(Adjutor built the priory of the Madeleine to Pressagny the Arrogant)
SAINT ADJUTOR'S LIFE . MYTHS AND REALITIES.
Adjutor was born to Vernon around 1070 under king Philippe's the Ist administration of France. His father was Jean de Vernon whose existence is revealed to us only by Hugues, archbishop of Rouen, who wrote saint Adjutor's life, died towards 1094.
He left of his marriage with Rosamonde, daughter of Guillaume de Blaru and granddaughter of Pierre the founder of saint Hilaire's priory, three sons : Richard, Mathieu and Adjutor. Richard took part in the conquest of England and this fact Mathieu and Adjutor collected Guillaume's inheritance.
From his most early childhood, Adjutor espressed lively and fervent worship. His education was entrusted to Bernard de Tiron who was at one time at monk at Saint Cyprien of Poitiers, for whom Ajutor showed a great reverence for the rest of his days. To note that the proceeding of canonization of St Bernard de Tiron are the longest the history of the Christendom: 744 years from 1117 till 1861.
Since the year 1066 until the year 1086, Jean de Vernon lived peacefully in his county ; but, in this last year, Philippe Ier, king of France, taking advantage of the estrangement of the duke of Normandy, occupied with repressing faction in England, came to besiege Vernon, which fell for some months in his power.
It is about this time that saint Adjutor left Tiron's convent and returned in his family. He built on the hill that surmounts today the castle of Madeleine, the pavilion that he called his house of the Mount. It is there that, sharing his days between the hunting and prayer, he waited for the moment to dedicate himself to the service of God and the Church.
Count Jean died in 1094. Mathieu his elder son, succeeded him. The next year, the first crusade having been preached, saint Adjutor armed a company of about two hundred men and " taking the livery of the cross " left for Palestine.
From this place of the story, it is necessary for us to leave the plausible part, to enter for the legendary period of saint Adjutor whose fame has scarcely exceeded Normandy.
Most of the texts having allowed to write this history relate to the writings full of artless admiration, of Jean Théroude, priest of Vernon in .1640.
One day going out of Tambire, small place on the West of Antioche, Adjutor fell in an ambush laid out some fifteen hundred infidels. The forces in presence were uneven, also his frightened soldiers would have abandoned him if the enemy had not removed them all means of retreat. Saint Adjutor prostrated himself humbly on the ground, raised his heart to God and begged for his help by the intercession of Saint Madeleine. Offering his prayer to this saint, Adjurtor madethe vow that, if by her help he gained the victory, he would give his house of the Mountain its dependences to the monks of Tiron-au-Perche, and that he would build in her honor near the aforementioned house a chapel which he would endow wilh his possessions as soon as he would be back in the country.
Hardly had he finished this prayer that a thunder storm with flashes of lighting sowed terror in the ranks of enemy.
Saint Adjutor qiuchly rallied his soldiers who hurled themselves on the enemy, whom more than one thousand were killed on the spot.
This fight had even witnesses quoted in the Manuscript of Madeleine : Héliodore de Blaru, Jean de Bréval, Guy de Chaumont, Richard de Harcourt, Odes of Port-Mort, Anselme de Chantemesle, Pierre de Courtigny, Henri de Préaux etc. …
Saint Adjutor goes through Palestine, fighting and praying. He went to the grave of the Christ which it is said he watered with his tears. After seventeen years of faithful services, God, wanting to try his faith let him fall in the hands of the infidel in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem. He was tied up in heavy chains. His gaolers, irritated by his peace and courage, doubled chains and threw him in a dungeon. He did not stop praying and lifting his heart up to God.
One night help came from above. He saw saint Madeleine on his right-hand side and saint Bernard on his left who carried him in one night from Jerusalem to his house of the Mount near Vernon. They said "goodbye" to him with these words " Here is the place of rest that we have chosen " . This was around the year 1129.
This miracle is verified by Hugues, archbishop of Rouen, on the testimonies of the afore mentioned witnesses, who told having seen him and eaten with him the day before his disappearances.
Grateful of his supernatural liberation, saint Adjutor summoned the archbishop of Rouen and Guillaume, the second abbot of Tiron's convent to whom he gave all his worldly goods. Then he build the priory of Madeleine, according to the vow which he had made at Tambire, and gave himself up to the austerities of convent life with a passion which the archbishop felt he had to moderate.
For some years, Rosamonde de Blaru had withdrawn in a convent ; on learning of the unhoped-for return of her son, she wen to the Madeleine . She was a witness of the miracle of the abyss.
Edmond Meyer in his book : "History of Vernon and its châtellénie", reports the following legend: " The inhabitants of Blaru tell that saint Adjutor, carried off to the wood of Madeleine in one night from Jerusalem, called a young shepherd keeping watch over his flock not far from there and ordered him to go to Blaru's castle where his mother was to give her the news of the return of her son. This return was so unhoped-for everyone refused to believe in it and that the shepherd had to return without having been able to convince anybody.
Adjutor ordered him to return to Blaru and to announce, to testify of the truthfulness of his story, that the three bells of the church were going to ring by themselves : they started chiming, but people were too gullible to accept this miracle, they claimed that people had been put to ring the bells and the shepherd returned a second time towards Saint Adjutor.
This one sent him back again to Blaru " You will announce my return, said he, says and if no one there will believe, the rooster which is on the spit in the kitchen of the castle, will sing three times ".
Rosamonde of Blaru, convinced by this last miracle, went to Madeleine to embrace her son, but it was too late : Adjutor had died.
