Friday, June 6, 2014

‘ . . . mighty men which were of old, men of renown’ -- Genesis 6:4, Part VIII

As we began this short look into St Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People, so let us end it - with the lives of two good kings, Ine and Cædwalla, who shame our current political class by their renouncing of worldly power for the sake of obtaining a blessed inheritance in the kingdom which is to come.

These two bear special importance for us as Southerners, coming as they do from Wessex, the fountainhead of the English culture - loyalty to a distinguished lord (the gentleman-planter), life centered around the lord’s hall (the plantation), of the soil - that came to flourish across the South.  Their ensample of limited power, wise law-writing, and support of the Church is one that all Southrons should desire to see practiced amongst ourselves and elsewhere.

For more information on these two kings:

From St Bede’s History:



IN the third year of the reign of Alfrid, Caedwalla, king of the West Saxons, having most honorably governed his nation two years, quitted his crown for the sake of our Lord and his everlasting kingdom, and went to Rome, being desirous to obtain the peculiar honor of being baptized in the church of the blessed apostles, for he had learned that in baptism alone, the entrance into heaven is opened to mankind; and he hoped at the same time, that laying down the flesh, as soon as baptized, he should immediately pass to the eternal joys of heaven; both which things, by the blessing of our Lord, came to pass accord. mg as he had conceived in his mind. For coming to Rome, at the time that Sergius was pope, he was baptized on the holy Saturday before Easter Day, in the year of our Lord 689, and being still in his white garments, he fell sick, and departed this life on the 20th of April, and was associated with the blessed in heaven. At his baptism, the aforesaid pope had given him the name of Peter, to the end that he might be also united in name to the most blessed prince of the apostles, to whose most holy body his pious love had brought him from the utmost bounds of the earth. He was likewise buried in his church, and by the pope's command an epitaph written on his tomb, wherein the memory of his devotion might be preserved for ever, and the readers or hearers might be inflamed with religious desire by the example of what he had done.

The epitaph was this-

High state and place, kindred, a wealthy crown,
Triumphs, and spoils in glorious battles won,
Nobles, and cities walled, to guard his state,
High palaces, and his familiar seat,
Whatever honors his own virtue won,
Or those his great forefathers handed down,
Caedwal armipotent, from heaven inspir'd,
For love of heaven hath left, and here retir'd;
Peter to see, and Peter's sacred chair,
The royal pilgrim traveled from afar,
Here to imbibe pure draughts from his clear stream,
And share the influence of his heavenly beam;
Here for the glories of a future claim,
Converted, chang'd his first and barbarous name.
And following Peter's rule, he from his Lord
Assumed the name at Father Sergius' word,
At the pure font, and by Christ's grace made clean,
In heaven is free from former taints of sin.
Great was his faith, but greater God's decree,
Whose secret counsels mortal cannot see
Safe came he, e'en from Britain's isle, o'er seas,
And lands, and countries, and through dangerous ways,
Rome to behold, her glorious temple see,
And mystic presents offer'd on his knee-
Now in the grave his fleshly members lie,
His soul, amid Christ's flock, ascends the sky.
Sure wise was he to lay his sceptre down,
And gain in heaven above a lasting crown.

Here was deposited Caedwalla, called also Peter, king of the Saxons, on the twelfth day of the kalends of May, the second indiction. He lived about thirty years, in the reign of the most pious emperor, Justinian, in the fourth year of his consulship, in the second year of our apostolic lord, Pope Sergius.

When Cædwalla went to Rome, Inn succeeded him on the throne, being of the blood royal; and having reigned thirty-seven years over that nation, he gave up the king. dom in like manner to younger persons, and went away to Rome, to visit the blessed apostles, at the time when Gregory was pope, being desirous to spend some time of his pilgrimage upon earth in the neighborhood of the holy place, that he might be more easily received by the saints into heaven. The same thing, about the same time, was done through the zeal of many of the English nation, noble and ignoble, laity and Clergy, men and women (Ecclesiastical History of the English People, Book V, Chapter VII,, posted April 1999 by Paul Halsall, accessed 6 June 2014).

All of those mentioned in St Bede’s History, Southerner, are our forefathers and foremothers: saints, kings, bishops, monks, nuns, missionaries, hermits, poets, peasants, English, Irish, African, and so on.  They, just like our nearest of kin, are worthy of our attention and affection.  So let us hear of them, learn of and from them, honor them as good and pious children ought, to the glory of God, Who is wonderful in His saints and to Whom is due all worship forever and ever, world without end.  Amen.

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