the 
church attached to which could not even be dedicated during 
the lifetime of him whose name it was to assume and pre- 
serve. But some months before his death, Augustin had the 
satisfaction of seeing the foundation of the first Benedictine 
monastery in England sanctioned by the solemn ratification 
of the king and the chiefs of the nation whom he had 

The charter of this monastery has been brought gthjan., 
to light in our day as the oldest authentic record '''^^• 
of the religious and political history of England.^^ Our read- 
ers will thank us for quoting the text and the signatures of the 
witnesses. The Anglo-Saxon king appears in this transaction 
at once as a Christian prince and as the chief of the aristocratic 
assembly whose consent was necessary to the validity of all 
his deeds.^ He begins thus : — 

immense house, whose patrimony extended to 11,860 acres of land, and 
whose faqade was 250 feet long. Perhaps one could read on that facjade 
these verses quoted by a chronicler, and which recall the inscription on the 
front of St. John Lateran at Rome : — 

" Hoc caput Anglorura datur esse monasteriorura 
Regum cunctorum fons pontiflcuinque sacrorum." 

The abbot of St. Augustin of Canterbury received from Pope Leo IX. in 
1055, the privilege of sitting in the first place after the abbot of Mount Cas- 
sino, in the general councils. The Monasticoii Anglicanum of Dugdale, 
vol. i. p. 23, gives a very curious view of the state of the ruins of this abbey, 
towards the middle of tlie seventeenth century ; a great tower, called Ethel- 
bert's, but built much later than his time, can still be distinguished. In the 
Vestiges of Antiquities at Canterbury, by T. Hastings, 1813, folio, there are 
plates representing in great detail tlie remains, still considerable, but cruell}' 
profaned and neglected, which existed in 1812 — the best preserved portion 
used as a brewery, and beside it a tavern with an enclosure used for cock- 
fights. It has been restored recently, to a certain extent, thanks to the mu- 
nificence of Mr. Beresford Hope, and is used at present as a seminary for 
the Anglican missions. The house has had several historians, among others 
William Thorne (de Spina), who was abbot about 1358, and chiefly Thomas 
de Elmham, treasurer of the monastery in 1407, whose chronicle was edited 
by Mr. Hardwick in 1858, for the collection of Rerum Britannicarum Medii 
^vi Sc7-iptores. 

^^ The authenticity of this deed has been admitted by one of the most 
learned and competent critics of our day. Sir Francis Palgrave, Rise and 
Progress of the British Commonwealth, vol. ii. pp. 215-18. Kemble. again, 
in his Codex Diplomaticus ^vi Saxonici, vol. i. p. 2, has published it with 
the asterisk which marks documents suspected or false ; but he nowhere 
enters into any justification of this sentence. 

** " Convocato ibidem concilio communi, tam cleri quam populi, omnium 
et singulorum approbatione et consensu, monasterium . . . monachis hie 
perpetuo Deo servituris . . . cum dotatione, confirmatione ac perpetualib- 
Mtato. donavit." — Elmuaju, p. 111. 


" I, Ethelbert, king of Kent, with the consent of the venei 
able archbishop Augustin, and of my nobles, give and con 
cede to God, in honor of St. Peter, a certain portion of the 
land which is mine by right, and which lies to the east of 
the town of Canterbury, to the end that a monastery may be 
built thereon, and that the properties hereinafter named may 
be in full poseession of him who shall be appointed thereof. 
Wherefore I swear and ordain, in the name of Almighty God, 
who is the just and sovereign judge, that the land thus given 
is given forever — that it shall not be lawful either for me 
01 for my successors to take any part of it whatsoever froni 
its possessors ; and if any one attempt to lessen or to annul 
our gift, that he be in this life deprived of the holy commun- 
ion of the body and blood of Christ, and at the day of judg- 
ment cut off from the company of the saints. 

" t I, Ethelbert, king of the English, have confirmed this 
gift, by my own hand, with the sign of the holy cross. 

" t I, Augustin, by the grace of God archbishop, have 
freely subscribed. 

" t I, Eadbald, son of the king, have adhered. 

" f 1, Hamigisile, duke, have approved. 

" t 1) Hocca, earl, have consented. 

" f I, Angemundus, referendary, have approved. 

" t 1, Graphic, earl, have said it is well. 

" f I, Tangisile, regis oplimas, have confirmed. 

" t I, Pinca, have consented. 

'* t I, Geddi, have corroborated." ^^ 

»» " Ego Ethelbertus, rex Cantise, cum consensu renerabilis archiepiscopi 
Augustini," &c. — Kemblb, loc. cit. The deeds of gift executed by the 
Anglo-Saxon kings always announce the consent, ducum, comUum, optima- 
tumque, and are always signed by the counts and principal lords, or by the 
bishops and abbots ; the formula Favi, or consensi, or approbavi, often ac- 
companies the proper name, which is always preceded bj'^ a cross : f. This 
cross did not occupy the place of the signature, as has been represented, nor 
did it at all indicate that the subscriber could not write. Kemble, in a note 
to his preface, p. 91, seems to indicate that the two signatures of Angemun- 
dus and Graphio, with the accompanying qualifications, warrant him in 
ranking the whole deed in the list of apocryphal documents. Palgrave gives, 
after Soniner's Canterbury, p. 47, another text with the same title, where 
the signatures, arranged in tl>e same order, are not accompanied with any 
qualification. He proves elsewhere, p. 214, that the most disputed of the 
Anglo-Saxon documents have almost always some authentic deeds as their 
basis, the original authenticity of which ought not to be called in question 
on account of real or apparent anachronisms resulting from subsequent am- 
plifications or alterations. Almost all the Anglo-Saxon deeds that we can 
Btill read are strongly confirmed, according to him, by what he calls their 
internal evidence. Tliese charters rest on history, which in its turn rests on 
them ; each thus confirming the other. 




Joy of Gregory on learning the success of the monks. — His letters to Au- 
gustin; to the patriarch of Alexandria; to Queen Bertha. — A new 
monastic colony sent out. — Letter to the king. — Advice to Augustin 
regarding his miracles. — Opinion of Burke. — Answer of Gregory to the 
questions of Augustin. — The Pope's arrangements for the heathen ; his 
admirable moderation. — Supremacy over the British bishops accorded 
to Augustin. — Opposition of the Welsh Celts. — Nature of the dissen- 
sions which separated the British from the Roman Church. — Celebra- 
tion of Easter. — Origin and insignificance of the religious dispute. — 
It is increased and complicated by patriotic antipathy to the Saxons. — 
First conference between Augustin and the British. — Miracle of the blind 
man. — Second conference; rupture. — The abbot of Bangor. — Augus- 
tin's threatening prediction concerning the monks of Bangor fulfilled by 
the fierce Ethelfrid of Northumbria. — Sequel of Augustin's mission. — 
He is insulted by the fishermen of Dorsetshire. — Foundation of King 
Ethelbert. — Bishops of London and of Rochester. — Laws of Ethelbert ; 
the first reduced to writing. — Guarantee given to the Church property. — 
Death of Gregory and Augustin. 

Some time before this solemn national consecration 
of his work, and after the first year of his mission, G°e-°oryon 
Augustin had sent to Rome two of his companions Ihe'^siccess 
— Lawrence, who was to succeed him as arch- <»f Jjj^^ 
bishop, and Peter, who was to be the first abbot of 
the new monastery of St. Peter and St. Paul — to announce 
to the Pope the great and good news of the conversion of the 
king, with his kingdom of Kent ; next, to demand from him 
new assistants in the work, the harvest being great and the 
laborers but few; and, lastly, to consult him on eleven impor- 
tant and delicate points touching the discipline and the man- 
agement of the new Church. 

The joy of Gregory when, in the midst of the perils and 
trials of the Church, and of his own sufferings, material and 
moral, he saw the realization of his soul's most cherished 
dream, may be understood. The boldest of his projects wag 
crowned with success. A new people had been brought into 
the fold of the Church through his gentle but persevering 
activitj'. Till the end of the world, innumerable souls would 


owe to him their admission to the great brotherhood of souls 
here below -*- to the eternal joys that are above. He could 
not foresee the great men, the famous saints, the immense 
resources, the dauntless champions, that England was to fur- 
nish to the Catholic Church ; but neither had he the sorrow 
of foreknowing the sad revolt which was yet to rob so much 
glory of its lustre, nor that base ingratitude which has dared 
to despise or to underrate, in his case as in that of his subor- 
dinates, the incomparable blessings which he conferred on the 
people of England by sending to them the light of the G-ospel. 
The joy of Gregory, as pure as it was natural, infused its 
spirit into that vast correspondence in which he has left us 
so faithful an image of his mind and of his life. To Augus- 
tin, as might have been expected, its first overflow was 
directed. " Glory be to God in the highest," he writes — 
" glory to that God w^ho would not reign alone in heaven, 
whose death is our life, whose weakness is our strength, 
whose suffering cures our sufferings, whose love sends us to 
seek even in the island of Britain for brothers whom we 
knew not. whose goodness causes us to find those whom we 
sought for Avhile yet we knew them not ! ^^ Who can express 
the exultation of all faithful hearts, now that the English 
nation, through the grace of God and thy brotherly labor, is 
illumined b}^ the Divine light, and tramples under foot the 
idols which it ignorantly worshipped, in order that it may 
now bow down JDefore the true God ? " He then hastened 
to re-echo into the East the happy news which had reached 
him from the extreme West. He writes to the patriarch of 
Alexandria : " The bearer of your letters found me sick and 
leaves me sick. But God grants to me gladness of heart to 
temper the bitterness of my bodily sufferings.^''' The flock 
of the holy Church grows and multiplies ; the spiritual har- 
vests gather in the heavenly garners. . . . You announced 
to me the conversion of your heretics — the concord of your 
faithful people. ... I make you a return in kind, because I 
knew you will rejoice in my joy, and that you have aided me 
with your prayers. Know, then, that the nation of the 
Angles, situated at the extremest angle of the world,^^ had 
till now continued in idolatry, worshipping stocks and stones. 

66 u ]vfp solus rognaret in coelo, cujus morte vivimus, cujus inflrmitate robo- 
ramur, cujus passione a passione eripimur, cujus amore in Britannia fratres 
quaerimus quos ignorabamus." — Epist., xi. 28. 

" "iEgrum me reperit, ffigrum reliquit . . . quatenus mentis lastitia im- 
manitatem meae molestiae teniperaret." — Epist., viii. 30, ad Eulogiura. 

*^ " Gens Anglorum, in mundi angido posita suo." — Epist., viii. 30, ad 
Eulogium. Always this singular taste for puns ! 


God inspired me to send thither a monk of my monastery 
here, to preach the Gospel to them. This monk, whom 1 
caused to be ordained bishop by the Frankish bishops, has 
penetrated to this nation at the uttermost ends of the earth ; 
and I have now received tidings of the happy success of his 
enterprise. He and his companions have wrought miracles 
that seem to come near to those of the apostles themselves, 
and more than 10,000 English have been baptized by them 
at one time." 

After having thus quickened the zeal of the Egyptian 
patriarch by these tidings from England, he turns to the 
queen of the newly converted nation — Bertha, born a Chris- 
tian, and the granddaughter of a saint — to congratulate her 
on the conversion to her own faith of her husband and her 
people, and to encourage her to new efforts by telling her 
that she was remembered in the prayers of the faithful, not 
only at Rome, but at Constantinople, and that the fame of 
her good works had reached the ears of the most serene 
Emperor himself " Our very dear sons, Lawrence the 
priest and Peter the monk, he writes to her, " have rehearsed 
to me, on their arrival here, all that your Majesty has done 
for our reverend brother and cobishop Augustin — all the 
comfort and the charity that j'ou have so liberally bestowed 
on him. We bless the Almighty, who has seen meet to re- 
serve for you the conversion of the English nation. Even 
as He found in the glorious Helena, mother of the most pious 
Constautine, an instrument to win over the hearts of the 
Eomans to the Christian faith, so we feel assured will His 
mercy, through your agency, work out the salvation of the 
English. Already, for a long time, it must have been your 
endeavor to turn, with the prudence of a true Christian, the 
heart of her husband towards the faith which you profess, 
for his own well being and for that of his kingdom. Well- 
instructed and pious as 3'^ou are, this duty should not have 
been to you either tedious or difficult. If you have in any 
wise neglected it, you must redeem the lost time. Strengthen 
in the mind of your noble husband his devotion to the Chris- 
tian faith ; pour into his heart the love of God; inflame him 
with zeal for the complete conversion of his subjects, so that 
he may make an oifermg to Almighty God b}' your love and 
your devotion I pray God that the completion of your work 
may make the angels in heaven feel the same joy which I 
already owe to you on earth.'' ^^ 

** "Qualis erga R. fratrem . . . gloria vestra exstilerit, quantaq^ue illi 


About the same time, in revising his commentaries on the 
Scriptures, and his exposition of the Book of Job, he cannot 
help adding then this cry of triumph : " Look at that Britain 
whose tongue has uttered only savage sounds, but now echoes 
the Hallelujah of the Hebrews ! Behold that furious sea — 
it gently smoothes itself beneath the feet of the saints ! 
These savage clans, that the princes of the earth could not 
subdue by the sword — see them enchained by the simple 
word of the priests ! That people which, while yet pagan, 
defied undauntedly the arms and the renown of our soldiers, 
trembles at .the speech of the humble and weak. It knows 
fear now, but it is the fear of sin ; and all its desires are cen- 
tred on the glory everlasting."^*^ 

Anew Far, however, from resting indolently in this joy, 

S>^ony*8*ent ^6 remained to his latest day faithful to the warm 
o^^r. and active interest with which his beloved England 

had inspired him.^^ He sent to Augustin a new monastic 
colony, provided with relics, sacred vessels, priestly robes, 
the ornaments of the altar, and all that was necessary to 
give effect to the pomp of religious service. He sent also 
books, which were intended to form the nucleus of an eccle- 
siastical library .^2 

22d June, -^t the head of this new swarm of monks was a 

601- man of noble birth, by name Mellitus, and his com- 

panion Justus, who were to succeed each other on the met- 

solatia vel qualem charitatera impendent, retulerunt. . . . Postquam et recta 
fide gloria vestra munita et litteris docta est, hoc vobis nee tardum nee debuit 
esse difficile." — Epist., v. 29. It will be observed that this letter is placed 
in the catalogue of the pontifical correspondence apart from the other letters 
which Gregory addressed to the husband of Bertha, as well as to the princes 
and bishops in order to recommend to them the new assistants of Augustin. 

^^ "Ecce lingua Britanniajquai nil aliud noverat quara barbarum frendere, 
jamdudum in divinis laudibus Hebrseum coepit alleluia sonare. Ecce tumi- 
dus quondam, jam substratus pedibus sanctorum, servit Oceanus. . . . Qui 
catervas pugnantium infidelis nequaquam metuerat, jam nunc fidelis humilium 
linguam timet . . . ut prave agere metuat ac totis desideriis ad ffiternitatis 
gloriam pervenire concupiscat." — S. Greg., Moral., book xxviii. c. 11. 

^' " Semper pro amatis Anglis vigilantissimus." — Gotselinus, Hist. Ma- 
ior, c. 24. 

62 " Ncc non et codices plurimos." — Bede, i. 29. Many of the books 
sent to Augustin by the hands of the abbot Peter were carefully preserved, 
and escnpud the ravages of time for six centuries. In the days of Henry 
VIII. Leland still speaks of them with admiration: " Majusculis Uteris Ro- 
manis more veterum scriptis . . . incredibilem prse se ferentes antiquitatis 
majestatem." An old catalogue of this first consignment of books ends with 
these words : " This is the origin of the library of the whole English Church." 
— A. D. 601. In the library of the college of Corpus Christi, at Cambridge, 
a Latin MS. of the four evangelists is preserved, which, according to an old 
tradition, is the copy brought from Rome by St. Augustin in 596. 


ropolitan throne of Canterbury, and with them Paulinus, the 
future apostle of Northumbria. The Pope provided them 
with very urgent letters, all of the same date, for Queen 
Brunehaut, for her grandsons, kings Theodebert and Theo- 
doric ; for their rival king Clotaire of Neustra,*^^ who had 
treated Augustin with great kindness, and heartily seconded 
his enterprise ; and for the bishops of Aries, Lyons, Gap, 
Toulon, Marseilles, Chalons, Paris, Rouen, and Angers — thus 
marking beforehand the possible halting-places of the new 

In a special letter to Virgilius, the legate at Aries, he rec- 
ommends him most particularly to receive their common 
brother, Augustin, with the greatest affection, in the event 
of his visiting him ; and he adds : " As it often happens that 
those who are at a distance need to be made aware of disor- 
ders which require to be repressed, if he should inform you 
of faults on the part of his priests or others, examine every- 
thing along with him with the minutest care, and act with 
the greatest strictness, but ever be heedful that you do not 
let the innocent suffer with the guilty. '"^^ 

The passionate yet intelligent and impartial tenderness 
towards his friends, which is one of the most attractive fea- 
tures in Gregory's admirable character, is nowhere more 
beautifully displayed than in his relations with Augustin. 
We see him ever engaged in extending and consolidating 
the authority of his envoy ; but not the less anxious for the 
welfare of his soul, and resolute to give precedence before 
all else to the interests of the newly Christianized country. 
He intrusted to the new missionaries a long letter addressed 
to King Ethelbert, in which, while congratulating him on 
his conversion, and comparing him to Constantine, as he had 
compared Bertha to St. Helena, he exhorted him to spread 
the iaith among his subjects — to forbid the worship of idols, 
to overthrow their temples, and to establish good morals by 
exhortations, kindnesses, and threats, but above all by his 
own example. He adds : *' You have with you our very 
reverend brother, bishop Augustin, trained according to the 
monastic rule, full of the knowledge of the Scriptures, 
abounding in good works in the sight of God. Hearken 

*^ Epist., xi. 61, ad Clotarium Francorum regera. 

^* Epist., xi. 54-02. Compare Bede, i. 29. 

*'^ " Si coniniunem fratrem Augustinum episcopura ad nos venire contige- 
rit, ita ilium dilcctio vestra, sicut decet, affectuose dulciterque suscipiat, ut 
et ipsum consolationis suaj bono refoveat, et alios, qualiter fraterna charitaa 
colenda sit, doceat." — Epist., xi. 68. 

166 ST. AUGUSTm 

devoutly to him, and faithfully accomplish all that he tells 
you ; for the more you listen to what he will tell you on the 
part of God, the more will God grant his prayers when he 
prays to Him on your behalf. Attach yourself, then, to him 
with all the strength of your mind, and all the fervor of 
faith ; and second his efforts with all the force that God has 
given you."*^6 

The same day, in a public letter, he confers on Augustin 
the right of bearing the pallium in celebrating mass, as a 
reward for having established the new English Church. 
This honor was to descend to all his successors on the archi- 
episcopal throne.^" He constitutes him metropolitan of 
twelve bishoprics, which he enjoins him to erect in south- 
ern England. He gives him authority to appoint whom he 
will metropolitan bishop in the ancient Roman and episcopal 
city of York, subordinating to the see of York twelve new 
bishoprics yet to be erected, but reserving to Augustin dur- 
ing his lifetime the supremacy over the northern metropoli- 
tan. Over and above all the bishops to be ordained by him 
or by the' future bishop of York in the conquered territory, 
Gregory places under the jurisdiction of Augustin all the 
bishops of Britain, " in order," says the Pope, '' that they 
may learn by your word and by your life how they must be- 
lieve, and how they must live, in order to fulfil their office 
and gain an inheritance in heaven."*^^ He here treats of the 
bishops who wene established in Wales, or who had fled 
thither for refuge — the prelates and teachers of the Chris- 
tian Celtic populations which had escaped the Saxon yoke. 

But while he thus openly evidenced the fulness of hia 
confidence and the authority with which he invested Augus- 
tin, he addressed to him, in secret, advices meant to pre- 
seive him from the dangerous snare of pride. " In our joy," 
he wrote, " there is much to fear. I know, beloved brother, 

66 "Fanorum sedificia everte, subditorum mores ex magna vitas munditia, 
exhortando, terrendo, blandiendo, corrigendo et boni operis exempla mon- 
strando, ffidifica. . . . Augustinus episcopus, in monasterii regula edoctus. * 
Upist., xi. 66. It is surprising to find in this beautiful letter a paragraph 
warning the Saxon king that the end of the world is at hand — that he must 
watch for it day by day, and not be astonished, seeing that it is near, at mar- 
vellous things which are about to happen in England as elsewhere. 

*' Since the schism of Henry VIII., the Anglish archbishops of Canter- 
bury, by the strangest of anomalies, have still preserved this pallium in the 
arms of their see. 

*** " Quatenus ex lingua et vita tute sanctitatis, ct recte credendi et bene 
Vivendi formam percipiant, atque officium fide ac moribus exsequentts, ad 
coelestia, cun. Dominus voluerit, regna pertingant." — Epist., xi. 65. 


that God has by thee wrought great miracles in this nation. 
It is right to rejoice that the minds of the English are drawn 
by visible miracles to the invisible grace ; but we ought to 
fear lest these prodigies incline the weak mind to presump- 
tion, and make the inner man fall to a worse depth through 
vainglory than he is raised up outwardly. When the disci- 
ples said to their divine Master, ' Lord, in thy name even the 
devils are subject unto us,' he answered them, ' Rejoice not 
because the devils are subject to you, but rather rejoice be- 
cause your names are written in heaven.' The names of all 
the elect are written there, and yet all the elect work not 
miracles. And while God thus acts outwardly by thee, thou 
oughtest, brother beloved, to judge thyself scrupulously 
within, and to know well what thou art. If thou remember- 
est that thou hast offended God by word or deed, have thy 
faults ever present to thy memory to repress the vainglory 
which may rise in thy heart. Reflect that this gift of mira- 
cles is not given to thee for thyself, but for those whose sal- 
vation is committed to thee. The reprobate have wrought 
miracles ; and we, we know not even if we are among the 
elect. It is needful, then, sternly to humble and subdue the 
mind in the midst of all these prodigies and signs, lest it 
should seek in them only its own glory and its private ad- 
vantage. God has given us but one sign whereby we may 
know his elect : it is this, that we have love one to an- 
other." «9 

Immediately after, to reassure the friend whom he had 
thus corrected, by a return to his wonted tenderness and 
sj^mpathy, he continues in these terms : " I speak thus be- 
cause I desire to subdue to humility the soul of my dear 
hearer. But let even thy humility have confidence. All 
sinful as I am, I have a sure hope that all thy sins will be 
remitted unto thee, inasmuch as thou hast been chosen to 
bring to others the remission of their sins. If there is joy 
in heaven over one sinner that repenteth more than over 
ninety and nine just persons that need no repentance, what 
joy must not there be over a great nation which, in coming 
to the true faith, repents of all the evil it has done ! And it 
is thou who hast given this joy to heaven." ''^ 

** Fleury, in quoting this letter, says with justice, "Nothing proves more 
completely the truth of St. Augustin's miracles than these serious counsels 
of Gregory." 

""^ " Haec autem dico quia auditoris mei animuni in humilitate sternpre 
cupio. Sed ipsa tuahumilitas liabeat fiduciam suam. Nam peccatorego spem 
certissimam teneo " — Epist., xi. 28. 


In one of Gregory's former letters, addressed, not to An 
gustin, but to his friend Eulogius, Patriarch of Alexandria, 
the Pope also refers to the miracles which had signalized the 
mission of Augustin ; he does not hesitate even to compare 
them to the signs and wonders which accompanied the 
preaching of the apostles.'''^ Twelve centuries after Gregory, 
the greatest genius that modern England has produced, the 
immortal Burke, bows respectfully before that tradition, mis- 
understood by his frivolous contemporaries. The introduc- 
tion of Christianity into any country whatsoever is, accord- 
ing to him, the most inestimable benefit that can be conferred 
on humanity. Why, then, in view of an end so worthy, 
should not Providence itself sometimes directly interpose ? 
Miracles, of old time accepted with a blind credulity, have 
been since rejected with " as undistinguishing a disregard." 
" But," adds the great orator, " it is the reality or opinion of 
such miracles that was the principal cause of the early ac- 
ceptance and rapid progress of Christianity in this island." '^ 
It is singular that neither Bede nor any other historian gives 
the least detail of these wonders which awoke at once the 
admiration, the gratitude, and the prudent deprecations of 
St. Gregory the Great. But of all possible miracles, the 
greatest is assuredly " to have detached from paganism with- 
out violence a violent people ; to have introduced it into the 
Christian commonwealth, not man by man, and family by 
family, but at one stroke, with its kings, its warlike nobility, 
and all its institutions." ^^ This king, who believes himself 
descended from the gods of the Scandinavian paradise, yet 
who resigns his capital to the priests of the crucified God ; 
this people, fierce and idolatrous, which by thousands pros- 
trates itself at the feet of a few foreign monks, and by thou- 
sands plunges into the icy waters of the Thames, in mid 
winter, to receive baptism from these unknown strangers ; 
this rapid and complete transformation of a proud and victo- 
rious, and at the same time sensual and rapacious race, by 
means of a doctrine pre-eminently fitted to quell lust, pride, 
and sensuality, and which, once received into these savage 
hearts, rests forever implanted there, — is not this, of all 
miracles, the most marvellous, as it is the most indisputable ? 

''' "Tantis miraculis vel ipse vel hi qui cum ipso transmissi sunt in gente 
eadem coruscant, ut apostolorum virtutes in signis, quaa perhibent, imitari 
videantur." — Episi., \ni. SO. 

" Bdree, Essay Uwards an Abridgment of English History, book ii. 
Ch. ]. " OZANAM, p. 159. 


Finally, after all these letters, Gregory wrote a Answsrof 
very long and very detailed answer to the eleven ^,e'^^°e^.*'' 
questions which Auorustin had put to him, as to the tionsof 
principal dimculties which he liad encountered, or trueiaw 
which he foresaw might still be met with in the missfolfs.'" 
course of his mission. To convey a just idea of this 
reply, which is an admirable monument of enlightenment, of 
conciliatory reason, of gentleness, wisdom, moderation, and 
prudence, and which was destined to become, as has been 
most justly said, the rule and the code of Christian missions,"^ 
it would have to be quoted entire ; but besides its extreme 
length, it embraces certain details from which our modern 
prudery recoils. Here, however, is the substance of its most 
important passages. 

The Pope, consulted as to the use and the division to be 
made of the offerings of the faithful, reminds Augustin that 
the revenues of the Church should be divided into four por- 
tions ; the first for the bishop and his family, because of the 
hospitality which he ought to exercise ; the second for the 
clergy ; the third for the poor ; the fourth for the mainte- 
nance and repair of churches. " But you," he says to the 
archbishop — " you who have been brought up in monastic 
discipline, ought not to live apart from your clergy, but to 
initiate in the new English Church the life in common which 
our fathers practised in the primitive Church." ''^ 

Why, asked Augustin, are there divers customs in the 
Church, Avhen the faith is one ? and why does the liturgy 
according to which the mass is celebrated in the churches 
of Gaul (which Bertha probably followed in her oratory of 
St. Martin), differ from that of the Roman Church? 

"You, my brother," replies the Pope, "know the usage of 
the Roman Church, in which you cannot forget that you were 
brought up. But if it should happen that you find in the 
Church of Rome, or in that of Gaul, or in any other, some 
usage which you believe to be more pleasing to God, I enjoin 
you to select it with care, and give it a place in the new 
Church of England. For institutions are not to be loved be- 
cause of the places whence they are derived ; but rather are 
places to be beloved for the sake of the good institutions that 

" OzANAM, Civilisation Ohreiienne chez les Francs, p. 154. 

" " Interrogatio beati Augustini episcopi Cantuariorum Ecclesiae. . . . 
Respondit Gregorius papa urbis Romae. . . . Tua fraternitas monasterii, 
regulis erudita, seorsura vivere non debet a clericis suis." — Bede, i. 27. 
Greg., Epist., xi. 64. 

VOL II. 15 


exist therein. Choose therefore among the Churches all that 
is pious and reasonable, and out of what you thus collect form 
the use. of the English Church." ^^ 

In these words it is easy to recognize the pontiff who had 
already braved the criticisms of some petty spirits, by intro- 
ducing at Rome various usages that were believed to be bor- 
rowed from Constantinople, and who had said to his critics, 
" I shall be always ready to deter my subordinates from evil, 
but to imitate them in good, borrowing it from it matters 
not what Church. He is but a fool who could make his 
primacy a reason for disdaining to learn whatever good can 
be learnt." '^'' 

Consulted as to the punishment to be inflicted on sacri- 
legious robbers, and as to the administration of the Roman 
law, which imposed on the robber a double or fourfold resti- 
tution, Gregory advises that, in the punishment, the poverty 
or the riches of the depredator be taken into account ; and 
that it be administered always with a fatherly love and a 
moderation which shall keep the mind within the limits of 
reason. As to restitution — "God forbid," said he, "that 
the Church should seek to gain by what she has lost, and to 
draw a profit from the folly of men." "^ 

Augustin had further inquired what rule he should follow 
in regard to marriages within the forbidden degrees, to the 
duties of the married state, and how much ought to be re- 
tained of the purifications prescribed to women by the Mosaic 
law. Gregory, in reply, interdicts absolutely marriages be- 
tween mothers-in-law and sons-in-law, which were common 
among the Saxons : as also between brothers and sisters-in- 
law. But, for the latter case, he does not require that con- 
verts, who had contracted such marriages before their 
conversion, should be deprived of the holy communion, " lest," 

'® " Novit fraternitas tua Romans Ecclesife consuetudinem in qua se me- 
minit eruditara. Sed mihi placet, sive in Romana, sive Galliarum, seu in 
qualibet Ecclesia, aliqnid invenisti quod plus omnipotenti Deo possit placere, 
sollicite eligas, et in Angloruni Ecclesiae quas adhuc ad fidem nova est, insti- 
tutione praecipua, quae de multis Ecclesiis coUigere potuisti, infundas. Nou 
enim pro locis res, sed pro bonis rebus loci amandi sunt. Ex singulis ergo 
quibusque Ecclesiis quas pia, quae religiosa, quae recta sunt, elige : et haec 
qausi in fasciculum collecta, apud Anglorum mentes in consuetudinem depone." 

''' " Si quid boni vel ipsa vel altera Ecclesia habet, ego et rainores nieos 
quos ab illicitis prohibeo in bono imitari paratus sum. Stultus est enim qui 
in eo se primura existimat, ut bona quce videritdiscere contemnat." — Upist., 
X. 12, ad Joann., Syracus. Episc. 

^' " Ita ut mens extra rationis regulam omnino nihil faciat. . . . Absit ut 
Ecclesia cum augmento recipiat quod de terrenis rebus videtur amittere, el 
lucra de vanis quaerere." 


he says, "you sbould appear to punish them for what they 
have done in mere ignorance ; for there are things which 
the Church corrects with strictness, and there are others 
which, for kindness' sake, she tolerates, or prudently over- 
looks ; but always in such wise as to restrain the evil which 
she bears with, or winks at," He would, in general, treat 
the English as St. Paul treated his converts — nourishing 
them not on solid food, but with milk, as newborn babes. 
Further on " he prescribes to the marriage bed these severe 
laws which secure health and vigor and the fruitfulness of 
the Christian family.'" '^ He does not permit that the woman 
who has just borne a child should be excluded from the 
Church, and that thus her suffering should be made a crime. 

But he protests with energy against the unnatural custom 
of mothers who will not be nurses, and who disdain to suckle 
the children they have brought forth. He sought thus to 
impress upon the heart of the Saxon woman all a wife's 
duties, Avhile at the same time he marked her proper place 
in the Christian family by exalting her dignity and protecting 
her modesty .^^ 

Reflection onl}- served to confirm the Pope in this 
wise and generous indulsrence toward the new con- New con- 

o _ _ o _ cessions of 

verts, allied, as it was in him, with a zeal at once *i'',^f"J7,'J' 
pure and ardent for the service and progj'ess of the Meim'us"' 
truth. Scarce had he addressed to Ethelbert the 
letter in which he exhorted him to destroy the temples of the 
ancient national worship, when he reconsidered the matter, 
and a few days later despatched entirely different instructions 
to Mellitus, the chief of the new mission, whom he had desig- 
nated abbot, and to whom he had intrusted the letter for the 
king — hoping to overtake liim on his journey. ''Since your 
departure and that of your company," he writes, "■ I have 
been much disquieted, for I have learned nothing of the success 
of your journey. But when Almighty God shall have carried 
you in safety to our most reverend brother Augustin, say to 
him that, after having long revolved in my own mind the 

"■' OZANAM, op. Cit., 161. 

s" "III boc enim tempore sancta Ecolesia quaedam per fervorem corrie-it, 
qiiaedam per mansuetudinem tolerat, qiue'laiu \ifv considerationem dissinju'ar, 
atque ita portat et dissimulat, ut siepe inalum quod adversatnr portmido 
et dissimulando compescat. . . Si enixnm luulierem prohiberans eccle- 
siam intrare, ipsam ei poenfim suam in ciilpam depiitanjus. . . . Prava au- 
tem in conjugatorum moribus consnetiido snrrexit, ut mulieres . . . dum 
se oontinere nohmt, despiciunt iHctare quos gignuut." — Ibid. Compare 
Epist. xiv. 17, ad Fplicem Messanensem Kpiscopum 


affairs of the English, 1 have come to the conclusion thai it 13 
not necessary to overthrow all the temples of the idols, but 
only the idols that are in them. After having sprinkled these 
temples with holy water, let altars and relics be placed in 
them ; for if they are strongly built, it were well that they 
were made to pass from the worship of demons to the service 
of the true God — to the end that the people, seeing that 
their temples are not destroyed, may the more readily accept 
the religious change and come to adore God in the places 
familiar to them. And as it is their custom to slay many 
oxen in sacrifices to the demons, some solemnity which should 
take the place of this sacrifice must be established. On the 
day of the dedication, or on the feast of the martyrs whose 
relics may be given to them, they ma}^ be permitted to make 
huts of leaves around the temples thus changed into churches, 
and celebrate the feast with social repasts. But in place ol 
sacrificing beasts to a demon, they will kill them only to be 
eaten with thankfulness to God who provides their food ; 
and thus, by leaving to them some of the enjoyments of the 
senses, they will be more easil}'' led to desire the joys of the 
soul. For it is impossible to change all at once the whole 
habits of the savage mind: a mountain is not climbed by 
leaps and bounds, but step by step."^^ 

Among the enemies of the Roman Church, pedants and 
bypercritics are found to accuse St. Gregory of having com- 
promised matters with his conscience in thus opening the 
entrance of the sanctuary to paganism. Far from sympa- 
thizing with them, let us, on the contrary, learn to admire the 
great and wise teacher who could so well distinguish the 
essential from the accidental, and who, repudiating the pre- 
tensions of minute and vexatious uniformity, and sacrificing 
the pettiness of prejudice to the majesty of a great design, 
could thus develop the worship of the truth even among the 
superstitions of Germanic paganism. Let us admire above 
all, " a religion which penetrates thus to the depths of human 
nature — which knows what needful combats against his 
passions it demands from man, and which has no desire to 
impose unnecessary sacrifices upon him. The only way of 

*' " Post discessuui congregationis vestrse quae tecum est, valde sumus 
Buspensi redditi, quia nihil de prosperitate vestri itineris audisse nos con- 
tigit. . . . Dicite ei quid diu mecura de causa Anglorura cogitans trac- 
tavi. . . . Nam duris mentibus simul omnia abscidere impossibile esse men 
dubium est, quia et is qui summum locum ascendere nitetur, gradibu* rej 
passibus, non saltibus elevatur." — Epist., xi. 76. 


knowing human nature is to love it, and it can be won only 
at this price." ^^ 

In his last question Augustin had asked how he — 
as yet the only bishop among the English — should accordMrfo 
deal by the bishops of Gaul and Britain. Gregory ov"e?Thr 
admonishes him not to keep at a distance the Britis'J 
bishops* of Gaul who might wish to be present at 
his ordinations of new bishops in England, '' for to condact 
successfully spiritual affairs it is lawful to draw lessons from 
temporal affairs ; and as, in the world, persons already mar- 
ried are invited together to take part in the festivities of a 
wedding, so nothing forbids the participation of bishops 
alread} ordained in that ordination which is the espousal of 
man with God." The Pope added : *' We do not assign to 
you any authority over the bishops of Gaul, and you can 
reform them only through persuasion and good example, 
except at the risk of thrusting your sickle into another's har- 
vest. As to the British bishops, we commit them entirely 
to your care, that you may instruct the ignorant, strengthen 
the feeble, and correct the evil." ^^ 

Gregory, who knew so well how to read the hearts and 
win the minds of men, could have only a very imperfect 
knowledge of the geography as well as of the political con- 
dition of Great Britain. He seems to have held on that sub- 
ject the antiquated notions which prevailed at Rome regard- 
ing an island which had been the first to escape from the 
imperial yoke. He evidently had no idea of the national and 
only too legitimate antipathy which inflamed the Christian 
Brittons against the heathen Saxons, who had for a century 
and a half overrun, ravaged, and usurped their country. He 
imagined that those Christians, always faithfully united to 
the Roman Church, who had so energetically repudiated Pe- 
lagianism, and whose bishops had sat in the ancient councils 
presided over by the legates of Rome, would lend a cordial 
support to the mission of the Roman monks, commissioned ?)y 
him to evangelize the Saxons. He did not know the im- 
placable hate of the conquered for the conquerors ; and ho 
forgot certain points of difference which, though they did 
not touch the great verities of the Christian faith, and were 
completely removed from all idea of a national or schismatic 

*^ OzANAM, (Euvres, i. 167. 

** " Nam in ipsis rebus spiritualibus ut sapienter et mature disponantur, 
exemplum trahcre a rebus etiam carnalibus possumus. . . . Britannorum 
omnes episcopos tuae fraternitati committimus." — Epist., xi. 64. 



Church, raised, nevertheless, a formidable barrier between 
the British clergy and his Roman missionaries. 
Auo^ustin I^ i^ evident that Augustin always showed him- 

at. issue ggjf capable of understanding and applying the pre- 
ceitic cepts of his friend and master. No incident of his 

bishop. jji'g^ recorded in his history, indicates any opposition 
to, or departure from, the rules laid down for him by the pru- 
denco and charity of Gregory. He was faithful to these 
rules in his relations with the British bishops placed by the 
Pope under his jurisdiction, as well as in all other respects. 
A rapid survey of this conflict would even lead the reader to 
protest against the unjust and calumnious accusations of 
which it has been the object, and will prove that Augustin 
was exclusively guided by a natural desire to put an end to 
dissensions which impaired the unity of the efforts necessary 
for the conversion of the Saxons. 

Wherein, then, consisted those differences between Rome 
and the Celtic Christianity of Wales, of Ireland, and of Cale- 
donia, which occupy so prominent a place in the religious 
histoiy of the sixth and seventh centuries, and which the 
irritable and haughty zeal of St. Columbanus carried over 
into France, and with which he tried the patience of St. Gre- 
gory ; s* while Augustin, on his side, found in them the chief 
stumbling-block to his mission in Great Britain ? It cannot 
be too often repeated, that they affected none of the essential 
doctrines of Christianity, no article of faith defined by the 
Church either before or since that period, no question of 
morals, and, above all, that they did not offer any opposition 
to the supremacy of the Holy See, as it was then exercised 
or accepted by the rest of the Christian world. 

Modern research has finally dispersed all the imaginary 
chimeras of certain English and German writers who attrib- 
uted these differences to a pretended influence of Eastern 
Christianity on the British Churches, of which no authentic 
trace exists ; or more readily still, to a traditional repugnance 
on the part of the Celtic population to the yoke of Rome — 
a repugnance belied by the history of the past, as well as by 
the living testimony of the races, the most tenacious and 
most illustrious members of which, the Irish and the Armori- 
cans, have purchased,«at the cost of the most generous and 
cruel sacrifices, the right of placing themselves in the fore- 
most rank of the faithful children of the Church of Rome.^^ 

** See ante, vol. i. p. 555. 

^ The most weighty writers of Protestant Germany in our day, such aa 


The principal difiference turned on the question rpj^g^jj^gg^ 
of the date of the festival of Easter. This nice sionregard- 
question — the bugbear of all who embark on the "^^ 
study of the primitive annals of the Church — has alreadj" 
emerged in the course of our history, and will often again 

From the earliest Christian ages prolonged discussions were 
raised regarding the day on which the greatest festival of 
the Church should be celebrated. The Council of Nice fixed 
the date of the Pascal solemnities for the Sunday after the 
full moon of the vernal equinox, and that date, sanctioned by 
the Roman Church, had been received along with the Chris- 
tian faith by all the Churches of Britain, and had been car- 
ried by St. Patrick to Ireland, and by St. Columba to Cale- 
donia. But the Church of Alexandria, having discovered an 
astronomical error, originating in the employment of the 
ancient Jewish computation by the Christians, had intro- 
duced a more exact calculation, which was adopted by all the 
Eastern Churches ; and the result was, that from the pontifi- 
cate of St. Leo the Great (440-61) a difference of an entire 
month had arisen between Easter-day at Rome and Easter- 
day at Alexandria. Towards the middle of the sixth cen- 
tury, the difference ceased to exist ; Rome adopted the calcu- 
lation of Denys le Petit, which demonstrated clearly the error 
of the day fixed by the Council of Nice,and from this date uni- 
formity was re-established in the Church. But the Saxon 
invasion had interrupted the ordinary intercourse between 
Rome and the British Churches ; they retained the ancient 
Roman usage, and it was precisely their attachment to that 
usage which was their argument against the more exact 
computation which Augustin and the Italian monks brought 
with them, but which the British rejected as suspicious nov- 
elties, to receive which would be an insult to the traditions 
of their fathers.^'' It was thus from their very fidelity to the 
early teachings of Rome that they resisted the new Roman 

Gieseler, have already abandoned this hypothesis, so long accepted by their 
co-religionists. It has been learnedly refuted by the illustrious Professor 
Dollinger in his Manual of Ecclesiastical History, and it may be said anni- 
hilated by the two Memoirs of M. Varin on the Causes of the Dissension ie- 
tween the British and the Roman Church, published by the Academy of In- 
scriptions and Belles Lettres, 1858. A digest of the conclusions of these 
two Memoirs will be found in Appendix II. 

** See ante, vol. i. book vii. 

*' Walter, Alte Wales, p. 225. Dollinger, op. cit., i. 2d part, 216. 


This cause of dissension, by far the most important > waa 
of a very recent date, and all the disputes that can be made 
out on other points (except that regarding the form of the 
tonsure) were equally new, without being at all more essen- 
tial. If it had been otherwise — had there been the slightest 
difference touching doctrine or morals between the British 
and the Roman Chur";h — Augustin would never have been 
guilty of the folly of soliciting the aid of the Celtic clergy in 
the conversion of the heathen Saxons. This would have been 
but to sow the seeds of confusion and discord in the new 
Church, which it was his business to organize by means of 
the energetic co-operation of the native Christians and the 
envoys of Rorae.^^ 

There is nothing more painful than to meet in history with 
endless and passionate contentions upon questions and causes 
which, after some time has passed, are interesting or even 
intelligible to no human creature. But it is not Christian 
antiquity alone that offers us such a spectacle : we find it in 
all ages. And to those who profess to be scandalized at the 
overweening importance that the most pious minds of their 
time have attached to equal trifles, it should be enough to 
recall the determined obstinacy which prompted great na- 
tions, such as the English and the Russians, to resist the 
reform of the Gregorian calendar — the one for nearly two 
centuries, the other amidst the complete uniformity of the 
entire civilized world. 

It is no less true that, by that obstinate fidelity to a vener 
able, though false, computation, the British set themselvea 
at variance on this question of Easter, not only with Rome 
and the whole West, but also with the East, which celebrated 
that festival, like the Jews, on the precise day of the week 
on which it fell, while the British, in common with the whole 
Western Church, always held the celebration on Sunday. 
But this Sunday was, or might be, another day than that 
kept as Easter-day at Rome. 

Who could imagine that this pitiful and absurd difference 
should have kept the two Churches for two centuries on i 
footing of direct hostility ? Since the British Celts received 
their ancient custom from Rome itself, why could they not 
follow Rome in her perfected reckoning as all the rest of the 
West did ? Why should they have positively decided to hold 
festival while the Romans fasted ; and to fast while at Rome 
they chanted the Hallelujah ? 

** DoLLiNGER, p. 217. Rees, Welsh Samts, p. 288. 


Was there not a more serious, a deeper cause for this dis- 
Bension. of which the Pascal controversy was but the outward 
aspect? It is impossible to doubt it; and of all causes it 
was the most natural and excusable — the instinct of national 
preservation, exasperated by hatred of the triumphant enemy, 
and expressing itself in distrust of the stranger, who seemed 
to be an accomplice of that enemy. 

Augustin knew well that he needed the aid of the Celtic 
Christians in order to carry on successfully the great woik 
which the Papacy had intrusted to him. Trained in the con- 
ciliatory and moderate school of St. Gregory the Great, fresh 
from his recent instructions, he was very far from being ex- 
clusive in regard to local personages or customs ; and in 
order to effect the conversion of the Saxons, he claimed in 
all good faith the co-operation of the numerous and powerful 
clergy who, for more than a century, had been the very soul 
of the resistance to the heathen, and who peopled those great 
cloisters of Wales, into which the sword of the invader had 
never penetrated. 

But the British resisted him with a jealous and obstinate 
opposition. They Avould not join him in evangelizing their 
enemies ; they had no wish to open to them the gates of 

Augustin, however, succeeded in obtaining the First con- 
consent of the principal bishops and doctors of jf/ttveen 
Wales to a conference with him. It was arranged Augustin 
that they should meet on the confines of Wessex, British 
near the banks of the Severn, which separated the ^'^^°p^' 
Saxons from the Britons. The interview, like that 509?-603? 
of Augustin with Ethelbert, after his landing in Kent, took 
place in the open air, and under an oak, which for a long time 
afterwards was known as Augustiu's oak. He began, not by 
claiming the personal supremacy which the Pope had on- 
ceded to him, but by exhorting his hearers to live in Cath- 
olic peace with him, and to unite their efforts to his for the 
evangelization of the pagans — that is to say, the Saxons. 
But neither his entreaties, nor his exhortations, nor his re- 
proaches, nor the eloquence of his attendant monks joined to 
his own, availed to bend the Britons, who persisted in ap- 
pealing to their own traditions in opposition to the new rules. 
After a long and laborious disputation, Augustin at last said, 
" Let us pray God, who maketh brethren to dwell together 

*" Varin, Memoir cited. 


in unity, to show us by a sign from heaven what traditions 
we ought to follow. Let a sick man be brought hither, and 
he whose prayers shall cure him shall be the one whose faith 
is to be followed." The British consented reluctantly. An 
Anglo-Saxon blind man was brought, whom the British bishops 
could not cure. Then Augustin fell on his knees, and im- 
plored God to enlighten the conscience of many of the faith- 
ful, by giving sight to this man. Immediately the blind man 
recovered his vision. The British were touched ; ^^ they ac- 
knoAvledged that Augustin's course was just and straight- 
forward, but that they could not renounce their old customs 
without the consent of their people, and demanded a second 
assembly, in which their deputies should be more numerous. 

The second conference was held soon after. Augustin 
there found himself in the presence of seven British bishops 
and of the most learned doctors of the great Monastery of 
Bangor, which contained more than 3000 monks, and which 
was, as we have seen, the centre of religious life in Wales. 
Before this new meeting, the Britons went to consult an 
anchorite, much famed among them for his wisdom and his 
sanctity, and asked him if they ought to give heed to Au- 
gustin. and abandon their traditions. " Yes," said the her- 
mit, " if he is a man of God." " But how shall we know 
that?" " If he is meek and lowly of heart, as says the Gos- 
pel, it is probable that he carries the yoke of Jesus Christ, 
and that it is His yoke he offers j^ou ; but if he is hard and 
proud, he comes not from God, and you ought to give no 
heed to his discourse. In order to prove him, let him arrive 
the first at the place of council ; and if he rises when you 
approach, you will know that he is a servant of Christ, and 
you will obey him ; but if he rises not to do you honor, then 
despise him, as he will have despised you." ^^ 

The instructions of the anchorite were obeyed. Unfortu- 
nately, on arriving at the place of council they found Augus- 
tin already seated, more Bomano, says an historian, and he 
did not rise to receive them.^'^ This was enough to set them 

*" "Ut pace catholica secum habita, communem evangelizandi gentibus 
pro domino laborem susciperent. . . . Laboriosi atque longi certaminis finem 
fecit. . . . Quidam de genera Anglorum, oculorum usu privatus. . . . Confi- 
tentur intellexisse se veram esse viam justitiae quam praedicaret Augustinus." 
— Bede, ii. 2. 

** " Sin autem tos spreverit, nee coram vobis adsurgere voluerit, cum sitis 
plures, et ipse spernatur a vobis." — Bede, ii. 2. 

•' " Cum ergo convenisset, et Augustinus Romano more in sella residens 
iis non assurrexisset." — Henr. Huntingdon, iii. 186, ed. Savile. 


against him. " If tliis man," said they, '•' deigns not to rise 
at our arrival now, how will he slight us when we shall have 
acknowledged his authority ! " From that hour they became 
intractable, and studied to thwart him at every point. 
Neither then nor at the first conference did the arclihishop 
make any effort to induce them to acknowledge his personal 
authority. Let it be added, to the honor of this headstrong 
race, and rebellious but earnest and generous clergy, that 
Augustin did not reproach them with any of those infringe- 
ments of the purity of the priestly life which some authors 
have imputed to them.^^ With moderation, in scrupulous 
conformity to the instructions of the Pope, he reduced all his 
claims to three main points. " You have," said he, " many 
practices which are contrary to our usage, which is that of 
the universal Church ; we will admit them all without diffi- 
culty, if only you will believe me on three points : to celebrate 
Easter at the right time ; to complete the sacrament of bap- 
tism^* according to the usage of tlie holy Roman Church; 
and to preach the word of God along with us to the English 
nation." To this threefold demand the Celtic bishops and 
monks offered a threefold refusal, and added that they would 
never acknowledge him as archbishop.^^ In thus refusing to 
recognize the personal supremacy of Augustin, they in nowise 
rejected that of the Holy See. What they dreaded was not 
a Pope at a distance from them, impartial and universally re- 
spected at Rome, but a kind of new pope at Canterbury, 
within the territory and under the influence of their heredi- 
tary foes, the Saxons.^^ And, above all else, they objected to 

33 "Errorem Bretonum . . . quo alia plura ecclesiasticae castitati et paci 
contraria gerunt." — Bede, v. 18. Compare Gildas, De Uxcidio, p. 23. 
Dollinger believes that he refers here to the subiniroductce, so often de- 
nounced by the councils. He notices elsewhere that the British priests alone 
have been the object of these accusations, which have never been brought 
against the other branches of the Celtic Church. 

^* He referred probably to Confirmation. 

®* " Quia in multis quidem nostras consuetudini, immo universalis Eccle- 
siae contrariae geritis ; et tamen si in tribus his mihi obtemperare vultis ; ut 
Pascha suo tempore celebretis, ut ministerium baptizandi, quo Deo renascl- 
niur, juxta morem sanctae Romance et apostolicae Ecclesite compleatis, ut 
genti Anglorum una nobiscum verbum Domini praedicetis, caetera quae agitis, 
quamvis moribus nostris contraria, aequanimiter cuncta tolerabimus." — Bede, 
V. 18. 

"* Hook, the most recent English historian of the archbishops of Canter- 
burj', acknowledges this fact with an impartialit}' which is not always habitual 
to him. We shall be excused discussing the pretended anti-papal reply of 
the orator of Bangor, an English invention, published in the collections of 
Spelman and AVilkins, and complacently repeated by M. Augustin Thierry. 
Lingard, Dollinger, op. cit., p. 218, and Professor Walter, have demonstrated 


be told of the duty of laboring for the conversion of tlie odioua 
Saxons, who had slaughtered their forefathers and usurped 
their lands. *' No," said the abbot of Bangor, " we will not 
preach the faith to this cruel race of strangers who hkve 
treacherously driven our ancestors from their country, and 
robbed their posterity of their heritage." ^"^ 
Threaten- It is easy to SCO which of the three conditions 

icy o™^^' Augustin had most at heart by the threatening pre- 
Aiigustin diction with which he met the refusal of the British 
the monks mouks. " Siuce you will not have peace with breth- 
of Bangor. ^,^^^^ ^^^ g|^g^jj have war with enemies : since you 

will not show to the English the way of life, you shall receive 
from their hands the punishment of death." 

This prophecy was only too cruelly fulfilled some 
years later. The king of the northern English, 
Ethelfrid, still a pagan, invaded the district of Wales in which 
stood the great Monastery of Bangor. At the moment when 
the battle began between his numerous army and that of the 
Welsh, he saw at a distance, in an elevated position, a body 
of men, unarmed and on their knees. " Who are these ? " he 
asked. He was told they were the monks of the great Mon- 
astery of Bangor, who, after fasting for three days, had come 
to pray for their brethren during the battle. " If they pray 
to their God for my enemies," said the king, " they are fight- 
ing against us, unarmed though they be." And he directed 
the first onslaught to be made against them. The Welsh 
prince, who should have defended them, fled shamefully, and 
1200 monks were massacred on the field of battle, martyrs 
of Christian faith and of Celtic patriotism.^^ Thus ended, 
say the annals of Ireland, the day of the slaughter of the 

its falsity, already exposed by Turberville in his Manuale Controversiarum, ; 
Eees, Stephenson, Hussey, and all the modern English writers of any 
weight, have agreed to renounce it. Let us recall here the learned and 
deeply-to-be-lamented Abbe Gorini's excellent refutation of the inexcusable 
errors committed by M. Augustin Thierry in his narrative of the mission of 
St. Augustin. 

^'' Welsh chronicle, entitled Brut Tysilio, and Galfeid. Monmoutho, xi. 
2, ap. Walter, op. cit., pp. 225, 227. 

** " Cum videret sacerdotes . . . seorsum in loco tutiore consistere, scis- 
citabatur quid essent hi, quidve acturi illo convenissent. . . . Ergo si adver- 
Bum nos at Deum suuni clamant, profecto et ipsi quamvis arraa non ferant 
contra nos pugnant. Itaque in hos primum arma verti jubet, et sic cseteras 
nefandse militise copias . . . delevit . . . ut etiam temporalis interims ul- 
tione sentirent perfidi, quod oblata sibi perpetuaB salutis consilia spreveraiit." 
— Bede, v. 18. 

*® Annales Tighernach, ad. ann. 606. 


Au old calumny, revived in our day, makes Augustin 
answerable for this invasion, and accuses him of having 
pointed out the monastery of Bangor to the Northumbrian'^ But the Venerable Bede expressly states that 
he had been for a long time a saint in heaven when this in- 
vasion took place. It is enough that Bede himself, much 
more Saxon than Christian whenever he treats of the British, 
applauds this massacre more than a century afterwards, and 
sees in it Heaven's just vengeance on what he calls the in- 
famous army of the disloyal Welsh — that is to say, on the 
heroic Christians who, in defence of their hearths and altars, 
fell beneath the sword of the pagan Anglo-Saxons, under the 
orders of a chief who, according to the testimony of Bede 
himself, slew more of the native population than any of his 

After such an explosion of his own national antipathies, he 
seems to be singularly little entitled to reproach the Celts 
of Wales with the steadfastness of their resentment, as he 
does in stating that even in his time they made no account 
of the religion of the Anglo-Saxons, and would hold no moro 
communion with them than with pagans.^^^ 

It is possible, as an ingenious critic has said, that Augus- 
tin and his companions did not treat with sufficient tact the 
national and insular pride of the British, heightened by a 
long warlike resistance, by the traditions of the monks, and 
the patriotic songs of the bards.^'^^ But nothing, I repeat, 
indicates the slightest departure on his part from the counsel 
and example of the glorious pontiff whose disciple and emu- 
lator he was. Condemned by the obstinacy of the British to 
deprive himself of their assistance, he none the less con- 
tinued his " hunt of men," as his biographer calls it, by 
evangelizing the Saxons, who at least did not wear him out, 

100 'pj^jg false imputation can be traced back to Geoffrey of Monmouth, 
bishop of St. Asaph in the twelfth century, and mouthpiece of the national 
rancors of Wales. Certain obscure writers, unworthy descendants of the 
Anglo-Saxons, such as Goodwin and Hammond, have adopted it out of ha- 
tred of the Romish Church, and not knowing how to reconcile it with Bede's 
positive assertion of the prior death of Augustin, have pretended that this 
passage of the Venerable historian had been interpolated. But all the 
modern editors of Bede have been obliged to acknowledge that the conte? 'ed 
passage existed in all tlie MSS. of that author without exception. Compare 
LiNGARD, Anglo-Saxon Church, vol. i. p. 74; Varin, Premier Memoire, pp. 
;io-2'J ; GoRiNi, op. cit., vol. ii. p. 77. 

'^' Bede, i. 34. 

'"* Bede, ii. 20. See the text already cited, p. 687- 

'"^ OZANAM, p. 153. 

VOL. II. 16 


like the Welsh, with their wordiness and their endless dis- 
cussions.^*'* And yet, even among the former he sometimes 
encountered an opposition which expressed itself in insult and 
derision, especially when he passed beyond the bounds of 
Ethelbert's kingdom. On one occasion, while traversing that 
region of the country of the West Saxons which is now called 
Dorsetshire, he and his companions found themselves in the 
midst of a seafaring population, who heaped on them affronts 
and outrages. These heathen savages not only refused to 
hear them, but even drove them away with acts of violence, 
and in hunting them from their territory, with a rude de- 
rision truly Teutonic, fastened to the black robes of the poor 
Italian monks, as a mark of contempt, the tails of the fish 
which formed their livelihood. ^'^^ Augustin was not a man 
to be discouraged by such trifles. Besides, he found in other 
places crowds more attentive and more impressible. And 
thus he persevered for seven entire years, until his death, 
in his apostolic journeys — travelling after, as well as before, 
his archiepiscopal consecration, like a true missionary, always 
on foot, without carriage or baggage, and adding to his un- 
wearied preaching good works and miracles — here making 
unknown springs gush from the ground, there healing by his 
touch the sick believed to be incurable or dying.i^^ 
Founda- Meanwhile Ethelbert did not fail in solicitude 

tionsof for and generosity to the Church of which he had 
Bishopric's becomo the ardent disciple. Not content with the 
and Rolih^ gifts which ho had bestowed on the two great mon- 
ester. asterics of Canterbury — on that which surrounded 

the metropolitan church, and on the Abbey of St. Peter and 

104 (> Yjj, crediderira Augustinum a quoquam paganorum majori fatigatum 
verborum arubage. ... In occidentalem ab Aquiloni plagam divertit, non 
tam viatoris quam venatoris aut aucupis morem gerens." — Gotselinds, 
Hisi. Maior, c. 32, 41. 

