O Sancte Paule, ubi est illa nominata nutrix fidelium, fovens filios suos? quae est illa affectuosa mater, quae se ubique praedicat filios suos iterum parturire? dulcis nutrix, dulcis mater, quos filios paraturis aut nutris, nisi quos in fide Christi docendo gignis et erudis? aut quis christianus post te doctrina tua non est in fide natus et confirmatus? nam etsi benedicta fides ista ab aliis quoque apostolis nobis nata sit et nutrita: utique magis a te, quia plus omnibus in hoc laborasti et effecisti. cum ergo illi sint nobis matres, tu magis nostra mater.
ergo, Sancte Paule, filius tuus est mortuus iste. mater mortuus iste certe filius tuus est. dulcis mater, recognosce filium tuum ex voce confessionis; recognoscat ille matrem suam ex affectu compassionis. recognosce filium ex confessione christianitatis; recognoscat ille matrem ex dulcedine pietatis. offer, mater, tu quae iterum parturis filios suos, offer, mortuum filium tuum iterum resuscitandum illi, qui morte sua resuscitavit servos tuos. offer, mater, illi qui morte sua indebita revocavit reos suos a morte debita; offer illi filium tuum, ut revocet ei vitam perditam. per baptismum enim eductus a morte, per sterilitatem et pravitatem reductus est in mortem. mater famosi affectus, sentiat filius tuus viscera maternae pietatis. exhibe eum illi qui te resuscitavit, et viventem servavit. ora eum pro filio tuo, quia servus eius est: ora eum pro servo suo, quia filius tuus est.
(Anselm of Canterbury, Oratio 10 ad Sanctum Paulum)
O St Paul, where is he that was called
the nurse of the faithful, caressing his sons?
Who is that affectionate mother who declares everywhere
that she is in labour for her sons?
Sweet nurse, sweet mother,
who are the sons you are in labour with, and nurse,
but those whom by teaching the faith of Christ
you bear and instruct?
Or who is a Christian after your teaching
who is not born into the faith and established in it by you?
And if in that blessed faith we are born
and nursed by other apostles also,
it is most of all by you,
for you have laboured and done more than them all in this;
so if they are our mothers, you are our greatest mother.
So then, St Paul, your son is this dead man.
Mother, this dead man is certainly your son.
Dear mother, recognize your son
by the voice of his confession;
he recognizes his mother by her loving compassion.
Recognize your son by his confession of Christianity;
he recognizes his mother by the sweetness of goodness.
O mother, you who again give birth to your sons,
offer your dead son again, to be raised up by him
who by his death gives life to his servants.
O mother, offer your son to him
who by his death, which was not owing,
called back his condemned ones
from the death that was their due;
that he may call back to him the life he has lost.
By baptism he was led out of death;
by barrenness and corruption he is led back into death.
O mother, well known for your love,
your son knows the heart of a mother’s goodness.
Show him to God,
you who have brought him back to life
and cared for him living.
Pray to him for your son, who is his servant;
pray to him for his servant, who is your son.
(tr. Benedicta Ward)