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Title: A Short History of Monks and Monasteries
Author: Wishart, Alfred Wesley, 1865-1933
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Short History of Monks and Monasteries" ***





Sometime _Fellow_ in _Church History_ in _The University of Chicago_




The aim of this volume is to sketch the history of the monastic
institution from its origin to its overthrow in the Reformation period,
for although the institution is by no means now extinct, its power was
practically broken in the sixteenth century, and no new orders of
importance or new types have arisen since that time.

A little reflection will enable one to understand the great difficulties
in the execution of so broad a purpose. It was impracticable in the
majority of instances to consult original sources, although intermediate
authorities have been studied as widely as possible and the greatest
caution has been exercised to avoid those errors which naturally arise
from the use of such avenues of information. It was also deemed
unadvisable to burden the work with numerous notes and citations. Such
notes as were necessary to a true unfolding of the subject will be found
in the appendix.

A presentation of the salient features of the whole history was
essential to a proper conception of the orderly development of the
ascetic ideal. To understand the monastic institution one must not only
study the isolated anchorite seeking a victory over a sinful self in the
Egyptian desert or the monk in the secluded cloister, but he must also
trace the fortunes of ascetic organizations, involving multitudes of
men, vast aggregations of wealth, and surviving the rise and fall of
empires. Almost every phase of human life is encountered in such an
undertaking. Attention is divided between hermits, beggars,
diplomatists, statesmen, professors, missionaries and pontiffs. It is
hoped the critical or literary student will appreciate the immense
difficulties of an attempt to paint so vast a scene on so small a
canvas. No other claim is made upon his benevolence.

There is a process of writing history which Trench describes as "a moral
whitewashing of such things as in men's sight were as blackamoors
before." Religious or temperamental prejudice often obscures the vision
and warps the judgment of even the most scholarly minds. Conscious of
this infirmity in the ablest writers of history it would be absurd to
claim complete exemption from the power of personal bias. It is
sincerely hoped, however, that the strongest passion in the preparation
of this work has been that commendable predilection for truth and
justice which should characterize every historical narrative, and that,
whatever other shortcomings may be found herein, there is an absence of
that unreasonable suspicion, not to say hatred, of everything monastic,
which mars many otherwise valuable contributions to monastic history.

The author's grateful acknowledgment is made, for kindly services and
critical suggestions, to Eri Baker Hulbert, D.D., LL.D., Dean of the
Divinity School, and Professor and Head of the Department of Church
History; Franklin Johnson, D.D., LL.D., Professor of Church History and
Homiletics; Benjamin S. Terry, Ph.D., Professor of Medieval and English
History; and Ralph C.H. Catterall, Instructor in Modern History; all of
The University of Chicago. Also to James M. Whiton, Ph.D., of the
Editorial Staff of "The Outlook"; Ephraim Emerton, Ph.D., Winn Professor
of Ecclesiastical History in Harvard University; S. Giffard Nelson,
L.H.D., of Brooklyn, New York; A.H. Newman, D.D., LL.D., Professor of
Church History in McMaster University of Toronto, Ontario; and Paul Van
Dyke, D.D., Professor of History in Princeton University.

Trenton, March, 1900.


PREFACE,  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .      5
BIBLIOGRAPHY,   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     13


MONASTICISM IN THE EAST, .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     17
  The Hermits of Egypt,  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     33
  The Pillar Saint,   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     51
  The Cenobites of the East,   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     57


    340-480 A.D.,  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     71
  Monasticism and Women, .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    106
  The Spread of Monasticism in Europe,  .  .  .  .  .    115
  Disorders and Oppositions,   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    124


THE BENEDICTINES,  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    131
  The Rules of Benedict, .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    138
  The Struggle Against Barbarism, .  .  .  .  .  .  .    148
  The Spread of the Benedictine Rule,   .  .  .  .  .    158


REFORMED AND MILITARY ORDERS,  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    173
  The Military Religious Orders,  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    197


THE MENDICANT FRIARS, .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    205
  Francis Bernardone, 1182-1226 A.D.,   .  .  .  .  .    208
  The Franciscan Orders, .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    226
  Dominic de Guzman, 1170--1221 A.D.,   .  .  .  .  .    230
  The Dominican Orders,  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    241
  The Success of the Mendicant Orders,  .  .  .  .  .    242
  The Decline of the Mendicants,  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    253


THE SOCIETY OF JESUS, .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    258
  Ignatius de Loyola, 1491-1556 A.D.,   .  .  .  .  .    261
  Constitution and Polity of the Order, .  .  .  .  .    265
  The Vow of Obedience,  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    266
  The Casuistry of the Jesuits,   .  .  .  .  .  .  .    272
  The Mission of the Jesuits,  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    276
  Retrospect,   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    284


THE FALL OF THE MONASTERIES,   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    286
  The Character of Henry VIII.,   .  .  .  .  .  .  .    290
  Events Preceding the Suppression,  .  .  .  .  .  .    293
  The Monks and the Oath of Supremacy,  .  .  .  .  .    301
  The Royal Commissioners and their Methods of
    Investigation, .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    308
  The Report of the Commissioners,   .  .  .  .  .  .    316
  The Action of Parliament, .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    319
  The Effect of the Suppression Upon the People, .  .    322
  Henry's Disposal of Monastic Revenues,   .  .  .  .    328
  Was the Suppression Justifiable?   .  .  .  .  .  .    331
  Results of the Dissolution,  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    347


CAUSES AND IDEALS OF MONASTICISM, .  .  .  .  .  .  .    354
  Causative Motives of Monasticism,  .  .  .  .  .  .    355
  Beliefs Affecting the Causative Motives, .  .  .  .    365
  Causes of Variations in Monasticism,  .  .  .  .  .    371
  The Fundamental Monastic Vows,  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    375


THE EFFECTS OF MONASTICISM, .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    386
  The Effects of Self-Sacrifice Upon the Individual,     390
  The Effects of Solitude Upon the Individual,   .  .    393
  The Monks as Missionaries,   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    398
  Monasticism and Civic Duties,   .  .  .  .  .  .  .    399
  The Agricultural Services of the Monks,  .  .  .  .    403
  The Monks and Secular Learning, .  .  .  .  .  .  .    405
  The Charity of the Monks, .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    410
  Monasticism and Religion, .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    412

APPENDIX, .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    425
INDEX, .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    433

       *       *       *       *       *


CHURCH OF SAINTE MARIE DE PORTIUNCULE,  .  .  .  .  _facing title_.

After the painting by J.J. Weerts. Originally published by
Goupil & Co. of Paris, and here reproduced by their permission.

     [Jean Joseph Weerts was born at Roubaix (Nord), on May 1,
     1847. He was a pupil of Cabanel, Mils and Pils. He was
     awarded the second-class medal in 1875, was made Chevalier of
     the Legion of Honor in 1884, received the silver medal at the
     Universal Exposition of 1889, and was created an Officer of
     the Legion of Honor in 1897. He is a member of the "Société
     des Artistes Français," and is _hors concours_.]

SAINT BERNARD, .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    192

After an engraving by Ambroise Tardieu, from a painting on glass
in the Convent of the R.P. Minimes, at Rheims.

     [Ambroise Tardieu was born in Paris, in 1790, and died in
     1837. He was an engraver of portraits, landscapes and
     architecture, and a clever manipulator of the burin. For a
     time he held the position of "Geographical Engraver" to the
     Departments of Marine, Fortifications and Forests. He was a
     member of the French Geographical and Mathematical

SAINT DOMINIC, .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    230

From a photograph of Bozzani's painting, preserved in his cell at
Santa Sabina, Rome. Here reproduced from Augusta T. Drane's
"History of St. Dominic," by courtesy of the author and the publishers,
Longmans, Green & Co., of London and New York.

     ["Although several so-called portraits (of St. Dominic) are
     preserved, yet none of them can be regarded as the _vera
     effigies_ of the saint, though that preserved at Santa Sabina
     probably presents us with a kind of traditionary
     likeness."]--_History of St. Dominic_.

     [In the "History of St. Dominic," on page 226, the author
     credits the portrait shown to "Bozzani." We are unable to
     find any record of a painter by that name. Nagler, however,
     tells of a painter of portraits and historical subjects,
     Carlo Bozzoni by name, who was born in 1607 and died in 1657.
     He was a son of Luciano Bozzoni, a Genoese painter and
     engraver. He is said to have done good work, but no other
     mention is made of him.]

IGNATIUS DE LOYOLA,  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    261

After the engraving by Greatbach, "from a scarce print by H.
Wierz." Originally published by Richard Bentley, London, in 1842.

     [W. Greatbach was a London engraver in the first half of the
     nineteenth century. He worked chiefly for the "calendars" and
     "annuals" of his time, and did notable work for the general
     book trade of the better class.]

     [A search of the authorities does not reveal an engraver
     named "H. Wierz." This is probably intended for Hieronymus
     Wierex (or Wierix, according to Bryant), a famous engraver,
     born in 1552, and who is credited by Nagler, in his
     "Künstler-Lexikon," with having produced "a beautiful and
     rare plate" of "St. Ignaz von Loyola." The error, if such it
     be, is easily explained by the fact that portrait engravers
     seldom cut the lettering of a plate themselves, but have it
     engraved by others, who have a special aptitude for making
     shapely letters.]


ADAMS, G.B.: Civilization during the Middle Ages.
ARCHER, T.A., and KINGSFORD, CHARLES L.: The Crusaders.
BARROWS, JOHN H., (Editor): The World's Parliment of Religions.
BLUNT, I.J.: Sketches of the Reformation in England.
BLUNT, JOHN HENRY: The Reformation of the Church of England,
  its History, Principles and Results.
BRYCE, JAMES: The Holy Roman Empire.
BURNET, GILBERT: History of the Reformation of the Church of
BUTLER, ALBAN: Lives of the Saints.
CARLYLE, THOMAS: Past and Present: The Ancient Monk. Miscellaneous
  Papers: Jesuitism.
CAZENOVE, JOHN G.: St. Hilary of Poitiers and St. Martin of Tours.
CHALIPPE, CANDIDE: The Life of St. Francis of Assisi.
CHILD, GILBERT W.: Church and State Under the Tudors.
CHURCH, R.W.: The Beginning of the Middle Ages.
CLARK, WILLIAM: The Anglican Reformation.
CLARKE, JAMES FREEMAN: Events and Epochs in Religious History.
COOK, KENINGALE: The Fathers of Jesus.
COX, G.W.: The Crusaders.
CUTTS, EDWARD LEWES: St. Jerome and St. Augustine.
DILL, SAMUEL: Roman Society in the Last Century of the Western
DRAPER, JOHN WILLIAM: History of the Intellectual Development
  of Europe.
DRAKE, AUGUSTA T.: The History of St. Dominic.
DUGDALE, Sir WILLIAM: Monasticum Anglicanum.
DURUY, VICTOR: History of Rome.
ECKENSTEIN, LINA: Woman Under Monasticism.
EDERSHEIM, ALFRED: The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah.
ELIOT, SAMUEL: History of Liberty.
FARRAR, FREDERICK W.: The Early Days of Christianity.
FOSBROKE, J.D.: British Monachism.
FROUDE, JAMES ANTHONY: History of England.
GAIRDNER, JAMES, and SPEDDING, JAMES: Studies in English History.
GASQUET, FRANCIS A.: Henry VIII. and the English Monasteries.
GASQUET, FRANCIS A.: The Eve of the Reformation.
GIBBON, EDWARD: Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
GIESELER, J.K.L.: Manual of Church History.
GNEIST, RUDOLPH: History of the English Constitution.
GNEIST, RUDOLPH: The English Parliament.
GREEN, JOHN RICHARD: History of the English People.
GUÉRANGER, PROSPER: Life of St. Cecilia.
GUIZOT, F.P.G.: The History of France.
GUIZOT, F.P.G.: The History of Civilization in Europe.
HALLAM, HENRY: Europe During the Middle Ages.
HALLAM, HENRY: Constitutional History of England.
HALLAM, HENRY: Introduction to the Literature of Europe.
HARDY, R. SPENCER: Eastern Monasticism.
HARDWICK, CHARLES: History of the Christian Church in the Middle
HARNACK, ADOLF: Monasticism: Its Ideals and Its History: _Christian
  Literature Magazine_, 1894-95.
HILL, O'DELL T.: English Monasticism: Its Rise and Influence.
HUGHES, T.: Loyola and the Educational System of the Jesuits.
HUME, DAVID: The History of England.
JAMESON, ANNA: Legends of the Monastic Orders.
JESSOPP, AUGUSTUS: The Coming of the Friars.
KINGSLEY, CHARLES: The Roman and the Teuton.
LAPPENBERG, J.M.: A History of England Under the Anglo-Saxon
LARNED, J.N.: History for Ready Reference and Topical Reading.
LEA HENRY C.: History of the Inquisition in the Middle Ages.
LEA, HENRY C.: Sacerdotal Celibacy in the Christian Church.
LECKY, WILLIAM E.H.: History of Rationalism in Europe.
LECKY, WILLIAM E.H.: History of European Morals.
LEE F.G.: The Life of Cardinal Pole.
LINGARD, JOHN: History of England.
LINGARD, JOHN: History and Antiquities of the Anglo-Saxon
LORD, JOHN: Beacon-Lights of History.
LORD, JOHN: The Old Roman World.
LUDLOW, JAMES M.: The Age of the Crusades.
MACKINTOSH, JAMES: History of England.
MAITLAND, SAMUEL R.: Essays on the Reformation.
MATHEWS, SHAILER: Social Teachings of Jesus.
MILMAN, HENRY H.: The History of Latin Christianity.
MILMAN, HENRY H.: The History of Christianity.
MONTALEMBERT, C.F.R.: Monks of the West.
MOSHIEM, J.L. VON: Institutes of Ecclesiastical History.
NEANDER, AUGUSTUS: General History of the Christian Religion
  and Church.
OLIPHANT, MARY O.W.: Life of St. Francis of Assisi.
PARKMAN, FRANCIS: The Jesuits in North America in the Seventeenth
PIKE, LUKE OWEN: A History of Crime in England.
PUTNAM, G.H.: Books and Their Makers in the Middle Ages.
READE, CHARLES: The Cloister and the Hearth.
RUFFNER, H.: The Fathers of the Desert.
SABATIER, PAUL: Life of St. Francis of Assisi.
SCHAFF, PHILIP: History of the Christian Church.
SCHAFF, PHILIP, and WACE, HENRY, (Editors): The Nicene and
  Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church. (Lives and
  writings of Jerome, Athanasius, Cassian, St. Martin of Tours,
  and other early supporters of the monastic movement).
SCOTT, WALTER: The Monastery.
SIENKIEWICZ, HENRY K.: The Knights of the Cross.
SMITH, PHILIP: Student's Ecclesiastical History.
SMITH, R.F.: St. Basil.
STANLEY, ARTHUR P.: History of the Eastern Church.
STILLÉ, CHARLES J.: Studies in Medieval History.
STORRS, RICHARD S.: Bernard of Clairvaux.
STRYPE, J.: Annals of the Reformation.
STUBBS, WILLIAM: Lectures on the Study of Medieval History.
TAUNTON, ETHELRED L.: The English Black Monks of St. Benedict.
THOMPSON, R.W.: The Footprints of the Jesuits.
THURSTON, H.: The Life of St. Hugh of Lincoln.
TRAILL, H.D.: Social England.
TRENCH, RICHARD C.: Lectures on Medieval Church History.
TREVELYAN, GEORGE M.: England in the Age of Wycliffe.
VAUGHAN, ROBERT: Revolutions in English History.
VAUGHAN, ROBERT: Hours with the Mystics.
WADDINGTON, GEORGE: History of the Church.
WATERMAN, LUCIUS: The Post-Apostolic Age.
WHITE, A.D.: A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology.
WHITE, JAMES: The Eighteen Christian Centuries.
WOODHOUSE, FREDERICK C.: The Military Religious Orders of
  the Middle Ages.

ENCYCLOPÆDIAS: McClintock and Strong, Schaff-Herzog, Brittanica,
  English, and Johnson. (Articles on "Monasticism,"
  "Benedict," "Francis," "Dominic," "Loyola," etc.)

Many other authorities were consulted by the author, but only
those works that are easily accessible and likely to prove of direct value
to the student are cited above.





The monk is a type of religious character by no means peculiar to
Christianity. Every great religion in ancient and modern times has
expressed itself in some form of monastic life.

The origin of the institution is lost in antiquity. Its genesis and
gradual progress through the centuries are like the movement of a mighty
river springing from obscure sources, but gathering volume by the
contributions of a multitude of springs, brooks, and lesser rivers,
entering the main stream at various stages in its progress. While the
mysterious source of the monastic stream may not be found, it is easy to
discover many different influences and causes that tended to keep the
mighty current flowing majestically on. It is not so easy to determine
which of these forces was the greatest.

"Monasticism," says Schaff, "proceeds from religious seriousness,
enthusiasm and ambition; from a sense of the vanity of the world, and an
inclination of noble souls toward solitude, contemplation, and freedom
from the bonds of the flesh and the temptations of the world." A strong
ascetic tendency in human nature, particularly active in the Orient,
undoubtedly explains in a general way the origin and growth of the
institution. Various forms of philosophy and religious belief fostered
this monastic inclination from time to time by imparting fresh impetus
to the desire for soul-purity or by deepening the sense of disgust with
the world.

India is thought by some to have been the birthplace of the institution.
In the sacred writings of the venerable Hindûs, portions of which have
been dated as far back as 2400 B.C., there are numerous legends about
holy monks and many ascetic rules. Although based on opposite
philosophical principles, the earlier Brahminism and the later system,
Buddhism, each tended toward ascetic practices, and they each boast
to-day of long lines of monks and nuns.

The Hindoo (Brahmin) ascetic, or naked philosopher, as the Greeks called
him, exhausted his imagination in devising schemes of self-torture. He
buried himself with his nose just above the ground, or wore an iron
collar, or suspended weights from his body. He clenched his fists until
the nails grew into his palms, or kept his head turned in one direction
until he was unable to turn it back. He was a miracle-worker, an oracle
of wisdom, and an honored saint. He was bold, spiritually proud, capable
of almost superhuman endurance. We will meet him again in the person of
his Christian descendant on the banks of the Nile.

The Buddhist ascetic was, perhaps, less severe with himself, but the
general spirit and form of the institution was and is the same as among
the Brahmins. In each religion we observe the same selfish
individualism,--a desire to save one's own soul by slavish obedience to
ascetic rules,--the extinction of natural desires by self-punishment.
"A Brahmin who wishes to become an ascetic," says Clarke, "must abandon
his home and family and go live in the forest. His food must be roots
and fruit, his clothing a bark garment or a skin, he must bathe morning
and evening, and suffer his hair to grow."

The fact to be remembered, however, is that in India, centuries before
the Christian Era, there existed both phases of Christian monasticism,
the hermit[A] and the crowded convent.

[Footnote A: Appendix, Note A.]

Dhaquit, a Chaldean ascetic, who is said to have lived about 2000 B.C.,
is reported to have earnestly rebuked those who tried to preserve the
body from decay by artificial resources. "Not by natural means," he
said, "can man preserve his body from corruption and dissolution after
death, but only through good deeds, religious exercises and offering of
sacrifices,--by invoking the gods by their great and beautiful names, by
prayers during the night, and fasts during the day."

When Father Bury, a Portuguese missionary, first saw the Chinese bonzes,
tonsured and using their rosaries, he cried out, "There is not a single
article of dress, or a sacerdotal function, or a single ceremony of the
Romish church, which the Devil has not imitated in this country." I have
not the courage to follow this streamlet back into the devil's heart.
The attempt would be too daring. Who invented shaved heads and monkish
gowns and habits, we cannot tell, but this we know: long before Father
Bury saw and described those things in China, there existed in India the
Grand Lama or head monk, with monasteries under him, filled with monks
who kept the three vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. They had
their routine of prayers, of fasts and of labors, like the Christian
monks of the middle ages.

Among the Greeks there were many philosophers who taught ascetic
principles. Pythagoras, born about 580 B.C., established a religious
brotherhood in which he sought to realize a high ideal of friendship.
His whole plan singularly suggests monasticism. His rules provided for a
rigid self-examination and unquestioning submission to a master. Many
authorities claim that the influence of the Pythagorean philosophy was
strongly felt in Egypt and Palestine, after the time of Christ. "Certain
it is that more than two thousand years before Ignatius Loyola assembled
the nucleus of his great society in his subterranean chapel in the city
of Paris, there was founded at Crotona, in Greece, an order of monks
whose principles, constitution, aims, method and final end entitle them
to be called 'The Pagan Jesuits[B].'"

[Footnote B: Appendix, Note B.]

The teachings of Plato, no doubt, had a powerful monastic influence,
under certain social conditions, upon later thinkers and upon those who
yearned for victory over the flesh. Plato strongly insisted on an ideal
life in which higher pleasures are preferred to lower. Earthly thoughts
and ambitions are to yield before a holy communion with the Divine. Some
of his views "might seem like broken visions of the future, when we
think of the first disciples who had all things in common, and, in later
days, of the celibate clergy, and the cloisteral life of the religious
orders." The effect of such philosophy in times of general corruption
upon those who wished to acquire exceptional moral and intellectual
power, and who felt unable to cope with the temptations of social life,
may be easily imagined. It meant, in many cases, a retreat from the
world to a life of meditation and soul-conflict. In later times it
exercised a marked influence upon ascetic literature.

Coming closer to Christianity in time and in teaching, we find a Jewish
sect, called Essenes, living in the region of the Dead Sea, which bore
remarkable resemblances to Christian monasticism. The origin and
development of this band, which numbered four thousand about the time of
Christ, are unknown. Even the derivation of the name is in doubt, there
being at least twenty proposed explanations. The sect is described by
Philo, an Alexandrian-Jewish philosopher, who was born about 25 B.C.,
and by Josephus, the Jewish historian, who was born at Jerusalem A.D.
37. These writers evidently took pains to secure the facts, and from
their accounts, upon which modern discussions of the subject are largely
based, the following facts are gleaned.

The Essenes were a sect outside the Jewish ecclesiastical body, bound by
strict vows and professing an extraordinary purity. While there were no
vows of extreme penance, they avoided cities as centers of immorality,
and, with some exceptions, eschewed marriage. They held aloof from
traffic, oaths, slave-holding, and weapons of offence. They were strict
Sabbath observers, wore a uniform robe, possessed all things in common,
engaged in manual labor, abstained from forbidden food, and probably
rejected the bloody sacrifices of the Temple, although continuing to
send their thank-offerings. Novitiates were kept on probation three
years. The strictest discipline was maintained, excommunication
following detection in heinous sins. Evidently the standard of character
was pure and lofty, since their emphasis on self-mastery did not end in
absurd extravagances. Their frugal food, simple habits, and love of
cleanliness; combined with a regard for ethical principles, conduced to
a high type of life. Edersheim remarks, "We can scarcely wonder that
such Jews as Josephus and Philo, and such heathens as Pliny, were
attracted by such an unworldly and lofty sect."

Some writers maintain that they were also worshipers of the sun, and
hence that their origin is to be traced to Persian sources. Even if so,
they seemed to have escaped that confused and mystical philosophy which
has robbed Oriental thought of much power in the realm of practical
life. Philo says, "Of philosophy, the dialectical department, as being
in no wise necessary for the acquisition of virtue, they abandon to the
word-catchers; and the part which treats of the nature of things, as
being beyond human nature, they leave to speculative air-gazers, with
the exception of that part of it which deals with the subsistance of God
and the genesis of all things; but the ethical they right well
work out."

Pliny the elder, who lived A.D. 23-79, made the following reference to
the Essenes, which is especially interesting because of the tone of
sadness and weariness with the world suggested in its praise of this
Jewish sect. "On the western shore (of the Dead Sea) but distant from
the sea far enough to escape from its noxious breezes, dwelt the
Essenes. They are an eremite clan, one marvelous beyond all others in
the whole world; without any women, with sexual intercourse entirely
given up, without money, and the associates of palm trees. Daily is the
throng of those that crowd about them renewed, men resorting to them in
numbers, driven through weariness of existence, and the surges of
ill-fortune, to their manner of life. Thus it is that through thousands
of ages--incredible to relate!--their society, in which no one is born,
lives on perennial. So fruitful to them is the irksomeness of life
experienced by other men."

Admission to the order was granted only to adults, yet children were
sometimes adopted for training in the principles of the sect. Some
believed in marriage as a means of perpetuating the order.

Since it would not throw light on our present inquiry, the mooted
question as to the connection of Essenism and the teachings of Jesus may
be passed by. The differences are as great as the resemblances and the
weight of opinion is against any vital relation.

The character of this sect conclusively shows that some of the elements
of Christian monasticism existed in the time of Jesus, not only in
Palestine but in other countries. In an account of the Therapeutæ, or
true devotees, an ascetic body similar to the Essenes, Philo says,
"There are many parts of the world in which this class may be found....
They are, however, in greatest abundance in Egypt."

During Apostolic times various teachings and practices were current that
may be characterized as ascetic. The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the
Colossians, doubtless had in mind a sect or school which despised the
body and abstained from meats and wine. A false asceticism, gathering
inspiration from pagan philosophy, was rapidly spreading among
Christians even at that early day. The teachings of the Gnostics, a
speculative sect of many schools, became prominent in the closing days
of the Apostolic age or very soon thereafter. Many of these schools
claimed a place in the church, and professed a higher life and knowledge
than ordinary Christians possessed. The Gnostics believed in the
complete subjugation of the body by austere treatment.

The Montanists, so called after Montanus, their famous leader, arose in
Asia Minor during the second century, when Marcus Aurelius was emperor.
Schaff describes the movement as "a morbid exaggeration of Christian
ideas and demands." It was a powerful and frantic protest against the
growing laxity of the church. It despised ornamental dress and
prescribed numerous fasts and severities.

These facts and many others that might be mentioned throw light on our
inquiry in several ways. They show that asceticism was in the air. The
literature, philosophy and religion of the day drifted toward an ascetic
scheme of life and stimulated the tendency to acquire holiness, even at
the cost of innocent joys and natural gratifications. They show that
worldliness was advancing in the church, which called for rebuke and a
return to Apostolic Christianity; that the church was failing to satisfy
the highest cravings of the soul. True, it was well-nigh impossible for
the church, in the midst of such a powerful and corrupt heathen
environment, to keep itself up to its standards.

It is a common tradition that in the first three centuries the practices
and spirit of the church were comparatively pure and elevated. Harnack
says, "This tradition is false. The church was already secularized to a
great extent in the middle of the third century." She was "no longer in
a position to give peace to all sorts and conditions of men." It was
then that the great exodus of Christians from the villages and cities to
mountains and deserts began. Although from the time of Christ on there
were always some who understood Christianity to demand complete
separation from all earthly pleasures, yet it was three hundred years
and more before large numbers began to adopt a hermit's life as the only
method of attaining salvation. "They fled not only from the world, but
from the world within the church. Nevertheless, they did not flee out of
the church."

We can now see why no definite cause for the monastic institution can be
given and no date assigned for its origin. It did not commence at any
fixed time and definite place. Various philosophies and religious
customs traveled for centuries from country to country, resulting in
singular resemblances and differences between different ascetic or
monastic sects. Christian monasticism was slowly evolved, and gradually
assumed definite organization as a product of a curious medley of
Heathen-Jewish-Christian influences.

A few words should be said here concerning the influence of the Bible
upon monasticism. Naturally the Christian hermits and early fathers
appealed to the Bible in support of their teachings and practices. It is
not necessary, at this point, to discuss the correctness of their
interpretations. The simple fact is that many passages of scripture were
considered as commands to attain perfection by extraordinary sacrifices,
and certain Biblical characters were reverenced as shining monastic
models. In the light of the difficulties of Biblical criticism it is
easy to forgive them if they were mistaken, a question to be discussed
farther on. They read of those Jewish prophets described in Hebrews:
"They went about in sheepskins, in goatskins; ... wandering in deserts
and mountains and caves, and the holes of the earth." They pointed to
Elijah and his school of prophets; to John the Baptist, with his raiment
of camel's hair and a leathern girdle about his loins, whose meat was
locusts and wild honey. They recalled the commandment of Jesus to the
rich young man to sell all his possessions and give to the poor. They
quoted the words, "Take no thought for the morrow what ye shall eat and
what ye shall drink or wherewithal ye shall be clothed." They construed
following Christ to mean in His own words, "forsaking father, mother,
brethren, wife, children, houses and lands." They pointed triumphantly
to the Master himself, unmarried and poor, who had not "where to lay his
head." They appealed to Paul's doctrine of marriage. They remembered
that the Church at Jerusalem was composed of those who sold their
possessions and had all things in common. Whatever these and numerous
other passages may truly mean, they interpreted them in favor of a
monastic mode of life; they understood them to teach isolation,
fastings, severities, and other forms of rigorous self-denial. Accepting
Scripture in this sense, they trampled upon human affection and gave
away their property, that they might please God and save their souls.

Between the time of Christ and Paul of Thebes, who died in the first
half of the fourth century, and who is usually recognized as the founder
of monasticism, many Christian disciples voluntarily abandoned their
wealth, renounced marriage and adopted an ascetic mode of life, while
still living in or near the villages or cities. As the corruption of
society and the despair of men became more widespread, these anxious
Christians wandered farther and farther away from fixed habitations
until, in an excess of spiritual fervor, they found themselves in the
caves of the mountains, desolate and dreary, where no sound of human
voice broke in upon the silence. The companions of wild beasts, they
lived in rapt contemplation on the eternal mysteries of this most
strange world.

My task now is to describe some of those recluses who still live in the
biographies of the saints and the traditions of the church. Ducis, while
reading of these hermits, wrote to a friend as follows: "I am now
reading the lives of the Fathers of the Desert. I am dwelling with St.
Pachomius, the founder of the monastery at Tabenna. Truly there is a
charm in transporting one's self to that land of the angels--one could
not wish ever to come out of it." Whether the reader will call these
strange characters angels, and will wish he could have shared their beds
of stone and midnight vigils, I will not venture to say, but at all
events his visit will be made as pleasant as possible.

In writing the life of Mahomet, Carlyle said, "As there is no danger of
our becoming, any of us, Mahometans, I mean to say all the good of
Mahomet I justly can." So, without distorting the picture that has come
down to us, I mean to say all the good of these Egyptian hermits that
the facts will justify.

_The Hermits of Egypt_

Egypt was the mother of Christian monasticism, as she has been of many
other wonders.

Vast solitudes; lonely mountains, honey-combed with dens and caves; arid
valleys and barren hills; dreary deserts that glistened under the
blinding glare of the sun that poured its heat upon them steadily all
the year; strange, grotesque rocks and peaks that assumed all sorts of
fantastic shapes to the overwrought fancy; in many places no water, no
verdure, and scarcely a thing in motion; the crocodile and the bird
lazily seeking their necessary food and stirring only as compelled;
unbounded expanse in the wide star-lit heavens; unbroken quiet on the
lonely mountains--a fit home for the hermit, a paradise to the lover of
solitude and peace.

Of life under such conditions Kingsley has said: "They enjoyed nature,
not so much for her beauty as for her perfect peace. Day by day the
rocks remained the same. Silently out of the Eastern desert, day by day,
the rising sun threw aloft those arrows of light which the old Greeks
had named 'the rosy fingers of the dawn.' Silently he passed in full
blaze above their heads throughout the day, and silently he dipped
behind the Western desert in a glory of crimson and orange, green and
purple.... Day after day, night after night, that gorgeous pageant
passed over the poor hermit's head without a sound, and though sun, moon
and planet might change their places as the years rolled round, the
earth beneath his feet seemed not to change." As for the companionless
men, who gazed for years upon this glorious scene, they too were of
unusual character, Waddington finely says: "The serious enthusiasm of
the natives of Egypt and Asia, that combination of indolence and energy,
of the calmest languor with the fiercest passions, ... disposed them to
embrace with eagerness the tranquil but exciting duties of religious
seclusion." Yes, here are the angels of Ducis in real flesh and blood.
They revel in the wildest eccentricities with none to molest or make
afraid, always excepting the black demons from the spiritual world. One
dwells in a cave in the bowels of the earth; one lies on the sand
beneath a blazing sun; one has shut himself forever from the sight of
man in a miserable hut among the bleak rocks of yonder projecting peak;
one rests with joy in the marshes, breathing with gratitude the
pestilential vapors.

Some of these saints became famous for piety and miraculous power.
Athanasius, fleeing from persecution, visited them, and Jerome sought
them out to learn from their own lips the stories of their lives. To
these men and to others we are indebted for much of our knowledge
concerning this chapter of man's history. Less than fifty years after
Paul of Thebes died, or about 375 A.D., Jerome wrote the story of his
life, which Schaff justly characterizes as "a pious romance." From
Jerome we gather the following account: Paul was the real founder of the
hermit life, although not the first to bear the name. During the Decian
persecution, when churches were laid waste and Christians were slain
with barbarous cruelty, Paul and his sister were bereaved of both their
parents. He was then a lad of sixteen, an inheritor of wealth and
skilled for one of his years in Greek and Egyptian learning. He was of a
gentle and loving disposition. On account of his riches he was denounced
as a Christian by an envious brother-in-law and compelled to flee to the
mountains in order to save his life. He took up his abode in a cave
shaded by a palm that afforded him food and clothing. "And that no one
may deem this impossible," affirms Jerome, "I call to witness Jesus and
his holy angels that I have seen and still see in that part of the
desert which lies between Syria and the Saracens' country, monks of whom
one was shut up for thirty years and lived on barley bread and muddy
water, while another in an old cistern kept himself alive on five dried
figs a day."

It is impossible to determine how much of the story which follows is
historically true. Undoubtedly, it contains little worthy of belief, but
it gives us some faint idea of how these hermits lived. Its chief value
consists in the fact that it preserves a fragment of the monastic
literature of the times--a story which was once accepted as a credible
narrative. Imagine the influence of such a tale, when believed to be
true, upon a mind inclined to embrace the doctrines of asceticism. Its
power at that time is not to be measured by its reliability now. Jerome
himself declares in the prologue that many incredible things were
related of Paul which he will not repeat. After reading the following
story, the reader may well inquire what more fanciful tale could be
produced even by a writer of fiction.

The blessed Paul was now one hundred and thirteen years old, and
Anthony, who dwelt in another place of solitude, was at the age of
ninety. In the stillness of the night it was revealed to Anthony that
deeper in the desert there was a better man than he, and that he ought
to see him. So, at the break of day, the venerable old man, supporting
and guiding his weak limbs with a staff, started out, whither he knew
not. At scorching noontide he beholds a fellow-creature, half man, half
horse, called by the poets Hippo-centaur. After gnashing outlandish
utterances, this monster, in words broken, rather than spoken, through
his bristling lips, points out the way with his right hand and swiftly
vanishes from the hermit's sight. Anthony, amazed, proceeds thoughtfully
on his way when a mannikin, with hooked snout, horned forehead and
goat's feet, stands before him and offers him food. Anthony asks who he
is. The beast thus replies: "I am a mortal being, and one of those
inhabitants of the desert, whom the Gentiles deluded by various forms of
error worship, under the name of Fauns and Satyrs." As he utters these
and other words, tears stream down the aged traveler's face! He rejoices
over the glory of God and the destruction of Satan. Striking the ground
with his staff, he exclaims, "Woe to thee, Alexandria, who, instead of
God, worshipest monsters! Woe to thee, harlot city, into which have
flowed together the demons of the world! What will you say now? Beasts
speak of Christ, and you, instead of God, worship monsters." "Let none
scruple to believe this incident," says the chronicler, "for a man of
this kind was brought alive to Alexandria and the people saw him; when
he died his body was preserved in salt and brought to Antioch that the
Emperor might view him."

Anthony continues to traverse the wild region into which he had entered.
There is no trace of human beings. The darkness of the second night
wears away in prayer. At day-break he beholds far away a she-wolf
gasping with parched thirst and creeping into a cave. He draws near and
peers within. All is dark, but perfect love casteth out fear. With
halting step and bated breath, he enters. After a while a light gleams
in the distant midnight darkness. With eagerness he presses forward, but
his foot strikes against a stone and arouses the echoes; whereupon the
blessed Paul closes the door and makes it fast. For hours Anthony lay at
the door craving admission. "I know I am not worthy," he humbly cries,
"yet unless I see you I will not turn away. You welcome beasts, why not
a man? If I fail, I will die here on your threshold."

     "Such was his constant cry; unmoved he stood,
      To whom the hero thus brief answer made."

"Prayers like these do not mean threats, there is no trickery in tears."
So, with smiles, Paul gives him entrance and the two aged hermits fall
into each other's embrace. Together they converse of things human and
divine, Paul, close to the dust of the grave, asks, Are new houses
springing up in ancient cities? What government directs the world?
Little did this recluse know of his fellow-beings and how fared it with
the children of men who dwelt in those great cities around the blue
Mediterranean. He was dead to the world and knew it no more.

A raven brought the aged brothers bread to eat and the hours glided
swiftly away. Anthony returned to get a cloak which Athanasius had given
him in which to wrap the body of Paul. So eager was he to behold again
his newly-found friend that he set out without even a morsel of bread,
thirsting to see him. But when yet three days' journey from the cave he
saw Paul on high among the angels. Weeping, he trudged on his way. On
entering the cave he saw the lifeless body kneeling, with head erect and
hands uplifted. He tenderly wrapped the body in the cloak and began to
lament that he had no implements to dig a grave. But Providence sent two
lions from the recesses of the mountain that came rushing with flying
manes. Roaring, as if they too mourned, they pawed the earth and thus
the grave was dug. Anthony, bending his aged shoulders beneath the
burden of the saint's body, laid it lovingly in the grave and departed.

Jerome closes this account by challenging those who do not know the
extent of their possessions,--who adorn their homes with marble and who
string house to house,--to say what this old man in his nakedness ever
lacked. "Your drinking vessels are of precious stones; he satisfied his
thirst with the hollow of his hand. Your tunics are wrought of gold; he
had not the raiment of your meanest slave. But on the other hand, poor
as he was, Paradise is open to him; you, with all your gold, will be
received into Gehenna. He, though naked, yet kept the robe of Christ;
you, clad in your silks, have lost the vesture of Christ. Paul lies
covered with worthless dust, but will rise again to glory; over you are
raised costly tombs, but both you and your wealth are doomed to burning.
I beseech you, reader, whoever you may be, to remember Jerome the
sinner. He, if God would give him his choice, would sooner take Paul's
tunics with his merits, than the purple of kings with their punishment."

Such was the story circulated among rich and poor, appealing with
wondrous force to the hearts of men in those wretched years.

What was the effect upon the mind of the thoughtful? If he believed such
teaching, weary of the wickedness of the age, and moved by his noblest
sentiments, he sold his tunics wrought of gold and fled from his palaces
of marble to the desert solitudes.

But the monastic story that most strongly impressed the age now under
consideration, was the biography of Anthony, "the patriarch of monks"
and virtual founder of Christian monasticism. It was said to have been
written by Athanasius, the famous defender of orthodoxy and Archbishop
of Alexandria; yet some authorities reject his authorship. It exerted a
power over the minds of men beyond all human estimate. It scattered the
seeds of asceticism wherever it was read. Traces of its influence are
found all over the Roman empire, in Egypt, Asia Minor, Palestine, Italy
and Gaul. Knowing the character of Athanasius, we may rest assured that
he sincerely believed all he really recorded (it is much interpolated)
of the strange life of Anthony, and, true or false, thousands of others
believed in him and in his story. Augustine, the great theologian of
immortal fame, acknowledged that this book was one of the influences
that led to his conversion, and Jerome, whose life I will review later,
was mightily swayed by it.

Anthony was born about 251 A.D., in Upper Egypt, of wealthy and noble
parentage. He was a pious child, an obedient son, and a lover of
solitude and books. His parents died when he was about twenty years old,
leaving to his care their home and his little sister. One day, as he
entered the church, meditating on the poverty of Christ, a theme much
reflected upon in those days, he heard these words read from the pulpit,
"If thou wouldst be perfect, go and sell all that thou hast, and give to
the poor, and come, follow me." As if the call came straight from heaven
to his own soul, he left the church at once and made over his farm to
the people of the village. He sold his personal possessions for a large
sum, and distributed the proceeds among the poor, reserving a little for
his sister. Still he was unsatisfied. Entering the church on another
occasion, he heard our Lord saying in the gospel, "Take no thought for
the morrow." The clouds cleared away. His anxious search for truth and
duty was at an end. He went out and gave away the remnant of his
belongings. Placing his sister in a convent, the existence of which is
to be noted, he fled to the desert. Then follows a striking statement,
"For monasteries were not common in Egypt, nor had any monk at all known
the great desert; but every one who wished to devote himself to his own
spiritual welfare performed his exercise alone, not far from
the village."

Laboring with his hands, recalling texts of Scripture, praying whole
sleepless nights, fasting for several days at a time, visiting his
fellow saints, fighting demons, so passed the long years away. He slept
on a small rush mat, more often on the bare ground. Forgetting past
austerities, he was ever on the search for some new torture and pressing
forward to new and strange experiences. He changed his habitation from
time to time. Now he lived in a tomb, in company with the silent dead;
then for twenty years in a deserted castle, full of reptiles, never
going out and rarely seeing any one. From each saint he learned some
fresh mode of spiritual training, observing his practice for future
imitation and studying the charms of his Christian character that he
might reproduce them in his own life; thus he would return richly laden
to his cell.

But in all these struggles Anthony had one foe--the arch-enemy of all
good. He suggests impure thoughts, but the saint repels them by prayer;
he incites to passion, but the hero resists the fiend with fastings and
faith. Once the dragon, foiled in his attempt to overcome Anthony,
gnashed his teeth, and coming out of his body, lay at his feet in the
shape of a little black boy. But the hermit was not beguiled into
carelessness by this victory. He resolved to chastise himself more
severely. So he retired to the tombs of the dead. One dark night a crowd
of demons flogged the saint until he fell to the ground speechless with
torture. Some friends found him the next day, and thinking that he was
dead, carried him to the village, where his kinsfolk gathered to mourn
over his remains. But at midnight he came to himself, and, seeing but
one acquaintance awake, he begged that he would carry him back to the
tombs, which was done. Unable to move, he prayed prostrate and sang, "If
an host be laid against me, yet shall not my heart be afraid." The
enraged devils made at him again. There was a terrible crash; through
the walls the fiends came in shapes like beasts and reptiles. In a
moment the place was filled with lions roaring at him, bulls thrusting
at him with their horns, creeping serpents unable to reach him, wolves
held back in the act of springing. There, too, were bears and asps and
scorpions. Mid the frightful clamor of roars, growls and hisses, rose
the clear voice of the saint, as he triumphantly mocked the demons in
their rage. Suddenly the awful tumult ceased; the wretched beings became
invisible and a ray of light pierced the roof to cheer the prostrate
hero. His pains ceased. A voice came to him saying, "Thou hast withstood
and not yielded. I will always be thy helper, and will make thy name
famous everywhere." Hearing this he rose up and prayed, and was stronger
in body than ever before.

This is but one of numerous stories chronicling Anthony's struggles with
the devil. Like conflicts were going on at that hour in many another
cave in those great and silent mountains.

There are also wondrous tales of his miraculous power. He often
predicted the coming of sufferers and healed them when they came. His
fame for curing diseases and casting out devils became so extensive that
Egypt marveled at his gifts, and saints came even from Rome to see his
face and to hear his words. His freedom from pride and arrogance was as
marked as his fame was great. He yielded joyful obedience to presbyters
and bishops. His countenance was so full of divine grace and heavenly
beauty as to render him easily distinguishable in a crowd of monks.
Letters poured in upon him from every part of the empire. Kings wrote
for his advice, but it neither amazed him nor filled his heart with
pride. "Wonder not," said he, "if a king writes to us, for he is but a
man, but wonder rather that God has written His law to man and spoken to
us by His Son." At his command princes laid aside their crowns, judges
their magisterial robes, while criminals forsook their lives of crime
and embraced with joy the life of the desert.

Once, at the earnest entreaty of some magistrates, he came down from the
mountain that they might see him. Urged to prolong his stay he refused,
saying, "Fishes, if they lie long on the dry land, die; so monks who
stay with you lose their strength. As the fishes, then, hasten to the
sea, so must we to the mountains."

At last the shadows lengthened and waning strength proclaimed that his
departure was nigh. Bidding farewell to his monks, he retired to an
inner mountain and laid himself down to die. His countenance brightened
as if he saw his friends coming to see him, and thus his soul was
gathered to his fathers. He is said to have been mourned by fifteen
thousand disciples.

This is the story which moved a dying empire. "Anthony," says
Athanasius, "became known not by worldly wisdom, nor by any art, but
solely by piety, and that this was the gift of God who can deny?" The
purpose of such a life was, so his biographer thought, to light up the
moral path for men, that they might imbibe a zeal for virtue.

The "Life of St. Anthony" is even more remarkable for its omissions than
for its incredible tales. While I reserve a more detailed criticism of
its Christian ideals until a subsequent chapter, it may be well to quote
here a few words from Isaac Taylor. After pointing out some of its
defects he continues: there is "not a word of justification by faith;
not a word of the gracious influence of the Spirit in renewing and
cleansing the heart; not a word responding to any of those signal
passages of Scripture which make the Gospel 'Glad Tidings' to guilty
men." This I must confess to be true, even though I may and do heartily
esteem the saint's enthusiasm for righteousness.

So far I have described chiefly the spiritual experiences of these men,
but the details of their physical life are hardly less interesting.
There was a holy rivalry among them to excel in self-torture. Their
imaginations were constantly employed in devising unique tests of
holiness and courage. They lived in holes in the ground or in dried up
wells; they slept in thorn bushes or passed days and weeks without
sleep; they courted the company of the wildest beasts and exposed their
naked bodies to the broiling sun. Macarius became angry because an
insect bit him and in penitence flung himself into a marsh where he
lived for weeks. He was so badly stung by gnats and flies that his
friends hardly knew him. Hilarion, at twenty years of age, was more like
a spectre than a living man. His cell was only five feet high, a little
lower than his stature. Some carried weights equal to eighty or one
hundred and fifty pounds suspended from their bodies. Others slept
standing against the rocks. For three years, as it is recorded, one of
them never reclined. In their zeal to obey the Scriptures, they
overlooked the fact that cleanliness is akin to godliness. It was their
boast that they never washed. One saint would not even use water to
drink, but quenched his thirst with the dew that fell on the grass. St.
Abraham never washed his face for fifty years. His biographer, not in
the least disturbed by the disagreeable suggestions of this
circumstance, proudly says, "His face reflected the purity of his soul."
If so, one is moved to think that the inward light must indeed have been
powerfully piercing, if it could brighten a countenance unwashed for
half a century. There is a story about Abbot Theodosius who prayed for
water that his monks might drink. In response to his petition a stream
burst from the rocks, but the foolish monks, overcome by a pitiful
weakness for cleanliness, persuaded the abbot to erect a bath, when lo,
the stream dried. Supplications and repentance availed nothing. After a
year had passed, the monks, promising never again to insult Heaven by
wishing for a bath, were granted a second Mosaic miracle.

Thus, unwashed, clothed in rags, their hair uncut, their faces unshaven,
they lived for years. No wonder that to their disordered fancy the
desert was filled with devils, the animals spake and Heaven sent angels
to minister unto them.

_The Pillar Saint_

But the strangest of all strange narratives yet remains. We turn from
Egypt to Asia Minor to make the acquaintance of that saint whom Tennyson
has immortalized,--the idol of monarchs and the pride of the
East,--Saint Simeon Stylites. Stories grow rank around him like the
luxuriant products of a tropical soil. How shall I briefly tell of this
man, whom Theodoret, in his zeal, declares all who obey the Roman rule
know--the man who may be compared with Moses the Legislator, David the
King and Micah the Prophet? He lived between the years 390 and 459 A.D.
He was a shepherd's son, but at an early age entered a monastery. Here
he soon distinguished himself by his excessive austerities. One day he
went to the well, removed the rope from the bucket and bound it tightly
around his body underneath his clothes. A few weeks later, the abbot,
being angry with him because of his extreme self-torture, bade his
companions strip him. What was his astonishment to find the rope from
the well sunk deeply into his flesh. "Whence," he cried, "has this man
come to us, wanting to destroy the rule of this monastery? I pray thee
depart hence."

With great trouble they unwound the rope and the flesh with it, and
taking care of him until he was well, they sent him forth to commence a
life of austerities that was to render him famous. He adopted various
styles of existence, but his miracles and piety attracted such crowds
that he determined to invent a mode of life which would deliver him from
the pressing multitudes. It is curious that he did not hide himself
altogether if he really wished to escape notoriety; but, no, he would
still be within the gaze of admiring throngs. His holy and fanciful
genius hit upon a scheme that gave him his peculiar name. He took up his
abode on the top of a column which was at first about twelve feet high,
but was gradually elevated until it measured sixty-four feet. Hence, he
is called Simeon Stylites, or Simeon the Pillar Saint.

