Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Austrigisilus of Bourges

translation copyright Sarah Brush (nee Hamilton)

Austrigisilus of Bourges


Vita Austrigisili Episcopi Biturgi, ed. B. Krusch, Monumenta Germaniae Historica Scriptores Rerum Merovingicarum IV pp. 188-208.

HERE BEGINS THE LIFE OF THE HOLY AUSTRIGISILUS BISHOP AND CONFESSOR.

1. Austrigisilus was born to a man by the name Auginus, a native of the town of Bourges. His father was a parent of noble descent and did not lack opulence or great riches but was sufficient in the substance of all things. Indeed when Austrigisilus was in his boyhood he was instructed in sacred letters. When he had crossed from youth to a more robust age he was sent by his father into the indulgence of the glorious King Guntram. There he served prudently for a long time under the discipline of the secular world. He was most favoured by the king and most loved by all his companions to such a great extent that the king offered to wipe his hands with a linen cloth. This was the service which he himself was accustomed to perform for the king because he was called the naperer. After a time he departed from secular life and most vigilantly pressed upon alms giving and vigils. He spent day and night in prayers and longed for the heavenly kingdom with unutterable love. Thus in this world he was seen to serve most faithfully the One to whom he greedily desired to be joined inseparably in the heavens.

2. At one time he began to be pressed by his parents that he should take a wife. Shunning the loss of modesty and the troubles of marriage he refused the marriage and said, “The wish and power of the Lord must be awaited in this matter. I will follow his command, whether good or bad, without doubt. If he judges it to be good I fear that I shall lose something, if he judges it to be bad I fear that I will not be able to care. What things may come to me in my doubt after a space of some thought which are to be involved in marriage with a woman? As I am able to live freely why should I deliver myself to another servitude?” Hearing this his parents began to be afflicted with sadness and to urge him more intently that he should act according to their wish in this instance. So that he was not seen to make them unhappy and because he desired to have their prayers thus he promised that if it happened that it was the wish of the Lord he would do what they urged him to do.

3. When he was in the service of the aforesaid king he began to turn this matter over in his mind so that he asked what would be worthy of him. It came into his mind that there were three men from the neighbourhood and nearby who were equals in the nation and of similar family and status. Writing their names on three sheets of parchment he placed them under the cloth on the altar in the basilica of the holy John near the town of Chalon-sur-Saône. He prayed that he might persist in prayer three nights without taking possession of sleep and after the passage of three nights he might stretch forth his hand so that the Lord should deign to move him so that he should seize a slip of parchment and whoever’s name he found written on it he should seek his daughter as his wife. When he had passed one night without the repose of sleep he began to be vexed with sleep as he came to the altar. Around the middle of the night he was then not able to bear the numbness of sleep on bended knee so he lay on a bed and fell asleep. Behold two old men stood before the altar in sight of him. They had old and worthy faces. One said to the other, “To whose daughter will this Austrigisilus be betrothed?” The second said to the one asking, “Do you not know that he is already betrothed?” He said, “To whose daughter.” The other answered, “To the daughter of the Judge Justus.” Having been awakened from this vision, he began to deliberate who this Justus might be and whose judge he was and whether he had an unmarried daughter. Since he could not discover who he was Austrigisilus became doubtful of the petition. He came by custom to the court of the king and came into the fort where he possessed lodgings. Among the strangers congregated in that place there was a stranger, a poor old man with his wife. When she had seen him that woman began to say, “Landlord stand a little while and I will recount to you the vision which I have just seen of you at the dawn. I seemed to hear a great resounding crash like the voices of psalm singing and I said to your host, ‘Man what is this which I hear? Surely some festivities are to be celebrated today by the priests. Where shall the procession be?’ and he said to me, ‘Our Landlord Austrigisilus takes a wife.’ Then I went into the street with joy and with great alacrity to see the girl so that I might consider her face and appearance. When the clerics had come through this street in white vestments carrying crosses and singing psalms, according to the custom of processions, you came the last of them and the face of the future followed behind you. Being curious, I looked and I did not see one of our sex nor was a girl which you should take as wife seen to be present. I said to your host, ‘Where is the girl which our Landlord has received?’ However he said, ‘Do you not see her in his hands?’ and I looked. I could see nothing in your hands but the book of the gospel.” Then the blessed man understood that, according to her vision and his dream, he had been called by the wish of God to marry that little woman which is the office of priest. When he had come into the palace beating himself he uncovered the host of hosts. When he entered the house of the king by his custom the king blessed the business in these words and in this order with a loud voice: “You have placed the crown of precious stones on his head,” and the other things which follow in that psalm. From then he was confirmed in this hope of faith on account of the calling from the Lord. He began act more zealously in good works and ceased to think any further of the marriage which was to have happened.