105 " Plebs impia . . . tota ludibriorum et opprobriorum in sanctos debac- 
chata . . . nee raanu pepercisse creditur. . . . Fama est illos efl'ulminandoa 
provenientes niai'inoruoi piscium caudas Sanctis appendisse." — Gotselinus, 
c. 41. 

1C6 «< Tain post praesulatum quani ante, semper pede, absque veliiculo, 
patiens ambulando, liber et expeditus praedicationi evangelic^." — Elmham, 
Hist. Monaster. S. Augustini, p. 106. Compare Gotselinds, c. 44 and 49. 
This historian reproduces the story of an old man whose grandfather had, 
while still young, been a scoffer at the wonderful stranger whom the crowd fol- 
lowed and surrounded as though he were an angel from iieaven, because he 
went about healing all their infirmities. " Cum vero audissem ilium omnium 
debilium ac moribundoruni curare corpora, ampliori incredulus cachinnabam 
vesania," He ended, nevertheless, in being baptized by the hand of Augus* 
tin himself. 


St. Paul without the walls — he seconded with all his might 
the introduction of Christianity into a kingdom adjacent to 
his own and placed under his suzerainty — that of the Saxons 
of the East, or of Essex, the king of which was the son of his 
sister, and which was only separated from Kent by the 
Thames. Augustin having sent thither as bishop the monk 
Mellitus, one of the new missionaries sent to him by Gregory, 
Ethelbert built at London, the chief city of the West Saxons, 
a church, dedicated to St. Paul, intended for a cathedral, 
which it still is. In his own kingdom of Kent he authorized 
the erection of a second bishopric, situated at Rochester, a 
Roman city, twenty miles west of Canterbury ; Augustin 
placed there as bishop another of the new missionaries, Jus- 
tus by name ; and the king caused a cathedral to be built 
there, which he named after St. Andrew, in memory of the 
Roman monastery whence Pope Gregory had drawn all the 
apostles of the Anglo-Saxon race.^*^^ 

All these foundations, destined to last to our own times in 
spite of so many strange and unhappy changes, invest him 
with an imperishable claim on the gratitude of Christian pos- 
terity ; and long afterwards, when the Norman nobility had 
in their turn seized upon the supreme power and changed 
the aspect of the Church of England, King Ethelbert be- 
came apparent to her as the first who had provided with 
seignorial strongholds, in the shape of bishops' seats and 
monasteries, the kingdom which he desired to hold in fee for 
the Lord God.^os 

He did yet more for the Church of his country Tawsof 
by securing for her property and her liberties what Etueibert 
we may call, in modern rather than just terms, a nigthV^' 
legal and parliamentary sanction. In one of those ^"(fpeace"" 
periodical assemblies of the sages and chief men of oft^^e 
the Saxon people, which bore the name of Witena- 
gemot, and which were the origin of the modern Parliament, 
he caused certain laws — the text of which is still preserved 
— to be committed to writing and published in the Anglo- 
Saxon tongue. They confirmed at once the old rights of the 
people, and the new rights conceded to the new Church. The 
first of the ninety articles of that legislative act enacts that 
those who should rob the goods of the Church, of the bishops, 

'^^ Bede, ii. 3. 

108 i. 'Pum episcopia et monasteria tanquam dominica castella, quibus 
Dominicum regnum teneatur, liberaliter ac regaliter passim machinatur." — 
GoTSELiNUS, Hist. Maior, c. 23. 


or other orders of the clergy, shall make restitution eleven 
or twelve times beyond the value of the robbery .1°-' The 
same article sanctioned implicitly what the English have 
since named the right of sanctuary — that is, the right of 
asylum and protection recognized as belonging to the pre- 
cincts of Churches and monasteries — by visiting the viola- 
tion of that peace of the Church with a penalty the double of 
that incurred by violation of the public peace. The whole 
nation thus sanctioned and ratified the work of its king by 
placing under the safeguard of penal laws the property and 
safety of the ministers of the religion which it had adopted. ^^"^ 
These laws, long known by the name of Dooms or Judg- 
ments of Mhelbert, are the first written laws known to us, 
not only of the English, but perhaps of any of the Germanic 
races. The best informed critics attribute to the influence 
of the Roman monks on the Anglo-Saxon king, this com- 
mencement of the national, or rather penal code.^^^ For its 
enactments were chiefly penal, and we cannot but admire 
the wisdom of those missionaries who, trained in the tradi- 
tions of Roman jurisprudence, nevertheless established and 
sanctioned the principle of pecuniary compensation univer- 
sally adopted by the Germanic races. In these laws of Ethel- 
bert a classification of social .position is clearly apparent 
from the minutely exact enumeration of crimes committed 
against the life or safety of men, the honor of women, religion, 
and public peace. Every trespass is punished by a penalty 
proportionate — first, to the gravity of the offence, and next, 
to the rank of the victim. In case of murder, the compen- 
sation is due not only to the family of the deceased, but also 
to the community of which he was a member, and to the king 
who was his sovereign. This system, applied for the first 
time to the defence of the Christian Church by the Saxons 

lua a Qt ecclesiaj peculium duodecies, episcopi undeciea emendaretur." — 
According to the instructions given by Gregory to Augustin, this surplns 
value of the restitution did not profit the Church, which was bound to be 
content with the simple restoration of what had been taken. 

no u Inter csetera bona quae genti suae conferendo conferebat, etiam de- 
creta illi judiciorum juxta exen)pla Eomanorura, cum concilio sapientium 
constituit. . . . Volens scilicet tuitionem eis quos et quorum doctrinam sus- 
ceperat, praestare." — Bede, ii. 5. Compare Kemble, Saxons in England, 
ii. 205; Hook, o;?. cit, p. 59 ; Wilkins, Concilia, p. 25 ; Thokpe, Ancient 
Laws and Institutes of England, 1840, c. 1. This last publication, executed 
by order of the English Government, gives the Saxon text of the laws of 
Ethelbert, with a very intelligent commentary. 

'" Lappenberg, vol. i. p. 142; Lingard, Hist, of England, c. 11; Lord 
Campbell, Lives of the Chancellors, art. Angemundus ; especially Phillips, 
Geschichte des Angelsachsichschen Rechts, p. 61. 


of Kent, and for the first time reduced to a written form 
under the guidance of the Roman monks, will be found in all 
the subsequent legislation of the Saxon kingdoms, which the 
bishops and monks, successors of Augustin, continued to 
guide with a strong yet gentle hand into the ways of Chris- 
tian civilization. 

Great men, commissioned by God to begin works which 
are to be truly great and enduring, seldom live to old age ; 
and when one of them disappears, it often happens that he 
carries with him on his way to a better world those who 
have been on earth his companions, servants, and 
friends. St. Gregory the Great, whose pontificate ^ugory 
has left an ineffaceable impression upon the mem- ^}^'^ °^^. 
cry 01 Christendom, and a peerless example in the — 
annals of the Church, reigned only fifteen years. 12th March. 
He died in the early month of the year 605, and i2th'May. 
two months after Augustin followed his father and 
friend to the tomb.^^^ The Roman missionary was interred, 
after the Roman custom, by the side of the public way, the 
great Roman road which led from Canterbury to the sea, and 
in the unfinished church of the famous monastery which was 
about to assume and to preserve his name. 

The name of Gregory will remain always identified with 
that conversion of England which was the labor of love of 
his whole life, and the greatest glory of his pontificate. His 
large and tender heart had been the first to conceive the 
thought of that conquest. His patient and conciHating gen- 
ius, at once ardent and gentle, prudent and resolute, revealed 
to him the conditions of success. It is to him that the Eng- 
lish race — at this day the most numerous and powerful of 
all Christian races — owes the revelation of the light of the 

He was the true apostle, the conqueror of England for 
God, and, through England, of immense countries which she 
has subjected to her laws, to her language, and to her reli- 
gion. It is, then, with good reason that the first English 
historian claims for him this title. " Called," says Bede, "■ to 
a supreme pontificate over all the nations already converted 
to the faith, to our nation which was in bondage to idols, and 
out of which he has formed a Christian Church, he has been 

"* There has been much dispute about the date of the death of Augustin, 
which Mabillon had fixed in 607. But the majority of English historians are 
now agreed upon the date 605. Wharton would even place it as early aa 
604. — Anglia Sacra, vol. i. p. 31. 



something more. We may well say of Gregory what Pau< 
said of himself to the Corinthians — that if he has not been 
the apostle of others, he has been our apostle. Yes, we are 
the seal of his apostleship in the Lord — we, the people 
whom he rescued from the fangs of the old enemy, to make 
us partakers of the eternal freedom." ^^^ 

The nature of the means that Gregory employed to ac- 
complish his work, and the moral perfection of the arrange- 
ments which he brought to bear on it, are even more to be 
admired than the work itself; — zeal, devotion, wisdom, mod- 
eration, love of souls, and respect for their freedom, pity, 
generosity, vigilance, indomitable perseverance, divine gen- 
tleness, intelligent patience — nothing was awanting in him. 
We leave the history of his pontificate, and especially of his 
intercourse with England, with no other regret than that 
inseparable from witnessing the end of so noble a life ; and 
in losing sight of him, are left uncertain which should be the 
most admired — his good sense or his good heart, his genius 
or his virtue. 

The figure of St. Augustin of Canterbury naturally pales 
beside that of St. Gregory the Great ; his renown is, as it 
were, absorbed into the brilliant centre of the Pontiff's 
glory. And recent English and German historians ^^^ have 
taken delight in bringing out the inferiority of the man 
whom Gregory chose for his vicegerent and his friend. 
They have vied with each other in decrying his character 
and services — accusing him by turns of hauteur and of 
feebleness, of irresolution and of obstinacy, of softness and 
of vanity, — trying, especially, to heighten and magnify the 
indications of hesitation and of self-seeking which they dis- 
cover in his life. Let it be permitted to these strange precis- 
ians to reproach him with having stopped short of the ideal 
of which they pretend to dream, and which no hero of theirs 
has ever approached. To our judgment, the few shadows 
which fall on the noble career of this great saint are left 
there to touch the hearts and console the spirits of those 
who are, like him, infirm, and charged sometimes with a 
mission which, like him, they judge to be beyond their 

"3 «' Quia etsi aliis non est apostolus, sed tamen nobis est; nam signacu- 
Inni apostolatus ejus nos sumus in Domino. . . . Quod nostram gentem per 
praedicatores quos hue direxit, de dentibus antiqui hostis eripiens aeterLi« 
libertatis fecit esse participem." — Bede, ii. 1. 

"* Stanley, Hook, Lappenberg. 


Among the workers of great works who have changed the 
history of the Avorld and decided the fate of nations one 
loves to meet with those infirmities, which give encourage- 
ment to the common average of men. 

Let us, then, preserve intact our admiration and our grati- 
tude for the first missionary — the first bishop and abbot of 
the Enghsh people. Let us give our meed of applause to 
that council which, a century and a half after his death, de- 
creed that his name should be always invoked in the Lita- 
nies after that of Gregory, '^ because it is he who, sent by 
our father Gregory, first carried to the English nation the 
sacrament of baptism and the knowledge of the heavenly 
country." "5 



Special characteristics of the conversion of England. — All the details of it 
are known : it has neither martyrs nor persecutions ; it has been the exclu- 
sive work of Benedictine or Celtic monks. — All the Roman mission- 
aries were monks ; their monasteries served for cathedrals and parish 
churches. — Laurence, first successor of Augustin. — Mellitus at the coun- 
cil of Rome at GIO; Pope's letter to Ethelbert; monks of Saxon origin. — 
Efforts of Laurence to reconcile the British ; his letter to the Irish bish- 
ops. — Conversion of the kings of East Anglia and Essex. — Foundation 
of Westminster; legend of the fisher; King Sebert the first to be buried 
there ; monastic burials ; Nelson and Wellington. — Canterbury and West- 
minster, the metropolis and national necropolis of the English, due to the 
monks. — Death of Bertha and of Ethelbert; the abbot Peter drowned. — 
Eadbald, the new king of Kent, remains a pagan ; his subjects, as also the 
Saxons of the East, return to paganism. — Flight of the bishops of Lon- 
don and Rochester; Archbishop Laurence held back by St. Peter. — Con- 
version of Eadbald. — Apostasy of the king of East Anglia; he admits 
Christ among the Scandinavian gods. — Mellitus and Juitus, the second 
and third successors of Augustin. 

The preaching of the Gospel in England is special 
marked by several characteristics altogether pe- isties otiho 
culiar to itself, and distinguishing it from those ofKifgraud, 

"* " Qui genti Anglorum a prajfato Papa et patre nostro missus . . . scicn- 
tiam fidei, baptism! sacraineiituni et coelestis patriae notitiain primus attulit." 
— Concilium Cloveshovieme, anno 747. 


revolutions which introduced Christianity into the western 
nations previously converted to the faith. 

In Italy, Gaul, and Spain, the propagation of the Gospel 
and the extinction of paganism are surrounded with such 
obscurity that it is impossible to be sure of the date at 
which the first evangelists of most of the dioceses lived. 
Its details ^^ England, on the other hand, nothing is vague 
known. or Uncertain. Year by year, and day by day, we 
witness the various phases of the grand event. We take 
part, as it were, in the very work — the conversion of a 
great country — which it is so rarely possible to study in 
detail. We can follow it in all its changes of fortune with 
the same certainty and precision as if it were an incident in 
our contemporary missions. 

Neither Moreover, in the great lands and illustrioua 

[fo'p^erse- chuFches which have just been named, the baptism 
cutors. Qf blood everywhere accompanied or preceded the 
conversion of the people. Like the apostles at Rome and in 
the East, the missionaries of the Gospel in the West had, for 
the most part, to water with their blood the first furrows that 
they were honored to draw in the field of the divine Husband- 
man. Even after the great imperial persecutions had come 
to an end, martyrdom often crowned the apostolate of the first 
bishops or their auxiliaries. 

In England there was nothing at all like this : from the first 
day of St. Augustin's preaching, and during the whole exist- 
ence of the Anglo-Saxon Church, there was neither martyr 
nor persecutor there. When brought within the circle of the 
pure and radiant light of Christianity, and even before they 
acknowledged and worshipped it, these fierce Saxons, pitiless 
as they were to their enemies, showed themselves very much 
more humanely disposed and accessible to the truth than the 
enlightened and civilized citizens of Imperial Rome. Not 
one drop of blood was shed for the sake of religion, or under 
any religious pretext; and this wonder occurred at a time 
when blood flowed in torrents for the most frivolous motives, 
and in that island where afterwards so many piles were to be 
lighted, and so many scaffolds raised, to immolate the Eng- 
lish who should remain true to the faith of Gregory and 

A third distinctive feature of the conversion of 

The con- . . i • i .1 11! 

version tiie Jingland IS that it was exclusively the work: oi 
work of the mouks ; first, of Benedictine monks sent from Rome 
monka. --and afterwards, as we shall see, of Celtic monks, 


who seemed for a moment about to eclipse or supplant the 
Italian monks, but who soon suffered themselves to be ab- 
sorbed by the influence of the Benedictines, and whose spir- 
itual posterity is inseparably connected with that ^ of the 
Roman missionaries in the common observance of the rule of 
the great legislator of the monks of the West. 

The monastic profession of these first missionaries has been 
the subject of frequent and long dispute. While it has been 
admitted that many were of the order to which he himself 
belonged, it has been denied that all the monks sent by St. 
Gregory the Great were Benedictines. But the unerring 
and unrivahed learning of Mabillon has settled the question 
by irrefutable arguments.^i^ It is possible that some clerks 
or secular priests were to be found among the assistants of 
the first Archbishop of Canterbury ; but it is distinctly 
proved, by the authority of Bede and of all the earliest 
records, that Augustin himself and his successors, as well as 
all the religious of his metropolitan church and the great 
abbey which bore his name, followed the rule of St. Benedict, 
like the great Pope whose mission they carried out. Greg- 
ory, as has been seen, was desirous of taking advantage of 
the new ecclesiastical organization of England to introduce 

"* In the preface of the first century of the Acta Sanctorum Ordims S. 
Benedicti, paragraph 8, Mabillon has completely proved against Baronius 
and Marsiiam, one of the editors of the Monasticon Anglicanum, that Greg- 
ory, Augustin, and their disciples belonged to the order of St. Benedict. 
The brethren of Saint-Maur, in the life of Gregory placed at the beginning 
of their edition of his works, have completed the proof (book iii. c. 5, 6, 7). 
These brief but weighty pages say more on the subject than the folio entitled 
Apostolatus Benedictinorimi in Anglia, sive Disceptatio Historica de Anti- 
quitate Ordinis Congregationisqne Monachorum Nigrorum in Regno An- 
glicB, opera R. P. Clementis Reyneri, Duaci, 1626. This ill-arranged and 
tedious compilation is nevertheless important for the later history of Eng- 
land, on account of the numerous and curious articles which it contains. 
One of the most curious is the note asked and obtained by the author from 
the four most celebrated and learned English Protestants of his time, Cotton, 
Spelman, Camden, and Selden, who unanimously declare that all their re- 
searches have led them to the conclusion that St. Augustin, his companions, 
and his successors, were Benedictines. Tlie English text of this is to be 
found in Stevens, Continuation of Dvgdalc, vol. i. p. 171. A modern 
Anglican, Soames, has recently asserted that the Benedictines did not arrive 
till the tenth century with St. Dunstan; but he has been refuted by the two 
most distinguished of modern English archaeologists, the Protestant Kemble 
and the Catholic Lingard. The latter, however, is in error in supposing {His- 
tory and Antiquities of the Anglo-Saxon Church, vol. i. p. 152) that Augustin 
placed in the Cathedral of Canterbury clerks and not monks. He has mis- 
taken the early synonymy of the words clerici and monachi, in modern 
times used to express two entirely distinct ideas, but which were employed 
indifferently from the days of Gregory of Tours to those of the V'^nerable 
Bede, and even later. 


there that close alliance of the monastic and ecclesiastical life 
which, to his mind, realized the ideal of the apostolic church. 
For more than a century that alliance was universal and ab- 
solute. Wherever the pagan temples were transformed into 
churches — wherever the old churches of the time of the 
Romans and Britons rose from their ruins — there monastic 
life prevailed among the missionaries who served the cures. 
The converted country was thus, little by little, overspread 
by monasteries ; the small ones for a long time held the place 
of rural parish churches ; the large served for cathedrals, 
chapter-houses, and residences for the bishops, who were all 
produced by the monastic orders. 

The first thirtj^-eight archbishops of Canterbury 

flrsTsuc-'^' were all monks ; and the first four successors of St. 

Au^u"8tin, Augustin were taken from among the monks of the 

"7— Monastery of St. Andrew at Rome, whom Pope 

Gregory had appointed to be his fellow-workmen. 
During his life, Augustin had chosen as his successor in the 
primacy his companion Laurence, and had procured his con- 
secration beforehand, thus meaning, with fatherly anxiety, to 
make the best provision for the frail fortunes of the new-born 
Church of the English.^^'^ The new archbishop did honor to 
the choice which had honored him. He devoted himself 
nobly to the consolidation of the Church which he had seen 
founded ; he conciliated all hearts, and increased the number 
of the faithful by the unwearied activity of his preaching no 
less than by the saintly example of liis life. 

Laurence lived for ten years in an intimate union 

with the good king Ethelbert, and acted as the 
medium of communication between that prince and the IIol y 
See. The third successor of Gregory, Boniface lY. — -he 
who consecrated the Roman Pantheon to Christian worship' 
in memo;ry of all the martyrs — exhibited towards the king 
and the missionary monks of the kingdom of Kent a good- 
will and confidence worthy of his illustrious predecessor. 

n7 a j^g gg defuncto adhuc status ecclesiae tarn rudis, vel ad horam pastore 
destitutus, vacillare inciperet." — Bede, ii. 4. The last historian of the 
arclibishops of Canterbury, Dr. Hook, maintains that Laurence was not a 
monk, taking as his ground the passage in which Bede describes him as priest 
to distinguish him from his companion Peter the monk: " Misit continuo 
Romam Laurentium presbyterum et Petrum monauhum." — i. 27. He for- 
gets that this same Peter is liimself described as priest some pages farther on : 
"Primus ejusdem monasterii abbas Petrus presbyter fuit." — i. 33. The title 
of priest was not at all incompatible with the monastic profession. That 
point was settled at the Council of Rome in 610 — only then, as now, all 
monks were not in priest's orders. 


Mellitus, the new bishop of the East Saxons, was sent by 
Laurence to Rome to consult the Pope upon different matters 
affecting the interests of the Church of Eng-land. 27th Feb., 
He was one of the members of the Council of Rome, ^^o- 
in which were promulgated the canons which confirmed the 
rule of St. Benedict, and accorded to the monks the right of 
administering the sacraments and of being admitted to all 
the grades of the priesthood. ^^^ Mellitus brought back to 
England the decrees of this council, which he had himself 
signed along with the other bishops ; he brought likewise 
very gracious letters from the Pope to the archbishop and to 
the king. '' Glorious king," Boniface wrote to Ethel bert, 
" we accord to you Mnth right good will that which you have 
demanded of the Apostolic See through our co-bisliop Mel- 
litus : to wit, that in the monastery which your holy teacher 
Augustin, the disciple of Gregory, of blessed memory, con- 
secrated under the name of the Holy Saviour, in j^our city 
of Canterbury, and over which our very dear brother Lau- 
rence now presides, you should establish a dwelling for monks, 
living together in complete regularity ; and we decree, by 
our apostolic authority, that the monks who have preached 
the faith to you may take this new monastic community into 
association with themselves, and teach its members to live a 
holy life." 1^9 

Through the obscurity of this language it seems natural 
to conclude that the introduction of new monks, probably of 
Saxon origin, into the Italian community founded by Augus- 
tin, is here indicated. A century passed, however, ere an 
abbot born in England could be chosen to preside over it. 

Like Augustin, Archbishop Laurence was not Efforts of 
content to labor for the salvation of the Saxons Laurence 

•11- 1-11 1 1 1 • 1 . ^o bring: 

With his monkish brethren only : his pastoral anxi- about the 
ety urged him to search for the means of bringing of'the^^''"* 
the Christians of the ancient British race into unity ^"*°°^- 

"^ " Cum idem Papa cogeret synodem episcoporum Italiae, de vita mona- 
chorum et quiete ordinaturus." — Bede, loc. cit. 

119 a j<<jjj gloriose, quod ab Apostolica sede per coepiscopum nostrum Mel- 
litum postulatis, libenti animo concedimus ; id est, ut vestra benignitas in 
monasterio in Dorobernensi civitate constituto, quod sanctus doctor vester 
Augustinus, beatae memoriae Gregorii discipulus, sancti Salvatoris nomini 
consecravit, cui ad prsesens praeesse dignoscitur dilectissimus frater noster 
Laurentius, licenter per omnia monachorum regulariter viventium habita- 
tionem statuat, apostolica auctoritate decernentes ut ipsi vestri prjedicatores 
monaclii monachorum gregera sibi associent et eorum vitam sanctitatum (sic) 
moribus exornent." — Guillelmus Malmesbur., De Gesiis Pontificum An* 
giorum, lib. i. p. 118, ed. Savile. 


with Rome, so that he and they might work together for the 
couversion of the pagans. His experience of the conditions 
under which the Christian religion might be successfully ex- 
tended made him bitterly deplore the hostile attitude of the 
Celtic monks, and the polemical rancor which broke out in 
them whenever they sought or consented to discuss the mat- 
ters in dispute. It was at the same moment that the illus- 
trious Columbanus impaired the effect of the admirable 
example which he set to France, Burgundy, and Switzerland, 
by his extraordinary eccentricities. The rumor of them had 
reached even Laurence, who could not forbear referring to it 
in an epistle which he addressed to the bishops and abbots of 
all Scotia — that is to say, of Ireland — the chief centre of 
the Celtic Church. Having failed, like Augustin, in a direct 
advance which, with his two suffragans, he had made to the 
clergy of the Welsh Britons, he sought to ascend to the 
source of the evil by writing to their brethren in the neigh- 
boring island to expostulate with them on their universal in- 
tolerance. His letter begins thus : — 

" To our very dear brethren, the lords, bishops, and abbots 
of Ireland, — we, Laurence, Mellitus, and Justus, servants 
of the servants of God, greeting. The Holy See having 
directed us, as is its wont, to these western regions, there 
to preach the faith to the heathen, we have entered this 
island of Britain, not knowing what we did. Believing that 
they all followed the rules of the universal Church, we held 
in great veneration the piety of the Britons and the Scots. 
When we came to know the Britons, we thought the Scots 
were better than they. But now, when the bishop Dagan 
has come to us from Ireland, and when the abbot Columba- 
nus has betaken himself to Gaul, we know that the Scots 
differ in nothing from the Britons ; for the bishop Dagan has 
not only refused to partake of our hospitality — he has not 
even deigned to eat in the place which serves as our dwell 
ing." 120 Dagan was a monk of the great Irish Monastery 
of Bangor : he had come to confer with the mission at Can- 
terbury, and he had undoubtedly been offended by the firm 
determination of the Roman prelates to maintain the condi- 
tions of liturgical unity. No trace has survived of any over- 
tures towards reconciliation on his part, or on that of any 
other representative of the Celtic Churches. 

The Roman monks were for some time more suo 

'** Bede, loc. cii. 


cessful among the Saxon settlements — neighbors conversion 
or vassals of the monarchy of Ethelbert. The wngs'of 
most eastern district of the island — that which, f„|o1^"°"" 
lying between the Thames and the sandy outlets of Essex. 
the Ouse, forms a sort of circular projection looking towards* 
Scandinavia — was occupied, towards the north, by the tribe 
of East Angles, or English of the East. Their king, Redwald, 
who had paid a visit to the king of Kent, received baptism 
like him ; and his conversion awakened hopes of the conver- 
sion of his people — a population much more numerous than 
that of the country already won for Christ, occupying as it 
did the large modern countries of Norfolk and Suffolk, with 
a part of the shires of Cambridge, Huntingdon, Bedford, and 
Hertford. Between East Anglia and Kent lay the kingdom 
of Essex, or of the Saxons of the East, already converted 
during Augustin's life, thanks to its king Sebert, the nephew 
of the Bretwalda Ethelbert. This kingdom was particu- 
larly important on account of its capital, the ancient Roman 
colony of London, where Mellitus had been appointed bishop 
by Augustin. 

He had founded there, as we have seen, on the Foundation 
ruins of an ancient temple of Diana, a monastic ^i^te^r 
cathedral dedicated to St. Paul. Soon after, to the fiio. 
west of the episcopal city, and on the site of a temple of 
Apollo, which had supplanted, after the Diocletian persecu- 
tion, a church occupied by the first British Christians,^^^ the 
new bishop of London built, with the concurrence of Sebert 
the king, another church and a monastery dedicated to St. 
Peter. Thus on the banks of the Thames, as on those of the 
Tiber, and in expressive and touching remembrance of Rome, 
the two princes of the apostles found in these two sanctua- 
ries, separate yet near, a new consecration of their glorious 
brotherhood in the apostolate and martyrdom. 

This modest monastic colony established itself on a fright- 
ful and almost inaccessible site,^^^ in the middle of a deep 
marsh, on an islet formed by an arm of the Thames, and no 
covered with briers and thorns that it was called Thorney 
Island. From its position to the west of London it took a 
new name, destined to rank among the most famous in the 
world — that of Westminster, or Monastery of the West. 

As far as our history can extend, it will always find the 

'*' DuGDALE, Monasticon Anglicanum, vol. i. p. 55. 

'*' "In loco terribili." — Charter quoted by Ridgway, The Gem of Thor 
ney Island, p. 4. 

VOL. II. 17 


national sanctuary of England encircled with growing splen- 
dor and celebrity. But at present our business is only to 
record the legend which brightens its humble cradle — a 
legend which we have already met with among the British 
at Glastonbury, and which we shall find among other nations 
at the beginning of other great monastic foundations — in 
France at that of St. Denis, in Switzerland at Einsiedlen — 
and which has exercised on the imagination of the English 
people an influence more durable and powerful than is gener- 
ally produced by the best authenticated facts. Up to the 
sixteenth century it was still told from generation to genera- 
tion that in the night preceding the day fixed for the 
consecration of the new church, and while Bishop Mellitus, 
within his tent, was preparing for the ceremony of the mor- 
row, St. Peter, the great fisher of men, appeared under the 
form of an unknown traveller to a poor fisherman whose boat 
was moored on the bank of the Thames opposite the Isle of 
Thorns. The water was rough, and the river in flood. The 
stranger persuaded the fisherman to row him across to 
the opposite bank, and when he landed he made his 
way towards the new church. As he crossed its threshold, 
the fisherman with amazement saw the interior of the edifice 
lighted up. From floor to roof, within and without, a chorus 
of angelic voices filled the air with a music such as he had 
never heard, and with the sweetest odors. After a long in- 
terval the music ceased, and all disappeared except the 
stranger, who, returning, charged the fisherman to go and 
tell the bishop what he had seen, and how he, whom the 
Christians called St. Peter, had himself come to the conse- 
cration of the church which his friend king Sebert had raised 
to him. ^23 

This king Sebert and his wife were buried at Westminster; 
and subsequently, through many vicissitudes, the great ab- 
bey, becoming more and more dear to the Church, to the 

'2^ " Ecce subito lux ccelestis emicuit. . . . Affuit cum apostolo multitudo 
civium supernorum . . . aures angelicEe voces mulcebat sonoritas, nares in- 
dicibilis odoris fragrantia perfundebat. . . . Nova Dei nupta, consecrante 
eo qui coelum claudit et aperit, coelestibus resplendet luminaribus. . . . Fixis 
tentoriis a dimidio milliario. . . . Rediit ad piscatoreni piscium egregius pis- 
cator hominuu). . . . Egosumquem Christiani sanctum Petrum apostolum 
vocant, qui banc ecclesiam nieam hac nocte Deo dedicavi . . . quam mihi 
ille meus amicus Sebertus fabricavit." — Eic. Cirencester, Speculum Hist, 
de Gestis Reg. Angl., ii. 27. Dugdale quotes no less than four original 
versions of this miracle, extracted from ancient English chronicles. Cora* 
pare Bakonius, Annul., .an. 610, c. 10, and Ada SS. Bolland., January!. 
p. 246. Hook gives a plausible enough explanation of the tradition. 


princes, nobles, and people, was the chosen burial-place of 
the kings and the royal family. It is still, in our time, as 
every one knows, the Pantheon of England, who has found 
no nobler consecration for the memory of her heroes, 
orators, and poets, her most glorious children, than to give 
them their last resting-place under the vaults of the old 
monastic sanctuary.^^^ Near that sanctuary the royalty of 
England long sojourned ; in one of its dependent buildings 
the House of Commons held its first meeting ; ^-^ under its 
shadow the English Parliament, the most ancient, powerful, 
and glorious assembly in the world, has always flourished, 
and still remains. Never has a monument been more identi- 
fied with the history of a people. Each of its stones repre- 
sents a page of the country's annals ! 

Canterbury embodies the religious life of England, West- 
minster has been the centre of her political life and her real 
capital ; and England owes Canterbury, as she owes West- 
minster, to the sons of St. Benedict. 

Meanwhile a shadow was about to fall on the Death of 
dawn of the faith in England. The noble grand- Queen^ 
daughter of Clotilda, the gentle and pious Queen ^^ "' 
Bertha, was dead. She preceded her husband in her death, 
as in her faith, and was buried beside the great Roman mis- 
sionary who had given her the joy of seeing her husband's 
kingdom, and her husband himself, converted to Christianity. 

When the first successor of Augustin celebrated ^^.^ 
the solemn consecration of the great monastic 
church which was to be the burying-place, or, as they said 
then, the bed of rest (thalamus) for Christian kings and pri- 
mates, the remains of the queen, and of the first archbishop 
of Canterbury, were transferred thither; those of the queen 
were laid in front of the altar sacred to St. Martin, the great 

'*■* Chatham, Pitt, Fox, Sheridan, Grattan, Canning, Peel — all the great 
modern orators and statesmen, the poets, the admirals, the generals slain on 
the battle-field — there repose by the side of Edward the Confessor, and thp 
kings and heroes of the middle ages. The words of Nelson at the moment 
of beginning the battle of Aboukir, " Now for a peerage or Westminster 
Abbey ! " will be remembered by our readers. In our day the custom has 
been introduced of burying the great military chiefs at St. Paul's. Nelson 
and Wellington both rest in the vaults of the church which bears the name 
and occupies the site of the first foundation of Augustin's companion. 

'*'* It was in the fine chapter-house of Westminster Abbey that the Com- 
mons sat. Although their violent debates were lamented as disturbing the 
monastic worship, they remained there till the Reformation ; when St. Ste- 
phen's Chapel, on the site of which the present House of Commons is placed, 
was allotted to them. 


wonder-worker of Gaul, and those of the primate before the 
altar of his father and friend, St. Gregory.^^^ Three years 
And of later, Ethelbert, who had married again, also died, 
KingEth- and was buried by Bertha's side in the Church of 
24th Feb., St. Augustin. He reigned fifty-six years, twenty 
^^^' of which he had been a Christian. " He was," says 

Bede, " the first English king who ascended to heaven, and 
the Church numbered him among her saints." ^^"^ 

Laurence thus remained the sole survivor of all who had 
taken part, twenty years before, in the famous conference in 
the isle of Thanet, at which the Saxon king and Frankish 
queen met the Roman missionaries. His companion, Peter, 
the first abbot of the monastery of St, Augustin, was drowned 
on the French coast, some time before, while fulfilling a mis- 
sion on which King Athelbert had sent him. Laurence had 
thus to encounter all alone the storm which burst forth im- 
mediately after the death of Ethelbert. The conversion of 
that monarch had not insured that of all his people ; and 
His sue- Eadbald, his son who succeeded to the throne, had 
Eadbaid ^^^ embraced Christianity along with his father, 
remaining The loosencss of liis morals had helped to keep him 
instigates 1X1 idolatry. When he became king he wished to 
tasy'ofhis marry his father's widow, the second wife whom 
subjects. Ethelbert had married after the death of Bertha. 
This kind of incest, with which St. Paul reproached the first 
Christians of Corinth,!^^ was only too consonant with the 
usages of several of the Teutonic races ; ^^^ but such a case 
had been anticipated, and formally forbidden in Gregory's 
reply to Augustin, when consulted as to the matrimonial 
relations of the Saxons. This was not Eadbald's only crime. 
He gave himself up to such transports of fury that he was 
commonly regarded as beside himself, and possessed with a 
demon. But his example sufiiced to draw into apostasy 
those who had embraced Christian faith and chastity only 
from motives of fear, or from a desire to stand well with 
King Ethelbert. 

The tempest which threatened to ingulf the recent Chris- 
tianity of England, became more and more formidable when 

*^® Gdillelm Thohne, CA-row. S. August., ■p. 1765; Thomas db Elmham, 
Hist. Monast. S. August., p. 432, ed. Hardivicke; Stanley, Memorials of 
Canterbury, p. 26. 

'" Act. SS. Bolland., vol. iii. February, p. 470. 

'=*• 1 Corinth, v. 1. 

'** Kemble, Saxons in England, ii. 407. 


the death of Sebert, nephew of Ethelbert, and founder of 
WestDiinster, raised to the sovereignty of the kingdom of 
Essex his three sons, who, Hke the son of the king of Kent, 
had remained pagans. They immediately resumed 
the public practice of the idolatry which they had heathenism 
but for a short time foregone during the life of their KasT" "'^ 
father, and gave full liberty to all their subjects to Saxons. 
worship idols. At the same time they still went Expulsion 

• - of tho 

occasionally to witness the ceremonies of the Chris- Bishop of 
tiau worship : and one day, when the bishop Melli- London, 
tus was administering, in their presence, the communion to 
the faithful, they said to him, with the freedom of their bar- 
barian pride, *' Why do you not offer us that white bread 
which you gave to our father, and which you continue to 
give to the people in your church ? " ** If you will be 
washed," answered the bishop, " in the fountain of salvation, 
as your father was, you may, like him, have your share of 
the holy bread ; otherwise, it is impossible." 

" We have no desire," replied the princes, " to enter your 
fountain — we have no need of it; but we want to refresh 
ourselves with that bread : " and as they insisted on it, the 
bishop repeated again that it was needful that they should 
be cleansed from all sin before being admitted to the com- 
munion. Then they flew into a rage, and ordered him to 
quit their kingdom with all that belonged to him : " Since 
you will not gratify us in a matter so simple, you shall stay 
no longer in our country." ^^^ 

The Bishop of London thus driven away, crossed the 
Thames, and came into the kingdom of Kent, in order to 
confer with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop 
of Rochester as to the course he should pursue. These 
were the only three bishops of the Christian church in Eng- 
land, and all three lost courage in presence of the new peril 
which threatened them. They decided that it was better 
that they should all return to their own country, there to 
serve God in freedom, than that they should remain . , . . . 

11 II- 111 1 T n Archbishop 

uselessly among barbarians who had revolted from Laurence 
the faith. The two bishops were the first to fly, to'leave 
and crossed over to France. Laurence prepared to ^°°''*"'*- 

130 ((^yxij procellam hujus perturbationis mors Sabercti. . . . Barbari 
inflati stultitia dicebant : Quare non et nobis panem nitidum porrigis. . . . 
!Si vultis ablui fonte illo salutari. . . . Nolumus fontem ilium intrare . . . 
si non vis adsentire nobis in tam facili causa quam petimus, non poteris jam 
in nostra provincia deniorari." — Bede, ii. 6. 



follow them, but in the night before his intended departure, 
wishing to pray and to weep without restraint over that 
English Church which he had helped to found a quarter of a 
century before, and which he was now obliged to abandon, 
he had his bed placed in the church of the monastery where 
reposed Augustiu, Ethelbert, and Bertha. Scarcely had he 
fallen asleep when St. Peter appeared to him, as Jesus Christ 
had erewhile appeared to St. Peter himself when the prince 
of the apostles, flying from Nero's persecution, met on the 
Aj){_ian Way his divine Master coming towards Rome, there 
tc be, in his default, a second time crucified.i^^ The prince 
of the apostles overwhelmed with reproaches, and even 
scourged till the blood came, the bishop who was ready to 
abandon Christ's flock to the wolves, instead of braving 
martyrdom to save it. 

On the morrow Lawrence showed his bruised and bleeding 
sides to the king, who, at the sight, asked who had dared thus 
to maltreat such a man as he. " It was St. Peter," said the 
bishop, " who inflicted on me all these blows and sufferings 
for your salvation." ^^^ Eadbald, moved and terrified, re- 
After the nounced idolatry, gave up his incestuous marriage, 
st*Pet°r ^^'^ promised to do his best for the protection 
he is ' of the Church. He called the two bishops, Mel- 
by Kiug litus and Justus, back from France, and sent them 
who'^is'^' back to their dioceses to re-establish the faith in 
converted. ^11 freedom. After his conversion he continued 
to serve God with his people ; he even built a new church 
dedicated to the Holy Virgin, in the monastery founded 
by St. Augustin, where he reckoned upon being buried 
beside his father and mother. 

But he had not the same authority over the other Saxon 
realms with which Ethelbert had been invested in his ca- 
pacity of Bretwalda, or military chief of the Saxon federa- 
tion. He could not succeed in restoring Meliitus to his 
diocese. The princes of Essex who had expelled him had 
all perished in a war with the Saxons of the West ; but their 

"' Every one has seen at Rome, on the Appian Way, the churcli called 
Domine quo vadis, built on the spot where, according to tradition, Ht. Peter 
put that question to the Lord, who answered him, Vado Romam iteruin ;ru- 
tifigi. — IS- Ambr., Contra Auxentiicm. 

132 a j'lagellis arctioribus afficiens. . , . An mei, inquit, oblitus es exem- 
pli qui pro parvulis Christi . . . vincula, verbera, carceres, afflictiones, 
ipsam postremo mortem, mortem autem crucis, ab infidelibus et inimicis 
Christi ipse cum Christo coronandua pertuli. . . . Retecto vestimento . . . 
quantis esset verberibus laceratus ostendit. Qui . . . inquirens quis tanto 
?iro au'sus esset plagas infligere." — Bede, ii. 6. 


subjects persevered in idolatry, and the people of London 
offered the most determined resistance to the re-establish- 
ment of the Roman bishop, declaring that they greatly pre- 
ferred their idolatrous priests.^^^ 

The kingdom of Essex seemed thus altogether i>efect.ion 
lost to the faith ; and as to East Anglia, the conver- of East 
sion of its king, Redwald, had not been serious and ° 

permanent. No sooner had he returned from the visit to 
Ethelbert, during which he received baptism, than he al- 
lowed himself to be brought back to the worship of his 
fathers by the influence of his wife and his principal coun- 
cillors ; but he made the same concession to the new religion 
which had been already accorded to it by a Roman emperor 
— a concession much more worthy of a Ctesar of the Roman 
decadence than of the impetuous instincts of a barbarian 
king. He vouchsafed to assign to the Son of the only true 
God a place by the side of his Scandinavian deities, and 
established two altars in the same temple — the one for the 
sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and the other for the victims offered 
to the* 

Of all the conquests made by the envoys of Gregory, 
there remained now only a portion of the country and of 
the people of Kent surrounding the two great monastic 
sanctuaries of Canterbury, — the metropolitan church dedi- 
cated to Christ, and the abbey of St. Augustin, then bearing 
the names of St. Peter and St. Paul. Roman missionaries, 
one after another, succeeded to the government of these 
two monasteries, which were now the only centres in which 
the fire of Christian life still burned in England. During 
more than a century all the abbots of St. Augustin's monas- 
tery were chosen from among the Roman monks, and proba- 
bly from those who came from Mount Coelius to follow or 
join him.^^ 

133 a -^QQ^ iic(it auctoribus perditis, excitatum ad scelera vulgus potuit re- 
corrigi. . . . Londonienses episcopum recipere noluerunt, idololatris magis 
pontificibus servire gaudentes. Non enim tanta erat ei, quanta patri ipsius 
regni potestas, ut etiam nolentibus ac contradicentibus paganis antistitera 
suae posset ecclesiae reddere." — Bede, ii. 6, 7. 

''* "Rediens domum, ab uxore et quibusdam perversis doctoribus seduc- 
tus, in eodem fano et altare haberet ad sacrificium Christi et arulam ad vir- 
timas demoniorum." — Bede, iii. 15. Bede adds that in his lifetime there 
was a king of East Anglia who in his childhood had seen that temple still 

'^* The succession of these abbots, as given by Thomas Elmham in his 
chronicle of the Abbey of St. Augustin, is as follows: John, t618; Ruflni- 
anus, t 626 ; Gratiosus, t 638 ; this last, Homanus natione, as well as his 


2d Feb., In the archiepiscopal see, Laurence, who died 

'^^- three years after his reconciliation to the new king, 

624. was succeeded by Mellitus, who thus finally re* 
Meilitus, nounced all idea of again settling among the Saxons 
HMoriuT*^ of the east. After Mellitus, who, though tortured 
andsuc'*'^^ by the gout, showed an indefatigable devotion to 
cessors of his apostolic duties, Justus, the bishop of Rochester, 
at'can"^ became archbishop. Like Augustin, he received 
terbury. ^^^ palUum, aloug with the privilege of ordaining 
bishops at his pleasure, a privilege conferred upon him by 
the Pope Boniface V., careful, as his predecessor Boniface 
IV. had been, to maintain the mission which Gregory had 
bequeathed to the special charge of the Pontiff. The Pope 
had received letters from King Eadbald which filled him with 
comfort and hope ; and in placing under the jurisdiction of 
Archbishop Justus, the English not only of Kent but of all 
the neighboring kingdoms, he exhorted him to persevere 
with commendable patience in the work of the redemption 
of the English people ^^^ 

Justus occupied the archbishop's throne for three 

years onl}', and was succeeded by Honorius, also a 
disciple of St. Gregory and St. Augustin, and the last of the 
companions of the great missionary who was to fill his place 
in the primacy of the new Christian kingdom. 
The Nor- ^^ ^^^ midst of tlicse mistakes, perils, and diffi- 

thumbrian cultics, and whilo the third successor of Augustin 

maintained, as best he could, the remains of the 
Roman mission in the still modest and often menaced metrop- 
olis of Canterbury, the horizon suddenly brightened to- 
ward the north of England. An event occurred there which 
seemed to realize the first designs of St. Gregory, and to 
open new and vast fields for the propagation of the gospel. 
It is in this northern region that the principal interest of the 
great drama which gave England to the Church is henceforth 
to be concentrated. 

successor Petronius, t654; Nathaniel, "quondam cum Mellito a Juste a 
Roma ad Angliam destinatus," +667; after him the celebrated Adrian, the 
African, whose successor Albin, elected in 708, was the first de genie nostra, 
says tlie historian, and was, moreover, the disciple of Adrian, a great Latin- 
ist, Hellenist, and collaborateur of Bede. 

136 u jjQg jjjg^ repensatione vobis coUatum est, qua injuncto ministerio 
jugiter persistentes, laudabili patientia redemptionem gentis illius expect- 
ftstis." — Bbdk, ii. 8. 




Extent and origin of the Anglo-Saxon settlements in Northumbria; thanks 
to their compatriot Bede, their history is better known than that of the 
others. — Ida and Ella, founders of the two kingdoms of DeVra and Ber- 
nicia; Bamborough and the Fair Traitress. — War of the Northumbriana 
and Britons : Etiielfrid the Ravager, conqueror of the Welsh and of the 
Scots under Andan, the friend of St. Columba. — Edwin, representing the 
rival dynasty, a refugee in East Anglia; on the point of being delivered 
over to his enemies, he is saved by the queen ; vision and promise. — He 
becomes king of Northumbria and Bretwalda; list of Bretwaldas. — He 
marries the Christian Ethelburga, daughter of the king of Kent. — Mis- 
sion of Bishop Paulinus, who accompanies the princess to York. — Influ- 
ence of women in the conversion of the Saxons. — Fruitless preaching of 
Paulinus ; letters of Boniface V. to the king and queen. — Edwin saved 
from tlie poniard of an assassin ; birth of his daughter ; war against the 
West Saxons. — Hesitation of Edwin; last effort of Paulinus. — Edwin 
promises to accept the faith after consulting his parliament. — Speeches of 
the high priest and of the chief captain. — Baptism of Edwin and of his 
nobility. — Bishopric and monastic cathedral of York. — The king and the 
bishop labor for the conversion of the Northumbrians. — General baptism 
by immersion. — Paulinus to the south of the Humber. — Foundations of 
Southwell and Lincoln. — Consecration of Honorius, fourth successor of 
Augustin at Canterbury. — Letter of Pope Honorius to the two metropoli- 
tans and to King Edwin. — Prosperous reign of Edwin. — Conversion of 
East Anglia; foundation of Edinburgh; conquest of Anglesea; public 
security ; the woman and the foster-child ; the copper cups ; the tufa of 
the Bretwalda. — League of the Saxons and Britons of Mercia against the 
Saxons of Northumbria : Cadwallon and Penda. — Edwin is killed. — 
Flight of Paulinus and Ethelburga. — Overthrow of Christianity in Nor- 
thumbria and East Anglia. — Check of the Roman missionaries ; their 
virtues and their faults. — There remain to them only the metropolis and 
the abbey of St. Augustin at Canterbury, which continue to be the two 
citadals of Roman influence. 

Op all the settlements made by the Teutonic con- 

Orig-in and 

qnerors of Britain, that of the Ans:les to the north extent of 

the kine:- 

of the river Humber, which seems to divide into domof 
two parts the island of Great Britain, and from which 


is derived the name of Northumbria, was, beyond 
comparison, the most important. This kingdom occupied 


the whole eastern coast from the mouth of the Humber to 
the Firth of Forth, including the existing counties of York, 
Durham, and Northumberland, with all the south-eastern 
portion of modern Scotland. To the west it extended to the 
borders of the British territories of Cambria and Strathclyde, 
and even approached, on the frontiers of Caledonia, that new 
kingdom of the Scots of Ireland which the great missionary 
Columba had just inaugurated. 

Its history Northumbria was not merely the largest kingdom 
the best of the Saxou Heptarchy — it is also that whose his- 
through tory is the most animated, dramatic, and varied — 
thumbiTan the richest in interesting and original characters. 
Bede. jf^ jg that, in short, where the incidents of the con- 

version of the Anglo-Saxon conquerors, and of the propaga- 
tion of monastic institutions, appear to us in fullest light. 
This is naturally explained by the fact that it is the birth- 
place of the Venerable Bede. This great and honest his- 
torian — the English Gregory of Tours, and the father of 
British history — was born and always lived in Northumber- 
land. Hence in his interesting narratives a natural promi- 
nence is given to the men and the affairs of his native region, 
along with an exact and detailed reproduction of the local 
traditions and personal recollections which he treasured up 
and repeated with such scrupulous care. 

Bede informs us that about a century after the 

547 • • • 

first landing of the Saxons, under Hengist, in the 
country of Kent, their neighbors, the Angles, crossing the 
North Sea, founded on the opposite coast of Britain two 
colonies, long distinct, sometimes united, but finally combined 
' together under the name of Northumbria.^^'' The wall an- 
ciently raised by the Emperor Severus from the mouth of 
the Solway to that of the Tyne to check the Caledonian in- 
cursions, was their boundary. The oldest of the two king- 
doms was that of the Bernicians to the north. Their chief, 
Ida, foun- Ida — who, like Hengist, claimed to be a descendant 
khic°d^om*^ of Odin — established his residence in a fortress 
of Bernieia. whicli he Called Bamborough, after his wife Bebba, 
with that conjugal reverence so often illustrated even among 
the most savage Germans. The British bards, in return, 
have named this queen the Fair Traitress, because she was 
of British origin, and fought in the foremost ranks on the 

'" United from 588 to 633 ; separated at the death of Edwin in 634 ; and 
reunited anew under Oswald and Oswy. 


field of battle against her countrymen. ^^^ The imposing 
remains of this fortress, situated on a detached rock on the 
coast, still surprise and arrest the traveller. From this 
point the invasion of the Angles spread over the fertile 
valleys of the Tweed and Tyne. 

The second colony, that of the Deirians, to the south, was 
concentrated principally in the valley of the Tees and in the 
extensive region which is now known as Yorkshire. 
The first chief of the Deirians of whom anything is foun'derof 

the kins'- 

m of 

known, was that Alia or Ella, whose name — pro- ^,0' 
nounced by the voung slaves exposed for sale in the i^"'"a- 
Forum — suggested to St. Gregory the hope of soon 
hearing the Hallelujah echo through his kingdora.^^^ This 
region, to the north of the Humber, was precisely that which 
had suffered most from the Caledonian incursions ; and, ac- 
cording to some authors, the Saxons of Hengist, called in the 
character of allies by the Britons to their aid, were already 
established before the arrival of the Deirian colony. But 
Ida and his Angles would not in any character hold tenure 
under their Germanic compatriots from the south of the 
island, and instead of fighting against the Picts or the Scots 
they leagued themselves with them to crush the ill-starred 

Ida, who had twelve sons, and who reigned 
twelve years, used fire and sword against the natives 
with such animosity that the British bards surnamed him tho 
3Ia7i of Fire, or the Great Burner. They withstood him to 
the last extremity, and he fell in battle against them. But 
his grandson, Ethelfrid, took a terrible revenge. He 
was Ella's son-in-hiw ; and at the death of the latter, 
and to the prejudice of the rights of the chief's son, Ethelfrid 
reunited the two kingdoms of Deira and Bernicia, and mus- 
tering to his own standard all the Anglo-Saxons of Northura- 
bria, he subdued or massacred a greater multitude of the 
Britons than any other of the invading chiefs.^**^ 
He was, says Bede, the ravaging wolf of Holy Writ : the Rav- 
in the morning he devoured his prey, and in the ''°"' 
evening he divided his spoil. The vanquished, who had 

"' A. DE LA BoRDERiE, Luttes des Bretons Insulaires contre les Angle 
Saxons, p. 155. 

>3» See ante, p. 145. 

140 »<]Sfemo in tribunis, neino in regibus plures eorum terras, exterminatis 
▼el subjugatis indigenis, aut tributarias genti Anglorum, aut habitabiles fecit." 
— Beds, i. 34. 


called bis grandfather the Burner, had only too good cause 
to call Ethelfrid the Ravager. 

Conqueror ^6 had not, howevcr, like his predecessors, the 
of the Caledonians for auxiliaries. They had become 

Britons. Christians, thanks to the apostolic zeal of Columba 
nessof'"**' a^nd his Irish missionaries; and far from seconding 
brirduij^o ^^^® pagan invaders, the Dalriadian Scots, recently 
lim. _ established in Great Britain,i^i came to the succor 
of the Britons, who were their fellow-Christians. 
Their king, A'idan — the same who had been consecrated by 
Columba, the monastic apostle of Caledonia — marched against 
Ethelfrid at the head of a numerous army. But his friend, 
the ho]y monk of lona, was no longer there, as of old,!*^ to pro- 
tect him with his prayers, and aid him with his ardent sym- 
pathies. The Scots and the Saxons met at Deg- 
stane, near the existing frontier of England and 
Scotland. After a desperate struggle the Scots army was 
cut to pieces ; and this defeat put an end forever to any de- 
sire on the part of the northern Celts to undertake the de- 
fence of their brethren of the south against the Teutonic 

Having conquered the Scots, the formidable hea- 

607 or 613 ^ . . 

then threw himself on the Britons of Wales ; and it 
was then that he fulfilled the prophecy of Augustin by ex- 
terminating the twelve hundred monks of Bangor. After 
this he completed the conquest of Northumbria, and fell, ten 
years later, in an encounter with his countrymen, the East 
Angles, under the command of that King Redwald whom we 

have seen professing Christianity for a time to please King 

East Anglia, as the name itself indicates, was occupied by 
a colony of the same race as the Angles of Northumbria. On 
the death of the first Christian king of Kent, Red- 
wald inherited the title of Bretwalda, which gave 
him a certain military supremacy over the whole Anglo-Saxon 
federation. He had given shelter to the son of Ella, who, 
while still a child, had been dethroned by his brother-in-law, 
Edwin tl^® terrible Ethelfrid. This young prince, named 
brotiier-in- Edwiu, ffrew UD at Redwald's court, and had even 

law of f o ^ I ^ ' ^ 

Ethelfrid, bceu married to the daughter of his protector, 
scntjng the Ethelfrid, seeing in him a rival and a successor, em- 

'*' "Kex Scotoruin qui Britanniam inhabitant." — Bede, i. 34. See ante, 
p. 42. 

"^ See ante, p. 55. . '" See ante, p. 193. 


ployed by turns threats and bribes to induce Red- f,'jgtyft^;keg 
wald to surrender the royal exile. The East Anglian '•efus;e with 
prince was on the point of yielding, when one of the Angles. 
friends of Edwin came by night to apprise him of his danger, 
and offered to conduct him to a place of refuge, where neither 
Eedwald nor Ethelfrid should be able to discover him. 
"No," replied the young and generous exile, "I thank you 
for your good will, but I shall do nothing. Why should 1 be- 
gin again to wander a vagabond through every part of the 
island, as I have too much done? If I must die, let it be 
rather by the hand of this great king than by that of a meaner 
man." Notwithstanding, moved and agitated by the news, 
he went out, and seated himself on a rock before the palace, 
where he remained for a long time alone and unnoticed, a 
prey to agonizing uncertainty.^^ 

All at once he beheld before him, in the midst of „. . , 

11 Vision and 

the darkness, a man whose countenance and dress promise of 
were unknown to him, who asked him what he did 
there alone in the night, and added, '• What wilt thou promise 
to him who shall rid thee of thy grief, by dissuading Redwald 
from delivering thee up to thy enemies, or doing thee any 
harm ? " " All that may ever be in my power," answered 
Edwin. "And if," continued the unknown, " he promised to 
make thee king, and a king more powerful than all your an- 
cestors, and all the other kings in England ? " Edwin 
promised anew that his gratitude would be commensurate 
with such a service. '' Then," said the stranger, " if he who 
shall have exactly foretold to you such great fortunes, offers 
you counsels more useful for your welfare and your life than 
any of your fathers or kinsmen have ever received, d(» 3'ou 
consent to follow them ? " The exile swore that ho would 
implicity obey him by whom he should be rescued from such 
great peril and made king. 

Thereupon the unknown placed his right hand upon his 
head, saying, " When a like sign shall be shown thee, then 
recall this hour — thy words and thy promise." With this 
he disappeared so suddenly, that Edwin believed he had 
spoken not with a man but with a spirit.^*^ A moment after 

'** " Si ergo vis, hac ipse hora te educain. . . . Gratias qtiitlem ago bene- 
volentiae tuse. . . . Quin potius, si moriturus sum, ille me magis quam igat>- 
bilior quisquam morti tradat. . . . Solus ipse moestus in lapide pervigil . . . 
cum diu tacitus mentis angoribus et caeco carperetur igni." — Uede, ii. 12. 

^^^ " Quid mercis dare velis ei qui. . . . Quid si etiam regem te futurum 
, . . ita ut omnes qui ante te reges in gente Anglorum f'uerant potestate 
transcendas. . . . Turn ille tertio : Si autem qui tibi tanta taliaque dona vera- 

VOL. II. 18 


his friend came running to announce that he had no longer 
anything to fear, and that King Redwald, having confided 
his project to the queen, had been dissuaded by her from his 
breach of faith. 

Tliis princess, whose name has been unfortunately forgot- 
ten, had, like most of the Anglo-Saxon women, an all-powerful 
influence in the heart of her husband. More happily inspired 
than when she had induced him to renounce the baptism 
which he had received when with Ethelbert,^^^ she showed 
him how unworthy it would be to sell for gold his soul, and 
what is more, his honor, which she esteemed the most pre- 
cious of all jewels.^*" 
,,. . . Under the generous influence of the queen. Rod- 

l.dwm be- b , i / , 

comes king wald uot Only reiusod to give up the exiled prince, 
Northum- but having sent back the ambassadors intrusted with 
bnans. ^^q costly presents of Ethelfrid, he declared war 
against him. The result was that, Ethelfrid having been de- 
feated and slain, Edwin was established as king in 
Northumbria by his protector Redwald, who was 
now the chief of the Anglo-Saxon federation. The sons of 
Ethelfrid, although, on the mother's side, nephews of the new 
king, were obliged to fly, like Edwin himself in his youth. 
They Avent for refuge to the Dalriadian Scots, whose apostle 
Columba had been. We shall presently see what resulted 
from this exile, to Northumbria and the whole of England. 

