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Alcuin (c.735-804): The Second Little Work: The Life of Saint Vedastus, Bishop of Arras, written c. 800 CE

To the beloved son of the abbot Radonis, Albinus, a humble monk [sends] most pleasant greetings.

Following with love the order of your venerable self, I was eager to edit the life of holy Vedastus, your father and our intercessor, not because I had considered myself in any way worthy of his most excellent merits, but because I thought it established to deny none of Your Reverence's bidding. The praise or censure of these letters, therefore, belongs mostly to you. I hope that, whatever sort they may be, they may be pleasing to you and to the bretheren. I beg therefore that you will deign to repay my labor with the solace of your prayers; and [that] I might deserve to be one of yours in communal charity; always mindful of the command of him who said "This is my command, that you should love one another" (John 15: 12). For the salvation of everyone lies in this precept; this is known by all to be most necessary, particularly by those who undertake the ruling of the flock of Christ. Wherefore you, dearly beloved, who undertook the ruling of the flock must try to teach diligently by fraternal love and holy admonition, and will have your hands full in leading the flock through the pasture of life. You have the assistance of Christ and holy Vedastus as your intercessor in all your good work. Through great effort you have a house of God most beautifully adorned and graced with generous gifts; so too, direct your servants to adorn themselves with good customs, and have them gather together in divine praise (Holy office). And because the angels are forever busy in heaven, let the brothers continually be so in churches. It is yours to order, theirs to obey. It is yours to lead, theirs to follow. And thus the will of all ought to be as one so that there might be made one reward in the kingdom of God.

Remove nothing from the canonical hours of divine praise, lest on account of some negligence anyone's place in the sight of God be found vacant; and let the words of God offered in the churches aim at the innermost reaches of the heart; and let the offices be celebrated with great reverence to almighty God; let everything in the service of God be fulfilled humbly and devotedly. Let obedience be faithfully and vigorously observed by all [even amidst] the world's necessities. Certainly, let there be the most harmonious peace among all, [and] holy charity and devotion to the life of the rule. Let the elder teach the younger by good example and diligent admonition--let the elders love them like sons, and let the younger honor their elders like fathers, obeying their precepts with all alacrity. Indeed, Your Reverence, your conversation ought to be an example of soundness. Take care that you should not scandalize anyone by the least thing in your life, but edify and strengthen them in the way of truth because your reward will be judged from their well being. Grey hairs announce the coming of the last day. For this reason be prepared at all times for death in the Lord God. You should prepare for yourself a stairway into heaven with brotherly love, good works to the poor, and by a chaste life. Diligently prepare for yourself an eternity of happy days. You have worldly honor, which shall be abundant to you spiritually.

Have the word of God preached to the people coming to the church on holidays; and wherever you go, let clerics completely fulfill the service of God; let those with you be soberly adorned and not given over to hilarity; let the respectability of their lives be a lesson of salvation to others; and everywhere you should have the greatest care for the poor, widows and orphans, that together with others doing charitable works, you might hear from the Lord Christ on that frightful day: "Whatever you did to the least of these, you did to me" (Matth. 15: 40). Be like a father to the poor, and carefully discuss the complaints brought to you, and spare those sinning against you, that God may spare your sins. Be fair in judgements, and merciful in debts. [Be] a teacher of virtue, blameless in manners, pleasant in word, praiseworthy in your way of life, devout in all the works of God. Also urge the brothers that they should read the holy scriptures most conscientously. They should not believe in word of mouth, but in the knowledge of truth, that they might be able to resist those speaking aginst the truth. These are dangerous times, as the Apostles predicted, because many false teachers are springing up, introducing novel doctrines, conspicuous in staining the purity of the Catholic faith with wicked assertions (2 Tim. 3: 1; 2 Petr. 2: 1). Therefore it is neccessary for the Church to have many guardians who, not only by holiness of life but also by the doctrine of truth, may be able to defend bravely the fortress of God.

