THE LIFE OF SERVANUS.
THERE was a certain noble king in the land of Canaan by the name of Obeth, the son of Eliud; and the name of his wife was Alfa, the daughter of the King of Arabia. They lived together twenty years but had no offspring. Therefore they very frequently besought God and offered unto Him oblations and sacrifices that He would grant unto them a worthy child, in order that their reproach might be taken away. For this cause the King ordained through all His kingdom that all men from the least unto the greatest should fast three days and three nights and earnestly entreat the pity of God for the King and Queen, that the shame of sterility might be turned away from them. On the third night, at the last crowing of the cock, the angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to the King in a dream as he slept, saying: "Go to the city which is called Heliopolis and in it thou shalt find a very beautiful fountain and in it bathe three times. Afterwards you shall have what you desire." And departing, they came to the aforesaid fountain and did according to the saying of the angel. And the Queen desiring an herb growing by the fountain, which is called mandragon, she ate of it. After she had eaten thereof her husband went in unto her and she conceived. On the following night the angel appeared unto the Queen comforting her, and saying: "Be not sad nor sorrowful, O Queen! for lo, thou bearest in thy womb two sons who shall excel in faith and works. The name of the one shall be Generatius; that is, Shining Gem, and he shall be a great king over all the land of the Canaanites. The name of the other shall be Malachias or Servanus. And after he has finished the course of this secular life, these names will prove to have suited him well. For Malachias being interpreted is Angel of the Lord. This is a fit name for him, in that he lived as the ambassador of the Apostolic see, proclaiming the Word of God to the four quarters of the world. But he is called Servanus from serving God, in that he served our Lord Jesus Christ, labouring in every good work night and day." After saying these words the angel departed, and the Queen awoke and told her husband the words of the angel. Both therefore rejoiced and gave great thanks to God.
AFTER the boy was born he was taken to the Bishop of the city of Alexandria, Mayonius by name, to be baptized by him. The Bishop baptized him and gave him the name Servanus. Blessed Servanus was accordingly nurtured seven years; and his father died. Now when his father was dead, they conferred upon him the government of the whole of their kingdom. But he, cleaving to God from his youth, opposed all their wishes; and his brother Generatius reigned in his stead. Now S. Servanus went to the city of Alexandria to devote himself there to divine study and to learn the arts. And there he remained thirteen years and received the habit of a monk from the bishop of that city. After thirty years, he was earnestly advised by the aforenamed Bishop that he ought to be promoted to sacred orders, inasmuch as he was deserving. Accordingly he was advanced to the order of the priesthood, though unwilling and gainsaying. Now after he was ordained he came into his own land, and all the Canaanites elected him with great joy to the bishopric. That bishopric he ruled in peace for twenty years, building monasteries and churches in it, and serving God day and night. Then the angel of the Lord came to him, saying: "Thou art commanded by the Lord God to go out and depart from thy country and from thy kindred." Blessed Servanus answered: "Freely will I go, but I know not whither my Lord desires me to go." The angel on this said to blessed Servanus: "I will be with thee withersoever thou goest, delivering thee from every temptation of the devil; and I will be they companion, prospering the way of thy journey on sea and on land, from this day until the day of the dissolution of thy body." Then S. Servanus took leave of all the clerics and laity of his see and of his kindred and friends, and blessed them. But they, lamenting his departure, earnestly besought him that he would not send them away desolate. But he, heeding not their tears and prayers, took his journey with a great multitude of companions, the angel guiding him.
