Fuga Saeculi

Conteyning the Lives of 17. Holy Confessours of Christ, Selected out of sundry Authors.
Written in Italian by the R. Fa. John-Peter Maffaeus of the Society of JESUS.
And translated into English By H. H.
Printed at Paris.



[Page 145]

1.1. How two Stewards of S. Pachomius, were checked by him, for doing against Obedience. Chap. 13.

THere hapned so great a dearth of corne, as scarcely was any to be found, throughout all the Land of Egipt. Which S. Pachomius wel knowing, sent one of the Brothers, to make his provision therof as much as an hundred peeces of gold, of a certaine coyne, was able [Page 146] to procure him, being taken out of comon stock of the Labours of the Monastery. The Procuratour or Steward went his wayes therwith, into divers forren parts, without finding the desired comerce, till lastly arriving at the citty of Hermothen, it pleased our Lord, that he should meete by chaunce with an honest Gentleman, who had the whole corne of the countrey in his custody. This man, being required of the Monke, so much corne, as might amount to the said summe, answered: Truly Father, I have not any of myne owne, but if I had, I would take it from my childrens mouthes, to spare it for you, whose vertue, and holy life, hath now a good while since, beene notifyed to me. But harke you Father, I have yet now the publique grayne under my charge, which hitherto the Magistrates have not seemed to require at my hands, nor do I thinke, they will demaund it, till the new be gotten in. If you suppose by that tyme, you can restore it me agayne, do you take therof, as much as you please. When the Monke told him, how he durst not undertake to returne it so soone; but if it seemed to him, that he might well dispose thereof, as he had said, he would willingly take a quantity to the valew of the price aforesaid of a hundred peeces.

I shall not only afford you so much (replyed the Commissary) but even likewise as much more, if it please you to accept the same. Do me but only the favour the while to pray for me. Whereto the buyer made answere, that for the present, he had no more money to bestow. When the other very courteously affirmed, that it imported nothing, but he might take the grayne with a good will, and yeild him the price therof at his commodity, so liberall an offer seemed now to the Monk, not fit to be refused. Wherefore he suddainely freightes a great bark therwith of some thirteen Tun, so great indeed, as one half thereof, was not to be found else where in all those countryes therabout, & with great joy went his wayes therwith to the Monastery, as thinking he had done some great peece of service to the whole company, and especially to S. Pachomius. But he was very much deceived in his accompt.

Because the Saint had no soonerunderstood of the arrivall of the barke, so laden, & knowne the manner how it came to be so freighted, but he sent a man to the wharfè in post, with expresse order, they should not unlade any whit therof, saying: Let the Steward assuredly know, that not a gayne of that corne of his, shall seeme to enter into our howse; nor shall his person appeare before me, untill [Page 147] he have satisfyed the errour committed, in so governing himselfe to be led with avarice, in taking the same upon Credit, and abusing withall the goodnes of him, that sold him the corne. Now therefore since he hath so exceeded the precepts given, let him go suddainely to all these neighbourplaces, and sell the same according to the price set him downe by the seller; and having carryed him the summe, let him buy according to the price, so much, and no more as he may have with the money which he received of us, for that effect. Which being executed, and no more then five measures & a half, conveyed to the house, the Monke was deprived of his Steward-ship, and restrayned in the Monastery. Nor had the Procuratour yet much better successe. Who was appointed to sell some of the labours of the Monkes, at a slinted rate how much he was to make for them. He went then to the inhabitants with those merchandize, and finding them to amount to thrice so much, as he was prescribed to take, it seemed to him a folly to put them away or lesse, and so returned he his wayes home, with his purse fuller, then was pretended. Which being understood, S. Pachomius made im immediatly to returne into the Market, and to restore to the buyers, all that, which exceeded the rate set downe. Whereupon, he like wise being deprived of his office, was shut up, and had a good pennance enjoyned him. With thes demonstrations the Saint, it seemes, besides the purity which he required in Obedience, would likewise manifest, how far off they are to be from all manner of covetousnes, who seeme to manage the temporals affayres in Religion. But as this man of good; was an Enemy of tepidity, and of pusillanimity; so on the other side, approved he not immoderate fer ours, which ordinarily succeed but ill, and such was the event we shall presently tell you.