I directed this short letter of pious admonition not as if to ignorant people, but that I should show the faith and true charity in my heart. What does a friend do if he does not show himself in words? If the rich do not spurn the rather small presents of paupers, why should the rivers of your wisdom reject the rivulets of our intelligence? For greater rivers are augmented by rivulets flowing into them, and the Lord himself praised the two mites of the widow, who, with a generous hand offered to God what little she had in her poverty (Luc. 21: 2). And I, although a pauper in knowledge, nevertheless directed these pious little presents with love to your faithful brotherhood, imploring that you will think them worthy to look at in consideration of the humility of brotherhood, as we were eager to direct that charitable devotion from us to you. May Almighty God make you and your brothers to prosper in all good things, and may he allow [you] to arrive at the blessedness of eternal glory.


In which Saint Vedastus explains Christian Doctrine to king Clovis

When Our Lord and God Jesus Christ came through a virginal womb into this world from heaven to seek the lost sheep (Luke 15: 4) and all of his dispensation and our salvation had been completely accomplished in their fullness, and when he returned in triumph to the seat of paternal majesty, so that he might dispell the forbidding darkness of ignorance from all the earth, he scattered the many lamps of the learned saints, shining by the brilliant light of the holy preaching of the gospel, throughout all the world, so that as heaven is decorated by shining stars though wholly lit by one sun; so too the broad space of the lands might become clear and bright by holy teachers who nevertheless are illuminated by the eternal sun; so that they might illuminate by lightening and the glorious name of Christ the dark shadows of ignorance of the true faith, so that they who hunger from the beginning of time might be satisfied at the banquet of eternal life. From whose number the holy priest of God and exceptional preacher, Vedastus, in the time of very strong kings of the Franks-- at that time Clovis-- went into these regions directed by divine grace for the salvation of many so that, supported by the aid of piety from above, he might set free those people led astray by diabolic frauds and enmeshed in snares of error [back] onto the way of eternal salvation and truth which is in Christ. But that this be made acceptable, it should happen, according to the Apostle who once upon a time said "Behold now is the acceptable time, behold now is the day of salvation" (1 Tim. 2: 4), [that] the Lord Jesus, who wishes all men to be saved, was providing a cause of competence in his follower so that he might be effective in the ministry of the word of God.

And so it happened that Clovis, king of the Franks, made war against the Alemanni, who at that time had power over themselves: but he did not strike them unprepared, although he wished to. Now having collected a very strong company, together they poured out in great numbers to meet the king near the banks of the Rhine river to defend their homeland with martial virtue, or to die for their homeland as a free people. And the fighting was most bitter on both sides; the one lest they lose the glory of a triumph, the others lest they loose the liberty of their homeland, sinking into mutual slaughter. Then the king, exceedingly disturbed by dread when he saw the enemy fight more strongly and his own [men] beaten almost to extermination, began more to despair of safety rather than to hope of victory. He fled to the aid of Christ, although not to say however, at the desire of being born again in Christ, [but] still by pressing necessity. And because the Queen, Clotilde by name, was religious and initiated with the sacrament of baptism, with this cry he lifted his eyes to heaven: "O God of singular power and greatest majesty, whom queen Clotilde worships, confides and adores, give me this day victory over my enemies. For from this day you alone will be god to me and your power venerated. Give me triumph and I promise an eternity of service to you." Presently, through the workings of divine compassion, the Alemanni turned their backs, and victory fell to the king and the Franks. O wonderful mercy of almighty God, O ineffable goodness, who listens and never abandons those hoping in himself! With great faith ought Christians to invoke his compassion, when a pagan king gained through a single prayer such a great victory. To whom of ancient times ought we to compare the aid of this divine piety unless to that of king Hezekiah, who on account of a moments tears bestowed such a famous triumph on his servant-to-be; who in a sea of troubles, merited through just one prayer that he should not only see the city defended by divine protection from imminent devastation, but even in that same night in which he poured forth prayers into divine ears, joyous and freed, he saw one-hundred and eighty-five thousand of the enemy killed. (4 Kings 19) ?

