Charles Taylour’s 1688 booklet recording his strange adventure and the St. Edward’s University yearbook, The Tower, from which the Westminster Abbey artwork which illustrates this story was taken, inspired my research associated with St. Edward and the school colors. The two photographs shown here of, The Tower, and a Brother at the stained glass doors at St. Edwards University were also taken from this same 1966 Yearbook.
Had my neighbor, whose son went to St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, not offered them to me, before he discarded them, none of this research would have taken place. So I can relate to Charles Taylour and the happenstance way he was introduced to the Gold Crucifix and Chain. I was brousing the Notre Dame Library stacks looking for a book about its same size which I knew was stored on a particular shelf on the same floor. In reaching for Taylour’s 1688 booklet, instead, I discovered a rare book I would never have found otherwise.
It not only tied into the research I was doing about Mary and the School Colors, it also sent me on an unexpected archival adventure. Finding this ancient book mysteriously forgotten in the Notre Library stacks prompted me to dig deeper than I might have to research St. Edward the Confessor, as well. He was not only Father Sorin’s Patron Saint but also his inspiration in naming the second university he founded, St. Edward’s University. It has been called, The Notre Dame of the South ever since.
When Sorin was alive, the Feast Day of St. Edward the Confessor, October 13, was always a very special day, especially for the religious at Notre Dame. A statue of St. Edward resides in front of St. Edward’s Hall on the Notre Dame campus, former home of the minims, the grade school boys who attended Notre Dame.
Note: The transcription of the story that follows was done as closely to the original as possible. All spelling, italics, capitalizations, and bold phrases and names (printed in Old English font) are also -- as much as is possible -- exactly as they were in the original. The last word at the end of each page, which is repeated as the first word on the next page -- which must have been the style at the time -- was on the right margin in the original and each paragraph was indented. If you take particular notice of the cover of the book, below, you will also see the Ss looks like Fs. Spelling was also very different then, which made it quite a challenge to transcribe.
There are only three copies of this rare 1688 book in the world. If you would like to see the original, it may be viewed at Rare Books and Special Collections located in the concourse of the Hesburgh Library on the University of Notre Dame campus. -- DVC
Next to my Fathers Serving your Most Sacred Majestyies Royal Father of Glorious Memory, in the quality of Cornet of Horse in Sr William Courtneys Regiment, in all his Wars against his Enemies, and breeding up his Children in Principles of Unshaken Loyalty. I cannot but esteem it a great part of my good Fortune to have been made the happy Instrument of preserving so Holy and Sacred a Treasure, as the Crucifix and Gold-Chain of St. Edward the Confessor seem to be:
And the having an Opportunity of laying them at your Majesties feet. And whereas your Majesty was then pleased to accept the same with some kind of satisfaction, so I humbly beseech your most Sacred Majesty to pardon this presumption of giving your Majesty the trouble of a further account of that Action, then at that present I could recollect or call to mind, and that the Memory thereof may not be lost to Posterity; which is the humble request of,
So many and so various have been the Relations and Reports, concerning the finding and disposing of the Crucifix and Gold Chain of St. Edward the King and Confessor, and those so fabulous and uncertain withall; That in Honour to Truth, to disabuse the misinform’d World, and to satisfy the curiosity as well as importunity of my Friends, I think my self under an
Obligation to set forth this plain Narrative of the matter of Fact, from whom all others (tho never so Erroenous) pretend to have it. In order thereunto (to avoid confusion, prolixity, and what is worse, Tedious Prembles, and digressions) I shall take this short Method to perform it.
In the first place, I shall give an account of some things previous (or what went before) in order to the discovery.
Secondly, the description of the place it fell from whence these things were taken.
Thirdly, the manner of finding and securing the same, the disposing thereof, and presenting them to his present Majesty.
Fourthly, an Exact description of the said Crucifix and Chain with other dependencies thereon.