[Page 226]

2.1. The great Hospitality of S. Theodosius in the tyme of a Dearth, and God concurred therwithall: with his great zeale for the Catholike Church. Chap. 5.

AT the same of so great charity of S. Theodosius, were a great of [...]persons of all qualityes, assembled together at the said place, to all which, with much patience, and with very good order, was both diet, and lodging affoarded: and it would fall out now, and then, especially at some principall Feasts of the Mother of God, that at divers houres of the day, they were fayne to furnish as hundred tables. And there happening afterwards an universal dearth almost through all the provinces of the East, there came such a multitude to that noble Monastery, as that the Officers, fearing some disorder, resolved to keep them out of the Cloysters, and with exast measure to deale them victuals by weight. The which, as soone as S. Theodosius once understood; confiding now more then ever in the divine Goodnes causing the gates to be set open, in the sight of all most cheerefully admitted the presse of people; and in vertue of his [Page 227] firme fayth, and enflamed prayers, the provin on in creased of it selfe in the Cellars and Pantryes, in such sort, as that all being satisfied at table, there was plenty inough yet left for such as wayted.

Among which occupations of theirs, by how much fuller of distractions, they are of themselves, so much the more vigilantly watched the good Pastour for the spirituall conservation, and the piety of his Monks, endeavouring by all meanes, that at certaine houres, they might be recollected in necessary meditation of vertues, and of the acknowledgment of their owne defects; and to the end, the ordinary meanes unto purity of hart, might not turne into ceremonyes, and their frequent victoryes occasion security, (to which perils, religious are commonly exposed) besides his owne example, as we sayd, with workes, he would likewise excite the Family fro tyme to tyme, with enflamed words, thus: I beseech you, would he say, my brothers, by that Lord who hath given himselfe for our sinnes, let us once apply our selves in earnest, and truly indeed, to the care of our soules. Let us bitterly bewayle our dayes unprofitably spent, and endeavour not to loose those same which remayne. Let us not suffer our selves to be slouthfull in sensuality; nor the occasions of this present day escape out of our hands, through the foolish hopes of the morrow, least death surprizing us voyd of merits with the foolish virgins, we come to be excluded from the blessed nuptials, whence we shall afterwards bewayle, when it will be too late to repent. Behold now is the acceptable tyme, behold the day of salvation. This is the course of abours, that same shall be the joy of rewards. This the sowing of teares, and that the fruite of consolation. For the present, God is very favourable to such as convert themselves to him: then shall e be a terrible Judge, and a strict examiner of ech worke, word, & hought of ours. We now do enjoy his Longanimity, then shall we experience his Justice, when we come to arise agayne, some to eternall felicity, and others to the qualityes, and demeanours of ech one. How long then shal it be, ere were fully obey the counsayls of Christ, who with so especiall a vocation invites us to the heavenly kingdome? Shall we not awake from the sleepe of slouthfulnes? Shall we not rayse our selves from base thoughts, to Evangelicall perfection? And yet, forsooth, we professe to aspire to the cou~try of the blessed, and on the other side, we the meanes that leades us to it. And surely this is a great vanity of ours, that flying [Page 228] the labours of the warfare, we should promise to our selves crownes of the victory.

With such like reasons, S. Theodosius awaked his subjects, and confirmed them, as need required, not only with ancient and moderne examples, but also with divers authorityes of the sacred writ explayning the difficult places thereof, with such clarity, and impressing them strongly with such an energy withal, as the Audi remayned therewith much illumined in the understanding, & enflamed in the will. He was more over exceedingly versed in the ancient Traditions, and in the Orthodox, and sincere doctrine of the Fathers, and especially of the Great Basil, whose writings, & principally those of monastical constitutions, he held in great veneration. Nor was this great zeale of his, restrained a whit within the boun of that house, or among the inhabitants of that Province only; but nobly dilated it selfe unto the common benefit of the Catholique Church, and to the conservation of the right fayth, against the subtilityes, and lewd machinations of perfidious people, ambitious, & friends of novelty, as appeares in the chapter following.