In truth, this victory of the king and his people, of which we spoke before, was the cause of eternal salvation; and lest that lamp, namely Saint Vedastus, should lie concealed under a basket, but be placed upon a candelabrum, actually shining in the house of God by the example of his preaching, should lead many people away from the error of idolatry and the murkiness of ignorance onto the road of truth. Therefore, since [his] enemies were overcome, things peacefully settled, and the Alemanni subject to his rule, rejoicing with the praise of his of triumph, the king returned to his homeland. And so that He who gave him such a gift of such great glory should be apparent to the faithful, he hastened to be instructed by the holy words of the servants of Christ and to be washed clean by the holy sacrament of baptism.

And so he came to the town of Toul, where he knew Vedastus was accustomed to serve God in laudable sanctity and to enjoy the sweetest fruits of the contemplative life. He took him as his companion; and then he hurried to Remigius, a very famous priest of Christ, in the city of Rhem, so that educated in wholesome lessons by each, initiated in the firm foundations of the Catholic faith, and prepared by faith and knowledge of virtue, he might be washed spiritually clean at the font by so great a priest and encouraged in the heavenly gifts by the other, because that man, divine mercy going before, was the beginning of the preaching of the gospel. The one led the king in haste to the fountain of life: the other [Remigius] washed him. Both fathers [were] nearly equal in piety; the one [Remigius] by the doctrines of the faith, the other [Vedastus] by the water of baptism: both offered to the Eternal King a temporal king as an acceptable gift. These [men] are two olive trees and two shining candelabra, by whom the aforementioned king, educated in the ways of God, by the mercy of God, having entered the gate of perpetual light and believed in Christ together with the very strong Frankish people made a chosen people a holy race (1 Peter 2: 9) so that the virtues of that God who called them from the darkness into his wonderful light might be displayed in them.

Chapter Two

The Miracles and Virtues of Saint Vedastus.
The Baptism of Clovis the King

By the authority of the Gospels, sacred history tells that when the Lord Jesus had come to Jericho in order to encourage the hearts of the people present in the faith of his majesty, people were shouting that he should restore the eyesight to a certain blind man (Luke 8), so that through the flesh of that single blind man, the hearts of many should be spiritually enlightened. And so Vedastus, having been given by Christ God, through the miracle of the illumination of a blind man, strengthened in the king's heart that faith, which he had proclaimed in word, so that the king would understand that the light of the heart was as neccesary to him as the opening of the eyes of the blind man, and that divine grace was worked through the prayers of his servant upon eyes restrained by darkness of night. This, so that, by the words of his servant and the powers operating through them, he might be perfected by the knowledge of the spiritual light in his breast. Now while the distinguished court of very worthy company with a very great multitude of people was making its way through those fields it came to a certain district which is called by custom of the inhabitants of that land, the Vungise, near the villa of Regulia which sits on the flowery banks of the Axona river. And behold [when] a throng of people along with the king were going across the same river on a bridge, a certain blind man, devoid of the light of the sun for a long time (perhaps not blind by his fault but so that the works of God would be made manifest in him and through his enlightment the hearts of very many present might be illuminated spiritually) blocked their way for a very long time. When he had learned that Vedastus, the holy servant of Christ, was making the trip in that company, he shouted "Vedastus, holy and elect of God have mercy on me and earnestly request the supernal power in [your] pious heart, that you may relieve my misery. I do not ask for gold or silver, but that the holiness of your prayers deliver to me the light of my eyes." And so the holy man of God sensed the supernal power present in himself not so much for the blind man but more for the people present; he gave himself up completely to holy prayers, trusting in divine piety, and, with the sign of the cross, placed his right hand over the eyes of the blind man saying: "Lord Jesus, you who are the true light, who opened the eyes of the man born blind [who] shouted to you, open also the eyes of this man so that these people present may understand that you alone are God, working wonders in heaven and Earth." The man's eyesight was immediately restored, and he went on his way, rejoicing. In the time following a church was built at that place by religious men in testimony of that miracle, in which place divine gifts are given to those praying and believing there up to the present day.
Therefore, the king, thoroughly imbued with evangelical doctrines by the man of God and firmly strengthened in faith by this present miracle, neither tarrying on his way, nor wavering in his faith, but with great alacrity of his soul and with great haste along the way he sped to see the most holy bishop of Rhem, so that with the Holy Spirit working through that most holy ministry he might be washed in the living spring of Catholic baptism for the remission of his sins and hope of eternal life. He was delayed in this for several days so that he might satisfy ecclesiastical requirements, that he should be washed first by his tears of penance according to the precept given to Saint Peter, the first of the Apostles: "Administer penance and let each of yours be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ" (Acts 2:38); and that he should recieve baptism in the name of the divine mystery of the Holy Trinity. Indeed, the blessed pontiff, knowing that the apostle Paul said "Do all of your things with decent order" (Cor. 14:40), set a day on which the king should go into the church for the purpose of receiving the sacraments of divine piety. The joyfulness of the Church of Christ there was the sort of holy joy of God then when they saw the king of Nineveh, who, at the preaching of Jonah, had descended from the throne of his majesty and had seated himself in the ashes of penitence and placed his head beneath the fatherly right hand of the priest of God to humble his excellence. (Jonah 3:3) And so the king was baptized along with his magnates and people, who rejoiced in accepting the sacrament which by divine grace was the bath of salvation.

