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The Life of Saint Dwywai the Ecstatic

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MessagePosté le: Ven Avr 11, 2008 3:37 am    Sujet du message: The Life of Saint Dwywai the Ecstatic Répondre en citant

In 1455, two Launcestonian scholars - digging through documents in the church archive - unearthed historical accounts of a remarkable woman from their home town. Working together, they pieced her story together from the tattered pieces of parchment.

The Life of Dwywai the Ecstatic

Patronage: acrobats, brewers, epileptics, executioners, gravediggers, lepers, librarians, mental illness, peasants, possessed people, pyromaniacs, spontaneous human combustion, town drunks, village idiots.


Today all humanity unites in celebrating a triumphant conqueror in the assembly of Jah's ministers; this feast signifies Dwywai's everlasting remembrance, a most blessed and holy woman who redeemed so many barbarian beer vats from spoilage. Let us weave, as it were, a garland of words over her sacred brow and greet her with the due mead of praise on the anniversary of her joyous passing into the angels' paradise.


The Childhood of Dwywai

Dwywai was born in Launceston, County Cornwall, England. Her father Urien, a local butcher, was well known for his explosions of violent rage. Her mother, Nyfein, a beauty unrivalled throughout the county, had long hair the color of malted grain. A savoury odour of flowering hops wafted from her lips, which were as plump and red as the froghoppers that ravaged the vines. Dwywai adored Nyfein and would often "shadow" her throughout the home brewing process, tugging at her long braid whenever she had questions. Nyfein told her friends and neighbors that they should drink ale instead of water for its "gift of health," advice that Dwywai would echo in her adolescence.

When Dwywai was only nine years old, her parents exchanged harsh words in his workshop, and her father was seen pelting his wife with slabs of unbutchered meat. Urien was heard by several villagers threatening to behead his wife with a meat cleaver. Nyfein fled into the fog of the Bodmin Moor and, as she was never seen again, many feared that she was eaten by the phantom Beast of Bodmin. Rumours persisted that the butcher followed his wife into the mist and made good on his threats.

Distressed by the loss of her mother, Dwywai became increasingly prone to violent seizures and even involuntary levitation. She climbed trees during hailstorms, darted into flaming ovens, and scaled church spires crackling with thunderbolts and electrical sparks (when she did not levitate outright) in dramatic attempts to escape her father's scandal, which she could smell* on his person. When Urien could no longer bear his daughter's presence, he sent her away to live in the nunnery of Tarrant-Kaines in Dorset.

Sister Dwywai and the Miracles at Tarrant-Kaines

Dwywai adapted well to life at Tarrant-Kaines. She retreated into the comforting aroma of the brewery, perfecting the craft she had learned from her mother. During her time at the Abbey, the taste and quality of the beer is said to have improved dramatically, as if the vats were blessed by Jah himself. The faithful travelled to the Abbey from throughout Dorset to taste the miraculous brew, and the Abbey was able to sustain itself through its brewing operations. Brewers throughout England began to recite Dwywai's prayer, hoping it would produce the same results:

Bless, O Jah, this creature beer, that Thou hast been pleased to bring forth from the sweetness of the grain: that it might be a salutary remedy for the human race: and grant by the invocation of Thy holy name, that, whosoever drinks of it may obtain health of body and a sure safeguard for the soul. Through Christos. Amen.

Some of the nuns believed that the beer should be reserved for sales to lay Aristotelians as it was too rich to be part of their simple lives; they sipped water to quench their thirst. Dwywai claimed she could smell the taint of sin in the Abbey's drinking water and urged the sisters to drink only ale, but her pleas did not convince them. One morning, when she was delivering bandages to the infirmary, Dwywai observed that the sick sisters were none other than those who drank only water. She beseeched the Mother Apothecary to serve them beer instead, and the sisters returned to good health almost immediately. At the time, this event was regarded as a miracle, but modern science way scholars know that Dwywai saved countless lives from such ills as the black plague by encouraging them to drink only water heated and filtered during the brewing process.

