Tuesday, March 25, 2014


A Latin Examination, or Simple Simon

Excerpt from Register of St. Osmund, tr. G.G. Coulton, in A Medieval Garner: Human Documents from the Four Centuries preceding the Reformation (London: Constable & Company Ltd., 1910), pp. 270-271 (footnote omitted, ellipse and brackets in original):
Acts of the Chapter held by William, dean of Salisbury, at Sonning, in the year of our Lord 1222, on the Friday next before the Feast of St. Martin....Vitalis, a priest, perpetual vicar of Sonning, presented the chaplain [i.e. curate] named Simon whom he has with him, and whom he lately engaged until Michaelmas. This Simon, examined as to his Orders, said that he was ordained subdeacon at Oxford by a certain Irish bishop named Albin, then suffragan to the Bishop of Lincoln, from whom also he received deacon's orders; and those of priest from Hugh [of Wells] now Bishop of Lincoln, four years past. He was examined in the Gospel of the first Sunday in Advent, and was found insufficient, and unable to understand what he read. Again he was tried in the Canon of the Mass, at the words Te igitur, clementissime Pater, etc. He knew not the case of Te, nor by what word it was governed; and when we bade him look closely which could most fittingly govern it, he replied: "Pater, for He governeth all things." We asked him what clementissime was, and what case, and how declined; he knew not. We asked what clemens was; he knew not. Moreover, the said Simon knew no difference between one antiphon and another, nor the chant of the hymns, not even of the hymn nocte surgentes, nor did he know by heart aught of the service or psalter. Moreover, he said that it seemed indecent that he should be examined before the dean, since he was already in Holy Orders. We asked him where he was when he received his priest's Orders: he answered that he had forgotten. He is amply illiterate. [Sufficienter illiteratus est.]

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