Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

66 but

a

cave

:

king of the Burgundians, struck with who have already gone to their rest." his zeal and sanctity, invited him to But soon the court became bitterer settle in the Vosges country. This against him than the clergy; for like many other parts of Gaul, had Brunehild, widow of Guntram's almost wholly lapsed into heathenism. brother Sigebert, thought to keep The Gallic clergy were out of heart, the power for herself by managing so many invading tribes had succeeded her son Theodoric (Thierry). With one another, each more savage than this view she dissuaded him from the last. They were content to keep marriage, encouraging him to indulge · the town-centres Christian, leaving the his passions with numerous concubines. outlying people to paganism. Much of For their children she wished to get the country, too, was bare of inhabit Columban's blessing; but he sternly ants, and since the Hunnish inroads refused. Then began a series of perhad been going back to primeval bush. secutions, aggravated doubtless by the Columban first fixed himself at Ana saint's want of tact. At last came grates (Annegray), once a little Roman the sentence of banishment. One station ; and in 590 moved eight miles day, Thierry had burst into the monasfurther on to Luxovium (Luxeuil), tery and got as far as the refectory, once a famous Roman watering-place saying: “If you wish our bounty, all with baths and temples, but then a must be open."

“ Take back your mass of jungle, strewn with statues bounty," retorted Columban; and blocks of inarble. Here he worked if you destroy this place you and all for twenty years, retiring occasiou the seed royal shall be destroyed.” ally to

which he made After more rejoinders, the king, who his private chapel; and gathering so kept his temper throughout, said: inany disciples that he soon had to “ You hope I shall give you the crown found a second house on the ruins of of martyrdom. I am not such a fool ; Ad Fontanas (Fontenay), and was but as your rule differs from that of able to keep up the Laus perennis, others, do you return that object of monastic ambition. Of course he wrougbt miracles: once, when Columban would not go till he was setting to some hard work, he hung forcibly dragged out. His tone of his coat on a sunbeam. Jonas accounts fearless superiority must have been as a miracle his frightening off a pack very aggravating; and the wonder is of wolves, which surrounded him on that he did not share the fate of the way to his cave, by swinging his Didier, bishop of Vienne, why, because staff and shouting, “God to the rescue;" he had rebuked the immorality of the especially as the rush of the retreating court, was waylaid and murdered on wolves scared away a party of robbers, his way back to his diocese. Milman who were even more to be dreaded calls him "an intrepid asserter of the than beasts of prey.

moral dignity of Christianity, this Such a man was sure to be unpopu stranger monk, who dared to rebuke lar with the clergy to whom his hard the all-powerful Brunehild, while her work and his rigid asceticism were a deadly hate did not venture to devise reproach. A synod of Gallic bishops against him anything beyond banishsat upon him, to which he wrote claim ment." But with the social politics of ing Christian liberty, and averring that that bad time we need not concern he only followed “the error (if error it ourselves. Columban kept as clear of be) of his fathers.” “I came here a them as he could. He would not take stranger, for Christ's sake. Let Gaul refuge with Theodebert lest he should receive into her bosom all who, if they accentuate the quarrel between the merit it, will be received into the king brothers. Perhaps, too, he felt he dom of heaven. Let me lay my bones should not be safe in Austrasia ; for with those of my seventeen disciples he had (we are told) a divine monition

whence you

came."

of the battle of Tolbiac, in which at the eastern corner of the lake of Theodebert was utterly defeated, and Constance, where Drusus and Tiberius had long before advised that prince to Nero had crushed the Vindelici, go into a monastery. “At least you having brought their army across will pray,”

," asked some of the brethren from Gaul in the first fleet that ever of Luxeuil, “for Theodebert's suc sailed on those waters. At Bregenz cess ?"

