Contents Gemma Caelestis
O Costly Gem

Based on the events of Benedict's life as recorded by Saint Gregory the Great in his Dialogues, this hymn is found in the works of St. Peter Damian, O.S.B., Bishop, Cardinal, and Doctor of the Church (1007-1072). This is the Vespers hymn from the Breviarum Monasticum for the feast of St Benedict.

GEMMA caelestis pretiosa regis,
Norma iustorum, via monachorum,
Nos ab immundi, Benedicte, mundi,
Subtrahe caeno.
O costly gem in God's celestial crown,
Benedict! the faithful guide of monk and saint,
On us, thy children, fondly deign look down,
And guard our hearts from earth's corrupting taint.
Tuum solum spernens, cor in astra figens,
Cogis haeredes fieri parentes,
Vas Deo plenum reparare fractum
Severing the ties of earthly home, thy soul
Was ravished with the love of things divine:
The broken vessel, once again made whole,
Told what rich stores of merit then were thine.
Magnus in parvis Eremetia membris,
Vincis aetatem, superas laborem;
Arcta districtae rudimenta vitae
Fervidus imples.
Within thy gentle frame, thus early glowed
A hermit's soul; hushed was the passion's strife:
With heart inflamed you trod the thorny road,
And scaled the lofty steps of mystic life.
Strage saxorum puerum sepultum
Mox ut orasti, preces suscitasti,
Sensus hinc carni, caro sanitati
Redditur aeque.
The boy, entombed beneath the sunken wall,
One fervent prayer was potent to restore;
And to that mangled frame the life recall,
And to to those cheeks the bloom that erst they wore.
Iure sub blandae specie columbae,
Nesciam fellis animarum sororis,
Summa stellati penetrare caeli
Culmina cernis.
Beneath the emblem of a gentle dove,
Thou seest thy sister's spirit take its flight,
Borne on the wings of pure seraphic love,
To realms resplendent with celestial light.
Ipse post clarum referens triumphum,
Celsa devicto petis astra mundo,
Luce flammantem radiante cellam
Pallia sternunt.
A like glad triumph was for thee anon,-
Life's struggles o'er, to God thy spirit fled;
Around thy cell the stars serenely shone,
And o'er thy path their flaming mantles spread.
Laus honor Patri, parilique Proli
Una Maiestas, eadem Potestas,
Cum quibus Sanctus simul implet omnem
Spiritus orbem.
To the Father, and the the Son, in majesty
And power the same, be praise and glory given;
And to the Holy Ghost, who, with them both,
Diffuses life and love through earth and heaven.

From A Manual of Devotions to Our Holy Father Saint Benedict..., Catholic Publishing & Bookselling Company, London 1861. Tr. by J. W. R.

<- Prev

©copyrighted by Michael Martin