April 28, 2010

Biscop Baducing

Posted in Homecoming tagged , , , , at 1:14 pm by E.V. Svetova

An excerpt from Homecoming Book II: Longing, which offers a description of Biscop Baducing, a 7th Century Northumbrian saint who became known as St. Benedict Biscop. When Yaret’s uncle, Prior Alric, forces him to join a pilgrimage to Rome, he finds himself face to face with this extraordinary man.

Biscop was a middle-aged man of average height and build, a bit gaunt from fasting and vigil, with features quite undistinguished except for the large, attentive, cherry-brown eyes under the high-arching brows – too dazzling for a man’s face, those eyes were like priceless jewels pinned to a monk’s habit. Yaret didn’t need his true sight to see that this humble, slightly hunched man radiated love. He thought that he too would’ve liked to exchange a Kiss of Peace with this man – and became appalled with himself at once. His mistress’ ashes hadn’t yet settled, and he was already willing to wag his tail at a kindly stranger like a stray mutt. When it came his turn for introduction, he met Biscop’s eyes with as much insolence as he could muster.

“My sister’s son,” said Alric, adding under his breath, “I would like to have a word with you concerning him.”

“Certainly, good brother.” Biscop’s calmly returned Yaret’s gaze and nodded.

It was hard to imagine that brother Biscop was once a noble warrior from an esteemed Northumbrian family, King Oswiu’s trusted thegn and war companion. His loyal service had been rewarded with high rank and generous gifts of land, but instead of enjoying his due rewards, at the age of twenty five he suddenly forsook his home, kindred and possessions to become a foot soldier in the army of God. Seven years Alric’s senior, Biscop Baducing stepped on the spiritual path about the same time Alric and Wilfrið entered the Lindisfarne monastery; but while the two youths had been tonsured before growing a beard, Biscop knew of the world. He and Wilfrið were close from their time at the King’s court, and soon were planning a pilgrimage to Rome. They started off together, but when young Wilfrið tarried in Lyons, caught up in the glamorous life of the Frankish episcopal court, Biscop hastened onwards without him. It was Biscop who returned from Rome laden with Latin manuscripts, Byzantine icons, priceless holy relics, as well as other spiritual treasures of intangible nature. Biscop’s devotion to the Benedictine rule, and love of the musical chant in particular, had greatly influenced the whole generation of English Christians, from the King’s son to a young novice. This pilgrimage was Biscop’s second.

An early fresco of St. Benedict Biscop


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