· Nay, for God bade us pray there was more idol-breaking: one reads for our enemies," was the reply. All of three great brass images thrown this may have weighed with Brune into the lake ; and here also were dishild, who, though doubtless not the covered the ruins of St. Aurelia's. estimable person that Gregory of church, how Columban came to find Tours and Fortunatus of Poitiers out the dedication of which is a curious make her, certainly did not deserve story. But either this new settlement to be dragged to death at the tail of a seemed unpromising, or else Columwild horse. At any rate she let Colum ban lost heart (as old men do now and ban slip away unmolested down the then) after Theodebert's ruin had exgreat highway of the Loire. He wished tended Brunehild's power over all that to visit the shrine of Saint Martin : country. He set off towards Italy, the boatmen, acting under orders, accompanied as far as the Alps by refused to stop, but the boat would some of his Scots, among them Saint not go on, and he managed to spend Die, and Saint Gall who had had a night in prayer at the tomb. “Why trials of his own at Bregenz. He are you going, brother?” asked the was a great fisherman, and though the Bishop of Tours, who entertained him spirit of the waters called in vain to at dinner. “Because a dog, Thierry, has the spirit of the mountains " for help driven me away,” was the answer; and against one who is busy in me with then he went on to foretell Thierry’ssud nets, and them I cannot break by den death and the triumph of Clotaire. reason of the prevailing Name," he At Nantes two pious ladies fed him; was much troubled by two demons in and thence he, with his Scotic monks, the form of girls, who would bathe who had accompanied him, set sail for where he had fixed his fishing station. Ireland, after writing an affectionate Saint Gall, however, fell so ill that even letter to the rest of the Luxeuil his severe master had to leave him bebrotherhood, urging them to come to hind, finding shelter for him in an old him if they saw danger of disunion from Roman watch-tower, from which he the Paschal question. Shipwrecked on first duly exorcised the evil spirits. the coast of Neustria, he at once began Saint Gall recovered to found, not far preaching; and received from Clotaire from the lake of Constance, the famous

cordial invitation to settle in monastery which bears his name; and the country. However, he preferred Columban got from Agilulph, king of the pushing on to Thierry's brother at Lombards, the grant of a wild gorge, Metz, and thence up the Rhine, and between Genoa and Milan (near the the Aar and Reuss to Tugium Trebia), and there restored the church (Zug), where, Milman says," he showed of Saint Peter, and founded the long little of the gentle perseverance of the famous monastery of Bobbio. Only missionary.” They on their part were three lines are given in the guideoffended at his casting their idols into book to this place, telling of catathe lake; and a special grievance, says combs, in which are “tombs of the Jonas, was the bursting, at the breath canonised abbots." Is Columban's of his displeasure, of a huge vat of tomb among them ? His body was beer brewed for the worship of Odin. taken thither from the cave where So unpromising did the mission seem he had set up a chapel to the Virgin that the company of monks made a and where he died. Miracles accomhasty retreat to Brigantium (Bregenz) panied the translation : candles that

a

were blown out by the gusty wind labour, and feeling, too, that he was lighted of themselves; and a woman near the great intellectual centre. One who crouched down and bit off a piece cannot help wondering why he never of the arca which contained his body, went to Rome. Anyhow he took an and (saying nothing to her husband) active part in combating Arianism; put it under her pillow, died in her bed and he also engaged in the controthe same night. For centuries the versy about the Three Chapters of print of the saint's foot was to be seen Theodore of Mopsuestia and the down by the Trebia. He became Eutychian and Monothelite heresies, famous thereabouts; yet the church condemned by the Fifth General Counof San Colomban, near Lodi, seems cil, In his discussion of this subject to be the only one dedicated to him. with Boniface the Fourth he anticiSaint Gall had been warned of his pates the subtleties of his country. death, and sent and got his staff? ; but man, Duns Scotus, whose tomb, behind even had he been asked, this saint,

the high

altar in the Minorites' who had already refused a bishopric, church, ought to be visited by every and said “Noto the prayer of the Oxford man who goes to Cologne. Scots of Luxeuil that he would come His contention is that the Nestorians and be their head, would surely not have are wrongly included in the condemnaaccepted the abbey of Bobbio. Bobbio tion passed on Eutychianism ; and he grew to be very important, though it warns the Pope that he only holds the never took the same rank as Luxeuil, keys so long as he gives right judgwhich was long the monastic capital ment. To the Gallic Synod of 602 he of Gaul and the first school in Chris had written with a good deal of tendom. The way the Bobbio monks bravado : “I am glad you are sitting treated Cicero's Republic, scribbling on me : I only wish you would sit their accounts over the pages, where oftener, as the canons require. If I they effectually concealed the original am the cause of this tempest, make it writing till Cardinal Mai took these to cease by treating me like Jonas; palimpsests in hand, bespeaks a lower but, remember, I am only doing as literary level than that which at Saint the fathers did.” With the Pope he Gall was kept up till comparatively was equally free, apologising for modern times. Still they always had venturing to write, as some culture : Muratori speaks of "too incisively,” being only “a silly seven hundred manuscripts of the Scot.” He is profuse in titles. tenth century there; and the chief

