by John S. Ott. Not for publication or
permission. Classroom use freely permitted by author. Last
revised 17 February 2012.
This translation, in its present form, makes no claim to perfection. I undertook it because I wanted to make this valuable text available to students in one of my classes. It remains in its intent and level of preparation an "in-house" production, at least for the moment. Besides occasional typographical errors, I am sure there remain flaws in the translation itself, although I am reasonably confident that I have at least conveyed the sense of the text. At any rate, this translation was hastily made following the PL edition of Arnulf's life, which has since 1995 been superseded by the scholarly Latin edition of Renee Nip (see n. 1 below, for reference) of the vita brevior. It is my intention, as soon as time permits, to begin systematically revising this preliminary translation following Nip's recent edition, and to correct its shortcomings. In other words, what you have before you is a draft, and nothing more.
If you would like to make personal use of the text, please feel free. If you wish to use it for other purposes, including citation, please contact me via my webpage. I also welcome comments and criticisms from my colleagues on the translation itself.
Finally, all notes [indicated using brackets] are at the end of the document.
Brief Introduction to the Vita sancti Arnulfi episcopi Suessionensis
The lion’s share of our knowledge of Arnulf’s life comes from his vita, augmented by genealogical and a smattering of diplomatic sources. The vita itself exists in two closely related editions, a shorter (the vita brevior) and a longer version (the vita longior), of which the shorter was composed first. The vitae were authored, both independently and collaboratively, by two individuals. The first, Lisiard of Crépy, was a secular canon and later bishop of Soissons from 1108-1126. Although much younger, he knew Arnulf personally, and had been promoted to subdeacon by him in the early 1080s. Lisiard began composing his vita of Arnulf before 1095, and sent the work to the archbishop of Reims, Raoul, sometime after his promotion to the episcopate in 1108. The author of the vita longior and Lisiard's collaborator was Hariulf, the abbot of Oldenburg (r. 1105-1143), where Arnulf had been buried. By no later than 1114, Hariulf had begun keeping track of miracles that were occurring at Arnulf's tomb, and by 1119 had approached Lisiard about the possibility of appending a collection of miracles to a revised vita and presenting them for canonization. Lisiard readily agreed, and together they compiled a little book of Arnulf's miracles and used the testimony of witnesses who knew Arnulf personally, including the saint’s close companion, a monk named Everolfus, and Arnulf’s own sister Adzela. (For references, please see Note 1, below.) The vita longior, with the book of miracles attached, was completed sometime after 1 May 1121.
Arnulf was born at Tiegem in Flanders in 1048. He was born into the Flemish nobility and was a cousin (at several removes) to the counts of Namur, Duras, and Looz. We know that he had two sisters, Oda and Adzela, and at least two nephews. Although destined for a lifetime of warfare as a member of the aristocracy, Arnulf abandoned this calling while a young man (probably between the ages of 20-25) to become a monk at the abbey of Saint-Médard of Soissons. The exact reasons for his conversion are unclear, although it has been suggested that he may have been persuaded by the fact that his relative, Arnulf of Oudenaarde, found himself on the losing side of a battle between claimants for the county of Flanders in 1071. In any case, he was eventually elected abbot of Saint-Médard, apparently against his will, around 1077-1079, then later consecrated bishop of Soissons on 19 December 1081 by the papal legate Hugh of Die.
The vita has little to say of his episcopacy per se, undoubtedly because he spent most of it effectively exiled from his own diocese and because Soissons was ruled during the period 1081-1087 by at least three other rival bishops (named Ursio, Enguerrand, and Helgot). After first taking up residence at the court of the count of Champagne, Arnulf later undertook two peace-keeping tours through his native Flanders. Both of these journeys were assumed at the behest of Pope Gregory VII (r. 1073-1085). On his travels he quelled disputes and preached peace, rebuilt churches, and founded in 1083 a Benedictine monastery at Oldenburg, which was charged with maintaining the peace and spiritual life in its environs. The first community of monks there was goverened by an abbot named Arnulf (d. 1095), one of the nephews of our saintly Arnulf.
Arnulf died on 15 August 1087, and was interred the following day at Oldenburg. His canonization was formally approved in 1120 at the Council of Beauvais thanks to the efforts of Lisiard and Hariulf, and his relics were elevated by bishop Lambert of Noyon-Tournai on May 1, 1121. His cult remained centered in northern France and Flanders and enjoyed some prestige.
Three Letters of Hariulf, prefixed to the Life of Saint Arnulf, Bishop of Soissons
To lord Lambert, by grace of God bishop of Tournai, from the lowest of his sons, greetings.
However much royal dishes may shine with gold and silver, however redolent they may be with exotic tastes and aromatic smells, unless they are tempered with the seasoning of salt, they shall result in contempt rather than delectation. It is the same way with the architect’s experience: if he should exceed proper limits in his buildings, or does not measure the lie of the plumb-lines with a proper weight, he will regret too late that he had labored in futility when he dismissed the glory of experience and incurs, to his sadness, the collapse of the edifice. Considering these things and fearing the occurrence of a similar danger, I offer to you, o venerable bishop, o sweetest father Lambert, the gift of the present little work. I commit faithfully to you, as to a shepherd, the fruitful wool of my small talent, so that your pontifical authority might give strength and confidence to those reading, understanding, and imitating it for the use of the holy Church, and in order that on account of the abject unworthiness of the peasant, the citizens shall not despise the delights of a new field. For so great was the thicket of thorns and so sharp the thorn-bush—that is to say, the most wicked obtuseness of evil-doers—that to this point had twisted me about and hindered me, that it would permit the spirit to manage only a sad flight. But afterwards, heavenly grace promoted your paternity to the pontifical office in the double see of Tournai and Noyon, and immediately the thorns and tribulations by which I was so strongly pricked began to dry up and wither. For immediately a new peace arose for one who had been so beaten down, and I give immense thanks to Christ and to you, because just as frogs become silent at the sound of thunder, so those afflicting me at the beginning of your episcopacy were soon put to rest and dispelled by the power of your piety.
Therefore, because through you I received the certain freedom of living in days of peace, in which the enemy’s yoke rotted away from your authority, I put together this little book concerning the life and virtues of that elected man lord Arnulf, bishop of Soissons, who was brought to us through the miraculous piety of God and buried in our monastery by divine providence. Thus, quaking, I first give this [book], assuredly suffused with the truth, to you to be promulgated as is proper, whether by the judgment of your authority it shall come to the notice of the blessed sons of the Church, or whether it is suppressed by the power of silence to nearby locales. If therefore the light of God’s grace will make this little work worthy for publication, may it take up the path of dissemination through you and by you. While you will laudably carry out this worthy work with wise judgment, we ask that you not be slow to advance it to our lord and brother and your fellow bishop Lisiard, bishop of Soissons, so that by your and his office it may be sent on to the noble sights of the city of Reims. Farewell!
Letter to Lisiard, bishop of Soissons
To Bishop Lisiard of the holy church of Soissons, shining with every laurel wreath of honor, Hariulf, under the title of abbot, servant of the apostle St. Peter, greetings and perpetual memory in a brother’s prayer.
Two issues of related importance move us to disturb the reverence of your paternity with these solicitations. Indeed the first, since notice of the present
business concerns you not a little, [is] namely [that of] the life and virtues and merits of our lord, your predecessor, bishop Arnulf; and the second, because even if he had never been known to you, nevertheless, because God made that miracle by the cultivation of justice, anything holy and authentic that may be said or described concerning him ought to be confirmed by your testimony. Moreover, we consider authentic whatever is not abhorred, following a reasonable similitude, from the deeds and virtues of the ancient saints. And so, wishing to bring to the notice of the holy mother church a little book concerning the life and miracles of the most beloved man Arnulf, bishop of the very church you serve by God’s authority, and satisfied to bring it by a legitimate path through the hand of lord Lambert, the bishop of Noyon-Tournai, to the audience of the archbishop, we reckon it just to show it first to be examined by you, while completely understanding that those things which will be pleasing for consideration by your honesty will also by any judgment whatsoever not displease the holy church of Reims. And so, the truth of these things, not unnoticed by you, may be exposed more freely by the pretence of your authority in the hearts of those who will take possession of this work, and the confidence of those who believe will rise from a deeper respect for your wisdom. For this little work does not resound with inane tales, but with deeds of virtue, which seek God alone, and which, led by the Holy Spirit, strive to provoke every faithful soul to the exercise of virtue. Therefore we committed this gift to be spread far and wide by the pious undertaking of your discretion, while faithfully hoping that the recognition of [your] piety, which enlightened a certain man as to your mind, may be further diffused by your ministry to the hearts of others.
[There follows a third letter of Hariulf to Raoul the Green, archbishop of Reims (r. 1108-1124), similar in content to the preceding letter to Lisiard and utilized in the prologue to the work below. It has been omitted here.]
Here Begins the Prologue in the Life of Saint Arnulf
To the most venerable and beloved father and lord Raoul, by the grace of God archbishop of the most holy church of Reims, Lisiard, most humble of all bishops, greetings and the fullness of all holy obedience.
Frequently and repeatedly, many who have seen and heard you, myself among them, have made frequent and repeated use of the immense weight of your learning, of your prudent heart, discreet in all things, and also your advanced love of the holy Church and your tenor of discipline in correcting [sins]. For that reason, thoroughly reassured of the zeal of your virtue, informed by the relation of many reliable witnesses, and also motivated by the magnitude of the matter, I presumed to raise up from profound silence this little work—which deservedly ought to be reserved for learned writers—not from the desire for glory but for useful purpose, in order that the great works of God, which wise and educated men had neglected to this point, might be made a sort of trophy through the submission of my smallness. And when I turned the keeness of my mind toward writing down these things, my soul palpitated from fear. But when I reconsidered more vigilantly that my very fear might be an obstacle to your fraternal utility, I redirected my heart toward the consideration of your discretion, knowing without a doubt that I would lay open a simple favor to temerity, which happens when serving brotherly charity.
Therefore, may your paternity show favor to the presumptious one, who depending upon such [qualities] of yours, strives in all things to beautify the Church. May your authority give grace and vigor to the one displaying [this work], in order that he should not be subjected to shame for the vileness of his work. Truly, no one’s mind shall be turned to doubt from the truth of these things, because it has been so carefully laid out by those who were present and knew the information to be certain, that the undeniable constancy of truth shall be in all things. Indeed, whatever here is put off as less than certain I commit to the wisdom of you and yours so that that which is discerned to be impolitic owing to my weak-mindedness might be polished through the noble acumen of learned Reims. . . .
1. In that time, when the kingdom of Flanders was adorned by the rule of count Baldwin [V, 1035-1067] and his wife Adela, and with Henry [r. 1031-1060] the son of King Robert [the Pious, d. 1031] governing the kingdom of the Franks, and the pious king Edward ruling in England [d. 1066], there was a man by the name of Folbert on the estate called Tiegem in the district of Brabant around the Scheldt River, who stood out as a worthy man in all things, not only from the nobility of a respectable descent, but who also stood out among his other companions as one enriched by a plenitude of worldy riches, in mind as well as in body. And he—who following the custom of the nobility, was joined in worthy matrimony to a most noble wife by the name of Meinsinde—gave birth to a fine son. But once an adult and most skilled in the use of arms, [the boy] was carried away from the present light. His death struck a most serious blow to his father and mother and all the household, with the result that they wept for him on the anniversary [of his death] and mourned unceasingly.
2. Now they had been lost for several months in this sadness, when behold, a beautiful man, shining with a glittering light, appeared in a dream to the same woman, saying to her: “Why do you punish yourself with grief and beat yourself down with useless sadness for a son so usefully dead: if you would recognize that he received the spirit of life from you, then certainly and not undeservedly you ought to bemoan and mourn the one made or created by you. But why do you presume to mourn he whom the divine Author, according to the inscrutable judgment of equity, carried off from this life? You should admit no sadness into your heart for his death; rather, rejoice with great pleasure, because you are forming in your womb a boy for whom heavenly election has preordained a great future. When you bring him forth into the light, you will wish to name him Christopher; in truth, that very child was prescribed for this, that through his works and words he might be [like] Christ in his heart. And so that you shall know for certain that these things have been thus divinely predetermined, going to the church, in that very place where you are accustomed to pray, dig a hole. On excavating the earth you shall find a tile sculpted with large letters, and these letters will prove to you the name and merits of your son.”
3. The woman, waking from sleep and having received a vision of such praise, described the vision to her husband in a great stupor and with marvelous joy. At length, so that she might confirm the accuracy of the heavenly words, she called together the servants along with a grave-digger. Going to the church, in that very place where she had been accustomed to pray, she began to dig and found a square tile. Written in raised letters on it [was the word] “Christophorus.” Having discovered it, she was filled with immense happiness and was now certain of the sanctity of her son, because before she had been unaware that she had conceived, and she immediately awaited so honorable a gift of divine providence. At the proper time she gave birth to the promised son, to the great joy of her husband and relatives. Following custom, they named him at the baptismal font after Arnulf of Oudenaarde, at that time a man rich in wealth and power. For [Arnulf], joyfully taking up the boy, had quickly rushed him to the font of holy rebirth, and out of great love for his relatives and boastful pride, did not permit him to be named Christopher, but gave him the name Arnulf, the same as his own. In this same child, even if he lacked the name Christopher, bearing Christ’s virtue he always grew from day to day. For while he was brought up studiously and appropriately enough, one day he came upon a certain pilgrim, covered with the venerable sign of grey hair, who, upon blessing the infant—and, as though jesting with stammering speech—said to his nurse: “Nourish this little boy with great diligence and highest purity; because Christ the Lord dwells in his heart and has decreed to announce the virtue of his deeds to his people through him.” With God displaying his power through so many and such great virtues, his future glory became manifest; and before he performed the Lord’s works, he joyfully anticipated what was about to be done by divine favor.
4. At last an adult, [Arnulf] began to be flattering in his exhortations, keenly intelligent, quick with praise, lively in action, efficient and exceptionally powerful in the strength of his limbs: indeed, he stood out for his impressive excellence of strength and his bodily agility, such that he exceded the power of four or five men of similar age. Everyone referred to him as Arnulf the Strong. His father and mother wished to turn him over to the study of letters, but many of the other relatives resisted, especially the aforementioned Arnulf of Oudenaarde and his paternal blood relatives; for his maternal line was derived from the lineage of counts, namely from the dukes of Louvain and the counts of Namur, Looz, Duras, and Mons. Thus this Arnulf-Christopher—as his mother, remembering the divine promise, preferred to call him—was adorned with great nobility; yet whatever shone forth in him as elegant or joyful, he wished to give back to the Lord’s service. However, his relatives hoped to make him more a soldier in the arts of war rather than have him be handed over as a counselor in ecclesiastical office. From there it happened that he took up the belt of worldly warfare to the great exultation of his relatives, while his spiritual armaments would manfully come later. Having taken up the badges of warfare following the oath of his friends and the rites of the nobility, he nevertheless strived to remain the companion of piety, pious toward his inferiors, profuse in his grace to the indigent, mercifully upright in judgment, to the greatest effort solicitous in keeping to the divine offices, admirably gracious in his love of his companions, grounded in a fear of the Lord, studious in honoring his parents, and trusting in the heartfelt love of all who knew him. 
5. At length, he passed through all the stages of warfare, participated in imperial and royal wars, and, attending the courts of various princes, he stood out as an eloquent counsellor. On many occasions he halted or restrained the controversies and strife of the peoples of Brabant and Flanders by the barricade of his prudence and from fear of his incomparable fortitude. And whoever would not, he attempted to obviate with these strengths or by the reason of valid words. He always refused the gifts of rich possessions, offerings of material goods, and the advantageous marriages offered to him by the emperor of the Romans, the King of England, and the neighboring counts, mindful that he had merited to be called Christopher not to serve the world, but in praise of God’s grace. And because so many of the great fruits (genimina) of virtues which divine grace sowed in him were not able to be grown to fruition because they were prevented by secular warfare, he conceived of the enlightened idea that he should convert the labor and cares of warfare to a better use…. And so summoning his two shieldbearers, he ordered all the vases of weapons to be made ready, as was fitting, with ornate decoration and suitable pomp, and he prepared to go to the court of the king of the Franks. The squires obeyed the one commanding them, and prepared horses, arranged the weapons, and strenuously took upon themselves everything worthy for the knight. Then Arnulf, bidding his mother farewell (for his father had died earlier), took up the path toward France, and neglecting the court of King Philip, hurridly sought out the church of the beloved confessor Medard, situated near the walls of the city of Soissons.
At that time there was in the same monastery a distinguished congregation of monks whose honest education was reknowned, devoting the worthy sacrifice of praise to God under the abbot Renaud. Indeed, the learned brothers of this community, experienced in their astuteness of both God and worldly matters, and proffering good deeds before God and before men (for they could not be uncultivated in mores, imbued as they were by the presence of the courtliness of France, Rome, and Reims), they devotedly welcomed the aforesaid man [Arnulf]—who was making haste with special devotion for Christ—as a peer. Rejecting the belt of warfare, they put aside the weapons along with the refined clothes which he had brought with him to the church, and now tonsured they clothed [his] mortification in the regular habit of the cross of Christ. Now truly made a monk and utterly crucified to the world, they instructed him in letters and educated him in the laws and precepts of the Lord, and they furnished him with every sanction. And so that man stored these things in himself, because the seed of God’s word, following its life-course, will produce neither on the road, nor among rocks or thorns.