On this lofty column, betwixt earth and heaven, the hermit braved the
heat and cold of thirty years. At its base, from morning to night,
prayed the admiring worshipers. Kings kneeled in crowds of peasants to
do him homage and ask his blessing. Theodoret says, "The Ishmaelites,
coming by tribes of two hundred and three hundred at a time, and
sometimes even a thousand, deny, with shouts, the error of their
fathers, and breaking in pieces before that great illuminator, the
images which they had worshiped, and renouncing the orgies of Venus,
they received the Divine sacrament." Rude barbarians confessed their
sins in tears. Persians, Greeks, Romans and Saracens, forgetting their
mutual hatred, united in praise and prayer at the feet of this strange

Once a week the hero partook of food. Many times a day he bowed his head
to his feet; one man counted twelve hundred and forty-four times and
then stopped in sheer weariness from gazing at the miracle of endurance
aloft. Again, from the setting of the sun to its appearance in the East,
he would stand unsoothed by sleep with his arms outstretched like
a cross.

If genius can understand such a life as that and fancy the thoughts of
such a soul, Tennyson seems not only to have comprehended the
consciousness of the Pillar Saint, but also to have succeeded in giving
expression to his insight. He has laid bare the soul of Simeon in its
commingling of spiritual pride with affected humility, and of a
consciousness of meritorious sacrifice with a sense of sin. The Saint
spurns notoriety and the homage of men, yet exults in his control over
the multitudes.

The poet thus imagines Simeon to speak as the Saint is praying God to
take away his sin:

     "But yet
     Bethink thee, Lord, while thou and all the saints
     Enjoy themselves in heaven, and men on earth
     House in the shade of comfortable roofs,
     Sit with their wives by fires, eat wholesome food,
     And wear warm clothes, and even beasts have stalls,
     I, 'tween the spring and downfall of the light,
     Bow down one thousand and two hundred times,
     To Christ, the Virgin Mother, and the Saints;
     Or in the night, after a little sleep,
     I wake: the chill stars sparkle; I am wet
     With drenching dews, or stiff with crackling frost.
     I wear an undress'd goatskin on my back;
     A grazing iron collar grinds my neck;
     And in my weak, lean arms I lift the cross,
     And strive and wrestle with thee till I die:
     O mercy, mercy! wash away my sin.

     O Lord, thou knowest what a man I am;
     A sinful man, conceived and born in sin:
     'Tis their own doing; this is none of mine;
     Lay it not to me. Am I to blame for this,
     That here come those that worship me? Ha! ha!
     They think that I am somewhat. What am I?
     The silly people take me for a saint,
     And bring me offerings of fruit and flowers:
     And I, in truth (thou wilt bear witness here)
     Have all in all endured as much, and more
     Than many just and holy men, whose names
     Are register'd and calendared for saints.

     Good people, you do ill to kneel to me.
     What is it I can have done to merit this?

       *       *       *       *       *

     Yet do not rise; for you may look on me,
     And in your looking you may kneel to God.
     Speak! is there any of you halt or maim'd?
     I think you know I have some power with Heaven
     From my long penance: let him speak his wish.

     Yes, I can heal him. Power goes forth from me.
     They say that they are heal'd. Ah, hark! they shout
     'St. Simeon Stylites.' Why, if so,
     God reaps a harvest in me. O my soul,
     God reaps a harvest in thee.  If this be,
     Can I work miracles and not be saved?"

Once, the devil, in shape like an angel, riding in a chariot of fire,
came to carry Simeon to the skies. He whispered to the weary Saint,
"Simeon, hear my words, which the Lord hath commanded thee. He has sent
me, his angel, that I may carry thee away as I carried Elijah." Simeon
was deceived, and lifted his foot to step out into the chariot, when the
angel vanished, and in punishment for his presumption an ulcer appeared
upon his thigh.

But time plays havoc with saints as well as sinners, and death slays the
strongest. Bowed in prayer, his weary heart ceased to beat and the eyes
that gazed aloft were closed forever. Anthony, his beloved disciple,
ascending the column, found that his master was no more. Yet, it seemed
as if Simeon was loath to leave the spot, for his spirit appeared to his
weeping follower and said, "I will not leave this column, and this
blessed mountain. For I have gone to rest, as the Lord willed, but do
thou not cease to minister in this place and the Lord will repay thee
in heaven."

His body was carried down the mountain to Antioch. Heading the solemn
procession were the patriarch, six bishops, twenty-one counts and six
thousand soldiers, "and Antioch," says Gibbon, "revered his bones as
her glorious ornament and impregnable defence."

_The Cenobites of the East_

We cannot linger with these hermits. I pass now to the cenobitic[C]
life. We go back in years and return to Egypt. Man is a social animal,
and the social instinct is so strong that even hermits are swayed by its
power and get tired of living apart from one another. When Anthony died
the deserts were studded with hermitages, and those of exceptional fame
were surrounded by little clusters of huts and dens. Into these cells
crowded the hermits who wished to be near their master.

[Footnote C: Appendix, Note C.]

Thus, step by step, organized or cenobitic monasticism easily and
naturally came into existence. The anchorites crawled from their dens
every day to hear the words of their chief saint,--a practice giving
rise to stated meetings, with rules for worship. Regulations as to
meals, occupations, dress, penances, and prayers naturally follow.

The author of the first monastic rules is said to have been Pachomius,
who was born in Egypt about the year 292 A.D. He was brought up in
paganism but was converted in early life while in the army. On his
discharge he retired with a hermit to Tabenna, an island in the Nile. It
is said he never ate a full meal after his conversion, and for fifteen
years slept sitting on a stone. Natural gifts fitted him to become a
leader, and it was not long before he was surrounded by a congregation
of monks for whom he made his rules.

The monks of Pachomius were divided into bands of tens and hundreds,
each tenth man being an under officer in turn subject to the hundredth,
and all subject to the superior or abbot of the mother house. They lived
three in a cell, and a congregation of cells constituted a laura or
monastery. There was a common room for meals and worship. Each monk wore
a close fitting tunic and a white goatskin upper garment which was never
laid aside at meals or in bed, but only at the Eucharist. Their food
usually consisted of bread and water, but occasionally they enjoyed such
luxuries as oil, salt, fruits and vegetables. They ate in silence, which
was sometimes broken by the solemn voice of a reader.

"No man," says Jerome, "dares look at his neighbor or clear his throat.
Silent tears roll down their cheeks, but not a sob escapes their lips."
Their labors consisted of some light handiwork or tilling the fields.
They grafted trees, made beehives, twisted fish-lines, wove baskets and
copied manuscripts. It was early apparent that as man could not live
alone so he could not live without labor. We shall see this principle
emphasized more clearly by Benedict, but it is well to notice that at
this remote day provision was made for secular employments. Jerome
enjoins Rusticus, a young monk, always to have some work on hand that
the devil may find him busy. "Hoe your ground," says he, "set out
cabbages; convey water to them in conduits, that you may see with your
own eyes the lovely vision of the poet,--

     "Art draws fresh water from the hilltop near,
     Till the stream, flashing down among the rocks,
     Cools the parched meadows and allays their thirst."

There were individual cases of excessive self-torture even among these
congregations of monks but we may say that ordinarily, organized
monasticism was altogether less severe upon the individual than
anchoretic life. The fact that the monk was seeking human fellowship is
evidence that he was becoming more humane, and this softening of his
spirit betrayed itself in his treatment of himself. The aspect of life
became a little brighter and happier.

Four objects were comprehended in these monastic roles,--solitude,
manual labor, fasting and prayer. We need not pity these dwellers far
from walled cities and the marts of trade. Indeed, they claim no
sympathy. Religious ideals can make strange transformations in man's
disposition and tastes. They loved their hard lives.

The hermit Abraham said to John Cassian, "We know that in these, our
regions, there are some secret and pleasant places, where fruits are
abundant and the beauty and fertility of the gardens would supply our
necessities with the slightest toil. We prefer the wilderness of this
desolation before all that is fair and attractive, admitting no
comparison between the luxuriance of the most exuberant soil and the
bitterness of these sands." Jerome himself exclaimed, "Others may think
what they like and follow each his own bent. But to me a town is a
prison and solitude paradise."

The three vows of chastity, poverty and obedience were adopted and
became the foundation stones of the monastic institution, to be found in
every monastic order. There is a typical illustration in Kingsley's
Hypatia of what they meant by obedience. Philammon, a young monk, was
consigned to the care of Cyril, the Bishop of Alexandria, and a
factious, cruel man, with an imperious will. The bishop received and
read his letter of introduction and thus addressed its bearer,
"Philammon, a Greek. You are said to have learned to obey. If so, you
have also learned to rule. Your father-abbot has transferred you to my
tutelage. You are now to obey me." "And I will," was the quick response.
"Well said. Go to that window and leap forth into the court." Philammon
walked to it and opened it. The pavement was fully twenty feet below,
but his business was to obey and not to take measurements. There was a
flower in a vase upon the sill. He quietly removed it, and in an instant
would have leaped for life or death, when Cyril's voice
thundered, "Stop!"

The Pachomian monks despised possessions of every kind. The following
pathetic incident shows the frightful extent to which they carried this
principle, and also illustrates the character of that submission to
which the novitiate voluntarily assented: Cassian described how Mutius
sold his possessions and with his little child of eight asked admission
to a monastery. The monks received but disciplined him. "He had already
forgotten that he was rich, he must forget that he was a father." His
child was taken, clothed in rags, beaten and spurned. Obedience
compelled the father to look upon his child wasting with pain and grief,
but such was his love for Christ, says the narrator, that his heart was
rigid and immovable. He was then told to throw the boy into the river,
but was stopped in the act of obeying.

Yet men, women, and even children, coveted this life of unnatural
deprivations. "Posterity," says Gibbon, "might repeat the saying which
had formerly been applied to the sacred animals of the same country,
that in Egypt it was less difficult to find a god than a man." Though
the hermit did not claim to be a god, yet there were more monks in many
monasteries than inhabitants in the neighboring villages. Pachomius had
fourteen hundred monks in his own monastery and seven thousand under his
rule. Jerome says fifty thousand monks were sometimes assembled at
Easter in the deserts of Nitria. It was not uncommon for an abbot to
command five thousand monks. St. Serapion boasted of ten thousand.
Altogether, so we are told, there were in the fifth century more than
one hundred thousand persons in the monasteries, three-fourths of
whom were men.

The rule of Pachomius spread over Egypt into Syria and Palestine. It was
carried by Athanasius into Italy and Gaul. It existed in various
modified forms until it was supplanted by the Benedictine rule.

Leaving Egypt, again we cross the Mediterranean into Asia Minor. Near
the Black Sea, in a wild forest abounding in savage rocks and gloomy
ravines, there dwelt a young man of twenty-six. He had traveled in
Egypt, Syria and Palestine. He had visited the hermits of the desert and
studied philosophy and eloquence in cultured Athens. In virtue eminent,
in learning profound, this poetic soul sought to realize its ideal in a
lonely and cherished retreat--in a solitude of Pontus.

The young monk is the illustrious saint and genius,--Basil the
Great,--the Bishop of Cæsarea, and the virtual founder of the monastic
institution in the Greek church. The forest and glens around his hut
belonged to him, and on the other bank of the river Iris his mother and
sister were leading similar lives, having abandoned earthly honors in
pursuit of heaven. Hard crusts of bread appeased his hunger. No fires,
except those which burned within his soul, protected him from the wintry
blast. His years were few but well spent. After a while his powerful
intellect asserted itself and he was led into a clearer view of the true
spiritual life. His practical mind revolted against the gross ignorance
and meaningless asceticism of Egypt. He determined to form an order that
would conform to the inner meaning of the Bible and to a more sensible
conception of the religious life. For his time he was a wise legislator,
a cunning workman and a daring thinker. The modification of his ascetic
ideal was attended by painful struggles. Many an hour he spent with his
bosom friend, Gregory of Nazianza, discussing the subject. The middle
course which they finally adopted is thus neatly described by Gregory:

     "Long was the inward strife, till ended thus:
     I saw, when men lived in the fretful world,
     They vantaged other men, but missed the while
     The calmness, and the pureness of their hearts.
     They who retired held an uprighter post,
     And raised their eyes with quiet strength toward heaven;
     Yet served self only, unfraternally.
     And so, 'twixt these and those, I struck my path,
     To meditate with the free solitary,
     Yet to live secular, and serve mankind."

Monks in large numbers flocked to this mountain retreat of Basil's.
These he banded together in an organization, the remains of which still
live in the Greek church. So great is the influence of his life and
teachings, "that it is common though erroneous to call all Oriental
monks Basilians." His rules are drawn up in the form of answers to two
hundred and three questions. He added to the three monastic vows a
fourth, which many authorities claim now appeared for the first
time,--namely, that of irrevocable vows--once a monk, always a monk.

Basil did not condemn marriage, but he believed that it was incompatible
with the highest spiritual attainments. For the Kingdom of God's sake it
was necessary to forsake all. "Love not the world, neither the things of
the world," embraced to his mind the married state. By avoiding the
cares of marriage a man was sure to escape, so he thought, the gross
sensuality of the age. He struck at the dangers which attend the
possession of riches, by enforcing poverty. An abbot was appointed over
his cloisters to whom absolute obedience was demanded. Everywhere men
needed this lesson of obedience. The discipline of the armies was
relaxed. The authority of religion was set at naught; laxity and
disorder prevailed even among the monks. They went roaming over the
country controlled only by their whims. Insubordination had to be
checked or the monastic institution was doomed. Hence, Basil was
particular to enforce a respect for law and order.

Altogether this was an honest and serious attempt to introduce fresh
power into a corrupt age and to faithfully observe the Biblical commands
as Basil understood them. The floods of iniquity were engulfing even the
church. A new standard had to be raised and an inner circle of pious and
zealous believers gathered from the multitude of half-pagan Christians,
or all was lost.

The subsequent history of Greek monachism has little interest. In
Russia, at a late date, the Greek monks served some purpose in keeping
alive the national spirit under the Tartar yoke, but the practical
benefits to the East were few, in comparison with the vigorous life of
the Western monasticism.

Montalembert, the brilliant champion of Christian monasticism, becomes
an adverse critic of the system in the East, although it is noteworthy
he now speaks of monasticism as it appears in the Greek church, which he
holds to be heretical; yet his indictment is quite true: "They yielded
to all the deleterious impulses of that declining society. They have
saved nothing, regenerated nothing, elevated nothing."

We have visited the hermit in the desert and in the monastery governed
by its abbot and its rules. We must view the monk in one other aspect,
that of theological champion. Here the hermit and the monk of the
monastery meet on common ground. They were fighters, not debaters;
fighters, not disciplined soldiers; fighters, not persuading Christians.
They swarmed down from the mountains like hungry wolves. They fought
heretics, they fought bishops, they fought Roman authorities, they
fought soldiers, and fought one another. Ignorant, fanatical and cruel,
they incited riots, disturbed the public peace and shed the blood
of foes.

Theological discord was made a thousand times more bitter by their
participation in the controversies of the time. Furious monks became the
armed champions of Cyril, the Bishop of Alexandria. They insulted the
prefect, drove out the Jews and, to the everlasting disgrace of the
monks, Cyril and the church, they dragged the lovely Hypatia from her
lecture hall and slew her with all the cruelty satanic ingenuity could
devise. Against a background of black and angry sky she stands forth, as
a soul through whose reason God made himself manifest. Her unblemished
character, her learning and her grace forever cry aloud against an
orthodoxy bereft alike of reason and of the spirit of the Nazarene.

The fighting monks crowded councils and forced decisions. They deposed
hostile bishops or kept their favorites in power by murder and violence.
Two black-cowled armies met in Constantinople, and amid curses fought
with sticks and stones a battle of creeds. Cries of "Holy! Holy! Holy!"
mingled with, "It's the day of martyrdom! Down with the tyrant!" The
whole East was kept in a feverish state. The Imperial soldiers confessed
their justifiable fears when they said, "We would rather fight with
barbarians than with these monks."

No wonder our perplexity increases and it seems impossible to determine
what these men really did for the cause of truth. We have been unable to
distinguish the hermit from the beasts of the fields. We hear his
groans, see his tears, and watch him struggle with demons. We are
disgusted with his filth, amused at his fancies, grieved at his
superstition. We pity his agony and admire his courage. We watch the
progress of order and rule out of chaos. We see monasteries grow up
around damp caves and dismal huts. We behold Simeon praying among the
birds of heaven, and look into the face of the young and handsome Basil,
in whom the monastic institution of the East reaches the zenith of
its power.

I am free to confess a profound reverence for many of these men
determined at all hazards to keep their souls unspotted from the world.
I bow before a passion for righteousness ready to part with life itself
if necessary. Yet the gross extravagances, the almost incredible
absurdities of their unnatural lives compel us to withhold our judgment.

One thing is certain, the strange life of those far-off years is an
eloquent testimony to the indestructible craving of the human soul for
self-mastery and soul-purity.



We are now to follow the fortunes of the monastic system from its
introduction in Rome to the time of Benedict of Nursia, the founder of
the first great monastic order.

Constantine the Great, the first Christian emperor, who made
Christianity the predominant religion in the Roman Empire, died in 337
A.D. Three years later Rome heard, probably for the first time, an
authentic account of the Egyptian hermits. The story was carried to the
Eternal City by Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, one of the most
remarkable characters in the early church, a man of surpassing courage
and perseverance, an intrepid foe of heresy, "heroic and invincible," as
Milton styled him. Twenty of the forty-six years of his official life
were spent in banishment.

Athanasius was an intimate friend of the hermit Anthony and a persistent
advocate of the ascetic ideal. When he fled to Rome, in 340, to escape
the persecutions of the Arians, he took with him two specimens of
monastic virtue--Ammonius and Isidore. These hermits, so filthy and
savage in appearance, albeit, as I trust, clean in heart, excited
general disgust, and their story of the tortures and holiness of their
Egyptian brethren was received with derision. But men who had faced and
conquered the terrors of the desert were not to be so easily repulsed.
Aided by other ascetic travelers from the East they persisted in their
propaganda until contempt yielded to admiration. The enthusiasm of the
uncouth hermits became contagious. The Christians in Rome now welcomed
the story of the recluses as a Divine call to abandon a dissolute
society for the peace and joy of a desert life.

But before this transformation of public opinion can be appreciated, it
is needful to know something of the social and religious condition of
Rome in the days when Athanasius and his hermits walked her streets.

After suffering frightful persecutions for three centuries, the Church
had at last nominally conquered the Roman Empire; nominally, because
although Christianity was to live, the Empire had to die. "No medicine
could have prevented the diseased old body from dying. The time had
come. When the wretched inebriate embraces a spiritual religion with one
foot in the grave, with a constitution completely undermined, and the
seeds of death planted, then no repentance or lofty aspiration can
prevent physical death. It was so in Rome." The death-throes were long
and lingering, as befits the end of a mighty giant, but death was
certain. There are many facts which explain the inability of a
conquering faith to save a tottering empire, but it is impracticable for
us to enter upon that wide field. Some help may be gained from that
which follows.

Of morals, Rome was destitute. She possessed the material remains and
superficial acquirements of a proud civilization, such as great public
highways, marble palaces, public baths, temples and libraries. Elegance
of manners and acquisitions of wealth indicate specious outward
refinement. But these things are not sufficient to guarantee the
permanence of institutions or the moral welfare of a nation. In the
souls of men there was a fatal degeneracy. There was outward prosperity
but inward corruption.

Professor Samuel Dill, in his highly instructive work on "Roman Society
in the Last Century of the Western Empire," points out the fact that
Rome's fall was due to economic and political causes as well as to the
deterioration of her morals. A close study of these causes, however,
will reveal the presence of moral influences. Professor Dill says: "The
general tendency of modern inquiry has to discover in the fall of that
august and magnificent organization, not a cataclysm, precipitated by
the impact of barbarous forces, but a process slowly prepared and
evolved by internal and economic causes." Two of these causes were the
dying out of municipal liberty and self-government, and the separation
of the upper class from the masses by sharp distributions of wealth and
privilege. It is indeed true that these causes contributed to Rome's
ruin; that the central government was weak; that the civil service was
oppressive and corrupt; that the aristocratic class was selfish; and
that the small landed proprietors were steadily growing poorer and
fewer, while, on the contrary, the upper or senatorial class was
increasing in wealth and power. But after due emphasis has been accorded
to these destructive factors, it yet remains true that the want of
public spirit and the prevailing cultivated selfishness may be traced to
a decline of faith in those religious ideals that serve to stimulate the
moral life and thus preserve the national integrity.

Society was divided into three classes. It is computed that one-half the
population were slaves. A large majority of the remainder were paupers,
living on public charity, and constituting a festering sore that
threatened the life of the social organism. The rich, who were
relatively few, squandered princely incomes in a single night, and
exhausted their imaginations devising new and expensive forms of
sensuous pleasure. The profligacy of the nobles almost surpasses
credibility, so that trustworthy descriptions read like works of
fiction. Farrar says: "A whole population might be trembling lest they
should be starved by the delay of an Alexandrian corn ship, while the
upper classes were squandering a fortune at a single banquet, drinking
out of myrrhine and jeweled vases worth hundreds of pounds, and feasting
on the brains of peacocks and the tongues of nightingales." The
frivolity of the social and political leaders of Rome, the insane thirst
for lust and luxury, the absence of seriousness in the face of
frightful, impending ruin, almost justify the epigram of Silvianus,
"Rome was laughing when she died."

     "On that hard pagan world disgust
     And secret loathing fell;
     Deep weariness and sated lust
     Made human life a hell.
     In his cool hall, with haggard eyes,
     The Roman noble lay;
     He drove abroad in furious guise
     Along the Appian Way;
     He made a feast, drank fierce and fast,
     And crowned his hair with flowers
     No easier nor no guicker past
     The impracticable hours."

Pagan mythology and Pagan philosophy were powerless to resist this
downward tendency. Although Christianity had become the state religion,
it was itself in great danger of yielding to the decay that prevailed.
The Empire was, in fact, but nominally Christian. Thousands of
ecclesiastical adherents were half pagan in their spirit and practice.
Harnack declares, "They were too deeply affected by Christianity to
abandon it, but too little to be Christians. Pure religious enthusiasm
waned, ideals received a new form, and the dependence and responsibility
of individuals became weaker." Even ordinary courage had everywhere
declined and the pleasures of the senses controlled the heart of
Christian society.

Many of the men who should have resisted this gross secularization of
the church, who ought to have set their faces against the departure from
apostolic ideals by exalting the standards of the earlier Christianity;
these men, the clergy of the Christian church, had deserted their post
of duty and surrendered to the prevailing worldliness.

Jerome describes, with justifiable sarcasm, these moral weaklings,
charged with the solemn responsibility of preaching a pure gospel to a
dying empire. "Such men think of nothing but their dress; they use
perfumes freely, and see that there are no creases in their leather
shoes. Their curling hair shows traces of the tongs; their fingers
glisten with rings; they walk on tiptoe across a damp road, not to
splash their feet. When you see men acting that way, think of them
rather as bridegrooms than as clergymen. If he sees a pillow that takes
his fancy, or an elegant table-cover, or, indeed, any article of
furniture, he praises it, looks admiringly at it, takes it into his
hand, and, complaining that he has nothing of the kind, begs or rather
extorts it from its owner." Such trifling folly was fatal. The times
demanded men of vigorous spirit, who dared to face the general decline,
and cry out in strong tones against it. The age needed moral warriors,
with the old Roman courage and love of sacrifice; martyrs willing to rot
in prison or shed their blood in the street, not effeminate men, toying
with fancy table-covers and tiptoeing across a sprinkled road. "And as a
background," says Kingsley, "to all this seething heap of corruption,
misrule and misery, hung the black cloud of the barbarians, the Teutonic
tribes from whom we derive our best blood, ever coming nearer and
nearer, waxing stronger and stronger, to be soon the conquerors of the
Cæsars and the masters of the world."

But there were many pure and sincere Christians--a saving remnant. The
joyous alacrity with which men and women responded to the monastic call,
and entered upon careers of self-torture for the sake of deliverance
from moral corruption, shows that the spirit of true faith was not
extinct. These seekers after righteousness may be described as "a dismal
and fanatical set of men, overlooking the practical aims of life," but
it is a fair question to ask, "if they had not abandoned the world to
its fate would they not have shared that fate?" "The glory of that age,"
says Professor Dill, "is the number of those who were capable of such
self-surrender; and an age should be judged by its ideals, not by the
mediocrity of conventional religion masking worldly self-indulgence.
This we have always with us; the other we have not always."

Yet the sad fact remains that the transforming power of Christianity was
practically helpless before the surging floods of vice and superstition.
The noble struggles of a few saints were as straws in a hurricane. The
church had all she could do to save herself.

"When Christianity itself was in such need of reform," says Lord, "when
Christians could scarcely be distinguished from pagans in love of
display, and in egotistical ends, how could it reform the world? When it
was a pageant, a ritualism, an arm of the state, a vain philosophy, a
superstition, a formula, how could it save, if ever so dominant? The
corruptions of the church in the fourth century are as well
authenticated as the purity and moral elevation of Christians in the
second century." Even in the early days of Christianity the ruin of Rome
was impending, but, at that time, the adherents of the Christian
religion were few and poor. They did not possess enough power and
influence to save the state. When monasticism came to Rome, the lords of
the church were getting ready to sit upon the thrones of princes, but
the dazzling victory of the church was not a spiritual conquest of sin,
so the last ray of hope for the Empire was extinguished. Her fall was

With this outlined picture in mind, fancy Athanasius and his monks at
Rome. These men despise luxury and contemn riches. They have come to
make Rome ring with the old war cries,--although they wrestled not
against flesh and blood, but against spiritual wickedness in high
places. Terror and despair are on every side, but they are not afraid.
They know what it means to face the demons of the desert, to lie down at
night with wild beasts for companions. They have not yielded to the
depravity of the human heart and the temptations of a licentious age.
They have conquered sinful appetites by self-abnegation and fasting.
They come to a distracted society with a message of peace--a peace won
by courageous self-sacrifice. They call men to save their perishing
souls by surrendering their wills to God and enlisting in a campaign
against the powers of darkness. They appeal to the ancient spirit of
courage and love of hardship. They arouse the dormant moral energies of
the profligate nobles, proud of the past and sick of the present. The
story of Anthony admonished Rome that a life of sensuous gratification
was inglorious, unworthy of the true Roman, and that the flesh could be
mastered by heroic endeavor.

Women, who spent their hours in frivolous amusements, welcomed with
gratitude the discovery that they could be happy without degradation,
and joyfully responded to the call of righteousness. "Despising
themselves," says Kingsley, "despising their husbands to whom they had
been wedded in loveless wedlock, they too fled from a world which had
sated and sickened them."

Woman's natural craving for lofty friendships and pure aspirations found
satisfaction in the monastic ideal. She fled from the incessant broils
of a corrupt court, from the courtesans that usurped the place of the
wife, from the insolence and selfishness of men who scorned even the
appearance of virtue and did not hesitate to degrade even their wives
and sisters. She would disprove the biting sarcasm of Juvenal,--

     "Women, in judgment weak, in feeling strong,
     By every gust of passion borne along.

       *       *       *       *       *

     A woman stops at nothing, when she wears
     Rich emeralds round her neck, and in her ears
     Pearls of enormous size; these justify
     Her faults, and make all lawful in her eye."

Therefore did the women hear with tremulous eagerness the story of the
saintly inhabitants of the desert, and flinging away their trinkets,
they hastened to the solitude of the cell, there to mourn their folly
and seek pardon and peace at the feet of the Most High.

Likewise, the men, born to nobler tasks than fawning upon princes and
squandering life and fortune in gluttony and debauchery, blushed for
shame, and abandoned forever the company of sensualists and parasites.
Potitianus, a young officer of rank, read the life of Anthony, and cried
to his fellow-soldier: "Tell me, I pray thee, whither all our labors
tend? What do we seek? For whom do we carry arms? What can be our
greatest hope in the palace but to be friend to the Emperor? And how
frail is that fortune! What perils! When shall this be?" Inspired by the
monastic story he exchanged the friendship of the Emperor for the
friendship of God, and the military life lost all its attractiveness.

A philosopher and teacher hears the same narrative, and his countenance
becomes grave; he seizes the arm of Alypius, his friend, and earnestly
asks: "What, then, are we doing? How is this? What hast thou been
hearing? These ignorant men rise; they take Heaven by force, and we,
with our heartless sciences, behold us wallowing in the flesh and in
our blood! Is it shameful to follow them, and are we not rather
disgraced by not following them?" So, disgusted with his self-seeking
career, his round of empty pleasures, he, too, is moved by this higher
call to abandon his wickedness and devote his genius to the cause of

Ambrose, Paulinus, Chrysostom, Basil, Gregory, and many others, holding
important official posts or candidates for the highest honors, abandoned
all their chances of political preferment in order to preach the gospel
of ascetic Christianity.

Yes, for good or evil, Rome is profoundly stirred. The pale monk, in all
his filth and poverty, is the master of the best hearts in the capital.
Every one in whom aspiration is still alive, who longs for some new
light, and all who vaguely grope after a higher life, hear his voice and
become pliant to his will.

"Great historic movements," says Grimke, "are born not in whirlwinds, in
earthquakes, and pomps of human splendor and power, but in the agonies
and enthusiasms of grand, heroic spirits." Monastic history, like
secular, centers in the biographies of such great men as Anthony, Basil,
Jerome, Benedict, Francis, Dominic and Loyola. To understand the
character of the powerful forces set in motion by the coming of the
monks to Rome, it is necessary to know the leading spirits whose
preeminent abilities and lofty personalities made Western monasticism
what it was.

The time is about 418 A.D.; the place, a monastery in Bethlehem, near
the cave of the Nativity. In a lonely cell, within these monastic walls,
we shall find the man we seek. He is so old and feeble that he has to be
raised in his bed by means of a cord affixed to the ceiling. He spends
his time chiefly in reciting prayers. His voice, once clear and
resonant, sinks now to a whisper. His failing vision no longer follows
the classic pages of Virgil or dwells fondly on the Hebrew of the Old
Testament. This is Saint Jerome, the champion of asceticism, the
biographer of hermits, the lion of Christian polemics, the translator of
the Bible, and the worthy, brilliant, determined foe of a dissolute
society and a worldly church. Although he spent thirty-four years of his
life in Palestine, I shall consider Jerome in connection with the
monasticism of the West, for it was in Rome that he exercised his
greatest influence. His translation of the Scriptures is the Vulgate of
the Roman church, and his name is enrolled in the calendar of her
saints. "He is," observes Schaff "the connecting link between the
Eastern and Western learning and religion."

By charming speech and eloquent tongue Jerome won over the men, but
principally the women, of Rome to the monastic life. So powerful was his
message when addressed to the feminine heart, that mothers are said to
have locked their daughters in their rooms lest they should fall under
the influence of his magnetic voice. It was largely owing to his own
labors that he could write in after years: "Formerly, according to the
testimony of the apostles, there were few rich, few noble, few powerful
among the Christians. Now, it is no longer so. Not only among the
Christians, but among the monks are to be found a multitude of the wise,
the noble and the rich."

Near to the very year that Athanasius came to Rome, or about 340 A.D.,
Jerome was born at Stridon, in Dalmatia, in what is now called the
Austro-Hungarian monarchy. His parents were modestly wealthy and were
slaveholders. His student days were spent in Rome, where he divided his
time between the study of books and the revels of the streets. One day
some young Christians induced him to visit the catacombs with them.
Here, before the graves of Christian martyrs, a quiet and holy influence
stole into his heart, that finally led to his conversion and baptism.
Embracing the monastic ideal, he gathered around him a few congenial
friends, who joined him in a covenant of rigid abstinence and ascetic
discipline. Then followed a year of travel with these companions,
through Asia Minor, ending disastrously at Antioch. One of his friends
returned home, two of them died, and he himself became so sick with
fever that his life was despaired of. Undismayed by these evils, brought
on by excessive austerities, he determined to retire to a life
of solitude.

About fifty miles southeast from Antioch was a barren waste of nature
but a paradise for monks--the Desert of Chalcis. On its western border
were several monasteries. All about for miles, the dreary solitudes were
peopled with shaggy hermits. They saw visions and dreamed dreams in
caves infested by serpents and wild beasts. They lay upon the sands,
scorched in summer by the blazing sun, and chilled in winter by the
winds that blew from snowcapped mountains. For five years, Jerome dwelt
among these demon-fighting recluses. Clad in sackcloth stained by
penitential tears, he toiled for his daily bread, and struggled against
visions of Roman dancing girls. He was a most industrious reader of
books and a great lover of debate. Monks from far and near visited him,
and together they discussed questions of theology and philosophy.

But we may not follow this varied and eventful life in all its details.
After a year or two spent at Constantinople, and three years at Rome, he
returned to the East, visiting the hermits of Egypt on his way, and
finally settled at Bethlehem. His fame soon drew around him a great
company of monks. These he organized into monasteries. He built a
hospital, and established an inn for travelers. Lacking the necessary
funds to carry out his projects, he dispatched his brother to the West
with instructions to sell what was left of his property, and the
proceeds of this sale he devoted to the cause. While in Bethlehem he
wrote defences of orthodoxy, eulogies of the dead, lives of saints and
commentaries on the Bible. He also completed his translation of the
Scriptures, and wrote numerous letters to persons dwelling in various
parts of the empire.

Jerome rendered great service to monasticism by his literary labors. He
invested the dullest of lives with a halo of glory; under the magic
touch of his rhetoric the wilderness became a gladsome place and the
desert blossomed as the rose. His glowing language transfigured the pale
face and sunken eyes of the starved hermit into features positively
beautiful, while the rags that hung loosely upon his emaciated frame
became garments of lustrous white. "Oh, that I could behold the desert,"
he cries, "lovelier than any city! Oh, that I could see those lonely
spots made into a paradise by the saints that throng them!" Without
detracting from the bitterness of the prospect, he glorifies the courage
that can face the horrors of the desert, and the heart that can rejoice
midst the solitude of the seas. Hear him describe the home of Bonosus, a
hermit on an isle in the Adriatic:

"Bonosus, your friend, is now climbing the ladder foreshown in Jacob's
dream. He is bearing his cross, neither taking thought for the morrow,
nor looking back at what he has left. Here you have a youth, educated
with us in the refining accomplishments of the world, with abundance of
wealth and in rank inferior to none of his associates; yet he forsakes
his mother, his sister, and his dearly loved brother, and settles like a
new tiller of Eden on a dangerous island, with the sea roaring round its
reefs, while its rough crags, bare rocks and desolate aspect make it
more terrible still.... He sees the glory of God which even the apostles
saw not, save in the desert. He beholds, it is true, no embattled towns,
but he has enrolled his name in the new city. Garments of sackcloth
disfigure his limbs, yet so he will the sooner be caught up to meet
Christ in the clouds. Round the entire island roars the frenzied sea,
while the beetling crags along its winding shores resound as the billows
beat against them. Precipitous cliffs surround his dreadful abode as if
it were a prison. He is careless, fearless, armed from head to foot in
the apostles' armor."

Listen to these trumpet tones as Jerome calls to a companion of his
youth in Rome: "O desert, enamelled with the flowers of Christ! O
retreat, which rejoicest in the friendship of God! What dost thou in the
world, my brother, with thy soul greater than the world? How long wilt
thou remain in the shadow of roofs, and in the smoky dungeons of cities?
Believe me, I see here more light."

To pass hastily over such appeals, coming from distant lands across the
sea to stir the minds of the thoughtful in Rome, is to ignore one of the
causes which produced the great exodus that followed. He made men see
that they were living in a moral Sodom, and that if they would save
their souls they must escape to the desert. The power of personal
influence, of inspiring private letters, can hardly be overemphasized in
studying the remarkable progress of asceticism. Great awakenings in the
moral, as in the political or the social world, may be traced to the
profound influence of individuals, whose prophetic insight and moral
enthusiasm unfold the germ of the larger movements. There may be
widespread unrest, the ground may be prepared for the seed, but the
immediate cause of universal uprisings is the clarion call of genius.
Thus Luther's was the voice that cried in the wilderness, inciting a
vast host for whom centuries had been preparing.

But Jerome's fame as a man of learning, possessing a critical taste and
a classic style of rare beauty and simplicity, must not blind us to the
crowning glory of his brilliant career. He was above all a spiritual
force. His chief appeal was to the conscience. He warmed the most torpid
hearts by the fervor of his love, and encouraged the most hopeless by
his fiery zeal and heroic faith. As a promoter of monasticism, he
clashed with the interests of an enfeebled clergy and a corrupt laity.
Nothing could swerve him from his course. False monks might draw
terrible rebukes from him, but the conviction that the soul could be
delivered from captivity to the body only by mortification remained
unshaken. He induced men to break the fetters of society that they
might, under the more favorable circumstances of solitude, wage war
against their unruly passions.

When parents objected to his monastic views, Jerome quoted the saying of
Jesus respecting the renunciation of father and mother, and then said:
"Though thy mother with flowing hair and rent garments, should show thee
the breasts which have nourished thee; though thy father should lie upon
the threshold; yet depart thou, treading over thy father, and fly with
dry eyes to the standard of the cross. The love of God and the fear of
hell easily rend the bonds of the household asunder. The Holy Scripture
indeed enjoins obedience, but he who loves them more than Christ loses
his soul."

Jerome vividly portrays his own spiritual conflicts. The deserts were
crowded with saintly soldiers battling against similar temptations, the
nature of which is suggested by the following excerpt from Jerome's
writings: "How often," he says, "when I was living in the desert, in the
vast solitude which gives to hermits a savage dwelling-place, parched by
a burning sun, how often did I fancy myself among the pleasures of Rome!
I used to sit alone because I was filled with bitterness. Sack-cloth
disfigured my unshapely limbs and my skin from long neglect had become
black as an Ethiopian's. Tears and groans were every day my portion; and
if drowsiness chanced to overcome my struggles against it, my bare
bones, which hardly held together, clashed against the ground. Now
although in my fear of hell I had consigned myself to this prison where
I had no companions but scorpions and wild beasts, I often found myself
amid bevies of girls. Helpless, I cast myself at the feet of Jesus, I
watered them with my tears, and I subdued my rebellious body with weeks
of abstinence. I remember how I often cried aloud all night till the
break of day. I used to dread my cell as if it knew my thoughts, and
stern and angry with myself, I used to make my way alone into the
desert. Wherever I saw hollow valleys, craggy mountains, steep cliffs,
there I made my oratory; there the house of correction for my unhappy
flesh. There, also, when I had shed copious tears and had strained my
eyes to heaven, I sometimes felt myself among angelic hosts and sang for
joy and gladness."

No doubt these men were warring against nature. Their yielding to the
temptation to obtain spiritual dominance by self-flagellation and
fasting may be criticized in the light of modern Christianity.
"Fanaticism defies nature," says F.W. Robertson, "Christianity refines
it and respects it. Christianity does not denaturalize, but only
sanctifies and refines according to the laws of nature. Christianity
does not destroy our natural instincts, but gives them a higher and
nobler direction." To all this I must assent, but, at the same time, I
cannot but reverence that pure passion for holiness which led men,
despairing of acquiring virtue in a degenerate age, to flee from the
world and undergo such torments to attain their soul's ideal. The form,
the method of their conflict was transient, the spirit and purpose
eternal. All honor to them for their magnificent and terrible struggle,
which has forever exalted the spiritual ideal, and commanded men
everywhere to seek first "the Kingdom of God and its righteousness."

Jerome was always fond of the classics, although pagan writers were not
in favor with the early Christians. One night he dreamed he was called
to the skies where he was soundly flogged for reading certain pagan
authors. This vision interrupted his classical studies for a time. In
later years he resumed his beloved Virgil; and he vigorously defended
himself against those who charged him with being a Pagan and an
apostate on account of his love for Greek and Roman literature. If his
admiration for Virgil was the Devil's work, I but give the Devil his due
when I declare that much of the charm of Jerome's literary productions
is owing to the inspiration of classic models.

Our attention must now be transferred from Jerome to the high-born Roman
matrons, who laid off their silks that they might clothe themselves in
the humble garb of the nun. As the narrative proceeds I shall let Jerome
speak as often as possible, that the reader may become acquainted with
the style of those biographies and eulogies which were the talk of Rome,
and which have been admired so highly by succeeding generations.

Those who embraced monasticism in Rome did so in one of two ways. Some
sold their possessions, adopted coarse garments, and subsisted on the
plainest food, but they did not leave the city and were still to be seen
upon the streets. Jerome writes to Pammachius: "Who would have believed
that a last descendant of the consuls, an ornament of the race of
Camillus, could make up his mind to traverse the city in the black robe
of a monk, and should not blush to appear thus clad in the midst of
senators." Some of those who remained at Rome established a sort of
retreat for their ascetic friends.

But another class left Rome altogether. Some took up their abode on the
rugged isles of the Adriatic or the Mediterranean. Large numbers of them
went to the East, principally to Palestine. Jerome was practically the
abbot of a Roman colony of monks and nuns. Two motives, beside the
general ruling desire to achieve holiness, produced this exodus to the
Holy Land, which culminated centuries later in the crusades. One was a
desire to see the deserts and caves, the abode of hermits famous for
piety and miracles. Jerome, as I have shown, invested these lonely
retreats and strange characters with a sort of holy romance, and hence,
faith, mingled with curiosity, led men to the East. Another motive was
the desire to visit the land of the Saviour, to tread the soil
consecrated by his labors of love, to live a life of poverty in the land
where He had no home He could call his own.

St. Paula was one of the women who left Rome and went to Palestine. The
story of her life is told in a letter designed to comfort her daughter
Eustochium at the time of Paula's death. The epistle begins: "If all the
members of my body were to be converted into tongues, and if each of my
limbs were to be gifted with a human voice, I could still do no justice
to the virtues of the holy and venerable Paula. Of the stock of the
Gracchi, descended from the Scipios, she yet preferred Bethlehem to
Rome, and left her palace glittering with gold to dwell in a mud cabin."
Her husband was of royal blood and had died leaving her five children.
At his death, she gave herself to works of charity. The poor and sick
she wrapped in her own blankets. She began to tire of the receptions and
other social duties which her position entailed upon her. While in this
frame of mind, two Eastern bishops were entertained at her home during a
gathering of ecclesiastics. They seem to have imparted the monastic
impulse, perhaps by the rehearsal of monastic tales, for we are informed
that at this time she determined to leave servants, property and
children, in order to embrace the monastic life.

Let us stand with her children and kinsfolk on the shore of the sea as
they take their final farewell of Paula. "The sails were set and the
strokes of the rowers carried the vessel into the deep. On the shore
little Toxotius stretched forth his hands in entreaty, while Rufina, now
grown up, with silent sobs besought her mother to wait until she should
be married. But still Paula's eyes were dry as she turned them
heavenwards, and she overcame her love for her children by her love for
God. She knew herself no more as a mother that she might approve herself
a handmaid of Christ. Yet her heart was rent within her, and she
wrestled with her grief as though she were being forcibly separated from
parts of herself. The greatness of the affection she had to overcome
made all admire her victory the more. Though it is against the laws of
nature, she endured this trial with unabated faith."

So the vessel ploughed onward, carrying the mother who thought she was
honoring God and attaining the true end of being through ruthless
strangling of maternal love. She visited Syria and Egypt and the islands
of Ponta and Cyprus. At the feet of the hermit fathers she begged their
blessing and tried to emulate the virtues she believed they possessed.
At Jerusalem she fell upon her face and kissed the stone before the
sepulcher. "What tears, she shed, what groans she uttered, what grief
she poured out all Jerusalem knows!"

She established two monasteries at Bethlehem, one of which was for
women. Here, with her daughter, she lived a life of rigid abstinence.
Her nuns had nothing they could call their own. If they paid too much
attention to dress Paula said, "A clean body and a clean dress mean an
unclean soul." To her credit, she was more lenient with others than with
herself. Jerome admits she went to excess, and prudently observes:
"Difficult as it is to avoid extremes, the philosophers are quite right
in their opinion that virtue is a mean and vice an excess, or, as we may
express it in one short sentence, in nothing too much." Paula swept
floors and toiled in the kitchen. She slept on the ground, covered by a
mat of goat's hair. Her weeping was incessant. As she meditated over the
Scriptures, her tears fell so profusely that her sight was endangered.
Jerome warned her to spare her eyes, but she said: "I must disfigure
that face which, contrary to God's commandment, I have painted with
rouge, white lead and antimony." If this be a sin against the Almighty,
bear witness, O ye daughters of Eve! Her love for the poor continued to
be the motive of her great liberality. In fact, her giving knew no
bounds. Fuller wisely remarks that "liberality must have banks as well
as a stream;" but Paula said: "My prayer is that I may die a beggar,
leaving not a penny to my daughter and indebted to strangers for my
winding sheet." Her petition was literally granted, for she died leaving
her daughter not only without a penny but overwhelmed in a mass
of debts.

As Jerome approaches the description of Paula's death, he says:
"Hitherto the wind has all been in my favor and my keel has smoothly
ploughed through the heaving sea. But now my bark is running upon the
rocks, the billows are mountain high, and imminent shipwreck awaits me."
Yet Paula, like David, must go the way of all the earth. Surrounded by
her followers chanting psalms, she breathed her last. An immense
concourse of people attended her funeral. Not a single monk lingered in
his cell. Thus, the twenty hard years of self-torture for this Roman
lady of culture ended in the rest of the grave.

Upon her tombstone was placed this significant inscription:

     "Within this tomb a child of Scipio lies,
     A daughter of the far-famed Pauline house,
     A scion of the Gracchi, of the stock
     Of Agamemnon's self, illustrious:
     Here rests the lady Paula, well beloved
     Of both her parents, with Eustochium
     For daughter; she the first of Roman dames
     Who hardship chose and Bethlehem for Christ."

Another interesting character of that period was Marcella, a beautiful
woman of illustrious lineage, a descendant of consuls and prefects.
After a married life of seven years her husband died. She determined not
to embark on the matrimonial seas a second time, but to devote herself
to works of charity. Cerealis, an old man, but of consular rank, offered
her his fortune that he might consider her less his wife than his
daughter. "Had I a wish to marry," was her noble reply, "I should look
for a husband and not for an inheritance." Disdaining all enticements to
remain in society, she began her monastic career with joy and turned
her home into a retreat for women who, like herself, wished to retire
from the world. It is not known just what rules governed their
relations, but they employed the time in moderate fasting, prayers and

Marcella lavished her wealth upon the poor. Jerome praises her
philanthropic labors thus: "Our widow's clothing was meant to keep out
the cold and not to show her figure. She stored her money in the
stomachs of the poor rather than to keep it at her own disposal." Seldom
seen upon the streets, she remained at home, surrounded by virgins and
widows, obedient and loving to her mother. Among the high-born women it
was regarded as degrading to assume the costume of the nun, but she bore
the scorn of her social equals with humility and grace.

This quiet and useful life was rudely and abruptly ended by a dreadful
catastrophe. Alaric the Goth had seized and sacked Rome. The world stood
aghast. The sad news reached Jerome in his cell at Bethlehem, who
expressed his sorrow in forceful language: "My voice sticks in my
throat; and as I dictate, sobs choke my utterance. The city which has
taken the whole world is itself taken." Rude barbarians invaded the
sanctity of Marcella's retreat. They demanded her gold, but she pointed
to the coarse dress she wore to show them she had no buried treasures.
They did not believe her, and cruelly beat her with cudgels. A few days
after the saintly heroine of righteousness went to her long home to
enjoy richly-merited rest and peace.

     "Who can describe the carnage of that night?
     What tears are equal to its agony?
     Of ancient date a sovran city falls;
     And lifeless in its streets and houses lie
     Unnumbered bodies of its citizens.
     In many a ghastly shape doth death appear."

Marcella and her monastic home fell in the general ruin, but in the
words of Horace, she left "a monument more enduring than brass." Her
noble life, so full of kind words and loving deeds, still stirs the
hearts of her sisters who, while they may reject her ascetic ideal,
will, nevertheless, try to emulate her noble spirit. As Jerome said of
Paula: "By shunning glory she earned glory; for glory follows virtue as
its shadow; and deserting those who seek it, it seeks those who
despise it."

Still another woman claims our attention,--Fabiola, the founder of the
first hospital. Lecky declares that "the first public hospital and the
charity planted by that woman's hand overspread the world, and will
alleviate to the end of time the darkest anguish of humanity." She, too,
was a widow who refused to marry again, but broke up her home, sold her
possessions, and with the proceeds founded a hospital into which were
gathered the sick from the streets. She nursed the sufferers and washed
their ulcers and wounds. No task was beneath her, no sacrifice of
personal comfort too great for her love. Many helped her with their
gold, but she gave herself. She also aided in establishing a home for
strangers at Portus, which became one of the most famous inns of the
time. Travelers from all parts of the world found a welcome and a
shelter on landing at this port. When she died the roofs of Rome were
crowded with those who watched the funeral procession. Psalms were
chanted, and the gilded ceilings of the churches resounded to the music
in commendation of her loving life and labors.

These and other characters of like zeal and fortitude exemplify the
spirit of the men and women who interested the West in monasticism. Much
as their errors and extravagances may be deplored, there is no question
that some of them were types of the loftiest Christian virtues, inspired
by the most laudable motives.

Noble and true are Kingsley's words: "We may blame those ladies, if we
will, for neglecting their duties. We may sneer, if we will, at their
weaknesses, the aristocratic pride, the spiritual vanity, we fancy we
discover. We must confess that in these women the spirit of the old
Roman matrons, which seemed to have been dead so long, flashed up for
one splendid moment ere it sank into the darkness of the middle ages."

