Alcuin of York’s (c.735-804) Eclogue to his Cell

Today, my thoughts were turned toward Alcuin’s verse, which I had first read in high school at Latin camp, when two very dear friends and mentors of mine, with whom I have worked for the last several years, left the office for the last time today, having packed up their research library and sent it to California.  AT and EA, this is for you.  I am going to miss you terribly. +N+

O mea cella, mihi habitate dulcis, amata,
Semper in aeternum, o mea cella, vale.
Utique te cingit ramis resonantibus arbos,
Silvula florigeris semper onusta comis.
Prata salutiferis florebunt omnia et herbis,
Quas medici quaerit dextra salutis ope.
Flumina te cingunt florentibus undique ripis,
Retia piscator qua sua tendit ovans.
Pomiferis redolent ramis tua claustra per hortos,
Lilia cum rosulis candida, mixta rubris.
Omne genus volucrum matutinas personat odas,
Atque creatorem laudat in ore Deum.
In te personuit quondam vox alma magistri,
Quae sacro sophiae tradidit ore libros.
In te temporibus certis laus sancta tonantis
Pacificis sonuit vocibus atque animis.
Te, mea cella, modo lacrimosis plango camenis,
Atque gemens casus pectore plango tuos,
Tu subito quoniam fugisti carmina vatum,
Atque ignota manus te modo tota tenet.
Te modo nec Flaccus nec vatis Homerus habebit,
Nec pueri musas per tua tecta canunt.
Vertitur omne decus saecli sic namque repente,
Omnia mutantur ordinibus variis.
Nil manet aeternum, nihil immutabile vere est.
Obscurat sacrum nox tenebrosa diem.
Decutit et flores subito hiems frigida pulcros,
Perturbat placidum et tristior aura mare.
Qua campis cervos agitabat sacra juventus,
Incumbit fessus nunc baculo senior.
Nos miseri, cur te fugitivum, mundus, amamus?
Tu fugis a nobis semper ubique ruens.
Tu fugiens fugias, Christum nos semper amemus,
Semper amor teneat pectora nostra Dei.
Ille pios famulos diro defendat ab hoste,
Ad caelum rapiens pectora nostra, suos;
Pectore quem pariter toto laudemus, amemus;
Nostra est ille pius gloria, vita, salus.1

My cell, my dearly lovely dwelling, farewell for ever, my cell. The trees stand all round you with their murmuring branches, a copse forever laden with flower-bearing leaves. All your fields will bloom with health-bringing herbs, which the hand of the physician plucks to cure the sick. Streams with blossoming banks gird you round, and there the cheerful angler stretches his nets. Thy cloisters smell of apple-trees in the gardens, and white lilies mingle with little red roses. Every kind of bird strikes up his matins song and by his singing praises God who made him. Once the kind voice of the master was heard in you, reading the holy books with devout lips. In you from time to time the holy praise of the Almighty rose from peaceful voices and hearts. My cell, I weep for you now in tearful songs, and I groan as I bewail my misfortune; for you have suddenly fled from the poets’ songs and an unknown hand now possesses you. No longer now will Flaccus or the poet Homer or the youths come and sing under your roof. Thus suddenly does all the beauty of the earth come to an end, and all things are swept away one after another; nothing lasts for ever, nothing indeed is immutable. Dark night overwhelms even a holy day. Cold winter swiftly cuts off the beautiful flowers and a most bitter wind ruffles the calm sea. The devoted youth who once chased Stags across the fields now leans on a stick, a tired old man. Wretched that we are, why do we love you, O world, as you flee from us? You flee from us, falling all the time and on every side. Keep on fleeing if you wish. Let us love Christ always and let the love of God possess our hearts for ever. May he defend His faithful servants from the dread enemy and snatch our souls away to heaven. Let us praise and love him equally with our whole heart; in his mercy he is our glory, our life, and our salvation.2


1Latin text from the Medieval Latin Translation Blog (which also includes an audio recording of Alcuin’s Latin).
2English translation from the UC Davis Alcuin page.

Unearthing the World of Jesus


Synagogue at Magdala (Photo by Yadid Levy, Smithsonian Magazine)

In January, Smithsonian Magazine ran a great article on excavations at Magdala and Bethsaida that bring new evidence to light concerning the world of 1st Century  Galilee.  Below is an extract; click through the link at the bottom to read more.