S. SERVANUS, afterwards, with fifty and ten thousand, came to the bank of the river Nile, and with all his company he safely crossed the river. Next, he arrived with them at the shore of the Red Sea, and they all crossed that sea with dry feet. Then after two months he came to the city of Jerusalem, and was there the honourable patriarch for seven years, in the place of James the Bishop, patriarch of the people of Jerusalem. Now, on a certain day the Angel said to S. Servanus; "Ascend Mount Sion, and go round about it." S. Servanus ascended Mount Sion and went round about it. There was shown to him the tree from which the health-bringing Cross of Christ was hewn. Then the Angel said unto him:- "Cut from this tree four staves and carry them away with thee, and they shall be held in great virtue and reverence after you." At the voice of the Angel S. Servanus cut three staves. But the wood for a larger staff the Angel himself cut off and handed it to S. Servanus, and entrusted it to him. Thereafter the Saint held and preserved this staff in the greater honour and reverence. After these things he returned to Jerusalem with joy. And there the Angel said to him:- "It is time to leave this city and to go to the city of Constantinople, for this place is near to thy country and kindred." Blessed Servanus therefore arose and blessed all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, taking leave of them. After this he came to Constantinople with all the multitude of his companions, and was there honourably entertained for three years. Then being warned by the same Angel, he came to the land and to the island of Salvatoris. Now the island is called Salvatoris because in it our Saviour graciously came to us. Afterwards he came to Rome with a very great company. And the Romans learning his fame, which was noised abroad through all the countries and regions round about, received him with great honour. Now in these days the Romans were without a Pope and without a teacher. But the assembly of the clergy and people of Rome chose him to the Apostolate. And he was thus in the chair of Peter, ruling and teaching the Roman people, and doing signs and wonders seven years.
THE Angel of the Lord speaks with S. Servanus, saying, "Thy God commandeth thee to go out from this place, for it is too pleasant for thee to be here." Then Blessed Servanus addressed the Roman clergy and people, saying:- "Men, brethren, I take leave of you all and leave you all my benediction. For it behoves me, being warned of the Lord, to go into distant parts and to obey the Lord Jesus Christ in all things." On hearing this all the Romans were greatly displeased, for all the Roman people were of one mind to go with him, because they greatly loved a man so glorious in doctrine, manner and nobility. For they would rather endure hardness and privation in wandering through the world with him than be deprived of his presence and mellifluous doctrine. Nevertheless, he departed from the city of Rome with a great multitude of clergy and of the people, both men and women, sorrowing greatly over his departure, and came to the Hill of Tears. Blessed Servanus stood in this place, and turning to the people, said: "Men, brethren, and people beloved of God, grieve not over my departure nor be sorrowful, but divide yourselves into two companies; let one remain here at Rome; let the other lay aside all worldly care and follow me in this pilgrimage; for those who remain and for those who come with us I will pray God that He Himself may be with you, pardoning all your sins, and that He may have mercy upon us." All responded, "Amen." And the companies were separated and he blessed them with tears, and kissing them, said:- "Farewell, and abide in Christ."
NOW after Blessed Servanus with all his company ascends the Alps, he comes to the valley which is called Nigra, or the Valley of the Beasts. And because Servanus knew that during that night he would be tempted by the devil, he passed the night in that valley. Then the angel said to the blessed man: "I make known to thee the pains which thou and all thine are about to suffer this night." And he said to him: "Comfort the crowds, and say to them that when the pains and torments of this night are passed, they will no more suffer the pains of hell." After this the angel departed, and S. Servanus came to the crowd, and comforting them, said: "Strengthen yourselves, and be ready to endure the pains which will this night come upon you." He set a verse before them as an example of prophecy, viz: "Thou shalt tread on the asp, and the basilisk and the lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under foot." That is, You shall all, if you persevere in the faith of the Holy Trinity, tread on the asp and the basilisk, that is, on the devil and his pomps, and nothing shall harm you. Then the Saint said: "Eat and prepare yourselves for the coming wars." Now when they had finished eating and had repeated the verse, immediately there came a most black thick darkness over the valley in which they were. Then there came great earthquakes, thunders and lightnings, hail and sulphurous fires; and divers kinds of beasts, two-footed and four-footed, filled the valley round about them. Then came gnats having horny beaks, dragons, winged serpents, and every torment which the Prince of Darkness can show to man. When they saw all these things, a great part of the crowd died. But S. Servanus, seeing that his companions were unable to endure these things, arose and blessed the valley, when all vanished and returned to nothing, and did no more hurt to any one. Then S. Servanus came with seven thousand thousands to the Ictean Sea which separates England from France, and they crossed it dry-shod. Thus God granted them a way and support on the sea. And afterwards he went from place to place until he came to the stream that is called the Forth. Now S. Edhennanus (Adamnan) was abbot in Scotland at that time, and he went to meet Servanus as far as the island of Keth (Inchkeith), and received him with great veneration because he had heard much good concerning him. When the space of one night was passed there, and after a time which it pleased them to enjoy in sweet conversation, S. Servanus said: "How shall I dispose of my household and companions?" S. Adamnan replied: "Let them dwell in the land of Fife and from the sea of the Britains as far as the mountain which is called Okhel." And so it was done.
