De Lucerna Divinitus Accensa
The Miraculous Lighting of the Lamp
This episode does not form part of the original text of Vita I. It is lacking in some manuscripts; in others it has been added either in the margin, or inserted into the text at varying points. It is given here for the sake of completeness, and because it provided the basis for a popular story concerning the saint.
These events have been related faithfully in the order in which they occurred. However, to the end that the remarkable holiness of this outstanding and most saintly man may be conveyed even more gloriously to the notice of future generations, I do not consider that the following should be omitted – albeit not in due order.
Note then with amazement that one night, when Gengulph according to his usual custom was sleeping in the presence of the King,1 it fell to him to extinguish the lamp when his lord had fallen asleep. The lamp then, without anything lighting it, rekindled itself, arousing the King from his refreshing sleep. And when the King suddenly perceived that the flame had been rekindled he was amazed and felt his hair standing on end with fear.
Rising instantly from his bed, and standing ready lest the same thing should happen again, the King again extinguished the brightly burning light with his own hand and eventually went back to sleep. When he saw the extinguished lamp, by divine power, rekindle itself yet a third time, he swiftly arose to render praise and thanksgiving to God. With the utmost reverence he woke the most saintly man and, treating him with the greatest of respect, he said: ‘Truly it behoves me, O most worthy of men, to serve you as a saint of God and humbly to render you service with all due humility. Remember those apposite and scriptural words of commendation pronounced by our saviour Christ himself, when he said: ‘No one lights a lamp and places it under a bushel, but rather on a lampstand, that it may give light to all who are in the house!’2
This most blessed man Gengulph of whom we speak was himself a burning and a shining light.3 And it is not to be wondered at if this light, which burned spiritually with the love of Christ, should (so that miracles of divine power might be revealed to human experience) exhibit repeated manifestations of divine favour by miraculously rekindling the extinguished lamp without the help of human hand.
The King then was touched by the grace of this holy man, which shone upon him as a gift from Almighty God; and which we have briefly set forth, according to our small ability. And being a notable searcher out and promoter of virtue the King granted to this same most blessed man (as a soldier who had received a spiritual crown from God) freedom from those duties of military service which had previously occupied him – beyond anything he might chose to do of his own accord to maintain the laws which promote peace and other sacred causes.
And whilst he was saying this he saw Gengulph approaching him joyfully and in a most respectful manner, whereupon the King embraced him with an even greater respect and with the most heartfelt esteem.
Thus we should not only esteem those that we know to be ablaze with abundant merits and virtues but we should also respectfully strive to outdo them in serving God faithfully, in praising God with worthy praise, and in honouring him with spiritual offerings – for God is made glorious in his saints, and is blessed throughout all ages.
1 This arrangement has been generally been understood to mean that Pepin and Gengulph are sharing a tent on a military campaign. The text, however, does not explicitly restrict the circumstance to such an occasion.
2 Matt 5.15
3 John 5.35