« November 2012 »
1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30
Blog Tools
Edit your Blog
Build a Blog
RSS Feed
View Profile

E-mail me:

Please visit
my main
web page
to see my
work as an

19 November 2012


An excerpt from the third book of the Rationale Divinorum Officiorum of William Durandus of Mende, Englished by T.H. Passmore:
1. Forasmuch as there is a weariness which often creepeth upon minds well disposed and had in hand for Divine Worship, rendering them slumbrous with a kind of sluggishness, as saith the Psalmist, MY SOUL MELTETH AWAY FOR VERY HEAVINESS; therefore in the left hand of the minister who approacheth unto the service of the Altar is placed a Maniple, which is also called a Sudarium; as that he may wipe away the sweats of his mind and shake off his heart's heaviness, keeping the watch of good works and driving weariness and slumber from him. For the Maniple is a figure of good works and watchfulness, whereof the Lord saith, WATCH, FOR YE KNOW NOT THE HOUR WHEREIN THE SON OF MAN COMETH; and the Spouse in the Canticles, I SLEEP, BUT MINE HEART WAKETH. As a Sudarium it also denoteth penitence, wherewith the stain of daily indulgence and the weariness of worldly life are wiped away; as it is said, MY SOUL MELTETH AWAY FOR VERY HEAVINESS; for the knowledge of sins, and the weakness of the flesh, are a weariness unto the soul.

The Maniple signifieth also the reward of future blessings. Thus in certain places they wear this Vestment, whose name signifieth also a sheaf, on Festivals whensoever Albes are used, to show that in life each one shall receive his due reward; for THEY SHALL COME AGAIN WITH JOY, BRINGING THEIR SHEAVES WITH THEM.

The Sudarium of the Subdeacon is made greater than that of the Priest, for where there is greater transgression, there is required more fruit of repentance. But of the Sudarium I will speak again.

2. The Ministers wear the maniple upon the left arm, to show that they must be bound up as touching earthly things, but untrammeled unto heavenly. They of old were not thus bound, for they served God, not only for spiritual, but also for temporal ends. But we in this life, whereof the left hand is a type, do undergo the irksomeness as it were of much sweating, that is, of pleasure, and other excesses of the mind. The Maniple, hanging upon the left arm, denoteth also the faith, which in this life we must have.

3. The use of the Maniple was not taken from Aaron, but from the ancient Fathers of the Church; as it is written in the Martyrology of Bede, that Arsenius did ever a kerchief in his bosom or his hand, to wipe away the abundance of his tears. the holy Fathers also, while they handled the sacred things and celebrated the Sacraments, had little napkins or handkerchiefs on their hands, sometimes to wipe their hands, and sometimes for covering or reverently handling the things of God.

4. As touching that which agreeth unto the Head, even Christ, the wearing of the Maniple on the left hand denoteth this, that Christ won His Prize while in the way; for, as I have said, the Maniple signifieth a prize, as in that Scripture, THEY SHALL COME AGAIN WITH JOY, BRINGING THEIR SHEAVES WITH THEM; and the left hand is this present life, as it is written, HIS LEFT HAND IS UNDER MY HEAD, AND HIS RIGHT HAND DOTH EMBRACE ME. For Christ did enjoy His reward at one and the same time that He was earning it; He enjoyed it in His own land, and did merit it on His way thither, compassing His prize the while He ran his course, in that He was at once in His native land and on the way to it: as he said, NO MAN HATH ASCENDED UP TO HEAVEN, BUT HE THAT CAME DOWN FROM HEAVEN, EVEN THE SON OF MAN WHICH IS IN HEAVEN.

5. The Maniple is also a figure of the rope with which Jesus was bound, after that He was taken by the Jews, as saith Saint John, THEY TOOK HIM, AND BOUND HIM.

This vestment is wont to be put upon the Holy Father after the Chasuble, and there be many Bishops beside, who observe this.

6. It is to be noted, that the Deacon and Subdeacon, in assisting the Bishop to put on the Sacred Vestments, wear not the Maniple; first, that they may do their parts with the more ease and freedom; and secondly because in the discharge of such a duty they ought not to look for temporal guerdon; which latter is one of the meanings of the Maniple, as I have shown from that of the Psalmist, THAY SHALL COME AGAIN WITH JOY, BRINGING THEIR SHEAVES WITH THEM. And while the Bishop putteth the Vestments on and off, the Deacon standeth at his right, and the Subdeacon at his left; for the Deacon, by virtue of his Order, taketh that mightier and higher place than the Subdeacon, which is signified by the right hand.

18 November 2012


An excerpt from the third book of the Rationale Divinorum Officiorum of William Durandus of Mende, Englished by T.H. Passmore:
1. After the Girdle the Priest doth put upon his neck the Orarium, or Stole, which is a type of the light yoke of Christ, or of the yoke of His precepts, to show that he hath taken the Lord's yoke upon him. This he doth kiss in putting it on and off, to mark the consent and desire wherewith he submitteth himself to that yoke. And it falleth down from the neck before, adorning both the right side and the left; for BY THE ARMOUR OF RIGHTEOUSNESS ON THE RIGHT HAND AND ON THE LEFT, that is, in weal and woe, the Priest ought to be armed, that he be neither broken by misfortunes nor lifted up by well-being. Wherefore when the Priest receiveth the Stole in Holy Order, the Bishop saith unto him, 'Receive the yoke of God, FOR HIS YOKE IS SWEET, AND HIS BURTHEN IS LIGHT;' that is, sweet in well-being, and in misfortune light.

2. The Stole reacheth down to the knees, which are bent by us as showing that we must be humble and gentle of heart. It signifieth also patience, whereof it is written, YE HAVE NEED OF PATIENCE, THAT YE MIGHT RECEIVE THE PROMISE; and again, IN YOUR PATIENCE YE SHALL POSSESS YOUR SOULS. Hence it ariseth that the Stole is tied in certain knots on the right and on the left, with the Zone or Girdle, for virtue doth company with virtue and succoreth it, lest by some impulse temptation be stirred up; which showeth also that both in things good and in things evil the yoke of Christ ought patiently to be borne, in the bond of charity. But unto the foregoing some Bishops do add these words, 'May the Lord clothe thee with the Stole of innocence'; and this hath respect unto the Stole in its olden shape, which was typical of innocence.

3. Again, the Stole is crossed over from the left shoulder of the Priest unto his right side, while he is ordained, for obedience, taking its beginning from the active life through the love of his neighbour, doth pass over into the contemplative life through the love of God. The length of the Stole meaneth perseverance, and its two ends hanging down are prudence and temperance; thus the Apostle saith unto Titus, LET US LIVE SOBERLY, RIGHTEOUSLY, AND GODLY, IN THIS PRESENT WORLD. But according to a decree of the Council of Braga, the Priest ought with one and the same Stole, disposing it equally round his neck and both his shoulders, to trace and make ready on his breast the sign of the Cross, as one who is bidden to live between good and evil fortunes, yet is not dismayed; that men may ever mark him surrounded with the adornment of virtue upon either shoulder. And whoso shall do otherwise, saith the decree, he shall be duly liable to excommunication. Unless indeed one might deem this decree to have been repealed by the general custom of the Church to the contrary; for it is not everywhere that the two arms of the Stole are thus disposed upon the breast in the form of the cross. He beareth, then, the Cross on his breast, the while in his heart he taketh pattern by the Passion of Christ, Whose servant he is.