4. The master of all malice, the envious and cunning enemy of human kind saw that Austrigisilus thirsted for the blessed eternal life with great ardour. He began to prepare temptations with his deceptions so that he might able to inhibit the servant of God from this holy intention. There was then in the palace of the king a certain wild man called Bethelenus who was endowed with power and excessive pride. He fraudulently governed the affairs of the treasury in a reckless way. When it came to be known by the king that he showed him false authority, the king said, “Who, has given this order?” He said, “Austrigisilus the naperer.” Having been sent for and questioned, Austrigisilus denied what he had not done. The king was turned into rage and as he was judging them, he ordered that they should fight in the field of combat on account of this matter so that the judgement of the Lord would show who lied. When it was the day instituted for deciding, Austrigisilus rose in the morning and directed two of his boys to take a round shield with a javelin into the field where the king was accustomed to watch the fighters. Meanwhile he went to the basilica of the holy Marcellus to offer prayers of thanks according to his custom. He met a certain poor man and he would have given him more but he did not have more than a triens because he had already given away those which he had possessed to similar causes. Then there came into his mind that prophecy which says, “Blessed is he who watches over the destitute and the poor. The Lord freed him in the day of evil and will not hand him over to the hand of his enemy.” Having given the man the triens he entered the basilica. Having sent out prayers he defended himself with the sign of the cross, which is the armour of God. Being faithful in his justice and not daunted by the just judgement of the Lord, he went hurrying to the contest. When he stood ready for the coming of the enemy in that place behold a certain man who was a servant of Bethelenus came up panting. He announced to the king with a face full of mourning that the noble Bethelenus was dead. The king began to inquire how his destruction had happened so quickly. The messenger spoke to the king in this way with these words, “When your servant Bethelenus came to the palace yesterday he stayed at Aury. Today when the day dawned he ordered an extremely tame horse to be prepared for him and having mounted it he remained fixed and immovable. When he pierced the horse with his heels it sprang up with great speed and with great zeal. It began to bend his limbs in divers ways and to put its head down with its forelegs and to shake its hind legs in the air. Then at length either because it struck a short tree or by the impetus of a whirlwind it swung and threw the noble Bethelenus onto the ground from on high yet this was not enough. The horse turned on him and bashed his brains with all his feet so that gore thrust forth through his nose and ears so that he gave out his spirit even before he was lifted from the ground. This was done according to what is written: “You lose, those of you who are called liars” and “A false witness will not be saved.”’ Having heard this, the king summoned Austrigisilus to him and said to him, “The Lord has fought for you. You have displayed his help most faithfully. Bethelenus is dead because he was punished by divine power.” Yet, Austrigisilus did not rejoice over the loss of his enemy but gave thanks to God because the Lord had preserved his hand unstained by the man’s blood, remembering the verse of the psalm. “Lord you have looked at my humility and have made my soul safe from necessities and not confined me in that hand of the enemy and you have served your faithful unhappy servant.” Then the Lord, who is supernal piety and divine power, determined that the servant, whom he had saved from departure from this world through the onslaught of the temptations of the devil, was worthy to be a priest.

5. After this, Austrigisilus began to persist more attentively in good works in love and dedication to God. He began to desire the burden of clerical office more earnestly. On account of this he hesitated to seek the king. There was then among the other courtiers in the house of the king a most noble and prudent man by the name of Aetherius. He was endowed with unparalleled caution and the king entrusted the handling of all things to him with especial trust. Aetherius was then ordained with the dignity of the episcopate as bishop of the most noble Gallic city of Lyons. This man loved the aforesaid servant of God most exceedingly. Austrigisilus asked him to seek permission from the king that he might come to the honour of clerical office. Aetherius suggested it and accomplished it. Having received letters Austrigisilus proceeded to the town of Auxerre and there, with his hair cut off by the blessed Bishop Aunarius, he was made a cleric and ordained as a sub-deacon. He then returned from there to the aforesaid Aetherius. He had then received the episcopate and received Austrigisilus most benignly with unspeakable joy and ordained him priest and abbot of the basilica of the blessed Nicetius, bishop and confessor. From the affairs of the church and on account of his love of perfection he gave him the town by the name of Albigny for his future use.

6. When the time of the grape harvest came the grapes were already ripened too soon when the blessed Austrigisilus went to collect the grape harvest. First he ordered a vessel which might contain new wine to be prepared. It was done. With the vessels full of new wine, he took up one of the vessels, which they call a cuppa, which could hold nearly a hundred and eighty gallons and he left it empty. Up till then scarcely one amphora of new wine had been squeezed out. Since no one else was there, when it had been put back, the man of God ordered the one which was empty to be put in with the others. Having gone into the same cellar he prayed and made the sign of the cross. In the morning he went back to the basilica. When the guard of the wine cellar entered to inspect the cellar and to see if the vessels with new wine were safe he saw that the one which had remained empty overflowed just like the other vessels. It bubbled up with such fullness that great quantities of new wine fell over the edge onto the ground. Having been struck dumb by the great mystery he ran from the cellar to the holy man of God at the basilica and announced to him, what had happened. Imposing silence on him the holy man said. “See that you tell no-one.” There was no doubt that the Lord had deigned to do this for him on account of the merit and prayers of the aforesaid servant of the Lord.