Ariel Sabar, “Unearthing the World of Jesus”

The IAA archaeologists had mucked around on Solana’s 20 acres for a month and found little. “Almost done?” he’d ask, emerging in his clerical robes from a shipping container that served as a makeshift office. “I have a budget! I have a timetable!”

In truth, the archaeologists didn’t want to be there either. Summer temperatures had ticked into the 100s, and the site prickled with bees and mosquitoes. They’d say shalom, they assured the priest, as soon as they checked a final, remote corner of his land.

It was there, beneath a wing of the proposed guesthouse, that their picks clinked against the top of a buried wall.

Dina Avshalom-Gorni, an IAA official who oversaw digs in northern Israel, ordered all hands to this square of the excavation grid. The workers squatted in the mealy soil and dusted carefully with brushes. Soon, a series of rough-cut stone benches emerged around what looked like a sanctuary.

It can’t be, Avshalom-Gorni thought.

The Gospels say that Jesus taught and “proclaimed the good news” in synagogues “throughout all Galilee.” But despite decades of digging in the towns Jesus visited, no early first-century synagogue had ever been found.


For historians, this was not a serious problem. Galilean Jews were a week’s walk from Jerusalem, close enough for regular pilgrimages to Herod the Great’s magnificent temple, Judaism’s central house of worship. Galileans, mostly poor peasants and fishermen, had neither the need nor the funds for some local spinoff. Synagogues, as we understand them today, did not appear anywhere in great numbers until several hundred years later. If there were any in Galilee in Jesus’s day, they were perhaps just ordinary houses that doubled as meeting places for local Jews. Some scholars argued that the “synagogues” in the New Testament were nothing more than anachronisms slipped in by the Gospels’ authors, who were writing outside Galilee decades after Jesus’s death.

But as Avshalom-Gorni stood at the edge of the pit, studying the arrangement of benches along the walls, she could no longer deny it: They’d found a synagogue from the time of Jesus, in the hometown of Mary Magdalene. Though big enough for just 200 people, it was, for its time and place, opulent. It had a mosaic floor; frescoes in pleasing geometries of red, yellow and blue; separate chambers for public Torah readings, private study and storage of the scrolls; a bowl outside for the ritual washing of hands.

In the center of the sanctuary, the archaeologists unearthed a mysterious stone block, the size of a toy chest, unlike anything anyone had seen before. Carved onto its faces were a seven-branched menorah, a chariot of fire and a hoard of symbols associated with the most hallowed precincts of the Jerusalem temple. The stone is already seen as one of the most important discoveries in biblical archaeology in decades. Though its imagery and function remain in the earliest stages of analysis, scholars say it could lead to new understandings of the forces that made Galilee such fertile ground for a Jewish carpenter with a world-changing message. It could help explain, in other words, how a backwater of northern Israel became the launching pad for Christianity.

But on that dusty afternoon, Solana had no way of knowing this. He was toweling off after a swim when an IAA archaeologist named Arfan Najar called his cellphone with what seemed like the worst possible news: They’d found something, and everything Solana had worked and prayed for these past five years was on hold.

“Father,” Najar told him, “you have a big, big, big problem.”

Read more: Smithsonian Magazine, Unearthing the World of Jesus

John Chrysostom’s Easter Homily

A bit late, but a great piece to read regardless! +N+

Is there anyone who is a devout lover of God?
Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival!
Is there anyone who is a grateful servant?
Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!

Are there any weary with fasting?
Let them now receive their wages!
If any have toiled from the first hour,
let them receive their due reward;
If any have come after the third hour,
let him with gratitude join in the Feast!
And he that arrived after the sixth hour,
let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss.
And if any delayed until the ninth hour,
let him not hesitate; but let him come too.
And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour,
let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.

For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first.
He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour,
as well as to him that toiled from the first.
To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows.
He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor.
The deed He honors and the intention He commends.

Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord!
First and last alike receive your reward;
rich and poor, rejoice together!
Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!

You that have kept the fast, and you that have not,
rejoice today for the Table is richly laden!
Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one.
Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith.
Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!

Let no one grieve at his poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again;
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free.
He has destroyed it by enduring it.

He destroyed Hades when He descended into it.
He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh.
Isaiah foretold this when he said,
“You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below.”

Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with.
It was in an uproar because it is mocked.
It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed.
It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated.
It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive.
Hell took a body, and discovered God.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.
O death, where is thy sting?
O Hades, where is thy victory?

Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!
Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!

HT: Esgetology (the link to the original Fordham Internet History Sourcebook seems to be dead)