Historical setting: 602 C.E. On the path to Luxeuil
As we walk toward Luxeuil, my boys are exploring the nature of rumor and the power of the written word. Gabe says a rumor isn’t true unless it’s written into a book. So no wonder Gabe finds his voice by practicing letters on the wax tablet. It may empower him to make imaginings seem true.
My years are no longer driven by a need to strut virtues for others to see; but these many years of life also give me empathy for life stages I’ve already passed through. So I understand twelve-year-olds are in a place where they are more needy of the opinions of others and practicing literacy gives them voice with peers.
And what is it that sets the standard for peer acceptance among the barbarian hunters they befriend? Is their needy drive to impress others forged with intellect or might? Do they awe their friends with the power to kill an auroch or perhaps to confront an enemy soldier? Or do they see their virtues academically? Both boys are strong in body and mind, yet they have compared themselves to one another and they share a secret between them that Gabe is the writer and Greg the bowman even though both are equally skilled.
And now they are explaining to me what virtue can make a king into a saint. Apparently a dead king is called “saint” when some amazing goodness is attributed to him then written in a book in order to become ‘true.’
So King Guntram turned saint when he died and a rumor was circulating that mere threads from his clothing healed a child of the plague. Gregory of Tours recorded this into Book IX of his History of the Franks. [Footnote] Now it seems this earthly king is a saint even though he did many bad things – like executing his own servant for killing an auroch on the royal hunting grounds.
Greg asks if Bishop Gregory of Tours might show up in this pilgrimage to Luxeuil because the boys have heard even a “better story” of Guntram that still needs to be written to make it true.
Bishop Gregory is Frankish, following the Roman order. His contemporary, Guntram the saint, may never have mentioned his royal support for these Celtic missionaries so I doubt we will see Bishop Gregory at Luxeuil. And I doubt the late earthly king could elicit a “better story” but my boys want to tell it anyway.
[Footnote] Gregory of Tours, A History of the Franks, Book IX, 21, Translated by Ernest Brehaut, reprint First Rate Publishers.
(Continues Tuesday, March 21, 2023)