Saturday, January 26, 2019


Punishment for Mockery of a Saint

First Life of St. Gengulph 13 (tr. Paul Trenchard):
After the servant of God had gone the way of all flesh, at the very place to which they had conveyed his sacred body, the broad and unspeakable mercy of God, through the merits of his Saint, bestowed great benefits upon the people. Manifestations of his wonders flowed forth on every side, and great crowds of people would gather for this great outpouring of gifts.

One of the young women who served the aforesaid woman in the capacity of a servant, ran swiftly to her mistress, saying, 'The body of Lord Gengulph, now laid to rest in his tomb, is bestowing the most wonderful miracles of healing upon everyone.'

To which her mistress — beside herself with ungovernable fury — replied, 'If Gengulph can work wonders so can my arse'. And no sooner had these shocking words left her mouth, than from that very part of her body which she had vulgarly thrust forth, there came a disgraceful sound.

Now, the day on which these things happened was, according to the Christian reckoning, the sixth day of the week. Henceforth, and for the whole of the rest of her life, she was subjected to this disgrace, namely that every Friday, as often as she tried to speak, shameful noises would instead come forth from her arse — that part of her body which she had irreverently compared with the miraculous powers of the man of God.
The Latin, from I. Vita Gangulfi Martyris Varennensis, in Monumenta Germaniae Historica. Scriptores Rerum Merovingicarum, IV: Passiones Vitaeque Sanctorum Aevi Merovingici, ed. Bruno Krusch (Hannover: Hahn, 1902), pp. 155-170 (from chapter 13 on pp. 166-167):
Nam Dei famulo viam universae carnis ingresso, per loca, quibus corporis sacri vehebatur gleba, multa ineffabilis Dei pietas largiebatur per meritum eius populis beneficia. Cumque ad huius exoptati muneris largiflua dona non parva plebis conveniret copiosa frequentia, circumquaque diffundebantur prodigiorum eius insignia. Tunc una ex illis quae praedictae mulieri videbantur ancillari puellis, pernix currens ad dominam, sic intulit: 'Domni Gangulfi corpus in antro tumulandum sepulchri maxima inpertitur cunctis gaudia sanitatis'. At illa, furiali amentia debachata, sic ait: 'Sic operatur virtutes Gangulfus, quomodo anus meus'. Statim ut haec vox nefanda ab ore exiit, a parte obstrusa corporis obscenus sonus prodiit. Illum diem, quo haec acta sunt, mos christianus feriam sextam vocitare consuevit. Talique postea subiacuit obprobrio, ut per omne vitae suae tempus, quot eo die protulit verba, ab illa parte corporis quasi tot prodierunt probra, cui viri Dei miracula aequiperare non est reverita.
Cf. Petrus Cantor, Verbum Abbreviatum (Patrologia Latina, vol. 205, col. 471 D):
Interea sanctus portatur ad sepulcrum, et inter eundum multa miracula facit. Quod cum una ex ancillis narraret uxori ejus, illa insaniens respondit: Sic operatur virtutes Gengulfus quomodo anus meus. Quo dicto, statim a parte abstrusa corporis obscenus sonus prodiit. Erat autem sexta feria. Talique postea subjacuit opprobrio, ut per omne tempus vitae suae quot eo die protulit verba, tot ab illa parte corporis prodirent probra.
Thomas Lovell Beddoes (1803-1849) versified the incident in his poem "The New Cecilia":
Whoever has heard of St Gingo
    Must know that the gipsy
    He married was tipsy
Every day of her life with old Stingo.

And after the death of St Gingo
    The wonders he did do
    Th' incredulous widow
Denied with unladylike lingo:

'For St Gingo a fig and a feather-end!
    He no more can work wonder
Than a clyster-pipe thunder
    Or I sing a psalm with my nether-end.'

As she said it, her breakfast beginning on
    A tankard of home-brewed inviting ale,
Lo! the part she was sitting and sinning on
    Struck the old hundredth up like a nightingale.

Loud as psophia in an American forest or
    The mystic Mennonian marble in
A desart at daybreak, that chorister
    Breathed forth his Aeolian warbling.

That creature seraphic and spherical,
Her firmament, kept up its clerical
    Thanksgivings, until she did aged die
Cooing and praising and chirping alert in
Her petticoat, swung like a curtain
    Let down o'er the tail of a Tragedy.

Therefore, ladies, repent and be sedulous
    In praising your lords, lest, ah! well a day!
Such judgement befall the incredulous
    And your latter ends melt into melody.


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