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Divine Ordo

Cartulary of Mont St. Michel: the Duke Richard II (reigned 996-1026) donating the abbey of Mont St. Michel to Mauger, the Bishop of Avranches. The figure on the left is a King of the Franks, probably Robert II (The Pious) (r. 996-1031).


Ordo, as we have seen in our discussion of the Carolingian period, was a central concern. In examining the Palatine Chapel in Aachen we noticed how the original dome mosaic of the Adoration of the Lamb put the Carolingian Emperor within the hierarchy of divine order. The mid 12th century image above comes from the Cartulary of Mont-St-Michel and illustrates the donation of Duke Richard II of Normandy to Bishop Mauger of Avranches (Avranches, Bibliothèque Municipale, MS. 210, f. 19v). Implicit in this image is the ideal of ecclesiatical ordo. This is made apparent in a comparison of this image to a drawing of the Last Judgment found in Winchester manuscript from about 1020-30 (British Library, Stowe MS. 944, fol 7):

Drawing of the Last Judgment from a manuscript from Winchester from about 1020-30 (British Library, Stowe MS 944, fol. 7)

The upper register of the Winchester manuscript shows the heavenly city. The artist of the Mont-St-Michel Cartulary clearly wants us to see the parallel between the heavenly city and the monastery. The strong frontality of the Bishop is clearly derived from the image of Christ in Majesty. The guardian at the gate of the monastery echoes the figure of St. Peter at the Gate of Heaven in the Last Judgment. The vision of the Last Judgment as a battle between the forces of Good led by the Saints and Angels and the forces of evil led by the Devil finds clear parallels in monastic chronicles. Note the reappearance of St Peter in the middle register of the Winchester drawing. This reitterates the central role the Bishop or Abbot played in this world. See especially the poetic introduction to the Vézelay Chronicle below.

Raoul Glaber, Historiae, Book 3, chapter 4 (for a more extensive excerpt):

So on the threshold of the aforesaid thousandth year, some two or three years after it, it befell almost throughout the world, but especially in Italy and Gaul, that the fabrics of churches were rebuilt, although many of these were still seemly and needed no such care; but every nation of Christendom rivaled with the other, which should worship in the seemliest buildings. So it was as though the very world had shaken herself and cast off her old age, and were clothing herself everywhere in a white garment of churches. Then indeed the faithful rebuilt and bettered almost all the cathedral churches, and other monasteries dedicated to divers saints, and smaller parish churches.. . When therefore, as we have said, the whole world had been clad in new church buildings, then in the days following that is, in the eighth year following the aforesaid thousandth year after. the Incarnation of our Saviour - the relics of very many saints, which had long lain hid, were revealed by divers proofs and testimonies; for these, as if to decorate this revival, revealed themselves by God's will to the eyes of faithful, to whose minds also they brought much consolation. This revelation is known to have begun first in the city of Sens in Gaul, at the church of the blessed Stephen, ruled in those days by the archbishop Leoteric, who there discovered certain marvellous relics of ancient holy things; for, among very many other things which. lay hidden, he is said to have found a part of Moses' rod, at the report whereof all the faithful flocked together not only from the provinces of Gaul but even from well-nigh all Italy and from countries beyond the sea; and at the same time not a few sick folk returned thence whole and sound, by the intervention of the saints. But, as most frequently befalls, from that source whence profit springs to men, there they are wont to rush to their ruin by the vicious impulse of covetousness; for the aforesaid city having, as we have related, waxed most wealthy by reason of the people who resorted thither through the grace of piety, its inhabitants conceived an excessive insolence in return for so great benefits.. .

Mark, 9: 1-3: And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter and James and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves, and was transfigured before them. 2 And his garments became shining and exceeding white as snow, so as no fuller upon earth can make white. 3 And there appeared to them Elias with Moses; and they ere talking with Jesus.