_Monasticism and Women_

The origin of nunneries was coeval with that of monasteries, and the
history of female recluses runs parallel to that of the men. Almost
every male order had its counterpart in some sort of a sisterhood. The
general moral character of these female associations was higher than
that of the male organizations. I have confined my treatment in this
work to the monks, but a few words may be said at this point concerning
female ascetics.

Hermit life was unsuited to women, but we know that at a very early date
many of them retired to the seclusion of convent life. It will be
recalled that in the biography of St. Anthony, before going into the
desert he placed his sister in the care of some virgins who were living
a life of abstinence, apart from society. It is very doubtful if any
uniform rule governed these first religious houses, or if definitely
organized societies appear much before the time of Benedict. The
variations in the monastic order among the men were accompanied by
similar changes in the associations of women.

The history of these sisterhoods discloses three interesting and
noteworthy facts that merit brief mention:

First, the effect of a corrupt society upon women. As in the case of
men, women were moved to forsake their social duties because they were
weary of the sensual and aimless life of Rome. Those were the days of
elaborate toilettes, painted faces and blackened eyelids, of intrigues
and foolish babbling. Venial faults--it may be thought--innocent
displays of tender frailty; but woman's nature demands loftier
employments. A great soul craves occupations and recognizes obligations
more in harmony with the true nobility of human nature. Rome had no
monitor of the higher life until the monks came with their stories of
heroic self-abnegation and unselfish toil. The women felt the force and
truth of Jerome's criticism of their trifling follies when he said: "Do
not seek to appear over-eloquent, nor trifle with verse, nor make
yourself gay with lyric songs. And do not, out of affectation, follow
the sickly taste of married ladies, who now pressing their teeth
together, now keeping their lips wide apart, speak with a lisp, and
purposely clip their words, because they fancy that to pronounce them
naturally is a mark of country breeding."

Professor Dill is inclined to discount the testimony of Jerome
respecting the morals of Roman society. He thinks Jerome exaggerated the
perils surrounding women. He says: "The truth is Jerome is not only a
monk but an artist in words; and his horror of evil, his vivid
imagination, and his passion for literary effect, occasionally carry him
beyond the region of sober fact. There was much to amend in the morals
of the Roman world. But we must not take the leader of a great moral
reformation as a cool and dispassionate observer." But this observation
amounts to nothing more than a cautionary word against mistaking evils
common to all times for special symptoms of excessive immorality.
Professor Dill practically concedes the truthfulness of contemporary
witnesses, including Jerome, when he says: "Yet, after all allowances,
the picture is not a pleasant one. We feel that we are far away from the
simple, unworldly devotion of the freedmen and obscure toilers whose
existence was hardly known to the great world before the age of the
Antonines, and who lived in the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount and in
constant expectation of the coming of their Lord. The triumphant Church,
which has brought Paganism to its knees, is very different from the
Church of the catacombs and the persecutions." The picture which Jerome
draws of the Roman women is indeed repulsive, and Professor Dill would
gladly believe it to be exaggerated, but, nevertheless, he thinks that
"if the priesthood, with its enormous influence, was so corrupt, it is
only probable that it debased the sex which is always most under
clerical influence."

But far graver charges cling to the memories of the Roman women. Crime
darkened every household. The Roman lady was cruel and impure. She
delighted in the blood of gladiators and in illicit love. Roman law at
this time permitted women to hold and to control large estates, and it
became a fad for these patrician ladies to marry poor men, so that they
might have their husbands within their power. All sorts of alliances
could then be formed, and if their husbands remonstrated, they, holding
the purse strings, were able to say: "If you don't like it you can
leave." A profligate himself, the husband usually kept his counsel, and
as a reward, dwelt in a palace. "When the Roman matrons became the equal
and voluntary companions of their lords," says Gibbon, "a new
jurisprudence was introduced, that marriage, like other partnerships,
might be dissolved by the abdication of one of the associates." I have
but touched the fringe of a veil I will not lift; but it is easy to
understand why those women who cherished noble sentiments welcomed the
monastic life as a pathway of escape from scenes and customs from which
their better natures recoiled in horror.

Secondly, the fine quality of mercy that distinguishes woman's character
deserves recognition. Even though she retired to a convent, she could
not become so forgetful of her fellow creatures as her male companions.
From the very beginning we observe that she was more unselfish in her
asceticism than they. It is true the monk forsook all, and to that
extent was self-sacrificing, but in his desire for his own salvation, he
was prone to neglect every one else. The monk's ministrations were too
often confined to those who came to him, but the nun went forth to heal
the diseased and to bind up the broken-hearted. As soon as she embraced
the monastic life we read of hospitals. The desire for salvation drove
man into the desert; a Christ-like mercy and divine sympathy kept his
sister by the couch of pain.

Lastly, a word remains to be said touching the question of marriage. At
first, the nun sometimes entered the marriage state, and, of course,
left the convent; but, beginning with Basil, this practice was
condemned, and irrevocable vows were exacted. In 407, Innocent I. closed
even the door of penitence and forgiveness to those who broke their vows
and married.

Widows and virgins alike assumed the veil. Marriage itself was not
despised, because the monastic life was only for those who sought a
higher type of piety than, it was supposed, could be attained amid the
ordinary conditions of life. But marriage, as well as other so-called
secular relations, was eschewed by those who wished to make their
salvation sure. Jerome says: "I praise wedlock, I praise marriage, but
it is because they give me virgins; I gather the rose from the thorns,
the gold from the earth, the pearl from the shell." He therefore
tolerated marriage among people contented with ordinary religious
attainments, but he thought it incompatible with true holiness.
Augustine admitted that the mother and her daughter may be both in
heaven, but one a bright and the other a dim star. Some writers, as
Helvidius, opposed this view and maintained that there was no special
virtue in an unmarried life; that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was also
the mother of other children, and as such was an example of Christian
virtue. Jerome brought out his guns and poured hot shot into the
enemies' camp. In the course of his answer, which contained many
intolerant and acrimonious statements, he drew a comparison between the
married and the unmarried state. It is interesting because it reflects
the opinions of those who disparaged marriage, and reveals the character
of the principles which the early Fathers advocated. It is very evident
from this letter against Helvidius that Jerome regarded all secular
duties as interfering with the pursuit of the highest virtue.

"Do you think," he says, "there is no difference between one who spends
her time in prayer and fasting, and one who must, at her husband's
approach, make up her countenance, walk with a mincing gait, and feign a
show of endearment? The virgin aims to appear less comely; she will
wrong herself so as to hide her natural attractions. The married woman
has the paint laid on before her mirror, and, to the insult of her
Maker, strives to acquire something more than her natural beauty. Then
come the prattling of infants, the noisy household, children watching
for her word and waiting for her kiss, the reckoning up of expenses, the
preparation to meet the outlay. On one side you will see a company of
cooks, girded for the onslaught and attacking the meat; there you may
hear the hum of a multitude of weavers. Meanwhile a message is delivered
that her husband and his friends have arrived. The wife, like a swallow,
flies all over the house. She has to see to everything. Is the sofa
smooth? Is the pavement swept? Are the flowers in the cup? Is dinner
ready? Tell me, pray, amid all this, is there room for the thought
of God?"

Such was Roman married life as it appeared to Jerome. The very duties
and blessings that we consider the glory of the family he despised. I
will return to his views later, but it is interesting to note the
absence at this period, of the modern and true idea that God may be
served in the performance of household and other secular duties. Women
fled from such occupations in those days that they might be religious.
The disagreeable fact of Peter's marriage was overcome by the assertion
that he must have washed away the stain of his married life by the blood
of his martyrdom. Such extreme views arose partly as a reaction from and
a protest against the dominant corruption, a state of affairs in which
happy and holy marriages were rare.

_The Spread of Monasticism in Europe_

Much more might be said of monastic life in Rome, were it not now
necessary to treat of the spread of monasticism in Europe. There are
many noble characters whom we ought to know, such as Ambrose, one of
Christendom's greatest bishops, who led a life of poverty and strict
abstinence, like his sister Marcella, whom we have met. He it was, of
whom the Emperor Theodosius said: "I have met a man who has told me the
truth." Well might he so declare, for Ambrose refused him admission to
the church at Milan, because his hands were red with the blood of the
murdered, and succeeded in persuading him to submit to discipline. To
Ambrose may be applied the words which Gibbon wrote of Gregory
Nazianzen: "The title of Saint has been added to his name, but the
tenderness of his heart and the elegance of his genius reflect a more
pleasing luster on his memory."

The story of John, surnamed Chrysostom, who was born at Antioch, in 347,
is exceedingly interesting. He was a young lawyer, who entered the
priesthood after his baptism. He at once set his heart on the monastic
life, but his mother took him to her chamber, and, by the bed where she
had given him birth, besought him in fear, not to forsake her. "My son,"
she said in substance, "my only comfort in the midst of the miseries of
this earthly life is to see thee constantly, and to behold in thy traits
the faithful image of my beloved husband, who is no more. When you have
buried me and joined my ashes with those of your father, nothing will
then prevent you from retiring into the monastic life. But so long as I
breathe, support me by your presence, and do not draw down upon you the
wrath of God by bringing such evils upon me who have given you no
offence." This singularly tender petition was granted, but Chrysostom
turned his home into a monastery, slept on the bare floor, ate little
and seldom, and prayed much by day and by night.

After his mother's death Chrysostom enjoyed the seclusion of a monastic
solitude for six years, but impairing his health by excessive
self-mortification he returned to Antioch in 380. He rapidly rose to a
position of commanding influence in the church. His peerless oratorical
and literary gifts were employed in elevating the ascetic ideal and in
unsparing denunciations of the worldly religion of the imperial court.
He incurred the furious hatred of the young and beautiful Empress
Eudoxia, who united her influence with that of the ambitious Theophilus,
patriarch of Alexandria, and Chrysostom was banished from
Constantinople, but died on his way to the remote desert of Pityus. His
powerful sermons and valuable writings contributed in no small degree to
the spread of monasticism among the Christians of his time.

Then there was Augustine, the greatest thinker since Plato. "We shall
meet him," says Schaff, "alike on the broad highways and the narrow
foot-paths, on the giddy Alpine heights and in the awful depths of
speculation, wherever philosophical thinkers before him or after him
have trod." He, too, like all the other leaders of thought in his time,
was ascetic in his habits. Although he lived and labored for
thirty-eight years at Hippo, a Numidian city about two hundred miles
west of Carthage, in Africa, Augustine was regarded as the intellectual
head not only of North Africa but of Western Christianity. He gathered
his clergy into a college of priests, with a community of goods, thus
approaching as closely to the regular monastic life as was possible to
secular clergymen. He established religious houses and wrote a set of
rules, consisting of twenty-four articles, for the government of
monasteries. These rules were superseded by those of Benedict, but they
were resuscitated under Charlemagne and reappeared in the famous Austin
Canons of the eleventh century. Little did Augustine think that a
thousand years later an Augustinian monk--Luther--would abandon his
order to become the founder of modern Protestantism.

Augustine published a celebrated essay,--"On the Labor of Monks,"--in
which he pointed out the dangers of monachism, condemned its abuses, and
ended by sighing for the quiet life of the monk who divided his day
between labor, reading and prayer, whilst he himself spent his years
amid the noisy throng and the perplexities of his episcopate.

These men, and many others, did much to further monasticism. But we must
now leave sunny Africa and journey northward through Gaul into the land
of the hardy Britons and Scots.

Athanasius, the same weary exile whom we have encountered in Egypt and
in Rome, had been banished by Constantine to Treves, in 336. In 346 and
349 he again visited Gaul. He told the same story of Anthony and the
Egyptian hermits with similar results.

The most renowned ecclesiastic of the Gallican church, whose name is
most intimately associated with the spread of monasticism in Western
Europe, before the days of Benedict, was Saint Martin of Tours. He lived
about the years 316-396 A.D. The chronicle of his life is by no means
trustworthy, but that is essential neither to popularity nor saintship.
Only let a Severus describe his life and miracles in glowing rhetoric
and fantastic legend and the people will believe it, pronouncing him
greatest among the great, the mightiest miracle-worker of that
miracle-working age.

Martin was a soldier three years, against his will, under Constantine.
One bleak winter day he cut his white military coat in two with his
sword and clothed a beggar with half of it. That night he heard Jesus
address the angels: "Martin, as yet only a catechumen has clothed me
with his garment." After leaving the army he became a hermit, and,
subsequently, bishop of Tours. He lived for years just outside of Tours
in a cell made of interlaced branches. His monks dwelt around him in
caves cut out of scarped rocks, overlooking a beautiful stream. They
were clad in camel's hair and lived on a diet of brown bread, sleeping
on a straw couch.

But Martin's monks did not take altogether kindly to their mode of life.
Severus records an amusing story of their rebellion against the meager
allowance of food. The Egyptian could exist on a few figs a day. But
these rude Gauls, just emerging out of barbarism, were accustomed to
devour great slices of roasted meat and to drink deep draughts of beer.
Such sturdy children of the northern forests naturally disdained dainty
morsels of barley bread and small potations of wine. True, Athanasius
had said, "Fasting is the food of angels," but these ascetic novices, in
their perplexity, could only say: "We are accused of gluttony; but we
are Gauls; it is ridiculous and cruel to make us live like angels; we
are not angels; once more, we are only Gauls." Their complaint comes
down to us as a pathetic but humorous protest of common sense against
ascetic fanaticism; or, regarded in another light, it may be considered
as additional evidence of the depravity of the natural man.

In spite of all complaints, however, Martin did not abate the severity
of his discipline. As a bishop he pushed his monastic system into all
the surrounding country. His zeal knew no bounds, and his strength
seemed inexhaustible. "No one ever saw him either gloomy or merry,"
remarks his biographer. Amid many embarrassments and difficulties he was
ever the same, with a countenance full of heavenly serenity. He was a
great miracle-worker--that is, if everything recorded of him is true. He
cast out demons, and healed the sick; he had strange visions of angels
and demons, and, wonderful to relate, thrice he raised bodies from
the dead.

But all conquerors are at last vanquished by the angel of death, and
Martin passed into the company of the heavenly host and the category of
saints. Two thousand monks attended his funeral. His fame spread all
over Europe. Tradition tells us he was the uncle of Saint Patrick of
Ireland. Churches were dedicated to him in France, Germany, Scotland and
England. The festival of his birth is celebrated on the eleventh of
November. In Scotland this day still marks the winter term, which is
called Martinmas. Saint Martin's shrine was one of the most famous of
the middle ages, and was noted for its wonderful cures. No saint is
held, even now, in higher veneration by the French Catholic.

It is not known when the institution was planted in Spain, but in 380
the council of Saragossa forbade priests to assume monkish habits.
Germany received the institution some time in the fifth century. The
introduction of Christianity as well as of monasticism into the British
Isles is shrouded in darkness. A few jewels of fact may be gathered from
the legendary rubbish. It is probable that before the days of Benedict,
Saint Patrick, independently of Rome, established monasteries in Ireland
and preached the gospel there; and, without doubt, before the birth of
Benedict of Nursia, there were monks and monasteries in Great Britain.
The monastery of Bangor is said to have been founded about 450 A.D.

It is probable that Christianity was introduced into Britain before the
close of the second century, and that monasticism arose some time in the
fifth century. Tertullian, about the beginning of the third century,
boasts that Christianity had conquered places in Britain where the Roman
arms could not penetrate. Origen claimed that the power of the Savior
was manifest in Britain as well as in Muritania. The earliest notice we
have of a British church occurs in the writings of the Venerable Bede
(673-735 A.D.), a monk whose numerous and valuable works on English
history entitle him to the praise of being "the greatest literary
benefactor this or any other nation has produced." He informs us that a
British king--Lucius--embraced Christianity during the reign of the
Emperor Aurelius, and that missionaries were sent from Rome to Britain
about that time. Lingard says the story is suspicious, since "we know
not from what source Bede, at the distance of five centuries, derived
his information." It seems quite likely that there must have been some
Christians among the Roman soldiers or civil officials who lived in
Britain during the Roman occupation of the country. The whole problem
has been the theme of so much controversy, however, that a fuller
discussion is reserved for the next chapter.

_Disorders and Oppositions_

But was there no protest against the progress of these ascetic
teachings? Did the monastic institution command the unanimous approval
of the church from the outset? There were many and strong outcries
against the monks, but they were quickly silenced by the counter-shouts
of praise. Even when rebellion against the system seemed formidable, it
was popular nevertheless. The lifted hand was quickly struck down, and
voices of opposition suddenly hushed. Like a mighty flood the movement
swept on,--kings, when so inclined, being powerless to stop it. As Paula
was carried fainting from the funeral procession of Blæsilla, her
daughter, whispers such as these were audible in the crowd: "Is not this
what we have often said? She weeps for her daughter, killed with
fasting. How long must we refrain from driving these detestable monks
out of Rome? Why do we not stone them or hurl them into the Tiber? They
have misled this unhappy mother; that she is not a nun from choice is
clear. No heathen mother ever wept for her children as she does for
Blæsilla." And this is Paula, who, choked with grief, refused to weep
when she sailed from her children for the far East!

Unhappily, history is often too dignified to retail the conversations of
the dinner-table and the gossip of private life. But this narrative
indicates that in many a Roman family the monk was feared, despised and
hated. Sometimes everyday murmurs found their way into literature and so
passed to posterity. Rutilius, the Pagan poet, as he sails before a
hermit isle in the Mediterranean, exclaims: "Behold, Capraria rises
before us; that isle is full of wretches, enemies of light. I detest
these rocks scene of a recent shipwreck." He then goes on to declare
that a young and rich friend, impelled by the furies, had fled from men
and gods to a living tomb, and was now decaying in that foul retreat.
This was no uncommon opinion. But contrast it with what Ambrose said of
those same isles: "It is there in these isles, thrown down by God like a
collar of pearls upon the sea, that those who would escape from the
charms of dissipation find refuge. Nothing here disturbs their peace,
all access is closed to the wild passions of the world. The mysterious
sound of waves mingles with the chant of hymns; and, while the waters
break upon the shores of these happy isles with a gentle murmur, the
peaceful accents of the choir of the elect ascend toward Heaven from
their bosom." No wonder the Milanese ladies guarded their daughters
against this theological poet.

Even among the Christians there were hostile as well as friendly critics
of monasticism; Jovinian, whom Neander compares to Luther, is a type of
the former. Although a monk himself, he disputed the thesis that any
merit lay in celibacy, fasting or poverty. He opposed the worship of
saints and relics, and believed that one might retain possession of his
property and make good use of it. He assailed the dissolute monks and
claimed that many of Rome's noblest young men and women were withdrawn
from a life of usefulness into the desert. He held that there was really
but one class of Christians, namely, those who had faith in Christ, and
that a monk could be no more. But Jovinian was far in advance of his
age, and it was many years before the truth of his view gained any
considerable recognition. He was severely attacked by Jerome, who called
him a Christian Epicurean, and was condemned as a heretic by a synod at
Milan, in 390. Thus the reformers were crushed for centuries. The Pagan
Emperor, Julian, and the Christian, Valens, alike tried in vain to
resist the emigration into the desert. Thousands fled, in times of peril
to the state, from their civil and military duties, but the emperors
were powerless to prevent the exodus.

That there were grounds for complaint against the monks we may know from
the charges made even by those who favored the system. Jerome Ambrose,
Augustine, and in fact almost every one of the Fathers tried to correct
the growing disorders. We learn from them that many fled from society,
not to become holy, but to escape slavery and famine; and that many were
lazy and immoral. Their "shaven heads lied to God." Avarice, ambition,
or cowardice ruled hearts that should have been actuated by a love of
poverty, self-sacrifice or courage. "Quite recently," says Jerome, "we
have seen to our sorrow a fortune worthy of Croesus brought to light by
a monk's death, and a city's alms collected for the poor, left by will
to his sons and successors."

Many monks traveled from place to place selling sham relics. Augustine
wrote against "those hypocrites who, in the dress of monks, wander about
the provinces carrying pretended relics, amulets, preservatives, and
expecting alms to feed their lucrative poverty and recompense their
pretended virtue." It is to the credit of the Fathers of the church
that they boldly and earnestly rebuked the vices of the monks and tried
to purge the monastic system of its impurities.

But the church sanctioned the monastic movement. She could not have done
anything else. "It is one of the most striking occurrences in history,"
says Harnack, "that the church, exactly at the time when she was
developing more and more into a legal institution and a sacramental
establishment, outlined a Christian life-ideal which was incapable of
realization within her bounds, but only alongside of her. The more she
affiliated herself with the world, the higher and more superhuman did
she make her ideal."

It is also noteworthy that this "life-ideal" seems to have led,
inevitably, to fanaticism and other excesses, so that even at this early
date there was much occasion for alarm. Gross immorality was disclosed
as well as luminous purity; indolence and laziness as well as the love
of sacrifice and toil. So we shall find it down through the centuries.
"The East had few great men," says Milman, "many madmen; the West,
madmen enough, but still very many, many great men." We have met some
madmen and some great men. We shall meet more of each type.

After 450 A.D., monasticism suffered an eclipse for over half a century.
It seemed as if the Western institution was destined to end in that
imbecility and failure which overtook the Eastern system. But there came
a man who infused new life into the monastic body. He systematized its
scattered principles and concentrated the energies of the wandering and
unorganized monks.

Our next visit will be to the mountain home of this renowned character,
fifty miles to the west of Rome. "A single monk," says Montalembert, "is
about to form there a center of spiritual virtue, and to light it up
with a splendor destined to shine over regenerated Europe for ten
centuries to come."



Saint Benedict, the founder of the famous monastic order that bears his
name, was born at Nursia, about 480 A.D. His parents, who were wealthy,
intended to give him a liberal education; but their plans were defeated,
for at fifteen years of age Benedict renounced his family and fortune,
and fled from his school life in Rome. The vice of the city shocked and
disgusted him. He would rather be ignorant and holy, than educated and
wicked. On his way into the mountains, he met a monk named Romanus,--the
spot is marked by the chapel of Santa Crocella,--who gave him a
haircloth shirt and a monastic dress of skins. Continuing his journey
with Romanus, the youthful ascetic discovered a sunless cave in the
desert of Subiaco, about forty miles from Rome. Into this cell he
climbed, and in it he lived three years. It was so inaccessible that
Romanus had to lower his food to him by a rope, to which was attached a
bell to call him from his devotions. Once the Devil threw a stone at the
rope and broke it.

But Benedict's bodily escape from the wickedness of Rome did not secure
his spiritual freedom. "There was a certain lady of thin, airy shape,
who was very active in this solemnity; her name was Fancy." Time and
again, he revisited his old haunts, borne on the wings of his
imagination. The face of a beautiful young girl of previous acquaintance
constantly appeared before him. He was about to yield to the temptation
and to return, when, summoning all his strength, he made one mighty
effort to dispel the illusion forever. Divesting himself of his clothes,
he rolled his naked body among the thorn-bushes near his cave. It was
drastic treatment, but it seems to have rid his mind effectually of
disturbing fancies. This singular self-punishment was used by Godric,
the Welsh saint, in the twelfth century. "Failing to subdue his
rebellious flesh by this method, he buried a cask in the earthen floor
of his cell, filled it with water and fitted it with a cover, and in
this receptacle he shut himself up whenever he felt the titillations of
desire. In this manner, varied by occasionally passing the night up to
his chin in a river, of which he had broken the ice, he finally
succeeded in mastering his fiery nature."

One day some peasants discovered Benedict at the entrance of his cave.
Deceived by his savage appearance, they mistook him for a wild beast,
but the supposed wolf proving to be a saint, they fell down and
reverenced him.

The fame of the young ascetic attracted throngs of hermits, who took up
their abodes near his cell. After a time monasteries were established,
and Benedict was persuaded to become an abbot in one of them. His
strictness provoked much opposition among the monks, resulting in
carefully-laid plots to compass the moral ruin of their spiritual guide.
An attempt to poison him was defeated by a miraculous interposition, and
Benedict escaped to a solitary retreat.

Again the moral hero became an abbot, and again the severity of his
discipline was resented. This time a wicked and jealous priest sought to
entrap the saint by turning into a garden in which he was accustomed to
walk seven young girls of exquisite physical charms. When Benedict
encountered this temptation, he fled from the scene and retired to a
picturesque mountain--the renowned Monte Cassino. Let Montalembert
describe this celebrated spot among the western Apennines: "At the foot
of this rock Benedict found an amphitheatre of the time of the Cæsars,
amidst the ruins of the town of Casinum, which the most learned and
pious of Romans, Varro, that pagan Benedictine, whose memory and
knowledge the sons of Benedict took pleasure in honoring, had rendered
illustrious. From the summit the prospect extended on one side towards
Arpinum, where the prince of Roman orators was born, and on the other
towards Aquinum, already celebrated as the birthplace of Juvenal.... It
was amidst those noble recollections, this solemn nature, and upon that
predestinated height, that the patriarch of the monks of the West
founded the capital of the monastic order."

In the year 529 a great stronghold of Paganism in these wild regions
gave way to Benedict's faith. Upon the ruins of a temple to Apollo, and
in a grove sacred to Venus, arose the model of Western monasticism,--the
cloister of Monte Cassino, which was to shine resplendent for a thousand
years. The limitations of my purpose will prevent me from following in
detail the fortunes of this renowned retreat, but it may not be out of
place to glance at its subsequent history.

Monte Cassino is located three and a half miles to the northeast of the
town of Cassino, midway between Rome and Naples. About 589 A.D. the
Lombards destroyed the buildings, but the monks escaped to Rome, in
fulfilment, so it is claimed, of a prophecy uttered by Benedict. It lay
in ruins until restored by Gregory II. in 719, only to be burned in 884
by the Saracens; seventy years later it was again rebuilt. It afterwards
passed through a variety of calamities, and was consecrated, for the
third time, by Benedict XII., in 1729. Longfellow quotes a writer for
the _London Daily News_ as saying: "There is scarcely a pope or emperor
of importance who has not been personally connected with its history.
From its mountain crag it has seen Goths, Lombards, Saracens, Normans,
Frenchmen, Spaniards, Germans, scour and devastate the land which,
through all modern history, has attracted every invader."

It was enriched by popes, emperors and princes. In its palmy days the
abbot was the first baron in the realm, and commanded over four hundred
towns and villages. In 1866, it shared the fate of all the monasteries
of Italy. It still stands upon the summit of the mountain, and can be
seen by the traveler from the railway in the valley. At present it
serves as a Catholic seminary with about two hundred students. It
contains a spacious church, richly ornamented with marble, mosaics and
paintings. It has also a famous library which, in spite of bad usage, is
still immensely valuable. Boccaccio made a visit to the place, and when
he saw the precious books so vilely mutilated, he departed in tears,
exclaiming: "Now, therefore, O scholar, rack thy brains in the making of
books!" The library contains about twenty thousand volumes, and about
thirty-five thousand popes' bulls, diplomas and charters. There are also
about a thousand manuscripts, some of which are of priceless value, as
they date from the sixth century downward, and consist of ancient
Bibles and important medieval literature.

Benedict survived the founding of this monastery fourteen years. His
time was occupied in establishing other cloisters, perfecting his rule,
and preaching. Many stories are related of his power over the hearts of
the untamed barbarians. Galea the Goth, out on a marauding expedition,
demanded a peasant to give him his treasures. The peasant, thinking to
escape, said he had committed them to the keeping of Benedict. Galea
immediately ordered him to be bound on a horse and conducted to the
saint. Benedict was seated at the gateway reading when Galea and his
prisoner arrived. Looking up from his book he fastened his eyes upon the
poor peasant, who was immediately loosed from his bonds. The astonished
Galea, awed by this miracle, fell at the feet of the abbot, and, instead
of demanding gold, supplicated his blessing. Once a boy was drowning,
and, at the command of Benedict, St. Maur, a wealthy young Roman, who
had turned monk, walked safely out upon the water and rescued the lad.
Gregory also tells us many stories of miraculous healing, and of one
resurrection from the dead.

Benedict's last days were linked with a touching incident. His sister,
Scholastica, presided over a convent near his own. They met once a year.
On his last visit to her, Scholastica begged him to remain and "speak of
the joys of Heaven till the morning." But Benedict would not listen; he
must return. His sister then buried her face in her hands weeping and
praying. Suddenly the sky was overcast with clouds, and a terrific storm
burst upon the mountains, which prevented her brother's return. Three
days later Benedict saw the soul of his sister entering heaven. On March
21, 543, a short time after his sister's death, two monks beheld a
shining pathway of stars over which the soul of Benedict passed from
Monte Cassino to heaven. Such, in brief, is the story preserved for us
in his biography by the celebrated patron of monasticism, Pope
Gregory I.

_The Rules of Benedict_

The rules, _regulae_, of St. Benedict, are worthy of special
consideration, since they constitute the real foundation of his success
and of his fame. His order was by far the most important monastic
brotherhood until the thirteenth century. Nearly all the other orders
which sprang up during this interval were based upon Benedictine rules,
and were really attempts to reform the monastic system on the basis of
Benedict's original practice. Other monks lived austere lives and worked
miracles, and some of them formulated rules, but it is to Benedict and
his rules that we must look for the code of Western monachism. "By a
strange parallelism," says Putnam, "almost in the very year in which the
great Emperor Justinian was codifying the results of seven centuries of
Roman secular legislation for the benefit of the judges and the
statesmen of the new Europe, Benedict, on his lonely mountain-top, was
composing his code for the regulation of the daily life of the great
civilizers of Europe for seven centuries to come."

The rules consist of a preface and seventy-three chapters. The prologue
defines the classes of monks, and explains the aim of the "school of
divine servitude," as Benedict described his monastery. The following is
a partial list of the subjects considered: The character of an abbot,
silence, maxims for good works, humility, directions as to divine
service, rules for dormitories, penalties, duties of various monastic
officers, poverty, care of the sick daily rations of food and drink,
hours for meals, fasting, entertainment of guests, and dress. They close
with the statement that the Benedictine rule is not offered as an ideal
of perfection, or even as equal to the teaching of Cassian or Basil, but
for mere beginners in the spiritual life, who may thence
proceed further.

The Benedictine novitiate extended over one year, but was subsequently
increased to three. At the close of this period the novice was given the
opportunity to go back into the world. If he still persisted in his
choice, he swore before the bones of the saints to remain forever cut
off from the rest of his fellow beings. If a monk left the monastery, or
was expelled, he could return twice, but if, after the third admission,
he severed his connection, the door was shut forever.

The monk passed his time in manual labor, copying manuscripts, reading,
fasting and prayer. He was forbidden to receive letters, tokens or
gifts, even from his nearest-relatives, without permission from the
abbot. His daily food allowance was usually a pound of bread, a pint of
wine, cider or ale, and sometimes fish, eggs, fruit or cheese. He was
dressed in a black cowl. His clothing was to be suitable to the climate
and to consist of two sets. He was also furnished with a straw mattress,
blanket, quilt, pillow, knife, pen, needle, handkerchief and tablets. He
was, in all things, to submit patiently to his superior, to keep
silence, and to serve his turn in the kitchen. In the older days the
monks changed their clothes on the occasion of a bath, which used to be
taken four times a year. Later, bathing was allowed only twice a year,
and the monks changed their clothes when they wished.

Various punishments were employed to correct faults. Sometimes the
offender was whipped on the bare shoulders with a thick rod; others had
to lie prostrate in the doorway of the church at each hour, so that the
monks passed over his body on entering or going out.

The monks formerly rose at two o'clock, and spent the day in various
occupations until eight at night, when they retired. The following rules
once governed St. Gregory's Monastery in England: "3:45 A.M. Rise. 4
A.M. Matins and lauds, recited; half-hour mental prayer; prime _sung_;
prime B.V.M. recited. 6:30 A.M. Private study; masses; breakfast for
those who had permission. 8 A.M. Lectures and disputations. 10 A.M.
Little hours B.V.M., recited; tierce, mass, sext, _sung_. 11:30 A.M.
Dinner. 12 noon. None _sung_; vespers and compline B.V.M., recited.
12:30 P.M. Siesta, 1 P.M. Hebrew or Greek lecture. 2 P.M. Vespers
_sung_. 2:30 P.M. Lectures and disputations. 4 P.M. Private study. 6
P.M. Supper. 6:30 P.M. Recreation. 7:30 P.M. Public spiritual reading;
compline _sung_; matins and lauds B.V.M., recited; half-hour mental
prayer. 8:45 P.M. Retire[D]."

[Footnote D: Appendix, Note D.]

Such a routine suggests a dreary life, but that would depend upon the
monk's temperament. Regularity of employment kept him healthy, and if he
did not take his sins too much to heart, he was free from gloom. Hill
very justly observes: "Whenever men obey that injunction of labor, no
matter what their station, there is in the act the element of happiness,
and whoever avoids that injunction, there is always the shadow of the
unfulfilled curse darkening their path." Thus, their ideal was "to
subdue one's self and then to devote one's self," which De Tocqueville
pronounces "the secret of strength." How well they succeeded in
realizing their ideal by the methods employed we shall see later.

The term "order," as applied to the Benedictines, is used in a different
sense from that which it has when used of later monastic bodies. Each
Benedictine house was practically independent of every other, while the
houses of the Dominicans, Franciscans or Jesuits were bound together
under one head. The family idea was peculiar to the Benedictines. The
abbot was the father, and the monastery was the home where the
Benedictine was content to dwell all his life. In the later monastic
societies the monks were constantly traveling from place to place.
Taunton says: "As God made society to rest on the basis of the family,
so St. Benedict saw that the spiritual family is the surest basis for
the sanctification of the souls of his monks. The monastery therefore is
to him what the 'home' is to lay-folk.... From this family idea comes
another result: the very fact that St. Benedict did not found an Order
but only gave a Rule, cuts away all possibility of that narrowing
_esprit de corps_ which comes so easily to a widespread and
highly-organized body."

In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, however, it became necessary
for the general good of each family to secure some kind of union. The
Chapter then came into existence, which was a representative body,
composed of the heads of the different houses and ordinary monks
regularly appointed as delegates. To the Chapter were committed various
matters of jurisdiction, and also the power of sending visitors to the
different abbeys in the pope's name.

Each society was ruled by an abbot, who governed in Christ's stead.
Sometimes the members of the monastery were consulted, the older ones
ordinarily, the whole congregation; in important matters. But implicit
obedience to the abbot, as the representative of God, was demanded
by the vows.

The abbot was to be elected by the monks. At various periods popes and
princes usurped this power, but the monks always claimed the right as an
original privilege. Carlyle quotes Jocelin on Abbot Samson, who says
that the monks of St. Edmundsbury were compelled to submit their choice
to Henry II., who, looking at the committee of monks somewhat sternly,
said: "You present to me Samson; I do not know him; had it been your
prior, whom I do know, I should have accepted him; however, I will now
do as you wish. But have a care of yourselves. By the true eyes of God,
if you manage badly, I will be upon you."

In Walter Scott's novel, "The Abbot," there is an interesting contrast
drawn between the ceremonies attending an abbot's installation, when the
monasteries were in their glory, and the pitiable scenes in the days of
their decline, when Mary Stuart was a prisoner in Lochleven. In the
monastery of Kennaquhair, which had been despoiled by the fury of the
times, a few monks were left to mourn the mutilated statues and weep
over the fragments of richly-carved Gothic pillars. Having secretly
elected an abbot, they assembled in fear and trembling to invest him
with the honors of his office. "In former times," says Scott, "this was
one of the most splendid of the many pageants which the hierarchy of
Rome had devised to attract the veneration of the faithful. When the
folding doors on such solemn occasions were thrown open, and the new
abbot appeared on the threshold in full-blown dignity, with ring and
mitre and dalmatique and crosier, his hoary standard-bearers and
juvenile dispensers of incense preceding him, and the venerable train of
monks behind him, his appearance was the signal for the magnificent
jubilate to rise from the organ and the music-loft and to be joined by
the corresponding bursts of 'Alleluiah' from the whole assembled

"Now all was changed. Father Ambrose stood on the broken steps of the
high altar, barefooted, as was the rule, and holding in his hand his
pastoral staff, for the gemmed ring and jewelled mitre had become
secular spoils. No obedient vassals came, man after man, to make their
homage and to offer the tribute which should provide their spiritual
superior with palfrey and trappings. No bishop assisted at the solemnity
to receive into the higher ranks of the church nobility a dignitary
whose voice in the legislature was as potent as his own."

We are enabled by this partially-quoted description to imagine the
importance attached to the election of an abbot. He became, in feudal
times, a lord of the land, the richest man in the community, and a
tremendous power in political councils and parliaments. A Benedictine
abbot once confessed: "My vow of poverty has given me a hundred thousand
crowns a year; my vow of obedience has raised me to the rank of a
sovereign prince."

No new principle seems to be disclosed by the Benedictine rules. The
command to labor had been emphasized even in the monasteries of Egypt.
The Basilian code contained a provision enforcing manual labor, but the
work was light and insufficient to keep the mind from brooding. The
monastery that was to succeed in the West must provide for men who not
only could toil hard, but who must do so if they were to be kept pure
and true; it must welcome men accustomed to the dangerous adventures of
pioneer life in the vast forests of the North. The Benedictine system
met these conditions by a unique combination and application of
well-known monastic principles; by a judicious subordination of minor
matters to essential discipline; by bringing into greater prominence
the doctrine of labor; by tempering the austerities of the cell to meet
the necessities of a severe climate; and lastly, by devising a scheme of
life equally adaptable to the monk of sunny Italy and the rude Goth of
the northern forests.

It was the splendid fruition of many years of experiment amid varying
results. "It shows," says Schaff, "a true knowledge of human nature, the
practical wisdom of Rome and adaptation to Western customs; it combines
simplicity with completeness, strictness with gentleness, humility with
courage and gives the whole cloister life a fixed unity and compact
organization, which, like the episcopate, possessed an unlimited
versatility and power of expansion."

_The Struggle against Barbarism_

No institution has contributed as much to the amelioration of human
misery or struggled as patiently and persistently to influence society
for good as the Christian church. In spite of all that may be said
against the followers of the Cross, it still remains true, that they
have ever been foremost in the establishment of peace and justice
among men.

The problem that confronted the church when Benedict began his labors,
was no less than that of reducing a demoralized and brutal society to
law and order. Chaos reigned, selfishness and lust ruled the hearts of
Rome's conquerors. The West was desolated by barbarians; the East
dismembered and worn out by theological controversy. War had ruined the
commerce of the cities and laid waste the rural districts. Vast swamps
and tracts of brush covered fields once beautiful with the products of
agricultural labor. The minds of men were distracted by apprehensions of
some frightful, impending calamity. The cultured Roman, the untutored
Goth and the corrupted Christian were locked in the deadly embrace of
despair. "Constantly did society attempt to form itself," says Guizot,
"constantly was it destroyed by the act of man, by the absence of the
moral conditions under which alone it can exist."

But notwithstanding failures and discouragements, the work of
reconstructing society moved painfully on, and among the brave master
builders was Benedict of Nursia. "He found the world, physical and
social, in ruins," says Cardinal Newman, "and his mission was to restore
it in the way,--not of science, but of nature; not as if setting about
to do it; not professing to do it by any set time, or by any series of
strokes; but so quietly, patiently, gradually, that often till the work
was done, it was not known to be doing. It was a restoration rather than
a visitation, correction or conversion. The new world he helped to
create was a growth rather than a structure."

But the chaos created by the irruption of the barbarous nations at this
period seriously affected the moral character and influence of the
clergy and the monks. The church seemed unequal to the stupendous
undertaking of converting the barbarians. The monks, as a class, were
lawless and vicious. Benedict himself testifies against them, and
declares that they were "always wandering and never stable; that they
obey their own appetites, whereunto they are enslaved." Unable to
control their own desires by any law whatsoever, they were unfitted to
the task before them. It was imperative, then, that unity and order
should be introduced among the monasteries; that some sort of a uniform
rule, adapted to the existing conditions, should be adopted, not only
for the preservation of the monastic institution, but for the
preparation of the monks for their work. Therefore, although the
Christianity of that time was far from ideal, it was, nevertheless, a
religion within the grasp of the reckless barbarians; and subsequent
events prove that it possessed a moral power capable of humanizing
manners, elevating the intellect, and checking the violent temper of
the age.

Excepting always the religious services of the Benedictine monks, their
greatest contribution to civilization was literary and educational[E].
The rules of Benedict provided for two hours a day of reading, and it
was doubtless this wise regulation that stimulated literary tastes, and
resulted in the collecting of books and the reproduction of manuscripts.
"Wherever a Benedictine house arose, or a monastery of any one of the
Orders, which were but offshoots from the Benedictine tree, books were
multiplied and a library came into existence, small indeed at first, but
increasing year by year, till the wealthier houses had gathered together
collections of books that would do credit to a modern university."
There was great danger that the remains of classic literature might be
destroyed in the general devastation of Italy. The monasteries rescued
the literary fragments that escaped, and preserved them. "For a period
of more than six centuries the safety of the literary heritage of
Europe,--one may say of the world,--depended upon the scribes of a few
dozen scattered monasteries."

[Footnote E: Appendix, Note E.]

The literary services of the earlier monks did not consist in original
production, but in the reproduction and preservation of the classics.
This work was first begun as a part of the prescribed routine of
European monastic life in the monastery at Vivaria, or Viviers, France,
which was founded by Cassiodorus about 539. The rules of this cloister
were based on those of Cassian, who died in the early part of the fifth
century. Benedict, at Monte Cassino, followed the example of
Cassiodorus, and the Benedictine Order carried the work on for the seven
succeeding centuries.

Cassiodorus was a statesman of no mean ability, and for over forty years
was active in the political circles of his time, holding high official
positions under five different Roman rulers. He was also an exceptional
scholar, devoting much of his energy to the preservation of classic
literature. His magnificent collection of manuscripts, rescued from the
ruins of Italian libraries, "supplied material for the pens of thousands
of monastic scribes." If we leave out Jerome, it is to Cassiodorus that
the honor is due for joining learning and monasticism.

"Thus," remarks Schaff, "that very mode of life, which, in its founder,
Anthony, despised all learning, became in the course of its development
an asylum of culture in the rough and stormy times of the migration and
the crusades, and a conservator of the literary treasures of antiquity
for the use of modern times."

Cassiodorus, with a noble enthusiasm, inspired his monks to their task.
He even provided lamps of ingenious construction, that seem to have been
self-trimming, to aid them in their work. He himself set an example of
literary diligence, astonishing in one of his age.

Putnam is justified in his praises of this remarkable character when he
declares: "It is not too much to say that the continuity of thought and
civilization of the ancient world with that of the middle ages was due,
more than to any other one man, to the life and labors of Cassiodorus."

But the monk was more than a scribe and a collector of books, he became
the chronicler and the school-teacher. "The records that have come down
to us of several centuries of medieval European history are due almost
exclusively to the labors of the monastic chroniclers." A vast fund of
information, the value of which is impaired, it is true, by much useless
stuff, concerning medieval customs, laws and events, was collected by
these unscientific historians and is now accessible to the student.

At the end of the ninth century nearly all the monasteries of Europe
conducted schools open to the children of the neighborhood. The
character of the educational training of the times is not to be judged
by modern standards. A beginning had to be made, and that too at a time
"when neither local nor national governments had assumed any
responsibilities in connection with elementary education, and when the
municipalities were too ignorant, and in many cases too poor, to make
provision for the education of the children." It is therefore to the
lasting credit of Benedict, inspired no doubt by the example of
Cassiodorus, that he commanded his monks to read, encouraged literary
work, and made provision for the education of the young.

The Benedictines rendered a great social service in reclaiming deserted
regions and in clearing forests. "The monasteries," says Maitland,
"were, in those days of misrule and turbulence, beyond all price, not
only as places where (it may be imperfectly, but better than elsewhere)
God was worshipped,... but as central points whence agriculture was to
spread over bleak hills and barren downs and marshy plains, and deal its
bread to millions perishing with hunger and its pestilential train."
Roman taxation and barbarian invasions had ruined the farmers, who left
their lands and fled to swell the numbers of the homeless. The monk
repeopled these abandoned but once fertile fields, and carried
civilization still deeper into the forests. Many a monastery with its
surrounding buildings became the nucleus of a modern city. The more
awful the darkness of the forest solitudes, the more the monks loved
it. They cut down trees in the heart of the wilderness, and transformed
a soil bristling with woods and thickets into rich pastures and ploughed
fields. They stimulated the peasantry to labor, and taught them many
useful lessons in agriculture. Thus, they became an industrial, as well
as a spiritual, agency for good.

The habits of the monks brought them into close contact with nature.
Even the animals became their friends. Numerous stories have been
related of their wonderful power over wild beasts and their
conversations with the birds. "It is wonderful," says Bede, "that he who
faithfully and loyally obeys the Creator of the universe, should, in his
turn, see all the creatures obedient to his orders and his wishes." They
lived, so we are told, in the most intimate relations with the animal
creation. Squirrels leaped to their hands or hid in the folds of their
cowls. Stags came out of the forests in Ireland and offered themselves
to some monks who were ploughing, to replace the oxen carried off by the
hunters. Wild animals stopped in their pursuit of game at the command of
St. Laumer. Birds ceased singing at the request of some monks until
they had chanted their evening prayer, and at their word the feathered
songsters resumed their music. A swan was the daily companion of St.
Hugh of Lincoln, and manifested its miraculous knowledge of his
approaching death by the most profound melancholy. While all the details
of such stories are not to be accepted as literally true, no doubt some
of this poetry of monastic history rests upon interesting and
charming facts.

A fuller discussion of the permanent contributions which the monk made
to civilization is reserved for the last chapter. I have somewhat
anticipated a closer scrutiny of his achievements in order to present a
clearer view of his life and labors. His religious duties were, perhaps,
wearisome enough. We might tire of his monotonous chanting and incessant
vigils, but it is gratifying to know that he also engaged in practical
and useful employments. The convent became the house of industry as well
as the temple of prayer. The forest glades echoed to the stroke of the
axe as well as to hymns of praise. Yes, as Carlyle writes of the twelfth
century, "these years were no chimerical vacuity and dreamland peopled
with mere vaporous phantasms, but a green solid place, that grew corn
and several other things. The sun shone on it, the vicissitudes of
seasons and human fortunes. Cloth was woven and worn; ditches were dug,
furrowed fields ploughed and houses built."

_The Spread of the Benedictine Rule_

It is generally held that Benedict had no presentiment of the vast
historical importance of his system; and that he aspired to nothing
beyond the salvation of his own soul and those of his brethren.

But the rule spread with wonderful rapidity. In every rich valley arose
a Benedictine abbey. Britain, Germany, Scandinavia, France and Spain
adopted his rule. Princes, moved by various motives, hastened to bestow
grants of land on the indefatigable missionary who, undeterred by the
wildness of the forest and the fierceness of the barbarian, settled in
the remotest regions. In the various societies of the Benedictines there
have been thirty-seven thousand monasteries and one hundred and fifty
thousand abbots. For the space of two hundred and thirty-nine years the
Benedictines governed the church by forty-eight popes chosen from their
order. They boast of two hundred cardinals, seven thousand archbishops,
fifteen thousand bishops and four thousand saints. The astonishing
assertion is also made that no less than twenty emperors and forty-seven
kings resigned their crowns to become Benedictine monks. Their convents
claim ten empresses and fifty queens. Many of these earthly rulers
retired to the seclusion of the monastery because their hopes had been
crushed by political defeat, or their consciences smitten by reason of
crime or other sins. Some were powerfully attracted by the heroic
element of monastic life, and these therefore spurned the luxuries and
emoluments of royalty, in order by personal sacrifice to achieve
spiritual domination in this life, and to render their future salvation
certain. But whatever the motive that drew queens and princes to the
monastic order, the retirement of such large numbers of the nobility
indicates the influence of a religious system which could cope so
successfully with the attractions of the palace and the natural passion
for political dominion.

Saint Gregory the Great, the biographer of Benedict, who was born at
Rome in 540 A.D. and so was nearly contemporaneous with Benedict was a
zealous promoter of the monastic ideal, and did as much as any one to
advance its ecclesiastical position and influence. He founded seven
monasteries with his paternal inheritance, and became the abbot of one
of them. He often expressed a desire to escape the clamor of the world
by retirement to a lonely cell. Inspired by the loftiest estimates of
his holy office, he sought to reform the church in its spirit and life.
Many of his innovations in the church service bordered upon a dangerous
and glittering pomp; but the musical world will always revere his memory
for the famous chants that bear his name.

Gregory surrounded himself with monks, and did everything in his power
to promote their interests. He increased the novitiate to two years, and
exempted certain monasteries from the control of the bishops. Other
popes added to these exemptions, and thus widened the breach which
already existed between the secular clergy and the monks. He also fixed
a penalty of lifelong imprisonment for abandonment of the
monastic life.

Under Gregory's direction many missionary enterprises were carried on,
notably that of Augustine to England. The story runs that one day
Gregory saw some men and beautiful children from Britain put up for sale
in the market-place. Deeply sighing, he exclaimed: "Alas for grief! That
the author of darkness possesses men of so bright countenance, and that
so great grace of aspect bears a mind void of inward grace!" He then
asked the children the name of their nation. "Angles," was the reply.
"It is well," he said, "for they have _angelic_ faces. What is the name
of your province?" It was answered, "Deira." "Truly," he said,
"_De-ira-ns,_ drawn from anger, and called to the mercy of Christ. How
is your king called?" They answered, "Ælla, or Ella." Then he cried
"_Alleluia!_ it behooves that the praise of God the Creator should be
sung in those parts." While it is hard to accept this evidently fanciful
story in its details, it seems quite probable that the sale of some
English slaves in a Roman market drew the attention of Gregory to the
needs of Britain.

