The Life of Godlieve

Drogo of Sint-Winoksbergen

Translated by Bruce L. Venarde


The Life of Godelieve is a precious record of one woman's tragic and triumphant fate. Godelieve is a unique figure: the only married female martyr recognized as a saint by a medieval pope. She is also, in the account by Drogo of Sint-Winoksbergen, a vivid character whose biography illuminates tensions and conflicts in her world. In particular, the Life of Godelieve provides a candid account of a disastrous marriage at a time when the joining of individuals and families was central to social, economic, and political organization. Godelieve's story tells something about the psychological implications of the arranged marriages that were the rule among the propertied classes of premodern Europe. Godelieve emerges as a victim of medieval marriage and an example of medieval religious devotion as practiced by a laywoman.

Godelieve was born in the late 1040s or early 1050s and died in or around 1070. Godelieve's biography is the work of an old man, a monk for over fifty years. Drogo had previously written other biographies of male and female saints and a book about the miracles of the patron saint of his monastery. Writing not long after the death of his subject (around 1084), not far from the site of her martyrdom and center of her cult, Drogo was able to get much of his information directly from eyewitnesses. Fresh memories of Godelieve lend to the vita a frankness and specificity rare in hagiography. Closeness of time and place could account for the admiration and empathy of the author for his subject. However, Drogo was also singularly free of the misogyny and fear of the human (especially female) body common among his monastic contemporaries. The only evil woman in his writings is Godelieve's mother-in-law; he does not shy away from intimate details and is sensitive to the beauty of female youth and the dignity of matronly age. Finally, Drogo was a born storyteller who recounts here a fascinating and horrible tale of faith, abuse, murder, and miracles.

Perhaps partly because it is such a compelling story, scholars do not agree on its meaning. Godelieve's unwavering faith was an example for other Christians. She also exercised selfless charity, sharing even her meager portion of food with the poor and miraculously providing abundant bread for her own funeral feast. But other implications of her story are subject to debate. Why, for instance, did Godelieve's marriage go sour so quickly? Drogo wrote that her husband was possessed by the devil; modern observers have suggested that sexual dysfunction may have been at the heart of the initial alienation of the couple. Was the author trying to explain what a good Christian marriage should be by enumerating the failings of a bad one? Or was he moralizing about the final rewards of obedience, to God and his earthly representatives? Godelieve flees her abusive husband once but is returned to him at the instigation of her father and by the authority of a count and a bishop. In a sense, then, she is a martyr to arranged marriage and the failures of secular and ecclesiastical authorities to solve the problems it posed. Two of the four miracle stories have Godelieve healing peasants who are acting contrary to priestly direction. Was Godelieve's cult at first a focus of anticlerical, anti-male, anti-noble, or even quasi-pagan devotion on the part of peasants, appropriated by the Church for its own purposes when it proved unsuppressible? The ultimate question of Godelieve's character arouses conflicting interpretations -- was she a courageous martyr or a too-submissive wife?

In any case, Drogo’s Life of Godelieve provides an intimate look at a turbulent life in a dynamic era. Godelieve's cult remains lively in Flanders. A nunnery was founded in her honor near the site of her martyrdom, and her story has been the subject of numerous writings, artistic productions (including a fifteenth-century Flemish polyptych now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York<), and even an opera by Edgar Tinel.

Here begins Drogo's prologue to the life of Saint Godelieve.

To Lord Radbod, by the grace of God bishop of Noyon, Drogo the monk and unworthy priest, the good which surpasses all good.

The fame of your name and your nobility, most blessed father, is deemed great and worthy to be mentioned far and wide. You flourish in the knowledge of literature; you devote yourself to the needs and concerns of those around you, like Martha, and in equal measure you receive the words of God, remaining at his feet, like Mary [see Lk 10:38-42]. When these qualities are happily present together in one person, they are cherished by students of wisdom who rejoice because that which appears according to the distributions of God's grace has been granted by the good Creator to a fellow man. And not at all unworthily -- an extraordinary seed of love grows in those who without hesitation wish for their neighbors what they want for themselves. Truly, best of prelates, I understand from often hearing the spoken praise of many that your reputation is outstanding. Thus I earnestly feel in my heart that you who are elevated by the gift of all virtues would have a care for me in my efforts and support my tottering footsteps with your sweet aid.

