Life of Saint Illtud
§20. Of the most vile Cyfygydd, the steward of king Meirchion, whom marshy ground swallowed up.
In the meantime he ruled his abbacy peaceably, admonishing
the brethren and all in general to true religion, praying and fasting in the
proper time of fasting. Nevertheless a certain steward, Cyfygydd by name, began
to oppose and to offend the saint and clergy very frequently by enclosing
pastures and very often by impounding cattle and herds. He used to hold cattle
for three days, unwilling through perversity to take bail from their owners.
When they were let loose, leanness appeared in their flanks, nor is it a wonder,
however thin they were, after a three days fast. Therefore Illtud, although very
frequently hurt by the most injurious steward, was yet unwilling to curse him,
but rather he was wont to bless him in return for his frequent persecutions and
injuries, praying that he might be reformed and converted from iniquity, lest he
might end his life, being most vile, in the way of malice. But the supreme
Avenger in heaven, seeing that he was unwilling to amend what wrong he had done,
caused that a marshy land should swallow him up, and that his vile spirit should
enter torments worthy of his acts. That same marsh is till now apparent to human
sight as a sign of the villainy of an ill doer for his ill deed.
King Meirchion, full of madness, hearing that such
misfortune had happened in his loss of his trusty steward, grieved, and being
infuriated desired to rush against saint Illtud either to kill him or to expel
him outright from his dominion. He puts on his arms like a warlike soldier in
battle array. From his fortress he rides quickly to the gate of the monastery.
Whilst he remained so prepared to perpetrate homicide, as he had often done
previously, the earth absorbed the malevolent man, so that he no more appeared
in the sight of his household. And for such huge ill deeds that he had done, his
spirit went to be punished in that place where the souls of the unrighteous are
punished without any remedy. After some interval of time saint Illtud was
burdened by the multitude of people who came to him, and hindered in his
prayers, for which reason he went to the cave of Llwynarth, remaining there the
space of three years in vigils and fastings, receiving every ninth hour food for
himself from heaven brought to him by an angel and placed on a rock within,
where he saw a marvel worthy of veneration.
One day as he was sitting at the mouth of the cave, he saw a skiff coming and approaching the shore. When it had reached the shore, he saw two very honourable men in the skiff rowing, and one altar supported by the divine will above the form of the skiff. Saint Illtud went to meet it, uttering words of welcome with gladness. And they after a little conversation gave the sweet smelling body of a certain most holy man to saint Illtud, revealing his name, and after revealing they forbade him ever to divulge it. And so, the body having been consigned to the blessed Illtud, they returned. These things done, he took the body and the altar which had been above the form of the most holy man, and buried it honourably in the cave, the altar being placed over the buried body held up by the divine will as it had been before, by means of which numerous miracles were performed on account of its sanctity.
§23. Of two robbers transformed into two stones.
One night two robbers from the district of Brycheiniog stole a herd of swine belonging to saint Illtud. Driving them from their sty, they proceeded to woody places. Judging they were keeping to the right path they deviated from it, wandering all night long, until they returned with the herd, when dawn was breaking, to the same place which they had left. The herd, however, being fatigued rested until the third hour, whilst the swine-herd wondered at the prolonged sleep of the swine. After having taken rest the herd proceeded, as had been its wont, to its food. When night approached, the herd returned to their sty, when the same most wicked ones, of whom we have before said, came again, and driving the swine from the same place departed, straying as previously to a distant mountain, and were out of their course, as inexperienced persons and as if they had never been informed in the knowledge of their journey. At length wandering about they returned unwittingly to the aforesaid place, for it then happened to them in the same manner as before. But the heavenly King and supreme Corrector, seeing that those evil doers would not return from their ill-will, changed their bodies into two stones, and let their spirits, as they had deserved, go to infernal torments. This memorable miracle is credited by posterity, for even till now there is seen the place of the sty, which is called by Illtud's name. Till now too are seen the immovable stones called by the name 'Two Robbers'. Believe thou the robbers were changed into hard stones, deservedly remaining so, a witness to their iniquity. On account of the herd of swine the bodies of the two were changed; lifeless they continue beneath snow, beneath rain, beneath hail.