“To the most fair head of all the churches treasures of the Milan library in the of all Europe, the very sweet Papa, the very way of Scotic manuscripts (among lofty president, the shepherd of the shep

herds. them a Scotic Psalter of the eighth century, with Jerome's commentary)

Thus he addresses the Pope, and came from Bobbio.

The monastery

then goes on to say: was suppressed in 1803, and the “You are almost a heavenly being; and church is now the parish church of Rome is the head of the world's churches. the town.

Watch, therefore, Papa, I beseech you. So But Columban had still a work to

long power will be yours as right reason abides with you.

For he is the sure doordo before his death in 615. He liked

keeper of the realm of heaven who by true Bobbio, finding there plenty of hard knowledge is able to open to the worthy and

to shut against the unworthy." I Saint Gall kept up all through life his rever

Well
may

Montalembert talk of ence for Columban. For curing his betrothed, the “boundless liberty of the Chrisking Sigebert of Austrasia gave him gold and tians of this epoch, when a stranger silver vessels for the use of the altar. “Nay,”

monk could, by virtue of his sanctity, said the saint, “I shall give them to the poor, for my master always used brass, because the venture to school bishops and to Lord was nailed to the cross with brass nails.” set a Pope right." We must re

he says,

1

It was

member that the Scotic Church held later, should have been wholly very different views about bishops, ignorant of it, cut off as they were and therefore about the Pope, or chief from Rome by reason of the invasions of them, from those which were held in Gaul and Britain. The Irish have elsewhere in Christendom.

always been stubbornly conservative; essentially a monastic church. The so, even when the authority of Rome abbot (whose office was often here was invoked in favour of the change, ditary in the family of the chief of those Scotie bishops and abbots who the clan among whom the monastery had not been to Rome (as Ronan, Paulistood) was the central figure : power nus's Scotic presbyter, had) clung to and dignity were his. Bishops were the old use, though it brought with it chiefly valuable for ordination. As the practical inconvenience that while Dr. Henthorn Todd, in bis Life Of St. King Oswiu was keeping Easter, his Patrick, neatly puts it, they were Kentish queen and her chaplains a sort of ecclesiastical queen - bees, were only at Palm Sunday. indispensable at certain seasons, but Besides three tracts (one a homily not coming into prominence at ordi on the nothingness of life) and five nary times.

A bout keeping Easter letters, Columban has left six poems. Columban seems to have made the At sixty-eight years old he strung same oversight which Colman after together several

score of adonics, wards made when arguing with Wil- talking of Danae, the Golden Fleece, frid. “ Ours is the old use, the use of the Judgment of Paris, and the other Saint John the Beloved," was in both tales which through the monks filtered cases their plea : neither of them so thoroughly into the Gaelic folk lore. pointed out (perhaps neither knew) Here is a sample. that Rome herself had only just

“ Inclyta vates recently changed to the new style.

Nomine Sappho “There is nothing more wearying and

Versibus istis

Dulce solebat more complicated than this difference

Edere carmen. about Easter; nothing harder to understand and above all to explain,"

Doctiloquorum says Montalembert, speaking of the

Carmina linquens Synod of Whitby. "And yet on this

Frivola nostra difference, seemingly so trifling and

Suscipe laetus." so ridiculous, hinged the grand dispute between the Roman and the " That famed bard named Sappho in this Celtic monks." He goes on to point out

kind of verse used to utter forth her sweet

songs. Leaving the poems of the learned that the Scots were not quarto-deci cheerily take in hand my trities.” mans (that is, heretics, who followed the custom of the Jews): their mis

To Fedolius he writes in a more solemn take was that they did not keep pace

strain. with the times, but insisted on doing as

“ Haec tibi dictaram morbis oppressus acerbis, Rome had done in the days when Saint Corpore quos fragili patior tristique senecta. Patrick began his preaching; whereas, Nam dum præcipiti labantur tempora cursu since then, the Alexandrians (better

Nunc ad Olympiadis ter senæ vepimus annos.

