Art. 98, Legenda de sancto Etfrido, presbitero de Leoministria

ART. 98, LEGENDA DE SANCTO ETFRIDO, PRESBITERO DE LEOMINISTRIA: EXPLANATORY NOTES


Abbreviations: AND: Anglo-Norman Dictionary; ANL: Anglo-Norman Literature: A Guide to Texts and Manuscripts (R. Dean and Boulton); BL: British Library (London); Bodl.: Bodleian Library (Oxford); CT: Chaucer, Canterbury Tales; CUL: Cambridge University Library (Cambridge); DOML: Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library; FDT: French Devotional Texts of the Middle Ages (Sinclair 1979); FDT-1French Devotional Texts of the Middle Ages, . . . First Supplement (Sinclair 1982); IMEV: The Index of Middle English Verse (Brown and Robbins); MED: Middle English Dictionary; MWME: A Manual of the Writings in Middle English, 1050–1500 (Severs et al.); NIMEV: A New Index of Middle English Verse (Boffey and Edwards); NLS: National Library of Scotland (Edinburgh).

5 Reodesmouht. This place-name, presumably in the vicinity of Leominster, is unknown there. There is a village in Northumbria called Redesmouth located near Bellingham on the River Rede, but Etfrid is said to be departing from Northumbria to be a missionary in Mercia, and he eventually comes to Magonsæte, a region in Mercia where Merewald is the ruler. In MS Lansdowne 436, the place-name is Redewode, another unknown place.

11 clyno. The word appears to mean “descending.” Compare OF cliner and ME clinen.

24 Compare the story of Joseph as told in Genesis 41 and in Old Testament Stories (art. 71), lines 81–84, and the scribe’s interest in dream interpretation, shown in his copying A Book of Dreaming (art. 85). This analogy may be the scribe’s own addition. It does not appear in MS Lansdowne 436.

41 soli ritu. MS Lansdowne 436 reads solicita. The intended meaning seems to be: “Either way, put my mind at ease about this matter.”

44 violentium. The MS reading volentium is emended. Horstmann 1901 reads the word in MS Lansdowne 436 as molentium.

60 merearis. Horstmann 1901 emends this word to mereberis in his edition of the text in MS Lansdowne 436.

65 Viis. The scribe writes Hiis, the same reading found in MS Lansdowne 436. A capital V may have been misread; the scribe’s H is a capital.

75–77 MS Lansdowne 436 includes the following phrase: hoc est anno gratie sexcentisimo sexagesimo. The Ludlow scribe specifies the year in the margin.


ART. 98, LEGENDA DE SANCTO ETFRIDO, PRESBITERO DE LEOMINISTRIA: TEXTUAL NOTES


ABBREVIATIONS: As: Aspin; : Böddeker; Br: Brook; BS: Bennett and Smithers; BZ: Brandl and Zippel; B13: Brown 1937; Dea: J. M. Dean; Do: Dove 1969; Fl: Flood; : Förster; Fu: Furnivall; HB: Hunt and Bliss; Kem: Kemble; Ken: Kennedy; Mi: Millett; Mo: Morris and Skeat; MS: MS Harley 2253; Mu1: H. J. R. Murray; Mu2: J. A. H. Murray; NB: Noomen and van den Boogard; Pa: Patterson; Rev: Revard 2005a; Ri: Ritson 1877; Ro: Robbins 1959; SP: Short and Pearcy; Si: Silverstein; St: Stemmler 1970; Tu: Turville-Petre 1989; Ul: Ulrich; W1: Wright 1839; W2: Wright 1841; W3: Wright 1842; WH: Wright and Halliwell.

7 sacerdos. MS: sacrier (ri abbreviated).

33 tenebat. MS: teneros.

44 violentium. MS: volentium (m abbreviated).

65 Viis. MS: Hiis.

75 The roman numerals lx and vic are interlined.

83 faleratur. MS: soleratur.

 
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Art. 98, Legenda de sancto Etfrido, presbitero de Leoministria

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Incipit legenda de sancto Etfrido, presbitero de Leoministria.

I. Erat Merwaldus rex Merciorum, paganismo deditus, quando sanctus presbiter
Etfridus, vir doctrina clarus et vita magnificus, ad eum convertendum venit a
Norhthimbrorum partibus. Celesti oraculo premonitus — ut, autem, fertur
divinum ipse susceperat oraculum — ut in terra Mercio loco Reodesmouht vocato
pergeret, ibique, verbum Dei predicans, regem et eius gentem paganos ad
christianismum converteret. Segregatus, itaque sacerdos Etfridus, tanquam alter
apostolus, in opus predicationis viam arripuit, ignorans regem et locum quo
pergere iussus fuit. Celitus ei via precipitur, et celitus ad locum usque perducitur.
Demum ergo locum attigit, et sol occasum adiit, nocte dies obducitur. Tecto
carens, novus hospes clyno nocte tegitur, ubi, vero, ne desolaretur ambiguo
proventu sue peregrinationis, divinitus visitatur presagio regie conversionis.




