“Besides, all the linen cloths in which the body had been buried, appeared entire and as fresh as if they had been that very day wrapped about her chaste limbs.” It is reported, that when she was much troubled with the aforesaid swelling and pain in her jaw, she was much pleased with that sort of distemper, and wont to say, “I know that I deservedly bear the weight of my sickness on my neck, on which, I remember, when I was very young, I bore the needless weight of jewels; and therefore I believe the Divine goodness would have me endure the pain in my neck, that I may be absolved from the guilt of my needless levity, having now, instead of gold and precious stones, a red swelling and burning on my neck.” It happened also that by the touch of that linen, devils were expelled from bodies possessed, and other distempers were sometimes cured; and the coffin she was first buried in is reported to have cured some of distempers in the eyes, who, praying with their heads touching that coffin, presently were delivered from the pain or dimness in their eyes. They washed the virgin’s body, and having clothed it in new garments, brought it into the church, and laid it in the coffin that had been brought, where it is held in great veneration to this day. The coffin was found in a wonderful manner, as fit for the virgin’s body as if it had been made purposely for her, and the place for the head particularly cut, exactly fit for her head, and shaped to a nicety.
Ely is in the province of the East Angles, a country of about six hundred families, in the nature of an island, enclosed, as has been said, either with marshes or waters, and therefore it has its name from the great plenty of eels taken in those marshes; there the aforesaid servant of Christ desired to have a monastery, because, as we have before observed, she was descended from that same province of the East Angles.
CHAP XX. —
AN HYMN ON THE AFORESAID HOLY VIRGIN.
Bede’s hymn on Virginity.
I THINK it proper to insert in this history a hymn of virginity, which I composed in elegiac verse several years ago, in praise and honour of the same queen and spouse of Christ; and therefore truly a queen, because the spouse of Christ; and to imitate the method of the Holy Scripture, in whose history many poetical pieces are inserted which are known to be composed in metre.
Hail, triune power, who rulest every age, Assist the numbers which my pen engage. Let Maro wars in loftier numbers sing, I sound the praises of our heavenly King. Chaste is my verse, nor Helen’s rape I write; Light tales like these, but prove the mind as light. See! from on high the God descends, confined In Mary’s womb, to rescue lost mankind. Behold! a spotless maid a God brings forth, A God is born, who gave e’en nature birth! The virgin-choir the mother-maid resound, And chaste themselves, her praises shout around. Her bright example numerous vot’ries raise, Tread spotless paths, and imitate her ways. The blessed Agatha and Eulalia trust Sooner to flames, than far more dangerous lust. Tecla and chaste Euphemia overcame The fear of beasts to save a virgin name. Agnes and sweet Cecilia, joyful maids, Smile while the pointed sword their breasts invades. Triumphing joy attends the peaceful soul, Where heat, nor rain, nor wishes mean control. Thus Etheldrida, pure from sensual crime, Bright shining star! arose to bless our time. Born of a regal race, her sire a king, More noble honour to her lord shall bring. A queen her name, her hand a sceptre rears, But greater glories wait above the spheres. What man wouldst thou desire? See Christ is made Her spouse, her bless’d Redeemer weds the maid. While you attend the heavenly Mother’s train, Thou shalt be mother of a heavenly reign. The holy maid who twelve years sat a queen, A cloister’d nun devote to God was seen. Noted for pious deeds, her spotless soul Left the vile world, and soar’d above the pole. Sixteen Novembers since was the blest maid Entomb’d, whose flesh no putrid damps invade. Thy grace, O Christ! for in the coffin’s found