The Life of Saint Cadog
§1. Of the angelic revelation and the birth of saint Cadog
these things therefore being done, king Gwynllyw joined to himself in lawful
wedlock the aforesaid daughter of Brychan, named Gwladus, who conceived; and,
wonderful to relate, every night from the hour of her conception four lights
were seen shining with fiery splendour in the four corners of the house in which
she stayed, until she brought forth her first-born son. And in this it is beyond
question manifest to all that the infant was really elected by God from his
mother’s womb according to that prophecy of Isaiah the prophet, ‘From thy
mother’s womb have I chosen thee’, and in another place, ‘From my mother’s belly
the Lord bath called me.’
§2. Of cellars filled by God’s will with a supply of honey and milk.
When the time for bringing forth had come, the holy mother,
called Gwladus, gave birth to the holy boy, at whose nativity the cellars were
found filled with milk and honey, as if prepared to supply a banquet, for during
the three previous days they had been entirely emptied at the royal expense.
Wherefore the holy mother of the saint, giving thanks to God for his favours,
ordered the gifts of Christ to be divided among the poor.
On which wonder there followed a greater wonder, for
by so much the more that the cellars were emptied, the more they filled with
abundance of goods.
The infant, therefore, having been born again by the grace of baptism, the aforesaid presbyter, according to the custom of those who baptize, consigned him back to his parents, saying, Joy fully receive this infant purified by me by angelic command in the layer of salvation, and for the space of seven years keep him from all hurtful things, and, when these things are done, arrange for him to be instructed in sacred literature.’ When these things had been fully heard, the father of the boy says to the holy presbyter ‘To thee before all the doctors of Britannia do I entrust my son, that, when the prescribed cycle of years is done, thou mayest instruct him in liberal arts and divine doctrines, because thou art a true worshipper of God and a profound teacher of very many disciples.’ To these things saint Meuthi replies, ‘All the things which thou shalt enjoin me concerning this boy, I will the more willingly bring to effect, God willing.’ These things being done, as said, saint Meuthi, having received the afore said cow, returned, rejoicing, to his own abode.
§5. Of the boy’s religious piety and his admonition of his father’s household.
In the meantime the blessed child grew in age and wisdom and disbursed to the poor the whole of what goods came to his hands And although a child of royal birth, he despised the pomp of royal apparel, for he frequented the church every hour in mean raiment who, when invited to a dinner or supper, said, ‘Christ is my food and he is my drink.’ Yet at night he took a little bread and water, entirely rejecting more sumptuous foods. Satisfied with this nourishment, he would be refreshed as by a banquet of divers foods. He had a countenance cheerful, plump, and jocund. And whilst his father’s household went to join in a game of dice he would always resort to the church with gay step, to whom, when they urged him to the game, he would say, ‘O blind mind of men ever to seek transitory things and look to earthly things! See ye what ye might be and what ye have become? Know ye not that the day of the Lord will come when mourning will be turned intojoy, and laughter will be turned into mourning?’ And while he proclaimed these things, a great part of his hearers used to grieve, answering, ‘What means this religion of our son? We were expecting the increase of the kingdom from him, who by his preaching destroys our household. Let us force him to warfare, because he knows better than us how to rule the people.’ When this was told the boy he exclaimed with hands uplifted to heaven, ‘Free me, Lord Jesus Christ, from this danger. I am already desirous not to rule but to serve. Send me whither thou wilt for I will not now visit the threshold of my father.’ Wherefore, because God provided that he should be a ruler of the Church, God gave him the knowledge of the Scriptures. And although it makes many to be proud, knowledge did not puff him up, but the more he excelled others in wisdom, the more he humbled himself before all. Nor is it to be wondered at, since nothing was done by him for which he could be blamed. For he loved all, he offended none, he honoured all and was honoured by all, he blessed all and was blessed by all
§6. Of the water, which suddenly sprang up for the boy’s baptism, being turned into mead.
