Peck, Kate, trans. Life of Áed Mac Bricc

[Life of Áed Mac Bricc from Codex Salmanticensis]
One of the most interesting aspects of Áed’s adventures is the frequency with which he interacted with women. It would have been harder for abbots like Columcille who spent most of their time with their fellow monks to interact regularly with women, but even taking this into account, Áed seems to have had a profound interest in the well-being of religious women. Áed frequently visited settlements of holy virgins who received him with the respect due to a man of his position. He did not just eat their food and drink their beer and wine. Áed kept them honest. When, for example, he perceived that the girl serving him was pregnant he fled from the building both to avoid the pollution and to shame her. She confessed her sins and did penance. Áed was not one to leave someone under his care in a tight spot: he blessed her womb and the baby disappeared as if it had never been there. (§15) Similarly, when Áed saw three girls washing their hair at a well on a Saturday night (the Sabbath starts at sunset on Saturday), he warned them not to defy holy law and labor on the Sabbath. They ignored him, as people are wont to do in this Life, and their hair fell out. When they repented Áed gave them water which they could use to wash their hair once the Sabbath was over. (§41) Just like the pregnant girl, they were forced to publicize their dishonor – the one by confessing her sin to everyone present, and the others by going around bald for a day – but in the end they were returned to their former, socially acceptable, state.
Although some of his time with females was spent protecting them from themselves, Áed has to protect them from outside threats just as often. On three separate occasions Áed went to a king to free an ancilla, or servant girl. (§34, 37, 38) And in case we had not noticed that this was something that he regularly did, the hagiographer adds the phrase “ut moris ei erat” – as was his custom. (§38) These chapters combine Áed’s concern for women with his defiance of secular authority. In other cases, Áed rescued women who either belonged to his household or were his friends from the evil work of men. The three girls who were killed while fetching milk belonged to one of the settlements of holy women that he visited frequently. Áed saw this in his mind and rushed to the scene of the crime only to find that the murderers had taken the girls’ heads and escaped. Áed wept with the women of the community, which might seem like a womanly thing to do. Yet the way that he pursued the perpetrators and detained them, and returned the heads to their bodies makes sure that questions of his masculinity are erased. He was, after all, performing one of Jesus’ greatest miracles, that of bringing the dead back to life. (§16) He performed this same miracle when “an unhappy man” ran off with a girl from his household and she died. This chapter is interesting because it never says that the unhappy man actually killed the girl: he went off to gather straw, presumably for a makeshift bed, and when he came back to the girl she had died. This information is passed on casually, but it would have been just as easy to say that the unhappy man came back and killed the girl – that is what he said of the three girls eight chapters earlier. She may have died of shame rather than lose her virginity. This, in turn, made the man ashamed of what he had done and more willing to perform penance for his sins. (§24)
Death and pregnancy were not the only things that women needed to worry about. There were also spiteful men, such as the one who stole the king’s pin which had been entrusted to Áed’s friend and chucked it into the sea. This woman seems to have been a hermit, living by the sea. It is not specified whether or not she was part of a religious community, but the lack of clarification makes it seem more likely that she was by herself; in all the chapters that describe Áed’s interactions with other holy people it is clearly stated that they are part of a larger group. Since this is not the case here, I feel that it can be assumed that she is living a life of pious, near isolation. Áed came to the aid of this friend, calling on the Lord to restore the pin. Angels delivered it, and Áed was able to give it to the woman so that she would not get in trouble with the king who had given it to her for safekeeping. (§33)
Aed’s extensive interactions with women seem to have had great meaning for the hagiographer and his readers. Aed’s ties to St Brigit of Kildare () may have something to do with it. Brigit’s hagiographers claimed that she had authority over all of the women’s houses in Ireland, and around the time when this Life was written the monastery of Kildare was second in importance in Ireland only to Armagh, the religious settlement associated with St Patrick. Kildare may even have been the wealthiest of such settlements. Áed’s hagiographers were very purposefully aligning him with Patrick’s main rival even as they were drawing the parallels between Áed and Patrick. The friendly terms that Brigit and Áed are on may reflect an overlap between their responsibilities and foundations. It might not have been so easy for Brigit to travel around Ireland the way that Áed did. Even if Brigit could travel widely, she still would have been hard pressed to visit all of the women’s houses regularly, and she may have asked Áed to keep an eye on them for her.