AFTERWARDS S. Servanus, with only a hundred companions in his train, came to Kinel, and threw the branch which he held across the sea, and from it there grew an apple tree, which among the moderns is called Monglas. Then the Angel said to the blessed man: "There where that very beautiful tree has grown shall be the resting place of thy body." S. Servanus then came to the place which is called Culenros (Culross), desiring to dwell there, and cleared away all the thorns and thickets which abounded in the place. But the King of Scotia, namely, Brude, son of Dagart, who then held the kingdom of the Picts, was greatly enraged because without his permission he was dwelling there. Now the King sent his spearmen to slay S. Servanus with his whole household. Meanwhile a violent disease had attacked the King so that he had well nigh given up the ghost. He therefore hastily sent to the Saint of the Lord. The sick King spoke to the Saint as he came, saying: "O Saint of God, for the sake of Christ in whom thou believest, restore me to health and thou shalt have the place in which you dwell as a perpetual gift." The Saint, moved with the prayers and piety of the King, restored him to health. S. Servanus after this founded and dedicated a cemetery and his own Church in Culenros. The time there being fulfilled, he went to the island of Leven, that he might speak with S. Adamnan in person. Now S. Adamnan joyfully received the blessed man with honour, and thinking that he was seeking a place suitable for his religion, yielded that island to him as a gift of good will. Servanus therefore abode in it seven years, founded a monastery, and won many souls. Thence departing, he traversed and went round all the region of Fife, raising divers divine edifices to the Most High Creator.
ON a certain occasion S. Servanus was in the cave at Dysart, and a certain brother, a monk, who was with him and was sick, desired a drink of wine and could not get one. Then Blessed Servanus took water from the fountain which is there and blessed it and changed the water into wine, and the sick man was healed. Moreover in that cave when S. Servanus was lying upon his couch after matins, the devil came to him, tempting him and disputing with him. And he said to him, "Art thou a wise cleric, Servanus?" "What wishest thou O most miserable of all creatures?" The devil said: "I wish to dispute with thee and to question thee a little?" S. Servanus said: "Begin thou miserable wretch, begin." Satan asked him: "Where was God before He created the heavens and the earth, and before all the creatures were made?" Blessed Servanus said to him: "In Himself: for He is not local, and is held by no place, neither is He divided, nor subject to the motions of time, but is whole everywhere." And the devil said: "Why did God create creatures?" The Saint said: "Because there cannot be a Creator without creatures." "Wherefore did He make them very good?" To this the Saint replied: "Because God did not wish to do evil, or lest He should seem envious by being unwilling that aught should be good except Himself." The devil said: "Where did God form Adam?" The Saint said: "In Hebron." Satan said: "Where was he afterwards cast out from Paradise?" The Saint said: "Where he was formed." Satan said: How long was he in Paradise after he had sinned?" The Saint replied: "Only seven hours." Satan said: "Why did God permit Adam and Eve to sin in Paradise?" To this the Saint replied: "Because God foresaw what great thing would come thereof. For Christ had not been born according to the flesh, had not Adam and Eve sinned." Satan said: "Why could not Adam and Eve be set free of themselves?" Servanus to this replied: "Because they did not fall of themselves, but through another, that is through the Devil persuading them. Therefore by another, that is Christ, born of their own stock were they set free." "Why did not God make a new man and send him to deliver the human race?" The Saint said: "Because he would not have pertained to us unless he had been of the race of Adam." "Why are you men delivered by the Passion of Christ, and not we demons?" "Because we have not the origin of our fall in ourselves, but from you demons? But as for you demons, because you are not of a fragile nature nor desire to repent and have contracted the origin of sin in yourselves, the Passion of Christ does not avail for you." The Devil therefore seeing that he could do nothing against the true Saint, and being vanquished in the interrogation, said: "Thou art wise Servanus, and I can dispute no more with thee." Servanus responded: "Go thou wretched creature, go and quickly depart hence, and never more venture to appear in this place to any man." And that place in honour of the holy, holy, holy Servanus, has been sacred up to this present day.
