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third Edgar ; the fourth Cynebert, who is there at present. Before Edhed, Sexwulf was bishop as well of that province as of the Mercians and Midland Angles ; so that, when expelled from Lindsey, he continued in the government of those provinces. Edhed, Bosa, and Eata, were ordained at York by archbishop Theodore ; who also, three years after the departure of Wilfrid, added two bishops to their number ; Tumbert, in the church of Hagulstad, Eata still continuing in that of Lindisfarne ; and Trumwine in the province of the Picts, which at that time was subject to the English.* Edhed returning from Lindsey, because Ethelred had recovered that province, was placed by him over the church of Ripon.
CHAP. XIII. Bishop Wilfrid converts the province of the South Saxons to Christ.
[A.D. 681.] BEING expelled from his bishopric, and having travelled in several parts, Wilfrid went to Rome. He afterwards returned to Britain ; and though he could not, by reason of the enmity of the aforesaid king, be received into his own country or diocese, yet he could not be restrained from preaching the Gospel; for, taking his way into the province of the South Saxons, which extends from Kent on the west and south, as far as the West Saxons, and contains land of 7000 families, who at that time, were still pagans, he administered to them the word of faith, and the baptism of salvation. Ethelwalch, king of that nation, had been, not long
. There is some difficulty connected with the above statement of the venerable historian, respecting the division of Wilfrid's diocese. Some maintain (Wharton, Anglia Sacra, i. 693,) that the diocese of Lindisfarne, with Hexham severed from it, was left to Wilfrid ; while others make Hex ham and Lindisfarne to have been one diocese conferred on Eata. It seems more probable that Theodore divided the diocese into four bishoprics, giving York to Bosa, Hexham and Lindisfarne to Eata, (which were again divided in 684, when Tumbert was appointed to Hexham,) Lindsey to Edhed (whose see was at Sidnacester), and Abercorn, or Whitherne, in the Pictish territory, to Trumwine.
+ The South Saxons were converted to Christianity much later than the other Saxon kingdoms in Britain, probably because they were cut off by downs and marshes from communication with the rest of the island.
before, baptized in the province of the Mercians, by the persuasion of King Wulf here, who was present, and was also his godfather, and as such gave him two provinces, viz. the Isle of Wight, and the province of Meanwara, * in the nation of the West Saxong. The bishop, therefore, with the king's consent, or rather to his great satisfaction, baptized the principal generals and soldiers of that country; and the priests, Eappa, and Padda, and Burghelm, and Eadda, either then, or afterwards, baptized the rest of the people. The queen, whose name was Ebba, had been christened in her own island, the province of the Wiccii.t She was the daughter of Eanfrid, the brother of Eanher, who were both Christians, as were their people ; but all the province of the South Saxons were strangers to the name and faith of God There was among them a certain monk of the Scottish nation, whose name was Dicul, I who had a very small monastery, at the place called Bosanham, encompassed with the sea and woods, and in it five or six brothers, who served our Lord in poverty and humility ; but none of the natives cared either to follow their course of life, or hear their preaching.
But Bishop Wilfrid, by preaching to them, not only delivered them from the misery of perpetual damnation, but also from an inexpressible calamity of temporal death, for no rain had fallen in that province in three years before his arrival, whereupon a dreadful famine ensued, which cruelly destroyed the people. In short, it is reported, that very often, forty or fifty men, being spent with want, would go together to some precipice, or to the sea-shore, and there, hand in hand, perish by the fall, or be swallowed up by the waves. But on the very day on which the nation received the baptism of faith, there fell a soft but plentiful rain ; the earth revived again, and the verdure being restored to the
There are strong appearances of the sea having formerly run up into the land on both the east and west of this county: and in many districts of the county primæval manners still are found.
* A district comprehending almost the eastern moiety of Hampshire. + Inhabitants of Gloucester, Worcester, and part of Warwickshire.
One of the companions of Fursey, mentioned in book iii. c. 19. Was he also the Dicuil, author of a geographical work still extant !
Bosham, or Bosanham, four miles from Chichester, in Sussex, stuu retains its ancient name.
fields, the season was pleasant and fruitful. Thus the former superstition being rejected, and idolatry exploded, the hearts and flesh of all rejoiced in the living God, and became convinced that He who is the true God had, through his heavenly grace, enriched them with wealth, both temporal and spiritual. For the bishop, when he came into the province, and found so great misery from famine, taught them to get their food by fishing ; for their sea and rivers abounded in fish, but the people had no skill to take them, except eels alone. The bishop's men having gathered eel-nets everywhere, cast them into the sea, and by the blessing of God took three hundred fishes of several sorts, which, being divided into three parts, they gave a hundred to the poor, a hundred to those of whom they had the nets, and kept a hundred for their own use. By this benefit the bishop gained the affections of them all, and they began more readily at his preaching to hope for heavenly goods, seeing that by his help they had received those which are temporal.