On an even more speculative note, the interest that Áed showed for freeing servant girls may stem back to his youth. When his brothers refused to allow him a share of the land his father had maintained, Áed carried off a girl who belonged to his brothers. He hoped to force his brothers to give him his patrimony through this injury, but then he met the bishop St Illann, who convinced him to give up his claims to the land and to let the girl go. (§3) Perhaps Áed spent so much time freeing servant girls because he was trying to atone for the sin of his youth. This may be a fanciful interpretation on my part, but psychologically, at least, it makes some sense.

Life of Áed Mac Bricc from Codex Salmanticensis

translated by Kate Peck


§1. Here begins the life of St. Áed mac Bricc. The sainted bishop Áed, who is called ‘son of Bricc’, was a descendant of the Uí Néill, but his mother was from Munster, and drew her origin from the Múscraige Tíre. When his mother was pregnant and the birth was near, a certain prophet came near her home and said to his attendants, “A woman is in labour in this house. If she gives birth tomorrow at daybreak, her child will be great before God and men throughout the island of Ireland.” A girl heard this and reported the words to the woman in labour. She responded, “Unless he comes through my side, he will not be born tomorrow.” Then she arose and went outside and sat on a rock. And God did this miracle. The head of the child rested above the stone and made a hollow in it after its likeness, which remains to this day. The water in that hollow relieves all the ailments of believers.
§2. As a little boy the saintly bishop Áed was reared in his mother’s home in Munster. When he was still young he was looking for a herd of pigs in the woods when he came upon Brendan of Birr, who had gone to a secret place to write the gospels, and Cainnech. The saints, who were speaking and greeting each other saw the boy approaching and Brendan rose to meet him and received him with great joy. Cainnech, however, reproached the saint of God for rising at the boy’s arrival. To which Brendan replied, “Do you not see what I see?” Cainnech replied that he did not. Brendan said, “Why wouldn’t I rise? Look! Angels of God come towards us, for an army of angels accompanies him.” Then the boy said to them, “Have you seen a herd of pigs around here?” Brendan said to him, “Go over there and you will find the herd that you seek.” And so it happened.
§3. No teacher taught the boy Áed: he was not educated in letters, nor was he trained in religious rules until his young manhood. Until that time he led a rustic life among the common people, reared by his mother. When he became a young man, he went to his paternal territory, so that he might attain his inheritance. His brothers, though, would by no means accept him or give him his inheritance. Seeing this, Áed carried off a certain girl of theirs, hoping that this loss would force his brothers to give him his inheritance. As Áed was returning with the captured girl and some companions he came near the cell of the saintly bishop Illann. When Illann saw him from a distance and the angels of God that followed him, he said to his attendant, “Go and speak to the youth on the road, so that he might visit with me for a little while.” He came humbly to bishop Illann, who said to him, “What do you seek my son? Paternal inheritance? Look! You have a father who owns the sky and the earth, who will give you a far greater inheritance both in heaven and on earth. Do not seek worldly lands through a wrong. Send this girl to her home.” Áed responded, “Whatever you say to me, I am prepared to do.” Accordingly, the girl was sent back. Áed remained with St. Illann in his monastic settlement, obeying all of his instructions.
§4. On another day he said to the young man, “My son, can you become a plowman and put your hand to the plow?” To which Áed responded, “Father, I am able to obey any command of yours.” And so he proceeded to plowing with another boy, and placed his hand on the plow.
§5. Another day, a man from a nearby settlement came to him, looking for an ox of his, which was missing from his plow. “Halt for a little while,” Áed said. He freed one of the oxen from his plow and gave it to the man. Áed then plowed without the ox that he had given away. The (remaining) ox carried one part of the yoke and the power of God miraculously held up the other part.
§6. Similarly, on another day a farmer from the surrounding area came to Áed, lamenting that he did not have an iron coulter on his plough to cut deep into the soil. Áed gave his own iron to the man in need, and immediately began plowing the land cutting the soil without a coulter, but with divine power.
§7. The saintly bishop Illann, seeing in his mind the miracles of this youth, called Áed to him and said, “O son, how have you performed such miracles already, at so young an age? For, indeed, you rise to the peak of virtue while you have not yet attained the work of self-perfection or entered into a religious life. Go in peace to your mother’s land, and construct a cell there for yourself. Of all the others, it is not proper that you should live under the hand of man, rather than that of God.” Áed departed from there and founded a cell called Enach Midbren for himself, where he stayed and performed many miracles.
