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15 September 2017

Wrongdoers rightened

Miracle of the Week

Each week we will publish one miracle from the collection of Marian miracles preserved in the manuscript AM 634-635 4to - one of the largest collections of miracles in a European vernacular language. This week Mary saves St Hugh of Cluny from some bad hombres.

“Illvirkjar leiðréttust” (Wrongdoers rightened) marks the beginning of this week's miracle. (Click on the picture for a larger version.)

The Master Class of the Arnamagnæan Summer School in Manuscript Studies this year has been looking at a collection of Marian miracles preserved in the manuscript AM 634-635 4to, an early 18th-century copy by the clergyman Eyjólfur Björnsson (1666-1746) of a 14th-century manuscript which is no longer extant.

Sr. Eyjólfur copied over a dozen manuscripts for Árni Magnússon and it is likely that this one was also commissioned by him. The two volumes contain 230 legends in all, making this the largest single collection of miracles in Scandinavia and among the largest in any European vernacular; a number of the legends are not found in any other Icelandic miracle collections.

One of those unique to this manuscript is our miracle of the week, which is found on pp. 473-474 of the first volume, where it has the rubric “Illvirkjar leiðréttust” (Wrongdoers rightened). It concerns Hugh, Abbot of Cluny (1024-1109), who is also known as “Hugh the Great”. Although St. Hugh was a well-known figure in the Middle Ages, renowned for his earnestness and piety, this particular story does not, as far as we are aware, feature in any of the Latin sources mentioning him. 

The Master Class encoded the text using TEI-conformant XML, which can be displayed in a variety of ways, for example as a facsimile transcription (see it here), i.e. a letter-by-letter transcription of the text in the manuscript with no changes, a diplomatic transcription (see it here), i.e. a letter-by-letter transcription of the text with a few palaeographic features and the expansion of abbreviations, and finally a normalized transcription, i.e. a transcription in which the orthography has been normalized with no scribal errors or abbreviations. The normalized version is as follows:

Heilagr Hugo ábóti Cluniacensis reisti mǫrg munklífi guði til heiðrs. Hann elskaði einkanliga vára frú, helga guðsmóður Maríam, ok stundaði mjǫk á helga ǫlmusugerð, mœðandi sinn líkam með meinlætum fyrir guðs sakir ok einkanliga með heilagri þǫgn. Á nokkrum tíma sem hann fór til Róms ok fór snemma á veginn, lesandi þar sínar tíðir með brœðrunum er honum fylgðu, koma í mót þeim margir ok styrkir illvirkjar ok gripu hann, en ræna þá sem með honum fóru ǫllum þeim hlutum sem hann hafði flutt með sér þeim til kostar í ferðinni, ok setja sjálfan hann í geymslu einnsaman. En þótt hann þyldi mikla þvingan af sínum óvinum, lét hann aldri af guðs lofi ok hans móður Maríe, heldr varð hann í eldi þessarar pínu heitari með guðligri ást, verandi staðfastr í uppteknum góðum hlutum með glǫðu hjarta. Talaði hann engan dag fyrr en hann hafði sagt prímam ok letanías með þeim bœnum er hann var vanr. En sem illvirkjarnir sáu staðfesti hans helga lifnaðar, komusk þeir við í sínu hjarta, ok gáfu aptr allt þat sem þeir hǫfðu fyrir honum gripit, biðjandi auðmjúkliga at guðs maðr léti þeim fyrir þær meingerðir sem þeir hǫfðu honum gert, ok at þeir mætti verða hluttakarar hans bœna. Þeir gefa svo guðs mann liðugan með sœmð ok fœra hann heim til síns klausturs. En sjálfir þeir láta af sinni illsku, takandi með litillæti hjálpsamliga iðran.

 Which in a fairly literal translation would read: 

St. Hugh, abbot of Cluny, founded many monasteries in God’s honour. He especially loved our lady, the holy mother of God, Mary; and he often engaged in charitable acts, exhausting his body with self-chastisement for God’s sake; and particularly with sacred silence. Once, when he was on his way to Rome and was on the road early, reading his service there with the brothers who accompanied him, there came towards them many strong villains and seized him; those who followed him they robbed of all the things he had brought to sustain them on the journey, but him they kept alone in captivity. But although he suffered great hardship at the hands of his enemies, he never ceased to praise God and his mother Mary, but rather in the fire of this ordeal became even more inflamed with divine love, remaining steadfast in his usual good practices with a glad heart. He did not speak on any day before he had sung the Prime and the Litany with the prayers he was used to. And as the wrongdoers saw the steadfastness of his holy way of life, they were touched in their hearts, and gave back all that they had before taken from him, praying humbly to the man of God to forgive them for the offences which they had done to him, and that they might become participants in his devotions. They then set the man of God free with honour and convey him back to his monastery, and they themselves abandon their wickedness, accepting with humility salutary repentance.

The wrongdoers abandon their wickedness due to the piety of St Hugo. There's no need for you to abandon us, however, as there will be a new mircale for you next week. (Click on the picture for a larger version.)