chapter 4.25

<Quālīs vīsiō cuidam virō Deī appāruerit, priusquam monastērium Coludānae urbis esset incendiō cōnsūmptā>

[1] Hīs temporibus monastērium virginum quod Colūdī Vrbem cognōminant, cuius et suprā meminimus, per culpam incūriae flammīs absūmptum est. [2] Quod tamen ā malitiā inhabitantium in eō, et praecipuē illōrum quī maiōrēs esse vidēbantur, contigisse omnēs quī nōvēre facillimē potuērunt advertere. [3] Sed nōn dēfuit pūniendīs admonitiō dīvīnae pietātis, quā corrēctī per ieiūnia flētūs et precēs īram ā sē īnstar Ninevitārum iūstī iūdicis āverterent.

[4] Erat namque in eōdem monastēriō vir dē genere Scottōrum, Adamnānus vocābulō, dūcēns vītam in continentiā et ōrātiōnibus multum Deō dēvōtam, ita ut nīl umquam cibī vel pōtūs, exceptā diē dominicā et quīntā sabbatī, perciperet, saepe autem noctēs integrās pervigil in ōrātiōne trānsigeret. [5] Quae quidem illī districtiō vītae artiōris prīmō ex necessitāte ēmendandae suae prāvitātis obvēnerat, sed prōcēdente tempore necessitātem in cōnsuētūdinem verterat. [6] Siquidem in adulēscentiā suā sceleris aliquid commīserat, quod commissum, ubi ad cor suum rediit, gravissimē exhorruit et sē prō illō pūniendum ā districtō iūdice timēbat. [7] Accēdēns ergō ad sacerdōtem, ā quō sibi spērābat iter salūtis posse dēmōnstrārī, cōnfessus est reātum suum, petiitque ut cōnsilium sibi daret quō posset fugere ā ventūrā īrā. [8] Quī audītō eius commissō dīxit: ‘Grande vulnus grandiōris cūram medellae dēsīderat; et ideō ieiūniīs, psalmīs, et ōrātiōnibus, quantum valēs, īnsiste, quō praeoccupandō faciem Dominī in cōnfessiōne propitium eum invenīre mereāris.’ [9] At ille, quem nimius reae cōnscientiae tenēbat dolor, et internīs peccātōrum vinculīs quibus gravābātur ōcius dēsīderābat absolvī: ‘Adulescentior,’ inquit, ‘sum aetāte et vegetus corpore; quicquid mihi imposueris agendum, dummodo salvus fiam in diē Dominī, tōtum facile feram, etiam sī tōtam noctem standō in precibus peragere, sī integram septimānam iubeās abstinendō trānsigere.’ [10] Quī dīxit: ‘Multum est ut tōtā septimānā absque alimentō corporis perdūrēs; sed biduānum vel trīduānum sat est observāre ieiūnium. [11] Hoc facitō dōnec post modicum tempus rediēns ad tē, quid facere dēbeās et quamdiū paenitentiae īnsistere, tibi plēnius ostendam.’ [12] Quibus dictīs et dēscrīptā illī mēnsūrā paenitendī abiit sacerdōs, et ingruente causā subitā sēcessit Hiberniam, unde orīginem dūxerat, neque ultrā ad eum iuxtā suum condictum rediit. [13] At ipse memor praeceptī eius simul et prōmissī suī, tōtum sē lacrimīs paenitentiae, vigiliīs sānctīs, et continentiae mancipāvit, ita ut quīntā sōlum sabbatī et dominicā, sīcut praedīxī, reficeret, cēterīs septimānae diēbus ieiūnus permanēret. [14] Cumque sacerdōtem suum Hiberniam sēcessisse ibique dēfūnctum esse audīsset, semper ex eō tempore, iuxtā condictum eius, memorātum continentiae modum observābat, et quod causā dīvīnī timōris semel ob reātum compūnctus coeperat, iam causā dīvīnī amōris dēlectātus praemiīs indēfessus agēbat.