And lastly, Some material Remarks, and Historical Observations on the whole. For the first, you are to understand that behind the High-Altar or back of the Communion-Table, in the Abby Church of St. Peters Westminster there are two doors, one on the right
and the other on the left hand, and both leading into a small Chappel, Dedicated to St. Edward the King and Confessor, and till this day known by that name tho’ sometimes (by reason many Kings and Queens of this Realm have been Interr’d therein ) call’d the Chappel of the Kings. Into this Chappel and thorough [sic] one of those doors it is that when the Solemnity of our Kings and Queens Inaugurations or Coronations are perform’d in this Church, that they withdraw after the Unction, Benediction, and other Ceremonies are passed at the High-Altar, where they not only repose themselves for a time, but are dismantled of their former Princely Robes and Accoutrements, to be re-invested with more Noble, more Stately, and those of greater Grandeur and Magnificence: The Arch-Bishop of Canterbury, the Lord, High-Chamberlain of England, and the Dean of Westminister, officiating; on which occasion several Boards, Scaffolding, Traverses, Tables, and other cumbersome material are there set up, covered and adorned with costly Tapestry and other rich furniture;
All which (as heretofore) was likewise performed at the Solemn and Happy Coronation of our Royal Sovereign his present Majesty King James the Second, and his most excellent Comfort our Gracious Queen Mary, whom God grant long and happily to Reign here, and Eternally in Glory hereafter.
In the midst of the aforesaid Chappel of St. Edward there is a very loftly and Noble Tomb still remaining, built after the manner of a Shrine, and for which intent it was erected by King Henry the Third. The Base (placed on a very curious floor, inlade with all sorts of fine coloured Agats and Marbles) raises it self about Six or Seven foot front the Pavement, supported at each corner by twisted or Serpentine Pillars, and the whole Composure of Mosaick Work. (Tho’ of late much injured and defaced by picking out the coloured Glass and Stones) On the North and South-side hereof are three Niches or Arches, with one at the East-end, so ordered and contrived that the Sick and Infirm might here repose without
offence or injury to each other: On this, as a pedestal, (for it is solid throughout) was a more Sumptuous Cabinet or Repository made of Wainscot hollow within, (and formerly covered with plates of Gold and Silver with-out) but at present nothing remains but the Wooden-frame or Casket only. Within this Hollow place or Caverne then it was that I have often observed (by the help of a Ladder) something resembling a Coffin made of sound, firm, and strong Wood, and bound about with bands of Iron and during the Eighteen years I have belonged to the Quire of this Church, it was a common Tradition among us that therein were deposited the Body or Remains of Holy King Edward the Confessor.
Now it happen’d not long after the Coronation of their Present Majesties, that the aforesaid Coffin or Chest was found to be broke, and an hole made upon the upper Lid thereof, over against the Right Breast, about six inches long and four broad, some esteeming it an Accident (thro’ the Carelessness and Neglect of the Work-
men in removing the Scaffolds) others thought it done out of Design; but be it the one or the other thus it continued for almost seven Weeks, and often viewed by divers of the Church before it was my good Fortune to go thither; when (on St. Barnaby’s Day, In the Year of our Lords Incarnation One Thousand and Six Hundred Eighty and Five) I met with two Friends, (between Eleven and Twelve of the Clock after Morning Service) who told me they were going to see the Tombs, so I went along with them, Informing them that there was a Report that the Coffin of St. Edward the King and Confessor was broke; and coming to the place, I was desirous to be satisfied of the Truth thereof: In order thereunto, I fetched a Ladder, lookt upon the Coffin, and found all things answerable to the Report; And putting my hand into the hole and turning the Bones (which I felt there) I drew from underneath the Shoulder Bones a Crucifix richly adorned and enamelled, and a Gold Chain of four and twenty Inches long, unto which it was affixed, the which I immediately shew’d
