Angilbert (fl. ca. 840/50), On the Battle Which was Fought at Fontenoy

The Law of Christians is broken,
Blood by the hands of hell profusely shed like rain,
And the throat of Cerberus bellows songs of joy.

Angelbertus, Versus de Bella que fuit acta Fontaneto

Fracta est lex christianorum
Sanguinis proluvio, unde manus inferorum,
gaudet gula Cerberi.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

What to Do About the Poisons of Leviathan and Sulphurous Streams of Babylon?

In reading an anthology of medieval prayers edited by John Blakesley entitled Paths of the Heart (London: Triangle, 1993), I came across this prayer for Holy Cross Day from the Winchester Troper in the York Missal (the Missale ad usum Ecclesiae Eboracencis).

"We praise you, eternal King, son of Mary,
whose cross is our salvation,
whose death is our life.

For us you became sacrifice and victim
on the altar of the cross.
By your death upon the cross
the gates of death are closed;
death is forever shut out.

The poisons of Leviathan are washed out by your blood.
Through you the sulphurous streams of Babylon are dried up.

To you, O Jesus, be glory and praise."

The Cross of Jesus is the means by which the poisons of Leviathan are to be washed out, and the sulphurous streams of Babylon to be dried up. Leviathan is naturally the symbol of the secular, voracious state, and Babylon the symbol of a foreign, pagan, and dissipated culture. The ills of our state, and of our culture, require the medicine of the Cross.

I found the prayer in the Latin on the web.

Laudamus te, rex Mariae genite sempiterne,
Cujus crux est salus nostra;
Cujus mors est vita mostra.
Tu victima et hostia factus es crucis ara.
Mortis porta morte tua per crucem est exclusa.
Extincta sunt venena tuo sanguine Leviathan.
Siccata Babylon jam per te flumina sulphurea.
Christe redemptor mundi, famulos crucis signo aversos fuga tuos
releva et exalta.
Novit Constantinus quid posset crux tua, Christe Jesu.
Novit et Heraclius dum cadit Chosdroe hostis tuus.
Sensit Danubium te Deum esse verum,
Infectum veneno serpentis teterrimo.
Jesus tibi sit gloria et laus.

The prayer would seem to have a Byzantine origin, because in its Latin form it references the Byzantine Emperors Constantine and Heraclius. The Emperor Constantine, of course, used the cross as his standard in the Battle at the Milvian Bridge. His mother, St. Helena, found the True Cross in Jerusalem. After parts of the True Cross were captured by the Persians, the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius re-captured them from the Sassanid Emperor Chosroes. Blakesely has excised, without explanation, the use of the Cross as a standard in war.

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