7. After this, the Lord wished to promote him according to his holy intention. At that time the aforesaid man of God was with the most blessed bishop Aetherius in a certain town in the territory of Geneva. Near a lake not far from the town there was a castle which was deserted and empty of all inhabitants. Inside there were the ruins of a church. When the aforesaid blessed Austrigisilus had gone into that place for the sake of praying he found no guard nor any cleric. However he sought out the hosts enclosed in the sacristy and with evening coming in, he wished to celebrate mass in the basilica. There was no water with which he could either wash his hands or mix with the wine. He said to his servant Marculfus – who was at that time a reader but is now the abbot in the basilica where the body of that blessed man is seen to be buried – “Seek out a little water so that we may celebrate the mass here.” What they sought they did not find. Having gone back to him in the church, they found the hosts released from the aumbrey, which they had previously seen to be closed. When they had entered they found the man of God standing and holding before him two cups one filled with water the other with wine. They were dumbstruck when they sensed this miracle and they were trembled with a great deal of fear.

8. Since the Lord wished to carry him to a more elevated rank of honour when Apollinaris the bishop of Bourges died, the holy Austrigisilus was asked for to be elected as bishop by all the people and they received the consent of the king. He ruled the church in this rank of dignity for twelve years just as he had always known because it had been revealed to him by an angel. For when he entered the first boundary of the aforesaid city he stayed the night in the town of Germigny-l’Exempt. Calling to him his deacon Sulpicius – who was to be his successor afterwards – and his deacon Desiderius he said to them, “The Lord has deigned to reveal to me this night that I will rule the church of Bourges in this rank of dignity for twelve years.”

9. At that time there was a certain woman from the suburb of that city who had been affected with a paralysing disease of the limbs and contracted sinews. For a long time she was almost unable to move her limbs for her own use except when it was necessary. Indeed she was carried by the hands of others when necessity occurred. She asked her neighbours to carry her to the holy man and she was carried to the altar. When the holy man had come into the church to fulfil the divine office according to the custom he saw the wretched cripple lying by the altar and saying to him, “Holy Austrigisilus help me!” In response he said, “The piety and power of the Lord are able to save you.” Raising his hand and eyes to heaven Austrigisilus said, “Extend your hand.” But she said, “I cannot.” Taking up her right hand and passing his finger on her palm he moved her fingers, which the sickness had previously adhered to her hands. He did the same to all her limbs and then she stood up on her feet. Having been restored to complete health she started out again by the power of her own limbs as the healthy are accustomed to do. He said to her, “Take care of your limbs so that you do not tumble down to complete corruption lest by chance worse touches you. For it is said that you laboured before in this infirmity because you had lived a life devoted to the luxury of pleasure.”

10. At that time in the town of Bourges there was a woman of most noble mind and illustrious birth by the name of Bertoara. She was a servant dedicated to God. When she prepared to serve vigils at night according to her custom, she found a pauper by the name of Beroadus lying in the street under the eaves of a certain house. He was without bread and his limbs were contracted. She began to enquire the cause of his misery and why he lay there but he said “I have now lain tortured by this disease for a long time and there is no-one to help me. Although I want to, I am not able to go to the church so that I may be led to go into the sight of the holy Austrigisilus.” Hearing this, she sighed. Compelled with compassion for this poor man, she ordered her boys to lift him up from the ground and, with him lifted up by their hands, to carry him to the church like a lifeless body in a funeral procession. She ordered him to be placed by the altar where the oft-mentioned man of God would then go. Investigating the contracted debility he sensed in his spirit that the man had been struck with the most wicked spirit because of his sin. Having been struck by the power he had been inflicted with the grinding of poverty. Austrigisilus ordered him to be carried to a more remote place. Having been prostrated in prayer for a long time afterwards he approached the poor man. Unless I am deceived he ordered him to be sent into a bath. Touching him with his hands, Austrigisilus extended all his limbs and beseeched help from the Lord. In this way he accomplished what he sought. Supernal grace was present and the poor man was restored with complete health. Afterwards, as was seen by everyone, he lived for many years with no disability of his limbs.

11. At this time there was a certain religious matron of noble birth by the name of Paterna who had the credit of a girl in attendance of her household by the name of Augusta. It happened that this girl was struck by the despoiler of all impurity. Having lost the light of clarity she was inflicted with total blindness. The aforementioned lady wrote a letter and sent it with the girl to the oft-mentioned man of God asking that she be cured from the blindness by his prayers. Understanding this he looked up to the heavens and asked for God’s help. Having taken up oil he blessed it and smeared the blind eyes with it. Having offered his prayers, she who had been blind for a long time thenceforth received the riches of seeing with open eyes.

12. After this time, there was an illustrious matron by the name of Austroberta who had been widowed by the most illustrious man Chramnoald and was then dedicated to God. It is said that the following was done in her presence. One of her millers by the name of Leudomarus was vexed by a most atrocious disease. She had a repository of bread, which the aforementioned Austrigisilus had blessed and had sent to her with certain letters. She had kept this bread for this very use so that if anyone was seen to be afflicted by any disease it might be given to them with complete faith that it would cure them. She asked the aforesaid miller to be seized and ordered a piece of this bread to be put into his mouth. He declined to receive it inside his mouth. However as he was unwilling they constrained him to open his mouth and forced a piece of this bread into his throat. After this there was no delay. He spewed out all the sadness which vexed him and was made healthy and he can be seen to perform his office today.