[Page 251]

3.1. S. Benet discovers a temptation of Pride in the hart of one of his Monks: with a briefe Relation of the life of S. Scholastica his Sister. Chap. 8.

ON a tyme, in the evening, the man of God taking some litle repast, a certayne Monke stood holding him a candle, who [Page 252] in the world had beene the Sonne of a certaine Protectour, which in those dayes was an Office of great dignity. Now while he wayted in that manner upon him, he was halfe vanquished with a grievous temptation of Pride, saying within himselfe: Who is this heere, that sitting at the Table, I should not only not sit besides him, but stand holding him the candle, and serve him as a Page? He had hardly given place in his soule to these suggestions, but that the Saint, with great vehemency of spirit, began to rouse him up, saying; Make the signe of the Crosse on thy hart, Brother: what is that thou thinkst on? Make the signe of the Crosse I say: and sudenly calling in others, he made them to take the candle out of his hand, and willed him to sit downe at the table himselfe. He being afterwards demaunded of the Monks apart, what was that which he was thinking of at that tyme, he ingenuously confessed, the assault of pride which he then had, and the formall words, he was then framing in himselfe. They all wondered the while, and were much astonished thereat. Nor can it easily be expressed, what a spurre to perfection were these kind of discoveryes, and fatherly admonitions of his, unto them. And thus S. Benet of purpose, used some acerbity with them, as knowing that medicines for the most, are the more holsome, as they have more bitternes in them: whereupon the disciples of necessity must needs stand the more on their guard, & become more vigilant upon their defects, in beholding the maysters eyes still so upon them, and alwayes intentive, not onely to what they did, but even likewise to what they thought.

But as the divine Prelate, with such oracles as these, used to cause a great feare and sollicitude in his subjects: so with others in its turn he would deale as sweetly, and give as much security and comfort. At such tyme then as Mount Cassin, and all the arable Land thereabout was oppressed with a great and extraordinary dearth, that sacred Convent also, what with the nourishments of those of the howse, as with the almes which were distributed to strangers, was brought to such straits, as there remayned no more, then five loaves of bread in the Monastery, & the Granary quite empty. Wherupon the Monkes, but litle acquainted with such manner of extremityes, were now so sad and constristate with it, as they could not choose but in words, & countenance, bewray their pusillanimity. The man of God then being aware therof, very modestly repreheded such diffidence in them; & after that afforded them great hopes [Page 253] notwithstading, affirming that though they had but small provision for that day, yet should they have the next day following a great aoundance. Nor fayled he in his promises, since on the very next day were found at the Gate 100. bushells of meale in sacks, without knowing ever by what way or meanes Almighty God had sent them thither: whereby, the Servant of Christ, besides the help and consolation they felt therein, had likewise occasion to dilate their harts, and to trust in the divine Goodnesse, and in their greater scarcity not to doubt of reliefe any more.

