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[Ms P, fol. 165v - Paulus Diaconus]

Ch. 66

Translated by: Albrecht Diem & Gregor Kallas

Congruum ordinem tenuit B. Benedictus in eo quod prius dixit de abbate et postea de praeposito, et nunc subjungit de portario monasterii; ait enim: 1Ad portam monasterii ponatur senex sapiens, cujus maturitas non sinat eum vagari.1

Saint Benedict kept the right order as he spoke first about the abbot and then about the prior and now he adds [a chapter] about the porter of the monastery. For he says: 1Let a wise old man be placed at the door of the monastery, one whose mature age does not allow him to wander.

The word ‘door’ (ostium) comes, as Cassidorus says, from ‘hindering’ (obstando) because, when it closes, it hinders those who [want to] enter. [Cassiodorus, Expositio Psalmorum 140:3]

Ostium enim, sicut Cassiodorus dicit, ab obstando dictum est, quod, dum claudit, obstat intrantibus. [Cassiodor, Expositio Psalmorum 140:3, CCSL 98, p. 1263]

Quamvis enim scriptura divina senem pro sapiente dicat, tamen S. Benedictus in hoc loco vult, ut habeat et senectutem per aetatem et sapientiam per vitam; nam quare vult duo, manifestat inferius cum dicit: 1ut sciat accipere responsum et reddere, cujus maturitas eum non sinat vagari.

Although Holy Scripture uses ‘old man’ when referring to a ‘wise man,’ Benedict nevertheless emphasizes at this place that a porter should have maturity in age and wisdom in his life. For he shows in the following why he wants both when he says: 1in order that he knows both how to take a message and reply to it, he is one whose mature age does not allow him to wander.

 In eo quod dixit: sciat accipere responsum et dare, attinet ad sapientem; et in eo quod dicit: cujus maturitas eum non sinat vagari, attinet ad aetatem.

When he said, he knows both how to take a message and reply to it, this refers to the wise person. When he says one, whose mature age does not allow him to wander, it refers to age.

Et quia non omnis senex sapiens invenitur, ideo melius est, ut ponatur juvenis [page 605] cum sapientia, quam senex cum aetate sine sapientia.

And since not every old man turns out to be wise, it is better if a young person [page 605] with wisdom is appointed rather than a senior who is old but has no wisdom.

Quod enim scriptura divina solet ponere senem pro sapiente, docet B. Gregorius in Moralibus libris, ubi dicit B. Job: Videbant me juvenes et abscondebantur, et senes adsurgentes stabant [Job 29:8], hoc modo dicens: Si historiae intendimus [omitted in Mittermüller, added from CCSL 143A: quae dixit credimus; si allegoriae, quae praedixit vidimus. Iuvenes namque dici solent qui nulla consilii gravitate deprimuntur.

Saint Gregory explains in his Moralia that Holy Scripture is accustomed to write ‘old man’ for ‘wise man’. When Job says: The young people saw me and hid themselves, and the aged arose and stayed in place [Job 29:8], Gregory explains: If we give heed to history, [omitted in Mittermüller’s edition: we believe what he said, if to allegory, we see what he foretold; for those who are not burdened with any weightiness of counsel are accustomed to be called ‘young men’.

Senes vero non eos scriptura sacra vocare consuevit, qui sola quantitate temporum, sed morum grandaevitate maturi sunt. Unde per quondam sapientem dicitur: Senectus venerabilis est, non diuturna, neque numero annorum computata. Cani sunt autem sensus hominis et aetas senectutis vita immaculate. [Ws. 4:8-9] Unde recte quoque ad Moysen Dominu dicit: Congrega mihi septuaginta viros de senioribus Israel, quos tu nosti quod senes populi sunt. [Num. 11:16]

But Holy Scripture is accustomed to call ‘elders,’ not those who are mature by amount of years alone, but by ancientness of character. Hence it was said by a certain wise man: For venerable old age is not that of long time, nor counted by the number of years; but the understanding of a man is grey hairs, and a spotless life is old age. [Ws. 4:8-9] Whence the Lord also rightly said to Moses: ‘Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know are elders of the people’. [Num. 11:16]

In quibus quid aliud quam senectus cordis requiritur, cum tales iubentur eligi qui sense sciuntur? Si enim senectus in eis corporis quaereretur, a tantis sciri poterant, a quantis videri.

In such men what else is asked for except old age of the heart, when such people who are known to be elders are bidden to be chosen? For if it were the old age of the body that were sought in them, they might have been known by as many as they might have been seen by.

