Saturday, April 27, 2013


Tree Legends

C. Grant Loomis (1901-1963), White Magic: An Introduction to the Folklore of Christian Legend (Cambridge: Mediaeval Academy of America, 1948), p. 49:
Fallen trees arose again at the request of several saints.56 Contrarily, trees were felled by miraculous means. Builders wished to use a tree for a timber, but it leaned in such a direction that its fall would make it useless. Samthanne's girdle was placed at a point opposite to the arboreal inclination, and the tree fell contrary to the pull of gravity.57 Valery felled a tree by the touch of his finger.58 Divination derived from falling trees appears in the legend of Maedoc. This saint sat with Lasrianus in the shade of two trees. They asked heaven to show them whether they should stay together or whether they should take different routes. Whereupon, the two trees fell, one to the south and the other to the north in answer to their question.59 John of Dailam felled a thousand trees with one sweep of his ax.60 Beams bowed down to Salaberga,61 and a tree leaned and became a bridge in the legend of Cadoc.62
Notes on p. 167:
56. AASS: Mochoemus, Mar., II, 286, col, 1; Ruadanus, Apr., II, 385, col. 2; and Carthacus, May, III, 387, col. 1. See also, Eanswida, Horstman, I, 298; Cronan, Plummer, II, 29; and Philip, Apostle, Budge, I, 259.
57. Plummer, II, 257.
58. Petits Boll.IV, 107.
59. Plummer, II, 143.
60. Budge, I, 170.
61. AASS, Sept., VI, 528, col. 1.
62. Rees, Cambro British Saints, p. 79.

Id., pp. 94-95:
One of the most familiar phenomenon of folklore is the miracle of the flowering staff. This sort of white magic is the most common of a variety of spectacles which are based upon an unexpected or unseasonable flourishing of plant life or other natural excrescences. The saint thrust his staff into the ground at some opportune moment, and his saintliness was revealed by the immediate bursting forth of leaves. In most instances the growth was continued until the mature tree was produced.1 Although the pastoral staff was the usual object of this miracle, any piece of dry wood served as well. A dry fagot sprouted in token of John Gualbertus' holiness;2 Andrew caused a dead elm to come back to verdant life;3 and Joseph's staff was broken into a number of segments, each of which took root, put forth leaves, and emitted a sweet perfume.4 In George's legend, a piece of dried wood sprouted inside a house.5 John the Short's patience was rewarded, for the piece of old wood which he planted and watered each day finally came back to life after three years of faithful attention.6 The place where Benignus' staff bloomed was a sign to him to settle at that designated site.7

Dead trees and wood fashioned into various objects show astounding growth in a variety of miracles. Coleta caused an entire forest to come into rapid existence.8 Many withered and dead trees suddenly blossomed at a saint's command.9 George Chozebitae made a sterile palm produce fruit.10 A fig tree moistened by the blood of Narsete, Joseph, and their companions blossomed immediately.11 John the Good caused a partly burned stick to flourish again.12 The board upon which Fina lay flowered.13 When Eusebia was whipped with a birch branch, one of the twigs fell, took root, and grew to a stately tree.14 A dry log besprinkled with Aelphege's blood became flourishing over night.15 When Brigida touched a wooden altar it showed immediate signs of life.16 Rapid growth is exemplified a number of times. In the legend of Yves, the trunks of certain trees which had been cut down for the building of a new church each sprouted three new trees over night, so that in place of twenty trees which were cut, sixty equally large were found.17 A miracle of Pantaleon is most remarkable. One day, he planted a tree at dawn. By evening, the tree had grown tall, dried up, been cut down, been burned for charcoal, and had been made ready for the censer.18 A tree grew upon the stone of Coleta's window.19 Withered or storm-damaged grape-vines were restored by Clarus, Bartholomew, and Garima.20