to my two Friends, they being as much surprised and equally admired the same as myself. But I was afraid to take them away with me, ‘till such time I had acquainted the Dean, as the Governour and Chief Director of our Church; And thereupon I put them into the Coffin again, with a full Resolution to inform him. But the Dean not being to be spoke with at that time, and fearing this Holy Treasure might be taken thence by some other Persons, and so concealed by converting it to their own use, I went (about two or three hours after) to one of the Quire, and acquainted him with what I had found, who immediately accompanied me back to the Monument, and from whence I again drew the aforesaid Crucifix and Chain ‘and shew’d them him who beheld them with admiration, presently advising me to keep them ‘till I should gain an opportunity to shew them to the Bishop of Rochester our Dean; so I kept them for the space of three Weeks and five days, as having no opportunity in all that time to speak with him, by reason of his
uncertain residence, being often in the Country, and when in Town so taken up with the affairs of Parliament that I was not willing to disturb him; In the mean time, hearing that his Grace John (late Lord Arch-Bishop of York, and my ever honoured good Lord) was come to Town, I went to pay my Duty and Respects to him and shew’d him the Crucifix and Chain, who looked upon them as great pieces of Antiquity, (for so he was pleased to call them) shewing them with admiration to the rest of his Family, and ordered me to wait upon him the next Morning, for he designed that I should go along with him to Lambeth House, that his Grace of Canterbury might have a sight thereof: Accordingly my Lord Arch-Bishop of York carried me thither, and when I had produced them, and his Grace had well viewed and perused them, he express’d the like conceptions of them as my Lord of York had done before, Viz. That the whole was a very great piece of Antiquity. After this (having these things so long by me) I procured an able
Master in Drawing and Limning, to take an exact draught thereof, according to the full dimensions with the Reverse, Figures, and other adornments, the which I have now by me. About the same time that Industrious and Judicious Antiquary Sir William Dugdale, Late Garter Prinicipal King at Arms, was pleased to give me a visit, and told me how his Grace the Lord Arch-Bishop of Canterbury had inform’d him of a great Rarity I had in my possession, and named it, desiring more-over that he might have a sight thereof , with whose request I willingly complied, telling me likewise that he would have some remarques thereon:
On the Sixth day of July following, My Lord Bishop of Rochester, and Dean of Westminister, dining at his Grace the Lord Arch-Bishop of Canterbury; His Grace was pleased to declare to his Lordship what he had seen, concerning these Things; and to inform him how they were still in my Possession, so that upon his Lordships return to the Abby that afternoon about four of the Clock; I was sent
for, who immediately took me along with him to Whitehall, that I might present this Sacred Treasure to the King; and being no sooner introduced into his Majesties Closet, (where I had the Honour to Kiss his Royal Hand) but upon my knees I delivered them with my own hands to him; which his Most Sacred Majesty was pleased to accept with much Satisfaction, and having given him a further account how the remains of the body of the Holy King was; and opened the Cross in his presence, I withdrew, leaving them safe as being now in his Royal possession.
At the time, when I took out of the Coffin the aforesaid Cross and Chain, I drew the Head to the hole, and view’d it, being very sound and firm, with the upper and nether Jaws whole and full of Teeth, with a list of Gold above an Inch broad in the nature of a Coronet, surrounding the Temples: There was also in the Coffin white-Linnen, and Gold-colour’d flowr’d-silk, that look’t indifferent fresh, but the least stress,
put thereto shew’d it was well nigh perish’t; There were all his Bones, and much dust likewise, all which I left as I found, taking only thence along with me the Crucifix and Gold-Chain. His Majesty was pleased soon after this discovery, to send to the Abby, to take care that no damage were done to the Coffin, and ordered it to be inclosed in a new one, of an Extraordinary strength and goodness, each planck being two Inches thin, and joyn’d together with large Iron wedges, where it now remains as a Testimony of his Pious Care that no abuse might be offered to those Sacred Ashes.