Some years afterwards, in 596, Gregory commissioned Augustine, prior of
the monastery of St. Andrew's on the Celian Hill, at Rome, with forty
companions, to preach the gospel in Britain. When this celebrated
missionary landed on the island of Thanet, he found monasticism had
preceded him. But what was the nature of this British monasticism? On
that question Rome and England are divided.

The Romanist declares that no country received the Christian faith more
directly from the Church of Rome than did England; that the most careful
study of authentic records reveals no doctrinal strife, no diversity of
belief between the early British monks and the Pope of Rome; that St.
Patrick, of Ireland, and St. Columba, of Scotland, were loyal sons of
their Roman mother.

The Anglican, on the other hand, believes that Christianity was
introduced into Britain independently of Rome. As to the precise means
employed, he has his choice of ten legends. He may hold with Lane that
it is reasonable to suppose one of Paul's ardent converts, burning with
fervent zeal, led the Britons to the cross. Or he may argue with others:
"What is more natural than to imagine that Joseph of Arimathea, driven
from Palestine, sailed away to Britain." In proof of this assumption, we
are shown the chapel of St. Joseph, the remains of the oldest Christian
church, where the holy-thorn blossoms earlier than in any other part of
England. Many Anglicans wisely regard all this as legendary. It is also
held that St. Patrick and St. Columba were not Romanists, but
represented a type of British Christianity, which, although temporarily
subjected to Rome, yet finally threw off the yoke under Henry VIII. and
reasserted its ancient independence. Still others declare that when
Augustine was made archbishop, the seat of ecclesiastical authority was
transferred from Rome to Canterbury, and the English church became an
independent branch of the universal church. It was Catholic, but
not Roman.

The difficulty of ascertaining when and by whom Christianity was
originally introduced into southern Britain must be apparent to every
student. But some things may be regarded as historically certain. The
whole country had been desolated by war when Augustine arrived. For a
hundred and fifty years the brutality and ignorance of the barbarians
had reigned supreme. All traces of Roman civilization had nearly
disappeared with the conquest of the heathen Anglo-Saxons. Whatever may
be thought about the subsequent effects of the triumph of Roman
Christianity, it is due to Rome to recognize the fact that with the
coming of the Roman missionaries religion and knowledge began a
new life.

The Anglo-Saxons had destroyed the Christian churches and monasteries,
whose origin, as we have seen, is unknown. They drove away or massacred
the priests and monks. Christianity was practically extirpated in those
districts subject to the Germanic yoke. But when Augustine landed
British monks were still to be found in various obscure parts of the
country, principally in Ireland and Wales. Judging from what is known of
these monks, it is safe to say that their habits and teachings were
based on the traditions of an earlier Christianity, and that originally
British Christianity was independent of Rome.

The monks in Britain at the time when Augustine landed differed from the
Roman monks in their tonsures, their liturgy, and the observance of
Easter, although no material difference in doctrine can be established.
The clergy did not always observe the law of celibacy nor perhaps the
Roman rules of baptism. It is also admitted, even by Catholic
historians, that the British monks refused to acknowledge Augustine
their archbishop; that this question divided the royal family; and that
the old British church was not completely subdued until Henry II.
conquered Ireland and Wales. These statements are practically supported
by Ethelred L. Taunton, an authoritative writer, whose sympathy with
Roman monasticism is very strong. He thinks that a few of the British
monks submitted to Augustine, but of the rest he says: "They would not
heed the call of Augustine, and on frivolous pretexts refused to
acknowledge him." A large body of British monks retired to the monastery
of Bangor, and when King Ethelfrid invaded the district of Wales, he
slew twelve hundred of them in the open field as they were upon their
knees praying for the success of the Britons. It was then that the power
of the last remnants of Celtic or British Christianity was practically
broken, and the Roman type henceforth gradually acquired the mastery.

Montalembert says: "In no other country has Catholicism been persecuted
with more sanguinary zeal; and, at the same time, none has greater need
of her care." While the latter observation is open to dispute, it is
certainly true that England has never remained quiet under the dominion
of Rome. Goldsmith's tribute to the English character suggests a
reasonable explanation of this historic fact:

     "Stern o'er each bosom reason holds her state,
     Fierce in their native hardiness of soul,
     True to imagined right, above control,
     While even the peasant boasts those rights to scan,
     And learns to venerate himself as man."

The fact to be remembered, as we emerge from these ecclesiastical
quarrels and the confusions of this perplexing history, is that the
monks were the intellectual and religious leaders of those days. They
exercised a profound influence upon English society, and had much to do
with the establishment of English institutions.

But, on the other hand, the continent is indebted to England for the
gift of many noble monks who served France and Germany as intellectual
and moral guides, at a time when these countries were in a state of
extreme degradation. Boniface, the Apostle to the Germans, who is
regarded by Neander as the Father of the German church and the real
founder of the Christian civilization of Germany, was the gift of the
English cloisters, and a native of Devonshire. Alcuin, the
ecclesiastical prime minister of Charlemagne and the greatest educator
of his time, was born and trained in England. Nearly all the leading
schools of France were founded or improved by this celebrated monk. It
was largely due to Alcuin's unrivaled energy and splendid talents that
Charlemagne was able to make so many and so glorious educational
improvements in his empire.

Notable among the men who introduced the Benedictine rule into England
was St. Wilfred (634-709 A.D.), who had traveled extensively in France
and Italy, and on his return carried the monastic rule into northern
Britain. He also is credited with establishing a course of musical
training in the English monasteries. He was the most active prelate of
his age in the founding of churches and monasteries, and in securing
uniformity of discipline and harmony with the Church of Rome.

One of the most famous monastic retreats of those days was the wild and
lonely isle of Iona, the Mecca of monks and the monastic capital of
Scotland. It is a small island, three miles long and one broad, lying
west of Scotland. Many kings of Scotland were crowned here on a stone
which now forms a part of the British coronation chair. Its great
monastery enjoyed the distinction from the sixth to the eighth century
of being second to none in its widespread influence in behalf of the
intellectual life of Europe.

This monastery was originally founded in the middle of the sixth century
by Columba, the Apostle to Caledonia, an Irish saint actively associated
with a wonderful intellectual awakening. The rule of the monastery is
unknown, but it is probable that it could not have been, at the first,
of the Benedictine type. Columba's followers traveled as missionaries
and teachers to all parts of Europe, and it is said, they dared to sail
in their small boats even as far as Iceland.

Dr. Johnson says in his "Tour to the Hebrides": "We are now treading
that illustrious island which was once the luminary of the Caledonian
regions, whence savage clans and roving barbarians derived the benefits
of knowledge and the blessing of religion. That man is little to be
envied whose patriotism would not gain force upon the plain of Marathon,
or whose piety would not grow warmer among the ruins of Iona." The
monastery which Columba founded here was doubtless of the same character
as the establishments in Ireland. Many of these Celtic buildings were
made of the branches of trees and supported by wooden props. It was some
time before properly-constructed wooden churches or monasteries became
general in these wild regions. In such rude huts small libraries were
collected and the monks trained to preach. Ireland was then the center
of knowledge in the North. Greek, Latin, music and such science as the
monks possessed were taught to eager pupils. Copies of their manuscripts
are still to be found all over Europe. Their schools were open to the
rich and poor alike. The monks went from house to house teaching and
distributing literature. As late as the sixteenth century, students from
various parts of the Continent were to be found in these Irish schools.

There is an interesting story related of Columba's literary activities.
It is said that on one occasion while visiting his master, Finnian, he
undertook to make a clandestine copy of the abbot's Psalter. When the
master learned of the fact, he indignantly charged Columba with theft,
and demanded the copy which he had made, on the ground that a copy made
without permission of the author was the property of the original owner,
because a transcript is the offspring of the original work. Putnam, to
whom I am indebted for this story, says: "As far as I have been able to
ascertain, this is the first instance which occurs in the history of
European literature of a contention for a copyright." The conflict for
this copyright afterwards developed into a civil war. The copy of the
Latin Psalter "was enshrined in the base of a portable altar as the
national relic of the O'Donnell clan," and was preserved by that family
for thirteen hundred years. It was placed on exhibition as late as 1867,
in the museum of the Royal Irish Academy.

Enough has now been said to enable the reader to understand something of
the spirit and labors of the monks in an age characteristically
barbaric. For five centuries, from the fifth to the tenth, the
condition of Europe was deplorable. "It may be doubted," says an old
writer, "whether the worst of the Cæsars exceeded in dark malignity, or
in capriciousness of vengeance, the long-haired kings of France." The
moral sense of even the most saintly churchmen seems to have been
blunted by familiarity with atrocities and crimes. Brute force was the
common method of exercising control and administering justice. The
barbarians were bold and independent, but cruel and superstitious. Their
furious natures needed taming and their rude minds tutoring. Even though
during this period churches and monasteries were raised in amazing
numbers, yet the spirit of barbarism was so strong that the Christians
could scarcely escape its influence. The power of Christianity was
modified by the nature of the people, whose characters it aimed to
transform. The remarks of William Newton Clarke respecting the
Christians of the first and second centuries are also appropriate to the
period under review: "The people were changed by the new faith, but the
new faith was changed by the people." Christianity "made a new people,
better than it found them, but they in turn made a new Christianity,
with its strong points illustrated and confirmed in their experience,
but with weakness brought in from their defects."

Yes, the work of civilizing the Germanic nations was a task of herculean
proportions and of tremendous significance. Out of these tribes were to
be constructed the nations of modern Europe. To this important mission
the monks addressed themselves with such courage, patience, faith and
zeal, as to entitle them to the veneration of posterity. With singular
wisdom and unflinching bravery they carried on their missionary and
educational enterprises, in the face of discouragements and obstacles
sufficient to dismay the bravest souls. The tenacious strength of those
wild forces that clashed with the tenderer influences of the cloister
should soften our criticism of the inconsistencies which detract from
the glory of those early ministers of righteousness and exemplars of
gentleness and peace.



The monastic institution was never entirely good or entirely bad. In
periods of general degradation there were beautiful exceptions in
monasteries ruled by pure and powerful abbots. From the beginning
various monasteries soon departed from their discipline by sheltering
iniquity and laziness, while other establishments faithfully observed
the rules. But during the eighth, ninth and tenth centuries there was a
widespread decline in the spirit of devotion and a shameful relaxation
of monastic discipline. Malmesbury, King Alfred, Alcuin, in England, and
many continental writers, sorrowfully testified against the monks
because of their vices, their revelings, their vain and gorgeous
ornaments of dress and their waning zeal for virtue. The priests hunted
and fought, prayed, preached, swore and drank as they pleased. "We
cannot wonder," says an anonymous historian, "that they should commit
the more reasonable offence of taking wives." Disorders were common
everywhere; the monastic vows were sadly neglected. Political and
religious ideals were lost sight of amid the prevailing confusion and
wild commotion of those dark days. "It is true," says Carlyle, "all
things have two faces, a light one and a dark. It is true in three
centuries much imperfection accumulates; many an ideal, monastic or
otherwise, shooting forth into practice as it can, grows to a strange
reality; and we have to ask with amazement, Is this your ideal? For alas
the ideal has to grow into the real, and to seek out its bed and board
there, often in a sorry way."

This, then, may be accepted as the usual history of a monastery or a
monastic order. First, vows of poverty, obedience and chastity zealously
cherished and observed; as a result of loyalty to this ideal, a spirit
of devotion to righteousness is created, and a pure, lofty type of
Christian life is formed, which, if not the highest and truest, is
sufficiently exalted to win the reverence of worldly men and an
extra-ordinary power over their lives and affections. There naturally
follow numerous and valuable gifts of land and gold. The monks become
rich as well as powerful. Then the decline begins. Vast riches have
always been a menace to true spirituality. Perhaps they always will be.
The wealthy monk falls a prey to pride and arrogance; he becomes
luxurious in his habits, and lazy in the performance of duty. Vice
creeps in and his moral ruin is complete. The transformation in the
character of the monk is accompanied by a change in public opinion. The
monk is now an eyesore; his splendid buildings are viewed with envy by
some, with shame by others. Then arise the vehement cries for the
destruction of his palatial cloister, and the heroic efforts of the
remnant that abide faithful to reform the institution. This has been the
pathway over which every monastic order has traveled. As long as there
was sufficient vitality to give birth to reformatory movements, new
societies sprang up as off-shoots of the older orders, some of which
adopted the original rules, while others altered them to suit the views
of the reforming founder. "For indeed," says Trench, "those orders,
wonderful at their beginning, and girt up so as to take heaven by storm,
seemed destined to travel in a mournful circle from which there was no
escape." These facts partly explain the reformatory movements which
appear from the ninth century on.

The first great saint to enter the lists against monastic corruption was
Benedict of Aniane (750-821 A.D.), a member of a distinguished family in
southern France. The Benedictine rule in his opinion was formed for
novices and invalids. He attributed the prevailing laxity among the
monks to the mild discipline. As abbot of a monastery he undertook to
reform its affairs by adopting a system based on Basil of Asia Minor and
Pachomius of Egypt. But he leaned too far back for human nature in the
West, and the conclusion was forced upon him that Benedict of Nursia had
formulated a set of rules as strict as could be enforced among the
Western monks. Accordingly he directed his efforts to secure a faithful
observance of the original Benedictine rules, adding, however, a number
of rigid and burdensome regulations. Although at first the monks doubted
his sanity, kicked him and spat on him, yet he afterwards succeeded in
gathering about three hundred of them under his rule. Several colonies
were sent out from his monastery, which was built on his patrimonial
estate near Montpellier. His last establishment, which was located near
Aix-la-Chapelle, became famous as a center of learning and sanctity.

One of the most celebrated reform monasteries was the convent of Cluny,
or Clugny, in Burgundy, about fifteen miles from Lyons, which was
founded by Duke William of Aquitaine in 910. It was governed by a code
based on the rule of St. Benedict. The monastery began with twelve monks
under Bruno, but became so illustrious that under Hugo there were ten
thousand monks in the various convents under its rule. It was made
immediately subject to the pope,--that is, exempt from the jurisdiction
of the bishop. Some idea of its splendid equipment may be formed from
the fact that it is said, that in 1245, after the council of Lyons, it
entertained Innocent IV., two patriarchs, twelve cardinals, three
archbishops, fifteen bishops, many abbots, St. Louis, King of France,
several princes and princesses, each with a considerable retinue, yet
the monks were not incommoded. It gave to the church three
popes,--Gregory VII., Urban II. and Paschal II.

From his cell at Cluny, Hildebrand, who became the famous Gregory VII.,
looked out upon a world distracted by war and sunk in vice. "In
Hildebrand's time, while he was studying those annals in Cluny," says
Thomas Starr King, "a boy pope, twelve years old, was master of the
spiritual scepter, and was beginning to lead a life so shameful, foul
and execrable that a subsequent pope said, 'he shuddered to
describe it.'"

Connected with the monastery was the largest church in the world,
surpassed only a little, in later years, by St. Peter's at Rome. Its
construction was begun in 1089 by the abbot Hugo, and it was consecrated
in 1131, under the administration of Peter the Venerable. It boasted of
twenty-five altars and many costly works of art.

So great was the fame and influence of this establishment that numerous
convents in France and Italy placed themselves under its control, thus
forming "The Congregation of Cluny."

After the administration of Peter the Venerable (1122-1156), this
illustrious house began to succumb to the intoxication of success, and
it steadily declined in character and influence until its property was
confiscated by the Constituent Assembly, in 1799, and the church sold
for one hundred thousand francs. It is now in ruin.

But in spite of every attempt at reform during the ninth and tenth
centuries the decline of the continental monasteries continued. Many
persons of royal blood, accustomed to the license of palaces, entered
the cloister and increased the disorders. The monks naturally respected
their blood and relaxed the discipline in their favor. The result was
costly robes, instead of the simple, monastic garb, riotous living, and
a general indifference to spirituality. Spurious monasteries sprang up
with rich lay-abbots at their head, who made the office hereditary in
their families. Laymen were appointed to rich benefices simply that they
might enjoy the revenues. These lay-abbots even went so far as to live
with their families in their monasteries, and rollicking midnight
banquets were substituted for the asceticism demanded by the vows. They
traveled extensively attended by splendid retinues. Some of the monks
seemed intent on nothing but obtaining charters of privileges and
exemptions from civil and military duties.

In England the state of affairs was even more distressing than on the
Continent. The evil effects of the Saxon invasion, the demoralization
that accompanied the influx of paganism, and the almost complete
destruction of the religious institutions of British Christianity have
already been noted. About the year 700, the island was divided among
fifteen petty chiefs, who waged war against one another almost
incessantly. Christianity, as introduced by Augustine, had somewhat
mitigated the ferocity of war, and England had begun to make some
approach toward a respect for law and a veneration for the Christian
religion, when the Danes came, and with them another period of
disgraceful atrocities and blighting heathenism. The Danish invasion had
almost extirpated the monastic institution in the northern districts.
Carnage and devastation reigned everywhere. Celebrated monasteries fell
in ruins and the monks were slain or driven into exile. Hordes of
barbaric warriors roamed the country, burning and plundering.

"At the close of this calamitous period," says Lingard, in his "History
and Antiquities of the Anglo-Saxon Church," "the Anglo-Saxon church
presented a melancholy spectacle to the friends of religion: 1. The
laity had resumed the ferocious manners of their pagan forefathers. 2.
The clergy had grown indolent, dissolute and illiterate. 3. The monastic
order had been apparently annihilated. It devolved on King Alfred,
victorious over his enemies, to devise and apply the remedies for these
evils." The good king endeavored to restore the monastic institution,
but, owing to the lack of candidates for the monastic habit, he was
compelled to import a colony of monks from Gaul.

The moral results of Alfred's reformatory measures, as well as those of
his immediate successors, were far from satisfactory, although he did
vastly stimulate the educational work of the monastic schools. He
devoted himself so faithfully to the gathering of traditions, that he is
said to be the father of English history. The tide of immorality,
however, was too strong to be stemmed in a generation or two. It was a
century and a half before there was even an approach to substantial
victory over the disgraceful abuses among the clergy and the monks.

The churchman who is credited with doing most to distinguish the monks
as a zealous and faithful body was Dunstan (924-988 A.D.), first Abbot
of Glastonbury, then Bishop of Winchester, and finally Archbishop of
Canterbury. He is the most conspicuous ecclesiastical personage in the
history of those dark days, but his character and labors have given rise
to bitter and extensive controversy.

It was Dunstan's chief aim to subjugate the Anglo-Saxon church to the
power of Rome, and to correct existing abuses by compelling the clergy
and the monks to obey the rule of celibacy. He was a fervent believer in
the efficacy of the Benedictine vows, and in the value of clerical
celibacy as a remedy for clerical licentiousness. Naturally, Protestant
writers, who hold that papal supremacy never was a blessing in any
country or in any age, and who think that clerical celibacy has always
been a fruitful source of crime and sin, condemn the reforms of Dunstan
in the most unqualified terms. A statement of a few of the many and
perplexing facts may assist us to form a fairly just judgment of the
man and his work.

The principle of sacerdotal celibacy appeared early in the history of
Christianity, and for many centuries it was the subject of sharp
contention. Roman Catholics themselves have been divided upon it. In
every Christian country, from the Apostolic period onward, there were
priests and teachers who opposed the imposition of this rule upon the
clergy, and, on the other hand, there were those who practiced and
advocated celibacy as the indispensable guarantee of spiritual power
and purity.

What the rule of celibacy was at this period, in England, seems
uncertain. Lingard maintains that marriage was always permitted to the
clergy in minor orders, who were employed in various subordinate
positions, but that those in higher orders, whose office it was to
minister at the altar and to offer the sacrifice, were expressly bound
to a life of the strictest continence. During the invasion of the Danes,
when confusion reigned, many priests in the higher orders had not only
forsaken their vows of chastity, but had plunged into frightful
immoralities; and married clerks of inferior orders were raised to the
priesthood to fill the ranks depleted by war. These promoted clerks were
previously required to separate from their wives, but apparently many of
them did not do so. Consequently, from several causes, the married
priests became a numerous body, and since the common opinion seems to
have been that a married priest was disgracing his office, this body was
regarded as a menace to the welfare of the church and the state.

Lea, in his elaborate "History of Sacerdotal Celibacy," holds that the
rule of celibacy was only binding on the regulars, or monks, and that
the secular priesthood was at liberty to marry. But from several other
passages in his work it seems that he also recognizes the fact that,
while marriage was common, it was in defiance of an ancient canon. "It
is evident," he says, "that the memory of the ancient canons was not
forgotten, and that their observance was still urged by some ardent
churchmen, but that the customs of the period had rendered them
virtually obsolete, and that no sufficient means existed of enforcing
obedience. If open scandals and shameless bigamy and concubinage could
be restrained, the ecclesiastical authorities were evidently content.
Celibacy could not be enjoined as a law, but was rendered attractive by
surrounding it with privileges and immunities denied to him who yielded
to the temptations of the flesh."

Throughout Western Christendom the law of celibacy was openly and
shamefully trampled upon, and every reformer seemed to think that the
very first step toward any improvement in clerical morals was to be
taken by enforcing this rule.

When Dunstan commenced his reforms, the clergy were guilty of graver
sins than that of living in marriage relations. Adultery, bigamy,
swearing, fighting and drinking were the order of the day. The
monasteries were occupied by secular priests with wives or concubines.
All the chroniclers of this period agree in charging the monks and
clergy with a variety of dissipations and disorders.

It is quite clear, therefore, that in Dunstan's view he was doing the
only right thing in trying to correct the existing abuses by compelling
the priests to adopt that celibate life without which it was popularly
believed the highest holiness and the largest usefulness could not be
attained. In the light of this purpose and this common opinion of his
time, Dunstan and his mission should be judged.

Dunstan was aided in his work by King Edgar the Pacific, who, by the
way, was himself compelled to go without his crown seven years for
violating the chastity of a nun. Oswald, the Bishop of Worcester, and
Ethelwold, the Bishop of Winchester, were also zealously engaged in the
task of reform.

A law was enacted providing that priests, deacons and sub-deacons should
live chastely or resign. As a result of this law, many priests were
ejected from the monasteries and from their official positions. Strict
monks were put in their places. A strong opposition party was created,
and the ejected clergy aroused such discontent that a civil war was
barely averted. This state of things continued until the Norman
invasion, when the monks and secular clergy joined forces in the common
defence of their property and ecclesiastical rights.

It would seem that many writers, misled by legends for which Dunstan
must not be held responsible, and blinded by religious prejudice, have
unjustly charged him with hypocrisy and even crime. All his methods may
not be defensible when estimated in the light of modern knowledge, and
even his ideal may be rejected when judged by modern standards of
Christian character, but he must be considered with the moral and
intellectual life of his times in full view. He was a champion of the
oppressed, a friend of the poor, an unflinching foe of sinful men in the
pulpit or on the throne. His will was inflexible, his independence noble
and his energy untiring. In trying to bring the Anglo-Saxon church into
conformity to Rome he was actuated by a higher motive than the merely
selfish desire for ecclesiastical authority. He regarded this harmony as
the only remedy for the prevailing disorders. He believed, like many
other churchmen of unquestioned purity and honesty, that it was
necessary to compel temporal authorities to recognize the power of the
church in order to overcome that defiance of moral law which was the
chief characteristic of the kings and princes in that turbulent period.

What the Anglo-Saxon church might have been if the rule of celibacy had
not been forced upon her, and if she had not submitted to Roman
authority in other matters, is a theme for speculation only. The fact
is that Dunstan found a church corrupt to the core and left it, as a
result of his purifying efforts, with some semblance, to say the least,
of moral influence and spiritual purity. Some other kind of
ecclesiastical polity than that advocated by Dunstan might have achieved
the same results as his, but the simple fact is that none did. In so far
as Dunstan succeeded in his monastic measures, he laid the foundations
of an ecclesiastical power which afterwards became a serious menace to
the political freedom of the Anglo-Saxon race. The battle begun by him
raged fiercely between the popes, efficiently supported by the monks,
and the kings of England, with varying fortunes, for many centuries. But
perhaps, under the plans of that benign Providence who presides over the
destiny of nations, it was essentially in the interests of civilization,
that the lawlessness of rulers and the vices of the people should be
restrained by that ecclesiastical power, which, in after years, and at
the proper time, should be forced to recede to its legitimate sphere and

Another celebrated reformatory movement was begun by St. Bruno, who
founded the Carthusian Order about the year 1086. Ruskin says: "In
their strength, from the foundation of the order at the close of the
eleventh century to the beginning of the fourteenth, they reared in
their mountain fastnesses and sent out to minister to the world a
succession of men of immense mental grasp and serenely authoritative
innocence, among whom our own Hugh of Lincoln, in his relations with
Henry II. and Coeur de Lion, is to my mind the most beautiful sacerdotal
figure known to me in history."

Bruno, with six companions, established the famous Grand Chartreuse in a
rocky wilderness, near Grenoble, in France, separated from the rest of
the world by a chain of wild mountains, which are covered with ice and
snow for two-thirds of the year.

Until the time of Guigo (1137), the Grand Chartreuse was governed by
unwritten rules. Thirteen monks only were permitted to live together,
and sixteen converts in the huts at the foot of the hill. The policy of
this monastery was at first opposed to all connection with other
monasteries. But applications for admission were so numerous that
colonies were sent out in various directions, all subject to the mother
house. The Carthusians differed in many respects from other orders. The
rules of Dom Guigo indicate that the chief aim was to preclude the monks
from intercourse with the world, and largely with each other, for each
monk had separate apartments, cooked his own food, and so rarely met
with his brethren, that he was practically a hermit. The clothing
consisted of a rough hair shirt, worn next the skin, a white cassock
over it, and, when they went out, a black robe. Fasting was observed at
least three days a week, and meat was strictly forbidden. Respecting
contact with women Dom Guigo says: "Under no circumstances whatever do
we allow women to set foot within our precincts, knowing as we do that
neither wise man, nor prophet, nor judge, nor the entertainer of God,
nor the sons of God, nor the first created of mankind, fashioned by
God's own hands, could escape the wiles and deceits of women."

Blistering and bleeding, as well as fasting, were employed to control
evil impulses. On the whole, the austerities were as severe as human
nature in that wild and cold region could endure. Yet the prosperity
that rewarded the piety and labors of the Carthusian monks proved more
than a match for their rigorous discipline, and in the middle of the
thirteenth century we read charges of laxity and disorder.

The Carthusians settled in England in the twelfth century, and had a
famous monastery in London, since called the Charterhouse. The order was
in many respects the most successful attempt at reform, but as has been
said, "the whole order, and each individual member, is like a
petrifaction from the Middle Ages." Owing to its extremely solitary
ideal and its severe discipline, it was unfitted to secure extensive
control, or to gain a permanent influence upon the rapidly-developing
European nations. Its chief contributions to modern civilization were
made by the gift of noble men who passed from the seclusion of the cell
into the active life of the world, thus practically proving that the
monks' greatest usefulness was attained when loyalty to their vows
yielded to a broader ideal of Christian character and service.

Thus the months passed into years and the years into centuries. Man was
slowly working out his salvation. Painfully, laboriously he emerged out
of barbarism into the lower forms of civilization; wearily he trudged
on his way toward the universal kingdom of righteousness and peace.

There were many other attempts at reform which may not even be
mentioned, but one character deserves brief consideration,--Bernard of
Clairvaux,--the fairest flower of those corrupt days. The order to which
he belonged was the Cistercians, so named because their mother house was
at Citeaux (Latin, _Cistercium_), in France. Its members are sometimes
called the "White Monks," because of their white tunics. Their
buildings, with their bare walls and low rafters, were a rebuke to the
splendid edifices of the richer orders. Austere simplicity characterized
their churches, liturgy and habits. Gorgeousness in decoration and
ostentation in public services were carefully avoided. They used no
pictures, stained glass or images. Once a week they flogged their sinful
bodies. Only four hours' sleep was allowed. Seeking out the wildest
spots and most rugged peaks they built their retreats, beautiful in
their simplicity and furnishing some of the finest examples of monastic
architecture. The order spread into England, where the first
Cistercians were characterized by devoutness and poverty. After a while
the hand of fate wrote of them as it had of so many, "none were more
greedy in adding farm to farm; none less scrupulous in obtaining grants
of land from wealthy patrons." In general, the order was no better and
no worse than the rest, but its chief glory is derived from the luster
that was shed upon it by Bernard.

[Illustration: SAINT BERNARD]

This illustrious counselor of kings and Catholic saint was born in
Burgundy in 1091. When about twenty years of age he entered the
monastery at Citeaux with five of his brothers. His genius might have
secured ecclesiastical preferment, but he chose to dig ditches, plant
fields and govern a monastery. He entered the cloister at Citeaux
because the monks were few and poor, and when it became crowded because
of his fame, and its rule became lax because of the crowds, he left the
cloister to found a home of his own. The abbot selected twelve monks,
following the number of apostles, and at their head placed young
Bernard. He led the twelve to the valley of Wormwood, and there, in a
cheerless forest, he established the monastery of Clairvaux, or Clear
Valley. His rule was fiercely severe because he himself loved hardships
and rough fare. "It in no way befits religion," he writes, "to seek
remedies for the body, nor is it good for health either. You may now and
then take some cheap herb,--such as poor men may,--and this is done
sometimes. But to buy drugs, to hunt up doctors, to take doses, is
unbecoming to religion and hostile to purity." His success in winning
men to the monastic life was almost phenomenal. It was said that
"mothers hid their sons, wives their husbands, and companions their
friends, lest they be persuaded by his eloquent message to enter the
cloister." "He was avoided like a plague," says one.

Bernard's monks changed the whole face of the country by felling trees
and tilling the ground. Their spiritual power rid the valley of Wormwood
of its robbers, and the district grew rich and prosperous. Thus Bernard
became the most famous man of his time. He was the arbiter in papal
elections, the judge in temporal quarrels, the healer of schisms and a
powerful preacher of the crusades. He was the embodiment of all that was
best in the thought of his age. His weaknesses and faults may largely be
explained by the fact that no man can rise entirely above the spirit of
his times and absolutely free himself from all pernicious tendencies.
"As an advocate for the rights of the church, for the immunities of the
clergy, no less than for the great interests of morality, he was fierce,
intractable, unforgiving, haughty and tyrannical." There was, however,
no note of insincerity in his work or writings, and no tinge of
hypocrisy in fervent zeal. He was brave, honest and pure; controlled
always by a consuming passion for the moral welfare of the people.

Our chief interest in Bernard relates to his monastic work which shed
undying luster on his name. Vaughan, in his "Hours with the Mystics,"
says of him: "His incessant cry for Europe is, Better monasteries, and
more of them. Let these ecclesiastical castles multiply; let them cover
and command the land, well garrisoned with men of God, and then, despite
all heresy and schism, theocracy will flourish, the earth shall yield
her increase, and all people praise the Lord.... Bernard had the
satisfaction of improving and extending monasticism to the utmost; of
sewing together, with tolerable success, the rended vesture of the
papacy; of suppressing a more popular and more scriptural Christianity
for the benefit of his despotic order; of quenching for a time, by the
extinction of Abelard, the spirit of free inquiry, and of seeing his
ascetic and superhuman ideal of religion everywhere accepted as the
genuine type of Christianity."

But in spite of Dunstans, Brunos and Bernards, the monastic institution
keeps on crumbling. The edifice will not stand much more propping and
tinkering. While we admire this display of moral force, this commendable
struggle of fresh courage and new hope against disintegrating forces,
the conviction gains ground that something is radically wrong with the
institution. There is something in it which fosters greed and desperate
ambition. "Is it not a shame," we feel compelled to ask, "that so much
splendid, chivalrous courage and magnificent energy should be expended
in trying to prevent a structure from falling, which, it seems, could
not possibly have been saved?" But while the decay could not be stayed,
we must admire the noble aims and pious enthusiasm of the reformers who
sought to preserve an institution which to them seemed the only hope of
a sinful world.

Dr. Storrs, in his life of Bernard, says: "His soon-canonized name has
shone starlike in history ever since he was buried; and it will not
hereafter decline from its height or lose its luster, while men continue
to recognize with honor the temper of devoted Christian consecration, a
character compact of noble forces, and infused with self-forgetful love
for God and man."

_The Military Religious Orders_

The life of Bernard forms an appropriate introduction to a consideration
of the Military Religious Orders. Although weary with labor and the
weight of years, he traveled over Europe preaching the second crusade.
"To kill or to be killed for Christ's sake is alike righteous and alike
safe," this was his message to the world. In spite of the opposition of
court advisers, Bernard induced Louis VII. and Conrad of Germany to take
the crusader's vow. He gave the Knights Templars a new rule and kindled
afresh a zeal for the knighthood. Although the members of the Military
Orders were not monks in the strict sense of the word, yet they were
soldier-monks, and as such deserve to be mentioned here.

At the basis of all monastic orders, as has been pointed out, were the
three vows of obedience, celibacy and poverty. Certain orders, by adding
to these rules other obligations, or by laying special stress on one of
the three ancient vows, produced new and distinct types of monastic
character and life.

The Knights of the Hospital assumed as their peculiar work the care of
the sick. The Begging Friars, as will be seen later, were distinguished
by the importance which they attached to the rule of poverty; the
Jesuits, by exalting the law of unquestioning obedience. In view of the
warlike character of the Middle Ages it is strange the soldier-monk did
not appear earlier than he did. The abbots, in many cases, were feudal
lords with immense possessions which needed protection like secular
property, but as this could not be secured by the arts of peace, we find
traces of the union of the soldier and the monk before the distinct
orders professing that character. The immediate cause of such
organizations was the crusades. There were numerous societies of this
character, some of them so far removed from the monastic type as
scarcely to be ranked with monastic institutions. One list mentions two
hundred and seven of these Orders of Knighthood, comprising many
varieties in theory and practice. The most important were three,--the
Knights of the Hospital, or the Knights of St. John; the Knights
Templars; and the Teutonic Knights. The Hospitallers wore black mantles
with white crosses, the Templars white mantles with red crosses, and the
Teutonic Knights white mantles with black crosses. The mantles were in
fact the robe of the monk adorned with a cross. The whole system was
really a marriage of monasticism and chivalry, as Gibbon says: "The
firmest bulwark of Jerusalem was founded in the Knights of the Hospital
and of the Temple, that strange association of monastic and military
life. The flower of the nobility of Europe aspired to wear the cross and
profess the vows of these orders; their spirit and discipline were

A passage in the Alexiad quoted in Walter Scott's "Robert of Paris"
reads: "As for the multitude of those who advanced toward the great city
let it be enough to say, that they were as the stars in the heaven or
as the sand of the seashore. They were in the words of Homer, as many as
the leaves and flowers of spring." This figurative description is almost
literally true. Europe poured her men and her wealth into the East. No
one but an eye-witness can conceive of the vast amount of suffering
endured by those fanatical multitudes as they roamed the streets of
Jerusalem looking for shelter, or lay starving by the roadside on a
bed of grass.

The term Hospitallers was applied to certain brotherhoods of monks and
laymen. While professing some monastic rule, the members of these
societies devoted themselves solely to caring for the sick and the poor,
the hospitals in those days being connected with the monasteries.

About the year 1050 some Italian merchants secured permission to build a
convent in Jerusalem to shelter Latin pilgrims. The hotels which sprang
up after this were gradually transformed into hospitals for the care of
the sick and presided over by Benedictine monks. The sick were carefully
nursed and shelter granted to as many as could be accommodated. Nobles
abandoned the profession of arms and, becoming monks, devoted
themselves to caring for the unfortunate crusaders in these inns. The
work rapidly increased in extent and importance. In the year 1099,
Godfrey de Bouillon endowed the original hospital, which had been
dedicated to St. John. He also established many other monasteries on
this holy soil. The monks, most of whom were also knights, formed an
organization which received confirmation from Rome, as "The Knights of
St. John of Jerusalem." The order rapidly assumed a distinctly military
character, for, to do its work completely, it must not only care for the
sick in Jerusalem, but defend the pilgrim on his way to the Holy City.
This ended in an undertaking to defend Christendom against Mohammedan
invasion and in fighting for the recovery of the Holy Sepulcher.

After visiting some of these Palestinian monasteries, a king of Hungary
thus describes his impressions: "Lodging in their houses, I have seen
them feed every day innumerable multitudes of poor, the sick laid on
good beds and treated with great care. In a word, the Knights of St.
John are employed sometimes like Martha, in action, and sometimes like
Mary, in contemplation, and this noble militia consecrate their days
either in their infirmaries or else in engagements against the enemies
of the cross."

The Knights Templars were far more militant than the Knights of St.
John, but they also were actuated by the monastic spirit. Bernard tried
to inspire this order with a strong Christian zeal so that, as he said,
"War should become something of which God could approve." The success
which attended its operations led as usual to its corruption and
decline. Beginning with a few crusaders leagued together for service and
living on the site of the ancient Temple at Jerusalem, it soon widened
the scope of its services and became a powerful branch of the crusading
army. It was charged by Philip IV. of France, in 1307, with the most
fearful crimes, to sustain or to deny which accusations many volumes
have been composed. Five years later the order was suppressed and its
vast accumulations transferred to the Knights of St. John. "The horrible
fate of the Templars," says Allen, "was taken by many as a beginning and
omen of the destruction that would soon pass upon all the hated
religious orders. And so this final burst of enthusiasm and splendor in
the religious life was among the prognostics of a state of things in
which monasticism must fade quite away."

Wondrous changes have taken place in those dark and troubled years since
Benedict began his labors at Monte Cassino, in 529. The monk has prayed
alone in the mountains, and converted the barbarian in the forest. He
has preached the crusades in magnificent cathedrals, and crossed stormy
seas in his frail bark. He has made the schools famous by his literary
achievements, and taught children the alphabet in the woodland cell. He
has been good and bad, proud and humble, rich and poor, arrogant and
gentle. He has met the shock of lances on his prancing steed, and
trudged barefoot from town to town. He has copied manuscripts in the
lonely Scottish isle, and bathed the fevered brow of the pilgrim in the
hospital at Jerusalem. He has dug ditches, and governed the world as the
pope of the Church. He has held the plow in the furrow, and thwarted the
devices of the king. He has befriended the poor, and imposed penance
upon princes. He has imitated the poverty and purity of Jesus, and aped
the pomp and vice of kings. He has dwelt solitary on cold mountains,
subsisting on bread, roots and water, and he has surrounded himself with
menials ready to gratify every luxurious wish, amid the splendor of
palatial cloisters. Still there are new types and phases of monasticism
yet to appear. The monk has other tasks to undertake, for the world is
not yet sufficiently wearied of his presence to destroy his cloister and
banish him from the land.



Abraham Lincoln only applied a general principle to a specific case when
he said, "This nation cannot long endure half slave and half free."
Glaring inconsistencies between faith and practice will eventually
destroy any institution, however lofty its ideal or noble its
foundation. God suffers long and is kind, but His forbearance is not
limitless. Monasticism, as has been shown, was never free from serious
inconsistency, from moral dualism. But the power of reform prolonged its
existence. It was constantly producing fresh models of its ancient
ideals. It had a hidden reserve-force from which it supplied shining
examples of a living faith and a self-denying love, just at the time
when it seemed as if the system was about to perish forever. When these
fresh exhibitions of monastic fidelity likewise became tarnished, when
men had tired of them and predicted the speedy collapse of the
institution, forth from the cloister came another body of monkish
recruits, to convince the world that monasticism was not dead; that it
did not intend to die; that it was mightier than all its enemies. The
day came, however, when the world lost its confidence in an institution
which required such constant reforming to keep it pure, which demanded
so much cleansing to keep it clean. Ideals that could so quickly lose
their influence for good came to be looked upon with suspicion.

At the beginning of the thirteenth century we are confronted by the
anomaly of a church grossly corrupt but widely obeyed. She is nearing
the pinnacle of her power and the zenith of her glory, although the
parochial clergy have sunk into vice and incapacity, and the monks, as a
class, are lazy, ignorant and notoriously corrupt. Two things,
especially, command the attention,--first, the immorality and laxity of
the monks; and second, the growth of heresies and the tendency toward
open schism. The necessity of reform was clearly apprehended by the
church as well as by the heretical parties, but, since the church had
such a hold upon society, those who sought to reform the monasteries by
returning to old beliefs and ancient customs were much more in favor
than those who left the church and opposed her from the outside. The
impossibility of substantial, internal reform had not yet come to be
generally recognized. As time passed the conviction that it was of no
use to attempt reforms from the inside gained ground; then the
separatists multiplied, and the shedding of blood commenced. The world
had to learn anew that it was futile to put new wine into old bottles or
to patch new cloth on an old garment.

"It is the privilege of genius," says Trench, "to evoke a new creation,
where to common eyes all appears barren and worn out." Francis and
Dominic evoked this new creation; but although the monk now will appear
in a new garb, he will prove himself to be about the same old character
whom the world has known a great many years; when this discovery is made
monasticism is doomed. Perplexed Europe will anxiously seek some means
of destruction, but God will have Luther ready to aid in the solution of
the problem.

_Francis Bernardone_, 1182-1226 _A.D._.

Saint Francis, the founder of the Franciscan Order, was born at Assisi,
a walled town of Umbria, in Italy. His father, Peter Bernardone, or
Bernardo, was in France on business when his son was born and named. On
his return, or, as some say, at a later time, he changed his son's name
from John to Francis. His wealth enabled him to supply Francis with the
funds necessary to maintain his leadership among gay companions.
Catholic writers are fond of describing the early years of their saints
as marked by vice in order to portray them as miracles of grace. It is
therefore uncertain whether Francis was anything worse than a happy,
joyous lad, who loved fine clothes, midnight songs and parties of
pleasure. He was certainly a very popular and courteous lad, very much
in love with the world. During a short service in the army he was taken
prisoner. After his release he fell sick, and experienced a temporary
disgust with his past life. With his renewed health his love of
festivities and dress returned.

Walking out one day, dressed in a handsome new suit, he met a poor and
ill-clad soldier; moved to pity, he exchanged his fine clothes for the
rags of the stranger. That night Francis dreamed of a splendid castle,
with gorgeous banners flying from its ramparts, and suits of armor
adorned with the cross. "These," said a voice, "are for you and for your
soldiers." We are told that this was intended to be taken spiritually
and was prophetic of the Begging Friars, but Francis misunderstood the
dream, taking it as a token of military achievements. The next day he
set off mounted on a fine horse, saying as he left, "I shall be a great
prince." But his weak frame could not endure such rough usage and he was
taken sick at Spoleto. Again he dreamed. This time the vision revealed
his misinterpretation of the former message, and so, on his recovery, he
returned somewhat crestfallen to Assisi, where he gave his friends a
farewell feast. Thus at the threshold of his career we note two
important facts,--disease and dreams. All through his life he had these
fits of sickness, attended by dreams; and throughout his life he was
guided by these visions. Neander remarks: "It would be a matter of some
importance if we could be more exactly informed with regard to the
nature of his disease and the way in which it affected his physical and
mental constitution. Perhaps it might assist us to a more satisfactory
explanation of the eccentric vein in his life, that singular mixture of
religious enthusiasm bordering insanity; but we are left wholly in
the dark."

Francis now devoted himself to his father's business, but dreams and
visions continued to distress him. His spiritual fervor increased daily.
He grieved for the poor and gave himself to the care of the sick,
especially the lepers. During a visit to Rome he became so sad at the
sight of desperate poverty that he impetuously flung his bag of gold
upon the altar with such force as to startle the worshipers. He went out
from the church, exchanged his clothes for a beggar's rags, and stood
for hours asking alms among a crowd of filthy beggars.

But though Francis longed to associate himself in some way with the
lowest classes, he could obtain no certain light upon his duty. While
prostrated before the crucifix, in the dilapidated church of St.
Damian, in Assisi, he heard a voice saying, "Francis, seest thou not
that my house is in ruins? Go and restore it for me." Again it is said
that this pointed to his great life-work of restoring spiritual power to
the church, but he again accepted the message in a literal sense.
Delighted to receive a command so specific, the kneeling Francis
fervently responded, "With good will, Lord," and gladly entered upon the
task of repairing the church of St. Damian. "Having fortified himself by
the sign of the cross," he took a horse and a valuable bundle of goods
belonging to his father and sold both at Falingo. Instead of turning the
proceeds over to his father, Francis offered them to the priest of St.
Damian, who, fearing the father's displeasure, refused to accept the
stolen funds. The young zealot, "who had utter contempt for money,"
threw the gold on one of the windows of the church. Such is the story as
gleaned from Catholic sources. The heretics, who have criticised Francis
for this conduct, are answered by the following ingenious but dangerous
sophistry: "It is certainly quite contrary to the ordinary law of
justice for one man to take for himself the property of another; but if
Almighty God, to whom all things belong, and for whom we are only
stewards, is pleased to dispense with this His own law in a particular
case, and to bestow what He has hitherto given to one upon another, He
confers at the same time a valid title to the gift, and it is no robbery
in him who has received it to act upon that title."

Fearing his father's wrath, Francis hid himself in the priest's room,
and contemporary authors assure us that when the irate parent entered,
Francis was miraculously let into the wall. Wading (1731 A.D.) says the
hollow place may still be seen in the wall.

After a month, the young hero, confident of his courage to face his
father, came forth pale and weak, only to be stoned as a madman by the
people. His father locked him up in the house, but the tenderer
compassion of his mother released him from his bonds, and he found
refuge with the priest. When his father demanded his return, Francis
tore off his clothes and, as he flung the last rag at the feet of his
astounded parent, he exclaimed: "Peter Bernardone was my father; I have
but one father, He that is in Heaven." The crowd was deeply moved,
especially when they saw before them the hair shirt which Francis had
secretly worn under his garments. Gathering up all that was left to him
of his son, the father sadly departed, leaving the young enthusiast to
fight his own way through the world. Many times after that, the parents,
who tenderly watched over the lad in sickness and prayed for his
recovery, saw their beloved son leading his barefooted beggars through
the streets of his native town. But he will never more sing his gay
songs underneath their roof or sally forth with his merry companions in
search of pleasure. Francis was given a laborer's cloak, upon which he
made the sign of a cross with some mortar, "thus manifesting what he
wished to be, a half-naked poor one, and a crucified man." Such was the
saint, in 1206, in his twenty-fifth year.

Francis now went forth, singing sacred songs, begging his food, and
helping the sick and the poor. He was employed "in the vilest affairs of
the scullery" in a neighboring monastery. At this time he clothed
himself in the monk's dress, a short tunic, a leathern girdle, shoes and
a staff. He waited upon lepers and kissed their disgusting ulcers. Yet
more, he instantly cured a dreadfully cancerous face by kissing it. He
ate the most revolting messes, reproaching himself for recoiling in
nausea. Thus the pauper of Jesus Christ conquered his pride and
luxurious tastes.

Francis finally returned to repair the church of St. Damian. The people
derided, even stoned him, but he had learned to rejoice in abuse. They
did not know of what stern stuff their fellow-townsman was made. He bore
all their insults meekly, and persevered in his work, carrying stones
with his own hands and promising the blessing of God on all who helped
him in his joyful task. His kindness and smiles melted hatred; derision
turned to admiration. "Many were moved to tears," says his biographers,
"while Francis worked on with cheerful simplicity, begging his
materials, stone by stone, and singing psalms about the streets."

Two years after his conversion, or in 1208, while kneeling in the church
of Sta. Maria dei Angeli, he heard the words of Christ: "Provide neither
gold nor silver nor brass in your purses, neither two coats nor shoes
nor staff, but go and preach." Afterwards, when the meaning of these
words was explained to him, he exclaimed: "This is what I seek for!" He
threw away his wallet, took off his shoes, and replaced his leather
girdle by a cord. His hermit's tunic appearing too delicate, he put on a
coarse, gray robe, reaching to his feet, with sleeves that came down
over his fingers; to this he added a hood, covering his head and face.
Clothing of this character he wore to the end of his life. This was in
1208, which is regarded as the first year of the Order of St. Francis.
The next year Francis gave this habit to those who had joined him.

So the first and chief of Franciscan friars, unattended by mortal
companions, went humbly forth to proclaim the grandeur and goodness of a
God, who, according to monastic teaching, demands penance and poverty of
his creatures as the price of his highest favor and richest blessings.
Nearly seven hundred long years have passed since that eventful day, but
the begging Brothers of Francis still traverse those Italian highways
over which the saint now journeyed with meek and joyous spirit.

     "He was not yet far distant from his rising
     Before he had begun to make the earth
     Some comfort from his mighty virtue feel.
     For he in youth his father's wrath incurred
     For certain Dame, to whom, as unto death,
     The gate of pleasure no one doth unlock;
     And was before his spiritual court
     _Et coram patre_ unto her united;
     Then day by day more fervently he loved her.

       *       *       *       *       *

     But that too darkly I may not proceed,
     Francis and Poverty for these two lovers
     Take thou henceforward in my speech diffuse."


