St. Guthlac (673 – 714)
We Lose Dominion by Failing to Serve God
Too often we lose dominion over the creation which is subject to us precisely because we neglect to serve the Lord of all creation, as it is written, “If you be willing, and will harken unto me, you shall eat the good things of the land,” and so forth (Isaiah 1:19)….
~ Felix, Life of St. Guthlac, quoted in Clinton Albertson, SJ, Anglo-Saxon Saints and Heroes, pg. 197.
The Song of Guthlac
Cynewulf, the first great Anglo-Saxon poet, called Guthlac “the hero of our time.”
The following lines are extracted from his “Song of Guthlac.”
Triumphant came he [Guthlac] to the hill;
And many living things did bless his coming.
With bursting chorus and with other signs
The wild birds of the hill made known their joy
Because this well-loved friend had now returned.
Oft had he given them food
when hungry, even starving, they had come
Straight to his hand and from it ate their fill.
Bright was the glorious plain and his new home;
Sweet the birds sang; earth blossomed forth;
Cuckoos heralded the year…
~ Cynewulf, “About St. Guthlac,” quoted by Virginia Holmgren, Bird Walk through the Bible, Seabury Press, New York, 1972, pg. 13-14.
A British monk who lived on a small island near Lincolnshire, Saint Guthlack is one of England’s two most popular saints (along with St. Cuthbert). He was rather unpopular in his early years because of his example of abstinence from mead and other intoxicating drink, but as his healing abilities became known, he soon became a popular and respected figure. He is warmly regarded for his special affinity for the animals and the affection which the birds and waterfowl exhibited toward him.
Holiness Tames the Beasts
Brother, hast thou never learned in Holy Writ, that with him who has led his life after God’s will, the wild beasts and wild birds are tame?
~ Felix’s Life of St. Guthlac. Quoted in The Lives of the Saints, Vol. 12. By Sabine Baring Gould, Oxford University, 1873, p. 171.