With both victory over his enemies and his own salvation secured by his promise, he returned to take up the governance of his kingdomgovern with the scepter of the kingdom, and entrusted holy Vedastus to the care of the blessed pontiff Remigius. He remained there and became famous for the examples of his virtue and the merits of his life, and he was made lovable and venerable to all. For he was religious in dignity, distinguished in charity, pleasant in brotherly love, exceptional in the piety of humility, unceasingly vigilant in prayer, modest in speech, in body, chaste; sober in fasting, a consolor of the suffering; not thinking of tommorow but always trusting in the compassion of God, he pastured all of those coming to him with the food of eternal life. He despised no one in his distress, but with pious words of consolation restored those grieving. He injured no one by word, but by fraternal love always busied himself doing good [things]. He was often visited by many imminent men, since by his conversation, anyone might receive in their sadness the consolation of his solicitude, and they might hear from him the plain truth about the practices of the Church. And so by means of his pious admonition, many were freed from the snares of the devil, and with the aid of supernal mercy were led on the ways of eternal life.
Thus, as we said above, many of both the nobles and the common people used to visit the man of God on account of [his] most celebrated reputation of sanctity, so that they might be consoled through the grace which abounded on his lips, and because his mouth spoke from the abundance of his heart (Matt. 12:34), and because he was fond of everyone with a brotherly affection, he showed himself affable to all. Considering the salvation of others to be his wealth, he did not, through laziness regarding wealth, bury the Lord's talents in the ground, but daily strove to multiply them, lest when his lord appeared he be found worthless in his sight.