In 1210, with eleven companions, his entire band, Francis went to Rome
to secure papal sanction. Pope Innocent III. was walking in a garden of
the Lateran Palace when a beggar, dusty and pale, confronted him.
Provoked at being disturbed in his thoughts, he drove him away. That
night it was the pope's turn to dream. He saw a falling church supported
by a poor and miserable man. Of course, that man was Francis. Four or
five years later the pope will dream the same thing again. Then the poor
man will be Dominic. In the morning he sent for the monk whom he had
driven from him as a madman the day before. Standing before his holiness
and the college of cardinals, Francis pleaded his cause in a touching
and eloquent parable. His quiet, earnest manner and clear blue eyes
impressed every one. The pope did not give him formal sanction
however--this was left for Honorius III., November 29, 1223--but he
verbally permitted him to establish his order and to continue his

Several times Francis set out to preach to the Mohammedans, but failed
to reach his destination. He finally visited Egypt during the siege of
Damietta, and at the risk of his life he went forth to preach to the
sultan encamped on the Nile. He is described by an eye-witness "as an
ignorant and simple man, beloved of God and men." His courage and
personal magnetism won the Mohammedan's sympathy but not his soul.
Although Francis courted martyrdom, and offered to walk through fire to
prove the truth of his message, the Oriental took it all too
good-naturedly to put him to the test, and dismissed him with kindness.

Francis was a great lover of birds. The swallows he called his sisters.
A bird in the cage excited his deepest sympathy. It is said he sometimes
preached to the feathered songsters. Longfellow has cast one of these
homilies into poetic form:

     "O brother birds, St. Francis said,
     Ye come to me and ask for bread,
     But not with bread alone to-day
     Shall ye be fed and sent away.

       *       *       *       *       *

     Oh, doubly are ye bound to praise
     The great Creator in your lays;
     He giveth you your plumes of down,
     Your crimson hoods, your cloaks of brown.

     He giveth you your wings to fly
     And breathe a purer air on high,
     And careth for you everywhere,
     Who for yourselves so little care."

Like all ascetics, Francis was tempted in visions. One cold night he
fancied he was in a home of his own, with his wife and children around
him. Rushing out of his cell he heaped up seven hills of snow to
represent a wife, four sons and daughters, and two servants. "Make
haste," he cried, "provide clothing for them lest they perish with the
cold," and falling upon the imaginary group, he dispelled the vision of
domestic bliss in the cold embrace of the winter's snow. Mrs. Oliphant
points out the fact that, unlike most of the hermits and monks, Francis
dreams not of dancing girls, but of the pure love of a wife and the
modest joys of a home and children. She beautifully says: "Had he, for
one sweet, miserable moment, gone back to some old imagination and seen
the unborn faces shine beside the never-lighted fire? But Francis does
not say a word of any such trial going on in his heart. He dissipates
the dream by the chill touch of the snow, by still nature hushing the
fiery thoughts, by sudden action, so violent as to stir the blood in his
veins; and then the curtain of prayer and silence falls over him, and
the convent walls close black around."

The experience of the saint on Mount Alverno deserves special
consideration, not merely on account of its singularity, but also
because it affords a striking illustration of the difficulties one
encounters in trying to get at the truth in monastic narratives. Francis
had retired to Mount Alverno, a wild and rugged solitude, to meditate
upon the Lord's passion. For days he had been almost distracted with
grief and holy sympathy. Suddenly a seraph with six wings stood before
him. When the heavenly being departed, the marks of the Crucified One
appeared upon the saint's body. St. Bonaventure says: "His feet and
hands were seen to be perforated by nails in their middle; the heads of
the nails, round and black, were on the inside of the hands, and on the
upper parts of the feet; the points, which were rather long, and which
came out on the opposite sides, were turned and raised above the flesh,
from which they came out." There also appeared on his right side a red
wound, which often oozed a sacred blood that stained his tunic.

This remarkable story has provoked considerable discussion. One's
conclusions respecting its credibility will quite likely be determined
by his general view of numerous similar narratives, and by the degree of
his confidence in the value of human testimony touching such matters.
The incongruities and palpable impostures that seriously impair the
general reliability of monkish historians render it difficult to
distinguish between the truths and errors in their writings.

Some authorities hold that the marks did not appear on St. Francis, and
that the story is without foundation. But Roman writers bring forward
the three early biographers of Francis who claim that the marks did
appear. Pope Alexander IV. publicly averred that he saw the wounds, and
pronounced it heresy to doubt the report. Popes Benedict XI., Sixtus
IV., and Sixtus V. consecrated and canonized the impressions by
instituting a particular festival in their honor. Numerous persons are
said to have seen the marks and to have kissed the nails, after the
death of the saint. Singularly enough, the Dominicans were inclined to
regard the story as a piece of imposture designed to exalt Francis
above Dominic.

But, if it be admitted that the marks did appear, as it is not
improbable, how shall the phenomenon be explained? At least four
theories are held: 1. Fraud; 2. The irresponsible self-infliction of the
wounds; 3. Physical effects due to mental suggestion or some other
psychic cause; 4. Miracle.

1. The temptation is strong to claim a fraud, especially because the
same witnesses who testify to the truth of the tale, also relate such
monstrous, incredible stories, that one is almost forced to doubt
either their integrity or their sanity. But there is no evidence in
support of so serious an indictment. After showing that signs and
portents attend every crisis in history, Mrs. Oliphant says: "Every
great spiritual awakening has been accompanied by phenomena quite
incomprehensible, which none but the vulgar mind can attribute to
trickery and imposture;" but still she herself remains in doubt about
the whole story.

2. Although Mosheim uses the term "fraud," it would seem that he means
rather the irresponsible self-infliction of the wounds. He says: "As he
[Francis] was a most superstitious and fanatical mortal, it is
undoubtedly evident that he imprinted on himself the holy wounds. Paul's
words, 'I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus,' may have
suggested the idea of the fraud." The notion certainly prevailed that
Francis was a sort of second Christ, and a book was circulated showing
how he might be compared to Christ in forty particulars. There are many
things in his biography which, if true, indicate that Francis yearned to
imitate literally the experiences of his Lord.

3. Numerous experiments, conducted by scientific men, have established
the fact that red marks, swellings, blisters, bleeding and wounds have
been produced by mental suggestion. Björnstrom, in his work on
"Hypnotism," after recounting various experiments showing the effect of
the imagination on the body, says, respecting the _stigmata_ of the
Middle Ages: "Such marks can be produced by hypnotism without deceit and
without the miracles of the higher powers." Prof. Fisher declares:
"There is no room for the suspicion of deceit. The idea of a strange
physical effect of an abnormal state is more plausible." Trench thinks
this is a reasonable view in the case of a man like Francis, "with a
temperament so irrepressible, of an organization so delicate, permeated
through and through with the anguish of the Lord's sufferings,
passionately and continually dwelling on the one circumstance of his
crucifixion." But others, despairing of any rational solution, cut the
Gordian knot and declare that "the kindest thing to think about Francis
is that he was crazy."

4. Roman Catholics naturally reject all explanations that exclude the
supernatural, for, as Father Candide Chalippe affirms: "Catholics ought
to be cautious in adopting anything coming from heretics; their opinions
are almost always contagious." He therefore holds fast to the miracles
in the lives of the saints, not only because he accepts the evidence,
but because he believes these wonderful stories "add great resplendency
to the merits of the saints, and, consequently, give great weight to the
example they afford us."

It is altogether probable that each one will continue to view the whole
affair as his predispositions and religious convictions direct; some
unconvinced by traditionary evidence and undismayed by charges of
heresy; others devoutly accepting every monkish miracle and marveling at
the obstinacy of unbelief.

Two years after the event just described Francis was carried on a cot
outside the walls of Assisi, where, lifting his hands he blessed his
native city. Some few days later, on October 4, 1226, he passed away,
exclaiming, "Welcome, Sister Death!"

Whatever we may think of the legends that cluster about his life,
Francis himself must not be held responsible for all that has been
written about him. He himself was no phantom or mythical being, but a
real, earnest man who, according to his light, tried to serve his
generation. As he himself said: "A man is just so much and no more as he
is in the sight of God." "Francis appears to me," says Forsyth, "a
genuine, original hero, independent, magnanimous, incorruptible. His
powers seemed designed to regenerate society; but taking a wrong
direction, they sank men into beggars." Through the mist of tradition
the holy beggar and saintly hero shines forth as a loving, gentle soul,
unkind to none but himself. However his biography may be regarded, his
life illustrates the beauty and power of voluntary renunciation,--the
fountain not only of religion but of all true nobility of character. He
may have been ignorant, perhaps grossly so, as Mosheim thinks, but
nevertheless he merits our highest praise for striving honestly to keep
his vow of poverty in the days when worldly monks disgraced their sacred
profession by greed, ambition, and lustful indulgence.

_The Franciscan Orders_

The orders which Francis founded were of three classes:

1. Franciscan Friars or Order of Friars Minor, called also Gray or
Begging Friars. The year in which Francis took the habit, 1208, is
reckoned the first year of the order, but the Rule was not given
until 1210.

This Rule, which has not been preserved, was very simple, and doubtless
consisted of a group of gospel passages, bearing on the vow of poverty,
together with a few precepts about the occupations of the brethren. The
pope was not asked to sanction the Rule but only to give his approbation
to the missions of the little band. Some of the cardinals expressed
their doubts about the mode of life provided for in the rules. "But,"
replied Giovanni di San Paolo, "if we hold that to observe gospel
perfection and make profession of it is an irrational and impossible
innovation, are we not convicted of blasphemy against Christ, the Author
of the Gospel?"

There was also the Rule of 1221, which makes an intermediate stage
between the first Rule and that which was approved by the pope November
29, 1223. The Rule of 1210 was thoroughly Franciscan. It was the
expression of the passionate, fervent soul of Francis. It was the cry of
the human heart for God and purity. The Rule of 1223 shows that the
church had begun to direct the movement. Sabatier says of these two
rules: "At the bottom of it all is the antinome of law and love. Under
the reign of law we are the mercenaries of God, bound down to an irksome
task, but paid a hundred-fold, and with an indisputable right to our
wages." Such was the conception underlying the Rule of 1223. That of
1210 is thus described: "Under the rule of love we are the sons of God,
and co-workers with Him; we give ourselves to Him without bargaining and
without expectation; we follow Jesus, not because this is well, but
because we cannot do otherwise, because we feel that He has loved us and
we love Him in our turn."

Francis would not allow his monks to be called Friars; he preferred
Friars Minor or Little Brothers as a more humble designation[F].

[Footnote F: Appendix, Note F.]

Ten years after the founding of the order, it is claimed, over five
thousand friars assembled in Rome for the general chapter. The monks
lodged in huts made of matting and hence this convention has been called
the "Chapter of Mats." The order was strongest numerically about fifty
years after the death of Francis, when it numbered eight thousand
convents and two hundred thousand monks. Many of its members were highly
distinguished, such as St. Bonaventura, Duns Scotus, Roger Bacon and
Cardinal Ximenes.

2. Nuns of St. Clara or Poor Claras, dates from 1212, but it did not
receive its rule from Francis until 1224. The order was founded in the
following manner: Clara, a daughter of a noble family, was distinguished
for her beauty and by her love for the poor. Francis often met her, and,
in the language of his biographer, "exhorted her to a contempt of the
world and poured into her ears the sweetness of Christ." Guided, no
doubt, by his counsel, she stole one night from her home to a
neighboring church where Francis and his beggars were assembled. Her
long and beautiful hair was cut off, while a coarse woolen gown was
substituted for her own rich garments. Standing in the midst of the
ragged monks, she renounced the dregs of Babylon and a wicked world,
pledging her future to the monastic institution. Out from this little
church into the darkness of the night, Francis led this beautiful girl
of seventeen years and committed her to a Benedictine nunnery. Later on
Clara became the abbess of a Franciscan convent at St. Damian, and the
Sisterhood of St. Clara was established. It was an order of sadness and
penitential tears. It is said that Clara never but once (when she
received the blessing of the pope) lifted her eyelids so that the color
of her eyes might be discerned.

3. The Third Order, called also "Brotherhood of Penitence," was composed
of lay men and women. So many husbands and wives were desirous of
leaving their homes in order to enter the monastic state, that Francis,
not wishing to break up happy marriages, so it is said, was compelled to
give these enthusiasts some sort of a rule by which they might
compromise between their established life and the monastic career. This
state of things led to the formation, in 1221, of the Third Order of
St. Francis, or the Order of Tertiaries, in relation to the Friars Minor
and the Poor Claras. Sabatier says this generally-accepted date is
wrong; that it is impossible to fix any date, for that which came to be
known as the Third Order was born of the enthusiasm excited by the
preaching of Francis soon after his return from Rome in 1210. Candidates
for admission into this order were required to make profession of all
the orthodox truths, special care being employed to guard against the
intrusion of heretics. Days of fasting and abstinence were enjoined, and
members were urged to avoid profanity, the theater, dancing and
law-suits. The order met with astonishing success, cardinals, bishops,
emperors, empresses, kings and queens, gladly enrolling themselves among
the followers of St. Francis.

_Dominic de Guzman, 1170-1221 A.D._

Half-way between Osma and Aranda in Old Castile, Spain, is a little
village known as "the fortunate Calahorra." Here was the castle of the
Guzmans, where Dominic was born. His family was of high rank and
character, a noble house of warriors, statesmen and saints. If we accept
the legends, his greatness was foreshadowed. Before his birth, his
mother dreamed she saw her son under the figure of a black-and-white
dog, with a torch in his mouth. "A true dream," says Milman, "for he
will scent out heresy and apply the torch to the faggots;" but, as will
be seen later, this observation does not rest on undisputed evidence.





In the year 1191, when Spain was desolated by a terrible famine, Dominic
was just finishing his theological studies. He gave away his money and
sold his clothes, his furniture and even his precious manuscripts, that
he might relieve distress. When his companions expressed astonishment
that he should sell his books, Dominic replied: "Would you have me study
off these dead skins, when men are dying of hunger?" This noble
utterance is cherished by his admirers as the first saying from his lips
that has passed to posterity.

Dominic was educated in the schools of Palencia, afterwards a
university, where he devoted six years to the arts and four to theology.
In 1194, when twenty-five years of age, Dominic became a canon regular,
at Osma, under the rule of St. Augustine. Nine years after he
accompanied his bishop, Don Diego, on an embassy for the king of
Castile. When they crossed the Pyrenees they found themselves in an
atmosphere of heresy. The country was filled with preachers of strange
doctrines, who had little respect for Dominic, his bishop, or their
Roman pontiff. The experiences of this journey inspired in Dominic a
desire to aid in the extermination of heresy. He was also deeply
impressed by an important and significant observation. Many of these
heretical preachers were not ignorant fanatics, but well-trained and
cultured men. Entire communities seemed to be possessed by a desire for
knowledge and for righteousness. Dominic clearly perceived that only
preachers of a high order, capable of advancing reasonable argument,
could overthrow the Albigensian heresy.

It would be impossible, in a few words, to tell the whole story of this
Albigensian movement. Undoubtedly the term stood for a variety of
theological opinions, all of which were in opposition to the teachings
of Rome. "From the very invectives of their enemies," says Hallam, "and
the acts of the Inquisition, it is manifest that almost every shade of
heterodoxy was found among these dissidents, till it vanished in a
simple protestation against the wealth and tyranny of the clergy." Many
of the tenets of these enthusiasts were undoubtedly borrowed from the
ancient Manicheism, and would be pronounced heretical by every modern
evangelical denomination. But associated with those holding such
doctrines were numerous reformers, whose chief offense consisted in
their incipient Protestantism. However heretical any of these sects may
have been, it is impossible to make them out enemies to the social
order, except as all opponents of established religious traditions
create disturbance. "What these bodies held in common," says Hardwick,
"and what made them equally the prey of the inquisitor, was their
unwavering belief in the corruption of the medieval church, especially
as governed by the Roman pontiffs."

In 1208 Dominic visited Languedoc a second time, and on his way he
encountered the papal legates returning in pomp to Rome, foiled in their
attempt to crush this growing schism. To them he administered his famous
rebuke: "It is not the display of power and pomp, cavalcades of
retainers, and richly-houseled palfreys, or by gorgeous apparel, that
the heretics win proselytes; it is by zealous preaching, by apostolic
humility, by austerity, by seeming, it is true, but by seeming holiness.
Zeal must be met by zeal, humility by humility, false sanctity by real
sanctity, preaching falsehood by preaching truth." It is extremely
unfortunate for the reputation of Dominic that he ever departed from the
spirit of these noble words, which so clearly state the conditions of
true religious progress.

Dominic now gathered about him a few men of like spirit and began his
task of preaching down heresy. But "the enticing words of man's wisdom"
failed to win the Albigensians from what they believed to be the words
of God. So, unmindful of his admonition to the papal legates, Dominic
obtained permission of Innocent III. to hold courts, before which he
might summon all persons suspected of heresy. When eloquence and courts
failed, the pope let loose the "dogs of war." Then followed twenty years
of frightful carnage, during which hundreds of thousands of heretics
were slain, and many cities were laid waste by fire and sword. "This was
to punish a fanaticism," says Hallam, "ten thousand times more innocent
than their own, and errors which, according to the worst imputations,
left the laws of humanity and the peace of social life unimpaired."
Peace was concluded in 1229, but the persecution of heretics went on.

What part Dominic personally had in these bloody proceedings is
litigated history. His admirers strive to rescue his memory from the
charge that he was "a cruel and bloody man." It is argued that while the
pope and temporal princes carried on the sanguinary war against the
heretics, Dominic confined himself to pleading with them in a spirit of
true Christian love. He was a minister of mercy, not an avenging angel,
sword in hand. It has to be conceded that the constant tradition of the
Dominican order that Dominic was the first Inquisitor, whether he bore
the title or not, rests upon good authority. But what was the nature of
the office as held by the saint? As far as Dominic was concerned, it is
argued by his friends that the office "was limited to the
_reconciliation_ of heretics and had nothing to do with their
_punishment_." It is also claimed that while Dominic did impose
penances, in some cases public flagellation, no evidence can be produced
showing that he ever delivered one heretic to the flames. Those who were
burned were condemned by secular courts, and on the ground that they
were not only heretics but enemies of the public peace and perpetrators
of enormous crimes.

But while it may not be proved that Dominic himself passed the sentence
of death or applied the torch to the faggots with his own hand, he is by
no means absolved from all complicity in those frightful slaughters, or
from all responsibility for the subsequent establishment of the Holy
Inquisition. The principles governing the Inquisition were practically
those upon which Dominic proceeded; the germs of the later atrocities
are to be found in his aims and methods. By what a narrow margin does
Dominic escape the charge of cruelty when it is boasted "that he
resolutely insisted on no sentence being carried out until all means had
been tried by which the conversion of a prisoner could be effected."
Another statement also contains an inkling of a significant fact,
namely, that secular judges and princes were constantly under the
influence of the monks and other ecclesiastical persons, who incited
them to wage war, and to massacre, in the Albigensian war as in other
crusades against heresy. No word from Dominic can be produced indicating
that he remonstrated with the pope, or that he tried to stop the
crusade. In a few instances he seems to have interceded with the crazed
soldiery for the lives of women and children. But he did not oppose the
bloody crusade itself. He was constantly either with the army or
following in its wake. He often sat on the bench at the trial of
dissenters. He remained the life-long friend of Simon de Montfort, the
cruel agent of the papacy, and he blessed the marriage of his sons and
baptized his daughter. Special courts for trying heretics were
established, previous to the more complete organization of the
Inquisition, and in these he held a commission.

The Holy Office of the Inquisition was made a permanent tribunal by
Gregory IX., in 1233, twelve years after the death of Dominic, and
curiously enough, in the same year in which he was canonized. The
Catholic Bollandists claim that although the _title_ of Inquisitor was
of later date than Dominic, yet the _office_ was in existence, and that
the splendor of the Holy Inquisition owes its beginning to that saint.
Certain it is that the administration of the Inquisition was mainly in
the hands of Dominican monks.

In view of all these facts, Professor Allen is justified in his
conclusions respecting Dominic and his share in the persecution of
heretics: "Whatever his own sweet and heavenly spirit according to
Catholic eulogists, his name is a synonym of bleak and intolerant
fanaticism. It is fatally associated with the blackest horrors of the
crusade against the Albigenses, as well as with the infernal skill and
deadly machinery of the Inquisition."

In 1214, Dominic established himself, with six followers, in the house
of Peter Cellani, a rich resident of Toulouse. Eleven years of active
and public life had passed since the Subprior of Osma had forsaken the
quietude of the monastery. He now resumed his life of retirement and
subjected himself and his companions to the monastic rules of prayer and
penance. But the restless spirit of the man could not long remain
content with the seclusion and inactivity of a monk's life. The scheme
of establishing an order of Preaching Friars began to assume definite
shape in his mind. He dreamed of seven stars enlightening the world,
which represented himself and his six friends. The final result of his
deliberations was the organization of his order, and the appearance of
Dominic in the city of Rome, in 1215, to secure the approval of the
pope, Innocent III. Although some describe his reception as "most
cordial and flattering," yet it required supernatural interference to
induce the pope to grant even his approval of the new order. It was not
formally confirmed until 1216 by Honorius III.

Dominic now made his headquarters at Rome, although he traveled
extensively in the interests of his growing brotherhood of monks. He was
made Master of the Sacred Palace, an important official post, including
among its functions the censorship of the press. It has ever since been
occupied by members of the Dominican order.

Throughout his life Dominic is said to have zealously practiced rigorous
self-denial. He wore a hair shirt, and an iron chain around his loins,
which he never laid aside, even in sleep. He abstained from meat and
observed stated fasts and periods of silence. He selected the worst
accommodations and the meanest clothes, and never allowed himself the
luxury of a bed. When traveling, he beguiled the journey with spiritual
instruction and prayers. As soon as he passed the limits of towns and
villages, he took off his shoes, and, however sharp the stones or
thorns, he trudged on his way barefooted. Rain and other discomforts
elicited from his lips nothing but praises to God.

Death came at the age of fifty-one and found him exhausted with the
austerities and labors of his eventful career. He had reached the
convent of St. Nicholas, at Bologna, weary and sick with a fever. He
refused the repose of a bed and bade the monks lay him on some sacking
stretched upon the ground. The brief time that remained to him was
spent in exhorting his followers to have charity, to guard their
humility, and to make their treasure out of poverty. Lying in ashes upon
the floor he passed away at noon, on the sixth of August, 1221. He was
canonized by Gregory IX., in 1234.

_The Dominican Orders_

The origin of the Order of the Preaching Friars has already been
described. It is not necessary to dwell upon the constitution of this
order, because in all essential respects it was like that of the
Franciscans. The order is ruled by a general and is divided into
provinces, governed by provincials. The head of each house is called a
prior. Dominic adopted the rules laid down by St. Augustine, because the
pope ordered him to follow some one of the older monastic codes, but he
also added regulations of his own.

Soon after the founding of the order, bands of monks were sent out to
Paris, to Rome, to Spain and to England, for the purpose of planting
colonies in the chief seats of learning. The order produced many
eminent scholars, some of whom were Thomas Aquinas, Albertus Magnus,
Echard, Tauler and Savonarola.

As among the Franciscans, there was also an Order of Nuns, founded in
1206, and a Third Order, called the Militia of Jesus Christ, which was
organized in 1218.

_The Success of the Mendicant Orders_

In 1215, Innocent III. being pope, the Lateran council passed the
following law: "Whereas the excessive diversity of these [monastic]
institutions begets confusion, no new foundations of this sort must be
formed for the future; but whoever wishes to become a monk must attach
himself to some of the already existing rules." This same pope approved
the two Mendicant orders, urging them, it is true, to unite themselves
to one of the older orders; but, nevertheless, they became distinct
organizations, eclipsing all previous societies in their achievements.
The reason for this disregard of the Lateran decree is doubtless to be
found in the alarming condition of religious affairs at that time, and
in the hope held out to Rome by the Mendicants, of reforming the
monasteries and crushing the heretics.

The failure of the numerous and varied efforts to reform the monastic
institution and the danger to the church arising from the unwonted
stress laid upon poverty by different schismatic religious societies,
necessitated the adoption of radical measures by the church to preserve
its influence. At this juncture the Mendicant friars appeared. The
conditions demanded a modification of the monastic principle which had
hitherto exalted a life of retirement. Seclusion in the cloister was no
longer possible in the view of the remarkable changes in religious
thought and practice.

Innocent III. was wise enough to perceive the immediate utility of the
new societies based upon claims to extraordinary humility and poverty.
The Mendicant orders were, in themselves, not only a rebuke to the
luxurious indolence and shameful laxity of the older orders, but when
sanctioned by the church, the existence of the new societies attested
Rome's desire to maintain the highest and the purest standards of
monastic life. Hence, the Preaching Friars were permitted to reproach
the clergy and the monks for their vices and corruptions.

"The effect of such a band of missionaries," says John Stuart Mill,
"must have been great in rousing and feeding dormant devotional
feelings. They were not less influential in regulating those feelings,
and turning into the established Catholic channels those vagaries of
private enthusiasm which might well endanger the church, since they
already threatened society itself."

Two novel monastic features, therefore, now appear for the first time:
1. The substitution of itineracy for the seclusion of the cloister; and
2. The abolition of endowments.

1. The older orders had their traveling missionaries, but the general
practice was to remain shut up within the monastic walls. The Mendicants
at the start had no particular abiding place, but were bound to travel
everywhere, preaching and teaching. It was distinctly the mission of
these monks to visit the camps, the towns, cities and villages, the
market places, the universities, the homes and the churches, to preach
and to minister to the sick and the poor. They neither loved the
seclusion of the cell nor sought it. Theirs to tramp the dusty roads,
with their capacious bags, begging and teaching. Only by this itinerant
method could the people be reached and the preachers of heresy be

2. One of the chief sources of strength in the heretical sects was the
justness of their attack upon the Catholic monastic orders, whose
immense riches belied their vows of poverty. The heretics practiced
austerities and adopted a simplicity of life that won the hearts of the
people, by reason of its contrast to the loose habits of the monks and
clergy. Since it was impossible to reform the older orders, it became
absolutely essential to the success of the Mendicants that they should
rigorously respect the neglected discipline. As the abuse of the vow of
poverty was particularly common, the Mendicants naturally
emphasized this vow.

While it is true that a begging monk was by no means unknown, yet now,
for the first time, was the practice of mendicity formally adopted by
entire orders. Owing to the excessive multiplication of mendicant
societies, Pope Gregory X., at a general council held at Lyons in 1272,
attempted to check the growing evil. The number of Mendicant orders was
confined to four, viz., the Dominicans, the Franciscans, the Carmelites
and the Augustinians or Hermits of Augustine. The Council of Trent
confined mendicity to the Observantines and Capuchins, since the other
societies had practically abandoned their original interpretation of
their vow of poverty and had acquired permanent property.

When Francis tried to enforce the rule of poverty, his rigor gave rise
to most serious dissensions, which began in his own lifetime and ended
after his death in open schism. Some of his followers were not pleased
with his views on that subject. They resisted his extreme strictness,
and after his death they continued to advocate the holding of property.
The popes tried to settle the quarrel, but ever and anon it broke out
afresh with volcanic fierceness. They finally interpreted the rule of
poverty to mean that the friars could not hold property in their own
names, but they might enjoy its use. Under this interpretation of the
rule, the beggars soon became very rich. Matthew of Paris said: "The
friars who have been founded hardly forty years have built even in the
present day in England residences as lofty as the palaces of our kings."
But the better element among the Franciscans refused to consent to such
a palpable evasion of the rule. A portion of this class separated
themselves from the Franciscans, rejected their authority, and formed a
new sect called the _Fratricelli_, or Little Brothers. It is very
important to keep the history of this name clearly in mind, for it
frequently appears in the Reformation period and has been the cause of
much misunderstanding. The word "Fratricelli" came to be a term of
derision applied to any one affecting the dress or the habits of the
monks. When heretical sects arose, it was applied to them as a stigma,
but it was used first by a sect of rigid Franciscans who deserted their
order, adopted this name as their own, and exulted in its use. The
quarrel among the monks led to a variety of complications and is
intricately interwoven with the political and religious history of the
thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. "These rebellious
Franciscans," says Mosheim, "though fanatical and superstitious in some
respects, deserve an eminent rank among those who prepared the way for
the Reformation in Europe, and who excited in the minds of the people a
just aversion to Rome."

The Mendicants were especially active in educational work. This is to be
attributed to several causes. Unquestionably the general and increasing
interest in theological doctrines and the craving for knowledge affected
the monastic orders. Europe was just arousing from her medieval
slumbers. The faint rays of the Reformation dawn were streaking the
horizon. The intellect as well as the conscience was touched by the
Spirit of God. The revolt against moral iniquity was often accompanied
by skepticism concerning the authority and dogmas of the church.
Questions were being asked that ignorant monks could not answer. Too
long had the church ignored these symptoms of the approach of a new
order of things. The church was forced to meet the heretics on their own
ground, to offset the example of their simplicity and purity of life by
exalting the neglected standards of self-denial, and to silence them, if
possible, by exposing their errors. Then came the Franciscans, with
their austere simplicity and their insistence upon poverty. Then also
appeared the Dominicans, or as they were called, "The Watch-dogs of the
Church," who not only barked the church awake, but tried to devour
the heretics.

Francis halted for some time before giving encouragement to educational
enterprises. A life of devotion and prayer attracted him, because, as he
said, "Prayer purifies the affections, strengthens us in virtue, and
unites us to the sovereign good." But, he went on, "Preaching renders
the feet of the spiritual man dusty; it is an employment which
dissipates and distracts, and which causes regular discipline to be
relaxed." After consulting Brother Sylvester and Sister Clara, he
decided to adopt their counsel and entered upon a ministry of preaching.
The example and success of the Dominicans probably inspired the
Franciscans to give themselves more and more to intellectual work.

Both orders received appointments in all the leading universities, but
they did not gain this ascendency without a severe conflict. The regular
professors and the clergy were jealous of them for various causes, and
resisted them at every point. The quarrel between the Dominicans and the
University of Paris is the most famous of these struggles. It began in
1228 and did not end until 1259. The Dominicans claimed the right to two
theological professorships. One had been taken from them, and a law was
passed that no religious order should have what these friars demanded.
The Dominicans rebelled and the University passed sentences of
expulsion. Innocent IV., wishing to become master of Italy, sided with
the University, but the next month he was dead,--in answer to their
prayers, said the Dominicans, but rumor hinted an even blacker cause.
The thirty-one years of the struggle dragged wearily on, disturbed by
papal bulls, appeals, pamphlets and university slogans. At last
Alexander IV., in 1255, decided that the Dominicans might have the
second professorship and also any other they thought proper. The noise
of conflict now grew louder and boded ill for the peace of the church.
The pulpits flashed forth fiery utterances. The monks were assailed in
every quarter. William of Amour published his essay on "The Perils of
the Last Times," in which he claimed that the perilous times predicted
by the Apostle Paul were now fulfilled by these begging friars. He
exposed their iniquities and bitterly complained of their arrogance and
vice. His book was burned and its author banished. Although meaning to
be a friend of Rome, he unconsciously contributed his share to the
coming reform. In 1259, Rome thundered so loud that all Europe was
terrified and the University was awed into submission.

Another interesting feature in the history of their educational
enterprises is the entrance of the Mendicants into England, where they
acted a leading part in the educational and political history of the
country. The Dominicans settled first at Oxford, in 1221. The
Franciscans, after a short stay at Canterbury, went to Oxford in 1224.
The story of how the two Gray friars journeyed from Canterbury to Oxford
runs as follows: "These two forerunners of a famous brotherhood, being
not far from Oxford, lost their way and came to a farmhouse of the
Benedictines. It was nearly night and raining. They gently knocked, and
asked admittance for God's sake. The porter gazed on their patched robes
and beggarly aspect and supposed them to be mimics or despised persons.
The prior, pleased with the tidings, invited them in. But instead of
sportively performing, these two friars insisted, with sedate
countenances, that they were men of God. Whereat the Benedictines in
jealousy, and displeased to be cheated out of their expected fun, kicked
and buffeted the two poor monks and turned them out of doors. One young
monk pitied them and smuggled them into a hay-loft where we trust they
slept soundly and safe from the cold and rain." The two friars finally
reached Oxford and were well received by their Dominican brothers. Such
was the simple beginning of a brilliant career that was profoundly to
affect the course of English history. Both at Cambridge and Oxford the
monastic orders exercised a remarkable influence. Traces of their labors
and power may still be seen in the names of the colleges, and in the
religious portions of the university discipline. They built fine
edifices and manned their schools with the best teachers, so that they
became great rivals of the regular colleges which did not have the funds
necessary to compete with these wealthy beggars. Another cause of their
rapid progress was the exodus of students from Paris to England. During
the quarrel at Paris, Henry III. of England offered many inducements to
the students, who left for England in large numbers. Many of them were
prejudiced in favor of the friars, and they naturally drifted to the
monastic college. The secular clergy charged the friars with inducing
the college students to enter the monasteries or to turn begging monks.
The pope, the king, and the parliament became involved in the struggle,
which grew more bitter as the years passed. After a while Wyclif
appeared, and when he began his mighty attack upon the friars the joy
with which the professors viewed the struggle can be appreciated.

_The Decline of the Mendicants_

The Mendicant friars won their fame by faithful and earnest labors. Men
admired them because they identified themselves with the lowest of
mankind and heroically devoted themselves to the poor and sick. These
"sturdy beggars," as Francis called his companions, were contrasted with
the lazy, rich, and, too often, licentious monks of the other orders.
Everywhere the friars were received with veneration and joy. The people
sought burial in their rags, believing that, clothed in the garments of
these holy beggars, they would enter paradise more speedily.

Instead of seeking the seclusion of the convent to save his own soul,
the friar displayed remarkable zeal trying to save mankind. He became
the arbiter in the quarrels of princes, the prime mover in treaties
between nations, and the indispensable counselor in political
complications. The pope employed him as his authorized agent in the most
difficult matters touching the welfare of the church. His influence upon
the common people is thus described by the historian Green: "The theory
of government wrought out in the cell and lecture-room was carried over
the length and breadth of the land by the Mendicant brother begging his
way from town to town, chatting with the farmer or housewife at the
cottage door and setting up his portable pulpit in village green or
market-place. The rudest countryman learned the tale of a king's
oppression or a patriot's hope as he listened to the rambling,
passionate, humorous discourse of the beggar friar."

By these methods the Mendicants were enabled to render most efficient
service to their patrons at Rome in their efforts to establish their
temporal power. They were, in fact, before the Reformation, just what
the Jesuits afterwards became, "the very soul of the hierarchy." Yes,
they were immensely, prodigiously successful. The popes hastened to do
them honor. Because the friars were such enthusiastic supporters of the
church, the popes poured gold and privileges into their capacious
coffers. Thankful peasants threw in their mites and the admiring noble
bestowed his estates.

The secular clergy, with envy and chagrin, awoke to the alarming fact
that the beggars had won the hearts of the people; their hatred was
increased by the fact that when the Roman pontiffs enriched these
indefatigable toilers and valiant foes of heresy, they did so at the
expense of the bishops and clergy, which, perhaps, was robbing Paul to
pay Peter.

Baluzii says: "No religious order had the distribution of so many and
such ample indulgences as the Franciscans. In place of fixed revenues,
lucrative indulgences were placed in their hands." So ill-judged was the
distribution of these favors that discipline was overturned. Many
churchmen, feeling that their rights were being encroached upon,
complained bitterly, and resolved on retaliation. It is just here that a
potent cause of the Mendicant's fall is to be found. He helped to dig
his own grave.

Having elevated monasticism to the zenith of its power, the Mendicant
orders, like all the other monastic brotherhoods, entered upon their
shameful decline. The unexampled prosperity, so inconsistent with the
original intentions of the founders of the orders, was attended by
corruptions and excesses. The decrees of councils, the denunciations of
popes and high ecclesiastical dignitaries, the satires of literature,
the testimony of chroniclers and the formation of reformatory orders,
constitute a body of irrefragable evidence proving that the lowest level
of sensuality, superstition and ignorance had been reached. The monks
and friars lost whatever vigor and piety they ever possessed.

It is again evident that a monk cannot serve God and mammon. Success
ruins him. Wealth and popular favor change his character. The people
slowly realize the fact that the fat and lazy medieval monk is not dead,
after all, but has simply changed his name to that of Begging Friar. As
Allen neatly observes: "Their gray gown and knotted cord wrapped a
spiritual pride and capacity of bigotry, fully equal to the rest."

Here, then, are the "sturdy beggars" of Francis, dwelling in palatial
convents, arrogant and proud, trampling their ideal into the dust. Thus
it came to pass in accordance with the principle stated at the beginning
of this chapter, that when the ideal became a cloak to cover up sham,
decay had set in, and ruin, even though delayed for years, was sure to
come. The poor, sad-faced, honest, faithful friar everybody praised,
loved and reverenced. The insolent, contemptuous, rich monk all men
loathed. So a change of character in the friar transformed the songs of
praise into shouts of condemnation. Those golden rays from the morning
sun of the Reformation are ascending toward the highest heaven, and
daybreak is near.



In many respects it would be perfectly proper to consider the Mendicant
orders as the last stage in the evolution of the monastic institution.
Although the Jesuitical system rests upon the three vows of poverty,
celibacy and obedience, yet the ascetic principle is reduced to a
minimum in that society. Father Thomas E. Sherman, the son of the famous
general, and a Jesuit of distinguished ability, has declared: "We are
not, as some seem to think, a semi-military band of men, like the
Templars of the Middle Ages. We are not a monastic order, seeking
happiness in lonely withdrawal from our fellows. Our enemies within and
without the church would like to make us monks, for then we would be
comparatively useless, since that is not our end or aim.... We are
regulars in the army of Christ; that is, men vowed to poverty, chastity
and obedience; we are a collegiate body with the right to teach granted
by the Catholic church[G]."

[Footnote G: Appendix, Note G.]

The early religious orders were based upon the idea of retirement from
the world for the purpose of acquiring holiness. But as has already been
shown, the constant tendency of the religious communities was toward
participation in the world's affairs. This tendency became very marked
among the friars, who traveled from place to place, and occupied
important university positions, and it reaches its culmination in the
Society of Jesus. Retirement among the Jesuits is employed merely as a
preparation for active life. Constant intercourse with society was
provided for in the constitution of the order. Bishop John J. Keane, a
Roman Catholic authority, says: "The clerks regular, instituted
principally since the sixteenth century, were neither monks nor friars,
but priests living in common and busied with the work of the ministry.
The Society of Jesus is one of the orders of clerks regular."

Other differences between the monastic communities and the Jesuits are
to be observed. The Jesuit discards the monastic gown, and is decidedly
averse to the old monastic asceticism, with its rigorous and painful
treatment of the body. While the older religious societies were
essentially democratic in spirit and government, the monks sharing in
the control of the monastic property and participating in the election
of superiors, the Jesuitical system is intensely monarchical, a
despotism pure and simple. In the older orders, the welfare of the
individual was jealously guarded and his sanctification was sought.
Among the Jesuits the individual is nothing, the corporate body
everything. Admission to the monastic orders was encouraged and easily
obtained. The novitiate of the Jesuits is long and difficult. Access to
the highest grades of the order is granted only to those who have served
the society many weary years.




But in spite of such variations from the old monastic type, the Society
of Jesus would doubtless never have appeared, had not the way for its
existence been paved by previous monastic societies. Its aims and its
methods were the natural sequence of monastic history. They were merely
a development of past experiences, for the objects of the society were
practically the objects of the Mendicants; the vows were the same with a
change of emphasis. The abandonment of austerities as a means of
salvation or spiritual power was the natural fruit of past experiments
that had proved the uselessness of asceticism merely for the sake of
acquiring a spirit of self-denial. The extirpation of heresy undertaken
by Ignatius had already been attempted by the friars, while the
education of the young had long been carried on with considerable
success by the Benedictine and Dominican monks. The spirit of its
founder, however, gave the Society of Jesus a unique character, and
monasticism now passed out from the cell forever. The Jesuit may fairly
be regarded as a monk, unlike any of his predecessors but nevertheless
the legitimate fruit of centuries of monastic experience.

_Ignatius de Loyola, 1491-1556 A.D._

Inigo Lopez de Recalde, or Loyola, as he is commonly known, was born at
Guipuzcoa, in Spain, in 1491. He was educated as a page in the court of
Ferdinand the Catholic. He afterwards became a soldier and led a very
wild life until his twenty-ninth year. During the siege of Pamplona, in
1521, he was severely wounded, and while convalescing he was given lives
of Christ and of the saints to read. His perusal of these stories of
spiritual combat inspired a determination to imitate the glorious
achievements of the saints. For a while the thirst for military renown
and an attraction toward a lady of the court, restrained his spiritual
impulses. But overcoming these obstacles, he resolutely entered upon his
new career.

Sometime after he visited the sanctuary of Montserrat, where he hung his
shield and sword upon the altar of the Virgin Mary and gave his oath of
fealty to the service of God. A tablet, erected by the abbot of the
monastery in commemoration of this event, reads as follows: "Here,
blessed Ignatius of Loyola, with many prayers and tears, devoted himself
to God and the Virgin. Here, as with spiritual arms, he fortified
himself in sackcloth, and spent the vigil of the night. Hence he went
forth to found the Society of Jesus, in the year MDXXII."

After spending ten months in Manresa, Loyola went on a pilgrimage to the
Holy Land, intending to remain there, but he was sent home by the
Eastern monks, and reached Italy in 1524.

Now began his struggle for an education. At the age of thirty-three he
took his seat on the school-bench at Barcelona. In 1526 he entered the
University at Alcala. He was here looked upon as a dangerous innovator,
and was imprisoned six weeks, by order of the Inquisition, for preaching
without authority, since he was not in holy orders. After his release he
attended the University of Salamanca, but he finally took his degree of
Master of Arts at the University of Paris, in 1533.

During this period he was several times imprisoned as a dangerous
fanatic, but each time he succeeded in securing a verdict in his favor.
The hostility to Ignatius and his work forms a strange parallel to the
bitter antagonism which his society has always encountered.

Nine men, among whom was Francis Xavier, afterwards widely renowned, had
been chosen with great care, as the companions of Ignatius. He called
them together in July, 1534, and on August 15th of the same year he
selected six of them and bade them follow him to the Church of the
Blessed Virgin, at Montmartre, in Paris. There and then they bound
themselves to renounce all their goods, and to make a voyage to
Jerusalem, in order to convert the Eastern infidels; if that scheme
proved impracticable, they agreed to offer themselves to the sovereign
pontiff for any service he might require of them. War prevented the
journey to the Holy Land, and so, after passing through a variety of
experiences, Ignatius and his companions met at Rome, to secure the
sanction of Pope Paul III. for the new society. After a year and a half
of deliberation and discussion a favorable decision was reached, which
was, no doubt, partly facilitated by the growth of the Reformation. The
new society was chartered on September 27, 1540, for the "defence and
advance of the faith."

Ignatius was elected as the general of the order and entered upon his
duties, April 17, 1541. He soon prepared a constitution which was not
adopted until after his death, and then in an amended form. Loyola ended
his remarkable and stormy career, July 31, 1556.

_Constitution and Polity of the Order_

The _Institutum_, which contains the governing laws of the society, is a
complex document consisting of papal bulls and decrees, a list of the
privileges which have been granted to the order, ten chapters of rules,
decrees of the general congregations, the plan of studies (_ratio
studiorum_), and three ascetic writings, of which the Spiritual
Exercises of Ignatius constitute the chief part.

The society is distributed into six grades: novices, scholastics,
temporal coadjutors, spiritual coadjutors, professed of the three vows,
and professed of the four vows.

The professed form only a small percentage of the entire body, and
constitute a sort of religious aristocracy, from which the officers of
the society are selected. Only the professed of the fourth vow, who add
to the three vows a pledge of unconditional obedience to the pope,
possess the full rights of membership. This final grade cannot be
reached until the age of forty-five, so that if the candidate enters the
order at the earliest age permissible, fourteen, he has been on
probation thirty-one years when he reaches the final grade.

The society is ruled by a general, to whom unconditional obedience is
required. The provinces, into which the order is divided, are governed
by provincials, who must report monthly to the general. The heads of all
houses and colleges must report weekly to their provincials. An
elaborate system of checks and espionage is employed to ensure the
perfect working of this complex ecclesiastical machinery. Fraud or
evasion is carefully guarded against, and every possible means is
employed to enable the general to keep himself fully informed concerning
the minutest details of the society's affairs.

_The Vow of Obedience_

That which has imparted a peculiar character to the Jesuit and
contributed more than any other force to his success, is the insistence
upon unquestioning submission to the will of the superior. This emphasis
on the vow of obedience deserves, therefore, special consideration.
Loyola, in his "Spiritual Exercises," commanded the novice to preserve
his freedom of mind, but it is difficult for the fairest critic to
conceive of such a possibility in the light of Loyola's rule of
obedience, which reads: "I ought not to be my own, but His who created
me, and his too by whose means God governs me, yielding myself to be
moulded in his hands like so much wax.... I ought to be like a corpse,
which has neither will nor understanding, or like a small crucifix,
which is turned about at the will of him who holds it, or like a staff
in the hands of an old man, who uses it as may best assist or
please him."

As an example of the kind of obedience demanded of the Jesuit, Loyola
cited the obedience of Abraham, who, when he believed that Jehovah
commanded him to commit the crime of infanticide, was ready to obey. The
thirteenth of the rules appended to the Spiritual Exercises says: "If
the Church shall have defined that to be black which to our eyes appears
white, we ought to pronounce the thing in question black."

Loyola is reported as having said to his secretary that "in those who
offer themselves he looked less to purely natural goodness than to
firmness of character and ability for business." But that he did not
mean _independent_ firmness of character is clearly seen in the obvious
attempt of the order to destroy that noble and true independence which
is the crowning glory of a lofty character. The discipline is
marvelously contrived to "scoop the will" out of the individual. Count
Paul von Hoensbroech, who recently seceded from the society, has set
forth his reasons for so doing in two articles which appeared in the
"Preussische Jahrbücher." A most interesting discussion of these
articles, in the "New World," for December, 1894, places the opinions of
the Count at our disposal. It is quite evident that he is no passionate,
blind foe of the society. His tone is temperate and his praises
cordially given. While recognizing the genius shown in the machinery of
the society and the nobility of the real aims of the Jesuitical
discipline, and while protesting against the unfounded charges of
impurity, and other gross calumnies against the order, Count Paul
nevertheless maintains that it "rests on so unworthy a depreciation of
individuality, and so exaggerated an apprehension of the virtue of
obedience, as to render it unfit for its higher ends." The uniform of
the Jesuit is not an external garb, but such freedom is insignificant in
the light of the "veritable strait-jacket," which is placed upon the
inward man. The unformed and pliable novice, usually between the ages of
sixteen and twenty, is subjected to "a skillful, energetic and
unremitting assault upon personal independence." Every device that a
shrewd and powerful intellect could conceive of is employed to break up
the personal will. "The Jesuit scheme prescribes the gait, the way to
hold the hands, to incline the head, to direct the eyes, to hold and
move the person."

Every novice must go through the "Spiritual Exercises" in complete
solitude, twice in his life. They occupy thirty days. The "Account of
the Conscience" is of the very essence of Jesuitism. The ordinary
confession, familiar to every Catholic, is as nothing compared with this
marvelous inquiry into the secrets of the human heart and mind. Every
fault, sin, virtue, wish, design, act and thought,--good, bad or
indifferent,--must be disclosed, and this revelation of the inner life
may be used against him who makes it, "for the good of the order."
Thus, after fifteen years of such ingenious and detailed discipline, the
young man's intellectual and moral faculties are moulded into Jesuitical
forms. He is no longer his own. He is a pliable and obedient, even
though it may be a virtuous and brilliant, tool of a spiritual
master-mechanic who will use him according to his own purposes, in the
interest of the society.

The Jesuits have signally failed to convince the world that the type of
character produced by their system is worthy of admiration. The
"sacrifice of the intellect"--a familiar watchword of the Jesuit--is far
too high a price to pay for whatever benefits the discipline may confer.
It is contrary to human nature, and hence to the divine intention, to
keep a human soul in a state of subordination to another human will. As
Von Hoensbroech says of the society: "Who gave it a right to break down
that most precious possession of the individual being, which God gave,
and which man has no authority to take away?"

It is true that no human organization has so magnificently brought to
perfection a unity of purpose and oneness of will. It is also true that
a spirit of defiance toward human authority is often accompanied by a
disobedience of divine law. But the remedy for the abuses of human
freedom is neither in the annihilation of the will itself, nor in its
mere subjection to some other will irrespective of its moral character.
Carlyle may have been too vehement in some of his censures of Jesuitism,
but he certainly exposed the fallaciousness of Loyola's views concerning
the value of mere obedience, at the same time justly rebuking the too
ardent admirers of the perverted principle: "I hear much also of
'obedience,' how that and kindred virtues are prescribed and exemplified
by Jesuitism; the truth of which, and the merit of which, far be it from
me to deny.... Obedience is good and indispensable: but if it be
obedience to what is wrong and false, good heavens, there is no name for
such a depth of human cowardice and calamity, spurned everlastingly by
the gods. Loyalty? Will you be loyal to Beelzebub? Will you 'make a
covenant with Death and Hell'? I will not be loyal to Beelzebub; I will
become a nomadic Choctaw rather, ... anything and everything is
venial to that."

