The Celtic Literature Collective

The Blessed Oil


I.—Nasciens, a cousin of Bredyr ap Efrog, the Chief of the Knights of the Round Table, from the time that Merddin established it, under Uthur Pendragon, until a part of Arthur’s age. And then Nasciens went as a hermit to the chapel Perilous in Ynys Wydrin. And he so pleased God, that an angel was wont to come to administer his mass, as Arthur himself saw, when Mary sent the Golden Cross to Arthur, which is in the monastery of Glastonbury, where Arthur himself placed it. And for that reason he carried a green buckler with a white cross and Mary’s image on its right arm, sitting on the upper part of the shield.

II.—And that Nasciens, by the command of the Holy Spirit, wrote all the account of the Holy Grail, with whom Blaes the hermit agrees, both that and a book that Merddin brought to the Glass Chapel, re¬hearsing the prowess of Arthur and his knights. And the book bears witness that Josephus, the son of Joseph of Arimathea, was consecrated Bishop in Dinas Farar, and was ordained with Blessed Oil, which seven angels of heaven brought to Joseph, and his son, and his twelve nephews, his sister’s sons, and four hundred other people, of the nearest to him in faith and creed and religion; and a command came from heaven to bid Joseph, and all the multitude, come to the island of Britain, and bring the Oil with them; and so they did.

III.—At that time Koel was king in Britain, and this Oil Dyfrig the Archbishop received, to consecrate Arthur as king, when he drew the sword from the stone in Caer Fudei. And for that reason he overcame all inroads, and his crown and arms are the high relics of the kingdom, because he was consecrated with the Blessed Oil from heaven. And it was given to Arthur to destroy every un¬spiritual oppression from among the Saints and Christians. And then that Oil was lost without anyone knowing where it went until the time that Thomas of Caer Gaint retired to escape from Henry, King of England.

IV.—And Thomas went to Pope Alexander, to the city of Sange, for there the Bishop of Rome was at that time. And Thomas showed the unjust robbery of his possessions, that King Henry was fain to commit. And as Thomas was one night in the church of Columba praying, and the Queen and her maidens begged that grace should be given to the icing of England, to love Cod, and to be merciful to wards the just thereupon he saw the Lady Mary, the Virgin, with an eagle in her hand and a vial of precious stone in the other, and putting the vial in the eagle, and placing the eagle in Thomas’s hand, and saying to him: Take the Holy Oil to consecrate some of the kings of the Isle of Britain withal, but not those that now are, nor those that shall come next, since they are evil, and for their sins they shall lose much of their domains. The first king that shall he ordained with this Oil, he shall gain and win back what the others lost, and shall build many temples to God, and drive the pagans in flight from Babylon, and shall win victory over all, so long as the eagle is with him. And do thon, Thomas, go home, and thou shalt be a martyr and a saint.

V.—Then Thomas asked Mary where he should keep the eagle. And then Mary said: There is a man in this town named William the Little, and he is sprung front Picardy, from a town called Siprina; and he was unjustly driven from his monastery, but he shall yet be abbot there: and do then place the eagle in his hand, and bid him hide it in the corner nearest to the west, in the Church of St. Gregory, under a stone of marble. And he shall be chief over the pagans, hecanse he gets the eagle. And Thomas placed the eagle in the hand of the monk and the tale in writing altogether; and the monk placed it in a chest of lead in the earth. And there¬after Sawden of Babylon warred fiercely against the Christians, and won the Holy Land, and then asked his gods how much of the country of the Christians he oonld win.

VI.—And the gods said he should march onward until the King of the Leopards should come, and the golden eagle, and men of arms hired with the price of wool. And he shall win and destroy many of the Saracens, by miracles of the eagle, and the might of the men that got their bread in their drink. And Sawden wondered who that king was; and one of the pagans said that he was the King of England, for there are three golden leopards in his arms, and he is rich in sheep, and his drink is made of corn. And then Sawden asked the gods where the eagle was, and they told him clearly. And then there was made a cry whether there was anyone who could go to the conntry to fetch the eagle. Then a Christian knight, who was in prison with the Saracens, said that he was sprung from Picardy. Then Sawden said that he should be set free, and all his fellows, if he would bring him the eagle. And therewithal he promised what would better him; so the knight promised, and found the eagle and vial in the leaden chest, and obtained with it the tale of prophecy, which Mary had uttered. And when the knight bad read that account, he bethought him that it was less sin for him to break his oath to the pagans, than canse a loss to the Christians for ever. And he brought the eagle to the Isle of Britain, and gave it to King Henry, and bade him keep it among the High Relics, and not give it to any until a warning came from God, as Mary directed in the writing. And so it was done. And the third took it by a Divine warning in the tenth year of his life in the kingdom. And after this it is not known as yet where it went, until God sees good to show it. And so ends the account of the Blessed Oil.

Peniarth MS 5. Llyfr Gwyn Rydderch
Jesus MS 111. Llyfr Coch Hergest

Selections from the Hengwrt Mss. Preserved in the Peniarth Library. Williams, Robert, ed. & trans. London: Thomas Richards, 1892.

The manuscript (or scripts) used by Williams is not identified in his translation, nor in the Welsh edition in his book.