[15] Quod dum multō tempore sēdulus exsequerētur, contigit eum diē quādam dē monastēriō illō longius ēgressum, comitante sēcum ūnō dē frātribus, perāctō itinere redīre. [16] Quī cum monastēriō propinquārent et aedificia illīus sublīmiter ērēcta aspicerent, solūtus est in lacrimās vir Deī et trīstitiam cordis vultū indice prōdēbat. [17] Quod intuēns comes, quārē faceret inquīsīvit. [18] At ille: ‘Cūncta,’ inquit, ‘haec quae cernis aedificia publica vel prīvāta in proximō est ut ignis absūmēns in cinerem convertat.’ [19] Quod ille audiēns mox ut intrāvērunt monastērium, mātrī congregātiōnis, vocābulō Aebbæ, cūrāvit indicāre. [20] At illa meritō turbāta dē tālī praesāgiō vocāvit ad sē virum, et dīligentius ab eō rem, vel unde hoc ipse nōsset, inquīrēbat. [21] Quī ait: ‘Nūper occupātus noctū vigiliīs et psalmīs vīdī adstantem mihi subitō quendam incognitī vultūs; cuius praesentiā cum essem exterritus, dīxit mihi nē timērem; et quasi familiārī mē vōce alloquēns, ‘Bene facis,’ inquit, ‘quī tempore istō nocturnae quiētis nōn somnō indulgēre sed vigiliīs et ōrātiōnibus īnsistere māluistī.’ [22] At ego: ‘Novī,’ inquit, ‘multum mihi esse necesse vigiliīs salūtāribus īnsistere, et prō meīs errātibus sēdulō Dominum dēprecārī.’ [23] Quī adiciēns ‘Vērum,’ inquit, ‘dīcis, quia et tibi et multīs opus est peccāta sua bonīs operibus redimere et, cum cessant ā labōribus rērum temporālium, tunc prō appetītū aeternōrum bonōrum līberius labōrāre; sed hoc tamen paucissimī faciunt. [24] Siquidem modo tōtum hoc monastērium ex ōrdine perlūstrāns, singulōrum casās ac lectōs īnspexī, et nēminem ex omnibus praeter tē ergā sānitātem animae suae occupātum repperī; sed omnēs prōrsus, et virī et fēminae, aut somnō torpent inertī aut ad peccāta vigilant. [25] Nam et domunculae, quae ad ōrandum vel legendum factae erant, nunc in comessationum pōtātiōnum fābulātiōnum et cēterārum sunt inlecebrārum cubīlia conversae; virginēs quoque Deō dicātae, contempta reverentia suae professiōnis, quotiēscumque vacant, texendīs subtīliōribus indūmentīs operam dant, quibus aut sē ipsās ad vicem spōnsārum in perīculum suī statūs adōrnent, aut externōrum sibi virōrum amīcitiam compārent. [26] Vnde meritō locō huic et habitātōribus eius gravis dē caelō vindicta flammīs saevientibus praeparāta est.’ [27] Dīxit autem abbātissa: ‘Et quārē nōn citius hoc compertum mihi revēlāre voluistī?’ [28] Quī respondit: ‘Timuī propter reverentiam tuam, nē forte nimium conturbāreris; et tamen hanc cōnsōlātiōnem habeās, quod in diēbus tuīs haec plāgā nōn superveniet.’ [29] Quā dīvulgātā vīsiōne, aliquantulum locī accolae paucīs diēbus timēre et sē ipsōs intermissīs facinoribus castīgāre coepērunt. [30] Vērum post obitum ipsīus abbātissae rediērunt ad prīstinās sordēs, immō scelerātiōra fēcērunt. [31] Et cum dīcerent, ‘Pāx et sēcūritās,’ extemplō praefātae ultiōnis sunt poenā multātī.

[32] Quae mihi cūncta sīc esse facta reverentissimus meus compresbyter Eadgils referēbat, quī tunc in illō monastēriō dēgēbat. [33] Posteā autem, discēdentibus inde ob dēsōlātiōnem plūrimīs incolārum, in nostrō monastēriō plūrimō tempore conversātus ibīdemque dēfūnctus est. [34] Haec ideō nostrae historiae īnserenda crēdidimus ut admonērēmus lēctōrem operum Dominī, quam terribilis in cōnsiliīs super fīliōs hominum, nē forte nōs tempore aliquō carnis inlecebrīs servientēs, minusque Deī iūdicium formīdantēs, repentīna eius īra corripiat, et vel temporālibus damnīs iūstē saeviēns afflīgat, vel ad perpetuam perditiōnem districtius exāmināns tollat.

