Chapter 4.9

<Quae sint ostēnsa caelitus signa, cum et ipsa māter congregātiōnis illīus ē mundō trānsierit>

[1] Cum autem et ipsa māter pia Deō dēvōtae congregātiōnis Aedilburga esset rapienda dē mundō, appāruit vīsiō mīranda cuidam dē sorōribus, cui nōmen erat Torctgyd, quae multīs iam annīs in eōdem monastēriō commorāta et ipsa semper in omnī humilitāte ac sincēritāte Deō servīre satagēbat, et adiūtrīx disciplīnae rēgulāris eīdem mātrī existere minōrēs docendō vel castīgandō cūrābat. [2] Cuius ut virtūs, iuxtā apostolum, in īnfirmitāte perficerētur, tācta est repente gravissimō corporis morbō, et per annōs novem piā redemtōris nostrī prōvīsiōne multum fatīgāta, vidēlicet ut, quicquid in eā vitiī sordidantis inter virtūtēs per ignōrantiam vel incūriam resēdisset, tōtum hoc camīnus diūtinae trībulātiōnis excoqueret. [3] Haec ergō quādam nocte incipiente crepusculō, ēgressa dē cubiculō quō manēbat, vīdit manifēstē quasi corpus hominis, quod esset sōle clārius, sindone involūtum in sublīme ferrī, ēlātum vidēlicet dē domō in quā sorōrēs pausāre solēbant. [4] Cumque dīligentius intuērētur, quō trahente levārētur sūrsum haec quam contemplābātur speciēs corporis glōriōsī, vīdit quasi fūnibus aurō clāriōribus in supernā tollerētur, dōnec caelīs patentibus intrōducta amplius ab illā vidērī nōn potuit. [5] Nec dubium remānsit cōgitantī dē vīsiōne, quīn aliquis dē illā congregātiōne citius esset moritūrus, cuius anima per bona quae fēcisset opera quasi per fūnēs aureōs levanda esset ad caelōs; quod rē vērā ita contigit. [6] Nam nōn multīs interpositīs diēbus, Deō dīlēcta māter congregātiōnis ipsīus ergastulō carnis ēducta est; cuius tālem fuisse cōnstat vītam, ut nēmō quī eam nōverit dubitāre dēbeat, quīn eī exeuntī dē hāc vītā caelestis patriae patuerit ingressus.

[7] In eōdem quoque monastēriō quaedam erat fēmina sānctimōniālis, et ad saeculī huius dignitātem nōbilis et in amōre futūrī saeculī nōbilior, quae ita multīs iam annīs omnī corporis fuerat officiō dēstitūta, ut nē ūnum quidem movēre ipsa membrum valēret. [8] Haec ubi corpus abbātissae venerābilis in ecclēsiam dēlātum, dōnec sepultūrae darētur, cognōvit, postulāvit sē illō adferrī et in modum ōrantium ad illud acclīnārī. [9] Quod dum fieret, quasi vīventem allocūta rogāvit, ut apud misericordiam piī conditōris impetrāret, sē ā tantīs tamque diūtinīs cruciātibus absolvī. [10] Nec multō tardius exaudīta est; nam post diēs XII et ipsa ēducta ex carne temporālēs adflīctiōnēs aeternā mercēde mūtāvit.

[11] Cum vērō praefāta Chrīstī famula Torctgyd trēs adhūc annōs post obitum dominae in hāc vītā tenērētur, in tantum eā quam praedīximus īnfirmitāte dēcocta est, ut vix ossibus hereret; ad ultimum, cum tempus iam resolūtiōnis eius īnstāret, nōn sōlum membrōrum cēterōrum sed et linguae mōtū caruit. [12] Quod dum tribus diēbus et totidem noctibus agerētur, subitō vīsiōne spīritālī recreāta os et oculōs aperuit; aspectānsque in caelum sīc ad eam, quam intuēbātur, vīsiōnem coepit loquī: ‘Grātus mihi est multum adventus tuus, et bene vēnistī.’ [13] Et hōc dictō parumper reticuit, quasi respōnsum eius, quem vidēbat et cui loquēbātur, expectāns. [14] Rūrsumque quasi leviter indignāta subiūnxit: ‘Nēquāquam hoc laeta ferre queō.’ [15] Rūrsumque modicum silēns tertiō dīxit: ‘Sī nullātenus hodiē fierī potest, obsecrō nē sit longum spatium in mediō.’ [16] Dīxit et, sīcut anteā, parum silēns ita sermōnem conclūsit: ‘Sī omnimodīs ita dēfīnītum est, neque hanc sententiam licet immūtārī, obsecrō nē amplius quam haec sōlummodo proxima nox intersit.’ [17] Quibus dictīs, interrogāta ā circumsedentibus cum quō loquerētur: ‘Cum cārissimā,’ inquit, ‘meā mātre Aedilburga.’ [18] Ex quō intellēxēre quod ipsa eī tempus suae trānsmigrātiōnis proximum nūntiāre vēnisset. [19] Nam et ita ut rogābat, trānsāctā ūnā diē et nocte, solūta carnis simul et īnfirmitātis vinculīs ad aeternae gaudia salūtis intrāvit.

