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SAVINIANUS:  text is taken from Caxton's English version of the Golden Legend (Ellis edition)

S. Savien

Here followeth of S. Savien, and first of his name.

Savien may be said of sale, which is as much to say as bitter, for he was bitter toward God, for he was a paynim. And sith he was peaceable to him when he was converted to him by the peace of christian faith, and was bitter to himself. For he had liefer have died than not to understand the letter, for he might not understand paynim speech. And he was right bitter to his father for he would never obey him ne adore his gods.

Of S. Savien.

S. Savien and Savina his sister were children of Savininus, a right noble paynim. and was twice married. He had Savien of his first wife, and of the second he had Savina, his daughter, and gave to them both that name. On a time Savien read this verse: Asperges me, domine, and anon he demanded what it was to say, but he might not understand what it was to say, and he entered into his chamber and ware the hair, and kneeled within his chamber, and said to himself that he had liefer die than that he should not understand the sense of that verse. Then the angel appeared and said to him: Torment thee not, for thou hast found grace anenst our Lord Jesu Christ. And to the end that thou be more white, make thee clean, it behoveth thee to be baptized, and then thou shalt understand and know that which thou requirest to know now. And then he was joyous and glad by the word of the grace of God. And then he had in despite the idols and would not adore them. Then he was reproved and strongly chidden of his father, who said him oft: Why honourest thou not our gods? It is better that thou die alone than we all be wrapped in the death. And then Savien fled secretly away, and went unto the city of Trecassina, and as he went over the river of Secana he prayed our Lord that he might be baptized there, and so he was, and then our Lord said to him: Thou hast found now that which thou hast sought so long with great labour.

And anon he pight his staflf in the earth and made his prayer to God; and his staff flourished and brought forth leaves tofore them all that were there, in so much that a thousand one hundred and eight men believed in our Lord God. And when Aurelian the emperor heard hereof he sent many knights to take him, whom they found praying, and dreaded for to approach him. And when the emperor saw that they returned not, he sent more after than he did before, and when they came they found the others praying with him. And when he arose from prayer they said to him: The emperor desireth to see thee, and sendeth for thee by us that thou shouldest come to him. And this holy good man went much humbly to him, and when he was tofore the emperor he required of him if he were christian or not. And he said: Yes. Then the emperor, being full of woodness, bade him to sacrifice to his gods, or else he would make him to die an evil death. Savien refused it. And anon he commanded to bind him by the hands and by the feet, and to beat him with staves of iron. And then Savien said to him: Increase the torments if thou mayst hardily, for I doubt not, ne fear not thee, ne the torments that thou dost to me. And then the emperor being all wroth commanded that he should be brought into the middle of the city, and there be bounden upon a bench, and make a great fire thereunder, and cast oil therein, that he might be burnt and broiled. And he being within the flame, the emperor beheld him, and saw that he was joyous therein as he had been in a bain, whereof he was much abashed, and said to him: Evil beast, sufficeth it not enough to thee the souls that thou hast deceived, though thou not essay to deceive by thy art magic? To whom Savien said: There be many souls yet, and also thyself, which shall by me believe in our Lord Jesu Christ. And then the emperor blamed the name of Jesu Christ, and commanded that he should be bound on the morn at a stake and be shot at with arrows. The arrows abode hanging in the air on the right side and on the left, and none of them hurt him. And when the emperor knew that he had none harm, he weened to have been enraged, and commanded that the next day following he should be brought to him, and after, he demanded him: Where is thy God? Now let him come hither and deliver thee from these arrows. And as soon as he had said so, one of the arrows sprang into the eye of the emperor, and smote out his eye, and the emperor was angry, and commanded to put him in prison, and that on the next morning early he should be beheaded. And then Savien prayed our Lord that he might be brought into the place whereas he was baptized, and then the chains with which he was bound all to-brake and the doors of the prison were opened. And he went out of the prison and went tofore all the knights that kept him, and they in no manner apperceived him, and went into the same place. And when the emperor heard say that he was escaped, he commanded that he should be pursued and that his head should be smitten off. And when S. Savien apperceived that the knights followed, and that he approached the water, he made the sign of the cross and went upon the water like as he should have gone upon the earth dry, and went unto the place whereas he was baptized. Then the knights followed him, and were much abashed of that they had seen him go on the water. And when they were nigh him, they doubted much to smite at him, and he said to them: Smite me when ye will all surely, and bear of my blood to your emperor, and let him rub his eye therewith, and he shall be whole, to the end that he know the virtue of God. And after this they smote his head off, and he rose up and bare it thence nine and-forty paces, and there was buried. And after that the knights bare of his blood to the emperor, wherewith he anointed his eyes, and anon he had his sight and was all whole, and then he said: His God is good and mighty. And there was by, a woman that heard what the emperor said which woman had been blind by the space of forty years. And then she made her to be borne thither, and as soon as she had touched his sepulchre and made her prayer, anon she received health and her sight again. And he suffered death about the year of our Lord two hundred and seventy, in the calends of February, and the history of his sister is here set in because that the feast of her is on the same day.

