Lately, I have been closely reading The Golden Legend, William Caxton’s late-fifteenth century English edition of the Legenda aurea, a comprehensive reference work of saint’s legends. While reading the chapter on Saint Swithun, this passage stood out to me:
“And on a time there came a woman over the bridge with her lap full of eggs, and a reckless fellow struggled and wrestled with her, and brake all her eggs. And it happed that this holy bishop came that way the same time, and bade the woman let him see her eggs, and anon he lift up his hand and blessed the eggs, and they were made whole and sound, ever each one, by the merits of this holy bishop, and being then glad she thanked God and this holy man for the miracle that was done to her.”
I find the juxtaposition between the lofty bishop and saint and the mundane woman with her broken eggs to be highly funny. The saint not only makes the time to stop for a woman with some broken eggs, but even uses his divine connection to God to restore them!
Oddly enough, this is not the only medieval account I’ve read in which broken eggs are miraculously restored. In the Life of Margaret of Ypres, by Thomas of Cantimpré (the same hagiographer who wrote the Life of Christina the Astonishing), the willful teenage ascetic is so busy meditating on God that her mother becomes angry with her for neglecting the housework. One day, in order to make it look like she helped out, she dumps out a bowl of what she believes to be broken eggshells into the yard. Of course, the eggs were whole rather than broken, and Margaret’s mother is furious. Margaret, however, prays to God and he deigns to restore them whole.
It just goes to show you–no problem is too small for divine intervention!