_The Casuistry of the Jesuits_

It is often asserted, even by authoritative writers, that a Jesuit is
bound by his vows to commit either venial or mortal sin at the command
of his superior; and that the maxim, "The end justifies the means," has
not only been the principle upon which the society has prosecuted its
work but is also explicitly taught in the rules of the order. There is
nothing in the constitution of the society to justify these two serious
charges, which are not to be regarded as malicious calumnies, however,
because the slovenly Latin in one of the rules on obedience has misled
such competent scholars as John Addington Symonds and the historian
Ranke. Furthermore, judging from the doctrines of the society as set
forth by many of their theologians and the political conduct of its
representatives, the conclusion seems inevitable that while the society
may not teach in its rules that its members are bound to obedience even
to the point of sin, yet practically many of its leaders have so held
and its emissaries have rendered that kind of obedience.

Bishop Keane admits that one of the causes for the decline and overthrow
of the society was its marked tendency toward lax moral teaching. There
can be but little doubt that the Jesuits have ever been indulgent toward
many forms of sin and even crime, when committed under certain
circumstances and for the good of the order or "the greater glory
of God."

To enable the reader to form some sort of an independent judgment on
this question, it is necessary to say a few words on the subject of
casuistry and the doctrine of probabilism.

Casuistry is the application of general moral rules to given cases,
especially to doubtful ones. The medieval churchmen were much given to
inventing fanciful moral distinctions and to prescribing rules to govern
supposable problems of conscience. They were not willing to trust the
individual conscience or to encourage personal responsibility. The
individual was taught to lean his whole weight on his spiritual adviser,
in other words, to make the conscience of the church his own. As a
result there grew up a confused mass of precepts to guide the perplexed
conscience. The Jesuits carried this system to its farthest extreme. As
Charles C. Starbuck says: "They have heaped possibility upon possibility
in their endeavors to make out how far there can be subjective innocence
in objective error, until they have, in more than one fundamental point,
hopelessly confused their own perceptions of both[H]."

[Footnote H: Appendix, Note H.]

The doctrine of probabilism is founded upon the distinctions between
opinions that are sure, less sure, or more sure. There are several
schools of probabilists, but the doctrine itself practically amounts to
this: Since uncertainty attaches to many of our decisions in moral
affairs, one must follow the more probable rule, but not always, cases
often arising when it is permissible to follow a rule contrary to the
more probable one. Furthermore, as the Jesuits made war upon individual
authority, which was the key-note of the Reformation, and contended for
the authority of the church, the teaching naturally followed, that the
opinion of "a grave doctor" may be looked upon "as possessing a fair
amount of probability, and may, therefore, be safely followed, even
though one's conscience insist upon the opposite course." It is easy to
see that this opens a convenient door to those who are seeking
justification for conduct which their consciences condemn. No doubt one
can find plausible excuses for the basest crimes, if he stills the voice
of conscience and trusts himself to confusing sophistry. The glory of
God, the gravity of circumstances, necessity, the good of the church or
of the order, and numerous other practical reasons can be urged to
remove scruples and make a bad act seem to be a good one. But crime,
even "for the glory of God," is crime still.

This disagreeable subject will not be pursued further. To say less than
has been said would be to ignore one of the most prominent causes of the
Jesuits' ruin. To say more than this, even though the facts might
warrant it, would incur the liability of being classed among those
malicious fomentors of religious strife, for whom the writer has mingled
feelings of pity and contempt. The Society of Jesus is not the Roman
Catholic Church, which has suffered much from the burden of
Jesuitism--wounds that are scarcely atoned for by the meritorious and
self-sacrificing services on her behalf in other directions. The
Protestant foes have never equaled the Catholic opponents of Jesuitism,
either in their fierce hatred of the system or in their ability to
expose its essential weakness. A writer in the "Quarterly Review,"
September, 1848, says: "Admiration and detestation of the Jesuits
divide, as far as feeling is concerned, the Roman Catholic world, with a
schism deeper and more implacable than any which arrays Protestant
against Protestant."

_The Mission of the Jesuits_

The Society of Jesus has been described as "a naked sword, whose hilt is
at Rome, and whose point is everywhere." It is an undisputed historical
fact that Loyola's consuming passion was to accomplish the ruin of
Protestantism, which had twenty years the start of him and was
threatening the very existence of the Roman hierarchy. It has already
been shown that the destruction of heresy was the chief aim of the
Dominicans. What the friars failed to attain, Loyola attempted. The
principal object of the Jesuits was the maintenance of papal authority.
Even to-day the Jesuit does not hesitate to declare that his mission is
to overthrow Protestantism. The Reformation was inspired by a new
conception of individual freedom. The authority of tradition and of the
church was set at naught. Loyola planted his system upon the doctrine of
absolute submission to authority. The partial success of the Jesuits,
for they did beat back the Reformation, is no doubt attributable to
their fidelity, virtue and learning. Their devotion to the cause they
loved, their willingness to sacrifice life itself, their marvelous and
instantaneous obedience to the slightest command of their leaders, made
them a compact and powerful papal army. Their methods, in many
particulars, were not beyond question, and, whatever their character,
the order certainly incurred the fiercest hostility of every nation in
Europe, and even of the church itself.

Professor Anton Gindely, in his "History of the Thirty Years' War,"
shows that Maximilian, of Bavaria, and Ferdinand, of Austria, the
leaders on the Catholic side, were educated by Jesuits. He also fixes
the responsibility for that war partly upon them in the plainest terms:
"In a word, they had the consciences of Roman Catholic sovereigns and
their ministers in their hands as educators, and in their keeping as
confessors. They led them in the direction of war, so that it was at the
time, and has since been called the Jesuits' War."

The strictures of Carlyle, Macaulay, Thackeray, and Lytton have been
repeatedly denounced by the Jesuits, but even their shrewd, sophistical
defences of their order afford ample justification for the attitude of
their foes. For example, in a masterful oration, previously quoted from,
in which the virtues of the Jesuits are extolled and defended, Father
Sherman says: "We are expelled and driven from pillar to post because we
teach men to love God." He describes Loyola as "the knightly, the loyal,
the true, the father of heroes, and the maker of saints, the lover of
the all-good and the all-beautiful, crowned with the honor of sainthood,
the best-loved and the best-hated man in all the world, save only his
Master and ours." "'Twas he that conceived the daring plan of forging
the weapon to beat back the Reformation." No one but a Jesuit could
reconcile the aim of "preaching the love of God" with "beating back the
Reformation," especially in view of the methods employed.

Numerous gross calumnies have been circulated against the Society of
Jesus. The dread of a return to that deplorable intellectual and moral
slavery of the pre-Reformation days is so intense, that a calm,
dispassionate consideration of Jesuit history is almost impossible. But
after all just concessions have been made, two indisputable facts
confront the student: first, the universal antagonism to the order, of
the church that gave birth to it, as well as of the states that have
suffered from its meddling in political affairs; and second, the
complete failure of the order's most cherished schemes. France, Germany,
Switzerland, Spain, Great Britain and other nations, have been compelled
in sheer self-defence to expel it from their territories. Such a
significant fact needs some other explanation than that the Jesuit has
incurred the enmity of the world merely for preaching the love of God.

Clement XIV., when solemnly pronouncing the dissolution of the order, at
the time his celebrated bull, entitled "_Dominus ac Redemptor Noster_"
which was signed July 21, 1773, was made public, justified his action in
the following terms: "Recognizing that the members of this society have
not a little troubled the Christian commonwealth, and that for the
welfare of Christendom it were better that the order should disappear,"
etc. When Rome thus delivers her _ex cathedra_ opinion concerning her
own order, an institution which she knows better than any one else, one
cannot fairly be charged with prejudice and sectarianism in speaking
evil of it.

But while there is much to be detested in the methods of the order,
history does not furnish another example of such self-abnegation and
intense zeal as the Jesuits have shown in the prosecution of their aims.
They planted missions in Japan, China, Africa, Ceylon, Madagascar, North
and South America.

In Europe the Mendicant friars by their coarseness had disgusted the
upper classes; the affable and cultured Jesuit won their hearts. The
Jesuits became chaplains in noble families, learned the secrets of every
government in Europe, and became the best schoolmasters in the age. They
were to be found in various disguises in every castle of note and in
every palace. "There was no region of the globe," says Macaulay, "no
walk of speculative or active life in which Jesuits were not to be
found." That they were devoted to their cause no one can deny. They were
careless of life and, as one facetiously adds, of truth also. They
educated, heard confessions, plotted crimes and revolutions, and
published whole libraries. Worn out by fatigue, the Jesuits still toiled
on with marvelous zeal. Though hated and opposed, they wore serene and
cheerful countenances. In a word, they had learned to control every
faculty and every passion, and to merge every human aspiration and
personal ambition into the one supreme purpose of conquering an opposing
faith and exalting the power of priestly authority. They hold up before
the subjects of the King of Heaven a wonderful example of loving and
untiring service, which should be emulated by every servant of Christ
who too often yields an indifferent obedience to Him whom he professes
to love and to serve.

Francis Parkman, in his brilliant narrative of "The Jesuits in North
America," presents the following interesting contrast between the
Puritan and the Jesuit: "To the mind of the Puritan, heaven was God's
throne; but no less was the earth His footstool; and each in its degree
and its kind had its demands on man. He held it a duty to labor and to
multiply; and, building on the Old Testament quite as much as on the
New, thought that a reward on earth as well as in heaven awaited those
who were faithful to the law. Doubtless, such a belief is widely open to
abuse, and it would be folly to pretend that it escaped abuse in New
England; but there was in it an element manly, healthful and
invigorating. On the other hand, those who shaped the character, and in
a great measure the destiny, of New France had always on their lips the
nothingness and the vanity of life. For them, time was nothing but a
preparation for eternity, and the highest virtue consisted in a
renunciation of all the cares, toils and interests of earth. That such a
doctrine has often been joined to an intense worldliness, all history
proclaims; but with this we have at present nothing to do. If all
mankind acted on it in good faith, the world would sink into
decrepitude. It is the monastic idea carried into the wide field of
active life, and is like the error of those who, in their zeal to
cultivate their higher nature, suffer the neglected body to dwindle and
pine, till body and mind alike lapse into feebleness and disease."

Notwithstanding the success of the Jesuits in stopping the progress of
the Reformation, it may be truthfully said that they have failed. The
principles of the Reformation dominate the world and are slowly
modifying the Roman church in America. "In truth," says Macaulay, "if
society continued to hold together, if life and property enjoyed any
security, it was because common sense and common humanity restrained men
from doing what the order of Jesus assured them they might with a safe
conscience do." Our hope for the future progress of society lies in the
guiding power of this same common sense and common humanity.

The restoration of the order by Pius VII., August 7th, 1814, while it
renewed the papal favor, did not allay the hostility of the civil
powers. Various states have expelled them since that time, and wherever
they labor, they are still the objects of open attack or ill-disguised
suspicion. Although the order still shows "some quivering in fingers and
toes," as Carlyle expresses it, the principles of the Reformation are
too widely believed, and its benefits too deeply appreciated, to
justify any hope or fear of the ultimate triumph of Jesuitism.


So the Christian monk has greatly changed since he first appeared in the
deserts of Nitria, in Egypt. He has come from his den in the mountains
to take his seat in parliaments, and find his home in palaces. He is no
longer filthy in appearance, but elegant in dress and courtly in manner.
He has exchanged his rags for jewels and silks. He is no longer the
recluse of the lonely cliffs, chatting with the animals and gazing at
the stars. He is a man of the world, with schemes of conquest filling
his brain and a love of dominion ruling his heart. He is no longer a
ditch-digger and a ploughman, but the proud master of councils or the
cultured professor of the university. He still swears to the three vows
of celibacy, poverty and obedience, but they do not mean the same thing
to him that they did to the more ignorant, less cultured, but more
genuinely frank monk of the desert. Yes, he has all but completely lost
sight of his ancient monastic ideal. He professes the poverty of
Christ, but he cannot follow even so simple a man as his Saint Francis.

It is a long way from Jerome to Ignatius, but the end of the journey is
nigh. Loyola is the last type of monastic life, or changing the figure,
the last great leader in the conquered monastic army. The good within
the system will survive, its truest exponents will still fire the
courage and win the sympathy of the devout, but best of all, man will
recover from its poison.



The rise of Protestantism accelerated the decline and final ruin of the
monasteries. The enthusiasm of the Mendicants and the culture of the
Jesuits failed to convince the governments of Europe that monasticism
was worthy to survive the destruction awaiting so many medieval
institutions. The spread of reformatory opinions resulted in a
determined and largely successful attack upon the monasteries, which
were rightly believed to constitute the bulwark of papal power. So
imperative were the popular demands for a change, that popes and
councils hastened to urge the members of religious orders to abolish
existing abuses by enforcing primitive rules. But while Rome practically
failed in her attempted reformations, the Protestant reformers in church
and state were widely successful in either curtailing the privileges
and revenues of the monks or in annihilating the monasteries.

Since the sixteenth century the leading governments of Europe, even
including those in Catholic countries, have given tangible expression to
popular and political antagonism to monasticism, by the abolition of
convents, or the withdrawal of immunities and favors, for a long time a
source of monastic revenue and power. The results of this hostility have
been so disastrous, that monasticism has never regained its former
prestige and influence. Several of the older orders have risen from the
ruins, and a few new communities have appeared, some of which are
distinguished by their most laudable ministrations to the poor and the
sick, or by their educational services. Yet notwithstanding the
modifications of the system to suit the exigencies of modern times, it
seems altogether improbable that the monks will ever again wield the
power they possessed before the Reformation,

In the present chapter attention will be confined to the dissolution of
the monasteries under Henry VIII., in England. The suppression in that
country was occasioned partly by peculiar, local conditions, and was
more radical and permanent than the reforms in other lands, yet it is
entirely consistent with our general purpose to restrict this narrative
to English history. Penetrating beneath the varying externalities
attending the ruin of the monasteries in Germany, Spain, France,
Switzerland, Italy, and other countries, it will be found that the
underlying cause of the destruction of the monasteries was that the
monastic ideal conflicted with the spirit of the modern era. A
conspicuous and dramatic example of this struggle between medievalism,
as embodied in the monastic institution, and modern political, social
and religious ideals, is to be found in the dissolution of the English
monasteries. The narrative of the suppression in England also conveys
some idea of the struggle that was carried on throughout Europe, with
varying intensity and results.

There is no more striking illustration of the power of the personal
equation in the interpretation of history than that afforded by the
conflicting opinions respecting the overthrow of monasticism in England.
Those who mourn the loss of the monasteries cannot find words strong
enough with which to condemn Henry VIII., whom they regard as
"unquestionably the most unconstitutional, the most vicious king that
ever wore the English crown." Forgetting the inevitable cost of human
freedom, and lightly passing over the iniquities of the monastic system,
they fondly dwell upon the departed glory of the ancient abbeys. They
recall with sadness the days when the monks chanted their songs of
praise in the chapels, or reverently bent over their books of parchment,
bound in purple and gold, not that they might "winnow the treasures of
knowledge, but that they might elicit love, compunction and devotion."
The charming simplicity and loving service of the cloister life, in the
days of its unbroken vows, appeal to such defenders of the monks with
singular potency.

Truly, the fair-minded should attempt to appreciate the sorrow, the
indignation and the love of these friends of a ruined institution.
Passionless logic will never enable one to do justice to the sentiments
of those who cannot restrain their tears as they stand uncovered before
the majestic remains of a Melrose Abbey, or properly to estimate the
motives and methods of those who laid the mighty monastic institution
in the dust.

_The Character of Henry VIII_

Before considering the actual work of suppression, it may be interesting
to glance at the royal destroyer and his times. The character of Henry
VIII. is utterly inexplicable to many persons, chiefly because they do
not reflect that even the inconsistencies of a great man may be
understood when seen in the light of his times. A masterly and
comprehensive summary of the virtues and vices of the Tudor monarch, who
has been described as "the king, the whole king, and nothing but the
king," may be found in "A History of Crime in England," by Luke Owen
Pike. The distinguished author shows that in his brutality, his love of
letters, his opposition to Luther, his vacillation in religious
opinions, King Henry reflects with remarkable fidelity the age in which
he lived, both in its contrasts and its inconsistencies. "It is only the
previous history of England which can explain all the contradictions
exhibited in his conduct,--which can explain how he could be rapacious
yet sometimes generous, the Defender of the Faith yet under sentence of
excommunication, a burner of heretics yet a heretic himself, the pope's
advocate yet the pope's greatest enemy, a bloodthirsty tyrant yet the
best friend to liberty of thought in religion, an enthusiast yet a
turncoat, a libertine and yet all but a Puritan. He was sensual because
his forefathers had been sensual from time immemorial, rough in speech
and action because there had been but few men in Britain who had been
otherwise since the Romans abandoned the island. He was superstitious
and credulous because few were philosophical or gifted with intellectual
courage. Yet he had, what was possessed by his contemporaries, a faint
and intermittent thirst for knowledge, of which he himself hardly knew
the meaning." Henry was shrewd, tenacious of purpose, capricious and
versatile. In spite of his unrestrained indulgences and his monstrous
claims of power, which, be it remembered, he was able to enforce, and
notwithstanding any other vices or faults that may be truthfully charged
against him, he was, on the whole, a popular king. Few monarchs have
ever had to bear such a strain as was placed upon his abilities and
character. Rare have been the periods that have witnessed such
confusion of principles, social, political and religious. Those were the
days when liberty was at work, "but in a hundred fantastical and
repulsive shapes, confused and convulsive, multiform, deformed." Blind
violence and half-way reforms characterized the age because the
principles that were to govern modern times were not yet formulated.

Judged apart from his times Henry appears as an arrogant, cruel and
fickle ruler, whose virtues fail to atone for his vices. But still, with
all his faults, he compares favorably with preceding monarchs and even
with his contemporaries. If he had possessed less intelligence, courage
and ambition, he would not now be so conspicuous for his vices, but the
history of human liberty and free institutions, especially in England,
would have been vastly different. His praiseworthy traits were not
sufficiently strong to enable him to control his inherited passions, but
they were too regnant to permit him to submit without a struggle to the
hierarchy which had dominated his country so many centuries. Such was

                "the majestic lord,
     That broke the bonds of Rome."

_Events Preceding the Suppression_

Many causes and incidents contributed to the progress of the reformation
in England, and to the demolition of the monasteries. Only a few of them
can be given here, and they must be stated with a brevity that conveys
no adequate conception of their profound significance.

Henry VIII. ascended the throne, in the year 1509, when eighteen years
of age. In 1517, Luther took his stand against Rome. Four years later
Henry wrote a treatise in defence of the Seven Sacraments and in
opposition to the German reformer. For this princely service to the
church the king received the title "Defender of the Faith" from Pope
Leo X.

About 1527 it became known that Henry was questioning the validity of
his marriage with Catharine of Aragon, whom he had married when he was
twelve years old. She was the widow of his brother Arthur. The king
professed conscientious scruples about his marriage, but undoubtedly his
desire for male offspring, and later, his passion for Anne Boleyn,
prompted him to seek release from his queen. In 1529, Henry and
Catharine stood before a papal tribunal, presided over by Cardinal
Wolsey, the king's prime minister, and Cardinal Campeggio, from Rome,
for the purpose of determining the validity of the royal marriage. The
trial was a farce. The enraged king laid the blame upon Wolsey, and
retired him from office. The great cardinal was afterwards charged with
treason, but died broken-hearted, on his way to the Tower, November
29, 1530.

The breach between Henry and Rome, complicated by numerous international
intrigues, widened rapidly. Henry began to assume an attitude of bold
defiance toward the pope, which aroused the animosity of the Catholic
princes of Europe.

Notwithstanding the desire of a large body of the English people to
remain faithful to Rome, the dangers which menaced their country from
abroad and the ecclesiastical abuses at home, which had been a fruitful
cause for complaint for many years, tended to lessen the ancient horror
of heresy and schism, and inclined them to support their king. Another
factor that assisted in preparing the English people for the
destruction of the monasteries was Lollardism. As an organized sect, the
Lollards had ceased to exist, but the spirit and the doctrines of Wyclif
did not die. A real and a vital connection existed between the Lollards
of the fourteenth, and the reformers of the sixteenth, centuries. In
Henry's time, many Englishmen held practically the same views of Rome
and of the monks that had been taught by Wyclif[I].

[Footnote I: Appendix, Note I.]

A considerable number of Henry's subjects, however, while ostensibly
loyal to him, were inwardly full of hot rebellion. The king was
surrounded with perils. The princes of the Continent were eagerly
awaiting the bull for his excommunication. Henry's throne and his
kingdom might at any moment be given over by the pope to invasion by the
continental sovereigns.

Reginald Pole, afterwards cardinal, a cousin of the king, and a strong
Catholic, stood ready to betray the interests of his country to Rome.
Writing to the king, he said: "Man is against you; God is against you;
the universe is against you; what can you look for but destruction?"
"Dream not, Caesar," he encouragingly declared to Emperor Charles V.,
"that all generous hearts are quenched in England; that faith and piety
are dead. In you is their trust, in your noble nature, and in your zeal
for God--they hold their land till you shall come." Thus, on the
testimony of a Roman Catholic, there were traitors in England waiting
only for the call of Charles V., "To arms!" Pole was in full sympathy
with all the factions opposed to the king, and stood ready to aid them
in their resistance. He publicly denounced the king in several
continental countries.

The monks were especially enraged against Henry. They did all they could
to inflame the people by preaching against him and the reformers. Friar
Peyto, preaching before the king, had the assurance to say to him: "Many
lying prophets have deceived you, but I, as a true Micah, warn you that
the dogs will lick your blood as they did Ahab's." While the courage of
this friar is unquestioned, his defiant attitude illustrates the
position occupied by the monks toward those who favored separation from
Rome. The whole country was at white heat. The friends of Rome looked
upon Henry as an incarnate fiend, a servant of the devil and an enemy
of all religion. Many of them opposed him with the purest and best
motives, believing that the king was really undermining the church of
God and throwing society into chaos.

In 1531, the English clergy were coerced into declaring that Henry was
"the protector and the supreme head of the church and of the clergy of
England," which absurd claim was slightly modified by the words, "in so
far as is permitted by the law of Christ." Chapuys, in one of his
despatches informing Charles V. of this action of convocation, said that
it practically declared Henry the Pope of England. "It is true," he
wrote, "that the clergy have added to the declaration that they did so
only so far as permitted by the law of God. But that is all the same, as
far as the king is concerned, as if they had made no reservation, for no
one will now be so bold as to contest with his lord the importance of
the reservation." Later on, Chapuys says that the king told the pope's
nuncio that "if the pope would not show him more consideration, he would
show the world that the pope had no greater authority than Moses, and
that every claim not grounded on Scripture was mere usurpation; that
the great concourse of people present had come solely and exclusively to
request him to bastinado the clergy, who were hated by both nobles and
the people." ("Spanish Despatches," number 460.)

Parliament, in 1534, conferred on Henry the title "Supreme Head of the
Church of England," and empowered him "to visit, and repress, redress,
reform, order, correct, restrain, or amend all errors, heresies, abuses,
offences, contempts, and enormities, which fell under any spiritual
authority or jurisdiction." The "Act of Succession" was also passed by
Parliament, cutting off Princess Mary and requiring all subjects to take
an oath of allegiance to Elizabeth.

It was now an act of treason to deny the king's supremacy. All persons
suspected of disloyalty were required to sign an oath of allegiance to
Henry, and to Elizabeth as his successor, and to acknowledge the
supremacy of the king in church and state. This resulted in the death of
some prominent men in the realm, among them Sir Thomas More. In the
preamble of the oath prescribed by law, the legality of the king's
marriage with Anne was asserted, thus implying that his former marriage
with Catharine was unlawful. More was willing to declare his allegiance
to the infant Elizabeth, as the king's successor, but his conscience
would not permit him to affirm that Catharine's marriage was unlawful.

The life of the brilliant and lovable More is another illustration of
the mental confusions and inconsistencies of that age. As an apostle of
culture he favored the new learning, and yet he viewed the gathering
momentum of reformatory principles with alarm, and cast in his lot with
the ultra-conservatives. Four years of his young manhood were spent in a
monastery. He devoted his splendid talents to a criticism of English
society, and recommended freedom of conscience, yet he became an ardent
foe of reform and even a persecutor of heretics, of whom he said: "I do
so detest that class of men that, unless they repent, I am the worst
enemy they have." When a man, whom even Protestant historians hasten to
pronounce "the glory of his age," so magnificent were his talents and so
blameless his character, was tainted with superstition, and sanctioned
the persecution of liberal thinkers, is it remarkable that inferior
intellects should have been swayed by the brutality and tyranny of
the times?

The unparalleled claims of Henry and his attitude toward the pope made
the breach between England and Rome complete, but many years of painful
internal strife and bloodshed were to elapse before the whole nation
submitted to the new order of things, and before that subjective freedom
from fear and superstition without which formal freedom has little
value, was secured.

The breach with Rome was essential to the attainment of that religious
and political freedom that England now enjoys. But the first step toward
making that separation an accomplished fact, acquiesced in by the people
as a whole, was to break the power of the monastic orders. It may
possibly be true that the same ends would have been eventually attained
by trusting to the slower processes of social evolution, but the history
of the Latin nations of Europe would seem to prove the contrary. As the
facts stand it would appear that peace and progress were impossible with
thousands of monks sowing seeds of discord, and employing every measure,
fair or foul, to win the country back to Rome. Gairdner and others
argue that Henry was far too powerful a king to have been successfully
resisted by the pope, unless the pope was backed by a union of the
Christian princes, which was then impracticable. That fact may make the
execution of More, Fisher and the Charterhouse monks inexcusable, but it
by no means proves that Henry would have been strong enough to maintain
his position if the monasteries had been permitted to exist as centers
of organized opposition to his will. Many of the monks, when pressed by
the king's agents, took the oath of allegiance. Threats, bribes and
violence were used to overcome the opposition of the unwilling.

_The Monks and the Oath of Supremacy_

It is quite evident that the king's purpose to destroy the whole
monastic institution was partly the result of the determined resistance
which the monks offered to his authority. The contest between the king
and the monks was exceedingly fierce and bloody. Many good men lost
their lives and many innocent persons suffered grievously. Perhaps the
most pathetic incident in the sanguinary struggle between the king and
the monks was the tragic fall of the Charterhouse of London. The facts
are given at length by Froude, in his "History of England," who bases
his account on the narrative of Maurice Channey, one of the monks who
escaped death by yielding to the king. The unhappy monk confesses that
he was a Judas among the apostles, and in a touching account of the ruin
that came upon his monastic retreat he praises the boldness and fidelity
of his companions, who preferred death to what seemed to them dishonor.

The pages of Channey are filled with the most improbable stories of
miracles, but his charming picture of the cloister life of the
Carthusians is doubtless true to reality. The Carthusian fathers were
the best fruit of monasticism in England. To a higher degree than any of
the other monastic orders they maintained a good discipline and
preserved the spirit of their founders. "A thousand years of the world's
history had rolled by," says Froude, "and these lonely islands of prayer
had remained still anchored in the stream; the strands of the ropes
which held them, wearing now to a thread, and very near their last
parting, but still unbroken." In view of the undisputed purity and
fearlessness of these noble monks, a recital of their woes will place
the case for the monastic institution in the most favorable light.

Channey says the year 1533 was ushered in with signs,--the end of the
world was nigh. Yes, the monk's world was drawing to a close; the moon,
for him, was turning into blood, and the stars falling from heaven.

More and Fisher were in the Tower. The former's splendid talents and
noble character still swayed the people. It was no time for trifling;
the Carthusian fathers must take the oath of allegiance or perish. So
one morning the royal commissioners appeared before the monastery door
of the Charterhouse to demand submission. Prior Houghton answered them:
"I know nothing of the matter mentioned; I am unacquainted with the
world without; my office is to minister to God, and to save poor souls
from Satan." He was committed to the Tower for one month. Then Dr.
Bonner persuaded the prior to sign with "certain reservations." He was
released and went back to his cloister-cell to weep. Calling his monks
together he said he was sorry; it looked like deceit, but he desired to
save his brethren and their order. The commissioners returned; the monks
were under suspicion; the reservations were disliked, and they must sign
without conditions. In great consternation the prior assembled the
monks. All present cried out: "Let us die together in our integrity, and
heaven and earth shall witness for us how unjustly we are cut off."
Prior Houghton conceived a generous idea. "If it depends on me alone; if
my oath will suffice for the house, I will throw myself on the mercy of
God; I will make myself anathema, and to preserve you from these
dangers, I will consent to the king's will." Thus did the noble old man
consent to go into heaven with a lie on his conscience, hoping to escape
by the mercy of God, because he sought to save the lives of his
brethren. But all this was of no avail; Cromwell had determined that
this monastery must fall, and fall it did. The monks prepared for their
end calmly and nobly; beginning with the oldest brother, they knelt
before each other and begged forgiveness for all unkindness and offence.
"Not less deserving," says Froude, "the everlasting remembrances of
mankind, than those three hundred, who, in the summer morning, sate
combing their golden hair in the passes of Thermopylæ." But rebellion
was blazing in Ireland, and the enemies of the king were praying and
plotting for his ruin. These monks, with More and Fisher, were an
inspiration to the enemies of liberty and the kingdom. Catholic Europe
crouched like a tiger ready to spring on her prostrate foe. It is sad,
but these recluses, praying for the pope, instilling a love for the
papacy in the confessional, these honest and conscientious but dangerous
men must be shorn of their power to encourage rebels. There was a farce
of a trial. Houghton was brought to the scaffold and died protesting his
innocence. His arm was cut off and hung over the archway of the
Charterhouse, as other arms and heads were hideously hanging over many a
monastic gate in Merry England. Nine of the monks died of prison fever,
and others were banished. The king's court went into mourning, and Henry
knotted his beard and henceforth would be no more shaven--eloquent
evidence to the world that whatever motive dominated the king's heart,
these bloody deeds were unpleasantly disturbing. Certainly such a
spectacle as that of a monk's arm nailed to a monastery was never seen
by Englishmen before.

The Charterhouse fell, let it be carefully noted, because the monks
could not and would not acknowledge the king's supremacy, and not
because the monks were immoral. Some spies in Cromwell's service offered
to, bring in evidence against six of these monks of "laziness and
immorality." Cromwell indignantly refused the proposal, saying, "He
would not hear the accusation; that it was false, wilfully so."

The news of these proceedings, and of the beheading of More and Fisher,
awakened the most violent rage throughout Catholic Europe. Henry was
denounced as the Nero of his times. Paul III. immediately excommunicated
the king, dissolved all leagues between Henry and the Catholic princes,
and gave his kingdom to any invader. All Catholic subjects were ordered
to take up arms against him. Although these censures were passed, the
pope decided to defer their publication, hoping for a peaceful
settlement. But Henry knew, and the Catholic princes of Europe knew,
that the blow might fall at any time. He had to make up his mind to go
further or to yield unconditionally to the pope. The world soon
discovered the temper of the enraged and stubborn monarch. He might
vacillate on speculative questions, but there were no tokens of feeble
hesitancy in his dealings with Rome. The hour of doom for the
monasteries had struck.

Having thus glanced at the character of Henry VIII., the prime mover in
the attack upon the monasteries, and having surveyed some of the events
leading up to their fall, we are now prepared to consider the actual
work of suppression, which will be described under the following heads:
First, The royal commissioners and their methods of investigation;
Second, The commissioners' report on the condition of affairs; Third,
The action of Parliament; Fourth, The effect of the suppression upon the
people; and Fifth, The use Henry made of the monastic possessions. These
matters having been set forth, it will then be in order to inquire into
the justification, real or alleged, of the suppression.

_The Royal Commissioners and Their Methods of Investigation_

The fall of Sir Thomas More left Thomas Cromwell the chief power under
the king, and for seven years he devoted his great administrative
abilities to making his royal patron absolute ruler in church and state.

Cromwell, Earl of Essex, was of lowly origin, but his energy and
shrewdness, together with the experience acquired by extensive travels,
commanded the attention of Cardinal Wolsey, who took him into his
service. He was successively merchant, scrivener, money-lender, lawyer,
member of parliament, master of jewels, chancellor, master of rolls,
secretary of state, vicar-general in ecclesiastical affairs, lord privy
seal, dean of Wells and high chamberlain.

Close intimacy with Wolsey enabled Cromwell to grasp the full
significance of Henry's ambition, and his desire to please his royal
master, coupled with his own love of power, prompted him to throw
himself with characteristic energy into the work of centralizing all
authority in the hands of the king and of his prime minister. In secular
affairs, this had already been accomplished. The task before him was to
subdue the church to the throne, to execute which he became the
protector of Protestantism and the foe of Rome. Green says: "He had an
absolute faith in the end he was pursuing, and he simply hews his way to
it, as a woodman hews his way through the forest, axe in hand." Froude
says: "To him ever belonged the rare privilege of genius to see what
other men could not see, and therefore he was condemned to rule a
generation which hated him, to do the will of God and to perish in his
success. He pursued an object, the excellence of which, as his mind saw
it, transcended all other considerations, the freedom of England and the
destruction of idolatry, and those who, from any motive, noble or base,
pious or impious, crossed his path, he crushed and passed on over
their bodies."

There seems to be a general agreement that Cromwell was not a
Protestant. His struggle against the temporal power of the pope fostered
the reformatory movement, but that did not make Cromwell a Protestant
any more than it did his master, Henry VIII. Foxe describes Cromwell "as
a valiant soldier and captain of Christ," but Maitland retorts "that
Foxe forgot, if he ever knew, who was the father of lies."

Without doubt Cromwell ruled with an iron hand. He was guilty of
accepting bribes, and, as some maintain, "was the great patron of
ribaldry, and the protector of the low jester and the filthy." But,
sadly enough, that is no serious charge against one in his times. It is
said that Henry used to say, when a knave was dealt to him in a game of
cards, "Ah, I have a Cromwell!" Francis Aidan Gasquet, a Benedictine
monk, in his valuable work on "Henry VIII. and the English Monasteries,"
says of Cromwell: "No single minister in England ever exercised such
extensive authority, none ever rose so rapidly, and no one has ever left
behind him a name covered with greater infamy and disgrace."

In 1535, Henry, as supreme head of the church, appointed Cromwell as his
"Vicegerent, Vicar-General and Principal Commissary in causes
ecclesiastical." His immediate duty was to enforce recognition of the
king's supremacy. The monks and the clergy were now to be coerced into
submission. A royal commission, consisting of Legh, Layton, Ap Rice,
London and various subordinates, was appointed to visit the monasteries
and to report on their condition.

Henry Griffin says in his chronicle: "I was well acquainted with all the
commissioners; indeed I knew them well; they were very smart men, who
understood the value of money, for they had tasted of adversity. I think
the priests were the worst of the whole party, although they had a good
reputation at the time, but they were wicked, deceitful men. I am sorry
to speak thus of my own order, but I speak God's truth." "It is a
dreadful undertaking," said Lord Clinton. "Ah! but I have great faith in
the tact and judgment of the men I am about to select,"
retorted Cromwell.

Dr. John London was a base tool of Cromwell, and a miserable exponent of
the reform movement. He joined Gardiner in burning heretics, was
convicted of adultery at Oxford, was pilloried for perjury and died in
jail. The other royal agents were also questionable characters. Dean
Layton wrote the most disgusting letters to Cromwell. Once he informed
his patron that he prayed regularly for him, prefacing this information
with the remark, "I will now tell you something to make you laugh."

Father Gasquet sums up his view of the commissioners in the words of
Edmund Burke: "It is not with much credulity that I listen to any when
they speak ill of those whom they are going to plunder. I rather suspect
that vices are feigned, or exaggerated, when profit is looked for in the
punishment--an enemy is a bad witness; a robber worse." Burke
indignantly declares: "The inquiry into the moral character of the
religious houses was a mere pretext, a complete delusion, an insidious
and predetermined foray of wholesale and heartless plunder."

Such are the protests from the defenders of the monasteries even before
a hearing is granted. "What," say they, "believe such perjurers,
adulterers and gamblers; men forsworn to bring in a bad report; men who
were selected because they were worthless characters who could be
relied on to return false charges against an institution loved by
the people?"

The commissioners began their work at Oxford, in September, 1535. The
work was vigorously pushed. On reaching the door of a monastery, they
demanded admittance; if it was not granted, they entered by breaking
down the gate with an axe. They then summoned the monks before them, and
plied them with questions. An inventory was taken of everything; nothing
escaped their searching eyes. When the king decided to suppress the
lesser monasteries, and ordered a new visitation of the larger ones,
they seized and sold all they could lay their hands on; "stained glass,
ironwork, bells, altar-cloths, candles, books, beads, images, capes,
brewing-tubs, brass bolts, spits for cooking, kitchen utensils, plates,
basins, all were turned into money." Many valuable books were destroyed;
jewels and gold and silver clasps were torn from old volumes, and the
paper sold as waste; parchment manuscripts were used to scour tubs and
grease boots. Out of the wreck about a hundred and thirty thousand
manuscripts have been saved. It must be admitted that the commissioners
were not delicate in their labors; that they insulted many nuns, robbed
the monks, violated the laws of decency and humanity, and needlessly
excited the rage of the people and outraged the religious sentiments of
the Catholics. They even used sacred altar-cloths for blankets on their
horses, and rode across the country decorated in priestly and monkish
garments. There seems to be some ground for the statement that Henry was
ignorant, or at least not fully informed, of their unwarranted violence
and gross sacrilege. The abbey of Glastonbury was one of the oldest and
finest cloisters in England. It was a majestic pile of buildings in the
midst of gardens and groves covering sixty acres; its aisles were vocal
with the chanting of monks, who marched in gorgeous processions among
the tall, gray pillars. The exterior of the buildings was profusely
decorated with sculpture; monarchs, temple knights, mitered abbots,
martyrs and apostles stood for centuries in their niches of stone while
princes came and passed away, while kingdoms rose and fell. The nobles
and bishops of the realm were laid to rest beneath the altars around
which many generations of monks had assembled to praise and to pray. The
royal commissioners one day appeared before the walls. The abbot,
Richard Whiting, who was then eighty-four years of age, was at
Sharphorn, another residence of the community. He was brought back and
questioned. At night when he was in bed, they searched his study for
letters and books, and they claimed to have found a manuscript of
Whiting's arguments against the divorce of the king and Queen Catharine;
it had never been published; they did not know whether the venerable
abbot had such intent or not. Stephen declares the spies themselves
brought the book into the library. However, the abbot was chained to a
cart and taken to London. The abbey had immense wealth; every Wednesday
and Friday it fed and lodged three hundred boys; it was esteemed very
highly in the neighborhood and received large donations from the knights
in the vicinity. The abbot was accused of treason for concealing the
sacred vessels; he was old, deaf, and sick, but was allowed no counsel.
He asked permission to take leave of his monks, and many little
orphans; Russell and Layton only laughed. The people heard of his
captivity and determined "to deliver or avenge" their favorite, but
Russell hanged half a dozen of them and declared that "law, order and
loyalty were vindicated." Whiting's body was quartered, and the pieces
sent to Wells, Bath, Chester and Bridgewater, while his head, adorned
with his gray hairs clotted by blood, was hung over the abbey gate.

_The Report of the Commissioners_

The original report of the commissioners does not exist. Burnet declares
that he saw an extract from it, concerning one hundred and forty-four
houses, which contained the most revolting revelations. Many of the
commissioners' letters and various documents touching the suppression
have been collected and published by the Camden Society. Waiving, for
the present, the inquiry into the truth of the report, it was in
substance as follows:

The commissioners reported about one-third of the houses to be fairly
well conducted, some of them models of excellent management and pure
living; but the other two-thirds were charged with looseness beyond
description. The number of inmates in some cloisters was kept below the
required number, that there might be more money to divide among the
monks. The number of servants sometimes exceeded that of the monks.
Abbots bought and sold land in a fraudulent manner; gifts for
hospitality were misapplied; licentiousness, gaming and drinking
prevailed extensively. Crime and absolution for gold went hand in hand.
One friar was said to have been the proud father of an illegitimate
family of children, but he had in his possession a forged license from
the pope, who permitted his wandering, "considering his frailty."
Froude, in commenting upon the report, says: "If I were to tell the
truth, I should have first to warn all modest eyes to close the book and
read no farther."

All sorts of pious frauds were revealed. At Hales the monks claimed to
have the blood of Christ brought from Jerusalem, and not visible to
anyone in mortal sin until he had performed good works, or, in other
words, paid enough for his absolution. Two monks took the blood of a
duck, which they renewed every week; this they put into a phial, one
side of which consisted of a thin, transparent crystal; the other thick
and opaque; the dark side was shown until the sinner's gold was
exhausted, when, presto! change, the blood appeared by turning the other
side of the phial. Innumerable toe-parings, bones, pieces of skin, three
heads of St. Ursula, and other anatomical relics of departed saints,
were said to cure every disease known to man. They had relics that could
drive away plagues, give rain, hinder weeds, and in fact, render the
natural world the plaything of decaying bones and shreds of dried skin.
The monks of Reading had an angel with one wing, who had preserved the
spear with which our Lord was pierced. Abbots were found to have
concubines in or near the monasteries; midnight revels and drunken
feasts were pleasant pastimes for monks weary with prayers and fasting.
While it would be unjust to argue that the existence of "pious frauds"
affords a justification for the suppression of the monasteries, it must
be remembered that they constituted one element in that condition of
ecclesiastical life that was becoming repugnant to the English people.
For several generations there had been a marked growth in the hostility
toward various forms of superstition. True, neither Henry nor Cromwell
can be accredited with the lofty intention of exterminating
superstition, but the attitude of many people toward "pious frauds"
helped to reconcile them to the destruction of the monasteries.

_The Action of Parliament_

The report of the commissioners was laid before Parliament in 1536. As
it declared that the smaller monasteries were more corrupt than the
larger ones, Parliament ordered the suppression of all those houses
whose revenues were less than two hundred pounds per annum. By this act,
three hundred and seventy-six houses were suppressed, whose aggregate
revenue was thirty-two thousand pounds yearly. Movable property valued
at about one hundred thousand pounds was also handed over to the "Court
of Augmentations of the King's Revenue," which was established to take
care of the estates, revenues and other possessions of the monasteries.
It is claimed that ten thousand monks and nuns were turned out into the
world, to find bed and board as best they could. In 1538, two years
later, the greater monasteries met a similar fate, which was no doubt
hastened by the rebellions that followed the abolition of the smaller
houses. Many of the abbots and monks were suspected of aiding in the
rebellion against the king's authority by inciting the people to take up
arms against him. Apprehending the coming doom, many abbots resigned;
others were overcome by threats and yielded without a struggle. In many
instances such monks received pensions varying from fifty-three
shillings and four pence to four pounds a year. The investigations were
constantly carried on, and all the foul stories that could be gathered
were given to the people, to secure their approval of the king's action.
With remorseless zeal the king and his commissioners, supported by
various acts of parliament, persevered in their work of destruction,
until even the monastic hospitals, chantries, free chapels and
collegiate churches, fell into the king's hands. By the year 1545, the
ruin was complete. The monastic institution of England was no more. The
total number of monasteries suppressed is variously estimated, but the
following figures are approximately correct: monasteries, 616; colleges,
90; free chapels, 2,374; and hospitals, 110. The annual income was about
one hundred and fifty thousand pounds, which was a smaller sum than was
then believed to be in the control of the monks. Nearly fifty thousand
persons were driven from the houses, to foment the discontent and to
arouse the pity of the people. Such, in brief, was the extent of the
suppression, but a little reflection will show that these statements of
cold facts convey no conception of the confusion and sorrow that must
have accompanied this terrific and wholesale assault upon an institution
that had been accumulating its possessions for eight hundred years. At
this distance from those tragic events, it is impossible to realize the
dismay of those who stood aghast at this ruthless destruction of such
venerable establishments.

_The Effect of the Suppression Upon the People_

For months the country had seen what was coming; letters from abbots and
priors poured in upon the king and parliament, begging them to spare the
ancient strongholds of religion. The churchmen argued: "If he plunders
the monasteries, will not his next step be to plunder the churches?"
They recalled what Sir Thomas More had said of their sovereign: "It is
true, his majesty is very gracious with me, but if only my head would
give him another castle in France, it would not be long before it
disappeared." Sympathy for the monks, an inborn conservatism, a natural
love for ancient institutions, a religious dread of trampling upon that
which was held sacred by the church, a secret antipathy to reform, all
these and other forces were against the suppression. But the report of
the visitors was appalling, and the fear of the king's displeasure was
widespread; so the bill was passed amid mingled feelings of joy,
sympathy, hatred, fear, anxiety and uncertainty. The bishops were
sullen; Latimer was disappointed, for he wanted the church to have
the proceeds.

Outside of Parliament there was much discontent among the nobles and
gentry of Roman tendencies. Even the indifferent felt bitter against the
king, because it seemed unjust that the monks, who had been sheltered,
honored and enriched by the people, should be so rudely and so suddenly
turned out of their possessions. A dangerously large portion of the
people felt themselves insulted and outraged. At first, however, there
were few who dared to voice their protests. "As the royal policy
disclosed itself," says Green, "as the monarchy trampled under foot the
tradition and reverence of ages gone by, as its figure rose, bare and
terrible, out of the wreck of old institutions, England simply held her
breath. It is only through the stray depositions of royal spies that we
catch a glimpse of the wrath and hate which lay seething under the
silence of the people." That silence was a silence of terror. To use the
figure by which Erasmus describes the time, men felt "as if a scorpion
lay sleeping under every stone." They stopped writing, gossiping, going
to confession, and sending presents for the most thoughtless word or
deed might be tortured into treason against the king by the command
of Cromwell.

The rebellion which followed the first attack upon the monasteries was
not caused wholly by religious sentiments. The nobles regarded Cromwell
as a base-born usurper and yearned for his fall, while the clergy felt
outraged by his monstrous claims of authority in ecclesiastical affairs.
In a sense the conflict that ensued was but a continuation of the
long-standing struggle between the king, the barons, and the clergy for
the supreme power. From the reign of Edward I., the people had commenced
to assert their rights and the struggle had become a four-sided one.

These four factions were constantly shifting their allegiance, according
to the varying conditions, and guided by their changing interests. At
this time, the clergy, the nobles and the people in northern England,
particularly, combined against the king, although the alliance was not
formidable enough to overcome the forces supporting the king.

The secular clergy felt that they were disgraced and coerced into
submission. They felt their revenues, their honors, their powers, their
glory, slipping away from them; they joined their mutterings and
discontent with that of the monks, and then the fires of the rebellion
blazed forth in the north, where the monasteries were more popular than
in any other part of England.

The first outbreak occurred in Lincolnshire, in the autumn of 1536. It
was easily and quickly suppressed. But another uprising in Yorkshire, in
northern England, followed immediately, and for a time threatened
serious consequences. Some of the best families in that part of the
country joined the revolt, although it is noteworthy that these same
families were afterwards Protestant and Puritan; the rebel army numbered
about forty thousand men, well equipped for service. Many prominent
abbots and sixteen hundred monks were in the ranks. The masses were
bound by oath "to stand together for the love which they bore to
Almighty God, His faith, the Holy Church, and the maintenance thereof;
to the preservation of the king's person and his issue; to the purifying
of the nobility, and to expel all villein blood and evil counsellors
from the king's presence; not from any private profit, nor to do his
pleasure to any private person, nor to slay or murder through envy, but
for the restitution of the Church, and the suppression of heretics and
their opinions." It is clear, from the language of the oath, that the
rebels aimed their blows at Cromwell. The secular clergy hated him
because he had shorn them of their power; the monks hated him because he
had turned them out of their cloisters, and clergy and people loathed
him as a maintainer of heresy, a low-born foe of the Church. The
insurgents carried banners on which was printed a crucifix, a chalice
and host, and the five wounds, hence they called themselves "Pilgrims of
Grace." The revolt was headed by Robert Aske, a barrister.

Cromwell acted most cautiously; he selected the strongest men to take
the field. Richard Cromwell said of one of them, Sir John Russell, "for
my lord admiral, he is so earnest in the matter that I dare say he could
eat the Pilgrims without salt." The Duke of Norfolk was entrusted with
the command of the king's forces.

Henry preferred negotiation to battle, in accepting which the rebels
were doomed. To wait was to fail. Their demands reduced to paper were:
1. The religious houses should be restored. 2. England should be
reunited with Rome. 3. The first fruits and tenths should not be paid to
the crown. 4. Heretics, meaning Cranmer, Latimer and others, should
cease to be bishops. 5. Catharine's daughter Mary should be restored as
heiress to the crown. These and other demands, the granting of which
would have meant the death of the Reformation, were firmly refused by
the king, who marveled that ignorant churls, "brutes and inexpert folk"
should talk of theological and political subjects to him and to
his council.

After several ineffectual attempts to meet the royal army in battle,
partly due to storms and lack of subsistence, the rebels were induced to
disperse and a general amnesty was declared. But new insurrections broke
out in various quarters, and the enraged king determined to stamp out
the smoldering fires of sedition. About seventy-five persons were
hanged, and many prominent men were imprisoned and afterwards executed.
This effectually suppressed the rebellion.