The page above with its miniature of the Pentecost comes from Lectionary made for the monastery of Cluny in the early twelfth century. The prominent positioning of St. Peter holding the book on the central axis beneath Christ reflects the Cluniac idea of order. As articulated in the founding Charter of 910, Cluny was independent of local authority and directly depended on the Church of Rome. This relationship was confirmed by the dedication of the Church of Cluny to St. Peter and Paul. Of all the Apostles shown in the lectionary, Peter with his frontality and prominent book is articulated as the most important and most Christ-like. In the miniature save two figures to the right of Peter, all of the figures significantly look toward Peter and not toward Christ. The attention of the two figures to the right of Peter is being redirected by the figure on the right (St. Paul?) back to Peter in the center. The Ecclesiastical order implied in this miniature is mirrored by the Cluniac order with the authority of the abbot of Cluny being compared to the authority of St. Peter and the dependency of the other apostles on Peter mirroring the relationship of the dependent monasteries on the authority of Cluny. The inscription on the band across the arms of Christ reads: "Ecce ego mitto promissum patris mei in vos." This text is from Luke 24:49:"And I send the promise of my Father upon you."

Charter of Cluny, 910:

To all right thinkers it is clear that the providence of God has so provided for certain rich men that, by means of their transitory possessions, if they use them well, they may be able to merit everlasting rewards. As to which thing, indeed, the divine word, showing it to be possible and altogether advising it, says: "The riches of a man are the redemption of his soul." (Prov. xiii.) I, William, count and duke by the grace of God, diligently pondering this, and desiring to provide for my own safety while I am still able, have considered it advisable - nay, most necessary, that from the temporal goods which have been conferred upon me I should give some little portion for the gain of my soul. I do this indeed in order that I who have thus increased in wealth may not, per chance, at the last be accused of have having spent all in caring for my body, but rather may rejoice, when fate at last shall snatch all things away, in having reserved something for myself. Which end, indeed, seems attainable by no more suitable means than that, following the precept of Christ "I will make his poor my friends" (Luke xvi. 9), and making the act not a temporary but a lasting one, I should support at my own expense a congregation of monks. And this is my trust, this is my hope, indeed, that although I myself am unable to despise all things, nevertheless by receiving despisers of this world, whom I believe to be righteous, I may receive the reward of the righteous. Therefore be it known to all who live in the unity of the faith and who await the mercy of Christ, and to those who shall succeed them and who shall continue to exist until the end of the world, that, for the love of God and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, I hand over from my own rule to the holy apostles, Peter, namely, and Paul, the possessions over which I hold sway, the town of Cluny, namely, with the court and demesne manor, and the church in honour of St. Mary the mother of God and of St. Peter the prince of the apostles, together with all the things pertaining to it, the villas, indeed, the chapels, the serfs of both sexes, the vines, the fields, the meadows, the woods, the waters and their outlets, the mills, the incomes and revenues, what is cultivated and what is not, all in their entirety. Which things are situated in or about the country of Macon, each one surrounded by its own bounds.. I give, moreover, all these things to the aforesaid apostles - I William and my wife Ingelberga - first for the love of God; then for the soul.... I give these things, moreover, with this understanding, that in Cluny a regular monastery shall be constructed in honour of the holy apostles Peter and Paul, and that there the monks shall congregate and live according to the rule of St. Benedict, and that they shall possess, hold, have and order these same things unto all time. In such wise, however, that the venerable house of prayer which is there shall be faithfully frequented with vows and supplications, and the celestial converse shall be sought and striven after with all desire and with the deepest ardour; and also that there shall be sedulously directed to God prayers, beseechings and exhortations as well for me as for all, according to the order in which mention has been made of them above. And let the monks themselves, together with all the aforesaid possessions, be under