The newes also of the happy passage of S. Scholastica out of this lyfe, gave them extraordinary contentment. This same was the natural Sister of S. Benet, & wholy dedicated to the divine service from child. Who being of riper age was wont every yeare to visit her Brother, and to receive spirituall instructions from him, who in co~pany of some disciples of his, would go forth to meete with her som tymes, at a certayne Grange of the Convent. Now in their last visit, there happened a thing of great astonishment; which was this, hat they having passed over a whole day togeather in sweet and devout discourses, and then after, in the evening, having given some refection to their body, S. Benet being about to take his leave of other to returne to his Cell agayne; the holy Virgin, being then more taken with his sweet conceypts, and discourses then ever; began to intreate him, with the greatest instance that might be, he would please to stay with her, and there passe away that night in such discourses, and particularly in treating of the future life, and of the glory of Paradise. At which request, S. Benet being angry, as it were, severely answered: What say you Sister? And know you not, that by no meanes, it is lawfull for me to lye out of the Monastery? And thereupon being ready to arise, and go his wayes, S. Scholastica obtayning yet some delay, and grasping her hands upon the table, put her head thereon, & powring forth a floud of teares, made secretly her prayer to God. A strange thing! the Heavens before being so cleere, as no cloud appeared in the skies, on the sudden, in the lifting up of her head, there followed such thunder, & hideous noyse thereupon in the ayre, & such a floud of rayne withall, as it was impossible for S. Benet, and his companions, to put forth of doores that night.

Then the venerable Abbot, perceiving himselfe to be thus layd up as it were, being ful of sorrow for it: God forgive thee Sister (said [Page 254] he) what hast thou done? When she answered; I intreated you, Syr, and you would not heare me, and I prayed to my God, and he hath vouchsafed to heare me: now then go forth if you can, and leaving me, returne to your Cell. In the meane while, the storme s increased, as the holy old man was enforced to remayne there, against his will, for to satisfy the desire of the thirsty virgin to hear the word of God. The morning being come, she urged no more, but taking her leave of S. Benet, he returned to the Convent, & aft three dayes, remayning in a closet of his chamber, and lifting up eyes, beholds the blessed spirit of his said Sister, to go forth of her body, in forme of a dove, & thence to fly unto heaven. For which, he first gave due thankes to God, with psalmes, and hymnes, and the~ like wise acquainted the Monks therwith, to their extreme joy, & so sent them without delay to fetch the sacred corps, & to carry it into the Church, where he caused it to be layd in the Sepulcher, which already he had prepared for himselfe, to the end that as their mynds had beene alwayes united in life; so their spoyles after death might not seeme to be severed and disjoyned. This same was surely a notable vision, and full both of jubily and wonder. But yet was that other, more straunge and admirable, which he had in the Monastery of the Abbot Servandus, not farre from Mount Cassin.

3.2. A Notable vision of S. Benet, together with Servandus Abbot: with divers other admirable things. Chap. 9.

[Page 256]

In the tyme of the dearth aforesayd, he ordayned that a litle oyle which remayned in the Dispense, should bee given to Agapitus, subdeacon, who had demaunded some of him: and knowing the Dispensier had not executed his order, he comaunded the vessell which was of glasse, should be throwne out of the window, which was done; and howbeyt the place beneath was all very rugged, and full of the sharpest stones, yet remayned the vessell as entire, as it had fallen upon soft feathers. When causing it to be presently given to Agapitus, he puts himselfe with the Monks in to prayer over another vessell which was empty, & covered; and it was not long ere it was full of oyle, insomuch as it heaved up the cover withal, & tan over on the ground. Heere with the Saint made an end of his prayer, and the flowing liquor ceased. Whereby the disobedience, & infidelity of that Monke, became justly reprehended.



[Page 357]

4.1. How B. Andrew, demeaned himselfe in his Bishoprike: and how charitable he was to the poore. Chap. 8.

OVr B. Andrew knowing both by learning and experience, that the office of a good Prelate consists, in feeding the subjects as well with example as with the word; and also in temporall necessity with meate and drinke: first of all he reteyned his ancient maxime in preaching Christ above all, with works. So as he endeavoured to shew himselfe continually a Maister of all disordinate passions, to restrayne sensuality, and to macerate the body with abstinencyes, and with wearing on his bare flesh, not sackcloth and cilices now as he was wont to doe, but an iron chayne; to sleep, insteed of a matteresse, upon hurdles, to fly all banquettings, to beware as much as possibly he might from discoursing with women, to shut his ears to flatterers, to trample on vayne confidence or esteeme of himselfe, not to remit the study of meditation, to walke alwayes in the presence of God, & to acknowledge him with amorous affects in all creatures; whence afterwardes derived that charity of his towardes his neighbour, and that so tender co~passion on the afflicted and distressed, as that in hearing their calamities he could not hould from teares; and none had recourse to him for comfort or succour, but he indeavoured by all meanes to send them away both comforted and contented. Yea following the stepps of the great S. Gregory he would have an exact catalogue with him of all the poore, especially of the shamefast, and continued to susteyne them with all possible secrecy.