II. ¶ Cum enim assedisset cenulam sub vesperta noctis — prius Deo debitis solutis
laudibus et noctis — adest leo inmanissimus, iubis per collum crispantibus. Cui
visio, vir sanctus ut deifer intrepidus nullatinus cessit, set tanquam celesti misso
fractum de pane suo porrexit. | Porrectum autem ipse, iam non leo set mansuetior
agno, ritu blando suscepit, susceptum ante pedes porrigentis se provoluens, ut
mansuetus commedit. Quid multa? Leo pastus disparuit, vir autem sanctus in loco
pernoctavit. Sol redit ad superos, dies fulsit aurea. De loco surgit vir, predicus
advena, cernit queque loci confinia, devenit ubi rex quesitus manebat et eius
familia ad hospitandum. Sibi domus eligitur, et a quodam regis milite suscipitur.




III. ¶ Subsequenti autem nocte rex vidit sompnium. Quod mane facto suis
prolatum solvere sibi, poterat nemo suorum. Regi tandem suggerit memoratu
miles de suscepto eius hospite, velut suus pincerna Pharaoni de Iosep sompniorum
coniectore. “Domine mi rex,” inquit, “iubeat excellentia tua tibi virum quemdam
presentari, quem meum nocte transacta pro hospite sub tecto recepi. Cuius mores
a nostris videntur alieni. Qui nisi fallor, cultor est fidei christiane. Diis, nanque,
nostris detrahit et calumpniatur, nobis eorum ob cultum mortis eterne supplicium
promittit et minatur. Qui fortassis si domini mei regis sompnium audierit, non
falsus ut arbitror interpres eius erit.” Rex ad militem, “Accersiatur huc,” inquit,
“ocius talis hospes tuus.”


IIII. ¶ Accersito Christi legato coram rege, rex sompnium ita cepit edicere: “Nox
preterita dum me sompno datum in stratu tenebat, videbar michi videre duos canes
teterrimos et inmanes me per iugulum arripere. E regione, vero, personam
quamdam venerabili facie, tonsa per aures in coronam cesarie. Michi presidio
adesse et de canum dentibus aurea cum clave quam in manu ferebat me potenter
eruere. Quo set mihi, hinc terreat me tanta canum inmanitas et eorum in me
grassabunda rapacitas, inde foveat tam festina ab eis ereptio et iocunda ereptoris
mei visio. Set quia nescio quid portenti habeat tam tetra bestia tam insolens et
effera, quid auspicii tam grata persona, ereptrix mea, tam decens et clavigera.
Utrobique, mens mea redditur soli ritu.”



V. ¶ Rex desierat loqui. Subinfert assecla Christi: “Rex, gratulare tue visioni,
famulatur enim tue perpetue saluti. Quid, ergo, portentat sic canum in te
grassantium et te iugulare violentium tam horrenda species, quid auspicetur
clavigere persone, liberatricis tue, tam iocunda facies, rex, accipe et intellige.
Teterrimi canes et inmanes sunt fulliginosi Plutonis satellites, vite et salutis tue
mortiferi hostes, quorum tu faucibus in predam et devorationem daberis.
Ubi devoratur semper devorandus eris, ut sic usque moriens et nunquam morte
finiens, perpetuis terroribus, sulphureis fetoribus, dentium stridoribus, ignium
ardoribus, penis inmanibus et intollorabilibus, cum ipsis in tartari medio crucieris,
nisi funditus abnegaveris paganismum, et ex toto te corde converteris ad Christum,
Dei vivi Filium. |


VI. ¶ “Reverendus ille claviger, cuius potencia liberaris, sicut tibi videtur, de beluis
tam efferis et voracibus, ianitor est principis regni celestis et in terra Christi
Salvatoris mundi vicarius. Clavis enim aurea celestis est potentia qua quicquid ipse
ligat ligatur, quicquid liberat liberatur. Cui, tu domum edificabis in regno tuo ad
agendas laudes et gratias die noctuque Regi superno. In quem in corde credens
quem ore confitens, cuius quoque baptismi vestem induens, vite gentilis
demoniacos abdicaveris ritus, et idolatrie prophanos abiuraveris cultus, ut superni
regni sedibus merearis fieri ydoneus. Cuius regni frequens et beata leticia,
delectatus que mortis est nescia. Cuius, tu felix et perhennis heres eris, cum
liberatus de canum dentibus fueris per susceptionem sancte fidei, beati Petri,
liberatoris tui, qui confessione Christi, Filii Dei vivi, claves meruit et principatum
paradisi.”



