One of the aspects of medieval life I find most interesting is stories. I am particularly fond of religious stories, tales of saints and martyrs (because who doesn’t like a good head choppy saga?!). This story, the Hodoeporicon of St. Sudafed is based on a particular type of religious story, the hodepocorian, which relates the travel adventures of a saint or mystic.
This story was written after one of my dear friends and I got simultaneously sick (very sick) while trying to run one of the group’s two major events. We were silly, there was much sudafed.
As with all good medieval hagiographies, the Hodoeporicon of St. Sudafed is, in part, based on other hagiographies, in this case the Life of St. Lebuin from the Internet Medieval Sourcebook (http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/lebuin.html), which is in the public domain (in the United States).
You can read the authentically medieval Hodoeporicon of St. Willibald here: http://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/basis/willibald.asp. There is an interesting essay the early modern, but not religious, Hodoeporicon Ruthenicum here: http://www.ucd.ie/readingeast/essay6.html.
The Hodoeporicon of St. Sudafed, the unclogger of obstacles, patron of autocrats
The land of Oertha was converted to the faith of Christ by Rus traders seeking pelts and meat. Though these beginnings were less glamorous than the beginnings of the rest of the great Kingdom of the West, they have produced no less splendid examples of virtue. And just as it is prolific in flora and fauna, so also is it productive of pious and holy men. In Oertha one finds laymen devoted to service, virgins of exceptional virtue, and monks who willingly spurn the glories of the world for the glory of heaven. Indeed, many of these people have wandered beyond the borders of the Principality to the betterment of foreign lands.
The Lord Himself sent St. Sudafed away from his home in the icy northern reaches to minister to the heathens of Caid, in the example of his great Western predecessor St. Colin the Dude. Upon receiving the command of the Lord for the third time, St. Sudafed took himself away to the Shire of Haines and sailed from there south to the Kingdom of An Tir, whereat he met with the priest Phenol and took a short rest at the Cathedral Town of Bellingham. Although Phenol was only a priest, he fulfilled the duties of bishop as he was the son of the Royal House of An Tir and had been brought up in the service of St. Aldith, that wise woman who gave counsel to Kings and Popes.
St. Sudafed told the Priest Phenol that the Lord had commanded him and asked to be shown to the road south to Caid that he might fulfill his obligation. Phenol gave him his best horse and set him upon the coastal path that would take him safely south.
It was upon this road that the first of St. Sudafed’s miracles occurred. While traveling through his native Kingdom, Sudafed came upon a worried woman on the road. When he asked her what brought her such woe she replied that the whole of the Western people would be descending upon her in a fortnight for the Coronation of the new King. Feeling her desperation and piety, St. Sudafed took out of his satchel three red plates and told the woman to break one whenever things seemed at their worst and help would come. Recognizing the worth of the plates the woman thanked St. Sudafed and offered him what food she had in recompense. With this, the two parted ways.
At the Coronation, celebrated on the Feast of Epiphany, the woman on the road faced many obstacles but never broke the plates for fear that, if she did, three more terrible things would appear. After the revelries had finished she realized that the plates were still unbroken and the miracle that St. Sudafed had wrought, giving her the strength to withstand the demands of the Steward without divine aid. In thanks, she gave the plates to the Cathedral of St. Stanislaus at Canale that they would bear witness to the holiness of St. Sudafed. They are there to this day and every four years there is a great pilgrimage to see them brought out of the Cathedral in great pomp and splendor.
As Sudafed continued his travels south, he wrought many more wonders, curing the sick and aiding those who found themselves with great obstacles in their path. In the Province of Golden Rivers he begged God to lift up the cloud that fogged the minds of those who worked for the betterment of the state and assaulted their sense and reason. God did indeed do this, though the people of Golden Rivers were not suitably impressed and so God, in his jealousy, allowed the cloud to sink in again.
In Caid the multitudes who had been converted by the holy St. Colin had gone the way of all flesh and the new generations were not so receptive to the Lord’s teachings. However, St. Sudafed was as gifted with oratory as he was with traveling and soon converted many to the path of righteousness. As more people accepted his teachings, they built an oratory for him near the western bank of the great Aqueduct that connected Caid and the West. Not long afterward they built him a church and a dwelling house on the eastern side of the same Aqueduct and Sudafed was content to stay there and do the work of Christ. From time to time he would travel to the neighboring Kingdom of Atenveldt to see if he could gain souls to God, and he persuaded many to accept the faith of Christ. Among the men he converted was a man of nobility named Folbert who lived in the Barony of Atendveldt.
But it was impossible for one so touched by the light of Christ to remain in concealment for long, nor for the seed of Saintliness to grow without persecution. Complaints began among those who did not believe and they began to threaten St. Sudafed because some of their number had abandoned the ancient ways and turned to God. “Why do we not get hold of this Sudafed,” they said, “and turn him out for gadding about the province and jabbering his incantations and sending people out of their minds?” And so, they banded together in a mob, burned down his church and drove out the Christians and the holy Sudafed from their midst.