13. At that time on the Lord’s day a certain mill-worker by the name of Monulfus was inspired by a devilish spirit. In accordance with his industrious devotion to work, he wished to work on the millstone to improve it. Having taken up a two-edged blade – which is called a Scotta in the common language – he began to grind the millstone. On account of this sin his hand cleaved to the handle of the tool and no one was able to take his hand away from it. His hand was contracted with such great restriction that blood began to pour forth between his fingers and to make a loathsome stench on account of it to all those who saw it. Monulfus came to the aforesaid man of God. Asking for God’s help Austrigisilus seized the hand where it was joined to the tool. First he began extending the fingers where that tool adhered. He touched that tool and his hand and thrust away all the harshness of pain. Monulfus was made healthy and went away.

14. There was then an adolescent girl from the village of Bridoré not far from the town of Bourges by the name of Friovala. She was greatly loved by her parents. A most worthless spirit vexed her with cruel oppression and torture so that she had no rest day and night from crying out because of the frenetic disease. In this way she had fallen into such madness that her parents could not recognise her. She made a loud noise like that of the voices of wild animals and the complaining voices of birds joined together in a great cacophony. Her parents mourned and the neighbours sympathised with them. Indeed they were amazed that someone of such a tender age was able to sustain the unhappy grief of such cruelty. She was led to the oft-mentioned man of God. Sensing that there was a spirit in her he knew that this grief was afflicted by the cunning of the enemy. He ordered her to be taken near the altar. Having taken up the bread and the chalice according to the custom he offered the spiritual hosts to the Lord. He made the body of the Lord ready and completed the prayers of mystery. First he ordered the host to be given to the girl and when she received it she ceased from her vociferous speaking. He blessed her vestments and ordered her to be robed by her parents with religious vestments. He said that she ought to abstain from meat and from wine. It was done. From that hour the demon fled and the girl was restored to complete health. Today she can be seen to spend her time in laudable living in the monastery with the blessed recluse Bertoara among the other servants of God.

15. There was then in the city of Bourges a certain very poor young man by the name of Leonastis who had been contracted with a debility for a long time. The soles of his feet cleaved to his knees and he was carried on the shoulders of others. When the most blessed man Austrigisilus slept in the Lord the poor man followed the bier on which his holy body was carried to the basilica where it came to be buried. Lying before the tomb that night his limbs, which had been without use, were relaxed dry. With the office of his feet recovered, afterwards he was seen to walk upright with them in that city.

16. We should not pass by what the venerable priest Januarius told us. When Austrigisilus was buried by the blessed bishop Raurecus the aforementioned man of God was present. The body of the holy man was placed in the tomb and the aforesaid pontiff buried him. When he was placed in the tomb according to the custom, the aforesaid bishop Raurecus was standing at his feet and the aforesaid priest Januarius saw that the oft-mentioned holy Austrigisilus clothed in white vestments and with a noble face, was seen to stand by at the right hand of Raurecus. Although he was amazed by this vision it was suddenly carried away from his eyes. There was no doubt that the angel of God, the guard of that Austrigisilus, who was always with him until his death, appeared to the aforesaid priest.

17. It would take a long time if I were to unfold every sign and cure which the Lord performed everyday through his servant and to tell how people were cured of all infirmities through prayer and acts; how those who were damned to a sentence of death and held in chains were freed from their chains through his prayer and fled to the church with no obstacle from the guards or how many poor people, widows and orphans were sustained by his alms. God, the holy angels and those who saw these things were the witnesses. Now the great prolixity of this work might be ended with this sheet. He died full of days with full confession. His soul went to the Lord. The earth was returned to the earth. We are not able to equal his merits with intercession nor even to merit to be imitators being near God who lives in the perfect Trinity and reigns through every age and forever, Amen.

II. HERE BEGINS THE BOOK OF HIS MIRACLES.

1. Of the miracles of the blessed Austrigisilus bishop and confessor which the Lord deigned to work after his death, we tell, with rustic words, a few of the many riches of his miracles which remain untold.

2. While the blessed man still lived he always cared everyday as a pious pastor to all those of the church committed to him and he chose to free them from the raging teeth of the wolf. Then, a most savage man by the name of Warnachar came from the palace of King Theuderic with his permission. He desired the profits of despicable avarice and was given to great pride. As he ruled the town or region of Bourges under his tribute at that time he taxed the gold and silver of everybody and he collected it for his own use. He carried it away from the king and he made them tributaries. The people ran together to the blessed Austrigisilus so that he might free them from a worthless life and asked that he should help them with his holy prayers. Then, on account of the guilt of his great crimes, the blessed man prostrated himself in prayer day and night so that the Lord’s piety might deign to free the people committed to him from the raging enemy. It was done. When Warnachar himself approached the gates of the city of Bourges, Austrigisilus bravely went out to meet him and guarded the wall against him so that he should stand in battle for justice on the day of the Lord. On account of the defence of these people and of the error of his life he desired the matter to be decided even until death if it should be pleasing to the Lord. The blessed Austrigisilus said to him, “When you come to the place which you seek what do you hope to do? The Lord resists your evil wish and does not permit you to enter the walls of the city nor to make your assessment.” Austrigisilus was not received by Warnachar with honour but the bishop fulfilled that which is written in the psalms: “Be virulent and comfort your heart all who hope in the Lord.” Then Warnachar was vehemently kindled to fury because of that evil which cleaved to his heart and he was not able to fulfil his task. He went back to the palace with great fury so that he might announce to the king that he was not able to fulfil his task on account of Austrigisilus. Then, at that time, the blessed Austrigisilus left this life with a glorious departure and the people committed to him remained safe.