the power and dominion of the abbot Berno, who, as long as he shall live, shall preside over them regularly according to his knowledge and ability. But after his death, those same monks shall have power and permission to elect any one of their order whom they please as abbot and rector, following the will of God and the rule promulgated by St. Benedict-in such wise that neither by the intervention of our own or of any other power may they be impeded from making a purely canonical election. Every five years, moreover, the aforesaid monks shall pay to the church of the apostles at Rome ten shillings to supply them with lights; and they shall have the protection of those same apostles and the defence of the Roman pontiff; and those monks may, with their whole heart and soul, according to their ability and knowledge, build up the aforesaid place. We will, further, that in our times and in those of our successors, according as the opportunities and possibilities of that place shall allow, there shall daily, with the greatest zeal be performed there works of mercy towards the poor, the needy, strangers and pilgrims. It has pleased us also to insert in this document that, from this day, those same monks there congregated shall be subject neither to our yoke, nor to that of our relatives, nor to the sway of the royal might, nor to that of any earthly power. And, through God and all his saints, and by the awful day of judgment, I warn and abjure that no one of the secular princes, no count, no bishop whatever, not the pontiff of the aforesaid Roman see, shall invade the property of these servants of God, or alienate it, or diminish it, or exchange it, or give it as a benefice to any one, or constitute any prelate over them against their will. And that such an unhallowed act be more strictly prohibited to all rash and wicked men, I do adjure ye, oh holy apostles and glorious princes of the world, Peter and Paul, and thee, oh supreme pontiff, that, through the canonical and apostolical authority which ye received from God, ye do remove from participation in the holy Church an in eternal life, the robbers and invaders and alienators of these possesions which I do give to thee with joyful heart and ready will; and be ye protectors and defenders of the aforementioned place of Cluny and of the servants of God abiding there, and of all these possession - on account of the clemency and mercy of the most holy Redeemer. If anyone - which Heaven forbid, and which through the mercy of God and the protection of the holy apostles I do not think will happen - whether he be a neighbour or a stranger, no matter what his condition or power, should, though any kind of wile, attempt to do any act of violence contrary to this deed of gift which we have ordered to be drawn up for the love of almighty God and for reverence of the chief apostles Peter and Paul; first indeed let him incur the wrath of almighty God; and let God remove him from the land of the living and wipe out his name from the book of life, and let his portion be with those who said to the Lord God: Depart from us; and with Dathan and Abiron whom the earth opening its jaws swallowed up, and hell absorbed whill still alive, let him incur everlasting damnation [Dathan, Abiron and Korah lead a revolt against Moses and Aaron: "the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses." (Book of Numbers 16:31)]. And being made a companion of Judas, let him be kept thrust down their with eternal tortures, and, let it seem to human eyes that he pass through the present world with impunity, let him experience in his own body, indeed, the torments of future damnation, sharing the double disaster with Heliodorus and Antiochus, of whom one being coerced with a sharp blow scarcely escaped alive; and the other, struck down by the divine will, his members putrefying and swarming with vermin, perished most miserably. And let him be a partaker in with other sacrilegious persons who presume to plunder the treasure house of God; and let him, unless he come to his senses, have as an enemy and as one who will refuse him entrance in the blessed paradise, the key-keeper of the whole hierarchy of the Church, and joined with the latter, St. Paul; both of whom, if he had wished, he might have had as holy mediators for him. But as far as the worldly law is concerned, he shall be required, the judicial power compelling him to pay a hundred pounds of gold to those he has harmed; and his attempted attack, being frustrated, shall have no effect at all. But the validity of this deed of gift, endowed with all authority, shall always remain inviolate and unshaken, together with the stipulation subjoined. Done publicly in the city of Bourges. I William, commanded this to made and drawn up and confirmed it with my own hand.