For I am forced by a great exhortation of many faithful people to do something beyond my strength, to begin an account of the passion of Saint Godelieve: first to tell about the parents to whom she was born, then the man to whom she as a young woman was betrothed, then by whose trickery and by whom and how she was martyred. I have transcribed these things as they really were, worthy to relate and fitting to remember, all together on parchment. I send this record to you, kindest father, so that by your authority, if in fact you deem it worthy, it might remain valid and true and have the force of pontifical decree for all to whom it comes. Nevertheless, venerable father, before these things are read by many people, first you yourself read over our writings, of whatever quality they are. Trim what is superfluous, add eloquence to what is less clear, so that by your agency the enlightenment that readers seek might shine forth more brightly.

These things which we have written we have heard and learned from people still living who were eyewitnesses. Therefore let no one take it amiss, because Holy Scripture cries out that many others would have done it had I remained silent.1 By your judgment, then, and that of wise people -- even if I am rebuked for taking up the task by some -- I will leave off and begin my account as best I can. Farewell.

Here ends the prologue.

Here begins her life and passion, which is the 30th of July.

(1.) The benevolence of the Almighty calls each sex to His mercy. Sometimes He makes this one come to His kingdom through many difficult tribulations, then He crowns that one with victorious patience, then He repays another one, mighty in the peace of the church by the increase of virtues and love of God and neighbor, with a worthy reward of goods. When all are crowned, these with roses, those with white lilies, the eternal and highest good awaits them all equally -- although it is well known that the reward varies by the quality of merits, according to divine goodness: martyrdom for some, the pinnacle of peace for others.2

For the palm awaits martyrs and eternal glory in heaven awaits the confessors of the faith; how much and how great a glory it is hardly possible to say, nor is the human heart, soul, or mind able to contemplate. A faithful soul, undefeated and perseverant amidst many tricks of the crafty Enemy, grows stronger; the more constant it remains among insults and disgrace, the greater the glory of its coronation. For as long as the soul puts on the shield of humility, it protects itself with the impenetrable breastplate of patient endurance. For surely when other virtues join together with these, they elevate the humble mind by their might and make it dwell in heaven. While that soul enjoys eternal glory, ashes and bones are venerated by signs on earth everywhere.

Enough of this. From here on, let the succession of the account proceed to show the course of life and the time and place of the passion of Saint Godelieve.

(2.) She was born in the territory of Boulogne, in the city itself, the scion of well born parents. Her father was Heinfrid, her mother Odgiva. Already in the tender years of girlhood she began to be devoted to God, obeying her parents' instructions to have pity on the oppressed and do her best to keep her childhood pure and righteous. Thus occupied she slipped into youth and then, made marriageable by the passing years, she was sought by many men, mighty as she was in honorable morals, so gentle and humble, sweet in her actions, and affable in prudent conversation. Among others who sought the hand of so outstanding a young woman was one called Bertolf. He was a powerful man, exalted in birth and wealth.3 The dowry he offered made him much more pleasing to Godelieve's parents than the other noble suitors, and the girl was promised in legal marriage to him.4

But on the very day he took his fiancée home, Bertolf's mind was assaulted by the devil. He began to hate Godelieve, occasionally regretting his hatred, sometimes blaming himself for what had happened. Not only does "evil communication corrupt good morals," as the Apostle says [1 Cor 15:33], but in fact wicked habits make the spirit of evil worse when it is provoked by curses and taunting. For Bertolf was also driven to hatred by the words of his mother, who should have rejoiced in the success of her son's suit, after the fashion of good mothers.

