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How seldom be went out, and of his instructive demeanour as he stood in the Choir


BY his good and honourable character Florentius, the Lord’s man, might easily be recognized by ignorant men and worldlings as one that was devout and the friend of God, and worthy to be the Vicar of Jesus Christ. At first therefore he was made 103Canon of St. Peter’s Church in Utrecht, but resigning this prebend he accepted a Cure in Deventer, that he might be near Master Gerard and be instructed by his example and doctrine; wherefore he once said to a friend, “I hope that I shall not be a Canon all my life, but serve God in some lower station,” and thus it came to pass to the eternal glory of God; for though he was held in great reverence for his holiness and abstinence, yet he utterly avoided honour from men, and for this cause refused to go out into public places and thought it his sole comfort to abide at home with his Brethren, for he knew that thereby he would make more progress himself and that his conduct would be an example of stability of purpose to others. And when he did go out into the streets he walked quickly, nowhere engaging in much talk; but saluting any acquaintance who met him with some brief word or an inclination of the head only; moreover, he paid so little heed to any outward manifestations of respect toward himself that often he did not notice those who met him, nor care to inquire whither they were going; but as he went to the Church he would pray or meditate of God as the Holy Spirit moved him.

(2) But owing to his great bodily weakness and the oft infirmities which fell upon him by reason of his excessive abstinence in the first fervour of his devotion, he could not go daily into the Choir; yet on all great festivals, and on the anniversaries of Saints he rejoiced to attend Vespers so often as his health allowed, and to be present at High Mass. And though he was the senior Vicar in Deventer he always took his place on the left side of the Choir in the lower stall, although he was entitled to the highest seat next to the Canons. 104As he stood in the Choir he did not gaze about with wandering eyes, but stood very quietly turning towards the Altar, with all restraint and reverence. Being devoutly intent upon God and his own soul, he sang the Psalms so far as his weakness allowed in a low tone, observing the musical directions. He was so reverent and his aspect was so devout that many boys and chanters often gazed at him and admired his religious fervour, since no light-mindedness, for which he might be blamed, could be seen in any word or gesture. At that time I used to go into the Choir with the other scholars as I was ordered to do by Master John Boheme, who ruled the Scholars and Choristers strictly. And as often as I saw my Master Florentius standing there—though he did not look round—I was careful not to chatter, for I was awed by his presence because of the reverence of his posture.

(3) Once on a time it happened when I was standing near him in the Choir that he turned to share our book for the chanting, and he, standing behind me, put his hands upon my shoulder—but I stood still, hardly daring to move, bewildered with gratification at so great an honour. There were then in the Chapter of Deventer divers Canons and Vicars who were learned and men of approved life, strict and eager to perform the Divine Offices with all due honour; these held Master Florentius, that man of God, in reverence and deserved esteem, and when he was present, the more anxiously restrained all extravagance and levity; and the whole Choir was enlightened by the instructive demeanour of this great priest.

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