VII. ¶ Viis et multimodis rudimentis fidei, sacer heros regi Christum preconatur,
Christo regem conformari preconando conatur. Quibus diligenter auditis, rex ait
ad interpretem sue salutis, “Quicquid tua me christiana docuerit eruditio, mea
paratur suscipere devota subiectio quatinus evadere queam tam horribilis bellue
rictus.” Preventus itaque rex superna clemencia sua queque destruit, et pessumdat
ydola, deponit regni insignia, septrum, purpuram, et diadema. Cinere conspersus,
cilicio induitur, dolet, ingemit, et totus in penitentia compungitur. Sancti pedibus
advoluitur, paganismum abiurat, cultum Dei profitetur, sacro fonte renascitur,
Christicola sanctus efficitur prompte devocionis ad omnia quibus eum cathezizat
suus ewangelista.



VIII. ¶ Iam, vero, lustra bis sena (lx) sexies (vic) vicena peregerat cursus Dominice     
incarnationis quando Merwaldus rex Merciorum a sancto presbitero Etfrido
baptizatur. Ecce, rex, hactenus ut leo prefiguratus leone superius memorato,
iam non ferox ut leo set mitior agno, erroris sui de luco se reum fatendo prodiit,
et veritatis fidem vite panem ab eius conviva fidei, scilicet, et vite dogmatista,
percepit. Ubi, vero, regis conversio per leonem, ut dictum est (viro Dei divinitus
presagitur locus), fundationi domus regio liberatori regni, celestis ianitori,
eligitur. Unde, locus ipse postea vertitur in Leonis monasterium. Domus autem
fundata faleratur, rebus et opibus regiis opulenter ditatur. Cui beatus Edfridus,
cuius doctrina vere lucis gratia primo refulsit in plaga Merciorum hesperia.
Cuius ibi digne pro meritis est recolenda celebris et felix memoria. Cui honor et
gloria in seculorum secula. Amen. |

Here begins the legend of Saint Etfrid, priest of Leominster.

I. Merewald was king of the Mercians, devoted to paganism, when the saintly priest
Etfrid, a man renowned for his learning and splendid in his life, came from the
regions of the Northumbrians to convert him. He had been forewarned by a heavenly
oracle — as it is reported, moreover, he himself received the divine oracle — that he
should go into the land of the Mercians to the place called Redesmouth, and that
there, preaching the word of God, he should convert the pagan king and his people
to Christianity. And so the priest Etfrid, having separated himself, undertook his
route toward the work of preaching, like another apostle, not knowing the king and
the place where he had been bidden to go. The route is commanded to him by heaven,
and by heaven he is conducted to the place. Therefore at last he reached the
place, and the sun approached setting, day is swallowed by night. Lacking shelter, the
new guest is sheltered by descending night, in which, truly, so that he should not be
forsaken in the uncertain progress of his pilgrimage, he is visited by a heaven-sent
omen of the king’s conversion.

II. ¶ For when he had sat down to a little meal at the evening time of the night —
beforehand he had rendered the praises due to God at night — a most monstrous
lion is near, its mane standing on end along its neck. When he had seen it, the
saintly man as a fearless missionary yielded not a bit, but held out a piece of his
bread as if to a heavenly emissary. | The lion, not now a lion but gentler than a
lamb, took meekly what was held out, and stretching itself out at the feet of the man
offering the bread, it ate the bread offered as if it were tame. What need is there
to elaborate? After being fed, the lion vanished, but the saintly man spent the night
in the place. The sun returned to the heavens, and the day shone bright gold. The
aforesaid man, the new arrival, arose from his place, saw all the boundaries of the
place, and arrived where the king he was seeking and his retinue were staying. A
house is selected for his lodging, and he is taken in by a certain knight of the king.

III. ¶ Moreover, on the next night the king saw a dream. When it had been made
known to his men after morning came, none of them was able to analyze it for him.
Finally the knight, reminded of the guest he has taken in, makes a suggestion to
the king, just as his butler did to Pharoah about Joseph the dream interpreter.
“Lord my king,” he says, “may your excellency command that a certain man be
presented to you, whom I took in as my guest last night under my roof. His customs
seem different from ours. Unless I am mistaken, he is a devotee of the Christian
faith. In fact, he utters detractions and slanders against our gods, and promises and
threatens the torment of eternal death upon us for worshiping them. Perhaps if he
hears of the dream of my lord king, he will not be a mistaken interpreter.” The
king says to the knight, “Let this guest of yours be summoned here quickly."