(3.) There is a popular saying in that part of the world, that all mothers-in-law hate their daughters-in-law. They waste away in vice thus: they want their sons to wed, yet when it happens, they are jealous of them and the women they marry. Bertolf's mother said, speaking metaphorically, "Were you entirely unable, dear son, to find any crows in your homeland, and thus wanted to bring home a foreign crow? Why did you do it? Why did you want to do such a thing? Shouldn't you have instead sought the counsel of your mother and others who would have advised you, consulted with your father, before doing as whimsy took you? Mark my words: you'll figure out what you've done, and you won't be able to correct the blunder when you realize you've made it." Driven by these and other maternal words, Bertolf was burdened with sorrow, and sickness of soul grew greater in him each day. He complained, sometimes to himself, sometimes to friends who had been told of his plans. "I have provoked my mother by my engagement, and unless I take some kind of action for the better, I have destroyed myself, too."

His betrothed had dark eyebrows and hair but very fair skin, which is agreeable and pleasing in women, often highly prized. Indeed her looks were perfect for anyone who caught sight of her, and anyone who smiled at her: for you perceived that she rejoiced with you when you were happy, and she seemed truly sympathetic when you were sad.

(4.) Now Bertolf did not want to attend his own wedding, and behaved as if intent on other, preferable activities on his own behalf, now doing business, now meeting of far-flung allies. All this he did in order to be absent, lest he see the woman he despised. His mother, although unwilling, celebrated the union in the husband's -- her son's -- place; she calmed her stormy brow, hiding the poison she bore in her soul. For three whole days the son was absent while the marriage was fêted by his mother and his enemies. He came back after the third day; forsaking his own home, wife, and household, he went to live at his father's house. The newly married wife, unworthy of this treatment and certainly worthy of a better husband, remained at home, managed the household, and consoled the grief in her soul with distaff, spindle, and loom. She spent her nights alone, and poured forth prayers as well as tears, asking that God grant her husband a change of heart. When Bertolf saw this, he began to discuss with both parents how he might corrupt her way of living, since it was a disgrace and harmful to him. His father sympathized with Bertolf -- if such can be called "sympathy" -- and joined in his son's hatred of Godelieve. A servant was prevailed upon to maltreat her, offering her a loaf of bread once a day at an appointed hour and nothing else. Still the woman of God gave thanks to God for the bread bestowed on her. She gave half of it to the poor, keeping the other half for the nourishment of her own body. The crowning blow was to see her servants' abundant pleasures, since they got meat and plenty else to eat. She had only salted bread and water once a day. Her husband told the servant that if he did anything other than what had been ordered, he would be punished.

(5.) Still the enemy did not rest. He plotted worse dangers and prepared more atrocities with which to torment the servant of God and make her more distinguished in the eyes of almighty God and men. "This is too much, too much I've allowed my wife. Anything further will harm me. Now let half the loaf of bread reserved for the needy be taken away, and only the other part be given to her. I'll take away her healthy color and destroy her mind so that she cannot even think about God or herself." Bertolf turned these things over in his mind; then he spoke and in his speech told what was to be done. Half a loaf was given to Godelieve. She took it, gave thanks to God for such a quantity, and prayed this prayer: "I beseech you, God, creator of all things, helper me in my frailty. Consider the many miseries with which I am afflicted. Although, my holy Lord, my portion of rations is diminished by my husband, in no way is my good will diminished. So let a poor person take this half, or rather let it be given to you through the needy." So she spoke, and gave a scrap of the half-loaf to a pauper.

Oh pious will, oh patience enduring together in the same woman! You persist always in adversities. Your spouse curses you; you bless him. He grows envious of you; you reconcile him to God with prayers and determination -- if the good can be reconciled with the wicked. He even hopes for your death and threatens it; you, as long as you live, always pray to God.

So the woman devoted to God complied with the pledge she had made, giving over half the bread allowed her to the needy. It was very difficult for her to subsist on so tiny a portion, but she did not want to break the promise she had made to God. Women of the neighborhood and in-laws took pity on her, and brought bread, meat, fish, and other things given by God for human consumption. She lived on these while her personal bodily needs were attended by the washing of rags. Nor should it be kept silent that all people present and absent loved and pitied her -- even those who knew her only by name. For God grants to each of the faithful that the better part of humanity loves and reveres him, just as light combines with light and is joined to it. For it would be monstrous if two opposites were in harmony.

