Chapter 4.7

< Vt in monastēriō Bericinēnsī, ubi corpora Sānctimōniālium fēminārum pōnī dēbērent, caelestī sit lūce mōnstrātum>

[1] In hōc etenim monastēriō plūra virtūtum sunt signa patrāta, quae et ad memoriam aedificātiōnemque sequentium ab hīs quī nōvēre dēscrīpta habentur ā multīs; ē quibus et nōs aliqua historiae nostrae ecclēsiasticae īnserere cūrāvimus. [2] Cum tempestās saepe dictae clādis lātē cūncta dēpopulāns etiam partem monastēriī huius illam, quā virī tenēbantur, invāsisset, et passim cotīdiē raperentur ad Dominum, sollicita māter congregātiōnis, quā hōrā etiam eam monastēriī partem, quā ancellārum Deī caterva ā virōrum erat sēcrēta contuberniō, eadem plāga tangeret, crēbrius in conventū sorōrum perquīrere coepit, quō locī in monastēriō corpora sua pōnī et coemētērium fierī vellent, cum eās eōdem quō cēterōs exterminiō raptārī ē mundō contingeret. [3] Cumque nihil certī respōnsī, tametsī saepius inquīrēns, ā sorōribus accēpisset, accēpit ipsa cum omnibus certissimum supernae prōvīsiōnis respōnsum. [4] Cum enim nocte quādam, explētis mātūtīnae laudis psalmodiīs, ēgressae dē ōrātōriō famulae Chrīstī ad sepulchra frātrum, quī eās ex hāc lūce praecesserant, sōlitās Dominō laudēs dēcantārent, ecce subitō lūx ēmissa caelitus, velutī linteum magnum vēnit super omnēs, tantōque eās stupōre perculit, ut etiam canticum quod canēbant tremefactae intermitterent. [5] Ipse autem splendor ēmissae lūcis, in cuius comparātiōne sōl merīdiānus vidērī posset obscūrus, nōn multō post illō ēlevātus dē locō in merīdiānum monastēriī <partem>, hoc est ad occidentem ōrātōriī, sēcessit, ibique aliquandiū remorātus et ea loca operiēns, sīc videntibus cūnctīs ad caelī sē alta subdūxit, ut nūllī esset dubium quīn ipsa lūx, quae animās famulārum Chrīstī esset ductūra vel susceptūra in caelīs, etiam corporibus eārum locum in quō requiētūra et diem resurrēctiōnis essent expectātūra mōnstrāret. [6] Cuius radius lūcis tantus extitit, ut quīdam dē frātribus senior, quī ipsā hōrā in ōrātōriō eōrum cum aliō iūniōre positus fuerat, referret manē quod ingressī per rīmās ōstiōrum vel fenestrārum radiī lūcis omnem diurnī lūminis vidērentur superāre fulgōrem.

MIRACLES AT BARKING ABBEY: A LIGHT FROM HEAVEN

Bede's source for this and the following chapters is a lost libellus, a small book about Æthelburh and the miracles at Barking Abbey, commissioned (or possibly written) by Hildeleth, Æthelburh's successor as abbess of Barking. In the Middle Ages Barking Abbey was a center of literary culture. Aldhelm (ca. 639–709) addresses his prose work Dē virginitāte to Hildeleth, and testifies to the learning and eloquence of the nuns of Barking.

(1) plūra: “many” (LS, multus II.B.2)

signa virtūtum: “signs and miracles,” or “miraculous signs”; see DMLBS, signum 13.d = “miracles”; virtus 7 = “manifested divine power, miracle”; and above, 4.6.3, caelestium signa virtūtum.

sunt … patrāta: = patrāta sunt (“were accomplished”)

quae ... ab hīs quī nōvēre dēscrīpta habentur ā multīs: “which are possessed by many people (in manuscripts) transcribed by those who were acquainted with them.” See DMLBS, describere 2 = “transcribe.” nōvēre > nosco.

