Golden Legend – Saint Arnold

[Saint Arnulf of Metz]Article

Here followeth the Life of Saint Arnold.

Saint Arnold was father of Pepin and grandfather of Charles the great, as a doctor recounteth, named Peter Damian, and held a duchy in Lorraine, which did put from him all worldly affections, as riches, wife and children, and haunted the deserts for to lead best solitary life. On a day, so as he passed over the river of Meuse, and that he was about the midst of the bridge where the water was more deeper than in any other place, he took a ring that he had and cast it within the water saying: “Whensomever I shall receive and have again this ring, then shall I believe that I shall be assoiled of all my sins.” And after, from thence he departed and went into a desert, where he was long time as dead to the world and living with God. In that time died the bishop of Metz, and happed that Saint Arnold was chosen for to be bishop there. So then on a time as he abstained him from eating of any flesh, as he ever did while that he was in the desert or wood, was presented unto him a fish, and as his cook dressed and slit it, he found within his belly the said ring, and went and showed it to the holy bishop, whereof he was right joyful and glad. And ye ought to wit that from the place where the holy man had cast the said ring into the water, unto the place where the said fish was presented to him, was four and twenty miles by water. And when the holy man advised him, and that well he knew for certain the said ring, he thanked God of it, that he gave to him knowledge of the remission of his sins. From thence forthon, ever from better unto better, devoutly and by holy perseverance he intended to serve our Lord, and yet as now is the said ring within the palace of Metz. Men may be marvelled and marvelling to magnify and praise God, how in this present life they may not live without perils, but he is born in a good hour that acquireth graces of God, and that maketh justice on his own flesh as long as he is living in it. I say this because of this holy man that was at so good an hour born, that so much of graces he gat and acquired toward our Lord, that he was certified and ensured of the remission and pardon of all his sins, as tofore ye heard say.

Soon, when he was possessing his bishopric, he did distribute and departed to the poor so much and so largely of his own goods that, the poor folk came thither from far countries and cities for to be counselled and helped by alms. He was also busily tending to all good works, and in especial to receive religious folk, monks, and poor pilgrims. He himself washed their feet, he clothed them of new, and to them gave silver enough to pass on their way, and as soon as others of new came, he was as ready for to help them as he tofore was, for the honour and reverence of God. In watching, in fasting, in devout prayers and in orisons he employed ever the time. None might not duly rehearse ne tell the great abstinences that he made, for when he had fasted the space of three days, he was content to have a little bread made of barley and a little water, and ever most secretly that he could he ware under his clothes the hair, in so much that by force of abstinence he right greatly had made lean his flesh.

On a time, during the three days which he fasted, he did do make a procession whereat many creatures were, which much devoutly prayed. And so as the procession was in doing, there was a woman tormented and sore vexed by the devil, that began to cry loud and high. When the holy man saw this woman, he made the sign of the cross over her, and soon after she was delivered from the enemy that so tormented her.

In the time of Dagobert king of France, so as he was within his palace, a leper came there that began to cry after the holy man and demanded meat and clothing. Soon commanded the holy man that he should be led home, and so as he ministered and took to him that was needful and necessary to him he did demand of him if he were baptized, for he was of Barbary. Then answered the leper to the holy man: Alas, sir, nay, for I that am a poor creature have not found none that hath given to me the precious gift of baptism, and anon the holy man baptized him, and incontinent after, his sickness left him and departed from his body, and so he that tofore had been a sinner and sore sick, by the merit of the holy man was left and made whole both of body and of soul.

On another time a man, named Noddo, which was drunk and full of wine, began to mock, and dispraised the holy man, saying that he was not the man of God, but that he was full lusty and ready to all delices. Wherefore it happed that so as he and his son went to bed, suddenly, by the will of God, their clothing were all about on fire and began to burn. Then they cried and called for water, but the water did nought to it, so that the fire took on their shirts towards the genitories, and from them they might not have off their clothes; and when they saw that no remedy they might put to it, they went out of their chamber and began to lay themselves as swine down into the ordure or filth, and into foul or stinking waters, but all this availed them naught, for from more into more their genitories did burn. And so as I believe at that same hour was verified that that our Lord said by the mouth of David the prophet, saying: “Detrahentem secreto proximo suo hunc persequebar”; that is to say in English: “Those that secretly blame and dispraise their neighbours them I shall persecute.” That same Noddo died in this estate and acknowledged his sin, and so died his son by the said sentence.