§24. Of the three granaries, whose abundance of corn was conveyed from Britannia to Llydaw, which formerly was called Armorica.
The most blessed Illtud, wishing to visit the Church of saint Michael in Mons Tumba, having in his possession three barns full of corn, ordered his stewards before his departure that they should cause all the corn to be thrashed, and when thrashed to be placed in granaries, and reserved against his return from his inheritance Llydaw, that is, Minor Britannia, Brittany. The master's order was obeyed; moreover, his desire to visit was fulfilled. Now after his visitation he began to return; in returning he saw men afflicted almost to death with hunger, and, unless he relieved them, soon to die. He was afflicted at the sight of such need as this; he felt for them, he besought the heavenly Helper to render help. His prayers being heard in the heavenly hall, the aforementioned corn was conveyed from on high, as he had wished it in his prayers to be carried, and was afterwards found in a harbour of Llydaw on the shore, whence the whole of Llydaw (that is, Britannia Minor, Brittany) fed itself, and moreover, sowed its cultivated lands. They magnify and render thanks to their helper, by whose prayers they had been defended from dangerous famine. Then he returned by sail over the Gallic sea, all the people standing on the shore and unanimously commending a prosperous passage. A more fortunate arrival there never was in Llydaw. The citizens could have wished that he departed not, but that he remained in his fatherland. Nevertheless he himself willed not to remain in answer to such great desires, but chose to dwell in Britanma although an exile from his paternal stock. Now when the time had approached, wherein the Lord had decreed to remunerate the labours of his favourite, the blessed Illtud, with the hundredfold recompense, the promise to his elect, he returned again, as we think by divine impulse to his native soil, to wit, Llydaw, which we call Minor Britannia, Brittany, and there at the monastery of Dol, his days being determined for him beforehand by his own Creditor, who has fixed for mortals the limits, which they will not be able to pass, his virtues and sanctity being accomplished, renowned for his miracles and celebrated for his signs and wonders, commending his body to the ground and his spirit of a truth to the Lord, departing from this mournful life on the eighth day before the Ides of November, and being born to a lasting and celestial existence, and rejoicing to be about to live for ever, he passed over to the Lord, to whom is honour, power, and dominion for ever and ever, Amen.
§25. Of the booty that was returned and the similarity of horses.
Edgar, king of the English, moved by raging fury, moved his army on account of the disobedience of the Glamorgan folk and led it to that same region, violating the territories of the saints and their very churches, and leaving not a homestead inviolate throughout the whole of that country. And so it was that in this invasion the bell of saint Illtud was taken away from his church, and carried off by a certain looter to English soil. Also, whilst the army was returning, it was placed and tied about the neck of one particular horse, which on the Golden Mount took the lead in the royal and equestrian herd. Golden Mount that place was called, namely, on account of an assembly there of people standing in the army who glittered in golden raiment and gilded arms. At the hour of noon, whilst the king rested in a field-tent put up on a plain, and the immense booty was being divided, it seemed to the king that some terrible soldier had pierced his breast with a spear, and after the piercing he was seen of none. Grieving sorely he revealed what he had seen, whilst all denied that they had seen what he assured them was seen by himself. Wherefore he knew that he was culpable and a violent plunderer. Full of dread he bade his sacrilegious army to restore to God and to the most holy Illtud all the plunder, promising thereafter amendment, and in honour of the same saint he built a church, and to those serving in the church he granted the territory in which it stood. This amendment, however, profited his spirit, for he departed from this life on the ninth day as punishment for his wickedness. In the meantime the aforesaid horse, carrying the bell, went forward towards the west in the presence of all who there remained and none compelling him, whilst the whole equestrian herd followed the sweet melodiousness of the bell, which was wonderful and admirable to one who