§8. Another time, the king of Munster summoned all of his army together, for he wished to bring the Uí Néill under his control. When the king of the Uí Néill heard this, he was terrified. He assembled his own army and sent messengers to the bishop Áed, that he might seek a year of peace between his father and mother’s people. Áed then proceeded to the king of Munster to ask for peace, but as he traveled on the path one of his wheels broke apart. But the chariot, miraculously supported by the other wheel alone, went on unobstructed. When the Munstermen saw the chariot coming on one wheel they marveled greatly and received the saint of God with great glory and honor. Nevertheless, when he proposed peace by virtue of this miracle, he was not able to obtain it in any way from the king, who refused and said, “I shall not have gathered so great a body of men in vain.” The saint of God, unwelcome by the king, turned back. Then one of the king’s friends, who was more dear to him than all the others, dropped dead, and the earth opened and swallowed the two best chariot horses of the king.
§9. Then the king, thoroughly terrified, sent his lieutenants after the man of God asking him to return, promising humbly to do whatever was ordered of him. When St. Áed returned, the king went before him and prostrated himself beneath the feet of the horses, and the chariot with the horses went over him. Rising, for a second time the king prostrated himself before the feet of the horses, and the chariot went over him, doing this three times. The saint said to the king, “Because you prostrated yourself humbly three times, there will be three kings from your family; for as many as times as you did this, so many kings would be from your gens.” To which the king said, “Behold, you have the year of peace as you demanded.” The saint responded, saying, “I asked the Lord, and he gave me not one year of peace, but until Judgement Day your power will not be over my people.” Then the king said, “I beseech you, venerable abbot, recall from death the man most dear to me, whom you sent to death.” Áed prayed, making the sign of the cross over him, and he rose up immediately and asked for forgiveness and greatly rebuked the stubbornness/hardness of the king. Then the king spoke again, “I beseech you, holy man of God, bring my two horses out of the earth.” To which the saint said, “One of them will come back from the earth, but the other will remain, and there will be a pool of water over it that shall preserve evidence of holy power.” And thus it happened just as the saint said, and right up to the present day the pool remains, which is called ‘Loch Gabair.”
§10. On a certain day, when the familia of St. Áed were laboring in the fields, a great rain fell from the sky. When Áed saw this, he made the sign of the cross in the air, and through the whole day, though rain fell around the field on all sides, not one drop fell on the field. The raindrops seemed, sprinkled hither and thither, to avoid the field, as if they had something to fear.
§11. There was a wealthy man in Munster who was a dear friend of the holy saint and who gave many gifts and much land to him. St. Áed had promised that he would be there himself to perform the last rites for the man, but it happened that the rich man died while Áed was in a distant part of the island. The saint saw what had happened so far away and he set out for him swiftly. He proceeded in his chariot until he came to a forest through which there was no clear path. Áed said to his charioteer, “Put your head to my bosom, lest you see anything.” As soon as he had done this the chariot, with its horses, was raised off the ground and carried by the hands of angels. They covered a great distance in the air, until the chariot was placed in the destination that Áed sought. Dismounting from the chariot, Áed sent his servant to the house of the dead man, saying to him, “Go and speak to the dead man. Ask him if I should go to him or if will come to me.” The boy accordingly entered the house of the dead man and said to him, “The bishop Áed sent me to you; he wants to know if he should come here to you or you will go there to him.” At once the dead man, rising and crossing himself, answered, “He need not come here: he made a great journey for me, so I shall go to him.” Saying this, he went out to where the saint was. After they had greeted each other, the saint asked, “What do you want to happen? Would you rather remain in this present life, or would you rather return to the place you have returned from?” The man answered, “I ask that you let me go to the heavenly home, which you yourself gave me.” Then, receiving the last rites from the hand of the bishop, he slept in peace.
§12. One day Áed came to a community of saintly virgins in the land of his mother. These virgins received him with great joy into their lodging and gave him dinner, but they lamented that they did not have the best drink to serve to him. Áed, knowing this, felt sorry for them and said, “Bring me water from the well.” When the water was brought to and blessed by him it changed into the best wine, and it was a great and everyone there gave thanks to God. What is more, the bishop performed this miracle three times.