6. He had passed one year on the path toward the monastic life, and on account of his extraordinary devotion and his demonstration of obedience, the care of alms was assigned to him. Now, it was entirely fitting that the worthy endeavor of poor-relief be committed to him, who abounded with the innermost acts of mercy and was considered liberal in all things. In carrying this out, he was one day visiting an estate alone for the assigned task, when all the dogs of the nearby village suddenly lept upon him, wishing to tear him to bits with their rabid teeth. Extending his hand toward them, he made a sign that they should follow him, and thus changing their rage into submission, they followed in a gentle mood. As long as he stayed there they stayed there with him, and when he returned they at once departed together; nor while in his presence did they chase anyone with bites or barking. Meanwhile he began to afflict himself with the powerful mortification of his flesh; to commit himself to the work with fasting and vigils; to pursue prayers with prolix tears; and to display himself as upright to everyone. And, so that he might completely extinguish in himself the laughter and movement of worldly happiness, he girdled his body under his clothing with the sharp, notty, and spiny branches of a thistle, manfully macerating his limbs while directing his mind toward heavenly things and displaying at the same time a happy and joyful countenance to everyone. One day in the convent, while wishing to speak to a certain brother, he was not able to express the word for ointment in the Frankish manner, and for that reason the abbot said to him that he should keep silent for an hour, namely in order that the usefulness of the matter should not be delayed if he should wish to pursue it further. Yet for several months he kept the command of silence with a simple heart and with the zeal of true obedience, offering neither word nor response to anyone, until the brothers declared to the abbot that he must be altogether mute. The abbot, on summoning him and inquiring why he was silent, learned that the cause of his daily silence had been the mandate of silence that he himself had imposed. Admiring the renewed simplicity of Paul in this act and rejoicing concerning the obedience of his fervor, ordered meanwhile that, for the sake of his edification, he should exhibit to the brothers the obedience of conversation.
7. In the same monastery there was at that time a certain monk named Eremboldus, a recluse because of divine love who, by birth Flemish, had led a hard and austere life, aspiring incessantly to divine contemplation. Arnulf was carefully obedient this man; not because he lacked an abundance of subservience, but so that he might all the more absorb from him a more powerful proof of saintly fervor. And when, after many struggles with self-control, he now approached the end of mortal life, he began to be deprived of his bodily strength and to be borne down by great anguish. He thus asked the amiable Arnulf, who was ministering to him unceasingly, if he would provide for him a small amount of milk by which he ought to have been able to restore his weakening body for a brief moment. Arnulf, hurrying to fulfill this, took a loaf of bread from those which had been set aside for the poor, and preparing the bread brought it to God’s servant [the monk]. The sick man took it, but, dissatisfied, tossed it away from him; for death and old age weighed heavily upon him. Indeed, heavenly dispensation, which assails every son whom he receives, prepared to scourge the divine man in order to win his release. Thus the warrior of Christ Arnulf prayed to Christ that at his death he might demonstrate the condition of his generosity and the disposition of his soul. And that same man promised that he himself would faithfully fulfill what he recognized had been anticipated by the ardor of his faith in the progress of love. When he migrated from the world, [Arnulf] had concerning him a glorious vision, clear and joyful, following the promise he had made to Arnulf. Arnulf said to him: “Father, what are you doing?” and “How is it with you? Are you bearing any punishment for what you did?” He responded: “For the sake of that milk given by you to me, which I for a little while consumed, I bear a certain number of punishments, for the reason that the same milk you furnished [was designated] for the sustenance of the poor. But all the same this as well as all my other sins were remitted and the joys of the blessed dispensed.”
8. Indeed the venerable Arnulf, deeply moved by the vision, impassioned many people toward the cult of divine service and at length did not cease from his prayers, pushing the abbot’s will until he granted [him] what he had hoped for, namely that he should enter into the same reclusion of secret profession. This desire obtained, the sweet scent of Christ was made in every place, and many from near and far, following his example, sought out conversion to the monastic life. In fact at that same time the noble youth Thibaud, secretly fleeing from the company of his peers, struggled for the Lord as an exile and pauper. Following [this] example, he implanted in the minds of many the crown of all crowns and the victory with which he today shines. For who, upon hearing that Arnulf had rejected the majesty of warfare and the world, would not be immediately released from love of the world? Who, I say, was not easily amazed that a noble man, supported by powerful friends, high in stature, handsome in countenance, whom the world favored, who followed all the glory of the world, now suddenly converted, so that, drawn from the greatest riches to the meanest poverty, he might reject the same for Christ’s love? And also from the regions of Brabant and Flanders, as many clergy as laity sought out the sacred monastery of blessed Medard, with the result that the monastic order flourished in that place, and that love of the venerated and now reclusive Arnulf especially attracted them. And Arnulf, daily increasing from virture to virtue, and [realizing] that to that point he had been [a lord] for nothing, judged the seclusion of the cell to be the delights of paradise, and reckoned the continuous affliction of his body not a burden or misery, but a glory and a luxury. Thus, departing the church and making a ditch outside the walls in the open air, he resided there so that the raindrops from the roof of the church might fall upon his head and neck. However often rain or snow fell, he did not move his seat from the ditch, avoiding neither cold temperatures nor ice, but rather he persisted there against every inconvenience of the climate, praying and singing psalms, moaning and crying, while meanwhile devoting himself to reading [sacred scripture]. For three years and six months he spoke not a single word to any man, continually bound by silence and rejoicing in heavenly contemplation and assiduous meditation on the word of God, which, reading alone, he deeply drew in from the masses of sacred books. Advancing in his constancy and growing much with the aid of God’s grace, the wise man did nothing half-way, prudently learning and efficaciously laying hold of the meanings of divine words, so that the nearer he came to God, the further he was from humanity. And he worked hard so that he might enjoy the knowledge of writing; he also achieved a not-unimpressive skill in speaking. What shall I say about his consumption of food and liquid? Daily fasts were more pleasing to him that delicious dishes. He consumed rarely and sparingly bread made from wretched grain, at other times he ate nothing. His drink was squalid water, and he did not consume enough either of what he was served or what was nearby.
9. Meanwhile the abbot Renaud died and a certain pseudo-monk named Pons, moved by the spirit of ambition, obtained from Philip, the king of the Franks, a comparable rank in the name and seat of the abbot, not on account of his learnedness but owing to simony. This Pons, acting erratically and sumptuously, had exhausted in a short time the entire substance of the monastery; and had also spent the most distinguished of the church’s ornaments for a military guard for himself. The insane man wasted nearly all those the things which had belonged for the decoration of God’s house. What more? As [the practice of] abstinence failed, the office of divine praise declined: and at that time the famous basilica of blessed Medard was made the scandal of its neighbors. Then the senior brothers, gathering to take counsel together, discussed what work of recovery ought to be done in such a pernicious matter. They implored the king to remove Pontius and do honor to the body of the precious martyr and confessor there in the abbey and eject Pontius, because he was not an abbot but a tyrant (non abbate sed tyranno), and provide a worthy father for the Lord’s sheep. Thus carrying this out and bending the mind of the king already inclined towards clemency, they elected into the abbacy Arnulf, the servant of Christ, with both the common consent of the brothers and casati (fief-holders) of the church, and the agreement of the clergy and people. Then the bishop Thibaud with a crowd of the brothers sought out the recluse, and offering a solemn prayer, the prelate asked him—[by turns] beseeching and supplicating, commanding and cajoling—that he acquiesce to the brothers’ vow, and exercise the abbot’s care and rule the place in Christ’s name. But Arnulf, who had kept silent for three years and six months now, became greatly afraid and snatched a tablet, and wrote upon it this response: “I implore you, cherished brothers, spare me, and permit me, borne down as I am by a mass of sins, to offer another gift of penitence to God. Nor should you by any means think me foolish in taking up a task of this kind. Because provided that you do not wish to satisfy my petition, you might grant me a delay until dawn, during which time I might undertake to explore God’s will about this.” The bishop, together with the clergy and choir of monks, having received the reply in this manner, pondered what clever idea was running through his mind. Nevertheless, granting the delay, guards were disposed in a circle around the cell so he would not flee by night. Indeed, when [Arnulf], passing the night awake with loud groans and frequent sighs, became aware that the guards were sleeping thanks to their drowsiness, descending a ladder he withdrew from the wall and wandered off in flight. Uncertain of where he was fleeing, at length he came to a certain villa under the hill of Laon, and entering discovered a hospice of some kind for the poor. Though the dinner hour was approaching, there was no water. Unordered, he took up an amphora, and going to the well he drew the water, carried it into the house, and served and ministered to everyone there, all the while keeping his silence.
10. Around vespers a man returned [to Laon] from the town of Soissons, and while he ate, he began to relate things he had learned that had commonly passed around. He said: “A great rumor and disturbance was stirring up the people concerning the departure of a certain servant of God, whom they said had fled so that he would not become abbot of Saint-Medard.” And indeed, several messengers were sent out in all directions throughout the lands to seek the holy man in the woods and mountains, the edict having been given that no one should rest until the man of God, brought back, was discovered. Hearing this rumor the revered man (heros), above all striving to avoid the grasp of those seeking him, rose from bed at the first hour of the night and went to the church of the same town. There, lying prostrate outside in front of the doors, he cried out to the Lord, beseeching his majesty with great weeping, that he not allow the burden of rulership—for which he felt himself wholly unworthy—to be put upon him by any means. Indeed, when he had prayed for a long time, to the point when he believed his prayers had been heard by the Lord, he considered fleeing to a more remote desert, when behold, suddenly an enormous wolf approached, and began to accompany him. But [Arnulf], believing from the wolf’s companionship that he would be less likely to go off the beaten path, allowed it to proceed before him, and attempted to follow in its footsteps. Thus, led by the wolf, or rather, by God’s design, he returned by night to Soissons, and taking up a place in the cliffs near the town, he recognized where he was at sunrise. Then, tormented in spirit he was consumed by anguish. Suddenly, spying in the distance a ditch in which stones had been built in the shape of a square, he descended and was about to conceal himself inside it. However, the peasants and stone-cutters approached [at that very moment], with the result that they saw a man in humble clothes and lacking the ability to talk, and they brought back word to the city. Indeed, such joy and celebration arose in the town, that we believe it impossible for any man to describe it. Youths and virgins, the old together with the young praised the name of the Lord because he had not deprived them of the hoped-for discovery of their father. The monks together with clerics came out [of the city], the nobles along with the residents of the suburbs, and binding their fugitive they dragged [him] to the church of Blessed Medard, placing the unwilling one in the station and office of abbot. He, barely invoking a prayer, said, “Truly, I would utterly refuse what you have imposed [upon me], except that I fear to resist divine will.” Thus, the great reformer, the prelate of holy orders, strived to correct abuses at the abbey, to utterly extirpate wickedness, to compose assiduously the brothers’ mores with a sweet word and by his own example, and to dispose appropriately whatever was in the way of the holy rule. It is amazing to say how quickly he returned the state of the entire monastery to the form of pristine honor! The church’s ornaments were restored, the order of the cloister reintegrated; whatever was useful was brought back, whatever was not was done away with. . . . Moreover the region rejoiced, because that great senator of heaven, the esteemed martyr Sebastian, together with all the other [saints] lying there, would no longer be deprived of the liturgical offices of praise owed to them.
11. But since the order of narration proceeds to this point and shows him to have stood out as a father of the monastery, it is fitting that we commemorate the labors and trials which he bore during [his] rule, so that the greatest use should be displayed to those who rule. One Geoffrey of Florennes, a powerful and audacious man, even more proud than he was powerful—he feared neither God nor man—had some time ago seized a large estate called Hanzinnes, located near the Sambre River, from the use of the brothers of Blessed Medard, and in his pride had drawn upon it for his own use. And since his unyielding power was frightening to everyone, no bishop had dared to confront him in person, and, discerning his intolerable wickedness, no one had even dared to deal with him according to church law. For this reason, the unanimity of the brothers beseeched the servant of Christ Arnulf, namely their abbot, that, for the sake of brotherly love, he should take upon himself the task of meeting the same potentate, and summon him by coercion so that the abbey’s possessions might be returned to the church. The blessed man of God agreed to the brothers’ requests and ordered the necessary things to be prepared for the journey, among which was an ass able to carry the blessed man. Yet, however much he shunned by every endeavor the glory of the world, inasmuch as he had anchored his entire spirit in the love of Christ, nevertheless the weak spirit of certain of his servants, giving little thought to those things which are God’s, strived to submit him to luxury and to act upon him pompously. The [weak minds of his servants], bearing with opprobrium the humility which the man of God possessed, had hoped he would live luxuriously and ambitiously ride on horseback, after the example of many of the abbots of France. And so they secretly crippled the she-ass which he had chosen to ride upon, so with it out of the way he might undertake to use the conveyance of a frothy horse, and they hinted to the servant of God that he should order a stallion to be summoned that would be able to carry him. Upon hearing this, the servant of Christ, on account of his stout humility abhorring the conveyance of a horse, went with a few of his disciples to the stables where the ass lay languishing, and placing his hand upon the fracture began to speak in a mild voice and with a milder disposition: “Omnipotent God knows well in what spirit I wish to set out on the imminent journey, because I seek to undertake this voyage from the zeal of fraternal usefulness and the vow of divine duty rather than from the image of boastfulness. And because, after I put aside worldy warfare, not from any vanity, but in imitation of our Lord Jesus Christ, if it is pleasing to him that I should depart, may it also please him that the tibia or foot of this ass be healed so that, borne by this humble creature, I may carry out the joyful work of his service and of the Church.” Saying these things, he made the sign of the cross against it, and departed. And the she-ass, healed on the spot, rose up, shaking itself off unhurt, and with all alacrity, took up and accomplished the conveyance of the man of God. And when he came face to face with the aforesaid, puffed-up and wealthy man Geoffrey, it is a marvel to say with what benevolence he received him and how, stooped with humility, he submitted to him. For as soon as [Arnulf] called upon him he relinquished his pride and on that very spot that ferocious arrogance fell away, and the pristine inheritance of the church was restored from the shadows; and he who had once been a devastator of churches, was in this way made a devoted protector [of them].
12-14. [While Arnulf was residing at the same estate after driving out Geoffrey, a noble and honorable woman named Hesplendis came to Arnulf on behalf of a servant who was suffering from severe pain. The bishop blessed a piece of bread and gave it to her for the servant to eat; as soon as he consumed it, he was relieved of pain and restored to health. From the same estate there was also a man who had been rendered incapable of eating by illness. He conveyed to Hesplendis a dream he had had, in which he saw himself healed by another piece of bread blessed by the saint. She carried out his wishes and when he ate the bread, the man regained his health. From there Arnulf visited the estate of Donchery on the Meuse River, where there was a cell and several lands belonging to Saint-Médard. When he had been there a few days, a blind peasant woman came to the monks who were accompanying Arnulf on his journey and told them of a dream she had had several days previously, in which had been promised that, if Arnulf should deign to wash her eyes with his hands, she would regain her sight because of his merits. He bathed her eyes and she regained her sight. Arnulf bore this with equanimity, but hurried to leave for fear that popular acclaim for this sign would become too widespread.]
15. In the monastery of Saint-Médard there was a crypt in the eastern part, the anniversary of whose dedication was celebrated solemnly every year, and the ancient custom of the place required at the meal of this day the consumption of a turbot. However the new abbot was unaware of this practice, until the same feast-day, suddenly appearing at hand, struck the abbot, who, unaware, was not thinking about it and was occupied by other cares. For indeed at the first of the sung hours, the brothers convened in the chapter-house and asked their steward if the turbot owed on that day was readily had. When he replied in the negative, and was rather astonished at their words, [the monks] became irritated and contentiously began to assert that they would not perform the celebration of the masses unless the turbot were brought to their kitchen. On hearing these things, certain of the senior monks went to the abbot, who was suspecting nothing of this sort, and disclosed the brothers’ decision. On hearing the childish complaint of the brothers and deliberating silently for a while, [Arnulf], a man wise in all things, set forth his heart’s voice toward Christ, and at length responded: “If we had known about this custom previously, we would have been able to search out this fish at leisure. But now because we have learned of it from those making the claim, this very thing shall be conferred by God’s omnipotence, so that we may bear the brothers’ scandal and the holy celebration may be completed in due haste. Now, a servant shall quickly go to the bridge on the Aisne [River], and finding a turbot shall quickly secure it, and shall present it to be prepared to the brothers’ kitchen.” Then, turning back, he said to the senior monks: “So go, dearest ones, and announce to the brothers that they shall not want for a turbot; rejoicing, let them perform the Lord’s solemn observances. But convey this to them, that whether I live or die, they will know that it is determined that from this day forward for twenty years they shall not have a dish of turbot on this day.” Having said these things, a turbot—unexpectedly found just as he had said—was hastily prepared and brought to the brothers’ table, and they even celebrated the solemnities of the dedication with more animation than usual. And the brothers who were present for this affair, on swearing in God’s name, testified that from that point on for twenty years, the same kind of fish could not be found on that feast day. It is fully to be marveled at, that the spirit of truth should be so present in that man, and that whatever he offered by his mouth, was always grounded in the constancy of truth!
16. But because among mortals nothing remains right and blessed in all places, there was at that time in the monastery a certain man by the name of Odo, a usurper of honor and a simulator of virtue, who greatly envied the servant of God, the abbot Arnulf, and considered himself worthier and better equipped to rule the monastery. He, moreover, incessantly plotted by what argument he might be able to remove the servant of Christ from his received office of authority. While Arnulf was busy in distant lands, [Odo] strived via numerous messengers . . . to hint to Philip, the king of the Franks [r. 1060-1108], that whenever he should march out somewhere in the precinct against an enemy, he should order the abbot of Saint-Médard to come with him. The king welcomed Odo’s counsels, and when he went out with the army, he commanded lord Arnulf with messengers he had dispatched that he should go with him on expedition with an armed company of men. Arnulf balked at this, and responded devotedly to the royal messengers: “It is true that I, a sinner, have soiled myself with certain acts of warfare; it may also be seen that, leaving behind warfare, I have taken up company with monks. And we read the saying of the Lord that ‘he who perseveres until the end will be saved.’ Yet now I, unhappy man that I am, who rejected warfare for God’s sake, now I should attend warriors once again? I should wield arms once again? O great sin! Rightly the psalmist said about me and others like me, ‘Cast aside those while they are raised up.’ For he whom I thought had taken me up for the care of an abbey, behold I am now compelled to offend in the pit of apostasy. Undoubtedly, I would rather have cursed this very name of abbot, and not have assumed responsibility for this place, than to so wickedly serve the world while holding this dignity.” On learning this King Philip sent legates a second time, who said that it had been an ancient tradition that the knights of the abbey, led by the abbot, should serve on royal expeditions. Either he must act according to ancient custom, or hand over the [monastery] so that the king’s command might be done. So Arnulf, taking the opportunity, obeyed the king’s command with a ready spirit and willingly stepped down into a quiet place of seclusion. He reckoned for nothing the height of such an honor so long as he was allowed to keep in mind the Savior’s voice, by far wishing more fervently to exert himself in the service of divine majesty. But all the monks, greatly concerned over this, came together and—as if they might besiege Arnulf with a great clamor—lamenting, whipped him thus with an indulgent plea: “O beloved Father! What do you wish to do? [Do you wish] to desert the flock committed to you so indiscreetly? To expose the sheep of Christ entrusted to you to wolves and to hand over the holy house, which you so honorably nurtured, to pillagers again? If attending the royal army was an annoyance to you, you should have remained seated in tranquility in your place [that is, the monastery]—we would have obeyed the royal command with our knights. For behold Pons, our devastator of old, now burdened with a money-sack, shall again be made the buyer of our place; once in power, he will emerge a harsher destroyer [of it]. Have mercy on your sons, we beseech you; have mercy on your supplicants and do not reject us, who joyfully submit to your commands. We implore you by the martyrdom of Sebastian, by the confession of Medardus, by Gregory’s papacy, and by the abundance of saints whose relics and memory are present in this our place.”