(Signed by Ingelberga and a number of bishops and nobles)

The Vézelay Chronicle

Book II
Pons the most celebrated in virtue of the abbots of the realm
Ruled his sheep in turn,
And while he sets before them the path to an upright life,
And oversees the church entrusted to him,
A crowd, more crowded than any, stirs up envy,
The seditious hand of serfs against their lord.
The mob armed with guile, a duke and a path of treachery,
A mob driven to break down the gates, to plunder homes,
A mob that dares to hurl assaults at holy buildings,
And to lay hands on holy things, seeking the death of their lord.
What woeful cup of evils, disasters, ravings would then have overflowed,
Had not the wise abbot swiftly brought help?

If, O reader, you wish to know the causes of all these things,
Follow the journey of this book's pages.
These pages our Hugh, a Poitevin by birth, chose to weigh up in mind,
And to set down with his hand, for you, without recompense.
Read carefully; you will soon see how well, how wisely,
And how brilliantly the work takes its course, in proper order.
Be still, envious tongue, enemy of virtue, whose great sin
Is always to wish to harm the good.

The Author begins his work at the order of Abbot Pons
A most famous proverb is related of a certain Greek, and said to have been found on the tripod of Apollo: know thyself, and see thyself as thou art. There is nothing clearer in human nature, nothing of greater value, nothing, finally, more excellent. It is through these qualities, indeed, that man is, by a singular prerogative, preferred to all sensible creatures, and is joined also, by a bond of unity, to those incapable of sensitivity. To know oneself, moreover, is to know and to understand the condition of one's proper dignity; to see oneself as one is, is to cultivate that same dignity of condition of one's proper dignity; to see oneself as one is, is to cultivate that same dignity of condition with the sincerity of faith and the practice of piety. Since you ask what we have had in mind to say concerning the first of the aforementioned two injunctions, that is, knowledge of oneself, we have treated the dignity of Vézelay, as far as we could with brevity, partly in the earlier book of this work. There, while we have taken great care to give the matter the attention it deserves, and not to bandy words, we navigated like a ship slicking through the slopes of a calm sea, well aware that the worthy reader would infer the weighty nature of the business at stake from the simplicity of our words. However, certain parties, relying upon daring rather than placing their confidence in virtue, have attempted to tear with the mouth of a dog and to mangle with bestial foot the clothes of the aforesaid liberty or dignity, that is, the possessions of the church. As a result, our most serene and strenuous father, the venerable abbot Pons has seen fit to entrust to far distant future ages, through these writings, how and in what way through divine providence the strivings of a rival have come to nothing, and the church has shone forth from the depths of its very misfortunes....
For several years, then the abbot blazed with a chaste love of the church that was his bride; he arranged its rights with very dutiful care, and administered them most strenuously. However, fortune began to envy him and he came to feel certain that the church would be violated by the wart of some depraved confusion. When this came about he stood firm like a true zealot for the house of Israel, put himself in the way of the false eyes of envy and, though it meant many hazards to his own life, rendered the purity of that liberty, which was his bride, clearer and plainer for all to see....

Concerning the nobility and immunity of the church of Vézelay.
The Origin of the liberty of Vézelay
The Church of Vézelay over the years grew powerful, protected by the prerogative of liberty deriving from the gift of the founder, from the dignity of Roman authority, and from the oracle of the blessed loved one and servant of God, Mary Magdalene. The latter has her relics and special seat there, and her name, known splendidly to all, is celebrated the world over, and adored. Many people as a consequence have gathered to the place from all parts and, as much by their number as by their affluence in worldly goods, have rendered the town of Vézelay illustrious and conspicuous. The farms too, in so far as they were very ample and close to each other, made the location such a delightful site, and so very rich a one, that it attracted admiring gazes right up to the borders of the district, and stood out above all others the world over in splendour. These physical possessions were joined in compact unity to the church, as body is to head, by the particularly important and peculiar charity of proprietary law, and as a consequence the church shrank from admitting in any part of it the participatory tenure (participium) of any lord or company, as this would be profane, and an incentive for arrogance. It held fast, through apostolic favour, to the allodial condition bequeathed it by the will of its founder and bent its neck in contract service to noen, unless to the apostolic pontiff. If anyone of pure intent and without fraud would contemplate the full liberty of the church of Vézelay he should thoroughly digest the foundation charter and the privileges emanating from the primordial and ancient authority of the Roman pontiffs: the venerable Nicholas, both Johns, Benedict, another Benedict, and Sergius, Stephen and Marinus and also Urban, of divine memory, who, drawn from the order of Cluny to the administration of the Apostolic See, wished the privileges and decrees of his predecessors in favour of the liberty of the aforesaid monastery of Vézelay, to be inviolate, firm and unshaken, and accordingly confirmed them by the protection of his own authority. When these documents have been carefully perused, any impression of contradictory elements or factors arguing contrary conclusions, must be set aside as fictitious or surreptitious, since it is impious and sacrilegious to imagine that the Apostolic Fathers would pronounce any decision that was internally inconsistent, or could provide grounds for the allegations of an opposing party. To go back to the beginning of the monastery we find that count Gerard, of happy memory, together with his pious wife Bertha, out of fear for the lord and regard for the welfare of themselves and their dependents, founded a monastery on the river Cure, with an entirely unencumbered allodial status of its own, and established there a congregations of handmaidens of God. This monastery, with all its appurtenances, he wholly made over by testamentary deed of perpetual possession to the most blessed apostolic Lords and to their successors on the Roman See to be rules and defended for ever. He entirely removed from this grant any licence by way of beneficiary power to alienate by donation or change of legal statue. However, as a result of the incursions of the Saracens, the aforementioned monastery was entirely overthrown. The count then rebuilt it on an adjacent hill, where the fortified hamlet of Vézelay was situated, lest hostile envy prevail over his initial pious intentions. At the same time he effected a change of sex and instituted a community of monks, the first abbot of whom was Eudo....

