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CHAPTER XVI

Of his happy death and burial

(1)

THIS faithful and prudent servant of the Lord perceiving that the end of his days was at hand—for he was smitten by the bolt that must fall upon all men—asked for and received the Viaticum of Salvation. He bore with patience the stroke from the Hand of the Lord, and like the elect, strove not to avoid His scourge, knowing that the more 47humbly and gladly he bore this present chastisement, the more readily should he appease the wrath of the Judge Almighty. Resigning himself therefore wholly to the Divine Will, and readily submitting himself to the ordinance from above, he committed the issue of his strife to God in faith and spoke these few words to the brethren who stood about him:

“Lo! I am called of the Lord, and the time of my dissolution is at hand. Augustine and Bernard are knocking at the door; and I may not go beyond the bounds which God hath set to my life. I must pay the debt of the flesh like other mortals; may God protect my going forth, and may my spirit return to Him Who gave it; let the earth cover this poor body which was taken from it, but might not long abide thereon; and may He for Whose love I have laboured, written, and preached, grant that I find peace after death.”

(2) But his disciples were grieved to the heart, and said to him with bitter sighing: “What shall we do from henceforth, and who shall teach us in time to come? Thou hast been our father and our defender, and hast drawn us to God. Now shall our adversaries rejoice, and they of the world shall laugh us to scorn, saying: “These have no leader nor chief, therefore shall they soon be brought to naught.” If when thou wert here they dared to mock us and speak evil of us, what shall they do when thou art gone? Let prayers for us fall from thy lips, and bring aid speedily to the sons whom thou dost leave behind. Through thy counsel have we begun to amend; help us that we may persevere.”

The good and pitiful Master, seeing that the hearts of his sons were in heavy sorrow for his 48departure, gave them kindly comfort, saying: “Have faith in God, my most beloved, nor fear them of the world that prate against you. Stand firm in your holy purpose, for God shall be with you where ye are; man shall not prevail to break down that which God hath determined shall be builded. So soon as I am come to God, I hope I shall cast down upon you flowers out of Heaven, that ye may know the Grace of God and produce fruit in the world; and to Him and to His saints do I commend you all.”

(3) “Behold Florentius, my beloved disciple, in whom the Holy Spirit hath found a resting place, shall be to you a father and ruler. Take him in my stead, hear him, and obey his counsel. I know none like him, none whom I esteem so highly, or in whom I have such confidence. Him must ye love and reverence as a father.”

Thus with kindly words did he comfort his disciples in their bitter grief, promising that the help of God should be most surely with them. As a bequest he left them neither gold nor silver nor rich estates, but only his holy books, his few poor garments, and some worthless and ancient vessels in token of his contempt of the world, and to help them the more easily to strive after the Kingdom of God.

At this time there came also to him certain devout scholars who had been smitten with the sickness of the Plague, desiring to hear from him some wholesome word as a medicine for their souls. To these he spoke with clemency, saying: “By continuing ever in the Service of God, if ye are well disposed thereunto, ye can meet death with confidence; all those lectures which ye have heard shall be counted to you as prayers to God, 49by reason of the pious intention which ye have had toward Him in your studies.”

Hearing this the young men were comforted, and returning to their own hospice, departed this life having made a good confession, commending their souls, which were redeemed by the Blood of Christ, to God and to the Holy Angels.

(4) After the Festival of the Assumption of the Blessed Mary, ever Virgin, when the Feastday of St. Bernard (to whom Gerard was especially devoted) had dawned, this reverend father, then in the forty-fourth year of his age, delivered up to God his soul fortified by the Sacraments of the Church, made precious by faith, and ennobled by many virtues. He died as the sun was sinking, between the fifth and sixth hours in the thirteen hundred and eighty-fourth year after our Lord’s Incarnation, during the reign of Pope Urban the Sixth, and while that most revered lord Florentius de Wevelichoven was Bishop of Utrecht, a notable man and adorned by many excellent deeds.

(5) When the sad report of his death went forth to the people, many faithful persons came together to attend the burying of a man so worthy of love, and so devoted to God: and the monks and nuns shed pious tears performing the due rites for the departed, with prayer and the celebration of Masses according to custom. Every rite of the Church being duly performed, his body was carried to the Church of the Blessed Mary, and was reverently buried therein, where, as all men know, his living voice had often preached the Word of God. There he rests in peace, not far from the Sanctuary, to rise with the rest of the faithful on the last day, through the merits of Jesus Christ our Lord who shall 50judge both the quick and the dead, and this world with fire.

These words concerning a few out of the many glorious acts of the reverend Master Gerard have been written for the edification of the brethren who now are, or in time to come shall be, of our community: may they tend to the Glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I ask pardon for any error or defect in my discourse, for I know mine own unskilfulness and submit myself humbly to the correction of the brethren, attributing to the Grace of God any good thing that may be found herein written.

(6) (A novice speaks)

“Most gladly do I hear these things, and feel that as it were a new spirit of devotion is born in me thereby. Oh! that many Masters like to him could now be found, who should be constrained to inform the Church of God by their excellent example and doctrine. Therefore I shall hold in greater reverence and love this noble man who hath been until now unknown to me: and wheresoever I shall find treatises written by him or concerning his deeds, I shall take heed to read the same carefully and diligently to search them out. But I pray if thou dost know any other memorable things concerning him, that thou wilt impart them to me before thou dost go forward to further matters.”

(7) (The elder Brother answers him.)

“Although I am hastening to write of other things, yet that I may satisfy thy longing by a few words, hear now what a doctor of Theology, a Cantor at Paris, who formerly knew Gerard well, writes about him, and with how great praise he lauds him now that he is dead.”

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