Saint of the Day – 3 October – St Virila OSB (c 870- c 950) Benedictine Monk, Abbot. Born in a small village near Tiermas, Spain and died in c 950 in Leyre, Navarre, Spain of natural causes. Also known as – St Virila of Navarre, Virila of Leyre.
Virila was the Abbot of the Monastery of Saint Saviour of Leyre, Yesa of Navarre, Spain. He also restored the Monastery of St Julian de Samos and helped spread Benedictine monasticiasm in Galicia. He made a pilgrimage to Rome and then visited all the Monasteries in the Pyrenees mountains.
There is a famous miracle regarding Virila, relating to his desire to understand the Mystery of eternity. A legend tells of one day while meditating in the nearby woods, Vitila fell asleep. When the Abbot awoke he discovered that 300 years had passed.
Tradition has it, that Saint Virila himself told the tale:
“… At that time the dilemma of eternity tormented me and doubts assailed me incessantly. I prayed to God, our Lord, to enlighten me on this Mystery and turn on the light in my heart. One spring evening, as I used to do, I went out for a walk among the leafy trees of the Sierra de Leyre.
Fatigued, I sat down to rest next to a fountain and stood there absorbed and hypnotised, listening to the beautiful song of a nightingale.
After a few hours, in my opinion, I returned to the Monastery. As I passed the main entrance, no Monk brothers were familiar to me. I walked around the various buildings, surprising myself with every detail and gradually realising that something strange had happened.
Understanding that no-one recognised me, I went to the Prior who, astonished, listened to my story carefully. We went to the library to try to decipher this enigma and by consulting ancient documents, we discovered that “three hundred years ago, a holy monk, called Saint Virila, had ruled the Monastery and had been devoured by beasts during one of his spring walks” …
With the tears in my eyes, I realised that I was that Monk and that God had finally answered my prayers.
If the song of a single bird can entertain a man for three centuries, what cannot the divine light of the Saviour do?“
Then a nightingale entered the Abbey with a ring in its beak. The nightingale placed the ring on Saint Virila’s finger and he became Abbot again.