Several interests envy the liberty of Vézelay. William, Count of Nevers tries to usurp the rights of the monastery of Vézelay

Under so full and free an immunity, therefore, the new plant blossomed forth on its fresh turf, and the fertile green shoots of its branches attracted interest across many provinces. However, among the other faults which human nature contracted in the transgression of the first parent, the stain of envy infected most deeply the race of man, and, as a consequence, many ecclesiastical and secular powers in adjacent lands, corrupted by this pest, strove to spoil the garment of the Church's liberty, and to deprive the aforesaid monastery of the glory of its nobility. They conspired together in secret colloquies towards mutual evil, and putting their conspiracies into effect brought on the ignominy of their own confusion. At different times, either all together or one after the other in turn, they strove to vex the peace of the holy monastery, to trouble and perturb it, and did not fear to give offense to the great authority of the outstanding fathers of the same monastery in numerous and various ways. They spewed forth against the most distinguished and most prudent abbot Pons of our own day, the poison of their most vicious malignity, and, spewing forth everything that the vile and viperine powers of their own depravity could effect, they consumed, defaced, eviscerated and annihilated the substance of the monastery. The fact was that the abbots of the citizens of Vézelay, with their devout sense of duty, frequently found themselves obliged, on account of the frequent incursions of impious men, to pay involuntary court to the counts of the city of Nevers, in a spirit of most liberal indulgence, in order that they might the more devotedly protect the church against all comers, the church which was in no point of right beholden to the counts, and which was busily bestowing upon them gratuitous benefices. But the degenerate mind always abuses good deeds, and is often rendered more prone to insolence by services freely received. The service adjudged to an ungracious power is never ascribed to goodwill.
Thus it came about that William, who was later made a Carthusian monk, while he held the consulate of the state of Nevers, insolently abused the payments and other benefices provided by the church, and strove to exact from the church through tyrannical force a number of allegedly customary perogatives. These demands were prejudicial both to peace and to the liberty of the monastery. The abbot Pons, so worthy of veneration, spurned the count's insolence and denied with reasons what was unjustly demonaded, prudently keeping hold of what was being exacted by force. Taking this rebuff extremely ill, the count of Nevers worked himself up into such a state of complete anger that he diverted the royal ways from Vézelay and prohibited public traffic from the town. The abbot of Vézelay was unable to bend the count from his proposed course, either by benefice or earnest prayer, and consequently brought notice of the oppression of his monastery to the Holy Apostolic Mother, the Roman See, and set forth by what tyranny the count was pestering the allodial rights of Blessed Peter. The lord pope, then, writing anew to the same count, warned him to desist from pestering his special daughter, the church of Vézelay.

The Little Book of Vézelay about the relics and translation
of the Blessed Mary Magdalene
The birth, origin and family of the glorious Mary Magdalene and her sister Martha and Lazarus
The most blessed Mary Magdalene was born to a family which was, judged by worldly pride, very famous, descending from a line of kings. Her father was called Syrus and her mother named Eucharia and her siblings were Lazarus and Martha. Rule of the greater part of Jerusalem, all of Bethany and the castle of Magdala, whence her surname, is known to have pertained to her family.
But as pleasure sometimes closely accompanies such affluence of possessions as she had, she made sure that she spent the years of her adolescence without being restrained by the curb of modesty. At length, however, defiled as she was with the stain of all her sins, she was inspired by the Holy Spirit to hasten to the house of Simon the leper to be bathed in the fountain of mercy, our Lord Jesus Christ, and to offer up the tears of her confession and the perfume of her holy devotion, as Luke the evangelist recounts. And because of her great love she obtained remission of her many sins, as the Lord testifies.
Afterwards, because of the dedication of her devotion, she became such an intimate of Jesus Christ that when she was seated at his feet listening intently to his words, he deigned to be a gentle advocate for and sufficient defender of her against her sister, who was complaining that Mary did not assist her in serving him, and against Judas, who was muttering about the pouring of pure nard over his head.
Indeed, she was so afire with the ardour of her love that she did not desert the Lord Jesus when he was in the hands of his persecutors and his disciples had withdrawn, but stayed faithfully with him up to his death on the cross and his deposition in his tomb.
Because she persevered continually in her devotion and searched carefully for the Lord around his tomb, her love received a most joyful reward from him when she was the first mortal to see that very author of life rise from the dead and to announce to the apostles that he had overcome death and lived again.
It is enough to have touched briefly on the events of her early life, by following the account of the evangelists.
Although most people will readily have on hand a fuller account, set out in a more leisurely style, of how that same blessed Mary Magdalene, with Saint Maximin, Lazaraus and Martha, as ordained by the divine clemency, crossed the sea and came into the region of Aix in the kingdom of Provence- it is set out in the life of that bishop [Maximin]- I have laboured to produce this account, brief as befits my insignificance, so that if nothing more substantial comes to their notice, those who are seeking an investigation of the truth may at least be pleased to learn this much.

