Chapter 60

[ 60 ]

       When, however, he was blazing in this way, emitting a scent as from a lighted torch of beatitudes (as was briefly described above with great labor, though in a sluggish style), he commanded a sarcophagus to be cut for himself from the rock and located within the church of F‚camp, consecrated in the name of the sacred Trinity, before the spot where he would stand during assembly, and commanded as much wheat as it could contain and five gold pieces to be disbursed to the poor each and every Saturday. Finally, with innumerable misfortunes of manifold adversities and various hardships having been endured (with equanimity, for the love of God), with the management required by this temporal life having been well performed, with deeds of bountiful and varied mercy having been enacted, with guiding and imitable examples of how to live having been left behind, with innumerable throngs of captives having been redeemed, with the cloisters of monks and canons having been repaired, with a vast bulk of varied goods having been profusely apportioned to the needy, he began to anguish and languish and fail in strength, and to withdraw from the district of Bayeux to the hall of his residence at F‚camp so that, after his death, there would be no haughty, full-fledged transfer of his remains.
       When, moreover, he was there at the palace of F‚camp, count Rodulf (that is, his brother) said humbly to him in the presence of the rest of his fideles: "Lord, most compassionate duke, we bemoan, grieving, that you are incommoded by infirmity; but say to us, we pray, which of your sons will be the heir to the realm under your authority?" Then he: "The one who bears my name will be the duke and count and heir of my inheritance, with your deliberative approval." Then count Rodulf: "What about the others, lord?" He replied: "Once they have become, by the oath of allegiance of a true promise, the fideles of my son Richard, having presented their hands (in place of their hearts) to his hands, let that land which I shall have pointed out to you, land from which they shall be able to live honorably, be bountifully given to them."
       Next, as his sickness grew, the Norman towns began to tremble with fear and to strike the sky with their unrestrainable sorrow, and the abominable alarm that he might perhaps already have fallen began to run through the doubtful minds of the Normans, and so they would seek out the hall of his residence at F‚camp, weeping with a great howling and wailing. Truly, the great duke Richard, incommoded by his rude infirmity, dressed in sackcloth, with bare feet, sought the temple of the sacred Trinity and, placing diverse votive offerings and presents both precious and varied upon the altar, his face drenched with a shower of tears, suppliant and devout and doleful, took up the tree-trunk symbolic of salvation-giving journey-provisions, that is support for the way. Then count Rodulf said secretly to him: "Lord, in which section of the sanctuary shall the tomb of your repose be prepared?" He replied: "A corpse of such great calamity will not rest within the entrace of this sanctuary, but at the door by the gutters of the monastery."
       Indeed, the following night his most holy limbs are harassed by a gentle pain, and a penetrating and death-dealing flame violently attacks his delicate marrow. Now his feet, and now his tender shins grow numb, and his eyes grow weary in his dying body. All his limbs slip away, but his mind perceives God and he desires the eternal world. Everyone's cheeks and faces would fill with tears, and an unbearable sobbing would seize everyone's voice. Their hesitating tongues would be shaken by their agitated bowels, and all speech would be interrupted by immense shaking groans. But he, his suppliant eyes and hands raised to heaven and silent as he supplicatingly poured forth vows and prayers, breaking with difficulty into speech, said: "Into your hands, Christ, I commit my soul." Thereupon, in the midst of this wish, he breathed out his most holy soul.
       Indeed, once his holy soul, snatched from the package of the flesh and liberated from earthly distress and glad, had travelled to its creator, the sorrow of his servants would resound to the sky. Immediately, report of this mournful loss rose up through the towns of the Norman region, and people of every age and of both sexes ran, howling and wailing, to his funeral rites. Once the body had been laid out according to custom and carried to the church which he had founded, the entire multitude took turns on sentry watch, as the clergy spent that thoroughly-vigilant night in singing psalms, the laity in lamenting. Oh, how vast the weeping and how much sorrow, how many laments would ring through the courtyards of all the Normans! Indeed a choir, overcome by tears and sobs, would recite psalms, and the common host would make the air resound with their mournful cries; the vast groaning of the populace would shake the small town of his residence at F‚camp, and shrieking howls would touch the summit of heaven. For a symphony of antiphons mixed with lamentations would indeed resound in that choir, and the wailing of the Normans would make the heavens resound. The clergy would pour forth funereal songs all along the foot-paths, and there would be an unbearable wailing throughout every habitation. A multitude would stand, wailing, at every cross-roads in the Norman region, and would fill the ears of passers-by with doleful cries.
       For his body, surrounded by a great crowd and defended by a great retinue, would be carried to the tomb, and troops of psalm-singers would precede it, a host of common people would continually wail, and the disordered, inarticulate cries of the populace would resound. And no one could even discern how the clergy or the multitude was making noise for all the cries of the wailers! Indeed, the bier kept being held back, and pulled back, by the crowd so that the tomb would not be closed, and so that the body would remain for some time in the open air, whereby they might satisfy their desire. At length, the mourning crowd is wrenched apart and the body is (with difficulty) seized by the bishops and by the relatively courageous and is transferred, with great wailing, to the tomb and at once covered with a large stone.
       On the following day, when count Rodulf opened the tomb, a prodigious fragrance flowed out from it, overwhelming him with the perfume of opobalsam; he found all his limbs blowing out their smell as though of one still alive: a perfume more agreeable than the fragrance of terebinth and balsam. Finally, they built above the tomb a chapel of astonishing beauty, marvelously connected to the larger basilica and there, wonderfully surrounded by pillars and by the tomb, he is revered, about to rise again in glory with Christ. For, completing the course of this fragile life, the great duke Richard died in the year 1002 from the Incarnation of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
       Truly, who had a breast so iron and so stolid and so stony that he did not burst out weeping when the bier was being held back by the crowd due to their motivating grief, when it was being held up due to their ardent desire, when it was being pulled back due to their emotional love? Weeping, his comrades would clap their hands; wailing, his guards would together sing sorrowful psalms; weeping aloud, maidens and widows and wives would tear out their hair; moaning, residents of his household, both male and female, would buffet their breasts with blows; beating their breasts, his warriors would tear themselves to pieces; greatly-lamenting clerics would pour out tears along with the psalms; a mob of peasants and rustics would bite the earth with their own teeth; an assembly of the poor (deprived of such helping support) and the populace in general (pressing ominously against itself, it would send out diverse expressions of grief) would howl with pain; having cried out in diverse and various ways, each one would berate these great calamities; at length, once the crowd had been (with difficulty) broken up and cut through and wrenched apart by the bishops, and the bier had been placed upon the tomb, along with that body besprinkled with holy water amidst the perfume of incense, pouring out great groans they transferred the body to the sarcophagus and, keeping it in great honor, hastily occupied themselves with the large stone covering.
       The following day, count Rodulf, coming with the bishops to the sepulchral mound, plucking away the cover of the sarcophagus, and there flowed out towards you a perfume more agreeable than the fragrance of terebinth and balsam, blowing out the smell of those. Finally, they built above the tomb a chapel of astonishing beauty, marvelously connected to the larger basilica. And there, wonderfully surrounded by pillars and by the tomb, he is revered, about to rise again in glory with Christ for, completing the course of this fragile life, the great duke Richard died in the year 1002 from the Incarnation of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

