Page images


Othlonus was a Bavarian by birth, and his first school was that of Tegern. see, in Bavaria, a monastery which had been founded in 994, and was famous for its teachers in utrâque linguâ and eren for its Hebrew scholars. Here, in the twefth century, lived the good monk Metellus, whose eclogues, written in imitation of those of Virgil, describe the monastic pastures and cattle, and the labors of the monks in the fields. The library of Tegernsee was rich in classic works, and possessed a fair illuminated copy of Pliny's 'Natural History,' adorned with pictures of the different animals, from the cuoning hand of brother Ellinger. Medicine was likewise studied here, to facilitate which, the monks had a good botanical garden. In such a school Othlonus bad every opportunity of cultivating bis natural taste for study, which grew by degrees to be a perfect passion. As a child he had intended to embrace the monastic state, but the persuasions of his father, and his own desire to give himself up exclusively to learned pursuits, induced him to abandon this design, and after leaving school he devoted himself for several years to classical studies, with an ardor which his biographer finds no words strong enough to express.

His only earthly desire at this time, as he himself tells us in one of his later spiritual treatises, was to have time to study, and abundance of books. It would seem, however, that this excessive devotion to human learning had its usual results in the decay of devotion. It is thus he describes himself at this period of his life, in his versified treatise . De doctrina Spirituali.' * Desiring to search into certain subtle matters, in the knowledge of which I saw that many delighted, to the end that I might be held in greater esteem by the world, I made all my profit to consist in keeping company with the Gentiles. In those days what wero not to me Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, and Tully the rhetorician ? ... that threefold work of Maro, and Lucan, whom then I loved best of all, and on whom I was so intent, that I hardly did any thing else but read him. . . Yet what profit did they give me, when I could not even sign my forehead with the cross ?'

However, two severe illnesses wrought a great change in his way of looking at life, and in 1032, remembering his early dedication of himself to God, he resolved to forsake the world and take the habit of religion in the monastery of St. Emmeran's, at Ratisbon, where he gave up all thoughts of secular ambition, in order to devote himself heart and soul to the duties of his state. St. Em. meran's was, like Tegernsee, possessed of an excellent school and library. In the former, many good scholars were reared, such as abbot William of Hirschau, who became as learned in the liberal arts as in the study of the Scriptures, and who afterwards made his own school at Hirschau one of the most celebrated in Germany. Othlonus tells us that in this monastery he found several men in different classes, some reading pagan authors, others the Holy Scriptures,' and that he began to imitate the latter, and soon learnt to relish the Sacred Books, which he had bitherto neglected, far above the writings of Aristotle, Plato, or even Boëthius.

It will be seen from this little sketch that Othlonus was not a mere tran. scriber, and indeed he afterwards produced several treatises on mystic theology besides his 'Life of St. Wolfgang,' and was regarded by his brother mouks as

'a pious and austere man, possessed of an immense love of books.' This love he showed not only by reading them, but by multiplying them; and his achievements in this kind are related by himself with a certain prolix eloquence which, in mercy to the reader, I will somewhat abridge.

'I think it right,' he says, 'to add some account of the great capacity of writing which was given me by the Lord from my childhood. When as yet a little child I was sent to school, and quickly learned my letters; and began long before the usual time of learning, and without any order from the master, to learn the art of writing; but in a furtive and unusual way, and without any teacher, so that I got a bad habit of holding my pen in a wrong manner, nor were any of my teachers afterwards able to correct me in that point. Many who saw this, decided that I should never write well, but by the grace of God it turned out otherwise. For, even in my childhood, when, together with the other boys, the tablet was put into my hands, it appeared that I had some notion of writing. Then after a time I began to write so well and was so fond of it that in the monastery of Tegernsee, where I learned, I wrote many books, and being sent into Franconia, I worked so hard as nearly to lose my sight. . .. Then, after I became a monk of St. Emmeran's, I was induced again to occupy myself so much in writing, that I seldom got an interval of rest except on festivals. Meantime there came more work on me, for as they saw I was generally reading, writing, or composing, they made me schoolmaster; by all which things I was, through God's grace, so fully occupied that I frequently could not allow my body the necessary rest. When I had a mind to compose any thing I could not find time for it, except on holidays or at night, being tied down to the business of teaching the boys, and transcribing what I had undertaken. Besides the books which I composed myself I wrote nineteen missals, three books of the Gospels, and two lectionaries; besides which I wrote four service books for matins. Afterwards, old age and infirmity hindered me, and the grief caused by the destruction of our monastery; but to Him who is author of all good, and Who has vouchsafed to give many things to me unworthy, be praise eternal.' He then adds an account of a vast number of other books written out by him and sent as presents to the monasteries of Fulda, Hirschfeld, Lorsch, Tegernsee, and others, amounting in all to thirty volumes. His labors, so cheerfully undertaken for the improvement of his convent, were perhaps surpassed by those of the monk Jerome, who wrote out so great a number of volumes, that it is said a wagon with six horses would not have sufficed to draw them. But neither one nor the other are to be compared to Diemudis, a devout nun of the monastery of Wessobrun, who, besides writing out in clear and beautiful characters five missals, with graduals and sequences attached, and four other office books, for the use of the church, adorned the library of her convent with two entire Bibles, eight volumes of St. Gregory, seven of St. Augustine, the ecclesiastical histories of Eusebius and Cassiodorus, and a vast number of sermons, homilies, and other treatises, a list of which she left, as having all been written by her own hand, to the praise of God, and of the boly apostles SS. Peter and Paul. This Diemudis was a contempory of Othlonus, and found time in the midst of her gigantic labors to carry on a correspondence with Herluca, a nun of Eppach, to whom she is said to have indited 'many very sweet letters,' which were long preserved.


