ere beginneth the Life of Saint Donatus, and first of his name.
Donatus is as much to say as born of God, and that is by regeneration of grace, infusion, and glorification. For there is treble generation spiritual of God, that is to say: Of nativity, religiosity, and of body mortality. For when saints die that is said that they be born, for the passing out of this world of saints, is not said death of saints, but natality. The child appetiteth to be born to have larger place to dwell in, more meat for to eat, better air to respire, and to see light. And when the saints issue out of the belly of holy church their mother, by death, the four things they receive aforesaid after their manner, and therefore they be said born or giving, or given of God.
Of Saint Donatus.
Donatus was nourished and taught of the emperor Julian. Then this Julian was ordained to be sub-deacon, but when he was enhanced to be emperor he slew the father and mother of Donatus. And Donatus fled into the city of Aretino and dwelled there with Hilary, monk, and did there many miracles. For the provost of the city had a son demoniac, and when he was brought tofore Saint Donatus, the wicked spirit began to cry and say: In the name of our Lord Jesu Christ, do me no harm, ne be grievous to me, ne that I go out of my house. O Donatus, wherefore constrainest thou me to issue out with torments? But he was anon delivered when Donatus prayed. There was a man named Eustace which received in Tuscany the rents of the prince, and left the money in the keeping of his wife Eufronia. But for sorrow that she had of the enemies that destroyed the country, she hid the money and died for sorrow. And when her husband came again, he could not find the money, and when he with his children should be brought to torment, he fled to Saint Donatus. And Donatus went with him to the sepulchre of his wife, and said with a clear voice: Eufronia, I conjure thee by the virtue of the Holy Ghost that thou say where thou hast laid this money. And she answered out of the sepulchre and said: At the entrance of the house where I dalve it. And then they went thither and found it like as she had said. And a little while after Satirus the bishop died in our Lord, and all the clergy chose Donatus to be bishop in his place, and so he was.
On a day, as Saint Gregory recounteth, in his dialogues, when Saint Donatus houseled the people after mass, and the deacon ministered the blood of our Lord to the people, suddenly the deacon fell with the chalice by the impulsion and thrusting of the paynims that came thither, and the chalice brake, whereof he was sorry and so was all the people. And Saint Donatus gathered together the pieces of the chalice and made his prayer, and remised it in his first form. And a little piece the devil took away and hid it, which piece lacketh yet in the chalice. And that chalice is kept yet in the said church in witness of this miracle. And the paynims that saw this were converted to the faith, insomuch that eighty of them received baptism.
There was a well or a fountain infected, that who that drunk of it was anon dead. And Saint Donatus went anon thither upon his ass for to pray and make the water whole, and anon, a horrible dragon issued out of the fountain, and wound his tail about the legs of the ass, and addressed him against Donatus, and Donatus smote him with his staff, or as some say he spit in his mouth, and he died. And then he prayed to our Lord, and chased away all the vermin out of the fountain. Another time, when he and his fellows had great thirst, he made a fountain to sourde tofore them.
The daughter of the emperor Theodosius was tormented with a devil, and was brought to Saint Donatus, and he said: Thou foul spirit, go out and dwell no more in this creature, which is the form of God. To whom the devil said: Give me place where I shall issue out, and tell me whither I shall go. Saint Donatus said to him: from whence camest thou hither? and he said: From desert. And Donatus answered: Return thou thither; and the devil said: I see in thee the sign of the cross, out of which the fire springeth against me, and for dread of the fire I doubt for to go, give me place and I shall issue out. And Donat said: Lo! here is place that thou mayst go thy way, and return thither that thou camest from. And then he made all the house to tremble and went his way.
There was a man borne to be buried, and there came a man that brought an obligation, and said that he owed to him two hundred shillings, and therefore he would not suffer him to be buried in no wise, wherefore his wife, which was widow, came to Saint Donat and showed to him that matter, and said that thilke man had received all that money. Then went Saint Donatus to the corpse, and touched the dead man with his hand, and said: Arise thou up, and see what thou shalt do to this man that suffereth not to bury thee; the which then sat up and proved that he had paid it and vanquished him tofore all men, and took the obligation in his hand and rent it in pieces, and after, said to Saint Donatus: Father, command me to sleep again. And he said: Son, go now into rest forthon.
And in that time it had not rained well in the year, and that the earth had been barren and brought forth no fruit. The miscreants came to the emperor Theodosius, requiring that he should deliver to them Donatus which had made that by his art magic. But, at the request of the emperor, Donatus came and prayed our Lord that he would send them rain, and he sent to them so great abundance that all the other were wet, and he went home alone dry. In that time that the Goths destroyed Italy, and that much people departed from the faith of God, Evadrian the provost was reproved of apostasy, and Saint Donatus and Saint Hilary reproved him, and then he took them and would have constrained them to do sacrifice to Jupiter, but they refused it, and he did do beat Hilary so much, all despoiled, that he gave up his spirit to God, and he laid Donatus in prison, and after, did do smite off his head, the year of our Lord three hundred and eighty.