Like his brother-in-law Ethelfrid, Edwin reigned over the 

two united kingdoms of Deira and Bernicia ; and, like him, 

he waged a vigorous war against the Britons of Wales. 

Having thus become the dreaded chief of the Angles 

of the North, he found himself esteemed and sought 

after by the East Angles, who on the death of their king, 

Redwald, offered him the sovereignty. But Edwin preferred 

to repay the protection which he had received from Red- 

T,, , . wald and his wife by leaving the kingdom of PJast 

becomes Anglia to their son. He reserved, however, the 

military supremacy which Redwald had exercised, 

as well as the title of Bretwalda, which had passed from the 

citer prsedixerit. . . . Cum hoc ergo tibi sigmim advenerit, memento hujus 
temporis, ac loquelae nostr<B, et ea quas nunc promittis adimplere ne differas. 
His dictis, ut ferunt, repente disparuit." — Bede. 

^« See ante, p. 199. 

147 "Postquam cogitationem suam reginae in secreto revelavit, revocavit 
eum ille ab intentione . . . ammonens quia nulla ratione conveniat . . . 
immo fidem suam, quae omnibus ornamentis pretiosior est amore pecuniae 
perdere." — Bede, loc. cit. 


king of Kent to the king of East Anglia, but which, after 
being held by Edwin, was to remain always attached to the 
Northumbrian monarchy. 

We have no precise information regarding the origin or 
the nature of the authority with which the Bretwalda was 
invested. It is apparent only that this authority, at first of 
a temporary and exclusively military character, extended, 
after the conversion of the different kingdoms of the Heptar- 
chy, to ecclesiastical affairs. It is evident also that it added 
to the royal dignity the prestige of a real supremacy, all 
the more sought after that it was probably conferred, not 
only by the vote of the other kings, but of all the chiefs of 
the Saxon nobility.^*^ 

Thus then was accomplished the mysterious prediction of 
Edwin's nocturnal visitor ; he was now a king, and more pow- 
erful than any of the English kings before him. For the 
supremacy of the Bretwalda, added to the vast extent of 
country occupied by the Angles of the North and East, se- 
cured to the king of Northumbria a preponderance altogether 
different from that of the petty kings of the South who had 
borne the title before him. Having reached this unhoped- 
for elevation, and having lost his first wife, a daughter of 
the king of East Anglia, he sought a second bride, 
and asked in marriage the sister of the king of Kent, the dau"ii-^ 
the daughter of EtheJbert and Bertha, a descend- jf/st'chrls- 
ant of Henfrist and Odin through her father, and of tiankingof 

o o / Keut 

St, Clotilda through her mother. She was called 
Ethelburga — that is, noble protectress; for this word Ethel, 
which appears so often in Anglo-Saxon naraes, is simply, as 
has been already remarked, the German cdel, noble. Her 

'■"* The ealdormen — those whom Bcde calls primates tribuni. Bede gives 
the folio whig as the succession of chiefs of the Anglo-Saxon federation, up 
to the time when the title of Bretwalda became extinct : — 

About 560, Ella, king of Sussex. 

" 677, Ceawlin, king of Wessex. 

" 596, Ethelbert, king of Kent. 

" 616, Redwald, king of East Anglia. 

•' 624, Edwin, j> 

" 635, Oswald, > kings of Northumbria. 

" 645, Oswy, ) 

Lappenberg believes, with every appearance of reason, that after the death 
of Oswy, in 670, the authority of the Bretwalda passed to Wulf here, king of 
Mercia, whose supremacy over the king of Essex is proved by Bede him- 
self, iii. 30. Macliintosh interprets the term Bret-walda by that of dompteur 
or arbiter {wielder) of the Britons ; but he gives no satisfactory reason tot 
that etymology. 


brother Eadbald, brought back by Archbishop Laurence to 
the Christian faith, at first refused the demand of the king 
of Northumbria. He answered that it was impossible for 
him to betroth a Christian virgin to a pagan, lest the faith 
and the sacraments of the true God should be profaned by 
making her live with a king who was a stranger to His wor- 
ship. Far from being offended at this refusal, Edwin prom- 
ised that, if the princess was granted to him, he would do 
nothing against the faith that she professed ; but, on the con- 
trar}', she might freely observe all the rites of her religion, 
along with all who might accompany her to his kingdom 
— men or women, priests or laymen. He added that he 
would not himself refuse to embrace his wife's religion, if 
after having had it examined by the sages of his council he 
found it to be more holy and more worthy of God than his 

It was on these conditions that her mother Bertha had 
left her country and her Merovingian family to cross the sea 
and wed the king of Kent. The conversion of that kingdom 
had been the reward of her sacrifice. Ethelburga, destined, 
like her mother, and still more than she, to be the means of 
introducing a whole people to the knowledge of Christianity, 
followed the maternal example. She furnishes us with a new 
proof of the lofty part assigned to women in the history of 
the Germanic races, and of the noble and touching influence 
attributed to them. In England as in France, and every- 
where, it is ever through the fervor and devotion of Chris- 
tian women that the victories of the Church are attempted or 

But the royal virgin was intrusted to the Northumbrians, 
only under the guardianship of a bishop charged to preserve 
her from all pagan pollution, by his exhortations, and also by 
the daily celebration of the heavenly mysteries. Tho king, 
according to Bede, had thus to espouse the bishop at the 
same time as the princess. ^^^ 

Bishop This bishop, by name Paulinus, was one of those 

PauiinuB. g^m surviving Roman monks who had been sent by 
St. Gregory to the aid of Augustin. He had been twenty- 
five years a missionary in the south of Great Britain, before 

149 <i jq-gQ abnegavit se etiam eamdem subiturum esse religionem si tamen 
exatainata a prudentibus sanctior et Deo dignior posset inveniri." — Bede, 
u. 9. 

150 u Ordinatus episcopus ... sic cum praefata virgins ad regem quasi 
comes copulae carnalis advenit." — Bede, ii. 9. 


he was consecrated bishop of Northumbria by the 21st juiy, 
third successor of Augustin at Canterbury. Hav- '^~^- 
ing arrived with Ethelburga in Edwin's kingdom, and having 
married them, he longed to see the whole of the unknown 
nation amongst whom he had come to pitch his tent, espoused 
to Christ. Unlike Augustin, after his landing on the shores 
of Kent, it is expressly stated that Paulinus was disposed to 
act upon the Northumbrian people before attempting the con- 
version of the king.151 He labored with all his might to add 
some Northumbrian converts to the small company of the 
faithful that had accompanied the queen. But his efforts 
were for a long time fruitless ; he was permitted to preach, 
but no one was converted. 

In the mean time ttie successors of St. Gregory interven- 
watched over his Avork with that wonderful and Pope^Honi- 
unwearying perseverance which is characteristic of [y[f,,^,\e 
the Holy See. Boniface V., at the suggestion, no ^'Jjs "^[jj^ 
doubt, of Paulinus, addressed two letters to the bria. 
king and queen of Northumbria, which recall those 22d ocT., 
of Gregory to the king and queen of Kent. He '^~^- 
exhorted the glorious king of the English, as he calls him, to 
follow the example of so many other emperors and kings, and 
especially of his brother-in-law Eadbald, in submitting him- 
self to the true God, and not to let himself be separated, in 
the future, from that dear half of himself, who had already 
received in baptism the pledge of eternal bliss.^^^ He con- 
jured the queen to neglect no effort to soften and inflame the 
hard and cold heart of her husband, to make him understand 
the beauty of the mysteries in which she believed, and the 
rich reward which she had found in her own regeneration, 
to the end that they twain whom human love had made one 
flesh here below, might dwell together in another life, united 
m an indissoluble union. ^^^ ^o his letters he added some 

151 "Toto animo intendens ut gentem quam adibat, ad cognitionem veri- 
tatis advocans, uni viro sponso virginem castam exhiberet Christo. . . . La- 
boravit multuiii ut . . . aliquos, si forte posset, de paganis ad fidei gratiam 
praedicando converteret." — Bede, ii. 9. 

152 u Gloriosam conjugem vestram, quae vestri corporis pars esse dignos- 
citur, eeternitatis praeinio per sancti baptismatis regenerationem illuminatam.' 
— Ibid. 

153 ii Insiste ergo, gloriosa filia, et summis conatibus duritiam cordis . . . 
insinuatione mollire dematura. ... In undens sensibus ejus . . . quantum 
sit adniirabile quod renata praemiura consequi meruisti. rrigiditatem cordis 
. . . succende. . . . Ut quos copulatio carnalis affectus unum quodam modo 
corpus exhibuisse monstratur, hos quoque unitas fidei etiam post hujus vitas 
transitum in perpetua societate conservet." — Bede, loc. cit. 



modest presents, which testified assuredly either his poverty 
or tlie siroplicity of the times : for the king, a linen shirt em- 
broidered with gold and a woollen cloak from the east ; for 
the queen, a silver mirror and an ivory comb ; for both, the 
blessing of their protector St. Peter. 

But neither the letters of the pope, nor the sermons of the 
bishop, nor the importunities of the queen, prevailed to 
triumph over the doubts of Edwin. A providential event, 
Edwin however, occurred to shake, without absolutely con- 
thrda^'^e? vincing him. On the Easter-day after his marriage 
of ail as- an assassin, sent by the king of the West Saxons, 
20th April, made his way to the king, and, under the pretext of 
^^^' communicating a message from his master, tried to 

stab him with a double-edged poisoned dagger, which he held 
hidden under his dress. Prompted by that heroic devotion 
for their princes, which among all the Germanic barbarians co- 
existed with continual revolts against them, a lord named Lilla, 
having no shield at hand, threw himself between his king and 
the assassin, who struck with such force that his weapon 
reached Edwin even through the body of his faithful frieud.^^ 
The same night, the night of the greatest of Christian festi- 
vals, the queen was delivered of a daughter. While Edwin 
was rendering thanks to his gods for the birth of his first- 
born, the Bishop Paulinus began, on his part, to thank the 
Lord Christ, assuring the king that it was He who by His 
prayers to the true God had obtained that the queen should 
bear her first child without mishap, and almost without pain. 
The king, less moved by the mortal danger that he had just 
escaped, than by the joy of being a father without peril or 
hurt to his beloved Ethelburga, was charmed by the words 
of Paulinus, and promised to renounce his idols for the ser- 
vice of Christ, if Christ granted him life and victory in the 
war which he was about to wage against the king who had 
„. ^^ ^ tried to procure his assassination. As a pledge of 

Cirth and i^-ii i i i-iiii 

baptism of his good taith, he gave the new-born child to tlie 
boruof bishop, that he might consecrate her to Christ. 
Edwin. rj.j^-g g^g^ ^|^-|j q|- ^j^q j^-jjg^ ^Yie first native Chris- 

tian of the Northumbrian nation,^^^ was baptized on Whit- 

it>4 (( Missus a rege . . . nomine Cuiclielmo . . . qui habebat sicara bi- 
cipitem toxicatara. . . . Minister regi amicissimus . . . non habens scutum 
. . . mox interposuit corpus suum ante ictum pungentis, sed tanta vi liostis 
ferrum infixit, ut per corpus militis occisi etiam regem vulneraret." — Bede, 
loc. cit. 

165 *'Ut regina sospes absque doloregravisobolem procrearet. . . • Prima 


euuday (Pentecost), along with eleven persons of the loyal 
household. She was named Eanfleda, and was destined, like 
most of the Anglo-Saxon princesses, to exercise an influence 
over the destiny of her country. 

Edwin came back victorious from his struggle with the 
guilty king. On his return to Northumbria, though since 
giving his promise he had ceased to worship idols, he would 
nut at once, and without further reflection, receive the sacra- 
ments of the Christian faith. But he made Paulinus give 
him more fully, what Bede calls, the reasons of his belief 
fJe frequently conferred with the wisest and best instructed 
of his nobles upon the part which they would counsel him to 
take. FinaUy, being by nature a man sagacious and reflec- 
tive, he passed long hours in solitude — his lips indeed closed, 
but discussing many things in the depths of his heart, and 
examining without intermission wliich religion he ought to 

The history of the Church, if I mistake not, offers no other 
example of an equally long and conscientious hesitation on 
the part of a pagan king. They all appear, equally prompt 
alike for persecution or for conversion. Edwin, as the testi- 
mony of an incontestable authority reveals him to us, expe- 
rienced all the humble efforts, the delicate scruples, of the 
modern conscience. A true priest has said with justice : 
" This intellectual travail of a barbarian moves and touches 
us. We follow with sympathy the searcher in his hesita- 
tions ; we suffer in his perplexities ; we feel that this soul is 
a sincere one, and we love it." ^^'' 

Meanwhile Paulinus saw time passing away without the 
word of God which he preached being listened to, and with- 
out Edwin being able to bow the pride of his intelligence 
before the divine humility of the cross. Being informed of 
the prophecy and the promise which had put an end to the 

de gente Nordanhynibrorum." — Bede, loc. cit. She married King Oswy, 
one of lier fatlier's successors. We shall see her take a part in the struggle 
between the monastic and the Celtic influence in Northumbria. 

156 t'Non statim et inconsulte sacramenta fidei precipere vcluit. . . . Ve- 
rura primo diligentius . . . rationeni fidei ediscere et cum suis primatibua 
quos sapientiores noverat, curavit conferre, quod de his agendum arbitra- 
rentur. Sed et ipse cum esset vir natura sagacissimus, saepe diu solus resi- 
dens, ore quidem tacito, sed in intimis cordis multa secum colloquens, quod 
sibi esset faciendum, quae religio servanda tractabat." — Bede, loc. cit. 

''"*' GoRi.xi, Defense de V Eglise, vol. ii. p. 87. Nothing in this excellent 
work can surpass the author's refutation, step by step, of M. Augustin 
Thierry's narrative of the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons. Compare Fa- 
BEB, Life of St. Edwin, 1844, in the series of Lives of the English Saints. 


exile of the king, he believed that the moment for recalling 
them to him had come.^^^ One day when Edwin was seated 
by himself, meditating in the secret of his own heart upon 
the religion which he ought to follow, the bishop entered 
suddenly and placed his right hand upon his head, as the un- 
known had done in the vision, asking him if he recognized 
t effort *^^^ sign.^59 The king, trembling, would have 
of Pauii- thrown himself at the feet of Paulinus, but he 
^^^ raised him up, and said gently, " You are now de- 

livered by God's goodness from the enemies that you feared. 
He has given you the kingdom which you desired. Remem- 
ber to accomplish your third promise, which binds you to 
receive the faith and to keep its commandments. It is thus 
only that after being enriched with the divine favor here, 
you will be able to enter with God into the fellowship of the 
eternal kingdom." 

Thekinc' *' Yes," answered Edwin at length, "I feel it; I 

promises ought to be, and I will be, a Christian." But, always 
after hav- truc to his characteristic moderation, he stipulated 
lufted°Par- ouly for himself He said that he would confer 
liament. with his great nobles, his friends, and his council- 
lors, in order that, if they decided to believe as he did, they 
should be all together consecrated to Christ in the foun- 
tain of life. 

Discussion Paulinus having expressed his approval of this 
in the as- proposal, the Northumbrian Parliament, or, as it was 
^"^ ^' then called, the council of sages (witena-gemot), was 
assembled near to a sanctuary of the national worship, already 
celebrated in the time of the Romans and Britons, at God- 
mundham, hard by the gates of York. Each member of this 
great national council was, in his turn, asked his opinion of 
the new doctrine and worship.^^*^ The first who answered 

■^^ According to M. Thierry, "this secret had probably escaped Edwia 
among the confidences of the nuptial couch." Bede says exactly the con- 
trary, though without affirming anything. "Tandem ut verisimile videtur 
didicit (Paulinus) in spiritu, quod vel quale esset oraculum rcgi quondam 
coeJitus ostensum." — Bede, ii. 12. 

io9 •' Cum videret difficulter posse sublimitatem animi regalis ad humili- 
tatem . . . vivificas crucis inclinari. . . . Cum horis competentibus solitarius 
sederet, quid agendum sibi esset, quae religio sequenda sedulus secura ipse 
scrutari consuesset, ingrediens ad eum quadam die vir Dei." — Bede, ii. 12. 

160 a Qujijus auditus et rex suscipere se fidem et velle et debere responde- 
bat. Verum adhuc cum amicis principibus, et consiliariis suis sese de hoc 
coUaturum esse dicebat. . . . Habito enim cum sapientibus consilio, scisci- 
tabatur singillatim ab omnibus, qualis sibi doctrina eatenus inaudita . . . 
vidsretur. . . . His similia et caRteri majores natu ac regis consiliarii prose- 
quebantur." — Bede, ii. 13. 


was the high priest of the idols, by narae Coifi. a singular 
and somewhat cynical personage. " My opinion," said he, 
" is most certainly that the religion which we have hitherto 
followed is worth nothing; and this is my reason. Not 
one of your subjects has served our gods with more zeal 
than I have, and notwithstanding, there are many of your 
people who have received from you far greater gifts and 
dignities. But if our gods were not good for nothing, they 
would have done something for me who have served thom so 
well. If then, after ripe examination, you have found this 
new religion which is preached to us more efficacious, let us 
hasten to adopt it." ^^^ 

One of the great chiefs held different language, in which 
are revealed to us that religious elevation and poetic mel- 
ancholy wherewith the minds of these Germanic heathens 
were often imbued. " You remember, perhaps," said he to 
the king, " what sometimes happens in the winter evenings 
whilst you are at supper with your ealdormen and thanes ; i*^^ 
while the good fire burns within, and it rains and snows, and 
the wind howls without, a sparrow enters at the one door 
and flies out quickly at the other. During that rapid passage 
it is sheltered from the rain and cold ; but after that brief 
and pleasant moment it disappears, and from winter returns 
to winter again. Such seems to me to be the life of man, 
and his career but a brief moment between that which goes 
before and that which follows after, and of which we know 
nothing. If, then, the new doctrine can teach us something 
certain, it deserves to be followed." ^^^ 

After much discourse of the same tendency, for the as- 
sembly seems to have been unanimous, the high priest Coifi 
spoke again with a loftier inspiration than that of his first 
words. He expressed the desire to hear Paulinus speak of 
the God whose envoy he professed to be. The bishop, with 
permission of the king, addressed the assembly. When he 
had finished, the high priest cried, " For a long time I hava 
understood the nothingness of all that we worshipped, for 
the more I endeavored to search for truth in it the less I 

161 " Profiteor quia nihil omnino virtutis, nihil utilitatis religio ilia quam 
hucusque tenuimus. ... Si auteni Dii aliquid valerent." — Bede, ii. 13. 

.o2 n Cum ducibus ac niinistris tuis." " Mit thynem Ealdormannum and 
Thegnum" is King Alfred's Anglo-Saxon translation of the words of Bede. 

163 .' ^lius optimatum regis subdidit : Talis mihi videtur, rex, vita homi- 
num . . . quale cum te residente ad coenam accenso foco in media et ealido 
efFecto ccenaoulo . . . adveniens unus passerum domum citissime pervolave- 
rit . , . mox de hieme in hiomen regrediens." — Bede, ii. 13. 


found it ; but now I declare without reserve that iu this 
preaching I see the shining of the truth, which gives life 
and salvation and eternal blessedness. I vote, then, that we 
give up at once to fire and to the curse the altars which we 
have so uselessly consecrated." ^^^ The king immediately 
made a public declaration that he adhered to the gospel 
preached by Paulinus — that he renounced idolatry and 
adopted the faith of Christ. " But who," asked the king, 
" will be the first to overthrow the altars of the ancient gods, 
and to profane their sacred precincts?" "1." replied the 
high priest ; whereupon he prayed the king to give him 
arms and a stallion, that he might the more thoroughly vio- 
late the rule of his order, which forbade him to carry arms 
and to mount ought but a mare. Mounted on the king's 
steed, girt with a sword, and lance in hand, he galloped to- 
wards the idols, and in the sight of all the people, who be- 
lieved him to be beside himself, he dashed his lance into the 
interior of their temple. The profaning steel buried itself 
in the wall : to the surprise of the spectators, the gods were 
silent, and the sacrilege remained unpunished. Then the 
people, at the command of the high priest, proceeded to 
overthrow and burn the temple. i*^^ 

These things occurred in the eleventh year of 
of King- Edwin's reign. The whole Northumbrian nobility 
oAh'e°uo"'^ 'T-nd a large part of the people followed the example 
biiity^ of the king, who was baptized with much solemnity 
12th April, on Easter-day (627) by Paulinus at York, in a 
wooden church, built in haste while the catechu- 
mens were prepared for baptism.^'^^ Immediately afterwards 
he built around this improvised sanctuary a large church in 
stone, which he had not time to finish, but which has since 
become the splendid Minster of York, and the metropolitan 
church of the north of England. The town of York had been 
alread}' celebrated in the times of the Romans. The Empe- 
ror Severus and the father of Constantino had died there. 
The Northumbrians had made it their capital, and Edwin there 

164 <<Un(]e suggero, o rex, ut tenipla et altaria quae sine fructu utilitatis 
saeravimus ocius anatheniati et igni contradamus." — Bede, ii. 3. 

165 (I jjjg respondit: Ego. . . . Rogavit sibi regem arma dare et equum 
etnissarium quern asceudens . . . pergebat ad idola." — Bede, ii. 3. Com- 
pare the Saxon version quoted by Lingard, i. 30. 

166 " Accepit rex cum cunctis gentis suae nobilibus ac plebe perplurima 
fidem et lavacrum. . . . Ipse doctori et antistiti suo Paulino sedem episco- 
patus donavit. . . . Baptizatus est ibi sed et alii nobiles et regii viri noD 
pauci." — Bede, ii. 14. 


placed the seat of the episcopate filled by his teacher Pauli* 
nus. Thus was realized the graDd design of Gregory, who, 
thirty years before, at the commencement of the English 
mission, had instructed Augustin to send a bishop to York, 
and to invest him with the jurisdiction of metropolitan over 
the twelve suffragan bishoprics which in imagination he al- 
ready saw founded in the north of the country conquered by 
the Anglo-Saxons.^'^'' 

The king and the bishop labored together for six 
years for the conversion of the Northumbrian people, 
and even of the English population of the neighboring regions. 
The chiefs of the nobility and the principal servants of the 
king were the first to receive baptism, together with the sons 
of Edwin's first marriage. ' The example of a king was, how- 
ever, far from being enough, among the Anglo-Saxons, to de- 
termine the conversion of a whole people ; and the first Chris- 
tian king and the first bishop of Northumbria did not, any 
more than Ethelbert and Augustin, think of employing undue 
constraint. Doubtless it required more than one effort on 
their part to overcome the roughness, the ignorance, the in- 
difference of the heathen Saxons. But they had, at -^jje^j^^ 
the same time, much encouragement, for the fervor andijishop 

, . * labor to- 

of the people and their anxiety for baptism were gether for 
often wonderful. Paulinus having gone with the vcrslon'of 
king and queen, who several times accompanied him tb^^^pj^g 
on his missions, to a royal villa far to the north, they 
remained there, all three, for thirty-six days together, and 
during the whole of that time the bishop did nothing else 
from morning till night than catechize the crowds that 
gathered from all the villages around, and afterwards Baptism 
baptize them in the river which flowed close by. ^y^^ 
At the opposite extremity of the country, to the "O". 
south, the name of Jordan is still given to a portion of the 
course of the river Derwent, near the old Roman ford of Mal- 
ton, in memory of the numerous subjects of Edwin that were 
there baptized by the Roman missionary.^^^ Everywhere he 
baptized in the rivers or streams, for there was no time to 
build churches.i^^ However, he built, near Edwin's principal 

*" " Qui tuse subjaceant ditioni . . . ita duntaxat ut si eadem civitas cum 
finitimis locis verbum Dei receperit, ipse quoque XII episcopos ordiaet, et 
metropolitani honore perfruatur." — Bede, i. 29. 

'«* The Times of 17th March, 1865. 

'®* The Glen in Northumberland, the Swale, and especially the Derwent, 
in Yorkshire, are still mentioned among the rivers in which the bishop bap 
tized thousands of converts by immersion. 

. masse 


palace, a stone church, whose calcined ruins were still visible 
after the Reformation, as well as a large cross, with this in- 
scription : Paulinus hie prcedicavit et celehruvit}''^ 

Passing the frontiers of the Northumbrian kingdom, Pauli- 
nus continued his evangelistic course among the Angles set- 
tled to the south of the Humber, in the maritime province of 
Lindsa}'". There also he baptized many people in the Trent ; 
and long afterwards, old men, who had in their childhood re- 
ceived baptism at his hands, recalled with reverent tenderness 
the venerable and awe-inspiring stranger, whose lofty and 
stooping form, black hair, aquiline nose, and emaciated but 
imposing features, impressed themselves on every beholder, 
and proclaimed his southern origin.^^^ The beautiful mo- 
nastic church of Southwell consecrates the memory of the 
He com- sccue of ouc of thosc multitudiuous baptisms ; and 
Cathedrai^^ it is to the mission of Bishop Paulinus on this side 
of Lincoln, tlio Humbcr that we trace the foundation of that 
magnificent Cathedral of Lincoln, which rivals our noble 
Cathedral of Laon in its position, and even surpasses it in 
grandeur, and perhaps in beauty .^'^ 

And there ^^ ^^^^ ^^ ^^^ stoue church (Bcdc always notes 
consecrates this detail most carefully) built by Paulinus at Lin- 
Archbishop coin, after the conversion of the chief Saxon of that 
bury!*^^^"*' town, with all his house, that the metropolitan bishop 

628. Qf York had to proceed to the consecration of the 
fourth successor of Augustin in the metropolitan see of Can- 
terbury. Honorius was, like Paulinus, a monk of Mount 
Coelius at Rome, and one of the first companions of St, Au- 
gustin in his mission to England. He was a disciple of St. 
Gregory, and had learned from the great pontiff the art of 
music, and it was he who led the choir of monks on the occa- 
sion of the first entrance of the missionaries, thirty years be- 
fore, at Canterbury-i'^ The Pope then reigning was 
also named Honorius, first of that name. He sent 
the pallium to each of the two metropolitans, and ordained 
that when God should take to himself one of the two, the 

''" At Dewsbury, on the banks of the Calder. Alford, Annales Anglo' 
SaxonicB, ap. Bolland., vol. vi. Oct., p. 118. 

'" " Queuidam seniorera . . . baptizatuni a Paulino . . . praesente rege 
Adwino. . . . Quoniam effigiem ejusdem Paulini referre esset solitus. . . . 
Vir longae staturse, paululum incurvus, nigro capillo, facie macilenta, naso 
adunco perenni, venerabilis simul et terribilis aspectu." — Bede, ii. 1(5. 

"^ All the most beautiful religious edifices of England — York, Lincoln, 
and Southwell — trace their origin to the episcopate of Paulinus. — Fabeb, 
op. cit. 

'^^ Hook, Lives of the Archbishops, pp. 63, 111. . 


other should appoint a successor, in order to avoid the delay 
of a reference to Rome, so difficult by reason of the great 
distance to be travelled by sea and land. In the eloquent 
letter which accompanied the pallium, he reminds the new 
archbishop that the great Pope Gregory had been his master, 
and should ever be his model, and that the whole work of the 
archbishops, his predecessors, had been but the fruit of the 
zeal of that incomparable pontiff.^"^ 

The Pope wrote also to King Edwin to congratulate him 
on his conversion and on the ardor and sincerity of his faith, 
and to exhort him to read much in the works of St. Gregory, 
whom he calls the Preacher of the English, and whom he 
recommends the king to take for his perpetual intercessor 
with God.i"^ But when this letter reached England, Edwin 
was no more. 

The six years which passed between his conver- prosperity 
sion and his death may certainly be reckoned among- andbenea- 

. . •' •' . o cence of 

the most glorious and happy that it was ever given the reign 
to any Anglo-Saxon prince to know. He speedily 
raised Northumbria to the head of the Heptarchy. On tho 
south, his ardent zeal for the faith which he had embraced 
after such ripe reflection extended its influence even to the 
populations which, without being subjected to his direct 
authority, yet belonged to the same race as his subjects. 
The East Angles, as we have seen, had offered him 
their crown, and he had' refused it. But housed oftiieEast 
his influence over the young king, who owed to him ^°°'^^- 
his elevation to the throne, to induce him to embrace the 
Christian religion, with all his subjects. Eorpwald thus ex- 
piated the apostasy of his father ; and Edwin thus paid the 
ransom of the generous pity that the royalty of East Anglia 
had lavished on his youth and his exile. 

174 a Dilectissimo fratri Honorio Honorius. . . . Exoramus ut vestratn 
dilectionem in praedicatione Evangelii laborantem et fructificantem sectati- 
temque magistri et capitis sui sancti Gregorii regulam perpeti stabilitate con- 
firmet (redemptor) . . . ut fide et opere, in timore Dei et caritate, vestra 
adquisitio decessorumque vestrorum quae per Domini Gregorii exordia pul- 
iulata convalescendo amplius extendatur . . . longa terrarum marisque 
jntervalla, quae inter nos ac vos obsistunt, ac et nos condescendere coege- 
runt, ut nulla possit ecclesiarum vestrarum jactura per cujuslibet occasionia 
obtentum quoquo mode provenire : sed potius commissi vobis populi devo- 
tionem plenius propagare." — Ap. Bedam, ii. 18. 

175 (( Praedicatores vestri . . . Gregorii frequenter lectione occupati, pra 
oculis affectum doctrinaB ipsius, quam pro vestris animabus libenter exercuit, 
habetote : quatenus ejus oratio, et regnum vestrum populumque augeat, e| 
vos oranipotenti Deo irreprehensibiles repraesentet ' — Ibid , ii. 17, 

VOL. II. 19 


On the north he extended and consolidated the Anglo. 
Saxon dominion as far as the isthmus which separated Cale- 
donia from Britain. And he has left an ineffaceable record 
of his reign in the name of the fortress built upon the rock 
which commanded the entrance of the Forth, and which still 
lifts its sombre and alpine front — true Acropolis of the bar- 
barous north — from the midst of the great and picturesque 
city of Edinburgh [Edwiii's burgh). 

On the west he continued, with less ferocity than Ethel- 
frid, but with no less valor and success, the contest of the 
Britons of Wales. He pursued them even into the islands 
of the channel which separates Great Britain from Ireland ; 
and took possession of the Isle of Man and another isle 
which had been the last refuge of the Druids from the Ro- 
man dominion, and which, after its conquest by Edwin, took 
the name of the victorious race, Angles-ey. 

Within his own kingdom he secured a peace and security 
so unknown both before and after his reign that it passed 
into a proverb; it Avas said that in the time of Edwin a 
woman with her new-born child might traverse England from 
the Irish Channel to the North Sea without m.eeting any one 
who would do her the least wrong. It is pleasant to trace 
his kindly and minute care of the well-being of his subjects 
in such a particular as that of the copper cups which he had 
suspended beside the fountains on the highways, that the 
passers-by might drink at their ease, and which no one 
attempted to steal, whether from fear or from love of the 
king. Neither did any one ever reproach him for the un- 
wonted pomp which distinguished his train, not only when 
he went out to war, but when he rode peacefully through 
Ms towns and provinces, on which occasions the lance sur- 
mounted with a large tuft of feathers ^"'^ — which the Saxons 
had borrowed from the Roman legions, and which they had 
made the sacred standard of the Bretwalda and the ensign 
of the supreme sovereignty in their confederation — was 
always carried before him in the midst of his military ban- 

But all this grandeur and prosperity were about to be in- 
gulfed in a sudden and great calamity. 

^''^ " Sicut usque hodie in proverbio dicitur, etiamsi mulier una cum re- 
cens nato parvulo vellet totam perambulare insulam a mari ad mare, nuUo 
86 lajdente valeret. . . . Erectis stipitibus asreos caucos suspend! juberet. 
. . . Illud genus vexilli quod Roraani Tufam, Angli vero Tuuf appellant." 
— Bede, ii. 16. 


There were other Angles than those who, in Nor- ^.tirm-eof 
thumbria and East Anglia, were already subdued thoiieathen 
and humanized by the influence of Christianity : andthe^"* 
there remained the Angles of Mercia — the great chHst'lans 
central region stretching from the Humber to the as.iinst 

mi mi 1 • 1 p TIT • 111 Eidwin, 

1 liames. 1 he kingdom ot Mercia was the last state 
organized out of the Anglo-Saxon conquest. It had been 
founded by that portion of the invaders who, finding all the 
eastern and southern shores of the island already occupied, 
were compelled to advance into the interior. It became the 
centre of the pagan resistance to, and occasional assaults 
upon, the Christian Propaganda, which was henceforth to 
have its headquarters in Northumbria. The pagans of Mer 
cia found a formidable leader in the person of Penda, „nder 
who was himself of royal extraction, or, as it was Pftxia, 
then believed, of the blood of Odin, and had reigned for 
twenty-two years, but who was inflamed by all the 
passions of a barbarian, and, above all, devoured 
with jealousy of the fortunes of Edwin and the power of 
the Northumbrians. Since Edwin's conversion these wild 
instincts were intensified b}'' fanaticism. Penda and the 
Mercians remained faithful to the worship of Odin, whose 
descendants all the Saxon kings believed themselves to be. 
Edwin and the Northumbrians were, therefore, in their eyes 
no better than traitors and apostates. But more surprising 
still, the original inhabitants of the island, the Christian 
Britons, who were more numerous in Mercia than in any 
other Anglo-Saxon kingdom, shared and excited the hatred 
of the pagan Saxons against the converts of the same race. 
Tbc^ie old Christians, it cannot be too often repeated, always 
exasperated against the invaders of their island, took no ac- 
count of the faith of the converted Angles, and would not 
on any terms hold communion with them.^'^ The Welsh 
Britons, who maintained their independence, but who, for 
more than a century, had been constantly menaced, defeated, 
and humiliated by Ida, Ethelfrid, and Edwin, professed and 
nourished their antipathy with even greater bitter- ^nd cad- 
ness.1'8 Their chief, Ceadwalla or Cadwallon, the waiion. 
last hero of the Celtic race in Britain, at first overcome by 
Edwin and forced to seek refuge in Ireland and in Armor- 
ica,^"^ had returned thence with rage redoubled, and with 

'" Bede, ii. 20. See vol. i. ]>. G87, note. 

"^ Lappenberg, vol. i. p. 1.5!). La Boruehie, op. cit., p. 216. 

"' See his anmsirg adventures in Kicuakd of Cirencester, vol. ii. p. 82. 


auxiliaries from the other Celtic races, to recommence the 
struggle against the Northumbrians. He succeeded in form* 
«r .^ ing an alliance with Penda against the common en- 

bria is cmy. Under these two chiefs an immense army, iu 

i'^^^ded. ^y\{\Q\-^ the British Christians of Wales jostled the 
pagans of Mercia, invaded Northumbria. Edwin awaited 
them at Hatfield, on the southern frontier of his kingdom. 
Edwin is He was there disastrously defeated, and perished 
mhbet. gloriously, sword in hand, scarce forty-eight years 
6-^3- of age, dying a death which entitled him to be 

ranked amongst the martyrs.^^^ His eldest son fell with 
him; the younger, taken prisoner by Penda, who swore to 
chrstian- Preserve his life, was infamously murdered. Nor- 
ity extin- thumbrla was ravaged with fire and sword, and its 
Northum- reccut Christianity completely obliterated. The 
bna. most barbarous of the persecutors was not the idol- 

atrous Penda, but the Christian Cadwallon, who, during a 
whole year, went up and down all the Northumbrian prov- 
inces massacring every man he met, and subjecting even the 
women and children to atrocious tortures before putting 
them to death. He was, says Bede, resolved to extirpate 
from the soil of Britain the English race, whose recent re- 
ception of Christianity only inspired this old Christian, in- 
toxicated with blood and with a ferocious patriotism, with 
scorn and disgust.^^^ 

It is not known why Northumbria, after the death of Edwin 
and his son, was not subjugated and shared among the con- 
querors ; but it remained divided, enslaved, and plunged 
once more into paganism. De'ira fell to Osric, cousin-german 
of Edwin; Bernicia to Eanfried, one of the sons of Ethelfrid, 
who had returned from his exile in Scotland. Both had re- 
ceived baptism : the one with his cousin at York ; the other 
at the hands of the Celtic monks of lona. But a pagan re- 
action was the inevitable consequence of the overthrow of 
the first Christian king of Northumbria. The two princes 
yielded to that reaction, and renounced their baptism, but 

'*" Ad. SS. Bolland., die 12 Octobris. 

'^^ " Maxima est facta strages in Ecclesia vel gente Nordanhynibrorum. 
. . . Unus ex ducibus paganus, alter . . . pagano savior. . . . Quamris 
romcn et professionem haberet Cliristiani. adeo animo et moribus barbarus, 
ut ne sexui niuliebri vel innocuae parvulorum parceret ffitati, quuni universes 
tttrocitate ferlna niorti per tormenla contraderet. . . . Totum genus Anglo- 
rum Firitanniaj finibus erasurum se esse deliberans; sed nee religioni Chris- 
tianse quae apud eos exorta erat, aliquid impendebat honoris." — Bedk. ii. 
20. Compare iii. 1. 


without gaining anything thereby. The king of Deira was 
killed in battle with the Britons ; and the king of Bernicia 
was murdered at an interview which he had sought with the 
savage Cadwallon. 

Bishop Paulinus did not consider himself called Flight of 
upon to remain a witness of such horrors. His one am" o""^ 
thought was to place in safety the widow of King Etheiburga. 
Edwin — that gentle Ethelburga who had been confided to 
him by her brother for a different destiny : he brought her 
back by sea to her brother's kingdom, with the daughter and 
the two youngest sons whom she had borne to Edwin. 
Even beside her brother, the king of Kent, she was afraid to 
keep them in England ; and wishing to devote her own 
widowhood to God, she intrusted them to the king of the 
Franks, Dagobert, her consin,!^^ at whose court they died 
at an early age. As to Paulinus, who had left in charge of his 
church at York only a brave Italian deacon, of whom we 
shall speak hereafter, he found the episcopal see of Rochester 
vacant in consequence of the death of the Roman monk, who 
was the titular bishop, and who, sent by the primate to the 
Pope, had just been drowned in the Mediterranean. Pau- 
linus was invested with this bishopric by the king and by 
the archbishop Honorius, whom he had himself consecrated 
at Lincoln ; and there he died, far from his native land, after 
having labored during forty-three years for the conversion of 
the English. 

Thus appeared to crumble away in one day and forever, 
along with the military and political pre-eminence of Nor- 
thumbria. the edifice so laboriously raised in the north of 
England b}^ the noble and true-hearted Edwin, the gentle and 
devoted Ethelburga, the patient and indefatigable Paulinus, 
and by so many efforts and sacrifices known to God alone. 
The last and most precious of Edwin's conquests was not 

*** The foil )wing is the table of tlie relationship between the queen of 
Northumbria and the king of Austrasia : — • 



I I 


king of Paris. I 


wife of Elhelbert. I 

I I 


wife of Kdwin. 
Dagobert mounted the throne of Austrasia in 628, three years after Ethel- 
burga's marriage. 



destined to survive him long. His young kinsman, the king 
of the East Angles, was no sooner converted than he fell 
beneath the poignard of an assassin ; and, like Northumbria, 
East Angha relapsed altogether into the night of idolatry.^^^ 
After thirty-six years of continual efforts, the mon- 

KCDUlSG of ... 

theKomish astic missionaries sent by St. Gregory the Great had 
™ies'every- succceded in establishing nothing, save in the petty 
T^^«[|'**'^ kingdom of Kent. Everywhere else they had been 
Kingdom of baffled. Of the six other kingdoms of the Heptarchy, 
three — those of the Saxons of the South and of the 
West, and the Angles of the Centre ^^^ — remained inaccessi- 
ble to them. The three last — those of the Saxons of the 
Bast, of the Angles of the East and North ^^^ — had succes- 
sively escaped from them. And yet, except the supernatural 
courage which courts or braves martyrdom, no virtue seems 
to have been awanting to them. No accusation, no suspi- 
cion, impugns their all-prevailing charity, the fervent sin- 
cerity of their faith, the irreproachable purity of their morals, 
the uuwear3nng activity, the constant self-denial, and austere 
piety of their whole life. 

How, then, are we to explain their defeat, and the succes- 
sive failure of their laborious efforts? Perhaps they were 
wrong in not sufficiently following the example of our Lord 
Jesus Christ and His apostles — in not preaching enough to 
the humble and poor — in not defying with proper boldness 
the wrath of the great ^and powerful. Perhaps they were 
wrong in addressing themselves too exclusively to the kings 
and warlike chiefs, and in undertaking nothing, risking noth- 
ing, without the concurrence, or against the will, of the secu- 
lar power.!^*^ Hence, without doubt, these changes of for- 
tune, these reactions, and sudden and complete relapses 
into idolatry, which followed the death of their first pro- 
tectors ; hence, also, these fits of timidity, of discourage- 
ment, and despair, into which we see them falling under 
the pressure of the sudden changes and mistakes of their 
career. Perhaps, in short, they had not at first under- 
stood the national character of the Anglo-Saxons, and did not 
know how to gain and to master their minds, by reconciling 
their own Italian customs and ideas with the roughness, 
the independence, and the manly energy of the populations 
of the German race. 

'^' Bede, ii. 15. "** Wessex, Sussex, Mercia. 

'^* Essex, East Anglia, Northumbria. 

*^* LiNGARD, Anglo-Saxon Ghurch, vol. i. pp. 40, 74. 


At all events, it is evident that new blood was needed 
to infuse new life into the scattered and imperfect germs 
of Anglo-Saxon Christianity, and to continue and carry 
out the work of the missionary monks of Mount Coelius. 

These monks will always have the glory of having first 
approached, broken, and thrown seed upon this fertile but 
rebellious soil. Others must water with the sweat of their 
toil the fields that they have prepared, and gather the har- 
vest they have sown. But the sons of St. Gregory will none 
the less remain before God and man the first laborers in the 
conversion of the English people. And, at the same time, 
they did not desert their post. Like mariners intrenched iu 
a fort built in haste on the shore that they would fain have 
conquered, they concentrated their strength in their first 
and indestructible foundations at Canterbury, in the metro- 
politan monastery of Christ Church and the monastery extra 
muros of St. Augustin, and there maintained the storehouse 
of Roman traditions and of the Benedictine rule, along with 
that citadel of apostolic authority which was for centuries 
the heart and head of Catholic England. 




The Celtic monks revive, in Northumbria, the work of conversion abandoned 
by the Roman monks. — Oswald, son of Ethelfrid, the Ravager, an exile 
among the Scots, is baptized according to the Celtic rite. — He returns to 
Northumbria, plants there the first cross, and gains the battle of Denises- 
burn over the Mercians and Britons. — He reigns over the whole of Nor- 
thumbria, and makes it the predominant power in the Anglo-Saxon Con- 
federation. His desire to convert his kingdom to Christ. — The Italian 
deacon, James, keeps Christianity alive in Deira; but in Bernicia every- 
thing has yet to be. — Oswald begs for missionaries from the Celtic raon- 
hsteries. — Failure of the first missionary from lona: he is succeeded by 
Aldan. — Bede's eulogy of the Abbots of lona. — The religious capital of 
the north of England is fixed in the monastic isle of Lindisfarne : descrip- 
tion of that island : its resemblance to lona. — Authority of the abbots of 
Lindisfarne even over the bishops. — Virtues of the monk-bishop Atdan : 
his disinterestedness : his care of children and slaves. — King Oswald acts 
as assistant and interpreter to the missionary AYdan. — Oswald marries 
the daugliter of the King of Wessex, and converts his father-in-law. — 
Note regarding the local and provincial opposition of the monks of Bar- 
deney. — War with Penda, chief of the coalition of the Britons and 
Mercians. — Battle of Maserfeld : Oswald is killed there at the age of 
thirty-eight. — Venerated as a martyr. — Miracles wrought at his tomb. — 
Prediction of Bishop Atdan with regard to his hand. 

The work of conversion among the English, though inter- 
rupted in the south by a pagan reaction, and buried, on the 
north, in the overthrow of the first Christian king of Nor- 
thumi)ria, was to undergo but a momentary ecHpse — the provi- 
dential prelude of a more sustained effort and decisive tri- 
umph. The spiritual conquest of the island, abandoned for 
a time by the Roman missionaries, was now about to be 
taken up by the Celtic monks. The Italians had made the 



first step, and the Irish now appeared to resume the uncoui' 
pleted work. What the sons of St. Benedict could only begin, 
was to be completed by the sons of St. Columba. The great 
heart of the first abbot of lona, inspiring his spiritual de- 
scendants, was thus to accomplish the noble design of the 
holy Gregory. The spirit of unity, submission, and disci- 
pline, was to be instilled into their minds, somewhat against 
their will, by Wilfrid, a Saxon convert ; and their unwearied 
activity and invincible perseverance were destined to tri- 
umph over every obstacle, stimulating and seconding the 
zeal of the Italian missionaries and reviving the sacred fire 
amongst the Benedictine monks, into whose ranks they 
finally fell. Thus wrought upon, moulded and penetrated un 
every side by monastic influence, the whole nation of the 
A.nglo-Saxons was soon to acknowledge the law of Christ, 
its kings, its monks, its bishops and saints, were to take a 
foremost place among the children of the Church, the civil- 
Izers of Europe, the benefactors of mankind, and the soldiers 
of the Cross. The history of this transformation we shall 
attempt to set forth in the narrative which follows. 

Forty-eight years after Augustine and his Roman monks 
landed on the shores of pagan England, an Anglo-Saxon 
prince invoked the aid of the monks of lona in the conversion 
of the Saxons of the north. 

This prince was Oswald, son of Ethelfrid the Ravager, and 
of the sister of the martyred King Edwin. After the defeat 
Oswald ^^^ death of his father, the son of the great enemy 
sonoftiie and conquerer of the Scots had, while yet a child. 
Northuni sought a rcfuge, along with his brothers and a nu- 
exile with mcrous train of young nobles, among the Scots 
the Scots, themselves. He there found the same generous 
hospitality which, twelve centuries later, the descendants of 
the Anglo-Saxons showed to the French princes, descendants 
of a race continually and gloriously hostile to England. In 
that exile he passed the seventeen years of the reign of his 
uncle Edwin, as Edwin himself had lived in exile during the 
reign of his brother-in-law and persecutor Ethelfrid. But 
between these two representatives of the two dynasties 
which divided Northumbria, and succeeded each other in 
the sovereignty, there was this difference, that the young 
Edwin had sought and found an asylum among his pagan 
fellow-countrymen ; while the banishment of Oswald led him 
into intercourse with people of a race and religion differing 
from his own. Since the apostolate of Columba, the Scots 
and Picts had become entirely Christian ; and among 


them Oswald and his companions in misfortune He is bap- 
learned the truths of Christianity, and were all bap- cording to 
tized, but according to the rite of the Celtic Church, ritl.^*^*'" 
wJiich differed from the Roman.' 

After the overthrow of Edwin and the Deirian dynasty, of 
which he Avas the head, the princes of the Beruician family 
returned to Northumbria, from which they had been banished 
for seventeen years.^ 

The elder, Eanfrid, as has been stated, fell by the sword 
of the Briton Cadxyallon, after having renounced the Chris- 
tian faith. But his younger brother Oswald was a man of a 
very different stamp. At the head of a small but 
resolute band, of whom a dozen at most were Chris- ^keTto're- 
tians like himself, he undertook to reconquer his w)nquer 
country, and did not hesitate to carry on the strug- bria from 
gle against the immense forces of the formidable ^^'^ British. 
Briton, nor even to attack him in pitched battle. 

The two armies, so unequal in numbers, met near that 
great wall which the Emperor Severus had erected from sea 
to sea to keep back the Picts, and which divided Northum- 
bria into two nearly equal parts. This rampart, which had 
neither restrained the Picts in their invasions of the south, 
nor the Saxons in their conquests to the north, was then, 
though not intact, still standing ; as indeed even now its 
vast remains may be traced on the steep hill-tops and uplands, 
covered with heath, or strewn with basalt rocks, which give 
to that district of England an aspect so different from that 
of her ordinary landscapes. Flanked by a fragment of the 
Roman wall, the Anglo-Saxon prince occupied a height where 
his feeble forces could defy the attack of the numerous 
battalions of Cadwallon.^ On that height, which was 

' " Filii prsefati regis . . . cum magna nobilium juventute apud Scotos 
sive Pictos exulabant ibique ad doctrinam Scotorum catechizati et baptisma- 
tis sunt gratia recreati." — Bede, iii. 1. 

Fleury, Lanigan, and many other historians, have supposed that these ex- 
pressions of Bede applied to the Irish, who, as we have seen above, bore the 
name of Scots long before that name had been communicated, by an Irish 
colony, to the inhabitants of Caledonia. But no valid proof is to be found 
in ancient authors to confirm this supposition. 

* To help the reader to find his way through the labyrinth of the two Nor- 
thuml)rian dynasties, the history of which, here begun, will be largely fol- 
lowed up in this volume, we add (see Appendix VI., p. 752) a genealogical 
table, to which he will do well to make frequent reference. 

■'' See for the description of the battle-field a recent publication of the 
learned society which, under the name of a famous archaeologist, Surtees, 
has for thirty years devoted itself to bringing to light the monuments of 
Northumbrian history, viz., The Priory of Hexham, edited by Jamks Rainb, 
1864; vol. i., preface, page xi., and app. ii. 


pia^nt8*t.he afterwards called Heaven^s Field,^ and -which still 
first cross bcars the name of St. Oswald, on the eve of the 
onthe'eve* day of dccisive battle, the young and ardent war- 
tie^wtth'the ^i^r held erect with his own hands a large wooden 
British. cross, wliich had been hastily made by his orders, 
while his companions heaped the earth round it, to keep it 
firm in its position ; then prostrating himself before it, he 
said to his brothers in arms, " Let us all fall on our knees, 
and together implore the living and true and Almighty God 
in His mercy to defend us against the pride and fierceness 
of our enemy; for that God knows our cause is just, and 
that we fight for the salvation of our nation. Yes, it is for 
our salvation and our freedom that we must fight to-day 
against those Britons, whom our fathers gloried in chal- 
lenging, but who now prophesy the extirpation of our 
race." ^ 

The Britons themselves might seem to have an equal right 
to ofier this prayer, for they had long been Christians, and 
after all had only retaken their native soil from the grasp of 
foreign invaders.^ But a century of possession had given 
the latter a conviction of their right ; and the bloody cruel- 
ties of Cadwallon had dishonored his patriotism. Oswald, 
moreover, represented the cause of advancing Christianity; 
for the Britons did nothing to convert their enemies, and the 
cross which he planted was the first which had been as yet 
seen in Bernicia. 

* " Vocatur locus ille in lingua Anglorum Hefenfelth, quod dici potest 
latine Coelestis Campus." — Bede, iii. 1. A chapel dedicated to St. Oswald 
marks the spot so well described by Bede, near the small town of the same 
name, a little to the north of Hexham and of the railway from Newcastle to 
Carlisle. The battle is known by the name of Denisesburn, from the brook 
on the bank of which the British king perished in his flight. 

* " Fertur quia facta cruce citato opere ac fovea praeparata, ipse fide fer- 
vens hanc arripuerit ac foveas imposuerit, atque utraque manu erectara tenu- 
erit, donee, adgesto a militibus pulvere, terras figeretur. . . . Flectamus 
omnes genua et Dominum omnipotentem vivum ac verura in commune de- 
precemur, ut nps ab hoste superbo et feroce sua miseratione defendat ; scit 
enim ipse quia justa pro salute gentis nostras bella suscepimus." — Bede, 
iii. 2. The more recent historians throw especial light on the patriotic side 
of this struggle. '' Exprobrandi pudoris rem ventilari allegans, Anglos cum 
Britannis tani iniquo marte confligere, ut contra illos pro salute decertarent 
quos ultro pro gloria consueverunt lacessere. Itaque pre libertate audenti- 
bus animis et viribus efFusis decertarent, nihil de fuga meditantes : tali niodo 
et illis provenire gloriam et annuente Deo patriae libertatem. . . . Casdwal- 
lum, viruui, ut ipse dictitabat, in exterminium Anglorum natum." — Wilh. 
Malmesb., i. 44; Ricard. de Cikenc, Sped. Hist, de Gest. Reg. Angl.^ 
u. 36. 

* A. DE LA BoRDERiE, Luttc des Britous Insulaires, p. 221. 


On the evening of the same day, and during the Apparition 
night which preceded the contest which was to umbato"' 
fix his destiny, Oswald, asleep in his tent, saw in a Oswald, 
dream the holy St. Columba, the apostle and patron of the 
country of his exile and of the Church in which Le had re- 
ceived his baptism. The warlike abbot of lona, who had 
been dead for thirty-six years, appeared to him, shining with 
an angelic beauty ; erect, and with that lofty stature that 
distinguished him in life, he stood and stretched his resplen- 
dent robe over the whole of the small army of exiles as if to 
protect it; then addressing the prince, he said, as God said 
to Joshua before the passage of the Jordan, " Be of good 
courage and play the man. At the break of day march to 
the battle : I have obtained for thee from God the victory 
over thine enemies and the death of tyrants : thou shalt 
conquer, and reign." The prince, on awaking, told his vision 
to the Saxons who had joined him, and all promised to re- 
ceive baptism, like himself and the twelve companions of hia 
exile, if he should return a conqueror.^ Early on ijattieof 
the morrow the battle began, and Oswald gained a bu"n^®^' 
victory as complete as it was unlikely. Cadwallon, — ■ 
the last hero of the British race — victor, according death of 
to the Welsh tradition, in forty battles and in sixty ^^^dwaiion. 
single combats — perished in this defeat. The Britons 
evacuated Northumbria never to return, and withdrew 
behind the Severn. Those who remained to the north of 
the Dee, in the territory which has since been divided into 
the counties of Chester, Lancaster, and Westmoreland, sub- 
mitted to the Northumbrian sway, which henceforth extended 
from the Irish Channel to the North Sea, tracing the line of 
the east coast as far as Edinburgh. There still remained, 
however, out of Wales and to the south of the Wall of Seve- 
rus, in the region adjoining Caledonia, a district bathed by 

' " Pridie ... in suo papilione supra pulvillum dormiens, sanctum Co- 
lumbam in visu videt forma coruscantem angelica; cujus alta proceritas 
vertice nubes tangere videbatur . . . suuni regi proprium revelans nomen, 
in medio castrorum stans, excepta quadani parva extremitate, sui protegebat 
fulgida veste. . . . Confortare et age viriliter, ecce ego tecum : hac sequente 
nocte de castris ad bellum procede; hac enim vice mihi Doniinus donavit ut 
hostes in fugani vertantur tui. . . . Totus populus promittit se post reversi- 
onem de bello crediturum et baptismum suscepturum, nam tota ilia Saxonia 
gentilitatis et ignorantise tenebris obscurata erat, excepto ipso rege Oswaldo, 
cum duodecim viris, qui cum eo Scotos inter exulante, baptizati sunt." — 
Adamnan, Vita S. Golumhce, v. 1. He obtained this fact from his predeces- 
sor at lona, the Abbot Failbe, who had heard it told by Oswald inmself td 
the fifth abbot of lona. 

VOL. IL 20 


the waters of the Solway, full of lakes and hills like Cale* 
donia itself, and thfen, as now, known by the name of Cum- 
bria or Cumberland, where the Britons continued indepen- 
dent, relying on the support of the Scots, and in alliance with 
the people of their own race who dwelt on the banks of the 
Clyde. But they fell, and, though subdued, agreed in 
bestowing upon the son of the Ravager — the grandson of 
the Burner — the Saxon who had nobly vanquished them, 
the name of Lamn-Gwinn ; which means, according to 
some, " the Shining Sword," according to others, " the Lib- 
eral Hand." ^ 
^ , , Nothing is known of the course of events which, 

Oswald c5 _ . . . ' 

makes the after the defeat and death of the great British chief, 
thumbrlan Confirmed Oswald in the undisputed sovereignty of 
latoon™^ the whole of Northumbria and the temporary su- 
Tiiiich be- premacy of the entire Saxon Heptarchy ; but we find 
leading him entitled Emperor of all Britain, by a writer al- 
am^ngtiie most Contemporary with himself^ Not only, says 
s"xons Bedo, had he learned to possess in hope the heaven- 
— ly kinsrdom which his forefathers knew not ; but in 
this world God gave him a kingdom vaster than 
that possessed by any of his ancestors. He reigned over the 
four races who shared Britain among them — the Britons, 
the Scots, the Picts, and the Angles.^*^ No doubt this suprem- 
icy was but partially acknowledged, especially beyond the 
limits of the Anglo-Saxon territory ; but Northumbria, when 
united under one king, could not fail to become at once the 
chief power of the confederation. Oswald, who was the 
great-grandson of Ina on his father's side, and grandson of 
Ella on his mother's,!^ had a natural right to unite the two 
realms of De'ira and Bernicia, while at the same time deliver- 
ing them from the humiliating and bloody yoke of the Britons 
and Mercians. He seems to have had a special affection for 
Bernicia, his father's countr}', in which he lived, and whoso 
ancient boundaries on the Caledonian side he extended or 
re-established. But he succeeded, we are told by the Nor- 
thumbrian Bede, in reconciling and binding into one state 

* A DE LA BoRDERiE, 020. cit. Lappenbekg, p. 157. 

^ Cuniineus, lialf a century prior to Bede, says, in his Life of Columba, c. 
25 — " Totius Britannia3 imperator a Deo ordinatur." 

'" "Non solum incognita progenitoribus suis regna ccelorum sperare didi- 
cit; sed et . • . oninos provincias et nationes Britanniae, quas in quatuor 
linguas, id est Britonum, Pictcrum. Scotorura, et Anglorum, divisae sunt, in 
ditione accepit." — Bede, iii. 