(6.) But Bertolf, too, had his supporters, who stuck by him and plotted evil. They goaded a man violent enough on his own, inclined and prepared to perpetrate any sort of crime, against an innocent. Amid such wrongs done by her husband, Godelieve, along with most of her household, was forced to flee from him. Barefoot and hungry, she left the country altogether and went back to her homeland and her father, accompanied only by a servant.5 There she complained about her husband's injustice and the harm done to the household, and that for her love of God Bertolf had conspired against her and cursed her piety. Heinfrid pitied his daughter's misfortune and gave Godelieve a place to live while he took wise counsel about what would be most fruitful with respect to his own honor and her needs. When at last he had decided on what seemed to him the best course of action, he went to Count Baldwin and told him in detail the story of the harm done him and his daughter. He explained and how at last the husband had forced her to flee. The count, however, sent Godelieve's father to the bishop of the diocese in which Bertolf lived, since that prelate was mighty in wisdom and ready to advise any person in matters of all sorts. "It is the office of a bishop," said the count, "to rule Christendom as well as correct anything deviating from holy practice, and mine to help him in any difficulties which he is unable to overcome by himself. Episcopal authority should first compel this man to take back what is his. If he refuses, and considers the bishop's order of little significance, then I will address the matter and demand satisfaction for your cause with every resource available to me." Why wait to get on with the story? The husband was forced by both parties to take back his wife. He swore that he would not treat her badly, received her lawfully, and took her back home. Still lived alone in the house and prayed the Almighty that she be deemed worthy of comfort, as He comforts His servants.

(7.) Some people, including certain of Bertolf's friends, censured undying anger and perpetual hatred of such a woman, and criticized him because neither the teachings of God, nor the authority of the bishop, nor the command of the prince made him gentler toward her -- his ferocity was not softened by the marriage contract or his own reputation. When people hurled curses at her, the one dear to God opposed them with pious words. God's servant even forbade others to damn her husband. "To speak ill of someone," she said, "is not much of a crime or sin, but to curse is a very great sin. As I have heard, this is what the apostle taught: 'Bless those who persecute you, bless and curse not' [Rom 12:14]. By this means everyone can keep his mouth entirely clean of curses and his tongue free from slander. He is known to have sinned against me; so much less should I heap up curses. So that God may pour forth the grace and goodness of his heart, let such hatred of me cease, and let my husband cherish me accordingly." While some bewailed her harsh misfortune and ached for her miseries, Godelieve, filled with divine grace, consoled herself. She showed a smiling, happy face, because the spirit informing her heart made her ever cheerful. She clung to the Lord in adversity and loved his teachings with the fullest embrace of devotion. She served Him and was deservedly loved by Him. In fact this is what her name shows: it means "dear to God" in German.6

(8.) This, too, is wonderful to say and worthy to be committed to writing. Some people bewailed the causes of her misfortunes and said that she was all alone, not knowing and not to know pleasures of the body or the delights of the world.7 Godelieve saw that those lovers of the world measured out pleasures in their minds as earthly people in pursuit of things of the earth. Smiling at the empty folly of such words, yet with modest visage and invincible in her faith and hope she refuted the lamenters with a brief speech and responded from a ready heart. "I don't care at all about the lures of the body and I value little the riches of the transient world. Whatever we see, whatever we have, whatever we desire that we don't have yet -- all this is changeable. Not even man himself lasts. A swift hour will destroy him and, according to the perfect Truth, all flesh is as the flower of grass, which now blooms but soon after, mown down, withers away [see Is 40:6-7]." Then, fired with prophetic spirit, she added the following. "Nobody should say I am unlucky, nor think it, although I am tempest-tossed on this sea of life and afflicted with what you call misfortune. For I am exalted over every woman who draws breath in all Flanders and I will appear richer to all than I can imagine. Let Him who is most powerful do what He will with me, He who endows whom He wishes with His virtues and who raises the poor man from the dirt of his misfortune [see Lk 1:46-49]." Saying such things makes it evident that she was comforted by the Holy Spirit and her mind put at ease and strengthened by heavenly consolation. She had foreknowledge that she would inhabit heaven by means of the things she patiently endured if in fact, persevering to the end, she were distinguished by virtue and good works.