To set forth these Things in the proper colours, and to describe the same, so that the Eye of the mind may be brought down to have a just apprehension of them, I will not, with my weak Judgment, pretend to undertake: Yet having them so long in my possession, and viewing them so often with delight, I will endeavour what I can to give you the description of them. For the Chain, it was four and twenty Inches long, compleat, all of
pure Gold, the Links oblong, and Curiously Wrought: The upper part whereof (to lye in the Nape of the Neck) was joined together by a Locket, Composed of a large round Nobb of Gold, Massy, and in Circumference as big as a Mild-shilling, and half an Inch thick: Round this went a Wyer, and on the Wyer about half a dozen little Beads, hanging loose, and running too and again, on the same all of pure Gold, and finely wrought. On each side of the Lockett were set two large square red Stones (supposed to be Rubies.) From each side of this Lockett, fixed to two Rings of Gold the Chain descends, and meeting below, passes thro’ a square piece of Gold of a convenient bigness, made hollow for the same purpose; This Gold wrought into several Angles was painted with divers Colours, resembling so many Gemms or precious Stones, and to which the Crucifix was joined, yet to be taken off (by the help of a Screw) at pleasure. For the Form of the Cross, it comes nighest to that of an Humettee flory among the Heraulds, or rather
the Botony, yet the pieces here are not of equal length, the direct or perpendicular beam being nigh one fourth part longer than the traverse, as being four Inches to the extremities, whilst the other scarce exceeds Three: yet all of them neatly turn’d at the ends, and the Botons Enamelled with Figures thereon. The Cross it self is of the same Gold with the Chain, but then it exceeds it by its rich enamell, having on one side the Picture of our Saviour Jesus Christ in his Passion wrought thereon, and an eye from above casting a kind of beams upon him: whilst on the reverse of the same Cross is Pictured a Benedictine Monk in his habit, and on each side of him these Capital Roman Letters: on the right limb thus,
This Cross is hollow, and to be opened by two little Screws toward the top, wherein it is presumed some Relique might have been conserved. Thee whole being a piece not only of great Antiquity, but of admirable Curiosity. And I look upon this Accident as a great part of my good Fortune, to be made the mean Instrument of their discovery and preservation.
For Remarques upon the foregoing relation I shall offer but two to your consideration: First some Observations concerning the time when these Holy Things were first found, and when delivered to his present Majesty: And Secondly, how this discovery agrees with Antiquity and those who have writ concerning the Deposition, Interment, and Translation of this Saints Body, together with the reason of his Canonization, and rebuilding the Monastery and Abby Church of St. Peters Westminster. For which last Observations, I must here own my self indebted to my very worthy Friend Mr. Hen. Keepe, who was pleased to favour me so
far as to oblige me with this short abstract from his large History of this Abby’s Memoires.
For the first it is highly remarkable, that it should happen on that day whereon the late Rebellion began in the West, and much about the Same Hour in the afternoon when they landed, that I secured them, being on the Eleventh day of June and Thursday in Whitson-weeek. But much more Observable were the delivery of them to his Majesty: it being at a time, and on a day when all people stood in suspense how that great point would be decided, when (as a most happy Omen and Forerunner of the Good News which came within few hours after, that his Majesties Forces had gain’d an entire victory over his Enemies) I humbly presented the same to his most Sacred Majesty, being on the Sixth day of July following: notwithstanding I had endeavoured to have done it before; but through severall unexpected interruptions, was disappointed of my intent till then: So that Heaven Seems more to have had the conduct
thereof then bare chance or casualty.