And Savina, his sister, wept every day for her brother and sacrificed for him to the idols. And in the end the angel appeared to her in her sleep and said: Savina, weep no more, but leave all that thou hast, and thou shalt find thy brother in great honour. Then she awoke and said to her fellow: My sweet love, hast thou heard nothing? and she said: Yes, lady, for I have seen a man that spake to thee, but I wot not what he said. And then she said to her: Wilt thou not accuse me? And she said: No, lady, but do what thou wilt so that thou slay not thyself. And thus they both went away that morning and when her father wist it that she was gone, he was much sorrowful, and did do seek her long. And then he lift up his eyes to heaven, and said If thou art very God of heaven, I pray thee destroy mine idols which may not save me ne my children. And anon our Lord made it for to thunder and break all the idols, and much people saw it, which believed in our Lord. Then the blessed Savina went to Rome, and there she was baptized of the blessed Eusebius the pope, and dwelled there five years and healed two lame men and two blind men. And then the angel appeared to her in her sleep and said to her: What is this that thou dost, that hast left thy riches and livest here in delices? Arise and dine, and after go into the city of Trecane that thou mayst find there thy brother. And then she said to her chamberer: It behoveth us no longer to abide here; and she said: Lady, whither will ye go? All the people here love you well, and will ye go die in a place whereas the people know you not? And she said: God shall purvey for us; and then she took a loaf of barley bread and went unto the city of Ravenna, and entered into the house of a rich man whose daughter was bewailed as dead. And she required the maid of the house that she might be lodged there, and she said: How mayst thou be lodged here when the daughter of herein is dead, and all be sorrowful? And she said to her: For me she shall not die; and then she entered in, and took the hand of the maid and raised her up all whole. And the mother would have retained her there, but she in no wise would agree thereto, but departed. And the daughter lived, and arose on the morn. And when Savina with her chamberer arrived a mile nigh unto Trecane, she said to her chamberer that she would there rest a little. And there came a noble man from the city named Licerius, and demanded them, saying: Of whence be ye? To whom Savina said: I am of this city. And he said: Why liest thou when thy speech sheweth thee to be a pilgrim? And she said: Verily I am a pilgrim, and seek Savien my brother whom I have long lost. And he said to her: That man for whom thou demandest was but late slain for the name of Jesu Christ, and is buried in such a place. And then she put her in praying, and said: Lord, which hast always kept me in chastity, suffer me then no more to travail by these hard and weary journeys, ne my body to be removed out of this place, and, Lord, I recommend to thee my chamberer, which hath suffered so much pain for me. And for my brother whom I may not here see, I beseech thee to make me worthy to see him in thy reign. And when she had finished her prayer she passed out of this world, and went to our Lord. When her chamberer saw that her mistress was dead, she began to weep because she had nothing necessary to bury her with. The said man then sent a crier through the city, that all, great and small, should come to see the strange woman that was there dead; and incontinent all the people ran, and she was buried honourably. And this same day is the feast of S. Savina that was wife of S. Valentine, knight, which was beheaded under Adrian the Emperor, because he would not sacrifice to the idols.

© The segmented texts, annotations and audio files at are copyrighted by Laura Gibbs, 2006. No copyright is claimed for any images.