4. The Stole, as I have said, is at once a yoke and a burthen. It is a yoke, that is, unto the Priest, and a burthen unto the Deacon; and by reason of this the Priest weareth it around his neck, but the Deacon over his left shoulder. For on the neck a yoke is work, but a burthen is carried on the shoulder. And if thou read in Leviticus, thou wilt see that the Levites only were appointed unto the bearing of the burthens. Unto the Deacon the Stole signifieth also a yoke, as I have shewn in another Book. And it is placed upon his left shoulder, because it is meet that temporal things should be subject unto things spiritual; or else because it behoveth the right shoulder of the Deacon to be unencumbered, to the end that he may go hither and thither the more freely in the service of the Priest; whereof also I have already treated, in that place aforesaid.

5. It is girt round at the loins, that the Priest may be strong and active against the onslaughts of lust. But sometimes its forepart is folded over the left arm only; and this is drawn from the Priests of the Law, who while they sacrificed used to turn back the ends of the girdle over their shoulders. But upon the Bishop or Priest it falleth down before on either side evenly, because Christ, Whose likeness they bear, and Who kept an even mind in weal and woe - which are denoted by left and right - did desire to lead the dwellers of the earth unto heavenly things, and did ever bear this thought before the eyes of His mind.

6. The Stole is also called Orarium, the Praying-Vestment; because, whereas it is lawful to baptise, to confirm, and to do many other things which stand in prayer, without the other vestments, yet without the Stole it is lawful to do none of these things, save when driven by urgent need. At the Council of Tribur it was appointed that Priests should not walk, save when vested with the Stole.

It is to be noted, that the Stole was originally a white garment flowing down to the feet, such as the Patriarchs wore before the Law. This was put on by firstborn sons when they received their father's blessing; on which occasions they offered victims unto God, as though they had been Priests. But when the Albe began to be worn, the Stole was altered into the form of a collar. For by the first Stole was understood innocence, which was the estate of the first man. But when he lost his innocence through sin, it needed that he should recover it as it were through the Fatted Calf. It remaineth, then, that we, who fell through disobedience, should by obedience rise up again; wherefore we do rightly bow our necks unto the collar of obedience, that we may win back the robe of innocence. For by the Stole which now we wear, we do accept the obedience of the Gospel of the Crucified.

7. As touching that which agreeth unto the Head, even Christ, the Stole, as lying over the Amice on the Priest's neck, doth signify that obedience and servitude which the Lord of all things underwent in order to the salvation of His own. For He, BEING IN THE FORM OF A GOD, THOUGHT IT NOT ROBBERY TO BE EQUAL WITH GOD; BUT MADE HIMSELF OF NO REPUTATION, AND TOOK UPON HIM THE FORM OF A SERVANT, AND BECAME OBEDIENT UNTO DEATH, EVEN THE DEATH OF THE CROSS. Yet did He neither inherit originally, nor commit actually, aught worthy of death.

The Stole is also a figure of the band, wherewith Jesus was tied to the column.

8. It hath been appointed in the Canons, that Subdeacons, Readers, and Singing-Men may not wear Stoles.

17 November 2012


An excerpt from the third book of the Rationale Divinorum Officiorum of William Durandus of Mende, Englished by T.H. Passmore:
1. Now the Albe must be girded around the loins of the Priest or Bishop with a Zone or Girdle, called in the Law and by the Greeks balteus, lest it flow down and hinder his steps; that no motives may provoke him to relax his chasteness, whereof the Albe is a type. For the Girdle doth signify continence, as it is written, LET YOUR LOINS BE GIRDED ABOUT, AND YOUR LAMPS BURNING IN YOUR HANDS; for that in the loins lust reigneth, as the Lord sheweth, speaking of the devil, HIS STRENGTH IS IN HIS LOINS, AND HIS FORCE IS IN THE NAVEL OF HIS BELLY.

2. On the left side of the Bishop there hangeth down from the Girdle a two-fold Undergirdle, because there be two things whereby Chastity is made strong, and without which it is hardly preserved, to wit, Prayer and Fasting. Thus the Lord saith, THIS KIND GOETH NOT OUT, BUT BY PRAYER AND FASTING.

3. With Continence, therefore, ought the loins to be girded, and under-girded with Abstinence; wherefore the Apostle, STAND HAVING YOUR LOINS GIRT ABOUT WITH TRUTH. But the Undergirdle, which is called otherwise Perizona or Succingulum, was not found among the Vestments of the Law. For though the Priests of the Law, being girded, must not come at their wives in the time of sacrifice, yet at other times they were free in this matter. But nowadays one girdle is added, for the ministers of to-day must needs have continence, and therefore they must be not only girded, but also under-girded.

4. Wherefore the Undergirdle is twofold, to denote a two-fold chastity: namely, of the mind, as the Girdle, and of the body, as the Undergirdle signifieth. And this latter hangeth, as I have said, from the left side; for as the right is mightier than the left, so is chastity of mind more potent than chastity of body. Wherefore Saint Gregory saith, 'We gird our loins, when we restrain the lust of the flesh through continence.

5. The Girdle doth also fitly designate temperance. (Of the Undergirdle I have spoken also in the Proeme of this Book.) And mark that (as hath been already said) the breast and throat are but loosely held bound by the Amice, because their motions are not under our power. Elias did sooner shut up heaven when he prayed that it might not rain, than his own wrath, when he desired vengeance for the death of the prophets. The tongue, too, dwelleth in moisture and dampness, and is made easily to slip, even as the Prince of the Apostles did at the word of a damsel deny his Master. But by the Girdle the reins are bound strongly and tightly, that we may buffet the body and bring it into servitude, and may bridle the motions of lust.

6. As touching that which agreeth unto the Head, even Christ, the priestly Girdle is a figure of that whereof the Apostle John speaketh: AND I TURNED, AND SAW ONE LIKE UNTO THE SON OF MAN, GIRT ABOUT THE PAPS WITH A GOLDEN GIRDLE. By a 'golden girdle' is intended the perfect love of Christ, called by the Apostle the LOVE OF CHRIST WHICH PASSETH KNOWLEDGE, burning within the heart, and shining forth in works. And its Undergirdle doth represent that which Esaias did prophecy, speaking of Christ, AND RIGHTEOUSNESS SHALL BE THE GIRDLE OF HIS LOINS, AND FAITHFULNESS THE GIRDLE OF HIS REINS. For again, THE RIGHTEOUS LORD LOVETH RIGHTEOUSNESS: HIS COUNTENANCE WILL BEHOLD THE THING THAT IS JUST. And, THE LORD IS RIGHTEOUS IN ALL HIS WORKS. The two ends of it are the two natural precepts of the righteousness which Christ wrought and taught, to wit, 'Do not unto others as ye would not have them do unto you, but as ye would that men should do unto you, do ye also unto them.' It doth therefore represent Righteousness, having two arms joined tightly together, that is, to refuse evil and to do good.

The Girdle signifieth also the scourge, with which Pilate did scourge Jesus.

16 November 2012


An excerpt from the third book of the Rationale Divinorum Officiorum of William Durandus of Mende, Englished by T.H. Passmore:
1. After the Amice the Priest putteth on him a shift called the Albe; and this, being exactly fitted to all the limbs of the body, doth show that there must be nought of excess or looseness in the life of the Priest, or in his members. By its whiteness it doth represent purity; for it is written, LET THY GARMENTS BE ALWAYS WHITE; and it is made of byssus, or fine linen, for it is written that FINE LINEN IS THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF SAINTS.