As for this Holy, and Religious King Edward the Confessor, he was the Seventh Son of King Etheldred, by Emma his Second Wife, Daughter of Richard the Second, Duke of Normandy: And during the Invasion and Possession of this Land, by the Cruel and Inhumane Danes, he together with his Brethren were conveighed by their Mother into Normandy, and there remain’d until their Tyranny and Oppression were over-passed: During which space (all his Elder Brothers being dead, and the Danes at length utterly destroyed or expell’d the Kingdom) He was by the Unanimous and Joynt consent of the Nobility and Gentry of this Realm sent for, and Proclaimed their Lawfull King and Governor, suitable to the many Prophesies and Revelations declared heretofore concerning him. Coming therefore (according to the Exigence of the times) but with a small Retinue into England, he was Crown’d at Westminster, as some Authors have it (tho’ others say it was at Winchester) by Eadsius, Arch
Bishop of Canterbury, and Alfric Arch Bishop of York on Easter-day following, in the Year of our Lord God, One Thousand Forty and Three; Granting unto the said Abby of Westminster that from thenceforth whensoever himself, or any of his Successors, Kings of England, should wear their Royal Diadems in that Church, that the Precentor of the same, should receive, at the hands of the Kings Sheriff, half a Mark of Silver, and the Covent One hundred Simnells, or Wastel-Cakes of the finest Flower, together with Sixty four Gallons of the best Wine, in Commemoration thereof.
The King being thus placed on the Throne of his Ancestors in Peace, and recollecting what had passed in his former Exile, Two things more especially offered themselves to his consideration. First, how those Vows and Promises he had then made in case of his Restauration, might be performed to his Satisfaction; And Secondly, how such wholesome and binding Laws might be Instituted, as not only to secure the Freedom and Tranquillity
of his Subjects during his own time, but to future Ages. The last of these he committed to the care and prudence of his great Council to see Effected, which were so happily accomplished, that even to this day they bear the name of St. Edwards Laws; The basis and foundation whereon all our other Laws depend, and which the Princes of this Realm in their Coronation-Oaths oblige themselves to observe: As to his Vows some had respect to the publique, others more immediately related to himself. For what belonged to himself he presently performed upon his first ascending the Throne; But what concerned the Publique, took up further time of deliberation; among the rest he had Solemnly undertook, that as soon as he had settled his Kingdom in peace, to Visit the Holy See, to go to Rome, to perform some set devotions at the stations in the City, and there to repose himself for a time. But this was found a matter of that Consequence (that notwithstanding his whole inclination and fixt resolution to effect it) yet at length he was over-per-
suaded by the entreaties of the Nobility, and Tears of his People to decline it, at least ‘till such time they might send to the then Bishop of Rome such Persons of Worth and Learning that might lay the Case, with all Inconveniences seriously before him, and to have his Resolution thereon: which was done; and that with such cogent Reasons and convincing Arguments, that the designed Journey was Dispensed with: Yet in lieu thereof, he was enjoined to bestow what Money he had laid up towards the Expence of that Voyage on the Poor, Miserable and Indigent; And moreover as a further Remembrance thereof, to Erect some New, or Repair some Old Church and Monastery to the Honour of St. Peter. All which the King most readily embraced, and immediately pitch’d upon the Restoring of the Monastery and Church of St. Peters Westminster. In Order thereunto he decimated all his Revenues, set Workmen to pull down the Old, and to erect a New Church (even from the Ground) in place thereof: re-
paired the Offices of the Ruined Abby, filled the same with Monks, and settled a competent Revenue to sustain them. But see the instability of Humane Affairs! No sooner was this work brought to perfection, and the day of Holy Innocents in the Year of our Lord On Thousand Sixty and Six, prefixed for the Solemn Dedication of the Church; But the King fell sick on Christmas-Day preceding, and growing worse and worse, on the day following he was scarce able to stay out the Solemnity of High-Mass; being led from thence to his Chamber, and taking his Bed, the next day his Life was despaired of; So that he made his Will, Received, and prepared himself for his departure: at the same time bestowing several Gifts and Rewards on certain Palmers or Pilgrims that came from far to see him; And to the Abbot of Westminster delivered the Ring (returned to him by St. John) to be perpetually preserved among the Reliques of the Church. The day following, tho’ very weak, he did his endeavour to be Assistant at the Pompous Dedica-
tion of his New Church; but Nature, now almost spent in him, deprived him of that Satisfaction: So that being in his Bed, he had no more strength left then to Sign his three Charters of Privileges, Donations, and Confirmations, which he bestowed thereon. And thus languishing ‘till two days after the Circumcision, he fell into a Trance, became Speechless, Motionless, and lying for dead untill the Eve of the Epiphany following when reviving again with the Chief of the Nobility about him, he began to declare what had been revealed to him concerning the future State of the Kingdom during the time of his Extasie; at the end of which Discourse, gently reposing his Head on his Pillow, he expired (after he had Reigned 23 Years, Six Months and 17 Days) to the Sorrowfull Lamentations of those that beheld him, and exceeding grief of all his Subjects, who soon after found his Predictions verified in the dismal effects of the War and Bloud-shed, which ensued.
