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Account of a Tour in Normandy, Volume 1 eBook

Dawson Turner
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 192 pages of information about Account of a Tour in Normandy, Volume 1.

Our learned Benedictine thus proceeds:—­“But the following miracle was deemed a far greater marvel, and it increased the veneration of the people towards St. Romain to such a degree, that they henceforth regarded him as an actual apostle, who, from the authority of his office, the excellence of his doctrine, his extreme sanctity, and the gift of miracles, deserved to be classed with the earliest preachers of our holy faith.  In a marshy spot, near Rouen, was bred a dragon, the very counterpart of that destroyed by St. Nicaise.  It committed frightful ravages; lay in wait for man and beast, whom it devoured without mercy; the air was poisoned by its pestilential breath, and it was alone the cause of greater mischief and alarm, than could have been occasioned by a whole army of enemies.  The inhabitants, wearied out by many years of suffering, implored the aid of St. Romain; and the charitable and generous pastor, who dreaded nothing in behalf of his flock, comforted them with the assurance of a speedy deliverance.  The design itself was noble; still more so was the manner by which he put it in force; for he would not be satisfied with merely killing the monster, but undertook also to bring it to public execution, by way of atonement for its cruelties.  For this purpose, it was necessary that the dragon should be caught; but when the prelate required a companion in the attempt, the hearts of all men failed them.  He applied, therefore, to a criminal condemned to death for murder; and, by the promise of a pardon, bought his assistance, which the certain prospect of a scaffold, had he refused to accompany the saint, caused him the more willingly to lend.  Together they went, and had no sooner reached the marsh, the monster’s haunt, than St. Romain, approaching courageously, made the sign of the cross, and at once put it out of the power of the dragon to attempt to do him injury.  He then tied his stole around his neck, and, in that state, delivered him to the prisoner, who dragged him to the city, where he was burned in the presence of all the people, and his ashes thrown into the river.—­The manuscript of the Abbey of Hautmont, from which this legend is extracted, adds, that such was the fame of this miracle throughout France, that Dagobert, the reigning sovereign, sent for St. Romain to court, to hear a true narrative of the fact from his own lips; and, impressed with reverent awe, bestowed the celebrated privilege upon him and his successors for ever.”

The right has, in comparatively modern times, been more than once contested, but always maintained; and so great was the celebrity of the ceremony, that princes and potentates have repeatedly travelled to Rouen, for the purpose of witnessing it.  There are not wanting, however, those[55] who treat the whole story as allegorical, and believe it to be nothing more than a symbolical representation of the subversion of idolatry, or of the confining of the Seine to its channel; the winding course of the river being typified

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