Posted by: anna | February 5, 2010

St Maimbod

Today (23 January) we commemorate St. Maimbod, Martyr. There is a brief account with list of sources on the excellent celt-saints, but today for a change I have found a short Life on a Norwegian site – translation by Google, tweaked by me:

‘The Holy Maimbod (Mainboeuf; lat: Maimbodus) was an Irish missionary who traveled to the continent on “the journey of Christ’s love’s sake” (Peregrinatio pro Dei amore). Hordes of these Irish monks poured into what is now France and more widely on the continent in ever increasing numbers, mainly in the wake of the holy Columba, and were to be the most important religious and cultural influence in the future Carolingian Empire. Their primary purpose was of a more ascetic than missionary nature: they sought penance by following the call of Abraham to leave their homeland. It seems that to give up that which is dearest to them has always had a special appeal for the Irish people . These wandering missionaries founded monasteries and eventually became preachers.

‘Legend has it that Maimbod journeyed on pilgrimage to many burial places of saints, and as he went, he spread the faith in northern Italy and in Gaul. In Burgundy a nobleman gave him hospitality and tried unsuccessfully to induce him to settle there. When Maimbod went on, the nobleman gave him a pair of gloves as a reminder to pray for him.

‘He was praying in the church of Domnipetra by Kaltenbrunn in Alsace, thirteen miles from Besançon, when some heathen robbers attacked him and killed him because they thought he had money since he wore gloves. This was the 23 January around 880. Another variant of the story relates that he was killed by a group of pagans when he attempted to convert them. ‘


I see that this is in fact just a translation into Norwegian of Butler’s Lives of the Saints, online (not complete) here. So the above is a back translation… Here is a bit more from Brigid at Under the Oak.

The ill-fated gloves are certainly worth a pause for thought. The wandering missionaries usually tried to take nothing with them, certainly no luxuries such as gloves, but a gift offered as a prayer reminder could hardly be refused ungraciously. What a gift! I wonder if the donor ever heard about the consequence. And yet they were the catalyst for his martyrdom, and perhaps to him that was a good thing. I find it difficult to think of anyone’s being killed for their faith as in any way a good thing, or something to be wished. It usually requires someone else to commit murder. ‘Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints’ but after all these centuries, bloodshed in the name of religion is still happening and still wrong. And there can be misappropriation of martyrdoms. I am not saying this has happened with Maimbod, not at all, but there is the question: did Maimbod die for his faith or his gloves? Can they be separated? This is the only detail we are given from this man’s life. Why? A question to ponder in prayer (thanks, Elizabeth!)

Holy St Maimbod, pray to God for us.


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