17. Having heard these words, Arnulf was cut off from his senses, and weeping copiously he responded to them: “O sweetest brothers, do not, I beseech you, impute to me the desolation of our agreement or of [this] place, but rather cautiously recognize that he [that is, Pons] who lives among you and comes from you endeavors to achieve all this evil. But now, since, by the grace of God, I was stripped from the abbacy (which indeed my soul had hoped for, for it was more a burden to me than an honor), I urge your unanimity—insofar as you were leaning toward this—that I never be forced a second time to rule over you. If you consent to it, I am prepared to offer you good and usefeul counsel. Summon before you the bishop and all the prelates of the churches of the town, and quickly elect a father acceptable to God and necessary for your needs.” The monks responded: “We shall do this most willingly, but our election will immediately be broken by the oppression of the covetous king. Whence we maintain that it would be better that our election should rest in your hands; and we will see that whoever is elected by you, we will obey faithfully. For we believe the insanity of the king shall not resist whomever you elect.” Then, summoning all the prelates of the churches and having met in council, a man by the name of Gerald, of great learning and distinguished faith, was elected abbot. [But] that aforementioned Pons, adversary of all piety, suddenly flew at that one [that is, Gerald] so recently installed, bringing with him the queen of France, Bertha, who by her royal power expelled Gerald and against divine law introduced Pons into the command of the holy place. On learning of this Christ’s servant Arnulf left his cell, and going to the queen humbly asked the raging woman with inspired words that, as long as she should hold the queenship she should—mindful of the female condition and mindful of divine judgments—fear to withstand ecclesiastical laws, and should modestly restrain herself from the injury of such a man [as Gerald]. When that woman refused to hear the admonitions from the pride of royal arrogance, the servant of God, prophesying, said to her: “O queen, if it pleases, believe brother Arnulf, or rather believe the Holy Spirit, because if you violently expel the lord abbot Gerald from this place you take vengeance on God; and you, before the day of your death, will be expelled from dominion of the entire realm and will languish, deprived of the realm, in calamity and contempt.” Indeed, this prophecy of the man of God was made most clearly manifest when it was revealed to everyone that the same queen after a few years irremediably incurred the king’s offense, and accordingly was ejected from the community of the entire realm, and was relocated to the county of Ponthieu in dishonor where she died and was buried after the custom of the poor. Moreover, Gerald, who had been expelled by her, handed the place over to anger, and departed into the region of Aquitaine. There, taken in graciously by the duke of that land, he built an illustrious monastery at Silva Majoris [Sauve-Majeure], where he worthily served God, and he found rest in the Lord with a blessed death; his life and mores shone with the glory of miracles and signs of virtue.
18. At last Arnulf, removed from the cultivation of personal relationships, just as he had set out to do in the beginning, constantly macerated himself with daily fasts, afflicted himself with long vigils, [thus] assiduously freeing himself for praying and engaging with every effort in contemplation of the divine. Acting in this way and growing daily from striving for so many virtues, he obtained great grace from the Lord and glorious fame in the lands of the Franks, to such a degree that all the nobility of the kingdom rejoiced to be able to make use of his blessings, and that men of every dignity should devotedly seek out his company, entreating his counsel as much concerning the peace of the Church as concerning the salvation of [their] souls. Whoever had been able to hear a word from his mouth believed himself to be extremely fortunate. Whence whatever he said seemed salubrious and agreeable to everyone listening, and seasoned with spiritual salt, with the result that it clearly revealed him [as one] heartily suffused by the presence of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, the fame of his sanctity spread through all the provinces and summoned to his counsel persons of diverse age and status, from all directions. And we reckon it appropriate that we begin to relate which signs and gifts of prophecy the Lord granted to him.
19. In those days his sister’s husband, named Trudbertus, came to him. After a discussion about the salvation of the soul, [Arnulf] inquired [of him], asking: “Our former fellow soldier and comrade Israel, do you think he is alive, and how do you think he is doing?” Trudbertus replied: “He is safe and in good health, and is prosperous in all things.” To him the man of God, full of a prophetic spirit, answered: “He is in no way as you say; for the Israel whom you announce is well and healthy has died in body and spirit. To be sure, yesterday he seized many spoils with which, when he returned to his house, he reclined in a concubine’s lap in a bed near the hearth. There, toward evening, arriving at an unforseen death, he let slip away this and his eternal life. O fearful punishments! O horrendous exactors! By them his unhappy spirit, accompanied by all the pleas of widows and orphans and crucified with every form of pain, was dragged to the eternal fire.” Hearing this the aforesaid man was extremely terrified, and after he returned home he discovered that everything concerning Israel had happened as the man of the Lord Arnulf had announced.
20. At another time, his sister Adsela came by in order to see him. After she stayed with certain other people outside the window of his cell, and began to inquire concerning the life of the spirit how, among all the world’s tempests, he could be protected, when at the noon hour an attendant arrived bringing a dried fish to be fried. For it was a most famous [feast-]day, and [the servant] brought it before him to the window. For in order that he might wholly eject from himself the spirit of vanity and the gesture of boasting, he was accustomed on Sundays and especially on feast-days to eat the meals for the cloister for a short time, so that he should not seem to condemn the brothers’ meals. He had in this [practice] as instructors and consolers men endowed with the highest discretion, such as the Roman Pope Gregory VII [r. 1073-1085]; Hugh, the venerable abbot of Cluny [r. 1049-1109], a leader of divine instruction; and the learned doctor Gerald, most holy abbot of Silva Majoris [Sauve-Majeure], by whose letters, which were frequently sent to him, he learned to not taste more than was suitable nor, under the guise of virtue, to surpass the measure approved by the fathers. When the fish had been put before him, his sister said the following to him: “Now, holy brother, it seems to me that I ought to retire, because of the time, because the meal has been laid out, and because you ought to eat something.” To her the man of God said: “No, dear sister because the very fish just brought to me will not be eaten, for it is laced with an infectious poison, which the enemy [the devil], who is hostile to us, prepared, so that by it he might be my destruction. But thanks to God, thanks to the Holy Spirit, who by his benevolence opened our heart, so that, on taking in the poison, we should give joy to the enemy.” Then, raising his voice, he called a raven to come to him, which he had customarily fed from habit in the window with the collected morsels [of food]. The raven suddenly appeared, to which the servant of God said commandingly: “In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, take this fish in your beak, and toss it into such a place where it will never be able to be found by man.” Although delaying for a period of time, [the raven] nevertheless took it in its beak, rose up, and flew away. He returned, having discarded [the fish], and received from the hand of his nourisher the customary meal. Then he forbade his sister and the others that, as long as he should live, they should [not] reveal this to anyone.
21-22. [His sister had a son whom she had commended to a certain powerful man so that he might be schooled in arms. When Arnulf asked her where he was and how he was doing, she replied that she sent him safe and sound to live under the tutelage of this warrior, a relative. To her the saint replied that her son had in fact already grown ill and died, with the result that she must give satisfaction to the church for his sins in order that on the day of judgment she should not be dragged down by them. His sister, terrified and amazed, immediately returned home, but before she arrived a messenger told her of her son’s death, giving the exact day and time that Arnulf had predicted. Outside Arnulf’s cell in a little open space there grew trees which produced fruit; and daily the sick were ordered by him to eat of the fruit, and soon recovered from their illnesses. Also, if anyone ate bread or drank wine blessed by him, they immediately became better.
At the annual festival of the martyrdom of Saint Lawrence [August 10], a multitude of people thronged the streets and fields around Saint-Medard. A certain widow with a thirteen-year-old boy who had been mute from birth came to the window of Arnulf’s cell to seek his help and implore him not to ignore her prayers and her misfortune. Arnulf takes pity on her, prays on her behalf, and receives the boy before his window. He then invokes God’s name and makes the sign of the cross on the boy’s lips, touching his tongue with his fingers. The saint then asks his name, to which the boy replies: “John.” At this, he regained full speech.]
23. There was a certain youth who was seized by a most frightful invasion of demons and bound up with chains and fetters, and could not be subdued, but rather he gnashed with biting everyone within reach. At length, overcome and confined in some way by many people, he was dragged with great effort to the church of Saint Medard, and was pointed out to the man of God concerning [his condition]. And [Arnulf], taking pity on the most sorry captive, ordered him to be brought to him. When the stricken one had been brought up close, as soon as the servant of God was able to see him, he made the sign of the cross and to those tormenting him said: “Release him.” And they replied: “Lord, we dare by no means release him, nor shall he rise up and annihilate us.” And the man of God: “Now I am telling you, release him, fearing nothing.” Then laying his hands on the greatly sick boy, they began to release him. The boy, now freed, quickly threw himself prone to the ground and made supplication. For after he had seen the servant of Christ and been signed by him, all wicked power in [the boy], now lulled, was calmed. Moreover the man of God ordered him to rise from the earth and to approach the window of his cell. Once he was standing close by, the servant of God began to ask questions of him, saying: “Tell me, son, when and by what means did the evil force come upon you?” The boy recited the order of the matter, saying: “My most beloved father, there was a certain friend of mine, related by blood, exceptionally beautiful and physically powerful; the inconsequential people of a certain little village of his gravely offended his spirit to such a degree that my relative, calling together a crowd of his companions and friends, attempted to fall upon the same little hamlet so that, by destroying it and slaughtering the peasants, he could cruelly avenge the injury of his offense. But because the same village was surrounded on all sides by woods and the valley rose up on all sides, and also the men who were found there resisted manfully, my aforementioned relative achieved nothing of his vows, and indeed, wounded by a lance and with his innards lain open, he died there on that very spot. I, wretched, on learning of his death, placed both of his ankles on my shoulders, and thus dragging him through the middle of the forest I led him away from the place of his death. The night was foul, when behold! Innumerable crowds of sinister spirits surrounded me in front and behind, trilling and hissing and occasionally laughing harshly. Then fear and a horrendous fright entered me, and a hostile power struck me from the very marrow, and not knowing what I was doing, I threw the dead man I was carrying into I don’t know what place. And then immediately, having lost my senses and mentally disturbed, I was put in the state that your blessedness witnessed.” Then the servant of Christ said to him: “Behold, thanks to God, you have wisely confessed. May it remain that you please God with penance, because you wished to take part with a great piety.” And he replied: “For this evil and for all those things by which I offended God, I wish, holy father, to offer penance worthy to God, and from this [to know] how I will be able to cease from all evildoing.” Thus the servant of Christ, enjoining a small measure of penance, sent him home healthy and safe and with a right and sound mind, freed not only from the demonic legion, but also from shedding human blood with a cruel temperment. For if he had not been restrained in this way, he would have destroyed all those neighboring villages in vengeance for his slain friend.
24. At that same time through [the work of] certain rumor-mongers, a vile rumor had befouled the town of Soissons, its suburbs, and adjoining villages, concerning the approach of hostile barbarians, with certain of them saying that the Danish people, emerging from their land, would in a short time destroy and occupy all France, sparing in no way either old men, infants, or churches. [The rumor] was convincing because the histories of diverse chronicles frequently noted that the Danes had accomplished similar things. This unfortunate rumor had gained such credence that Thibaud, the bishop of Soissons, considering at length that he should implore the man of God, Arnulf—namely like a close companion (symmistam) of divinity—whether, anxious to be informed about it, he should beseech God’s mercy and whether it would happen in the near future as foretold. But the servant of God, as soon as he heard the rumor, sensed that it was completely inane and vacuous. Nevertheless, in order that he not be thought [a man] of thoughtless levity, he sought out signs in the morning, to the extent that throughout the deep silence of the night he prayed most fervently to the supernal majesty that some evidence of this matter be revealed as manifest to him. Arnulf, passing the time with psalms, covered in ashes, clothed in sackcloth, sent up prayers to Christ, poured out a river of tears upon the ground, and sollicted the paternal authority (maiestatem) that he should reveal the truth of this secret. At daybreak, the bishop, greatly concerned, returned to that present day treasure-chest of spiritual witness, and asked the divine man again about the vision [he had been] granted the previous day. The servant of Christ, having obtained divine revelation and fortifying him with consolation, said: “You should not panic, reverend bishop, because as long as you and I have mortal bodies, neither the Danish people, nor any other sort of barbarians, will devastate the kingdom of France.”
[There follow 54 lines of verse celebrating the same event, omitted here.]
25. Christ made his Church fruitful with the gifts of graces, for which numerous nobles and many worthy men relinquished the vain luxury of the world, and mortifying themselves, contended to acquire divine nobility. Among them like a golden star was the glorious count of Amiens and Vermandois, the most beautiful Simon, son of count Raoul [of Crépy]. Inflamed with divine love, he cast aside the honor and power of the countship, relinquished cities and the most opulent castles, put aside a most comely wife. Blazing with desire to follow Christ, naked he escaped so many riches, and leaving behind all the people of the Franks, among whom he had ruled over a thousand servants, he took himself into the lands of Italy, especially for this reason: so that he might discover to the wealth of seeing and praying in the presence of the glorious apostles Peter and Paul. Divinely inspired, he attended most frequently with pious devotion to their sacred memories, and the devotion of such a man came to the attention of the lord Pope Gregory VII. At length after a few years of striving in the simplicity and humility of the heart, and manfully extending himself to be bound by the contrition of the body and in the exercise of sacred virtues, by God’s will he wasted away in a short span of time. And because his soul had pleased God, he was led forth from the worldly flesh so that he might gleam among the living stones of the celestial diadem. Indeed, at that same hour in which, leaving off his flesh he merited to pass on to a blessed rest, the holy man Arnulf, [then] enclosed in his cell, was disturbed by a mental distraction, and by God’s disposition saw everything which had occurred around the honorable man Simon, formerly count but now a monk. And when after his vision he had returned to his senses, he hastened to call the brothers, so that he could indicate to them the grace of so great a vision. The brothers came, to whom he announced [what had happened], saying: “Go quickly, brothers, and announce to the abbot and [other] brothers that lord Simon, formerly the count of Vermandois, has today passed from this life; and let the abbot quickly order the divine office to be celebrated for the death of such a man.” They went to the abbot, and related what they had heard. [The abbot] marveled, even more amazed, and getting up went to the recluse. Testing him, he inquired who had entrusted him [with this knowledge]. Then the man of God said: “If I had previously offered to you anything false or uncertain, it would be appropriate that you should believe us only with difficulty. But because to this point you did not encounter a falseness of words from me, why are you now so stubborn to believe that, as the matter is uncertain, you should think that I am almost demented? Make note of the day and hour; and you will discover it to be and to have been thus as was made manifest to me.” Then, making haste, the abbot and the convent of brothers entered the church, rang the bells and sung the psalms, and the office of the dead was celebrated in due course. Meanwhile, their minds were kept in suspense, believing that they would be derided as having been deluded. Then suddenly, before the month was up a messenger arrived saying that lord Simon had died on that very day and at the very hour which had been made known earlier to the man of God Arnulf concerning him.
26. Not far from the town of Soissons lived a noble man by the name of Guido, entangled in the practice of warfare, who had a wife, a cultivator of piety by the name of Ermengard. Both flourished with the flower of riches, and abounded with works of piety. At one time, this same Guido fell ill, burdened with a powerful sickness. Lacking the faculty to sleep or to eat he was despaired of by his friends, and was lamented by his companions as if he were already dead. In these days his wife, near childbirth, was wracked with sadness and anguish, and, saddened by a double fear, became terrified of her own and her husband’s death. Caught up in so many torments, she believed there to be one remedy for herself, [namely] if she would commend her own complaint and that of her husband to the prayers of Saint Arnulf. Sending out a messenger, a faithful cleric of the household, she tearfully commissioned both her own danger and her husband’s to [Arnulf’s] ears. Moreover, Christ’s servant—who was wholly prescient of future things owing to a gift of God—having heard the plea, sent back word to the same woman, saying: “Go, brother, and report these things diligently and with due speed to this sweetest of our sisters: two grave threats hang over her, which she will overcome in good shape by God’s grace. But a third burden will surface which she is unaware of, which will be graver still because it is irrevocable. Her husband, however ill he may be, shall after a while grow better, and will be given stable health. And she moreover will be without doubt saved from the danger of childbirth, and in the middle of the night tonight she will hear the first bell-ring of the night offices and will give birth to a son, about whom she will be overjoyed. But the third fear, about which she has no care but which will torture her for a long time, will happen thus: her brother Aubry, the lord of Coucy, was betrayed by the advice of his wife Aveline. Tomorrow he will be seized in bed by his enemies, and so taken he shall be carried away. Once carried away, he will be bound up; now bound he will experience harsh tortures, and will be imprisoned until he is ransomed. In ransoming his moribund life he will exhaust his treasury; indeed, he will neither see nor receive a castle. But quickly send [word to] our sister, so that she may announce the wickedness of [Aubry’s] wife as well as the enemies’ ambushes, now on the verge of happening.” The messenger, departing quickly from him, returned to the lady, relayed the holy man’s mandates, and the woman’s mind experienced joy mixed with trembling. Sending the agitated messenger on to her brother, he explicitly repeated what [Aveline] would carry out and what his enemies would set in motion at his wife’s instigation. Aubry believed his sister, but placing a greater faith in his wife, who denied these things, he took no precautions and did not fortify his tower, castle, or enclosure. For that reason at daybreak he was assaulted, seized, carried off, bound, imprisoned, and was deprived for ever after of both the residence and lordship of Coucy.