And so the popular legend grew still more attractive, by new fictions of the fabulous adventures of the crusaders come back from Palestine ".
These are the specificity of legends, saint Adjutor would have returned supernaturally in a night from Jerusalem (3000 km) and his mother Rosamonde would have taken at least two years to go from Blaru to Madeleine (14 km).
Let us return to the miracle of the abyss that saint Adjutor made in the Seine in front of his house at the locality Mouths Manon.
There was in this place of the river a whirlpool which gobbled up the skippers ignorant of its existence ; their boats were first of all irresistibly attracted by the current, then snatched up bodies and goods.
A similar fact having occurred since his return, saint Adjutor was very afflicted. He announced this to archbishop Hugues, asked him to come and celebrate the mass of the holy Spirit in his chapel, then both taking a boat, they went to the abyss.
Having arrived at the point where this one began to attract them, Bishop Hugues gave his blessing with some holy water, then Adjutor calling upon saint Madeleine and Saint Bernard de Tiron, dropped in the streams some of his chains brought back from captivity. From this moment on, the whirlpool stopped demonstrating .
Mr . E.Meyer in his book previously quoted attributes this legend to the gratitude of the people for some work of public utility executed in the bed of the river, by the orders of the Lords of Vernon.
An unknown poet of the XVII ° century so tells of this supernatural event:
An abyss in the neighbouring Seine
By its tortuous streams ruins
And the men and the boats
Sinking them in the heart of the waters ;
But Adjuteur does not long suffer
The discomfort of this abyss ;
Feeling touched by pain,
Hugues his prelate he calls up ;
They go by same skiff
To terminate this misfortune.
On these waters this distinguished prelate
Makes of the cross the sacred sign ;
Adjuteur, at once,
To chase away this eminent evil,
Cast in these inhuman waves
A portion of his chains :
Then lifting his hands to the sky,
His Madeleine he bothers
To stop the misfortune,
And calm these inhuman streams.
Please , hear, reader, a miracle
Which seldom was the same :
The danger from then on stopped,
The noise of streams calmed down.
There in no river where one sees
The running of the wave more still ;
The boatman can steer his nave
Assuredly by this place
In a easy going quiet
Without dreading any mischief.
Saint Adjutor feeling his strength declining bit by bit asked the archbishop of Rouen and the Father Abbot of Tiron to come to assist him in his last moments. Answering his call, both prelates found their friend at the last extremity and administered him the sacrament for the dying.
Saint Adjutor breathed his last in his hermitage on April 30, 1131. The disappearance plunged the inhabitants of the region into great sadness. He was buriel in the chapel. Vernonnais did not forget his benefactions and they put their city under his protection. One established a Brotherhood in his honor and the skippers remembering the miracle which he had accomplished in the Seine took him as patron saint of their corporation. We did not find a document confirming this.
Rosamonde of Blaru had taken the veil and had also withdrawn to Madeleine. She was buried near her son, whose fame of holiness had spread in the dioceses of Rouen, Evreux and Chartres, where he was honored under different names : Saint Adjuteur, saint Ajoutre, saint Ayoutre or saint Ustre.
Dom Baudot in his dictionary of hagiography says that one calls upon him against the fires, hail and the epidemics, but there is never mention of patronage of sailors.
In the Iconography of the Christian art, it is written : " saint Adjutor, prisoner of the infidels, escaped by swimming, but was recaptured " do it(he). Should we see in this the reason for his invocation by the swimmers in danger of drowning, the skippers of the Seine and the captives ?.
One can not pass over in silence the post-mortem miracles awarded to saint Adjutor. Théroude tells of the cure of Jean and André de Tourni, of blind Pierre de Pressagni, of Bacqueville's dropsy, and of Jean d' Andeli " quite misshapen, who was put back in his natural posture ".
He relates besides, the story of a distant expedition " beyond the Prussia " in which the Norman knights in a battle, called for the protection of Saint Madeleine and Saint Adjutor, and gained a victory. We tell this story only because it is doubtless a question here of one of the numerous adventurous expeditions begun so often, in the Middle Age, by the nobility, and especially because we see represented there Richard de Vernon.
Guillaume de Flandre, Robert de Bar, Pierre de Clermont, Anselme de la Roche-Guyon, Dreux d' Ivri, Guillaume de Bacqueville, Pierre de Blaru, André de Garancières, Simon de Sacquenville, and number of other Norman knights testified in front of Eudes, 58Ième Archbishop of Rouen, to the truthfulness of this fact.
Théroude adds that they did not satisfy themselves with their vows to the chapel of Madeleine " as they had obliged themselves. But seeing there were not enough returns for the maintenance of divine service, they widely gave alms to it from their belongings. "
After saint Adjutor's death, the monks of Tiron back a quarter of the forest to Mathieu de Vernon, who granted to them in exchange numerous favours by a charter dated April, 1132, in which he took the title of Lord of Vernon and Tourni, and that signed Guiscard de Bacqueville, Eudes and André de Portmort, Eudes de Pressagni, Robert de Blaru, etc. …
He mentions, in this important act, the many lordly royalties from which the monks will be exempted in the future : " tolls, works, entries of doors, what one owes to pass on bridges, duties, sizes, measurement, rights of markets, what one owes to sell wine, displays on squares, what one owes to the executives of the justice, the rights of juicer, mills, ovens and all other sort of royalty, repairs of ovens, bridges, roads, cities, castles and of their guard, night watches, etc. … " This enumeration indicates indeed all the loads which burdened the society of that time.
"Written by R.G"
"Transladed by Marie de Tilly"
2000/2003 Any forbidden reproductions