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The Historical Works Of Venerable Bede

§ 31. BUT his own dwelling was destitute of water, being built on hard and stony ground. The man of God, therefore, sent for the brethren, for he had not yet withdrawn himself entirely from the sight of visiters, and said to them, “You see that my dwelling is destitute of water; but I pray you, let us beseech him who turned the solid rock into a pool of water and stones into fountains, that giving glory, not to us, but to his own name, he may vouchsafe to open to us a spring of water, even from this stony rock. Let us dig in the middle of my hut, and, I believe, out of his good pleasure, he will give us drink.” They therefore made a pit, and the next morning found it full of water, springing up from within. Wherefore there can be no doubt that it was elicited by the prayers of this man of God from the ground which was before dry and stony. Now this water, by a most remarkable quality, never overflowed its first limits so as to flood the pavement, nor yet ever failed, however much of it might be taken out; so that it never surpassed or fell short of the daily necessities of him who used it for his sustenance.

§ 32. Now when Cuthbert had, with the assistance of the brethren, made for himself this dwelling with its chambers, he began to live in a more secluded manner. At first, indeed, when the brethren came to visit him, he would leave his cell and minister to them. He used to wash their feet devoutly with warm water, and was sometimes compelled by them to take off his shoes, that they might wash his feet also. For he had so far withdrawn his mind from attending to the care of his person, and fixed it upon the concerns of his soul, that he would often spend whole months, without taking off his leathern gaiters. Sometimes, too, he would keep his shoes on from one Easter to another, only taking them off on account of the washing of feet, which then takes place at the Lord’s Supper. Wherefore, in consequence of his frequent prayers and genuflexions, which he made with his shoes on, he was discovered to have contracted a callosity on the junction of his feet and legs. At length, as his zeal after perfection grew, he shut himself up in his cell away from the sight of men, and spent his time alone in fasting, watching, and prayer, rarely having communication with any one without, and that through the window, which at first was left open, that he might see and be seen; but, after a time, he shut that also, and opened it only to give his blessing, or for any other purpose of absolute necessity.








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