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Here followeth the Life of S. Germain, and first of his name.
Germain is said of germ and ana that is, high. This is to say, sovereign germ. Three things be found in seed germining, that is to wit, natural heat, humour nutrimental, and reason of seed. Then the holy S. Germain is said as seed germining. For in him was heat by burning of love, humour by fatness of devotion, and reason of the seed by virtue of predication, by which he engendered much people to the faith and in good manners. And Constance the priest wrote his life to S. Severin, bishop of Auxerre.
Of S. Germain.
Germain was of much noble lineage, born in the city of Auxerre, and was taught and informed well in the arts liberal. And after, he went to Rome for to learn the science of the decretals, droits and law. And there received he so much of dignity that the senate sent him unto France for to have and obtain the dignity of the duchy of all Burgundy. And thus as he governed the city more diligently than all the others, there was in the midst of the city a tree, which was a pine, on which men hung on the branches, for the great marvel of their hunting, the heads of wild beasts. But S. Amadour, which was bishop of that city, reproved them of such vanities, and warned them, and desired that they should hew down that tree to the end that none ill occasion might come to the christian men; but they would not consent thereto in no manner. And on a time when Germain was not in the town, the bishop did do cut down this tree and made it to be burnt. And when Germain knew it, he was much angry and forgat the christian religion, and came with a great multitude of knights and assayed if he might slay the bishop. And then the bishop knew, by revelation divine, that Germain should be his successor, and gave place to his woodness, and went to the city of Autun, and after he came again to Auxerre. And then he shut and enclosed subtilly Germain within the church, and there sacred him, and said that he should be his successor in the bishopric, and so he was. For anon after S. Amadour died, and all the people required Germain to be bishop, and then he gave all his riches to poor people, and changed his wife into his sister, and tormented so his body by the space of thirty years that he never ate bread of wheat, ne drank wine, ne he used no pottage, and would have no salt to savour his meat, and twice in the year he drank wine, and that was at Christmas and at Easter, and to quench and to take away the savour of the wine, he put in plenty of water, and in his refection, he took of the ashes after his barley bread, and fasted every day, and ate never till night. In winter ne in summer he had but one clothing, that was the hair, his coat and his gown, and if it so happed that he gave not his vestment to any poor man he wore it so long that it was broken and unpieced. His bed was all environed with ashes, and hair, and with a sack, and had not his head addressed upon a pillow more higher than his shoulders. But every day he wept, and bare about his neck relics of saints. He ware none other clothing. He wore seldom hosen or shoon, and seldom was gird; and the life that he lived was above man’s power, his life was such that it was great miracle and pity to see his flesh; and was as a thing not credible; and he did so many miracles that but if his merits had gone before, they should have been trowed fantastic.
On a time he was harboured in a place where every night the table was made ready for to eat after supper, when men had supped, and he was much amarvelled thereof, and demanded of the host of the house wherefore they made ready for to eat after supper. And the host said to him, that it was for his neighbours, which would come and drink one after the other. And that night S. Germain established him to wake for to see what it was. It was not long after that there came thither a great multitude of devils, and came to the table in guise of men and women. And when the holy man saw them, he commanded them that they should not go away, and after he sent for to wake the neighbours on all sides, in such wise that every body was found in his bed, and in their houses, and made the people to come and see if they knew any of them, but they said nay. And then he showed them that they were devils, whereof the people were much abashed because the devils had mocked them so. And then S. Germain conjured that they never after returned thither ne came more there.
That same time S. Lupus flourished which was bishop of Troyes; the city was assieged of the king Attila, and S. Lupus went upon the gate, and cried and demanded what he was that so letted them. To whom he said: I am Attila, the scourge of God. And then the meek bishop answered and said: I am Lupus, alas, the waster of the flock of God, and have need of the scourge of God, and commanded then to open the gates. And the people of the king Attila were all made blind by the will of God, so that they passed through the town, and saw no man of the city ne did no harm to any body. Then the blessed Germain took with him S. Lupus, and they both went into Britain whereas the heresies then were; but when they were on the sea a great tempest came and arose, which by the prayer of S. Germain anon ceased, and then they were received honestly of the people of the country, whose coming devils had said tofore, which S. Germain had cast out of bodies that they had vexed, and when they had overcome the heresies they returned again unto their own places.
On a time it happed that S. Germain lay sick in a street, which street was afire. To whom the people came and desired to bear him out of the street for dread of the fire, but he would not be borne thence, but put himself against the fire, which burnt all about him, and touched not him ne the house that he was in.