But we have thought it should by no means be passed by in silence what the divine mercy willed to do to make manifest the innate grace of the oft-mentioned boy with regard to the aforesaid fountain wherein saint Cadfael, who also is Cadog, was baptized. In the first year after the baptism of saint Cadog, as is re lated by the more learned elders of the Britons, it was turned both in taste and colour, into mead. In fact in the second year through out the whole year it preserved a milky colour and sweetness Therefore if any dwellers in that country, wherein that fountain gushed forth from the earth for their use on account of the prayer of the aforesaid hermit and the love of saint Cadog, should drink of the same, it would never fail nor lose its sweetness But when a very great dispute and dissension arose between unjust heirs, so that on account of that fountain they fought one another the more dreadfully, and a very great slaughter of them had been effected, to wit, a hundred men of the rural army being slain and many wounded, the rest at length returned to their own homes with bloody clothes and horses. Therefore God, the bestower of all I good things, who by this fountain deigned to show benevolence to: the people of that province for the love of holy Cadog, and through their wickedness and wrongdoing having been displeased and provoked, made the water of the aforesaid spring to return to its natural tastelessness according to that word of Moses, ‘I will hide my face’, saith the Lord, ‘from them, and I will see the end of them.. For it is a perverse generation, and they are unbelieving children.’ So when the space of seven years was over, all the allurements, of this world being despised, the boy Cadog voluntarily with the consent of his parents surrendered himself for instruction to his pious baptizer (or regenerator), Meuthius, to be imbued with sacred literature and liberal training. And he, joyfully receiving him in accordance with the angelic command, instructed him assiduously in Donatus and Priscian and also diligently in other arts for twelve years. As soon, therefore, as Cadog of pious memory passed through the age of childhood, he began to be greatly devoted to God and to strive with all his might for the: land of everlasting life; overcoming his youth with good habits, he applied his mind to no pleasure. For it is believed that that saying of the Evangelist concerning the boy, Jesus, might not unworthily be said also of this his servant, ‘The boy grew and waxed strong, and the Spirit of God was with him.’
§7. Of the punishment of the rustic, who refused to give fire to the boy Cadog.
One day, their hearth being cold, the aforesaid presbyter bade his disciple, Cadog, to fetch fire to cook the food. He, obeying his master s command without question, went immediately to a threshing-floor, or winnowing place for corn, where in that hour was a servant of his teacher, Tidus by name, drying oats, and demanded of him firmly that he would give him fire for the master’s need. But that boorish rustic, rejecting his petition, refused to give him any, unless he would carry the burning coals in his cloak. He, trusting in the Lord and taking the coals of fire in his garment, brought them to his instructor with clothing unconsumed. But it is not meet to be held back that that rustic the. more speedily realized a punishment worthy of his obstinacy. For the boy in returning looked back at the rustic, and with eyes raised to heaven besought the Lord, saying, ‘I beseech thee, God, almighty Father, Maker of heaven and earth, who givest to thy servants on earth the power of treading on scorpions, making poisons harmless, putting demons to flight, giving sight to the, blind, cleansing lepers, healing the sick, taming savage sinners, and subduing the impious, receive into thy ears my prayers, that, that rustic may, by the kindling of his own fire-brands, with the threshing-floor and grain be burnt together, and that his threshing-floor may be cursed by God, so that none other after his death may use it for ever, and that his progeny may be subject to other folks. I do not, O Lord, by these entreaties, so supplicate thy goodness that I should wish the aforewritten sinner to be condemned in his wickedness, since the Lord says, “I will not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live.” And Paul, “Not rendering evil for evil, nor cursing for cursing, but contrariwise blessing”; but that the divine virtue and power might be made manifest in this world to the wicked, and that they might the more fear thee, and that they might shrink from resisting those who minister to thee, as it is read in Daniel, “Let all who inhabit the earth fear the God of Daniel, because he is a Deliverer and Saviour, performing wonderful things in heaven and in earth.” The supplication finished, and he looking back, lo, the threshing-floor anathematized by him together with the boorish villein mentioned above is fired and utterly burnt. In that place too where that threshing- or winnowing-floor was situated, a horrid fountain arose after its burning in memory of this divine vengeance, which, causing there a black bog, remains to this day in memory (or record) of that event. The docile boy, Cadog, as soon as he returned, threw out the coals of fire from his unburnt cloak under the eyes of his master. These things being done as related, the senior says to him, ‘Beloved pupil, elect servant of God, it is not allowed me to teach thee longer.’ When this was heard, he, being a youth of good disposition, fearing lest by chance he had incurred by some fault the indignation of that teacher, said, exclaiming with a groan, ‘As thou art more than angry with me and thy wrath is kindled against me like fire, have I so far been disobedient to thee in word or deed, or have I been an accuser and tale-bearer among the brethren?’ Meuthius answering says, ‘By no means, but as is read in the Gospel concerning the centurioii who asked Christ to heal his boy, “He said to him, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst enter under my roof”; and elsewhere Peter, “Depart from me, teacher, because I am a sinful man.” And so I am not worthy that thou shouldst dwell with me longer under my roof, and that thou shouldst receive instruction from me, for thy wisdom exceeds my knowledge, and thy innocence surpasses my prudence, and thou art holier than I am in all respects. Therefore with the divine protection and my blessing, angels accompanying thee everywhere, go prosperously whereever thou dost determine.’ Then the sacred Meuthius after Cadog’s departure considering the above-mentioned sacred fire, since he dared not in any wise make use of it, went and hid it, as precious treasure, buried in the cemetery. From that day till the time of king Howel ab Owain, king of the Morgannwg folk, that place was known to all, where the sacred fire had been hidden by saint Meuthius, and the divine compassion was wont to confer health on all who arrived thither with their cattle smitten with various calamities, until that a certain ill-disposed person, envying the bounty of God conferred on men in the health-bearing fire, that it might not heal the disease of any, unhappily destroyed place and fire by denial. Then till now fire and place have remained unknown, affording health to no man.