So as the holy man was persevering in virtues for to keep and eschew the vainglory of this world, he departed from the city and went unto a place not far from it, where he did do make a little house, and made himself to be closed and shut therein and there he was continually in prayers of and orisons lifting his hands towards heaven. It happed by adventure that the fire took the house of the king, and so much it grew that the houses there about began to burn fast. Suddenly the people were moved when they saw that all the city was esprised on a fire and flame, and they went forthwith to the cell of the said holy man where he was devoutly in his orisons and prayers thus as he was accustomed to be. Anon one that was called Romancius took him by the hand and said: Rise thou from hence, man of God, to the end that this fire consume ne damage thee not with the city. Then the holy man answered: I will not depart, but lead me nigh the fire, and if God will that I shall be burnt I am in his hands, here as I am. Then they of the city came with him hand in hand unto the fire, and after commanded that each one of them should fall in prayers. And when the holy man had made his prayers they rose up all and then he lift up his hands and made the sign of the cross, and then anon the fire quenched, and made after no manner of damage. And after that hour, one of his brethren saw in a vision towards heaven, the sign of the very cross in a manner as flame, and at the other side he heard a voice that said: Seest thou this cross? By that hath the bishop Arnold delivered the city from fire this night.

After this Saint Arnold relinquished and left the world all entirely, and went into a desert among the wild beasts, where he made a little house with some monks that were dwelling there, where he held him ever in holy meditation and divine praisings, and when any poor people came there, he friendly received and served them, their hosen he did pull off, their feet he washed, and made clean their shoon, and also much benignly he made their beds, and made their meat ready, and so he was both cook and bishop together. Hunger and thirst suffered he many times so that he might of his own meat feed his fellows. He set apart all precious raiment, and much dear he held the hair that was rough and hard. In these two deeds doing, the good man rendered his soul to God, and after his obsequies done, the bishop his successor that had to name Goericus, assembled together a great company of people, two bishops and many clerks also, and altogether they went into the desert. And when they came unto the place thereas the corpse was, saying vigils much solemnly; and after, they took the corpse and bare it away with great honour and reverence unto the city. And as they came to a ruisel or channel and would have passed it, it happened that they which bare the corpse behind fell down, but as I suppose the angels sustained the corpse in the air, for they that bare it before went ever and letted not, and they that were fallen had no harm, but stood up anon and bare the corpse again as they did before. In the time that this holy man was on life, there was a man that lived much lecherously; the holy man reproved him many times thereof and prayed him that he would leave that life and do penitence, or that he should die in that state.

It so happed that as the holy corpse was borne to the city, and as they passed through the said man’s ground, the same holy corpse at the entrance of the said man’s ground stood still, insomuch that they that bare it could not move it from thence, wherefore the bishops, the priests, the clerks, and all the people that were there, were much marveled and sore troubled, also because that the night was nigh, and they wist not where they might be lodged. Then a duke that was in the company, named Noddo, said thus to them: “Ye see how he refuseth to enter within the ground of this sinner, my town is here nigh, I counsel that we return thither for to abide and rest us there all night. For also we ne have here what to feed this people withal, for of all provisions or store I ne have but a little beer within a little vessel and a little bread, if it please to God and to the holy corpse that we might be there ere the night come.” And howbeit that far away as it was thence, nevertheless by the will of God they were there right soon, and them seemed that the holy corpse bare himself, and namely that they were borne thither where they came by daylight. And then said Noddo to them: I pray to Saint Arnold that by his grace he will feed us all this night, for well I wot that at his prayer we shall have all that to us needeth. And soon, with that little drink and bread that they had, by the grace of God and of the saint they were all fed and rassassied that night, and yet much remained of it both of drink and of bread. On the morn next, with great joy they walked and bare the holy corpse into the city. They of the city also came to meet the corpse in procession, with great reverence, as he that had been their pastor or guide of their souls, which of long time they had not seen, and much reverently they buried the holy corpse in the church of the apostles. A woman that Julia had to name, which of long time had lost her sight, came to the sepulchre of Saint Arnold, and frequently her prayer there made, by him recovered her sight. Another woman on a Sunday wrought. God punished her, for her two hands were stiff and counterfeit. She came into the church where the holy corpse lay, besought the saint with faithful heart, sore weeping, and anon recovered health. The solemnity of this glorious saint is celebrated the seventeenth day of the kalends of August in the honour of God, that liveth and without end reigneth. In seculorum secula. Amen.