2. Now byssus is Egyptian linen. And even as linen, or byssus, doth win by cunning, being beaten with many blows, that whiteness which by nature it hath not; so also man's flesh, being lashed with many stripes in the exercise of good works, hath by grace that pureness allotted unto it which by nature it cannot have. The Priest therefore, according unto the Apostle, must BUFFET HIS BODY, AND BRING IT INTO SUBJECTION, LEST THAT BY ANY MEANS, WHEN HE HATH PREACHED TO OTHERS, HIMSELF SHOULD BE A CASTAWAY.

3. The Albe hath also a hood, the profession of chastity; and a lappet, signifying the Priestly tongue, which bindeth the froward, and looseth the penitent. Again, this Vestment, which in the ancient Priesthood was called a linen coat, and in Greek ??????, or the garment which reacheth unto the feet, is said of old to have been closely-fitting, which pointeth unto the Jews' SPIRIT OF BONDAGE TO FEAR. But in the new Priesthood it is ample, according to the spirit of adoption, in that LIBERTY WHEREWITH CHRIST HATH MADE US FREE. It hath also golden broidery and devices for ornament which with varied work in divers parts, which hinteth of that which the Prophet saith in the Psalms, UPON THY RIGHT HAND DID STAND THE QUEEN IN A VESTURE OF GOLD, WROUGHT ABOUT WITH DIVERS COLOURS.

4. The Albe is also drawn tight with a girdle, and this meaneth the strangling of all carnal pleasure, as the Lord saith, LET YOUR LOINS BE GIRT.

5. And the sleeves of the Albe, as also of the Tunicle, ought to be tight enow, not too loose, lest they slip away and leave the arms bare; and having apparels at the edges, representing the golden bracelets which by a miracle did enclose in seemly wise the bare arms of Saint Martin while he celebrated Mass. By the Albe also, which covereth the body from above downwards, is typified that hope which cometh unto the Church from above through grace, and through her own merits below. Of this the Apostle saith, WE ARE SAVED BY HOPE. And in that it reacheth unto the feet, it pointeth to perseverance, as was mentioned near the end of the Proeme of this Book.

6. But as touching that which agreeth unto Christ, Which is the Head, the Albe being a linen Vestment, and widely differing from the clokes made of the skins of dead animals, wherewith Adam was clad after his fall, doth picture that newness of life which Christ both had and taught, and doth give in Baptism unto us. And concerning this the Apostle saith, PUT OFF THE OLD MAN WITH HIS DEEDS, AND PUT ON THE NEW MAN, WHICH IS CREATED AFTER GOD. For in the Transfiguration HIS FACE DID SHINE AS THE SUN, AND HIS RAIMENT WAS WHITE AS SNOW; nay, the garments of Christ were ever white and clean, forasmuch as HE DID NO SIN, NEITHER WAS GUILE FOUND IN HIS MOUTH.

This Vestment representeth also the white robe, which Herod put on Christ to mock him.

15 November 2012


An excerpt from the third book of the Rationale Divinorum Officiorum of William Durandus of Mende, Englished by T.H. Passmore:
1. First I must speak of the six Vestments belonging to both Bishop and Priest, according to the foregoing.

The Priest or Bishop who is about to celebrate, having washed his hands, taketh the Amice, and covereth his head with it; and this he hath in the stead of the Ephod or Superhumeral, or of the Breastplate of Judgment; nay, even now it may be called the Superhumeral. This signifieth salvation, which is granted through faith; whereof also the Apostle speaketh, saying unto the Ephesians, PUT ON THE HELMET OF SALVATION. It figureth also chastity of heart and body, because it goeth round his reins and breast, and covereth them; and though it be put on beneath all other sacred Vestments, yet it is supreme over all, for that chastity ought both to dwell within the heart, and in practice to shine out abroad. Wherefore it is drawn tight over the reins, for there desire doth hold his chief sway. Moreover, by the Amice is signified that a man should be strong in good works, for it spreadeth over the shoulders every way: and it is the shoulders that be strong unto the carrying-out of labour, even as the patriarch Jacob saith, HE BOWED HIS SHOULDER TO BEAR, AND BECAME A SERVANT UNTO TRIBUTE.

There be two strings wherewith the Amice is tied across the breast; these are the intention wherewith, and the end whereunto, our works must be informed, that they be not done in the leaven of malice and wickedness, but in the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. Thus ought not the Priest to live in idleness, but to labour in good works, according to that of the Apostle unto Timothy, LABOUR AS A GOOD SOLDIER OF JESUS CHRIST. In certain places a praiseworthy custom holdeth, that a white shift of linen, or a surplice, should be put on over the common dress before the Amice, whereby faith is understood, which ought to be had before all things. Again, the Amice goeth round the mouth of the Chasuble; but of this I will treat in the chapter of the Chasuble.

2. The Amice is drawn tightly round the neck: and by this is symbolised the subjection of the voice, for the neck, wherein is the voice, doth express the act of speaking; it is therefore held bound, as it were, lest falsehood pass unto the tongue therefrom. Yet over the breast and throat it is drawn but loosely, as shall be expounded in the chapter of the Girdle. With the Amice also we cover the head, lest, if we cast the eyes freely every way, we should ponder unlawful things. And the breast and heart are covered with it, for the mind of the Priest ought to be intent on those things which lie upon him; nor may he in that hour relax his heart unto vanities, or to the unrestrained meditation of any worldly thing.

3. Further, as touching that which agreeth unto the head, even Christ, the Amice, which overshadoweth the Priest's head, doth represent that which is described in the Apocalypse, AND I SAW A MIGHTY ANGEL COME DOWN FROM HEAVEN, CLOTHED WITH A CLOUD; and in Esaias, BEHOLD, THE LORD RIDETH UPON A SWIFT CLOUD. And the world's Saviour, the Son of God, the Angel of Great Counsel, coming to save the world, was veiled as with a cloud, when he hid away His Godhead in Flesh. For THE HEAD OF EVERY MAN IS CHRIST; AND THE HEAD OF CHRIST IS GOD.

The Priest's Amice, then, doth symbolise this hiding in flash; but it is more particularly set forth by that Veil which the Holy Father draweth over his head, and of which I will speak in the chapter of the Undergirdle. And it is a comely thought that this very thing, which is typified by the shoes of the feet, is also expressed by the veiling of the head - namely, they lying-hid of the Godhead in Flesh, and Its revelation through it. For when HE WAS KNOWN IN JEWRY, AND HIS NAME WAS GREAT IN ISRAEL; then OVER EDOM DID HE CAST OUT HIS SHOE, and HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS DID HE OPENLY SHOW IN THE SIGHT OF THE HEATHEN.

The Amice doth also represent the fold wherewith the Jews veiled the Face of Christ, saying in the twenty-sixth chapter of Matthew, PROPHECY UNTO US, THOU CHRIST, WHO IS HE THAT SMOTE THEE?

14 November 2012


An excerpt from the third book of the Rationale Divinorum Officiorum of William Durandus of Mende, Englished by T.H. Passmore:
Here beginneth the Book of the Vestments of Ornaments of the Church, as worn by Priests and Bishops, and other Ministers.