At this time, King Ethelwalch gave to the most reverend prelate, Wilfrid, land of eighty-seven families, to maintain his company who were in banishment, which place is called Selsey,* that is, the Island of the Sea-Calf. That place is encompassed by the sea on all sides, except the west, where is an entrance about the cast of a sling in width ; which sort of place is by the Latins called a peninsula, by the Greeks, à chersonesus. Bishop Wilfrid, having this place given him, founded therein a monastery, which his successors possess to this day, and established a regular course of life, chiefly of the brethren he had brought with him ; for he both in word and actions performed the duties of a bishop in those parts during the space of five years, until the death of King Egfrid. And forasmuch as the aforesaid king, together with the said place, gave him all the goods that were therein, with the lands and men, he instructed them in the faith of Christ, and baptized them all. Among whom were two hundred and fifty men and women slaves, all of whom he, by baptism, not only rescued from the servitude of the
* Selsey, eight miles south from Chichester, Sussex. Eadbert, abbat of this monastery, in 711, was consecrated first bishop of the South Saxons, . and fixed his see at this place; but Bishop Stigand, in 1070, procured its translation to Chichester.
Devil, but gave them their bodily liberty also, and exempted them from the yoke of human servitude.
CHAP. XIV. How a pestilential mortality ceased through the intercession of King
Oswald. [A.D. 681.] In this monastery, at that time, certain manifestations of the heavenly grace are said to have been shown forth; for the tyranny of the devil having been recently exploded, the faith of Christ began to prevail therein. Of which number I have thought it proper to perpetuate the memory of one which the most reverend Bishop Acca was wont to relate to me, affirming it had been told him by most creditable brothers of the same monastery. About the same time that this province of the South Saxons embraced the faith of Christ, a grievous mortality ran through many provinces of Britain; which, also, by the Divine dispensation, reached to the aforesaid monastery, then governed by the most reverend and religious priest of Christ, Eappa ; and many, as well of those that had came thither with the bishop, as of those that had been called to the faith of the same province of the South Saxons, were snatched away out of this world. The brethren, in consequence, though fit to keep a fast of three days, and to implore the Divine goodness, that it would vouchsafe to extend mercy to them, either by delivering those that were in danger by the distemper from death, or by delivering those who departed this life from eternal damnation.
There was at that time in the monastery, a little boy, of the Saxon nation, lately called to the faith, who had been seized with the same distemper, and had long kept his bed. On the second day of the fasting and praying, it happened that the said boy was, about the second hour of the day, left alone in the place where he lay sick, and through the Divine disposition, the most blessed princes of the apostles vouchsafed to appear to him; for he was a lad of an extraordinarily mild and innocent disposition, and with sincere devotion observed the mysteries of the faith which he had received. The apostles therefore, saluting him in a most affectionate manner, said, “My child, do not fear death, about which you are so uneasy; for we will this day conduct you to
the heavenly kingdom ; but you are first to stay till the masses are said, that having received the body and blood of our Lord, to support you on your journey, and being so discharged through sickness and death, you may be carried up to the everlasting joys in heaven.
“Call therefore to you the priest, Eappa, and tell him, that the Lord has heard your prayers and devotion, and has favourably accepted of your fast, and not one more shall die of this plague, either in the monastery or its adjacent possessions ; but all your people who any where labour under this distemper, shall be eased of their pain, and restored to their former health, except you alone, who are this day to be delivered by death, and to be carried into heaven, to behold our Lord Christ, whom you have faithfully served: this favour the Divine mercy has vouchsafed to grant you, through the intercession of the godly and dear servant of God, King Oswald, who formerly ruled over the nation of the Northumbrians, with the authority of a temporal king, and such devotion of Christian piety as leads to the heavenly kingdom ; for this very day that king was killed in war by the infidels, and taken up to the everlasting joys of souls in heaven, and associated among the number of the elect. Let them look in their books, wherein the departure of the dead is set down, and they will find that he was, this day, as we have said, taken out of this world. Let them, therefore, celebrate masses in all the oratories of this monastery, either in thanksgiving for their prayers being heard, or else in memory of the aforesaid King Oswald, who once governed their nation; and therefore he humbly offered up his prayers to our Lord for them, as for strangers of his nation, and let all the brethren, assembling in the church, communicate in the heavenly sacrifices, and so let them cease to fast, and refresh themselves with food.”
The boy called the priest, and repeated all these words to him; the priest particularly inquired after the habit and form of the men that had appeared to him. He answered, “Their habit was noble, and their countenances most pleasant and beautiful, such as I had never seen before, nor did I think there could be any men so graceful and comely. One of them indeed was shorn like a clerk, the other had a long beard; and they said that one of them was called Peter, the