MIRACLES AT BARKING ABBEY: A VISION OF ÆTHELBURH'S SOUL BEING DRAWN TO HEAVEN BY A GOLDEN CORD

Throughout the Historia Ecclesiastica, Bede gives us glimpses of the communal life in Anglo-Saxon monasteries. These were small, tightly knit communities in which close relationships, even friendships, must have been formed—like the spiritual friendship between Torctgyth and Æthelburh in this chapter. We see another such friendship later in Book 4, between Cuthbert and Hereberct (4.29). Both Torctgyth and Hereberct are tested with a long physical illness—in Hereberct's case, explicitly so that he might be shown spiritually worthy of his friend and mentor. For more on spiritual friendship in Bede, see McGuire 1988, 91–97.

(1) multīs … annīs: ablative (for accusative) of duration of time

adiūtrix … cūrābat: re-order: cūrābat existere adiūtrix disciplīnae rēgulāris eīdem mātrī docendō vel castīgandō minōrēs.

(2) Cuius ut virtūs: “So that this woman’s virtue …”; connecting relative, AG 308.f.

iuxtā apostolem: “as the Apostle (Paul) says,” a reference to 2 Corinthians 12:9.

piā redemptōris nostrī prōvisiōne: piā … prōvisiōne is an ablative of means: “by the benevolent providence of our redeemer” (DMLBS, pius 2).

vidēlicet ut: explanatory purpose clause: “evidently so that…”

vitiī sordidantis: partitive genitive with quicquid: “whatever [of] sordid vice”

tōtum: adverbial, “completely”

(3) vīdit … ferrī: accusative-infinitive construction of indirect dicourse: vīdit … corpus … ferrī; ferrī is the present passive infinitive of ferō.

sindone: ablative of means, with involūtum: “wrapped in a shroud”

in sublīme ferrī: “to be raised up”

ēlātum: modifying corpus: “raised”

(4) quō … corporis glōriōsī: indirect question after intuērētur

quō trahente: ablative absolute, “with who (or what) dragging (it)”

haec … speciēs corporis glōriōsī: “this glorious visionary body” (Colgrave-Mynors)

quam contemplābātur: contemplābātur is deponent, with Torctgyth as subject: “which she was gazing at.”

(5) ned dubium … quīn: see AG 558.a; cōgitantī: dative of reference (AG 378): “no doubt remained for the one thinking…

congregātiōne: “community”

caelōs: “heaven.” For the masc. pl. see DMLBS, caelum 2.b.

rē verā: “in fact”

(6) cuius tālem fuisse cōnstat vītam ut: “it is agreed that her life was such that …”; cuius = eius (connecting relative); cōnstat (“it is agreed that”) introduces the accusative-infinitive construction of indirect discourse.

nōverit: perfect subjunctive

dubitāre… quīn: AG 558.a

eī exeuntī: dative of reference; see AG 378.2.

ingressus: noun, the subject of patuerit

ÆTHELBURH INTERCEDES FOR A PARALYZED NUN

(7) et … et: both … and

ad saeculī huius dignitātem nōbilis: ad = “with respect to”; Bede means that she came from a noble family.

multīs … annīs: ablative for accusative of duration of time

(8) dēlātum: dēlātum esse, infinitive in the accusative-infinitive construction of indirect discourse with the accusative corpus, introduced by cognōvit.

postulāvit sē illō adferrī: indirect discourse, accusative-infinitive construction; illō = “to that place.”

ad illud: “against it” (i.e., the body of the abbess)

(9) rogāvit ut: introducing a substantive clause of purpose (AG 563)

piī conditōris: “the merciful creator”

sē … absolvī: “that she be freed from.” Impetrō (“obtain by request that”) leads to a noun clause with ut in classical Latin, but the accusative infinitive construction appears in Bede and other later authors.

(10) multō: ablative of degree of difference (AG 414)

mūtāvit: mutāre = “to exchange x (accusative) for y (ablative)”

TORCTGYTH GAINS HER RELEASE

(11) in tantum … ut: “to such a degree that”

vix ossibus haeret: “was scarcely clinging to her bones,” an echo of an idiomatic phrase from Vergil (Eclogues 3.102), similar to English “just skin and bones.”

linguae mōtū: “the power of speech”

(12) quod dum … agerētur: “while this went on…”

multum: adverbial, “very”

bene vēnistī: "welcome"; like bienvenue (Fr.) or benvenuto (It.)

(14) leviter: “slightly”

(15) nullātenus: “not”

obsecrō nē: obsecrō takes an object clause (classified as a substantive clause of purpose, see AG 563): “I beg that there not be…”; in the second instance of the construction (obsecrō nē amplius quam…), translate: “I beg that no more than this next night…”

in mediō: “in the meantime”

(17) cum quō loquerētur: indirect question introduced by interrogāta

(18) intellexēre quod: introducing indirect discourse (“they understood that”); intellexēre is the syncopated third person plural perfect active indicative.

ipsa … vēnisset: re-order: ipsa vēnisset nūntiāre eī proximum tempus suae trānsmigrātiōnis. ipsa refers to Æthelburh (appearing in the vision), and both and suae refer to Torctgyth ( as the indirect object of nūntiāre).

proximum: "approaching"

nūntiāre: infinitive of purpose (AG 460.c)

(19) solūta … vinculīs: vinculīs is ablative of separation (AG 401): “released from the bonds….”

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