Accordingly, a certain noble and religious man came with others to visit the servant of Christ, that by him he might be sweetly refreshed with the teachings of heaven. And when his speech of the sweetest consoling words dragged on for a long time and the sun passed over the center of heaven and doubled the growing shadows, the man of God was unwilling to send his guest away without a charitable provision for his trip. He commanded a boy that if any wine remained he should carry a cup to [his] dear friend, so that he should return home with both a refreshed soul and a comforted body. But because of the throng of guests and because of the great generosity of the man of God to everyone, not arid in works in the charity of the Father, [the boy] found the vessel in which he was accustomed to serve wine dry. Immediately saddened, he whispered this fact with a silent mummer into the paternal ears. Vedastus blushed for shame; nevertheless by the sweetness of charity abounding in [his] heart and having trusted in divine favors, silent for a little while, he poured forth prayers to God, not doubting in divine aid nor at a loss on the effect of his petitions, but believing wholly in the mercy of him, who from dry stones for a thirsty people produced a font of living water (Exod. 17; Num. 20); and in Cana of Galileae changed water into the flavor of a marvelous wine (John 2). He said to the boy "Go, trusting in the goodness of God, and do not delay to bring to us whatever you find in the vessel." Quickly obeying his paternal command, he hurried off and found the vessel overflowing with choice wine. Giving praises to God in his soul on behalf of the boy's quick return, Vedastus toasted his friend, who, doubly restored in both spirit and love, returned to his own friends. But the servant of Christ, lest he be celebrated by empty words or the rumormongering of the people, ordered the boy, under the greatest oath, to be silent about this miracle [for] all the days of his life, desiring more to be known to God alone than to [other] men. He knew with certainty that the true guardian of virtue in all things lay in humility, and that this was the stairway of charity by which he might ascend to the highest kingdom of heaven, the Truth itself saying: "Whoever humbles himself shall be exalted." (Matt. 23:12)

Chapter III

Saint Vedastus, Bishop of Arras

The excellent reputation of this man of God spread, and the abundance of charity in his life, and the power of the word of God in him were acclaimed by all far and wide. The most blessed pontiff, Remigius, saw that it would be better to place such a brilliant light of Christ upon a candelabrum so that the splendor of his sanctity might shine forth more widely and illuminate [the way] of salvation form many people, rather than to be practically concealed [by remaining in] one place. So by divine dispensation and with the sound advice of the clergy, he ordained him bishop, [and] set him to the task of preaching the word of life. He sent him to the city of Arras, so that the people there, having lain for a long time in ancient errors and evil customs, aided by God through the tireless exhortation of holy preaching, might be led through him on the way of truth and knowledge of the Son of God. Having accepted the rank of bishop and the office of preaching he was roused to go and proceed to that city; but in token of future prosperity and salvation, through the testimony of certain miracles, God announced Vedastus' entry to the citizens.

At the city gate, two needy and infirm men, one blind, the other lame, barred his way, asking in pitiable voices for alms from the man of God. The priest of Christ, immediately feeling their misery, considered what he might be able to offer them. And when he realized he didn't have any money in his sack, relying on the mercy of God and comforted by the example of the holy apostles Peter and John, the apostolic preacher said "I have neither gold nor silver with me; however, what I have, that is, responsibilities of charity and pious prayers to God, these I will not hesitate to offer to you." (Acts 3:6) And after these words, the man of God, touched in his innermost heart for their misery, shed tearsfor their misery and with purity of faith asked a divine act for their bodies and for the spiritual health of the people present. Nor could such pious and necessary prayers be ineffectual, but according to him who said through the prophet Isaiah "At the proper time I heard you, and on the day of salvation I aided you" (Isaiah 69:8). Soon both received their longed-for health in the sight of the multitude; the one given the clearness of sight, the other rejoicing in his speed of foot. They returned home, both giving thanks to supernal piety, carrying away greater things than the the money for which they had hoped. But also this miracle of [their] healing was the cause of eternal salvation for many, for seeing that heavenly virtue followed the words of the priest of God, abandoning their filthy idolatries and believing in Christ, they were cleansed in the living font of holy baptism.