Here beings the legend of the translation of the glorious
Mary Magdalene; that is, how her most sacred
body was translated to the monastery of Vézelay in
Burgundy, in the diocese of Autun by the blessed Badilo, in the
time of Gerard of Roussillon, count of Provence and Burgundy.
This translation is devoutly and solemnly celebrated every year on
19th March
Since it has pleased the divine mercy that the western shores should be illuminated by the presence of the body of the blessed Mary Magdalene, let me being to set out, under the guidance of our Lord and Saviour, how the most holy remains [gleba] of that lover of God were translated by religious men from the territory of Aix in Provence to that place where today they are venerated by the pious devotion of the faithful.
Round about the 749th year after the passion or resurrection of the Lord, when Louis, the most pious of kings, and his son Charles were ruling, peace flourished and the church of Christ grew throughout the whole world, except for some attacks by Saracens, coming mainly from Spain. At that time Gerard, the most outstanding of counts in nobility, arms and the abundance of his wealth and the nearest in blood to the aforesaid kings, possessed by hereditary right the greater part of Burgundy. His wife, Bertha by name, was not unequal to him in birth and was very distinguished in her way of life. Because they lacked offspring of either sex, they generously began to hand over their own possessions to those who were God-fearing and were paupers in His name. Hence they transferred with the highest devotion their entire patrimony and possessions for the construction of houses and churches for the omnipotent God, following the very sound advice that they should choose Christ as their heir in place of carnal offspring. So building very many churches and monasteries on their substantial estates, where at the time there were none, they established a large number of servants of God in them, endowing them out of their own possessions so that they could live according to the Rule and without enduring penury.
At about the same time John, the Roman pope, came into Gaul at the invitation of the King of the Franks and that same count Gerard. Among other distinguished deeds that he performed, [the pope], at the request of the count, consecrated, in honour of God and his mother Mary and the holy apostles Peter and Paul, the monasteries that Gerard had built. On his return to Rome the pope, out of his love for the aforesaid count, sent back to the places which he had consecrated the relics of many saints.
As time passed and the health of the kings of the Franks began to fail, barbarians, coming from lands across the seas, began to wreak terrible destruction thoughout all the provinces of the Gauls, killing people, stealing their possessions and burning their houses. Churches and monasteries were also consumed by fire and destroyed. Among these the monastery of Vézelay too, which, along with others of which we spoke before, had been built a little earlier by count Gerard near the river Cure, was razed to the ground. As a result, to strengthen its defences it was rebuilt by that same Gerard most conveniently on a small hill that arose nearby. This concurred most honourably with the name of the place, for it is called Vizeliacus , as though from there those looking around can see the majestic horizons of heaven. Or perhaps Vizeliacus could be understood (as meaning) that the richest side of heaven may be seen from there. When it was rebuilt in honour of Mary, the mother of God, and the holy apostles Peter and Paul, as it had been before, it shone out brightly with innumerable signs and miracles, the work of God.
At almost the same time it happened that the Saracens from Spain laid waste and almost destroyed Aquitaine and the greater part of Provence. They attacked and captured the metropolitan city of Aix, leading away a large number of people as captives and burning the rest or putting them to the sword. They skinned alive very many men and women, as the Saracens are accustomed to do to people of our race, something I myself actually saw at a later time. After they had perpetrated this slaughter and destruction, which we believe occurred because of the sins of those people, they soon withdrew to their own land.
It was formerly held as well established by many people from far and wide that the blessed Mary Magdalene had been handed over by the holy bishop Maximin for burial in the territory of the city of Aix and that her most sacred bones were preserved there. Inspired by this story, both count Gerard and Odo, abbot of the monastery of Vézelay, after careful thought sent one of the brothers, named Badilo, to the city of Aix, with a vow that if he could, with the Lord's help, find any relic of the body of the most sacred Mary Magdalene in those parts, he should return and bring it back to them. He undertook the journey at once with the support of an honest band of servants and arrived quickly and piously at the city of Aix.
