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Having adverted to these things in general, I shall proceed to give a particular account of one of these demons, or inferior deities, which are worshipped by Papists in our own island, and which is firmly believed by them to work miracles at the present day: at least the most unanswerable and most orthodox Dr. Milner, bishop of Castabala, and vicar apostolic, says so; and even certifies one of her miracles under his own hand. This is the tutelar deity of Wales; for, like the ancient heathens, Papists have their gods of the mountains, as well as their gods of the valleys. Her name is St. Wenefride; and my great opponent, THE CATHOLIC VINDICATOR, has lately published an account of her life and miracles, with a recommendatory preface. The thing in itself is not of much importance. The story is in general extremely ridiculous; but Mr. Andrews, who seems inclined to make his shop the receptacle of all the literary filth of the dark ages, has republished it, with a fine portrait of the holy saint. I give an abridg. ment of the story, not for the edification of my readers, but as a specimen of popish literature, and of what will be generally read by our masters and misses, after popery shall be re-established among us.
The work is entitled, " The Life and Miracles of St. Wenefride, Virgin, Martyr, and Abbess, Patroness of Wales. To which are added, the Litanies of the holy saint. Printed by W. E. Andrews, 1817." It has for a motto, “God is wonderful in his saints," Psalm Ixvii. 36. The editor begins his preface, or address to the reader, as follows:-" The following excellent little volume, printed in the year 1712, was, as the preface informs us, translated from the life of St. Wenefride, written by Robert of Shrewsbury.” “ The work itself," he says, “is written in a style of such sweet and amiable simplicity, and possesses so much of that unction, which is best known by its effects upon the soul of the reader, but is incapable of being described, that the editor of the present edition has been careful to make no other alteration than the correction of a few inaccuracies of grammar, and some obsolete or quaint expressions. Many miraculous events are recorded in this volume, which the pious reader will know how to turn to proper advantage. The miracles of which we read in the lives of St. Wenefride, and other saints, are not to be rejected merely because they are miraculous, and out of the ordinary course of nature. Upon this ground, the holy scriptures, which, as to the historical part of them, are one continued series of miracles, might be rejected as incredible, or as fabulous.
“To the miracles which happened at the translation of the relics of St. Wenefride, in the year 1138, Robert of Salop was an eyewitness. The great veneration of our ancestors for this saint, is a proof of her eminent sanctity, and past ages are unanimous in their testimony of the extraordinary favours granted to those who have invoked her intercession. Some of these are faithfully recorded in the latter part of this little volume; and the pious reader will find that, even in this our age, Almighty God still honours the memory of the glorious St. Wenefride, and verifies the truth of the address, which, in imitation of our pious ancestors, we make to her, in the litany of intercession for England, 'Holy St. Wenefride, even in this unbelieving generation, still miraculous, pray for us.'”.
Thus Mr. Andrews holds up St. Wenefride, as well as the Virgin
Mary, as a deity to be invoked; and I suppose she is, at this day, most devoutly worshipped by every good Papist in Wales. This is one of the idle drones of godly virgins, of whom, in my seventeenth number, I promised to give some account; and an idle drone this saint must have been, even according to the account of her devoted admirers; for it does not appear from her history that she was of any real use to her own age; and her example could not profit the ages which followed, but must have been extremely pernicious, if it be true that such a person ever existed :
" In the seventh age after man's redemption, flourished many saints of both sexes.
I shall only mention those chiefly concerned in this short history. St. Beuno, the glorious instrument of St. Wenefride's second life and sanctity, was born of noble parents in Montgomery: shire, at the fall of the river Rhyw into the Severn; therefore called Aberhyw. His father, Binsi, descended lineally from Caddel, prince of Glesiwig, and his mother derived her pedigree from Anna, (who was married to the king of the Picts,) sister to the mighty and renowned King Arthur, who departed happily this life, and was interred at Glastonbury, in the year 542. His grandfather was St. Gundeleius, and he was nearly related to several eminent saints; amongst the rest he was cousin-german to St. Kentigern, bishop of Glasgow, who, forced from Scotland, founded the bishopric of St. Asaph, from his disciple of that name, whom he left to govern that church.” St. Wenefride's Life, pp. 20, 21. It would appear that as far back as the sixth century, bishops and saints were no favourites in Scotland, seeing such
holy man as St. Kentigern was forced out of it. It is not said whether the Scots of that day, who were guilty of this outrąge, were Pagans or Presbyterians; but as for the good citizens of Glasgow, they must have been very different from those of the present day, if they were guilty of any incivility to the holy saint, if he was willing to live and let live. But to proceed:
"This zealous monk (St. Beuno) having finished his monastery at Clynoc Vaws, in Carnarvonshire, found himself powerfully inspired to visit his relations in Flintshire. It is true, he had long before bid adieu to all ties of flesh and blood; but he understood this call as a voice from heaven. A rich and potent lord, in that part of North Wales where now Holywell is, had married the virtuous and noble Lady Wenlo, sister to St. Beuno. His name was Thewith, some write it Trebwith; but a manuscript now before me of one of the most learned antiquaries of the last age, says his name was Ty. vid. These parents of St. Wenefride, by an exemplary and truly Christian life, surpassed their high extraction. They reckoned solid virtue as the most distinguishing quality, and they pitied vi. cious potentates, who are contemptible in the eyes of the King of kings. Saint Wenefride, the glory of West Britain, was born in the troublesome reign of King Cadwallawn; and St. Beuno made his visit to his brother-in-law's house, in the reign of King Eluith, the second of that name. The venerable monk, having much humility and great modesty, made himself known, told them that he was sent by Almighty God, to honour him there, as he had done in other places; and that he neither expected nor craved any other favour, than a small parcel of his large territories, sufficient to build a church on;
where others, with myself, said he, will daily pray for your safety and happiness.