I. It behoveth not to wear the Sacred Vestments in the use of everyday. Whereby we mark, that even as we make change of vesture according unto the letter, so must we do also according unto the spirit, We may not enter therefore into the Holy of Holies with garments tainted by the use of common life; but with a pure conscience and with clean and holy raiment must we handle the holy things of God. Wherefore Stephen, Pope, did order that the Sacred Vestments should not be used, save in the rites of the Church, and in service meet for God; as saith Ezekiel in the forty-fourth chapter, THEY SHALL NOT SANCTIFY THE PEOPLE WITH THEIR GARMENTS. One raiment therefore hath Divine religion, for the Church's Offices; and another hath man for common use, to deliver the lesson of good conversation unto all Christian folk: to the end that they, being washed from their former foulness, may be made new men in Christ. For at such time the Priest doth doff the old man with his doings, and putteth on the new man, made in the image of God. By the vestments, moreover, as worn only in sacred services, we do understand that not all holy things are to be unfolded unto the people. Note also that in the days of the Emperor Ludovix, the son of Charlemagne, the Bishops and clergy laid aside their girdles wove with gold, and their exquisite garments and other trappings of the world.

2. Now the Sacred Vestments seem to have been taken from the Law of old. For the Lord gave commandment unto Moses that he should make for Aaron the High Priest and for his sons HOLY GARMENTS FOR GLORY AND FOR BEAUTY, that being washed and clad in sacred vesture they might discharge their office in the sanctuary. For by the space of forty days the Lord did teach Moses to make pontifical and priestly vestments for His Priests and for the sons of Levi, yea, ornaments and robes of linen; moreover, Miriam wove and wrought them unto the use of ministry of the Tabernacle of the Covenant. And so it is said in the forty-seventh chapter of Ecclesiasticus, HE BEAUTIFIED THEIR FEASTS. There be certain Vestments, on the other hand, which are taken from the Apostles: but both these and those do signify virtues, and express the ministry of the Incarnation.

3. The Bishop, of a truth, when about to celebrate, doth put off his clothes of everyday, and arrayeth himself in garments pure and holy.

And first, he must put on the Sandals, that he may be mindful of the Incarnation of the Lord.

Secondly, he placeth upon himself the Amice, that he may restrain his motions and his thoughts, his lips and tongue, that he may have a clean heart, receiving a right spirit renewed within him.

Thirdly, the Albe, which reacheth to his feet; that he may have enduring purity in his flesh.

Fourthly, the Girdle, that he may rein in the impulse of desire.

In the fifth place, the Stole, for token of obedience.

In the sixth place, the Tunic, which is of blue, signifying heavenly conversation.

In the seventh place, he doth put on the Dalmatic, which is holy piety, and the mortifying of the flesh.

In the eighth place, the Gloves, that he refuse vainglory.

In the ninth place, the Ring, that he love his Bride, the Church, even as himself.

In the tenth place, the Chasuble, which is Charity.

In the eleventh place, the Napkin, that he wipe away with penance whereinsoever, through frailty or ignorance, he is a sinner.

In the twelfth place, he putteth on the Pall, to shew himself that he imitateth Christ, Who bare our sicknesses.

In the thirteenth place, the Mitre, that he so live as to be worthy of receiving an eternal crown.

In the fourteenth place, he taketh the Staff, which is the authority of power and doctrine.

And after this he goeth upon carpets, that he may learn to despise the earth, and to be in love with heavenly things. And with all these foregoing Vestments he is clad by his Ministers; for the angels do minister unto him, that he may array himself in the garments of the Spirit: or because he is Vicegerent of Christ, unto Whom angels minister, and Whom all things serve.

The Bishop, then, looking toward the north - or toward the east, or the Altar, he may look, if it be more convenient - like a rescuer, a warrior about to fight with a long-standing foe, doth put on the Sacred Vestments as one accoutreth himself with arms, according to the Apostle, as I shall presently set forth.

4. First, the sandals hath he for greaves of war, lest aught of the stain or dust of this world's affections cleave unto him. Secondly, with the Amice, as with an helm, he covereth his head. Thirdly, with the Albe, as with a breast-plate, he envelopeth his whole body. Fourthly, he taketh the Girdle, to a bow, and the Undergirdle to a quiver; now the Undergirdle is that which hangeth down from the Girdle, and wherewith the Bishop's stole is fastened into the same. In the fifth place, with the Stole he surroundeth his neck, as one that brandisheth a spear in the face of his enemy. In the sixth place, he taketh the Maniple, as who wieldeth a club. Lastly, with the Chasuble he covereth himself as it were with a shield; and with a Book he armeth his hand, as with a sword. Of all the which I will speak singly in a different wise hereafter.

And so these are the accoutrements wherewith the Bishop or the Priest ought to arm himself, willing to do battle against ghostly wickedness. For thus saith the Apostle: THE WEAPONS OF OUR WARFARE ARE NOT CARNAL; BUT MIGHTY TO THE PULLING DOWN OF STRONGHOLDS. And in another Epistle, that unto the Ephesians, in the sixth chapter: PUT YE ON , saith he, THE ARMOUR OF GOD, THAT YE MAY BE ABLE TO STAND AGAINST THE WILES OF THE DEVIL. STAND THEREFORE HAVING YOUR LOINS GIRT ABOUT WITH TRUTH, AND HAVING ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, AND YOUR FEET SHOD WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; ABOVE ALL TAKING THE SHIELD OF FAITH, WHEREWITH YE SHALL BE ABLE TO QUENCH ALL THE FIERY DARTS OF THE WICKED: AND TAKE THE HELMET OF SALVATION, AND THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT, WHICH IS THE WORD OF GOD. Which armour is the foregoing sevenfold priestly vesture, signifying the seven-fold virtue of the Priest; and representing moreover the raiment of Christ wherewith He was arrayed at the time of His Passion, as shall be said anon.

5. Therefore the Bishop must take earnest thought, and the Priest give careful heed, that he bear not the sign without the thing signified: that is, that he wear not the Vestment without its virtue; lest perchance he be as a sepulcre, whited without, BUT WITHIN FULL OF ALL UNCLEANNESS. For what Priest soever adorneth himself with vestments, and putteth not on good manners, the more worthy of respect he seem unto men, so much the more unworthy doth he become in the sight of God. Wherefore the glory of the Episcopate is not approved by the splendour of garments, but by brightness of souls: since those very adornments which did once delight the eyes of the flesh did call the rather for those virtues which were to be understood by their mean; that whatsoever those vestments with the gleam of their gold, the sheen of their jewels, and the variety of all kinds of broidery, did signify, might in these latter days shine out in the conduct and deed of the wearer. For even amongst the ancients the form did win reverence for its meaning, and in our own days the experience of deeds is surer than the riddle of symbols; whereof, with other matters, we read in the Pontifical, where it treateth of the consecration of the Bishop.