When he entered it there appeared to him to be nothing there at all except the images of terrible destruction and death. Seeing this savage punishment of Christian folk Badilo began out of piety to weep and sob bitterly. At length, mindul of the vow behind his journey he wandered curiously here and there throughout the different parts of that territory investigating whether he could find anyone who could lead him to find what he wanted.
He came to a place where there was a sepulchre erected with the greatest honour which, there could be no doubt, preserved a heavenly treasure. The carving of this sepulchre revealed her whose bodily remains were preserved within it. Covering its surface was a piece of work, rather like bas-relief, [showing] how Mary Magdalene, most dear to our Lord Jesus Christ, once washed his feet with her tears in the house of Simon and dried them with her hair, and how she anointed and most piously rubbed his most holy head with her hands. Similarly sculptured there too was an image of Mary when she questioned the Lord thinking that he was a gardener and saying "Sir, if you have borne him hence ...etc." and then, wanting to touch his feet, she began to adore him. Then, on the right side, because she came to the Lord's tomb bearing spices she [is shown as] meriting the joy of a conversation with an angel; after that she [was shown] coming to the apostles and announcing to them what she had seen.
Badilo examined attentively all that he saw, rejoicing more than can be believed. He and his companions tore up any bushes, threw away from the area fragments of coal and ashes and, as was only fitting, removed all the filth and made it very clean.
Then that man devoted to God began to think fearfully to himself that a location in that part of the country could not be suitable any longer in any case, as is usually the situation with the inhabitants of those parts, envy began to attack or gnaw at them or the assaults of the Saracens pressed them. In fact, he was bitterly tormented about what was the most appropriate thing for him to do since he had to return to his brothers who had sent him and he could find little opportunity to take those most sacred relics, which he desperately wanted to do. Caught in this mental dilemna, he committed himself steadfastly to the refuge of prayer, beseeching the help of almighty God and pleading with Mary, who had loved Jesus Christ and was most mercifully loved by him, that she should assist him as soon as she could to see what was the most suitable thing for him to do and the most advantageous for her. Then with fervent and constant prayers and fasting he began to wait for heavenly aid.
Finally divine inspiration came and, an opportunity presenting itself, one night the pious violator approached the tomb that was so well known to him, broke off part of its pediment and peered at what was contained therein. He saw a body still completely covered in skin, its hands placed over its chest and lying fully extended, as the custom is. A fragrance of such sweetness rushed out of there that no mortal could describe it. This alone was surely enough [evidence] for the just. For the body of her who was worthy to anoint with spices God in his bodily form ought to have been the most sweet smelling of all. The blessed bishop Maximin had understood this when her buried her because he embalmed her body with so many spices. Meanwhile, as the night passed, Badilo seemed to see a most beautiful woman, clothed in the whitest vestments and very carefully enveloped from the head down, whose voice announced the following: "Do not be afraid," she said, "since the same place has been predestined by God for us as for you."
As dawn broke he felt comforted by this vision and calling his servants to him indicated to them that they should be prepared that night to undertake the journey back to their home. When they heard this they began to rejoice throughout the town. As night approached he prepared his tools and when the first part of the night had passed he approached the tomb, estracted from it the body, which was, as I have said, still completely whole, and, wrapping it in the cleanest cloths, put it on his vehicle, with the other goods which he was endeavouring to carry. Then he set off on his return journey, most enthusiastic to get back to his own country.
As they passed through Salon-de-Provence, a castle in Provence, on their speedy return journey, a certain dead man whose kin and fellow-citizens were, as is the custom, watching over his funeral raised himself up from the bier in which he had been lying and, remaining in it, said in a loud voice: "Mary Magdalene is passing." Then , to the stupefaction of everyone, he said it again a second and a third time. Thereupon his fellow citizens began to investigate, scurrying hither and thither so that they might know whether what the revived dead man had said was true. Coming upon Badilo and his companions travelling so quickly they inquired of them with oaths and adjurations as to what they were carrying and so discovered the truth of the matter. Both parties glorified God who worked miracles through his saints, and praised the blessed Mary Magdalene; then the citizens [of Salon-de-Provence] went back.
