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Died c. 664. Comm. also January 23 and February 23.

Saint Boisil was the prior of the famous abbey of Melrose (Mailross), situated on the Tweed River in a great forest in Northumberland, while Saint Eata was abbot. Both were English youths trained in monasticism by Saint Aidan. Saint Bede says that Boisil was a man of sublime virtues, imbued with a prophetic spirit. His eminent sanctity drew Saint Cuthbert to Melrose rather than to Lindisfarne in his youth. It was from Boisil that Cuthbert learned the sacred scriptures and virtue.

Saint Boisil had the holy names of the adorable Trinity ever on his lips. He repeated the name Jesus Christ with a wonderful sentiment of devotion, and often with such an abundance of tears that others would weep with him. With tender affection he would frequently say, How good a Jesus we have! At the first sight of Saint Cuthbert, Boisil said to bystanders, Behold a servant of God!

Bede produces the testimony of Saint Cuthbert, who declared that Boisil foretold to him the chief things that afterwards happened to him. Three years beforehand he foretold of the great pestilence of 664, and that hehimself should die of it, but that Eata the abbot should survive.

In addition to continually instructing his brothers in religion, Boisil made frequent excursions into the villages to preach to the poor, and to bring straying souls on to the paths of truth and life. He was also known for his aid to the poor.

Again, Boisil told Cuthbert, recovering from the plague, You see, brother, that God has delivered you from this disease, nor shall you ever feel it again, nor die at this time; but my death being at hand, neglect not to learn something from me so long as I shall be able to teach you, which will be no more than seven days. So Cuthbert asked, And what will be best for me to read which may be finished in seven days. To which Boisil replied, The Gospel of Saint John, which we may in that time read over, and confer upon as much as shall be necessary.

Having accomplished the reading in seven days, the man of God, Boisil, became ill and died in extraordinary jubilation of soul, out of his earnest desire to be with Christ.

During his life he repeatedly instructed his brothers, That they would never cease giving thanks to God for the gift of their religious vocation; that they would always watch over themselves against self-love and all attachment to their own will and private judgement, as against their capital enemy; that they would converse assiduously with God by interior prayer, and labour continually to attain to the most perfect purity of heart, this being the true and short road to the perfection of Christian virtue.

Bede relates that Saint Boisil continued after his death to interest himself particularly in obtaining divine mercy and grace for his country and his friends. He appeared twice to one of his disciples, giving him a charge to assure Saint Egbert, who had been hindered from preaching the Gospel in Germany, that God commanded him to repair the monasteries of Saint Columba on Iona and in the Orkneys, and to instruct them in the right manner of celebrating Easter.

The relics of Boisil were translated to Durham, and deposited near those of his disciple, Saint Cuthbert, in 1030 (Benedictines, Delaney, Husenbeth).

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