commanded him to sit in the council of bishops which he had assembled, as a man of untainted faith and an upright mind. This being heard, the pope and all the rest said, that a man of such great authority, who had exercised the episcopal function near forty years, ought not to be condemned, but being cleared of all the crimes laid to his charge, to return home with honour.
Passing through France, on his way back to Britain, on a sudden he fell sick, and the distemper increasing, was so ill, that he could not ride, but was carried in his bed. Being thus come to the city of Meaux, in France, he lay four days and nights, as if he had been dead, and only by his faint breathing showed that he had any life in him; having continued so four days, without meat or drink, speaking or hearing, he, at length, on the fifth day, in the morning, as it were awakening out of a dead sleep, sat up in the bed, and opening his eyes, saw numbers of brethren singing and weeping about him, and fetching a sigh, asked where Acca, the priest, was? This man, being called, immediately came in, and seeing him thus recovered and able to speak, knelt down, and returned thanks to God, with all the brethren there present. When they had sat awhile, and begun to discourse, with much reverence, on the heavenly judgments, the bishop ordered the rest to go out for an hour, and spoke to the priest, Acca, in this manner:—
“A dreadful vision has now appeared to me, which I wish you to hear and keep secret, till I know how God will please to dispose of me. There stood by me a certain person, remarkable for his white garments, telling me he was Michael, the archangel, and said, ‘I am sent to save you from death: for the Lord has granted you life, through the prayers and tears of your disciples, and the intercession of his blessed mother Mary, of perpetual virginity; wherefore I tell you, that you shall now recover from this sickness; but be ready, for I will return to visit you at the end of four years. But when you come into your country, you shall recover most of the possessions that have been taken from you, and shall end your days in perfect peace.’ ” The bishop accordingly recovered, at which all persons rejoiced, and gave thanks to God, and setting forward on his journey, arrived in Britain.
Buried at Ripon.
Having read the letters which he brought from the apostolic pope, Bertwald, the archbishop, and Ethelred, who had been formerly king, but was then an abbot, readily took his part; for the said Ethelred, calling to him Coinred, whom he had made king in his own stead, he requested of him to be friends with Wilfrid, in which request he prevailed; but Alfrid, king of the Northumbrians, refused to admit him, but died soon after. His son, Osred, then coming to the crown, and a synod being assembled, near the river Nidd, after some contesting on both sides, at length, by the consent of all, he was admitted to preside over his church; and thus he lived in peace four years, till the day of his death. He died on the 12th of October, in his monastery, which he had in the province of Undalum, under the government of the Abbot Cuthbald; and by the ministry of the brethren, he was carried to his first monastery of Ripon, and buried in the church of Saint Peter the Apostle, close by the south end of the altar, as has been mentioned above, with this epitaph over him:
Here the great prelate Wilfrid lies entomb’d, Who, led by piety, this temple rear’d To God, and hallow’d with blest Peter’s name, To whom our Lord the keys of heaven consign’d. Moreover gold and purple vestments gave, And plac’d a cross,—a trophy shining bright With richest ore—four books o’erwrought with gold, Sacred evangelists in order plac’d, And (suited well to these) a desk he rear’d, (Highly conspicuous) cas’d with ruddy gold. He likewise brought the time of Easter right, To the just standard of the canon law; Which our forefathers fixed and well observ’d, But long by error chang’d, he justly plac’d. Into these parts a numerous swarm of monks He brought, and strictly taught their founder’s rules. In lapse of years, by many dangers tossed; At home by discords, and in foreign realms, Having sat bishop five and forty years, He died, and joyful sought the realms above; That, blessed by Christ, and favour’d with his aid, The flock may follow in their pastor’s path.
CHAP XX. —
ALBINUS SUCCEEDED TO THE RELIGIOUS ABBOT HADRIAN, AND ACCA TO BISHOP WILFRID.
Bishop Acca succeeds to Wilfrid, and Albinus to Hadrian.