ST. WALSTAN, CONFESSOR
From Capgrave, fol. 285, and his old manuscript
life. See Blomfield, Hist. of Norfolk, t. 1, p. 641.
A. D. 1016
ST. WALSTAN was formerly much honored at Cossey
and Bawburgh, commonly called Baber, two villages four miles from
Norwich. He was born at Baber, and of a rich and honorable family.
The name of his father was Benedict, that of his mother Blida. By
their example and good instructions, he from his infancy conceived an
ardent desire to devote himself to God with the greatest perfection
possible. In this view, at twelve years of age he renounced his
patrimony, left his father’s house, and entered a poor servant
at Taverham, a village adjoining to Cossey. He was so charitable that
he gave his own victuals to the poor, and sometimes even his shoes,
going himself barefoot. He applied himself to the meanest and most
painful country labor in a perfect spirit of penance and humility;
fasted much, and sanctified his soul and all his actions by
assiduous, fervent prayer, and the constant union of his heart with
God. He made a vow of celibacy, but never embraced a monastic state.
God honored his humility before men by many miracles. He died in the
midst of a meadow where he was at work, on the 30th of May, in 1016.
His body was interred at Baber: it was carried thither through Cossey
or Costessye, where a well still bears his name, as does another
which was more famous at Baber, a little below the church. These
places were much resorted to by pilgrims, especially to implore the
intercession of this saint for the cure of fevers, palsies, lameness,
and blindness. His body was enshrined in the north chapel of that
church, which chapel was on that account pulled down in the reign of
Henry VIII., though the church is still standing. All the mowers and
husbandmen in these parts constantly visited it once a year, and
innumerable other pilgrims resorted to it, not only from all parts of
England, but also from beyond the seas. The church is sacred to the
memory of the Blessed Virgin, and of St. Walstan.