aliqua: neuter accusative plural, “a few” signa, direct object of īnserere

historiae nostrae ecclēsiasticae: datives after the compound verb īnserere (“to insert into”)

(2) In a long and complex sentence Bede sets the scene for the miracle he is about to describe (see articulated text).

saepe dictae clādis: “the frequently mentioned plague.” Bede first mentions the severe outbreak of plague in 664 AD at 3.27.

partem monastēriī … quā virī tenēbantur: “the part of this monastery where men were dwelling”; Barking was a double monastery.

raperentur: the subject is virī.

sollicita … quā horā … tangeret: sollicita introduces an indirect question (“worried about at what hour…); re-order: māter congregātiōnis, sollicita quā horā eadem plāga tangeret etiam eam partem monastēriī quā caterva ancellārum Deī erat sēcrēta ā contuberniō virōrum… (see articulated text).

congregātiōnis: “community”

ā virōrum erat sēcrēta contuberniō: “far from the habitation of the men” (DMLBS secretus 4, contubernium 3).

plāga: affliction, disaster, plague

quō locī: “in what place.” locī is a partitive genitive (AG 346.3); the construction is, again, an indirect question, introduced by perquīrere.

eās … raptārī: accusative-infinitive construction after contingeret: “when it happened that they were carried off…” raptārī goes with both eās and cēterōs (“carried off by the same catastrophe by which others [were carried off]…”)

(3) supernae prōvīsiōnis: “of divine providence” (Colgrave-Mynors)

(4) mātūtīnae laudis: literally, “of early morning praise”; referring to the daily office of lauds (also known as matins, from mātūtīna) which was performed at dawn.

ōrātōriō: room for prayer, chapel

velutī linteum magnum: “like a great white sheet.” The description of the vision echoes Peter's vision in Acts 10:11, in which God sanctions the conversion of the Gentiles and a sort of great sail cloth descends from the sky: et videt caelum apertum et dēscendēns vās (“thing”) qūoddam velut linteum magnum quattuor initiīs submittī dē caelō in terram (Vulgate).

tantōque … ut: result clause

(5) Another long, complex sentence describes the miracle and its significance. See articulated text.

in cuius conparātiōne: “in comparison to which”

vidērī posset: “could seem”

nōn multō post: “not much later”; ablative of degree of difference (AG 414)

illō … dē locō: = dē illō locō

in merīdiānum: “to the south”

ea loca operiēns: “covering that area (in light)”

sīc … ut: “in such a way that”

videntibus cūnctīs: ablative of separation (AG 401) after the verb subdūxit: “withdrew itself from all those watching”

ad caelī … alta: “into the depths of heaven”

nūllī esset dubium quīn: AG 558.a

quae animas … in caelīs: the antecedent of quae is lux; re-order: [lux] quae ductūra vel susceptūra esset animās famulārum Chrīstī in caelīs… (see articulated text).

etiam corporibus … mōnstrāret: locum the direct object of mōnstrāret; corporibus can be taken as a dative of purpose (“a place for their bodies”; see AG 383).

in quō … expectātūra: amplifying locum; the subject of requiētūra [essent] and expectātūra essent is corpora (implied by corporibus): “the place in which they [i.e., their bodies]…”

(6) positus fuerat: shifted pluperfect, for positus erat

referret: subjunctive in the result clause following tantus…ut…

quod: “that,” in indirect discourse, introduced by referret, looking forward to vidērentur.

per rīmās ōstiōrum vel fenestrārum: vel = "and": the light was coming in through the doors (ōstia) and windows (fenestrae). Windows in Anglo-Saxon churches were high in the wall of the church, and usually without glass. A good surviving example of the interior of an Anglo-Saxon church is St. Mary's, Deerhurst.

ingressī … fulgōrem: re-order: radiī lūcis, ingressī per rīmās ōstiōrum vel fenestrārum, vidērentur superāre omnem fulgōrem diurnī lūminis.

Text Read Aloud
article Nav
Previous