" See tlie genealogical table, Appendix I. 


the two tribes which, although of the same race, had lived in 
continual conflict. He made of the two a real nation.^^ 

Oswald was the sixth of the great chiefs or jjeisthe 
suzerains of the confederation who bore the title of sixth Bret- 
Brctwalda^^ before whom was carried the tufa, or 
tuft of feathers, which was the emblem of supreme authority, 
and which after this was used by none save by the Northum- 
brian kings. It is supposed that this dignity was conferred 
or ratified by the suffrage, not only of all the kings of the 
Heptarchy, but also of the principal chiefs or barons of each 
tribe. It was at first exclusively mihtary ; but it became 
under Oswald and his successors, as it had already been with 
Ethelbert of Kent, a means of exercising great influence in 
religious matters. For Oswald was not only a true king and 
a gallant soldier, but also a good Christian, destined to be- 
come a saint ; and in the power with which he found himself 
invested he saw chiefly the means of defending and prop- 
agating the faith which he had received with his baptism 
from the hands of the sons of Columba. 

As soon as Oswald was established on his father's throne, 
his first and dearest thought was to bring back and to pro- 
cure the triumph in his own country of that religion which 
had been the consolation of his exile. For this end 
missionaries, ministers of the word of God, were seeks mis. 
necessary above all things. It did not occur to him ,^rom the 
to seek them in the Church of Canterbury, the mo- ^s'terier''"' 
nastic centre which already existed on English soil, 
and whence ten years before had come Faulinus, the first 
apostle of Northumbria. He does not seem to have even 
thought of the noble and worthy Eoman deacon, xhedeacoa 
James, whom Faulinus, on abandoning his metro- Ja^es. 
politan see of York, had left alone behind him ; and who, re- 

•* " Hujus industria regis, Deirorum et Berniciorum provinciae, quae eate- 
nus ab invicem discedehant, in unam sunt pacem et velut unum compaginataa 
in populum." — Hist. Eccles., iii. 6. 

'^ The list of the Bretwaldas as given by Bede (ii. 5) may be quoted 
here : — 

560. Ella, King of the South Saxons. 
679. Peawlin, King of the West Saxons. 
596. Ethelbert, King of the Jutes of Kent. 
616. Kedwald, King of tlie East Angles. 

G30. Edwin, King of the Northumbrians, or Northern Angles. 
635. Oswald, King of the Northumbrians. 
642. Oswy, King of the Northumbrians. 
To this list Lappenberg thinks should be added the name of Wulphere^ 
King of the Mercians, or Angles of the Middle, from 656 to 675. 


maining gallantly at his post during the storm of invasion 
and havoc, had continued to baptize and preach, and to 
snatch his prey from the old enemy.i* This deacon, however, 
was the lieutenant of a bishop to some extent identified with 
the De'irian dynasty, and the family of King Edwin, which 
had exiled, robbed, and supplanted the family of Oswald, and 
which he had just supplanted in his turn. Was it for this 
reason, as has been supposed,!^ that Oswald sought no aid 
from the Roman missionaries ? Is it not more natural to 
conclude that he was chiefly influenced by his remembrance 
of the generous hospitality which he had found among the 
Scots, and of the instructions of those from whom in early 
manhood he received baptism and the other sacraments of 
the Church? Be this as it may, it was to the Scotic Church 
that he addressed himself — that is to say, to the heads of 
monasteries ruled by the traditions and institutions of Co- 
lumba, that great abbot of lona who appeared to him in his 
dream the night before the decisive battle, to promise him 
victory and a crown.^^ 

Under the influence of that Celtic patriotism which inflamed 
the Britons against the conquering strangers, and which was 
no less unwilling to concede to them a share in eternal salva- 
tion than in the British soil, the Scotic or Irish Church seems 
up to this time to have refrained from all effort to spread the 
Grospel among the Saxons. But the time had come to adopt 
a different course. As though it had only awaited the signal 
given by Oswald, the Celtic Church, aided by the brave mis- 
sionaries who sprang from that monastic reformation of which 
lona was the centre, immediately began to light up with its 
radiance the whole northern region of Saxon Britain, from 
whence it went on into the territory where it had been pre- 
ceded by the Roman missionaries, and where the two apos- 
tolic agencies finally met.^^ 

The Scottish monks replied with heartiness to the appeal 
of the exile, now a conqueror and sovereign. But the first 

14 " Virum utique industrium ac nobilem in Christo etEcclesia . . . virum 
utique ecclesiasticum et sanctum, qui multo ex hinc tempore in ecclesia 
inanens, magnas antiquo hosti prsedas, docendo et baptizando, eripuit." — 
Bede, ii. 16, 20. 

•^ Varin. — Faber, Life of St. Oswald. 

'" " Mox ubi regnum suscepit, desiderans to tamgentem Christianae fide! 
gratia imbui. . . . Misit ad majores natos Scotorum, inter quos exsulans 
ipse baptisraatis sacramenta cum liis qui secum erant militibus, consecutus 
erat, petens, ut cujus doctrina ac ministerio gens quara regebat Anglorum 
doniinicae fidei et dona disceret et susciperet sacramenta." — Bede, iii. 3. 

" Varin, Deuxi^me Memoire, p. 9. 


eflfort of their zeal was not fortunate. Their first Failure of 
representative seems to have been animated by scoulsh 
that spirit of pedantic rigor, by that stubborn and missionary, 
intolerant austerity, which have often shown themselves in 
the national character of the Scots along with Christian devo- 
tion and self-denial, and which culminated in the too celebrated 
Puritans. This missionary, by name Gorman, attempted in 
vain to preach the Gospel to the Northumbrians, who heard 
him with opposition and dislike. After some time he returned 
to lona ; and in rendering an account of his mission to those 
who had sent him — that is to sa}^ to the elders of the mon- 
astery — he declared that he could make nothing of the An- 
gles, that they were a race of untamable savages, and of a 
stubborn and barbarous spirit. This report greatly disquieted 
and perplexed the fathers of the synod, who ardently desired 
to impart to the English people the gift of salvation which 
had been asked from them.^^ They deliberated for a long 
time, until at length one of the assembly, A'idan, a monk of 
lona, said to the discomfited preacher, " It seems to me, my 
brother, that you have been too hard upon these ignorant 
people : you have not, according to the apostolic counsel, 
offered them first the milk of gentle doctrine, to bring them 
by degrees, while nourishing them with the divine Word, to 
the true understanding and practice of the more advanced 
precepts." ^^ At these words every eye was turned to Aidan : 
his opinion was thoughtfully discussed, and the debate ended 
in an acknowledgment that he was the man wanted for the 
mission, since he was endowed with that discernment which 
is the source of all virtues. There was, as we have seen, a 
bishop in the Monastery of lona, so that Aidan was ueissuc- 
at once consecrated missionary and bishop of Nor- ^f^a^^ ^^ 
thumb ria.^*' 

He received his mission from the whole brotherhood and 
from the Abbot of lona, Seghen, the fourth successor of Co- 

' " Austerioris animi vir qui cum . . . praedicans nihil proficeretur, nee 
libenter a populo audiretur ... in oonventu seniorum retulerit, quia nil 
prodesse docendo genti . . . potuisset, eo quod essent homines, indomabiles, 
et durse ac barbarae mentis. ... At illi . . . tractatum magnum in concilio 
quid esset agendum, liabere cceperunt, desiderantes quidem genti quam pete- 
bant solutem esse, sed de non recepto praedicatore dolentes." — Bede, iii. 5. 

'■'•' ''Lac moUioris doctrinae . . . donee paulatim enutriti verbo Dei, ad 
capienda perfectiora et ad facienda sublimiora Dei praecepta sufficerent." 

^^ " Omnium qui considebant ad ipsum ora et oeuli conversi . . . ipsum 
esse dignum episcopatu, ipsum ad erudiendos incredulos et indoctos mitti 
debere decernunt, qui gratia discretionis, quae virtutum mater est, ante om- 
nia probatur imbutus, sicque ilium ordinantes, ad praedicandum miserunt." 



lumba in the monastic metropolis of the Hebrides, the fourti* 
of these great monks to whom Bede liimself, somewhat preju* 
diced as he was against their holy founder, could not refuse 
the testimony that they were as illustrious for their self-de- 
nial as for their love of God and of strict monastic order. 
The venerable historian could find but one grievance where- 
with to charge them and their delegate A'idan — viz., their 
fidelity to Celtic observances as to the celebration of Easter, 
which the clergy of the south of Ireland had abandoned, to 
conform to the new usage of Rome,^^ but which the Scots of 
the north of Ireland and of all Caledonia obstinately pre- 
Berved as they had received it from their fathers.^^ 

Everything had to be done, or done over again, in the once 
Christian Northumbria. To the south, in De'ira, the ravages 
of Cadwallon and Penda do not seem to have left any traces 
of the mission of Paulinus except the solitary church at 
York, where the deacon James had maintained the celebra- 
tion of Christian worship, and which, begun by Edwin, was 
completed by Oswald. In Bernicia we must conclude that 
the Roman Bishop restricted himself to itinerating missions, 
followed by those general baptisms of which we have spoken, 
but that he had not founded there any permanent station, 
since, until the cross was planted by Oswald on the eve of 
his victory over the Britons, it is said that no one had ever 
seen a church or an altar, or any emblem of the Christian 

It was thus a hard task, and one well worthy of a follower 
of Columba, which presented itself to the monk of lona, 
trained in the school of that great missionary.^ 

" In 630, at the Synod of Leiglilin, thanks to the efforts of two monks, 
Laserian, superior of the 1500 monks of Leighlin, and Cummian, the disci- 
ple of Columba, and author of a famous letter, of which we shall presently 
hear more, in connection with this wearisome discussion. Compare Lani- 
GAN, Ecclesiastical History of Ireland, vol. ii. chap. 15. 

** " Qualiscumque fuerit ipse . . . reliquit successores magna continentia 
ac divino amore regularique institutione insignes. . . . Ab hac ergo insula, 
ab horum coUegio monachorum, ad provinciam Anglorum instituendam ih 
Cliristo, missus est ^dan, accepto gradu episcopatus." — Bede, iii. 4. 5. 

23 "jv^uiium ChristiangB fidei signum, nulla ecclesia, nullum altare in tota 
Berniciorum gente erectum est, priusquam hoc sacrae crucis vexillum novus 
militias ductor, dictante fidei devotione, contra hostem immanissimum pugna- 
turus statueret." — Bede, iii. 2, 11. 

** That is to say, under his successors, for although AYdan, ordained bishop 
in 635, might very well have seen and heard Columba, who died in 597, yet 
no proof can be found in support of Colgan's assertion, which ranks him, as 
well as his successors Finan and Colman, among the direct disciples of the 
great abbot (^Trias Thaumaturga, pp. 487, 489) He bases this assertion 


A'idan had brought with him several of his brethren, and 
the number of Celtic monks who came to help him increased 
from day to day. Tt became necessary to assign to them, or 
rather to create for them, a centre of operations. The king 
left to Aldan the choice of the seat of his bisliopric. Ah 
though his diocese comprised the whole of Northumbria, he 
does not seem to have thought of occupying the vacant see 
of York. Whether he yielded in this to the prejudices and 
dislikes which separated the Scots from Roman usages, or 
whether he was unwilling to quit the northern district, where 
the mission of Paulinus had left the fewest traces, and where, 
consequently, he had most work to do, it is certain that he 
chose to place his episcopal monastery at a distance from the 
churches founded by the Roman monks in the southern part 
of the country. He preferred a position a little more cen- 
tral, near the royal residence of Oswald, and on the coast, 
but much nearer the Firth of Forth than the mouth of the 
Humber, which mark the two extreme limits of Oswald's 
kingdom to the north and south. 

This choice of a residence shows that, as a monk ,^,^^^^ ^^ 
of lona, ambitious of following in every respect the nastic capi- 
example of the great apostle of his race, founder of thumbria"^' 
the sanctuary whence he issued, Aidan took pleas- i^,ef^^ieof 
ure in imitating St. Columba even in local particu- J^indis- 
lars. Like him he settled his community in an island 
near the shore, almost as small, as insignificant, and as bar- 
ren as lona was when the holy exile from Ireland landed 
there. Its position was even in some sort a repetition, in 
the North Sea, and to the east of Great Britain, of the posi- 
tion of lona upon the opposite coast, and on the shore of the 

Amid the waves of the Northern Sea, opposite the green 
hills of Northumberland and the sandy beach which extends 
between the border town of Berwick on the north, and the 
imposing ruins of the feudal fortress of Bamborough on 
the south, lies a low island, flat and sombre, girt with basah 
tic rocks, forming a kind of square block, which terminates 
to the north west in a long point of land stretching towards 
the mouth of the Tweed and Scotland. This Island bears 
the impress of melancholy and barrenness. It can never 

simply on the mention of three persons bearing these names in the biography 
of Adamnan. Colgan himself deprives this argument of all weight by 
proving that there are in tlie Irish calendiir 23 saints of the name of Aldan, 
and 109 of the name of Colman or Colomban. 


have produced anything but the sorriest crops and some 
meagre pasturage. There is not a tree, not an undulation, 
not one noticeable feature, save a small conical hill to the 
south-west, now crowned by a strong castle of picturesque 
form, but recent construction. In this poor islet was erected 
the first Christian church of the whole district, now so pop- 
ulous, rich and industrious, which extends from Hull to Ed- 
inburgh. This was Lindisfarne — that is to say, the Mother 
Church, the religious capital of the north of England and 
south of Scotland, the residence of the first sixteen bishops 
of Northumbria, the sanctuary and monastic citadel of the 
whole country round — the lona of the Anglo-Saxons. The 
resemblance of Lisdisfarne to lona, of the colony to the me- 
tropolis, the daughter to the mother, is striking. These two 
isles, once so celebrated, so renowned, so influential over two 
great and hostile races, have the same sombre and melan- 
choly aspect, full of a wild and savage sadness. Religion 
only could people, fertilize, and tranquillize these arid and 
desolate shores. 

The island chosen by Aidan is, however, an island during 
only a portion of each day. As at Mont St. Michel in France, 
twice in the twenty-four hours the ebbing tide leaves the 
sands uncovered, and the passage can be made on foot to the 
neighboring shore,^^ though not always without danger, for 
many stories are told of travellers drowned in attempting to 
cross to the holy isle at low water. From this new abode 
A'ldan, looking southward, could descry far off the rock and 
stronghold of Bamborough, where Oswald, after the example 
of his grandfather Ida, had established his capital. His eye, 
like his heart, could there hail the young and glorious prince 
who was his friend, his helper, and his rival. 

Nothing is known of the early history of St. Aidan. When 
he first appears to us he is already a monk at lona, and 
clothed with a certain authority among his brethren. Even 
when raised to the episcopate, he remained always a monk, 
not only in heart, but in life. Almost all his Celtic fellow- 
workers, whether from Ireland or Scotland, were monks like 
himself, and followed the cenobitical rule of their order and 
country. A hundred years after Aidan. the system which he 
had established at Lindisfarne was still in full vigor ; and, as 

*^ " Insula haec, accedente reumate, quotidie his undis spuniantibus maris 
alluitur, toticsquo refluis maris sinibus, antiqua terra relinquitur." -- Regi- 
NALui MoNACiii DuNELMENSis, Libellus de Admirandis B. Outhberti Virtu- 
tibus, c. 12. 


iu his day, the bishop was either himself the abbot of the 
insular community, or lived there as a monk, subject, like the 
other religious, to the authority of the abbot, elected with 
the consent of the brotherhood. The priests, deacons, chor- 
isters, and other ofiicials of the cathedral church, wore all 
monks.26 But this monastic discipline and order would have 
availed little if the missionary- head of the institution had not 
possessed the character common to great servants of the 
truth, and been endowed with those virtues which the apos- 
tolical office demands. 

Bede,-'' who was born twenty years after the ApostoUe 
death of the monk-bishop, and who lived all his tile monk- 
life in the country which was fragrant with the ^^^'°p 
memory of A'idan's virtues, has made his character 
and life the subject of one of the most eloquent and attrac- 
tive pictures ever drawn by the pen of the venerable his- 
torian. The praise which he awards to him is not only more 
expressive and more distinct than that given to any other of 
the monastic apostles of England, but also so much the less 
to be suspected of partiality, that it is qualified by the most 
energetic protests against his Celtic peculiarities. "He 
was," Bede tells us, " a pontiff inspired with a passionate love 
of goodness ; but at the same time full of a surpassing gen- 
tleness and moderation." Faithful to all the noble teachings 
of his monastic cradle, he appeared to the future clergy of 
Northumbria as a marvel of selfdenial and austerity. He 
was the first to practise what he taught, and none could 
ever reproach him with having failed to fulfil, to his best 
ability, all the precepts of the gospels, of the apostles, or the 

Inditferent to all worldly possessions, A'idan expended in 
alms all that he received from the kings and rich men. To 
the astonishment of the Saxons, who were, like the modern 
English, excellent horsemen, and valued nothing more highly 
than the horse, it was alwa3's on foot that the bishop went 
through town and country, penetrating everywhere- -now 

** " Monachi crant maxime qui ad prsedicandnm venerant. . . . Monacliua 
ipse episcopus ^dan." — Bede, Hist. Eccles., iii. 3. " Et monaslicum cum 
8uis onniibus vitara semper agere solebat; unde ab illo oinnes loci ipsius au- 
tistites usque liodie sic episcopale exercent officium, ut rcgente monasterium 
abbate quern ipsi cum consilio fratrum elegerint, omnes . . . monasticani 
per omnia cum ipso episcopo regulam servent." — Bede, Vit. S. Cuthbcrii, 
c. 16. 

" It is to Bede we owe all that is known of Aidan, as of so many other 
personages of the seventh century. — Compare Act. SS. Bolland., vol. vL 
Augusti, p. 688 


among the rich, now among the poor — baptizing those who 
were still heathen, confirming in the faith those Avho were 
already Christians, and stimulating all to alms-giving and good 
works. All who accompanied him, monks or laymen, had to 
devote a certain portion of each day to meditation — that is to 
say, to reading the Bible and learning the Psalter. Unwearied 
in study, humble and peaceful, charitable and sincere, he was 
especially distinguished by zeal against the sins of the rich. 
Far from sparing any of their vices or excesses, he rebuked 
them with the greatest sharpness: and contrary to the received 
custom, he never made any present to the chiefs or nobles, 
restricting himself to simple hospitality when they came to 
visit him, and giving away to the first beggar whom he met 
the gifts Avhich they heaped upon him. But the priestly 
courage which armed him against the pride of the powerful 
was transformed into tender and watchful solicitude when he 
had to defend the feeble, to relieve the needy, or to comfort 
the unfortunate. His, in a word, was the heart of a true 
priest and apostle, disdainful of all false grandeur and vain 
prosperity, and victorious over all the mean and perverse 
tendencies of his time, and of all times.^^ 

A'idan retained nothing for himself of all the gifts of land 
which the generosity of the Saxon kings and nobles bestowed 
upon the Church, whose doctrines they had just embraced. 
He was content with Lindisfarne and the scanty fields of his 
poor little isle. But he reserved for himself, wherever it 
was possible in the vast villoB of the kings and nobles, a site 
for a chapel, with a small chamber attached, where he pre- 
pared his sermons, and in which he lodged during his inces- 
sant and prolonged journeys.^^ 

"^ " Scripsi ha?c . . . nequaquani in eolaudans vel eligens hoc quod de ob- 
servantia paschge minus perfecte sapiebat, immo hoc multum detestans . . . 
sed quasi verax historicus. . . . Quantum ab eis qui eum uovere didiciraus, 
summaB mansuetudinis et pietatis et moderaminis virum. . . . Unde (ab 
lona) inter alia vivendi doeumenta, saluberrimura abstinentiae et niodestiaa 
clericis exemplum reliquit. . . . Cuncta et urbana et rustica loca, non equo- 
rum dorso, sed pedum incessu. . . . Sive adtonsi, seu laici, meditari debe- 
rent, id est aut Icgendis Scripturis aut psalniis discendis operam dai'e. . . . 
Nunquani divitibus honoris sive timoris gratia, si qua deliquissent reticebat; 
sed aspera illos invectione corrigebat. . . . Nullam potcntibus seculi pecu- 
niam, excepta solummodo esca si quos liospitio suscepisset, unquam dare 
Bolebat. . . . Animum irae et avaritise victorem, superbia3 simul et vanaa 
gjoriae conteniptorem . . . auctoritateni saoerdote dignam, redarguendi su- 
perbos ac potentes, pariter et infirraos consolandi, ac pauperes recreandi vel 
defendendi clementiani." — Bede, iii. 3, 5, 17. 

^® "In hoc liabens ecclesiam et cubiculuni, saepe ibidem divorti ac manere, 
atque inde ad praedicandum circumquaque exire consueverat : quod ipsum 


Like St. Gregory the Great, whom, though not ue takes 
his disciple, he emulated in well doing, he took an ^^eofthe 
especial interest in the education of children and young and 
the emancipation of slaves. From the beginning of 
his mission he attached to himself twelve English youths, 
whom he educated with the greatest care for the service of 
Christ, and of whom one at least became a bishop. Every 
church and monastery founded by him became immediately 
a school where the children of the English received from 
Aldan's monks an education as complete as that to be had in 
any of the great Irish monasteries.^'' As to slaves, he de- 
voted principally to their redemption the gifts which he owed 
to the munificence of the Anglo-Saxons, endeavoring espe- 
cially to save such as, to use Bede's expression, had been 
" unjustly sold," — which means, probably, those who were 
not foreign prisoners, or who had not been condemned to 
slavery as the punishment of crime. For it has been al- 
ready stated, and it must be kept in mind, that the Saxons, 
as well as the Celts, made no scruple of selling their brethren 
and their children like cattle. The freedmen were carefully 
instructed by Aidan, numbered among his disciples, and fre- 
quently raised to the priesthood.^^ Heathen barbarism was 
thus assailed and undermined in its very citadel by monks, 
both from the north and from the sduth, and by slaves pro- 
moted to the rank of priests. 

The king and the bishop rivalled each other in ... ^„ 
virtue, in piety, in ardent charity, and desire for wait helper 
the conversion of souls. Thanks to their mutual p?etor*to 
and unwearied efforts, every day saw the Christian ^^'..^'"'p 

... ,. r. , 11' Aldan. 

religion spreading farther and taking deeper root ; 
every day joyous crowds hastened to feed on the bread of 
the Divine Word, and to plunge into the waters of baptism; 
every day numerous churches, flanked by monasteries and 
schools, rose from the soil. Every day new gifts of land, duo 
to the generosity of Oswald and the Northumbrian nobles, 
came to swell the patrimony of the monks and the poor. 
Every day, also, new missionaries, full of zeal and fervor, 
arrived from Ireland or Scotland to help on the work of 

et in aliis villis regiis solebat, utpote nil propriae possessionis, excepta eccle- 
6ia sua et adjacentibus agellis, liabens." — Bede, iii. 17. 

^° "Imbuebantur preeceptoribus Scotis parvuli Anglorum una cum majori- 
bus studiis et observatione disciplinaB regularis." — Bede, iii. 3. 

^' "Ad redemptionem eorura qui injuste fuerant venditi. . . . Multoa 
quos pretio dato redemerat, suos discipulos fecit, atque ad sacerdotalera usque 
gradum erudiendo atque instituendo provexit." — Bede, iii. 6. 


A'idan and Oswald, preaching and baptizing converts. And 
at the same time James the Deacon, sole survivor of the 
former Roman mission, redoubled his efforts to help forward 
the regeneration of the country in which he had already seen 
the faith flourish and decay. He took advantage of the res- 
toration of peace, and the increasing number of the faithful, 
to add, like a true disciple of St. Gregory, the teaching of 
music to the teaching of religion, and to familiarize the 
English of the north with the sweet and solemn melody of 
the Roman chant, as already in use among the Saxons of 
Canterbury .22 

Oswald did not content himself with giving his friend 
A'idan the obedience of a son and the support of a king, in 
all that could aid in the extension and consolidation of Chris- 
tianity. He himself gave a personal example of all the 
Christian virtues, and often passed whole nights in prayer, 
still more occupied with the concerns of the heavenly king- 
dom than with those of the earthly realm which he had so 
ably won, and for which he was so soon to die. He was not 
only lavish in alms, giving of his riches, with humble and 
tender charity, to the humble and the poor, to the sick, to 
travellers, and to needy strangers who came to the bishop to 
be nourished with the Word of Life. In addition he consti- 
tuted himself Aidan's interpreter ; " and it was," says Bede, 
" a touching spectacle to see the king, who had, during his 
long exile, thoroughly learned the Celtic tongue, translating 
to the great chiefs and the principal officials of his court, 
the eorls and thanes, the sermons of the bishop, who as 
yet spoke but imperfectly the language of the Anglo-Sax- 

The tender friendship and apostolic brotherhood which 
thus united the king and the bishop of the Northumbrians 

'* " Exin coepere plures per dies de Scotorum regione venire. . . . Con- 
struebantur ecclesise per loca, confluebant ad audiendum verbum populi 
gaudentes, donabantur munere regio. . . . Qui quoniam canendi in ecclesia 
erat peritissimtis, recuperata postmodura pace in provincia et crescente nu- 
mero fidelium, etiam magister ecclesiasticse cantionis juxta morem Komano- 
rum seu Cantuariorum multis ccepit existere." — Bei>e, iii. 3, 11, 20. 

^^ " Qui temporalis regni gubernacula tenens, magis pro asterno regno 
semper laborare solebat. . . . Pauperibus et peregrinis semper liumilis, be- 
nignus et largus. . . . Semper, dura viveret, infirmis et pauperibus consulere, 
eleemosynas dare, opem ferre non cessabat. . . . Pulcherrimo saspe spec- 
taculo contigit, ut evangelizante antistite qui Anglorum linguara perfecte non 
noverat, ipse rex suis ducibus ac ministris interpres verbi extiteret cojlestis, 
quia tam longo exilii sui tempore linguam Scotorum plena didicerat." - - 
Bede, iii. 12, 9, 6, 3. 


has, perhaps more than anything else, contributed to exalt 
and hallow their memory in the annals of Catholic England. 

Oswald was too active, too popular, too energetic, oswaw 
and too powerful not to make his actions and in- marries the 

n nil 111 ini- 1-1 daufrhter of 

nuence lelt beyond the bounds ot his own kingdom, the King of 
Like Edwin, Avhom he resembles in so many points, and^con- 
notwithstanding the rivalr}^ of their two families, he f^Yher-Va- 
turned his thoughts and his steps to the south of law. 
the Humber. Edwin had converted, for a time at least, his 
neighbors and vassals, the East Anglians. Oswald went 
further, and contributed largely to the conversion of the 
most powerful kingdom of the Heptarchy, next to Northum- 
bria — that of the Saxons of the West, Wessex — a kingdom 
Which was destined to absorb and supplant all the others. 
The kings of this nation also professed to be of the blood of 
Odin ; they were descended from a chief called Cerdic, per- 
haps the bravest of all the invf^ders of the British soil, and 
who had consolidated his conquests by forty years of craft 
and war. It was among this warlike race that Oswald 
sought a wife ; but, contrary to ordinary precedent, it was, 
in this new union, the husband, and not the wife, who took 
the initiative in conversion. When he went for his bride, 
Kineburga, into the country of the West Saxons, the King 
of Northumbria met there an Italian bishop, who had under- 
taken their conversion, finding them entirely pagan. He 
did his best to second the laborious efforts of the foreign 
missionary, and the king, whose daughter he was about to 
wed, having consented to be baptized, Oswald stood sponsor 
for him, and thus became the spiritual father of him whose 
son-in-law he was about to become.^'* He took back to Nor- 
thumbria with him the young convert, who soon bore him a 
son, little worthy of his sire, but yet destined at least to be 
the founder of a monastery which acted a part of some im- 
portance in the history of his people. 

All this prosperity was soon to end, as all that is jn^ggjon ^j 
good and beautiful ends here below. The terrible Pendaat 
Penda was still alive, and, under the iron hand of theMlr- 
that redoubtable warrior, Mercia remained the strong- BrXng."^ 
hold of paganism, even as Northumbria had become 
under Edwin and Oswald the centre of Christian life ia 
Great Britain. He had left unreveuged the death of hia 

^* "Cumomnes paganissimos inveniret. . . . Pulcherrimo et Deo digno 
consortio, cujus erat filiam accepturus in conjugem, ipsum prius secunda 
gcneratione Deo dictatum sibi accepit in lilium." — Bede, iii. 7. 

VOL. IL 21 


ally, the Briton Cadwallon ; he had done nothing to hinder 
the accession and establishment of a new Christian king in 
Northumbria. But when that king essayed to cross the 
river which formed the boundary of the two kingdoms, and 
to unite to his domains a province which had always belonged 
to the Mercians,^^ Penda, notwithstanding his age, resumed 
his old inveteracy towards those whom he saw — again like 
Edwin — deserting the worship of their common ancestor 
Odin, and claiming an insupportable supremacy over all the 
Saxons, Pagan or Christian. He accordingly renewed with 
ihe Britons the alliance which had already been so disas- 
trous to the Northumbrians, and, placing himself at the head 
of the two combined armies, waged for two years a sangui- 
nary war against Oswald, which ended in a decisive battle 
at Maserfeld, on the western border of Mercia and Northum- 

bria.36 The struggle was fierce ; the brother of 
jiaserfeid. Peuda perislicd in, the fight, but Oswald, the great 
642."^"°"^*' ^^^ beloved Oswald, shared the same fate. He died 
Oswald is on the field, in the flower of his years, at the age 

of thirty-eight. There he fell — the historian of 
the English Church says with emphasis — fighting for his 
country. But his last word, his last thought, was for 
heaven, and for the eternal welfare of his people, *' My 
God," said he, on seeing himself encircled with enemies, 
overwhelmed by numbers, and already pierced by a forest of 
arrows and lances — " ray God, save their souls." ^'' The last 
cry of this saintly spirit, this young hero, remained long 
graven on the memory of the Saxon people, and passed into 
a proverb to denote those who prayed without ceasing in 
life and in death. 

The ferocity of Penda was not even satisfied by the death 
of his young rivah When the dead body of the king of 
Northumbria was brought from the battle-field into his pres- 

^' Oswald, whether as a conqueror or only as bretwalda or chief of the 
confederation, had invaded that province of Lindsey, where Paulinus had 
founded the Cathedral of Lincoln, where the monks themselves reproached 
the sainted King of Northumbria, forty years after his death, with having 
wished to rule over them. 

^^ According to some, near Winwick, in Lancashire ; according to others, 
at Oswestry, in Shrewsbury. 

^' " Ubi pro patria dimicans a paganis interfectus est. . . . Vulgatum est 
autem et in consuetudinem proverbii versum quod etiam inter orationes vitara 
finierit. . . . Cum arrais et hostibus circumseptus, jamjam videret se esse 
perimendum, oravit pro animabus exercitus sui. Unde dicunt in proverbio : 
Deus, miser-ere animabus, dixit Oswald cadens in terra." — Bede, iii. 9, 12. 
"Cum stipatoribus fasis ipse quoque ferratam siivam in pectore gereret."-— 
WiLHELM. Malmesb., Be Gent., lib. i. c. 3. 


ence, the old savage caused the head and hands of the hero 
to be cut off, and set up on stakes, to intimidate both con- 
querors and conquered. The noble remains were thus 
exposed for a whole year, till his brother and avenger, Oswy, 
carried them aM'^ay. The hero's head was then taken to Lin- 
disfarne, to the great monastery which he had so richly en- 
dowed, and where his holy friend A'idan awaited it; but his 
hands were deposited iu a chapel in the royal fortress of 
Bamborough, the cradle of that Northumbrian dominion 
which the arms of his ancestors had founded, and which his 
own had so valiantl}'- restored. 

Thus perished, at the age of thirty-eight, Oswald, ranked 
by the Church among her martyrs, and by the Anglo-Saxon 
people among its saints and heroes of most enduring fame. 
Through the obscurity of that thankless and confused age, 
the eye rests gratefully on this young prince, reared in exile 
among the hereditary enemies of his race, who was consoled 
for the loss of a throne by his conversion to Christianity : 
who regained the kingdom of his fathers at the point of the 
sword, and planted the first cross on his native soil, at the 
moment when he freed it from the usurper ; crowned by the 
love and devotion of the people on whom he bestowed the 
blessings of peace and of supreme truth, spending his very 
life for its sake ; united for a few short years to a wife whom, 
in marrying, he had made a Christian ; gentle and strong, 
serious and sincere, pious and intelligent, humble and bold, 
active and gracious, a soldier and a missionary, a king and a 
martj'r, slain in the flower of his age on the field of battle, 
fighting for his country and praying for his subjects. Wiiere 
shall we find in all history a hero more nearly approaching 
the ideal, more richl}' gifted, more worthy of eternal remem- 
brance, and, it must be added, more completely forgotten? 

It was long, however, before his name was forgot- oswaidis 
ten. During the whole Anglo-Saxon period, and venerated 
even alter the Norman Conquest, under the Plan- "*'''*™'' 
tagenets, this gallant soldier, great king, and generous Chris- 
tian, continued to be the object of popular veneration. Tho 
chroniclers and poets of the time vied with each other in 
celebrating his fame. " Who, then," said one of tliem, will* 
that mingling of classic associations and Christian ideas so 
habitual to the monks and all the writers of the middle ages 
— " Who, then, is Hercules? who is Alexander the Great? 
who is Julius Caesar ? We are taught that Hercules con- 
quered himself, Alexander conquered the world, and Caesar 


the enemies of Rome ; but Oswald conquered at once the 
world, his enemies, and himself." ^^ 

The monks of the great and magnificent Church of Hexham 
went in procession every year to celebrate the day conse- 
crated to him at the site of the cross which he had planted 
on the eve of his first victory. But the love and gratitude 
of the Christian people gave a still greater glory to the place 
of his defeat and death. Pilgrims came thither in crowds to 
seek relief from their sufferings, and had each a miraculous 
■euro to relate on their return. The dust which his noble 
blood had watered was collected with care and conveyed to 
great distances as a remedy for disease, or a preservative 
from the evils of life. By dint of carrying away this dust a 
hollow was scooped out of a man's size, and which seemed 
the ever-open tomb of this martyr of his country. On seeing 
the turf around this hollow clothed with an unwonted verdure, 
more delicate and beautiful than elsewhere, travellers said 
that the man who had perished there must needs have been 
more holy and more pleasing in God's sight than all the other 
warriors who rested beneath that sward.^^ The veneration 
of which his remains were the object spread not only among 
all the Saxons and Britons of Great Britain, but even beyond 
the seas, in Ireland, and among the Greeks and the Germans. 
The very stake on which the head of the royal martyr had 
been fixed was cut up into relics, the fragments of which 
were regarded as of sovereign efficacy in the healing both 
of body or of mind. These things provoke a pitying smile 
from the wise and witty, M^ho in times and countries enslaved 
by the ascendency of numbers and physical force are not for- 
bidden to philosophize. But no safer or sweeter asylum has 
ever been found for humiliated patriotism, violated justice, 
or vanquished freedom, than the pious tenderness with which 
Christian nations once surrounded the tomb and relics of those 
who died for the faith and their rights. 

^'^ " Quis fuit Alcides? Quis Cjesar Julius? Aut quis 
Magnus Alexundcr? Alcides se superasse 
Fertur; Alexander niundum, sed Julius liostem. 
So siniul Oswaldus et niundum vicit et liostem." 

— Ap. Camden, Britannia, iii. 493. 
'' " Contigit ut pulverera ipsum uhi corpus ejus in terram corruit . . . 
multi auterentes . . . qui luox adeo increbuit, ut paulatim ablata exinde 
terra fossam ad niensuram staturaj virilis reddiderit. Quidam de natione 
Britonuni, iter faciens juxta ipsum locum, vidit unius loci spatium cetero 
campo venustius ac viridius : coepitque sagaci animo conficere quod nulla 
esset alia causa insolit;B illo in loco viriditatis, nisi quia ibidem sanctior ce- 
tero exercitu vir aiiquis fuisset interfectus." — Bede, iii. 9, 10. 


A kind of prophecy, that Oswald's bones would predk-tion 
become relics, had been made to him by Aidan, on of akIuh in 

J I (■ 1 1 • • regard to 

the following occasion : — oswuui-a 

The bishop had made it a rule to accept very '"""*• 
rarely those invitations to the royal table which were con- 
sidered, among the Germanic races, as signs of the most marked 
distinction. When he did go he was present only at the be- 
ginning of the repast, after which he would hasten awa}' to 
apply himself, with his monks, to reading or prayer. But one 
Easter-day the monk-bishop, being at dinner with the king, 
and seated beside him, had just raised his hand to bless a 
silver dish filled with delicacies which was placed before Os- 
wald, when the officer to whom the charge of the poor was 
specially intrusted, suddenly entered to announce that there 
was a crowd of beggars in the street who besought alms of 
the king. Oswald immediately gave orders that the food, 
and the silver dish which contained it, the latter broken in 
pieces, should be divided among the beggars. As he stretched 
out his hand to give this order, the bishop seized it and cried, 
*' May this hand never perish ! " ^^ The following year it was 
severed from his body, and picked up on the battle-field where 
he gave his life for God and his people ; and the hand of the 
royal martyr, enshrined in the sanctury of the ancient Nor- 
thumbrian capital, continued entire and incorruptible for cen- 
turies, was seen and kissed by innumerable Christians, and 
disappeared only in that abyss of spoliation and sacrilege in 
which Henry VIII. ingulfed all the monastic glories and 
treasures of England. 

'"' " Adoeleravit ocius ad legendum aut oranduni egrcdi. . . . Discus ar- 
genteus regalibus epulis refertus, jamjam essent inanus ad bencdicendurn 
panem missuri. . . . Ministruni cui suscipiendoruru inopum erat cura dele- 
gata. . . . Pontifex qui adsidebat . . . apprehendit dextram ejus et ait: 
Nunquam inveterascat hcBC w.anus." — Bede, iii. 5, G. The Bollandists prov« 
(vol. ii. Aug., p. 87) that tlie hand still existed ia the sixteenth century. 





Oswald's successors in Northumbria: Oswy in Bernicia; Oswin in Deira. 

— Oswin's intimacy with Bishop A'l'dan. — The son of the mare and the 
son of God. — New outrages of Penda. — A'idan stops the burning of 
Bamborough. — Struggle between Oswy and Oswin. — Murder of Oswin. 

— Death of Aidan twelve years after his friend. — The double monastery 
of Tynemouth, built above the tomb of Oswin. — The wife of the mur- 
derer dedicates a monastery to the expiation of the murder. — Reign of 
Oswy, wlio was venerated as a saint, notwithstanding his crime, because 
of his zeal for the truth. — Successors of Aidan at Lindisfarne, sent by 
the monks of lona. — Episcopate of the Scot Finan. — He builds the Ca- 
thedral of Lindisfarne of wood. — Colman, second successor, — Novitiate 
at Melrose. — The young Anglo-Saxons go to study in Ireland. — The 
female monasteries of Northumbria. — Heia, the first nun. — Hartlepool. 

— Aldan gives the veil to Hilda, princess of Dei'ra : her rule of thirty 
years at Whitby. — Description of the place. — The six bishops who issued 
from the double monastery. Ceadmon, the cowherd, vassal of Hilda; 
the first Anglo-Saxon poet; precursor of Milton, he sings the Paradise 
Lost; his holy life and death. — The Princess Ebba, of the rival dynasty, 
sister of Oswald and Oswy, foundress and Abbess of Coldingham : she 
also rules for thirty years. — Notable disorders in her monasteries. — Fer- 
vor and austerity of the Northumbrian monks : extraordinary fasts : dif- 
ferent characteristics of Lindisfarne, Coldingham, and Melrose. — A pre- 
cursor of Dante. — Foundation of Lastingham : Cedd, monk of Lindisfarne. 

— Testimony borne by the Romano-Benedictine Bede to the virtue, disin- 
terestedness, and popularity of the Celtic missionaries. — Nevertheless, 
resistance and opposition are not awanting. — Contrast and fickleness of 
character in the kings as in the people. — Joy of the natives of the coast 
on seeing the monks shipwrecked. 

Oswald's On the death of Oswald Northumbria fell a prey, 

in Nor^-"'^^ first to the ravages of Mercian invasion, then to the 
thumbria. complications and weakness of a divided succession. 
Like the Merovingian, and even the Carlovingian Franks, 
althougli with a less I'atal obstinacy, the Anglo-Saxons, and 
particularly the Angles of Northumbria, could not resist the 
inclination which led them to accept or to incite the division 
of a kingdom among several princes as soon as there appeared 


several heirs of a deceased king. It must be supposed that 
these divisions answered in England, as in France, to certain 
distinctions of race, or to certain exigencies of local or pro- 
vincial self-government, which could not be reconciled with 
the existence of one supreme authority. Oswald left a son 
in childhood, whose claims were not at that moment taken 
into consideration. His brother Oswy, still in the oswy in 
flower of his youth, and, though much less saintly Bernicia. 
than Oswald, no less a good soldier and valiant captain, at 
once took his place in Bernicia — that is to say, in the northern 
part of Northumbria. As for Deira, it fell to a prince of the 
De'irian dynasty, grand-nephew to Ella, the founder of that 
race,^i and son of that ill-fated Osric who had reigned for a 
year only over Southern Northumbria after the downfall of 
his cousin Edwin in 633 — a short reign, which left him scarce 
time enough to renounce the baptism which he had received 
from the hands of Paulinus, and to perish under the sword 
of Cadwallon's Britons. His son, called Oswin, had . 
been saved while yet a child by his friends, who in Deira. 
sent him out of Northumbria, and had passed his ^'^~'^^- 
youth in exile, like Edwin, and the two brothers Oswald and 
Oswy. Exile seems to have been the necessary and salutary 
apprenticeship of the Northumbrian kings. 

On hearing of the death of Oswald he claimed his right 
of succession. The old subjects of his father and grand-uncle 
gladly received him.*^ The principal nobles met in assembly, 
acknowledged his hereditary right, and proclaimed him King 
of the De'irians ; and for seven years he governed them to the 
satisfaction of all. He was still very young, of lofty stature, 
endowed with remarkable comeliness and grace — a matter 
of no small importance in an age and among a people ex- 
tremely sensible to external advantages. But he had, in 
addition, all the virtues which were then regarded as proofs 
of sanctity. His extreme gentleness, his charity, and, above 
all, his humility, were universally extolled. He was, more- 
over, so accessible, so courteous and generous, that the noblest 

*' See the genealogical table, Appendix VI., p. 752. 

*^ " Audiens Oswinus exulans, quod, Oswaldo defunct?, regnaret Oswin 
pro fratre suo, inito cum suis consiiio ad regnum Deiroruni regressus, ab 
omni plebe laetante recepitur. . . . Omnibus ejus beneficia postulantibus 
hilariter impendebat." — Joan. Tynemouth, ap. Bolland., t. iv. Aug., p. 
63. " Parvo temporis intervallo principes primatesque regni convenerunt 
in unum communicatoque unanimiter consiiio B. Oswinura haeredi talis juris 
successorem DeTrorum dominum in regem sublimantes." — Vita Oswini, 
p. 3, in the Puhlications of the Surtees Society, 1838. 


lords of all Northumbria vied with each other in seeking the 
honor of serving among those officers of his household whom 
the Latin historians designate in England, as elsewhere, by 
the name oi' ministeriales^^ 

Although Oswin had been exiled among the Saxons of 
Wessex, and not in Scotland, like his cousins and rivals Os- 
wald and Oswy, and had been thus entirely out of contact 
with the Celtic monks, he was already a Christian when he 
returned to Northumbria, and did not hesitate to recognize 
His con- ^^^ episcopal authority of A'idan. During his whole 
nection rcigu the monk of lona, now bishop of Lindislarne, 
continued to travel throughout the two kingdoms 
which formed his immense diocese — not confining himself 
to preaching in the new churches, but going from house to 
house to foster beside the domestic hearth the seeds of the 
new-sown faith."^ It was a special pleasure to him on such 
occasions to rest under the hospitable roof of the young king 
of De'ira, with whom he always lived in as tender and 
thorough a union as that which had united him to Oswald. 
The son of An oft-repcated anecdote, which reveals at once 
andThe^ tlie pleasant intimacy of their relations and the uo- 
sonofGod. |3ie doHcacy of their minds, has been left us by 
Bede. A'idan, as we have said, performed all his apostolic 
journeys on foot, but it was the king's wish that he should 
have at least a horse to cross the rivers, or for other special 
emergencies ; he gave him accordingly his best steed, splen- 
didly caparisoned. The bishop accepted it, and made use of 
it; but being, as Bede calls him, •' the father and worshipper 
of the poor," it happened ere long that, meeting a man who 
asked alms, he leaped down from his royal courser, and gave 
it, harnessed as it was, to the beggar. The king, being in- 
formed of this, said to Aidan, as they were going to dinner 
together, '' Lord bishop, what do you mean by giving my 
horse to that beggar? Had I not many other horses of less 
value, and property of every kind to give in alms, without 
the necessity of giving that horse that I had expressly chosen 
for your own special use?" " What is this you say?" re- 

*' •' In maxima omnium rerum affluentia et ipse amabilis omnibus prae- 
fuit. . . . Aspectu venustus et statura sublimis et affiitu jucundus et mori- 
bus civilis et manu omnibus nobilibus et ignobilibus largus. . . . Unde 
contigit ut . . . undique ad ejus ministerium de cunctis prope provinciis 
\iri etiam nobilissimi concurrent." — Bede, iii. 14. 

41 u Propter nascentis fidei teneritudinem provinciam circumeundo fide- 
lium domos intrare verbique drvini semina pro captu singulorum in agro 
cordis" eorum cominus spargere." — Vit. Osw., p. 4. 


plied AYdan. " king, tlie horse, which is the son of a mare^ 
is it dearer to you than the man who is the son of God? '* 
As he said this they entered the banqueting hall. Oswin, 
who had just returned from the chase, approached the iBre 
with his oiBcers, before sitting down at the table, and while 
he warmed himself, thought over the words of the bishop ; 
then all at once taking off his sword, he threw himself at the 
feet of the saint, and implored his pardon. " No more," said 
he, " shall I speak of it, and never more shall regret anything 
of mine that you give to the children of God." After which, 
reassured by the kind Avords of the bishop, he sat down joy- 
ously to dine. But the bishop, on the contrary, became very 
sad, and began to weep. One of his priests inquired the 
cause of his sadness; upon which he replied in the Celtic 
tongue, which neither Oswin nor his attendants understood, 
''I know now that the king will not live long; never until 
now have 1 seen a king so humble ; and this nation is not 
worthy of such a prince."*^ 

This little tale, Ozanam truly says, forms a perfect picture ; 
it discloses in those barbarous times a sweetness of senti- 
ment, a delicacy of conscience, a refinement of manners, 
which, more than knowledge, is the sign of Christian civili- 

The sad foreboding of the saint was realized only too soon. 
But it was not, like his predecessors, under the assault of 
the fierce Penda and the coalition of Mercians and Britons 
that the amiable and conscientious Oswin was to perish. 
Penda, however, had resumed his devastating career, and 
continued for thirteen years longer to ravage Northumbria. 
But he seems to have entertained less unfriendly feelings to 
his neighbors the Deirians and their king, than to the Bern!- 
cians, and Oswy the brother of his last victim. It is in the 
north of the two kingdoms that we again find him carrying 

*^ " Desiliens ille praBcepit equum itaut erat stratus regaliter, pauperi dare : 
erat enim . . . cultor pauperuni ac velut pater miseroruni. . . . Quid volu- 
isti, Domine Antistes, equum regium quern te conveniebat habere, pauperi 
dare? Nuniquid non habuimus equos viliores plurimos . . . qui ad paupe- 
rum dona sufficerent? . . Quid loqueris, rexr* Num tibi carior est ille filius 
equae, quam ille iilius Dei. . . . Porro rex (venerat enim de venatu) ccEpit 
consistens ad focum calefieri cum ministris, et repente inter calefacionduoa 
recordans verbum quod dixerat illi Antistes, discinxit se gladio suo . . . 
festinusque accedens ante pedes episcopi corruit. . . . Quia nunquam dein- 
ceps aliquid loquar de hoc, aut judicabo quid et quantum de pecunia nostra 
filiis Dei tribuas. . . . Lingua sua patria quara rex et domestici ejus non 
noverant. . . . Nunquam ante hoc vidi tam humilem regem." — BedK] 
ill. 14. 


everywhere fire and sword,^^ and attempting to give to the 
flames the royal fortress of Bamborough. There also we find 
A'idan, the benefactor and protector of the country. Penda, 
not having been able to reduce the fortress either by assault 
or by investment, caused an enormous pile to be erected all 
round the rampart. He heaped on it all the wood of the sur- 
rounding forests, the driftwood from the beach, the beams, 
and even the thatch of the cottages in all the neighboring 
villages which he had destroyed ; then, as soon as the wind 
blew from the west, he set fire to the mass, with the hope of 
..., seeing: the flames reach the town. A'idan was at 

saves the the tHBC in the islot 01 rarne, an isolated rock m 
Northum- the opcH sca, a little to the south of Lindisfarne, 
beino^b'il^nt ^^'^ nearly opposite Bamborough, to which he often 
by Penda. went, quitting his episcopal monastery to devote 
himself in solitude and silence to prayer. While he prayed 
he saw a cloud of black smoke and jets of flame covering 
the sky above the town where his dear Oswald once dwelt. 
Lifting his eyes and hands to heaven, he cried, with tears, 
" My God, behold all the evil that Penda does us ! " At the 
same moment the wind changed, the flames whirled round 
upon the besiegers, destroying many of them, and they 
speedily abandoned the siege of a place so evidently under 
Divine protection.*'' 

struggle As if this formidable and pitiless enemy was not 

os^wyTnd ouough to dosolato NorthumbHa, there arose in the 
jOswin. heart of Oswy a jealous animosity which soon ri- 
pened into civil war. After seven years of union between 
the two kings of Bernicia and De'ira, occasions of estrange- 
ment, ever increasing, began to arise between them. These 
were owing, it cannot be doubted, to the preference which, 
we have already remarked, was shown by so many of the 
Northumbrian lords for the pleasant and cordial service of 
King Oswin. Oswy marched against the De'irians. Oswin 
likewise put himself at the head of his army ; but it was 
much less numerous than that of the king of Bernicia, and 
when the moment of battle arrived, he said to the chiefs and 
lords of his country that he was reluctant to make them risk 
their lives for him whom they had raised from the position 

** " Cum cuncta quae poterat ferro flanimaque perderet." — Bede, iii. 17. 

*' " Pluriniam congeriem trabium, tignorum, parietum. virgarum et tecti 
fenei et his urbem in magna altitudine circumdedit . . . ventis ferentibuj 
globos ignis a^ fumum, . . . Vide, Domine, quanta mala facit Penda." —' 
Bede, iii. 16 


of a poor exile to be their king, and who now did not glirink 
either from renewed exile or death itself'^^ He then dis- 
banded his troops and sought refuge with an earl on whom 
he thought he could rely, having just conferred on him, after 
many other bounties, the very manor of Gilling where he 
reckoned on finding an asylum. This wretched traitor gave 
him up to Oswy, who had the cruelty to kill him. One com- 
panion, Tondhere by name, alone remained to him. Qg„,i„ ,, 
Oswin, resigned to his own death, besought that his putio 
friend might be spared; but he refused to survive ami auj,-., 
his prince, preferring to sacrifice himself to that *^^^" 
sentiment of passionate devotion which, among the Saxons, 
had preceded Christianit}', and which justifies the title of 
knight prematurely applied to this brave and loyal adherent 
by one of the martyr's biographers.'*^ 

The king and his knight thus perished together; and 
twelve days afterwards the glorious Bishop Aidan 
followed the king he loved to the tomb.^o He fell twelve days 
sick during one of his innumerable missionary expe- '^^^'^' 
ditions, and died under a tent which had been pitched in 
haste to shelter him at the back of a modest church which 
he had just built. He expired with his head resting against 
one of the buttresses of the church. It was a death which 
became a soldier of the faith upon his own fit field of 

The body of Aidan was carried to his monastic xhe double 
cathedral of Lindisfarne. But that of his ro3''al ^/'"yQe*^.'"^ 
friend, Oswin, was deposited in a chapel dedicated !P°"*'i'. 
to the blessed Virgin, and situated on a granite oswia's 
headland almost entirely surrounded by the sea, at ^'""^' 
the mouth of the Tyne, a river which was then the boundary 
line between the two Northumbrian states of De'ira and 
Bernicia, and which is now one of the principal arteries of 
the maritime commerce of England. Ere long, over the 
sacred remains of this martyr, who was beloved ana honored 
by the Northumbrians of both kingdoms as their father and 
lord on earth, and their patron saint in heaven, there rose 

*' JOANN. TyNEMOOTH., 1. C. 

** " Maluit miles morti succumbere quam mortuo domino, etiamsi copia 
daretur, supervivere." — Ibid. Compare Bede, 1. c. 

*** " Non plus quam duodecimo post occisionem regis quem amabat die." 
— Ibid. 

*' " Tetenderunt aegrotanti tentorium, ita ut tentorium parieti adhsereret 
ecclesiae. Adclinia destinae quae extrinsecus ecclesiae pro munimiue erat 


one of those double monasteries which included both monks 
and nuns within two separate enclosures, but under one 
government.^2 Tl^e nuns whose office it was to pray upon 
his tomb came from Whitby, which was already governed 
with a splendor as great as her authority was absolute, by 
t Je Abbess Hilda, herself sprung, like the martyred Oswin, 
from the De'irian dynasty and the race of Ella. The vicissi- 
tudes of this great monastery throughout the invasions of the 
Danes and Normans ; the constant or ever-reviving venera- 
tion with which the remains of St. Oswin were regarded, 
even after the remembrance of his friend A'idau was totally 
effaced ; ^^ the protection which the poor, the afflicted, and 
oppressed long found under the shadow of his sanctuary, and 
under the shelter of what was called the Peace of St. Oswin, 
will possibly be related in the sequel of our narrative, or by 
other and more competent pens. We must content ourselves 
at present with merely pointing out the beautiful remains of 
the conventual church which was rebuilt in the thirteenth 
century, and which is enclosed within the fortress which de- 
fends the entrance of the Tyne. The seven great arcades, 
whose time-worn relics rise majestically against the sky from 
the height of their rock, produce a vivid effect on the trav- 
eller who arrives by sea, and nobly announce England's 
adoration of the ruins she had made.^* 

Some years later, on the very spot where Oswin had per- 
ished, at Gilling, near Richmond, a monastery was reared in 
expiation of so foul a crime, by the wife of his mur- 
dauo-hter derer. This was no other than Eanfleda, daughter 
wiu?aS(f'^ of King Edwin, she whose birth had contributed to 
^'^"'"°*" the conversion of her father,^^ who had been the 

Oswy, con- r^ • • -vt i i • 

Becratesa tirst-bom 01 Christ in the Northumbrian kingdom, 

in°cxpui'^ and who, after the overthrow of Edwin and the 

husbaud'T Romau missiou in Northumbria, had been carried 

crime. j^ \^Qy- cradle by Bishop Paulinus into the country 

*^ " Ut dominum et patrem in terris, defensorem reputarent in coelis : 
unde processu temporis ad majoreni martyris gloriam siuictimoniales virgi- 
nes de coenobio S. Hildae abbatissae ad corpus ejus introductje, usque ad 
persecutionem Danicain ... in supremo religionis culmine permunserunt." 
— Math. Westm., ad ann. 1065. Compare Bolland., t. iv. Aug., pp. 58, 59. 

" " De sancto rege Oswino nonnulla dudum audieram, sed sancti A3'dani 
episcopi nee nonien ad me pervenerat," snj's a traveller, miraculousl)' cured 
in the twelfth century. — Vita Oswini, p. 32. 

^ Tliere is a large and handsome recent work on the Monastery of Tyni?- 
mouthj entitled. History of the Monastery founded at Tynemouth in the 
Diocese of Durham, to the honor of God, under the invocation of the B. Y-. 
M. and Si. Oswin, King and Martyr, by William Sidney Gibson. Lod 
don, 184G, 2 vols. 4to. °" See p. 210. 


of her mother, Ethelburga, daughter of the first Christian 
king of Kent. 

Oswy, who was as able as he was ambitious, readily per- 
ceived that it was not enough to murder a rival in order to 
secure himself in the exclusive sovereignty of Northumbria. 
He had previously wished to conciliate the opposing dynasty 
by a matrimonial alliance, as his father Ethelfrid had done.-^^ 
In pursuance of this purpose, he had despatched to Canter- 
bury, with Aldan's approval and blessing, a priest respected 
for the gravity and sincerity of his character,^' and abbot of 
one of the new monasteries,^^ to obtain from Queen Ethel- 
burga, if she still lived, the hand of her daughter. His suit 
was granted, and the exiled princess returned to reign over 
the kingdom that she had quitted in her blood-stained cradle. 
In this double Northumbrian dynasty, the history of which is at 
once so dramatic and romantic, and so closel}' interwoven with 
the history of the conversion of the English, exile was almost 
always the forerunner of the kingly ofKce, or of sainthood, 
Eanfleda, cousin-german of the murdered king, and wife of 
the king who killed him, obtained permission from hor husband 
to build a monastery on the spot where the murder had been 
committed, that prayers might be offered there forever for two 
souls, that of the victim and that of the murderer. The gov- 
ernment of this new foundation was intrusted to Abbot 
Trumhere, himself a scion of the family of Deirian '^rumhere. 
princes, and one of those Anglo-Saxons who, like the negoti- 
ator of Eanfleda's marriage, had been trained and raised to 
the priesthood by the Celtic monks.^^ 

Upon tins noble dau2;hter of Edwin, restored „ . „ 

r -1 X • ?! i. I- i_ Reign of 

irora exile to reign over the country or her ances- <>8wy. 
tors as the wife of the cruel Oswy, the mind 
rests with emotion. A natural desire arises to attribute to 
her influence the happy change which appears to have been 
wrought in the character of Oswy from the day on which she 
induced him to expiate the crime with which he was stained, 

*' See the genealogical table of the two races in Appendix VI., p. 752. 

*^ " Utta, uiultae gravitatis vir et ob id omnibus, etiani principibus seculi 
honorabilis." — Bede, iii. 15. 

*^ At Gateshead on the Tyne, opposite Newcastle. Compare Sniitl»'s notes 
on Bede, iii. 21. Tliere was still at Gatesliead, in 1745, a Catholic chapel, 
vliich was burnt by the populace out of hatred to Prince Charles Edward. — 
Camden's Britannia, Gough's edition, vol. iii. p. 123. 

°* " De natione quidam Anglorum, sed edoctus et ordinatus a Scotis . . . 
propinquus et ipse erat regis occisi : in quo monasterio assiduae orationes pro 
utriusque regis, id est, et occisi, et ejus qui occidere jussit, salute aeterna 
fierent." — Bede, iii. 24. 