IV. ¶ When Christ’s emissary had been summoned into the king’s presence, the
king began in this way to make known his dream: “As last night held me given over
to sleep on my bed, I seemed to myself to see two most hideous and monstrous
dogs grab me by the throat. Face to face I seemed to see present as a protector to
me a certain person with a venerable face, his hair cut in a crown over the ears. And
I seemed to see him rip me powerfully out of the dogs’ teeth with a golden key that
he carried in his hand. In this way it happens to me that on the one side such
monstrous dogs and their violent rapacity against me frighten me, on the other so
rapid a deliverance from them and so pleasant a sight of my deliverer encourage
me. But I do not know what significance so hideous, insolent, and savage a beast
holds, what promise so welcome a person, my deliverer, and so decent a key-bearer.
And either way, my mind is restored in the usual way.”

V. ¶ The king ceased speaking. Christ’s follower replies: “King, give thanks for your
vision, for it serves your everlasting salvation. King, learn and understand,
therefore, what meaning there is in the so very frightful appearance of the dogs
threatening violence against you and wanting to tear your throat, what omen the
very pleasant face of the key-bearing person, your liberator, holds. The most hideous
and monstrous dogs are the soot-black henchmen of Pluto, the deadly enemies of
your life and well-being, into whose jaws you will be given as prey to be devoured.
You will be devoured where devouring is forever, so that thus even dying and never
finishing with death, you will be tormented in the middle of hell by everlasting
terrors, sulfurous stenches, gnashing of teeth, heats of fires, monstrous and
unbearable tortures, unless you renounce paganism entirely and convert wholeheartedly
to Christ, Son of the living God. |

VI. ¶ “That venerable key-bearer, by whose power you are freed, as it seems to you,
from such wild and voracious beasts, is the doorkeeper of the prince of the heavenly
realm and the representative on earth of Christ Savior of the world.
The golden key is, in fact, the heavenly power by which whatever he binds is bound,
whatever he frees is freed. For him, you will construct a house in your kingdom to
give praise and thanks day and night to the celestial king. Believing in him in your
heart, acknowledging him in your mouth, and donning also the garment of his
baptism, you will renounce the demonic customs of pagan life, and you will
forswear the profane practices of idolatry, so that you may deserve to become
suitable for the seats of the heavenly realm. The joy of his realm is continuous and
blessed, a delight that knows no death. Of this, you will be a blessed and perpetual
heir, when you have been freed from the dogs’ teeth by taking the saintly faith of
your liberator, blessed Peter, who merited the keys and chieftainship of paradise
through his profession of Christ, Son of the living God.”

VII. ¶ Through the ways and manifold elements of the faith, the sacred hero makes
Christ known to the king, and in making him known he tries to have the king
conform to Christ. After hearing these matters, the king says to the mediator of his
salvation, “Whatever your Christian learning will teach me, with my pious
submission I am ready to receive so that I may be able to escape the open maw of
so frightful a beast.” And so the king, won over by heavenly mercy, destroys all his
possessions, brings to ruin idols, sets aside the trappings of his rule, the scepter,
royal purple, and diadem. Strewn with ashes, he dons sackcloth, grieves, moans,
and entirely penitent shows remorse. He throws himself at the feet of the saint,
forswears paganism, professes the worship of God, is reborn in the sacred font, is
rendered a Christ-worshiping saint of ready devotion to all things in which his
evangelist catechizes him.

VIII. ¶ Now, indeed, 660 years had passed since the Lord’s incarnation when King
Merewald of the Mercians is baptized by the saintly priest Etfrid. Behold, the king,
up to now prefigured as a lion on account of the lion recalled above, now not
ferocious as a lion but meeker than a lamb, confessed himself guilty of his sin and
came forth from the slime, and received the faith of truth and bread of life from
his guest, which is to say, his instructor in faith and life. In fact, where the conversion
of the king through a lion is foreshown divinely to the man of God, a place is
chosen for the foundation of a house for the royal liberator, doorkeeper of heaven.
For that reason, the place is afterward turned into the Monastery of the Lion. The
house that is founded is adorned, made opulently rich with royal things and wealth.
To it belongs blessed Etfrid, whose teaching shone first with the grace of the true
light in the western zone of the Mercians. His renowned and joyous memory is
there cherished on account of his merits. To him may there be honor and glory
forever and ever. Amen. |


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