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CHAPTER XXVII

Of his sending forth the Brothers to gather fruit in divers places

(1)

FLORENTIUS, being most fervent in the love of Christ and one to whom to live was Christ and to die was gain, desired to bear fruit in his season; therefore he took care to be of profit to many, that they might attain the Kingdom of everlasting salvation, persuading them to despise this miserable world that passeth away. To this end he sent many persons to found several monasteries and new houses for the conversion of others. Some of these Brothers went to Windesheim, some to Mount St. Agnes, some to Northern, some to Gelders, some to Holland; some became Priors of Monasteries, other Superiors of Communities, and Confessors to the Monks: and of these there are certain still alive who knew this most devout Master Florentius, the beloved of God, while he was yet living in the flesh, and can bear sure testimony as to his saintly life.

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(2) Likewise the Holy Orders of Carthusians. Cistercians, and Benedictines contain men not unknown to me who were worthy to see and hear both Florentius himself and his Brothers when they tarried in Deventer; these will bear witness that I speak the truth.

Also at the time when this notable priest of God shone as a light and flourished in Deventer, there were many other devout priests in the Diocese of Utrecht who instructed the faithful with holy discourse and knew how to bear strict rule over Communities whether of Brothers or of Nuns. All these submitted themselves humbly to Florentius with all due reverence, and gladly consulted that angelic man in difficult cases, preferring to trust his prudence and discernment rather than their own judgement. For they saw that in him above all other men the grace of Divine wisdom flourished pre-eminently, and though he lived in the midst of crowds yet, like a lily of the valley, bedewed with the water of wisdom, he kept the whiteness of his purity, and far and wide diffused the odour of his good reputation.

(3) At this time also there lived in the Diocese of Utrecht one Master Wermbold, a famous preacher and Confessor to the Nuns of St. Cecilia. He was an ardent lover of Holy Scripture and a great friend to the reverend Father Florentius; and the common people loved to hear and see him.

At Amersfoort there was Master William Henry, the Founder of that Community of Clerks who afterward became Canons Regular. In Zwolle there was Master Henry Goude, a notable preacher, a despiser of Mammon, and a humble Confessor to the Beguines; likewise Master Gerard Kalkar, 143the Director of the devout Clerks, and an excellent instructor in virtue.

In Holland there flourished certain famous priests, learned in the Law of the Lord, and notable for their words and deeds, some of whom were fellow soldiers with Master Gerard Groote, and very dear to Florentius, and these gathered no small harvest for the Lord by converting men and edifying Communities of the Devout. In Haarlem there was Master Hugo, called the Goldsmith, and his priests; in Amsterdam Gisebert Dow, the founder of the two monasteries, and the renowned Director of many Nuns. In Medenblic Master Paul, who was altogether devoted to God and a man of probity. Master Gerard has made mention of these in his letters, and it was through them that the Devout Life first began and made progress in Holland.

(4) Moreover at Doesbruch in Gelders there was Master Derick Gruter, a laudable man and a Father to many Nuns; he was aforetime a disciple of Gerard, and told me many good things of him. It were a lengthy task to mention byname each one of those devout Fathers who began to flourish in the time of Gerard and were contemporaries with Florentius; men who taught us to despise the vanities of the world, and to live humbly and continently, and left to them that followed after a bright example of holy conversation by their patience and obedience.

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