3. Then, being worthy through his works and merits and having been elected by all, his blessed deacon Sulpicius was made his successor in that town and assumed the pontifical office. There was no delay. After that time the most cruel Warnachar of whom we made mention before, having returned from the palace, hurried to fulfil that wicked task which the terrible ancient enemy hand planted in his heart so that he might make the town and area of Bourges and all those living there into his tributaries. Then the blessed Sulpicius was anxious about what he himself ought to do about the matter and asked the Lord for help. Since the blessed man was full of clemency and of plain and humble heart, he dreaded to resist his evil with great fear but he began to beseech Warnachar with tears that those whom he had not made tributaries at the time of the blessed Austrigisilus of Bourges he should also not make tributaries under his own time. However that cruel man whom the priest of God beseeched did not wish to answer at all. Then the blessed man called him to witness by the sacred ministries that he would not live a wicked lifestyle in his time through this work. Indeed after he received the treasure, the shrewd prelate rejoiced and went to the basilica of the holy Austrigisilus not puffed up in his heart but inflated in body as if he had advanced with the zeal of prayers. Warnachar came to the place where the blessed man had been buried with remarkable honour by the faithful Christians. Looking into the crypt he saw him adorned with gold and silver in an amazing way and, having been filled with envy in his heart, he made a sermon in this way. “Austrigisilus ought to give his gold and silver to the poor and yet he ordered it to be placed over his tomb on account of worldly dignity.” He did not say this on account of his care for the poor but, having been filled with avarice, he became like Judas Iscariot. Having gone back from Austrigisilus’s tomb he went round the altars for the sake of prayer. While he walked through that basilica a pole on which the cloths hung, dropped from on high and fell onto his head. He was struck with such a blow that gore flowed down through his eyes and beard and blood fell down onto the ground. Then Warnachar shouted with what voice he was able saying, “While Austrigisilus lived he was always offensive to me and went against me and now that he has died he has dragged me near to death.” Thus the unlucky man was struck by a miracle of the Lord. He did not acknowledge his crime nor ask for forgiveness from the holy man of God. However, having been kindled thus far in his malice he wished to hasten quickly to the town of Autun so that he might tear down and condemn the bishop of that place. He stayed not far away from the town at the villa of Anlezy. When they had all lain down to sleep the most ferocious man entered the latrine on account of a pain in his stomach. When he sat there in the place of habit at once he fell asleep. When he had woken up he said to his ministers who stood round before him; “Austrigisilus and Sulpicius sent a wash basin with a gold pitcher to me this hour. Which of you took this away from me?” They denied these things which they had not seen and as he spoke these words to them all his intestines and his liver were turned out through the rear end of his body. At this hour with continual excreting of dung he breathed out his spirit in a most unpleasant manner. After that time he did not dare to fulfil the wickedness of such perfidy. In this he fulfilled what is written in the psalms; “He treasures and ignores those who congregate to him and his iniquity descending onto his head.”

4. After the day on which the glorious Austrigisilus went to the Lord, many miracles were done in the place where he rested in body and in other places where the blessed man had lived or through beds where he had lain. In the region of Bourges in a town which is called Stivalis next to the village of Chabris, there was a property belonging to the holy man. There he had a house where he had lived and a bed in which he had lain. When they were raised up on this, carried on it or even if they merely touched it many infirm people were cured from divers illnesses. One sick man came there and dedicated a candle which he placed before the bed so that it shone the whole night. Having gone back there he found the embers of that candle on the bed and yet he found no marks of burning on the cover of the bed.

5. After that time, when Pippin, the prince of the Franks, wished to fight against Eudo, the prince of the province of Aquitaine, he entered the region of Bourges. Barbarians from his army came to the aforesaid house so that they might burn it with fire. The locals who lived together there came and said to them, “Do not send fire into this house!” and “Behold the place and bed on which Austrigisilus the holy man of God had lain where everyday almighty God works many miracles!” However the barbarians despised what they had said and encircled the whole house with fire so that it burned. At once in that hour those who burned the house with fire were seized and handed over to devils. One of those who had set the fire had taken the hosts from that house which burned then vehemently. That man threw himself into the flames and ended his life there. Others mangled themselves with their teeth. Indeed some mutilated each others’ limbs. Others came to the castle where Pippin waited with the army of the Franks. However as soon as they understood what they had attacked they were thoroughly frightened with great fear and the prince ordered that no one should dare to touch the houses or property of the holy Austrigisilus.