27-28. That same night Guido’s wife, Aubry’s sister, struggling with labor pains, at last gave birth to a son before the bell was sounded for the night offices in the church of blessed Medard. However at daybreak, while [the midwives] most diligently attended to the boy, they realized that he had been born without eyes; indeed, the eye-sockets had been overgrown with flesh and skin [and looked] like a brow or jaw-bone. The midwives wailed, dismayed with great anguish; and the whispering ones were pained [about what] they should do next. So they contrived in every way that the weakened mother should not know about her son’s blindness. Six days passed, and the mother remained unaware of her son’s blindness, until the time came when the boy needed to be taken to the church to be baptized. A great trepidation then utterly penetrated the handmaids, and they debated with every effort that for as long as possible the secret blindness should not be brought to the notice of the common people. They went to the woman, still ill from the recent delivery, and persuaded [her] that she should first send her son, who was to be brought to baptism, to Arnulf, the saint of God. The mother agreed to the handmaidens’ advice, and sending a messenger to the man of God prayed that he would deign to touch and bless the little baby with his hands. At this the holy man replied: “Truly, it is necessary that we should see the infant; accordingly, let him be presented quickly. For just as the mother was saved by God’s great gift from the anguish and pain of childbirth, so merciful God will consent to restore the imperfect son whole.” With these words it was demonstrated that the child’s infirmity had already been made known to the servant of God. And so Christ’s servant took in through the window the infant who had been brought, and reclined on the bed of ashes. He then lay down, prostrate on the pavent, in order to pray. Once the prayer had been completed, he took the infant into his lap and anointed his eyes with his saliva. Immediately by divine grace the eyes opened, and a new light penetrated the small new eyes. The boy was taken back to the mother and a great exultation occurred, and then for the first time the mother realized that she had given birth to him blind when she learned that her son had received new eyes through the servant of Christ.
29. It seems opportune to set straight that event by which the man of the Lord Saint Arnulf was found to possess such a subtle prerogative of prescience. The aforesaid nobles not long ago gave birth to a daughter of comely aspect, who, arriving at marriageable age, had been betrothed by her parents to a certain knight not unequal in possessions and lineage. But that girl, as she still possessed the freedom of youth—and loving more another man of inferior property and birth—rejected the esteemed man chosen for her by her relatives, swearing with many oaths that she would kill herself unless she obtained from them her hoped-for desires. The girl’s parents, moved by the misfortune of this matter, consulted the man of God, Arnulf, whether the Lord should deign to make known to his mind what they should undertake to be done in a controversy of this sort. Then the man of God, having heard the parents’ complaints briefly related, salubriously offered an appropriate response. “Canon law,” he said, “states that the girl should not be joined to anyone she does not wish to. For that reason I enjoin you with the mandate that you must consent to the man loved by her, in order that you not force the girl toward anyone unwillingly. Moreover it is noted to God and has been shown to us by reason of merits of your piety, that after a short period of time you shall see your daughter breathlessly seek out that spouse from whose marriage she wished so forcefully to extricate herself: for that reason defer to her will and it shall happen that she will return to your honor.” Then the parents, completely believing in his words, arranged the desired marriage for their daughter, and permitted her to be joined in matrimony to the man she loved. But the girl’s husband—because he strived to be seen a famous knight, and conducted himself in arms in order to acquire a name for himself—suddenly was killed by armed men, and from a newly married woman she was quickly made a new widow. Thus, according to the word of the man of God, the girl returned to love of [her first] betrothed, whom the parents had originally selected, and joined with him she bore with equanimity the stigma of [her] first [husband]. If all this should seem extraneous to the order of our narration, it should nevertheless be heard because the prediction declares the virtue of prophecy which is specially [found] in Saint Arnulf.
30. When Philip, king of the Franks, joined now for several years by the marriage bond, saw that his queen remained barren, he prevailed more frequently upon Saint Arnulf, the Lord’s servant, through both [his own efforts] and those of other most esteemed men, that he should implore the clemency of the Lord, insofar as he should consent to bestow a son to be his successor for the protection of the realm and defense of the holy church. The faithful servant of God at first abhorred doing this, guarding against the favor of man and fearing to relax the rigor of his spirit. Nevertheless, when he learned from the venerable bishop of Soissons Thibaud and from many other religious men that this would be good and agreeable before God—following what the blessed Apostle teaches ought to be beseeched on behalf of kings and all those who are placed in lofty office, and that this ought to be done first of all things—and moved as much by the urging of good men as by apostolic admonition, he promised he would pray. The queen, taking note of his promise, was greatly gladdened; and now that much more secure, she directed worthy legates to the servant of God, beseeching him with many prayers that he deign to predict for her what the future would hold. And [Arnulf], sensing the constancy of faith in the heart of the queen, remanded to her that she should diligently take care of the poor, intimating that their voice would carry weight with divine ears, with the result that God would furnish her the desired son. The queen obeyed, and gave over daily feasts to the poor, determined that the prayer of God’s servant should not be averted.
31. When the man of the Lord Saint Arnulf had still been entangled in the secular army, a certain knight by the name of Gericus had been a friend to him beloved above all others. When Arnulf retreated from worldly life, Gericus exerted himself more assiduously in pillaging and depredations, and, fearing neither God nor man, zealously oppressed widows and orphans. The servant of God, learning through outside sources of this despicable life of his, often implored the goodness and omnipotence of Christ the Lord that he might extend to Gericus the opportunity and compunction of penitence, by which he might leave behind his wicked customs and begin to think upon the fear of eternal judgment. He even commended the admonishments of salvation to him through faithful men and women returning home from [Saint-Médard], which [Gericus] heard with his mortal ears but did not observe in faith and works. Meanwhile Gericus, fully preoccupied with worldly prosperity, married a woman of equal nobility by the name of Judith; she produced several boys, and for several years the entire joyful house was propped up with happiness. Later, however, the boys began to die, and within a few years only one of his sons had not passed away. Gericus himself incurred a serious illness and remained bed-ridden for 42 months (which is 3-1/2 years), despairing of life and seeing the moment of death before his eyes. Now his nephews born to his brothers and sisters made designs to seize his lands and possessions for themselves; and they undertook to alienate his wife Judith from all her marital inheritance and to make do without her dowry. But no matter what that woman did, no protector extended himself as any solace to her. Thus, turning to God, she prayed tearfully that he might consent to send divine aid where human help had ceased, and recalling the servant of God Arnulf, she attended her dying husband with many complaints. “My dearest husband,” she said, “look! Your sons are dead; your nephews, hoping for your death, attempt to claim all your possessions into their jurisdiction; behold! They have prepared a wicked vow for themselves that once you are buried they shall shamefully eject me nor recognize me to have been your wife. How is it that your pure faith does not acquiesce to the counsels of your wife, esteeming above all else your life and your health? Speak out in your heart and make a vow to our Lord Jesus Christ that you will visit—borne on a litter—your one-time friend and companion, his servant Arnulf, and subject yourself and all your things to his advice. And may the Father of Mercies look after your pains and my fears.” And he, thinking for a little while, as if contemplating to himself the weight of the words, responded by saying: “You have spoken wisely and struck upon the best counsel, which I freely accept, and I wish and swear that I may quickly follow it.” Therefore he was brought to Soissons by litter with horses carrying [it], and was carried to the man of God, sweating in his labors. And [Arnulf], rejoicing that the man, once bound to him by faithful frienship, had come, asked—or rather commanded—that he be brought to him. The following day, brought before the window [of Arnulf’s cell], he heard from the same man of God this friendly reproach. “Brother Gericus,” he said, “you noble knight, so wicked to you and yours, how long will you provoke God, striving so in works of pillage? Believe me, in the near future destruction will be yours, and you will tumble in a short time into the serpent’s jaws. But I give thanks to Christ the Lord; he, as I see, does not despise my tears; he who shackles you with this attack of illness so that you, at every point hardened to rapine, should not be made a meal for the teeth of the enemy. Therefore you should know without a doubt that the infirmity which has you in its grip has for a long while been beseeched from the Lord by my prayers, so that you might cease against your will from the oppression of widows and from the voracity of plunder. Know how much God granted you the benefit of his boundless mercy, in order that you might recognize that you have acted wickedly—so that you, inflamed by so many evils, will be able to avoid the lion’s bite. ‘But,’ you say, ‘[the bite of] what lion?’ Hear blessed Peter, speaking with a divine voice: ‘Your adversary the devil circles like a raging lion, seeking out whom he will devour.’ You will evade the lion’s open mouth only by the benevolence of God. Now then, work hard, so that you may completely put it off from his will.” But Gericus said, “Most holy and beloved father, I hastened to your counsel with that vow and deliberation that following the tenor of the Lord’s will, according to the mandate of your sanctity my life shall at last be put in order, and I shall do nothing more except what the words of your advice express. Offer prayers on my behalf to our God for my recuperation, and I perpetually assert and affirm to make a compact, that from now on I will no longer do whatever I know to be contrary to divine law.”
32. When these words were finished the same Gericus’s wife, whose name was Judith, burst out in a tearful voice, saying: “O holy servant of God, give heed to my complaints, I beseech you, and bring help to a miserable and destitute woman.” The man of God responded to her: “While I hear your voice, I now recognize your state and need; and I promise to you in the name of God that your coming here will not be fruitless either for you or your husband.” Whence you should know for certain that joy will be yours for the sake of [your] grief, because you faithfully ministered to your husband in his illness. Because your husband here rejected evil-doing, he will be completely healed, and you will receive from him a son to be named Lambert who, by God’s command, will be born on this very day one year hence. The son shall succeed his father, he will care for you in your old age; nor will you die until you rejoice in the legitimate sons [born] to your Lambert. Thus I wish and I urge you, sweetest brother Gericus, that you should walk only in the path of justice, indeed, that you should honor the Church of God and the holy clergy, that you take nothing from the poor, but rather restore the things you took, and that you give alms justly and abundantly, for the holy Apostle urges [us] to command the wealthy. You should never withhold your tithes, nor should you give them to anyone except to whom the bishop orders. Cultivate your fields; strive to live from the fruit of your produce and from just profits; act with mercy toward your peasants—whatever they are unable to give, remit [to them] in part. Display to your ruler and to your companions faith and truthfulness from the heart, give thanks to omnipotent God for the revenues you take in, and strive to be present more regularly for the celebration of the divine offices. Therefore the grace of God will be present in your doings and will give peace to your affairs, and you will live to a ripe old age—indeed you, who were brought to this place infirm, will depart from here healthy and riding on horseback.” O what clemency of supernal goodness, which adorns his blessed servant Arnulf with so many gifts of virtue, with the result that his conduct should be assiduously divine, and the merit of his life should be of service to others here on earth. For, following what he was able to learn from this man’s words, this same knight Gericus would deservedly have been dead before God for his perversity, unless Arnulf’s prayer had justly accompanied him. At last he left, God having been soothed and [himself] healed by the man of God, and taking to his house he soon gave birth to a son. And [the son], as was foretold, was born on the day predicted and was the successor on his father’s death, and remained a pious caregiver to his mother. Indeed, the same mother Judith lived for a long time, until her son Lambert, now lawfully married, gave birth to [his own] sons.
1. Meanwhile, divine judgment carried Thibaud, bishop of the city of August Soissons, away from this life. A certain man of noble birth named Gervais ordered his seat and the place to be given as a gift, in repayment for his service to the royal household, to his brother Ursio, a monk by habit and from infancy learned in letters, but in mores and spirit hopelessly unworthy for the episcopal office. The idleness of his life and non-canonical accession before long reached the ears of the Roman pontiff Gregory [VII]. Having given letters to Hugh, the bishop of Die and at that time the [papal] legate to Gaul, he ordered that the conduct and promotion of Ursio should be examined according to canon law, and whatever he had skirted around in these sacred laws should be corrected by synodal judgment. Thus it happened that the aforesaid Hugh held a council in the city of Meaux on the River Marne, under the protection of Thibaud [I] count of Champagne. There, following the decree of the lord pope, after Ursio had been lawfully summoned, he was granted the privilege of defending himself. [Although] canonically compelled, he refused to present himself, incurred fault by the bishops’ judgment, and was immediately condemned, which presented the clergy of Soissons in attendance [at the synod] the possibility ogf a new election. And so, with the council’s advice the wiser part of the clergy and the casati (lay vassals) of the church of Soissons elected for themselves into the pontificate lord Arnulf, cultivator of holy religion, who was at that time a recluse. They proclaimed that he should be given to them immediately. A harmonious election having been carried out and put down in writing, the legate Hugh immediately sent esteemed persons from the council to the monastery of Saint-Medard, mandating and commanding through letters—even ordering by the authority of the Roman Church—that lord Arnulf should exit his cell, and, so prodded, should come to the council of Meaux or otherwise, if disobedient, should submit to anathema. Taking fright at the thunder of such an order Arnulf, the revered son of the Catholic Church, obeyed the legate’s mandate—with regret, it may be said—and came to the council. Once there, the petition of the clergy and noble people of Soissons electing for themselves lord Arnulf into the episcopate was immediately re-read. From this the bishops’ voice was heard, postulating that Arnulf, adorned with all sanctity, should be their colleague. Thus hastily treated and bestowed with the symbols of office—and by no means permitted to excuse himself even for a little while, he was immediately set up in the episcopate by [his] leave. To him, afflicted and in mourning, the legate Hugh enjoined a holy mandate in the virtue of holy obedience that he should strive to minister to Christ’s church through the episcopal office. So obligated, [Arnulf] dropped his protests and, the day and place of his consecration having been appointed, he returned to the monastery of Saint-Médard in order to prepare the necessary things for the future journey. So thoroughly compelled, not by his desire but by the vow of the faithful, he departed with four monks. So elected from among the clergy, he arrived in Champagne and entered the castle of Count Thibaud, which is called Vertus.
2. [Count Thibaud, learning of Arnulf’s arrival, received him joyously with a great band of knights and nobles, and graciously ushered him into the castle. While he was observing vespers in a removed part of the chapel and was being questioned by the aforesaid count and a few nobles about the salvation of the spirit, Arnulf suddenly became agitated and demanded that two of the monks accompanying him, Everolfus and Ostermarus, be summoned. When they arrive, Arnulf proceeds to upbraid Ostermarus for having spoken pejoratively about Everolf, and refuses to keep company with such a rebellious man on the road, ordering him to leave the castle at once. Ostermarus, clearly shaken, denies having said anything disrespectful, but Arnulf repeats his exact words to him—namely, that Ostermarus had told Everolfus his head should be dunked in a latrine for not giving his horse a greater measure of grain. At this the count and everyone present were greatly amazed, because Arnulf had been in the chapel, a long way from the stables where the exchange took place. Although the other brothers pleaded for leniency, Arnulf refused to allow Ostermarus to remain his companion. Finally, the count and all the nobles with him made supplications on the monk’s behalf and asked that he propose some remedy for the crime, so that he would not be compelled to leave the castle.
3. Arnulf relents and orders Ostermarus to go to Paris and have an audience with Queen Bertha, to whom he will announce that she is carrying a son in her womb, who will be baptized Louis, and who will possess the kingdom of France after the death of his father. Arnulf adds that the queen will doubt what he says, but will eventually come to believe it. The monk, overjoyed at the opportunity to redeem himself, then heads to Paris and delivers the message. The queen pales at the news, and quickly sends messengers to call King Philip, who was out hunting. When the message is delivered, the king immediately rejoices and becomes fearful, alternating between the two emotions: he was joyful provided he could be certain of the message’s veracity; he feared that it was an empty promise. He decided, however, that whatever Arnulf had prophesied could not be superfluous, knowing as he did about the latter’s sanctity and truthfulness. Within five days, the queen’s womb began to grow, and fearing neither pain nor sadness she attended the birth of her son, born in due course. The king and queen both praised and admired the merits of Arnulf, and asked what they could do in return for his foresight. But he asked for nothing in return from them except that they take care of the poor and serve as defenders of churches, and for as long as they would do so peace and tranquility would prevail in their lifetimes, and the peace of the Church would remain unperturbed. Thus, in the year 1081, the fourth indiction, the future king Louis was born, an event obtained by the prayers and merits of Saint Arnulf.]
4. And so having completed the journey, [Arnulf] came to Hugh at Die. Inspired by his arrival, the same Hugh was at once joyful and disturbed: joyful because he had welcomed such a laudable person, disturbed because he had invited none of the [co-suffragan] bishops to his consecration. But, leaving everything in God’s hands, he rejoiced at the unexpected news, and all his anxiety was removed. For on the following day three bishops presented themselves to him, who had left their sees not by any necessity, but by silent instinct that they should at that time go visit the legate, and excited they came together in his presence. The manifest mystery of divine counsel was therefore revealed to everyone, because in truth divine judgment had arranged him to be ordained into the episcopate. Indeed, everything which seemed of use for the act of his consecration was discovered to be straightforward and unconfused as if they had been made read by divine consent. When the sacred book of the Gospels had been placed over his head and the bishops looked upon it, they discovered the words of the Savior according to Matthew: “You will bring forth praise from the mouth of children and nurslings.” Thus on the Sunday before the Lord’s birth, which fell on the 14 kalends of January [December 19, 1081], the bishop was consecrated with the immense favor of everyone, and was happily translated with all the prosperity of divine favor to the see of Soissons. Nor was his renowned fame hidden from the people of Vienne, but rather coming together they mutually urged one another that they might seize him by force and enthrone him as archbishop of their own city. For indeed, at that time the city of Vienne lacked episcopal administration. As the rumor spread, the man of God hastened to leave their borders, hurrying to carry out the care of souls of those especially entrusted to him, and to tend the vine of which he had been ordained the cultivator and custodian.