William of Herschau, a scholar of St. Emmeran, was chosen abbot of his mon. astery in 1070, and applied himself to make his monks as learned and as indefatigable in all useful labors as he was himself. He had about 250 monks at Hirschau, and founded no fewer than fifteen other religious houses, for the gove ernment of which he drew up a body of excellent statutes. These new foundations he carefully supplied with books, which necessitated constant work in the scriptorium. And a most stately and noble place was the scriptorium of Hirschau, wherein each one was employed according to his talent, binding, painting, gilding, writing, or correcting. The twelve best writers were reserved for transcribing the Scriptures and the Holy Fathers, and one of the twelve, most learned in the sciences, presided over the tasks of the others, chose the books to be copied, and corrected the faults of the younger scribes. The art of painting was studied in a separate school, and here, among others, was trained the good monk Thiemon, who, after decorating half the monasteries of Germany with the productions of his pencil, became archbishop of Saltzburg, and died in odor of sanctity. The statutes with which abbot William provided his monasteries, were chiefly drawn up from those in use at St. Emmeran's, but he was desirous of yet further improving them, and in particular of assimilating them to those of Cluny, which was then at the height of its renown. It was at his request that St. Ulric of Cluny wrote out his 'Customary,' in which, among other things, he gives a description of the manner in which the Holy Scriptures were read through in the refectory in the course of the year. This "Customary'is one of the most valuable monuments of monastic times which remains to us; it shows us the interior of the monastery painted by the hand of one of its inmates, taking us through each office, the library, the infirmary, the sacristy, the bakehouse, the kitchen, and the school. How beautiful is the order which it displays, as observed in choir, where, on solemn days, all the singers stood vested in copes, the very seats being covered with embroidered tapestry! Three days in the week the right side of the choir communicated, and the other three the left; during Holy Week they washed the feet of as many poor as there were brethren in the house, and the abbot added others also to represent absent friends. When the Passion was sung, they had a custom of tearing a piece of stuff, at the words they parted my garments ;' and the new fire of Holy Saturday was struck, not from a flint, but a precious beryl. There were numberless beautiful rites of benediction observed, as that of the ripe grapes, which were blessed on the altar during mass, on the 6th of August, and afterwards distributed in the refectory, of new beans, and of the freshly-pressed juice of the grape. The ceremonies observed in making the altar breads were also most worthy of note. The grains of wheat were chosen one by one, were carefully washed and put aside in a sack, which was carried by one known to be pure in life and conversation to the mill. There they were ground and sisted, he who performed this duty being clothed in alb and amice. Two priests and two deacons clothed in like manner prepared the breads, and a lay brother, having gloves on his hands, held the irons in which they were baked. The very wood of the fire was chosen of the best and driest. And whilst these processes were being gone through, the brethren engaged ceased not to sing psalms, or sometimes recited Our Lady's office. A separate

[ocr errors]

chapter in the Customary' is devoted to the children and their master, and the discipline under which they were trained is minutely described. We seem to see them seated in their cloister with the vigilant eye of the master presiding over their work. An open space is left between the two rows of scholars, but there is no one in the monastery who dare pass through their ranks. They go to confession twice a week, and always to the abbot or the prior. And such is the scrupulous care bestowed on their education, and the vigilance to which they are subjected, both by day and night, that, says Ulric, 'I think it would be difficult for a king's son to be brought up in a palace with greater care than the humblest boy enjoys at Cluny.'