6. Not much time later, when Prince Eudo of Aquitaine had encompassed the city of Bourges with siege, he ordered one of his noblest men, a man by the name of Agnus, to hold the dwelling at the monastery of the blessed Austrigisilus and to pay the means of staying there. However he handed over to his counts whatever he was able to find in the monastery to be divided among them so that none of the possessions of the brothers were left. When the town was handed over to the aforesaid prince and the peace was announced in all areas, the abbot of the monastery, a man by the name of Berctoradus, went away from the town with letters and came to Agnus and said to him, “Accept this little silver gift which remained from the treasure of the unfortunate brothers who serve the holy Austrigisilus and have mercy on the deprived servants so that they might be able to live and to pray for you.” But the aforesaid Agnus was shrewd and did not wish to answer him what he asked but refused him. He said, “The prince ordered me to fetch you to be handed over into custody or into captivity and do you press me with words of the fasting of the brothers.” The abbot announced to the brothers that they were not able to obtain what he had demanded from the savage man so that he commended them to beseech clemency from the Lord. Then the monks remained faithful and without doubt. They began to pray before the tomb of the blessed Austrigisilus and to say, “Lord snatch us, your servants, from our enemy! We make you our refuge. Teach us to do your will because you are our God and the most savage man has dragged away from us our substance which, being full of piety, you have given to us.” There was no delay, the unlucky Agnum led away with him whatever he was able to find in the villas of the holy Austrigisilus whether herds of cattle, beasts of burden and many other plough-teams so that he led them all into the homeland from which he had come. As he made his journey the holy Austrigisilus appeared to him in a dream and said to him, “Why have you deprived me so gravely and have left my servants in grieving?” Saying these things he struck him on the head. Being vigilant he shouted with what voice he was able saying, “Run to me quickly! Austrigisilus has struck me on the head and there is no hope of my living. Go quickly to Prince Eudo who had ordered me to touch the belongings of the holy Austrigisilus and beseech him that he might redeem me of his own faculties, because I have done this evil for his sake and I expect to lose my life on account of it.” Hearing this Prince Eudo was somewhat struck by fear and ordered that all which the unhappy man had taken away ought to be returned. He ordered all his best men that no-one should dare to touch the belongings of the holy God. When the aforesaid prince sat at a table, he remembered the injury of the previously mentioned Agnum and sent a small silver dish to him through a legate. When he saw such small a gift he said, “Such a small allowance for so long a journey or torture as I truly fear that I shall receive?” Saying these things he ended his life. That which is witnessed in the prophet’s sermon was fulfilled, “Whoever performs iniquity they shall be killed whoever truly looks to the Lord the earth is their inheritance.”

7. There was no delay. After that time, one of the noblemen of Prince Eudo a man by the name of Fredegisilus plundered a beast of burden from the monastery of the holy Austrigisilus. When he had led many other treasures to his home and had lifted them up he rejoiced at the gain. At once at that hour he caught fever so that he possessed no faculty or hope of living. He recalled the words that he had heard before from Prince Eudo and many other people. The abbot Salomonus spoke saying, “None of you should presume to touch these little places of the holy Austrigisilus because he has killed those noble people who turned against him. Indeed he afflicted those ignoble people and tortured them with savage punishment.” Having been terrified with fear he quickly sent monks serving as messengers who returned the treasure to its proper place and restored it to those serving the blessed Austrigisilus so that they might help him with his prayers. There was no delay. The father of the monastery sent his legates with letters. He ordered that they should visit the sick man and they should present the benediction of the aforesaid holy man to him. However when they had come where Fredegisil lay with little chance of life they presented the benediction which they had received from the tomb from those serving that holy man. He, giving thanks, invoked the name of the blessed Austrigisilus. Because he said it with such great reverence, he received vigour at once from his letters and he ordered his ministers to report where the beasts of burden were. He ordered that they should return into his hands those things which he had dragged away with evil. When he had returned them at once he was made well. Rejoicing, he started up and went back home even though he had been carried before as a sick man by other hands. In this way it fulfilled what the Lord said through his prophet, “I do not want the death of a sinner but that he should be converted and live,” and again, “When you lament as a convert then you will be saved.”

8. Also at that time, one of the counts of Prince Eudo was a man by the name of Adroaldus. He violently took his pleasureat a high castle in the region of Bourges. He seized a man by the name of Bertheradus. He was the abbot from the monastery of the holy Austrigisilus there. He abducted the man who held the ministry of that holy place and held him as a captive for ransom so that he might be able to possess whatever that abbot had in gold and silver for his ransom. Having been constrained thus far, he found a golden chalice and other sacred vessels from that aforesaid monastery and handed them over to the aforesaid count. He returned with no little pain to the brothers and with groans and sighs in his prayers, day and night, he asked for solace from the holy Austrigisilus. He asked that man of God that the Lord’s piety might restore what human desire had dragged away. There was no delay. Great fear then entered the heart of Adroaldus so that he ate no food nor did he drink anything. Neither was he able to sleep, to stand nor to sit in one place and he ignored what he ought to do. There was with him a servant of God by the name of Wilicramnus and Adroaldus sought counsel from him as to what he ought to do. He revealed the cause for which he had approached him before. Wilicramnus, who was most skilled and full of wisdom, told Adroaldus that if he had anything from the ministry or from the belongings of the holy confessor Austrigisilus, he should not be slow to return it to the holy place. He confessed according to what he had been asked and said that he had a gold chalice and some vessels which the abbot Bertheradus had given to him for his ransom. When the servant of God heard this he said, “Have you not heard the story of the blessed Austrigisilus and what has been done to those who act against him − that he has killed or beaten them? If you wish to live until morning quickly return those things whence you got them.” Hearing these things, he was filled with great fear and promised to return all those things which he obtained from there and sent them to the holy Austrigisilus through his legates. Soon he received pristine health and, as long as he lived, he fulfilled his prayers in that monastery and did not appear meagre in his gifts but in fact he was most generous. In this he fulfilled what is written in that which the Lord says, “Whoever confesses before me I will comfort and I will be with them in the presence of my father who is in heaven.”