5. Admittedly, although he was disposed to bypass [on the return trip] from the path of the glorious monks of Cluny, as though passing by in secret, fame, the companion of virtue, did not permit him to hide. The abbot Hugh, a man of unsurpassed religion, learning of his journey and its reason, quickly sent his monks after him, and ordered, invoking the charity of holy brotherhood, that he should by no means deviate from the road to the sacred monastery of Cluny; but in the company of the monks sent out to meet him, he should hasten to see his brothers, who were rejoicing and avidly hoping to enjoy his blessings. The man of God feared to decline a request of such great humility, and submitting to the request, he directed his path toward the venerable monastery of Cluny. Then, there having gathered an army (exercitu) of monks adorned with fitting decorum, [Hugh] processed out to meet him, and received the blessed pontiff with exceptional veneration. [He did this] in part not only in recognition of his office, but also on account of what was known to him of his prior life, and the favor from God that he merited. For previously that holy man Arnulf lawfully followed the teaching and rule of the abbot of Cluny, whence [much] fame proceeded, because in his election to the church of Soissons he had been comforted by the counsel of the same abbot. Having honorably received and warmly welcomed [Arnulf], the diligent investigator sat down next to him and—not from the fever of curiosity but from the fervor of holy charity—posed to him questions from the Scriptures and elicited their solution from his mouth. [He did this] so that he might be able to know through such inquiry whether he might be able to offer without difficulty new and old [opinions], in order that the church committed to him should not be nourished any less than was just with spiritual doctrine. At length it happened that he whom the pious lord abbot Hugh had considered to be unlearned and rustic was proved to be overflowing with the zeal of charity and with a stream of learning, and the happy man should be proved to abound not a little with the faculty of eloquence. But the spirit of the aforesaid Hugh was eager to see a brief rememberance therein. For he was most chaste in body and heart, a sower and ideal guardian of the monastic institution and the regular life, a ceaseless cultivator of upright monks and most honest people, and a fervent defender and protector of the holy Church.
6. The bishop Ursio, brother of the royal steward Gervais, had occupied the see of Soissons not by ecclesiastical law, but from the favor of the palace, and for that reason he had made use of episcopal possessions, since royal favor followed [him] thanks to his brother. Therefore, when the lord bishop Arnulf arrived and made preparations to enter the city of Soissons, the same Gervais went out to meet him with a great crowd of armed men, and warned him unequivocably that he should not enter the city if he wished to live long. To him the man of God with constancy of spirit responded: “It was written, according to the apostle, that ‘charity perfected banishes fear.’ And since ‘To me, Christ is life, and death gain,’ I will try to fulfill the obedience imposed upon me by the apostolic mandate so that, should I not obey, I might not deserve to be rejected. It is proper to hear from me what the pope ordered to happen: the shepherd of Christ is not discouraged from a sad path: the Lord God shall have me as a martyr, if I am killed, or as a confessor, if I escape. ‘For the charity of Christ compels us.’” And saying this, he spurred with his boots the animal he on which he sat, so that he might quickly enter the city. But Gervais, reaching out with his hand, seized the donkey’s reins, and twisting the animal about, forced it along with its rider to turn about in the other direction. The man of God immediately ceased resisting, remembering the saying of the Lord, “Friend, where will you go?” And he pondered that thought, because the Lord saves neither by the spear nor the sword. Thus to the extent that it was appropriate, he fulfilled the mandate of obedience. He departed the see which he had not sought [to govern] with a tranquil mind; but he cultivated with piety what he seemed to have deserted physically.
7. Because it is true that the see does not make the bishop, but rather the bishop makes the see, and the virtue of sovereignty is not torn asunder by the place [in which it is found], with count Thibaud’s blessing he established for himself and for the oversight of the diocese a residence in a certain castle of the same diocese, which is called Oulchy [-le-Chateau, dép. Aisne]. As the prelates of the churches and the sounder members of the clergy, and even the thick throngs of people arrived there, he procured strenuously and faithfully the penitence of the confessed and the restoration of the spiritually fallen.
The bishop’s enthusiasm soothed the flock of all the people
The clergy of the churches thirsted for the bishop’s office;
He consecrated churches, he taught the clergy, he made firm the masses,
He preached, he absolved, he baptized, he anointed with the chrism;
He poured forth words of salvation to the masses, by no means ignorant;
He gave grace to the lapsed, healing to the heart of the contrite,
He gave himself to be as a spouse to widows and a father to orphans;
He strived to give help to virgins;
He showed himself to be beloved to all; he despised those who were disagreeable;
He fostered the cult of the church more than anything else;
He kept vigil, praying, lamenting the crimes of the world.
Nor did he consider it unworthy to bring a blessing to servants;
A pious and joyful man, relying upon hunger for what was sweet;
Doing all things for all people, utterly resisting wickedness;
Distinguishing himself as vital he does not countenance destruction,
Thus he shows himself to be favored by the Lord, and blessed in spirit;
May he be all praise and glory in Christ, and lacking in all pollution.
8. [It happened while Arnulf was at Oulchy that the monk and priest Everolfus—who was devoted to the bishop in everything, and whom he in return esteemed for his usefulness—became gravely ill. Everolfus, on account of the fierceness of his fever, believed himself to be dying, and for that reason he requested the bishop to anoint him with holy oil and make preparations for his death. Arnulf, however, responds by telling him that his time has not yet come, and that he, in fact, will prepare his own exsequies and ultimately succeed Arnulf in death by many years. The bishop then tells him to rise, go to the church, and, saying the mass, to give thanks to God. Everolfus nevertheless protests that he had not eaten in twenty-one days; how should he go to the church and say mass when he has no strength remaining? Arnulf takes his hand and commands him to walk in the name of Jesus, and Everolfus does so. On his return Arnulf administers to him with food and drink, and on that same day the priest rejoined his company.]
9. Likewise the same holy man of God, when asked at another time by the same brother [Everolfus], when, how, and where his death would occur, replied: “Not much time had passed after I (unworthily, it may be said) had been consecrated bishop by the counsel of the divine will, when I perceived the monks of Saint-Médard and the canons of Saint-Gervais wished to dispute with one another for the remains of my future body. I [therefore] beseeched the King for whom all things live with all my strength, that he might consent to reveal to me when and where my passing from the mortal body would be fixed, and the place chosen for my entombment. One night, while I was applying myself to these prayers, a vision of the blessed apostle Peter appeared before me, instructing and comforting me with these words: ‘In the region of Flanders is a place consecrated to our Lord Jesus Christ under the title of my name, where many signs are made by Christ’s will, and to whose honor and advancement I was able to have renewed by the Lord, so that you should be buried in the same place—just as, with Christ glorifying you, the same place might be illuminated by the splendor of your merits and brought back, by your leadership, to the light of holy religion.’ I asked him: ‘Lord, given that that place is completely unknown to me, and outside the diocese entrusted to me, by what reason can I come there to be buried?’ He replied: ‘You have frequently heard that “nothing will be impossible before the word of God,” thus you will not worry about this, because soon, when the time is right, the Lord’s work shall be prepared. The Roman pontiff shall enjoin to you a mandate, of which your arrival in Flanders shall be the outcome. The peace of Christ is with you, and our peace together shall be joined in heaven.’ Put at ease by these admonitions, I believe that what the first of the apostles deigned to promise will not be vacuous. And you, most beloved, I lovingly shall keep a close eye on, in order that you not dare to make such things known to anyone else for as long as I breathe.”
10. With the abundance of peoples coming to him from every direction, he labored attentively for the appeasement of their illnesses. One day, while standing in the apse [of the church] and gazing out through the window, he saw in the street below a man struggling to walk, breathing hard and carrying a plank on his neck. Presently he said to the clergy and knights standing nearby: “This plank which he has carried from a distance was stolen.” Those standing about him replied: ‘And how, o Lord, did you know this?’ And the servant of God responded, ‘I am certain it was stolen, as the diabolic author of the theft this very hour presses hard in perching on the neck of the man.’ And they said to him: ‘May we ask whether it is so?’ The holy man said: ‘Do as you please.’ Soon one of them on behalf of the others quickly gave chase and confronted the porter, and addressed the plank-bearer in the following way: “Greetings to you, sir! That plank there, which you are carrying huffing and puffing, I would ask from whence did it come to you? He replied: “I was present during a certain attack on the villa of Nanteuil, and I acquired this plank while pillaging there.” His questioner, upon hearing these things, quickly returned to those who had sent him, and announced to their amazement that the testimony of the man of God that the testimony had been completely true. Moreover, there is a certain similitude in this concerning the virtue of the blessed Martin [of Tours] who, coming upon a certain proud count at Avitianum, spied a devil reclining on his head.
11. One time, when he was preparing to dedicate a parish church of a certain neighboring area, he said to his followers and future travellers: “I request a road that might lead us to that church so that the gathering people may not know by what route we shall arrive at that place; likewise, bring something to eat with you, so that after the toil of the road we might be able to refresh our bodies a little.” And so the more remote and difficult path was taken; however, the fervor of the thirsting people was not appeased by this argument, but rather a great multitude assembled with all haste in front of and behind him. Perceiving this the servant of God erupted in praise of the Savior and said to his servants: “Offer [to them] whatever food you have, so that after the labor of the road we might endeavor to restore the strength of their bodies.” Without hesitation, the monks offered five loaves of bread, and five vases of wine were poured following the measure of monastic fairness; and laying out garments on the grass, the man of the Lord again took his seat. The massing crowd followed him like a flock of sheep. Then, blessing the bread—although small in number, to be counted as many by holy mystery—he ordered [an amount] to be distributed from the same bread to everyone wherever they were seated, and also a sufficient [amount] of wine to be offered to them. Once this was done it seemed worthy of a great miracle, because the bread and the wine was sufficient enough for all that they would say that they had been well fed and fully satiated. Some of them, having faith, even carried away small pieces of the bread; these, when later placed near the sick, provided a cure from their health-giving taste. Indeed the crowd of people who ate and rejoiced, excluding the bishop’s companions, surpassed the number of seventy.
12. Roger, the count of Porcien, built a church in the castle called Chaumont, in the diocese of Reims: for its dedication he invited, with great entreaties, Saint Arnulf, the bishop of Soissons. It had arrived at that point [in the service] that, having consecrated the church, he should consecrate the altar. Then, with the bishop present and gradually relaxing (? paululum respirante), the countess approached, leading by her hand a woman who had been blind for fifteen years. Kneeling before him she said: ‘Pious Lord, have mercy on this wretched woman, and by your holy prayer and the imposition of your hands, benevolently restore to her the light of her eyes.’ When [Arnulf] refused, and proclaimed himself to be unworthy, the blind woman said: “O bishop of God, you should not decline, because heaven promised to me that by the touch of your hand I should receive the power of seeing.” And that man, suffused with tears, immediately prayed and placed his right hand with the sign of the cross on the woman’s eyes, and without delay the same woman received the clarity of light. The witnesses of this miracle were Enguerrand, an eloquent man, at that time the blessed man’s archdeacon and afterwards bishop of Laon; Raoul the Green, afterwards archbishop of Reims, the one to whom the preface of this work is dedicated; several abbots and the heads of churches who had been summoned; the same count Roger and his countess; and many clergy and an infinite number of people, by whose voice the praise of our God was celebrated with a loud shout, with all proclaiming for the honor of the deed, Te Deum laudamus.
13. To be sure, keeping to the order of the narration requires that it now be recounted how he sought out the land of the Flemish, and what event drew him back to those parts. Robert, then the count of Flanders, had been attacked by certain of the nobler and more powerful of his people, who held to the belief that once the ferocious count Robert had been overthrown, they might provide for themselves, or so they thought, a gentler ruler, namely count Baldwin of Mons. When afterwards the plan of those men was made known to count Robert he intercepted his betrayers through great effort, and killing some of them, outlawing others, he forced certain men to be exiled outside the country, stripped of their possessions and honors. Among them was Arnulf, the archdeacon of Thérouanne and praepositus of the church of blessed Omer [Saint-Omer]. Deprived of the resources of all his possessions and of his office, a fugitive for many days, he endured unbearable calumny. Too late in having a change of heart, he sought out the Roman pope Gregory [VII] and tearfully proclaimed by what great artifice he had lost the honor and the resource of possessions of his rank. The lord pope, taking to heart both his and his own similar misfortune, decreed to provoke the turbulent and fierce spirit of count Robert to leniency by his letters, that [Robert] might concede to offer every indulgence to those he suspected, or at the very least allowed them the opportunity to defend themselves. But since no one could be found who would presume to carry the papal letters into the presence of a count so greatly offended, the issue was delayed for a long time. At length he called to memory the constancy of sanctity and the fervor of brotherly love of his bishop, the holy man Arnulf of Soissons. Likewise it quickly became known in the papal palace that it would be this man without doubt who would prevail without delay to present the apostolic mandates to count Robert. So moved by this decision, the lord pope Gregory sent letters and papal bulls to the most revered bishop Arnulf, commanding and ordering that he should convey in his company the letters of intervention and the individuals with whom they were concerned to count Robert’s presence, and should demand for them the favor or indulgence of defending themselves, to the honor of the apostolic see. And so he, bound by a powerful piety for the sake of a twofold justice—that is, by obedience to his superior and from fraternal compassion—and not unmindful of the apostolic vow put before him, when he came with certain of those men to the fortified town called Lille, there, finding count Robert, he presented the sacred apostolic [letters]. Meanwhile, as the letters were being read, the accused men, submitting themselves [but yet] unknown to him, grasped [the count’s] feet. O anger! o rage! O what bitter rising of gall then inflamed the brow, eyes, and whole face of the count, when he felt his hated enemies touch his feet. But what might that ferocity do before a just man? The very one who looked upon the earth and made it quake was present, and as much from the pretence of [Arnulf’s] sanctity as from respect for the holy see, the health, life, and possessions [of the exiled Arnulf] were indulged. Behold how true and admirable are God’s counsels! Who could have thought that the wickedness of traitors should be turned into an occasion for the salvation of peoples! Who could have known or thought that the great anger of an irate count would redound to the great honor of the famous bishop! But meanwhile let all flesh be silent so that what the Lord Jesus decreed to be executed through his servant might be revealed.
14. For certain, at that time in some places—or rather, in every corner—of Flanders, daily murders and perennial effusions of human blood disturbed the peace and quiet of the entire region, and for this reason a great multitude of nobles implored with many entreaties that the Lord’s bishop should visit the places in which atrocious cruelty raged the most, and remind in some measure the crude and indocile minds of the Flemish about the goodness of peace and harmony. He, sensing in his spirit that this was acceptable before God, and, as was written earlier, knowing by divine command and by the intervention of the blessed apostle Peter that it was proper to come to this place, quickly assented to their prayers on discerning that all these things to had been put in motion by divine will. And so accompanied by a crowd of nobles and magnates he came to the town of Bruges, and from there went into the heart of Flanders to the community of Oldenburg. In these places there was such a frenzy of killing and a furor of vengeance-taking, that the [residents] took pleasure in bloodying themselves assiduously with human blood, and considered it shameful and ignoble to cease even one day from the slaughters. Father scarcely failed to spare son, or son his father; brother betrayed brother, nephew betrayed uncle or father, and uncle handed over his nephew to be killed for the slightest cause. The man of the Lord Arnulf tamed in a marvelous way the diabolical rage and insane perniciousness equally at Bruges, at Furnes, and at Oldenburg with a word of sweet preaching and with an example of exceptional sanctity, and with great labor becalmed the hearts of cruel men toward the course of peace. By his perseverance, by his opportune and assertive preaching, and by frequently prostrating himself at their feet, eventually enmity was pacified, and the most steadfast of enemies were firmly joined as bosom friends.
15. Laboring most strenuously in this endeavor, he entered a community which is called Torhout, for there the ancient enemy fanned the fire of controversy and flames of strife. Everywhere he appealed to neighbors [about] the bloodshed, with the result that the [nobility] entered into peace-pacts and extinguished the diabolic flames. Yet there was a certain man by the name of Herradus, a priest’s son, who preferred to reject calls for peace with a deaf ear rather than to turn himself or his neighbors to the pursuit of peace. [While Arnulf was preaching], he was seen exiting the church enclosure in which the bishop was standing, so that absent, he might be able to more easily decline the admonitions of justice. The bishop was told: “Behold, the source of all the problems is leaving.” Immediately the bishop followed, and going after him arrived at the count’s residence. Humbly prostrating himself on the ground before his feet, [Arnulf] beseeched that he ought to return to the concord of peace. But that man, puffed up by the image of youthful pride, did not wish to cease and desist; and afraid lest he should be seized by the others, he perniciously took the path of flight. However a malign spirit jumped into the fleeing one, and plunging him into madness, forced him to tear at himself with his teeth and nails. On learning of this his friends and comrades came and tied up the mad one, now filled by the demon, and hauled him, croaking and struggling, into his father’s house. At length they went to the holy bishop, begging over and over that he should forgive his pride and fatuousness, and not dwell on the memory of the injury he had inflicted. The servant of the Lord said to them: “In truth I pardon his offense, but I am more affected by the stubbornness of his heart. Thus if you wish me to exhort the Lord for his liberation, give to us certainty that all of you—whether this man wishes it or not—shall keep firm the peace, and if he stirs up either a lawsuit or discord, none of you shall give solace to him.” They said with one voice: “May whoever among us gives aid to this man be anathematized if he does not take your words to heart.” Then the bishop, as if appeased by the promises, created holy water with the admixture for exorcism. The youth, when sprinkled with it, immediately escaped the devil’s invasion. Soberly restored to his senses, he kept the peace and concord with a special devotion.
