"Book-prayers prevail, If, nail for nail (1), Thou tellest on, Forgetting none."
Thorarin Loftunga was himself with King Svein, and heard these great testimonials of King Olaf's holiness, that people, by the heavenly power, could hear a sound over his holy remains as if bells were ringing, and that candles were lighted of themselves upon the altar as by a heavenly fire. But when Thorarin says that a multitude of lame, and blind, and other sick, who came to the holy Olaf, went back cured, he means nothing more than that there were a vast number of persons who at the beginning of King Olaf's miraculous working regained their health. King Olaf's greatest miracles are clearly written down, although they occurred somewhat later.
ENDNOTES: (1) Before the entrance of the temples or churches were posts called Ondveigis-sulor, with nails called Rigin-naglar -- the gods' nails -- either for ornament, or, as Schoning suggests, to assist the people in reckoning weeks, months, festivals, and in reckoning or keeping tale of prayers repeated, and to recall them to memory, in the same way as beads are used still by the common people in Catholic countries for the same purpose. -- L.
260. OF KING OLAF'S AGE AND REIGN.
It is reckoned by those who have kept an exact account, that Olaf the Saint was king of Norway for fifteen years from the time Earl Svein left the country; but he had received the title of king from the people of the Uplands the winter before. Sigvat the skald tells this: --
"For fifteen winters o'er the land King Olaf held the chief command, Before he fell up in the North: His fall made known to us his worth. No worthier prince before his day In our North land e'er held the sway, Too short he held it for our good; All men wish now that he had stood."
Saint Olaf was thirty-five years old when he fell, according to what Are Frode the priest says, and he had been in twenty pitched battles. So says Sigvat the skald: --
"Some leaders trust in God -- some not; Even so their men; but well I wot God-fearing Olaf fought and won Twenty pitched battles, one by one, And always placed upon his right His Christian men in a hard fight. May God be merciful, I pray, To him -- for he ne'er shunned his fray."