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question being moved in his hearing, "Whether the sins of the dead could be redeemed by the prayers or almsdeeds of their friends remaining in this life," for that was still a question in the church, he is said to have told them, that on a certain night, as he sailed in the great ocean, the soul of one Colman, who had been an angry monk, and a sower of discord betwixt brethren," appeared unto him, who complaining of his grievous torments, entreated that prayers might be made to God for him, and after six days thankfully acknowledged that by means thereof he had gotten into heaven. Whereupon it is concluded, "that" the prayer of the living doth profit much the dead." But of St. Brendan's sea pilgrimage, we have the censure of Molanus, a learned Romanist, that there be many" apocryphal fooleries" in it: and whosoever readeth the same with any judgment, cannot choose but pronounce of it, as Photius doth of the strange narrations of Damascius, formerly mentioned; that it containeth not only apocryphal, but also "impossible, incredible, illcomposed, and monstrous" fooleries. Whereof though the old legend itself were not free, as by the heads thereof, touched by Glaber Rodulphus and Giraldus Cambrensis, may appear, yet for the tale that I recited out of the new legend of England, I can say, that in the manuscript books which I have met withal here, in St. Brendan's own country, (one whereof was transcribed for the use of the friars minors of Kilkenny, about the year of our Lord one thousand three hundred and fifty,) there is not the least footstep thereof to be seen.
Si peccata mortuorum redimi possunt ab amicis suis remanentibus in hac vita; orando, vel eleemosynas faciendo. Vit. Brendani, in Legenda Jo. Capgravii.
Colmannus, inquit, vocor: qui fui monachus iracundus, discordiæque seminator inter fratres. Ibid.
" In hoc ergo, dilectissimi, apparet: quo oratio vivorum multum mortuis prodest. Ib.
w Multa apocrypha deliramenta. Molan. Usuard. martyrolog. Mai. 26.
* ἀδύνατα τε καὶ ἀπίθανα, καὶ κακόπλαστα τερατολογήματα καὶ μωρὰ. Phot. Bibliothec. num. 130.
y Nova Legenda Angliæ. impress. Londin. ann. 1516.
And this is a thing very observable in the more ancient lives of our saints, (such, I mean, as have been written before the time of Satan's loosing, beyond which we do not now look), that the prayers and oblations for the dead mentioned therein, are expressly noted to have been made for them, whose souls were supposed at the same instant to have rested in bliss. So Adamnanus reporteth that St. Colme, called by the Irish, both in Bede's' and our days, Columb-kill, caused all things to be prepared for the sacred ministry of the eucharist, when he had seen the soul of St. Brendan received by the holy angels; and that he did the like when Columbanus, bishop of Leinster, departed this life: for "I must to day (saith St. Colme there) although I be unworthy, celebrate the holy mysteries of the Eucharist, for the reverence of that soul which this night, carried beyond the starry firmament betwixt the holy choirs of angels, ascended into paradise." Whereby it appeareth, that an honourable commemoration of the dead was herein intended, and a sacrifice of thanksgiving for their salvation rather than of propitiation for their sins. In Bede also we find mention of the like obsequies celebrated by St. Cuthbert for one Hadwaldus; after he "had seen his soul carried by the hands of angels unto the joys of the kingdom of heaven." So Gallus and Magnus (as Walafridus Strabus relateth in the life of the one, and Theodorus Campidonensis, or whosoever else was author of the life of the other)" said mass (which what it was in those days we shall afterwards
2 Qui videlicet Columba nunc a nonnullis, composito a cella et Columba nomine, Colum-celli vocatur. Bed. lib. 5. hist. cap. 10.
a Adamnan. vit. Columb. lib. 3. cap. 15.
b Meque (ait) hodie, quamlibet indignus sim, ob venerationem illius animæ, quæ hac in nocte inter sanctos angelorum choros vecta ultra siderea cœlorum spatia ad paradisum ascendit, sacra oportet eucharistiæ celebrare mysteria. Ib. cap. 16.
e Vidi, inquit, animam cujusdam sancti manibus angelicis ad gaudia regni cœlestis ferri. Bed. in vit. Cuthbert. cap. 34.
d Cœperunt missas agere, et precibus insistere pro commemoratione B. Columbani. Walafrid. vit. Gall. lib. 1. cap. 26. Theodor. vit. Magni lib. 1. cap. ult. edit. Goldasti, cap. 12. Canisii.