§8. Concerning the departure of Cadog from his teacher, and the smiting of the swineherd who intended to strike him.
Therefore saint Cadog, departing sorrowfully from his oft-mentioned instructor, sought diligently with frequent groans a place suitable for the service of God, nor was he long frustrated in his wish. He came at length to a certain valley covered with thorns and thistles. There weariness had compelled him to rest a little beneath the shade of an apple-tree. But the swine feeding in that place, being frightened on seeing him, fled at a rapid pace to the swineherd. And when he observed the pigs in a state of terror, he rose excitedly, full of anger, taking up his spear and searching in every direction like a robber to see who or what was terrifying his pigs. Whence it happened that he came up to the place where saint Cadog was praying by the roots of the aforesaid tree, and having seen him and thinking that he was a thief, he tries with right hand uplifted to pierce him with the point of his lance. But God, seeing from on high the wickedness of the swineherd, caused his extended arm at once to stiffen, so that he could neither draw it to him nor henceforth extend it, and immediately he lost the sight of both eyes. Thus without any doubt the venerable Cadog laudably escaped, by the will of God, the danger and the madness of the raging swineherd. The swineherd, calling out in woeful tones, and feeling his way to the ground with feet and left hand, knew by this injury to his limbs that Cadog was a servant of God, whom he in ignorance willed to slay, and addresses him in wretchedness after this manner, 'I beseech your piety with earnest prayers that for the ineffable mercy of God thou loosen me, with my wretched limbs, confined by divine vengeance in bodily bonds, and concede to my blindness the light withdrawn.’ To these words saint Cadog replies, ‘Health is not granted to thee by God before that thou comest to thy master, to wit, Paul Penychen.’ But he, ‘Consider, most faithful servant of God, how I am deprived of the sight of both eyes, and how my miserable body is tied together as with iron chains. Wherefore I cannot proceed hence anywhere.’ To which Cadog said, ‘Believe only that with God all things are possible in heaven and in earth.’ And he replies, ‘Sir, I believe.’ And again the blessed man says to him, ‘He, who opened the eyes of one born blind, and raised Lazarus after four days from the tomb, the same will open thine eyes, and will bestow most rapid healing on all thy limbs in the presence of thy master and his retainers. Also I charge thee that, when thou tellest thy master what things have been done to thee by God through me, and the sight of thy eyes is recovered, thou salute him on my behalf, and that thou carefully ask him to come to me speedily, that I may acquire the sight of him and his conversation, for he is my uncle.’ Having heard these things, the blind and unhappy man immediately arose, doubting naught as to the health promised him through God’s mercy, and with tottering step by God’s guidance proceeds unaccountably to the gate of the court, wherein his master dwelt, which in British is called Nant (that is, river) Paul, and, beating the doors with his blind forehead, he calls the doorkeepers with a loud voice, and tearfully begs admittance. The janitors seeing him, and pitying his calamity, anxiously inquire how he had lost his sight and whence such an infirmity had occurred to him. But he, keeping silent and making no reply, enters into the hail of his master, and standing by him told him clearly all the things which had been done by God through saint Cadog or had been said by him. When he had not yet quite finished his words, his blindness is expelled and his original sight is restored, scales as of a fish falling from his eyes, and to his withered right hand was restored the virtue of natural strength. These things being heard and seen, the aforesaid Paul greatly wondering, and joyfully with exultation receiving the command of the man of God, and thinking that saint Cadog would prefer temporal glory and an earthly kingdom to the service of God, immediately clothed himself in a more expensive style of garments, and went with gladness accompanied by twelve picked soldiers at the guidance of the aforementioned swineherd to the man of God, and found the same praying beneath the shade of the aforesaid apple-tree. And not only he himself but also all his comrades alighting immediately from his horses, fall down at the feet of the blessed Cadog, and address him with such words as these, ‘We return due thanks to God for thy happy arrival, and will rejoice exceedingly if, setting aside the service of religion, thou dost promise that thou wilt have the royal sceptre bestowed on thee, as befits thy dignity, since indeed thou art the principal heir of this kingdom, and the rights of the whole kingdom belong to thee, and all of us will be subject to thy rule.’ To which saint Cadog, ‘I will by no means abandon the service of divine religion for the delights of the deceitful world, nor will I prefer earthly things to heavenly, nor will I despise things eternal for things momentary, but a site for a single hut of all thy land will suffice me.’ The subregulus answers him, ‘I thought thou wouldst ask for very great gifts, but now thou dost request the smallest. Wherefore choose and take a site in accordance with thy desire.’ To whom the blessed man utters these words, ‘It wearies me to traverse the diverse parts of this solitude. This valley, not a little removed from human habitation, do I choose to dwell in before all others, and here with my clerical companions I think it worth while to serve God devotedly, according to that word of the Psalmist, “This is my rest for ever, here will I dwell, for I have chosen it.”’ These things accomplished in this manner, and the habitation asked for having been willingly granted to the blessed Cadog, the aforesaid subregulus returned to his own. The venerable man, therefore, with his clergy passed the following night in prayers to God, that he would tell them of a place for building, and that, tearing up the bushes, he would make it level. For in that valley there was no dry ground, but a festering marsh, producing nothing besides a thicket of reeds full of all sorts of reptiles and snakes, except the ambit of a single bush, under which a large boar of white colour had its windings, and in the middle of the same bush on top a swan was wont to nest every year. When the venerable hero had ended his prayer, lo, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Thy prayer has been heard by the Lord. Therefore, rising early at dawn, thou wilt find a place for building an oratory, levelled and cleared. And when thou shalt walk thereon, thou wilt perceive a white boar, bristly and of great age, leap out, frightened at the sound of thy footsteps, and there shalt thou lay the foundation of thy temple in the name of the Holy Trinity. Then, where the boar again stops, thou shalt build a dormitory, and then, where he makes a third stop in his course, thou shalt construct thy refectory.’ Saint Cadog rising early saw, in accordance with the revelation of the angel, all the rough and bushy places which had been levelled thoroughly by God’s direction. So the venerable man came as the angel bade to the aforesaid bush in the midst of the cleared valley, and at the sound of his approach he saw a singular big boar rise up, and a swan of white colour flying away, driven from its nest by fear. The boar stops its course not far from the afore-noted thicket, and, looking back at saint Cadog as if to mark the spot, it proceeds a little farther, and again, continuing its course a little, stopped. Therefore the blessed man marked the three stations of the boar by the fixing of three twigs. Then in the first station he built a notable little monastery of timber, in the second a refectory, and in the third a dormitory.
§9. How the man of God built his first monastery.
After this miracle is made known to all the Britons of the western parts, there eagerly flowed together from various districts of the whole of Britannia very many clerics to saint Cadog like rivers to the sea, that they might attain to imitate his wisdom and practice; for he always welcomed eagerly all, who steadily toiled in the services of God and paid heed to the divine scriptures. Hence the venerable man began to raise up a huge heap of earth, and to make in the same a very beautiful cemetery dedicated to the honour of God, wherein the bodies of the faithful might be buried round about the temple. Then when the heap was completed, and the cemetery in the same prepared, he made four large foot-paths across four declivities of mountains surrounding his monastery, making passable what was impassable before, following literally and spiritually the teaching of the Gospel, which states, ‘Prepare ye a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.’ Likewise this man of God not only by labouring bodily with his hands converted crooked, uneven, and rough ways into smooth, but also turned the hearts of many, rough and perverse with divers errors, into the straight way of the Lord. Also he chose another place for himself, and caused to be thrown up in it from the soil of the earth another round tumulus like a fort, and on the tumulus to be erected what in the speech of the Britons is called Cadog’s Kastil. For he deemed it right to spend his life in the labours of his own hands, fearing to consume in idleness the labours of another, hoping by the stress of present endeavour to pass over to the glory of eternal rest, according to that saying of the Psalmist, ‘Who shall eat the labours of thine hands’, &c. And the Apostle, ‘Let every one of you labour, working with his own hands, that he may have wherewith to contribute to the necessitous.’ And again, ‘Let none of you eat the bread of idleness.’ And, ‘He who labours not, let him not eat.’ Although he was the owner of very many lands, yet in one fertile acre only was he wont to sow grain, which in the language of the natives came to be called Erw Wen (that is, the white acre). Be it also known to all reading and hearing the Life of the pious father Cadog that that acre obtained this venerable name on account of the blessing and the sanctity of the man of God.