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Venerable Bede The Ecclesiastical History Of The English Nation

 
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Venerable Bede
The Ecclesiastical History Of The English Nation
page 37



indeed, returned to the city of Rochester, where he had before presided; but the Londoners would not receive Bishop Mellltus, choosing rather to be under their idolatrous high priests; for King Eadbald had not so much authority in the kingdom as his father, nor was he able to restore the bishop to his church against the will and consent of the pagans. But he and his nation, after his conversion to our Lord, diligently followed the Divine precepts. Lastly, he built the church of the holy Mother of God, in the monastery of the most blessed prince of the apostles, which was afterwards consecrated by Archbishop Mellitus.

CHAP VII. — BISHOP MELLITUS BY PRAYER QUENCHES A FIRE IN HIS CITY.

Mellitus succeeds as archbishop.

In this king’s reign, the holy Archbishop Laurentius was taken up to the heavenly kingdom, and was buried in the church and monastery of the holy Apostle Peter, close by his predecessor Augustine, on the 2nd day of the month of February. Mellitus, who was bishop of London, was the third archbishop of Canterbury from Augustine; Justus, who was still living, governed the church of Rochester. These ruled the church of the English with much industry and labour, and received letters of exhortation from Boniface, bishop of the Roman apostolic see, who presided over the church after Deusdedit, in the year of our Lord 619. Mellitus laboured under an infirmity of body, that is, the gout; but his mind was sound, cheerfully passing over all earthly things, and always aspiring to love, seek, and attain to those which are celestial. He was noble by birth, but much nobler in mind. In short, that I may give one testimony of his virtue, by which the rest may be guessed at, it happened once that the city of Canterbury, being by carelessness set on fire, was in danger of being consumed by the spreading conflagration; water was thrown over the fire in vain; a considerable part of the city was already destroyed, and the fierce flame advancing towards the bishop, when he, confiding in the Divine assistance, where human failed, ordered himself to be carried towards the raging fire, that was spreading on every side. The church of the four crowned Martyrs was in the place where the fire raged most. The bishop being carried thither by his servants, the sick man averted the danger by prayer, which a number of strong men had not been able to perform by much labour. Immediately, the wind, which blowing from the south had spread the conflagration throughout the city, turning to the north, prevented the destruction of those places that had lain in its way, and then ceasing entirely, the flames were immediately extinguished. And thus, this man of God, whose mind was inflamed with the fire of Divine charity, and who was wont to drive away the powers of the air by his frequent prayers, from doing harm to himself, or his people, was deservedly allowed to prevail over the worldly winds and flames, and to obtain that they should not injure him or his. This archbishop also, having ruled the church five years, departed to heaven in the reign of King Eadbald, and was buried with his predecessors in the monastery and church, which we have so often mentioned, of the most blessed prince of the apostles, in the year of our Lord’s incarnation 624, on the 24th day of April.

CHAP VIII. — POPE BONIFACE SENDS THE PALL AND AN EPISTLE TO JUSTUS, SUCCESSOR TO MELLITUS.

Justus succeeds.

Justus, bishop of Rochester, immediately succeeded Mellitus in the archbishopric. He consecrated Romanus bishop of that see in his own stead, having obtained leave of ordaining bishops from Pope Boniface, whom we mentioned above to have been successor to Deusdedit: of which licence this is the form:

Boniface’s letter to Justus.

“Boniface, to his most beloved brother Justus: Not only the contents of your letter, but the perfection which your work has obtained, has informed us how devoutly and diligently you have laboured, my brother, for the Gospel of Christ; for Almighty God has not forsaken either the mystery of his name, or the fruit of your labours, having himself faithfully promised to the preachers of the Gospel, ‘Lo! I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world;’ which promise his mercy has particularly manifested in this ministry of yours, opening the hearts of nations to receive the mystery of your preaching. For he has enlightened the acceptable course of your endeavours, by the approbation of his grace; granting a plentiful increase to your faithful management of the talents committed to you, and which you may secure for many generations. This is by that reward conferred on you, who, constantly adhering to the ministry enjoined you, with laudable patience await the redemption of that nation, whose salvation is set on foot that



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