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and besides the dignitaries of the house, there have been honorary canons, ecclesiastical and lay. Of the former number were the patriarch of Jerusalem, the archbishops of Mentz, Cologne, Compostella, Sens, and Bourges, the bishops of Liege, Strasbourg, Angers, Auxerre, and Quebec, and the abbats of Marmoutier and S. Julian at Tours. And the lay honorary canons were the dauphin, the dukes of Burgundy, Anjou, Brittany, Bourbon, Vendome, and Nevers; the counts of Flanders, Dunois, and Angouleme; and the earl of Douglas in Scotland, before that noble family renounced its ancient faith.
The Huguenots profaned the shrine, and scattered the sacred relics, but some of them were recovered; and other churches in France now possess part of
"In ancient times," says Durandus, "the kings of France, when going to war, carried with them the cope or cloak of S. Martin, which was kept in a tent, called for this reason capella—a chapel. And the clergy who had the care of this chapel were called chaplains; and hence the name spread to other countries, and was given to other priests`.”
"The fathers are in dust, yet live to God :"
So says the truth; as if the motionless clay
And hence we learn with reverence to esteem
Of these frail houses, though the grave confines;
That they are earth;-but they are heavenly shrines. Lyra Apostolica, p. 38.
1 Rationale Div. Off. lib. ii. c. x. 8.
Translation of S. Swithun, Bishop.
S. SWITHUN was born early in the ninth century, in the kingdom of the West Saxons. He was sent by his parents, when he was very young, to the monastery at Winchester. The monks of this house served the cathedral church. He was ordained priest by Helmstan, bishop of Winchester, and was afterwards appointed provost of the church of Winton, as the superior of the monastery was then called.
K. Egbert had so great a regard for him, that he chose him for his spiritual director; and his name, as "priest of K. Egbert," is found in a charter which Witlaf, king of the Mercians, granted to the abbey of Croyland in Lincolnshire. The king also entrusted his son Ethelwolf to his care. After a course of instruction, the young prince was ordained a subdeacon, and made his profession as a monk at Winchester. But as he was the king's only son, and the royal line would otherwise have failed, he obtained a dispensation before his father's death, from Pope Leo III., to marry Osburga, a very holy woman. Their union was blessed with four sons, of whom the youngest was the great Alfred.
In 837, Ethelwolf succeeded his father in the throne of Wessex. Helmstan, bishop of Winchester, dying in 838, the king, with the unanimous consent of the clergy, prevailed on S. Swithun to accept the government of the see. He was consecrated by Cealnoth archbishop of Canterbury, to whom he
made a profession of his faith, and vowed canonical obedience. He devoted himself wholly to feed the flock of God which was committed to him; and spent much of his time in spiritual exercises, and in the care of the poor. Great part of his nights was passed in watching and mortification. His exhortations were unceasing, to the faithful, to remain stedfast, and to the lapsed, to expiate their offence by penitence. In his works of charity his chief desire was to have no witnesses but God and his own conscience. For the grace of humility was the chief study of his life. He built and repaired many churches, and when he travelled to consecrate them he always walked barefoot; and lest his humble appearance should attract admiration, he made his journeys by night. He was a great benefactor to his diocess, by building bridges, and other useful public works. In a word, he followed the path of peace and holiness, as a historian remarks, and thirsted after the fountain of life and eternal bliss. As the saintly prelates of the middle ages pass before us, can we forbear to cry out with S. Bernard, "Who will grant me before I die to behold the Church of God as it was in the ancient days?"
In 855, a synod of the clergy and nobility met at Winchester, at which the tributary princes of Mercia and East Anglia were also present. K. Ethelwolf bestowed on the Church a tenth part of all the lands of his kingdom," for the honour of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Blessed Virgin, and all Saints." He confirmed this gift by a formal charter, which he afterwards solemnly laid on the altar of the blessed Apostles at Rome. The church lands were exempted
by the same deed from all secular services, exactions, and tributes. The king also confirmed the pension of Romescot or Peterpence, which had been first offered to the See of Rome in 726, by Ina, King of the West Saxons, and in 794 by Offa King of the Mercians, as a tribute of gratitude for the many signal favours which England had received from the successors of S. Peter. This grant was often renewed by the kings of England in later ages.
Ethelwolf then went to Rome, with his youngest son Alfred. Benedict III. was elected to the See during his stay; and among other costly gifts, the king presented him with a massive crown of pure gold. He also rebuilt the English school and hospital at Rome, which king Ina had founded. In 857 K. Ethelwolf died, soon after his return to England. The kingdom was divided between his two elder sons, Ethelbald and Ethelbert. But at the death of the former in 861, Ethelbert became sole king. The Danes made another irruption into England, and landing on the coast of Hampshire, plundered the city of Winchester, and the country around. They were repulsed by king Ethelbert, and retired to the island of Thanet.
S. Swithun was taken to bliss in the following year, on the 2nd of July. As he lay a dying, he enjoined his monks not to bury him in the church, but in a humble place, where the feet of passengers might tread, and the rain of heaven might fall upon him. But innumerable miracles made his lowly grave illustrious, and in 971, Ethelwold bishop of Winchester translated his remains into the cathedral church, as some say, by his own desire. The
ceremony was performed with great pomp, in the presence of many bishops and abbats, and a vast assembly of the clergy and religious. The day of his decease is observed in the Roman Martyrology on the 2d July, but the 15th of the same month has always been kept in England with greater devotion, in honour of this translation.
The body of the saint was enclosed in a rich shrine, and continued to be honoured by frequent miracles. The Church, which had originally borne the name of S. Peter, was placed under the united invocation of the holy Apostle and of S. Swithun. Walkelyn bishop of Winchester laid the foundation of the present cathedral, in 1079. In 1093 the relics of S. Swithun were removed into it, and laid in a costlier shrine. The nave was added by bishop William de Wykeham, chancellor of the kingdom in the reign of K. Edward III.; and in the end of the following century, Bishop Fox finished the choir. Amidst much that must grieve the heart of the devout Catholic, this church recalls, more than perhaps any other in England, the solemnities of better times. It is the burying place of many of the Saxon and Danish kings, and of a long line of holy bishops from S. Birinus in the 7th century, to Fox in the 16th. Attached to it was the Benedictine Priory of S. Peter and S. Swithun, called also Oldminster, for which some authors claim an origin as ancient as K. Lucius in the second century. But there is no authentic account of it earlier than the year 646, when S. Birinus placed monks in it. It was destroyed by the Danes in 867, but was soon after restored, and supplied with secular canons, who occupied it for nearly