Sustentaculum

sword

Palladius autem, Britani quondam comitis ac Caesariae filius, comitatum in urbe Gabalitana, Sigiberto rege impertiente, promeruit, sed orta intentio inter ipsum Partheniumque episcopum, valde populum collidebat. nam plerumque conviciis ac diversis oppropriis ac criminibus obruebat episcopum, pervadens res ecclesiae spoliansque homines eius. unde factum est, ut, hac intentione crescente, cum ad praesentiam iam dicti principes properassent et diversa sibi invicem obiectarent, mollem episcopum, effeminatum Palladius vocitaret: “ubi sunt mariti tui, cum quibus stuprose ac turpiter vivis?” sed haec in sacerdote verba prolata divina confestim ultio subsequens abolevit. nam anno sequenti semotus a comitatu Palladius Arvernum regressus est; Romanus vero comitatum ambivit. factum est autem, ut quadam die in urbe Arverna uterque coniungeretur, et altercantibus inter se pro hac actione comitatus, audivit Palladius se a Sigiberto rege debere interfici; sed falsa haec et maxime a Romano emissa deprehensa sunt. tunc ille timore perterritus, ita in angustiam gravem redactus est, ut minaretur se propria dextera perimere; cumque a matre vel a cognato suo Firmino intente attenderetur, ne perficeret quod mente amara conceperat, per intervalla horarum elapsus a matris aspectu ingressusque cubiculum, accepto spatio solitudinis, evaginato gladium, cornuaque ensis pedibus calcans, acumen ad pectus erexit, impressusque desuper gladius ab una ingressus mamilla in spatulam dorsi regressus est; erectusque iterum, similiter in alia mamilla perfossus, cecidit et mortuus est. quod non sine diaboli opere perfectum scelus mirati sumus; nam prima eum plaga interficere potuit, si non diabolus sustentaculum praebuisset, quo haec nefanda perageret. currit mater exanimis, et supra filii corpusculum orbata collabitur, atque omnis familia voces planctus emittit. verumtamen ad monasterium Chrononensem delatus sepulturae mandatur, sed non iuxta Christianorum cadavera positus, sed nec missarum sollemnia meruit; quod non ob aliam causam nisi ob iniuriam episcopi haec ei evenisse probatur.
(Gregory of Tours, Hist. Franc. 4.39)

Palladius, son of Count Britanus, who had died, and of his wife Caesaria, inherited the office of count in Javols, with the permission of King Sigibert. A quarrel ensued between him and Bishop Parthenius, which caused consternation among the inhabitants. Palladius heaped obloquy upon the Bishop, abusing him and accusing him of all sorts of crimes. He seized the property of the church and robbed those who served in it. This quarrel became worse and worse. In the end they both rushed off to the King’s court and brought various charges against each other. Palladius accused the Bishop of being a weak, effeminate man. ‘Where are your darling boys,’ cried he, ‘with whom you live in shame and debauchery?’ The vengeance of God soon brought to an end these attacks upon the Bishop. The following year Palladius lost his countship and returned to Clermont-Ferrand. Romanus did all he could to be made count in his place. It happened one day that the two met in Clermont. A dispute began on the subject of the countship and Palladius was informed that King Sigibert wanted to have him killed. This was untrue, for it was a rumour being put about by Romanus. Palladius was so terrified and reduced to such straits that he threatened to kill himself with his own hands. He was watched closely by his mother and by his brother-in-law Firminus, to prevent him carrying out what he had planned in the bitterness of his soul. After a while he escaped from his mother’s vigilance and went to his bedroom. There he took advantage of being alone, unsheathed his sword and, holding the hilt firm with his feet, pointed the blade towards his chest. He leant forward on the sword, which pierced his chest and came out at the back through one shoulder-blade. He then held the sword a second time, pierced his chest on the other side, and fell to the ground dead. I find it hard to believe that this horrible deed could have been achieved without the help of the Devil: for the first wound was enough to kill him, unless the Devil came to his assistance to give him strength to carry his terrible plan through to the end. His mother rushed in, beside herself with grief, and fell in a faint on the body of the son whom she had lost, while the whole family bewailed his fate. He was carried to the monastery of Cournon and buried there. His body was not placed among the Christian dead and no Mass was sung for him. It is clear that this fate befell him only because he had wronged his Bishop. (tr. Lewis Thorpe)

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