Historical setting: 589 C.E. In the Vosges Mountains
When I wake from this faint Brother Crathius, it seems, has never ceased his chatter and all the while he’s bandaged my wound and set me in a position that allows me to catch my breath.
As they are starting the fire he tells the servant of Columbanus that he was chosen by his abbot to accompany the pilgrims on this Lenten journey to Annegray because the brothers from his abbey on this pilgrimage are elderly and have stiffened with age and from years working at the benches of a scriptorium.
Brother Crathius explains, “I was sent with them prepared with herbs and oils and wraps to comfort them on the climbs; but as it turned out all this walking to reach the mountain trail had limbered their joints and, like a true miracle, they can continue the long climbs without the constant care of a physician. So by the Grace of God and with the help of Christ I am free to answer to this need.
He just talks on, “So, you see Brother Servant, some miracles happen by magic and wonder, but often a Christian miracle is simply noticing the patterns of pain and an awareness of an unlikely synchronicity such as finding a physician with supplies in his bag, just when an angel for God speaks of need.”
“I’m well aware,” said the servant to the physician.
Another comfort in my healing is the cool damp cloth Brother Crathius washes over my face.
“Brother Servant, take a look at this thief. His dark eyes, and swarthy hair… he may be Persian.”
“No” I need to explain, “I was born in the east near Jerusalem, and I’m a Christian in these times.”
“See how he defends? Could he be a pirate?” The servant asks the physician.
“Pirates are rarely so far from the sea, and with no deep river or channel to the sea in this place it would be unlikely.”
“No.” argues the servant. “Some monks who have come up from the sea to Annegray warned us so we’ve been keeping watch for pirates who might have followed them.”
“Why? Why would pirates follow holy men? Is there some treasure they want?”
The servant explains, “My service to Father Columbanus is to watch in the wilderness when he is away in solitary for prayer and fasting. But my other task these days calls for a trusted eunuch.”