The revolt showed the strength of the opponents to the king's will, but
it also proved conclusively that the monarchy was the strongest power in
the realm; that the star of ecclesiastical domination had set forever in
England; that henceforth English kings and not Italian popes were to
govern the English people. True, the king was carrying things with a
high hand, but one reform at a time; the yoke of papal power must first
be lifted, even if at the same time the king becomes despotic in the
exercise of his increased power. Once free from Rome, constitutional
rights may be asserted and the power of an absolute monarchy judiciously

Following the Pilgrimage of Grace came the complete overthrow of the
monastic system by the dissolution of the larger monasteries.

_Henry's Disposal of Monastic Revenues_

What use did Henry make of the revenues that fell into his hands? As
soon as the vast estates of the monks were under the king's control, he
was besieged by nobles, "praying for an estate." They kneeled before
him and specified what lands they wanted. They bribed Cromwell, who sold
many of the estates at the rate of a twenty years' purchase, and in some
instances presented valuable possessions to the king's followers. Many
families, powerful in England at the present time, date the beginning of
their wealth and position to the day when their ancestors received their
share of the king's plunder.

The following interesting passage from Sir Edward Coke's Institutes,
shows that Henry sought to quiet the fears of the people by making the
most captivating promises concerning the decrease of taxes, and other
magnificent schemes for the general welfare: "On the king's behalf, the
members of both houses were informed in Parliament that no king or
kingdom was safe but where the king had three abilities: 1. To live of
his own and able to defend his kingdom upon any sudden invasion or
insurrection. 2. To aid his confederates, otherwise they would never
assist him. 3. To reward his well-deserving servants. Now the project
was, that if Parliament would give unto him all the abbeys, priories,
friaries, nunneries, and other monasteries, that forever in time then
to come he would take order that the same should not be converted to
private uses, but first, that his exchequer, for the purpose aforesaid,
should be enriched; secondly, the kingdom should be strengthened by a
continual maintenance of forty thousand well-trained soldiers; thirdly,
for the benefit and ease of the subject, who never afterwards (as was
projected), in any time to come, should be charged with subsidies,
fifteenths, loans or other common aids; fourthly, lest the honor of the
realm should receive any diminution of honor by the dissolution of the
said monasteries, there being twenty-nine lords of Parliament of the
abbots and priors, ... that the king would create a number of nobles."

The king was granted the revenues of the monasteries. About half the
money was expended in coast defences and a new navy; and much of it was
lavished upon his courtiers. With the exception of small pensions to the
monks and the establishment of a few benefices, very little of the
splendid revenue was ever devoted to religious or educational purposes.
Small sums were set apart for Cambridge, Oxford and new grammar schools.
Not-withstanding the pensions, there was much suffering; it is said
many of the outcast monks and nuns starved and froze to death by the
roadside. Latimer and others wanted the king to employ the revenues for
religious purposes, but Henry evidently thought the church had enough
and refused. He did, however, intend to allot eighteen thousand pounds a
year for eighteen new bishoprics, but once the gold was in his
possession, his pious intentions suffered a decline, and he established
only six, with inferior endowments, five of which exist to-day.

_Was the Suppression Justifiable?_

It is quite common to restrict this inquiry to a consideration of the
report made by the commissioners against the monks, and to the methods
employed by them in their investigations. The implication is that if the
accusations against the monasteries can be discredited, or if it can be
shown that the motives of the destroyers were selfish and their methods
cruel, then it follows that the overthrow of the monasteries was a most
iniquitous and unwarrantable proceeding. Reflection will show that the
question cannot be so restricted. It may be found that the monastic
institution should have been destroyed, even though the charges against
the monks were grossly exaggerated, the motives of the king unworthy,
and the means he employed despicable.

At the outset a few facts deserve mention. It is usual for Protestants
to recall with pride the glorious heroism of Protestant martyrs, but it
should be remembered that Roman Catholicism also has had its martyrs.
Protestant powers have not been free from tyranny and bloodshed. That
noble spirit of self-sacrifice which has glorified many a character in
history is not to be despised in one who dies for what we may pronounce
to be false.

It must also be granted that the action of the king was not dictated by
a pure passion for religious reform. Indeed it is a fair question
whether Henry may be claimed by the Protestants at all. Aside from his
rejection of the pope's authority, he was thoroughly Catholic in
conviction and in practice. His impatience with the pope's position
respecting his divorce, his need of money, his love of power, and many
other personal considerations determined his attitude toward
the papacy.

It should also be freely conceded that the royal commissioners were far
from exemplary characters, and that they were often insolent and cruel
in the prosecution of their work.

"Our posterity," says John Bale, "may well curse this wicked fact of our
age; this unreasonable spoil of England's most noble antiquities." "On
the whole," says Blunt, "it may be said that we must ever look back on
that destruction as a series of transactions in which the sorrow, the
waste, the impiety that were wrought, were enough to make the angels
weep. It may be true that the monastic system had worn itself out for
practical good; or at least, that it was unfitted for those coming ages
which were to be so different from the ages that were past. But
slaughter, desecration and wanton destruction, were no remedies for its
sins, or its failings; nor was covetous rapacity the spirit of

Hume observes that "during times of faction, especially of a religious
kind, no equity is to be expected from adversaries; and as it was known
that the king's intention in this visitation was to find a pretext for
abolishing the monasteries, we may naturally conclude that the reports
of the commissioners are very little to be relied upon." Hallam declares
that "it is impossible to feel too much indignation at the spirit in
which the proceedings were conducted."

But these and other just and honorable concessions in the interests of
truth, which are to be found on the pages of eminent Protestant
historians, are made to prove too much. It must be said that writers
favorable to monasticism take an unfair advantage of these admissions,
which simply testify to a spirit of candor and a love of truth, but do
not contain the final conclusions of these historians. Employing these
witnesses to confirm their opinions, the defenders of monasticism
proceed with fervid, glowing rhetoric, breathing devotion and love on
every page, to paint the sorrows and ruin of the Carthusian Fathers, and
the abbots of Glastonbury and Reading. They ask, "Is this your boasted
freedom, to slay these men in cold blood, not for immorality, but
because they honestly did not acknowledge what no Protestant of to-day
admits, viz.: that King Henry was the Supreme Head of the Church?"
Having pointed out the exaggerations in the charges against the monks
and having made us weep for the aged fathers of the Charterhouse, they
skillfully lead the unwary to the conclusion that the suppression should
never have taken place. This conclusion is illogical. The case is
still open.

Furthermore, if one cared to indulge in historical reminiscences, he
might justly express astonishment that Rome should object to an
investigation conducted by men whose minds were already made up, or that
she should complain because force was employed to carry out a needed
reform. Did the commissioners take a few altar-cloths and decorate their
horses? Did Rome never adorn men in garments of shame and parade them
through streets to be mocked by the populace, and finally burned at the
stake? Were the altar-cloths dear to Catholic hearts? Were not the
Bibles burned in France, in Germany, in Spain, in Holland, in England,
dear to the hearts of the reformers? But however justifiable such a line
of argument may be, there is little to be gained by charging the sins of
the past against the men of to-day. Nevertheless, if these facts and
many like them were remembered, less would be said about the cruelties
that accompanied the suppression of the monasteries.

Were the charges against the monks true? It seems impossible to doubt
that in the main they were, although it should be admitted that many
monasteries were beyond reproach. Eliminating gross exaggerations, lies
and calumnies, there still remains a body of evidence that compels the
verdict of guilt. The legislation of the church councils, the decrees of
popes, the records of the courts, the reports of investigating
committees appointed by various popes, the testimony of the orders
against each other, the chronicles, letters and other extant literature,
abound in such detailed, specific charges of monastic corruption that it
is simply preposterous to reject the testimony. All the efforts at
reformation, and they were many, had failed. Many bishops confessed
their inability to cope with the growing disorders. It is beyond
question that lay robbers were encouraged to perpetrate acts of
sacrilege because the monks were frequently guilty of forgery and
violence. Commenting upon the impression which monkish lawlessness must
have made upon the minds of such men as Wyclif, Pike says: "They saw
with their own eyes those wild and lawless scenes, the faint reflection
of which in contemporaneous documents may excite the wonder of modern
lawyers and modern moralists." The legislation of church and state for a
century before Henry VIII. shows that the monks were guilty of brawling,
frequenting taverns, indulging in licentious pleasures and upholding
unlawful games.

Bonaventura, the General of the Franciscan Order in its earliest days,
and its palmiest, for the first years of a monastic order were always
its best years--this mendicant, their pride and their glory, tells us
that within fifty years of the death of its founder there were many
mendicants roaming around in disorderly fashion, brazen and shameless
beggars of scandalous fame. This unenviable record was kept up down to
the days of Wyclif, who charged the begging friars with representing
themselves as holy and needy, while they were robust of body, rich in
possessions, and dwelt in splendid houses, where they gave sumptuous
banquets. What shall one say of the hysterical ravings against Henry of
the "Holy Maid of Kent," whose fits and predictions were palmed off by
five ecclesiastics, high in authority, as supernatural manifestations?
What must have been the state of monasteries in which such meretricious
schemes were hatched, to deceive silly people, thwart the king and stop
the movements for reform?

Moreover, the various attempts to reform or to suppress the monasteries
prior to Henry's time show he was simply carrying out what, in a small
way, had been attempted before. King John, Edward I. and Edward III.,
had confiscated "alien priories." Richard II. and Henry IV. had made
similar raids. In 1410, the House of Commons proposed the confiscation
of all the temporalities held by bishops, abbots and priors, that the
money might be used for a standing army, and to increase the income of
the nobles and secular clergy. It was not done, but the attempt shows
the trend of public opinion on the question of abolishing the
monasteries. In 1416, Parliament dissolved the alien priories and vested
their estates in the crown. There is extant a letter of Cardinal Morton,
Legate of the Apostolic See, and Archbishop of Canterbury, to the abbot
of St. Albans, one of the mightiest abbeys in all England. It was
written as the result of an investigation started by Innocent VIII., in
1489. In this communication the abbot and his monks were charged with
the grossest licentiousness, waste and thieving. Lina Eckenstein, in her
interesting work on "Woman Under Monasticism," says: "It were idle to
deny that the state of discipline in many houses was bad, but the
circumstances under which Morton's letter was penned argue that the
charges made in it should be accepted with some reservation." In 1523,
Cardinal Wolsey obtained bulls from the pope authorizing the suppression
of forty small monasteries, and the application of their revenues to
educational institutions, on the ground that the houses were homes
neither of religion nor of learning.

What Henry did, every country in Europe has felt called upon to do in
one way or another. Germany, Italy, Spain, France have all suppressed
monasteries, and despite the suffering which attended the dissolution in
England, the step was taken with less loss of life and less injury to
the industrial welfare of the people than anywhere else in Europe[J].

[Footnote J: Appendix, Note J.]

Hooper, who was made a bishop in the reign of Edward VI., expressed the
Protestant view of Henry's reforms in a letter written about the year
1546. "Our king," he says, "has destroyed the pope, but not popery....
The impious mass, the most shameful celibacy of the clergy, the
invocation of saints, auricular confession, superstitious abstinence
from meats, and purgatory, were never before held by the people in
greater esteem than at the present moment." In other words, the
independence of the Church of England was secured by those who, if they
were not Roman Catholics, were certainly closer in faith to Rome than
they were to Protestantism. The Protestant doctrines did not become the
doctrines of the Church of England until the reign of Edward VI., and it
was many years after that before the separation from Rome was complete
in doctrine as well as respects the authority of the pope.

These facts indicate that there must have been other causes for the
success of the English Reformation than the greed or ambition of the
monarch. Those causes are easily discovered. One of them was the
hostility of the people to the alien priories. The origin of the alien
priories dates back to the Norman conquest. The Normans shared the
spoils of their victory with their continental friends. English
monasteries and churches were given to foreigners, who collected the
rents and other kinds of income. These foreign prelates had no other
interest in England than to derive all the profit they could from their
possessions. They appointed whom they pleased to live in their houses,
and the monks, being far away from their superiors, became a source of
constant annoyance to the English people. The struggle against these
alien priories had been carried on for many years, and so many of them
had been abolished that the people became accustomed to the seizure of

Large sums of money were annually paid to the pope, and the English
people were loudly complaining of the constant drain on their resources.
It was a common saying in the reign of Henry III., that "England is the
pope's farm." The "Good Parliament," in 1376, affirmed "that the taxes
paid to the church of Rome amounted to five times as much as those
levied for the king; ... that the brokers of the sinful city of Rome
promoted for money unlearned and unworthy caitiffs to benefices of the
value of a thousand marks, while the poor and learned hardly obtain one
of twenty." Various laws, heartily supported by the clergy as well as by
the civil authorities, were enacted from time to time, aimed at the
abuses of papal power. So steadfast and strong was the opposition to the
interference of foreigners in English affairs, it would be possible to
show that there was an evolution in the struggle against Rome that was
certain to culminate in the separation, whether Henry had accomplished
it or not. What might have occurred if the monks had reformed and the
pope withdrawn his claims it is impossible to know. The fact is that the
monks grew worse instead of better, and the arrogance of foreigners
became more unendurable. "The corruption of the church establishment, in
fact," says Lea, "had reached a point which the dawning enlightenment of
the age could not much longer endure.... Intoxicated with centuries of
domination, the muttered thunders of growing popular discontent were
unheeded, and its claims to spiritual and temporal authority were
asserted with increasing vehemence, while its corruptions were daily
displayed before the people with more careless cynicism." In view of
this condition of affairs, the existence of which even the adherents of
modern Rome must acknowledge, one cannot but wonder that the ruin of the
monasteries should be attributed to Henry's desire "to overthrow the
rights of women, to degrade matrimony and to practice concubinage." Such
an explanation is too superficial; it ignores a multitude of
historical facts.

The monasteries had to fall if England was to be saved from the horrors
of civil war, if the hand of the pope was to remain uplifted from her,
if the insecure gains of the Reformation were to become established and
glorious achievements; if, in fact, all those benefits accompanying
human progress were to become the heritage of succeeding ages.

Whatever benefits the monks had conferred upon mankind, and these were
neither few nor slight, they had become fetters on the advancement of
freedom, education and true religion. They were the standing army of the
pope, occupying the last and strongest citadel. They were the unyielding
advocates of an ideal that was passing away. It was sad to see the
Carthusian house fall, but in spite of the high character of its
inmates, it was a part of an institution that stood for the right of
foreigners to rule England. It was unfortunate they had thrown
themselves down before the car of progress but there they were; they
would not get up; the car must roll on, for so God himself had decreed,
and hence they were crushed in its advance. Their martyrdom was truly a
poor return for their virtues, but there never has been a moral or
political revolution that has furthered the general well-being of
humanity, in which just and good men have not suffered. It would be
delightful if freedom and progress could be secured, and effete
institutions destroyed or reformed, without the accompaniment of
disaster and death, but it is not so.

The monks stood for opposition to reform, and therefore came into direct
conflict with the king, who was blindly groping his way toward the
future, and who was, in fact, the unconscious agent of many reform
forces that concentrated in him. He did not comprehend the significance
of his proceedings. He did not take up the cause of the English people
with the pure and intelligent motive of encouraging free thought and
free religion. He did not realize that he was leading the mighty army of
Protestant reformers. He little dreamed that the people whose cause he
championed would in turn assert their rights and make it impossible for
an English sovereign to enjoy the absolute authority which he wielded.
Truly "there is a power, not ourselves," making for freedom, progress
and truth.

Thus a number of causes brought on the ruin of the monasteries. Henry's
need of money; the refusal of the monks to sign the acts of supremacy
and succession; the general drift of reform, and the iniquity of the
monks. They fell from natural causes and through the operation of laws
which God alone controls. As Hill neatly puts it, "Monasticism was
healthy, active and vigorous; it became idle, listless and extravagant;
it engendered its own corruption, and out of that corruption
came death."

Richard Bagot, a Catholic, in a recent article on the question, "Will
England become Catholic?" which was published in the "Nuova Antologia,"
says: "Though it is impossible not to blame the so-called Reformers for
the acts of sacrilege and barbarism through which they obtained the
religious and political liberty so necessary to the intellectual and
social progress of the race, it cannot be denied that no sooner had the
power of the papacy come to an end in England than the English nation
entered upon that free development which has at last brought it to its
present position among the other nations of the world." Mr. Bagot also
admits that "the political intrigues and insatiable ambition of the
papacy during the succeeding centuries constituted a perpetual menace
to England."

The true view, therefore, is that two types of religious and political
life, two epochs of human history, met in Henry's reign. The king and
the pope were the exponents of conflicting ideals. The fall of the
monasteries was an incident in the struggle. "The Catholics," says
Froude, "had chosen the alternative, either to crush the free thought
which was bursting from the soil, or to be crushed by it; and the future
of the world could not be sacrificed to preserve the exotic graces of
medieval saints."

The problem is reduced to this, Was the Reformation desirable? Is
Protestantism a curse or a blessing? Would England and the world be
better off under the sway of medieval religion than under the influence
of modern Protestantism? If monasticism were a fetter on human liberty
and industry, if the monasteries were "so many seminaries of
superstition and of folly," there was but one thing to do--to break the
fetters and to destroy the monasteries. To have succeeded in so radical
a reform as that begun by King Henry, with forty thousand monks
preaching treason, would have been an impossibility. Henry cannot be
blamed because the monks chose to entangle themselves with politics and
to side with Rome as against the English nation.

_Results of the Dissolution_

Many important results followed the fall of the monasteries. The
majority of the House of Lords was now transferred from the abbots to
the lay peers. The secular clergy, who had been fighting the monks for
centuries, were at last accorded their proper standing in the church.
Numerous unjust ecclesiastical privileges were swept aside, and in many
respects the whole church was strengthened and purified. Credulity and
superstition began to decline. Ecclesiastical criminals were no longer
able to escape the just penalty for their crimes. Naturally all these
beneficent ends were not attained immediately. For a while there was
great disorder and distress. Society was disturbed not only by the
stoppage of monastic alms-giving, but the wandering monks, unaccustomed
to toil and without a trade, increased the confusion.

In this connection it is well to point out that some writers make very
much of the poverty relieved by the monks, and claim that the nobles,
into whose hands the monastic lands fell, did almost nothing to mitigate
the distresses of the unfortunate. But they ignore the fact that a blind
and undiscriminating charity was the cause, and not the cure, of much of
the miserable wretchedness of the poor. Modern society has learned that
the monastic method is wholly wrong; that fraud and laziness are
fostered by a wholesale distribution of doles. The true way to help the
poor is to enable the poor to assist themselves; to teach them trades
and give them work. The sociological methods of to-day are thoroughly

On the other hand, the infidel Zosimus, quoted by Gibbon, was not far
wrong when he said "the monks robbed an empire to help a few beggars."
The fact that the religious houses did distribute alms and entertain
strangers is not disputed; indeed it is pleasant to reflect upon this
noble charity of the monks; it is a bright spot in their history. But it
is in no sense true that they deserve all the credit for relieving
distress. They received the money for alms in the shape of rents, gifts
and other kinds of income. Hallam says, "There can be no doubt that many
of the impotent poor derived support from their charity. But the blind
eleemosynary spirit inculcated by the Romish church is notoriously the
cause, not the cure, of beggary and wickedness. The monastic
foundations, scattered in different countries, could never answer the
ends of local and limited succor. Their gates might, indeed, be open to
those who knocked at them for alms.... Nothing could have a stronger
tendency to promote that vagabond mendicity which severe statutes were
enacted to repress."

It seems almost ungracious to quote such an observation, because it may
be distorted into a criticism of charity itself, or made to serve the
purposes of certain anti-Romanists who cannot even spare those noble
women who minister to the sick in the home or hospital from their
bigoted criticisms. Small indeed must be the soul of that man who
permits his religious opinions to blind his eyes to the inestimable
services of those heroic and self-sacrificing women. But even Roman
Catholic students of social problems must recognize the folly of
indiscriminate alms-giving. "In proportion as justice between man and
man has declined, that form of charity which consists in giving money
has been more quickened." The promotion of industry, the repression of
injustice, the encouragement of self-reliance and thrift, are needed far
more than the temporary relief of those who suffer from oppression or
from their own wrong-doing.

Some of those who deplore the fall of the monasteries make much of the
fact that the modern world is menaced by materialism. "With very rare
exceptions," cries Maitre, a French Catholic, "the most undisguised
materialism has everywhere replaced the lessons and recollections of the
spiritual life. The shrill voice of machinery, the grinding of the saw
or the monotonous clank of the piston, is heard now, where once were
heard chants and prayers and confessions. Once the monk freely undid
the door to let the stranger in, and now we see a sign, 'no admittance,'
lest a greedy rival purloin the tricks of trade." Montalembert,
referring to the ruin of the cloisters in France, grieves thus:
"Sometimes the spinning-wheel is installed under the ancient sanctuary.
Instead of echoing night and day the praises of God, these dishonored
arches too often repeat only the blasphemies of obscene cries." The
element of truth in these laments gives them their sting, but one should
beware of the fervid rhetoric of the worshipers of medievalism. This
century is nobler, purer, truer, manlier, and more humane than any of
the centuries that saw the greatest triumphs of the monks. They, too,
had their blasphemies, often under the cloak of piety; they, too, had
their obscene cries. Their superstitions and frauds concealed beneath
those "dishonored arches" were infinitely worse than the noise of
machinery weaving garments for the poor, or producing household comforts
to increase the happiness of the humblest man.

There is much that is out of joint, much to justify doleful prophecies,
in the social and religious conditions of the present age, but the
signs of the times are not all ominous. At all events, nothing would be
gained by a return to the monkish ideals of the past. The hope of the
world lies in the further development and completer realization of those
great principles of human freedom that distinguish this century from the
past. The history of monasticism clearly shows that the monasteries
could not minister to that development of liberty, truth and justice,
which constitute the indispensable condition of human happiness and
human progress. Unable to adjust themselves to the new age, unwilling to
welcome the new light, rejecting the doctrine of individual freedom, the
monks were forced to retire from the field.

So fell in England that institution which, for twelve centuries, had
exercised marvelous dominion over the spiritual and temporal interests
of the continent, and for eight hundred years had suffered or thrived on
English soil. "The day came, and that a drear winter day, when its last
mass was sung, its last censer waved, its last congregation bent in rapt
and lovely adoration before the altar." Its majestic and solemn ruins
proclaim its departed grandeur. Its deeds of mercy, its conflicts with
kings and bishops, its prayers and chants and penances, its virtues and
its vices, its trials and its victories, its wealth and its poverty, all
are gone. Silence and death keep united watch over cloister and tomb. We
should be ungrateful if we forgot its blessings; we should be untrue if,
ignoring its evils, we sought to bring back to life that which God has
laid in the sepulcher of the dead.

     "Where pleasant was the spot for men to dwell,
     Amid its fair broad lands the abbey lay,
     Sheltering dark orgies that were shame to tell,
     And cowled and barefoot beggars swarmed the way,
     All in their convent weeds of black, and white, and gray.

     From many a proud monastic pile, o'erthrown,
     Fear-struck, the brooded inmates rushed and fled;
     The web, that for a thousand years had grown
     O'er prostrate Europe, in that day of dread
     Crumbled and fell, as fire dissolves the flaxen thread."




All forms of religious character and conduct are grounded in certain
cravings of the soul, which, in seeking satisfaction, are influenced by
theoretical opinions. The longings of the human heart constitute the
impulse, or the energy, of religion. The intellectual convictions act as
guiding forces. As a religious type, therefore, the monk was produced by
the action of certain desires, influenced by specific opinions
respecting God, the soul, the body, the world and their relations.

The existence of monasticism in non-Christian religions implies that
whatever impetus the ascetic impulses in human nature received from
Christian teaching, there is some broader basis for monastic life than
the tenets of any creed. Biblical history and Christian theology furnish
some explanation of the rise of Christian monasticism, but they do not
account for the monks of ancient India. The teachings of Jesus exerted a
profound influence upon the Christian monks, but they cannot explain the
Oriental asceticism that flourished before the Christ of the New
Testament was born. There must have been some motive, or motives,
operating on human nature as such, a knowledge of which will help to
account for the monks of Indian antiquity as well as the begging friars
of modern times. It will therefore be in order to begin the present
inquiry by seeking those causes which gave rise to monasticism
in general.

_Causative Motives of Monasticism_

Whatever the origin of religion itself, it is certain that it is man's
inalienable concern. He is, as Sabatier says, "incurably religious." Of
all the motives ministering to this ruling passion, the longing for
righteousness and for the favor of God is supreme. The savage only
partially grasps the significance of his spiritual aspirations, and
dimly understands the nature of the God he adores or fears. His worship
may be confined to frantic efforts to ward off the vengeful assaults of
an angry deity, but however gross his religious conceptions, there is at
the heart of his religion a desire to live in peaceful relations with
the Supreme Being.

As religion advances, the ethical character of God and the nature of
true righteousness are more clearly apprehended. But the idea that moral
purity and fellowship with God are in some way associated with
self-denial has always been held by the religious world. But what does
such a conception involve? What must one do to deny self? The answer to
that question will vastly influence the form of religious conduct. Thus
while all religious men may unite in a craving for holiness by a
participation in the Divine nature, they will differ widely in their
opinions as to the nature of this desirable righteousness and as to the
means by which it may be attained. Roman Catholicism, by the voice of
the monk, whom it regards as the highest type of Christian living, gives
one answer to these questions; Protestantism, protesting against
asceticism, gives a different reply.

The desire for salvation was, therefore, the primary cause of all
monasticism. Many quotations might be given from the sacred writings of
India, establishing beyond dispute, that underlying the confusing
variety of philosophical ideas and ascetic practices of the
non-Christian monks, was a consuming desire for the redemption of the
soul from sin. Buddha said on seeing a mendicant, "The life of a devotee
has always been praised by the wise. It will be my refuge and the refuge
of other creatures, it will lead us to a real life, to happiness and

Dharmapala, in expounding the teachings of the Buddha, at the World's
Parliament of Religions, in Chicago, clearly showed that the aim of the
Buddhist is "the entire obliteration of all that is evil," and "the
complete purification of the mind." That this is the purpose of the
asceticism of India is seen by the following quotation from Dharmapala's
address: "The advanced student of the religion of Buddha when he has
faith in him thinks: 'Full of hindrances is household life, a path
defiled by passions; free as the air is the life of him who has
renounced all worldly things. How difficult is it for the man who dwells
at home to live the higher life in all its fullness, in all its purity,
in all its perfection! Let me then cut off my hair and beard, let me
clothe myself in orange-colored robes and let me go forth from a
household life into the homeless state!'"

In the same parliament, Mozoomdar, the brilliant and attractive
representative of the Brahmo Somaj, in describing "Asia's Service to
Religion," thus stated the motives and spirit of Oriental asceticism:
"What lesson do the hermitages, the monasteries, the cave temples, the
discipline and austerities of the religious East teach the world?
Renunciation. The Asiatic apostle will ever remain an ascetic, a
celibate, a homeless Akinchana, a Fakeer. We Orientals are all the
descendants of John the Baptist. Any one who has taken pains at
spiritual culture must admit that the great enemy to a devout
concentration of mind is the force of bodily and worldly desire.
Communion with God is impossible, so long as the flesh and its lusts are
not subdued.... It is not mere temperance, but positive asceticism; not
mere self-restraint, but self-mortification; not mere self-sacrifice,
but self-extinction; not mere morality, but absolute holiness." And
further on in his address, Mozoomdar claimed that this asceticism is
practically the essential principle in Christianity and the meaning of
the cross of Christ: "This great law of self-effacement, poverty,
suffering, death, is symbolized in the mystic cross so dear to you and
dear to me. Christians, will you ever repudiate Calvary? Oneness of will
and character is the sublimest and most difficult unity with God." The
chief value of these quotations from Mozoomdar lies in the fact that
they show forth the underlying motive of all asceticism. It would be
unjust to the distinguished scholar to imply that he defends those
extreme forms of monasticism which have appeared in India or in
Christian countries. On the contrary, while he maintains, in his
charming work, "The Oriental Christ," that "the height of self-denial
may fitly be called asceticism," he is at the same time fully alive to
its dangerous exaggerations. "Pride," he says, "creeps into the holiest
and humblest exercises of self-discipline. It is the supremest natures
only that escape. The practice of asceticism therefore is always
attended with great danger." The language of Mozoomdar, however, like
that of many Christian monastic writers, opens the door to many grave
excesses. It is another evidence of the necessity for defining what one
means by "self-mortification" and "self-extinction."

Turning now to Christian monasticism, it will be found that, as in the
case of Oriental monasticism the yearning for victory over self was
uppermost in the minds of the best Christian monks. A few words from a
letter written by Jerome to Rusticus, a young monk, illustrates the
truth of this observation: "Let your garments be squalid," he says, "to
show that your mind is white, and your tunic coarse, to show that you
despise the world. But give not way to pride, lest your dress and your
language be found at variance. Baths stimulate the senses, and are
therefore to be avoided."

To keep the mind white, to despise the world, to overcome pride, to stop
the craving of the senses for gratification,--these were the objects of
the monks, in order to accomplish which they macerated and starved their
bodies, avoided baths, wore rags, affected humble language and fled from
the scenes of pleasure. The goal was highly commendable, even if the
means employed were inadequate to produce the desired results.

All down through the Middle Ages, the idea continued to prevail that the
monastic life was the highest and purest expression of the Christian
religion, and that the monks' chances of heaven were much better than
those of any other class of men. The laity believed them to be a little
nearer God than even the clergy, and so they paid them gold for their
prayers. It will readily be understood that in degenerate times, so
profitable a doctrine would be earnestly encouraged by the monks. The
knight, whose conscience revolted against his conduct but who could not
bring himself to a complete renunciation of the world, believed that
heaven would condone his faults or crimes if in some way he could make
friends with the dwellers in the cloister. To this end, he founded
abbeys and sustained monasteries by liberal gifts of gold and land. Such
a donation was made in the following language: "I, Gervais, who belong
to the chivalry of the age, caring for the salvation of my soul, and
considering that I shall never reach God by my own prayers and fastings,
have resolved to recommend myself in some other way to those who, night
and day, serve God by these practices, so that, thanks to their
intercession, I may be able to obtain that salvation which I of myself
am unable to merit." Another endowment was made by Peter, Knight of
Maull, in these quaint terms: "I, Peter, profiting by this lesson, and
desirous, though a sinner and unworthy, to provide for my future
destiny, I have desired that the bees of God may come to gather their
honey in my orchards, so that when their fair hives shall be full of
rich combs, they may be able to remember him by whom the hive
was given."

The people believed that the prayers of the monks lifted their souls
into heaven; that their curses doomed them to the bottomless pit. A
monastery was the safe and sure road to heaven. The observation of
Gibbon respecting the early monks is applicable to all of them: "Each
proselyte who entered the gates of a monastery was persuaded that he
trod the steep and thorny path of eternal happiness."

The second cause for monasticism in general was a natural love of
solitude, which became almost irresistible when reinforced by a despair
of the world's redemption. The poet voiced the feelings of almost every
soul, at some period in life, when he wrote:

     "O for a lodge in some vast wilderness,
     Some boundless contiguity of shade,
     Where rumor of oppression or deceit,
     Of unsuccessful or successful war,
     Might never reach me more."

The longing for solitude accompanied the desire for salvation. An
unconquerable weariness of the world, with its strife and passion,
overcame the seeker after God. A yearning to escape the duties of social
life, which were believed to interfere with one's duty to God, possessed
his soul. The flight from the world was merely the method adopted to
satisfy his soul-longings. If such times of degeneracy and rampant
iniquity ever return, if humanity is again compelled to stagger under
the moral burdens that crushed the Roman Empire, without doubt the love
of solitude, which is now held in check by the satisfactions of a
comparatively pure and peaceful social life, will again arise in its
old-time strength and impel men to seek in waste and lonely places the
virtues they cannot acquire in a decaying civilization.

Even amid the delights of human fellowship, and surrounded by so much
that ministers to restfulness of soul, it is often hard to repress a
longing to shatter the fetters of custom, to flee from the noise and
confusion of this hurrying, fretful world, and to pass one's days in a
coveted retirement, far from the maddening strife and tumult.
Montalembert's profound appreciation of monastic life was never more
aptly illustrated than in the following declaration: "In the depths of
human nature there exists without doubt, a tendency instinctive, though
confused and evanescent, toward retirement and solitude. What man,
unless completely depraved by vice or weighed down by care and cupidity,
has not experienced once, at least, before his death, the attraction of

While the motives just described were unquestionably preeminent among
the causative factors in monasticism, it should not be taken for granted
that there were no others, or that either or both of these motives
controlled every monk. The personal considerations tending to keep up
the flight from the world were numerous and active. It would be a
mistake to credit all the monks, and at some periods even a majority of
them, with pure and lofty purposes. Oftentimes criminals were pardoned
through the intercession of abbots on condition that they would retire
to a monastery. The jilted lover and the commercial bankrupt, the
deserted or bereaved wife, the pauper and the invalid, the social
outcast and the shirker of civic duties, the lazy and the fickle were
all to be found in the ranks of the monastic orders. Ceasing to feel any
interest in the joys of society, they had turned to the cloister as a
welcome asylum in the hour of their sorrow or disappointment. To some it
was an easy way out of the struggle for existence, to others it meant an
end to taxes and to military service, to still others it was a haven of
rest for a weary body or a disappointed spirit. Thus many specific,
individual considerations acted with the general desires for salvation
and solitude to strengthen and to perpetuate the institution.

_Beliefs Affecting the Causative Motives_

In the first chapter it was shown that a variety of views respecting the
relation of the body and the soul influenced the origin and development
of Christian monasticism. It will not now be necessary to repeat what
was there said. The essential teaching of all these false opinions was
that the body was in itself evil, that the gratification of natural
appetites was inherently wrong, and that true holiness consisted in the
complete subjection of the body by self-denial and torture. Jerome
distinctly taught that what was natural was opposed to God. The Gnostics
and many of the early Christians believed that this world was ruled by
the devil. The Gnostics held that this opposition of the kingdom of
matter to God was fundamental and eternal. The Christians, however,
maintained that the antagonism was temporary, the Lord having given the
world over to evil spirits for a time. The prevailing opinion among
almost all schools was that a union with God was only possible to those
who had extinguished bodily desires.

The ascetic theory undoubtedly derived much support from the views held
concerning the teachings of the Bible. The Oriental monks frequently
quoted from their sacred books to justify their habits and ideals. In
like manner, the Christian monks believed that they, and they alone,
were literally obeying the commands of Christ and his apostles. This
phase of the subject will receive attention when the three vows of
monasticism are considered.

In the West, two conditions, one political and social, the other
religious, set in motion all these spiritual desires and ascetic beliefs
tending toward monasticism. One was the corrupted state, of Roman
society and the approaching overthrow of the Roman Empire. The other was
the secularization of the church.

Men naturally cling to society as long as there exists any well-founded
hope for its regeneration, but when every expectation for the survival
of righteousness yields to a conviction that doom is inevitable, then
the flight from the world begins. This was precisely the situation in
the declining days of Rome and Alexandria, when Christian monasticism
came into being. The monks believed that the end of the world was nigh,
that all things temporal and earthly were doomed, and that God's hand
was against the empire. "That they were correct in their judgment of the
world about them," says Kingsley, "contemporary history proves
abundantly. That they were correct, likewise, in believing that some
fearful judgment was about to fall on man, is proved by the fact that it
did fall."

So they fled to escape being caught in the ruins of society's tottering
structure,--fled to make friends with the angels and with God. If one
cannot live purely in the midst of corruption, by all means let him live
purely away from corruption, but let him never forget that his piety is
of a lower order than that which abides uncorrupted in the midst of
degenerate society. There is much truth in the observation of Charles
Reade in "The Cloister and the Hearth": "So long as Satan walks the
whole earth, tempting men, and so long as the sons of Belial do never
lock themselves in caves but run like ants, to and fro corrupting
others, the good man that sulks apart, plays the Devil's game, or at
least gives him the odds."

But the early Christian monks believed that their safety was only in
flight. It was not altogether an unworthy motive; at least it is easy to
sympathize with these men struggling against odds, of the magnitude of
which the modern Christian has only the faintest conception.

The conviction that the only true and certain way to secure salvation
is by flight from the world, continued to prevail during the succeeding
centuries of monastic history, and it can hardly be said to have
entirely disappeared even at the present time. Anselm of Canterbury, in
the twelfth century, wrote to a young friend reminding him that the
glory of this world was perishing. True, not monks only are saved,
"but," says he, "who attains to salvation in the most certain, who in
the most noble way, the man who seeks to love God alone, or he who seeks
to unite the love of God with the love of the world?... Is it rational
when danger is on every side, to remain where it is the greatest?"

The Christian church set up an ideal of life which it was impossible to
realize within her borders, and one which differed in many respects from
the teachings of Jesus. Her demands involved a renunciation of the
world, a superiority to all the enticements of bodily appetites, a lofty
scorn of secular bonds and social concerns. A vigorous religious faith
had conquered a mighty empire, but corruption attended its victory. The
standard of Christian morals was lowered, or had at least degenerated
into a cold, formal ideal that no one was expected to realize; hence
none strove to attain it but the monks. When Roman society with its
selfishness, lust and worldliness, swept in through the open doors of
the church and took possession of the sanctuary, those who had cherished
the ascetic ideal gave up the fight against the world, and the flight
from the world-church began. They could not tolerate this union of the
church with a pagan state and an effete civilization. In some respects,
as a few writers maintain, many of these hermits were like the old
Jewish prophets, fighting single-handed against corruption in church and
state, refusing to yield themselves as slaves to the authority of
institutions that had forsaken the ideals of the past.

Thus the conviction that the end of human society was nigh, and that the
church could no longer serve as an asylum for the lovers of
righteousness, with certain philosophical ideas respecting the body, the
world and God, united to produce the assumption that salvation was more
readily attainable in the deserts; and Christian monasticism, in its
hermit form, began its long and eventful history.

_Causes of Variations in Monasticism_

Prominent among the causes producing variations in the monastic type was
the influence of climatic conditions and race characteristics.

The monasticism as well as the religion of the East has always differed
from the monasticism and the religion of the West. The Eastern mind is
mystical, dreamy, contemplative; the Western mind loves activity, is
intensely practical. Representatives of the Eastern faiths in the recent
Parliament of Religions accused the West of materialism, of loving the
body more than the soul. They affected to despise all material
prosperity, and gloried in their assumed superiority, on account of
their love for religious contemplation. This radical difference between
the races of the East and West is clearly seen in the monastic
institution. Benedict embodied in his rules the spirit and active life
of the West, and hence, the monastic system, then in danger of dying, or
stagnating, revived and spread all over Europe. Again, the hermit life
was ill-adapted to the West. Men could not live out of doors in Europe
and subsist on small quantities of food as in Egypt. The rigors of the
climate in Europe demanded an adaptation to new conditions.

But aside from the differences between Eastern and Western monasticism,
the Christian institution passed through a variety of changes. The
growth of monasticism from the hermit stage to the cloistral life has
already been described. To what shall the development of the community
system be attributed? No religious institution can remain stationary,
unaffected by the changing conditions of the society in which it exists.
The progress of the intellect, and the development of social, political
and industrial conditions, effect great transformations in religious

The monastic institution grew up amid the radical changes of European
society. In its early days it witnessed the invasion of the barbarians,
which swept away old political divisions and destroyed many of the
heritages of an ancient civilization. Then the process of reconstruction
slowly began. New states were forming; nations were crystallizing. The
barbarian was to lay the foundations of great cities and organize
powerful commonwealths out of wild but victorious tribes. The monk
could not remain in hiding. He was brother to the roving warrior. The
blood in his veins was too active to permit him to stand still amid the
mighty whirl of events. Without entirely abandoning his cloistral life,
he became a zealous missionary of the church among the barbarians, a
patron of letters and of agriculture, in short a stirring participant in
the work of civilization.

Next came the crusades. Jerusalem was to be captured for Christ and the
church. The monk then appeared as a crusade-preacher, a warrior on the
battle-field, or a nurse in the military hospital.

The rise of feudalism likewise wrought a change in the spirit and
position of the monks. The feudal lord was master of his vassals. "The
genius of feudalism," says Allen, "was a spirit of uncontrolled
independence." So the abbot became a feudal lord with immense
possessions and powers. He was no longer the obscure, spiritual father
of a little family of monks, but a temporal lord also, an aristocrat,
ruling wide territories, and dwelling in a monastery little different
from the castle of the knight and often exceeding it in splendor. With
wealth came ease, and hard upon the heels of ease came laziness,
arrogance, corruption.

Then followed the marvelous intellectual awakening, the moral revival,
the discoveries and inventions of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
The human mind at last had aroused itself from a long repose, or turned
from a profitless activity into broad and fruitful fields. The
corruption of the monasteries meant the laxity of vows, the cessation of
ministration to the poor and the sick. Then arose the tender and loving
Francis, with his call to poverty and to service. The independent
exercise of the intellect gave birth to heresies, but the Dominicans
appeared to preach them down.

The growth of the secular spirit and the progress of the new learning
were too much for the old monasticism. The monk had to adapt himself to
a new age, an age that is impatient of mere contemplation, that spurns
the rags of the begging friar and rebels against the fierce intolerance
of the Dominican preaching. So, lastly, came the suave, determined,
practical, cultured Jesuit, ready to comply, at least outwardly, with
all the requirements of modern times. Does the new age reject monastic
seclusion? Very well, the Jesuit throws off his monastic garb and
forsakes his cloister, to take his place among men. Are the ignorance
and the filth of the begging friars offensive? The Jesuit is cultured,
affable and spotlessly clean. Does the new age demand liberty?
"Liberty," cries the Jesuit, "is the divine prerogative, colossal in
proportion, springing straight from the broad basin of the
soul's essence!"

Such in its merest outlines is the story of the development of the
monastic type and its causes.

_The Fundamental Monastic Vows_

The ultimate monastic ideal was the purification of the soul, but when
translated into definite, concrete terms, the immediate aim of the monk
was to live a life of poverty, celibacy and obedience. Riches, marriage
and self-will were regarded as forms of sinful gratification, which
every holy man should abandon. The true Christian, according to
monasticism, is poor, celibate and obedient. The three fundamental
monastic vows should therefore receive special consideration.

1. The Vow of Poverty. The monks of all countries held the possession of
riches to be a barrier to high spiritual attainments. In view of the
fact that an inordinate love of wealth has proved disastrous to many
nations, and that it is extremely difficult for a rich man to escape the
hardening, enervating and corrupting influences of affluence, the
position of the monks on this question is easily understood. The
Christian monks based their vow of poverty upon the Bible, and
especially upon the teachings of Christ, who, though he was rich, yet
for our sakes became poor. He said to the rich young man, "Sell all that
thou hast and give to the poor." In commissioning the disciples to
preach the gospel He said: "Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass
in your purses; nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, nor
shoes." In the discourse on counting the cost of discipleship, He said:
"So therefore, whosoever he be of you that renounceth not all that he
hath, he cannot be my disciple." He promised rewards to "every one that
left houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or children,
or lands for my name's sake." "It is easier," He once said, "for a
camel to go through a needle's eye than for a rich man to enter the
kingdom of heaven." He portrayed the pauper Lazarus as participating in
the joys of heaven, while the rich Dives endured the torments of the
lost. As reported in Luke, He said, "Blessed are ye poor." He Himself
was without a place to lay His head, a houseless wanderer upon
the earth.

The apostle James cries to the men of wealth: "Go to now, ye rich men,
weep and howl, for your miseries that shall come upon you." John said:
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any
man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

Whatever these passages, and many others of like import, may signify, it
is not at all strange that Christians, living in times when wealth was
abused, and when critical Biblical scholarship was unknown, should have
understood Christ to command a life of poverty as an indispensable
condition of true holiness.

There are three ways of interpreting Christ's doctrine of wealth. First,
it may be held that Jesus intended His teachings to be literally obeyed,
not only by His first disciples but by all His followers in subsequent
years, and that such literal obedience is practicable, reasonable and
conducive to the highest well-being of society. Secondly, it has been
said that Jesus was a gentle and honest visionary, who erroneously
believed that the possession of riches rendered religious progress
impossible, but that strict compliance with His commands would be
destructive of civilization. Laveleye declares that "if Christianity
were taught and understood conformably to the spirit of its Founder, the
existing social organism could not last a day." Thirdly, neither of
these views seems to do justice to the spirit of Christ, for they fail
to give proper recognition to many other injunctions of the Master and
to many significant incidents in his public ministry. Exhaustive
treatment of this subject is, of course, impossible here. Briefly it may
be remarked, that Jesus looked upon wealth as tending oftentimes to
foster an unsocial spirit. Rich men are liable to become enemies of the
brotherhood Jesus sought to establish, by reason of their covetousness
and contracted sympathies. The rich man is in danger of erecting false
standards of manhood, of ignoring the highest interests of the soul by
an undue emphasis on the material. Wealth, in itself, is not an evil,
but it is only a good when it is used to advance the real welfare of
humanity. Jesus was not intent upon teaching economics. His purpose was
to develop the man. It was the moral value and spiritual influence of
material things that concerned him. Professor Shailer Mathews admirably
states the true attitude of Jesus towards rich men: "Jesus was a friend
neither of the working man nor the rich man as such. He calls the poor
man to sacrifice as well as the rich man. He was the Son of Man, not the
son of a class of men. But His denunciation is unsparing of those men
who make wealth at the expense of souls; who find in capital no
incentive to further fraternity; who endeavor so to use wealth as to
make themselves independent of social obligations, and to grow fat with
that which should be shared with society;--for those men who are gaining
the world but are letting their neighbors fall among thieves and Lazarus
rot among their dogs."

Jesus was therefore not a foe to rich men as such, but to that
antisocial, abnormal regard for wealth and its procurements, which leads
to the creation of class distinctions and impedes the full and free
development of our common humanity along the lines of brotherly love and
coöperation. A Christian may consistently be a rich man, provided he
uses his wealth in furthering the true interests of society, and
realizes, as respects his own person, that "a man's life consisteth not
in the abundance of the things which he possesseth." The error of
monasticism consists in making poverty a virtue and an essential
condition of the highest holiness. It is true that some callings
preclude the prospect of fortune. The average clergyman cannot hope to
amass wealth. The resident of a social settlement may possess capacities
that would win success in business, but he must forego financial
prospects if he expects to live and labor among the poor. In so far as
the monks deliberately turned their backs on the material rewards of
human endeavors that they might be free to devote themselves to the
service of humanity, their vow of poverty was creditable and reasonable.
But they erred when they exalted poverty as of itself commending them in
a peculiar degree to the mercy of God.

2. The Vow of Celibacy. "The moral merit of celibacy," says Allen, "was
harder to make out of the Scripture, doubtless, since family life is
both at the foundation of civil society and the source of all the common
virtues." The monks held that Christ and Paul both taught and practiced
celibacy. In the early and middle ages celibacy was looked upon by all
churchmen as in itself a virtue. The prevailing modern idea is that
marriage is a holy institution, in no sense inferior in sacredness to
any ecclesiastical order of life. He who antagonizes it plays into the
hands of the foes to social purity and individual virtue.

The ideas of Jerome, Ambrose, and all the early Fathers, respecting
marriage, are still held by many ecclesiastics. One of them, in
defending the celibacy of existing religious orders, says: "Celibacy is
enjoined on these religious orders as a means to greater sanctification,
greater usefulness, greater absorption in things spiritual, and to
facilitate readier withdrawal from things earthly." He gives two reasons
for the celibacy of the priesthood, which are all the more interesting
because they substantially represent the opinions held by the Christian
monks in all ages: First, "That the service of the priest to God may be
undivided and unrestrained." In support of this, he quotes I. Cor., 7:
32, 33, which reads: "But I would have you free from cares. He that is
unmarried is careful for the things of the Lord, how he may please the
Lord: but he that is married is careful for the things of the world, how
he may please his wife." And secondly, "Celibacy," according to Trent,
"is more blessed than marriage." He also quotes the words of Christ that
there are "eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake." He then adds: "It
is desirable that those called to the ministry of the altar espouse a
life of continence because holier and more angelic."

It is generally admitted that the vow of celibacy was not demanded of
the clergy in primitive Christian times. It was only after many years of
bitter debate and in response to the growing influence of the monastic
ideal, that celibacy finally came to be looked upon as the highest form
of Christian virtue, and was enforced upon the clergy. As in the case of
the vow of poverty, there certainly can be no reasonable objection to
the individual adoption of celibacy, if one is either disinclined to
marriage or feels that he can do better work unmarried. But neither
Scripture nor reason justifies the imposition of celibacy upon any man,
nor the view that a life of continence is holier than marriage. It may
be reverently said that God would be making an unreasonable demand upon
mankind, if the holiness He requires conflicted with the proper
satisfaction of those impulses He himself has deeply implanted in
human nature.

3. The Vow of Obedience. The monks were required to render absolute
obedience to the will of their superiors, as the representatives of God.
Dom Guigo, in his rules for the Carthusian Order, declares: "Moreover,
if the Prior commands one of his religious to take more food, or to
sleep for a longer time, in fact, whatever command may be given us by
our Superior, we are not allowed to disobey, lest we should disobey God
also, who commands us by the mouth of our Superior. All our practices of
mortification and devotion would be fruitless and of no value, without
this one virtue of obedience, which alone can make them acceptable
to God."

Thus a strict and uncomplaining obedience, not to the laws of God as
interpreted by the individual conscience, but to the judgment and will
of a brother man, was demanded of the monks.

     "Theirs not to reason why,
     Theirs not to make reply,
     Theirs but to do and die."