I call to witness for the universal belief of mortals -- I, who compose this report, of whatever sort it may be -- that I knew and saw monks, practiced in the height of modesty and endowed in all virtues, zealous in good will and resistant to everything contrary to good, who were edified by Godelieve's sweet exhortation and left her better equipped to withstand all vice. There was grace of such a sort in her, the gift of divine clemency, that whoever spoke with her took pity and rejoiced: pitied her for the unworthy things she had endured and was still enduring, but rejoiced upon seeing that she rose above, triumphing over adversity.

(9.) Concerning her life that much suffices. Henceforth the pen turns to how she crossed over from this life to God. Since every one of Bertolf's deceits and contrivances was foiled with God's help, such that he was unable to make the holy woman perish from hunger or any other trick his cunning could devise, he began to plot. He soon became distracted by the darting about of his thoughts. He burned inside, the goads of rage unbridled. Moving his lips, he pondered the following in his disturbed mind. "Is there any kind of human skill to be found that could bring my will to bear? I live, and live badly, as long as I see my every plan overcome. In her life my own rots away, and while she lives there is no vigor in my body. Hunger does not overwhelm her nor long fasting exhaust her body. Rather she thrives, unharmed, and the more she is crushed and worn down by trouble, the more powerful her youthfulness obviously is. So if my ability to impose my will does not proceed by this path, another way must be found, tried, undertaken. Either she can die by sword or flame or water or by some other torture our need invents." Bertolf was agitated by rage and moved first to wound, to tear her mind apart without a sword, before torturing her body. He called two servants, Lambert and Hacca, to ask their advice about what he could try doing to Godelieve, by what kind of torture he could kill her. They replied as they saw fit and offered useful counsel and encouragement. They set a day and contrived a kind of torture by which she would easily perish and the deed be hidden. They even considered what time of day or night would be most expedient and secretive for doing what they planned.

(10.) Now the day had come, and the time was at hand when it would be made clear what sort of woman she was and how filled with God. The glory of heaven would reward her whose heart shone with divine grace from heaven and who was equally remarkable for virtue and humble patience. On the very night when she was to be killed by the trickery of criminal sinners, before sunset her husband came home to Godelieve. First Bertolf kissed her with a lying mouth and embraced her, putting a smile on his face while he bore poison in his heart. When he did this unaccustomed thing, he sat down next to her with pretended cheerful face and happy heart. Both were sitting on a bench. Since she feared to approach her husband, and to show reverence to him (as some think it proper to do), he drew her toward him by the hand, and soothed her fears with soft words. Then he spoke to the handmaid of God. "It is no small grief to me that I am of such cruel spirit toward you and seem to be so unyielding that you are not accustomed to my presence and kind address and do not delight in mutual fleshly pleasure. I don't know what sort of misfortune has come between us, what discord has separated our minds, so that I have become alienated from you and not in control of my heart. It seems to me that the trouble has been fostered by the Enemy. He destroys he hearts of mortals, now inciting this one to envy, now that one to hatred. But I want to put an end to this spiritual separation, to cherish you as a dear wife and thus, putting hatred behind us little by little, our minds and bodies will come together as one." O heart infected with every wicked art, o foul tongue of man! You imitate Judas, the betrayer of the Lord, in your crime. He kissed a gentle lamb in planned trickery; you offer kisses to your wife and talk to an innocent with treacherous heart. For a price, he handed over the King and Lord of all to the hateful crowds; you hand over your wife to serfs, who are to be rewarded with some prize. So if we are permitted to compare great things to small ones, the depths to the heights, there will be like punishment, equal burden for you for your own crime. "I have found a woman," Bertolf continued, "who considers that she will be able to join us together in steadfast devotion and have us join in love constantly, cherishing each other like no couple anywhere in the world. This business I have committed to the servants Lambert and Hacca. They will bring the woman to you. I believe strongly in all this. Therefore I am telling you all about it in advance, so it is not unknown to you or cause anxiety."