The others hastened on and came to the city of Nîmes. A very serious cause of fear for them was the size of the body as it lay stretched out; having been embalmed with herbs, as the custom it, it remained solid and so could not be hidden in any small or narrow place. And so taking counsel they jointly decided to turn aside that night to a certain church and to remain there for prayer. While there they separated the longer bones of the body and put them alongside the rest of the body so that they could fit it into a smaller place. Then they quickly recommenced the journey that they had begun.
They all remained healthy with their numbers intact until they got within a mile of the monastery of Vézelay, from which they had set out, to a place which is now called Coudray-Badilon. There the most holy body began to become so heavy that no matter how many more were added to their number they could not by any means carry it away. Marvelling at this, they sent someone to the monastery to announce to the abbot and the rest of the brother their arrival and hindrance to their progress which had suddenly arisen.
In their sudden joy, with censers of incense steaming, candles lit and crosses preceding them, they went out clothed in snow white vestments to meet those still waiting unwillingly in the aforesaid place. Arriving there they all prostrated themselves on the ground, praying to the omnipotence of the divine majesty and fervently beseeching Mary, who was so pleasing to our Lord Jesus Christ, to allow the remains of her body to be removed from that place to their monastery. As soon as they rose up from their prayers and tried to go on they were able to proceed with such speed and the weight seemed so insubstantial that it felt as if they were being carried rather than that they were carrying anything. Supremely exultant, with the ringing bells resounding, the singing of the monks echoing and a multitude of candles burning, they brought it into that church which had been consecrated from the first in honour of the mother of God and the holy apostles Peter and Paul. There on 19th March they set it down with fitting honour. Since then the blessed Mary Magdalene, beloved of God, has shone forth in that place through innumerable signs and miracles.
If anyone, whatever rank of person, has insolently and violently assailed any of the possessions that pertain to that place, it has been she who has exacted divine vengeance. There were some arrogant men who longed to usurp authority over that place, but the divine protector immediately restrained them. For that place so abhors thefts or rank obscenities that, if they are perpetrated, they are immediately avenged by the clearest judgement of God.
Good health, whatever the illness, is soon obtained in that place by any man or woman. Moreover, anyone whose mind is burdened by the weight of sin or shame gains beneficial solace if they confess there to the wrongs that they have committed.
To sum up, Mary Magdalene (whose last name can be understood as [meaning] flower or illuminator) is a venerable model shining through the whole world and is mentioned most piously by the holy apostle. She is such that there is no one, even if he has a heart of stone, who is not immediately softened with remorse when he hears of her. Assuredly she delivers the reward of certain hope and perfect faith when the faithful ask her for mercy because she has the bold assurance of one who, when she approached the Lord Jesus, offered him the service of her most sincere humanity and so obtained remission of all her sins. For it ought to be believed unhesitatingly that she will obtain it [remission] without difficulty for those offences about which she knows how to petition Christ. Divine help, proceeding from an invocation to the Magdalene, produces faith of this kind in urgent circumstances. With our Lord Jesus Christ granting it, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns as God for ever and ever. Amen.

Liber Floridus, written by Lambert of Saint-Omer, c. 1120: Lambert compiling the text

In about 1120, the Lambert a canon at the monastery of Saint-Omer wrote a manuscript entitled the Liber Floridus. The book is preserved today in the University Library in Ghent (Cod. 1125). The book can be related to the tradition of encyclopedias written during the Middle Ages. Lambert understood the compilation as a bouquet of flowers plucked from the heavenly meadow "that the faithful bees man fly together to them and drink from the them the sweetness of the heavenly potion." To the modern reader, the text seems like a garden in serious need of weeding. There appears to be no systematic organization of the different texts and topics integrated into this manuscript. In viewing the miniatures of the book, a sense of purpose does emerge.