The Haughton Miracle
Our first story ‘The Haughton Miracle’ was taken from ‘The History and Antiquities of the Parish of Darlington’ by W. Hylton Dyer Longstaffe. It tells us about a Saint called Godric of Finchale, near Durham, who died in 1170 and of all the miracles that then occurred afterwards, when people visited his tomb.
One such miracle was that of a young girl who had leprosy and suffered terribly at the hands of her step father because of this.
Rather than transcribe the story in modern day wording, it has been typed ‘word for word’ in the language and spelling used by Longstaffe.
This account is said to be true and set in Haughton-le-Skerne.
THE HAUGHTON MIRACLE
In a vill in the bishopric of Hailtune (the ancient name for Haughton-le-Skerne) and well known from all other towns in that region, dwelt a widow and her only daughter who was grievously tormented with a most loathsome leprosy.
The mother remarried a man who soon began to view the poor girl with the greatest horror, and to torment and execrate her after the usual manner of a step-father.
The mother yearned towards her offspring by another, and did all she could to screen her from her husband’s persecution. Yet could not admit her to any society - not even her own family.
She fled for aid to the priest of the vill, who, moved with compassion, procured by his entreaties the admission of the damsel to ‘the hospital of Dernigntune, which was almost 3 miles distant, and was called by name Badele’ - and accompanied by the mother and other poor friends conducted her thither himself. In that infirmary for those who by ‘the secret judgement of God’ were stricken with the contagion of leprosy.
She remained there for 3 years, but only grew worse daily. For a putrid scar (which never healed) completely crossed her face, and, with open sores of raw flesh here and there, running with gaping courses over the sound part in a poisonous stream, rendered her whole visage most horrible.
A withered line marked the extremes of her lips all around, by reason of long sickness which had eaten the parts belonging them away to the bottom. These and other operations of her disease had so reduced her wasted frame, that all hope of any health, at any period of life altogether seemed vain.
At length with faith placed against the belief of all, having heard of the frequent miracles done at the sepulchre of the Saint, the mother led her afflicted offspring thither and earnestly entreated the compassion of the man of God. Once and twice, night and day, did her prayers seem lost and she returned home; but at her third approach Godric hearkened.
Such a sudden pain darted into the head of the patient while at the tomb that she could scarcely bear so severe and sudden a feeling, for the clemency of the Saint was poured out, and he settled and removed the noxious humours.
The sweat was so fervid that the mother led her to the water, washed her face, moistened her head, and returned to the tomb. She remained quiet for some time there, and drew the hood with the covering over it from her head, when her mother drawing nearer, and looking into her face, beheld it perfectly sound. All the sores of her former leprosy had disappeared, her lips were healthy and delicate - and her whole countenance clear as when a child.
They returned home in joy, and never again did the disease return, but the patient lived long to extol the power given by God to his servant Godric.
Of this miracle there were (continues the historian) as many true witnesses as there were men who frequented Halietune and the hospital of Badele.
As well as Ralph Haget, the sheriff (for Bishop Pudsey), who told the prior and convent that he had himself seen the girl both before and after the miracle had occurred - and that although she was perfectly whole, the scars were marked by a slight redness and that the extremes of her lips, which had been surrounded by broken flesh, were now round and full but rather elevated above the rest.
Normanrus, the kind priest, asserted the same things, and went onto exhibit his charge, wholly restored, in his church to the parishioners.