VOL. n. 22 


bj founding this monastery. Forgetful of this crime, all the 
historians unite in extolling the virtues and exploits which 
distinguished the after portion of his prolonged and active 
reign. He did not continue at first, after the assassination 
of Oswin, the undisputed master of all Northumbria ; he had 
to give up at least a part of Dei'ra to the young son of his 
brother Oswald^ Ethelwald by name. But he retained, not- 
withstanding, an evident preponderance, not only in Northum- 
bria, but in all England, the dignity of Bretwalda having 
fallen to him uncontested. The great event of his reign is 
the overthrow of the fierce heathen, Penda of Mercia, an 
event which sealed the final victory of Christianity among 
the Anglo-Saxons. But both before and after this culminat- 
ing point of his prosperity, Oswy displayed so ardent and 
consistent a zeal for the extension and establishment of 
the Christian religion, that he was finally admitted to a 
place, sometimes too easily accessible, in the English mar- 

Aldan's Nevertheless, neither the zeal of Oswy, nor the 

atLfnd^s" purer ardor of his illustrious predecessor, could 
fame, sent havo prevailed against the various and formidable 
monii^of obstacles which the Gospel had to encounter among 
lona. ^j^^ Anglo-Saxons, had they not been directed, en- 

lightened, and sustained by the admirable clergy whom Aidan 
and his successors had trained in the cloisters of Lindisfarne 
and its dependent monasteries. 

In regard to the succession of bishops in the new diocese 
of Lindisfarne, it is necessary to keep in mind the very sig- 
nificant difference between the usages followed by the Ro- 
man and those of the Celtic missionaries in the election of 
bishops. The first four successors of Augustine at Canter- 
bury were all, as we have seen, chosen from among the 
Italian monks who had accompanied him to England : but 
they all belonged to that first mission, and were all freely 
chosen by their companions, old or new, in place of being suc- 
cessively sent from Rome, as the bishops of Lindisfarne were 
from lona. In fact, at each vacancy in the see of Lindis- 
farne, the monks of lona, who regarded that monastic cathe- 
dral, and perhaps the whole of christianized Northumbria, as 
their exclusive property, hastened to despatch a monk of 
their community to replace him who had rendered his soul to 
God. The Scottish monks, thus placed during thirty years 

«" 15th February : Compare Act. SS. Bolland., vol. ii. Feb., p. 801. 


at the head of the Church of the North of England, showed 
themselves thoroughly worthy of the saintl}'^ school whence 
they issued, and of the glorious mission to which they were 
consecrated. But it is, nevertheless, important to note that, 
either owing distance or some other cause, Rome left to hei 
missionary communities, her apostolic colonies, a liberty 
which was not possible under the harsh discipline of the 
Celtic Church. 

The first monk sent from lona to replace the noble A'idan, 
is known by the name of St. Finan.^^ His episcopate was 
prosperous ; it lasted ten years,^^ and was not inter- Episcopate 
rupted by any melancholy event, such as those j^*uan^*^°* 
which had troubled the life of A'idan by taking from esi-coi. 
him his two royal friends. Finan always lived on good termij 
with King Oswy, and before going to join his predecessor lli 
heaven, he had the happiness of introducing to the Church 
the heads of the two great Saxon kingdoms, who came to 
seek baptism at the gates of Lindisfarne. In that island- 
sanctuary, where we must remember that the bishop was 
often in ecclesiastical subjection to the local abbot of the 
monastic community, Finan caused a cathedral to be „ u m 

1-1 r Ti 1 ■ 1 T-» 1- He builds 

built, not 01 stone, like that which raulinus and ofwooa 
Edwin had commenced at York, but according to drai ofLln- 
the Celtic custom, and like the churches built by ^'^f''™'^- 
Columba and his Irish monks : it was made entirely of wood 
and covered with rushes, or rather with that long rough sea- 
grass, whose pivot-like roots bind together the sands on the 
sea-shore, and which is still found in great abundance on the 
island, as well as on the sandy beach which has to be crossed 
before the traveller can reach Lindisfarne.'^^ 

®' " Et ipse illo ab Hii Scotorum insula ac raonasterio destinatus." — Bede, 
iii. 25. Of. Act. SS. Bolland., vol. ill. Feb., p. 21. 

®'' The Breviary of Aberdeen, quoted by the BoUandists, affirms that 
Finan's promotion to the episcopate was preceded by a kind of election or 
pcstulation proceeding from the clergy and people of Northumbria, the 
nuns included : " Congregatis cleri populique concionibus, virorum et muli- 
erum utriusque sexus, unanimiter S. Finanum in episcopum Lindisfarnensem 
Spiritus Sancti gratia eligi instanter postulaverunt et solemniter assumpse- 
runt." But besides the fact of our finding no trace of any similar election 
in these ancient monuments, it appears to us incompatible with the formal 
testimony of the almost contemporary Northumbrian Bede: "Interea Aidano 
de hac vita sublato, Finan pro illo gradum episcopatus, a Scotis ordinatus ao 
missus, acceperat." — Bede, iii. 25. 

^ " Fecit ecclesiam episcopali sede congruam : quam tamen more Sco- 
torum, non de lapide, sed de robore secto totam composuit atque arundine 
texit." This lierb is called in English bent, nnd the sandy fiats which it 
covers, and which extend along all the coast of Northumbria aud of south- 
ern Scotland, take the name of links. 


Vast as was his diocese, which embraced the two great 
Northumbrian kingdoms, and great as must have been his 
influence over the other Saxon provinces, Finan seems far- 
ther to have preserved and exercised an authority not less 
complete over the country of his origin, the kingdom of 
the Dalriadian Scots. The Scots annalists all speak of a cer- 
tain King Fergus, who, by his violence and exactions, had 
raised the indignation of the Scottish clergy, and called down 
upon himself a sentence of excommunication from the bishops 
of Lindisfarne, Finan and his successors.^* These Celtic 
bishops were at all times far from courtly. Finan left 
among the Anglo-Saxons the reputation of a man rough and 
intractable,^^ and we shall see that his successor was no less 
difficult than himself 

coiraan, He was succeeded by Colman, a monk of lona, 

cesser o^f"*' ^^^^ forth by that community, like A'idan and Finan, 
Aidaa. to govem the Northumbrian Church,^^ and to 
evangelize the Northern Anglo-Saxons. He is 
believed to have been born in Ireland, and on this account 
he is held in honor there. It has even been supposed that 
in him might be recognized one of those young disciples of 
Columba, whose rustic labors the great Abbot blessed and 
encouraged from the threshold of the cell in which he pur- 
sued his solitary studies.^^ True or false, this tradition 
accords with history, which shows us in Colman a pontiff 
penetrated with the same spirit as his predecessors, and 
always worthy of the monastic sanctuary which, for more 
than a century, was rendered illustrious by the genius and 
memory of Columba. 

Novitiate Lindisfamc, as may easily be supposed, did not 

of Melrose, sq^jcq for the training, or indeed for the shelter of 
the army of monks employed by the Celtic bishops in the 
spiritual conquest of Northumbria. To the north of the 
Tweed, the present boundary between England and Scotland, 
and about half-way from Lindisfarne to the Scots frontier, 

^ BoECE and Leslie, ap. Bolland., 1. c. 

^* " Quod esset homo ferocis aninii." — Bede, 1. c. 

*® " Et ipse missus a Scotis. . . . Venit ad insulam Hii unde erat ad pr*- 
dicandum verbam Anglorum genti destinatus." — Bede, iii. 23: iv. 4. 

*'' Adamnan, ii. 16. It is very difficult, however, to admit the identity of 
the Colman of whom Adamnan speaks with Colnian the bishop of Lindis- 
farne : supposing he had been but twenty years of age at the date of Colum- 
ba's death in 597, he would have been above eighty at the time of his 
promotion to the episcopate in 661, and would have been nearly one hundred 
when he died in 675. Comp. Lanigan, op. cit. vol. iii. pp. 59-61. 


they established a kind of branch or establishment for 
novices, where the monks destined for the labors and trials 
of the apostolate were received and trained. Some of these, 
like their bishops, came from lona, Ireland, and the land of 
the Scots, while others were taken from the ranks of the 
Saxon converts.^^ This outpost of Lindisfarne and lonabore 
the name of Blelrose — not the Cistercian Melrose, with the 
name of which Walter Scott has made us familiar, while its 
picturesque ruins attract all the visitors of the famous quad- 
rilateral formed by the four most beautiful ruins in Scotland, 
Kelso, Jedburgh, Dryburgh, and Melrose — but a more ancient 
and more holy Melrose — whose memory has been too much 
effaced by its brilliant offspring. It was situated on a kind of 
rounded promontory almost completely encircled by the wind- 
ing current of the Tweed, the banks of which at this part of 
its course are very abrupt and thickly wooded. The spot was 
one of profound solitude, as the very name indicates {Mail- 
ross or 3Iul-ross, desolate point) ; ^^ and here was raised a 
sanctuary, which was for many years the centre of light and 
life to all the surrounding country, long frequented by pil- 
grims, whose paths are still pointed out, and from whence 
issued many of the saints most venerated in the south of 
Scotland and north of England.'^ 

The first Abbot of Melrose was Eata, one of the .phe young 
twelve young Saxons whom the first Celtic bishop Angio- 
chose for himself as the first-fruits of his episco- the Irish 
pate.'i But neither the zeal of the pastors nor the ^^i^T 
fervor of the converts was satisfied with those 
fountains of life and knowledge which gushed forth in Nor- 
thumbrian soil. Older and more abundant springs were 
necessary to them. A crowd of youths, some the sons of 
thanes or nobles, others of the lowest rank, left their country 

®* Varin, second paper. 

*' The site is still called Old Melrose. It is occupied by a pretty country- 
house, which belonged in July, 1862, to a Mr. Fairholme. It is not more 
than three miles from the magnificent ruins of the celebrated Cistercian 
abbey of the same name, the richest and most powerful of all the Scottish 
abbeys, and which still contained one hundred monks in 1542, when it was 
destroyed by the Reformers. — Morton's Monastic Annals of Teviotdale ; 
Edin. 1832, folio. Wade's History of St. Mary's Abbey, Melrose. 1861, 

"* Boisil, first prior of Melrose, whose name is preserved in the neighbor- 
ing village of Newtown St. BoswelVs ; Eata, first abbot of Melrose, then 
bishop of Lindisfarne ; and especially the celebrated and popular Cuthbert, 
of whoi 1 more anon. 

''^ Sei preceding chapter, p. 239. 



to cross the sea and visit the distant island which was the 
cradle of their bishops and missionaries — not the monastic 
isle of lona, but the great island of Ireland, where Columba 
and most of his disciples were born. Of these young Anglo- 
Saxons, some, inflamed with the love of study or of penance, 
at once enrolled themselves in the crowded ranks of those 
great Irish communities where the monks were counted by 
hundreds and even by thousands ; others travelled from mon- 
astery to monastery, from cell to cell, seeking the masters 
who suited them best, and giving themselves up under these 
masters to the delight of reading — that is to say, of study, 
without binding themselves by any other obligation. All 
were received with magnificent hospitality by the Scots of 
Ireland, who freely lavished on them not only food and cloth- 
ing but books and instruction.'^ All the students who re- 
mained in Ireland, as well as those who returned to England, 
continued to retain a natural prepossession in favor of the 
ancient insular rites, and to be imbued with that peculiar 
spirit which so long characterized the Christianity of the 
Celtic races. 

Thus began, under the most honorable conditions, and 
motives as pure as they were generous, the first historical 
relations between England and Ireland — between the two 
races, Saxon and Celtic, who were destined by an unhappy 
mystery to tear one another in pieces even before religion 
divided them ; one of whom, repaying these early benefits 
by the blackest ingratitude, has long tarnished the lustre of 
her glory by the perverse stubbornness of her despotism. 
The con- While SO many young Northumbrians, as yet 

Northum- Scarcely escaped from the darkness of idolatry, 
bria. werc thus rushing towards the very heights of 

ascetic life, or plunging with passionate enthusiasm into the 
studious and learned career of which Ireland was the great 
centre, and the Celtic cloisters the principal home, their sis- 
ters found asylums where peace and freedom were guaran- 
teed to those whom the service of God and the vows of 
Christian virginity drew into them. Thanks to the solicitude 
of the missionary bishops of the line of Columba, the dignity, 
authority, and moral power which universal report from Taci- 
tus downward agrees in according to the Germanic woman, 
assumes in the cloister a new, more durable, and universal 
form, without, however, lessening the duty and right which 

" See the text of Bede (iii. 27) already quoted, p. 126. 


she was acknowledged to possess of occasioniil intervention 
in the gravest concerns and most solemn deliberations of the 

The principal monasteries destined to afford a home and 
stronghold to the noble daughters of the conquering Saxons 
were established on the coast of Northumbria, where already 
Bamborough and Lindisftirne, the military and the religious 
capitals of the country, were planted, as if the waves of that 
sea which their warlike ancestors had crossed, and which 
flowed direct from the coasts of Germany to beat upon the 
shores of the conquered island, were to be their safeguard 
against the dangers of the future. The first of these monas- 
teries was built on the borders of Deira and Bernicia, on a 
wooded promontory where the deer then found a covert, and 
which has since become, under the name of Hartlepool, one 
of the most frequented ports on the coast.""^ It was Hartie- 
founded by a Northumbrian, Heia by name, the first About645. 
woman of her race who embraced conventual life, 
and who received the veil and religious consecra- Aician gives 
tion from the hands of Bishop Aidan.'* The life of ^.Hf^^^" 
a community, and especially the functions of supe- Northum- 
nor, soon, however, became tatigumg to Heia, who then to the 
betook herself to a solitary retreat in the interior of HUda?*^ 
the country. Aidan replaced her by a descendant ^^• 
of Odin and of Ella, a princess of the blood-royal and of the 
Deirian dynasty. This was Hilda, grand-niece of Edwin, the 
first Christian king of Northumbria, and father of the queen 
who shared the throne and the bed of Oswy. 

This illustrious lady seemed to be called by her genius 
and character even more than her rank to exercise a great 
and legitimate authority over her compatriots. Born in ex- 
ile, during the sovereignty of Ethelfrid, among the Saxons 
of the West, where her mother died a violent death, she had 
returned with her father on the restoration of his race in 
617. In her early youth she had been baptized, with her 

" " Heruteu, id est, insula cervi." — Bede, iii. 24. Ileri or hart, stag; 
eu, isie. We shall take leave tliroughout to use the modern names of towns 
and monasteries instead of the Saxon names, which divers erudite modern 
writers have tried to reintroduce. We shall then say Whitby and not 
Streaneshalch. Hartlepool and not Heruteu, Hexham and not Halgulstadt. 

"* " Quae prima feminarum fertur in provincia Nordanhymbrorum pro- 
positum vestemque sanctimonialis habitus, consecrante ^dano episcopo, 
suscepisse." — Bede, iv. 23. It will be seen farther on whether it is pos- 
sible to adopt tiie common opinion which confounds this first Northumbrian 
nun with St. Bega {St. Bees), the Irish princess, who is mentioned at an- 
other place. 


uncle King Edwin, by the Roman missionary Paulinus, which 
did not, however, prevent her from leaning during her whole 
life to the side of the Celtic missionaries. Before conse- 
crating her virginity to God, she had lived thirty-three j'ears 
very nohly, says Bede, among her family and her fellow-citi- 
z.^3ns. When she understood that God called her, she desired 
to make to Him a complete sacrifice, and forsook at once the 
"\N orld, her family, and her country."^ She went into East 
Aoglia, the king of which had married her sister, and whence 
she designed to cross over to France, in order to take the 
"veil either at Chelles, where her widowed sister was one day 
ti> devote herself to God,'^'^ or in some of the monasteries on 
ine shores of the Marne, which sprang from the great Irish 
colony of Luxeuil, and whither the Saxon virgins already be- 
gan to resortJ' She spent a whole year in preparations for 
her final exile, but she was not permitted to carry it out. 
Bishop A'idan authoritatively recalled her to her own coun- 
try, and settled her there, obtaining for her a small estate 
sufficient to support a single family, and situated on the 
banks of the Wear, a little river which has now become, like 
the Tyne, one of the greatest arteries of English shipping. 
Hilda, There she lived as a nun with a very few compan- 

Hart?epooi. ^^^^ Until A'idan summoned her to replace the 
*«9- foundress of the Monastery of Hartlepool, where she 

was invested with the government of a large community .^^ 

''" " Desiderans exinde, si quo modo posset, derelicta patria et omnibus 
quaecunque habuerat, in Galliam pervenire. . . . Quo facilius perpetuam in 
coelis patriam posset mereri." — Bede, iv. 23. 

''^ Bede seems to imply that Hereswintha, Queen of East Anglia, was 
already a nun at Chelles, when Hilda wished to take the veil there; which 
would be an impossibility, as Hilda became Abbess of Hartlepool before 
Aldan's death in 651, and her sister could scarcely take the vows before the 
death of her husband, King Anna, slain in 654. It is then to the close of 
Hilda's cloister life that Bede's words must apply: " In eodem monasterio 
soror ipsius Hereswid . . . regularibus subdita disciplinis ipso tempore co- 
ronara exspectabat asternam." — Cf. Thomas Eliensis, ap. Wharton, An- 
glia Sacra, t. i. p. 595. Besides, the Monastery of Chelles, which a vague 
tradition refers to St. Clotilda, was actually founded by the Saxon Bathiiua, 
and she became Queen of Neustria only on her marriage with Clovis II. in 
649. Some uncertainty, farther, rests on this Heriswida. Pagi (^Critic, in 
Baronium ad an. 680) maintains that slie became a nun in 647 — seven 
years before her husband's death. Various English historians give her for 
husband, not Anna, but one of the brothers of that prince, Ethelher or 

" See vol i. p. 614. 

'* The original monastery of Hartlepool, destroyed in the ninth century, 
like all others on the Northumbrian coast, by the Danes, was not restored, 
but replaced later by a convent of Franciscans. An ancient church, dedi- 
cated to St Hilda, still exists, near which excavations carried on between 


Nine years later, when the peace and freedom of Then 
Northumbria had been secured by the final victory oTwiiTtby. 
gained by King Oswy over the Mercians, Hilda took *'*^^- 
advantage of a gift of land suiEcient for ten families, which 
that prince had granted her, to establish a new monastery at 
Streaneshalch, now Whitby, a little to the south of her an- 
cient abbey, and on the same coast. 

Of all the sites chosen by monastic architects, after that 
of Monte Cassino I know none grander and more picturesque 
than that of Whitby. It is even, in certain aspects, still 
more imposing than the Benedictine capital, as being near 
the sea. The Esk, which flows through a hilly countr}", un- 
like the ordinary levels of England, forms at its mouth a 
circular bay, commanded on every side by lofty cliffs. On 
the summit of one of these rocks, 300 feet above the sea, 
Hilda placed her monastery, on a platform of green and short 
seaside turf, the sides of which slope abruptly to the northern 
ocean. From this spot the eye wanders now over the up- 
lands, valleys, and vast heaths of this part of Yorkshire, 
now along the rough precipices which line the coast, now on 
the wide horizon of the sea, whose foaming waves break 
against the perpendicular sides of the great rocky wall 
which is crowned by the monastery. The dull roar of the 
tide accords with the sombre tints of the rocks, which are 
rent and hollowed out by its force ; for it is not here, as on 
the shores of the channel, where the whiteness of the cliffs 
has gained the name of Albion for the island of Great Britain. 
The precipices of the Yorkshire coast are, on the contrary, 
as dark in color as they are abrupt and rugged in outline."^ 
Nothing now remains of the Saxon monastery : but more 
than half of the abbey church, restored by the Percies in the 
time of the Normans, still stands, and enables the marvelliag 
spectator to form to himself an idea of the solemn grandeur 

1833 and 1843 brought to light several Anglo-Saxon tombs, with the em- 
blems anil names of women — Hildithryth, Hildigyth, Canngytli, Berchtgyd, 
Bregusvid — whieli seem to have been those of nuns of the Anglo-Saxon 
community. The last of these names is that of the mother of Hilda, and 
several of the others are found in the correspondence of St. Boniface with 
the Saxon nuns. This discovery has given rise to an interesting work, 
without date or author's name, entitled Notes on the Uistory of St. Begu 
and St. Ilild. Hartlepool. 

'^ Not so the rocks which border the inner bay formed by the embouchure 
of the Esk. They are of a brilliant white, and these bright cliifs in the 
midst of the great black rocks of the coast explain why the Danes, after 
having destroyed the monastery of Hilda, gave the name of Whitby ( White' 
by, wliite dwelling) to the establishment they created there. 


of the great edifice. The choir and the north transept are 
still complete, and offer one of the most beautiful raodels of 
English architecture. The two facades of the east and north 
each with three rows of three-pointed windows, are of un- 
rivalled elegance and purity. The beautiful color of the 
stone, half worn away by the sea-winds, adds to the charm 
of these ruins. A more picturesque effect could not be im- 
agined than that of the distant horizon of the azure sea, 
viewed through the great hollow eyes of the ruinous arches. 
These majestic relics are now preserved with the respect 
habitually shown by the English to the monuments of the 
past ; but they cannot always withstand the destroying ac- 
tion of time and the elements. The great central tower feli 
in 1830. Let the intelligent traveller lose no time, therefore^ 
in visiting one of the oldest and most beautifully situated 
ruins in Europe, and let him there accord a prayer, or at 
least a remembrance, to the noble daughter of the Northum- 
brian kings, who of old erected on this desert rock a pharos, 
of light and peace for the souls of men, by the side of the 
lighthouse designed to guide the mariners on that stormy 
sea ! so 

The original name, Streaneshalch, signified The Isle of th<i 
Beacon, and it was probably by this service conferred on tht 
people of the coast that Hilda inaugurated her reign on thia 
promontory, for it was a true reign, temporal as well af, 
. spiritual. At Whitby, as at Hartlepool, and during, 
of thirty the thirty years that she passed at the head of 
years. ^^q^ two houscs, sho displayed a rare capacity fov 

the government of souls, and for the consolidation of monas 
tic institutions. This special aptitude, joined to her love of 
monastic regularity, and her zeal for knowledge and ecclesi- 
astical discipline, gave her an important part to play, and 
great influence. Her society was sought by Bishop A'idan, 
and all the religious who knew her, that they might leart 
those secrets of divine love and natural wisdom which dwelt 

*" The principal details of this monastic churcli, wliich is of the beautifal 
order known as tlie Early English, are perfectly rendered in the magnilicer// 
folio pnblished by Edmund Sharpe, an architect, and entitled Arcliiiedural 
Parallels selected from Abbey Qkurches, London, 1848, 121 plates. It vfii, 
300 feet long by 70 broad. It is marked by one curious peculiarity; it de- 
scrilies a curve, slightly bending towards the south, so that the door ia the 
western facade is not in an exact line with the central window of the choi\ 
These ruins are now part of a farm belonging to Sir Richard Cholnir n-if ley 
The town of Whitby, situated at the foot of these ruins, on the Esk, is a virj 
flourishing seaport, and much frequented by bathers. 


in her. Tho kings even, and princes of her blood, or of the 
adjacent provinces, often came to consult her, asking en- 
lightenment which they afterwards joyfully acknowledged 
themselves to have received. But she did not reserve for 
the great ones of the earth the treasures of her judgment and 
charity. She scattered around her. everywhere the benefits 
of justice, piety, peace, and temperance. She was ere long 
regarded and honored as the mother of her country, and all 
who addressed her gave her the sweet name of mother, 
which she so well deserved., Not only in Northumbria, but 
in distant regions, to which the fame of her virtue and en- 
lightenment had penetrated, she was to many the instrument 
of their salvation and conversion.^^ And in her two commu- 
nities especially she secured, during a rule of more than 
thirty years, the supremacy of order, union, charity, and 
equality, so much, that it became usual to say to the proud 
Northumbrians, that the image of the primitive Church, 
wherein was neither rich nor poor, and where all was com- 
mon among the Christians, was realized at Whitby. 

But the most touching particular of all in the enthusiastic 
narrative of the venerable Bede, is that which proves the 
passionate tenderness felt for her by her daughters, especially 
by the young virgins whom she prepared for religious life 
in a separate house, by the discipline of a novitiate establish- 
ment regularly constituted and attentively superintended.^^ 

Nor did the royal abbess confine herself to the govern- 
ment of a numerous community of nuns. According to a 
usage then very general, but principally prevailing in Celtic 
countries, a monastery was joined to the nunnery. And 
Hilda inspired the monks subject to her authority with so 
great a devotion to their rule, so true a love of sacred litera- 
ture, and so careful a study of the Scriptures, that this mon- 

** " Quani omnes qui noverant, ob insigne pietatis et gratiaa Matrem vo- 
care consueverant . . . nam et episcopus Aldan et quique noverant earn 
religiosi pro insita et sapientia et amore divini famulatus, sedulo earn visi- 
tare . . . solebant. . . . llegularis vitaj institution! multum intenta. . . . 
Tantae auteni erat ipsa prudentice, ut non solum mediocres in necessitatibus 
suis, sed eiiam reges ac principes nonnunquara ab ea quaererent consilium et 
invenirent. . . . Quara orhnes qui noverant, ob insigne pietatis et gratiae 
Matrem vocare consueverant. . . . Etiam plurimis longe manentibus ad 
quos felix industrise ac virtutis ejus rumor pervenit, occasionem salutis et 
correctionis ministravit." 

** " Cuidam virginum . . . quae illam immenso amore diligebat. ... In 
extremis monasterii locis seorsum posita ubi nuper venientes ad conversi- 
oneoj feminas solel)ant probari, donee regulariter institutae in societatem 
congregationis susciperentur." 


astery, ruled by a woman, became a true school of mission- 
aries, and even of bishops.^^ Many ecclesiastical dignitaries, 
as remarkable for their virtue as for their learning, were sent 
forth by it ; ^^ one of whom in particular, St. John of Beverly, 
attained a degree of popularity rare even in England, where 
the saints were of old so universally and so readily popular. 
_,. But neither the kings nor princes who consulted 

The cow- - " V 

herdcead- the great abbcss on her sea-girt promontory, northe 
moD,^a vas- |-jjg|^Qpg^ ^qj. gyen the saints nurtured in her school, 
^rst^AnX- occupy in the annals of the human mind, or in the 
Saxon poet, learned researches of our contemporaries, a place 
comparable to that held by an old cowherd who lived on the 
lands belonging to Hilda's community, and whose memory is 
inseparably connected with hers. It is on the lips of this 
cowherd that the Anglo-Saxon speech first bursts into poetry, 
and nothing in the whole history of European literature is 
more original or more religious than this first utterance of the 
English muse. His name was Ceadmon. He had already 
reached an advanced age, having spent his life in his humble 
occupation, without even learning music, or being able to 
join in the joyous choruses which held such a high place at 
the feasts and social gatherings of all classes, both poor and 
rich, among the Anglo-Saxons as among the Celts. When it 
was his turn to sing at any of these festal meetings, and the 
harp was handed to him, his custom was to rise from table 
and go home. One evening, when he had thus withdrawn 
from his friends, he went back to his humble shed and went 
to sleep by the side of his cattle. During his slumber he 
heard a voice, which called him by name, and said to him, 
" Sing me something ; " to which he replied, " I cannot sing, 
and that is why I have left the supper and come here." " Sing, 
notwithstanding," said the voice. " But what, then, shall 1 
sing ? " " Sing the beginning of the world ; the creation." 
Immediately on receiving this command, he began to sing 
verses, of which before he had no knowledge, but which cel- 
brated the, glory and power of the Creator, the eternal God, 
worker of all marvels, father of the human race, Avho had 
given to the sons of men the heavens for their roof, and the 

®^ " Tantum lectioni divinarura Scripturarum suos vacare subditos . . . 
faciebat, ut facillime viderentur ibidem qui ecclesiasticum gradum, hoc estr 
altaris officiura apte subirent, jjlurimi posse reperiri." — Bede, iv. 23. 

'*'' Bede names six with the highest eulogies — " Quinque episcopos omne.. 
singularis meriti ac sanctitatis viros. . . . Vir strenuissimus et doctissimus, 
atque excellentis ingenii vocabulo Tatfrid, de ejusdem abbatissae monasteric 


earth for their dwelling-place. On awaking, he recollected 
all that he had sung in his dream, and hastened to tell all that 
had happened to him to the farmer in whose service he 

The Abbess Hilda, when the story was repeated to luir, 
called for Ceadmon and questioned him in the presence of all 
the learned men whom she could assemble around her. He 
was made to relate his vision and repeat his songs, and then 
different passages of sacred history and various points of 
doctrine were explained to him, that he might put them into 
verse. The next morning he was again called, and immedi- 
ately began to recite all that had been told him, in verses 
which were pronounced to be excellent. He was thus dis- 
covered all at once to possess the gift of improvisation in his 
mother tongue. Hilda and her learned assessors did not 
hesitate to recognize in this a special gift of God worthy of 
all respect and of the most tender care. She received Cead- 
mon and his whole family within the monastic community of 
Whitby, and afterwards admitted him to the number of 
monks who were under her rule, and made him carefully 
translate the whole Bible into Anglo-Saxon. As soon, ac- 
cordingly, as the sacred history and the gospel were nar- 
rated to him, he made himself master of the tale, ruminated it, 
as Bede said, as a clean animal ruminates its food, and trans- 
formed it into songs so beautiful that all who listened to him 
were delighed.^^ He thus put into verse the whole of Gen- 
esis and Exodus, with other portions of the Old Testament, 
and afterwards the life and passion of our Lord and the Acts 
of the Apostles. 

His talent and his poetic faculty thus went on day by day 
to fuller development, and he devoted numerous songs to 
such subjects as were best calculated to induce his compan- 
ions to forsake evil and love and practise the good : the ter- 
rors of the last judgment, the pains of hell, the joys of 
paradise, the action of Divine Providence in the world — all 
these great and momentous subjects were in their turn woven 

"* " Nonnunquam in convivio cum esset Isetitias causa decretum ut oranes 
per r)rdinem cantare deberent, ille ubi abpropinquare sibi citharam cernebat, 
Burgebat a media coena. . . . Dum relicta domo convivii egressus esset, ab 
stabula jumentorum . . . ibique membra dedisset sopori. Casdmon, canta 
mihi aliquid ... at ille : Nescio cantare. . . . Canta principium creatu- 
rarum." — Bede, iv. 24. 

^^ "Ipse cuncta, quae audiendo discere poterat, rememorando secum et 
quasi mundum animal ruminando in carmen dulcissimum convertebat; sua- 
viusque resonando doctores suos vicissim auditores suos faciebat." 

VOL. H. ^3 


into his verse. The fragments that remain enable us to esti- 
mate the earnest and impassioned inspiration, strongly Chris- 
tian and profoundly original, which characterized these first 
efforts of genius, barbarous, but subdued and baptized. 
The pre- ^^^ Northumbrian cowherd, transformed into a 

^rsorof monk of Whitby, sang before the abbess Hilda the 
revolt of Satan and Paradise Lost a thousand years 
earlier than Milton, in verses which may still be admired 
even beside the immortal poem of the British Homer.^' Not- 
withstanding Bede's assertion that poetry cannot be trans- 
lated from one language to another without losing its honor 
and dignity, we shall borrow from the nervous pen of one of 
our contemporaries a translation which conveys a just idea 
of the sombre and wild genius of this truly biblical poet.^^ 
'' Why," says Satan, speaking of God, " should I implore His 
favor, or bow myself before Him with obedience ? I can be 
a god like Him. Up with me, brave companions who will 
not fail me in the struggle ? brave-hearted warriors who have 
chosen me for your chief! illustrious soldiers ! With such 
warriors, in truth, one can choose a side ; with such com- 
batants one can seize a post. They are my zealous friends, 
faithful in the warmth of their hearts. I can, as their chief, 
govern in this kingdom ; I have no need to flatter any one ; 
I will be His subject no more ! " 

He is vanquished, and hurled into the city of exile — into 
the abode of" groans and hatred — into the hideous eternal 
night, the darkness of which is broken by smoke and crimson 
flames. *' Is this," he says, " the narrow spot in which my 
master shuts me up ? How different from the dwellings that 
we know on high in the kingdom of heaven ! Oh ! if I had 
the free power of my hands, and if I could issue forth for 
once, for one winter only, I and my army ! But bands of iron 

*^ This fragment of Cea'lmon's poem on the revolt of Satan, discovered 
by Archbishop Usher, and printed for the first time in 1655, has been pre- 
served, and frequently published since that date. It has been republished 
with learned annotations by Dr. Bouterweck, De Cedmone poeta Anglo-Sax- 
onum vetustissimo brevis Dissertatio, at Elberfeld, 1845. Sir E. Palgrave, 
one of the most competent critics of English history and literature, justly 
remarks that there are in this fragment passages so like the Paradise Lost 
that some of Milton's lines read like an almost literal translation. There 
was an interval of a thousand years between them, Ceadmon dying about 
680, and Milton in 1674. Compare Sharon Turner's History of the Anglo- 
Saxons, 1. iv. c. 3. 

** " IS^eque enira possunt carmina, quamvis optime composita, ex alia 
in aliam linguam ad verbura sine detrimento sui decoris ac dignitatis trans- 
fer ri." 


snrronnd me — chains bind me down helpless. I am without 
a kingdom. The fetters of hell shackle me so firmly, clasp 
me so tightly ! Here are huge flames ; above and beloiv I 
have never seen so horrible a place. The fire never lan- 
guishes — its heat ascends above hell. The rings that en- 
circle me, the manacles that gnaw my flesh, keep me from 
advancing, and close the way before me ; ray feet are tied, 
my hands imprisoned. Thus has God shut me in." Since 
nothing can be done against Him, it is against His own crea- 
ture, man, that the enemy, must turn. To him who has lost 
all, revenge is still left ; and in securing that, the vanquished 
may yet be happy and rest placidly even under the weight 
of the chains with which he in laden.^^ 

It would, however, be a totally mistaken idea to Hishoiy 
recognize in the Abbess Hilda's dependant nothing ^'*^^'- 
but a poet or literary pioneer ; he was above all a primitive 
Christian, a true monk, and, in one word, a saint.^*^ His mind 
was mild and humble, simple and pure ; he served God with 
tranquil devotion, grateful for the extraordinary grace that 
he had received from heaven. But he was so full of zeal for 
monastic regularit}' that he opposed with great vehemence 
the transgressors of the rule — an error for which he seems 
to have felt some compunctions at the very point of death. 
No frivolous or worldly subjects ever inspired his verse ; he 
composed his songs only that they might be useful to the 
soul, and their solemn beauty did even more for the conver- 
sion than for the delight of his countrymen. Many were 
moved by them to despise this world, and to turn with ardent 
love to the divine life. Many Englishmen after him, says 
Bede, have tried to compose religious poems ; but no one 
has ever equalled the man who had only God for his master.^^" 

®® Tliis translation is borrowed from U Histoire de la, LitUrature Anglaise, 
hy M. Tiiine. The author of that work, in whicli so much talent is mixed 
up with so many lamentable errors, says very justly of Ceadmon : "Thus ia 
true poetry born. ... It does but repeat, over and over, one passionate 
burden. These are the songs of the ancient servants of Odin, now tonsured 
and wrapt in a monk's frock. Their poetrj' remains unchanged. They 
think of God, as of Odin, in a succession of images, brief, crowded, impas- 
sioned, like successive flashes of lightning. The Satan of Milton exists in 
that of Ceadmon as a picture exists in a sketch, for both derive their picture 
from the race, and Ceadmon has found his materials in the warriors of the 
North, as Milton in the Puritans." 

** The Bollandists have devoted a special article to him (vol. ii. Feb., p. 
552), De S. Cedmono, cantore theodidacto ; but they make no material addi- 
tion to what we learn from Bede. 

^' " Erat vir multum religiosus et regularibus disciplinis humiliter sub- 
ditus. . . . Quadam divina gratia spccialiter insignis. . . . Quicquid ex 


His o-entie ^^ ^'^^^ ^^ poets seldoDQ die. At the very be- 
aeath. ginning of his illness he desired his bed to be made 

in that part of the infirmary which was assigned to 
the dying, and while smiling and talking cheerfully with his 
brethren, asked for the viaticum,. At the moment when he 
was about to administer the communion to himself, according 
to the usage of the period, and while holding in his hands 
the holy eucharist, he asked all those who were round him if 
any one had any grudge against him, or any complaint to 
make. All answered, No. Then-said he, " I too, my children, 
have a mind at peace with all God's servants." A little after 
he had made his communion, as they were about to awaken 
the monks for matins, he made the sign of the cross, laid his 
head on the pillow, and fell asleep in silence, to awake no 



Apart from the interest which attaches to Ceadmon from a 
historical and literary point of view, his life discloses to us 
essential peculiarities in the outward organization and intel- 
lectual life of those great communities which in the seventh 
century studded the coast of Northumbria, and which, with 
all their numerous dependants, found often a more complete 
development under the crosier of such a woman as Hilda 
than under superiors of the other sex. It is apparent that 
admission to the benefits of monastic protection and shelter 
was not confined to isolated monks, but was extended to 
whole families.^^ And the example of Hilda also discloses 
how earnest was the desire of the superiors of monasteries 
to instruct the ignorant masses, and to familiarize them, by 
instruction in the vulgar tongue, or by poetic paraphrases, 
with Holy Scripture and Christian doctrine. 

divinis litteris per interpretes disceret hoc ipse post pusillum. . . . Verbis 
potjticis maxima suavitate et compunctione compositis in sua, id est, Anglo- 
rum, lingua proferret. . . . Alii post ilium in gente Anglorum religiosa 
poemata tacere tentabant, sed ei nuUus aquiparari potuit : non ab homini- 
bus . . . sed divinitus adjutus gratis canendi donum accepit. . . . Unde 
nihil unquam frivoli et supervacui poematis facere potuit; sed ea tantum- 
modo quae ad religioneni pertinent. . . . Simplici ac pura mente tranquilla- 
que devotione Domino servierat." — Bede, 1. c. 

^"^ " In proxima casa, in qua inlirmiores et qui prope morituri esse vide- 
bantur, induci solebant. . . . Cum ibidem positus vicissira aliquo gaudente 
animo, una cum eis qui ibidem ante inerant, loqueretur et jocaretur. . . . 
Et tamen, ait, affcrte mihi eucharistiam. Qua accepta in raanu, intcrroga- 
vit si omncs placidum erga se animum et sine querela controversiaa ac ranco- 
ris haberent. . . . Sicque se coelesti muniens viatico . . . reclinavit caput 
ad cervical, modicumque obdormiens, ita cum silentio vitam finivit." 

*•* " Susceptuni in monasteriura cum omnibus suis fratrum cohort! adso- 
ciavit." — Bepe, 1. c. 


Whitby, with its lighthouse and its great mon- Ebba, prin 
astery, was the most southerly place of refuge on B^frnlda, 
that Northumbrian coast, still so formidable to ^''^^^^{f 
sailors, which at that time was lined with so many cokiing- 
sanctuaries. At the northern extremity of the same "™' 
coast, beyond Lindisfarne, on what is now the frontier of 
Scotland, at Coldingham, rose also, as at Whitby, two mon- 
asteries — the one for men and the other for women — both 
founded and governed by one abbess. While Hilda, the 
De'irian princess, ruled her monasteries on the shores of her 
father's kingdom, Ebba, a princess of the rival dynasty, grand- 
daughter of Ida the Burner, daughter of Ethelfrid the Rav- 
ager, but sister of the sainted King Oswald, and of Oswy the 
reigning king, formed on the sea-coast of Bernicia another 
raanastic centre, which was yet to hold an important position, 
and to work out a stormy history. It had been the intention 
of her brother to give her in marriage to the king of Scots — 
a union meant undoubtedly to strengthen or to re-establish 
the alliance of the restored family of Ethelfrid with the Scot- 
tish dynasty which had offered the exiles such generous hos- 
pitality during the reign of Edwin, the chief of the race b}'' 
which they had been exiled. Ebba, however, was obstinately 
opposed to this marriage. Her family had all embraced, dur- 
ing their banishment, the principles of the Christian faith, 
and it was now her desire to advance to the practice of the 
counsels of the Gospel. It was not from the hands of Aidan, 
but from those of Finan, his successor at Lindisfarne, that 
she received the veil:^* Oswy left her at liberty to devote 
herself to God, and gave her a piece of land on the banks of 
the Derwent where she might found her first monastery, 
which received the name of Ebba's Castle.^^ But the prin- 
cipal scene of her activities was Coldingham, in a situation 
which she seems to have chosen in emulation of that of 
Whitby. Her great and famous monastery was built, not on 
the spot now called by her name,'^*^ but on the summit of an 
isolated promontory which still bears the title of St. Abb's 
Head, or Cape, and which abruptly terminates the range of 
the Lammermoors, thrusting itself out into the German Ocean. 
From this headland, or rather precipice, which rises perpen- 

»* Ad. SS. Bolland., vol. v. August, p. 197. 

'* Ebbae-Castrum, whence Ebbchester, a village in the county of Dur- 

** It owes this name to a priory founded by a colony of monks from Dur- 
ham in 1098, and very richly endowed by the kings of Scotland. 



dicuVarly for more than 500 feet from the level of the sea, the 
view embraces, on the north, the Scotch coast to the farther 
side of the Forth, and, on the south, the English coast as far 
as the holy isle of Lindisfarne and the royal acropolis of 
Bamborough. A small ruined chapel is all that remains to 
mark the site of the great sanctuary of Ebba, who was, like 
Hilda, placed at the head of a double community of men and 
of women, and presided over the religious life of northern 
Northumbria with no less success, and for an equal length 
She also of time, taking her part, also during nearly thirty 
thiffy/ears je^rs, with uo Icss authority in the affairs of her 
fi5o-6&3. ' country .97 

She did not always succeed, however, in maintaining 
amongst her daughters the fervor and the regularity of which 
she herself gave an example. That relaxation of discipline 
from which, by a mysterious and terrible judgment of God, 
the religious orders have never been able to preserve them- 
selves, and which was destined to invade so speedily the 
Anglo-Saxon cloisters, made its way into Coldingham even 
^. ^ during the lifetime of the foundress. She was 
noted ill ' Warned of this by a holy priest of her community 
munit^of ^vho had come from Ireland with the other Celtic 
ham'by missionaries, and who was called Adamnan, like the 
the monk historian and successor of Columba at lona As he 
went with the abbess through the vast and lofty 
buildings which she had erected upon her promontory, he 
said to her with tears, " All that you see here, so beautiful 
and so grand, will soon be laid in ashes." And as the aston- 
ished princess exclaimed against his prophecy, " Yes," con- 
tinued he ; " I have seen in my vigils an unknown one who 
has revealed to me all the evil that is done in this house, and 
the punishment that is prepared for it. He has told me that 
he has visited each cell and each bed, and that everywhere 
he has found the monks and the nuns either wrapt in a 
shameful sleep, or awake to do evil. These cells, intended for 
prayer or for study, are made use of sometimes for irregular 
repasts, sometimes for senseless gossip and other frivolities. 
The virgins consecrated to God, employ their leisure in 
weaving garments of excessive fineness, either to attire 
themselves as if they were the brides of men, or to bestow 
them on strangers. For this the vengeance of heaven will 

'^ " Sanctimonialis femina et mater ancillarum Christi, nomine Ebba, 
regens monasterium . . . religione pariter et nobiiitate cunctis honorabilis.* 
— Bedb, Vita S. Cuthberii, c. 10. 


Bend fire to consume the place and chastise its inhabitants." 
It is evident that these scandals were not by any means so 
Serious as many that occurred elsewhere and at a later 
period ; but in the midst of the general fervor of the new 
Christians of England they seemed to deserve fire from 
heaven. Ebba, thus warned, did what she could to amend 
the state of affairs, and the fire which devastated for the first 
time her great community did not break out till after her 

It io right to give this incident with some minuteness, for 
it is the only symptom of decay which we have discovered 
in the period. With this one exception, no cloud, of which 
history has preserved any record, obscures the re- fervor and 
nown of the regular clergy of Northumbria. The austerity of 

. ^ , ^ , . . the Nor- 

universal admiration won for the monastic capital thumbmu 
of Lindisfarne by the regularity, the fervor, and the ™°"'^^- 
extraordinary austerity of its numerous inhabitants, is proved 
by all witnesses as with one voice. Their fasts, which came 
to them by tradition and' obligation from Ireland, excited 
special wonder' — fasts very much more meritorious in that 
raw, damp climate, than those of the fathers of the desert 
under the burning sky of the East, and which contrasted 
strangely with the habitual voracity of the Anglo-Saxons, 
whose sons began to people Lindisfarne and its dependencies. 
In Ireland the Cenobites, and especially the Anchorites, fre- 
quently lived on bread and water alone.^^ Two centuries 
later, a German 1°*^ monk related to his wondering country- 
men that the usage of the Scotic monks who inhabited Ire- 

** " Cunctaliaec quae cernis ffidificia publica vel privata, in proximo est ut 
ignis absumens in cinerem convertat. . . . Singulorum casas ac lectos 
inspexi . . . omnes et viri et feminae aut sorano torpent inerti, aut ad pec- 
cata vigilant. Nam et domunculaj qua) ad orandum vel legendum fact» 
erant, nunc in comnussationum, potationum, fabulationum et caeterarum 
sunt illecebrarum cubilia conversse, virgines . . . quotiescunque vacant, 
texendis subtilioribus indumentis operam dant. . . . Post obitum abbatissse 
redierunt ad pristinas sordes, immo sceleratiora fecerunt." — Bede, iv. 25. 
Honest Bede, always so careful in stating the source of his narratives, does 
not fail to tell us that he had these details from a priest of Coldinghara, who, 
after the fire, fled for refuge to the Monastery of Yarrow, in which the 
author of the Ecclesiastical History of the English composed his work. 
Let us add that regular discipline was promptly re-established in Ebba's 
monastery, and that in the following century, at the invasion of the Danes 
in 870, the nuns, in order that they might not attract the passion of these 
barbarians, cut oflf" their noses and Hps ; thus, in saving their honor, winning 
the glory of martyrdom. 

»9 Bede, v. 12. 

'*** Ratramnus Cobbeiensis, Contra Gracos, lib. iv. 


land was to fast all the year round, except on Sundays and 
feast-days, and never to eat before nones or vespers. Bisho{^ 
A'idan induced all the communities of monks and nuns in 
Northumbria to adopt the fast which he observed himself — 
namely, to eat nothing before nones on the Wednesdays and 
Fridays of every week, except those between Easter and 
Pentecost.i'^i At Lindisfarne, for more than a century, wino 
and beer were totally unknown ; and the first relaxation of 
tLis severity was introduced in favor of a king of Northumbria 
who became a monk there in 131.'^^^ 

Elsewhere these customs were improved upon by still 
more notable austerities. At Coldingham, the Adamnan of 
whom we recently spoke, expiated a youthful fault by taking 
food only twice a-week, on Sundays and Thursdays, while, at 
the same time, he often passed the whole night in vigils. 
He adopted this system from remorse and fear of God, but 
the love of God at last transformed it into a delight.^*'^ At 
j^f^j.^ Melrose, a monk was held in veneration who, having 
runner of fallen into a trance, had one of those visions of 
^^^^' heaven and hell which made many of the Celtic 
monks persecutors of Dante. It was his custom to plunge 
into the waters of the Tweed which flowed by the monas- 
tery, to pray there, and that even when the river was cov- 
ered with ice, which he had to break before he could enter 
the stream. '^ Brother Drychthelme," some one called to 
him from the bank, " how can you bear such cold ? " "I 
have seen it harder and colder," he quietly answered.i04 
Foundation When a ucw monastery was to be founded, the 
ham?^^'°°' Celtic missionaries and the monks trained in their 
648-0(50. school tliought they could not better inaugurate 
it than by redoubling their fervor and austerity. The son 
of the sainted King Oswald, who held a kind of provincial 
royalty in Deira, determined to establish a monastery where 
Lo might hear the Avord of God, and, above all, where he 

"" Bede, iii. 5. 

'"* Roger Hoveden, ap. Lingard, i. 227. 

'"^ " Quod causa divini timoris semel ob reatum compunctus coeperat, jam 
causa divini amoris delectatus praemiis indefessus agebat." — Bede, iv. 25. 

^°* " De fluentibus circa euni semifractarum crustis glacierum, quas et 
ipse contriverat quo haberet locum standi sive immergendi in fluvio. . . . 
Mirura, frater Drychthelme, quod tantam frigoris asperitatem ultra rationeni 
tolerare prsevales. . . . Frigidiora ego vidi . . . austeriora ego vidi." — 
Bede, v. 12. Bede is careful to mention, as he always does when he relates 
his marvels, that he has the story from a certain Irish monk, who, as well as 
the wise Northumbrian King Aldfrid, had often visited and conversed with 
this Drychthelme. 


might b© buried, and be benefited after his death by the 
powerful help of the prayers of those who served God in that 
place. For this purpose he applied to a monk of Lindisfarne, 
who had become a missionary bishop among the Saxons of 
the East, persuading him to accept one of his estates as an 
endowment. This man of God — Cedd by name — chose a 
spot among the mountains as difficult of access as possible, 
and which seemed fit rather for the haunt of bandits or wild 
beasts than of men. He then proceeded to purify the spot 
he had selected by prayer and fasting, and asked leavo from 
the king to remain there in prayer the whole of Lent. Dur- 
ing this retreat he fasted every day except Sunday till even- 
ing, and then took only a little bread, an egg, and some milk 
and water. Such, said he, was the custom of those from 
whom he had learnt the rules of monastic discipline ; '^^^ and 
such was the beginning of the Monastery of Lastingham, be- 
tween York and Whitby, which was established on the model 
of Lindisfarne. We shall hereafter see its abbots holding an 
honorable place in the annals of the Church of England.^*^*^ 

Let us quote once more, in evidence of the vir- Tegtimouy 
tues of the monks and bishops who converted the ^°'?''.''y 
north of England, the unquestionable testimony of the virtues 
the celebrated historian, who was at once their ceitlc mis- 
adversary and their successor, but who, notwith- »iona"es. 
standing his dislike, and his strangely exaggerated descrip- 
tion of their special peculiarities, yet rendered to the services 
and virtues of the Celtic missionaries that signal homage 
v/hich generous hearts delight to accord to the vanquished 
whom they honor. " The greatness of their disinterested- 
ness and selt-denial was verv apparent," says Bede, " after 
their retreat." At Lindisfarne and elsewhere they had only 
sucli buildings as were absolutely necessary for existence 
and decency .^'^'^ They had neither money nor cattle : what 
the rich gave them they immediately distributed to the poor. 
They did not consider themselves bound to receive with 

105 a jjg ^yjjg quidem nisi panis permodicum, et ununi ovum gallinaceum 
cum parvo lacte aquae mixto percipiebat. Dicebat banc esse coiisuetudinem 
eorum a quibus normam disciplinai regularis didicerat. . . . Expleto studio 
jejunioruin et orationis, fecit ibi monasterium . . . et religiosis moribus, 
juxta ritus Lindisfarmensium ubi educatus erat, instituit." — Bede, iii. 23. 
Wbence we can see, sa3's Fleury, that in that country neither milk, nor even 
eggs, were forbidden in Lent. — Hist. Eccl., \. xxxix. c. 4. 

'"^ There is still to be seen at Lastingham a beautiful church, believed to 
be one of the oldest in England. 

'"^ " Paucissinias domus . . . illse solummodo sine quibus conversati* 
civilis esse nullatenus poterat." — Bede, iii. 26. 


splendor the lords and nobles who came to their monasteries 
for the sole purposes of prayer and to hear the word of 
God. Kings themselves, when they came to Lindisfarne, 
brought no more than five or six attendants with them, and 
contented themselves with the ordinary fare of the breth- 
ren. These apostles desired to serve God only, and not the 
world — they sought to win men through the heart only, not 
through the stomach. Thus the monkish frock was held in 
great veneration. Wherever a clerk or a monk appeared he 
was received with welcome as a true servant of God. Those 
who met him by the way hastened to bow their heads before 
him and receive his benediction. Their discourses were 
listened to by attentive crowds. Every Sunday these 
crowds flowed into the churches of the monasteries, to gather 
there the seed of life. As soon as a priest appeared in a 
village, all the inhabitants clustered round him begging him 
to preach to them. The priests and clerks travelled through 
the country only to preach, to baptize, to visit the sick, 
to save souls. They were so entirely free from all desire 
of gain, that the princes and nobles had to force them to 
accept the lands and estates necessary for the founding of 

Opposition ^^ '^ '^^^' bowever, to be supposed, that the con- 
and resist- vcrsiou of Xorthumbria and of the six other king- 
not waat- doms of the Heptarchy was carried through without 
"^^' hinderance and convulsions. The monastic histo- 

rians have made the mistake of dwelling too lightly on the 
resistance and the revolts which their heroes had to encoun- 
ter, and which added so much to the merit of what they 
achieved in the sight of God, as well as in that of man. 
But enough is visible to enable us easily to fill up what they 
have left untold. During the two centuries which separate 
the arrival of Augustine from the accession of Egbert, the 
perpetual conflict of the savage and uncontrollable nature of 
the Saxon kings with their new faith and the authority of the 

bishops and monks, is apparent. Changeable as 
andunoer- Protcus, wc sec them Constantly escaping by ab- 
Iharlctlr YVL^t chaugcs from all the efforts made to obtain a 
amonorthe salutary influence over them. The king who to-day 

distinguished himself by the fervor of his devotions, 
and his munificence to the new establishments, would to- 
morrow abandon himself to all the debaucheries and excesses 

J08 »«Xota enim tunc fuit sollieitudo doctoribus illos, Deo serviendi, noB 
saeculo ; tota cura cordis excolendi, non ventris." — Bede, iii. 26. 


suggested, or pardoned, by heathen instinct. Others sought 
in the very monasteries, and among the virgins consecrated 
to God, a prey attractive beyond all other to their ungovern- 
able sensuality. Intestine wars, usurpation, murder, pillage, 
abominable tortures, violence, and spoliation of every kind, 
sully at every turn the pages which have preserved to us so 
many pious and touching incidents. And it was And among 
not the kings and chiefs only that were hard to win : "i^ people. 
the people presented the same difficulties, the same disap- 
pointments. In vain the holy bishops and monks, produced 
so rapidly and in such numbers by the Saxon race, endeav- 
ored to win souls and purify them by an exhaustiess charity, 
bestowing with free hands on the poor all the treasures that 
tbey received from the rich. Frequently the revolt was 
open, and tlie apostle of a district found himself obliged to 
fly into solitude or exile, there to await the dawn of better 
days. Sometimes an unforeseen calamity, famine or pesti- 
lence, sufficed to convulse the minds of a people, who then 
in a body would abjure the faith of Christ, and return to 
their ancient gods. On one side the monks had to struggle 
without intermission against old customs, which all their zeal 
could not avail to extirpate, — against the inveterate belief 
in witchcraft, against the practice of the slave trade, with all 
its refinements of greed and debauchery ; ^^a while, on the 
other, dull resistance, murmurs, and threats accompanied the 
work of salvation. 

On the north-east coast of England, where the Celtic mis- 
sionaries had just founded such illustrious monasteries, cer- 
tain tribes of the coast took vows for their destruction. 
Bede himself, from whom we have just borrowed so striking 
a picture of the popularity which surrounded them in Nor- 
thumbria, forgot, in that description, various partic- joyofthe 
ulars which he has recorded elsewhere. It is he people of 
who tells how, when the little vessels of the monks, at seeing 
abroad in foul weather, ran the risk of being shfp!"""*^* 
swamped at the mouth of the Tyne, a crowd of wrecked. 
spectators assembled on the shore exulting in their danger, 
mocking at their self-devotion, and crying with savage 
irony — " Well dpne ! this will teach them to live differently 
from everybody else. Perish the fools who would take our 
ancient customs from us, imposing new ones which God 
knows how we can observe ! " ^^^ 

"' Turner, op. cit., book vii. c. 9, p. 53. 

*•" '' Stabat in altera aiunis ripa vulgaris turba non modica . . . coepit 


Nevertheless, truth and goodness conquered evtrything. 
In the long run the humble courage and generous persever- 
ance of the missionaries triumphed over the fury, cunning, 
and opposition of fallen nature in these children of barba- 
rism. The soldiers of Christ/^^ as from that time the monks 
were called, remained masters of the field of battle. 



Influence of the three Northumbrian Bretwaldas and their Celtic clergy on 
the other kingdoms of the Heptarchy. 

1. East Anglia. — Vicissitudes of Christianity. — The king, converted by 
Edwin, is assassinated. — His brother, exiled in France, returns a convert 
with the missionary bishop, Felix. — The king and the bishop evangelize 
East Anglia. — Supposed origin of Cambridge. — The Irish monk, Fursy, 
assists in their work. — The visions which make him a forerunner of 
Dante. — King Sigebert becomes a monk ; lie issues from his cloister to 
fight, armed with a staff, against Penda; and dies on the field of battle. — 
A king-monk among the Cambrians perishes in the same way fighting 
against the Saxons. — Anna, the successor of Sigebert, is, like him, killed 
by Penda. 

2. Wessex. — Christianity is brought hither by King Oswald and the Italian 
bishop, Birinus. — Oswald, son-in-law and godfather of the King of the 
West Saxons. — Popular verses about Birinus. — The son of the first 
Christian king, who had continued a heathen, and had been dethroned by 
Penda, is converted during exile ; re-established in Wessex, he summons 
thither as bishop a Frank who had been educated among the Celts, but 
afterwards desires a bishop acquainted with Anglo-Saxon. — Foundation 

irridere vitam conversationis eorum, quasi merito talia paterentur, qui com- 
munia mortalia jura spernentes, nova et ignota darent statuta vivendi. . . • 
Rustico et animo et ore stomachantes. . . . NuUus, inquiunt, honunum pro 
eis roget, nullus eorum niisereatur Deus, et qui veteres culturas hominibus 
tulere, et novaj qualiter observari debeant nemo novit." — Bede, Vita S. 
Cuthberti, c. 3. This anecdote refers to the time when Cuthbert, though he 
had reached the age of adolescence, was not yet a monk. He became a 
monk at fifteen. He was born in 637. It was, therefore, about 650 or 651, 
and exactly at the time of the great Northumbrian foundations at Hartle- 
pool, &c. 

