Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 09.djvu/431

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Dedicatio Basilicæ | Sci Pauli viii Kl Mai | anno xv Ecgfridi Reg. | .... Ceolfridi Abb. ejusdem q. | q. Eccles. Deo Auctore | Conditoris Anno iiii. The two monasteries, St. Peter's at Wearmouth, and St. Paul's at Jarrow, were sister houses, and the new convent remained in the strictest connection with Benedict's earlier foundation. The number of brethren at Jarrow appears to have slightly increased after the congregation was first formed by Benedict, and twenty-two settled in Ceolfrith's new house, of whom ten were already tonsured, and the remainder were applicants for the tonsure. During the progress of the building the abbot took no small pains to instruct his brethren how to read and sing the service, in order that they might chant the psalms and say the responses and antiphons as the custom was at St. Peter's at Wearmouth. His monks studied diligently, and good progress was made. The monastery, however, was visited by the plague, which carried off all the monks who were thus able to take part in the service save the abbot himself and one lad whom he had brought up and taught, and who was not as yet in priest's orders. When the history from which this incident comes was written, the lad, grown then to manhood, and in the priesthood, was still a brother of the house, equally famous for what he wrote and what he spoke of his past life, and it is not too fanciful to believe that he was Bæda [q. v.], who tells us that Ceolfrith brought him up, and that it was by his direction that he was ordained priest (Eccl. Hist. v. 24). The abbot and the lad for one week left out the wonted antiphons, but the service seemed too mournful, and with such help as the others could give they kept the service up as it had been before the plague, though not without great labour, until the abbot had gathered fresh monks, or taught those he already had to take their part. On the death of Eosterwini, whom Benedict had admitted to a share in the abbacy of Wearmouth, that he might take his place in his absence, the monks of St. Peter's consulted Ceolfrith as to whom they should choose in his place, for, as it happened, Benedict was at Rome at the time. By Ceolfrith's advice they made Sigfrith abbot, and Benedict, on his return, approved the choice. Soon after this both Benedict and Sigfrith fell sick. Benedict therefore sent for Ceolfrith, and committed both the monasteries to his charge. Accordingly he was constituted abbot of both houses, 13 May 688. Sigfrith died on 22 Aug. and Benedict on 12 Jan. following.

Ceolfrith ruled the two monasteries with diligence. While strictly enforcing the full Benedictine rule he nevertheless won the love of his monks. He took pains with the services, and caused them to be held constantly. Nor was he neglectful of the welfare of his monasteries in other ways. He obtained a letter of privileges from Pope Sergius, which he had laid before a synod and publicly confirmed by King Aldfrith and the bishops who were present. He enriched his churches with many precious things from Rome. Among other matters of good government he especially encouraged the practice of transcription, and, having already one copy of the Scriptures of the old version, which he had brought from Rome, caused three copies of the new version to be written out; one of these he placed in each of his monasteries and kept the other to present to the Roman see. A certain splendid cosmography, which Benedict had bought at Rome, he sold to King Aldfrith for no less than eight hides of land, with which he endowed St. Paul's monastery. When Adamnan [q. v.] visited Northumbria, Ceolfrith entertained him and succeeded in convincing him that the Celtic church was in error. The result of this visit was the conversion of the northern Irish to the Roman Easter in 704 (Eccl. Documents). At the request of Naiton (Nechtan Mac Derili), king of the Picts, he wrote him a letter in 710 on the disputed questions about Easter and the tonsure. When this letter was translated to Naiton and his councillors, the king decreed that the Roman customs should thenceforth be followed by his people. Ceolfrith also, at the king's request, sent him architects to show him how to build the church he was contemplating in the Roman style. In 716 Ceolfrith, feeling that age had lessened his powers, determined to end his days at Rome. He took a solemn and affecting farewell of his monks, who were now about six hundred in number in the two monasteries, and set out on 4 June, taking with him the copy of the Scriptures he had had prepared to present to the pope. While waiting for his ship to sail, he heard of the election of his successor, Hwætberht, and confirmed it. He set sail on 4 July and landed in Gaul 12 Aug. He was honourably received by the ruler of the district, who gave him a commendatory letter to Liutprand, king of the Lombards. He arrived at Langres on 25 Sept., and died there on the same day at the age of seventy-four. On the morrow his body was buried with great honour in the church of the Twin Martyrs. He had been accompanied on his journey by eighty men from all parts, who reverenced him as a father;