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A letter from Bugga, abbess (c.720)



Translated letter: 

To Boniface or Winfred, venerable servant of God, endowed with many symbols of spiritual gifts, most worthy priest of God, Bugga, a humble housemaid, sends greetings of enduring affection.
Be it known to your gracious authority that I give thanks without ceasing to Almighty God, that, as I learn from the letter of Your Holiness, He has shown His mercy to you in many ways, leading you gently through lands unknown. First He inclined the pontiff of the Glorious See to grant the desire of your heart. Next He laid low before you Rathbod, that enemy of the Catholic Church. Then he revealed to you in a dream that it was your duty to reap the harvest of God, gathering in sheaves of holy souls into the storehouse of the heavenly kingdom. Therefore I am the more confident that no change of earthly conditions can turn me away from the sheltering care of your affection. The power of love grows warm within me, as I perceive that through the support of your prayers I have reached the haven of a certain peace. And so I humbly beg you again that you may be pleased to offer up to God your earnest intercession for unworthy me, so that His grace may keep me from harm through your protection.
Know also that the Sufferings of the Martyrs which you asked me to send you I have not yet been able to get, but as soon as I can I shall send it. And you, my best beloved, comfort my insignificance by sending me, as you promised in your dear letter, some collection of the sacred writings.
I beg you further to offer some holy Masses for the soul of a relative of mine who was dearest of all to me and whose name was N . . .
I am sending you by this same messenger fifty 'solidi' and an altar cloth, the best I can possibly do. Little as it is, it is sent with great affection.
Farewell in this world and "in love unfeigned."

Original letter: 

Venerando dei famulo et plurimis spiritalium carismatum ornamentis praedito Bonifatio sive Wynfritho dignissimo dei presbitero Bugga vilis vernacula perpetuae caritatis salutem.
Notum sit almitatis tuae auctoritati, quod gratias omnipotenti Deo referre non desino, eo quod tibi — in scriptione beatitudinis tuae agnovi — multipliciter misericordiam suam tribuit, ut te transeuntem per ignotos pagos piissime conduxit. Primum pontificem gloriosae sedis ad desiderium mentis tuae blandiendum inclinavit. Postea inimicum catholicae ecclesiae Rathbodum coram te consternuit. Deinde, per somnium temet ipso revelavit, quod debuisti manifeste messem Dei metere et congregare sanctarum animarum manipulos in horream regni caelestis. Idcirco eo magis confiteor, quod nulla varietas temporalium vicissitudinum statum mentis meae inclinare queat a proposita caritatis tuae custodia. Sed ardentius vis amoris in me calescit, dum pro certo cognosco, per orationum tuarum suffragia ad portum alicuius quietis pervenisse. Ideo iterum humiliter moneo, ut intercessionum tuarum studia pro mea parvitate Domino offerre digneris, quatenus sua gratia me faciat incolumem cum tuis protectionibus.
Simulque sciat caritas tua, quod passiones martyrum, quas petisti tibi transmitti, adhuc minime potui impetrare. Sed, dum valeam, faciam. Et tu, mi carissimus, dirige meae parvitati ad consolationem, quod per dulcissimas litteras tuas promisisti, id est congregationes aliquas sanctarum scripturarum.
Similiter deposco, ut sanctarum missarum oblationes offerre digneris pro anima mei propinqui, qui mihi prae ceteris carus erat, cui nomen erat N. Et per eundem portitorem tibi transmitto nunc quinquaginta solidos et pallium altaris; quia maiora munuscula minime potui adipiscere. Sed tamen haec sunt cum maxima caritate directa, licet sint parva in specie.
Vale in hoc saeculo sancte et "in caritate non ficta."

Historical context: 

Bugga congratulates Boniface on overcoming an enemy of the church, explains that she can not yet send a book he requested, though she does send money and an altar cloth, and asks him to say masses for a relative.

Printed source: 

MGH, Epistolae Merovingici et Karolini Aevi, 6, S.Bonifacii et Lulli Epistolae, ep.15; translation, Ephraim Emerton, The Letters of Saint Boniface (New York: Columbia University Press, 1940, repr.2000), pp.18-9. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.