COLDINGHAM ABBEY

Coldingham is the last of the double monasteries—including Barking, Ely, and Whitby—on which Bede focuses his attention. Unlike the others, Coldingham is depicted as a den of iniquity, whose monastic inhabitants had lapsed into vanity, worldliness, and sin. Bede was a reform-minded monk. Late in his life, he wrote a letter to Egbert, the Bishop (later Archbishop) of York, urging reform of the Northumbrian Church, which in his opinion had become corrupt and venal. The story of Coldingham reflects Bede’s concerns about abuses of the monastic life. It also may reveal his true opinion of the double monasteries, which offered accomodation for both men and women. Coldingham was destroyed in abou 680. A century later, in 787, the Second Council of Nicaea prohibited the founding of double monasteries, citing them as “a cause of scandal and a stumbling block for ordinary folk” (see Introduction, “Christianity in Anglo-Saxon England”).

(1) hīs temporibus: “at about this time”

Colūdī Vrbem: Coldingham, in Berwickshire, Scotland. Coldingham was presided over by an abbess named Æbbe, the sister of King Oswiu of Northumberland.

suprā meminimus: mentioned in 4.19.5 as the monastery Æthelthryth first entered as a nun

per culpam incūriae: per = “through, because of”

(2) Quod ... advertere: This sentence is an indirect statement with the basic structure: omnēs potuērunt advertere id [=quod] contigisse. Bede likes to begin sentences with a connective relative like quod (“which”), but it is easiest to translate here as if id (“it”) was the accusative of the accusative-infinitive construction.

ā malitiā: ā = “because of, on account of”

in eō: i.e., in the monastery

maiōrēs: “elders, leaders”

advertere: animum advertere, “grasp, realize”

(3) nōn defuit ... pietātis: rearrange as: admonitio dīvīnae pietātis nōn defuit pūniendīs

pūniendīs: dative of possession after defuit (AG 373.b): “for those to be punished.”

quā: the antecedent is admonitiō. The ablative is an ablative of means (“by means of which”), and the relative pronoun quā introduces a relative clause of purpose (AG 531.2) with the subjunctive verb āverterent.

instar Ninevitārum: instar + genitive = “like”: “like the people of Nineveh.” Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian Empire; its destruction is prophesied in the Biblical Book of Nahum.

iūstī iūdicis: subjective genitive with īram: “the anger of the just judge” (i.e., God)

THE PENANCE OF BROTHER ADAMNAN

(4) Scottōrum: as always in Bede, Scottus (or Scotus) means “Irish.”

Adamnānus: Adamnan, or Adomnán (PASE, Adomnán 2), not to be confused with Adomnán, the Abbot of Iona.

multum: adverbial, with dēvōtam, “greatly devoted”

ita ut: introducing a result clause; the ita can be taken with multum: “so greatly devoted to God that....”

exceptā diē dominicā et quīntā sabbatī: “except on Sunday and Thursday.” Thursday is the fifth day (quīntā) from the Sabbath (Sunday), counting inclusively.

autem: “and moreover”

noctēs integrās: accusative of extent of time

(5) districtiō vītae artiōris: “the rigor of this very austere lifestyle” (> artus -a -um)

prīmō ... prōcēdente tempore: “at first ... as time went on ....”

verterat: the subject is Adamnan.

(6) Siquidem: “For,” supporting and explaining the previous sentence.

ad cor suum rediit: “returned to his senses” (DMLBS, redīre 4.b)

sē ... timēbat: indirect statement; rearrange as: timēbat sē pūniendum [esse] prō illō [scelere] ā districtō iūdice.

(7) sibi ... dēmōnstrārī: indirect statement after spērābat; sibi is the indirect object of dēmōnstrārī (“to be shown to him,” i.e., to Adamnan).

(8) audītō eius commissō: ablative absolute: “when his offense was heard”; eius refers to Adamnan.

quō: introducing a relative clause of purpose (AG 531.2), “so that...,” with the subjunctive verb mereāris.

praeoccupandō faciem: quoting Psalm 94.2 (Vulgate): praeoccupēmus faciem eius in cōnfessiōne (“let us come before his face in confession”); praeoccupandō is an ablative of means.

propitium: predicate adjective with eum (“to find him well-disposed”)

(9) et internīs: supply quī: et [quī] ... dēsīderābat absolvī.

internīs ... vinculīs: ablative of separation (AG 401) with absolvī: “to be free from...”

adulescentior: “relatively young”

aetate ... corpore: ablatives of specification (AG 418).

dummodo ... fīam: clause of proviso (AG 528).

etiam sī ... trānsigere: rearrange as: etiam sī iubeas [mē] peragere tōtam noctem standō in precibus, [aut] trānsigere integram septimānam abstinendō. Such extreme forms of penance as are described here were typical of the Irish monastic tradition that was imported to Northumbria from Iona. Such practices had their origins among the ascetic monks of Egypt.