All things are now preparing for his Fu
neral Rites, the Body washed and Embalmed with sweet scenting Odors, and Aromatique Spices; wrapped in White and Precious Linen, and those covered with Rich and Costly Vestments; a Coronet on his Head, a Crucifix on his Breast, and other Regal Ensigns of Majesty; all which, together with the Corps, were placed in a Stone Coffin made after the Fashion of those Elder Times, hollow within, according to the Shape of a Man, and Covered with a loose Lidd of the same Stone; which the day following his Exit, (vix. on the Epiphany of Feast of Kings) was Translated to his New Church, and there, according to his Desire before his Departure, it was deposited with all the Ceremonies and Grandeur sutuable to the Quality of the Person and the Occasion.
As this Holy and Religious Prince had, during his Life time, Cured many most Inveterate and Malignant Distempers, especially those who had any extraordinary Glandules, or hard Swellings in their Necks or Throats; so after his Death, People affected with the
like Diseases, coming to his Tomb, several received Benefit thereby. The Fame whereof, drew many to pay a kind of Inferiour Devotion to his Memory; Among the rest, that good Bishop of Worcester the Pious Wulftan was none of the least: And when William Surnamed the Conqueror took Possession of this Land, turning out the Old English to make way for his New Normans, having already made Lanfranc his Countryman Arch Bishop of Canterbury in the room of Stigand: and still placing some, and displacing others; having the Formality of a National Synod to Countenance and Confirm the same. This Wulftan was likewise Cited; where it was objected against him, That he was Illitterate, Insufficient, and Unworthy to bear so great and weighty a Charge as that of a Bishop; and with all, that he had mis-behaved himself therein; being admonished to resign up his Pastoral Staff, and Ring, and to leave the same to the Kings disposal. The Good Old Man, concerned at these Proceedings, took
upon him an unusual boldness and standing up, acknowledged that he was indeed unworthy so great Honour, unsought, and unlookt for by him; yet as for the discharge of his Duty therein, his behaviour had been such that no man with any Honesty or Justice could either tax or blemish, And whereas he had received those Ensigns of his Function from so Knowing and so Glorious a Prince as King Edward, he would deliver them to none but him.: And so departing the Council, came to his Masters Tomb, where he deposited his Crosier with the profoundest humility imaginable; expressing his Condition with much vehemency and concern; at last concluding, that it would please Almighty God so to make manifest his Innocence, that That Pastoral Staff might be delivered to none but those who were worthy of it. The Arch-Bishop, and Synod being enformed of all that passed, sent immediately for the Croysier: but he that came for it found it immoveable, the Truth whereof being suspected, a Learned and Grave
Bishop, Gumulfus of Rochester by Name was Deputed to ascertain the Truth, which likewise he Confirmed: At which, the King, his Nobles, the Popes Legat, the Arch-Bishops and Bishops, with others there assembled, admiring, all came to see the Wonder, the Arch-Bishop first attempting to displace it, but in vain; and after many fruitless endeavours of others, Wulftan was entreated by the King to attempt it; who no sooner toucht the Pastoral Ensign, but it fell as it were of it self into his hands. Upon which the King with all there present cast themselves at his feet, begg’d his excuse for the Injury they had done him, and that he would give them his Blessing: But the Good old Man, o’recome with such Condescention, likewise on his Knees, embraced the King, and the rest of the Company, and heartily forgave them. This was the occasion that William the Conqueror ever after bare so great a Veneration for his Kinsman and Predecessor; Insomuch that from thenceforth he Commanded the Coffin to be Inshrined, and that Shrine
shrine to be covered with Plates of Gold and Silver, and further Richly Adorned with Pearls and Precious Stones, which was remaining entire and undefaced in the time of Laurentious Abbot of Westminster, about one hundred Years after.