The metamorphosis of one tree into another occurs several times. Samthanne changed a willow into a pine tree.21 Apple bearing willows are found in the legends of Lugidius and Lawrence of Dublin.22 The unseasonable flourishing of many trees and shrubs which produce in winter a variety of fruits is a miracle often told.23
Notes on pp. 205-206:
1. AASS: Sabinian, Jan., II, 939, col. 1; Thiadilda, Jan., II, 1158, col. 2; Severus, Feb., I, 189, col. 2; Vedastus, Feb., I, 811, col. 2; Tresanus, Feb., II, 54, col. 1; Charalampius, Feb., II, 386, col. 1; Basiliscus, Mar., I, 239, col. 1; Senan, Mar., I, 762, col. 1; Eusebia, Mar., II, 456, col. 1; Guig- nerus, Mar., III, 459, col. 1; John, Hermit, Mar., III, 699, col. 1; Theodulphus, May, I, 97, col. 1; Dorothea, May, III, 511, col. 1; Alena, June, III, 391, col. 2; Hartwick, June, VI, 1, 132, col. 1; Sidronius, July, III, 182, col. 2; Kinga, July, V, 714, col. 2; John Agno, July, VI, 226, col. 2; Ninian, Sept., V, 325, col. 2; Gummarus, Oct., V, 685, col. 2; John Colobo, Oct., VIII, 40, col. 1; Peter of Alcantara, Oct., VIII, 656, col. 2 and 730, col. 2; John the Good, Oct., IX, 719, col. 1; Martin, Abbot, Oct., X, col. 1; Cungarus, Nov., III, 406, col. 1; and Benignus, Nov., IV, 148, col. 1 and 169, col. 2. See also, Monon, Analecta Bollandiana, V, 198; Paul Tricastinensis, ibid., XI, 376; Aldhelm, Horstmann, I, 40; Edwold ibid., I, 363; Elphege, ibid., I, 389; Etheldreda, ibid., I, 425; Indractus, ibid., II, 57; Gregory Thaumaturgus, Surius, XI, 561; Gereboldus, J, Gielemans, De Cod., p. 108; Volusien, Petits Boll., II, 488; Oreus, ibid., V, 181; Germier, ibid., V, 573; Christopher, Budge, III, 776; Joseph, ibid., III, 911; and Kenelm, Caxton, IV, 63.
2. AASS, July, III, 345, col. 2.
3. AASS, Feb., III, 662, col. 1. See 'Arsatos, Budge, III, 844.
4. Budge, III, 924.
5. Ibid., III, 826.
6. Ibid., I, 172.
7. Horstmann, I, 112.
8. AASS, Mar., I, 547, col. 1.
9. AASS: Gudila, Jan., I, 518, col. 2; Finian, Mar., II, 447, col. 1; Michael de Barga, Apr., III, 981, col. 1; John, May, II, 50, col. 2; Magdalena, May, III, 258, col. 1; Carthacus, May, III, 376, col. 1; Eneconis, June, I, 115, col. 2; Bardo, June, II, 318, col. 2; Rumold, July, I, 246, col. 1; Radegundis, Aug., III, 73, col. 2; Colman, Oct., VI, 350, col. 1; Teresia, Oct., VII, 364, col. 1; Bertrandus, Oct., VII, 1178, col. 2; and John the Good, Oct., IX, 758, col. 2.
10. Analecta Bollandiana, VII, 102. See Bononius, AASS, Oct., VI, 631, col. 2.
11. AASS, Nov., IV, 422, col. 2.
12. AASS, Oct., IX, 761, col. 2.
13. AASS, Mar., II, 238, col. 2.
14. Baring-Gould, III, 280.
15. Matthew of Westminster, Flowers of History, A.D. 1011.
16. Horstmann, The Lives of Women Saints, EETS, p. 41.
17. A. le Grand, p. 170. See also, Genoveva, AASS, Jan., I, 141, col. 2.
18. Budge, I, 117. See also, Columba ab Hiensi, AASS, June, II, 214, col. 2.
19. AASS, Mar., I, 611, col. 2.
20. AASS, Jan., I, 56, col. 1; Budge, Contendings of the Apostles, p. 98 and Budge, IV, 1010.
21. Plummer, II, 257.
22. AASS, Aug., I, 351, col. 1 and Surius, XI, 484. See also, Maglorius, Analecta Bollandiana, VIII, 377; and Kevin, Giraldus Cambrensis, The Topography of Ireland, Bk. II, c. 8.
23. See the relationship of this miracle to the materials of romance in my article, "Sir Cleges and Unseasonable Growth in Hagiology," Modern Language Notes, LIV, 591-594 (1938), where numerous examples are given.

Id., p. 130:
Gummar journied on his pilgrimage to Rome. One night, he cut down a tree to serve him as a pillow. The owner of the tree was very angry that the saint had destroyed his property. However, Gummar set up the tree again, tied on the branches with his girdle, and the tree grew as it did before.61
Note on p. 221:
61. Baring-Gould, XI, 284.

I'm too tired to give full references. See Loomis' bibliography on pp. 135-136.

Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

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