§13. On another day a man came to Áed whose craft was digging ditches and building walls around settlements. He said to the saint, “Abbot, do you know any man who needs his settlements to be surrounded by walls?” Áed said, “Go to my friend and ply your trade with him, and he will pay your wages.” And so he went to that man and together they dug the earth and made three walls around his stronghold/fortress, which is called Raith Bailb. When the job was done he was paid rightly for the completion of this stronghold of cattle, as many as it was able to contain – an agreeable wage for such labours. The rich man assembled these cattle from everywhere from his friends until the fortress was filled with cattle. Then the wealthy man led him away with his cattle on the road that he wanted, as far as another clan. When the rich man returned to his home he was left alone with his cattle on the road. Then all his cattle ran away, this way and that, through fields and forests, each animal going in his own direction, so that he couldn’t see where any of them went and not even one of them remained. While this wretched man was weeping and mourning greatly he saw St Áed’s chariot coming toward. He spoke to Áed in a tearful voice, “Look! The wage of my great effort lost in one hour! All the animals have turned back, each returning to the place from which it was led.” Áed, taking pity on him, descended from the chariot and prayed to the Lord, and immediately all the cattle were returned by the power of God. They were gathered together without anyone compelling them to remain. None of them was missing and they did not flee from that man again.
§14. On another day, as Aed was travelling through Elo forest he came across two miserable lepers. They asked for two horses, since their feet could barely carry them, and St Áed give them the two horses from his chariot. He sat for a little while and said to his companions, “Let us wait a bit, for two tired men are coming after us.” And after a little while two men came to them, saying, “Do you know where the bishop Áed is? We have come a long way to offer these horses to him.” One of Áed’s companions said to them, “This is he, who is sitting here.” And the two men presented two horses, still unbroken, though as soon as they cam under the chariot of the saintly bishop they became gentle and tame.
§15. One day, Áed, in the course of his travels, came to another community of holy virgins which is called Druimm Ard, where they received him into the lodging with great joy. As Áed was being served he watched the girl serving him and took note of her belly, which was beginning to swell with the child she was carrying. He got up quickly without eating anything, so that he could flee from the place. Then, in the presence of everyone, she confessed that she had sinned secretly and she did penance. St Áed blessed her womb and immediately the child disappeared as if it had never been there.
§16. Three girls from that same community of virgins went out to get some milk from another farm, each carrying a jug in her arms. A group of evil, cruel brigands, coming from a region to the west saw the girls on the road. The cruel men killed them and carried off their heads. Seeing this in his spirit, Áed sprung up quickly and hastened to the bodies of the saintly girls. He found the rest of the virgins weeping and mourning for the girls, and he wept with them. Then Áed, beseeched by the virgins, pursued the brigands so that he might return the heads of the girls. Those brigands had been completely immobilized by divine will in a place nearby, and they could not move a foot here or there. When he saw them he rebuked them; they did penance and asked to be allowed to go, and Áed sent them away. Áed returned with the heads. Since there was no water nearby to wash off the heads, he made the sign of the cross over the earth and at once a spring burst out of the earth. The spring remains there to this day, and is call the Fons Puellarum, “The Spring/Well of the Girls.” When St Áed had joined the heads to their bodies he said, “In the name of Jesus Christ, arise.” The girls woke up at once as if from sleep, and taking their jugs up again, they went safely home.
§17. On another day a certain man came to St Áed, greatly distressed by a pain in his head, and he said to Áed, “Oh holy man of God, I am excessively weakened by this pain in my head, and it is unbearable. Please pray for me so that, if it is possible, this pain will pass from me. If it is not possible, at least let it become more bearable.” Áed answered, “There is no way for your pain to leave you, unless it is transferred to me. However, if you will bear your pain patiently, you will have a great reward.” The man responded, “Oh holy man, this pain is beyond my strength.” Then St Áed, filled with compassion, took pity on him and he received the headache from the man onto himself and bore it patiently, so that the man was free from pain to the end of his life and Áed bore the cross like Christ’s martyrs. And for that reason wise men say that anyone vexed by a headache is cured by invoking the name of St Áed. St Brigid, for instance, when she suffered a most grievous pain of the head, invoked the name of the saintly bishop Áed and she was immediately cured of headaches until the day of her death. She used to say, “Invoking the name of St Áed healed me of the most horrible headache.”
§18. The queen of Tara, wife of Diarmait mac Cerbaill, herself descended from the people of Munster, was barren. She asked St Áed to pray on her behalf so that the Lord might allow her to conceive. Áed, blessing her, said, “Behold, you will conceive and give birth to a son who will be great.” Then she bore a lamb, as if to cleanse the womb of barrenness; she next gave birth to a silver fish which she sent to churches and the poor; finally she bore a son who was called Aied Slani, a gift from God through the prayers of St Áed.
