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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 56



which they had washed the bones, in a corner of the sacred place. From that time, the very earth which received that holy water, had the virtue of expelling devils from the bodies of persons possessed. Lastly, when the aforesaid queen afterwards made some stay in that monastery, there came to visit her a certain venerable abbess, who is still living, called Ethelhilda, the sister of the holy men, Ethelwin and Aldwin, the first of which was bishop in the province of Lindsey, the other abbot of the monastery of Peartaneu; not far from which was the monastery of Ethelhilda. When this lady was come, in a conversation between her and the queen, the discourse, among other things, turning upon Oswald, she said, that she also had that night seen a light reaching from the relics up to heaven. The queen thereupon added, that the very dust of the pavement, on which the water that washed the bones had been spilt, had already healed many sick persons. The abbess thereupon desired that some of the said dust might be given her, which she tied up in a cloth, and putting it into a casket, returned home. Some time after, when she was in her monastery, there came to it a guest, who was wont often in the night to be on a sudden grievously tormented with an evil spirit: he being hospitably entertained, and gone to bed after supper, was on a sudden seized by the Devil, and began to cry out, to gnash his teeth, to foam at the mouth, and to distort his limbs in a most strange manner. None being able to hold or bind him, the servant ran, and knocking at the door, acquainted the abbess. She, opening the monastery door, went out herself with one of the nuns to the men’s apartment, and calling a priest, desired he would go with her to the sufferer. Being come thither, and seeing many more present, who had not been able, though they endeavoured it, to hold the tormented person and prevent his convulsive motions, the priest used exorcisms, and did all he could to assuage the madness of the unfortunate man, but, though he took much pains, could not prevail. When no hopes appeared of easing him, the abbess bethought herself of the dust, and immediately ordered her servant to go and fetch her the casket in which it was. As soon as she came with what she had been sent for into the porch of the house, in the inner part whereof the possessed person was tormented, he was presently silent, and laid down his head, as if he had been falling asleep, stretching out all his limbs to rest. All present were silent, and stood attentive to see the end of the affair. After some time, the man that had been tormented sat up, and fetching a deep sigh, said, “Now I am like a sound man, for I am restored to my senses.” They earnestly inquired how that came to pass, and he answered, “As soon as that virgin drew near the porch of this house, with the casket she brought, all the evil spirits that vexed me departed, and were no more to be seen.” Then the abbess gave him a little of that dust, and the priest having prayed, he had a very quiet night; nor did he, from that time forward, receive the least disturbance from his old enemy. CHAP XII. — OF A BOY CURED OF AN AGUE AT ST. OSWALD’S TOMB.

Of a boy cured at his tomb.

Some time after, there was a certain little boy in the said monastery, who had been long troubled with an ague; he was one day anxiously expecting the hour when his fit was to come on, when one of the brothers, coming in to him, said, “Shall I tell you, child, how you may be cured of this distemper? Rise, go into the church, and get close to St. Oswald’s tomb; stay there quiet, and do not leave it; do not come away, or stir from the place, till the time that your fit is to go off; then I will go in and fetch you away.” The boy did as he was advised, and the disease durst not affect him as he sat by the saint’s tomb; but fled so absolutely, that he felt it no more, either the second or third day, or ever after. The brother that came from thence, and told me this, added, that at the time when he was talking with me, the young man was then still living in the monastery, on whom, when a boy, that miraculous cure had been wrought. Nor is it to be wondered that the prayers of that king, who was then reigning with our Lord, should be very efficacious with him, since he, whilst yet governing his temporal kingdom, was also wont to pray and take more pains for that which is eternal. In short, it is reported, that he often continued in prayer from the hour of morning thanksgiving till it was day; and that by reason of his constant custom of praying or giving thanks to God, he was wont always, wherever he sat, to hold his hands turned up on his knees. It is also given out, and become a proverb, “That he ended his life in prayer;” for when he was beset with weapons and enemies, he perceived he must be immediately killed, and prayed to God for the souls of his army. Whence it is proverbially said, “Lord have mercy on their souls, said Oswald, as he fell to the ground.” His bones, therefore, were translated to the monastery which we have mentioned, and buried therein: but the king that slew him, commanded his head, hands, and arms to be cut off from the body, and set upon stakes. But his successor in the throne, Oswy, coming thither the next year with his army, took them down, and buried his head in the church of Lindisfarne, and the hands and arms in his royal city.

CHAP XIII. —



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