vol II date / index
St. Silverius, Pope, A.D. 538. St. Gobian, Priest and Martyr, about 656. St. Idaburga, or Edburge. St. Bain, Bp. of Terouanne (now, St. Omer,) and Abbot, about A.D. 711.
Translation of Edward.
This day is so distinguished in the church of England calendar. Edward was the king of the West Saxons, murdered by order of Elfrida. He had not only an anniversary on the 18th of March, in commemoration of his sufferings, or rather of the silly and absurd miracles alleged to have been wrought at his tomb; but he was even honoured by our weak forefathers with another festival on the 20th of June, in each year, in remembrance of the removal, or translation, as it is termed, of his relics at Wareham, where they were inhumed, to the minster at Salisbury, three years after his decease.
It is observed by Mr. Brady, on the translation of St. Edward, as follows:—
"At the period this solemn act of absurd pomp took place, all Europe was plunged in a state of profound ignorance and mental darkness; no marvel, therefore, that great importance should have been attached to such superstitious usage; but for what reason our reformers chose to keep up a recollection of that folly, cannot readily be ascertained.
"Of the origin of translations of this kind, much has been written; and if we are to credit the assertions of those monkish writers, whose works are yet found in catholic countries, though they have themselves long passed to the silent tomb, we must believe not only that they had their source from a principle of devotion, but that peculiar advantages accrued to those who encouraged their increase. In the year 359, the emperor Constantius, out of a presumed and, perhaps, not inconsistent respect, caused the remains of St. Andrew and St. Luke to be removed from their ancient place of interment to the temple of the twelve apostles, at Constantinople; and from that example, the practice of searching for the bodies of saints and martyrs increased so rapidly, that in the year 386, we find almost the whole of the devotees engaged in that pursuit. Relics, of course, speedily became of considerable value; and as they were all alleged to possess peculiar virtues, no expense or labour were spared to provide such treasures for every public religious foundation. Hence translations innumerable took place of the decayed members of persons reputed saints; and where the entire bodies could not be collected, the pious contented themselves with possessing such parts alone as 'Providence chose to bless them with.' Without these sacred relics, no establishments could expect to thrive; and so provident had the persons been who laboured in their collection, that not a single religious house but could produce one or more of those invaluable remains; though, unless we are to believe that most relics, like the holy cross itself, possessed the power of self-augmentation, we must either admit, that some of our circumspect forefathers were imposed upon, or that St. John the Baptist had more heads than that of which he was so cruelly deprived, as well as several of their favourite saints having each kindly afforded them two or three skeletons of their precious bodies; circumstances that frequently occurred, 'because,' says Father John Ferand, of Anecy, 'God was pleased so to multiply and re-produce them, for the devotion of the faithful!'
"Of the number of these relics that have been preserved, it is useless to attempt a description, nor, indeed, could they be detailed in many volumes; yet it may gratify curiosity to afford some brief account of such as, in addition to the heads of St. John the Baptist, were held in the greatest repute, were it for no other reason than to show how the ignorance and credulity of the commonalty have, in former ages, been imposed upon, viz.:—
"A finger of St. Andrew;
"A finger of St., John the Baptist;
"The thumb of St. Thomas;
"A tooth of our Lord;
"A rib of our Lord, or, as it is profanely styled, of the Verbum caro factum, the word made flesh;
"The hem of our Lord's garment, which cured the diseased woman;
"A tear which our Lord shed over Lazarus; it was preserved by an angel, who gave it in a phial to Mary Magdalen;
"Two handkerchiefs, on which are impressions of our Saviour's face; the one sent by our Lord himself as a present to Agbarus, prince of Edessa; the other given at the time of his crucifixion to a holy woman, named Veronica;
"The rod of Moses, with which he performed his miracles;
"A lock of hair of Mary Magdalene's;
"A hem of Joseph's garment;
"A feather of the Holy Ghost;
"A finger of the Holy Ghost;
"A feather of the angel Gabriel;
"A finger of a cherubim;
"The water-pots used at the marriage in Galilee;
"The slippers of the antediluvian Enoch;
"The face of a seraphim, with only part of the nose;
"The 'snout' of a seraphim, thought to have belonged to the preceding;
"The coal that broiled St. Lawrence;
"The square buckler, lined with 'red velvet,' and the short sword of St. Michael;
"A phial of the 'sweat of St. Michael,' when he contended with Satan;
"Some of the rays of the star that appeared to the Magi; with innumerable others, not quite consistent with decency to be here described.
"The miracles wrought by these and other such precious remains, have been enlarged upon by writers, whose testimony, aided by the protecting care of the inquisition, no one durst openly dispute who was not of the 'holy brotherhood;' although it would appear, by the confessions of some of those respectable persons, that 'instances have occurred of their failure,' but that they always 'recovered their virtue, when,' as Galbert, a monk of Marchiennes, informs us, 'they were flogged with rods, &c.!'"*
Doubtful Poppy. Papaver dubium.
Dedicated to St. Silverius.
Notes [all notes are Hone's unless otherwise indicated]:
1. Brady's Clavis. [return]