« PreviousContinue »
the corpse with crossed legs, erected head, and the arms raised above it. He was, however, at a loss how to dig a grave, being also an old man of ninety, and having no spade or any instrument of that kind. In this distress he saw two lions hurrying towards him from the interior of the desert. The lions, in the best manner they could, gave him to understand that they meant him no harm, but, on the contrary, were much affected by the death of Paul. They then set to work with their claws, and having made a hole of sufficient size to contain the dead body, quietly and decently retired to their fastnesses. Anthony took possession of Paul's coat, which was made of palmleaves like a basket, and wore it regularly as a holiday-dress on Easter and Whitsunday *.
* “Cumque ad ejus cellam pervenisset, invenit genibus complicatis, erecta cervice, extensisque in altum manibus, corpus exanime: quod pallio obvolvens, hymnosque et psalmos ex Christiana traditione decantans, cum sarculum, quo terram foderet non haberet, duoleonesex interiore eremo, rapido cursu ad beati senis corpus feruntur: ut facile intelligeretur, eos, quo modo poterant, ploratum edere; qui certatim terram pedibus effodientes, foveam, quae hominem commode caperet, effecerunt. Qui cum abiissent, Antonius sanctum corpus in eum locum intulit: et injectà humo, tumulum ex Christiano
The life of Saint Benedict, the great propagator of monastic life in the sixth century, has furnished the Breviary with several curious miracles. One of the first among the wonders he wrought, does not give a favourable idea of the character of religious associations at that period. Saint Benedict, having undertaken the government of a certain monastery, where he wished to introduce a more severe discipline than the inmates were disposed to follow, had a poisoned cup presented by the monks. He would have fallen a victim to their wickedness but for the habit of making the sign of the cross over everything he eat or drank. The sign was no sooner made than the cup burst into pieces and spilt the deadly contents on the table.
Saint Benedict is inseparably coupled in my recollection with his sister, Saint Scholastica, who
had the gift of working a peculiar kind of light,
more composuit: tunicam veró Pauli, quam in sportae modum ex palmae foliis ille sibi contexuerat secum auferens, eo vestitu diebus solemnibus Paschae et Pentecostes, quoad vixit, usus est.” Die xv. Januarii.-I give the original words only for
the passages which might appear exaggerated in my own descriptions.
playful miracles, which our neighbours, the French, would probably denominate miracles de famille. By one of these, the holy nun Scholastica, who paid a yearly visit to her brother in an outhouse of his monastery, wishing to keep him a whole night in conversation, and not being able to persuade him, forced him to break the rule which bound him to sleep in his cell. The manner of carrying her point was simple enough. On hearing a positive refusal, she crossed her hands, laid them upon the table, then reclined her head upon them, and wept profusely. Her tears disturbed the state of the atmosphere, which, at that moment, was beautiful; and a violent storm of thunder and rain instantly ensued. In a few minutes the rivers overflowed their banks, and the whole country around was like a sea. Benedict, who was familiar with miracles, could not mistake the cause of the storm, and goodnaturedly reproached his sister. “What could I do?” said she with a saintly archness, of which none but readers of the Breviary could ever suspect the existence: “I entreated you, and was refused ; I therefore asked my God, and he heard me. Now, brother, N
go if you cam: leave me and rum away to your monastery." This playfulness is the more surprising as the good lady Scholastica had them a certainty of her approaching death. Benedict saw her soul, in the shape of a dove, wing up her way to heaven omly three days after this miracle. —The instructive Lessoms in which this is related come from mo vulgar pen. They are portions of
the Dialogues of Pope Gregory the Great*.
* Scholastica, venerabilis Patris Benedicti soror, ... ad eum semel per annum venire consueverat : ad quam vir Dei non longè extra januam in possessione monasterii descendebat. Quâdam vero die venit ex more, atque ad eam cum discipulis, venerabilis ejus descendit frater, qui totum diem in Dei laudibus, sanctisque colloquiis ducentes, incumbentibus jam noctis tenebris, simul acceperunt cibum. Cumque adhuc ad mensam sederent, et inter sacra colloquia tardior se hora protraheret, eadem sanctimonialis fæmina soror ejus eum rogavit, dicens: “ Quæso te, ut istâ nocte me non deseras, ut usque manè de cælestis vitæ gaudiis loquamur." Cui ille respondit: “ Quid est quod loqueris, soror ? manere extra cellam nullatenus possum.” Tanta verò erat coeli serenitas, ut nulla in aëre nubes appareret. Sanctimonialis autem fæmina, cum verba fratris negantis audivisset, insertas digitis manus super mensam posuit; et caput in manibus, omnipotentem Dominum rogatura, declinavit. Cumque levaret de mensa caput, tanta corruscationis et tonitrui virtus, tantaque inundatio, pluviæ erupit, ut neque venerabilis Benedictus, neque fratres qui cum eo aderant, extra loci limen, quo consederant, pedem movere
No one, however, who observes the profusion of wonders recorded in the breviary, can be surprised at these sportful displays of supernatural power. There is scarcely a saint who has not been honoured by miracles, which I would call ornanental. Celestial meteors have generally shone
over the houses where a future saint was born,
potuerint. Sanctimonialis quippe fæmina caput in manibus declinans, lacrymarum fluvium in mensam fuderat, per quas serenitatem aëris ad pluviam traxit. Nec paulo tardius post orationem inundatio illa secuta est : sed tanta fuit convenientia orationis, et inundationis, ut de mensa caput jam cum tonitru levaret : quatenus unum idemque esset momentum, et levare caput, et pluviam deponere. Tunc vir Dei, inter corruscos, et tonitruos, atque ingentis pluviæ inundationem, videns se ad monasterium non posse remeare, coepit conqueri contristatus dicens: “ Parcat tibi omnipotens Deus, soror, quid est quod fecisti?” Cui illa respondit: “ Ecce rogavi te, et audire me noluisti ; rogavi Dominum meum, et audivit me : modò ergo, si potes, egredere, et me dimissâ ad monasterium recede,” &c. Die 10 Februarii.
The collect for the feast of Scholastica is both a specimen of the assurance with which the church of Rome circulates her legends, and ofher tenets concerning the intercession of saints. « Deus, qui animam beatæ Virginis tuæ Scholasticæ ad ostendendam innocentiæ viam, in columbæ specie coelum penetrare fecisti, da nobis, ejus meritis et precibus, ita innocenter vivere, ut ad æterna mereamur gaudia pervenire." This is almost an invariable form of words in the Roman Catholic collects.