Dum vero dicitur: Quos tu nosti quod senes populi sunt, profecto liquet quia senectus mentis, non corporis, eligenda nuntiatur.

But whereas it is said, ‘whom you know are elders of the people,’ doubtless it is clear that the old age of the mind and not of the body is fit to be chosen.

Sanctam ergo Ecclesiam vident nunc iuvenes et absconduntur, senes vero ei assurgentes assistunt, quia vigorem eius atque rectitudinem immaturi formidant, grandevi glorificant. Leves quique sunt, fugiunt; graves vero atque perfecti hanc vitae suae meritis assurgendo venerantur. Disciplinam quippe illius perfecti diligent,] imperfecti reprehendunt. [Gregory the Great, Moralia in Hiob XIX, XVII, c. 26, CCSL 143A, pp. 977-978]

Thus now the young men see Holy Church, and hide themselves, and the old men rise up and stay in place because her activity and uprightness the immature fear and, the aged glorify. They that are light of mind flee, but the grave and perfect do homage to her by rising up to the merits of her life. Since the perfect love this discipline, the imperfect censure it. [Gregory the Great, Moralia in Hiob XIX, XVII, c. 26, translation adapted from John Henry Parker et al., vol. 2, London 1844]

De hac etiam senectute mentis B. Ambrosius in passione S. Agnetis martyris mirificentissime docet dicens: Noli infantiam corporalem ita in me despicere, ut putes me te habere velle propitium. Fides enim non in annis, sed in sensibus geritur, et Deus omnipotens mentes magis comprobat, quam aetates. [Ambrose of Milan, Epistolae segregatae 1, c. 6, PL 17, col. 737D-738A]

Saint Ambrose teaches most admirably about this ‘old age of the mind’ in his Passion of St. Agnes, when he says: You should not look down upon my bodily youth in such a way that you think that I want your kindness, since faith is shaped not by years but by reason, and the Almighty God tests minds rather than ages. [Ambrose of Milan, Epistolae segregatae 1, c. 6]

Infantia computabatur in annis, sed erat senectus mentis in moribus; corpore quidem juvencula, sed animo cana. [ibid., c. 1, col. 735B]

Her youth was measured in years, but her maturity of mind was in her character; indeed she was a young girl in body but aged in mind. [ibid., c. 1]

Sequitur: 2Qui portarius cellam debet habere juxta portam, ut venientes semper praesentem inveniant, a quo responsum accipiant; 3et mox ut aliquis pulsaverit aut pauper clamaverit, 'Deo gratias' respondeat et benedicat, 4et cum omni mansuetudine timoris Dei reddat responsum festinanter cum fervore caritatis.  

Next: 2The porter should have a cell next to the door, so those arriving will always find someone there from whom they can get an answer. 3As soon as someone knocks or a poor person calls out, he should reply 'Thanks be to God,' and bless (him) 4and he should give his reply quickly in the fear of God, with loving warmth and all the gentleness

Quod autem dicit: Qui portarius cellam debet habere juxta portam, ut venientes semper praesentem inveniant et rel.

He says this: 2The porter should have a cell next to the door, so those arriving will always find someone there, etc.

Antiquitus enim illi qui coquinam abbatis faciebant, ipsi etiam erant portarii, quia non erat tunc multitudo hospitum venientium ad monasterium, et ideo illi duo poterant haec facere. Nunc autem quia multitudo hospitum venientium est, ita debet fieri: debent enim esse duo portarii, et nil aliud agere debent, nisi nunciare solummodo abbati aut priori. Si autem pauper fuerit, innuit illi, ut ad hospitale vadat.

Long ago, the ones who handled the kitchen of the abbot were also the porters, since in those days not many guests came to the monastery and therefore those two people were able to do this job. But now, with all these guests coming this must be done: there must be two porters who have no tasks other than reporting to the abbot or prior. If it is a poor person, the porter directs him to the guesthouse.

Et ideo duo debent esse, ut cum unus vadit ad officium, alter vero sedeat cum hospite, aut cum vadit ad manducandum, alter remaneat, qui responsum reddat supervenienti. Nam in nostra provincia solarium habetur super portam et oratorium ibidem.

There must be two, so that when one of them goes to the daily prayers, the other sits down with a guest or when one goes to eat, the other stays in order to answer visitors. This is because in our region we have a solarium (gallery with windows) above the gate and also above the oratory.

Et bene dixit [page 606] ut aliquis pulsaverit vel pauper clamaverit, 'Deo gratias' respondeat aut benedicat et rel.; intelligitur, quia pauper clamat, dives pulsat.