Ill "Milites Christi." — Bolland., t. ii. Jun., p. 236. 


of Malmesbury and of Winchester. — An English abbot at Glastonbury. 
— The Anglo-Saxons begin to occupy the episcopal sees. — A West Saxon 
becomes the first English Archbishop of Canterbury. — Ercombert, King 
of Kent, destroys the idols. 

S. Essex. — King Oswy converts his friend Sigebert, King of Essex, baptized 
by Finan in the villa of the Northumbrian king. — A monk of Lindisfarne 
becomes Bishop of London. — The first Christian king of Essex killed by 
his cousin, because he is too ready to forgive. — The first bishop dies of 
the plague, and thirty of his friends go to die on his tomb. — Relapse of 
the East Saxons into idolatry. — A new king and a new bishop, educated 
by the Celts, bring them back to the faith. 

4. Mercia. — Influence of the King of Northumbria and of the Bishop of 
Lindisfarne on the conversion of the Mercians. — The son of King Oswy, 
married to a daughter of the King of Mercia, converts the brother of his 
wife, and marries him to his sister. — The Celtic missionaries in Merjcia. — 
Unexpected tolerance of the ferocious Penda towards his son and his con- 
verted subjects. But he continues his devastations in Northumbria. — 
Last conflict between him and Oswy. — Battle of Winwafid. — Defeat and 
death of Penda, the last hero of Saxon Paganism. — Oswy offers his 
daughter to God in acknowledgment of tlxe victory, and founds twelve mon- 
asteries. — Final triumphs of the Northumbrians and of Christianity. — 
Conquest and conversion of Mercia. — Its first five bishops issue from 
Celtic cloisters. — Opposition of the monks of Bardeney to the worship of 
St. Oswald. — The Mercians, revolting against the Northumbrians, never- 
theless remain Christians. 

Summary. — Of eight Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, one only is exclusively con- 
verted by the Roman missionaries ; four are converted by the Celtic monks 
alone ; and two by the combined action of the Celts and of bishops sent 
from Rome. — Sussex alone remains to be won, where a Celtic colony re- 
sides without influence. 

From the cloisters of Lindisfarne, and the heart of Theexten- 
those districts in which the popularity of ascetic pon- christLn- 
titFs such as A'idan, and martyr kings such as Oswald % "^y the 
and Oswin, took day by day a deeper root, North- monks of 
umbrian Christianity spread over the southern king- bHriiTthe 
doms. Whether this gradual invasion is to be attrib- f-^^^^ ^™?' 

1 • • n f 1 1 uorns of the 

nted to the preponderating influence of the last three Heptarchr 
Bretwaldas, all Christians and Northumbrians, or simply to 
the expansive force of Celtic missionary labor, can never be 
discriminated. But what is distinctly visible is the influence 
of Celtic priests and missionaries everywhere replacing or 
seconding the Roman missionaries, and reaching districts 
which their predecessors had never been able to enter. The 
stream of the divine word thus extended itself from north 

VOL II. 24 


to south, and its slow but certain course reached in suc- 
cession all the peoples of the Heptarchy. Life and light in- 
fused themselves through all, and everywhere, along with 
the immaculate sacrifice, the hymns of a people freed from 
the yoke of idolatry rose towards the living God. 

Let us state rapidly the progress of the pacific invasion 
made by the Celtic monks, trained in the school of the great 
Columba, into the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms south of the Hura- 



vioissi- We have seen how Edwin, the first Christian 

ciirist^an- Brctwalda of Northumbria, employed his influence 
ity niEast ovcr the country where he had spent his exile to 
° ' convert the king of East Anglia. Unfortunately 
this first conversion had not been more durable than that of 
Northumbria itself under Edwin. Eorpwald, the Christian 
king, had been assassinated soon after his conversion,ii'^ and 
this important kingdom, which comprehended so large a part 
of eastern England, fell back into idolatry. The singular 
law which made exile the cradle of the faith and the appren- 
ticeship of royalty to so many Anglo-Saxon princes, appears 
among the Angles of the East as well as among those of the 
North. Sigebert, the brother of the murdered king, exiled 
in France from his youth, was there baptized, and 
there too had come to admire and understand monas- 
tic life. Recalled to reign over his own country, he brought 
thither with him at once the true faith and the life of the 
cloister. He was accompanied by a JBurgundian bishop of 
King-sige- the name of Felix, who placed himself under the 
Bishop'^ jurisdiction of Honorius, Archbishop of Canterbury, 
Felix. and was by him appointed missionary bishop of the 

East Angles.^^* For seventeen years this foreign bishop 

"^ In order to a full understanding of this chapter, the maps must be con- 

"' In preference to the chronology of Bede's annotators, I follow, as far 
as regards East Anglia, that of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which is also 
adopted by the BoUandists in the Life of St. Felix (vol. i. Mart., p. 780). 

"•• The seat of tliis bishopric was first established at Dunwich, then, thai 
town having been ingulfed by the sea, was transferred successively to Elm 
)jani, to Thetford, and finally to Norwich, where it still exists. 


diligently sowed the seed of eternal life in his new diocese.^^^ 
As in Northumbria, the king and the bishop labored in con- 
cert to extend religion and also Christian instruction, for 
they founded several schools for the literary education of the 
young English, in imitation of those that Sigebert had seen in 
France, and which Felix provided with masters obtained from 
the great monastic school of Canterbury .^^^ The origin of 
origin of the celebrated University of Cambridge has versity'of 
been attributed by many to these monastic schools. Cambridge. 

But they were not content to imitate Northumbria at a 
distance ; they entered into close relations with the new 
Celtic mission of that kingdom. The holy bishop Aidan be- 
came the object of the respectful emulation of the Burgun 
dian Felix, who, like him, had come from across the seas to 
evangelize the English, and who was encouraged in his re- 
spect for the Celtic abbot by the example of the Archbishop 
Honorius himself, notwithstanding Aldan's obstinate attach- 
ment to Celtic custom in respect to the celebration of Easter 
as opposed to the Roman usage, of which the metropolitan 
church of Canterbury was the natural guardian in England. ^^'' 

Ere long a Celtic missionary appeared to assist The Irish 
in the joint work of the king and the bishop. This pursv. 
was an Irish monk, named Fursy, of very noble birth, eas-eso. 
and celebrated from his youth in his own country for his 
knowledge and his visions. It would be pleasant to follow 
the example of Bede, to pause in the tale, and leave the 
vicissitudes of missionary history in England, to repose our- 
selves for a little amidst the wonderful revelations of this 
famed precursor of Dante. Bede had his account of these 
visions from an old East Anglian monk of his community, aa 
pious as he was truthful, who had heard the Irish saint him- 
self recount his visions. Their character was such that 
this wonderful man, though but scarcely covered by a thin 
garment during the rude winters of that English coast, 
frozen by the east winds, was covered with perspiration at 

115 it Totam illam provinciam juxta sui norainis sacramentura, a longa 
iniquitate atque infelicitate liberatam, ad fidem et opera justitiae ac perpetuao 
felicitatis dona perduxit." — Bede, iii. 15. 

"® " Ea quas in Gallia bene disposita vidit imitari cupiens. . . . Pieda- 
gogos ac niagistros juxta morem Cantuariorum." — Bede, iii. 18. Cf- Wil- 
HEL. Malmesb. ; Flokent. Wigorn; Henric. Huntingd. ; Bolland., t. 
ii. Mart., p. 781. 

'" " Hsec dissonantia paschalis observantiae, vivente ^dano, patienter ab 
omnibus tolerebatur. . . . Ab omnibus etiam qui de pascha aliter sentiebant, 
merito diligebatur . . . ab ipsis quoque episcopis Honorio Cantuarioruiu el 
Felice Orientaliuna Angloruni veneration! habitus est." — Bede, iii. 25. 


the bare recollection of the moving and frightful trances 
which his spirit had passed through.^i^ 

y^j.g ,g In the chief of these visions, which Ampere and 

visions of Ozanam agree in regarding as one of the poetic 
meuts*of sources of the Divina Commedia, the Irish monk 
^®^^" was permitted to contemplate the chastisements 

reserved for the most abominable sins of his times. " Look," 
said an angel to him — " look on these four fires that consume 
the world : the fire of falsehood, for those who renounce the 
promises of their baptism ; the fire of avarice, for those who 
prefer this world's riches to the love of Heaven ; the fire of 
discord, for those who fear not to injure souls for trifling 
cause ; the fire of impiety, for those who scruple not to spoil 
and defraud the lowly and the feeble." ^^^ 

This Irish monk came into East Anglia, as he had gone to 
other countries, to serve God in preaching the Gospel ; but 
one of his visions determined him to remain here longer than 
was usual to him. The eloquence of his words and the ex- 
ample of his virtues contributed much to the conversion of 
the heathen, and the confirmation of the Christians in their 
new faith.i^*^ King Sigebert received him with great re- 
spect, and gave him a large estate surrounded with wood and 
near the sea, where he might found a monastery. The 
buildings and wealth of this foundation were afterwards 
much augmented by the kings and nobles of East Anglia.^^^ 

At a later period, King Sigebert, who was not only a 
great Christian and a great philosopher for his time, but also 
a great warrior, harassed with the contests and troubles of 
his earthly royalty, resolved to occupy himself no longer 
with any occupation save the things of the kingdom of 
heaven, nor to fight except for the King Eternal.^^^ Accord- 

"* " De nobilissimo genere Scotorum. . . . Superest adhuc frater senior 
monasterii nostri qui narrare solet. . . . Adjiciani quia tempus hiemis erat 
acerrimum et glacie constrictum, cum sedens in tenui veste vir, ita inter di- 
cendurn propter multitudinem niemorati timoris vel suavitatis, quasi ut media 
aestatis caumate sudaverat." 

"' " Hi sunt quatuor ignes qui mundum succendunt. . . . Tertius dissen- 
tionis, cum aniraos proximorum etiara in supervacuis rebus offendere non 
formidiint. Quartus impietatis, cum infirmiores exspoliare et eis fraudem 
facere pronihilo ducunt." — Act. SS. 0. S. B., t. iii. p. 289. 

120 u Qupiens pro Domino, ubicumque sibi opportunum inveniret peregri- 
nam ducere vitam. Angelica visione admonitus coepto verbi ministerio sedu- 
lus insistere." — Bede, iii. 19. 

"" At Burglicastle, in the present county of Suffolk. 

182 <( Yjj. pgj. omnia christianissiraus atque doctissimus. . . . Tantumque 
rex ille ccelestis regni amator factus est, ut ad ultimura relictis regtii nego- 
tiis . . . atque accepta tonsura pro aeterno rege militare curaret." — Bede, 
ii. 16 ; iii. 18. 


ingly he received the tonsure, and entered as a KingSige- 
monk the monastery which he had bestowed on his comeB*a 
Celtic friend, the Irish Fursy.i^s He thus set the """^i^- 
first example, among the Anglo-Saxons, of a king abandoning 
secular life and sovereignty to enter the cloister; and, as 
we shall see, his example was not fruitless. 

But he was not permitted to die as he hoped in the 
cloister. The terrible Penda, that scourge of the Saxon 
confederation, and unwearied leader of the heathen hated 
his Christian neighbors in the east as well as those of the 
north. At the head of his numerous Mercians, reinforced by 
the implacable British, he invaded and ravaged East Anglia 
with as much fury and success as had attended him in Nor- 
thumbria. The East Angles, terrified and very inferior in 
numbers, recollecting the exploits of their old king, sought 
Sigebert in his cell to place him at the head of their army, 
his valor and warlike experience being well-known to the 
soldiers. It was in vain to resist ; he could not but yield to 
the solicitations of his former subjects ; but that he might 
remain faithful to his recent vows he armed himself only with 
a stafi", not with a sword. His devotion was use- He dies 
less ; all that he could do was to die for his faith hfscouutr*y. 
and his country. It was thus, with his staff in his ess. 
hand, that the king-monk perished at the head of his troops 
under the sword of the enemy.^^* 

We may appropriately recall here an incident 
altogether analogous to this Saxon king's self-sacri- bert, the 
fice, the hero of which was a British king fighting Teu^rTc'" 
against the Saxons. Both had become monks, and b,Jttie"but 
were forced in their own despite to leave the clois- against the 
ter and die on the battle-field. Both are too closely 
connected with our subject to be passed over in silence. 

Thirty years before the sacrifice of the king of East Anglia 
— about the year 610 — Teudric, a valiant Welsh king, con- 
queror in all the battles waged during his reign, abdicated 
the throne in order to prepare by a period of penitence for 

123 (( g purseo dedit locum ad construendum monasterium, in quo et ipse 
post raodum relicto regno rnonachus factus est." — Gervas. Dorob., Act. 
Font. Cantuar., p. 1636. But Bede says that he entered a monastery quod 
sibi fecerat, and which is supposed to have been that which has since 
been linown by the name of St. Edraundsbury. — Cf. Liber Elieusis, p. 14, 
ed. 1848. 

'*''' " Sperantes minus animos militum trepidare, praesente duce quon- 
dam strenuissino et eximio, sed ipse professionis suae non immemor."— • 
Bede, 1. c. 



death. He concealed himself in an islet formed by the pic- 
turesque course of the Wye, in the wild and solitary spot to 
which the more recent ruins of the Cistercian abbey of Tin- 
tern have attracted crowds of sight-seers. But in the reign 
of his son, the Saxons of Wessex, under King Ceolwulf, 
crossed the Severn, which had formed their boundary for 
more than a century, and ravaged the country as far as the 
Wye. At his people's cry of distress the generous old man 
ieft the solitude where he had lived for ten years, and once 
more led the Christians of Wales to battle with the Pagan 
Saxons. He awaited the latter at the ford by which they 
meant to cross the river which bathed the banks of his soli- 
tude. A brilliant victory was the reward of his generous 
devotion. At the mere sight of the old king, armed at all 
points and mounted on his war-horse, a panic spread among 
the Saxons, long accustomed to fly before him ; but in the 
flight one of them turned back and gave him a mortal blow. 
He perished thus in the arms of victory, his skull split open 
by a Saxon sword. A thousand years afterwards his heroic 
remains and venerated relics were identified by means of this 
shattered skull in the stone cofiin wherein his faithful follow- 
ers had buried him, at the confluence of the Severn and the 
Wye, six miles distant from the battle-field on which he gave 
up his life for the safety of his country .^^^ 
KinjrAnna, Anna, Sigebert's successor, sprung like him from 
si^ebert'^"^ the race of Ufi"a, who founded the East Anglian 
kiued, like kingdom, had a longer and less stormy reign. Like 
Penda. Siffcbert, he was the zealous helper of Felix and 
Fursy, the Burgundian bishop and the Celtic monk, 
in the work of converting his kingdom. Like him, he founded 
numerous monasteries, and like him had the honor to die 
fighting for his people, invaded and decimated by the hateful 
Penda. Though he did not become a monk like Sigebert, 
he left a numerous offspring destined to adopt the life of the 
cloister, and thus to expiate the guilty weakness of his 
brother, who succeeded him, and who, although himself a 
Christian, became the ally of the heathen Penda in his attacks 
upon the Christians of Northumbria.^^s 

'** F. Godwin, De Po'CBsidihus AnglicB, p. 593, ap. Lingard, vol. i. p. 
162; Lappenberg, p. 54; Liber Landavensis, pp. 133, ISl; La Borderie, 
op. dt., p. 54, who refers this occurrence to the year 575, while Lappenberg 
fixes it, after an Anglo-Saxon chronicler, on the 3d January, 610. 

'26 j'ursy, after liaving founded in East Anglia various double communi- 
ties of monks and nuns according to the Celtic usage (Z^e Virtutibus S. 
Fursei, ap. Mabxllon, Act. SS. 0. S. B., vol. ii. p. 296), quitted the cenc 




What Edwin had been to the Angles of the East, christian- 
his saintly and generous successor, Oswald, was to t/the"'° 
the Saxons of the West, who under Cerdic, one of f^^cwl^t 
those bloodthirsty and warlike chiefs who were said q^J^J^^^^^ 
to descend in a direct line from the great god Odin, BJshop 
had founded the most western colony of the Saxon ""'""*• 
immigration, a colony which had become a kingdom of much 
vaster extent than the kingdoms of the eastern or southern 
Saxons, or that of the Jutes of Kent. This realm, which ex- 
tended from the Thames to the Severn, condemned by its 
position to endless struggles with the Britons of Wales and 
of Cornwall — a race always thrilling with patriotic hatred 
of the invader, and destined in the future to absorb the seven 
other kingdoms of the Heptarchy i^'' — was governed in the 
time of Oswald by two brothers, Cuichelm, from whose at- 
tempt at assassination Edwin had barely escaped, and Cyne- 
gils, the father of a princess whom Oswald had asked in mar- 
riage. When Oswald came in person for his bride, he met 
at the residence of the King of Wessex a missionary called 
Birinus.128 This bishop — who was perhaps not a monk, and 
whose origin is unknown — had acquired the Saxon language 
at Genoa, a port much frequented by the Anglo-Saxons, where 
the bishop of the place had consecrated him. He had been 
commissioned by Pope Honorius I, to continue the work of 
the conversion of the Saxons, and had promised in return 
that he would sow the seed of life even beyond the territory 
of the Angles, where no preacher had yet penetrated. But 
landing on the coast of Wessex,^^^ he found the population 

bitic life in order to become an anchorite. Then seeing East Ar.slh more 
and more ravaged by the incursions of the heathens of Mercia,, he decreed 
the dissolution of liis communities and departed to France, where he was 
well received at the court of Clovis II., that great protector of the Irish 
monks. He there founded the Monastery of Lagny, and died in 650. We 
have already spoken of him among the successors of St. Columbanus in 
France, and we shall find his brotlier and his disciples among the Irish mis- 
sionaries in Belgium. 

127 41 Britannos antiquae libertatis conscientia frementes, et oh hoc crebram 
rebellionem meditantes." — Wilhelm. Malmesb., i. 2. 

128 K ^jj fmjrit monachus non constnt." — Mabillon, In SS. II. S(e& 
Pratermissis. Cf. Suiiius. De Probatis Sanctorum Vitis, t. vi. p. 771. 

'*' In the existing counties of Dorset or Hants. 


there, which no doubt he supposed to be already Christianized, 
still plunged into the darkness of utter Paganism, 
and devoted himself to their conversion, believing 
this to be the best way of keeping his promise.^^*^ 
Oswald be- "^^^^ influence of the pious and zealous Oswald 
comes the came uiost fortunatclv to aid the missionary's are-u- 

8on-in-law . > . 

and the meuts ; and when King Cynegils consented with all 
of the*Khig his people to be baptized, his son-in-law became his 
ofwessex. godfather.i^i The baptism was performed at Dor- 
chester, which was erected into a bishopric for Birinus by 
the twofold authority of C^'^negils, as provincial king, and of 
Oswald, as Bretwalda or supreme head of the Saxon confed 

The success of the mission of Birinus was rapid and com- 
plete. He founded many churches and converted multitudes. 
Many years after the close of his long and fruitful pontificate 
popular songs intended for choral singing still celebrated the 
memory of the Iloma>i exile,^^^ who had come to emancipate 
the Saxons of the West from bondage to their idols, and 
blessed the day which had seen him land on their coasts. 

130 "Promittens se illo (Papa) praesente in intirais ultra Anglorum parti- 
bus quo nullus doctor prascessisset, sanctse fidei semina esse sparsurum. 
• . . Sed Gewissorum gentem ingrediens, cum oirines ibidem paganissimoa 
inveniret." — Bede, iii. 7. 

131 It Cum rex ipse catechizatus, fonte baptismi cum sua gente ablueretur 
•contigit . . . pulcherrimo prorsus et Deo digno consortio. cujus erat filiam 
accepturus in conjugem, ipsum prius secunda generations Deo dicatum sibi 
accepit in filium." — Bede, iii. 7. 

'^^ Not the existing county town of Dorsetshire, but a place near Oxford, 
on the Thames. The episcopal see was, later, transferred to Lincoln. The 
Saxons of Wessex had two other celebrated bishoprics — Winchester, the 
cathedral of which Birinus is understood to have founded ; and Sherborne, 
afterwards transferred to Salisbury. The clergy of all these cathedrals were 

^^ " Dignus honore pater micat aureus ecce Birinus ; 
Sanctus adest omni dignus iionore pater. 
Exul ad hunc populum qui venit ab urbe Quiritum; 
Pro Christo pergens, exul ad hunc populum. . . . 
Hostica harbaries omnis sedatur in illo ; 

Deque lupo fit ovis hostica barbaries. . . • 
Liber adest populus, sub longo tempore servus ; 

Nunc Christo faraulans, liber adest populus. . . . 
Sit benedicta dies in qua maris aita petisti; 
Hue quae te duxit, sit benedicta dies." 
This popular song has been published from a MS. of Alen^on by M. Edel- 
8tand du Meril (Poesies Inedites du Moyen Age ; Paris, 1854, p. 277). The 
learned editor marks tlie systematic repetition of the first hemistich as a 
kind of refrain meant for a choir of singers. Tlie same MS. contains poems 
in which he notes tlie same kind of rhythm, in honor of two other monastic 
apostles of the Anglo-Saxons — St. Ethelwald and St. S within. 


The assassin Cuichelm himself was touched, and received 
baptism on his death-bed, with his son. But the son of" 
Cjmegils, Cenwalch, refused to renounce the reh'gion of his 
ancestors ; and when he succeeded to the throne, it might 
have been supposed that the work of Oswald and Birinua 
would be overturned by one of those pagan reactions which 
liad already thrown back into idolatry the subjects of the 
first Christian king of Kent, as well as the Saxons and Angles 
of the East. But it does not appear that the new king origi- 
nated any persecution, or indeed any change whatever ; and, 
singular to say, it was the ferocious heathen Penda who was 
the instrument of Divine mercy in bringing the young unbe- 
liever to the truth which he had refused to receive at his 
father's conversion. The terrible King of Mercia, whose 
sister Cenwalch had refused, avenged that injury by declar- 
ing war against him. The new converts of Wessex were no 
more able than those of Northumbria or East Anglia to resist 
the savage energy of the Mercian pagans ; Cenwalch was de- 
feated, dethroned, and exiled. But for him, as for Oswald 
and Oswy, exile was the cradle of the faith. He sougljj; 
refuge with the pious King Anna, and in that family of 
saints 134 [^q learned to know and to love the faith of Christ. 
When he was reinstated in his kingdom, he and his 
people held to their new religion with inviolable 
fidelity, and during his reign of thirty years he lent active 
and intelligent assistance in the extension of the Christian 
faith and of the monastic order. On the death of 
Birinus, who, notwithstanding his quality of mission- 
ary and bishop sent from Rome, has left no trace of his rela- 
tions with the Roman colony of Canterbury, the Celtic ele- 
ment reappeared among the Saxons of the West, in the 
person of a Frank, named Agilbert, who had long studied in 
the Irish monasteries,i35 from which he had newly arrived 
when he offered himself to King Cenwalch to carry on the 
work of the deceased bishop. In this he acquitted himself 
so well that the king, delighted with his learning and activity, 
induced him to agree to become the bishop of the cenwaich 
kingdom. But at the end of ten years, the same wishes to 

DtlVG ii 

king, who understood nothing but Saxon, grew tired bishop who 

"■* " Nam et ipse apud quera exulabat rex erat vir bonus, et bona etsancta 
Bobole felix." — Bede, 1. c. 

i3» i» Ygi^jt (]g Hibernia pontifex quidam, nomine Agilbertus, natione qui- 
dem Gallus, sed tunc legendarura gratia Scripturarum in Hibernia non 
parro tempore demoratus." — Ibid. 


fnVn>rio-* of listening to sermons delivered either in Latin or 
Saxon. in that Celtic tongue which he considered barbarous. 
He does not, however, seem to have been animated by any 
systematic hostility against the British Celts, who formed a 
numerous class amongst his subjects ; for while he fulfilled a 
promise made at his father's death-bed, and founded for his 
Saxons at Winchester the great monastery which has become 
one of the most important monuments of English architec- 
ture,^^^ he at the same time protected and favored the national 
sanctuary of the Celts at Glastonbury. A deed of gift exists 
in which he engages the monks of that British sanctuary to 
pray for the Saxon king beside the tomb of Arthur. In his 
reign, it is true, a Saxon for the first time became abbot of 
the great Celtic monastery ; ^^'^ but, on the other hand, it was 
also under him that the Celt Ma'idulphe, a professed monk, 
and at the same time a distinguished philosopher,^^^ came 
from Ireland or Scotland to lay the humble foundations of an 
abbey which preserves a trace of his name in the later 
splendors of Malmesbury. 

Nevertheless King Cenwalch wanted a bishop who spoke 
Saxon,^^^ and found him in the person of a certain Vini, who 
had been ordained in France ; and for whom he constituted 
a new bishopric in connection with his recent monastic estab- 
lishment of Winchester. Agilbert, however, instead of con- 
gratulating himself, as he ought to have done, on seeing the 
far too extensive field of his labors diminished, to the great 
profit of his flock, by the arrival of this fellow-workman native 
to the soil, was so irritated that he threw up his episcopate 
and returned to France, where he became Bishop of Paris. 
^^ . , The need of and wish for native bishops increased, 

The Aii<^Io- 

Saxons" howevcr, more and more among the Anglo-Saxons, 
obtfh/ti^ The first who was invested with the episcopal dig- 

episcopai jjj^y y^g^g. Ithamar, a native of Kent, who was sum- 
sees. »' ' . ' . 

moned to succeed the aged Paulinus in the see of 

Rochester, where the latter had found an honorable retreat 

after his flight from Northumbria. It was the Archbishop 

Honorius of Canterbury, himself a Roman monk, 

like his four predecessors, who chose Ithamar, ac- 

^^^ DuGDALE, Monasticon Anglicanum, t. i. p. 31. 
'" Ibid., p. 12. 

138 "Natione Scotus , eruditione philosophus, professione raonachus." — 
WiLH. Malmesb., i. 2. 

139 a j^gj^ qyj Saxonura tantum linguara noverat, pertaesus barbarae lo- 
qu«laB, subintioduxit in provinciam alium su» Unguae episcopum." — BedEi 
1. c. 


knowledging him to be a man fully capable of rivalling both 
in knowledge and virtue the Roman bishops who had hitherto 
occupied the two Kentish bishoprics. ^^° 

The small kingdom of Kent, which owed its importance, 
and perhaps the maintenance of its independence, to the pos- 
session of the metropolis of Canterbury, was at this 
time governed by Ercombert, grandson of the first 
Christian king, who showed himself even more zealous than 
his grandsire for the ncAv religion. He enforced the obser- 
vance of Lent by severe penalties, and gave orders for a 
general destruction of the idols and heathen temjiles which 
had been spared for the previous fifty years, notwiihstanding 
the conversion to Christianity of the great majority of the 
inhabitants.!"^! It was in his reign that, on the death 

. . . 653 

of the archbishop, the last survivor of Augustin's 
Italian mission, the rank of metropolitan was, after two years' 
hesitation and delay, conferred, for the first time, on an 
Anglo-Saxon. The newly converted realm of Wessex had 
the honor of furnishing to England her first native 

• o c r ritnoTiR 

primate. This fifth successor of Augustin was the west' 
named Frithona, but thought fit to change that Archbishop 
Teutonic name for the purely Roman one of Deus- o'Canter- 
dedif. He was consecrated by the English Ithamar, <'>tii March, 
and did not hesitate to remain in friendly relations, 
or rather to resume intercourse, with the Celtic bishops, who 
up to this time had scarcely recognized the supremacy of 
the Church of Canterbury. ^^^ 



Whatever may have been the influence of the Action of 
Baintly King Oswald on the conversion of the West Northum 

n *'.° 111 T Ti /v. bna on the 

feaxons, it was assuredly less direct and less effect- kingdom of 
ual than that of his brother and successor Oswy 
upon the Saxons of the East and the midland Angles. It 
must, indeed, be acknowledged that, of all the Northumbrian 

14(1 " De gente Cantuariorum, sed vita et eruditione antecessoribus suis 
ffiquandum." — Bede, iii. 14. 

'■*' " Cum avus et pater sitra destructionem idolorum fidera nostram colu- 
issent." — Will. Malmesb., Be Gest. Reg. Angl., 1. i. c. 1. 

"* Hook, op. cit., p. 131. 


kings, it is Oswj, stained as he was with the innocent blood 
of King Oswin, who did most for the extension and defence 
of Christianity in England. 

Sigebert, named the Good — king of those West 
conv^erts^^ Saxons whom we recently saw driving Mellitus 
Kino^ircr^- from his bishopric of London, and renouncing the 
bert! " faith which had been urged on them by the preach- 
ings of that companion of Augustin, and the influ- 
ence of the Bretwalda Ethelbert — was Oswy's special friend. 
Sigebert the Good had dethroned the posterity of those three 
princes who demanded the communion from the hands of the 
Christian bishop without having been baptized.^*^ He fre- 
quently came into Northumbria to visit Oswy as a friend, 
but doubtless also as the Bretwalda, the sovereign of the con- 
federation, who alone was able to protect the petty kingdom 
of Essex against its much more powerful neighbors of Wes- 
sex and Mercia. Oswy, on those occasions, spoke much to 
him on the subject of idolatry ; he took pains to make him 
understand that gods could not be made by the hand of man 
of stone or wood, the rest of which might be put to the vilest 
uses ; but that rather far he should believe in a God incom- 
prehensible and invisible, but all-powerful and eternal, able 
to govern the world which He has created, and which He 
will judge, whose throne is in heaven, and not made of 
worthless metal, and who promises everlasting rewards to 
such as learn His will and do it on earth. Sigebert suffered 
himself to be, won over by these brotherly and repeated ex- 
hortations. After long deliberation with his faithful counsel- 
lors, according to the invariable custom of the Saxon kings, 
and fortified by their unanimous assent, he received baptism, 
along with his whole court,^** at the hands of the Celtic 
bishop Pinan, in a royal villa of the Northumbrian kings, 
called Ad Murum (on the wall), from its proximity to the 
famous rampart built by the Emperor Severus to restrain the 
incursions of the Caledonians.^*^ 

•'*' See above, p. 197. Compare Lappenberg, Genealogical Table B. of 
vol. i. 

144 "Pidem quam olim . . . abjecerant . . . instantia regis Oswin rece- 
perunt . . . frequenter solebat eum hortari . . . heec et hujus modi multa 
cum rex Oswin regi Sigeberto amicabili et quasi fraterno consilio ssepe incul- 
caret; tandem juvante aniicoruni consensu credidit, et facto cum suis con- 
silio cum exhortatione, faventibus cunctis et adnuentibus fidei baptizatus 
est." — Bede, iii. 22. 

"^ Ad Murum, This spot is believed to have been at Walton, or rather 
at Wallbottle, near Newcastle. 


The uew Christian was unwilling to return to his , , , 

, . , . , , . ^11 • • '^ monk of 

kmgdoai without being accompanied by raissiona- Lindisfarne 
ries commissioned to preach to his people the faith Bishopof 
which he had just embraced. For these instructors ^^a"'^'^"" 
he applied, naturall}', to his friend and brother the 
king, whom he regarded as the author of his own conversion. 
Oswy gave him a monk of the great Celtic Monastery of 
Lindisfarne, named Cedd, a Northumbrian by birth, who had 
already distinguished himself in a mission to the pagans of 
Mercia.!"*^ Cedd accordingly went over the whole kingdom 
of Sigebert, and gathered in a first and ample harvest of 
souls ; after which he returned to Lindisfarne, to be there 
consecrated bishop of the West Saxons, whose capital and 
episcopal see, formerly occupied by the Roman monk Mellitus, 
was at London. The monk of Lindisfarne succeeded where 
the monk of Mount Coelius had failed. He ordained numer- 
ous priests and deacons to assist him in preaching and bap- 
tizing, and founded many churches and monasteries, in which 
he endeavored to induce the best of his converts to adopt 
the life of the cloister, as far at least as the rudeness of their 
habits would permit.^*; jje himself made continued journeys 
to Lindisfarne, in his native Northumbria, to renew his spirit, 
and to draw from the stern penances and bracing traditions 
of his order the energy he needed to cope with the difficul- 
ties of his task.148 

The end of King Sigebert the Good shows, with sufficient 
plainness, the nature of those difficulties, and the combina- 
tion of firmness and sagacit}" which was required to over- 
come them. One of the earls, or principal lords of the 
country, a near kinsman of the king, having persevered in an 
illicit connection in spite of the repeated representations of 
the bishop, Cedd excommunicated him, forbidding any one to 
enter his house or to eat with him. The king took no notice 
of this prohibition, and at the invitation of the earl went to 
dine with him. As he left the house he met the bishop. 

"* Bede, iii. 21. Compare Act. SS. BoUaiid., t. i. Jan., p. 373. 

"^ " In quibus coUecto examine famulorum Christi, disciplinam vita 
regularis, in quantum rudes adhuc uapere poterant, custodire docuit " — 
Bede, iii. 23. 

'** " Solebat . . . saepius etiam suam, itl est Ncrthanhymborum, provin- 
eiam exhortandi gratia, revisere." — Bede, iii. 23. It was in one of these 
journeys that he was detained by the son of King Oswald, who reigned over 
a part of Defra, and who had at liis court as priest a brother of Cedd. This 
prince, Ethelwald by name, persuaded Cedd to accept an estate from him, in 
order to found a monastery, wliich might serve as the place of his burial — 
the Monastery of Lastingham, of which we have spoken above, p. 273. 

VOL. II. 25 


Both were on horseback, and dismounted to greet each other 
The king, affrighted, threw himself at the feet of the bishop, 
imploring pardon for his fault. The bishop, irritated, touched 
him with the staff which he carried in his hand, and said to 
him. " Since you have not chosen to abstain from entering 
Death of ^^® house of that reprobate, there you shall die." ^^'^ 
King sigo- And, in fact, some time after, the same earl and his 
Essex. brother slew the king, whose kinsmen they were, 
660. When they were asked the reason of tlieir crime, 

they assigned no other than the anger they felt at seeing the 
chief of their race pardon his enemies so readily — granting 
pardon as soon as it was asked, according to the precept of 
the Gospel. And certainly, adds honest Bede, we may be- 
lieve that such a death sufBced, not only to expiate his dis- 
obedience to the bishop, but also to increase his merits in 
the sight of God. 

Death of This zcalous prelate, whom we shall meet again 

ceddaud farther on, survived his royal convert, whom he had 
friends. "^ ^ SO Severely judged, and baptized Sigebert's succes- 
^^' sor. Afterwards, in one of his too frequent excur- 

sions to Northumbria, Cedd was seized with a contagious 
malady, and died at the Monastery of Lastingham, which he 
had founded," and of which one of his three brothers, like him- 
self all priests and monks of Lindisfarne, was abbot. When 
the news of his death reached his diocese, thirty East Sax- 
ons, whom he had made monks, started in all haste for the 
north. The}'' sought the monastery where lay the body of 
their father and founder, with the intention of living there 
near his remains, or dying and finding their last repose 
beside him, if such were the will of God. Their desire was 
quickly granted. At the end of a few days they all died of 
the same disease that had cut short the bishop's life.^^*' How 
is it possible but to esteem, in spite of his severit)'', a bishop 
capable of inspiring such a rare affection? And how, also, 
is it possible not to love those rough Saxons, scarce con- 
verted, but moved even in the cloister by that passionate 
self-devotion, by that necessity of giving life for the beloved 
which, in the midst of their natural fierceness, continued the 
distinctive feature of the Anglo-Saxon race ? 

149 " Episcopus pariter desiluit : sederat enim et ipse in equo. . . . Dico 
tibi quia noluisti te continere a domo perditi et damnati illius, tu in ipsa 
donio niori habes." — Bede, iii. 22. 

150 "riupientos ad corpus sui patris, aut vivere, si sic Deo placeret, aut 
morientes ibi sepeliri." — Bede, iii, 23. 


Yet, notwithstanding, these same Saxons, so Relapse of 
easily e-ained and attached by the light and the the East 
virtue of the Gospel, often fell back with a lament- idolatry, 
able and surprising facility into the depths of se^Ei. 
Paganism. Bishop Cedd and his thirty friends 
were scarcely dead when the people whose apostle 
and master he had been, apostatized almost in a body. The 
same disease which had taken from them their bishop, so 
terrified the East Saxons b}^ its ravages that the king, nobles, 
and people rivalled each other in their eagerness to restore 
the temples and altars of offended Woden, hoping thus to 
ward off the contagion from themselves. Happily 
another king, named Sebbi, uncle and colleague of 
the apostate, stood firm, and succeeded in bringing back the 
whole nation to Christianitj^, with the aid of the Bishop of 
the Mercians, a Saxon by birth, but, like so many other pon- 
tiffs and missionaries, trained by the Celtic monks of lona 
and Lindisfarne.^^i The narratives of Bede, which serve to 
guide us across the maze of the races and dynasties of the 
Heptarchy, were taken by him from the lips of a priest who 
had accompanied this very active and zealous bishop in his 
unwearied journeys throughout ail the corners of the king- 
dom of Essex, to preach the faith and raise up again the 
altars of Christ, According to his testimony, the inhabitants 
were turned back to idolatry less by hostility against Chris- 
tianity than by indifference as to the future life, of which 
many denied the very existence. But as soon as the 
churches were reopened, a multitude of Christians reap- 
peared, who loudly declared they would rather die in the 
faith of the resurrection of our Lord than live under the im- 
pure shadow of their idols.^^^ 

'^' " larumanus, Anglicus natione, seel a Scotis episcopis ordinatus." — 
Anglia Sacra, t. i. p. 425. 

152 14 Diligentes banc vitam et futurani non cuaerentes, sive etiam non 
esse credentes. . . . Juxta quod mihi presbyter qui comes itineris ille et 
cooperator verbi extiterat, referebat. . . . Magis cum fide resurrectionis 
in illo mori, quam in perfidiae sordibus inter idola vivere cupientes. ' — 
Bkde, iii. 30. 




Influence of The personal influence of King Oswy as a 
and'b^^op prsaclier of the Gospel, the royal villa at the foot of 
of the Nor- 1\^q q\^ Roman wall, scene of the baptism of the first 
in the con- converts, and the intervention oi the Celtic bishop 
thrMer° Finan as administrator of the sacraments — all these 
oians. details, which impress a special character on the 

conversion of the Eastern Saxons, are identically reproduced 
in the history of the conversion of the Mercians. But it will 
be understood how much more difficult and important this 
task must have been, when the fierceness of the bloody wars, 
waged during the thirty years of Penda's reign against 
Christian Northumbria, is considered, and especially when 
the vast extent of the kingdom of Mercia, almost as large as 
Northumbria itself, and embracing all the country that lies 
between the Thames, the Humber, and the Severn, is called 
to mind. The population of this kingdom was composed of 
very diverse elements, — first, of great numbers of the con- 
quered Britons ; then of Saxon settlers ; ^^^ and, finally, of 
Angles, especially concentrated on the south-west frontier of 
Northumbria.!^* Towards the end of his long reign, the 
ferocious Penda had intrusted the government of the Angles 
of the Middle to his eldest son Peada. It was through him 
that Christianity and the Northumbrian influence penetrated 
into Mercia, and succeeded in beginning operations upon this 
formidable remnant of darkness, encircled on all sides by 
newly Christianized states, which still ofiered a vast and i»- 
violable asylum to Saxon Paganism. 

The Mer- As elsewhcrc, love and marriage had a certain 

Peadfask? P^^^ ^° P^^J '" ^^^'^^ revolution. During one of 
in marriage those truccs which the sagacious policy of Oswy 

the dauo'h- . . . *-? sr •' ^J 

terofifing Continued to obtain from ill-starred Northumbria, 
®^^^" always bathed in blood or wrapt in flames by the 

implacable chief of the Mercians, the young Peada, who had 

'^* Among others, the Wuiccas on the west, and the Girwas on the east, 
who are often mentioned by the historians of the period. They had their 
own kings, whose charters figure among tlie very limited number of tliose 
whose authenticity is recognized by Kemble. 

*** Tliese Angles bore tlie name of Middle Angles, or English of the Mid* 
die, to distinguish them from the East Angles, or Angles of the East. 


all the virtues and all the external advantages which the 
Saxons prized most highly in their kings, came into Northum- 
bria to ask the hand of Alchfleda, the daughter of Oswy. 
Oswy replied that he could not give his daughter to an idola- 
ter, and that, in order to win her, Peada and the nation of 
Angles governed b}^ him must be converted and baptized. 
The young prince then put himself under instruction, most 
probably by Bishop Finan ; and from the moment when he 
understood the teachings, and especially the promises, of the 
Christian faith, the hope of the resurrection, and of that 
future and everlasting life which the Saxons of the East had 
been so unwilling to admit, he declared that he would be- 
come a Christian, even though the princess whom he sought 
to wed were refused to him.i°^ But Peada seemed to be 
drawn towards the light of truth even less by his love to 
Alchfleda than by his friendship for Alchfrid, the brother of 
the princess. Alchfrid was already his brother-in- oswy'ssou 
law, having married the King of Mercia's daughter, p^nlws 
in wliom he had found not only a Christian, but a daughter, 
saint,^'^*^ destined to confirm by a new example the providen- 
tial law, Avhich, amidst the desendants of Odin, selected 
those who were most marked by the obstinacy and umoa of 
ferocity of their paganism as the progenitors of a brothers- 
race of saints, and especially of saintly women. It iu law. 
would be desirable to have fuller details of the circumstances 
which brought these two young princes together, and made 
them friends and brothers before they became related by mar- 
riage. We know only that it Avas Alchfrid who, of all the 
preachers of the truth, exercised the strongest infliu- Baptism of 
ence upon the convictions of his friend. The future Peada. 
King of the Mercians received baptism from Bishop Finan at 
the villa near the Roman wall on the same spot, and 
ahnost at the same date, as the King of the West 
Saxons. The eorls, the thanes, and the men of war (called 
at a later period counts, lords, and knights) who had accom- 
panied the young Peada to the Northumbrian court, were 
baptized all along with him, as were also their servants.^^^ 

i5d a Juvenis optimus, ac regis nomine ac persona dignissimus . . . nisi 
ndem Christi et baptisma cum gente cui praeerat, acciperet. At ille, audita 
praedicatione veritatis, et promissione regni coelestis, speque resurrectionis 
ac futurai immortalitatis, libenter se Cliristianum fieri velle confessus est, 
etiamsi virginem non acciperet." — Bede, iii. 21. 

''" Her name, like tliat of the wife of tlie heroic Oswald, was Kyneburge, 
and. later, she became a nun along witii her sister Kyneswitha. 

M7 << Persuasus maxime ad percipiendam fidem a filio regis Oswin . . • 

25 * 


Mission- When the Mercian prince, carrying back with hiia 

Linrtisfarue ^"'s young wife, returned a Christian from a country 
inMereia. which had ah'eady been Christianized for twenty 
years, his companions formed a most precious and effectual 
nucleus for the complete conversion of Mercia. Oswy had 
added to their party, in the capacity of missionaries, four 
monks trained at Lindisfarne, and endowed with the knowl- 
edge and virtues which seemed to him needful for the evan- 
gelizing of the new province which was to be won over to 
Christianity. Three of tliem were Anglo-Saxons, and among 
these three was Cedd, whom Oswy almost immediately re- 
called, to intrust him with the mission to the Eastern Saxons. 
The fourth, named Diuma, was a Celt by birth, and it was he 
who became the first bishop of the Mercians. These mis- 
sionaries obtained a rapid and unhoped-for success. The 
Middle Angles listened to them with manifest sympathy, and 
every day the nobles and the common people flocked in great 
numbers to be baptized. ^^^ 

The behavior of the savage Penda to his newly converted 
son and his companions was as singular as it was unexpected. 
It was to have been looked for that this fierce and unwearied 
enemy of the Christian kings and nations near him would 
Penda'8 becomo the violent persecutor of his own Christian 
toleration subiccts. But it was not so ; and, indeed, the his- 

of his - - • . 

Christian tory of his frightful ravages in Northumbria and 
subjects. elsewhere records no special indication of enmity 
against the Christians: no doubt he did not spare them, 
but there is no proof of his having persecuted them with a 
peculiar hatred. As to his own kingdom, not only did 
he take no steps to punish his eldest son and the other 
converts, but he allowed the Northumbrian missionaries free- 
ly to preach the Gospel to all who wished to hear them in 
those districts, the exclusive sovereignty of which he had 
reserved to himself. This barbarian ravager and pagan 
gave thus an example of toleration by which man}'' Chris- 
tians in ages more enlightened than his might be profited. 
He confined himself to evincing haughtily his dislike and 
contempt for those who, after having received the faith of 

qui erat cognatus et amicus ejus. . . . Baptizatus cum omnibus qui secum 
vererant comitibus ac militibus eorumque famuiis uiiiversis." — Bedb, 
iii. 21. 

168 a Qui atj docendam baptizandamque gentem illius, et eruditione et vita 
videbantur idonei . . . praidicabant vcrbum et libenter auditi sunt, multique 
quotidie nobilium ct infimorum, abrenuntiata sorde idolatriae, fidei sunt fonte 
abluti." — Bede, iii. 21. 


Christ, did not practise its works. " Those who despise," 
said he, " the laws of the God in whom they believe, must 
be despised as wretches." ^^^ 

Penda, however, continued none the less the pitiless foe 
of the princes and people of Northumbria. This bloodthirsty 
and stubborn hatred led him to his destruction. 

It was only at the last extremity that Oswy re- Last stru^- 
solved to engage in a final conflict with the terrible oswy^aad^" 
enemy who had conquered and slain his two prede- I'euda. 
cessors, Edwin and Oswald. It has been seen that he mar- 
ried his son and his daughter to children of Penda; and ho 
gave him another of his sons as a hostage. But Penda 
would not consent to any durable peace. During the thir- 
teen years that liad elapsed since the overthrow of Oswald 
and the accession of Oswy, he had periodically subjected 
Northumbria to frightful devastations. In vain Oswy, driven 
to desperation, offered him all the jewels, ornaments, and 
treasures of which he could dispose, as a ransom for his 
desolated and hopeless provinces. The arrogant and fierce 
octogenarian refused everything, being resolute, as he said, 
to exterminate the whole Northumbrian race, from first to 
last. " Well, then," said Oswy, '' since this heathen contemns 
our gifts, let us offer them to one who will accept them — • 
to the Lord our God." ^'^^ He then made a vow to devote to 
God a daughter who had just been born to him, and at the 
same time to give twelve estates for the foundation of as 
many monasteries. After this he marched at the head of a 
small army against Penda, whose troops were, according to 
Northumbrian tradition, thirty times more numerous. Be- 
sides his Mercians, Penda led to battle a crowd of auxiliaries 
under the command of thirty chiefs who bore the title of 
king; first of all, the implacable Britons, his constant allies 
against the Angles of the North ; then a body of East An- 
glians ; and finally, by an inexcusable treason against his 
country and his uncle, the nephew of Oswy, the son of his 

i»9 a j^^QQ prohibuit Penda rex quin etiam in sua, hoc est, Mercioruni na- 
tione, verbum, si qui vellent audire, praedicaretur. Quin potius odio liabe- 
bat et despiciebat eos quos fide Cliristi inibuios, opera fidci non habere 
deprehendit, dicens conteninendos esse eos et miseros qui Deo suo quera 
crederent obedire contemnerent." — Bede, iii. 21. 

160 " Cum acerbas atque intolerabiles pateretur irruptiones . . . dummodo 
ille provincias usque ad internecionem vastare desineret . . . qui totam ejus 
gentera a parvo usque ad majoreni delere atque externiinare decreverat. . . . 
Si paganus nescit accipere nostra donaria, oflFeramus ei qui novit, Domino 
nostro Deo." — Bede, iii. 2i. 


brother, who had been killed by Penda, the same Ethelwald 
who reigned over a portion of Deira. 

Battle of Notwithstanding the enormous disparity of the 

Sf!h Nov!?' forces, the battle, which was fought on the banks of 
655. a river near the site of the present town of Leeds, 

was lost by Penda, The traitor Ethelwald sought safety in 
flight as soon as the struggle commenced, but the other al- 
lies, Britons and East Anglians, were exterminated. The 
vanquished in their flight found the river in flood, so that a 
larger number perished in the waters than by the sword. 
Death of Penda was slain fighting valiantly in the melee. 
Penda, the Thus porisliod at the age of eighty years, after a 
pionof reign of thirty, the conqueror and murderer of 
paganism. ^^.^ Auglo-Saxon kings,!^! i\^Q },^gt and indefatigable 
champion of paganism among the Anglo-Saxons, the ally and 
too effective instrument of the vengeance of the old British 
Christians against their converted invaders.^^^ 
^. , This battle decided the fate of England : it not 

Final , , . 

triumph of Only iusured the emancipation and temporary pre- 
briraiXof ponderance of Northumbria; but it put a period to 
tlan^aus^e' ^^^ struggle which for 200 years the British had 
maintained against the Anglo-Saxons. Henceforth 
there might be partial resistance and local conflicts, but there 
was no general attempt, with any chance of success, to repel 
the progress of invasion. All the little British kingdoms 
which occupied the existing counties of Chester, Lancashire, 
and Westmoreland, on the coast of the L-ish Channel, were 
finall}'' swept away and taken possession of by the Saxons of 

Farther, it sealed the political and military triumph of the 
new religion, in the very bosom of the Heptarchy, over that 
external and official paganism which was the religious tra- 
dition of the nation. But this triumph was far from being 
sufficient for the designs of God, and for the deliverance of 

*®' Two kings of Northumbria, Edwin and Oswald; and three of East 
Anfijlia, Sigebert, Egeric, and Anna. 

162 " Fertur quia tricies raajorem pagani habuerint exercitum . . . tri- 
ginta legiones ducibus nobilissimis instructas . . . duces regii triginta qui ad 
auxilium venerant pene omnes interfecti." — Bede. Compare La Bordekie, 
op. ciY., pp. 223-225. The battle-field is now called Winn Moor, and the river 
the Broad Are. 

'*^ La Borderie, op. cit., p. 227. Cumbria alone remained to them : the 
country of the Kymri or Cum.brians, now Cumberland, formed a small king- 
dom which recovered its independence after the death of Oswy's sons, and 
maintained it till the tenth century, like the other small British kingdom of 
Strathclyde, between the Solway and the walls of Severus, 


tlie souls of men. There was an inner paganism, infinitely 
more difficult to overcome — the paganism of the savage 
morals and uncurbed passions of a conquering race. The 
valiant sword of the Northumbrians might well gain the 
mastery over oppressors and ravagers ; but the word, and 
above all, the virtue, of the monks was needed to propagate 
and consolidate the faith, and root it deeply in the heart and 
life of the victors. 

Oswy faithfully kept his word to God and to the HowOswy, 
Christian people. He set apart the twelve estates torf"ug''^" 
to be thenceforth monastic property — six in the fulfilled lua 
north and six in the south of his double kingdom 
— to form an endowment for monks who should substitute 
for the warlike service by which these domains were usually 
held an unceasing prayer for eternal peace.^^* He then took 
his daughter Elfleda, who was but yet a year old, His dau^h- 
and consecrated her to God by the vow of perpetual a'nun^n 
virginity. Her mother, the daughter of Edwin, first her cradle. 
Christian King of Northumbria, had been thus dedicated to 
God from her birth, but only by baptism, and as a token of 
the gratitude of a still pagan father for the protection of the 
Cliristians' God. The daughter of Oswy was to be the price 
of a yet greater gift of Heaven — the conclusive victory of 
his race, and of the Christian faith in his country : the sacri 
fice thus imposed on her reminds us of that of Jephthah'ft 
daughter. It will be seen that, far from desiring to escape 
her vow, she showed herself, during a long life, always 
worthy of her heavenly bridegroom. The king took her 
from the caresses of her mother, to intrust her, not, as we 
might have supposed, to his sister the Abbess Ebba of Cold- 
ingham, but to Hilda, a princess of the rival dynasty, who 
nearly ten years before had been initiated into monastic life 
by bishop A'idan. 

After the overthrow of Penda, Oswy, now master q^^^ 
of Mercia, in right of his victory, undertook with achieves 
his accustomed zeal to effect the conversion of that Bion of 
kingdom. He left a portion of it to his son-in-law ^^^'■"^• 
Peada, the son of his terrible opponent, whose ardor in the 
Christian cause seconded all his efforts for the extension of 
the true faith. The monk Diuma, born in Ireland, The first 
and one of the four missionaries whom Peada had of Mercia*" 

"* " In quibus, ablato studio militiae terrestris ad exercendam militiatu 
coelesteni, supplicandumque pro pace ejus aeterna, devotioni sedulae mona> 
Chorum locus facultasque suppediteret." — Bede, iii. 24. 


nre Celtic brought from Northumbria at the time of his mar 
monks. riage, was consecrated by the bishop of Lindisfarne, 
and appointed Bishop of all Mercia, including therein the 
nation of the Middle Angles already converted under Peada. 
It was necessary that two distinct races should thus be 
united in one diocese, because of the small number of priests 
who were worthy of promotion to the episcopate.^^^ The 
Dontificate of Diuma was short, but fruitful. At his death he 
was succeeded by another Irishman, Ceolach, who was 
reckoned among the disciples of Columba, the great Celtic 
missionary, as coming from the Monastery of lona/^'^ to which 
he returned after some years of a too laborious episcopate in 
Mercia, to seek the peace of cloistered life in that citadel of 
Celtic monachism. The third Bishop ^^" of Mercia, Trumhere, 
an abbot in Northumbria, and an Anglo-Saxon by birth, 
came, like his brethren, from the Celtic cloisters, and was, 
like them, consecrated by the Bishop of Lindisfarne.^^^ His 
two successors, Jaruman and Ceadda, had the same origin ; 
the one was born in Ireland, and the other, a Saxon by 
birth, had been ordained by the Scots.^^^ 

It is thus evident that the extension of Christianity and 
the government of the Church among the Saxons of Mercia 
were entirely under the influence of Scotch or Anglo-Celtic 
monks, disciples and spiritual descendants of St. Columba. 
This state of matters was not at all altered when 
the Mercians, rising under three of their principal 
chiefs, shook off the yoke of Oswy, and took as their king a 
youthful son of Penda, whom these three earls had kept in 
concealment since the overthrow of his father. They drove 
out the officials of the Northumbrian king, but they kept, 
with the bishop the faith which had come to them from Nor- 
thumbria, and which was to them now no less dear than 
their freedom and their reconquered frontiers. They desired, 

165 li Paucitas enim sacerdotum cogebat unum antistitem duobus populis 
praefici." — Bede, iii. 21. It should be observed that these two races were 
long before united under the same kings. 

*^^ CoLGAN, Trias Thaumaturga, p. 488. 

^^ Trumhere liad been abbot of tlie Monastery of Gilling founded by 
Queen Eanfleda, on the spot of her cousin King Oswy's murder-. See above, 
p. 253. 

168 "Diuma, natione Scotus. . . . CeoUach et ipse de nations Scotorum 
. . . reversus est ad insulam Hii, ubi plurimorum caput et arcem Scoti ha- 
buere ccenobium. . . . Trumheri, de natione quidem Anglorum, sed edoctus 
et ordinatus a Scotis." — Bede, iii. 21, 24. 

169 u ^nglicus, sed a Scotis ordinatus." — Anglia Sacra, vol i. Cf. EDDins,% 
Vita S. Wilfrid. 


they said, to be free, with a king of their own race, on earth, 
without ceasing to serve Christ, the true and eternal King, 
so as to gain His kingdom of heaven.'"*^ 

Twenty years later, this stubborn repugnance of , 
the Mercians to the yoke of their Northumbrian cian monks 
neighbors manifested itself with painful distinctness deile^re- 
amonsf the monks of one of the principal monasteries *""*"-' ^'^J^- 
of the country. It was at Bardeney, in that prov- bo«iyofthe 
ince of Lindsay (Lincolnshire), the conquest of which thumbriaii 
had already cost good King Oswald his life. His ^'ai^.^^' 
niece, the daughter of Oswy had become queen of 
Mercia. It was her desire that this monastery, 
which was especially dear to her as well as to her husband, 
should receive the remains of her uucIq. The bones of the 
sainted king arrived one evening, borne in a chariot, at the 
gate of the monastery, but the monks refused to receive 
them. '* We know well," said they, '' that he is holy ; but he 
is not of our country, and in other days he subdued us by 
force." ^^1 It was necessary to yield to this explosion of 
patriotic rancor, and the sacred body had to remain all night 
in the open air. The next morning the monks were told that 
a luminous column had descended from heaven on the car 
which bore the corpse of the Northumbrian king, and had 
been seen by all the country round about. Upon this they 
thought better of it, and opened the door of their church to 
the uncle of their protectress. 

His relics thenceforth remained there revered by all. A 
banner of purple and gold placed over his shrine betokened 
his twofold dignity as saint and king. But it is not the less 
necessary to note this first and instinctive outburst of a local 
and provincial patriotism, sometimes even more powerful 
than the popular devotion, a new explosion of which long 
after brought about the murder of the pious queen who had 
striven so anxiously to endow Mercia with the relics of the 
great Northumbrian saiut.^'"'^ For the history of these times 

170 u Ejectis principibus regis non proprii, fines suos fortiter simul et lib- 
ertatem receperunt. Sicque cum suo rege liberi, Christo vero rege pro sem- 
piterno in cceiis regno, servire gaudebant." — Bede, iii. 24:. 

'" "Quia etsi sanctum cum noverant, tamen quia de alia provineia ortus 
fuerat et super eos regnum acceperat, vcteranis eum odiis etiam mortuum 
insequebatur." — Bede, iii. 11. It is plain that this passage does not favor 
the interpretation of Father Faber, wlio sees in the conduct of the monks 
of Bardeney a re{)ugnance to the Celtic rite and the Scots saints. — Life of 
St. Oswald, p. 68. 

"* " Ut regia viri sancti persona niemoriam lutberet aeternam, vexillam 
ejus super tumbam auro et purpura composituu) adposuerunt." — Bede, 


and races never allows us to forget that barbarism was always 
ready to reclaim its ancient rights even amidst the blossom- 
ing of Christian virtues and monastic austerities. 

The entire narrative is very confused, very obscure, in 
great measure unknown, and much forgotten. But across 
these darkling foundations of the primitive history of Chris- 
tian races stirs everywhere a potent and heroic breath, the 
breath of life, of the true and noble life — that breath which 
has made out of the confused masses of barbarism those 
modern Christian nations, free and manly, among whom the 
place held by England is known to all. 