9. At that time there was a man of the city of Bourges by the name of Lupus. Having been given to good practices he was humble and wise. He led a sober and chaste life. He went to the town of Tours with a burning desire to pray there. When he had prayed in the basilica of the holy confessor Martin for a long time and had asked for forgiveness on account of his sins, he rose up from prayer. Then one of the servants of the Lord who had seen him so long in fruitful and honest prayer approached him and said to him, “What is your name? Where have you come from and for what purpose?” He responded, “I am Lupus. I live in Bourges and I have come here to pray for my sins.” The man said, “I have something to say from the servants of the holy Austrigisilus. I was in Bourges in the spirit a few days ago days but I was never there in body and as I am certain that you believe me and I give notice to you that I shall lift the error from your heart. Is there a church of the holy Sulpicius between two rivers of the streams of the Auron and the Yèvre?” He answered, “Yes, indeed there is.” The other said, “Is there another church dedicated to the holy Austrigisilus on the eastern bank so that the lamps of that church are able to be seen by the other?” He said, “It is so.” The servant of God said to the other, “Believe me because a few days ago I was at the church of the blessed Austrigisilus in spirit and I will tell you what I saw. Before the register which is before the hosts of the aforesaid church, I saw the blessed apostle Peter standing near at the invitation of the blessed Austrigisilus. With him there was the holy Laurianus, Sulpicius and many other holy men who rest in body in the region of Bourges. Before them at a distance there stood Adroaldus, Bladegisilus, Suffronius, Guntaldus and many others who had attacked the region of Bourges and had destroyed the houses of God. While I stood there I saw Austrigisilus prostrated at the feet of the blessed Peter and he asked for justice and I saw him say, ‘Give us justice from these who held our houses oppressed and who dragged away the substance from the poor and from our servants!’ As Austrigisilus was praying in this way the apostle Peter ordered that they drag some of the men away to be beaten with cudgels and the others to be mangled by the sword. They led some to prayer and others to sulphurous fire. However the young virgin, whom the blessed Peter held by the hand, struck Adroaldus on the head so that she dragged him to death. Then the holy Sulpicius prayed saying that he should concede life to Adroaldus. On the contrary Austrigisilus spoke in this way, ‘You were always weak and you persevered in your weakness. Do you not vindicate your servants who are calling to you day and night?’ Saying these things the vision which I saw in spirit was carried away from my eyes.” When Lupus had heard all these things he sought benediction from the servant of God. Having gone back to the town he told the brothers what he had heard from the servant of God. Not long after this, that Adroaldus was seized by a fever and finished his life. There was no doubt after this that the servant of God had seen Austrigisilus who had accused him. Then he did not live long afterwards so that everyone received the sentence according to what he had done whether good or bad.

10. Also at that time when Prince Eudo lived at Bourges, one of his noblemen received a lodging for his sojourning in the house of the holy Austrigisilus in that town. He ordered his juniors in a wicked way that they should stock the hearths from the roofs of his houses and when necessity came they should burn them for fire. The abbot from that monastery of that blessed Austrigisilus sent letters to the aforesaid man through some of his monks saying that they would give him as much wood as they were able to from other places and that he should not burn the house of holy God. What they had sought he did not wish to fulfil. When the morning came, they lit the fires which they had made from his house three days before. The aforesaid duke lay in bed and was deep down in sleep. The holy man of God Austrigisilus appeared to him in his sleep, saying, “Why oh stupid man do you burn my houses with fire?” Saying these things he struck him with a blow in the throat so that gore flowed from his ears. Being woken he said to his ministers who were standing around. “In this hour Austrigisilus struck me in the throat.” Immediately the unhappy man predicted that he was going to die. It happened as he said. News came into the court of the prince that his most honoured servant, who had burned the house of the holy Austrigisilus, was dead because the holy Austrigisilus had struck him in the throat, on account of his actions. The news filled them all with great terror. The prince ordered that never again should anyone dare to touch those things belonging to the holy Austrigisilus. If anyone had touched anything they should return it immediately and should ask for forgiveness. In this way the fame of the glorious confessor went out so that even to this very day anyone who has touched the possessions of his monastery with presumption at once he believes that he is about to die.