She quickly learned to read and spent much of her time in the Scriptorium absorbing the few writings the Abbey had in its collection. One of the older sisters taught her to write, and she soon learned to copy the elegant script used in the official documents. In unused areas of the parchment, she drew crude representations of Christos, Aristotle, and the saints using coloured inks she made from plants and clays of the earth. The Head Librarian encouraged her efforts, and Dwywai was eventually asked to illustrate the altar manuscript.

Sheltered within the Abbey, Dwywai's spirit and nerves were calmed, and she felt as pure and hopeful as she had before the disappearance of her mother. She grew into a beautiful woman whose goodness seemed to radiate about her. When she toiled in the hops fields singing softly to herself, pilgrims and other travelers would stop to watch her. Word soon spread of her extraordinary beauty and brewing abilities.

The Martyrdom of Dwywai

Back in Cornwall, Urien scoured the county for a suitable and equally beautiful replacement for Nyfein. In Exeter, he heard stories of his lovely daughter and knew that she had acquired her mother's countenance. Driven mad by his desires, he made the journey to Tarrant-Kaines carrying little other than his meat cleaver, lest his long-lost daughter resist his advances.

Dwywai was seeding the hops field when she saw him approach. At once, she ran into the cold cellar and hid from him there, amid the immature brews. When Urien arrived at the nunnery, the Abbess met him at the door and denied him entry, though she pledged to find Dwywai and bring her outside the Abbey to meet with him. A thorough search of the grounds was conducted, and it took several hours to find the sister. Dwywai explained her fears to the Abbess, who agreed to help her escape. Though she generally resisted baths for fear of the impure water, Dwywai was quite willing to submerge herself in a vat of beer. Dwywai was carried out of the cellar inside the vat, which was then loaded onto a pilgrim's cart that would be return to Dorchester soon.

In Dorchester, the vat was opened, and Dwywai was discovered. The once-pious pilgrim was overwhelmed with lust at the sight of the ale-soaked Dwywai, and he grabbed at her sinfully. Instantly, she was overcome by religious ecstasy so severe as to be cataleptic, and witnesses believed that she died. During her funeral, she suddenly recovered and levitated to the roof of the church. The priest ordered her to descend, and she obeyed, landing on the altar.

She lived in Dorchester for the remainder of her life. Now exiled from the calming presence of the Abbey, the horrors of her childhood resurfaced. The stench of sin on her neighbours so disturbed her that she would sleep on rocks, levitate, spend long periods of time in the tombs, or even surround herself by flames to escape it. Miraculously, none of these acts harmed her. She encouraged the peasants to avoid water by drinking and bathing only in beer. Believing Dwywai to be a curious gift from Jah, they accepted her pronouncements more readily than her sister nuns had. The idiots of the village were thus transformed into town drunks, with the exception of two dullards who insisted on bathing in boiling cauldrons of oil. Dwywai was said to turn the bathwater of the poorest and most disadvantaged into beer at her touch. Thus, the peasants were spared exposure to the pathogens and impurities of water.

The noblemen could never accept her ecstatic convulsions, however, and were especially troubled by her acts of self-harm. When Dwywai strapped herself to a mill wheel to be dragged, apparently without injury, round and round through the river muck, they claimed that she was "swarming with demons." An executioner was summoned to vanquish her epileptic episodes, and she was grilled alive on a gridiron. Even as he threw snakes and scorpions onto the human flambé, she “lay therein as she had lain in cold water, thanking and loving Jah,” then cried out, “I am already roasted on one side and, if thou wouldst have me well-cooked, it is time to turn me on the other.” After sizzling on the griddle for ten days, she took flight with nary a scorch mark since she had learned her fire-eating techniques from children fleeing burning orphanages. She is credited by learned scholars of the church way with having started the flagellation craze, in which monks whipped their backs to rid their hair-shirts of snout weevil infestations.

The Relics of Dwywai

One night, while rolling around in a nail-spiked beer barrel, Sister Dwywai exploded – the first recorded case of spontaneous human combustion. For many centuries, relic hunters claimed her smouldering legs fetched twelve more treasure chests than Saint Dymphna’s head, due to their curious habit of floating away from the auction floor. The parish church of Holy Hasselhoff in Launceston includes in its vault the right forearm of Dwywai ("the arm with which she stirred the vat") as among its most prized relics.
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