"Thewith (I shall style him so for the future) was not in the miserable catalogue of those thoughtless, blind worldlings, who are prodigal in vanity and ostentation, but start and frown at the first proposal of parting with small matters for the advantage of their souls. No, he looked forward with other eyes, toward a more permanent being, than here upon sordid earth; therefore returned he the following answer: • With good reason, holy father, I am obliged to give you part of the lands I now possess, for His sake and service who bestowed them all on me. You have pleasured me in asking this charity, which is more advantageous to me than to you who propose it. Therefore, from this very day, I do absolutely alienate from myself, and my posterity, this manor I now live in, and with joy I do surrender unto you all my right and title, and I put you into possession. I humbly beg a favour, that having one only child, a tender virgin, who is my special comfort, you will instruct her in heavenly documents, that her life and conversation may be holy, pleasing to God, and joyful to her parents. After this generous settlement, the nobleman made choice of a dwelling-seat, not far distant from the place he had given to St. Beuno; where, on a hill, he could see the church, where the servants of God praised their Maker.
"As Constantine the Great, at the building of St. Peter's Basilick, divested himself of his imperial robes, took up the spade, broke ground, and carried twelve baskets of earth, in honour of the twelve apostles, to cast into the foundation, in testimony of his devotion to the primitive princes of Christianity; so, in imitation of this heroic pattern, the noble Lord Thewith, set aside state and birth, many times putting his own hands to the holy work. This he did to encourage others, and to contribute in some sort to the finishing of the fabric. The church being made fit to offer in it the divine sacrifice, he and his spouse, with their only child, were daily present at holy mass. They had this pious custom, to place their daughter at the saint's feet, at the time of his exhortations to the people, advising her to give attention to his excellent doctrine. This was not necessary, although religiously suggested by pious parents; for she was so much transported with a holy delight in hearing him preach, that she frequently visited him alone, to discourse of self-knowledge, and Christian performances.” Ibid. pp. 22–26.
For want of room I must defer the miraculous part of the story which will appear in my next number.
CONTINUATION OF THE ACCOUNT OF ST. WENEFRIDE.
SATURDAY, May 15th, 1819. I PROCEED in the present number to give some farther account of St. Wenefride, whom I shall not describe as one who lived in a certain age of the world; but as one who lived in the world many years after her death.
" It was her parents' intention to marry her to some nobleman of the country, and to bestow on her a most plentiful fortune; but her ever blessed Redeemer, in those tender years, was disposing her sweetly for his service. By Saint Beuno's frequent discourses, she understood, how great, how good, and how glorious, the heavenly Spouse was; that voluntary virgins are like angels upon earth; that they follow the Lamb, wherever he goes. (Apoc. xiv) That the honours of the world are vain, and its pleasures shortlived; so that the very thought of an earthly husband became hateful unto her. Wherefore she resolved to keep herself undefiled, and to consecrate her pure virginity to the Lord of heaven and earth. One main difficulty occurred, how to render her parents favourable to this heavenly call. She burned with the love of God, and at the same time she resolved to fulfil the commandment of honouring father and mother. In this struggle betwixt divine vocation and Christian duty, the Bestower of all lights put her into a method, how to prepare the way towards her happiness, by making use of St. Beuno, as a glorious instrument.