Indeed, by the testament of the aforesaid miracle, the man of God, supported by the favor of the people, wandered through the deserted places of the city, one after the other, searching among the ruins of the buildings [to see] if he would be able to find a sign of a church. For he knew that in almost ancient times the religion of the holy faith had flourished in these places, but because of the sins of the inhabitants of the land, by the hidden but most just judgement of God were given over, along with the other cities of Gaul and Germany, to Attila, the perfidious pagan king of the Huns, in order that they might be destroyed. Because of the savagery of his heart, Attila ordained that honor should not be payed to the priests of God, nor reverence to the churches of Christ, but like a monsterous storm devastated everything by fire and sword. Then, in likeness of the devastation of Jerusalem by the cruel king of Bablylon, the Goths came into the patrimony of God, and with polluted hands profaned the holy sanctuaries of Christ, shedding the blood of the servants of God around the altar of the highest king (4 Kings 25). He did not do these things because of the strength of the pagans but because the sins of the Christian people merited them. In fact, the servant of Christ found the ruins of an ancient church, with swarms of vipers growing between the fragments of its walls. Where there were once choirs for hymns could be seen the lairs and dens of wild beasts, all full of manure and filth so that scarcely any trace of its walls had remained. Seeing these things, he groaned for pain in his innermost heart, saying: "O Lord, all this came upon us because we sinned with our fathers, we acted unjustly, we did evil things." While he was murmmering these tearful plaints, behold, suddenly a bear emerged from a cave in the ruins. The man of God, with indignation, ordered that he should withdraw into the wilderness and seek himself a suitable lair among the depths of the forest, and that he should not pass beyond the banks of the river. He soon fled, terrified by such threats, nor at any time afterwards was he seen by anyone anywhere in these parts. O marvelous power of almighty God in his saints, whom even the most ferocious beasts know to obey! O the rashness of miserable men who do not fear to condemn the words of salvation-bearing preaching bought before them by holy teachers. In such a way is beastial lack of reason in obeying the precepts of the saints more useful than human reason: indeed a man created in the image of God, before given rationality, does not understand his honor, and by virtue of this reason, is comparable to the foolishness of an ass and is made like one. (Psal. 48:13)

Indeed, when the man of God had discovered the abandoned churches of Christ, and the hearts of the people infected with the error of idolatry, and blinded by the the darkness of ignorance, with a sigh gave himself up to a labor of piety. By assidous efforts he led the people to the knowledge of the true light; he raised the churches to the highest point of honor and placed priests and deacons in various offices of the churches as his assistants, and where previously there were dens of thieves, there he constructed houses of prayer; he intended, rather, to adorn them with divine praises, than to adorn them with the showy riches of the world. Indeed, he was generous to the poor, affable to the rich up to the point that either through generosity with his deeds or affability of words he would lead everyone onto the path of truth. Knowing the proud necks of the potentates unable to bend to the humility of the Christian religion except through the most persuasive admonitions of piety, instructed by apostolic example, he did all things for all people (I Cor. 9:12), so that he might win over all, outdoing the elders with honors, admonishing the younger with paternal love, not seeking anywhere for his things through the offices of charity, but that which was God's. Following the footsteps of Christ, he did not despise the banquets of the powerful, not for the chance of luxury but for that of preaching, so that with the harmony of familiarity, he might more easily fill the hearts of the banqueteers with the word of God.

Accordingly, a certain Frank of noble birth renowed for his power, Ocinus by name, invited king Clothar, son of the aforsaid king, Clovis, who at that time nobly ruled with the sceptor of the kingdom, to a dinner which he prepared with great pomp in his home for the king and his magnates. And holy Vedastus was also invited to the banquet. Entering the house, in his accustomed manner he extended his right hand and greeted all with the banner of the holy cross. There were some glasses full of beer standing there, but because of the evil errors of the gentiles were corruputed by demonic enchantments. Immediately they shattered, destroyed by the power of the holy cross, and spilled onto the ground whatever liquor they might have contained. Indeed, the king and his optimates, terrified at the sight of this miracle of his, asked the bishop the reason for this unexpected and freakish thing. The holy bishop replied "Because of certain incantations of evildoers, the diabolical power lay in these liquids to beguile the souls of the banqueteers, but terrified by the power of the cross of Christ, fled from the home invisibly, just as visibly you all saw the liquid spilled onto the gound." This thing was helpful for the salvation of many, for, freed from the hidden chains of diabolical deceit, having rejected the vanity of auguries, leaving behind their traditions of incantations, they flocked together to the purity of the true religion. They knew by the efficacy of this sign that divine power lay in their companion, and that no machinations of the ancient serpent could prevail against his holiness. And just as that ancient serpent gathered many to perdition, Vedastus guided many to redemption by the grace of Christ.