16. In the same town of Torhout, another deed occurred which was no less marvelous. A certain knight native to Oldenburg by the name of William, “Long” in stature and by his surname, had an adult son who had been given over to a [military] apprenticeship, but was more bent on plunder and pillage. One time, when the son was in the house of a certain man named Siger he attempted to plunder it in broad daylight, and was struck with a sword by the same Siger and quickly died. Siger, seeing that he had made an error in the death of his apprentice—although he had been justly killed—went to the revered and saintly man, the bishop Arnulf, asking that he apply the remedy of his words to heal the wound of such a crime. The holy man, who had presented himself in preparation of gospel of peace, eagerly departed for Siger’s residence. About to engage in a duel against the devil’s powers, armed with the shield of faith, he manfully fought to seize the weapons of the powerful malignant one. Indeed, he sowed the word of justice, the word of truth and peace, and by God’s authority he made peace between Siger and William the Long, the father of the slain youth. But afterward William, chided by certain wicked men as to why he had so lightly borne his son’s death, began to regret the peace-pact and started anew to seek out a place where he might exact vengeance on Siger. Nor did he announce to him the place of the revenge, until the time came around the festival of St. John [24 June] during the markets of Torhout. By chance Siger had come to purchase a garment, when William struck him on the neck with a sharpened sword. Drawing blood but not killing him, he cast him into the little basket where the vestments had been thrown. At once all the market-goers were disturbed. A clamor and indignation arose among the people as to why he had presumed to dishonor the count’s peace. He was rushed to the count, who was present and settled in his house at Torhout, and it was disgracefully announced to him that one who was unable to defend his famous fairs was good for nothing. Savagely stirred, Count Robert leapt up and immediately commanded the attacker and the attacked to be brought to stand before him. Meanwhile he heard from his knights that William the Long had been the originator of this audacious crime and had disturbed the fairs in taking vengeance for his murdered son. Then the count, for a time mollified, responded: “I love William the Long like a brave knight or a son; but I forbid that he should seek vengeance a second time for his son’s death, which had been remitted and settled peacefully through the holy bishop Arnulf.” In the meantime, the one who had been struck [Siger] was led before him, shaking like a leaf but unharmed. His neck seemed not as if it had been struck by a sword, but as if it had been encircled with a red thread. Then the count said to William: “I marvel at your recklessness, but I am more shocked by your great weakness; indeed if you did not wish to spare him why are you not ashamed to strike so childishly, with the result that a woman’s hand rather than a manly right hand is evident upon this neck. Know therefore that the cause of this was neither the sword nor your hand, but that it was done by the command of God almighty, who did not permit the neck to be wounded, [of the one] which had willingly agreed to peace through the example of such a holy man.” So the count, and the count’s nobles, and all the warriors declared that whatever holy Arnulf had preached should remain fixed and inviolable by God’s assent.
17. Within the limits of the parish of Gistel, which is subject to the diocese of Tournai, is a certain black, almost reddish, vein of land which, situated within a thick marsh, is not easily crossed. Indeed, in this place lives a type of man who constantly commits atrocities, commonly called Scythians. To this place the man of the Lord was drawn so that he might sow the word of peace among such folk. He was met by an old woman, beseeching him thus with tearful plaints: “Holy servant of God, have mercy on me and consent to enter the little cottage of my poverty, and thus you will see the manifold and daily punishment of my affliction.” That benevolent and humble manRemembering the name of St. Christopher, he entered the dwelling of the poor widow in order to see the reasons for the suffering she had expressed. Five of her sons were laid out in bed, each and every one afflicted with sickness so that none was able to help the others or offer any support in anything. Then the woman said: “See, servant of God, how great is my misery, how pain torments me, how sadness afflicts me. I alone serve all five, I run and hurry from one to the other, from this one to that one, and I am barely able to please them.” Then the man of the Lord, sympathizing with great compassion, prayed quietly; finally making holy water, he sprinkled the sick sons and the entire house, and gave the following orders to them: “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, this sickness shall recede from you so that you shall immediately become better, and you shall not need to tire out your mother, dedicated to serving you with all your pains.” The Lord’s virtue was immediately present and they quickly arose, and they avidly consumed food they had for so long despised. The following day the bathed themselves subsided and were restored with every preservation.
18. One Folcard who lived near Gistel, a man lively and robust, not so as much useful as thoughtless, believed that the blessed bishop who had spoken about the grace of peace ought to be condemned. When he fled from the face of the man of God, he was quickly given over to an evil spirit. Pulled apart by it and miserably lacerated, he could scarcely be restrained by his friends and neighbors. But, having been purged of the demon by the blessed bishop—not by his own faith but by the prayers of others—he now speaks passionately about how one ought to express love and reverence for the blessed man.
19. In the neighborhood of the castle of Furnes there lived a certain widow by the named of Evergerda, who was supported by her nobility and her wealth, whose husband and son had both been killed by fierce enemies, and for whose destruction they had worked in every respect. On account of the murder of the two, the region had been thrown into disorder, with some people striving for vengeance and others coming to the defense of the murderers. The Lord’s bishop, St. Arnulf, hastened willingly and promptly to restrain this evil, working wherever he was for peace and harmony. He arrived, conveyed on a donkey, to the house of the rich widow, against whom the voice of the Apostles intoned, saying, “The widow who is self-indulgent is as good as dead.” Such a woman was she that she in no way wanted [to permit] the holy man’s entrance. She ordered the draw-bridge before her gate to be raised so that he could not gain access, nor would she give a reply to the man of God’s vow. All the same, Arnulf did not cease to preach, to argue, and to entreat that she should give pardon to her husband’s and son’s murderers for the restoration of their souls, and should consent that those whom she cruelly hated be made friends and allies to her. Yet that woman did not wish to hear his prayers nor give heed to his admonitions, but persisting in the pride of her spirit she ridiculed Christ’s servant about sitting on an ass and mocking the simplicity of his dress. She forced him away from her, but not without consequence. For after the priest, sighing deeply, had left her, the grave vengeance of divine punishment struck her. After a short time, while the skies had been in an otherwise serene state, a certain light storm rose up, struck her house, and tore it down. In the household, now reduced to ruins, [the widow] was suddenly stricken dead. But there an altogether amazing thing happened: in the same house where there had been many servants and maids, pigs and dogs, hens, geese, doves and swallows, nothing perished there except the irreverent woman. Nor was any animal or any person harmed in the least.
Done to death, the dead woman teaches that it was not a fabulous tale
that the saint advised to reflect on such vengeance;
A once powerful woman was made the daughter of death.
The rumor of her death flew about and struck fear into the hardened hearts of the Flemish, so that no one dared to talk back to the man of God or disobey his sacred admonitions. There were at that time in the region around Oldenburg two adversaries of insane hatred, one named Cono, the other Robalinus. Robalinus had sadly killed the father of Cono, Hido, while [Cono] slaughtered the friends and retainers of the other, and each performed whatever evil he could on the other, privately and publicly. Yet Arnulf recalled the demon-addled minds of those men to the grace of peace by the displays of his preaching and through the terror of frequent divine signs. Count Robert and all of his nobility, congratulating him for these actions, swelled up with great joy, because Christ the Lord had granted them such a minister in their time—one who looked after everyone’s well-being with paternal affection and revealed to everyone the path to life by the examples of his own actions. At the count’s order, the castellan Erembold, taking wise men with him to the [comital] palace of Bruges, and counting out by name the dead servants of Bruges and elsewhere, which they had been able to garner from everyone’s knowledge, they discovered and indicated by writing, that the expense of 10,000 marks of silver had not been able to achieve what the grace of God had deigned to govern through this minister of truth. It thus happened that every man, powerful and weak alike, loved the holy man to their very core, and breathlessly hoped he would live with them. They thus began to inquire with every effort whereabouts the holy bishop might usefully and honorably be able to reside.
20. There was in the town of Oldenburg a church founded long ago under the name of the holy apostle Peter and of all the holy apostles, which was frequented and famous for its divine miracles, and which a certain noble and extremely wealthy man named Cono, the brother of Everard of Tournai, held in benefice from the count of Flanders, who in turn held it from the bishop of Tournai. The fear of God burned in Cono and he suggested to his most faithful wife, Huzecca, that he should render the church of the apostle St. Peter, which divine miracles had made awesome, quit and free to its own jurisdiction, and that he should install [there] an abbot and monks in praise of God. For it was fitting that the written promise to blessed Peter be fulfilled, which we recalled had been made before the same bishop, as much for the building of the place as concerning the death and burial of this holy man. By God’s ordination it happened that, with Cono returning the church he held to the count, the count then returned it to the bishop of Tournai, whose name was Radbod. Bishop Radbod, together with Walter his archdeacon—to the praise of the clergy and joy of the people—granted it free and unimpeded to Bishop Arnulf, and canonically invested it to him.
[21. The church in question was built in the time of king Dagobert by Ursmer, and the majesty of the lord was displayed there through the working of diverse miracles: the blind received sight, the deaf sound, the mute the ability to speak, those paralyzed were restored, and the sick were made healthy. Moreover in the year of the Lord 1081, on the night of the Lord’s birth, a vehement wind arose which shattered and threw down the towers of the town, and the roofs of houses and several church buildings. And the same night, during the same windstorm, the bell of the church of St. Peter was torn from its hinges by the wind, and was tossed upon the roof of the tower on which it had stood, projecting toward the east, so that through six days and nights the pendulum could not discerned, as if it had always been collapsed. In the morning the inhabitants gathered at the place and quickly called architects. While the tower was being rebuilt, there was a sign from heaven in a vision of fire, and the bell was reestablished firmly in its fittings, and the interior and exterior of the church were illuminated by flames. Hariulf then finishes: “These things seem shameful to me to relate, except that a thousand witnesses had maintained that they had seen it.”]
[22. It was the saint’s custom that whenever a poor or sick person came seeking his aid, Arnulf would place his hands on that person and repeat the words of the gospel of Mark. When they were spoken three times, the sickness would retreat. While Arnulf was staying in Oldenburg, a woman of the town came to him and prayed that he might bless her in order to relieve her of various afflictions. He asks her to elaborate on her pains and she does so, adding that she was told to come see him by a divine admonition. Arnulf blesses her, and her pain immediately subsides.]
23. At this point, while the holy man was staying in the same place, a certain pilgrim came from Jerusalem, and announced to Arnulf: “Lord, your sister the Lady Oda called me to Jerusalem, and asked earnestly that I might say to you, that she strives, labors, and hastens to the fullest extent possible to see you in the flesh before your death and speak to you, that she might in person beseech and receive from you the remission of sins, and counsel. Such is the most important point of her request, that you should make it your prayer to the Lord, asking that you not depart until she should come, and that she should not die without seeing your face, so beloved to her.” Then the just man replied: “Our sister Oda, a sister in the Lord, no matter how fast she hurries and overcomes delays, labors in vain. She strives to obtain what the Lord disposes otherwise. May she witness and contemplate our deeds and effort in fearing the Lord.” This most chaste woman, hurrying and not allowing herself to rest, quickly entered Oldenburg, but found her brother had already been entombed for eight days.
24. But, so that we may return to the order of events, the blessed holy soldier of Christ Arnulf began at the beginning of June to inquire with curiosity if the memory of St. Medard was held anywhere around, as he wished to celebrate his feast day, which is June 8, in a church dedicated to his name. Owing to his care, it was revealed that there stood a church dedicated to St. Medard on the estate called Eerneghem, not far to the south of Oldenburg. Arnulf went there to perform the offices owed for the honor of such a confessor. Moreover, the people of the estate saw this holy celebrity, and compelled with their hearts they donated to the church of St. Peter in Oldenburg two parts of all the tithes of their allods, their arable and fallow farmlands, whether marshy or dry, of their woods and enclosures, and whatever other free lands they possessed; and from this they gave with a willing spirit two parts of the tithe of all yields of wool and reeds. The principals of these donations, the nobles and leading men of the area, namely Bertulf, son of Ermenarus, with his wife Ingelborg; Erembold and Malgerus, sons of Almarus; Leggiva, widow of another Ermenarus, with her sons Enguerran, Fredeboldus and Lambert, and all of their blood relatives exacted from the holy man that they and their descendents should by damned with eternal anathema if ever they should contrive to take back anything from the aforesaid tithe, or to otherwise diminish it or cause any sort of harm to be done to it by any means.
25. Once the place had been, as was said, bequeathed to him by lawful transaction and legitimately freed from claim, he deputized certain of his men who cleaned the place and prepared suitable dwelling-places for the servants of God. The local people and those of the neighboring lands promptly helped out by giving money and animals and various gifts. Moreover they rejoiced that the lamp of God had begun to shine forth among them. For at the heights of the church of blessed Peter at Oldenburg, namely in the place where this holy man had stood and sat, where he had sweated for peace and harmony, a column of fire was seen eminating from on high, projecting from on high, which from the beginning of the night to around the breaking of dawn, changed the darkness of night to light with a unbelievable splendor, and illuminated everything in a space around it with a most splendid light.
26. [Arnulf eventually] returned to the diocese of Soissons, where he was entreated with everyone’s the vows and joyfully celebrated by everyone. The reprehensible conduct in so many things of king Philip came to his notice, [namely] the ongoing dissimulation of his coercions and the indiscreet installation of bishops and abbots. For that reason, he began to bear down on the the evils which were committed everywhere, in no way moderating his rulership of the common good. His soul yearned to rest from the burden of evils which increased daily, because even the most noble moderation of the church of Reims had grown tepid on account of it. The law of the metropolitan dignity was ignored, so that neither episcopal councils nor ecclesiastical judgments were exercised there. Therefore, choosing the sustenance of compunction, the custody of silence, the friendship of quiet and divine contemplation, he took up the path of his first enclosure and elected to remove himself from the Lord’s house rather than to carry on, stand, or sit in any sort of transgression against divine laws. . . . He kept arduously to the path of seclusion, [which he] adorned with holy vritues, living in hunger and thirst and frequent fasting, in cold and nakedness, always extending his mind in the knowledge of God, in charity rather than falsehood, in the word of truth, in the virtue of God, in longanimity, in sweetness, and in the holy spirit.
27-28. However, the originators of all the problems rose up in the area and at the borders of the region, for which the more noble of the land-holders of Oldenburg together with Everolfus the monk decided that they should go to the man of God, and with every effort compel him to return to Flanders and regulate the importune conflicts. And he, aware of the future, as one who was instructed frequently by divine visions, willingly took upon himself the pleas of the petitioners, for he had known in truth that he could not pass on to be with Christ unless he were in Oldenburg. Going with them, he reminded them with frequent words: “By whatever means I go to Flanders, my sons, know that it is not so much a matter of your will as it is by divine disposition.”
When they had passed through parts of the country, he came to Arras, and there dismounted to rest for a while. He began to pray and hoped to catch a modicum of sleep. While he slept a vision appeared to him by which he was blessed. A heavenly messenger states that once he reached Oldenburg he would not live for much longer, but passing from mortal life will go to a celestial eternal life. He is told he will be buried at Oldenburg and eventually his body will be elevated on account of his merits. At this Arnulf arose and woke his servants, revealing to them his promised destiny and his place of burial. His traveling companions were stupefied, but in him there was such a rigor of discipline, authority, and grace, that there was no immoderate celebration.]
29. On the eighteenth day of July he entered Oldenburg, his journey having succeeded with the fame of happy virtue. There evangelizing the kingdom of God, he stayed seven days in good health. On the day of the apostle James, having finished the solemnities of the masses, he began to fall sick, and labored valiantly for twenty-one days. When he estimated that he was near the end, the brothers suggested to him that he should have himself pre-fortified with the holy offices, so that he not suddenly pass from this life without them. To them he responded with a soft voice: “Most beloved sons, do not in any way be concerned about this, because through God’s mercy I sense when and how he shall set me free. I know the time, and I know the hour; and I command you concerning this that it will happen at an opportune time.”
[30. Twenty days after he took to bed, there was in the middle of the night three horrible tremors in the cell in which he lay, and it was ruined to its foundations. The other monks fled outside, but Arnulf calmed them, and assured Everolfus that they had nothing to fear, as these were heavenly signs. On the following Sunday, his sensed his end was imminent, and told the brothers that on each of the three concussions, he was visited, first by Peter; then the archangel Michael with a company of blessed angels; on the third, “by the true mother of mercy,” Mary. Hymns are then sung by all assembled, and Everolfus and Arnulf exchange parting words and assurances.]
31. On the twenty-first day of his illness, on the Sunday when it was the vigils of the Assumption of our glorious lady and mother of God, the ever-virgin Mary, his disciples and the clergy of nearby churches having been called together, he had himself anointed with sacred oil while psalms and litanies were sung, and humbly asked everyone’s prayer.
Then he made confession, as if weighed down by a crime:
“I erred wickedly, and I multipled the wickedness of sins,
I did childish things while a monk and a knight,
Behaving like a fool in my heart, I did not live appropriately,
I am sinner many times over and am born down by them.
I offended the king who makes the laws over all,
Through whom whoever returns to God is saved.
Behold, I, near death, confess my unpunished fault,
Which I beseech you to dissolve with your loving prayers.”
He then gave instructions to the same brothers, saying: “Tomorrow there will be joy in heaven over the Lord’s resurrection, and the joy of the holy angels will double from the advent of the heavenly Queen. Christ willing, a third event will be added, for which the joys will triple: for that reason I forbid you to begin the next morning with the work of my burial; you should reserve this for the following day. For it has been predetermined aove that the little body of this sinner Arnulf shall be returned to the earth on the feast day of the holy bishop Arnulf of Metz.” Indeed, he foretold many things, as much concerning the kingdom and state of affairs of this place as concerning the future cases of princes and bishops, which all came true just as he had prophesied. When the evening hour was upon them, he received with the highest devotion the body and blood of the Redeemer, and blessing everyone he proclaimed himself to be blessed by everyone in return. Panting after his eternal rest and most favorably adored by them all, he signed himself with the sign of the holy cross. Then lowering himself onto the pavement, which had been covered with ashes and a sackcloth, and praising and blessing the Lord’s name, he received his happy rest and entered conjoined to the Lord the land of the living. He died on the eighteen kalends of September in the year of the Lord 1087.
