GODRIC THE BUTCHER
One day, as was his custom, Alfune from the Priory
was visiting the butchers one by one,
asking them for gifts to feed the poor;
he decided to approach a man named Godric,
famed as very stern and niggardly of mind.
When Alfune saw that Godric would give nothing,
being moved by neither fear nor love of God,
nor any human sense of shame,
he prayed for Godric and his hardened heart
and broke out with these words:
‘Oh you unhappy man! I beg you, wretch,
to lay aside your stubbornness;
give me just one morsel of your meat
and I swear you’ll sell that heap before the others,
losing nothing by this act.’
Exasperated by the old man’s importunity,
Godric turned towards his cheapest heap;
he chose a single piece of meat
and flung it at the priest,
calling him a vagrant.
At once a citizen drew near,
wanting meat for all his family;
just as Alfune had predicted,
he bought that cheapest heap
and took it all away.
One day, towards evening, darkness at hand,
a light sent from heaven gleamed over the church
and remained for the space of an hour.
The sick lay prostrate, begging the mercy of God,
and calling on blessed Bartholomew.
The lamps glowed redly,
nor was God’s love far away.
For one man rejoiced with a cry of delight
at the cure of his aching head;
another man walked, a third heard again,
the limbs of a fourth healed of ulcers:
and all the people thundered praises to the saint.
There was in the congregation of the canons
one Hubert of distinguished birth,
advanced in years and wonderfully gentle.
In old age leaving all for Christ,
he had been admitted to the brethren
and directed all his zeal to loving God.
Once as he was praying at the altar
in the oratory which bore her name,
the Mother of Mercy appeared to him
and spoke to him with honeyed lips:
‘Here will I received the brethren’s prayers and vows,
for ever granting mercy and my blessing.’
©Virginia Rounding, 1996
First published in Awaiting an Epiphany