Chapter Four

The death and Interrment of Saint Vedastus

And so with the adi of divine grace, this priest of God ruled the Church of Christ for about forty years, with a great devotion to the preaching of the gospel and a great love of piety. And during this time, through Catholic dogma, he led a multitude of people to the sanctity of the Christian faith. Everywhere [this church] was famed for its recognition of divine law, the most holy name of Christ was heard on everyone's lips; its reputation flourished through the customs of a most chast life, and the love of [our] heavenly Father burned in the breasts of each [of the faithful] The festivals of our savior were celebrated with great rejoicing on the days appointed. Charitable alms were dispensed to homes round about, especially those of the poor, the word of God was preached daily to the people in each place, and choirs in the churches sang hymns of praise to God at the canonical hours. Happy, they say, are the people for whom these things are, happy the people whose lord is their God (Psalm. 143:15). For all were quiet in the beauty of peace; they rejoiced in the knowledge of truth, and were joyous in the sanctity of the Christian religion.

Later, indeed, this dutiful preacher and holy priest of God, mature in merit and years, by the dispensation of God, was destined to recieve the prize of his labors. He was stricken by a high fever in that same city of Arras, divine mercy foreseeing, so that in that place where he labored much in the service of God, from that place he might achieve the palm of eternal blessedness and so that he might yield up his soul into the hands of his creator in the midst of his beloved children. And indeed, so that God might point out the death of his servant, a column of the brightest light was seen for the space of almost two hours during the night, standing on the highest rooftop of the house in which the holy priest lay [and reaching] up into the highest heavens. When this was reported to the man of God, he knew immediately that this sign indicated his death. Therefore he called his children to him so that with the prayers of the faithful he might commend his soul to the creator. After his sweet admonitions of fatherly piety and his last words of charity, strengthened by the sacrosanct viaticum of the body and blood of Christ, he gave up his spirit in the arms of those weeping about him. O most happy day for the holy priest but the most sorrowful for all the people whose shephard so suddenly left this bodily life, but who nevertheless would never forsake them through spiritual intercession if they did not cease following his words of admonition and the example of his most blameless life!

And so, many clerics, laymen, priests, presbyters and deacons of other churches came together at the last rights of the venerated man. But, behold, among the voices of the sorrowing singing psalms here on earth, there was heard by certain religious men voices in heaven joining in; and when the bier on which the body lay stood ready in the midst of the divine office, those coming forward were not able to move it. Indeed, they were doubtful about what they should do and didn't know to whom they should turn. They were asked by Scopilione (St. Phyleone?), an archpriest and a truly religious man who was privy to the converse of holy God, if any one of them might remember Vedastus speaking of his interrment, fearing this thing might have happend to them because they were proposing to bury him within the wall of the city. To which things someone replied that he often heard him say that no one should be buried inside the walls of the city because the city ought to be a place for the living, not of the dead. They were willing, because of this, to bury him in the Church of the Holy Mary Ever Virgin, where he presided on the pontifical throne. Indeed, it was known that he had arranged for his burial in the oratory, which was most plainly built, that is, with wooden boards, next to the bank of the stream Crientionis. He wished that that which was allowable to him to be done in the humility which was customary to him. Bur everyone present, attendant to the signs of his merits, thought that it was not worthy that the body of such a man should be buried in such a humble place, particularly because neither was the place suitable for a monument to him, nor, situated in a swamp, would it be accessible to the people.