When the crafty man had finished, Godelieve replied, "I am a handmaid of the Lord, and commend everything to him. Therefore if this can be done without any crime, I accept." O fortunate woman, and devoted to God! You unite yourself to God before all, and He takes care of you. You fear lest you are separated from your true self by magic. For that reason you choose to honor your marriage, lest you lose the Lord, joiner of marriage.8 When she had finished the words above, she was silent. Bertolf, hopping up from the bench on which he sat, mounted his horse and went off for the night to Bruges, where he would await word of his wife's death. Thus, he thought, he would be free from criminal suspicion.

(11.) Now darkness fell quickly after sunset. The bodies of all humans slept their cares away and lay quiet. Behold Lambert and Hacca, rousing their mistress from sleep. "Arise, my lady," they said. "We come solicitously, to take you to the woman of whom our master spoke. There she is, standing by the gates, already waiting for you. Come on, get up, hurry, lest you harm your own cause by delay." First Godelieve protected herself with the sign of the cross -- thereafter she committed herself wholly to God. When it became clear that she wanted to dress, the servants forbade it. "Come with bare feet, loose hair, dressed only in a shift," they say. "It's quite certain that everything will work to your benefit. But it must be done now, in the dark of night, before first light." She subjected herself to their demands, saying, "I entrust myself to the Almighty. I am his creature, so let whatever becomes of me seem most merciful. Now I surrender myself to faith in You. Rising up, she went with the two men. What they said and did for the next little while was empty of meaning, more tricks and scheming which do not even seem worthy of recording. But when they deceived her one last time, they put a noose around her neck and hands around her throat, so nobody could hear her scream. They squeezed with all their might. When they figured she was dead, they submerged her in water, so in case any breath of life was left, the water would put smother it. By the miraculous power of God, it was brought about that if anything of our earthly form was blackened, it could be made clean and white with that water.9

(12.) Afterwards the pair did their duty. They took Godelieve back to her bed, lay her in it, and drew up the covers. When the sun had climbed high in the sky, the household murmured about what might possibly be keeping their mistress from getting up. She had been in the habit of hastening to arise, either before dawn or at first light, alerting others, and going to church. So the servants wondered, but did not want to wake up their mistress, thinking her either sick or sleepy. As more time passed, someone went into her bedroom and tried to rouse her, but a dead woman cannot be roused. Word spread quickly and neighbors arrived. The body was examined but no wound or sign of a sword's work found anywhere. There was only a red ring around her neck where the wicked men had put the noose. Some asserted that she had died from natural causes while others muttered otherwise. True understanding was granted according to the measure of love people had for Godelieve. Burial was accomplished hastily the same day. Because the bread to be doled out for her salvation ran short, somebody went to correct matters by buying grain. The grain was a gain for its purchaser, for it multiplied such that when ground into flour it exceeded its measure and the buyer marvelled at this miracle. God be praised! In your honor she gave as much to the poor as she could, while alive, and you reminded everyone of the fact with this heavenly miracle.10

(13.) The spot of ground where she was killed was turned to white stone, in order that the Lord might show her merit and make known to all the faithful the place of her death. Some people took away souvenirs out of devotion to Godelieve, brought them home, and afterward marveled that the stone turned to gems. I who am writing this account went as a witness and saw the gems and blessed the name of the Lord. Almighty God converted another earthly element for Godelieve's glory, to show her great merit. All comers weighed down with fevers or suffering from other infirmities who drank the in which she drowned water rejoiced at once that they had received, through her merits, the cure they had hoped for. Likewise the Lord showed her standing in heaven at her tomb, when he singled out her grave and even her body with heavenly signs. But I will tell only a few of the things that happened, and bring proofs of these signs to the fore, so that in them anyone can easily believe how highly this daughter of God is regarded in heaven's glory.