6. So accoutred, then, for his conflict AGAINST SPIRITUAL WICKEDNESS IN HIGH PLACES, and for the allaying of the Judge's anger against His subjects, he proceedeth to the Altar, and by the Confession doth renounce the dominion of the devil, and accuseth himself; and upon ordinary days the folk, as about to pray for their champion, do prostrate themselves upon the ground. When he uttereth the Collects and other devotions, he doth fight as it were with all his might against the devil. When the Deacon before the Gospel upon Fast-days foldeth back the Chasuble over his shoulder, he brandisheth as it were a sword against the foe. When the Epistle is read, it is the edicts of the Emperor that are being proclaimed by the voice of the herald. The chants are the trumpeters, the precentors ruling the choir are the generals of the host marshalling it unto battle, and as they lead the onset, others come to their aid; and the strains of the Sequence are the plaudits and the praise of victory. When the Gospel is read, the foe is as it were wounded with the sword, or scattered forces after victory are gathered into line. The Bishop, while he preacheth, is the Emperor, lauding the conquerors; the Oblations are the spoils, which the victors share; and the strains of the Offertory are the triumph, due to the Emperor. The Pax at the end is given unto the people, as a token of their quiet now that the foe is overthrown. And at the last the folk, after leave granted unto them in the Ite missa est, depart again unto their own with gladness, for that victory and peace be won.

Wherefore the Priest, willing to celebrate Mass, must adorn himself with apparel which agreeth unto his order, and the beauty of his life must beseem his vesture's splendour.

7. Now in this matter it must be noted, that there be six Vestments common unto both Bishop and Priest, for that there be six matters wherein standeth such power as belongeth alike to both. Yet are there nine ornaments peculiar to the Bishop, because there are nine points wherein standeth such power as belongeth to the Bishop alone. By this reckoning, then, of Vestments common and peculiar, are signified the functions common to both Bishop and Priest, and those peculiar to the former alone. Of such appointment, moreover, we read both in the Old and in the New Testament; for we are told that the High Priest, beside those garments which he had in common with the Priests, had also certain peculiar to himself. But in the Old Testament there were four common, and four peculiar, as shall be set forth in the chapter of the Vestments of the Law; and this, indeed, was demanded by mystic truth, for those vestments were given unto carnal and worldly men. For unto the flesh the number four doth well agree, by reason of the four Humours; and unto the world, by reason of the four Elements. By these other are assigned unto them that are spiritual and perfect.

8. For the number six, which is a perfect number, in that it is made up of its own parts added together, doth agree unto perfect things. This is the reason that on the sixth day God finished the heavens and the earth, AND ALL THE HOST OF THEM; and furthermore, being come in the fulness of time, in the sixth age, on the sixth day, at the sixth hour, He redeemed the sons of men. This number, I say, then, is perfect, because it is made up exactly, if one count it in the order of its parts. Fore when we add one, two, and three, the number six is fulfilled. For it is divided into three parts, to wit, one-sixth, one-third, and a half, that is, one, two, and three. the number nine also doth fit with spiritual things, because there are nine orders of angels, which according to the prophet are signified by nine kinds of precious stones.

9. Wherefore there are in all fifteen ornaments of the Bishop; and these by their number do signify fifteen degrees of virtues, which the Psalmist did mark out by as many Songs of Degrees. For the Priestly Vestments do mean virtues, wherewith Priests ought to be adorned: according unto that of the Prophet, LET THY PRIESTS BE CLOTHED WITH RIGHTEOUSNESS, AND LET THY SAINTS SING WITH JOYFULNESS. And they are called talares, that is, reaching unto the feet, because the foot is the end of the body; by which it is set forth that to begin a good work sufficeth not, save thou give attention to fulfil it with perseverance even unto the end; but of this more in the chapter of the Tunic.

Thou seest, then, how that our Bishop putteth on more than eight vestments; whereas Aaron had but eight, which have their counterparts to-day; and this is to say that our RIGHTEOUSNESS MUST EXCEED THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE SCRIBES AND PHARISEES, if we would ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. On the other hand it may also be said that our Bishop hath eight from head to feet, if we except the ornaments of his feet and hands; to wit, the Amice, the Albe, the Girdle, the Stole, the two Tunics, the Chasuble, and the Pall. For the vesting of the feet doth the rather pertain unto our Pontiff than unto Aaron, since unto the former it hath been said, GO YE AND TEACH ALL NATIONS.

Lastly, beside the foregoing Vestments appointed unto Holy Orders and Ministers, there remaineth yet another Vestment of linen, called the Surplice, which those ought to wear over their common dress, who have time that they can give to any of the services of the Altar and Sanctuary; as shall be shown in the following chapter.

10. The Surplice, by reason that it is white, doth point out the cleanness and purity of chastity; as it is written, LET THY GARMENTS BE ALWAYS WHITE.

11. And on account of its name it is a figure of the mortification of the flesh, being called superpellicium, surplice, because of old it was wont to be worn super pellicias tunicas, over tunics of skin, made of the hide of dead animals; which thing is observed in some churches to this day, and figureth how Adam was clad in such skins after his fall.

In the third place it denoteth innocence; and therefore is it often put on before all other sacred Vestments, because they that are appointed unto the ministry of Divine worship ought to count innocency of life the first of all acts of virtue; according unto that of the Psalmist, THE INNOCENT AND JUST HAVE CLOVEN UNTO ME.

12. In the fourth place, by its fulness, it doth meetly express charity, wherefore it is put on over profane and common garments, to mark that CHARITY COVERETH THE MULTITUDE OF SINS. Lastly by its shape - for it is wrought in the form of a cross - it representeth our Lord's Passion, and that they who wear it ought to crucify the flesh, with its vices and lusts.

13. In some places surplices are made of linen chrisoms, which are put upon infants baptised; after the example of Moses, who of the purple and fine linen and other things offered of the people in the Tabernacle, did make garments for Aaron and his sons to put on, when they ministered in the sanctuary.

There is moreover another Vestment, which is called the Pluvial or Cope. This is believed to have been borrowed from the Tunic of the Law; wherefore, as that was ornamented with little bells, so is this embroidered with fringes, which are labours and cares of this world. An hood also it hath, which is heavenly delight; and it is long, reaching unto the feet, which signifieth perseverence to the end. In the forepart it is open, to denote that unto holy livers eternal life is open, and that their own life ought to be an open ensample unto others. And further, by the Cope we understand the glorious immortality of our bodies: wherefore we wear it not, save on the greater Feasts; having respect unto the Resurrection to come, when the elect, laying aside the flesh, shall receive two garments, rest of soul and body's glory. This Vestment also, as well beseemeth, is ample within, nor it joined but by one necessary fastening; because the body, rendered spiritual, shall in that day by no narrowness cloke up the soul. And it is provided with a fringe, because nought shall then be lacking unto our own perfection, but that which WE NOW KNOW IN PART WE SHALL THEN KNOW EVEN AS ALSO WE ARE KNOWN.

14. But certain heretics do vainly talk, affirming that this can nowhere be found in the New Testament, that Christ or His disciples did put on Vestments foregoing; rashly censuring us for that we adorn ourselves with such things, when as Saint John saith, THE LORD RISING FROM SUPPER LAID ASIDE HIS GARMENTS, and did after take unto Him none save only His own; yet that we do put on many other than those we ordinarily wear, in the Mass, wherein we follow that very Feast; whereas the Lord hath bidden us beware of them that love to walk in long garments, saying, BEWARE OF THE SCRIBES, WHICH DESIRE TO WALK IN LONG ROBES. They say, too, that we do this to appear more righteous and better than the people, in despite of that which is said, YE ARE THEY WHICH JUSTIFY YOURSELVES BEFORE MEN; BUT GOD KNOWETH YOUR HEARTS: FOR THAT WHICH IS HIGHLY ESTEEMED AMONG MEN IS ABOMINATION IN THE SIGHT OF GOD.


