Wednesday 23 January 2013

Saint Maimbod, January 23


On January 23 we commemorate Saint Maimbod, an Irish saint martyred in France around the year 900. Canon O'Hanlon reports that in the seventeenth century the Bollandists published an account of this martyr's Life from a manuscript belonging to a French church and that native hagiologist Father John Colgan also recorded his Acts. These form the sources for Canon O'Hanlon's own account below, taken from the first volume of his Lives of the Irish Saints:

...The period of this saint seems to have been about the ninth century. From various accounts we learn, that he was a native and wore the habit or dress of Scotia or Ireland. Of illustrious birth and rank, he was entirely devoted to God's service from his youth, and distinguished by the exercise of all Christian virtues. Maimbod was remarkable, also, for personal beauty and elegance of form. These advantages of birth, rank, and figure he little valued, rather preferring that his soul should be adorned with the virtues of humility and of self-denial. He considered worldly things as mean and transitory. He knew, that a Christian's highest ambition should be eternal rewards. At what period of life he resolved on setting out from Ireland has not transpired. Maimbod's object in leaving his native country appears to have been the acquisition of greater perfection, and a subjection of his will to God's designs. He likewise desired to visit certain shrines and places, where the relics of saints and martyrs were preserved. During this pilgrimage, he exercised extraordinary mortification and resolution in overcoming temptations. With joy of spirit, he endured cold, hunger, and thirst; and whilst exteriorly he was scantily clothed, interiorly his soul was inflamed with an ever-burning love of the Creator, and a great zeal to promote whatever contributed to His honour and glory. He always denied himself luxuries, and often bodily necessaries. In him, the flesh was always subject to the spirit. It would appear, that Maimbod had been elevated to the clerical state before leaving Ireland, and that he was distinguished for wisdom, holiness, and ecclesiastical learning. He cultivated the love of poverty to such a degree, that whatever he received from others he bestowed upon the poor. When he had nothing to give in the shape of alms, he enriched the souls of many by his expositions of the Divine word, and by exhortations full of consolation and fervour. 
Having visited many places, renowned for their connection with eminent saints, he came at length to the Burgundian territory, where the relics of many servants of God were enshrined, and among them, several belonging to his own country. The author of St. Maimbod's Acts, who appears to have been a Frenchman, takes great care to enumerate the many holy martyrs and confessors, who adorned and blessed his country by their labours, virtues, and constant patronage. Among the Irish saints in France are specially named Columbanus, Dichull, Columbin, and Anatolius.
While in the province of Burgundy, Maimbod became the guest of a certain nobleman, who, aware of his great virtues and the efficacy of his prayers, requested this holy pilgrim to accept something whereby the donor might be remembered in his petitions before God. The saint declared, that as he had an humble trust in the Almighty's constant favours, he had no need for the goods of this transitory world. But that he might not seem to undervalue the kind intentions of his host, Maimbod consented to accept the present of a pair of gloves. Then, bestowing his benediction on this noble, and on all the members of his family, the holy man resumed his devout pilgrimage.

Having gone to the Church of St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, to offer up his prayers, Maimbod came to the village of Dominipetra, eight miles distant from Besancon. At this place some banditti were to be found, dead to every sense of Christian or human feeling, and ready at all times to commit most atrocious crimes. These men were robbers, and lived by waylaying and plundering pilgrims and travellers, who visited this place. Having seen Maimbod wearing his gloves, and supposing from such indication of worldly comfort, that he must be possessed of money, they watched his departure and pursued him beyond the village. They overtook him at a fountain, called Colebrunnia, which, in the Teutonic dialect, means "cold water." On seeing them approach with menacing aspect, the servant of God saluted them in this manner : "Hail, beloved brethren, the grace of the Lord be with you; declare to me why you approach in such a manner. The mercy of God can assist you in your necessities. To this salutation, and to the charitable aspirations of Maimbod, the robbers replied only by inflicting on him blows and wounds, with swords and clubs, until he fell lifeless on the ground. His soul, however, winged its flight to Heaven. The perpetrators of this barbarous murder, finding nothing about his person worth seizing, were then filled with disappointment and remorse, for the cruel atrocity they had committed.
The people of that neighbourhood, having found the remains of the holy pilgrim, removed them for sepulture to the Church of St. Peter, where he had so lately offered up prayers. His relics were afterwards rendered famous, owing to many miracles wrought at his tomb. By request of a certain count, named Adzo, after some time, Berengarius, Bishop of Besancon, had the remains of our saint removed to Monbelligard or Montbelliard.

The ceremony of this translation was performed by the Coadjutor-Bishop of Besancon, named Stephen, and who had been formerly Deacon of St. John the Evangelist's church, in that city. He was advanced to this dignity, in consequence of Archbishop Berengarius having lost his sight, which, it is said, was miraculously restored, on this occasion. Many miracles were afterwards wrought at the tomb of our saint. Berengarius likewise instituted a festival to his honour, on the 23rd of January, the day of this holy man's death.

The name of St. Maimbod was inscribed in the Dyptics of Besancon church, with notices of many other saints, who were held in especial veneration in that archdiocese. This martyrdom of our saint took place, at or before the year 900; since, according to Chifflet, Berengarius lived about this time. Maimbod was also known by the name of Maingol—a common designation, amongst the Scots or ancient Irish. By some martyrologists he is called Maimboldus, and by other writers Maibodus. A distinguished writer amongst the Scots or ancient Irish. observes, that when we read of the Christian benefits obtained by Continental countries through the agency of Scotia and of the Scots in the early ages of our national Church, these must be attributed to Ireland and to Irishmen. For the Island of Saints then many had visited to acquire learning in her schools. From these numbers migrated to diffuse knowledge and the science of the saints through more distant countries.

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