Six and thirty Years after this, when Gilbert Surnamed Gulpin was Abbot of Westminster, certain Discourses and Arguments arose among the Monks, concerning the Corruptabililty, or incorruption of this Kings Body: So that to satisfie their Curiosity, the Abbot was resolved upon an inspection: whereupon Gumulfus Bishop of Rochester, formerly mentioned, and now very Antient, with other Persons of great Credit and Gravity were invited: And coming with mighty expectations to the Tomb, the Shrine opened, and the upper Lidd of the Stone-Coffin removed, such a flagrant Odour proceeded from thence, that it scented the whole Church; they beheld the upper Vestments that covered the Body as fresh as if newly put on: the Hands, the Arms, the Joynts of the Fingers
and Toes, as plyant, and Supple, as but lately deprived of Life: the Flesh retaining a lively and beautifull Vigour as if animated again: But the Face being covered with an extraordinary Covering none would venture to uncover the same, until the grave Bishop of Rochester undertook it: And beginning below his Beard, which was long, and white as Snow, he proceeded to disclose the whole Visage, which was so shining and of so unusual a brightness, that they were all strook with admiration; wherefore with great reverence they cover’d it again; changing the former Vestments, and putting on others of equal price; Incensing the Corps, and laying on the cover, they all departed with great Satisfaction, seeing they found things so suitable to their desires and expectations.
In the Year 1163. Thomas of Beckett (afterwards St. Thomas) Arch-Bishop of Canterbury out of a peculiar devotion to this pious Princes memory by the Kings Intercession, and at his own Expence, procured of Pope Alexander, the Third his Canonization, which was Solemnized after this manner. The
Usuall Ceremonies having passed at Rome, and the Apostolick Letters returned by those who were sent to procure them; Laurentius, who was then Abbot of Westminster, received orders to convocate many reverend and venerable persons, as well Bishops, as Abbots; Noblemen, as others, to his Church of Westminster, and there publiquely to read the said Letters, or Breves to the assembly: he accordingly performed the same, to the well liking and rejoicing of all those who were present at their publication: But for as much as the Kings Affairs detained him at this time in Normandy, and his presence thought extremely necessary to the consummation of so grand a Ceremony as the Translation would be, it was deferred ‘till his arrival in England almost two years after, unto whom, the Arch-Bishop of Canterbury, the Abbot of Westminster, with some others applying themselves to know his Royall Pleasure therein; He at length wholly left the same to the Abbot of Westminster’s disposal, who being desirous (as Gilbert his predecessor had done) to see in
what condition the Sacred Body lay before he would venture to expose it to the publique, called together the Prior, with a select number of the Monks; who consulting thereon, came to this resolution: that no one should presume to be present at the sight thereof, but those who had beforehand prepared themselves by Fasting, Weeping and Prayer for such an occasion, and that they only should meet in the Church on the Eve before the Translation, with Tapers in their hands, Albs on their Bodies, and their feet to be all Naked and bare, and from thence to proceed in the Search according to their desires, which was done accordingly; the doors being first shut, and all others excluded from coming into the Church at that time, they went by way of Procession, to the Steps of the high Altar, Singing of Psalms, and reciting the Litanies, with Prayers made on purpose for that Action. The Abbot, Prior, and two of the Brethren, (leaving the rest at their devotions) approached the Tomb, and removing the upper Stone of the Coffin, they beheld (by the help of their lights) a man, lying in rich Vestments of Cloath of Gold, having on his feet Buskins of Purple,