15. Mark, furthermore, that the doorkeepers, readers, exorcists, and acolyths wear white vestments, that is to say, Surplice, Amice, Albe, and Girdle, that in the cleanness of their purity they may imitate the angels which are the ministers of God, and may company with them as it were in the white robe of a body made spiritual and glorious, Therefore do they wear vestments of linen, rather than any other; for as flax is not brought unto whiteness save by much toil, so it needeth to pass through many tribulations, if thou wouldst win the glory of the Kingdom.

16. By the Council of Mayence it hath been appointed that the Bishop, at his ordination, should receive a Stole, a Staff, and a Ring; the Priest, a Stole and a Chasuble; the Deacon, a Stole and a Dalmatic, and the Subdeacon a Paten and Chalice; which all, if they be degraded, must render up. And by the Council of Toledo it hath been ruled that the Deacon shall wear 'the white Vestment' - that is, the Dalmatic - only at the time of the Offering, wherein he readeth the Gospel.

17. Also it is to be observed, that the Vestments of the Priest of the Gospel have certain meanings in regard of the Head, which is Christ, and certain in regard of the members, albeit both the Head and Members be called by the Priestly name; as saith the Psalmist unto the Head, THOU ART A PRIEST FOR EVER AFTER THE ORDER OF MELCHISEDECH; and to the members saith the Apostle, YE ARE A CHOSEN GENERATION, A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD. Therefore their mystic meanings are to be expounded, first, as touching that which agreeth unto the members, secondly as touching that which agreeth unto the Head, which is Christ. And after this manner I shall distinguish in every chapter.

18. The six Vestments, then, which be common to both Bishop and Priest, are these:

The Amice.
The Albe.
The Zone, or Girdle.
The Stole.
The Maniple.
The Chasuble.

And the nine which be peculiar to the Bishop are these:

The Buskins.
The Sandals.
The Undergirdle.
The Tunic.
The Dalmatic.
The Gloves.
The Mitre.
The Ring.
The Pastoral Staff.

Of all the which in turn we will go on to speak, as also of the Napkin, the Pall, and of the Colours which the Church useth in her Vestments; and also of the Vestments of the Law, or of the Old Testament.

11 November 2012


His life according to Sulpitius Severus and according to the Golden Legend of James of Voragine, as Englished by William Caxton.

His life, told in stained glass at Chartres Cathedral.

Sequence by Adam of St. Victor:

Gaude, Sion, quae diem recolis,
Qua Martinus compar Apostolis,
Mundum vincens, junctus caelicolis
Hic Martinus pauper et modicus,
Servus prudens, fidelis villicus,
Coelo dives, civis angelicus,

Hic Martinus jam catechuminus
Nudum vestit, et nocte protinus
In sequenti, hac veste Dominus
Est indutus.
Hic Martinus spernens militiam,
Inimicis inermis obviam
Ire parat, baptismi gratiam

Hic Martinus, dum offert hostiam,
Intus ardet per Dei gratiam,
Supersedens apparet etiam
Globus ignis.
Hic Martinus, qui coelum reserat,
Mari praeest et terris imperat;
Morbos sanat et monstra superat
Vir insignis.

Hic Martinus nec mori timuit
Nec vivendi laborem respuit,
Sicque Dei se totum tribuit
Hic Martinus qui nulli nocuit,
Hic Martinus qui cunetis profuit,
Hic Martinus qui trinae placuit

Hic Martinus, cujus est obitus
Severino per visum cognitus,
Dum coelestis canit exercitus
Dulce melos.
Hic Martinus, cujus Sulpitius
Vitam seribit, astat Ambrosius
Sepulturae, nil sibi conseius
Intrat coelos.

O Martine, pastor egregie,
O coelestis consors militiae,
Nos a lupi defendas rabie
O Martine, fac nunc quod gesseras,
Deo preces pro nobis offeras;
Esto memor, quam nunquam deseras
Tuae gentis. Amen.

Englished by Digby S. Wrangham:

Sion! rejoice, that celebratest here
The day, when Martin, the Apostles' peer,
The world o'ercome, doth, ranked with angels, wear
A crown of light.
This Martin, once a poor man, mean and low,
But a wise servant and true steward, now
To wealth in heaven is raised from earth below.
As angel bright.

This Martin in his catechumen's years
One naked clothes, when suddenly appears
To him the following night the Lord, who wears
That very dress.
This Martin, who a soldier's life had left,
Prepares all foes to meet, of arms bereft,
When he hath once obtained that precious gift,
Baptismal grace.

This Martin, as he celebrateth Mass,
Glows with an inward ardour by God's grace;
While, resting on his head, they also trace
A ball of fire.
This Martin, who to heaven unlocks the way,
Rules o'er the sea, and o'er the land holds sway,
Doth sickness heal and dreadful monsters slay,
Illustrious Sire!

This Martin neither held grim death in fear,
Nor yet refused the toil of life to bear;
Himself thus wholly to God's will, whilst here.
This Martin, who ne'er gave a creature pain.
This Martin, who to all the world brought gain,
This Martin, who well pleased Him who doth reign
As Triune King;

This Martin 'tis, whose death by God of old
To Severinus in a dream was told,
While from the lips of angel-cohorts rolled
Sweet melodies.
This Martin 'tis, whose life Sulpitius writes,
Whose burial also Ambrose' eyes delights.
Who, with clear conscience, enters heaven's far heights
Above the skies.

O Martin, famed 'mongst pastors here below!
The comrade of angelic cohorts now!
Against the rage of rabid wolf do thou
Our guardian be!
O Martin! do, as thou art wont to do,
And, offering prayer to God, for us still sue!
Remember those thou leftest not, life through,
Thy family! Amen.

10 November 2012


Wiliam of Newburgh:
In these days a wonderful event befell in the county of Buckingham, which I, in the first instance, partially heard from certain friends, and was afterwards more fully informed of by Stephen, the venerable archdeacon of that province. A certain man died, and, according to custom, by the honorable exertion of his wife arid kindred, was laid in the tomb on the eve of the Lord's Ascension. On the following night, however, having entered the bed where his wife was reposing, he not only terrified her on awaking, but nearly crushed her by the insupportable weight of his body. The next night, also, he afflicted the astonished woman in the same manner, who, frightened at the danger, as the struggle of the third night drew near, took care to remain awake herself, and surround herself with watchful companions. Still he came; but being repulsed by the shouts of the watchers, and seeing that he was prevented from doing mischief, he departed. Thus driven off from his wife, he harassed in a similar manner his own brothers, who were dwelling in the same street; but they, following the cautious example of the woman, passed the nights in wakefulness with their companions, ready to meet and repel the expected danger. He appeared, notwithstanding, as if with the hope of surprising them should they be overcome with drowsiness; but being repelled by the carefulness and valor of the watchers, he rioted among the animals, both indoors and outdoors, as their wildness and unwonted movements testified.