This "Customary' was drawn up during the government of St. Hugh of Cluny, whose letter to William the Conqueror displays something of the independence of mind with which abbots of those days treated the great ones of the earth. William had written to him requesting him to send some of his monks to Englaud, and offering bim a hundred pounds for every monk he would send. This method of buying up his monks at so much a head, ottended the good abbot, who wrote back to the king declining to part with any of his community at such a price, and adding that he would himself give an equal sum for every good monk whom he could draw to Cluny. During the sixty. two years that he governed his abbey, be is said to have professed more than 10,000 subjects. Enough has been said to show that the monastic institute was still strong and vigorous in the 11th century. Cluny, indeed, represented monasticism rather in its magnificence than in the more evangelic aspect of poverty and abasement, yet in the midst of all her lordly splendor, she con. tinued fruitful in saints. Even the austere St. Peter Damian, whilst he disapproved of the wealth of the monks, was edified at their sanctity, and left them, marveling how men so rich could live so holily. Their revenues were not spent on luxury; they went to feed 17,000 poor people, and to collect a library of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew authors, such as had not its equal in Europe. It contained among other treasures a certain Bible, called in the chronicle, "great, wonderful, and precious for its writing, correctness, and rich binding, adorned with beryl stones,' written by the single hand of the monk Andrew.

[ocr errors]


Marianus Scotus, for whose nativity may localities contend (he was called an Irishman,* a Scot, and a Northumbrian), died in the eleventh century, having been successively monk in the abbeys of Cologne, Fulda, and Mayence, and professor of theology some years in that of Ratisbon. He was a poet, and the author of a Chronicle frequently quoted as one of the best mediæval histories, and continued by later writers. His biographers say of him that his counte. nance was so beautiful, and his manners so simple, that no one doubted he was inspired in all he said and did by the Holy Ghost. A most indefatigable writer, he transcribed the whole Bible with sundry commentaries, and that not

• It may be taken as tolerably well proved, however, that he was really an Irishman, and he is supposed to have been a monk of Clonard. Contemporary with him was another fumous Irish historian, Tigernach, abbot of Clonmacnoise, who wrote his chronicle partly in Irish and partly in Latin, and is held to have been well acquainted with Greek. The Irish scholars highly distinguished themselves in this century. There was an Irish monastery at Erford, and another at Cologne, into which Helias, a monk of Monaghan, on returning from a visit to Rome, introduced the Roman chant. (Lanigan, Ecc. Hist. c. Ixiv.)


once but repeatedly. Moreover he drew out of the deep sea of the holy fathers, certain sweet waters for the profit of his soul, which he collected in prolix vol

With all this be found spare moments which he devoted to charitable labors on behalf of poor widows, clerks, and scholars, for whose benefit he multiplied psalters, manuals, and other pious little books, which he distributed to them free of cost for the remedy of his soul. Who will refuse to believe that such loving toils as these were found worthy to receive the miraculous token of favor related in the old legend ? "One night,' says the annalist, the Brother whose duty it was, having forgotten to give him candles, Marianus, nevertheless continued his work without them; and when the brother, recollecting bis omission, came late at night to his cell, he beheld a brilliant light streaming through the chinks of the door, and going in softly found that it proceeded from the fingers of the monk's left hand, and he saw and believed.'



In 1056, Bruno, who had studied at Tours, became scholasticus of Rheims and continued to fill this responsible post for twenty years, during which time he numbered among bis pupils Odo, afterwards Pope Urban II., and many of the greatest prelates of the time. He was reckoned the first philosopher, theologian, and poet of France, and by writers of his own day is extolled as the doctor of doctors, the glory of the Church, the model of good men, and the mirror of the whole world.' The romantic story which ascribes his conversion to religion to the horror caused by the voice which came from the dead body of a certain eminent doctor, proclaiming his damnation, now universally rejected as the production of a later age. In fact, St. Bruno has himself related the manner in which his resolution was first formed, in a letter addressed to Raoul, provost of Rheims, wherein he reminds him of a certain day when they were walking with another canon named Fulcius in the garden adjoining his house, conversing together of the vanities of the world. “Then it was, he says, 'that the Holy Spirit moved us to renounce all perishable things and embrace the monastic life, that we might merit life eternal.' It would also appear that a grievous case of simony, which bad scandalized the diocese, powerfully wrought on Bruno's mind, and moved him to fly from a world so hedged about with temptations. He was followed into his retreat by a number of his former scholars, but it was not until 1084 that they at last determined on the way of life they should choose, and, receiving the monastic habit from the hands of St. Hugh of Grenoble, laid the foundation of the Carthusian Order, which took its name from the desert they had chosen for their abode. In after years the order continued to be largely recruited from the same class whence their first founder had been drawn. Many a fine scholar came to the wild rocks of the Chartreuse to seek in obscurity for a peace which lie found by experience the world of intellect could never give; and Bulæus informs us that no order received so many members from Paris University as this.



Odo, or Oudart, first attracted notice as a teacher at Toul, a city which had always been rieh in schools and schoolmasters, and which had felt a special pride in keeping up its learned reputation, since 1048, when it had sent its bishop to fill the chair of St. Peter in the person of St. Leo IX. Odo's fame reached the ears of the canons of Tournai, who entreated him to take charge

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »