Imágenes de páginas

body of the saint was removed for safety to London, on the approach of the Danes. It lay for three years in the church of S. Gregory, and was then restored to Bury. Within a few years afterwards, Sweyn, king of Denmark, plundered the church of S. Edmund ; but he soon fell a victim to his sacrilege. His son Canute, in 1020, made amends for his crime, and founded a Benedictine monastery at Bury. The monks were brought from Ely, and from Hulme in Norfolk. In the same year Ailwin, bishop of Helmham, removed the wooden church and laid the foundation of a worthier building, which was finished in twelve years, and on the festival of S. Luke, 1032, was solemnly dedicated to Christ, S. Mary, and S. Edmund. Canute made an offering of his crown at the shrine. Ailwin granted to the abbey an exemption from his episcopal jurisdiction, within the circuit of a mile round the church. In 1095 abbat Baldwin translated into a new church of stone the body of the saint, still entire, where it rested for many ages. Abbat Sampson in 1198 attested its incorruption in the presence of many of the convent.

Great privileges were granted to the abbey of Bury S. Edmunds by many of the popes; and among others, the liberty of celebrating the Divine Offices, with closed doors, and without bells, during a general interdict. Many of the kings of England made devout pilgrimages to the shrine of S. Edmund and enriched it with their offerings. S. Edward the Confessor used to perform the last mile of his journey thither on foot, like a common pilgrim. K. Richard I. visited it before he set out on his crusade. K. John also often went to the abbey, and gave ten marks


annually to repair the shrine. K. Henry VI. had a great devotion to S. Edmund, and the happiest days of his life were those which he passed in retreat in the abbey. A visit which he paid to it in 1433 is thus described by an eye-witness; "As soon as the day of the king's coming dawned, the aldermen and burgesses arrayed in scarlet, and the citizens in coarser stuff of a red colour, to the number of five hundred horsemen, went out to meet him on the plain of Newmarket, upon the vigil of the Nativity of our Lord. Going before the royal company in a line which reached the length of a mile, they conducted the king into the precincts of the monastery, between the great gate and the south entrance. the deformity of the ruinous bell-tower and the insecurity of the stones prevented them from entering by it. There the king was embraced by the Earl of Warwick, and descended from his palfrey; and turning towards the company, arrayed in a silken cloak, he knelt to adore the image of the cross. The whole of the brethren of the monastery received him with all the solemnities of a procession, standing around in precious copes, and the venerable fathers, the bishop of Norwich and the abbat, both vested pontifically, solemnly censed him; and blessed water was sprinkled upon him by the hand of the abbat, who brought the cross to the king to kiss. The procession then moved on to the high altar, singing the antiphon Ave Rex gentis Anglorum, uttering notes of sweetest harmony, accompanied by the organs. The solemnities being finished, and prayers said at the shrine to God and S. Edmund, the king returned special thanks to the abbat for the expenses and the

benefits which he had bestowed on his company, and when he had finished, he passed into the palace with his nobles."

On the feast of the Nativity high Mass was sung, and the same procession was again marshalled, in which the king walked in his royal robes. He remained in the palace till the feast of the Epiphany; he then removed to the lodgings of the prior, and enjoyed the pastime of hunting till the 23d of January. The rest of the time, till the Purification, he passed at Elmeswell, a manor of the abbat, and returned to the abbey, where he stayed till after the Pasch. On the eve of his departure, he was enrolled, with many of his chief nobility, in the fraternity of the monks, for the love which he cherished for S. Edmund; and bidding them farewell, he commended himself and his family to God and S. Edmund, and to the prayers of the abbat and his brethren1.

The superior of the abbey was a mitred prelate, and had a seat in parliament. In the magnificence of its buildings it seems to have been equal to any in England. Leland, the antiquarian, visited it only a few years before its destruction, and has preserved a picture of its splendour in these words:" The sun hath not seene either a citie more finely seated, (so delicately standeth it upon the easie ascent or hanging of an hill, and a little river runneth downe on the east side thereof,) or a goodlier abbey ;

1 Archæologia, vol. xv. p. 67. K. Henry VI. would have been canonized but for the "Reformation." In some old English kalendars his name is inserted on the 22nd of May. I have seen a bede-roll which contains prayers to him.

whether a man indifferently consider either the endowment with revenues, or the largenesse, or the incomparable magnificence thereof. A man that saw the abbey would say verily it were a citie, so many gates there are in it, and some of brasse, so many towers, and a most stately church; upon which attend three others also standing gloriously in one and the same churchyard; all of passing fine and curious workmanship'." In allusion to the life and passion of S. Edmund, the abbey bore, as its coat armour, azure three crowns or, each pierced with two arrows in saltier of the second.

When its revenues were seized by the royal commissioners, the abbat and some of his monks received a small annual pension. The report of the men who were entrusted with the work of destruction thus related to Cromwell the progress which they made :—“ Pleaseth it your lordship to be advertised that wee have been at Saynt Edmonds Bury, where we found a riche shryne, which was very cumberous to deface. We have taken in the said monasterye in gold and sylver five thousand marks and above, and over and besyds as well a rich crosse with emeredds, as also dyvers and sundry stones of great value."

Two towers still remain to bear witness to the glory of the ancient house. The churches of S. Mary and S. James stand within the cemetery. Part of the old enclosure is now used as a botanical garden.

The feast of S. Edmund was enjoined as a holiday of precept by the council of Oxford in 1222, but was

1 Weaver's Funeral Monuments, p. 722.

omitted in the constitutions of archbishop Islip in 1362, who retrenched some of the festivals.

Ye holy ones departed be around;
Like incense are your memories; do ye not
Hear our poor prayers ascend,

And hearing them, rejoice?

Your dear remains have moulder'd to their dust;
Long since committed to the sorrowing grave;
But from behind the veil

Your presence breathes around.

Your ashes, which beneath our altars lie,
Breathe a deep spell, divinely eloquent,
To heal the heart-sick soul,
And bid bad spirits flee.

Hymns from the Parisian Breviary, p. 268.


S. Cæcilia, Virgin and Martyr.


THIS blessed martyr is honoured by the whole Church, though the circumstances of her passion are not certainly known. Those which are related in her Acts are worthy of little credit. Ado, Tillemont, and other historians, fix the date of her martyrdom about the year 170, in the reign of the emperor Aurelius. It is even supposed by some that she suffered in Sicily, and that her body was removed to Rome before the end of the fifth age. But the more common opinion is that she was a Roman lady, the wife of Valerian, with whom she lived as a sister, and who shared her martyrdom in 230. Q q

He had

« AnteriorContinuar »