§19. One day when the saint was travelling in the borderlands of the Laigin he came to woods which are called Fith Ihle. His path was obstructed by the roughness of the woods, but he was lifted into the air with his chariot and was conveyed across the woods to another place. Thus through all things God attended him with all his might. Áed, although master of many, was, as learned men say, educated in neither letters nor religious rule, but in the Spirit of God.
§20. The saintly bishop Áed was travelling on foot one day when he came to the lodging of certain virgins who were friends with St Ciarán, son of the carpenter. The girls had prepared a small dinner for Ciarán, namely cooked mutton with a little bread and a small cup of fine, aged liquor. Although the dinner had been prepared for another, the virgins gave it to the new guest, the saintly bishop. When he had finished the meal, they gave thanks. Áed, however, seeing the great anxiety of the virgins because they expected Ciarán at any moment, said to them, “Gather all these mutton bones and put them back where they were before, and put the small empty cup where it was first.” When they had done this, it was discovered that all of the dinner was restored and intact, as if none of it had even been tasted, and they were able to give it to St Ciarán.
§21. At another time St Áed went to St Brigid and said, “I do not have a copy of the Gospels. Would you be able to give one to me?” She responded, “It is not easy for me.” Rising, St Brigid spreads her hands in prayer, and with the two of them praying in one spirit, a gospel was sent into the fold of St Brigid’s cloak. She put it into the folds of the saintly bishop Áed’s cloak. They gave thanks to God and praised and blessed the Lord.
§22. St Áed came at another time to the house of some other holy virgins. On that day a great snow covered the earth. Among those virgins there was a new house which had not yet been roofed, but it was buried by snow as if by a roof. They said to the saint of God, “Look! This house, as you can see, is kept bare under the snow. Yet snow covered it from the top down.” The saint responded, “This house which, as you see, is dry under the snow, will have this same roof until the house after a long time collapses, a long time from now, of old age. The snow will not disappear off it, but snow and house will fall at the same time through old age.” And this miracle was thus carried out, so that the snow-roof could not be melted either by flames kindled in the house or by the heat of the sun, and it endured for a long time.
§23. St Áed performed another miracle in the same community of virgins. There is a certain rock there which Áed was sitting on top of one day when he was rapidly snatched up to heaven in his body. He stayed there for a number of hours, then came down and sat upon the same rock. And the chaucible in which he was clothed and in which he was raised up remains in that place to this very day as evidence of the miracle.
§24. A girl who belonged to the household of the holy man of God was seized by a shameless, unhappy man who wanted to have her as a wife. However, knowing this, the man of God went after her and pursued the unhappy man. The man chose a deserted place and went about gathering straw but when he returned he discovered the girl had died. That wretched man was shocked and paralyzed. St Áed arrived and harshly rebuked him for his sin. The wretch did penance and from that day forth he was a faithful monk of the saint. Then Áed said to the girl, “In the name of Jesus, arise!” Immediately she rose up as if from sleep, and they returned, praising the Lord.
§25. Some men were making a ditch around St Áed’s place(settlement?) and while digging they found a huge rock in the ditch, which no force of men was able to shift. When the saint saw this he ordered the rock to go to another place where it would harm no one. The rock withdrew at once to a different place, where it remains to this day and gives cures to the afflictions of all believers.
§26. A group of most wicked men were living on an island in the midst of a marsh/swamp/bog. St Áed wanted them to go to another land, but they were unwilling to obey him, and resisting the saint they remained there, practising their wicked ways. The saint said to them, “If you are unwilling to leave this marsh, the marsh will leave you. And if you are disobedient to me, the marsh, which you have so much trust in, will be obedient to me and will flee from you, forcing you, though unwilling, to leave.” So, one night the marsh abandoned them and they fled. The marsh fled to a plain in Connacht and because it was transported in the night it is called “Night.”
§27. There was an instance of divine mercy in this deed that should not be overlooked. A famous prophet of the time, Bec mac De, reached the field where the lake would enter on the following night and told the men of the area, “Take care that what you hold dear is not on this land in the coming night, for a lake will come here, by the power of Áed, saint of God.” This was done through St Áed so that he would not cause an injury or grievance to someone.