11. Prince Eudo once came to the monastery of the holy Austrigisilus for the sake of praying. Having prayed he began to say to the brothers, “Which of you may do justice to me from the holy Austrigisilus? I believed a just judge had come to me when Chucianus gave the sacrament to me in this place.” Repeating this speech he said, “Holy Austrigisilus grant your justice to me if I had not believed you, Chucianus would not have fled from me. I pray that you do me justice and I shall restore all the goods to your servants.” Indeed after he had judged the faith of Eudo at the tomb of the blessed Austrigisilus, Chucianus cheated him and fled to Prince Charles in Francia. At that very moment when the aforesaid prince asked for justice from Austrigisilus, the aforesaid Chucianus was struck with a vehement blow so that coming close to death he shouted and said, “Austrigisilus beats me on account of the sacrament which I gave at his tomb and, because I cheated him through Eudo, Austrigisilus sends me to divers tortures.” Unless I am deceived they held him chained or bound, because he wished to chew himself with his teeth, until he finished his life. So it is written: “Whoever judges more does not flee from sin.”

12. In that time the deputy of that monastery of the holy Austrigisilus, a man by the name of Vaddemarus, decided to walk to the town of Poitiers for the sake of the advantage of the monastery. Having received the benediction of the brothers of the holy Austrigisilus, he took up his journey. When he had come to the river which is called the Vienne where it there is a port called Cenon he wished to cross the river but he found no man nor ships which might steer him. With the evening of the day coming then they did not have lodgings to stay in and they were without food for their horses. The normal lodgings where they were accustomed to stay were far beyond the river. Because he satisfied his heart with such things, he looked over the river and they saw some ships prepared on the shore. Vaddemarus was firm in faith and without doubts. He began to invoke the name of the Lord and the holy Austrigisilus and urged those who were with him, saying, “Invoke the name of the holy Austrigisilus so that on account of our merits and prayers our Lord may deign to send men to lead the ships which we can see. Thus we might come to our destination tonight.” With these prayers the ships moved through to him by poles and oars without human steering and came right up to the place where they stood. Without doubt the angel of the Lord was present and led the vessels on account of the merits of the holy Austrigisilus. Seeing such a great miracle they were filled with great joy and praised God with glory because he did not forsake his servants who placed their hope in him. The boats came up because of their fear and because of their prayers and sailed to the shore safe and unharmed by whirlwinds. That day they came with joy to the place where they were accustomed to stay. In these events the truth which is written in the gospel was fulfilled, “If you have faith the size of a grain of mustard you may say to the mountain cross here and it will cross,” and again “whatever you ask for, believing in prayer, you shall receive and it will be done to you,” and that, “With God all things are possible.”

13. At that time a mute man from Britain came to the monastery of the holy God. There he was received in hospitality by the faithful servants of God and was sustained by their alms with food and clothing. The mute man came into the church everyday with the servants of God for the sake of prayer but, although he wished to pray, he was not able to do so because he was unable to speak. On the feast day of the blessed Austrigisilus he came before his tomb but as he stood there he began cough up blood through his mouth. Then the key-holder or custodian of the church began to protest at him and to say, “Come out into the street lest you bring forth any more loathsome blood onto the floor!” But as he spoke the mute began to shout and to say in his rustic British tongue, “I am a freedman, I am a freedman!” For he wished to say ‘I am liberated.’ At once he was freed from the chains of his tongue so that he spoke plainly and he told his name to all who were there and had come to the feast and said that the name he had in his holy baptism was Emmo. Afterwards he lived and served there for many years.

14. At that time there was a certain woman by the name Selitrudis from a place called Villeneuve on the river Auron in the region of the town of Bourges. She had been deaf for a long time and sought the tomb of the blessed confessor most devotedly. As soon as she entered the hall at once she received her health. What sort of person am I to delay? As soon as she sensed health she returned to her home. That disease was suddenly halted. However, knowing that this calamity, which she had carried, had come because she was guilty of crimes, she had come into the aforesaid hall with a great groan supporting herself with a staff and groaning because she was weary, she received pristine health through the prayers of the blessed man.

15. A certain girl from the villa of Baniac who was then blind with the light removed had prayed faithfully at the tomb of the blessed man and, receiving sight, she was empowered with clear vision.

16. Therefore at that time a certain man by the name Amalricus who was besieged by a wicked devil. His elbows and knees were contracted and he had not been able to sustain labour for a long time. He came devotedly to the tomb of the blessed man. Soon, with his limbs freed, he was proved to be restored with complete health so that he was able to use them for his everyday needs.

17. Also I believe that a young man from that region who was yoked with a bent hand was miraculously cured in the same way.

18. At that time a certain woman with debilitated feet, who had been sustained by sticks for many years, was restored to complete health at that tomb of the blessed bishop.

HERE ENDS THE LIFE OF THE HOLY AUSTRIGISILUS BISHOP AND CONFESSOR.

1 comment:

Guillaume KALB said...

Dear Miss Sarah,
I haven't used your translation of the Vita of Austrigisilus for a nice scientific subject but...as I saw there was nobody who has left a comment, I thought it a good idea to let you know that I have readed a large part with pleasure and interest.
Why I loooked at the site? Well on a french genealogical site (gen53) I try to answer questions about First names. This morning there was a question about Austrigisilus, a name I hadn't heard before. So...I asked Google and found your tanslation of his Vita. I took some notes, I had already some dates about his life but I like very much to read this legends. I helped me much and I hope to write my little article about A. today and to send it to gen53.
I thank you for having published it on internet, I apologise for my english which is not good but I hope it is "understandable".
Good luck with your site and I wish other nice reactions for your work.
Guillaume KALB, Netherlands