(14.) A father brought to her tomb his son, crippled from childhood, and prayed for a cure through her merits. After a short time the cripple rose up, and the father took him home healthy. The boy was called Algotus. He began his education as a child, and when he had attained manhood, he ascended little by little to the rank of deacon.

(15.) A certain crippled woman lay before the gate of the monastery of Saint-Trond for nine years, staying closed up there in the hope of being cured as others had been. Many had been cured and raised up there so only this one woman remained in order to fulfill God's plan of making known far and wide the power of one grave. In the end, having heard of Godelieve's reputation, the woman had herself moved to the tomb, and prayed there for the Lord's mercy. After remaining only a short time, she arose, healed, and happily returned to her birthplace, safe and sound and on her own two feet. So this miracle took place. Godelieve shows the same merciful piety toward the poor as she did while alive and still in her human body.

(16.) One sabbath, at a time when it is forbidden, a certain man was harvesting in the field when his hand became stuck to an ear of grain. He tried to pull it off with the other hand, but he could not. You would have seen that he wanted to shake it off, but could not; in fact the more he tried, the more firmly it stayed in place. Soon recognizing his guilt in the matter, he went to the tomb of the oft-mentioned woman and got down on the ground to pray. The prayer not yet finished, his fingers stretched out, the grain fell away from his hand leaving his palm again visible.

(17.) This occurred on a solemn holiday which the faithful celebrated.11 After mass, the priest stood and warned that the day should be observed by all and nobody should do any work whatsoever. A woman of the village heard the priest's warning, but thinking it of little account, she prepared some dye in a kettle and picked up a stick for stirring. At once it stuck to both hands. She struggled, swinging her arms about this way and that, but in vain. Word of the event got out, her household gathered, and neighbors came running. Some of the onlookers tried to wrench off the stick with their hands; others feared to touch it. Finally, urged on by her punishment, the woman went to the grave of her helper, to pray at the site and seek the merits of God's holy woman. Amidst tears and words of prayer first her fingers, then her whole hand suddenly were freed. The stick fell to the ground and the woman went home healed.

Medieval Hagiography:An Anthology , edited by Thomas Head. Garland Reference Library of the Humanities, Volume 26. New York: Garland, 2000. (Now distributed by Routeledge Press).

See to order and for the following catalogue description:

This collection presents-through the medium of translated sources-a comprehensive guide to the development of hagiography and the cult of the saints in western Christendom during the middle ages. It provides an unparalleled resource for the study of the ideals of sanctity and the practice of religion in the medieval west. Intended for the classroom, for the medieval scholar who wishes to explore sources in unfamiliar languages, and for the general reader fascinated by the saints, this collection provides the reader a chance to explore in depth a full range of "writings about the saints" (the term hagiography is derived from Greek roots: hagios=holy and graphe=writing). The thirty-six chapters contain sources either in their entirety or in selections of substantial length. The great majority of the texts have never previously appeared in English translation. Those which have appeared in earlier translation, are here presented in versions based on significant new textual and historical scholarship which makes them significant improvements on the earlier versions. All the translations are accompanied by introductions, notes, and suggestions for further reading in order to help guide the reader. The first selections date to the fourth century, when the ideals of Christian sanctity were evolving to meet the demands of a world in which Christianity was an accepted religion and when the public veneration of relics was growing greatly in scope. The last selections date to the period immediately prior to the Reformation, a period in which the traditional concept of sanctity and acceptability of de cult of relics was being questioned. In addition to numerous works from the clerical languages of Latin and Greek, the selections include translations from Romance, Celtic, Germanic, and Slavic vernacular languages, s well as Hebrew texts concerning the martyrdom of Jews at the hands of Christians. Originating in lands from Iceland to Hungary and from the Baltic to the Mediterranean, they are taken from a full range of the many genres which constituted hagiography: lives of the saints, collections of miracle stories, accounts of the discovery or movement of relics, liturgical books, visions, canonization inquests, and even heresy trials.

Note: A fuller version of the introduction and notes can be found in the original version, pp. 359-373.