And he said well: [page 606] As soon as someone knocks or a poor person calls out, he should reply 'Thanks be to God,' and bless (him), etc. He says so, because a poor man calls out and a rich person knocks.

Quod enim dicit: benedicat et 'Deo gratias' respondeat - benedicat ad divites vel potentes attinet, Deo gratias ad pauperes.

And when he says: he should bless and reply 'Thanks be to God,' the blessing refers to rich or powerful people, and the 'Thanks be to God' to the poor.

Notandum est, quia istud benedicat dicitur pro ‘benedic’, i. e. pro imperativo - quasi diceret: petat benedictionem et Deo gratias referat.

One should note that because it is said he blesses instead of ‘bless’ (benedic), that is, instead of an imperative, he says, as it were, he should ask for a blessing and should give thanks to God.1

Sequitur: 5Qui portarius si indiget solatio, juniorem accipiat fratrem. 6Monasterium autem, si possit fieri, ita debet constitui,2 ut omnia necessaria, i. e. aqua, molendinum, hortus, pistrinum vel artes diversae intra monasterium exerceantur, 7ut non sit necessitas monachis vagandi foras, quia omnino non expedit animabus eorum. 8Hanc autem regulam saepius volumus in congregatione legi, ne quis fratrum se de ignorantia excuset

Next: 5If the porter needs help, he should accept a younger brother for the purpose. 6If possible, the monastery should be set up so that all necessities – that is, water, a mill, a garden, a grain mill – are inside the monastic compound and various crafts can be practiced there, 7so there is no need for monks to roam outside, which is not at all beneficial for their souls. 8We want this Rule to be read out rather often in the community, so no brother can excuse himself on grounds of ignorance.   

Quod enim dicit saepius volumus legi hanc regulam, de traditione regulae dicit, quia nihil valet illa lectio, nisi fuerit ejus traditio adhibita.

When he says we want this Rule to be read out rather often he speaks about the tradition of the rule, because this reading is of no use, unless its tradition is applied.

Istud vero, quod dicit monasterium, si possit fieri et rel., non vetat, ut omnino in tali loco sit, ut illa omnia congruentia habeat, quae dicit: i. e. aqua, molendinum et rel.

When he says if possible, the monastery should etc., he does not forbid altogether that there be such a place so that the monastery have all suitable things he mentioned, that is, to water, a mill, etc. because he says: if possible.2

Eo quod dicit: si possit fieri; sed quominus necessaria reperiuntur ibi, minus debet illud monasterium aedificari. Si autem talis est jam ille locus, ut nil de his habeat, i. e. aqua, molendinum, pistrinum et rel., quae S. Benedictus dicit, nullo modo debet construi.

But the fewer of those necessities can be found at a place, the less that monastery should be built. But if it is such a place that does not provide any of these things Benedict talks about, thus neither water, nor a mill, a grain mill, etc., one should by no means build a monastery there.

Verumtamen sciendum est, quia ille, qui construit monasterium, debet illum locum providere et considerare congruentias et contrarietates illius loci ante, et omnia insuper debet constructor inspicere, si non est ille locus in tali loco, ubi impedimentum patiatur a rege aut a comite vel episcopo, veluti est locus, qui prope est de curte regis aut episcopi aut comitis, eo quod solet pro talibus personis impedimentum pati locus ille, aut certe ab aliis saecularibus, quarum consuetudinem habent quaedam loca, ubi feminae vel clerici aut laici causa officii faciendi veniunt.

However, it is important that someone who builds a monastery needs to foresee and consider the advantages and disadvantages of the place beforehand and, above all, the builder needs to investigate if the spot is in a place where it would suffer disturbance by a king or a count or a bishop: for example a place that that is close to a king’s, bishop’s or count’s court, because such a place usually suffers disturbance by such people and, certainly, by other secular people who are in the habit of using these places, where women, clerics and laypeople come in order to do their business.

Deinde etiam debet considerari locus ille, [page 607] si est aqua, silva et cetera, sicut necessarium est monachis, ut non pro tali occasione sit necessitas foras frequenter eundi.

Then it needs to be considered whether this place [page 607] has water, wood etc., because it is vital for the monks not to have to leave this place too often for that reason.

Deinde etiam debet ille constructor monasterii tantum donare in illum locum de substantia sua, unde tot monachi, quot ibidem esse debent, possint suam necessitatem supplere, i. e. victum vel potum seu vestimentum servorum, quam etiam et hospitum atque infirmorum, ut non sit necessitas monachis quaerere aliquid ab aliis, unde necessitatem monasterii possit supplere, quia solet contingere pro elemosynarum datione, si forte non ita aut tantae datae fuerint res, ut eorum necessitas suppleri possit, murmurium oriri inter fratres pro non suppleta necessitate.