(10) totā septimānā: ablative for accusative of extent of time (“for an entire week”).

(11) donec: with ostendam (“until ... I show you ...”)

rediēns: Bede often uses a present participle when we might expect a temporal clause with a finite verb (e.g., cum post modicum tempus redeo/redeam ad tē).

quid ... ostendam: indirect questions introduced by ostendam; rearrange as: ostendam plenius tibi quid facere dēbeās, et quamdiū [dēbeās] īnsistere paenitentiae.

paenitentiae: dative with īnsistere (“to keep up with, devote yourself to”).

(12) ingruente causā subitā: “when something came up suddenly”; literally, “with a sudden cause arising”

ultrā: (w. neg.) “on any further occasion or at any later time, any longer, any more” (DMLBS, ultrā 2.b)

condictum: “agreement”

(13) ipse: i.e., Adamnan

sē … mancipāvit: “devoted himself to”

(14) sēcessisse ... dēfūnctum esse: infinitives in indirect statement introduced by audīsset.

quod: the object of coeperat and agēbat: “what he had begun …”

dēlectātus praemiīs: “delighting in its rewards”

THE DESTRUCTION OF COLDINGHAM FORETOLD

(15) contigit … eum: “it so happened that he,” introducing indirect discourse (DMLBS, contingere 7); the core of the sentence is: contigit eum redīre.

(16) indice: “as an outward sign”

(18) in proximō est: “is close at hand.” With the purpose clause: “is on the verge of a consuming fire turning it to ash.”

(19) ille: the comes

Æbbæ: the abbess.

(21) incognitī vultūs: genitive of quality (AG 345).

cum essem: “since I was”

nē timērem: indirect command, or prohibition (AG 588, note 2). In direct discourse, the man in the vision would have said, Nōli timēre.

familiārī mē vōce: a typical small-scale Bedan hyperbaton, emphasizing the key word (familiārī); the expected word order is alloquēns mē familiārī vōce.

(22) multum: adverbial, “very, exceedingly”

(23) sua: reflexive with multī (implied by multīs)

cessant: the plural assumes the subject is multī (implied by multīs)

(24) prōrsus: this word is an intensifier: omnēs prōrsus could be translated “every last one of them,” keeping in mind that the verbs torpent and vigilant, plural in Latin, would have to be translated as singular (“every last one of them is...”).

(25) in ... cubīlia: the preposition and its object are separated by the modifying genitives; cubīlia has negative connotations here: “dens”

virginēs quoque: “even virgins.” The lack of a strong conjunction (asyndeton) is an indication of the vehemence of this speech.

vacant: “have free time”

ad vicem: “like, in the manner of” + genitive

in perīculum suī statūs: this compressed statement (“to the peril of their status”) means “putting their virginity at risk.”

externōrum ... virōrum: “of strange men” (Colgrave-Mynors); externus can mean “foreign,” but here could mean men from outside of the monastery.

(26) meritō: adverb: “deservedly,” or “as a consequence”

locō huic et habitātōribus: dative indirect objects of praeparāta est

(31) pāx et sēcūritās: a reference to 1 Thessalonians 5.3 (Vulgate): cum enim dīxerint pāx et sēcūritās tunc repentīnus eīs superveniet interitus ... (“For when they shall say: Peace and security; then shall sudden destruction come upon them...”)

THE MORAL OF THE STORY

(32) conpresbyter: fellow priest

(33) discēdentibus ... incolārum: rearrange as: plūrimīs incolārum discēdentibus inde ob dēsōlātiōnem; ablative absolute (“when many of the inhabitants had departed...”).

in nostrō monastēriō: i.e., in Wearmouth-Jarrow

plūrimō tempore: ablative for accusative of extent of time (“for a very long time”)

(34) admonērēmus ... quam: an indirect exclamation, structured like an indirect question in which the question is a secondary object (AG 574, with note): “to warn the reader of the works of the Lord, how terrible [he is]...” The verb esse is omitted from the indirect exclamation.

nōs: direct object of corripiat, afflīgat and tollat, the subject of which is īra

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