Having thus become a like serious nuisance to his friends and neighbors, he imposed upon all the same necessity for nocturnal watchfulness; and in that very street a general watch was kept in every house, each being fearful of his approach unawares. After having for some time rioted in this manner during the night-time alone, he began to wander abroad in daylight, formidable indeed to all, but visible only to a few; for oftentimes, on his encountering a number of persons, he would appear to one or two only though at the same time his presence was not concealed from the rest. At length the inhabitants, alarmed beyond measure, thought it advisable to seek counsel of the church; and they detailed the whole affair, with tearful lamentation, to the above-mentioned archdeacon, at a meeting of the clergy over which he was solemnly presiding. Whereupon he immediately intimated in writing the whole circumstances of the case to the venerable bishop of Lincoln, who was then resident in London, whose opinion and judgment on so unwonted a matter he was very properly of opinion should be waited for: but the bishop, being amazed at his account, held a searching investigation with his companions; and there were some who said that such things had often befallen in England, and cited frequent examples to show that tranquillity could not be restored to the people until the body of this most wretched man were dug up and burnt. This proceeding, however, appeared indecent and improper in the last degree to the reverend bishop, who shortly after addressed a letter of absolution, written with his own hand, to the archdeacon, in order that it might be demonstrated by inspection in what state the body of that man really was; and he commanded his tomb to be opened, and the letter having been laid upon his breast, to be again closed: so the sepulcher having been opened, the corpse was found as it had been placed there, and the charter of absolution having been deposited upon its breast, and the tomb once more closed, he was thenceforth never more seen to wander, nor permitted to inflict annoyance or terror upon any one.

In the northern parts of England, also, we know that another event, not unlike this and equally wonderful, happened about the same time. At the mouth of the river Tweed, and in the jurisdiction of the king of Scotland, there stands a noble city which is called Berwick. In this town a certain man, very wealthy, but as it afterwards appeared a great rogue, having been buried, after his death sallied forth (by the contrivance, as it is believed, of Satan) out of his grave by night, and was borne hither and thither, pursued by a pack of dogs with loud barkings; thus striking great terror into the neighbors, and returning to his tomb before daylight. After this had continued for several days, and no one dared to be found out of doors after dusk - for each dreaded an encounter with this deadly monster - the higher and middle classes of the people held a necessary investigation into what was requisite to he done; the more simple among them fearing, in the event of negligence, to be soundly beaten by this prodigy of the grave; but the wiser shrewdly concluding that were a remedy further delayed, the atmosphere, infected and corrupted by the constant whirlings through it of the pestiferous corpse, would engender disease and death to a great extent; the necessity of providing against which was shown by frequent examples in similar cases. They, therefore, procured ten young men renowned for boldness, who were to dig up the horrible carcass, and, having cut it limb from limb, reduce it into food and fuel for the flames. When this was done, the commotion ceased. Moreover, it is stated that the monster, while it was being borne about (as it is said) by Satan, had told certain persons whom it had by chance encountered, that as long as it remained unburned the people should have no peace. Being burnt, tranquility appeared to be restored to them; but a pestilence, which arose in consequence, carried off the greater portion of them: for never did it so furiously rage elsewhere, though it was at that time general throughout all the borders of England, as shall be more fully explained in its proper place.

It would not be easy to believe that the corpses of the dead should sally (I know not by what agency) from their graves, and should wander about to the terror or destruction of the living, and again return to the tomb, which of its own accord spontaneously opened to receive them, did not frequent examples, occurring in our own times, suffice to establish this fact, to the truth of which there is abundant testimony. It would be strange if such things should have happened formerly, since we can find no evidence of them in the works of ancient authors, whose vast labor it was to commit to writing every occurrence worthy of memory; for if they never neglected to register even events of moderate interest, how could they have suppressed a fact at once so amazing and horrible, supposing it to have happened in their day? Moreover, were I to write down all the instances of this kind which I have ascertained to have befallen in our times, the undertaking would be beyond measure laborious and troublesome; so I will fain add two more only (and these of recent occurrence) to those I have already narrated, and insert them in our history, as occasion offers, as a warning to posterity.

A few years ago the chaplain of a certain illustrious lady, casting off mortality, was consigned to the tomb in that noble monastery which is called Melrose. This man, having little respect for the sacred order to which he belonged, was excessively secular in his pursuits, and - what especially blackens his reputation as a minister of the holy sacrament - so addicted to the vanity of the chase as to be designated by many by the infamous title of Hundeprest, or the dog-priest; and this occupation, during his lifetime, was either laughed at by men, or considered in a worldly view; but after his death - as the event showed - the guiltiness of it was brought to light: for, issuing from the grave at night-time, he was prevented by the meritorious resistance of its holy inmates from injuring or terrifying any one with in the monastery itself; whereupon he wandered beyond the walls, and hovered chiefly, with loud groans and horrible murmurs, round the bedchamber of his former mistress. She, after this had frequently occurred, becoming exceedingly terrified, revealed her fears or danger to one of the friars who visited her about the business of the monastery; demanding with tears that prayers more earnest than usual should be poured out to the Lord in her behalf as for one in agony. With whose anxiety the friar - for she appeared deserving of the best endeavors, on the part of the holy convent of that place, by her frequent donations to it - piously and justly sympathized, and promised a speedy remedy through the mercy of the Most High Provider for all.

Thereupon, returning to the monastery, he obtained the companionship of another friar, of equally determined spirit, and two powerful young men, with whom he intended with constant vigilance to keep guard over the cemetery where that miserable priest lay buried. These four, therefore, furnished with arms and animated with courage, passed the night in that place, safe in the assistance which each afforded to the other. Midnight had now passed by, and no monster appeared; upon which it came to pass that three of the party, leaving him only who had sought their company on the spot, departed into the nearest house, for the purpose, as they averred, of warming themselves, for the night was cold. As soon as this man was left alone in this place, the devil, imagining that he had found the right moment for breaking his courage, incontinently roused up his own chosen vessel, who appeared to have reposed longer than usual. Having beheld this from afar, he grew stiff with terror by reason of his being alone; but soon recovering his courage, and no place of refuge being at hand, he valiantly withstood the onset of the fiend, who came rushing upon him with a terrible noise, and he struck the axe which he wielded in his hand deep into his body. On receiving this wound, the monster groaned aloud, and turning his back, fled with a rapidity not at all interior to that with which he had advanced, while the admirable man urged his flying foe from behind, and compelled him to seek his own tomb again; which opening of its own accord, and receiving its guest from the advance of the pursuer, immediately appeared to close again with the same facility. In the meantime, they who, impatient of the coldness of the night, had retreated to the fire ran up, though somewhat too late, and, having heard what had happened, rendered needful assistance in digging up and removing from the midst of the tomb the accursed corpse at the earliest dawn. When they had divested it of the clay cast forth with it, they found the huge wound it had received, and a great quantity of gore which had flowed from it in the sepulchre; and so having carried it away beyond the walls of the monastery and burnt it, they scattered the ashes to the winds. These things I have explained in a simple narration, as I myself heard them recounted by religious men.

Another event, also, not unlike this, but more pernicious in its effects, happened at the castle which is called Anantis, as I have heard from an aged monk who lived in honor and authority in those parts, and who related this event as having occurred in his own presence. A certain man of evil conduct flying, through fear of his enemies or the law, out of the province of York, to the lord of the before-named castle, took up his abode there, and having cast upon a service befitting his humor, labored hard to increase rather than correct his own evil propensities. He married a wife, to his own ruin indeed, as it afterwards appeared; for, hearing certain rumors respecting her, he was vexed with the spirit of Jealousy. Anxious to ascertain the truth of these reports, he pretended to be going on a journey from which he would not return for some days; but coming back in the evening, he was privily introduced into his bedroom by a maid-servant, who was in the secret, and lay hidden on a beam overhanging, his wife's chamber, that he might prove with his own eyes if anything were done to the dishonor of his marriage-bed. Thereupon beholding his wife in the act of fornication with a young man of the neighborhood, and in his indignation forgetful of his purpose, he fell, and was dashed heavily to the ground, near where they were lying.

