Page:Historical Works of Venerable Bede vol. 2.djvu/161

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89
OF VENERABLE BEDE.

should have two abbots at once. His frequent travelling for the benefit of the monastery, and absence in foreign parts, was the cause; and history informs us, that, on a pressing occasion, the blessed St. Peter also ordained two pontiffs under him to rule the church at Rome; and Abbot Benedict the Great, himself, as Pope Saint Gregory writes of him, appointed twelve abbots over his followers, as he judged expedient, without any harm done to Christian charity—nay, rather to the increase thereof.

Life of Abbot Eosterwine § 8. This man therefore undertook the government of Life of Abbot the monastery in the ninth year after its foundation, and continued it till his death four years after. He was a man of noble birth; but he did not make that, like some men, a cause of boasting and despising others, but a motive for exercising nobility of mind also, as becomes a servant of the Lord. He was the cousin of his own Abbot Benedict; and yet such was the singleness of mind in both, such their contempt for human grandeur, that the one, on entering the monastery, did not expect any notice of honour or relationship to be taken of him more than of others, and Benedict himself never thought of offering any; but the young man, faring like the rest, took pleasure in undergoing the usual course of monastic discipline in every respect. And, indeed, though he has been an attendant on King Æcgfrid, and had abandoned his temporal vocation and arms, devoting himself to spiritual warfare, he remained so humble and like the other brethren, that he took pleasure in thrashing and winnowing, milking the ewes and cows, and employed himself in the bake-house, the garden, the kitchen, and in all the other labours of the monastery with readiness and submission. When he attained to the name and dignity of abbot, he retained the same spirit; saying to all, according to the advice of a certain wise man, " They have made thee a ruler; be not exalted, but be amongst them like one of them, gentle, affable, and kind to all." Whenever occasion required, he punished offenders by