Purple, and Shoes of great price, his Head and Face were covered with a Rich covering, Interwoven and wrought with Gold, with a Beard White and Long, inclining to Curl, and falling decently on his breast; which sight struck a profound reverence in the Spectators, who called the rest of their Brethren, whom they had left at the Altar, to behold the same: Their curiosity ended not here, but led them further, so that they began (with great Piety and Devotion) some to touch his Head, others his feet, and some his Hands, which they found without any manner of Corruption or Putrefaction. And such was the firmness of his Saints Body, that all parts seemed to retain their former brightness and perfection; notwithstanding the outward parts of those Vestments, which lay next the lid of the Coffin, were a little sullied, and had lost some of their freshness, by the contiquity and moldering of the cement and dust of the Stone which had fallen upon them: all which they gently wiped away with a Linnen Cloth, resolving to remove the whole Body from that Stone-respository to another of Wood, which they had there before
prepared for the same purpose: so that some assisting at the Head, others at the Arms and Legs, they lifted it gently from thence, and laid the Sacred Corps first on Tapestry spread on the floor, and then wrapping the same in divers silken Cloaths of great value, they put it into the Wooden Chest, with all those things that were found in the former, except the Gold Ring, which was on the Kings Finger, which the Abbot out of devotion retained, and order’d it to be kept in the Treasury of the Abby, as a commemoration thereof. The next day, viz on the third of the Ides of October, being Sunday, (an the appointed time for the more solemn translation for this Saints Body) in the Morning Early the Holy Reliques were brought into the Quire of the Church, and publickly exposed for all those who out of devotion or curiosity should come to see them. The King himself assisted to support the Coffin, at the time of Procession, to whom were joined Thomas Archbishop of Canterbury, Gilbert Bishop of London, Henry Bishop of Wincester, with many others; The concourse of all sorts of people, as well
Nobles, as Artificers and Soldiers, being so great, that the like had not been seen for many years. After the Procession the King with his own hands helpt to deposite the holy Reliques in a Shrine which he had caus’d anew to be made for them, all glittering with Gold and Silver. This day of his Canonization was solemnly kept for some Ages after this, by the Religious of those times, and is not forgot at present by many pious and devout Catholiques, who come annually (on the 13th of October) as they do on that of his deposition (the 5th of January) to perform some part of their Devotions here.
Once more this Sacred Body was removed from it’s Old Habitation and Repose, and that was about the Year of Grace, 1226. When King Henry the Third pulled down the Old Church built by this Saint, and Erected a most Stately Edifice in the room thereof: causing a peculiar Chappel likewise to be set apart, and Dedicated to him; adorning it with several Carvings of Masons work, wherein much of his Story, History of his Life & Miracles, are curiously wrought, some part thereof remaining (on the Architrave
Action, on that day, the King made a most Royal & Magnificent Feast at his Palace at Westminster, where all comers and goers, as well Rich as Poor, were liberally treated or rewarded. Which Royal Feast and grand Solemnity was performed in the Year of our Lord, 1269. From this very time we have nothing on Record, that takes notice of any other removal or disposal of these Holy Reliques And therefore may conclude, they remained safe and undisturbed until the days of King Henry the Eight, when we find (in that General Inundation which swept away all things Sacred) this Noble Feretory stript of all its costly furniture, and the Body of its Golden-Case, to be meanly inclosed in a course Wooden Coffin; the same I presume I lately saw, and from whence I drew the so often-mentioned Crucifix and Gold Chain.