heard and saw so great a miracle. More wonderful than this is that he was able to cross the Severn; he came to this bank which he sought without loss. The courageous troop of horses follows the sound; it loves to hear its call full of sweetness. Then speedily along beaches, mountains, and woods it reaches where was the way to Glamorgan, all the horses hearing and following the sweet sound. And so when the horses had reached the bank of the river Taff, the sound of the bell was heard by the clergy. Whereupon the clergy are merry, and come to meet the horse, which went before and bore forward that same little bell as far as the door of the Church of saint Illtud. When he had brought it, he placed it down on the spot, being loosened roughly from his neck, and it fell on a stone, and by the fall it received a fracture of one part, which is shown to this day in remembrance of this extraordinary miracle. Then is glorious psalmody sung in the choir; how great were the joys and laudations on account of this miracle! Of the innumerable canons each had one horse, but for the horse which excelled the rest with difficulty was the quarrelling among the canons brought to an end. Wherefore each single one was saying, 'That one will be mine', whilst another was answering, 'I will not allow such a choice to be made.' A third was urging, saying, 'Not so of your own will shall you have your wish.' This contention persisted without agreement till the morrow, almost giving rise to the murder of many. On the second day, however, of the coming of the equestrian herd, the clergy came to the herd of horses, wishing to distribute them equally and peaceably. And when they were dividing them, they perceived that all the horses were equal, and that not one excelled the rest, as they had observed previously. Then the division was concluded agreeably, and the clergy were pacified by the peaceful distribution. By such means, for the love of Illtud, God sent back the stolen bell, and the whole of the plunder to the most sacred church of the same.
§26. Of the victory of the clergy of saint Illtud over lawless men and in the fortress of Meirchion.
When William, king of the
English, was reigning throughout Britain, and prince Robert fitz Hamon was
ruling Glamorgan, the Northern Britons began zealously to resist the king, and
afterwards in common and firm confederacy with them the Southern Britons. They
wasted and burnt villages and towns. The foe came from the woods to injure their
English-born and Norman- born fellow-countrymen. They laid waste and returned to
distant mountains and to woods with immense plunder. In the meantime an army was
put in motion by the Welsh of about three thousand armed horsemen and
footsoldiers to waste and burn Glamorgan. When this was heard, the clergy of
saint Illtud with the inhabitants of their district, on account of the hostile
attack, fortified themselves by means of a ditch and by means of a hedge firmly
made above the sea shore, and so fortified they entered, endeavouring to protect
their wealth by defence. This being done, the incautious foe came by night
before the gate, for if they had come by day, they would have had success.
Therefore a nocturnal fight began between the two battle-fronts, until many fell
dead from the hurling of stones and the vibration of spears, and others, very
many, wounded, suffered greatly, groaning in the contest. Whilst such things
were being done, thick sparks frequently appeared in the air between the church
of saint Illtud and the fortress of king Meirchion, near which was the battle.
They shone intensely like lightning, to protect the catholic people; angelic
signs they appeared to be. The more the two battle-fronts attacked, the more
ardently did the fiery figures blaze in the upper air. The refuge of God and of
the most holy Illtud was violated, wherefore three thousand were overcome before
the fortress by a smaller number. Unarmed women administered arms to the
combatants; weak boys were not inactive within. Hostile shields were broken by
stones cast at them; terrific outcries were poured forth by the enemy; few were
wanting bloody countenances. Divine power was present there, when the paucity of
the fighters within put to flight and overcame three thousand. Smooth might the
ascent to triumph have become, but brave Illtud granted no ascent. If they had
attacked by daylight, they would have ascended most smoothly, but the supreme
Light and the true Light was unwilling to allow this. There is no virtue or
vigour where wickedness abides; this was clearly proved, when fled the army of