MOREOVER, on a certain occasion blessed Servanus was at Tuligbotuan (Tillicoultry), and an evil spirit entered into a certain miserable man so that he had such a desire to eat, that he could in no wise be satisfied. S. Servanus placed his thumb in his mouth, and the devil crying out terribly came out of him and left him. On another occasion Blessed Servanus was in the same place, and a certain poor little woman brought forth two dead sons there, and bore them to blessed Servanus, and with tears besought him to restore them to life for her. But the Saint prostrated himself on the ground, and entreated our Lord God to look upon this woman, and in love to restore to her her offspring alive. Accordingly, God hearkened unto the prayer of the holy man, and restored to the mother both her children alive. On another night the same Saint was at Alva, being entertained by a certain poor peasant who had no substance, except one pig, which he killed that night for the holy man, and when he rose on the morrow, he found it alive in his yard. At another time there was a man in Aitheren who had a sheep which he loved and nourished in his house. But a thief coming stealthily stole it away from him. Now the ram was sought through the whole parish, and was not found, and lo! when the thief was brought into the presence of the blessed man and interrogated by the Saint whether he was guilty of the crime laid to his charge, he affirmed on oath that he was not. And beginning again to swear by the staff of the holy man, the wether bleated in his bowels. And the wretch confessed his sin, and asked and received pardon from S. Servanus.
At the time when the Saint was in the cell at Dunning, it was told him that a dragon great and terrible and very loathesome, whose look no mortal could endure, had come into his city. The Saint went out to meet it, and taking his staff in his right hand, fought with the dragon in a certain valley and slew it. From that day that valley is called the Dragon's Den. After these things there came to Blessed Servanus from the Alps three blind men and three lame men and three deaf men, who had been told that if they came to Blessed Servanus in Scotland, they would be healed. Therefore when they came they addressed the holy man, saluting him, and revealed to him the reason of their great labour and journey, and earnestly besought him to cure them of their infirmities. But the holy man, fearing that they said these things for the purpose of tempting him, spoke to them saying: "Men, brethren, think you I am God, or do you tempt me beyond what you see in me when you ask this great thing from me that I should heal you?" But they, prostrating themselves at his feet and bursting into tears, said with an oath: "No, lord father, no; but we believe that thy prayers and petitions avail much with God, and that we can obtain health through thee from the great Creator." Blessed Servanus, therefore, hearing their faith, blessed a certain fountain, and made them wash in it three times. And they, coming out thence, were made sound through the merit of the holy man. And thus the most holy Servanus gave sight to the blind, the power of walking to the lame, and hearing to the deaf. To these and to many others suffering divers kinds of diseases, he, through the power of God, gave and furnished health. Afterwards this Saint, beloved brethren, was assailed by a grievous infirmity, and was held down by the virulence of fever, and called all his brethren and announced to them that the day of his dissolution was near. Then the brethren wept much, and continuing instant in prayer to God for him, responded: "Why dost thou desert us, O Father? or to whom wilt thou leave us desolate ones? For we would rather die with thee than live in the world without thee." But the holy man, after many miracles, after divers works, after founding many churches in Christ, when he had bestowed peace on the brethren, in the cell at Dunning, on the first day of the Kalends of July, gradually yielded up his spirit and commended it to the Great Creator. After his death his disciples and well nigh all the people of the whole province conveyed his corpse to Culross. And there, with psalms and hymns and chantings, they interred him honourably, where his merits and the virtues of his merits flourish unto this day, to the praise and honour of Almighty God, who in the perfect Trinity liveth and reigneth for ever and ever. Amen.