Collection of Letters: Detail
To my revered master Boniface, bearing the insignia of the highest office, most dear to me in Christ and bound to me by ties of kinship, I, Lioba, least of the servants of those who bear the easy yoke of Christ, wish enduring health and prosperity.
I beg you graciously to bear in mind your ancient friendship for my father, Dynne, formed long ago in the West country. It is now eight years since he was called away from this world, and I ask your prayers for his soul. I recall to your memory also my mother, Aebbe, who, as you know, is bound to you by ties of blood. She lives a life of suffering, bowed down by grievous illness. I am the only daughter of my parents and, unworthy though I be, I wish that I might regard you as a brother; for there is no other man in my kinship in whom I have such confidence as in you. I have ventured to send you this little gift, not as if it deserved even a kindly glance from you but that you may have a reminder of my insignificance and not let me be forgotten on account of our wide separation. May the bond of our true affection be knit ever more closely for all time. I eagerly pray, my dear brother, that I may be protected by the shield of your prayers from the poisoned darts of the hidden enemy. I beg you also to be so kind as to correct the unskilled style of this letter and to send me, by way of example, a few kind words which I greatly long to hear.
I have composed the following verses according to the rules of poetic art, not trusting to my own presumption, but trying only to exercise my little talents and needing your assistance. I have studied this art under the guidance of Eadburga, who still carries on without ceasing her investigation of the divine law.
Farewell, and may you live long and happily, making intercession for me.
The omnipotent Ruler who alone created everything,
He who shines in splendor forever in His Father's kingdom,
The perpetual fire by which the glory of Christ reigns,
May preserve you forever in perennial right.(!1)
Domino reverentissimo et summe dignitatis infula predito Bonifatio atque in Christo carissimo et mihi adfinitatis propinquitate conexo Leobgytha, ultima leve iugum Christi portantium famula, perennem sospitatis salutem.
Rogo tuam clementiam, ut memorare digneris prioris amicitiae, quam iam dudum cum patre meo copulasti, cuius vocabulum est Dynne, in occiduis regionibus — qui nunc ante VIII annorum curriculum ab hac luce subtractus est — ut pro anima illius preces offerre Deo non rennues. Nec non et matris meae memoriam commendo tibi, quae cognominatur Aebbae; quae tibi, ut melius nosti, consanguinitatis nexibus copulatur et adhuc laboriose vivit et diu valide ab infirmitate obpressa est. Ergo unica filia sum ambobus parentibus meis; et utinam, licet sim indigna, ut merear te in fratris locum accipere, quia in nullo hominum generis mei tanta fiducia spei posita est mihi, quanta in te. Hoc parvum munusculum mittere curavi, non ut dignum esset tuae almitatis aspectui, sed ut memoriam parvitatis meae retines, ne longa locorum intercapidine oblivione tradas, quin immo vere dilectionis ligatura reliquum nodetur in aevum. Hoc, frater amande, enixius efflagito, ut tuarum orationum pelta muniar contra hostis occulti venenata iacula. Illud etiam peto, ut rusticitatem huius epistolae digneris emendare; et mihi aliqua verba tuae affabilitatis exempli gratia transmittere non recusses, quae inhianter audire satago.
Istos autem subter scriptos versiculos conponere nitebar secundum poeticae traditionis disciplinam, non audacia confidens, sed gracilis ingenioli rudimenta exercitare cupiens et tuo auxilio indigens. Istam artem ab Eadburge magisterio didici, quae indesinenter legem divinam rimarem non cessat.
Vale, vivens aevo longiore, vita feliciore, interpellans pro me.
Arbiter omnipotens, solus qui cuncta creavit,//
In regno patris semper qui lumine fulget,//
Qua iugiter flagrans sic regnat gloria Christi,//
Inlesum servet semper te iure perenni.
Lioba reminds Boniface of his friendship with her father and his relation to her mother, sends him a gift so he will remember her, and a short poem.
(!1) These awkward verses, written by a beginning student of poetry, contain an invocation of the Trinity — the Father who created, the Son who shines in his Father's kingdom, and the Spirit "iugiter flagrans."
MGH, Epistolae Merovingici et Karolini Aevi, 6, S.Bonifacii et Lulli Epistolae, ep.29; translation and annotation from Ephraim Emerton, The Letters of Saint Boniface (New York: Columbia University Press, 1940, repr.2000), pp.37-8. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.