Sunday, 11 December 2016
St Brynach and the lusty princess
The link between Carningli and St Brynach is well known. Thanks to Luke for drawing our attention to this hilarious narrative -- from the Life of St Brynach, reputedly first written down in the twelfth century. In this case, a lusty young princess is chosen to do the devil's work........
When he was sojourning some time in the same place (somewhere on the shores of Milford Haven or the Cleddau River) serving his God, the old adversary of human kind, ever forming new plans for his wickedness, always ready to attack more boldly the purity of chastity, sharply urged the daughter of a nobleman, who ruled that land, into love of the saint. She, in fact, as almost every woman is for the devil old armour, a vessel full of malignity, and prepared invincibly for every crime, tries in every way to bind the servant of God alluringly with the snares of her charm, and attempts to divert him from the consummation of a better design.
To serve her wantonness she mixes wolf's-bane, and being gaily clothed in alluring attire she ceases not to give him to drink what she improperly mixed. The holy servant of God thirsted not for a cup of this kind, but refused it, and, as the apostle advises, he flies from the assaults of fornication. For in this conflict he fights better, who retires, than he who resists; he conquers more bravely, who more bravely flies.
The girl, in fact, rejecting girlish modesty, who could not bend his firm mind to impious love, turning her love into hatred of the holy man, would separate his holy body from his soul. A woman, rejected in love, excogitates every evil, and whom a little before she had loved to the dividing of body and soul, she now, inflamed into hatred of , tries to lead to every kind of death. For, as that distinguished instructor of morals, Seneca, says, 'A woman either hates or loves; there is no medium.'
Therefore she sent certain cruel men to persecute the saint, fiercely bidding them that, if they could not bring him back alive, they were not to suffer him to go away alive. ' The wicked men hasten, and rush blindly to their evil deed. Whom they follow, they find, and first with soft words entice to return, but, because he refuses to go back with them, one of them pierced the meek man with a dreadful wound from a spear. The others, too, rush in desiring to slay him, but by the will of God certain present assist, who hasten to snatch the holy man from the hands of the scoundrels. But he who inflicted the wound, being immediately struck by the vengeance of God, beset on his whole body by winged lice, after he had been long afflicted by weakness and poverty at length finished his wretched life with a miserable death.
The holy servant of God went to a well, which was near, and going into the water, washed away the blood. Wherefore unto this day that well is called Fons Rubeus, red well, where also in honour of the saint the merciful God bestows many benefits of health on the infirm, the healing of wounds through the mediation of the Lord being received without delay.