“ This holy man was honoured as a saint by her parents, and by consequence she knew very well, that he had great power and authority with them, and they would not reject any reasonable request made by him, such as she took hers to be. Impatient of losing time, for completing her design, having found him one day alone, and at liberty, she acquainted him with the holy fruits of his moving discourses, and after a very pathetic manner, humbly petitioned for his zealous concurrence, in preserving the rich treasure of her virginity, which she resolved never to part with, for all the offers the flattering world could make her. Saint Beuno was agreeably surprised at this most welcome news: for, as St. Paul, he desired all to be like unto himself. (1 Cor. xi. 1.) He had unshaken confidence in God's power and goodness, that he who had begun the work, would give it the finishing stroke. Moreover, being no stranger to the singular piety of those he was to treat with, he cheerfully undertook the task to the inexpressible satisfaction of the expecting virgin.
“ We cannot read without flowing tears, how faithful Abraham, in obedience to God's command, had his hand lifted up to sacrifice his son Isaac, his only begotten son, whom he loved: (Gen. xxii. 2.) not so much as demurring at the first intimation of the Omnipotent; perhaps it may move to devotion, by a serious consideration, how the Lord Thewith entertained this unexpected petition of his dear child. Besides the internal gifts of grace, the apparent virtues, which charmed her devout parents, her stature was well proportioned, her face was matchless, her modesty equalled her beauty, qualifications much admired by mankind. She was the agreeable object of their eyes, the support of their family, and the prospect of their happiness upon earth. Yet no sooner had Saint Beuno delivered his sentiments, as to the nature of the offering; that it was a sort of holocaust to sacrifice their affections, and to bequeath to their God the dearest creature in the world, whom they loved more than they did themselves: with other persuasive reasons to the same effect, the holy man, I say, had no sooner ended his discourse, than, contrary to the weakness of other fond parents, tears of joy came trickling down Lord Thewith's cheeks, who, with his spouse, broke out into the praises of Jesus Christ, for so highly favouring their only child. They then called for their daughter, and gave her full and free leave to forsake the world, wishing her a happy progress in the way of perfection. They likewise declared, that the heavenly Spouse having made choice of her, they intended to make him heir of what they designed for her dowry, by disposing of the same, to his great honour, in pious and religious uses. They drew also this advantage to themselves, of renouncing the world, so far as was consistent with persons in their station. They entered into a firm resolution of giving to the poor great part of their princely wealth, of retiring from worldly noise and hurry, that with an undepending freedom, they might be more absolute masters of short time, to provide, and send before them, never ending treasures to heaven.
The pious virgin receiving this coveted grant, concluded that she could never return sufficient thanks to God for the favour. She watched whole nights in the church, either kneeling or prostrate before the altar, where she imagined to herself, that she was in her immortal Spouse's presence chamber. Contemplation raised her up into admiration of his infinite perfections ; so that to hear Jesus Christ only named, brought joyful tears into her eyes from a flaming heart. Pure delights overflowed her soul; and looking towards heaven, the world appeared base and contemptible. To add fuel to this pleasing fire, she procured a little oratory near unto Saint Beuno's cell, to visit him with greater ease in the daytime, and in silent night to practise her master's spiritual lessons."
The virtue of this holy virgin was, it seems, assaulted by a cruel Welch prince named Cradocus, who found her at home and alone, one day when the rest of the family were at church. My readers must excuse me from giving the particulars of the temptation with which she was assailed. I expect that Mr. Andrews will find me guilty of many bad things for not giving the very words of this part of the book which he recommends so warmly; but if the very words must be given, he is welcome to do it; and I had rather that they should appear in his pages than mine. Suffice it to say, that by means of something very like a lie, at least a false pretext, the holy saint escaped out of his hands, and made the best of her way to the church; but Cradocus overtaking her, with sword in hand, renewed his wicked proposal, and gave her the choice of submission or death. I give the se. quel of this part of the history in the words of the author:
“ As it happens sometimes, that despised carnal love turns into rage, so it fared with barbarous Cradocus, who seeing himself scorned, (as he thought,) gave such a deadly blow to the virgin's neck, that the first stroke severed the head from the body: which falling upon the descent of the hill, rolled down to the church, where the congregation were kneeling before the altar. As they were terrified with the bloody object of her head, so they were astonished, to behold a clear and rapid spring, gushing out of that spot of ground, her head had first fallen upon, which to this very day, is visited from all parts, by devout pilgrims.* The place of her martrydom had, before her death, the
• I suppose Mr. Andrews does not know that there is a similar story related of a French saint. Perhaps the one story is a mere echo of the other :-"A holy woman, named Reine, suffered martyrdom about Alise, a little village near Flavigny. When she was beheaded, at the very place where the head lighted on the ground, a spring bub