Gesta Romanorum Vol. II (1871)/Of Repentance

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Gesta Romanorum Vol. II  (1871) 
Anonymous, translated by Charles Swan
Of Repentance



A certain gambler met St. Bernard on horseback. "Father," said he, "I will play with you, and stake my soul against your horse." Immediately St. Bernard dismounted, and said, "If you throw more points, than I, you shall have my horse; but if not, I will take possession of your soul." The gambler acceded; and taking up the dice threw eight points. Thinking himself sure of the victory, he laid hold of the bridle of St. Bernard's steed. "My son," said the holy man, "there are more points than that in three dice." Accordingly he threw eighteen points; ten more than the gambler; who forthwith put himself under the guidance of the saint. After a life of great sanctity, he came to a happy end, and passed into the joy of his Lord[1]. (99)


My beloved, the gambler is any worldly-minded man, and Bernard is a discreet confessor. His horse typifies his heart; and the three dice are the Holy Trinity.

  1. From Caxton's Golden Legend. See the Note.

Note 99.Page 347.

This is compounded of two stories, apparently from the Golden Legend, fol. 218. 'A monke that had ben a rybaude in ye worlde and a player, tempted by a wycked spyrite, wolde returne agayne to ye worlde. And as Saynt Bernarde reteyned hym, he demaunded hym wherof he sholde lyue. And he answered hym yt he coude well playe at the dyce, and he sholde well lyue therby. And Saynt Bernarde sayd to hym. If I delyuer to the ony good wylt thou come to me agayn euery yere that I may parte halfe agayn with the. And he had grete joye thereof, and promysed hym so to do. And than Saynt Bernarde said, that there sholde be delyvered to hym twenty shyllynges. And than he wente hys waye therwith. And this holy man dyd this for to drawe hym agayne to the relygyon as he dyd after. And so he went forth and lost all, and cam agayne all confused tofore ye gate. And whan Saynt Bernarde knewe hym there, he wente to hym joyously and opened hys lappe for to parte the gayne, and he sayd, Fader I have wonne no thynge, but have lost your catayle, receyue me if it please you for to be your catayle. And Saynte Bernarde answered to hym swetely, if it be so, it is better that I receyue the than lese bothe ye one and that other. ¶ On a tyme Saynt Bernarde rode upon an hors by the way, and mette a vylayne by ye waye whiche sayd to hym that he had not his hert ferme and stable in prayenge. And ye vylayne or uplondysshe man had grete despyte therof, and sayd that he had his herte ferme and stable in all his prayers. And Saynt Bernarde which wolde vaynquysshe hym, and shewe his foly, sayd to hym. Departe a lytell fro me, and begyn thy Pater Noster in the best entent thou canst, and if yu canst fynysshe it without thynkyng on ony other thynge, wtout doubte I shall gyue to the the hors that I am on. And thou shalte promyse to me by thy fayth, that if thou thynke on any other thynge, yu shalte not hyde it fro me. And the man was gladde, and reputed that hors his, and graunted it hym, and went aparte, and began hys Pater Noster, and he had not sayd the halfe when he remembered yf he sholde haue ye sadle withall, and therwith he returned to Saynt Bernarde, and sayd that he had thought in prayenge. And after yt he had no more wyll to anaunt[1] hym."

  1. Boast.