§28. One day a man came to St Áed who was being forced to repay his debt by a certain magician, namely a herd of pigs. The wretched man did not have the means to repay the debt, so he asked Áed to seek a truce for him from the magician. Accordingly Áed went to the magician with the request, but the magician would not listen to him. Seeing this, the saint said, “Come with me, and I will pay the debt on his behalf.” The magician went with him for a little while, and he delivered a herd of pigs to him, which the magician accepted with delight. He led the excellent herd to his home. When he got there he carefully shut them in the house. Returning the next morning to the house he had so attentively closed, he found it wide open, with nothing inside. This miracle was accomplished through divine power.
§29. The king of Tethba came once with a great army, intending to lay waste to the people of Meath. Those people asked bishop Áed to seek peace for them from their enemies, and he departed at once to sue for peace. When the king of Tethba heard of this, he jumped up and said to his companions, “Arise, let us go before the bishop Áed comes!” They all went out and led their horses to the river that divides the two peoples. As soon as they had entered it though, all the horses became immobile, unable to move a foot here or there. Then St Áed came to the king and rebuked him. “You wished to escape my notice,” he said, “as if I did not know your plan. Return to your land, lest something worse happen to you. As it is neither you nor your horses are able to go any farther.” The king did penance then and asked that the horses be released, and gratefully turned (toward home).
§30. A certain distressed man came to St Áed one day as he was travelling on his way, mourning and saying to him, “Look, I have 10 cows, but all of their calves were devoured by wolves, except one. Please turn aside to my house and bless them; they are crazed with the loss of their calves and we can not get any milk from them.” Áed answered him, “Gather the dirt that sticks to my staff and take it with you. Mix it with water and sprinkle the cows and calf with it.” The man did this, and at once all the cows ran to the lone calf, and loved that one.
§31. There were two brothers in the land of Connacht and one of them, rising up against the other, killed him. The one who had killed his brother was tied up and led to the Uí Néill king to be committed to death. The father and mother of the two, suffering greatly, came to St Áed and said, “Behold, we wretches will be childless without our two sons – for one of them killed the other and is himself being taken to the king to be killed.” After he heard this Áed went with them to the king in order to free the captured man. The king, though, was on an island in Lake Lemdin, and Áed was not allowed to cross to the island from the port, for the king had made a proclamation to prevent anyone from bringing him to the island. Áed, however, knew this, and he departed to the island, walking on the water as if on land with dry feet. When the king saw so great a miracle, he was unable to resist, and released the captured man.
§32. When St Áed’s charioteer saw a cruel and unhappy man kill a man close to the chariot, he rebuked the man, saying “May your hand die and fall to the ground.” Áed said to the charioteer, “You have done this wretch a favour – he would have died within the hour if you had not impatiently said these words. Since this man wants to make right his wrong, God does not want to avenge it. Because of your words God has granted this man a reprieve, and a year from today this unhappy man will die.” And so it came to be.
§33. A king entrusted a certain pin(?) of gold and silver to a holy woman living by the sea who was a friend of St Áed. A certain man wished to do injury to her, and finding the golden pin of the king stole it and flung it into the sea. The saintly woman was greatly distressed because she would not be able to return the pin to the king, so she came to St Áed and told him her problem. Then Áed prayed to the Lord and at once an angel of God brought the pin from the great sea. He gave it to Áed, who in turn gave it to the woman.
§34. On another day the saint went to a certain king of Báetán in order to free a servant girl, but the king would not let her go for any reason. Áed said to him, “If you saw the form of the one who is persuading you and teaching you these words in your ear, you would send the servant girl to me.” “If I see his form,” the king responded, “I will send her.” The saint of God said, “You would not be able to withstand the form of the enemy if I showed it to you.” However the king said, “I will send the servant girl to you if you will show the face of the enemy to me.” The saint then made the sign of the cross and revealed to them the image of the Ancient Enemy. When the king and all who were with him saw this they were greatly terrified and became like the dead. They were barely rescued through the prayers of the saint. Thus the servant girl was freed.