Omnia pretereunt, fugit irreparabile temastronomers than the other Christians)

pus; had found that the old Jewish cycle of Vive vale lætus, tristisque memento seneceighty-four years was wrong, and had substituted that of Dionysius Exiguus “What I now send thee I've been dictating, which ran to a hundred and nineteen weighed down with sharp disease, which I years. The Popes had not accepted

suffer through bodily weakness and sad old the Dionysian cycle till the middle of

age. For whilst my time glides by in swift

career, I've come to the years of my eighteenth the sixth century, so that no wonder

Olympiad. Good-bye ; live happy, and forget the Scotic Churches, half-a-century

your sad old friend,

tae."

on

This is the man, and this his work, that,

that, “this custom of wandering hath of which Bellarmine says: “Like a already almost become a part of their new apostle he threw a wonderful

nature.” amount of light the Gauls Probably this wandering spirit was and on Italy; and at Luxeuil cer not wholly missionary. With some tainly his work lasted, while Bobbio there would be a love of adventure, also became a flourishing school, and with others the longing for a com a stronghold against Arianism.

pleterisolation than any part of Ireland Of the man we may say he was even could afford from the free manners greater morally than he was intellect and very social life of the clan 1; but ually. He may have been hot-tempered along with other impulses there was and now and then wanting in tact, but always that spirit of self-sacrifice his success with so many kings shows which sent Chinese Buddhists across that he must have had a personal deserts and mountains to Thibet, and by charm, connected perhaps with that which the Mohammedan, too, has been fine presence which at the first forced inspired in almost as large a measure him to take refuge in Bangor. Such as the Christian. The fascination of a man, "the great champion of morals travel would naturally have been great at a court notorious for its corruption, for a cultured Irishman of the sixth and a preacher in lands where the

century.

Ireland then was not the Gospel was all but forgotten," de land of desolation that it now is. What serves something more than the obli a different place Donegal must have vion to which he has been too generally been, for instance, when Columbkill consigned. The old Scotic saints have was, in most undovelike style, setting been universally ignored by the two clans by the ears.

What can be English Church. It is not easy to

drearier, not for the tourist who understand why, while Saint George admires its beauties but for the and Saint David are in our calendar, inhabitant, than Kilmacrenan, then Saint Patrick is conspicuous only by the headquarters of the O'Donnells ? his absence. We forget that at least In those days it was full of life, half of England was Christianised more or less like the

life of a by Scotic missionaries : they even re New Zealand pah. So,

So, to change founded the see of London after Saint the scene and go down into Clare, Augustine's followers had lost heart were the Kilfenora and Kincora of and withdrawn. And of this mis old times : now scarcely alive, then sionary spirit, continued through many centres where the greatest of the generations, Columban gives one of the western clans, the O'Briens, made their earliest and one of the brightest ex home. But still, for a man who knew amples. The writer of his life in Latin and some Greek, and for whom Smith's Dictionary, claims for him Rome was the mother of culture and "sound judgment, solid ecclesiastical polity even more than of religion, such learning, elegant taste, and deep a life, however full, must have been spirituality"; and the claim is pretty mean and unsatisfying. In his ears, well established. Neander says that whenever he read his Priscian or be gave the impulse to that “mis whatever book he might have access sionary rage” which sent out Cilian, to, would ring echoes of the great the Franconian martyr, Livin of Belgium, Thaddeus of Ratisbon, Fridolin

Most piteous is the lament of Oisin that,

since the clerics had come in with the hoarse the traveller, and a score of others

booming of their hymns, the glad old time of a good century before Winfrid of

hunting and feasting, and inusic and wrestling, Romsey, known in religion as Saint and ball play and flirting with fair women (all Boniface, began his work. So wide

that made up the free life of the clan), is wholly gone.

Columban says he desudavit, spread was the Scotic missionary work

struggled hard, to get free from the wiles of that of the nation it began to be said female society.

« VorigeDoorgaan »