In summing up the history of the eiForts made 
of™™T/c- during the sixty years between the landing of 
convlrsion Augustin and the death of Penda to introduce 
doms'of'tiie Christianity into England, the results may be stated 
Heptarchy, thus : Of the eight kingdoms of the Anglo-Saxon 
Confederation, that of Kent alone was exclusively 
won and retained by the Roman monks, whose first attempts 
among the East Saxons and Northumbrians ended in failure. 
In Wessex and in East Anglia the Saxons of the West and 
the Angles of the East were converted by the combined 
action of Continental missionaries and Celtic monks. As to 
the two Northumbrian kingdoms, and those of Essex and 
Mercia, which comprehended in themselves more than two- 
thirds of the territory occupied by the German conquero-rs, 
these four countries owed their final conversion exclusively 
to the peaceful invasion of the Celtic monks, who not only 
rivalled the zeal of the Roman monks, but who, the first ob- 
stacles once surmounted, showed much more perseverance 
and gained much more success. 

All the kingdoms of the Heptarchy have thus passed under 
our review except that of Sussex, or the Saxons of the South. 
It was the smallest of all, but one of the earliest founded ; ^'^ 
and the first German invaders of the southern coast of Great 

1. c. This daughter of Oswy was named Osthryda. She frequently lived at 
Bardeney, where she received the visits of the neighboring abbesses, whom 
she was able to interest in the veneration of her uncle. She was assassina- 
ted by the nobles of Mercia in 697. It will be seen farther on, that her hus- 
band King Ethelred afterwards became a monk. 
•"3 By ^Ua in 477. 


Britain were notorious among all the others for their ferocity 
and their invincible vigor. Although they were next neigh- 
bors to the kingdom of Kent, the Roman missionaries, Augus- 
tin's companions, have left no trace of their presence among 
them, if indeed they ever tried to penetrate there. The 
Celtic monks, more enterprising or more persevering, made 
their way thither to form a first station, an advanced post, as 
it were, of their future army. They founded the very small 
Monastery of Bosham, protected on one side by the sea, on 
the other by forests, and here vegetated five or six monks 
who came from East Anglia, the nearest Northumbrian prov- 
ince, under the leadership of an Irishman, the compatriot 
and disciple of that Fursy whose strange visions were every- 
where narrated. There they served God as they best could, 
humbly and poorly ; biit not one of the Saxons of the country 
would listen to their preaching, still less adopt their manner 
of life.i'^ This is the only example known to us of a com- 
plete failure. And yet the people of Sussex, although the 
last of all the Saxons to receive the Gospel, owe, as we shall 
see, that blessing to a monk trained in the school of the Celtic 
missionaries. This monk, however, by forsaking the rule of 
his first masters, in order to connect himself more closely 
with Roman tradition and authority, produced in the new 
Church of England a revolution which it now remains for us 
to record. 

174 (( Monachus quidam de natione Scotorum, vocabulo Dicul, habeni 
monasteriolum permodicum. ... In humili et paupere vita Domino famu- 
lantes. Sed provincialium nullus eoruni vel vitara aemulari vel praedicatio- 
nem curabat audire." — Bede, iv. 13. Compare iii. Id. 

TOL. II. 26 


DICTINE ORDER, 634-709. 

" Sanctus haberi 
Justitiseque tenax, factis dictisque mereris ? 
AgnoBco procerem." — Juvenal. 



Birth and early years of Wilfrid. — Note on his biographer Eddi. — Protected 
by the Queen of Northumbria, he enters at Lindisfarne, then goes to Rome, 
where no Anglo-Saxon had yet been. — He passes by Canterbury and stops 
at Lyons, where he separates from his companion Benedict Biscop, and 
where the archbishop wishes to give hira his niece in marriage. — Wilfrid 
at Rome. — In returning by Lyons he receives the Romish tonsure and 
escapes, against his will, from martyrdom. — Returned to England, he be- 
comes the intimate friend of Alchfrid, son of King Oswy. — New monas- 
tery founded at Ripon, from whence the monks of the Celtic ritual are ex- 
pelled. — Popularity of Wilfrid. — He is ordained priest by a French bishop. 
— Southern Ireland had already adopted the Romish computation for the 
celebration of Easter. — The dispute on this question revived by Wilfrid in 
Northumbria, and division of the royal family. — The King Oswy follows 
the Celtic ritual; his wife and son that of Rome. — Importance and nature 
of the Pascal difference. — Moderation of the Romish Church tliroughout 
the dispute. — A rivalry of influence mingles with the ritualistic dispute. — 
Assembly of Whitby, convoked by the king to end the controversy : com- 
position of the assembly : the two chambers : principal persons ; on the 
side of the Celts, the Abbess Hilda and her two communities, the Bishops 
of Lindisfarne and London ; on the side of Rome, the young King Alch- 
frid, the old deacon James, and Wilfrid. — The authority of Columba un- 
wisely invoked. — The king pronounces for the Romish Easter, and the 
assembly ratifies his decision. — Bishop Colman protests, abdicates, and 
returns to lona, carrying with him the bones of his predecessor St. ATdan, 
the Celtic apostle of Northumbria. 



While the bishops and monks of Celtic origin were gradual, 
ly establishing their authority, together Avith that of the Chris- 
tian faith, in the greater part of the land of the Heptarchy, 
protected by the segis of the Northumbrian kings, and with- 
out any ostensible relation either with Rome or with the 
Roman colony and its official metropolis of Canterbury, a 
young Anglo-Saxon, destined to transform the Church of 
England, was growing up unknown. More powerful than the 
missionaries sent from Rome, it was to be given to him, after 
many a struggle and many a defeat, to extend the authority 
of the Holy See over all Anglo-Saxon Christianity, to re- 
establish, even to his own prejudice, the supremacy of the 
metropolitan see instituted by Gregory, and to substitute 
everywhere the rule of St. Benedict for the observances and 
ascendency of the sons of St. Columba.^ 

Birth and This youug man was named Wilfrid, and belonged 

ofwifiwd! ^y birth to the highest nobility of Northumbria. 
634. He was born in 634, the day after the death of 

King Edwin, the flight of Bishop Paulinus, and the apparently 
irreparable downfall of the Romish mission in the north of 

Of him, as of all the greater saints, and especially of St. 

' The life of Wilfrid was written by one of his companions, the monk Eddi, 
Burnaraed Stephen, whose work is regarded as the most ancient monument 
of Anglo-Saxon literature after those of St. Adhelm. Venerable Bede did 
not write till later. He was evidently acquainted with the text of Eddi, 
which he has sometimes reproduced, but without quoting him, while extenu- 
ating to the utmost all the wrongs attributed to the bishops and kings with 
whom Wilfrid had to contend. This life, so curious and so important for the 
ecclesiastical history of the seventh century, had remained unknown to Ma- 
billon and the BoUandists when they published, the former his volume of the 
Acta of this century in 1672, and the latter their third volume of April ir 
1675. Some time afterwards Mabillon was informed that the MS. of Eddi 
was found in the Cottonian Library at Oxford. It was communicated to him 
by Gale, a learned Englishman, and he published it in the supplement to his 
fifth volume. Gale republished it soon after in his collection of the Scriptores 
IlistoricE BritannicB XV. (Oxonii, 1691), with the new chapters discovered 
in a manuscript at Salisbury. They were reprinted by Mabillon in the last 
volume of his Acta Sanctorum Ordinis S. Benedicti, with a warm and touch- 
ing homage to liis English correspondents : " Sic integrum exhibemus opus 
tamdiu desideratum omnibus litteratis, qui humanissimis et clarissimis viris 
Bernardo et Gaelo gratias mecum liabebunt immortales." After this contem- 
pory author, and Bede, who follows liiin so closely, the life of Wilfrid was 
written in Latin verse by an English Benedictine of the ninth century named 
Fridegod, whose poeui, though ridiculous in style, contains some new details; 
then in the twelfth century by the celebrated Eadmer and by William of 
Malmesbury. Cf. Act. SS. 0. B., vol. iii. p. 150, and vol. v. p. 632. The 
collection called Lives of the English Saints, publislied by the Puseyites ir 
1844, contains a Life of St. Wilfrid by the Rev. Mr. Faber, who died ai 
Oratorian in 1864. 


Coluraba and St. Bernard, it is related that his birth was 
accompanied by a prophecy of his future glory. The house 
where his mother lay appeared all at once enveloped in a 
flame which seemed to reach to heaven. The frightened 
neighbors rushed to extinguish the fire, when the}'' Avere met 
by the attendants of the nevv mother, who said to them, " Be 
at ease, it is not a fire, but only this child who is just born." 
Such a prodigy naturally drew attention to the infant, and all 
the more because his father was one of the principal nobles 
of the country, and the boy himself, as he grow up, displayed 
a singularly gracious nature. While he was still in the cra- 
dle, he lost his pious mother, and his father having married a 
second time, he resolved at thirteen years of age to escape 
the persecutions of a harsh and haughty stepmother by leav- 
ing home and devoting himself to God. For this the consent, 
not only of his father, but also of King Oswy as chief of the 
nation, was necessary. At his age a young Anglo-Saxon 
noble was already treated as a man ; he asked and obtained 
accordingly from his father a suit of armor, with horses and 
servants in sufiicient number to enable him to appear at court 
in a manner worthy of his rank. Thus equipped he ueispro- 
went to seek, not King Oswy, but his queen. He tected by- 
found her surrounded by the leaders of the nobility Aeda!" 
whom he was accustomed to see and to wait upon '^^' 
at his father's house, and who were already disposed in hia 
favor on account of his intelligence and modesty. They pre- 
sented him to the young queen, who was only seven or eight 
years older than himself, and whose heart he gained as much 
by his youthful grace as by the refinement and truthfulness 
of his intellect.^ 

The queen herself was no other than that Eanfleda whose 
baptism, it may be remembered, had given the signal for the 
conversion of Northumbria,'^ and who had been the first 
Christian of the kingdom. Her father was the martyr King 
Edwin, and her mother Ethelburga, daughter of the royal 

* " De inclyta gentis Anglorum prosapia . . . nobilitate natus." — Eadmer, 
Vita, n" 4. " De utero nmtris suae valde religiosse. . . . Oinnes concito 
cursu pavidi advenerunt. . . . Sustinete . . . ecce modo infans hie natus 
est. . . . Omnibus in domum patris sui venientibus aut regalibus sociis aut 
eorura servis edocte ministravit. . . . Privigna {noverca, Fkidegodds) enim 
molesta et immitis. . . . Pergens itinere usquedum invenirent reginam regi* 
. . . et per nobiles viros quibus ante in donio patris sui ministrabat laudatui 
praesentatusque est reginae . . . erat deeorus adspectu et acutissimi ingenii." 
— Eddius, c. 1, 2. " Ut merito a majoribus quasi unus ex if sis amaretur, 
veneraretur, amplecteretur." — Bede, v. 19. 

' See p. 210. 



convert of" Augustin, who still lived in the monastery of 
Lymington, where she had passed her widowhood in retire- 
ment. Eanfleda herself was destined to end her days in the 
cloister under the crosier of that daughter whom she dedi- 
cated to God in order to obtain the defeat of the tyrant 
Penda. The antecedents and the character of the Queen of 
Northumbria naturally influenced her in favor of the young 
noble's desire. She granted him, or prevailed with her hus- 
band to grant him, authority to renounce all public and mili- 
tary service in order to enter upon a religious life, in which 
Be obtaina she promised to watch over him. She then confided 
wigper- ^^^ to th^ care of a favorite follower of the king, 
mssionto who himself afterwards retired from the world. This 
monk at aged warrior conducted his young and noble charge 
farne? to the great monastic sanctuary of Northumbria at 

^^®- Lindisfarne. There Wilfrid won all hearts as he 

had won the queen's. His humility and ardor for monastic 
rule, no less than his passion for study, marked him out for 
the affectionate admiration of the cenobites. He soon learned 
the whole Psalter in the version of St. Jerome, and made the 
contents of all the other books which he found in the library 
of the monastery his own.* 

Thus the years of his youth flowed on at Lindisfarne ; but 
before he yielded the half of his long hair to the scissors, 
which, cutting bare the upper part and front of his head, 
would have impressed on him the monastic tonsure accord- 
ing to the Irish fashion, he began to find out that all was not 
perfect in those Celtic rules and traditions of which Lindis- 
Heuud fame was the centre and stronghold in England. 
takes a With a sagacity much admired by his historians, ho 
Kome]^ ° determined to make a journey which no other An- 
An"io"° glo-Saxon had yet undertaken, and to go to Rome, 
Saxon had not merely to obtain the remission of his sins and the 

vet DOGQ . 

blessing of the Mother of the Churches, but also to 
study the monastic and ecclesiastical observances which 
were followed under the shadow of the See of St. Peter. 
The monks of Lindisfarne being informed by their pupil of 
this extraordinary project, not only used no attempts at dis- 
suasion, but actually encouraged him to accomplish it ; ^ 

* " Concedit in quod petierit, ut sub suo consilio et muniniine serviret. 
. . . Quidiim nobilis ex sodalibus regis valde sibi amabilis et fidelis, Cudda. 
. . . Omnibus statini in aniore factus est. . . . Oninem psalmoruin seriera 
memorialiter et aliquantos libros didicit." — Eddius, c. 2. 

* " Adhuc laicus capite. . . . Adbuc inattritam vitam genti nostrae tentare 
in cor adolescentis ascendit." — Eddids, c. 23. " Necduiu quidem adtonsus, 


notliing could better prove their good faith and implicit sub- 
ordination to Catholic unity. Wilfrid then went to ask his 
father's blessing, and to confide liis plans to his ro3'al protec- 
tress. Queen Eanfleda, who, after the murder of her father, 
had taken refuge in the country of her mother at Canter- 
bury, was too much the spiritual daughter of the Romish 
missionaries not to approve of Wilfrid's design. She sent 
him with warm recommendations to her cousin-gerraan Er- 
combert, King of Kent,^ praying that prince to keep the 
young pilgrim with him until he should be able to find suit- 
able companions for so long a journey. 

On his arrival at Canterbury Wilfred exercised 
the same fascination upon the King of Kent as 
upon all those who had known him from his childhood. See- 
ing the young and handsome Nortliumbrian wholly given up 
to prayer and study, Ercombert conceived for him the most 
ardent attachment, and kept him at his court for a pagggg 
whole year. WiHridtook advantae-e of this interval through 
to study and adopt the Romish usages as the}^ could bury. 
be learned in the Roman colony at Canterbury, ''^'"*'^^- 
which was still governed by a missionary brought over by 
St, Augustin, Archbishop Honorius, now his fourth suc- 
cessor. He took the trouble to substitute, in his happy and 
flexible memory, the fifth edition of the old version of the 
Psalter, which was then used in Rome, for the version cor- 
rected by St, Jerome, which he had learned by heart at 
Lindisfarne, and which was used in the Celtic Church as well 
as in the Churches of Gaul and Germany,'^ Meantime the 

verum eis quae tonsura majores sunt A'irtutibus, humilitatis et obedientise non 
mediocriter insignitus. . . . Animadvertitpaulatim adoleseens animi sagacis, 
miniiiie perfectani esse virtutis viani qute tradebatiir a Scottis i)roposuitque 
animo venire Romani, et qui ad sedem apostolicam ritus ecclesiastici sive 
monasteriales servarentur, videre, , , , Laudaverunt ejus proposituni euin« 
que id , . . perficere suadebant." — Bede, 1. c, 

Kthklbeut, first Christian kin<j, died in 613, 
married Bkktha, granddaughter of St.Clotilde. 

• i 

Eadbald Ethklburga, 

reigfned from 010 to 640, wife of Edwin, King of Northumbria. 


reigned from (HO to 66i. born Oi;6, wife of OswY, 

King of Northumbria, 

' " Rex vero . , . servuin Dei . , . mirifice diligebat . . . Psalnios quos 
prius secundum Hieronymuni legerat, more Komanorum juxta quintam edi- 
tioneni memorialiter transmutavit, . . . Secundum petitionem reginae langu- 
entis taedio. . . . Perrexit cum benedictione parentum suorum. . . . Omni- 
bus aflabilis . . . corpore strenuus • . . pedibus velox . , . tristia ora nun- 
quam contraxit , . , alacer et gaudens navigio," — Eddius, c, 3, "Super- 
venit illo alius adoleseens de nobilibus Anglorum," — Beue, 1. c. 


Queen of Northumbria, impatient for the return of her favor- 
ite, urged upon King Brcombert that Wilfrid should com' 
meuce his pilgrimage, and soon afterwards the monarch gave 
him leave to depart, sending with him another young Nor- 
thumbrian noble, Biscop Baduging, equally distinguished by 
his zeal for study, equally inflamed with the desire of visiting 
Rome, and whom, under the name of Benedict Biscop, we shall 
afterwards see filling an important part in the monastic his- 
tory of his own province. 

Thus they started ; and it is easy to imagine the joy and 
ardor of these young and brave Christians, when, after having 
rapidly crossed the Straits, they began their journey through 
France. Wilfrid especially, with all the enthusiasm 
of his age, pursued his way, strong and unwearied, 
■with an afikbility and gayety which nothing could alter. His 
companion, a little older, was of a more austere temper ; thus 
it was impossible that they should long agree.^ On their 
At Lyons, arrival at Lyous, Biscop proceeded immediately to 
from hTs Romo, wliilo Wilfrid remained some months with the 
st'fienedict Archbishop Delphinus. Here also Avas displayed 
Biscop. the marvellous empire which this youth obtained 
over the hearts of the most different persons, from the young 
queen of his own country and the warlike comrades of his 
father, to this Gallo-French prelate who was so charmed with 
him, with the pure and candid soul which was well reflected 
in the serene beauty of his countenance, that he ofl^ered to 
adopt him as his son, giving him his niece in marriage, and 
the government of the whole of an adjoining province. But 
Wilfrid replied, " I have made a vow ; I have left, like Abra- 
ham, my kindred and my father's house in order to visit the 
Apostolic See, and to study there the rules of ecclesiastical 
discipline, that my nation may profit by them. But if God 
gives me life I will return this way and see you again." 

The archbishop, recognizing the earnest sincerity of hia 
vocation, let him depart for Rome with all his suite ; for the 
young and high-born Northumbrian did not travel as a sim- 
ple pilgrim, but with aU kinds of guides and baggage.^ 

" " Decedente ab eo austerae mentis duce." — Eddius, c. 3. 

® " Videns in facie serena quod benedictam mentem gerebat. ... Si man- 
g(!ris raeeum fiducialiter, dabo tibi vicinam partem Galliaruni ad regendum 
virginemque filiam fratris mei in uxorem, et te ipsum adoptivum filium liabe- 
bo. . . . Sunt vota mea Domino . . . ut visitem sedeni apostolicam et ec- 
clesiasticae disciplinae regulas didicerim in augnientum regis nostrae. . . . 
Cum ducibus et opibus." — Eddius, c. 4. " Cunctis simul quas necessitas 
poscobat itineris largiter subministratis." — Bede, 1. c. This Archbishop 


On enterina; Rome, his first thouo;ht was to hurry 

o " o •/ ^Vilfri^^ at 

to the Church of St. Andrew, from whence Augus- Rome. 
thi and the first missionaries to England had set '^■^'^• 
out. KneeHng before the altar, where there was a copy of 
tlie Gospels, he implored the Apostle St. Andrew, for the lova 
of that God whom he had confessed by his martyrdom, to 
open his mind, and to atone for the rustic plainness of his 
Saxon tongue by giving him grace to study, to understand, 
and to teach the English nation the eloquence of the Gospel. 
After which, as he began to visit, one by one, all the sanc- 
tuaries of the Eternal City, he met with a wise and holy 
man, Archdeacon Boniface, one of the principal counsellors 
of the Pope, who took pleasure in instructing the young 
stranger as his own child, carefully explaining to him the 
four Gospels, the ecclesiastical discipline, and the calculation 
of Easter, which the Celts of Britain and Ireland refused to 
admit. Finally he presented him to the Pope, to whom he 
explained the object of the journey of this youthful servant 
of God : the Pontiff placed his hand upon the head of the 
young Englishman, blessed, and prayed for him. Thus Wil- 
frid left Rome, assuredly without suspecting the harsh and 
cruel trials which were fated to bring him back thither so 
often again. ^° 

In returning from Rome, Wilfrid, as he had prom- wiifridre- 
ised, again stopped at Lyons to see the archbishop, ^^^?^^^^ 
who received him with all his former tenderness, tonsure at 
still insisting upon making him his heir. He even ^°"*' 
remained three whole years with this prelate, occupied in 
completing his ecclesiastical education among the learned 
doctors whom he found at Lyons, as if his desire had been to 
arm himself completely against Celtic usages, by comparing 
the teaching received at Rome with the venerable traditions 
of the earliest Galilean Church. Here, too, he received from 
the hands of the archbishop the tonsure which he preferred, 

Delfin or Delphinus is one of the most disputed personages in the history of 
the seventh century ; see the article consecrated to him by the Bollandists in 
vol. vii. of September, p. 720 to 744. It is he who is venerated in the dio- 
cese of Lyons under the name of St. Annemond or St. Chamond. 

10 <i j)e remissione peccatorum suorum, pro qua instantius orabat, per hoc 
certijBcari postulabat, si de ingenii sui tarditate et linguae suae rusticitate, 
ipsius interventu, absolvi mereretur." — Ricardi Hagulstadensis, Hist., 
n. 3. '• Ut pro sua intercessione Dominus ei legendi ingenium et docendi in 
gontibus eloquentiam Evangeliorum concedisset. . . . Qui ponens nianum 
benedictam super caput adolescentuli servi Dei, cum orationebenedixit eutn." 
Eddius, c. 5. The Pope was probably Eugenius I., elected in 654, during 
iho pxile of the holy martyr Pope Martin I. 


no longer that Celtic tonsure which shaved the top and front 
of the head from one ear to the other, leaving the hair to 
hang down behind, which the Romans, it is not known why, 
called the tonsure of Simon the Magician ; nor the Oriental 
tonsure, which completely bared the head, and which was 
believed to be that of St. Paul ; but the Roman tonsure, that 
of St. Peter, which removed all the hair except a circle 
round the skull, representing the form of the crown of 

The extreme importance attached to this difference of 
tonsure, puerile and insignificant as it is in our eyes, will no 
longer astonish us when we remember the great significance 
of long hair aiuong all barbarous races, and above all among 
our Merovingians. Long hair in men was not only the mark 
of royal or very noble birth, but also a sign of power, daring, 
and pride. Apart even from the question of ritual unity, 
Wilfrid and the Romans, v^ithout doubt, saw in the persist- 
ence of the Celts in wearing long hair, at least at the back 
of their heads, a vestige of pride and want of discipline in- 
compatible with the ecclesiastical profession, and especially 
with the life of the cloister. 

Wilfrid's visit to Delphinus was cut short by the death of 
the archbishop, who perished a victim to the tyranny of 
Ebro'in, then governor of Neustria and Burgundy in the name 
of the Regent Bathilda, the French queen, once an English 
slave, who was afterwards to become a nun and a saint. Del- 
phinus was seized in his metropolitan city by the soldiers of 
Ebroin, who dragged him to Clialons, and there put him to 
death. Wilfrid followed him, in spite of the entreaties of the 
martyr; with the incomparable enthusiasm and heroism of 
youth, he hoped to partake the fate of his protector. " What 
could be better," he said, '^ tlian to die together, father and 
Despite ^°"j '^^^^ ^° ^® vjith Christ?" After the murder of 
himself he the archbishop, when Wilfrid, stripped of his vest- 
martyr- ments, waited his turn, the chiefs of the party asked 
'^°™- who this handsome youth, so eager for death, might 

be ? and when they were told that he was a foreigner, of the 
race of those famous conquerors of Great Britain who were 
feared all over the world, tliey resolved to spare him. After 
this, as soon as he had superintended the burial of his spir- 
itual father, he returned to England.^^ 

" " Amor niagis ac niagis crescebat inter eos. ... A doctoribus valde 
eruditis niulta didioit. . . . Tonsuras de ore apostoli formulaoi, in raodum 
coronae spineae caput Christi cingentis . . . libenter suscepit. . . . Nihil est 


These details may perhaps appear too minute ; but the}' 
will be pardoned on account of the interest which attaches 
to the early years of a man destined to exercise, throughout 
half a century, a preponderating influence over his country, 
and, through her, over the power and freedom of the whole 
Church. Nor is it a matter without interest to seize in 
their very birth the manifestations of that mysterious and 
disinterested attraction which drew towards Rome, and to- 
wards Roman ideas and practices, this noble and daring scion 
of a barbarous race, this champion whose impassioned con- 
stancy contributed so powerfully in the future to link the 
destinies of England, and, by her means, of Germany and the 
whole west, to the foot of the apostolic throne. 

On his return to England, Wilfrid, from the first, wiifrid, 
by the crown like form of his tonsure, set up a visi- retul-n to 
ble and permanent protest against the ascendency England, 
of Celtic customs. He thus signified his intention tiieiuti- 
to enter upon the struggle as soon as the opportu- ™A*ho^sJm** 
nity should present itself. It is not known whether ofoswy. 
he returned to Lindisfarne — at any rate he did not remain 
there. He was soon summoned to the court of the young 
Alchfrid, son of King Oswy, whom the latter had just asso- 
ciated in the kingdom. We have already noticed the touch- 
ing friendship of Prince Alchfrid for the son of the cruel 
enemy of the Northumbrians, Penda of Mercia, and his in- 
fluence on the conversion of the Mercians.^^ 

melius quam pater et filiiis simul mori et esse cum Christo. . . . Quia est 
iste juvenis formosus qui se praeparat ad mortem? . . . Transmarinus de 
Anglorum gente ex Britannia. . . . Parcite illi et nolite tangere eum," — 
Eddius, c. G. "Quod tunc temporis magno terrori quamplurimis erat, sua 
scilicet Anglorum natio." — Eadmer, n. 11. 

'^ Most historians have confounded this Alchfrid, eldest son of Oswy, with 
his younger brother Aldfrid. Bede, however, has carefully distinguished 
them by the ortliographj' of their names, and Lappenberg has put this dis- 
tinction beyond a doubt. Alchfrid, the eldest, who married a daughter of 
Penda in 653, and was the friend of Wilfrid, died before his father; Aldfrid, 
probably a natural son of Oswy, educated and for a long time protected at 
lona, only returned to succeed Egfrid, the second son and successor of Oswy, 
and to be the implacable adversary of Wilfrid. See the genealogical table Ap- 
pendix VI., I). 752. It must be allowed, however, that the confusion which 
prevails throughout the primitive history of the Anglo-Saxons is greatly aug- 
mented by the fondness they had for giving to the cliildren of one family 
names almost identical : thus, Oswald, Oswin, Oswulf, Osred, Osric, Ostry- 
tha, in the dynasty of Northumbrian kings; Sebert, Sigebert, Sigehere, Sige- 
herd, in that of the kings of Essex; Ceawlin, Ceolric, Ceolwulf, Ceanwalch, 
Ceadwalla, in that of the kings of Wessex; Penda and Peada in Mercia, &c. 
This custom was not peculiar only to the royal families ; the Bishop Ceadda 
had three brothers, Cedd, Caelin, and Cynnbill, all monks like himself. 


This young prince, the son of a father who had been in- 
structed in the school of the Scottish monks^ and of a mother 
baptized and educated by the Romish missionaries, had in- 
cHned from his cradle to the religious exercises of his 
mother. He had always loved and sought to follow the 
Roman rules. At the news that the favorite of his mother, 
the young and noble Wilfrid, already so well known by his 
piety at Lindisfarne, had arrived from Rome, and was teach 
ing the true Easter with all the regulations of the Church of 
St. Peter, Alchfrid sent for him, received him like an angel 
come from God, and fell at his feet to demand his blessing. 
Then, after discussing thoroughly the usages of the Roman 
Church, he conjured him, in the name of God and St. Peter, 
to remain with him, and instruct both himself and his people. 
Wilfrid willingly obeyed. To the irresistible attraction 
which, in his earliest youth, he had exercised overall hearts, 
there was now joined the authority of a man who had trav- 
elled, studied, and seen death and martyrdom close at hand. 
This increase of influence did but increase the affection of 
Alchfrid. The young prince and the young monk, one in 
soul, became still more one in heart ; they loved each other 
with a passionate tenderness, which every day increased. 
The friendship of David and Jonathan, so often quoted by 
monastic annalists, appeared to the'^ Northumbrians to be re- 
produced in that which existed between the son of their 
king and his youthful countryman.i^ 

Wilfrid, with his Roman tonsure, and his ideas 
astery of still morc Romau, could not remain at Lindisfarne. 
Ripou, ^ Alchfrid therefore sought not merely to retain him 
the'moiiks'^ usar to himsclf, but also to create for him a great 
who adhere mouastic establishment of which he should be the 
rites are head, and from whence his influence might spread 
expelled. ftself over the Northumbrian Church.i* The young 
king had already founded a new monastery at Ripon, in a 
fine situation, at the confluence of two rivers, and in the 

'^ " Catholicas Ecclesiae regulas sequi semper et amare didicerat." — 
Bede, v. 19. " Audiens servum Dei. . . . Verum Pascha praedicantem et 
S. Petri ecclesiae disciplinatn multiplicem didicisse, quam maxime rex dilige- 
bat. . . . Mirifice anima utriusque in alterum conglutinata erat, sicut ani- 
main David etJonathge in alterum conipaginatam leginius . . . de die in diem 
inter eos amor augebatur." — Eddius, c. 7. 

'•* Eddi and Bede mention a former donation given by the young king to 
Wilfrid, and situated at Stanford or Stamford. But no important foundation 
resulted from this, and they do not even agree as to the position of the do- 
main. We will merely remark that it supported only ten families, vrhile that 
of Ripon sufficed for forty, according to tlie Saxon mode of valuing land. 


very heart of Deira ; he had given it to monks of the Celtic 
ritual, all the religious communities in the country being 
composed either of monks of Scottish origin or of Northum- 
brians educated by the Scots. The first occupants of Ripon 
had come from Melrose, under the conduct of Abbot Eata, 
one of the twelve young Saxons whom St. Aidan, the first 
Celtic missionary to Northumbria, chose for his future fellow- 
laborers ; and had among them, in the capacity of steward, 
a young monk named Cuthbert, who was also destined to 
fill a great position, and to eclipse Wilfrid himself in the 
devotion of the northern English. ^^ 

Alchfrid had endowed this foundation with a domain so 
large that it was inhabited by forty families. But soon, un- 
der the influence of those Roman predilections which the 
return of Wilfrid developed in his mind, he required the 
new community of Ripon to celebrate Easter at the date 
fixed by Rome, and to renounce the other customs in wnich 
the Celtic Church differed from that of Rome. They unani- 
mously declared that they would rather go away and give up 
the sanctuary which had just been given them, than aban- 
don their national traditions. Alchfrid took them at their 
word, and gave them their dismissal. Abbot Eata and the 
future St. Cuthbert returned to Melrose, and Wilfrid was 
installed in their place by his royal friend, with the express 
intention of thus giving him the means of propagating the 
rules and doctrines which he preferred. Thus the war com- 
menced — a war of which Wilfrid did not live to see 
the end, although he carried it on for more than half 
a century. ^^ 

Wilfrid was now at the brightest moment of his life. He 
employed the bounty of his friend to carry out the generous 
impulses of his heart, and scattered round him abundant 

^* "Famulus Domini Cuthbertus officio praepositus hospitum." — Bede, 
Vita S. Cuthberti, c. 7. 

*® Nothing can be more singular than the different manner in which the 
ea-Tie historian gives an account of the same events in two different works. 
And this liistorian is no other than the Venerable Bede ! In his Ecclesiasti- 
cal History he seems to treat the expelled monks as obstiuate rebels : " Quia 
illi (qui Scottos sequebantur) data sibi optione maluerunt loco cedere quam 
mutare suam consuetudinem et Pascha catholicum caeterosque ritus canonicoa 
juxta Romanse et apostolicae ecclesiffi consuetudinem recijiere, dedit (Alch- 
fridus) hoc illi quern nielioribus inibutum disciplinis ac nioribus vidit." — 
Hist. Eccles., iii. i!5, v. 19. In liis life of Cuthbert he honors them as the vic- 
tims of an unexpected storm : " Quia fragilis est et mare freti volubilis omnia 
seculi status, inr^tante subito turbine, prajfatus abbas Eata cum Cuthberto el 
ceteris quos secum adduxerat fratribus, domum repulsus est, et locus monas« 
terii, quod condiderat, aliis ad incolendum monachis datur." — C 8. 
VOL. II. 27 


alms ; he saw the ideas so dear to him spreading and 
strengthening themselves; he rejoiced in the protection of a 
prince who was to him at once a brother and a son ; and, to 
sum up all, he was almost as dear to the people of Deira as 
to their king. The nobles and other Northumbrians idolized 
him, and regarded him as a prophet.^" 

Wilfrid is "^^^ youiig abbot, however, was not yet a priest; 

ordaiued and it was the earnest desire of Alchfrid that his 
Fraukish^ friend should be his confessor, and remain in some 
b:8hop. degree attached to his person.^^ The whole of 
Northumbria was then under the rule of Colman, the Celtic 
Bishop of Lindisfarne ; but it was not from him that Wilfrid 
could have willingly received the sacrament of ordination. 
However, at this juncture the king received a visit from 
Agilbert, a Frenchman by birth, educated in Ireland, who, 
having become Bishop of the kingdom of Wessex, had lost 
half of his diocese because the king of the country, weary of 
listening to sermons which were not in Saxon, had chosen to 
constitute another bishop without Agilbert's consent. He 
therefore, not willing to sanction this abuse of power, had 
renounced his see.^^ Although the King of Wessex was the 
intimate friend of Alchfrid, it was to the Northumbrian court 
that the displaced bishop first came to seek a refuge before 
returning to his own country. Alchfrid made known to 
him the virtue and good repute of Wilfrid, enlarging upon 
his humility, his fervor in prayer, his prudence, goodness, 
and sobriety — the latter being a virtue always greatly ad- 
mired by the Anglo-Saxons, who practised it very little — and 
last, and above all, the gift which he had of commanding with 
authority and preaching with clearness. '^ Such a man is 
made to be a bishop," said Agilbert, who did not hesitate to 
ordain him priest in his monastery at Ripon, and, as Alchfrid 
had requested, for the personal service of the prince and his 

The influence of Wilfrid must have grown rapid- 

639-663 • . . , ■*■ . 

ly during the four or five years which followed hie 

" " Non solum rex sanctum abbatem diligebat, sed omnis populus, nobiles 
et ignobiles eum habebant quasi prophetam Dei, uterat." — Eddius. 

18 " Desiderante rege ut vir tantEe eruditionis et religionis sibi specialiter 
icdividuo comitatu sacerdos esset ac doctor." — Bede, v. 19. 

'^ See above, p. 286. Cf. Bede, iii. 7. 

*" " Dicens virum esse . . . sobrium . . . plenum auctoritatis . . . non 
rinolentum . . . et bene docentem serraone puro et aperto : ideo rogo te ul 
imponas super eura presbyteri gradum et sit mihi comes individuus. . 
Talis utique debet episcopus fieri." — Eddius, c. 9. 


return to England, and he must have displayed great energy 
in his attack upon the Celtic spirit of the nation, to have 
brought about so promptly the decisive crisis which we are 
about to record. It must be remarked that lie alone took 
the initiative and rhe responsibility. In this conflict, the 
object of which wa^ to secure preponderance of Rome, we can 
find no trace of any mission or impulse Avhatever from Rome. 
The Roman colony of Canterbury, whose chief was an Anglo- 
Saxon, lent no direct assistance ; and in Northumbria, as in 
the neighboring kingdom.s, — converted to Cliristianity by 
Celtic apostles, — Wilfrid found no aid except the recollection 
of the abortive efforts of the first Romish missionaries, or the 
limited influence possessed by priests who had accompanied 
princesses of the race of Hengist, when they entered by mar- 
riage other dynasties of the Anglo-Saxon descendants of Odin ; 
unless it were the testimony of travellers who, arriving from 
Canterbury or France, might express their astonishment to see 
the northern Christians, converts of Scottish missionaries, 
celebrating Easter at a different time from the rest of Chris- 

There was indeed one fact which might encourage him to 
attempt again, in another region and under circumstances far 
less favorable, the enterprise in which Angustin had failed. 
Of the four countries in which the Celtic Church reigned 
Ireland, Wales, Scotland proper, and Northumbria, with their 
four monastic citadels of Bangor on the sea, Bangor on the 
Dee, lona, and Lindisfarne, Ireland, the cradle and chief 
home of Celtic traditions, had begun in heart to return to 
Roman unity. Thirty years before, a council had been held 
at Leighlin, in the south of the island, at the sug- southern 
gestion of Pope Honorius I., who had invited the inland 

_ IlClODtS tllO 

Scots of Ireland to celebrate Easter according to Romish 
the common practice of the Church. The fathers of ^'"*'^'^'"- 
this council, after much animated discussion, had decided 
that wise and humble men should be sent to Rome, as sons 
to their mother, to judge of the ceremonies there. These 
deputies declared, on their return, that they had seen the 
fathful from all parts of the world celebrating Easter on the 
same day at Rome. On their report the Romish cycle and 
rules relative to the paschal calculations were adopted by all 
the south of Ireland. This decision had been chiefly brought 
about by the efforts of a disciple and spiritual descendant of 

*' Bede, 1. c. 


Columba, a monk named Cummian, then abbot of one of the 
Columbian monasteries in Ireland. Abbot Cummian 22 had 
been obliged to defend himself against the attacks which his 
partiality for Roman usages brought upon him, bj an apolo- 
getic letter, still preserved, where his erudition displays it- 
self in an innumerable throng of texts and calculations. He 
sums up in these decisive words: " Can there be imagined 
a pretension more perverse and ridiculous than that which 
says : Rome is mistaken, Jerusalem is mistaken, Alexandria 
is mistaken, Antioch is mistaken, the whole world is mis- 
taken ; the Scots and the Britons alone make no mistake ? " ^^ 
But the example of the south of Ireland did not affect the 
north of the island, and still less the Picts and Scots of Cale- 
donia. The arguments of Cummian could not convince the 
direct successor of Columba, the Abbot of Iona.24 He, and 
all his community, obstinately retained the Irish computa- 
tion ; and as it was precisely at this period that the mission- 
aries sent from Ireland relighted in Northumbria the light of 
the faith, extinct since the death of King Edwin and the 
flight of Bishop Paulinus, it is easily apparent how it hap- 
pened that the erroneous calculation of Easter, according to 
the Celts, took root everywhere together with the new doc- 
trine. It is not even certain that Wilfrid was aware that 
anj^thing favorable to his views had occurred in that part of 
Ireland which was furthest from Northumbria, for we do not 
find any mention of it in his acts or discourses. 
„. As long as St. A'idan, the first Celtic apostle of 

The usage o _ 7 _ i 

in Nor- Northumbria, lived, the idea of finding fault with 

to'thecde'-^ his method of celebrating the greatest feast of that 

Easte°be^ religion which he taught and practised so well, had 

i^F^,c- J entered into no man's mind. Whether he himself 

Wilfrid. . n 1 1- m (• • 1 11 

was Ignorant oi the diiierence oi ritual, or Avhether, 
knowing it, he did not choose to withdraw himself from the 
usages of his race and of the parent monastery of lona, he 
was not the less the object of universal confidence and ven- 

^* He must not be confounded with Cumin called the White (Cumineus 
albus), Abbot of lona from 657 to 01)9, author of the oldest biography of 
St. Columba. 

*' " Quid pravius sentire potest de ecclesia raatre quam si dicamus : Roma 
errat, Hierosolyma errat, Alexandria errat, totus mundus errat; soli Scoti 
et Britones rectum sapiunt!" — Cummianus Hieeknds, Epist. de Contro- 
versia Paschali, in Ussiiiiii Sijlloge, ii. 

^* Segienus, descendant in tlie fourth degree from the grandfather of Co- 
lumba, and fourth Abbot of lona, from G23 to 652. — Cf. Lanigan, Eccles, 
Uist. of Ireland, ii. 389. Dollinger. Kirchengeschichte, p. 221. 



eration.-^ Under his successor, Bishop Finan, the question 
had beeu raised by one of the Lindisfarne monks, Irish by 
birth, who had travelled and studied in France and Italy. 
This monk, named Ronan, became involved in a violent quar- 
rel with the Bisliop of Northumbria upon the subject. He 
had led back a few to the Roman observance of Easter, and 
persuaded others to study the matter ; but the bishop, harsh 
and passionate as Coluraba himself had sometimes been, far 
from b^ing convinced, was only embittered by the niraon' 
strances of Ronan, which served cliiefly to make him a de^ 
Glared adversary of the Roman cause."-^'^ 

When Finan died, leaving Bishop Colman — like 
himself, Irish by birth and a monk of lona — as his 
successor at Lindisfarne, the dispute became at once open 
and general. Wilfrid had succeeded in sowing agitation and 
uncertainty in all minds ; and the Northumbrians had come 
so far as to ask themselves whether the religion which had 
been taught to them, and which they practised, was indeed 
the religion of that Christ whose name it bore.^^ 

The two Northumbrian kings mingled in the strug- Division in 
gle on different sides. Oswy, the glorious van- *;',mny''a8to 
quisher of Penda, the liberator of Northumbria, the Easter. 
conqueror and benefactor of Mercia, the Bretwalda or mil- 
itary and religious suzerain of the Anglo-Saxon confederacy, 
naturally exercised a much greater influence from that of his 
young son, whom he had associated with himself in the 
kingdom. And the mind of Oswy, who had been baptized 
and educated by Celtic monks, who spoke their language 
perfectly, and was probably desirous of conciliating the nu- 
merous Celtic populations who lived under his rule from the 
Irish Sea to the Firth of Forth, did not go beyond the in- 

'* The judgment of Bede on this aspect of the life of Ai'dan deserves to 
be quoted at length, as much on account of its reserve as of its praises : - 
" Quod autem pascha non suo tempore ol)servabat, vel canonicum ejus tem- 
pus ignorans, vel suas gentis auctoritate ne agnitum sequeretur devictus, non 
iidprubo, nee laudo. . . . Hsec dissonantia paschalis observantiae vivente 
^dano patienter ab omnibus tolerabatur qui patenter intellexerant, quia etsi 
pascha contra morem eorum qui ipsum miserant facere non potuit, opera 
tanien fidei, pietatis et dilectionis, juxta morem omnibus Sanctis consuetum, 
diligenter exscqui curavit : unde ab omnibus etiam his qui de Pascha aliter 
Bentiebant, merito diligebatur." — iii. 17, 25. 

^ " Quin potius, quod esset homo ferocis animi, acerbiorem castigandq et 
apertum veritatis adversarium reddidit." — Bede, iii. 25. 

*^ "Unde movit haec questio sensus et corda nmltorum, timentium ne 
forte, accepto Christianitatis vocabulo, in vacuum currerent aut cucurris- 
Bent." — Bede, iii. 25. 



structions of his early masters.^^ Notwithstanding he had to 
contend within the circle of his family, not only with his son 
Alchfrid, excited in behalf of the Romish doctrine by his 
master and friend Wilfrid, but also with his queen, Eanfleda, 
who did not need the influence of Wilfrid to make her entire- 
ly devoted to the Roman cause, since, on returning from ex- 
ile to marry Oswy, she had brought with her a Canterbury 
priest — Roraanus by name, and Roman in heart — who 
guided her religious exercises. Under the direction of Ro- 
manus, the queen and all her court followed Roman customs. 
Two Easter feasts were thus celebrated every year in the 
same house ; and as the Saxon kings had transferred to the 
chief festivals of the Christian year, and especially to the 
greatest of all, the meeting of their assemblies, and the occa- 
sion which those assemblies gave them of displaying all their 
pomp, it is easy to understand how painful it must have been 
for Oswy to sit, with his earls and thanes, at the great feast of 
Easter, at the end of a wearisome Lent, and to see the queen, 
with her maids of honor and her servants, persisting in fast- 
ing and penitence, it being with her still only Palm Sun- 
day .^^ 

This discord, as Bede sa3^s, with regard to Easter, was the 
capital point of the quarrel which divided the Anglo-Saxons 
into two bodies according as they had received the faith from 
Roman or Celtic missionaries. The differences remarked by 
Augustin in his struggles with the British clergy appear 
henceforward reduced to this one. The great reproach ad- 
dressed to the Celtic clergy by the envoy of Pope Gregory, 
that they despised the work of converting the Saxons, is no 
longer in question. Our Celts of the North had succeeded 
only too well, according to Wilfrid, in converting and even in 
ruling two-thirds of Saxon England. Nor at this phase of 
the quarrel is there any further mention either of baptismal 
ceremonies, or of the customs contrary to ecclesiastical celi- 
bacy ,2*^ or of any of the other points formerly contested. Th3 

^^ " Illorum lingua optime inibutus, nihil melius quam quod illi docuissent 
aestiniabat." — Bede, 1. c. 

•29 41 Observabat et regina Eanfleda cum suis juxta quod in Cantia fieri vi- 
derat. . . . Et cum rex Pascha dorainicum solutis jejuniis faceret, tunc 
regina cum suis persistens adhuc in jejunio diem Pahnarum celebrare." — 

BCDE, 1. C. 

'■^^ It is now clearly shown that, in the Celtic Church, the deacons and 
priests never strayed from the Romish doctrine of celibacy. Their conti- 
nence has been attacked, as that of the Briton clergy by Gildas, but no one 
has been able to prove that they regarded marriage as a remedy for this in- 
continence. There were depraved priests, there were also clerks not having 


difference of the two tonsures to which Wilfrid attached such 
great importance, and which must have struck from the first 
the eyes and attention of the Anglo-Saxon converts, is not 
even named in the long discussions of which we still possess 
a record.31 All turn exclusively on the celebration of Easter. 
Nothing could be more fanciful and more com- ^ ^ *^u^ 

II 1 • T-» 111- 1 • ^^ what the 

filicated than this rascal calculation ; notlimg more difference 
difficult to understand, and especially to explain. to'Eastfr'^ 
Let us try, however, to draw forth some clear ideas "^oi^^'*'^^**- 
from the depths of the endless dissertations of contemporary 
authors and even of more recent historians. Since the earli- 
est days of Christianity a division had existed as to the 
proper date for the celebration of Easter. Some churches of 
Asia Minor followed the custom of the Jews by placing it on 
the fourteenth day of the first lunar month of the year. But 
all the churches of the West, of Palestine, and of Egypt, fixed 
upon the Sunday after the fourteenth day of the month 
nearest to the vernal equinox, so as not to keep the feast 
along with the Jev/s, and the general Council of Nice erected 
this custom into a law of the Church. Those who had not 
accepted this law, but persisted in celebrating the fourteenth 
day, Avere held as heretics and schismatics, under the name 
of quart odecimans. The imputation of complicity in this 
heresy made against the Celtic Church by the chiefs of the 
Roman clergy in a bull addressed in 640, during the vacancy 
of the Holy See, to the bishops and abbots of the north of 
Ireland, was most unjust.^'^ The only mistake made by the 
Celts was that of neglecting to keep themselves informed of 
the difficulties which arose as to the manner of determining 
the commencement of the first lunar month, which ought to 
be the Pascal month. As has been already said in respect 
to the dispute between St. Augustin and the Britons of Cam- 
bria,33 they had remained faithful to the custom which pre- 
vailed at Rome itself when Patrick and the other missionaries 
to the British Isles brought thence the light of the Gospel. 
At that period, in Rome and in all the West, the ancient 
Jewish cycle of eighty-four years was universally followed 
to fix this date. The Christians of Alexandria, however, bet- 
received the higher orders who lived with their wives — but nothing more, 
and especially no excuse for setting up, either as a doctrine or as a regular 
habit, the marriage of priests. 

^' However, Bede, who has preserved all these discussions, says, in speak 
ing of the tonsure : " Et de hoc questio non minima erat." — iii. 2Q. 

^« Bede, ii. 19. " See p. 175. 


ter astronomers than those of Rome, and specially charged 
by the Council of Nice to inform the Pope of the date of 
Easter of each year, discovered in this ancient cycle some 
errors of calculation, and after two centuries of disputes they 
succeeded in making the Roman Church adopt a new Pascal 
cycle, that which is now universally received, and which 
limits the celebration of Easter to the interval between the 
22d of March and the 24th of April. The Celtic churcheE. 
had no knowledge of this change, which dated from the 
year 525 — that is to say, from a time when the invasions of 
the Saxons probably intercepted their habitual communica- 
tions with Rome : they retained their old Jewish cycle of 
eighty-four years, and adhered obstinately to it. They cele- 
brated Easter always on Sunday, but this Sunday was not 
always the one which had been appointed by the Romish 
Church after the new calculations. Thus it happened that 
King Oswy was eight days in advance of his wife, and com- 
plained of having to rejoice alone in the resurrection of 
Christ, while the queen was still commemorating the com- 
mencement of the passion in the services for Palm Sun- 

On this diversity, then, which was in appearance so slight 
and trifling, turned the great dispute between the Celtic and 
Roman monks, between those who had first begun the con- 
version of the Anglo-Saxons, and those who had so happily 
completed it. It is amazing to note the vehemence and the 
duration of a dispute so bitter on a subject so insignificant. 
Certainly there was something painful in being unable to 
persuade the new believers to celebrate the greatest festival 
cf their religion on the same day ; but, on the other hand, it 
is evident that all these Catholics must have been profoundly 
agreed as to the important questions of faith and practice, 
since they could attach so much weight to a difference of 
astronomical calculation. 

Let us at the same time remark that throughout 
oftheiiom- this coutroversy the Roman Church displayed an 
duriiig"'^*^'* exemplary moderation, and always acted in con- 
Btru^^% formity with the paternal instructions given by St. 
Gregory the Great to St. Augustin. She did not 
impose upon Wilfrid the mission he had taken upon himself. 
It was not at Rome, but at Lyons, that he received that ton- 
sure which the Romans themselves do not seem to have taken 
much pains about. Rome never treated as schismatics or 
heretics those Celtic dissidents, the most illustrious of whom, 


Coliimbanus of Liixeuil and A'idan of Lindisfarne,liave alwaya 
had a place in her martyrology. She never proceeded other- 
wise than by way of counsel and exhortation, without insist- 
ing on violent measures, and patiently awaiting the returning 
calm of excited spirits, giving to all an example of prudence, 
moderation, and charity.^^ 

On the other hand, it is clearly evident that a competi- 
under the veil of a question purely ritual, was hid- fl°ence^"' 
den one of political and personal influence. The ™!">''!f 
precocious greatness of Wilfrid and his ambitious ritualistic 
fervor might well awaken hostility among the clergy '•"'i^"*'^- 
and nobles of Northumbria ; his pretensions, which seemed 
so many audacious innovations, were of a kind to wound a 
people but recently converted, and instinctively inclined to 
attach great importance to the external forms of the new 
faith. But it was above all a struggle of race and influence. 
On one side the Celtic spirit, proud, independent, and pas- 
sionate, of which the great Abbot of lona was the type, and 
of which his sons, the apostles of Northumbria, were the rep- 
resentatives ; on the other, the spirit of Rome, the spirit of 
discipline and authority, imperfectly personified by its first 
envoys, Augustine and Paulinus, but endowed with a very 
difi'erent degree of vigor and missionary energy, since the 
moment when an Anglo-Saxon of the type of Wilfrid had con- 
stituted himself its champion. England was the stake of this 
game. All the future of that Christianit}'' which had been so 
laboriously planted in the island, depended on its issue. 

It is this which gives a truly historical interest parliament 
to the famous conference of Whitby, convoked by ofwhitby. 
King Oswy, for the purpose of regulating and ter- 
minating the dispute which troubled his kingdom and the 
neighboring countries. He desired that the question should 
be publicly debated in his presence, and in that of the 
Witenagemot, or parliament, composed not only of the pri:ci- 
pal ecclesiastics and laymen of the country, but of all those 
who had a right to sit in the national councils of the Anglo- 

^* " Der Romischer Stuhl benahin sich im gar.zen auch hier mit der ihm 
eigenen umsichtigen Weisheit unci Liberalitat." This is the testimony ren- 
dered by the illustrious Dollinger in his excellent account of this controversy, 
Handbuch der Kirchengeschichte, i. 2, 227. The learned historiographer of 
the Irisli Church, Lanigan, professor of theology at Pavia, who wrote about 
1828, quotes the excesses of the ultra-orthodox English converts, who woulrt 
admit nothing to be good, or even tolerable, except what was practised at 
Rome, even in matters which the Romans themselves held of no importance, 
vol. iii. p. 68. 


Saxons. It is to be remarked that here, for the first 

Composi- . .,,. „, IT />T 

tionofthe time ID the histor}^ ot these assembhes, a sort oi di 
assem y. yjgJQ^ Jqj^q ^^^q chambers like that which has become 
the fundamental principle of parliamentary institutions is 
visible. Bede states that the king consulted the nobles and 
the commoners, those who were seated and those who stood 
round, precisely like the lords and commons of our own 

The Celtic The place chosen for the assembly was on the 
party. sea-coast, and in the centre of the two Northum- 

brian kingdoms, at Streaneshalch or Whitby, in the double 
monastery of monks and nuns governed by the illustrious 
Hilda, a princess of the Northumbrian blood-royal, who was 
now fifty years of age, and thus joined to the known sanctity 
of her life ^^ maturity of age and experience sufficient for the 
government of souls. Although baptized by Bishop Paulinus 
at the time of the first Romish mission to the court of her 
grand-uncle King Edwin, she was completely de- 
voted to Celtic traditions, doubtless from attach- 
ment to the sainted Bishop A'idan, from whom she had re- 
ceived the veil. Her whole community were of the same 
party which had been hitherto favored by King Oswy, and 
was naturally represented by Colman, Bishop of Lindisfarne, 
at that time the only prelate in the vast kingdom of Northum- 
bria. He, with all his Celtic clergy, attended the council, aa 
well as Cedd, a monk of Lindisfarne, who had become Bishop 
of the East Saxons, among whom he had re-established the 
episcopal see of London, after the expulsion of the Romish 
missionaries. Bishop Cedd, Anglo-Saxon by birth, but edu- 
cated in Ireland before he became a monk in the Hiberno- 
Scottish monastery of Lindisfarne,^'' was to act as interpreter 
in the conference between the Celts on one side and those 
who spoke only Latin or English on the other, and he ac- 
quitted himself of these functions with a most watchful i.^^- 

^* "Hsec dicente rege, elevatis in coelum manibus, faverunt adsidentes 
quique, sive adstantes, majores una cum mediocribus." — Bede. " Beisil- 
zende und umstebende, Adel und Gemeine." — Lappenberg, p. 165. Tliis 
reminds one of the famous passage of Tacitus : " De minoribus rebus prin- 
cipes consultant; de majoribus omnes : ita tamen, ut ea quoque quorum 
penes plebem arbitrium est, apud principes pertractentur." — De Mor. Oerm. 

36 n Prffisenti Sancta-Moniali piissima Hilda." Such is the testimony- 
borne to her by Eddi, the biographer of Wilfrid, whose adversary she always 

" At least this is to be supposed from the comparison of different passages 
of Bede (iii. 23, 28; iv. 8), on the youth of the two brother bishops, Cedd 
and Ceadda. 


The side opposed to the Celts had at its head The Roman 
the young King Alchfrid and the Bishop Agilbert ; P'^'''^- 
the latter, though educated in Ireland, not having hesitated 
to embrace the cause of those Roman customs which pre- 
vailed in France, his native country. Wilfrid was the soul 
of the discussion he had so warmly desired, and its special 
orator : he appeared in the arena in all the glow of youth 
and talent, but supported by two venerable representatives 
of Roman missions to England — the priest Romanus, whc) 
liad accompanied the Queen from Canterbury ; and James, 
the aged, courageous, and modest deacon, sole relic and solo 
surviving witness of the first conversion of Northumbria 
under the father of Eanfleda, who had remained alone, after 
the flight of St. Paulinus, for nearly forty years, evangelizing 
Northumbria and observing Easter according to the Roman 
custom, with all those whom he had preserved or restored to 
the faith. 

All being assembled, perhaps in one of the halls of the 
great monastery of St. Hilda, but more likely, from the great 
numbers, in the open air on the green platform which then, 
as now, surmounted the abrupt cliffs of Whitby, and from 
whence the eye wanders far over those waves which bore 
the Saxons to the shores of Great Britain ; King ^„ , . 
Oswy opened the proceedings by saying that as opens the 
they all served the same God and hoped for the ^°^ '-'rence. 
same heaven, it was advisable that they should follow the 
same rule of life and the same observance of the holy sacra- 
ments, and that it would therefore be well to examine which 
was the true tradition they ought to follow. He then com- 
manded his bishop, Colman, to speak first, to explain his 
ritual, and to justify its origin. " 1 have," said the Bishop 
of Lindisfarne, " received the Pascal usage which I follow 
from my predecessors who placed me here as bishop ; all our 
fathers have observed the same custom ; these fathers and 
their predecessors, evidently inspired by the Holy Ghost, as 
was Columba of the Cell, followed the example of John the 
apostle and evangelist, who was called the friend of our Lord 
We keep Easter as he did, as did Polycarp and all his dis- 
ciples of old. In reverence for our ancestors we dare not, 
and we will not, change." ^^ Then the king ga^^e leave to 
Agilbert to speak, that he might describe the reasons of his 

*' " Patres nostri et antecessores eorum manifeste Spiritu Sancto inspirati, 
ut erat Columcille. . . . Nee hoc audemus pro patribus nostris, nee volumus 
mutare." — Eddiu8, c. 10. 


different observance ; but the poor bishop, remembering that 
he had lost his vast diocese of Wessex through his imperfect 
knowledge of Anglo-Saxon,^^ begged that his disciple Wilfrid 
might be allowed to speak in his place. " We think pre- 
cisely alike," said Agilbert, " but he can better express our 
thoughts in English, than I could through an interpreter.'^'^ 
Then Wilfrid began, " We keep Easter as we have seen it 
kept by all Christians at Rome, where the blessed apostles, 
St. Peter and St. Paul, lived, taught, suffered, and are bur- 
ied. He had seen the same rule observed in Italy and in 
Gaul, where we have studied ; we know that it is so in 
Africa, in Asia, in Egypt, in Greece, and throughout Chris- 
tendom, in spite of all difference of language and of country. 
It is onl\' the Picts and Britons who, occupying the two 
most remote islands of the ocean, nay, but a part even of 
those islands, foolishly persist in contradicting all the rest 
of the world." ^^ 

Colman replied, " It is strange that you speak of our tradi- 
tions as absurd, when we only follow the example of the great 
apostle who was thought worthy to lay his head upon the 
breast of our Saviour, and whom the whole world has judged 
to be so wise." The dialogue then continued in a less excited 
manner. In this discussion the bishop displayed the natural 
haughtiness of his race, and the abbot that persuasive elo- 
quence already so dear to the Anglo-Saxons, who were 
charmed to hear their own barbarous language spoken per- 
fectly by a man cultivated and formed by the learning of 
Italy and Gaul. As for the question itself, both had re- 
course to extremely poor arguments. Wilfred quoted Scrip- 
ture, where there is not a single word as to the Pascal cycle, 
and the decretals of the universal Church, of which only one 
relates to the matter, that of the Council of Nice, which con- 
tents itself with the decision that Easter should always b© 
celebrated on Sunday, a particular which the Irish observed 
equally with the Romans. Instead of limiting himself to the 
statement that the rules established at Rome had been and 
ought to be adopted everywhere, be also affirmed that St. 