§35. In a similar manner on a different day, St Áed had entered a house to discover women who were making some food. When they saw St Áed they concealed that food in a hidden part of the house. As soon as it had been concealed, the lord arrived suddenly at the house and delighted in the arrival of the saint. After they had greeted each other the lord of the house noticed St Áed looking often in the direction of the hidden food. “O saint of God,” he asked, “Why do you look in agitation at that part of the house?” Áed said to him, “Do not ask.” But when that man persisted, the saint said to him, “The women were making some food for themselves which they concealed upon our arrival. There are many devils licking it and playing in it.” And the lord of the house said, “Show me, so that I might see them.” The saint said to him, “Do not ask to see the forms of demons.” But, when he beseeched him tiresomely, Áed revealed those terrifying forms to him. When he, and those who were with him, saw the demons they came close to death. Scarcely by the prayers of the saint were they restored.
§36. One day St Áed was raised in his chariot with his horses over certain passes, he said to his charioteer, “Place your head in my robe and do not uncover your eyes until I tell you to.” But when the charioteer heard the tops of the trees of the woody passes striking the wheels of the chariot he uncovered an eye a little and saw the unknown path – at once his eye was struck with blindness. The saint said to him, “Why did you uncover your eye despite my command?” Then Áed blessed his eye and it was healed.
§37. A certain king from Munster refused to free a servant girl to the saint of God and was resisting him greatly. That king was suddenly struck with blindness: he did penance, sent the servant girl away, and presented many offerings and fields to the saint of God, and his eyes were opened.
§38. As was his custom, Áed sought to free a servant girl from a certain king who refused to give her to him. Kings were always hostile to him, but by divine power they were compelled to obey him. When the saint saw that he would not be able to free the girl in any way, he said to her, “Daughter, follow me when I go out.” She followed him through the midst of the crowd when he went and no one saw her go.
§39. An unfortunate man was duping certain foolish people through magical art – for he seemed to them to pass through the middle of timber. But when the saint of God made the sign of the cross, their eyes were opened, and they saw the deceptive go around the wood. And then the man who before had deluded others, now was deluded by all through the saint of God.
§40. Nine cruel men murdered the saint’s charioteer on the road called Slige Assail. St Áed went away from there sadly and was sitting in another part of the plain of Meath when an angel of God came to him, saying, “If you had not come quickly from that place of spilt blood the earth would have swallowed those nine men. In that same place a burning tower would have caught fire which would have remained unextinguishable until the day of reckoning. Still, those nine cruel men will die the worst death in nine days.”
§41. Seeing some girls washing their hair on the Lord’s night, Áed said to them, “Girls, what are you doing?” “We are trying to wash our hair,” they replied. He said to them, “Do not do this, for it is the day of the Lord.” But they did not listen and continued to wash their heads. When they rose in the morning, however, all their hair fell from their heads at once, and not a strand remained. Then the girls, weeping and lamenting their hair, sought St Áed and did penance. Áed blessed water for them and said, “Bear your dishonour for a day, because it is the Lord’s day, and you must not wash on it.” The next day, washing their heads, their heads were at once adorned with new and wonderful hair.
§42. Once, when St Áed was at his place on the edge of Uí Néill territory, he saw unhappy men ravaging his place on the border of Munster, Enach Midbren. He said to his charioteer, “Harness the chariot quickly so that we can go to our place which needs to be freed from the hands of plunderers.” Then Áed, wishing to make the journey quickly, spoke to his charioteer again, “Bend your head under my chasuble so that you will not see anything.” At once the chariot and its horses were snatched up into the air, and in the short space of an hour he was led through the air from Uí Néill territory to the aforementioned place in Munster. Once there he discovered the unhappy men laying waste and carrying off whatever they could find. The two leaders in charge of the others, however, he found fixed to the earth, unable to move hand or foot, as if they were wooden statues. When these wretches saw St Áed, they did penance and offered all of them as monks until the day they died. Thus St Áed returned into Uí Néill territory
§43. After St Áed’s death this miracle was done in his name. One of his monks, a faithful man who had been very loyal to St Áed, dwelling in the land of Munster, was preparing dinner for a king of those people. When the rest of the meal had been prepared, the beer to accompany dinner could not be fermented in any way, as if refusing fermentation. When he saw this the faithful man was greatly distressed that on the arrival of the approaching king the beer would not have fermented. Then he called upon St Áed as if he were present and asked for his help. He hastened quickly to a nearby cross, called the Cross of St Áed where a great miracle occurred. He scraped off bits from the cross and mixed them with the beer, invoking the name of St Áed. At once the boiling liquor in all the vats was overflowing, and it became the best wine.