[Page 358]

With which humanity and bounty of his, how much the Giver of al good was pleased, very manifestly appeared in tyme of a cruel Dearth, wherewith the people of Fesula being much tormented & oppressed, not finding on earth any refuge more fit and opportune then the benignity of their Bishop, they came running in troupes unto him, and he shut not up his coffers, or dispense from any: in so much as having one day very liberally distributed what bread was in the house, and now beggars continually comming in, he commanded more bread to be given unto them; and his servants knowing very well, there was not so much as a loafe left, they endeavoured to certify the Maister therof, who notwithstanding persevering in calling for it, and bidding them earnestly to seeke yet better; they not to seeme contumacious, though against their wils, turning backe, found to their extreme wonder a great quantity of loaves, and with great joy brought them to the man of God. Which presently he devided among the hungry, imitating in this also, the mercy, and representing the infinite power of the Saviour. Besides this, he was wont truly, in memory of our sayd Redeemer and Lord, the singular Maister of holy humility, to wash every Thursday with his owne handes the feet of some poore folkes, wherin he felt particuler gust and consolation.

Now it happened once, that among those Beggars, was called in one, who had his legs in a loatsome manner very soare and corrupted, who as he was well bred and modest, began to resist the admirable man, not suffering by all meanes he should wash his feet: and B. Andrew demanding wherefore? The other answered: My leges are so soare and putrifyed, as I have good cause to feare, they will turne a Prelats stomake, and breed a loathing. Then answered the Saint, have confidence my sonne in our Lord Jesus Christ, & so having sayd, he powred out the water into the vessel straight, and sets himselfe to wash his feet. A wonderfull thing, scarcely had he finished to wipe that happy man, but his feet were made cleane, and his soares cured. Such was B. Andrews care & diligence of the corporall necessityes of his flocke, and upon these foundations of well knowne goodnes, did after securely arise the celestiall building of soules: because he had gotten so much credit and authority with those carriages of his; as to reclayme and pull away ill livers from their lewd life, one word or becke of his, had more moment with it, then the longe and premeditated disswasions of others.

This is a selection from the original text


authority, bark, corn, dearth, faith, plenty, quantity

Source text

Title: Fuga Saeculi

Author: Giovanni Pietro Maffei

Editor(s): H. H.

Publisher: English College Press

Publication date: 1632

Edition: 2nd Edition

Place of publication: Paris

Provenance/location: This text was transcribed from images available at Early English Books Online: http://eebo.chadwyck.com/home Bibliographic name / number: STC (2nd ed.) / 17181 Physical description: [18], 352, 169383 p. Copy from: British Library Reel position: STC / 850:17

Digital edition

Original author(s): Giovanni Pietro Maffei

Original editor(s): H. H.

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) tp, pp.145-7 (St pachomius), 226-8 (St Theodosius), 251-54, 256 (St Benet - 256- "In the tyme of dearth ... reprehended"), 357-8 (Bishop Andrew)


Texts collected by: Ayesha Mukherjee, Amlan Das Gupta, Azarmi Dukht Safavi

Texts transcribed by: Muhammad Irshad Alam, Bonisha Bhattacharya, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Muhammad Ehteshamuddin, Kahkashan Khalil, Sarbajit Mitra

Texts encoded by: Bonisha Bhattacharya, Shreya Bose, Lucy Corley, Kinshuk Das, Bedbyas Datta, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Sarbajit Mitra, Josh Monk, Reesoom Pal

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Genre: Britain > non-fiction prose > religion: theological treatises

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