^'^ See above, page 286. 

'"' " Loquatur, obsecro, vice mea discipulus nieus Wilfridus presbyter; 
ille melius ipsa lingua Anglorum quani ego per interpretem." — Bede, 
iii. 25. 

•*' " Praeter hos tantuni et obstinationis eorum complices, Pictos dico et 
Britones, cum quibus de duabus ultimis oceani insulis, et his non totis, con- 
tra totum orbem stulto labore pugnant. . . . Mirum quare stultum appellare 
velitis laborem nostrum." — Bede, 1. c. 


Peter had established the custom then followed at Rome, as 
if that custom had been always the same, and had not, in fact, 
been changed nearly a century before, to be brought into 
accordance with the best astronomical calculations. But Bish- 
op Colman either knew nothing or understood nothing of this 
change, and was not able to cite it against his adversary. 
He perpetually recurred to the examples of St. John and the 
fathers of the Celtic Church, and with more vehemence still 
quoted Columba, whose life, so minutely described by the 
contemporaries of this very council of Whitby ,'*2 contains no 
trace of peculiar attachment to the Celtic Easter, but sliows 
that he merely followed with simplicity the ancient usage 
transmitted by St. Patrick to the Irish monks. Nothing gives 
us reason to suppose that the great Abbot of lona, if once in- 
formed of the universal prevalence of the Roman custom, 
would have been opposed to it. 

" Can we admit," said Bishop Colman, " that our most vener- 
able father Columba, and his successors, men beloved of God 
have acted contrary to the Divine Word? Many of them 
have given proof of their sanctity by miracles ; and as for me, 
wlio i)elieve in that sanctity, I choose to follow forever their 
teaching and their example." Here Wilfrid had the better 
of the argument. '• As to your father Columba and his dis- 
ciples, with their miracles, I might answer that, at the day 
of judgment, many will say to our Lord, that they have done 
miracles in His name, and He will answer that He never 
knew them. But God keep me from speaking thus of your 
father ! it is better, when one is ignorant, to believe good 
than evil. I do not therefore deny that they were servants 
of God, and beloved by Him : no doubt they loved Him in 
their rustic simplicity, with the most pious intentions. I do 
not think there was much harm in their observance of Easter, 
because no one had told them of more perfect rules. If a 
Catholic calculator had been presented to them, I believe 
they would have followed his counsel as they followed the 
commandments of God which they knew. But as for you, 
without doubt you sin, if, after having heard the decretals of 
the Apostolic See, and even of the universal Church, con* 

*^ The first of tliese biograpliers, Cumin the White, was at tliat very time 
Abbot of lona, from whence Colman came; and tlie second Adamnan, then 
a monk in Ireland, was already forty years old in 66-i. The latter does not 
niention the Pascal difference except to relate the prophecy of Columba 
during his visit to Clonmacnoise, " De ilia quae post dies multos ob di- 
versitatem paschalis festi orta est inter Scotiae ecclesias discordia." — Lib. 
i. i;. 3. 

VOL II. 28 


firmed by Holy Scripture, you still despise them. Even 
admitting the sanctity of your fathers, how can you prefer, 
to the Church spread over the whole earth, this handful of 
saints in one corner of a remote island ? Finally, for your 
Columba (and T would willingly say our Columba, so far as 
he was the servant of Christ), however holy or powerful by 
his virtues he may have been, can we place him before the 
chief of the apostles, to whom our Lord himself said — ' Thou 
art Peter, and upon this rock I will build ray Church, and 
the gates of hell shall not prevail against it; and 1 will give 
unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven ' ? " 43 
Close of The Saxon king then addressed his bishop, '' Is 

tiie king's it truc, Colman, that these words were said by our 

speech. j^^^,^ ^^ g^- pg^^^v „ u J|. ^^ ^^.^q^ Q J^Jj^g^'^ ^^.^<^ ^l-^^ 

answer. " Can j^ou then," rejoined the king, " show me a 
similar authority given to your Columba ? " '* No," said the 
bishop. '* You are then," continued the king, '' both agreed 
that the keys of heaven were given to Peter by our Lord ? " 
'' Yes," answered the two adversaries together. " Then," 
said the king, " I say, like you, that he is the porter of 
heaven, and that I will not oppose him, but on the contrary, 
obey him in all things, lest when I reach the doors of the 
celestial kingdom, there be no one to open them for me if 1 
am the adversary of him who carries the keys. In all my 
life I will neither do nor approve anything or any person 
that may be contrary to him."^* 

Thens- "^'^^ whole asscmbly approved this conclusion of 

sembiy the kiug by vote, holding up their hands, both 
Romish the nobles who were seated, and the freemen who 
usages. stooi rouud,*^ and all decided to adopt the Roman 

*^ " Justius multo est de iiicognitis bonum credere, quam malum; u-^ifl 
et illos Dei famulos et Dei dilectos esse non nego, qui simplicitate rustir;v, 
sed intentione pia Deum dilexerunt . . . quos utique credo, si quis tunc ad 
eos catholicus calculator advenerat. . . . Etsi enim patres tui sancti fuerint, 
nuniquid universali qua3 per orbem est ecclesite Christi, eorum est paucitas 
uno de angulo extrenias insulae prffiferenda. Etsi sanctus erat et poteus vir- 
tutibus ille Columba vaster, immo et noster si Cbristi erat." — Bbde, iii. 25. 
Tlie dubious and sligbtly disdainful tone used by tlie young Wilfrid in speak- 
ing of tlie great Columba, of whose life he was evidently ignorant, is re- 
markable. However, this speech is only found in Bcde, himself singularly 
hostile to Columba. Eddi, the contemporary and companion of Wilfrid, 
attributes to him much more humble language, of which he quotes little. 
Fleury, relating this scene, believes that be spoke against St. Columbanus 
of Luxeuil. 

■•* " Ille est ostiarius et clavicularius, contra quern concluctationem con- 
troversiee et judicioruni ejus in vita mea non facio, nee facientibus consen- 
tio." — Eddius, c. 10 Cf. Bkde, 1. c. 

"^ " Ha3c dicente rege, elevatis in coelum manibus, laverunt adsidentes 
quique, sive adstantes." — Bedk. 


custom. The sitting ended without any discussion of the 
other contested points, which, no doubt, were regarded as 
settled by the first decision. Of the three bishops who had 
taken part in the deHberation, Agilbert, ex-Bishop of the 
Western Saxons, embarked for his own country, and Cedd, 
Bishop of the East Saxons, who had acted as interpreter to 
the two adverse parties, renounced the customs of Lindis- 
farne, in which he had been educated, and returned to his 
diocese of London to spread the Roman usages there. 

But Colman, Bishop of the Northern Anglo- gigj^op 
Saxons, refused to recognize the decision of the coimKu 
council He could not resign himself to see his abdicates, 
doctrine despised, and his spiritual ancestors de- "olon^il."™' 
predated : he feared, also, the anger of his country- 
men, who would not have pardoned his defection.^^ Not- 
withstanding the affection and veneration showed for him 
by King Oswy, he determined to abandon his diocese. Ac- 
cordingly, taking with him all the Lindisfarne monks of 
Scottish origin, who would neither give up the Celtic Easter 
nor shave their heads in Roman fashion, he left Northumbria 
forever, and went to lona to consult the fathers of the order, 
or family of St. Columba. He carried with him the bones 
of his predecessor St. A'idan, the founder of Lindisfarne, and 
tirst Celtic evangelist of Northumbria, as if the ungrateful 
land had become unworthy to possess these relics of a be- 
trayed saint, and witnesses of a despised apostleship. Un- 
doubtedly this holy bishop, whose virtues, like those of his 
predecessors, draw, in this supreme hour, an eloquent and 
generous homage from the venerable Bede, would have done 
better to have yielded and remained in his diocese conform- 
ing to the customs of Rome. But what heart is so cold as 
not to understand, to sympathize, and to journey with him 
along the Northumbrian coast and over the Scottish moun- 
tains, where, bearing homewards the bones to his father, the 
proud but vanquished spirit returned to his northern mists, 
and buried in the sacred isle of lona his defeat and his uncon- 
querable fidelity to the traditions of his race ? 

*^ " Propter timorem patriae suae." — Eddids, 1. c. " Videns sprcitani 
Buam doctrinam. sectamque esse despectam." — Bbde, iii. 26. Cf. iv. 4. 




Oolman founds a half-Saxon, half-Celtic monastic colony in Ireland. — He 
is succeeded in Northunibria by the Anglo-Saxon Eata as prior of Lindis- 
farne, and by Tuda, an Irishman converted to the Romish ritual, as 
bishop. — Dedication of the great Monastery of Peterborough, founded 
by the Christian descendants of Penda, the last Pagan leader; at which 
Mercians and Northumbrians, Celts and Romanists, are present together; 
speech of King Wulphere. — Pestilence of 664; death of Tuda; Wilfrid 
elected Bishop of Northumbria. — Treating the Anglo-Saxon bishops as 
schismatics, he goes to be consecrated by the Bishop of Paris at Com- 
piegne, and removes his see from Lindisfarne to York. — On his return he 
is shipwrecked on the coast of Sussex, and fights with the natives. — Cel- 
tic reaction against Wilfrid ; King Oswy replaces him during his absence 
by an Irish abbot, Ceadda. — Sanctity and popularity of Ceadrla. — The 
Northumbrians observe the decree of Whitby as to the celebration of 
Easter, but refuse to retain Wilfrid as bishop. — He retires to his Monas- 
tery of Ripon. — He resides with the Kings of Mercia and of Kent. — He 
assists the holy Queen Ermenilda in completing the conversion of the 
Mercians. — He introduces the Gregorian chant and the Benedictine rule 
into Northumbria. — The Kings of Kent and Northumbria leave to the 
Pope the choice of the new metropolitan of Canterbury. — The Pope 
chooses a Greek monk Theodore, and associates with him Adrian, an Afri- 
can, and the Anglo-Saxon Benedict Biscop. — They are all three seized on 
their way by Ebroln, but released. — The pontificate of St. Theodore, the 
first metropolitan recognized by all England. — He re-establishes Wilfrid 
in the see of York, who makes Ceadda bishop of the Mercians. — HoW 
and peaceful death of Ceadda. — Theodore and Adrian visit all England. — 
Theodore's ecclesiastical legislation ; his book of penance. — He conse- 
crates the Celtic Cathedral of Lindisfarne. — He creates the parochial 
system as it now exists, and holds the first Anglo-Saxon council at Hert- 
ford. — He fails in increasing the number of bishoprics, but introduces 
the Benedictine order into the monasteries. — Literary development of 
the English monasteries due to Theodore and Adrian. — The Church of 
England is constituted, and the English nation becomes a lever in the 
hands of the Papacy. 

coiman ^^ ^^'^^ ^'^^ ^^'-^ ^^^^ priests of Celtic origin, Irish 

fouad'sa or Scotcli, who refuscd to sanction by their pres* 

^°ouy in GDce the introduction of Eoman practices at Lin- 

ireiaud. disfamc ', Colman Avas also accompanied by thirty 


Anglo-Saxon monks, perfectly versed in the study and offices 
of monastic life, who preferred the Celtic observances to 
those of Rome. After a short sojourn at lona, he led these 
emigrants to his native country, and established himself with 
them in a desert island on the west coast of Ireland called 
Innisbowen. or the Isle of the White Heifer, a name it still 
retains. But when confined in this islet, beaten by the 
waves of the great ocean, the Anglo-Saxons, whose devotion 
to Celtic tradition had been strong enough to sever them 
from their country, were unable to live amicably with the 
Irish, their ibrmer companions at Lindisfarne. They quar- 
relled about a purely material matter, wliich manifests even 
thus early the natural incompatibility of the two races who 
were destined afterwards upon Irish soil to fight more cruel 
battles. The Irish monks wandered all the summer through 
about their favorite spots, probably in many instances their 
native places ; but on their return in winter they expected 
to share the harvest which their English brethren had pain- 
fully cultivated and gathered in."*" Colman was obliged to 
separate them; leaving the Irish in their island, he installed 
the Anglo-Saxons in a monastery which, under the name of 
Mayo, flourished greatly, and which a century later still con- 
tinued to be occupied by English monks, fervent and labo- 
rious, who had, however, returned from Celtic usages to the 
orthodox rule, and probably to Benedictine discipline, which 
Wilfrid had established at the same time as he introduced 
conformity to the usages of Rome. 

Colman, however, while withdrawing from Lin- The new 
disfarne all his Celtic countrymen, and those of the Nortimm" 
Anglo-Saxons who sympathized with them, had no ^"1- 
intention of handing over definitely to the enemy the sa- 
cred isle in which his predecessors had delighted to recog- 
nize a new lona. Before setting out on his voluntary exile, 
he begged his friend King Oswy to allow the remaining 
monks at Lindisfarne to take for their superior that Eata 
whom Aldan had chosen among his twelve first Northum- 
brian disciples, and who, out of love to Celtic traditions, 

*^ " Eo quod Scotti tempore aestatis quo fruges erant colligendae, relicto 
iGonasterio, per nota sibi loca dispersi vagarentur; ut vero liieme succedente 
redirent, et his quas Angli praeparaverant, cominuniter uti desiderarent." — 
Bede, iv. 4. Is not this precisely the fable of the Grasshopper and the Ant? 
and is it not curious to discover, in a hidden corner of monkish history, a 
fresh proof of the radical difference and fatal incompatibility of the two 
races, Celtic and Saxon? This intractable Bishop Colman died in 674 or 
676; he is reckoned among the saints of the Irish martyrology. 



had given up the monastery at Ripon, in which Wilfrid suc^ 
ceeded him, and had again become abbot of Melrose — that 
is to say, of the novitiate establishment of the Celtic monks 
in Northiimbria, The king consented, and the confidant and 
friend of Colman became superior of Lindisfarne, with the 
title of prior, but the full authority of an abbot. 

After this it became necessary to proceed immediately to 
replace Colman as bishop of all Northumbria. His successor 
was one of his own countrymen, who resided in the diocese, 
and, indeed, during the pontificate of Colman, had been 
famed for his virtues and apostolical activity. This monk, 
named Tuda, had been educated in the monasteries of south- 
ern Ireland ; he had already conformed to the Roman ritual 
in the questions of the celebration of Easter and the form of 
the tonsure — these customs having been, it is said, adopted 
thirty years before by the district of Ireland to which he 
belonged. It was only, therefore, by his Celtic origin, that 
he was attached to the ancient traditions of the diocese. He 
died some months afterwards of a terrible pestilence; which 
in this year, 664, made cruel ravages in the British Isles. 
He was the last of the Celtic bishops of Northumbria.'*^ 

Before his death, however, there occurred a great religious 
and national solemnity, at which he was present, and which 
was celebrated in this same critical year of 664, so decisive, 
under more than one aspect, for England. This solemnity 
seems to have united in sincere and unanimous enthusiasm 
all the principal personages of the most important states of 
the Heptarchy, and it exhibits, in a special degree, the in- 
creasing ascendency of that Roman influence of which Wil- 
frid was henceforward the victorious champion. Its object 
was the dedication of a new monastery in Mercia, the king- 
dom which had been so long the stronghold of Saxon pagan- 
ism and the seat of an obstinate resistance to the missionary 
spirit of Northumbria. 
_ By one of those transformations so frequent 

Conversion i /-t • • i (• i • 

to Chris- among the Germanic races at the period ot their 
ti'ie'd^sceud- entrance into the Christian life, all the descend- 
peada!^ auts of the fierce Penda, the most obstinate and 
invincible of pagans, were destined to become in- 
trepid champions of Christianity, or models of monastic life. 

*^ "Famulus Christi Tuda qui erat apud Scottos austrinos eruditus, atque 
ordinatus episcopus, habeas juxta moreni provinciae illius coronam tonsuraa 
ecclesiasticae et catholicam temporis paschalis regulam observans." — BEUBr 
Ui. 26. 


Of his eight children who are known to us, three sons who 
reigned successively distinguished themselves by their re- 
ligious zeal, the third becoming a monk after a reign of thirty 
years; while three daughters, two of whom are counted 
among the saints of the English calendar, ended their lives 
in the cloister. The eldest son, Peada, who was son-in-law 
of Oswy, brother-in-law and friend of AlchiVid, and the ear- 
liest Christian of Mercia, continued to reign over one part 
of the kingdom, even after the defeat and death of his father, 
who perished under the avenging sword of Oswy. The 
father-in-law and son-in-law, united more closely by their faith 
than the father and son had been by the ties of blood, deter- 
mined to consecrate their alliance by founding a great mon- 
astery in honor of God and St. Peter, and cbose for this 
purpose a retired situation in the east of Mercia. 

Such was the origin of the Abbey of Peterbor- p.o.ju(j,,tion 
ough, the burgh or castle of St. Peter,^^ the most orrcter- 
ancient of those famous houses destined to rise " '' 

successively in the midst of the vast fens which formed a 
sort of natural frontier between the eastern and central Sax- 
ons, between Mercia and East Anglia. 

Peada died a violent death when the work was 
but beginuing-.-^*^ But it was taken up, and con- 
tinued by his young brother Wulphere, whom the Mercians, 
in revolt from Northumbrian domination, had chosen for their 
chief, who had been, like his elder brother, baptized by the 
second Celtic bishop of Lindisfarne,^^ and who always showed 
an ardent zeal for the extension and consolidation of Chris- 
tianity in his kingdom. His younger brothers and his two 
sisters, one of them the wife of the young King Alchfrid of 
Northumbria, the friend of Peada and Wilfrid, and all the 
witan — that is to say, the wise men and nobles, whether lay 
or ecclesiastical, of his public council ^^ — encouraged him to 
the utmost in finishing the first great monastic foundation in 
their vast territory. 

The abbot appointed from the beo:innin2; of the Solemn 
work was a monk named feexwuli, descended irom ofPetcr- 

" It was at first called MeJehauistedo, which means the house in iht 

°*^ By the treachery of his wife, daughter of Oswy, and sister of his friend 
Alchfrid, who, liaving married Peada's sister, was doubly his brother-in-law. 
— Bede, iii. 24. Anglo- Saxon Chronicle, ad an. 6G5. 

*' Act. SS. BollancL, vol. ii. February, p. 689. 

** Anglo-Saxon Qhronicle : Gibson's ed., Latin-Saxon text, p. 34; Giles't 
ed., English text, p. 321. 


borou'^h. 21 great and noble family, devoted to the service of 
fi***- " God, and much beloved by the Mercian Saxons. 
King Wulphere enjoined him to spare nothing to complete 
his brother's work magnificently, promising to be answerable 
for all the expense. When the building was finished the 
King of Mercia invited, for the day of consecration, the King 
of Northumbria, who was his godfather although he had be- 
come his political adversary, and whose dignity of Bretwalda 
entitled him to preside at the grand solemnities of the Saxon 
people ; and with him the two kings of the neighboring 
states of Essex and East Anglia, the Archbishop of Canter- 
bury and Bishop of Rochester,^-^ who were the first Anglo- 
Saxon monks raised to the episcopate ; Wini, who had taken 
the place of Agilbert as Bishop of the Saxons of the West;°^ 
the two bishops of Mercia and Northumbria,^^ both educated 
in Celtic monasteries ; and, last of all, Wilfrid, on whom all 
eyes had been turned by his late victories. Around these 
distinguished guests, both lay and ecclesiastical, were ranged 
all the earls and thanes, or great landed proprietors of the 
kingdom.^*^ It was therefore really a great political assem- 
bly as well as a religious one. When the Archbishop had 
ended the ceremony of dedication, and consecrated the mon- 
astery to St. Peter, St. Paul, and St. Andrew, King Wul- 
phere, placing himself in the midst of his family and his no- 
bles, spoke thus : — " Thanks be to the' most high and al- 
mighty God for the good deed which I do to-day in honor of 
Christ and St. Peter ! All, as many as are here present, be 
witnesses and sureties of the donation which I make to St. 
Peter, to the Abbot Sexwulf and his monks, of the land and 
water, the fens and brooks here mentioned. ... It is a tri- 
fling gift ; but I will that they hold and possess it so royally 
and freely that no impost may be levied upon it, and tiiat the 
monastery may be subject to no other power on earth, except 
the Hol};^ See of Rome, for it is hither that those of us who 
cannot go to Rome will come to seek and to visit St. Peter. 
I impkre you, my brother, and you, my sisters, be witnesses 

** Frithona and Ithamar. 

^* He was soon expelled from this usurped diocese ; but thanks to the pro- 
tection of Wulphere, he became Bisiiop of London, purchasing the see, ac- 
cording to Bede, who does not explain how the King of Mercia could dispose 
of the bishopric of the East Saxons. — Eccles. Hist., iii. 7, 28. Lappenberg 
concludes that Wulphere became Bretwalda after the death of Oswy. 

*^ Jaruman and Tuda. 

*® " Et ibi fuerunt omnes illius thani quotquot essent in suo regno. . . . 
Cum conntil>us, cum ducibus, et cum thanis." — Ghron. Anglo-Sax., p. 36-. 
Cf. Hook, Lives of the Archbishojjs, t. i. p. 13L 


to this for the good of your souls, and sign it with your 
hands. I implore those who shall succeed me, whether ray 
sons, my brothers, or others, to maintain this donation, as 
they wish to obtain eternal life, and to escape eternal tor- 
ment. Whoever shall take away from it, or add to it, may 
the keeper of the celestial gates take away from, or add to, 
his part in heaven." The four kings, the five bishops, the 
two brothers and two sisters of the king, the earls and lords, 
successively signed the act of donation with the sign of tlie 
cross, repeating this formula, " 1 confirm it by ray mouth and 
by the cross of Christ."^'' The document which contained 
the donation having been drawn up in accordance with the 
royal speech, the four kings and two princesses signed it 
first, then the bishops, and after them Wilfrid, who describes 
himself on this occasion as a " priest, servant of the Church- 
es, and bearer of the Gospel among the nations." ^^ 

Immediately following upon these events, came a terrible 
pestilence, which ravaged England, and chose its most illus- 
trious victims among those prelates of whom we have been 
speaking. It carried off first Biohop Cedda, who had acted 
as interpreter at Whitby, and bis thirty friends, of whose 
touching death at Lastingham we have already heard ; ^'■^ and 
after him the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of 
Northumbria, both of whom had signed the deed of dedica- 
tion of the new monastery of St. Peter.^'^ It became ^jif^j^ jg 
necessary, therefore, to provide for the see which promoted 
the death of Tuda had left vacant, that of Northum- bishopric. 
bria, tiie largest and most important of all the Eng- ''*'^* 
lish bishoprics. The Roman party believed itself so strong 
as to be able to disregard the tradition, not yet very vener- 
able, which made that great see the right of the Celtic 
monks. They determined to go further back, to the recol- 

" All these details are taken from the Anglo-Saxon Ohronicle, the most 
important and most authentic of all the jiistoric monuments of the Anglo- 
8axon epocli, after the history of Bede. Kemble, and after him several re- 
cent authors, see only modern interpolations in these passages relating to 
the Abbey of Peterborough, but give no direct proof of this opinion. Kem- 
ble, however, describes the consent of the assembly, half lay and half clerical, 
to the king's donation. {Codex Diplomat., n° 984.) M. Augustin Thierry 
has quoted the speech of Wulph^re as authentic {Hist, de la Conquete, t. i. 
p. 88, edit, of 184G), and I do not see any reason for not following his exam- 
ple. The most complete version of tlie deed is in Dugdale's Monasticon 
(vol. i. p. 63). There will be found in the Appendix some notes on the pres- 
ent condition of this famous abbey. 

58 *• Ego Wilfridus presbyter, famulus ecclesiarum, et bajulus evanp-elij 
Dei in gentes, atfectavi." 

*' Page 290. ^ Bede, iii. 25, 28, &c 


lections of the first mission sent from Rome, which, passing 
by Canterbury, was established at York by the Benedictine 
Panlinus. Besides this, the yonng king, Alchf'rid, was im- 
patient to see his friend Wilfrid master of spiritual authority 
in the kingdom Avhich had been brought back by him to 
unit}"- with Rome. He obtained the consent of his father, the 
Bretwalda Oswy, and both together reassembled the Wite- 
nagemot, to proceed to the election of a bishop, whose de- 
termination it should be to make Roman usages the law of 
his conduct. The Northumbrian thanes, consulted by the 
two kings, replied with one voice that no one in the whole 
country could be more worthy of the episcopate than Wilfrid, 
who was already priest and abbot. He himself was present 
at the assembly, and wished at first to decline the election. 
But he was commanded in the name of the Lord, and on the 
part of the kings and people of Northumbria, to submit his 
will to their unanimous choice.^^ 

This was a great victory for the Roman observances. It 
was never forgiven by the vanquished, and Wilfrid had to 
bear the penalty during all the remainder of his life. The 
Northumbrian dissenters submitted to the decision of Whitby, 
but they retained an implacable antipathy to the conqueror. 
The great Abbess Hilda, the Celtic monks of Lindisfarne, all 
those who remained faithful to the sacred memory of St. 
A'idan, and to that still more venerated, of Columba, appeared 
to have taken against Wilfrid the oath of Hannibal. Reduced 
to powerlessness on the Pascal question, in respect to which 
they could not struggle against Rome with the whole Church 
at her back, they regained the advantage when only the per- 
son of Wilfrid was concerned, who, dear as he was to the 
king's sou, was perhaps for that very reason less liked by 
Oswy, who, though he adopted the Roman Easter, could not 
destro}^ all traces of attachment to the ideas and customs of 
his youth. 

Wilfrid, meantime, chose this occasion to exhibit, yet more 

He does ^^^^'^ '^'^ Whitby, the bigoted and exclusive side of 

not wish to his character. He would not be consecrated by any 

of the bishops of his own country, not even by the 

" " Reges concilium cum sapientibus suae gentis . . . inierunt, quern eli- 
gerent in sedem vacantem, qui voluisset sedis apostolicse doctrinam sibi 
facere et alios docere. . . . Neminem haberaus raeliorem et digniorem nos- 
trae gentis quam Wilfridum . . . consenserunt reges et omnis populus luiic 
election!, et Wilfridum onmis conventus in nomine Domini accipcre gradum 
fipiscopalcni prajcepit." — Eddius, c. 2. 


Metropolitan of Canterbury. Although they wore ^ayEu^Lh 
all in communion with the Holy See, and though ijisiiop? 
many of them are still venerated as saints,*'^ he took upon 
himself, on his own authority, to class them with schismatics. 
" My lord kings," he said, " 1 must first of all consider the 
best means of reaching the episcopate according to your 
election, without exposing myself to the reproaches of true 
Catholics. There are in this island many bishops whom it is 
not my business to accuse, but they have ordained Britons 
and Scots whom the Apostolic See has not received into com- 
munion, because it does not i-eceive those that hold com- 
munion with schismatics.'^^ I therefore humbly besotich you 
to send me into Gaul, where there are many Catholic bishops, 
so that I may receive the episcopal character without oppo- 
sition to the Holy See." He thus confounded together the 
whole Celtic clergy of Great Britain and Ireland as schis- 
matics, though his apologists have not left us the least trace 
of any Papal decision which authorized him in taking this 
attitude. However, the two kings made no objection, but, 
on the contrary, gave him a numerous train and enough 
money to present himself to the Franks with the pomp he 
loved, and which suited the bishop of a great kingdom. He 
thus crossed the sea and went to Corapiegne to seek his 
friend Agilbert, formerly Bishop of the West Saxons, who 
had just been made Bishop of Paris. Agilbert received him 
with all honor as a confessor of the faith. Wilfrid was con- 
secrated with the greatest solemnity, and with the assistance 
of twelve other bishops. He was carried through the church, 
in the midst of the crowd, on a golden throne, by the hands 
of bishops, who chanted hymns, and who were alone admitted 
to the honor of supporting his throne. He was instit.ited 
Bishop, not of Lindisfarne, like his four predecessors, but of 
York, like Paulinus, the first bishop sent from Canterbury 
and from Rome, as if by this means to efface ail trace of the 
Celtic mission in Northumbria.^^ 

®^ Faber, p. 44. 

*^ At least this seems to be the meaning of the somewhat obscure language 
liis fi lend Eddi attributes to him : •' O domini venerabiles reges. . . . Sunt 
hie in Britannia multi episcopi, quorum nullum meum est accusare : quam- 
vis veraciter sciam quod baud quatuordecim anni sunt, ut Britones et Scoti 
ab illis siiit ordinati, quos nee apostolica sedes in communionem recepit, De- 
que eos qui schismaticis consentiunt." — C. 12. 

®* " Tale consilium bene regibus complacuit, praeparantes ei navem et aux- 
ilia hominum et multitudinem pecuniae. ... In sella aurea sedentem more 
eorum sursum clevarunt, portantes in manibus soli episcopi intra oratoria, 
auUo alio attingente. . . . Post spatium temporis ad sedem episcopalem 


Shipwreck H^^ staj in France was probably too much pro* 
andcombat lonffcd, and his return was not without disaster. 

on tliG o / 

coast of While he was crossing the Channel, and the clergy 
ussex. ^^j^^ accompanied him, seated on deck, replaced the 
ordinal y songs of the sailors by chanted psalms, a fearful 
storm arose, by which they were wrecked on the coast of 
Sussex — the smallest kingdom of the Heptarchy, inhabited, 
as its name indicates, by the Southern Saxons. The ebbing 
tide having left the ship aground, the people in the neighbor- 
hood made a rush to avail themselves of that right to wreck 
and derelict alwaj^s so dear to maritime populations, and 
which has been too long maintained even among the most 
Catholic, as in our own Bretagne. As the Southern Saxons 
were still pagans, we can scarcely admit, with one of Wil- 
frid's biographers, that they were excited against him by the 
malice of Celtic Christianity ; but they did not the less man- 
ifest their intention of taking possession of the vessel, and 
giving the shipwrecked strangers their choice between death 
and slavery. Wilfrid tried to pacify them, offering all he 
possessed for the liberty of himself and his followers. But 
the pagans were excited by one of their priests, who, stand- 
ing on the cliffs, cursed, like Balaam, the people of God, and 
looked as if he meant to destroy them by sorcery. One of 
Wilfrid's followers, armed, like David, with a sling, flung a 
stone at the heathen pontiff, whose skull it shattered ; and 
his corpse fell upon the sands. At this sight the rage of the 
savages redoubled, and they prepared to take the vessel b}^ 
storm. Wilfrid's Northumbrians, one hundred and twenty in 
number, resolved to defend themselves. They swore, accord- 
ing to Saxon custom, not to abandon each other, and to think 
of no alternative save a glorious death or victory. Wilfrid 
and his priests, kneeling on the deck, prayed while the others 
fought. Three times the ferocious wreckers mounted to the 
assault, and three times they were repulsed. They were 
preparing for a fourth attack, under the command of their 
king, who had been attracted by the hope of booty, when the 
tide suddenly turned, lifted the stranded vessel, and saved 
the travellers from their enemies. They landed peaceably 
at Sandwich, on the same Kentish coast where Augustin and 
his companions had for the first time trodden the coast of 

Ebracae civitatis hunc emiserunt." — Eddius, 1. c. Cf. Bede, iii. 28; 
Fridegodus, Vita Rhythmica, c. 11. 

*^ " Canentibus clericis et psallentibus laudem Dei pro celeiismate in choro. 
. . . Mare navem et homines relinquens . . . littora detergens, in abyssi 


A painful surprise awaited them. During the Celtic re- 
prolonged absence of Wilfrid the mind of Oswy had against 
changed. The victory of Whitby, like all other vie- KjUgOswy 
tories, was less complete than it at first seemed to r^P'%'^'1^ 

, ' , /->, 1 • '^ 1 1 i 1 I j_i '"™ by the 

be. ihe Celtic party, apparently destroyed by the irishman 
unanimous vote of the assembly, had now revived, 
and regained its credit with the Bretwalda. Tiie return of 
Oswy to his former predilections for the Celtic Church, in 
which he had been baptized and brought up, may probably 
be ascribed to the influence of the holy Abbess Hilda of 
Whitby, princess of the Northumbrian blood-royal, to whom 
the king had confided his daughter when consecrating her 
to God as the price of his victory over the Mercians and the 
completed liberation of his country .^^ As long as she lived 
Hilda remained faithful to the Celtic traditions, and her oppo- 
sition to Wilfrid never relaxed.^'^ It has also been supposed 
that Oswy had begun to be jealous of his son Alchfrid, and 
of the influence procured for him with the Roman party by 
his close alliance with Wilfrid, although it was Oswy himself 
who had associated his son with him in the royalty, and al- 
though his position as Bretwalda or suzerain of the Anglo- 
Saxon Confederation might have reassured him on that score.^^ 
But the confidant and biographer of Wilfrid affirms that the 
Celts (whom he most unjustly styles quartodecimans), with 
the aid of the devil, persuaded the king to take advantage 
of the absence of Wilfrid to appoint one of their party Bishop 
of York in his place.*^^ 

It is unanimously allowed that the man whom g^j^t, 
Oswy substituted for Wilfrid was a saint. His name chamcterof 
was Ceadda/*^ a monk of Anglo-Saxon birth, but ''^ '' 

niiitricem recessit. . . . Stans princeps sacerdotum idololatriaa coram pa- 
ganis in tumulo excelso, sicut Balaam . . . ut suis magicis artibus manus 
eoriim alligare nitebatur . . . retrorsum cadavere cadente sicut Goliatims in 
arenosis locis. . . . Inito pactu, ut nullus ab alio in fugam terga verteret, 
sed aut mortem cum laude, aut vitam cum triumpho habere mererentur." — 
Eddids, c. 13. 

6« See above, p. 297. 

*' Varin, account already quoted. William of Malmesbory, 1. c. 

^* Fabek, p. 46. A trace of this rivalry between father and son is clearly 
?hewn in this passage of Bede : — " Rex Alchfrid misit Wilfridum ad regem 
Galliarum, qui eum consecrari faceret episcopum. • . . Imitatus industriam 
filii rex Osviu misit Cantiam, virum sanctum." — iii. 28. 

®^ " Oswiu rex, male suadente invidia, hostis antiqui instinctu, alium prae- 
arripere inordinate sedem suam edoctus, consensit ab his qui quartadecima- 
nam partem contra apostolicae sedis regulam sibi elegerunt." — Eddius, c. 14, 

''° He is venerated in England under the name of St. Chad. " Religiosis- 
simum admirabilem doctorem, de insula Hibernia venientem." — Ecmus, o 
14. Bede, iii. 21, 23; iv. 2. 
VOL. II. 29 


8u^™'ss*^ who had been a disciple of St. Aidan. He was a 
of Wilfrid, brother of Bishop Cedd or Cedda, who had acted as 
interpreter at Whitby, and whose death, followed by that of 
his thirty friends, we have alread}^ mentioned. Ceadda had 
succeeded his brother as Abbot of Lastingham, the monastery 
which was, after Lindisfarne, the principal seat of the Celtic 
spirit in Northumbria. It was Oswy's desire, however, that 
the new bishop should be consecrated, not by the prelates of 
the Celtic ritual, but at Canterbury by the Saxon metropol- 
itan,'i who had always preserved a good understanding with 
the people of the north. But when Ceadda arrived at Can- 
ter bur}'^ he found that the terrible pestilence of 664 had 
carried off the archbishop, whose successor was not yet 
appointed. He then went to the land of the Eastern Saxons 
to obtain consecration from Wini, of whom we have heard at 
Whitby and Peterborough, but who also appears to have been 
moved by a reactionary impulse against the vote of the 
Council, since he called to his aid, in the consecration of 
Ceadda, two British bishops who had remained faithful to the 
Pascal usage of the Celts. "^ On his return to Northumbria, 
Ceadda peaceably took possession of his diocese, and displayed 
there the virtues which have for so long made his name pop- 
ular among the English, Well versed in Holy Scripture, he 
drew from it rules of conduct which he never disregarded. 
His humility, his sincerity, the purity of his life, his love for 
study, excited the admiration of the Northumbrian people, 
to whose evangelization he devoted himself, visiting the 
cities, villages, and castles, nay, even the most retired ham- 
lets, not on horseback, according to the favorite custom of 
the Saxons, but on foot, like the apostles, and like his master 
and predecessor St. A'idan.'^ 

It does not appear, however, that Ceadda or any other of 
the Celtic adversaries of Wilfrid attempted to reverse the 
decision of the Council of Whitby, or to maintain or re-estab- 
lish either the Celtic observance of Easter or the tonsure 
from ear to ear. It is probable that the opposition which 
arose against Wilfrid, continually increasing in violence, was 
directed less against Roman doctrines or practices than 
against himself personally. His precocious influence, and 

"' Frithona, also called Deusdedit. 

'* "Absuniptis in societateni ordlnationis duobus de Britonuni gente epis- 
copis, qui dominicum paschas diem . . . secus niorem canonicum, a quarta 
decinia usque ad vigesimara lunam celebrant." — Bede, iii. 28. 

" " Oppida, rura, casas, vicos, castella propter evangelizandum, non equi- 
tando . . . peragrare." — Bede, iii. 28. 


still more his violent proceedings against the Irish and their 
disciples, roused the popular dislike ; for it is proved that, 
wherever he had the power, he allowed the Celts only the 
choice of giving up their own customs or returning to their 
native country."* 

Thus dispossessed of his see, Wilfrid regained all wiirndro- 
his influence by the moderation and dignity of his ^imKL'tery 
conduct. He was only thirty years of age. His of Kipo»- 
youth might have excused some irritation, some warmth easy 
to be understood in the presence of so manifest an injustice. 
But far from yielding to this, he displayed the prudence and 
mature mind of a statesman, together with the humility and 
charity of a saint. He, so rigid an observer of the canon 
law, so scrupulous with regard to liturgical irregularities, 
iiad here to oppose an inexcusable abuse of power, a direct 
violation of the laws of the Church — he had to vindicate an 
evident right, solemnly conferred by the Northumbrian 
king and nation, and solemnly consecrated by the Church. 
And yet he preferred to be silent, to withdraw himself, and 
to trust to the justice of God and of the future. Thus the 
saint begins to be visible in his character ; and it must not 
be forgotten, as an additional claim upon our interest, that 
the pious usurper of the see was himself already accounted 
a saint, and placed by public veneration in the high rank 
which he has for nine hundred years maintained in the regard 
of English Catholics. 

Wilfrid, whose episcopal character no one could ne stays 
despise, but who had no longer a diocese, retired j^i"J,J''®j. 
calmly, and even joj'fully, to the Monastery of Ripon, Moma and 
which he held by the generosity of the young King ^^*^"*' 
AlchfVid, and there lived in study and seclusion.'^ It may 
be supposed that his friend Alchfrid went thither to console 
liim — if, indeed, he were living at the time of Wilfrid's re- 
turn ; for from that moment he disappears from history, 
though there is no record of his death. But Wilfrid was not 
long permitted to remain in his monastery. Wulphere, King 

^■* " Ipse perplura catholicae observationis moderamina ecclesiis Anglorura 
sua doftrina contulit. Uiule factum est, ut, crescente per dies institiitione 
catliclica, Scotti omnes qui inter Anglos niorabantur aut his maims darent, 
aut suam redirent ad patriam." — Bede, iii. 28. " Hie primus verum pasclia, 
ejectis Scottis, in Northumbria docuit." — Thom. de Elmham., Hist. Monast, 
S. Augustini, p. 198. 

'* " Placido vultu et hilari pectore coenobium suum in Ripon repetiit, ibi 
que cum magna mentis stabilitate." — Ricard. Hagulstad., Hist Eccles 
Hag list., c. 6. 


of Mercia, the founder of Peterborough, invited him to his 
kingdom, where at that time there was no bishop."^ 

Although this kingdom had been converted and governed 
by Celtic monks, Wulphere was naturally drawn to favor tho 
champion of the Roman ritual, by his marriage with Erme- 
nilda, daughter of the King of Kent, and, consequently, 
sprung from that race which first received the teachings of 
Rome from the lips of St, Augustin. She was 
iida, Queon nieco of Eanflcda, Queen of Northumbria, who hail 
afterwards '^sou the first protoctross of Wilfrid, and who had 
abbess of carried back from her exile and education at Can- 
^" terbury so faithful an attachment to the Roman 

customs. King Wulphere, Queen Ermenilda, and the Abbot 
Wilfrid, therefore labored together to extend and consolidate 
the Christian faith, in that vast kingdom of Mercia, which, 
already began to rival Northumbria in importance. 

Thanks to the great territorial donations made to him by 
the king, Wilfrid was able to found several monasteries, in 
one of which he was destined to end his life. He thus lent 
powerful aid in achieving the happy results which were 
chiefly due to Queen Ermenilda, This gentle and noble 
woman, who, like so many other princesses of the race of 
Hengist, ended her days in the cloister, and is inscribed in 
the list of saints, had been chosen by God to complete the 
transformation into Christians of those terrible Mercians, who, 
more than all the other Anglo-Saxons, had remained faithful 
to their national paganism, and had been so long the terror 
of the new-born Christianity of England. She succeeded as 
much by her bounties and good example, as by her energetic 
perseverance. The unwearied activity of her self-devotion 
„ was only equalled by her angelic sweetness. She 

never ceased her exertions until, after a reign of 
seventeen years with Wulphere, idolatry had completely dis- 
appeared from Mercia, Then, on the death of her husband, 
she entered the monastery, where her mother awaited her, 
and which had been founded by her aunt."'' 

'^ Bishop Jaruman had been sent by Wulphere to lead back to the true 
faith the Eastern Saxons, who, since the great pestilence of 664, had fallen 
into idolatry. See above, p. 291. 

" " Sua dulcedine, blandifluis hortamentis, moribus ac beneficiis indomita 
ainlcens pectora, ad suave Cliristi jugum rudes populos et indoctos excitabat. 
, . . Nee requievit invicta, donee idola et ritus diemoniacos extirparet. . . . 
Act. SS. Bollavd., vol. ii. Feb., p. 691. The history of the Monastery of 
Ely, founded by St. Etheldreda, and of which Ermenilda succeeded her moth- 
er, Sexburga, as abbess, will be found further on. 


Iii order to understand clearly the aspect of these earliest 
ages of the political and religious history of England, it is 
needful to remember the ties of blood which united all the 
kings and princesses of different dynasties who governed the 
kingdoms of the Heptarchy, and claimed their descent from 
Odin. This relationship frequently serves to guide us through 
the maze of incidents which favored or retarded the preach- 
ing of the Gospel. Thus the gentle and noble Ermenilda 
was the sister of Egbert, King of Kent, who, faith- Egbert, 
ful, like her, to the traditions of his family, always ^"0!°^ 
showed himself full of zeal for religion such as •'W-o,-.?. 
Augustin had preached it to his ancestor Ethelbert, and full 
of affection for Wilfrid. Accordingly, after the death of 
Augustin's fifth successor, the metropolitan see having re- 
mained vacant for some years, Egbert invited the Abbot of 
Ripon to preside over the spiritual government of his king- 
dom, and to provide for the ordinations. 

Wilfrid exercised this provisional authority for 
three years ; dividing his time between his Northum- 
brian monastery, and the diocese of Canterbury, where he made 
many friends, whose aid he secured for the benefit of his 
Abbey of Ripon. One of his first acts was to bring to wiifrid 
Ripon two monks of the monastery of St. Augustin, {"le'^^'re-^* 
good musicians, who introduced among the Anglo- sorian^ 
Saxons the Gregorian chant, always used at Canter- the Beue- 
bury ; and it is to one of these, named Hedd, or hlto no™'^ 
Eddi, that we owe the extremely valuable and curi- thumbna. 
oua biography of his bishop. With these singers Wilfrid 
brought also masons, or rather architects, ccementarii, and 
other artists or workmen, all, no doubt, monks of the same 
monastery, whose talents he proposed to employ in the great 
building of which he already dreamed. Finally, he brought 
from the first sanctuary created by the Benedictines in Eng- 
land, a gift yet more precious and more fruitful than music 
or architecture, the rule of St. Benedict, which no one had 
hitherto attempted to introduce into the Northumbrian mon- 
asteries.'^ Wilfrid constituted himself its ardent and zeal- 
ous missionary, advancing its adoption side by side with that 

'* "Cum cantatoribus J3dde et ^ona et caementariis omnisque paene artis 
niinisterio in regionem suaiii revertens cum regula Benedict!, instituta eccle- 
siarum bene melioravit." — Eddius, c. 14. " Nonne ego ouravi . . . quo- 
modo vitam monachoruin secundum regulam S. Benedict! patris, quam nullus 
ibi prius invexit, constituerem ? " — Ibid., c. 45. Cf. Mabillon, Act. SS. 0, 
S. B., t. V. p. 633, puis Annales Benedidini, lib. xv. n. 64. 



of the Roman tonsure, the exact observance of Easter, and 
the harmonious and alternate chanting of the liturgy. He 
succeeded thoroughly ; for it is to him and to him alone that 
we must attribute the gradual but rapid substitution of the 
Benedictine rule for Celtic traditions in the great and numer- 
ous communities which the sons of St. Coluraba had created in 
the north of England. It has been already made apparent 
in the life of St. Columba, that there was no fundamental 
difference between monastic life as regulated by the groat 
legislator of Monte Cassino, and that practised at lona and in 
the other communities of Ireland and Great Britain. The only 
difference that can be indicated as distinctly characteristic of 
monastic life among the Celts, is a certain increased austerity 
in fasts and other mortifications, and a more decided applica- 
tion to the copying of manuscripts. ^^ But in the opinion of 
Wilfrid, as in the general interest of the Church, it was of 
great consequence that the powerful regular army of Saxon 
Christianity should march under the same flag, and answer 
to the same watchword. The watchword and the flag had 
been brought from Rome by the Benedictine missionaries of 
Mont-Coelius, and confided to the two great monastic founda- 
tions of Canterbury, from whence Wilfrid brought them to 
make of them the supreme, and henceforward ineffaceable, 
characteristics of English ecclesiastical organization. 
Choice of Bowover, the aspect of affairs was about to 

metropoli- uudergo another change. It was needful to find 
^'^°- a successor for Archbishop Deusdedit. For this 

purpose, the King of Northumbria, Oswy, made use of the 
superior authority in ecclesiastical affairs which seems to 
have been accorded to the Bretwalda ; he showed, at the 
same time, that though the Celtic party, by appealing to the 
recollections of his youth, had been able to persuade him to 
make Wilfrid the victim of an unjust exclusion, he remained, 
nevertheless, sincerely submissive to the primacy of the Holy 
See, which he had so solemnly recognized at Whitby. After 
consultinar with the young King Egbert of Kent 

667 ^. . .' o o o 

and the chiefs of the Anglo-Saxon clergy, he appomt- 
ed a monk of Canterbury, named Wighard, universally known 
to be worthy of the episcopate, a Saxon b}^ birth, but trained 
in the school of the first missionaries sent from Rome by St. 

'* As to the election of abbots, which was one of tlie most essential bases 
of the Benedictine rule, it appears tiiat Wilfrid himself departed from it with- 
out hesitation by naming to his monks the successor they were to give him. 
— Eddius, c. 61. 


Gregory ,^^ and thus uniting all the conditions necessary to 
satisfy at once the exigencies of the national spirit and those 
of the most severe orthodoxy. Then, still acting in conjunc- 
tion with the King of Kent, he did what had never before 
been done by an Enghsh king, nor, ihdeed, so far as I know, 
by the king of any newly converted nation ; he sent the 
archbishop-elect to Rome to be consecrated by the Pope, so 
that he might be able to ordain perfectly orthodox bishops 
in all the churches of England. 

Wighard had but just arrived at Rome, when he Referred 
died there with nearly all his attendants. The two o^vvy"to 
kings then resolved to leave to the Pope the choice *'"'' ^"p^- 
of the new metropolitan of England. 

But great as was Oswy's zeal and humility in yielding to 
Roman supremacy, the want of eagerness displayed by Vi- 
talien, who was then Pope, in using the power thus given up 
to him, was equally remarkable. He replied to Oswy that 
he had not yet been able to find a person suited for so dis- 
tant a mission, but promised to make further attempts to find 
one, and in the mean time congratulated the king on his 
faith, exhorting him to continue to conform, whether with 
regard to Easter, or to any other question, to the traditions 
of the Apostles Peter and Paul, whom God had given to the 
world as two great lights, to enhghten every day the hearts 
of the faithful by their doctrine ; and exhorted him to com- 
plete the work of the conversion and union of the whole island 
in the same apostolic faith. He sent him, at the same time, 
some relics of different martyrs, and a cross containing a 
portion of the chains of St. Peter for Queen Eanfleda, the 
friend of Wilfrid. " Your wife," said the Pope, " is our 
spiritual daughter; her virtues and good works are our joy, 
and that of all the Roman Church, and they bloom before 
God like the perfumed flowers of spring." ^^ 

"" " Intellexer It enim veraciter quaravis educatus a Scottis, quia Romana 
esset catholica et apostolica ecclesia. . . . Gum electione et consensu sanctae 
ecclesias gentis Anglorum. . . . Viruni nomine Vigherdum qui a Roman is 
B. Gregorii papje discipulis in Cantia fuerat omni ecclesiastica institutione 
sufficienter edoctus." — Beue, Hist. Eccles., iii. 29; Hist. Abb at um in Wira- 
mittha et Girvum, n. 3. 

®' " Hominem docibilem et in omnibus ornatum antistitem, secundum ves- 
trorum scriptorum tenorem, minima valebimus nunc reperire pro longinqui- 
tate itineris. . . . Festinet vestra celsitudo, ut optamus totam suam insulam 
Deo Cliristo dicare. . . . De cujus pio studio cognoscentes, tantum cuncta 
sedes apostolica una nobiscum laetatur, quantum ejus pia opera coram Deo 
fragrant et vernant." 


St Theo- After a new and long search the Pope fixed hia 

dore, a choice on Adrian, an African by birth, and Abbot 

monk, sev- of a monastery near Naples, equally versed in eccle- 

bfshopo?' siastical and monastic discipline, and in the knowl- 

canter- edffo of Greek and Latin. Adrian made no obiec- 

bury. . ^ , . . . "^ 

tion either to the distance or to his ignorance of the 
Anglo-Saxon language, but he declared himself unworthy of 
the episcopate, and pointed out to the Pope a monk whose 
age and qualifications accorded better with this difficult mis- 
sion. This was a monk named Andrew, attached to a nun- 
nery in Italy, and who was judged worthy to be chosen ; but 
his bodily infirmities obliged him to give up the appoint- 
ment. Then Adrian, again urged by the Pope, proposed to 
him another of his friends, a Greek monk named Theodore, 
born, like St. Paul, at Tarsus, but then living at Rome, of 
good life and morals, of a knowledge so profound and various, 
that he was surnamed the Philosopher,^^ g^n(j already of a ven- 
erable age, being sixty-six years old. This proposition was 
The Pope accepted by the Pope, but with the condition that the 
jj7m\h2^^ Abbot Adrian should accompany his friend to Eng- 
African land, to watch over his proceedings, that nothing con- 

Adrian and , . . ^ . ^ . 

theAntrio- trary to the orthodox faith might be introduced in- 
Benedict to f^e Church, as was too often done by the Greeks. 
Biscop. This precaution was justified by the cruel and san- 
guinary dissensions which then disturbed the Eastern 
Church, occasioned by the heresy of the Monotheists, and the 
constant interference of the Byzantine emperors in questions 
of faith. The matter being thus arranged, Theodore, who 
bad his head entirely shaved, after the custom of the Eastern 
monks, was obliged to defer his journey for four months, that 
his hair might grow, before ho could receive the crown- 
shaped tonsure of the West. As soon as his hair had been 
■/oth March, propcrly shaved, he was consecrated by the Pope, 
^•^^^ and started with the Abbot Adrian for England. 

But to the Asiatic and the African, so strangely chosen to 
rule the Anglo-Saxon Church, and who so well fulfilled their 
task, the Pope wisely determined to add a third, whose help, 
especially at the commencement of their mission, would be 
indispensable to them. This was the young Northumbrian 
noble, Benedict Biscop, whom we have seen start from Eng- 
land to make his pilgrimage to Rome with Wilfrid, parting 

'* " Sseculari simul et ecclesiastica philosophia prasditum virum, et hoc in 
utraque lingua, graeca scilicet et latina." — Bede, Hist. Ahbatum, c. 3. Cf 
Hist. Ecclesiast., iv. 1. 


from him at Lyons. After his first journey, Benedict re- 
turned to England, and gave his countrymen an ecstatic 
account of all that he had seen at Rome, every recollection 
of which he cherished. These recollections drew him a 
second time to Rome, where, after new studies and new 
enjoyments, he received the tonsure, and embraced a monas- 
tic life at the great sanctuary of Lerins, where Abbot Ay- 
gulphe had just introduced the Benedictine rule.^^ After re- 
maining two years in this still venerated isle, he was unable 
to resist his desire of returning to Rome out of devotion to 
St. Peter. He arrived there for the third time in a trading 
vessel, and remained until Pope Yitalien commanded him to 
give up this pilgrimage in order to accomplish a much more 
meritorious one by returning to his own country as guide 
and interpreter to the new archbishop.^* Benedict obeyed, 
and seventy years after the mission of St. Augustin, the three 
envoj^s started for England to take possession of it, as it 
were, a second time, in the name of the Church of Rome. 
But their iourney was not without hinderance ; „,^ 

, . "^ •' . r -Tt ^^'^ apos- 

it took them more than a year to go irom Kome toiictravei- 
to Canterbury. Instead of finding in France, as ed^onYheir 
Augustin had done, the generous assistance of a ^^^'r^m'''^ 
queen like Brunehilde, the new missionaries became 
the prey of the tyrant Ebro'in, mayor of the palace, the first 
of those great statesmen, too numerous in our history, whom 
povsiterity has so meanly admired or absolved, and who, to the 
misfortune of our country, sought the triumph of their per- 
sonal greatness only in the universal abasement and servi- 
tude of others. The presence of these three personages, a 
Greek, an African, and an Anglo-Saxon, all bearing recom- 
mendations from the Pope, appeared suspicious to the all- 
powerful minister. The Byzantine emperor, Constantino II., 
at that time still sovereign of Rome, which he had lately 
visited and pillaged, but where he talked of re-establishing 
the seat of empire, had excited the anxiety of Ebroin, who 

®* Alliez, Iiistoire du Monastere de Lerins, 1860, vol. i. p. 371. I am 
glad to mention, in passing, this monograpli as one of the best works of our 
tim^, on monastic history. 

•** '"Adpatriam reversus studiosius ea quae videt ecelesiasticse vitae insti- 
tuta diligere et quibus potuit praedicare non desiit. . . . Non pauca scienti» 
salutaris quemadniodum et prius hausta dulcedine. . . . Adveniente nave 
niercatorio, desiderio satisfecit. . . . Et quia Benedictum sapientem, indus- 
trium, religiosuni ac nobilem virum fore conspexit (papa) huic . . . cum 
comitibus suis commendavit episcopum . . . cui pariter interpres existera 
posset et ductor." — Hist. Abbatum, c. 2. 3. 


imagined that the Papal messengers might be charged with 
the management of some plot between the Emperor and the 
Anglo-Saxon kings against the Prankish kingdom of Neustriu 
and Burgundy, of which he regarded himself as chief. The 
Abbot Adrian appeared to him the most dangerous, and he 
therefore detained him a prisoner for two years after the 
release of the others. Meanwhile, thanks to the direct inter- 
vention of King Egbert, the Archbishop Theodore was ea- 
27th May, ablcd to roach England, and solemnly take posses- 
669- sion of his see. His first act was to confide to 

Ilia pious companion, Benedict Biscop, the government of that 
great abbey near Canterbury which contained the sepulchres 
of the archbishops and kings, and which had been dedicated 
by St. Augustin to St. Peter, though it is now only known 
by the name of the Apostle of England. Benedict remained 
there as superior until the arrival of Adrian, to whom it 
was transferred by the new archbishop, according 
to the Pope's commands that the African abbot and 
the monks who accompanied him should be established in 
his diocese.^^ 

The arrival of St. Theodore marks a new era in the history 
of the Anglo-Saxons.^^ 

Pontificate There must have been, indeed, a stern courage 
dofe!"^**^" and a holy ambition in this grand old man to induce 
669-690. i^jjQ^ Q^ sixty-seven years of age, to undertake so 
laborious a task as that of the spiritual government of Eng- 
land. The history of the Church presents few spectacles 
more imposing and more comforting than that of this Greek 
of Asia Minor, a countryman of St. Paul, a mitred philoso- 
pher^' and almost septuagenarian monk, journeying from the 
shores of the East to train a young nation of the West — 
disciplining, calming, and guiding all those discordant ele- 
ments, the different races, rival dynasties, and new-born 
forces, whose union was destined to constitute one of the 
greatest nations of the earth. 

Thanks to the assistance of the powerful King of 

He is the . . 

first metro- Northumbria, the new Archbishop of Canterbury 

ogn^ze/^''' found himself invested, for the first time, with 

England authority recognized by all the Anglo-Saxons. This 

supremacy, which the intelligent desire of the Bret- 

** Bede, Hist. Eccles., iv. 1; Hist. Abbat., c. 3. 

** LiNGARD, Anglo-Saxon Church, vol. i. p. 77. 

" " Cofamulum et coepiseopum nostrum, magtiEe insulae Britanniffl archie- 
piscopuni et philosophum." — Epist. Agathonis Papce ad Imp., ap. Baro* 
KiUM, an. G80. 


walda Oswy for union with Rome enabled liim to exercise, 
was solemnly recognized by Pope Vitalien, who renewed in 
his favor all the prerogatives conferred by Gregory the 
Great on Augustin and the see of Cant