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Dryhthelm

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Dryhthelm

Dryhthelm
Born Cunninghame?, kingdom of Northumbria
Died 8th century
unknown
Honored in
Medieval England
Major shrine Melrose Abbey (destroyed)
Feast 1 September

Dryhthelm (fl. c. 700), also known as Drithelm or Drythelm, was a monk associated with the monastery of Melrose known from the Historia Ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum of Bede. According to the latter, before entering the religious life he lived with his family in "a district of Northumbria which is called Incuneningum".[1] Incuneningum is thought by some modern scholars to refer to Cunninghame, now part of Ayrshire.[2]

As Bede has it, Dryhthelm died (c. 700) but came back to life a few hours later, scaring away everyone but his wife.[1] Dryhthelm portioned his wealth out between his wife, sons and the poor, and became a monk at Melrose.[3] As a monk he established a reputation for being able to endure bodily torment, reciting psalms standing up in the river Tweed even when the river was icy.[4]

While temporarily dead, Dryhthelm was apparently given a tour of the afterlife by a celestial guide. In the "vision of Dryhthelm", the future monk of Melrose was shown hell, purgatory, and heaven, along with some of the souls therein, but was denied entry to paradise.[5] Purgatory was a place of extreme heat and cold, Hell a place where souls burned, heaven a place of intense light, and paradise a place of even greater light.[6] As a result, one modern historian has called him "a remote precursor of Dante".[7]

Bede says that Dryhthelm related the tale to Aldfrith king of Northumbria, Æthelwold bishop of Lindisfarne and an Irish monk called Haemgisl.[5] A similar vision of the afterlife was later reported by Boniface, who described a vision of hell experienced by a monk of Much Wenlock.[6] Prior to Bede and Boniface, the Vita sancti Fursei, had attributed a like vision to its own hero, Fursa, and Bede himself quoted this in part.[6]

Dryhthelm was celebrated a century later in Alcuin's De pontificibus et sanctis Ecclesiae Eboracensis.[7] More than a century after Alcuin, Ælfric of Eynsham celebrated the vision and believed it had been given to instruct others.[8] Dryhthelm is listed as resting at Melrose in the resting-place list of Hugh Candidus.[9] His feast day is 1 September.[7]

Notes

  1. ^ a b Colgrave, McClure and Collins, Ecclesiastical History, p. 253; Farmer, Oxford Dictionary of Saints, s.v. "Drithelm", p. 136
  2. ^ Colgrave, McClure and Collins, Ecclesiastical History, p. 414; Farmer, Oxford Dictionary of Saints, s.v. "Drithelm", p. 136
  3. ^ Colgrave, McClure and Collins, Ecclesiastical History, p. 253; Lapidge, "Visions", p. 462
  4. ^ Colgrave, McClure and Collins, Ecclesiastical History, pp. 257–58; Farmer, Oxford Dictionary of Saints, s.v. "Drithelm", p. 136
  5. ^ a b Colgrave, McClure and Collins, Ecclesiastical History, pp. 253–58; Farmer, Oxford Dictionary of Saints, s.v. "Drithelm", p. 136; Rabin, "Bede, Dryhthelm, and the Witness to the Other World", p. 395
  6. ^ a b c Lapidge, "Visions", p. 462
  7. ^ a b c Farmer, Oxford Dictionary of Saints, s.v. "Drithelm", p. 136
  8. ^ Rabin, "Bede, Dryhthelm, and the Witness to the Other World", pp. 383–84
  9. ^ Blair, "Handlist", p. 563

References

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