O F‚camp, always plentifully furnished with sacred embers,
And preserving, as your ornament, in the bosom of your already-hallowed ground
The gleaming ashes of deserving saints,
You glitter profusely,in three ways, (note 1) with the endowment of salvation.
At one time you gleamed with a sacred virginal pedigree
When, from duke Ebroin, (note 2) filled with the malice of accursed deeds,
You guarded Leodegar, (note 3) deprived of eyesight and a sacred mute
And blind due to much lashing,
Yet here, through Christ's favor for that sanctified populace continually obeying Christ,
Glorified with plenteous speech!
With Gildeberta rightly (note 4) yielding to sacred law,
With the virginal pedigree removed from ever-changing hazards,
There grew up in you afterwards an active manly order,
Exerting itself, for a prolonged time, for Jesus Christ.
Now, you deservedly shine with a very lofty name and a life
Which is enclosed within strict, confined bounds:
It does not sail over level ground, it struggles always towards the steep.
This life, one and the same, is both apostolic and contemplative, (note 5)
Rejoycing, glad, in an everlasting private retreat.
Worthily bolstered by these three blessed orders,
You put before you the sacrosanct body (note 6) of bountiful Richard,
By whose prayers you will be purifed of every stain
And by whose worthy merits you will journey to heaven.
Behold, you possess the cast-off remains of him at whose birth you bloomed,
And by whose patronage you have been bolstered
And by whose bountiful, very lofty tribute you shall flourish.