§44. A faithful cleric of Enach Midbren wished to carry the relics of St Áed away from that place so that they would not be among sinners. So with the others not knowing, he placed them on the back of a boy who went out to a nearby forest where he was forced to deposit that holy cargo. When he tried to take it up again he was not able to move; the older man came to help but was also not able to move. Then they understood that this deed was against the wish of the saint. Thinking to return it to the monastery(?), the boy accordingly found the saintly load easy to carry and they went back to replace the relics at their previous place in the borderlands.
§45. One day St Áed came to St Riocc on Inis Boffin, who received him with great joy. Although that was a day of fasting in the time of Lent, St Riocc had no food when Áed arrived that was not meat. St Áed received this with humility and blessed the meats on the table, so that they became bread and fish and honeycomb.
§46. Another time the saintly bishop Áed came to St Enoc at Drumraney. Enoc received him in brotherhood with affection but had nothing to serve to the saintly guest besides vegetables and water. The bishop Áed saw this is his spirit and he went out into the kitchen where he found nothing. He blessed it and said, “May the cook go and serve them what he wants and refresh the brothers.” Entering the house the cook discovered plenty of all kinds of sweet food and he served a good repast to the brothers, and they all praised and blessed the Lord.
§47. The bishop Áed went to another saintly man, namely Molaise of Daim Inis/Devenish. When Áed reached the island he discovered the brothers labouring there, cutting down the woods so that they could cultivate the land. St Áed said to St Molaise, “What work shall I do with the brothers.” There was there a huge, ancient timber lying on the ground which the brothers were in no way able to move. Molaise said to him, “Your job is to get rid of this timber.” Then St Áed ordered the timber to go away, and at once the huge timber raised itself and, flying like a bird and knocking down the woods, it flung itself into the lake. The brothers saw this and they praised and blessed the Lord.
§48. Áed established a place for himself, not far from a man who had wealth and men, before the church which is there now was built. An angel of God came to him there and said, “If you wish to remain in this place there will be be disturbance from the secular inhabitants’ lives and few souls will be gained.” Áed replied, “Where should I dwell?” The angel said, “Near here there is a place where a wealthy man is, and this has been given to you by the Lord. Many souls will go to heaven from there.” That pagan and wealthy man learned from a certain magician that he would abandon his home and property to a coming cleric, so he ordered his home to be shut up, lest St Áed enter the fortress. However on another day Áed came into the fortress without anyone seeing or knowing. When the lord of the place saw Áed had entered he fled for another place, for he could not remain in his sight. As soon as he was on the road he was struck by a great pain and was thrown to the ground. Seeing this in his spirit, St Áed said to his people. “Go and bring him to me.” When he had been brought, Áed said to him, “Believe in God and do penance.” And, when he believed, Áed spoke to him again, “Pick which you want for yourself: either you will go to the kingdom of heaven or you will remain in this life.” That man chose to go to heaven and, accepting the eucharist, he died happily.
§49. A group of men from Gaul abducted Finan, a distinguished man of the Amolngith clan. When Áed saw this in his spirit, he went out to free him. Although one of his wheels was smashed to pieces, the other wheel supported the chariot on its own from the eastern part of Meath all the way to the sea. When he got there he discovered the Gauls were detained by the winds, which would not allow them to sail out of port until they freed Finan from his abduction.
§50. In the land of Munster a reservoir was found to have been poisoned. There was a stream that went out of it which was responsible for a plague that was fatal to people and animals throughout the neighbourhood. The people there asked St Áed to help them. He blessed the stream, and from that day it never was seen there again, and the people gave thanks to God and St Áed.
§51. No one is able to relate all of St Áed’s virtues, his charity, humility, submissiveness, mildness, fasting, restraint, earnestness of prayer day and night, and other good deeds: for Áed fulfilled all the commands of Christ.
§52. St Áed had promised to allow one of his monks to accompany him to heaven. And so, at the hour of his death, Áed said to him, “Prepare yourself, so that you might go with me on the heavenly journey.” When he proved unwilling a certain pagan who had just arrived said, “If only you had told me to accompany you!” Áed answered him, “If you wish, wash yourself and lay yourself down on this bed with me.” When he had done these things, he and the saint died together. On the island of Í, St Columcille saw this and said, “This work which bishop Áed does now is mighty. Behold, he leads a sinner, undeserving, with himself to heaven, without any demons bothering him.” Indeed St Áed passed to heaven like Christ with the thief, among the sweet songs of the choirs of angels, where he will rejoice without sorrow for eternity with our reigning Lord, Jesus Christ, with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.