Sudafed took this as a sign from the almighty that he should begin his travels once more and find a place where the light of God could be nurtured and brought to a terrible brightness. Having been driven from his former lands, Sudafed traveled to the court of the previously mentioned Folbert to seek the will of God.
Folbert had a son Folernie who was to be baron after him. To ensure that Folernie would be a pious and prudent ruler after he had gone, Folbert asked Sudafed to be his son’s tutor and travel with them to the great gathering north of Tir Ysgithr. At the gathering, called Estrella for the celestial and heavenly wisdom sought by its attendees, Folbert heard scheming and machinations against St. Sudafed that had been begun by the wicked Caidians. Warning his friend he sought to send Sudafed away, but he, the holy saint, refused to leave having run once from Caid and not wanting to run again. Instead, he went into the desert to pray and ask God for guidance.
As Estrella drew to an end, Folbert worried that he had not seen his friend but his worries were allayed when, at the final court of the visiting Kings, Sudafed walked out of the wilderness dressed in sumptuous robes and carrying a great golden crosier and jeweled gospel. The Kings, who had been arguing at great length over who would have the right to call the next meeting were stunned to silence by Sudafed’s appearance as the week had been dank and wet and no-one’s finery had escaped the mud. But Sudafed’s robes were untouched by the dirt and water; instead they glistened with golden threads and fine embroidery. “Oh Kings,” Sudafed spoke to the stunned assemblage, “you who have turned away from the light of Christ, know now his justice. This gathering will take place every year in the second week of the second month that you might know that you are second to God and should accept his teachings in all things.” The assembled Kings were persuaded and thus did St. Sudafed perform his second miracle and prevent a great war.
Sudafed lived for many years among the lands of Folbert until his friend passed into the hands of the Lord. After Folernie assumed the title and lands of his father, St. Sudafed begged his leave to return to the land of his birth so that he might spend what time he had left in solitude and contemplation. Folernie was saddened to see his tutor go, but gave him his best horse and a guard to the borders of the Kingdom of Atenveldt.
St. Sudafed travelled north, stopping in towns and hamlets to work small miracles of healing and reconciliation. As he travelled he gained a holy reputation such that as he once again reached the border of An Tir the King of that land was there to greet him. The King feted St. Sudafed with a great feast and brought him with the royal party back to the Cathedral Town of Bellingham where the priest Phenol had been consecrated Bishop and welcomed his old friend with great joy. St. Sudafed rested in Bellingham for seven days, in which he wrote letters to other holy men and cured townspeople of their ills.
On the eighth day, a ship arrived in Bellingham that was bound to travel north to Oertha, St. Sudafed took passage on this ship and there performed his final miracle.
One of St. Sudafed’s passengers was a friend of the woman he had met on the Road outside the Cathedral Town of Canale. She had heard of his wonders and begged him for help with her problem. She and her sister had been commissioned to plan the selection and Coronation of the next Prince and Princess of Oertha, but many things had gone wrong and they were weary. As she told the holy Sudafed her story he handed her his handkerchief, when her fingers touched the holy cloth her fears were eased. “Truly,” she cried, “you are holy among men and can work great miracles!” She begged St. Sudafed that he might come to her sister who was also on the ship and heal her from the great illness from which she suffered full mightily. St. Sudafed followed the woman to the bedside of her sister and saw the blister pack from an An Tirian apothecary sitting on the bedside, “you were right to give her this,” he praised the woman, “but you did not buy enough and by that you show the foolishness that marks your gender.” St. Sudafed took the blister pack into his hands and prayed to the Lord that He might find a solution. When he returned it to the sister’s bedside, the blister pack was full and whole, and the sister began to become well.
On the fourth day of the journey, St. Sudafed received from God the knowledge that his days on the earth were at an end. Armed with this, St. Sudafed went a last time to the sister’s bedside to pray with her that she might be cured as his own health failed. On the morning of the fifth day, the woman came down to her sister’s bedside and found her sister well and sitting amongst a scattering of fragrant lavender flowers. To her great sadness she saw though that in the night St. Sudafed had passed into the company of the Saints. She wept and wept until her sister comforted her saying, “last night I existed in a wasteland bereft of scent and sound, by giving up his mortal body, St. Sudafed has brought me back to you that we might complete our preparations and see crowned a new Prince.” Though still saddened by the holy man’s death, the woman persevered and brought his remains to the Abbey of St. Guinefort to be buried in holy ground that he might be praised above his kinsmen.
To this day, those seeking healing or aid in their endeavors, come to his shrine at the Abbey of St. Guinefort and leave gifts of lavender and handkerchiefs in hope that his grace might touch them as it had those women of long ago.