Another time he returned into Britain for the heresies. One of his disciples followed him hastily, and fell sick by the way, and died there. And when S. Germain returned, he demanded to see the sepulchre of his disciple that was dead, and it was opened to him. And he called him by his name, and demanded him what he did and made, and if he would dwell any more with him, and anon the body spake, and said that he was well, and all things were sweet to him, and would no more be called again into this world he said. And the saint granted him that he should be in rest, and he laid down his head and slept in our Lord.
He preached on a time in Britain so much, that the king denied him lodging, and his people. Then it happed that the king’s cowherd went with his portion that he fetched at the palace, and bare it to his little house. And he saw the blessed Germain and his men seek their lodging where they might be harboured that night. And the cowherd brought them into his house, and saw that they had much hunger. But he had not meat enough for him and for his guests. This cowherd had but one calf, which he did do slay for to give to them, and he received them debonairly with the little good that he had. And when they had supped and had said graces, S. Germain bade him bring to him the bones of the calf and to lay them upon the skin. And after made his prayer to God, and anon the calf arose to life without tarrying. And on the morn S. Germain came hastily to the king, and demanded him why he had denied him lodging. Then the king, being sore abashed, could not answer. Then he said to the king: Go out, and leave thy realm to one better than thou art. And then S. Germain ordained the cowherd to be governor of the realm. Then as the Saxons fought against the Britons and saw that they were but a few men, and saw the holy men pass by them, they called them, and the saints preached so much to them that they came to the grace of baptism. And on Easter day they cast off their armour. and through burning charity of faith purposed to fight. And when that other party heard that, they purposed to go against them hardily. And S. Germain hid himself apart with his people, and warned them, when he should cry Alleluia! that they should answer Alleluia! And when the said S. Germain had cried: Alleluia! and the other had answered, their enemies had so great fear, that they cast away all their armours, and had weened verily that all the mountains had fallen on them, and heaven also, and so all afraid fled away.
On a time as S. Germain passed by Autun, he went to the tomb of S. Cassian and enquired of him how it was with him. And he answered him out of the tomb and said: I am in sweet rest, and abide the coming of our Redeemer; and he said again: Rest thou then still in the name of our Lord, and pray for us devoutly, that we may deserve the holy joys of the resurrection. And when S. Germain came in to Ravenna, he was received much honorably of the Queen Placida, and of Valentinian her son. And at the hour of supper she sent to him a right great vessel of silver full of delicious meat, the which he retained for to give to poor men. And instead hereof, he sent to the queen a dish of tree and a barley loaf, the which she received gladly, and after did do cover the dish with silver, and kept it long, with great devotion.
On a time when the lady had bidden him for to dine with her, he granted it debonairly, and because he was weary of travail and fastings, he rode from his hostel unto the palace upon an ass, and whiles he dined his ass died. And when the queen knew that his ass was dead, she was much sorrowful, and did do present to him a right good horse of right great beauty, and great. And when he saw him so richly adorned and arrayed, he would not take it, but said: Show me mine ass, for he that brought me hither shall bring me home. And went to the dead ass, and said: Arise, and let us return home, and anon he arose and awoke, as he had slept, and as he had had no harm. And then S. Germain mounted on his ass and rode to his lodging, but ere he departed from Ravenna, he said that he should not be long in this world; and a while after he fell sick of the fevers or axes, and the seventh day after passed out of this world unto our Lord, and his body was borne into France, like as he had desired of the queen, and he died about the year of our Lord four hundred and twenty-one.
S. Germain had promised to S. Eusebius, which was bishop of Vercelli, that when he returned he would hallow him his church that he had founded. And when S. Eusebius understood that he was dead, he would himself hallow his church, and did do light the tapers. But the ofter they lighted them, so oft they went out, and were quenched, and when S. Eusebius saw this, he apperceived well that the hallowing was done, or else it should be done another time, or it should be reserved to another bishop. And when the body of S. Germain was brought to Vercelli, as soon as his body was brought into the church, all the tapers were lighted by themselves by God’s grace. Then S. Eusebius remembered of the promise of S. Germain, and that which he had promised, living, he accomplished it being dead. But it is not to be understood that this was the great Eusebius, bishop of Vercelli, that this was done in his time. For he died under Valens the emperor, and from the death of him unto the death of S. Gerrnain was more than fifty years. But this was another Eusebius under whom this thing was done. Then let us pray unto this holy Germain, that he pray for us to God Almighty, that after this life we may come to everlasting bliss in heaven. Amen.
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