32. When his death was announced to the people, it is amazing to say with what alacrity and with how much devotion the simple people (plebs), flocking there from all over, filled the region. The clergy commenced the psalms, while certain of the poor laypeople who had run there procured a meal, and also many of the nobles and knights journeyed there in an impressive multitude in order to celebrate with distinguished reverence the holy bishop’s funeral rites. Indeed, such a multitude of clergy and people streamed there that I should say that not only the church, but the foyer and the confines beyond it were unable to hold so large a crowd. Some brought lamps, while many others celebrated that they had deserved to be present for such rites. And when the body of the blessed man had been composed according to custom and, adorned with the pontifical insignia, had been brought into the church, the brother Everolfus—fearing lest the rapacity of one among all the mingling crowd should, lusting for the golden ring [of his office] snatch it from his hand—removed it and put it away for safekeeping. When the time came for the burial and [Everolfus] wished to put the golden ring back on his finger, his cold hand and clenched finger, having hardened in this way had gone so rigid that they could not be extended. Then on account of this difficulty the love of the faithful who were present turned to sadness, and they beseeched with groans that the Lord might consent that the faculty of the holy body not lack its refinements. Present at the funeral rites were Bernard, the provost of Watten with Richard the dean, together with a huge crowd of priests and clergy, by whose pleading and beseeching voices the psalms were sung . . . when suddenly marvel-working God made his saint astonishing before the eyes of those present—in truth, it is amazing to say! Before those who were making their requests, the right hand lifted itself from the chest of the dead man, extended a finger, and made space for the ring to be put on: once [the ring] had been replaced, the hand restored itself to its same pristine state, and the fingers curled into the palm as they had done previously.
[There follow twelve lines of verse, not translated here.]
33. [Here follows a laudatory poem in twenty-three lines. It notes that lead tablets were engraved with his deeds and life and laid upon his chest in the tomb.]
34. Now, then, it ought to be considered and preserved in the minds of the faithful with how many labors and how many kinds of adversities this servant of Christ merited such efficacy of virtue that even the very limbs of the dead man should be powerful with the praise of miracles. For not in serving the throat and stomach, nor longing after human cupidities did he receive such a gift from Christ, but in mortifying the body, staying vigilant to God’s mandates, pursuing the love of truth, and in daily growing and persevering in the path of justice. And because the resting place of his heart had been purified and his body thoroughly tamed with due ceremony, for that reason it was pleasing to the holy spirit that he should glorify the glorified one and should display him as a lovable and laudable man and a pure servant in the gaze of all people. May those reading these things therefore look upon them deservingly, and may prudent men call to mind the prophecy of this man, because many days before while he was residing in the region of Soissons at the castle of Oulchy, he predicted that no bishop or abbot would come to celebrate his funeral, but that everything would be taken care of by a monk and his priest around him. The neighboring abbots, two from Ghent and one from Bergues were hindered by the occupation of so many demands that, although they had been invited and dearly wished to come, they could by no means overcome the obstacles. Once the masses had been celebrated by many people who had flocked there from all over with their priests, and donations had been most benevolently distributed for the use of the poor, the body of this holy man was buried at the church of Saint-Pierre of Oldenburg on the same day the flesh of the holy bishop Arnulf of Metz
was gathered up. And he was described with the following epitaph:
A knight in this world, now dust in this tomb,
He spurned the secular army for God’s love.
By his protection, by which he lived without quarrels
He was first made a devoted monk of Soissons. . . . [etc.]
This little work was completed in the twenty-eighth year after his passing, in the seventh indiction, which we believe marks the year 1114 from the Lord’s incarnation, when Louis, son of King Philip, ruled the kingdom of the Franks—whose own birth had been prophesied by the same man of God—in the seventh year of his reign. Pope Paschal II presided over the Roman Church, Raoul governed the archdiocese of Reims, in the time of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to whom with the Father in unity with the Holy Spirit is all honor and glory, praise and power until the end of time. Amen.
To the venerable Raoul, deservedly lord by beloved law, by the grace of God archbishop of the church of Reims, [from your] son Lisiard, would that he were a worthy minister of the church of Soissons, greetings and the victorious palm of the pious.
When your paternity was present at that great and unheard-of council of a multitude of bishops, which was celebrated under the authority of the Lord Pope Calixtus at Reims, and when I, humble, cleaved to your side, your brother and fellow bishop the priest Lambert of Noyon-Tournai complained together with us that it seemed unjust and ungrateful to him—and not only to him, but to many others—that my predecessor the holy bishop Arnulf, who led a life that was holy and pleasing to God, and whose sanctity was confirmed by the Lord beyond a doubt with many miracles, should to that point [still] lie in the folds of the damp earth. His royal majesty, a witness of the miracles who had been beseeched by the tears and forgiven by the prayers of this saint Arnulf, was present. Also present was Peter the archdeacon of Soissons, who had been born blind and who admitted with the testimony of many others that he had received sight through the saliva from the mouth of the man of God Arnulf. Lastly I was present—the least worthy, it may be said—I, who often exulted that I had been consecrated by him into the order of subdeacon. Having formerly lived with that man, I observed the abstinence and regimen of [his] life, I heard the many prophecies, and I, in person, witnessed not a few miracles. And when these things, and many things similar to them, attested by many others, were related, it was pleasing to your paternity to relate the [following] words: “Why do you beset me with your stories, when I recognize the same man even better than you by the deeds of his sanctity? I saw him perform a dedication at Chaumont, where a woman from the village they call Caviniaco:
Deprived of her sight for fifteen awful years,
Placed herself with a beseeching voice before the saint’s visage.
There was immediately no delay after the bishop made the blessing;
He separated her eyelids, light rushed in, and the woman saw.
Let it be done: he worked wonders and lived justly. I am not saying that he ought to be elevated [as a saint], unless the grace of God through a clear heavenly sign gives testimony. But the Roman Church is here; the lord pope himself is here [at Reims]. Bring this matter to their attention, and their examination will follow.”
It was done, and echoed by every voice, and they brought themselves back in your pronouncement. Thus we have determined to make known by the pages of this present work to you and mother Church, how many and what sort of things the Lord and Savior deigned to be miracles around his deceased bones after his burial, so that the preceeding knowledge might be advanced more securely by your authority for the reading of others.
Here begins the Third Book
1. After this blessed servant of God was happily released from human affairs, various miracles were performed by God around his relics and many of the sick were restored to health. Indeed, not far from his tomb stood an altar, upon which was placed a great cross bearing the image of the Lord’s crucifixion, from whose face and chest two of the brothers [that is, the monks] saw a globe of fire or lightning erupt and quickly pass around his chest in his tomb. By this sign it was understood that the one who bore our sins upon his body while on the cross, bore the joy of true light to this his servant. Some time later that year, this same sarcophagus was split open from the head to the feet and divided in half, as if it had been intentionally cut. And, this same division or fissure, coming just before the moment of his elevation, suggested to everyone’s minds a foreshadowing [of things to come].
2. Also, from the first moment after his inhumation, such an ardor of faith and devotion shone forth around him, that whenever any sick people came to the sepulcher of Saint Arnulf under their own power or through their servants, on walking around [his sarcophagus] and gathering up the blowing dust, they took it home with them as if a proven medicine. Mixing the same dust into their food or drink, or swallowing the dry dust by licking it, they escaped from all infirmities and quickly asserted that it was a sure-fire cure. And this was noted to have happened not by four or by seven or ten people, but by thousands. We saw a skeptic most severely afflicted [by illness], from whom, when that dust was put into his mouth unwillingly, an evil spirit was promptly expelled. He regained control of his senses. This dust is famous not only in our Francia, but carries notice of its great use to the borders of all regions. England, Gaul, Scotia, Frisia, and foreign peoples simultaneously seized the dust for their lands.
3. These and many similar things afterward were thus known far and wide to have been done, and this praiseworthy news penetrated France; and although a pleasing odor perpetually emanated from his tomb, the monks of Saint-Medard, gravely lamenting that they should lack the remains of so great a man, entered into counsel with their abbot Odo, that they should go Oldenburg as if for the sake of a visitation, and there secretly open up his tomb, so that they might carry off the extracted bone with all haste to their monastery in Soissons. The time arrived, and preparing the tools of this trade, they began at night to open his tomb from the right side. At once there was an enormous celestial booming, violently rattling the diggers, and deterred them—now greatly concerned—from what they had begun. The men, after reviving a short while later and believing that it had happened from an unseen disruption of the air, returned to the sepulchre, so that they might finish what they had begun. But as soon as they began to dig, the crashing sounded terribly a second time. And those men now made afraid, fell to the ground, and once they caught their breath, they fled in extreme terror. And while they stood at distance away, murmuring with subdued whispers, the thought entered their minds that they should try the same bold move again a third time and should pay attention whether anu such effect should occur again. The shaking men approached, and trembling applied their hands to the task, but at once they were beaten down a third time by the same unbearable terror, they were thrown to the pavement, shaken lifeless, and nearly dead they did not know what had happened. Finally after a span of three hours they returned to their senses, and greatly agitated swore a vow that they would never attempt further to violate the holy body or his grave. Arnulf, the nephew of this same holy bishop and first abbot of Oldenburg, had attempted to accomplish these things with two other monks, Godebertus from the region of Oldenburg and Balradus of Bruges, by whose report these same deeds were here noted.
[4. In the time following, a certain miserable woman, twisted about by a most miserable contraction—her knee was joined to her chest and the palm of her hand was attached under the knee, such that they clung together as far as the flesh of the buttocks—was brought to the church. Taking mercy on the woman, the people helped to lay her out before the tomb of Saint Arnulf, where she was healed. She then walked throughout the church and showed the place on her body where the blood from her limbs could be seen and had formerly adhered.]
5. Many times it happened that heavenly lights were seen burning there. But, in order that we not seem to relate anything adumbrated by chance or by any sort of cunning, what we are saying is attested by a thousand witnesses. A celebration of special importance was carried out on the first day of May, and a multitude of people from everywhere had filled the place; and behold on the third hour of the day, when the solemn procession was underway, two waxen candles which were being carried were extinguished by a gust of wind at the church door; but as [the procession] came to the sepulcher of Saint Arnulf, immediately those very candles re-lit, and burned so that the flames could not be extinguished by the wind.
6. In the year after the Lord’s humanity 1115, a plague of severe sickness occurred in people of both sexes and all ages throughout the whole neighboring region. Bearing the biers of the sick in groups, they were content to lay their sick around the tomb of Arnulf, the servant of Christ. Indeed, so widespread was grace in the restoration of the sick, that from the middle of April to the middle of the month of August, when [Arnulf’s] death is celebrated, there sixty cures of note, beyond those who were healed that did not come to our notice. And it happened likewise the following year, that between the middle of May and August, fifty of both sexes and all ages were made well there.
7.-12. [A series of miracles are briefly related:]
(1) A man suffering from dropsy came to the tomb at Oldenburg one morning and mixed some dust from Arnulf’s tomb with water; on consuming it he was healed immediately.
(2) At about the same time some fishermen tracking a whale and trying to kill it ran into trouble. After severely wounding the animal, the whale became enraged and began diving deeply and breaching nearby. When the fishermen began to fear for their lives they invoked Arnulf’s protection and vowed part of the whale meat if they should vanquish it. And so it happened; the whale expired.
(3) In the vigils of Ascension a paralyzed woman was cured during vespers.
(4) In the nativity of St. John the Baptist, while the monks of Oldenburg were performing night vigils, a certain man was cured of an unspecified illness.
(5) Two old men of advanced age who were greatly ill and stricken with the same malady feared the end of their lives. Prolapsed intestines hung from each man to his genitals, causing enormous pain. Having heard of Arnulf’s fame they came to his tomb, and their pain was healed and their viscera reabsorbed into their bodies.
(6) On the sixth day of the week of Pentecost, a certain youth, in great pain from a withered hand, came and threw himself at the little place of Arnulf’s tomb. Beseeching the piety of the saint with many complaints, while the Gospels were being recited his hand was healed and perfectly restored.
13. Before the bones of Saint Arnulf were elevated from the earth, the church of Saint Peter [of Oldenburg] possessed many relics of the same saint, that is all the furnishings of his personal chapel. Indeed, from these relics the brothers gave a certain portion to some men from the island of Scolda, so that they might build a church in the name of Christ dedicated to St. Arnulf. Once the church was built and the altar erected, they placed the capsule of those relics in the altar. And it happened by carelessness that the church, struck by the fires, burned to the ground; but the capsule containing the relics of St. Arnulf, and everything in it, remained untouched from the fire. Moreover the altar-cloth (palla), wherever it was touching or lying beneath the capsule, likewise remained unburned.
14. On the island which is called Beveland [South Beveland, in the Scheldt River estuary]—that is, the Shaking Lands—certain nobles, the chief of which was Alvise son of Landrada, and his brother Ellicus, engaged in disputes and lawsuits against their fellows, also noble men. Whence it happened that one of them by the name of Wido, wounded in the hand before Ellicus’s gate, lost two fingers (the middle and the ring finger) and remained maimed and lacking the two fingers. For this reason there flourished a great enmity among Wido and his compatriots against Alvise and Ellicus, and against their friends and associates, up until the time when the reliquary of St. Arnulf was carried into those regions to make peace among people ignorant of God. And that same man, deformed by the damage to his two fingers, surprised while in a church by the monks and the clergy prostrating themselves before him, when the relics of St. Arnulf had been placed on the ground before him, was constrained to swear that he would make peace with his enemies, Alvise and Ellicus. [The monks and clergy] compelled him to place the pledge-money of his vow by his own hand on the treasury-bier of the relics. Out of reverence for the saints present he complied for the moment; but returning home and upon being shamefully rebuked by those close to him and his dependents, he was turned from the good and failed to uphold what he had sworn to St. Arnulf. Immediately, a powerful sickness attacked him, and stricken by it he remained bedridden for twenty-one days. During this time, he could take neither sleep nor food, but slowly becoming worse from day to day, he was reduced to the point that he was obliged to summon a priest for the last rites. The the priest said to him: “All this infirmity which you have been suffering for so long, has been justly born for the mendacity by which you deceived St. Arnulf. But if you believe me, and with a good heart do not renounce the promised peace and the matter of your maimed fingers, I have faith in the living God that you will heal and will sense your life to be more prosperous.” The sick man, wasting no time, said: “Bring me the holy cross.” When it had been brought before him he said: “Behold, I know most certainly that I have incurred this illness on the account of my falsehood, but now if holy Arnulf will pray for me that I may live, I vow and I swear on this cross that I will fulfill whatever I formely promised concerning the peace and the indulgence of my fingers.” Saying this, and making a new vow on the cross he immediately added a new gift: “If I have [him] as a friend or faithful man may he provide that I should quickly be able to eat; for the fear of death recedes from me and all hope in my life follows in me.” What more? Immediately restored with food and drink, and after the third day, mounting his horse, he entered Flanders and sought out Oldenburg, and made penance before the brothers. Returning to that place, he swore all as he had [promised], and everything he had first vowed he fully completed, remained stably in the peace which he had sworn.
15. After these and other proofs of heavenly grace reached the ears of the lord bishop Lambert, as they had been noticed more widely by the faithful people, the same bishop took counsel at the Council of Beauvais (held the 15 Kalends of November) with some of his fellow bishops, as to what work had been done for such a magnificent act of God. Present there were the bishops of the Franks William of Châlons, pillar of learned men; Geoffrey of Chartres, Daimbert the archbishop of Sens, Henry bishop of Orléans, the bishop [Gerbert] of Paris, Clarembaud of Senlis, Peter of Beauvais, Enguerran bishop of Amiens, Robert bishop of Arras, John bishop of Thérouanne, Lambert bishop of Tournai, Burchard bishop of Cambrai, Bartholomew of Laon, and I, Lisiard, unworthy bishop of Soissons, along with a copious magnitude of abbots, archdeacons, priests and many of the clergy. Among the others the abbot of Oldenburg was also present, bearing in his hands a little book concerning the life, mores, and miraculous deeds of this saint Arnulf. Accepting the book from his hands, I opened it, and on doing so, showed it to the bishops, saying, “Behold, lords, I am intimately familiar with this little book, co-written by me, concerning his life. For it I produce faithful testimony that everything it says is true. And I bring to bear from its miracles and certain other things from home many truthful witnesses. I ask that this book be diligently examined by you, so that you might gain from reading it what ought to be done about it so that it might be better known. Moreover, may your holiness hear my judgment, because although he resided in the diocese committed to me, it has been a long time that he has reposed in the earth.” William the bishop of Châlons took the book, and looking it over from the beginning, saw the great number of chapters, and said to the bishop of Tournai: “Lord, what more do you seek? Even without this little book, the testimony of the lord bishop of Soissons and his clergy should be sufficient for you. An abbot of this sort ought to give you great confidence: his age ought to be acknowledged, and his wisdom should be reassuring. In truth, there is no time for this book to be passed around, for we are busy with synodal business.” But bishop Geoffrey of Chartres said: “Lord of Tournai, I say to you in truth: If the Lord had done these or similar things through any of my predecessors, I would not seek counsel from the pope, or a papal legate, nor any archbishop, but I would exalt, as is fitting, the complete constancy of God’s saint.”
Meanwhile, while these matters were being determined by the bishops, certain noble schoolmasters took the book and cursorily read through certain chapters of the deeds. Some of them, running to where the bishops were, expressed with great constancy: “Whoever is opposed to the exaltation of this saint is in truth not of God.” Then William, the bishop of Châlons, said: “It is a disgrace before God that we doubted so openly about this matter. You, my Lord of Tournai, with God’s grace and without ambiguity, state the day on which you shall convene at [Oldenburg] and restore God’s holy servant by honorably elevating him from the earth.” Lambert stated, “Behold, the esteemed [papal] legate is staying in this church with our lords the archbishops of Reims, Tours, and Sens. I ask you: may it please you to come before them and adapt your judgment to their will. At that the bishops all said, “May it be done in the Lord’s name.”
It next happened that the bishop Lambert said to the Lord of Châlons: “I would ask you to take up my case.” When [the bishop] had explained with brief eloquence the case before the legate and archbishop, the legate Cono [of Praeneste] and the archbishop of Reims responded with one voice: “We fully uphold the judgment of your authority, and we steadfastly assent to your decree.” And so bishop Lambert, calling over the abbot, designated the day on which he would come to Oldenburg, that is, on the kalends of May, on which the holy body of the man of God should be elevated from the earth and be revered as a saint after the customs of the Gallic Church. Moreover, he sent out letters with his seal, by which all the people of the diocese of Tournai were called to so holy an office.