hear) and were instant in prayers for the commemoration of abbot Columbanus" their countryman, "frequenting the memory of that great father with holy prayers and healthful sacrifices." Where that speech of Gallus unto his deacon Magnus or Magnoaldus, is worthy of special consideration: "After this night's watch I understood by a vision, that my master and father, Columbanus, is to day departed out of the miseries of this life unto the joys of paradise. For his rest therefore I ought to offer the sacrifice of salvation." In like manner also, when Gallus himself died, "Johns bishop of Constance prayed to the Lord for his rest, and offered healthful sacrifices for him:" although he were certainly persuaded that he had attained the blessing of everlasting life, as may be seen in Walafridus. And when Magnus afterwards was in his death-bed, he is said to have used these words unto Tozzo bishop of Ausborough, that came to visit him: "Do not weep, reverend prelate, because thou beholdest me labouring in so many storms of worldly troubles: because I believe in the mercy of God, that my soul shall rejoice in the freedom of immortality; yet I beseech thee, that thou wilt not cease to help me a sinner, and my soul with thy holy prayers." Then followeth, that at the time of his departure, this voice was heard: "Come', Magnus,
* Deinde tanti patris memoriam precibus sacris et sacrificiis salutaribus frequentaverunt. Ibid.
f Post hujus vigilias noctis, cognovi per visionem, dominum et patrem meum Columbanum de hujus vitæ angustiis hodie ad paradisi gaudia commigrasse. Pro ejus itaque requie sacrificium salutis debeo immolare. Ibid.
* Presbyter eum ut surgeret monuit, et pro requie defuncti ambitiosius Dominum precaretur. Intraverunt itaque Ecclesias, et episcopus pro carissimo salutares hostias immolavit amico. Finito autem fraternæ commemorationis obsequio, &c. Walafrid. Strab. vit. Gall. lib. 1. cap. 30. qui etiam addit postea, Discipulos ejus, pariter cum episcopo orationem pro illo fecisse. cap. 33.
h Noli flere, venerabilis præsul, quia me in tot mundialium perturbationum procellis laborantem conspicis: quoniam credo in misericordia Dei, quod anima mea in immortalitatis libertate sit gavisura; tamen deprecor, ut orationibus tuis sanctis me peccatorem et animam meam non desinas adjuvare. Theodor. Campidon, vel quicunque author fuit vitæ Magni, lib. 2. cap. 13. edit. Goldasti, cap. 28. Canisii.
i Veni, Magne, veni; accipe coronam quam tibi Dominus præparatam habet. Ibid.
come, receive the crown which the Lord hath prepared for thee;" and that thereupon Tozzo said unto Theodorus, the supposed writer of this history, "Let us cease weeping, brother; because we ought rather to rejoice, having heard this sign of the receiving of his soul unto immortality, than to make lamentation: but let us go to the church, and be careful to offer healthful sacrifices to the Lord for so dear a friend."
I dispute not of the credit of these particular passages: it is sufficient, that the authors from whom we have received them, lived within the compass of those times, whereof we now do treat. For thereby it is plain enough, and if it be not, it shall elsewhere be made yet more plain, that in those elder days it was an usual thing to make prayers and oblations for the rest of those souls, which were not doubted to have been in glory; and consequently, that neither the commemoration nor the praying for the dead, nor the requiem masses of that age, have any necessary relation to the belief of purgatory. The lesson therefore which Claudius teacheth us here out of St. Hierome, is very good: that "while' we are in this present world, we may be able to help one another, either by our prayers or by our counsels; but when we shall come before the judgment seat of Christ, neither Job, nor Daniel, nor Noah can entreat for any one, but every one must bear his own burden:" and the advice which the no less learned than godly abbot Columbanus giveth us, is very safe: not to pitch upon uncertainties hereafter, but now to "trust in God, and follow the precepts of Christ, while our life doth yet remain, and while the times, wherein we may obtain salvation, are certain."
* Cessemus flere, frater; quia potius nos oportet gaudere de animæ ejus in immortalitate sumptæ hoc signo audito, quam luctum facere: sed eamus ad Ecclesiam, et pro tam charissimo amico salutares hostias Domino immolare studeamus. Finito itaque fraternæ commemorationis obsequio, &c. Ibid.
Dum in præsenti seculo sumus, sive orationibus, sive consiliis invicem posse nos adjuvari: cum autem ante tribunal Christi venerimus, nec Job, nec Daniel, nec Noe, rogare posse pro quoquam; sed unumquemque portare onus suum. Claud. in Gal. cap. 6.
Vive Deo fidensm, Christi præcepta sequendo;
Whereunto John the Briton, another son of Sulgen bishop of St. Davids, seemeth also to have had an eye, when, at the end of the poem which he wrote of his own and his father's life, he prayeth for himself in the same.
Ut genitor clemens solita pietate remittat
Factis aut dictis quæ gessi corde nefando;
Dum mihi vita manet, dum flendi flumina possunt.
Nam cum tartareis nullius cura subintrat.
Columban. in epist. ad Hunaldum.