O you who, with your guidance, dispose all things by right,
Binding the elements in a favorable, neighboring alliance
In so far as the rattling heat, joined to cold,
And the air, joined to the waters, yields under the mutual law.
We now dedicate deserved thanks and honors
To you, the Father with the Scion, likewise the Spirit,
Who grant polyform gifts to your own servants.
Everyone carries talents subject to the gain of some reward.
This one, keeping back his wares, diligently exercises
The five talents that were given to him.
He, having gained twofold profits by his active motives,
Now rejoices that he has indeed brought back double.
That one, the debtor of only one talent,
Which he hoarded in grimy pits, will be judged.
Indeed, as you dissipate the hazards facing everyone,
Let the former bring back rewards of glorified value.
This one, alas, whom the buried money of theft and fraud condemns,
Suffers, stuck into deep Stygian graves,
Dislodged from the ramparts of the peaceful hall,
Weeping bitterly for his neglected bodily openings, amidst deserved punishments.
Fearing that the punishment of hell might condemn me,
I would freeze, anxious, trembling because I made this.
Christ, the Norman land suddenly presses me to write
The official duties, the contests, of your warrior.
The weightiness of the subject matter, and the splendor of the                             labor,
My stolid heart, the barrenness of my dry tongue,
My character of cheap art and unskilled in any ability,
So many things would greatly terrify me, frozen before such things,
Both because every praise of God, for these knavish lips, is                                           rude,
And because I was not able to produce what I desired,
And because this man has gone away unpraised by songs,
Although he conferred every good on stolid me.
But your confidence, Christ, came present to me,
Whereby you were able easily to invigorate my mouth
And, having struggled, I pushed my stolid self forward into this work,
With you as a contributor, with you as my leader, with you as the author.
Thus do I, suppliant, now beseech you, king,
With heart, with voice, with suppliant mind, with all gathered force,
That it might be pleasing willingly to receive what it was pleasing to give.
Sinking down into avowed, refluent crimes,
I acknowledged that I was affected by a stolid man's                                                                                                   uncleannesses,
Forced to grind out various kinds of varied evil deeds
Into a wretched life; five decades whirl by
And a fear of the torturing Styx oppresses me,
For I remembered that I had done hardly anything good
And nothing useful in such an interval of time.
These things do not intoxicate me, they torment me to the depths of my conscience,
And they afflict, anguish, tear to pieces, lacerate me.
But you, Almighty, the true hope of our salvation,
The famed order of all things, whatever flourishes, whatever lies hidden,
Lift me up again, having fallen, and purge me of the filth of vice
King of kings, render me exempt from future fault
So that, clean, I might be able to make resound with you, God
(Whom your creation celebrates with connected boomings),
Whatever the land carries and whatever the heavens bore,
Whatever the watery deep and the plume-fluttering air
Cherished for diverse uses.
And since, in your Father's will, you will be the judge,
Giving torture to the reprobate and rewards to the upright,
From on high you shall see me, conquered, in my stinking habitation,
For tokens of remembrance promise me, alas!
That the right hand of the Nourishing One shall first transfer into the flock of lambs
Those whiter than me,
Whose fellow lamb is Quintinus, rightly known above the heavens,
Whose useless servant and slave I am.


1. F‚camp was originally a female monastic community, then a community of male canons, then a community of male Benedictine monks.

2. Mayor of the Palace of the Merovingian realm of Neustria, 658 - 673; +680.

3. Leodegar, bishop of Autun and political rival of Ebroin.

4. Reading the "just" of the manuscript as "juste."

5. In Greek.

6. In Greek.

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