Furthermore, the builder of a monastery needs to give as much of his property to this place that as many monks as there need to be at this place can supply their needs, that is, food and drink and clothing both for servants and for guests and the sick, so that the monks do not need to seek anything from others to be able to supply the needs of the monastery, because it usually happens that when money is given and by chance it has not been enough to fulfill the needs of the monks, discontent arises among the brothers because of unfulfilled needs.3

Et hoc sciendum est, quia cum dicit si possit fieri - quasi diceret: si fieri possit, fiat, i. e. si ista, quae superius dixi, habuerit ille locus, h. e. aquam, molendinum, hortum et cet. quas3 ipse enumerat, tunc fieri potest. Si autem minus defuerit, videlicet aqua solummodo, potest fieri, si necessitas cogit; aut etiam si minus fuerit [i. e.] silva, et necessitas fuerit, potest fieri, quia dicit: si possit.

We have to be aware that when he says if possible he said, as it were, if it can be done, that is, if that place I am talking about has the things he listed, that is water, a mill, a garden etc., than it can happen. However, if something minor is absent, namely just water, it can happen if it is absolutely necessary. Or, even if something minor is present, for example wood, and it is necessary it can happen, because he says if possible.

Et hoc sciendum est, quia prius investigari debet locus, sicut diximus, qui omnia, quae diximus, habeat, tunc est optimum. Quod si nullo modo potest reperiri locus, qui omnia habeat, et necessitas fuerit, inibi fieri, sicut diximus, ubi omnia illa non habuerit, potest fieri, quia dicit: si possit. Quod si nulla de ipsis causis, quas supra diximus, fuerit in illo loco, ibi non debet fieri, quia illud non concedit, eo quod cum dicit: si possit, manifestat intentionem suam, debere fieri, etiam si omnia non habuerit; nam si omnia defuerint, tunc non intelligitur ejus intentio, ut in tali loco concedatur fieri.

And one has to know that [the founder] first needs to search out a place, as we said, that has all the things we spoke about. That is the best. But if he can by no means find a place that has all that and it is necessary that it happens there, where not all that things are, it still can happen because he said if possible. But if none of the things I mentioned are in this place, it cannot happen, because [Benedict] does not allow it, for when he says if possible he expresses his intention that it should happen even if it does not have all those things. For if everything is absent then his intention is not to understood that it is allowed to happen in such a place.

Porta enim dicitur, sicut Isidorus dicit, quia potest vel importari vel exportari aliquid. Proprie enim porta aut urbis aut castrorum vocatur. [Isidore of Seville, Etymologiae 15, c. 2.22]

We call it gate (porta), as Isidore says, because it serves to ‘import’ and ‘export’ things. It is therefore correct to use gate also for a city or a stronghold. [Isidore of Seville, Etymologiae 15, c. 2.22]

Pistrinum quasi pilistrinum, quia pilo antea tundebant granum; unde et apud veteres non molitores sed pistores dicti sunt, quasi pinsores a pinsendis granis frumenti; molae enim usus nondum erat, sed [page 608] granum pilo pinsebant. Unde et Virgilius: Nunc torrete igni fruges, nunc frangite saxo. [Isidore of Seville, Etymologiae 15, c. 6.4]

The term mill house (pistrinum) comes from grinding tool (pilistrinum), because they used to grind grain with a pestle (pilum). Therefore also among the ancients they are not called millers but bakers, just like baker (pinsor) comes from ‘crushing’ (pinso) the grains of wheat. There was not yet the use of a mill but [page 608] they crushed grain with a pestle. Virgil said therefore: ‘Now parch the grain with fire, now grind it with a stone’. [Isidore of Seville, Etymologiae 15, c. 6.4]

Hortus nominatur, quod semper ibi aliquid oriatur; nam cum alia terra semel in anno aliquid fert, hortus numquam sine fructu est. [Isidore of Seville, Etymologiae 17, c. 10.1]

Garden (hortus) got its name because something is always growing (oriatur) there, for while other plots bring forth something only once a year, a garden is never without fruit. [Isidore of Seville, Etymologiae 17, c. 10.1]

1. other reading: vacari.
2. construi. Cod. Fürstz. (Mittermüller).
3. quae (?). (Mittermüller).

1. This passage does not make sense: the Rule itself reads Benedict: bless (me)
2. Hildemar is very confusing at this point. Maybe the Latin text is corrupted.
3. This is a somewhat free translation. Hildemar is very circuitous here.

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