While such things were being discussed among them, the venerable Scopilio, learned in the power of prayer, decided to hasten to the implements to which he was accustomed, so that by pious prayer he might obtain what many men were not able to grasp with human hands. Moved by sorrow in his innermost heart and pouring forth tears, he called upon everyone to pray. He then began to pray over the most blessed recumbant body in this fashion: "Alas," he said "O most blessed father! By what power should I act, seeing that the day is declining into evening, and all who have gathered at your burial are hurrying to return home. Permit me, I implore you, to carry you to that place which stands prepared for you through the care of your children. And having said these things, taking the handle of the bier on which the lifeless body of the saint lay, feeling no burden they carried it on their shoulders with quickened spirits to his place of burial. And they buried him in the church of the Blessed Mary Ever Virgin, Mother of God, on the right hand side of the altar, hiding a noble treasure in the earth under the throne where he formerly performed the office of bishop. In this place he lay for some time, until God revealing the place where now his memory shines brightly, was translated in a happy alteration by the sainted bishops Autbert and Audomar. Now then, let that which was seen worthy of memory in the bishop after his death be discussed. It happened that the little house in which the beloved of God died that day suddenly burst into flames and began to burn. But a certain religious woman, Abita by name, saw Vedastus arrive and drive the flames from his home, and so it remained untouched along with that cot on which the holy man of God yielded up his soul to the celestial kingdom, so that everyone might know how much he is blessed in heaven, whose little bedroom on earth could not burn down.


The Translation of the Body of Saint Vedastus

And he lay in the same place up to the time of the blessed Autbert, who suceeded him as the seventh bishop in the pontifical see. So that we might know by the repetition of many and that it might be sung by the mouths of innumerable men, and because we might test this deed with our eyes, on a certain day after the hymns of Matins, standing on the city walls, with dawn breaking, turning to the east Autbert saw at a distance beyond the stream, which is called Criento, a shining man holding a rod in his hands to measure out the place of a cathedral. Through the revelation of God, he understood what he was seeing to be an angel, and it was shown to him that blessed Vedastus, with the approval of Christ, without a doubt ought to be moved. Made more certain by this revelation, he invited to such a work blessed Audomare, who at the time was bishop of the city of Tarvenna of the Morini, and was held eminent in the things of God. Audomare, it might be allowed, was already feeble with old age and was seen to be made weaker by the loss of his eyesight, but nevertheless, having a spirit like a drawn bow in his spiritual eagerness, was immediately ready. His path protected by Christ, he hurried to the venerable Autbert. So Autbert might make up his mind, and so that something might be shown to them providentially, by equal will and common counsel and with the great joy of the people who were gathering together from all sides, they carried the most blessed Vedastus to the place designated. In this translatio it was said that blessed Audomare recovered his eyesight, but through the prayers which he voluntarily rendered up, he immediately became blind again. Of course, the sight of fleshly eyes mattered little to one who had earned the eyesight of a celestial citizen.

However, miracles which were perceived to be done in ancient times and now which for almost one-hundred and sixty years were accomplished through the wonderworking merit of blessed Vedastus, were committed to memory by no pen, except in the words of the Antiphon which is sung by the cantors in the following manner: Here is Blessed Vedastus whose temple was made by men at the command of angels. This very place is not far from that city, which for its nobility was first called Nobiliacus. But with the passage of time [the tomb of Saint Vedastus] was made so prominent that it is usually called by the name of the city, which now has dissolved almost completly into a mass of ruins. It is both embellished by the generosity of the faithful and filled by the multitude of the monks and of others devoted to God. Here the divine offices are celebrated without interruption, and where heavenly deeds and miraculous signs frequently happened and still hapen, now are being better attested by the mouths of witnesses and written down by pen from dictation. Indeed, happy is the city of Arras, defended by such an excellent patron! Even if sunk low by the ruins of its walls, nevertheless it is brilliant through the merits of his nobility. And because of the intercession of his sanctity, let all the people rejoice, and let them raise everlasting praises to almighty God who bestowed on them such an illustrious teacher, through whose preaching they learned the way of truth. Through whose prayers, if they remain constant in the firmness of their faith and sanctity of their life, they will remain secure from all adversity, and reach the perfect glory of blessedness, through the gift of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns as God for all worlds without end.


Source: This translation was prepared from the MGH text by Mark Lasnier, University of Kansas, 1996.

It was available online. Now only a Internet Archive version remains here.

Permission pending.

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