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Of the vision of the Rood which appeared over his house

THIS Community of Brothers dwelling in the house of Florentius was wholly pleasing to God and beloved of Him, and being gathered together to His praise was refulgent with virtue and adorned with lofty and meritorious deeds. Lowliness, which therein was the chief of all virtues, was sought after by all from the lowest to the highest; and did make a Paradise of this earthly house, transforming mortal men into heavenly pearls to be as living stones meet for glory in the temple of God.

(2) Here under the strict discipline of the Rule, obedience, the mother of virtue, and the lamp of discernment, so flourished, that to obey without hesitation became the highest wisdom, and for one to neglect the counsel or lightest word of his Superior would have been a deed of horror and disgrace.

Here the inward manifestations of love, that is for God, and its outward manifestation, that is charity to one’s neighbour, burned with so hot a flame that the hard hearts of sinners who heard the holy discourses of the Brothers were melted to tears, and they that had come thither cold at heart, being there kindled by the fire of the Word, went away rejoicing, heedful to sin no more. Here the armour of spiritual warfare was kept bright for use against the several sins of man, and old and young alike did learn to fight bravely 126against the devil, their own flesh, and the deceits of the world. Here the memory of the ancient Fathers, and the pattern of the holy conversation of the monks of Egypt—which had lain as it were half dead upon the earth—were restored to life; and the manner of life of the clergy rose to that standard of the highest perfection which was set by the practice of the Primitive Church.

Here were heard devout exhortations to the spiritual warfare. Here amid their daily meditations the Brothers did full often dwell upon that most holy and sorrowful Passion of our Saviour Jesus Christ in loving recollection, and ruminate thereupon; because to recall that Passion and to dwell upon It doth surely conduce to the soul’s health, doth avail to cure the deadly bite of the serpent, to calm the tempests of passion in the heart, and to uplift the dullard mind from things of earth to things of Heaven through the imitation of the Crucified Lord.

(3) And because the ardour of their devout thanksgiving, and their remembrance of the benefits that God had bestowed upon them leaped up as a flame in the hearts of many; and because this holy Community was ever making progress to still better things, being instructed by the example of the revered father Florentius utterly to despise the world; therefore the good God Who giveth His blessing and grace to the humble, failed not to cherish His faithful servants by giving to them holy comfort and inward joy. Bringing forward one instance out of many I will add here in a few words the story of a marvellous sight, which God Who knoweth all hidden things thought good to show above that house which He had consecrated with unction from on high.


(4) There was a devout disciple of Florentius, a young branch of his planting, who was startled by a strange vision in the night, and at first was altogether afraid, but afterward was made joyful by the wondrous and divine power of God. For as he lay upon his pallet, a mighty wind arose from the north, and there came a fierce tempest shaking all the earth as if the day of the Last Judgement were at hand, that day which all flesh must fear. Terror-stricken at this dreadful tempest the young man began to think how he should flee, and whither turn aside from the face of the wrath of God; but being caught in a strait place he looked upward to Heaven, and lo! there was seen clearly in the sky the sign of the Cross bearing the Figure of Christ, the Author of our Salvation. And as he gazed upon this holy Figure of the Crucified, pendent in the air with hands outstretched and pierced with the nails, the glory of Whose Presence doth lighten all the world, the tempest ceased. And the Rood moved onward until It stood over the house of Florentius where dwelt those that truly despised the world, the servants of the Holy Cross, at Whose coming and before Whose Presence the whole house was lifted from its foundations as if to meet the Saviour, and nowhere touched the ground; and after bending reverently towards the Cross it returned again to its former stable position; but the Image of the Cross went onward and stood above the wall over against the door of the house through which the Brothers went forth day by day. Seeing these things the young man spread forth his hands toward the Cross and began to pray and implore to be protected from the fear of the dread Judgement, and straightway he was caught up from 128where he lay and placed within the door of Florentius’ house as if in a place of safety beneath the Wings of the Crucified. Then being overjoyed and, as it were, safe from every danger, he awoke in unspeakable gladness, and, wondering greatly, returned thanks to God who had thought good to give him such a revelation concerning the holy Brotherhood to which he was zealously from thenceforth to cleave, and continually to reverence the life thereof which was hid with Christ.

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