Rumor flying, running quickly on the roads
Made diverse hasten for this see.
Let us say nothing of Flanders: men from Walcheren, the Scheldt, from Beveland, Antwerp, the Texandriani, those from the Waas, from Brabant, the Menapenses [Roman names for Celtic peoples, from near Cassel], the people of Thérouanne, from Boulogne, and people from other regions came in vast numbers. At the appointed time the bishop came with the honorable archdeacon of Tournai, Robert, and a large group of clergy. Bearing the standard of the cross and the text of the holy Gospels, and with the clergy singing along with candles and incense, the tomb of the holy man was opened, and his blessed bones were lifted up from the dust. The chalice buried with him rested upon his chest, and the leaden tablet lay beneath the chalice upon his chest. The etched tablet contained his name, country of birth, family line, military service, conversion, promotion into the abbacy, his day of ordination as bishop, and his passage from the world to Christ. This tablet, lifted from the chest of the saint and handed to the bishop who was standing nearby, gave[Lambert] great joy because he had been afraid that the brothers, misled by some error, might elevate not St. Arnulf, but rather some unworthy person under his name. Similarly, when the [monks] had presented the pastoral schedula along with the bishop, he was greatly pleased. At the end, when he had seen the [bishop’s] gold-woven sandals removed, he dissolved into tears.
For the elevation of the bones and their removal from the tomb, three members of the clergy were charged: the abbot Hariulf and the monks Goduinus and Hagamingus. When the abbot had elevated the crown of the head from the earth and had placed it in the container prepared for it, behold, the fleshy parts of his hands were found infused with a slippery liquid, just as if he had dunked his hands in a vase full of oil. Behold, before God—because it is true and because what he said was truth—an odor of great sweetness spread about there. Nor undeservedly, for he who in mortal life strived to exist in the sweet scent of Christ in every place—and not unsurprisingly, if he was now crowned by God—and served him fully merited to be honored with the celestial scent.
Meanwhile, the nave of the church resounded with the praises to the beloved Trinity, and up to the point when the blessed bones were restored to a worthy reliquary, smartly adorned, the bishop and the clergy both performed the service with divine words. When they had been deposited in the reliquary, the bishop immediately began the hymn Te Deum laudamus, te Dominum confitemur. Indeed, with thousands rejoicing to this hymn, the saint was borne outside the church to the arranged station to be buried by hand. Such a multitude of people ran to the holy man that they trampled themselves; they pressed in; they jostled. But no one did harm to himself or to others for love of the saint. Such devotion and desire for the saint surpasses the limits of reason, with the result that the abbot and monks were completely unable to approach to the saint in any way.
[16. Immediately, three miraculous healings occurred at the tomb, one of a boy possessed by a devil, the other two of paralyzed women. These “three signs” occurred within the church and became known among the people in the streets and in the fields, and for that reason a huge crowd filled up the church, to such an extent that no one was able to speak, turn themselves, or hear anything other than the noise of the crowd’s tumult.]
17. God, taking pleasure with his saint in heaven, even gave a sign from heaven. From the first hour [of the day] all the way to the sixth, a sphere was seen in skies burning as with the flames of a fire, which came to rest uponn the holy body of the blessed man. Through the transverse of this sphere radiated the sign of the holy cross, as if it had been refined of the purest gold in a forge. The cross in its splendor conquered all the beauty of the sun, and by its length exceeded the amplitude of the sphere, extending beyond it through its four arms, and glowing with incredible brightness, like gold. Certainly, this sign seen in heaven seems to signify the divine mystery. For what does the sphere represent, if not the width of the lands of the earth? And what does the vision of the cross [signify], if it does not designate the mortification of the earthly body? Moreover, what does the gold and its splendor indicate if not the clarity of eternal wisdom and the inward contemplation of the divine light? A flame appeared in the sphere, because it is known throughout the world—or rather it will be known—that God’s love spread in Arnulf’s heart through the holy spirit which was given to him. If it was given, it was given by the God of heaven. Justly therefore a sign glorifying Arnulf appeared in the heavens. Let no one say: “Who has heard of Arnulf? We declare that he who is so highly noted is he who deserves to be known to heaven. Nor does the prophet deceive who says: “The just will remain in eternal memory.” Thus the sphere that appeared in heaven represents the width of good fame, while the flame represents the ardor of internal charity. The cross signifies martyrdom, the golden splendor the mystical intellect of divine love; the length of the cross, extending outside the sphere, intimates the holy perseverance of blessed mortification. The blessed and sainted Arnulf could say: “My concern is in heaven.” He could say, “All the lovable and delectable things of the world which I relinquished, I judge to be filth.” A thing of this sort ought to be explained in these ways.
18. The translation of St. Arnulf was carried out on the first day of May, the fourteenth indiction, in the year of the Lord 1121. Louis the son of Philip had ruled the Franks for fourteen years, Charles, the son of the Danish king and whose mother had been the daughter of count Robert [of Flanders], was ruling the county of Flanders, and when Hariulf was in the sixteenth year of his abbacy at Oldenburg. Moreover, it was observed that with the elevation of the blessed man an abundance of the produce of the earth, bodily health, and pleasantness of the air had returned to the region of Flanders, which previously had languished wretchedly for seven years from an inundation of rains, sterility of the earth, the sickness of its animals, and the frequent mortality of men.
19. On the third Sunday after Albas, when the introit of the masses is sung, Jubilante Deo, omnis terra, alleluia, the elevation of the body of blessed St. Arnulf was performed by us. On that same Sunday, namely the eighteenth [of May], the remarkable solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord took place, which is forty days from the holy day of the Resurrection. Indeed, the observance of the Ascension in the town of Oldenburg is more frequently attended than other holy days, because on the same holy day the rituals of the markets occur in the same place, and for that reason the people, leaving aside their labors, converge there in greater than usual numbers. Given the occasion, with thick crowds arriving from all over, it happened that three brothers, all knights, from one region, and two other brothers—also knights, and enemies of those three because those they had recently killed a knight who was the brother of the other two—came together. The three knights, namely the murderers of the others’ brother, convened the abbot and the monks of the place and asked with much supplication that they lend a hand to help work for their reconciliation. At this the abbot and the willing monks, asking where the two brotherless brothers would be, brought with them the bier of St. Arnulf and came unexpectedly to where the latter were sitting, and began to have lunch. The older brother, when he saw the monks and the holy reliquary, realized that they had come to force them [to compromise]. Immediately, throwing aside his meal and drinking cup and getting up, he sought to escape; but by the virtue of the Lord and the merits of St. Arnulf, his buttocks adhered to the bench, and his feet adhered to the footstool. In this way weighed down and restrained against his will, he sat back down. Ask for his indulgence by the monks, he responded with ignorant words. Why shall we put it off further? A protruding tongue, a savage eye, and a spasmodic motion of his entire body distinguished that foolish one, and his friends wept for him, now brought to death. Then the younger brother made an oath, saying, “St. Arnulf, have mercy on me, and return to me the my brother’s life. Behold, I swear and promise that if my brother make amends and for love of you I make him a friend to these enemies, and that I will compel him, even if he is unwilling, to make with them a pact of perpetual peace.” The monks who were present rejoiced on hearing this, and taking some water they moistened the foot of the bier, and taking up the water they poured it on his mouth and over his entire face. Then [the brother], awakening as if from a deep sleep, collected himself. At last calling his brother and exclaiming loudly he said, “Rejoice, brother, because I have revived—God allowed me to live by the prayers of St. Arnulf. Rising, he made his devotions with great ardor. At last, he received into friendship the murderers of his brother with great affection, and bound by his oath he swore to them that he would observe a stable peace. Thus with grace to hated enemies, benevolence to rivals, the reverence of honor to blessed Arnulf, so Christ our God brings about praise and glory to his name for ever and ever. Amen.
 This translation was made from the
editions of Arnulf’s vita
found in the PL and MGH SS series: (1) Vita sancti
Arnulfi episcopi Suessionensis, auctore Hariulfo, coaequali, et a
Lisiardo, episcopo Suessionensis, item coaequali, ut videtur,
recognita. Patrologiae latinae cursus completus, vol. 174 (Paris,
1854), cols. 1371-1438; and O. Holder-Egger, ed., Ex vita
Arnulfi episcopi Suessionensis auctore Hariulfo abbate Aldenburgensi,
Germaniae historica, Scriptores, vol. 15:2, pp.
872-904. These were compared to Brussels B. R. ms. 1780-1781,
fols. 1-70 (a fifteenth-century copy). An edition of the vita brevior
has been achieved by
Renée Nip, Arnulfus van Oudenburg, Bisschop van Soissons
(†1087), Mens en Model. Een bronnenstudie (Groningen, 1995). An
overview of what is known
about Arnulf’s life may be found in the Dictionnaire d’histoire et
géographie ecclésiastiques, vol. 4 (Paris: Librairie
et Ané, 1930), cols. 617-618, although Renée Nip’s survey
Arnulf and his hagiographical tradition represents the most up-to-date
thorough research on the subject.
Conveniently, her text has been published on-line: http://www.ub.rug.nl/eldoc/dis/arts/r.i.a.nip/. While the work is in Dutch and therefore inaccessbile to most students, she does include an English resume of her argument. I have also consulted BHL 704, Vita longior, Brussels B.R. 1780-1781. A slim tome of the 15thc., paper, script in two columns with rubricated initials and chapter numbers, as well as some rubricated chapter headings). The ms. includes the “preface of Lisiard” but not the three letters pre-fixed to the text published by Migne. The current codex (80 fols.) contains also the Vita sancti Walerici and a few pages of metric verse in his honor. There are chapter headings listed for all three books at the beginning, fols. 2r-3v, but this ms. differs in the number of chapters presented in the Migne ed. Book 1 has 31 as opposed to 32 chaps., owing to the combinations of chs. 1-2 into a single heading and other alterations. Book 2 has 34 chapters (same as Migne ed.), while Book 3 has 17 (contra 19). Nor do the chapter headings always accord with those of the Migne ed. This text contains a number of differences in spelling and orthography, most minor.
 Lisiard died some 39 years after Arnulf, Hariulf 56 years later.
 These letters belong to Hariulf’s version of the life.
 Lambert was bishop of the dual diocese of Noyon-Tournai from 1114-1123 and therefore Hariulf’s superior. Noyon was in Francia not far from Paris, while Tournai was in Flanders.
 Cf. Song of Songs.
 Hariulf is speaking rhetorically here of himself and his skills as an author.
 Isaiah 10:27.
 Addition of the vita longior; cf. B.R. 1780-1781, fol. 4r.
 Christopher means “Christ-bearer.”
 The longer version of Arnulf’s life here includes two stories that Hariulf relates of his feats of strength, one in which he wins a knightly game and the other in which he comes upon a cart loaded with hay occupying a narrow path and preventing all passage. After conferring with his friends, he stayed there along with his squire, and throwing a part of the hay onto the ground and lifting up the other part of the cart by hand, he removed it. This section is omitted from B.R. 1780-1781, the last sentence of which is: “honori studioses omniumque qui noverat cum amore praecordialiter gratus fretus.” Then resuming in c. 4: “Omnia denique milicie studia praecucurrit…”
 The famous abbey of Saint-Médard was founded in the third quarter of the sixth century by the Merovingian king Chlothar (d. 561) and completed by his son Sigibert. The apogee of its influence and prestige in the early Middle Ages fell during the reign of the Carolingian dynasty. By the mid-tenth century, the abbey had entered a period of steep decline, however, from which it only emerged in the first quarter of twelfth century (the author’s assertions above not withstanding).
 Renaud was abbot of Saint-Médard from 1040-ca. 1076.
 The militiae cingulum, symbol of the warrior class.
 Galatians 6:14.
 Presumably, that is, they instructed him in what behavior was forbidden to monks.
 The Latin is difficult to render easily into colloquial English: in antro interioris hominis adeo recondidit.
 The reference here is to Paul Simplex who, when ordered by the fourth-century desert ascetic Anthony to keep silence, did so for seven years.
 This Thibaud was from a noble family of Champagne; he entered religious life about 1044 and died in 1066 as a hermit in Vicenza, Italy.
 Pons ruled Saint-Médard from roughly 1076-1077.
 Thibaud of Pierrefonds was bishop of Soissons from 1072-1080.
 The relics of martyr Sebastian had been translated to Saint-Médard from Rome in 826—stolen, in fact, by a monastic operative—together with those of Pope Gregory the Great (d. 604).
 These chapters have been paraphrased.
 That is, at the first of the daily services.
 Matthew 24:13.
 Cf. Psalm 73.
 Gerald of Corbie, an abbey in Picardy. He ruled but one year, in 1079, before retiring under pressure from the queen to the region of Bordeaux to found the monastery of Sauve-Majeure (Silva Majoris). On his death in 1095 he was accorded the status of sainthood and was the subject of a vita.
 Such special meals were customary on Sundays and saints’ days, and tended to be more lavish than at other times. Arnulf respects the practice while rejecting the extravagance.
 A similar miracle is recounted of St. Benedict in Gregory the Great, Dialogues, 2.8.
 The prophet Elijah did the same.
 These chapters have been paraphrased.
 Cf. Sulpicius Severus, Vita sancti Martini, 18.
 Thibaud ruled from 1072-1080.
 That is, Arnulf.
 Raoul IV of Crépy ruled the joint counties of Amiens and Vermandois until 1074. His only son Simon assumed the countship briefly before rejecting it entirely. He died in 1077, and the county passed in 1085 to Enguerrand of Boves, who ruled it until 1116. A monk of Saint-Cloud, a monastery in the Jura region to which the count retired, later wrote the Vita sancti Simonis.
 Ermengard was the sister of Aubry of Coucy; both were children of Ivo, count of Beaumont-en-Oise, according to Dominique Barthelemy, Les deux ages de la seigneurie banale, 56-57.
 The enemy in question who attacks Aubry is believed by D. Barthelemy to be Enguerran of Boves, who will usurp the lordship of Coucy; Les deux ages, 63 n. 56.
 This may mean that he was born with a caul, or fetal membrane, covering his head.
 The boy, named Peter, was later made archdeacon of the cathedral of Soissons; Lisiard knew him personally.
 The queen was Bertha of Frisia, Philip’s first wife.
 1 Peter 5.
 On 26 January 1080.
 Little is known of this Ursio other than that he was the brother of the royal steward Gervais, and held the see of Soissons from ca. 1080-1084 (despite his deposition in 1082).
 Hugh was Gregory VII’s representative in France, named in 1074 or 1075. A native of Burgundy, he was at the forefront of papal reform efforts there, and was eventually promoted to the archbishopric of Lyon. He died in 1106.
 The (first) Council of Meaux was held 2 November 1081. Thibaud I ruled the county of Champagne until 1089.
 In the diocese of Châlons-sur-Marne, thus not far from either Meaux or Soissons.
 The following two chapters have been paraphrased.
 Everolfus was one of the authors’ informants about Arnulf’s life and deeds.
 This is the future Louis VI (b. 1081, r. 1108-1137).
 Given in the text itself as 21 lines in verse.
 As was required by canon law.
 Matthew 21:16.
 Hugh was abbot of Cluny from 1049-1109. He was regarded as a saint not long after his death, and the first attempts to gain canonization for him occurred in 1120.
 It is interesting that the authors accord Ursio the title of bishop. Was there some ambivalence on the part of Lisiard and/or Hariulf about the state of the contested election?
 1 John 4.
 Philipp. 2:21-22.
 2 Cor. 5.
 Probably a donkey, on which bishops were to make their ceremonial entries. It could well have been a horse of course.
 Matthew 26.
 This chapter has been paraphrased.
 The cathedral church of Soissons.
 Luke 1:37.
 Arnulf speaks here to Everolfus.
 Nanteuil was situated southwest of Soissons.
 Enguerrand was related to the count of Coucy of the same name, and was bishop of Laon from 1098-1104. He was treasurer of the cathedral chapter in addition to being an archdeacon.
 Raoul (Radulph) “the Green,” was archbishop of Reims from 1108-1124. He had previously been the provost of the cathedral chapter of Reims.
 Robert was count of Flanders (after usurping the throne) from 1071-1093.
 Baldwin was first count of Mons (Hainault) from 1051-1070, then briefly count of Flanders from 1067-1070.
 It is worth noting that Arnulf’s kin had allied themselves with the losing side in the struggle for the county won by Robert. Was Arnulf of Thérouanne related to Saint Arnulf’s extended family?
 Arnulf carried out the pope’s mandate in 1083.
 That is, God himself. Psalm 104:32.
 1 Timothy 5:6.
 Erembold was castellan from ca. 1069-1089.
 Cono I was the lord of Eine; the bishop of Noyon-Tournai Radbod II (d. 1098) was related to him.
 That is, the Cono of c. 19 has made recompense to Arnulf and his soul by relinquishing his claims to the church of Oldenburg.
 This chapter has been paraphrased.
 The following chapter has been paraphrased.
 Reims was from late 1080-1083 vacant; in mid-to-late 1083 King Philip appointed as archbishop Renaud, the treasurer and archdeacon of Saint-Martin of Tours. He ruled until 1096.
 Meanwhile, control over the diocese of Soissons had passed from Hilgot (r. 1084-1087) to Henry (r. 1087-1092).
 This chapter has been heavily paraphrased.
 Arnulf was bishop of Metz from ca. 610-643. He was a saint of high noble lineage.
 August 15.
 20-30 October 1119. Calixtus II ruled from 1119-1124.
 That is, Louis VI (r. 1108-1137).
 Above, Book 2.12.
 Arnulf, the first abbot of Oldenburg, ruled there until 1095. Presumably this had happened while Arnulf was still a monk at Saint-Médard, where he had obviously followed his saintly uncle.
 This chapter has been paraphrased.
 Around 9:00 a.m.
 18 November 1120.
 Every suffragan bishop of the archdiocese of Reims was thus represented.
 Cono, the founder of the reform abbey of Arrouaise and a bishop himself, was a local boy.
 1 May 1121.
 This chapter has been paraphrased.
 There is a play on words in the Latin: the verb prandere, which means to eat a meal, also has military implications in terms of readying oneself for war.