Getting to the end of Marie de France’s Life of Saint Audrey (c. 1200), I come across the following miracle:
” We are told a story of a good monk of the monastery of Ely who read the life of Saint Audrey which he found in a book. The life was written in English, and that delighted the monk. He found in it a wonderful miracle which he then related about the queen, Saint Audrey, who was first given to Tonbert, a duke of great valor esteemed of our Lord. Together they lived a good and holy life of chastity. One day the queen was in her chamber supervising the work that her servant girls were doing. The duke came in to speak with her about a certain matter. When he had disclosed it to her and asked her opinions, because she did not agree with him, he began to threaten her. The saintly virgin suffered this in silence and did not answer a single word. She remained humble and quiet, for she remembered the gospel which says that patience overcomes malice and calms great anger. As the virgin was reflecting and praying to God in her heart, she took the gloves off her hands and threw them in front of her husband. It happened that both gloves became suspended on a ray of sunlight and lay there quite still. The duke witnesses the miracle and all those who came with him also considered it a great miracle. The duke bitterly repented, acknowledging that he behaved badly. He duly cried for mercy from her, asking that she bear him no ill-will, and that she graciously forgive him and not be angry with him. Sweet and humbly the virgin forgave him. This anger I told you about did not come as the work of the Enemy but rather in order to show the glory of God and the victory of the virgin. However, the monk who read about this miracle in her life story did not believe it. The next night, when he lay down, Saint Audrey appeared to him and told him not to have any doubt or disbelief concerning the miracle that he found in the book. He accepted it as truth, for it was she herself, Saint Audrey, whom he had seen. The following morning the monk told all about it and made it known to the monastery. For this revelation they thanked God and His Name.” (McCash and Barban, p. 243,245)
Its a nice little layered miracle. Audrey’s demure, patient attitude is offset by throwing her gloves, like a gauntlet in challenge (p. 257), at Tondberht (and you dear reader). As the last miraculous episode in the 4625 line poem, Marie is challenging you to believe her and in St Audrey.
So back to the origins of the miracle, do we take Marie’s claim that it came from an English book seriously? It could be a ploy to get English approval, but given that she is writing in Old French, I doubt that was a major concern. She also claims all of her sources are Latin. McCash and Barban discuss three sources for the life: the life of Aethelthryth from the Liber Eliensis, de seconda translatione, and collection of miracles Miracula Sancta Etheldrede. Given that she sets this the first miracle of his last episode out separately as from an English book, it would seem not to have been from the Latin book of miracles. It is not found in the LE and has nothing to do with her translation(s). It is possible that she heard about the monk’s story from an oral source and never saw the English source herself. Has anyone heard of his miracle before (or one like it)?
June Hall McCash and Judith Clark Barban. 2006. The Life of Saint Audrey: A Text by Marie de France. McFarland.