The adulterer himself leaped up and escaped; but the wife, cunningly dissembling the fact, busied herself in gently raising her fallen husband from the earth. As soon as he had partially recovered, he upbraided her with her adultery, and threatened punishment; but she answering, Explain yourself, my lord, said she; you are speaking unbecomingly which must be imputed not to you, but to the sickness with which you are troubled. Being much shaken by the fall, and his whole body stupefied, he was attacked with a disease, insomuch that the man whom I have mentioned as having related these facts to me visiting him in the pious discharge of his duties, admonished him to make confession of his sins, and receive the Christian Eucharist in proper form: but as he was occupied in thinking about what had happened to him, and what his wife had said, put off the wholesome advice until the morrow - that morrow which in this world he was fated never to behold! - for the next night, destitute of Christian grace, and a prey to his well-earned misfortunes, he shared the deep slumber of death. A Christian burial, indeed, he received, though unworthy of it; but it did not much benefit him: for issuing, by the handiwork of Satan, from his grave at night-time, and pursued by a pack of dogs with horrible barkings, he wandered through the courts and around the houses while all men made fast their doors, and did not dare to go abroad on any errand whatever from the beginning of the night until the sunrise, for fear of meeting and being beaten black and blue by this vagrant monster. But those precautions were of no avail; for the atmosphere, poisoned by the vagaries of this foul carcass, filled every house with disease and death by its pestiferous breath.

Already did the town, which but a short time ago was populous, appear almost deserted; while those of its inhabitants who had escaped destruction migrated to other parts of the country, lest they too should die. The man from whose mouth I heard these things, sorrowing over this desolation of his parish, applied himself to summon a meeting of wise and religious men on that sacred day which is called Palm Sunday, in order that they might impart healthful counsel in so great a dilemma, and refresh the spirits of the miserable remnant of the people with consolation, however imperfect. Having delivered a discourse to the inhabitants, after the solemn ceremonies of the holy day had been properly performed, he invited his clerical guests, together with the other persons of honor who were present, to his table. While they were thus banqueting, two young men (brothers), who had lost their father by this plague, mutually encouraging one another, said, This monster has already destroyed our father, and will speedily destroy us also, unless we take steps to prevent it. Let us, therefore, do some bold action which will at once ensure our own safety and revenge our father's death. There is no one to hinder us; for in the priest's house a feast is in progress, and the whole town is as silent as if deserted. Let us dig up this baneful pest, and burn it with fire.

Thereupon snatching up a spade of but indifferent sharpness of edge, and hastening to the cemetery, they began to dig; and whilst they were thinking that they would have to dig to a greater depth, they suddenly, before much of the earth had been removed, laid bare the corpse, swollen to an enormous corpulence, with its countenance beyond measure turgid and suffused with blood; while the napkin in which it had been wrapped appeared nearly torn to pieces. The young men, however, spurred on by wrath, feared not, and inflicted a wound upon the senseless carcass, out of which incontinently flowed such a stream of blood, that it might have been taken for a leech filled with the blood of many persons. Then, dragging it beyond the village, they speedily constructed a funeral pile; and upon one of them saying that the pestilential body would not burn unless its heart were torn out, the other laid open its side by repeated blows of the blunted spade, and, thrusting in his hand, dragged out the accursed heart. This being torn piecemeal, and the body now consigned to the flames, it was announced to the guests what was going on, who, running thither, enabled themselves to testify henceforth to the circumstances. When that infernal hell-hound had thus been destroyed, the pestilence which was rife among the people ceased, as if the air, which had been corrupted by the contagious motions of the dreadful corpse, were already purified by the fire which had consumed it. These facts having been thus expounded, let us return to the regular thread of history.

7 November 2012


British Library:
The Luttrell Psalter is one of the most famous medieval manuscripts because of its rich illustrations of everyday life in the 14th century. It was made in the diocese of Lincoln for Sir Geoffrey Luttrell (1276-1345) of Irnham, probably sometime between 1325 and 1335.

The text was written throughout by one scribe and illuminated by at least five different artists. The style of the Psalter represents the last stage of the highly accomplished East Anglian School of manuscript illumination. One master artist completed a large section including the lavish dedication miniature showing the Psalter's patron, Sir Geoffrey Luttrell, fully armed and mounted on a splendid war-horse.

6 November 2012






The Art Newspaper:
Known as the Grey Passion, the 12-panel cycle was painted in Augsburg from 1494 to 1500... In 2003, the Stuttgart Staatsgalerie purchased the Grey Passion ... from the Fürstenburg family of Donaue­schingen, in southern Germany. It had been acquired by the family in 1853 from the Munich dealer Montmorillon, but its earlier provenance is unknown. By this time the two double-sided wings, with three images on each side, had been sawn down, creating 12 separate panels. The splitting of the wings caused considerable damage. The latticed support battens put a strain on the panels, causing the paint layer to crack.

Originally the two wings would have come from a triptych, and the central part would presumably have represented the Crucifixion. It was probably a sculpture, most likely by the Augsburg sculptor, Gregor Erhart, who worked with Holbein. The publicity surrounding Stuttgart’s forthcoming exhibition of the panels could lead to the identification of the lost 500-year-old Crucifixion.

The 12 panels suffered two damaging restorations. In 1918, Paul Gerhardt restored nine panels, applying too much overpaint, and painting six with green backgrounds and three with blue. The backgrounds of the remaining panels had become almost black.

In the 1940s two of the panels worked on by Gerhardt were restored again by Marga Eschenbach. Convinced that gilded haloes in the Descent from the Cross and the Flagellation were later additions, she removed them. Other specialists believed that haloes were part of Holbein’s original composition.

As a result, only three panels were left relatively unrestored (but with some damage over the centuries) and each had a very different appearance, making them difficult to read as an ensemble. Although the figures’ flesh tones survived in reasonable condition, the draperies have been stripped of their glazes.

Infrared reflectography showed that the underdrawing was executed in silverpoint, an unusual medium for this purpose at the time. It also revealed changes to the original composition, such as the soldier’s hand which held the rope around Christ’s neck in the Arrest of Christ. The underdrawings also show a characteristic feature of Holbein’s finished drawings on paper: hooks at the end of drapery, which confirms that he did the work.

Conservators used solvents to laboriously remove later overpaint and yellowed varnish, and repainted lost areas in reversible watercolours. The Flagellation and The Descent from the Cross required the most retouching.

Newer | Latest | Older

This is a not-for-profit web log, with an educational purpose. The quotations that appear in its entries I presume to be fairly used under current copyright law. To my knowledge, the pictures displayed here are either faithful reproductions of two-dimensional works of art in the public domain, or have been authorized for display via a Creative Commons or similar license. I am making an ongoing effort to properly credit all of the quotations and images that appear on this web log.

If you are the owner of the rights to any quotation or image that appears here and you object to its presence, or the manner in which it is presented, please e-mail me at danmitsui [at] hotmail [dot] com and I will remove or amend the post.