They were often severely beaten or imprisoned and sometimes mutilated
for acts of disobedience. While the monks, especially the Friars and
Jesuits, carried this principle of obedience to great extremes, yet in
the barbarous ages its enforcement was sadly needed. Law and order were
words which the untamed Goth could not comprehend. He had to be taught
habits of obedience, a respect for the rights of others, and a proper
appreciation of his duty to society for the common good. But while, at
the beginning, the monastic vow of obedience helped to inculcate these
desirable lessons, and vastly modified the ferocity of unchecked
individualism, it tended, in the course of time, to generate a servile
humility fatal to the largest and freest personal development. In the
interests of passive obedience, it suppressed freedom of thought and
action. Obedience became mechanical and unreasoning. The consequence was
that the passion for individual liberty was unduly restrained, and the
extravagant claims of political and ecclesiastical tyrants were greatly

Such was the monastic ideal and such were some of the means employed to
realize it. The ascetic spirit manifests itself in a great variety of
ways, but all these visible and changing externals have one common
source. "To cherish the religious principle," says William E. Channing,"
some have warred against their social affections, and have led solitary
lives; some against their senses, and have abjured all pleasure in
asceticism; some against reason, and have superstitiously feared to
think; some against imagination, and have foolishly dreaded to read
poetry or books of fiction; some against the political and patriotic
principles, and have shrunk from public affairs,--all apprehending that
if they were to give free range to their natural emotions their
religious life would be chilled or extinguished."



"We read history," said Wendell Phillips, "not through our eyes but
through our prejudices." Yet if it were possible entirely to lay aside
one's prepossessions respecting monastic history, it would still be no
easy task to estimate the influences of the monks upon human life.

In every field of thought and activity monasticism wrought good and
evil. Education, industry, government and religion have been both
furthered and hindered by the monks. What Francis Parkman said of the
Roman Catholic Church is true of the monastic institution: "Clearly she
is of earth, not of heaven; and her transcendently dramatic life is a
type of the good and ill, the baseness and nobleness, the foulness and
purity, the love and hate, the pride, passion, truth, falsehood,
fierceness, and tenderness, that battle in the restless heart of man."

A careful and sympathetic survey of monastic history compels the
conclusion that monasticism, while not uniformly a blessing to the
world, was not an unmitigated evil. The system presents one long series
of perplexities and contradictions. One historian shuts his eyes to its
pernicious effects, or at least pardons its transgressions, on the
ground that perfection in man or in institutions is unattainable.
Another condemns the whole system, believing that the sum of its evils
far outweighs whatever benefits it may have conferred upon mankind.
Schaff cuts the Gordian knot, maintaining that the contradiction is
easily solved on the theory that it was not monasticism, as such, which
has proved a blessing to the Church and the world. "It was Christianity
in monasticism," he says, "which has done all the good, and used this
abnormal mode of life as a means of carrying forward its mission of love
and peace."

To illustrate the diversities of opinion on this subject, and
incidentally to show how difficult it is to present a well-balanced,
symmetrically fair and just estimate of the monastic institution as a
whole, contrast the opinions of four celebrated men. Pius IX. refers to
the, monks as "those chosen phalanxes of the army of Christ which have
always been the bulwark and ornament of the Christian republic as well
as of civil society." But then he was the Pope of Rome, the Arch-prelate
of the Church. "Monk," fiercely demands Voltaire, "Monk, what is that
profession of thine? It is that of having none, of engaging one's self
by an inviolable oath to be a fool and a slave, and to live at the
expense of others." But he was the philosophical skeptic of Paris.
"Where is the town," cries Montalembert, "which has not been founded or
enriched or protected by some religious community? Where is the church
which owes not to them a patron, a relic, a pious and popular tradition?
Wherever there is a luxuriant forest, a pure stream, a majestic hill, we
may be sure that religion has left there her stamp by the hand of the
monk." But this was Montalembert, the Roman Catholic historian, and the
avowed champion of the monks. "A cruel, unfeeling temper," writes
Gibbon, "has distinguished the monks of every age and country; their
stern indifference, which is seldom mollified by personal friendship,
is inflamed by religious hatred; and their merciless zeal has
strenuously administered the holy office of the Inquisition." But this
was Gibbon, the hater of everything monastic. Between these extreme
views lies a wide field upon which many a deathless duel has been fought
by the writers of monastic history.

The variety of judgments respecting the nature and effects of
monasticism is partly due to the diversity in the facts of its history.
Monasticism was the friend and the foe of true religion. It was the
inspiration of virtue and the encouragement of vice. It was the patron
of industry and the promoter of idleness. It was a pioneer in education
and the teacher of superstition. It was the disburser of alms and a
many-handed robber. It was the friend of human liberty and the abettor
of tyranny. It was the champion of the common people and the defender of
class privileges. It was, in short, everything that man was and is, so
varied were its operations, so complex was its influence, so
comprehensive was its life.

Of some things we may be certain. Any religious institution or ideal of
life that has survived the changes of twelve centuries, and that has
enlisted the enthusiastic services and warmest sympathies of numerous
men and women who have been honorably distinguished for their
intellectual attainments and moral character, must have possessed
elements of truth and moral worth. A contemptuous treatment of
monasticism implies either an ignorance of its real history or a wilful
disregard of the deep significance of its commendable features.

It is also certain that while the methods of monasticism, judged by
their effects upon the individual and upon society, may be justly
censured, it is beyond question that many monks, groping their way
toward the light in an age of ignorance and superstition, were inspired
by the purest motives. "Conscience," observes Waddington, "however
misguided, cannot be despised by a reflecting mind. When it leads one to
self-sacrifice and moral fortitude we cannot but admire his spirit,
while we condemn his sagacity and method."

_The Effects of Self-Sacrifice Upon the Individual_

Christianity requires some sort of self-denial as the condition of true
Christian discipleship. Self-love is to yield to a love of others. In
some sense, the Christian is to become dead to the world and its
demoralizing pleasures. But this primal demand upon the soul needs to be
interpreted. What is it to love the world? What is it to keep the body
in subjection? What are harmful indulgences? To give wrong answers to
these questions is to set up a false ideal; the more strenuously such
false ideal is followed, the more disastrous are the consequences. One's
struggle for moral purity may end in failure, and one's efficiency for
good may be seriously impaired by a perversion of the principle of
self-abnegation. Unnatural severity and excessive abstinence often
produce the opposite effect from that intended. Instead of a peaceful
mind there is delirium, and instead of freedom from temptation there are
a thousand horrible fiends hovering in the air and ready, at any moment,
to pounce upon their prey. "The history of ascetics," says Martensen,
"teaches us that by such overdone fasting the fancy is often excited to
an amazing degree, and in its airy domain affords the very things that
one thought to have buried, by means of mortification, a magical
resurrection." In attempting to subdue the body, many necessary
requirements of the physical organism were totally ignored. The body
rebelled against such unnatural treatment, and the mind, so closely
related to it, in its distraction, gave birth to the wildest fancies.
Men, who would have possessed an ordinarily pure mind in some useful
occupation of life, became the prey of the most lewd and obnoxious
imaginations. Then they fancied themselves vile above their fellows, and
laid on more stripes, put more thorns upon their pillows, and fasted
more hours, only to find that instead of fleeing, the devils became
blacker and more numerous.

Self-forgetfulness is the key to happiness. The monk thought otherwise,
and slew himself in his vain attempt to fight against nature. He never
lifted his eyes from his own soul. He was always feeling his spiritual
pulse, staring at his lean spiritual visage, and tearfully watching his
growth in grace. An interest in others and a strong mind in a strong
body are the best antidotes to religious despair and the temptations of
the soul. Life in the monastery was generally less severe than in the
desert's solitude. There was more and better food, shelter, and comfort,
but there were many unnecessary and unnatural restrictions, even in the
best days of monasticism. There were too many hours of prayer, too many
needless regulations for silence, fasting and penance, to produce a
healthy, vigorous type of religious life.

_The Effects of Solitude Upon the Individual_.

It has already been shown that some solitude is essential to our richest
culture. Our higher nature demands time for reflection and meditation.
But the monks carried this principle to an extreme, and they
overestimated its benefits. "Ambition, avarice, irresolution, fear, and
inordinate desires," says Montaigne, "do not leave us because we forsake
our native country, they often follow us even to cloisters and
philosophical schools; nor deserts, nor caves, nor hair shirts, nor
fasts, can disengage us from them."

Besides these passions, which the monks carried with them, their
solitary life tended to foster spiritual pride, contract sympathy, and
engender an inhumane spirit. True, there were exceptions; but the
sublime characters which survive in monastic history are by no means
typical of its usual effects. Seclusion did not benefit the average
monk. Indeed there is something wanting in even the loftiest monastic
characters. "The heroes of monasticism," says Allen, "are not the heroes
of modern life. All put together, they would not furnish out one such
soul as William of Orange, or Gustavus, or Milton. Independence of
thought and liberty of conscience, they renounced once for all, in
taking upon them the monastic vow. All the larger enterprises, all the
broad humanities, which to our mind make a greater career, were rigidly
shut off by a barrier that could not be crossed. All the warmth and
wealth of social and domestic life was a field of forbidden fruit, to be
entered only through the gate of unpardonable sin."

Thus self-excluded from a normal life in society, often the subject of
self-inflicted pain, it is no wonder that the monk impaired all the
nobler and manlier feelings of the soul, that he became strangely
indifferent to human affection, that bigotry and pride often sat as
joint rulers on the throne of his heart. He who had trampled on all
filial relations would scarcely recognize the bonds of human
brotherhood. He who heard not the prayer of his own mother would not be
likely to listen to the cry of the tortured heretic for mercy. Man as
man was not reverenced. It was the monk in man who was esteemed. As
Milman puts it, "Bigotry has always found its readiest and sternest
executioners among those who have never known the charities of life."

Nor is it a matter of surprise that the monk was spiritually proud. He
was supposed to stand in the inner circle, a little nearer the throne of
God than his fellow-mortals. When dead, he was worshiped as a saint and
regarded as an intercessor between God and his lower fellow-creatures.
His hatred of the base world easily passed over into a sense of
superiority and ignoble pride.

"True social life," says Martensen, "leads to solitude." This truth the
monks emphasized to the exclusion of the converse, "true life in
solitude leads back to society." John Tauler, the mystic monk, realized
this truth when he said: "If God calls me to a sick person, or to the
service of preaching, or to any other service of love, I must follow,
although I am in the state of highest contemplation." The hermits of the
desert, and too often the monks of the cloister, escaped from all such
services, and selfishly gave themselves up to saving their own souls by
contemplation and prayer. Ministration to the needy is the external side
of the inner religious life. It is the fruit of faith and prayer. The
monk sought solitude, not for the purpose of fitting himself for a place
in society, but for selfish, personal ends. Saint Bruno, in a letter to
his friend Ralph le Verd, eulogizes the solitude of the monastic cell,
and among other sentiments he gives expression to the following: "I am
speaking here of the contemplative life; and although its sons are less
numerous than those of active life, yet, like Joseph and Benjamin, they
are infinitely dearer to their Father.... O my brother, fear not then to
fly from the turmoil and the misery of the world; leave the storms that
rage without, to shelter yourself in this safe haven."

Thus sinful and sorrowing humanity, needing the guidance and comfort
that holy men can furnish, was forgotten in the desire for personal
peace and future salvation.

Another baneful result of isolation was the strangulation of filial
love. When the monk abandoned the softening, refining influence of women
and children, one side of his nature suffered a serious contraction. An
Egyptian mother stood at the hut of two hermits, her sons. Weeping
bitterly, she begged to see their faces. To her piteous entreaties, they
said: "Why do you, who are already stricken with age, pour forth such
cries and lamentations?" "It is because I long to see you," she replied.
"Am I not your mother? I am now an old and wrinkled woman, and my heart
is troubled at the sound of your voices." But even a mother's love could
not cope with their fearful fanaticism., and she went away with their
cold promise that they would meet in heaven. St. John of Calama visited
his sister in disguise, and a chronicler, telling the story afterwards,
said, "By the mercy of Jesus Christ he had not been recognized, and they
never met again." Many hermits received their parents or brothers and
sisters with their eyes shut. When the father of Simeon Stylites died,
his widowed mother prayed for entrance into her son's cell. For three
days and nights she stood without, and then the blessed Simeon prayed
the Lord for her, and she immediately gave up the ghost.

These as well as numerous other stories of a similar character that
might be quoted illustrate the hardening influence of solitude. Instead
of cherishing a love of kindred, as a gift of heaven and a spring of
virtue, the monk spurned it and trampled it beneath his feet as an
obstacle to his spiritual progress. "The monks," says Milman, "seem
almost unconscious of the softening, humanizing effect of the natural
affections, the beauty of parental tenderness and filial love."

_The Monks as Missionaries_

The conversion of the barbarians was an indispensable condition of
modern civilization. Every step forward had to be taken in the face of
barbaric ignorance and cruelty. In this stupendous undertaking the monks
led the way, displaying in their labors remarkable generalship and
undaunted courage. Whatever may be thought of later monasticism, the
Benedictine monks are entitled to the lasting gratitude of mankind for
their splendid services in reducing barbaric Europe to some sort of
order and civilization. But again the mixture of good and evil is
strangely illustrated. It seems impossible to accord the monks
unqualified praise. The potency of the evil tendencies within their
system vitiated every noble achievement. Their methods and practical
ideals were so at variance with the true order of nature that every
commendable victory involved a corresponding obstacle to real social and
religious progress. The justice of these observations will be more
apparent as this inquiry proceeds.

_Monasticism and Civic Duties_

The withdrawal of a considerable number of men of character and talent
from the exercise of civic duties is injurious to the state. The burdens
upon those who remain become heavier, while society is deprived of the
moral influence of those who forsake their civic responsibilities. When
the monk, from the outside as it were, attempted to exert an influence
for good, he largely failed. His ideals of life were not formulated in a
real world, but in an artificial, antisocial environment. He was unable
to appreciate the political needs of men. He could not enter
sympathetically into their serious employments or innocent delights.
Controlled by superstition, and exalting a servile obedience to human
authority, he became a very unsafe guide in political affairs. He could
not consistently labor for secular progress, because he had forsaken a
world in which secular interests were prominent.

It may be true that in the early days of monasticism the monks pursued
the proper course in refusing to become Roman patriots. No human power
could have averted the ruin which overtook that corrupt world. Perhaps
their non-combatant attitude gave them more influence with the
conquerors of Rome, who were to become the founders of modern nations.

In later years, the abbots of the principal monasteries occupied seats
in the legislative assemblies of Germany, Hungary, Spain, England,
Italy, and France. In many instances they stood between the violence of
the nobles and the unprotected vassal. Political monks, inspired by a
natural breadth of vision and a love of humanity, secured the passage of
wise and humane regulations. Palgrave says: "The mitre has resisted many
blows which would have broken the helmet, and the crosier has kept more
foes in awe than the lance. It is, then, to these prelates that we
chiefly owe the maintenance of the form and spirit of free government,
secured to us, not by force, but by law; and the altar has thus been the
corner-stone of our ancient constitution."

Although there is much truth in the foregoing observation, yet on the
other hand, when the influence of the monastic ideal upon civilization
is studied in its deeper aspects, it cannot be justly maintained that
the final effects of monasticism minister to the development of a normal
civilization. Industrial, mental and moral progress depend upon a
certain breadth of mind and energy of soul. Asceticism saps the vitality
of human nature and confines the activity of the mind within artificial
limits. "Hence the dreary, sterile torpor," says Lecky, "that
characterized those ages in which the ascetic principle has been
supreme, while the civilizations which have attained the highest
perfection have been those of ancient Greece and modern Europe, which
were most opposed to it."

The monks did not hesitate to become embroiled in military quarrels, or
to incite the fiercer passions of men when it suited their purpose.
Their opposition to kings and princes was often not based on a love of
popular freedom, but on an indisposition to share power with secular
rulers. The legislative enactments against heretics, many of which they
inspired, clearly show that they neither desired nor tolerated liberty
of speech or conduct. They were the Almighty's vicars on earth, before
whom it was the duty of king and subject to bow down. Vaughan writes of
the period just prior to the Reformation: "The great want was freedom
from ecclesiastical domination; and from the feeling of the hour,
scarcely any price would be deemed too great to be paid for that
object." The history of modern Jesuitism, against which the legislation
of almost every civilized nation has been directed, affords abundant
testimony to the inherent hostility of the monastic system, even in its
modified modern form, to every species of government which in any way
guarantees freedom of thought to its people. This stern fact confronts
the student, however much he may be inclined to yield homage to the
early monks. It must be held in mind when one reads this pleasing
sentence from Macaulay: "Surely a system which, however deformed by
superstition, introduced strong moral restraints into communities
previously governed only by vigor of muscle and by audacity of spirit, a
system which taught the fiercest and mightiest ruler that he was, like
his meanest bondman, a responsible being, might have seemed to deserve a
more respectful mention from philosophers and philanthropists."

The general effect of monasticism on the state is, therefore, not to be
determined by fixing the gaze on any one century of its history, or by
holding up some humane and patriotic monk as a representative product of
the system.

_The Agricultural Services of the Monks_

Europe must ever be indebted to Benedict and his immediate followers for
their services in reclaiming waste lands, and in removing the stigma
which a corrupt civilization had placed upon labor. Benedict came before
the world saying: "No person is ever more usefully employed than when
working with his hands or following the plough, providing food for the
use of man." Care was taken that councils should not be called when
ploughing was to be done or wheat to be threshed. Benedict bent himself
to the task of teaching the rich and the proud, the poor and the lazy
the alphabet of prosperity and happiness. Agriculture was at its lowest
ebb. Marshes covered once fertile fields, and the men who should have
tilled the land spurned the plough as degrading, or were too indolent to
undertake the tasks of the farm. The monks left their cells and their
prayers to dig ditches and plough fields. The effect was magical. Men
once more turned back to a noble but despised industry. Peace and plenty
supplanted war and poverty. "The Benedictines," says Guizot, "have been
the great clearers of land in Europe. A colony, a little swarm of monks,
settled in places nearly uncultivated, often in the midst of a pagan
population--in Germany, for example, or in Brittany; there, at once
missionaries and laborers, they accomplish their double service, through
peril and fatigue."

It is to be regretted that history throws a shadow across this pleasing
scene. When labor came to be recognized as honorable and useful, along
came the begging friars, creating, both by precept and example, a
prejudice against labor and wealth. Rags and laziness came to be
associated with holiness, and a beggar monk was held up as an ideal and
sacred personage. "The spirit that makes men devote themselves in vast
numbers," says Lecky, "to a monotonous life of asceticism and poverty is
so essentially opposed to the spirit that creates the energy and
enthusiasm of industry, that their continued coexistence may be regarded
as impossible." But such a fatal mistake could not long captivate the
mind, or cause men to forget Benedict and his industrial ideal. The
blessings of wealth rightly administered, and the dignity of labor
without which wealth is impossible, came to be recognized as necessary
factors in the true progress of man.

_The Monks and Secular Learning_

For many centuries, as has been previously shown, the monks were the
schoolmasters of Europe. They also preserved the manuscripts of the
classics, produced numerous theological works, transmitted many pious
traditions, and wrote some interesting and some worthless chronicles.
They laid the foundations of several great universities, including those
of Paris, Oxford and Cambridge. For these, and other valuable services,
the monks merit the praise of posterity. It is, however, too much to
affirm, as Montalembert does, that "without the monks, we should have
been as ignorant of our history as children." It is altogether
improbable that the human mind would have been unproductive in the field
of historical writing had monasticism not existed during the middle
ages. While, also, the monks should be thanked for preserving the
classics, it should not be supposed that all knowledge of Latin and
Greek literature would have perished but for them.

It is surprising that the literary men of the medieval period should
have written so little of interest to the modern mind, or that helps us
to an understanding of the momentous events amid which they lived.
Unfortunately the monkish mind was concentrated upon a theology, the
premises of which have been largely set aside by modern science. Their
writings are so permeated by grotesque superstitions that they are
practically worthless to-day. Their hostility to secular affairs blinded
them to the tremendous significance of the mighty political and social
movements of the age.

It is undeniable that the monks never encouraged a love of secular
learning. They did not try to impart a love of the classics which they
preserved. The spirit of monasticism was ever at war with true
intellectual progress. The monks imprisoned Roger Bacon fourteen years,
and tried to blast his fair name by calling him a magician, merely
because he stepped beyond the narrow limits of monkish inquiry. Many
suffered indignities, privations or death for questioning tradition or
for conducting scientific researches.

So while it is true that the monks rendered many services to the cause
of education, it is also true that their monastic theories tended to
narrow the scope of intellectual activity. "This," says Guizot, "is the
foundation of their instruction; all was turned into commentary of the
Scriptures, historical, philosophical, allegorical, moral commentary.
They desired only to form priests; all studies, whatsoever their nature,
were directed to this result." There was no disinterested love of
learning; no desire to become acquainted with God's world. In fact, the
old hostility to everything natural characterizes all monastic history.
Europe did not enter upon that broad and noble intellectual development
which is the glory of our era, until the right arm of monasticism was
struck down, the dread of heresy banished from the human mind, and
secular learning welcomed as a legitimate and elevated field for
mental activity.

Hamilton W. Mabie, in his delightful essay on "Some Old Scholars,"
describes this step from the gloom of the cloister to the light of God's
world: "Petrarch really escaped from a sepulcher when he stepped out of
the cloister of medievalism, with its crucifix, its pictures of
unhealthy saints, its cords of self-flagellation, and found the heavens
clear, beautiful, and well worth living under, and the world full of
good things which one might desire and yet not be given over to evil. He
ventured to look at life for himself and found it full of wonderful
dignity and power. He opened his Virgil, brushed aside the cobwebs which
monkish brains had spun over the beautiful lines, and met the old poet
as one man meets another; and lo! there arose before him a new,
untrodden and wholly human world, free from priestcraft and pedantry,
near to nature and unspeakably alluring and satisfying."

The Dominicans and Jesuits set their faces like flint against all
education tending to liberalize the mind. Here is a passage from a
document published by the Jesuits at their first centenary: "It is
undeniable that we have undertaken a great and uninterrupted war in the
interests of the Catholic church against heresy. Heresy need never hope
that the society will make terms with it, or remain quiescent ... No
peace need be expected, for the seed of hatred is born within us. What
Hamilcar was to Hannibal, Ignatius is to us. At his instigation, we have
sworn upon the altars eternal war." When this proclamation is read in
the light of history, its meaning stands forth with startling clearness.
Almost every truth in science and philosophy, no matter how valuable it
was destined to become as an agent in enhancing the well-being of the
race, has had to wear the stigma of heresy.

It is an interesting speculation to imagine what the intellectual
development of Europe would have been, had secular learning been
commended by the monks, and the common people encouraged to exercise
their minds without fear of excommunication or death. It is sad to
reflect how many great thoughts must have perished still-born in the
student's cloister cell, and to picture the silent grief with which
many a brilliant soul must have repressed his eager imagination.

_The Charity of the Monks_

In the eleventh century, a monk named Thieffroy wrote the following: "It
matters little that our churches rise to heaven, that the capitals of
their pillars are sculptured and gilded, that our parchment is tinted
purple, that gold is melted to form the letters of our manuscripts, and
that their bindings are set with precious stones, if we have little or
no care for the members of Christ, and if Christ himself lies naked and
dying before our doors." This spirit, so charmingly expressed, was never
quite absent from the monkish orders. The monasteries were asylums for
the hungry during famines, and the sick during plagues. They served as
hotels where the traveler found a cordial welcome, comfortable shelter
and plain food. If he needed medical aid, his wants were supplied.
During the black plague, while many monks fled with the multitude,
others stayed at their posts and were to be found daily in the homes of
the stricken, ministering to their bodily and spiritual needs. Many of
them perished in their heroic and self-sacrificing labors.

Alms-giving was universally enjoined as a sure passport to heaven. The
most glittering rewards were held out to those who enriched the monks
with legacies to be used in relief of the poor. It was, no doubt, the
unselfish activities of the monks that caused them to be held in such
high esteem; the result was their coffers were filled with more gold
than they could easily give away. Thus abuses grew up. Bernard said:
"Piety gave birth to wealth, and the daughter devoured the mother."
Jacob of Vitry complained that money, "by various and deceptive tricks,"
was exacted from the people by the monks, most of which adhered "to
their unfaithful fingers." While Lecky eloquently praises the monks for
their beautiful deeds of charity, "following all the windings of the
poor man's grief," still he condones in the strongest terms the action
of Henry VIII. in transferring the monastic funds to his own treasury:
"No misapplication of this property by private persons could produce as
much evil as an unrestrained monasticism."

It would be unjust, however, to censure the monks for not recognizing
the evil social effects of indiscriminate alms-giving. While their
system was imperfect, it was the only one possible in an age when the
social sciences were unknown. It is difficult, even to-day, to restrain
that good-natured, but baneful, benevolence which takes no account of
circumstances and consequences, and often fosters the growth of
pauperism. The monks kept alive that sweet spirit of philanthropy which
is so essential to all the higher forms of civilization. It is easier to
discover the proper methods for the exercise of generous sentiments,
than to create those feelings or to arouse them when dormant.

_Monasticism and Religion_

No doctrine in theology, or practice of religion, has been free from
monastic influences. An adequate treatment of this theme would require
volumes instead of paragraphs. A few points, however, may be touched
upon by way of suggestion to those who may wish to pursue the
subject further.

The effect of the monastic ideal was to emphasize the sinfulness of man
and his need of redemption. To get rid of sin--that is the problem of
humanity. A quaint formula of monastic confession reads: "I confess all
the sins of my body, of my flesh, of my bones and sinews, of my veins
and cartilages, of my tongue and lips, of my ears, teeth and hair, of my
marrow and any other part whatsoever, whether it be soft or hard, wet or
dry." This emphasis on man's sinfulness and the need of redemption was
sadly needed in Rome and all down the ages. "It was a protest," says
Clarke, "against pleasure as the end of life ... It proved the reality
of the religious sentiment to a skeptical age.... If this long period of
self-torture has left us no other gain, let us value it as a proof that
in man religious aspiration is innate, unconquerable, and able to
triumph over all that the world hopes and over all that it fears."

Thus the monks helped to keep alive the enthusiasm of religion. There
was a fervor, a devotion, a spirit of sacrifice, in the system, which
acted as a corrective to the selfish materialism of the early and middle
ages. Christian history furnishes many sad spectacles of brutality and
licentiousness, of insolent pride and uncontrolled greed, masked in the
garb of religion. Monasticism, by its constant insistence upon poverty
and obedience, fostered a spirit of loyalty to Christ and the cross,
which served as a protest, not only against the general laxity of
morals, but also against the faithlessness of corrupt monks. Harnack
says: "It was always monasticism that rescued the church when sinking,
freed her when secularized, defended her when attacked. It warmed hearts
that were growing cold, restrained unruly spirits, won back the people
when alienated from the church." It may have been in harmony with divine
plans, that religion was to have been kept alive and vigorous by
excessive austerities, even as in later days it needed the stern and
unyielding Puritan spirit, now regarded as too grim and severe, to cope
successfully with the forces of tyranny and sin.

If it be true, as some are inclined to believe, that this age is losing
a definite consciousness of sin, that in the reaction from the
asceticism of the monks and the gloom of the Puritans we are in danger
of minimizing the doctrine of personal accountability to God, then we
cannot afford to ignore the underlying ideal of monasticism. In so far
as monasticism contributed to a normal consciousness of human freedom
and personal guilt, and maintained a grip upon the conscience of the
sinner, it has rendered the cause of true religion a genuine and
permanent service.

But the mistake of the monks was twofold. They exaggerated sin, and they
employed unhealthy methods to get rid of it. Excessive introspection,
instead of exercising a purifying influence, tends to distort one's
religious conceptions, and creates an unwholesome type of piety. Man is
a sinner, but he also has potential and actual goodness. The monks
failed to define sin in accordance with facts. Many innocent pleasures
and legitimate satisfactions were erroneously thought to be sinful.
Honorable and useful aspirations that, under wise control, minister to
man's highest development were selected for eradication. "Every instinct
of human nature," says W.E. Channing, "has its destined purpose in life,
and the perfect man is to be found in the proportionate cultivation of
each element of his character, not in the exaggerated development of
those faculties which are deemed primarily good, nor in the repression
of those which are evil only when their prominence destroys the balance
of the whole."

But the methods employed by the monks to get rid of sin afford another
illustration of the fact that noble sentiments and holy aspirations need
to be wisely directed. It is not enough for a mother to love her child;
she must know how to give that love proper expression. In her attempt to
guide and train her loved one she may fatally mislead him. The modern
emphasis upon method deserves wider recognition than it has received.

The applause of the church that sounded so sweet in the ears of the
monk, as he laid the stripes upon his body, proclaims the high esteem in
which penance was held. But the monk cruelly deceived himself. His
self-inflicted tortures developed within his soul an unnatural piety, "a
piety," says White, "that became visionary and introspective, a theology
of black clouds and lightning and thunder, a superstitious religion
based on dreams and saint's bones." True penitence consists in high and
holy purposes, in pure and unselfish living, and not in disfigurements
and in misery. Dreariness and fear are not the proper manifestations of
that perfect love which casteth out fear.

The influence of monasticism upon the doctrine of atonement for sin
was, in many respects, prejudicial to the best interests of religion.
The monks are largely responsible for the theory that sin can be atoned
for by pecuniary gifts. It may be said that they did not ignore true
feelings of repentance, of which the gold was merely a tangible
expression, but the notion widely prevailed that the prayers of the
monks, purchased by temporal gifts, secured the forgiveness of the
transgressor. The worship of saints, pilgrimages to shrines, and
reverence for bones and other relics, were assiduously encouraged.

Thus the monkish conception of salvation and of the means by which it is
to be obtained were at variance with any reasonable interpretation of
the Scriptures and the dictates of human reason. "It measured virtue,"
says Schaff, "by the quantity of outward exercises, instead of the
quality of the inward disposition, and disseminated self-righteousness
and an anxious, legal, and mechanical religion[K]."

[Footnote K: Appendix, Note K.]

The doctrine of future punishment reached its most repulsive and
abnormal developments in the hands of the monks. A vast literature was
produced by them, portraying, with vivid minuteness, the pangs of hell.
Volcanoes were said to be the portals of the lower world, that heaved
and sighed as human souls were plunged into the awful depths. God was
held up as a fearful judge, and the saving mercy of Christ himself paled
before the rescuing power of his mother. These fearful caricatures of
God, these detailed, revolting descriptions of pain and anguish, could
not but have a hardening effect upon the minds of men. "To those," says
Lecky, "who do not regard these teachings as true, it must appear
without exception, the most odious in the religious history of the
world, subversive of the very foundations of Christianity."

Finally, the greatest error of monastic teaching was in its false and
baneful distinction between the secular and the religious.
Unquestionably the Christian ideal is founded on some form of
world-renunciation. The teachings and example of Jesus, the lives of the
Apostles, and the characters of the early Christians, exhibit in varying
phases the ideal of self-crucifixion. The doctrine of the cross, with
all that it signifies, is the most powerful force in the spread of
Christianity. The spiritual nature of man needs to be trained and
disciplined. But does this truth lead the Christian to the monastic
method? Was the self-renunciation of Jesus like that of the ascetics,
with their ecstasies and self-punishments? Is God more pleased with the
recluse who turns from a needy world to shut himself up to prayer and
meditation, than He is with him who cultivates holy emotions and
heavenly aspirations, while pursuing some honorable and useful calling?
The answer to these questions discloses the chief fallacy in the
monastic ideal, the effect of which was the creation of an artificial
piety. There is no special virtue in silence, celibacy, and abstinence
from the enjoyment of God's gifts to mankind.

The crying need of Christianity to-day is a willingness on the part of
Christ's followers to live for others instead of self. Men and women are
needed who, like many of the monks and nuns, will identify themselves
with the toiling multitudes, and who will forego the pleasures of the
world and the prospects of material gain or social preferment, for the
sake of ministering to a needy humanity. The essence of Christianity is
a love to God and man that expresses itself in terms of social service
and self-sacrifice. Monasticism helped to preserve that noble essence
of all true religion. But a revival of the apostolic spirit in these
times would not mean a triumph for monasticism. Stripped of its rigid
vows of celibacy, poverty and obedience, monasticism is dead.

The spirit of social service, the insistence upon soul-purity, and the
craving for participation in the divine nature, are the fruits of
Christianity, not of monasticism, which merely sought to carry out the
Christian ideal. But it is not necessary, in order to realize this
ideal, to wage war on human nature. True Christianity is perfectly
compatible with wealth, health and social joys. The realms of industry,
politics and home-life are a part of God's world. A religious ideal
based on a distorted view of social life, that involves a renunciation
of human joy and the extinction of natural desires, and that prohibits
the free exercise of beneficent faculties, as conditions of its
realization, can never establish its right to permanent and universal
dominion. The faithful discharge of unromantic, secular duties, the
keeping of one's heart pure in the midst of temptation, and the
unheralded altruism of private life, must ever be as welcome in the
sight of God as the prayers of the recluse, who scorns the world of
secular affairs.

True religion, the highest religion, is possible beyond the walls of
churches and convents. The so-called secular employments of business and
politics, of home and school, may be conducted in a spirit of lofty
consecration to the Eternal, and so carried on, may, in their way,
minister to the highest welfare of humanity. The old distinction,
therefore, between the secular and the sacred is pernicious and false.
There are some other sacred things besides monasteries and prayers.
Human life itself is holy; so are the commonplace duties of the untitled
household and factory saints.

     "God is in all that liberates and lifts,
     In all that humbles, sweetens, and consoles."

Modern monasticism has forsaken the column of St. Simeon Stylites and
the rags of St. Francis. It has given up the ancient and fantastic feats
of asceticism, and the spiritual extravagances of the early monks. The
old monasticism never could have arisen under a religious system
controlled by natural and healthful spiritual ideas. It has no
attractions for minds unclouded by superstition. It has lost its hold
upon the modern man because the ancient ideas of God and his world, upon
which it thrived, have passed away.

Such are some of the effects of the monastic institution. Its history is
at once a warning and an inspiration. Its dreamy asceticism, its gloomy
cells, are gone. Its unworldly motives, its stern allegiance to duty,
its protest against self-indulgence, its courage and sincerity, will
ever constitute the potent energy of true religion. Its ministrations to
the broken-hearted, and its loving care of the poor, must ever remain as
a shining example of practical Christianity. In the simplicity of the
monk's life, in the idea of "brotherhood," in the common life for common
ends, a Christian democracy will always find food for reflection. As the
social experiments of modern times reveal the hidden laws of social and
religious progress, it will be found that in spite of its glaring
deficiencies, monasticism was a magnificent attempt to realize the ideal
of Christ in individual and social life. As such it merits neither
ridicule nor obloquy. It was a heroic struggle with inveterate ignorance
and sin, the history of which flashes many a welcome light upon the
problems of modern democracy and religion.

Monastic forms and vows may pass away with other systems that will have
their day, but its fervor of faith, and its warfare against human
passion and human greed, its child-like love of the heavenly kingdom
will never die. The revolt against its superstitions and excesses is
justifiable only in a society that seeks to actualize its underlying
religious ideal of personal purity and social service.



The derivation and meaning of a few monastic terms may be of interest to
the reader.

Abbot, from [Greek: abba], literally, father. A title originally given
to any monk, but afterwards restricted to the head or superior of a

Anchoret, anchorite, from the Greek, [Greek: anachorêtês], a recluse,
literally, one retired. In the classification of religious ascetics, the
anchorets were those who were most excessive in their austerities, not
only choosing solitude but subjecting themselves to the greatest

Ascetic, [Greek: askêtês], one who exercises, an athlete. The term was
first applied to those practicing self-denial for athletic purposes. In
its ecclesiastical sense, it denotes those who seek holiness through

Canon Regular. About A.D. 755, Chrodegangus, Bishop of Metz, gave a
cloister-life law to his clergy, who came to be called canons, from
[Greek: kanôn], rule. The canons were originally priests living in a
community like monks, and acting as assistants to the bishops. They
gradually formed separate and independent bodies. Benedict XII. (1399)
tried to secure a general adoption of the rule of Augustine for these
canons, which gave rise to the distinction between canons regular (i.e.,
those who follow that rule), and canons secular (those who do not).

Cenobite, from the Greek, [Greek: koinos], common, and [Greek: bios],
life; applied to those living in monasteries.

Clerks Regular. This is a title given to certain religious orders
founded in the sixteenth century. The principal societies are: the
Theatines, founded by Cajetan of Thiene, subsequently Pope Paul IV.;
and Priests of the Oratory, instituted by Philip Neri, of Florence.
These two orders have been held in high repute, numbering among their
members many men of rank and intellect.

Cloister, from the Latin, _Claustra_, that which closes or shuts, an
inclosure; hence, a place of religious retirement, a monastery.

Hermit, or eremite, from the Greek, [Greek: herêmos], desolate,
solitary. One who dwells alone apart from society, or with but few
companions. Not used of those who dwell in cloisters.

Monastery, comes from the same source as monk. Commonly applied to a
house used exclusively by monks. The term, however, strictly includes
the abbey, the priory, the nunnery, the friary, and in this broad sense
is synonymous with convent, which is from the Latin, _convenire_, to
meet together.

Monk, from the Greek, [Greek: mhonos], alone, single. Originally, a man
who retired from the world for religious meditation. In later use, a
member of a community. It is used indiscriminately to denote all persons
in monastic orders, in or out of the monasteries.

Nun, from _nouna_, i.e., chaste, holy. "The word is probably of Coptic
origin, and occurs as early as in Jerome." (Schaff).

Regulars. Until the tenth century it was not customary to regard the
monks as a part of the clerical order. Before that time they were known
as _religiosi_ or _regulares_. Afterwards a distinction was made between
parish priests, or secular clergy, and the monks, or regular clergy.

For more detailed information on these and other monastic words, see The
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia, and McClintock and Strong's


The Pythagoreans are likened to the Jesuits probably on account of their
submission to Pythagoras as Master, their love of learning and their
austerities. Like the Jesuits, the Pythagorean league entangled itself
with politics and became the object of hatred and violence. Its
meeting-houses were everywhere sacked and burned. As a philosophical
school Pythagoreanism became extinct about the middle of the
fourth century.


The Encyclopædia Brittanica divides the monastic institutions into five

1. Monks. 2. Canons Regular. 3. Military Orders. 4. Friars. 5. Clerks
Regular. All of these have communities of women, either actually
affiliated to them, or formed on similar lines.

Saint Benedict distinguishes four sorts of monks: 1. Coenobites, living
under an abbot in a monastery. 2. Anchorites, who retire into the
desert. 3. Sarabaites, dwelling two or three in the same cell. 4.
Gyrovagi, who wander from monastery to monastery. The last two kinds he
condemns. The Gyrovagi or wandering monks were the pest of convents and
the disgrace of monasticism. They evaded all responsibilities and spent
their time tramping from place to place, living like parasites, and
spreading vice and disorder wherever they went.

There were really four distinct stages in the development of the
monastic institution:

1. Asceticism. Clergy and laymen practiced various forms of self-denial
without becoming actual monks.

2. The hermit life, which was asceticism pushed to an external
separation from the world. Here are to be found anchorites, and stylites
or pillar-saints.

3. Coenobitism, or monastic life proper, consisting of associations of
monks under one roof, and ruled by an abbot.

4. Monastic orders, or unions of cloisters, the various abbots being
under the authority of one supreme head, who was, at first, generally
the founder of the brotherhood.

Under this last division are to be classed the Mendicant Friars, the
Military Monks, the Jesuits and other modern organizations. The members
of these orders commenced their monastic life in monasteries, and were
therefore coenobites, but many of them passed out of the cloister to
become teachers, preachers or missionary workers in various fields.


Matins. One of the canonical hours appointed in the early church, and
still observed in the Roman Catholic Church, especially in monastic
orders. It properly begins at midnight. The name is also applied to the
service itself, which includes the Lord's Prayer, the Angelic
Salutation, the Creed and several psalms.

Lauds, a religious service in connection with matins; so called from the
reiterated ascriptions of praise to God in the psalms.

Prime. The first hour or period of the day; follows after matins and
lauds; originally intended to be said at the first hour after sunrise.

Tierce, terce. The third hour; half-way between sunrise and noon.

Sext. The sixth hour, originally and properly said at midday.

None, noon. The ninth hour from sunrise, or the middle hour between
midday and sunset--that is, about 3 o'clock.

Vespers, the next to the last of the canonical hours--the even-song.

Compline. The last of the seven canonical hours, originally said after
the evening meal and before retiring to sleep, but in later medieval and
modern usage following immediately on vespers.

B.V.M.--Blessed Virgin Mary.


The literary and educational services of the monks are described in many
histories, but the reader will find the best treatment of this subject
in the scholarly yet popular work of George Haven Putnam, "Books and
Their Makers During the Middle Ages," to which we are largely indebted
for the facts given in this volume.


In many interesting particulars St. Francis may be compared with General
Booth of the Salvation Army. In their intense religious fervor, in their
insistence upon obedience, humility, and self-denial, in their services
for the welfare of the poor, in their love of the "submerged tenth,"
they are alike. True, there are no monkish vows in the Salvation Army
and its doctrines bear a general resemblance to those of other
Protestant communions, but like the old Franciscan order, it is
dominated by a powerful missionary spirit, and its members are actuated
by an unsurpassed devotion to the common people. In the autocratic,
military features of the Army, it more nearly approaches the ideal of
Loyola. It is quite possible that the differences between Francis and
Booth are due more to the altered historical environment than to any
radical diversities in the characters of the two men.


The quotations from Father Sherman are taken from an address delivered
by him in Central Music Hall, Chicago, Illinois, on Monday, February 5,
1894, in which he extolled the virtues of Loyola and defended the aims
and character of the Society of Jesus.


Those who may wish to study the casuistry of the Jesuits, as it appears
in their own works, are referred to two of the most important and
comparatively late authorities: Liguori's "_Theologia Moralis_," and
Gury's "_Compendium Theologioe Moralis_" and "_Casus Conscientiæ_." Gury
was Professor of Moral Theology in the College Romain, the Jesuits'
College in Rome. His works have passed through several editions. They
were translated from the Latin into French by Paul Bert, member of the
Chamber of Deputies. An English translation of the French rendering was
published by B.F. Bradbury, of Boston, Massachusetts. The reader is also
referred to Pascal's "Provincial Letters" and to Migne's "_Dictionnaire
de cas de Conscience_."


The student may profitably study the life and teachings of Wyclif in
their bearing upon the destruction of the monasteries. Wyclif was
designated as the "Gospel Doctor" because he maintained that "the law
of Jesus Christ infinitely exceeds all other laws." He held to the right
of private judgment in the interpretation of Scripture, and denied the
infallibility claimed by the pontiffs. He opposed pilgrimages, held
loosely to image-worship and rejected the system of tithing as it was
then carried on. Wyclif was also a persistent and public foe of the
mendicant friars. The views of this eminent reformer were courageously
advocated by his followers, and for nearly two generations they
continued to agitate the English people. It is easy to understand,
therefore, how Wyclif's opinions assisted in preparing the nation for
the Reformation of the sixteenth century, although it seemed that
Lollardy had been everywhere crushed by persecution. The Lollards
condemned, among other things, pilgrimages to the tombs of the saints,
papal authority and the mass. Their revolt against Rome led in some
instances to grave excesses.


In France, the religious houses suppressed by the laws of February 13,
1790, and August 18, 1792, amounted (without reckoning various minor
establishments) to 820 abbeys of men and 255 of women, with aggregate
revenues of 95,000,000 livres.

The Thirty Years' War in Germany wrought much mischief to the
monasteries. On the death of Maria Theresa, in 1780, Joseph II., her
son, dissolved the Mendicant Orders and suppressed the greater number of
monasteries and convents in his dominions.

Although Pope Alexander VII. secured the suppression of many small
cloisters in Italy, he was in favor of a still wider abolition on
account of the superfluity of religious institutes, and the general
degeneration of the monks. Various minor suppressions had taken place in
Italy, but it was not until the unification of the kingdom that the
religious houses were declared national property. The total number of
monasteries suppressed in Italy, down to 1882, was 2,255, involving an
enormous displacement of property and dispersion of inmates.

The fall of the religious houses in Spain dates from the law of June 21,
1835, which suppressed nine hundred monasteries at a blow. The remainder
were dissolved on October 11th, in the same year.

No European country had so many religious houses in proportion to its
population and area as Portugal. In 1834 the number suppressed
exceeded 500.


The criticism of Schaff is just in its estimate of the general influence
of the monastic ideal, but there were individual monks whose views of
sin and salvation were singularly pure and elevating. Saint Hugh, of
Lincoln, said to several men of the world who were praising the lives of
the Carthusian monks: "Do not imagine that the kingdom of Heaven is only
for monks and hermits. When God will judge each one of us, he will not
reproach the lost for not having been monks or solitaries, but for not
having been true Christians. Now, to be a true Christian, three things
are necessary; and if one of these three things is wanting to us, we are
Christians only in name, and our sentence will be all the more severe,
the more we have made profession of perfection. The three things are:
_Charity in the heart, truth on the lips, and purity of life_; if we are
wanting in these, we are unworthy of the name of Christian."




Abbey, _see_ Monastery.
Abbot, meaning of word, 425;
  as father of family of monks, 143;
  election of, 144;
  description of installation of, 145;
  wealth and political influence of, 147;
  disorders among lay, 179;
  as a feudal lord, 373;
  in legislative assemblies, 400.
Abelard opposed by Bernard, 196.
Abraham, St., the hermit, 50;
  quoted, 60.
Abstinence, no virtue in false, 419.
Accountability, personal, sense of maintained by monks, 414.
Act of Succession, 298.
Agriculture, monasteries centers of, 155;
  and the Cistercian monks, 192;
  fostered by monks, 403.
  _See_ Benedict, Order of St.
Alaric the Goth sacks Rome, 103.
Albans, St., Abbey of, Morton on its vices, 338.
Albertus Magnus, a Dominican, 242.
Albigensians, Hallam on doctrines of, 232;
  Hardwick on same, 233;
  Dominic preaches against, 234;
  Dominic's part in crusade against, 235.
Alcuin, on corruptions of monks, 173;
  education and, 167.
Alexander IV., Pope, on the stigmata of St. Francis, 221;
  and the University of Paris quarrel, 250.
Alfred, King, the Great, complains of monks, 173;
  his reformatory measures, 181.
Alien Priories, confiscated, 338;
  origin of, 340.
Allen, on the fate of the Templars, 202;
  on Dominic and the Albigensian crusade, 238;
  on spiritual pride of the Mendicants, 257;
  on the genius of feudalism, 373;
  on the deficiencies of monastic characters, 394.
Alms-giving, _see_ Charity.
Alverno, Mount, and the stigmata of St. Francis, 219.
Ambrose, embraces ascetic Christianity, 84;
  Theodosius on, 115;
  saying of Gibbon applied to, 116;
  describes Capraria, 126;
  his influence on Milanese women, 126.
Ammonius, the hermit, visits Rome, 72.
Anglicans, claims of, respecting the early British Church, 162.
Anglo-Saxons and British Christianity, 164.
Anglo-Saxon Church, effect of Danish invasion on, 181;
  effect of Dunstan's work on, 187.
  _See_ Britain.
Anslem, of Canterbury, on flight from the world, 369.
Anthony, St.,
  visits Paul of Thebes, 37;
  his strange experiences, 38;
  buries Paul, 41;
  birth and early life of, 43;
  his austerities, 44, 45;
  miracles of, 46;
  his fame and influence, 47;
  his death, 48;
  Taylor on biography of, 48.
Ap Rice, a Royal Commissioner, 311.
Aquinas, Thomas, a Dominican, 242.
Ascetic, The, his morbid introspection, 392;
  meaning of word, 425.
  _See_ Monks and Hermits.
Asceticism, in India, 18-20, 357;
  among Chaldeans, 20;
  in China, 20;
  among the Greeks, 21, 22;
  the Essenes, 23;
  in apostolic times, 27;
  the Gnostics, 27;
  and the Bible, 30, 366;
  in post-apostolic times, 31;
  modifications of, under Basil, 64;
  protests against, in early Rome, 124;
  various forms of, 385;
  effects of, 391, 401.
  _See_ Monasticism.
Aske, Robert, heads revolt against Henry VIII., 326.
Athanasius, St., visits hermits, 35;
  his life of Anthony, 42;
  influence of same on Rome, 80, 83;
  spreads Pachomian rule, 63;
  visits Rome, 71,
    and effect of, 80;
  visits Gaul, 119;
  his saying on fasting, 121.
Atonement, for sin, the monk's influence on doctrine of, 417.
Augustine, Bishop of Hippo,  his life, and services to monasticism,
     117, 119;
  influenced by biography of Anthony, 43;
  on marriage and celibacy, 112;
  charges monks with fraud, 128.
Augustine, Rule of, adopted by Dominic, 232, 241.
Augustine, the monk, his mission to England, 161.
Augustinians, 246.
Aurelius, Emperor, Christianity during reign of, 124.
Austerities, Robertson on, 94.
  _See_ Asceticism and Self-denial
Austin Canons, 118.


Bacon, Roger, a Franciscan, 228;
  imprisonment of, 407.
Bagot, Richard, on the English reformation, 345.
Bale, John, on the fall of the monasteries, 333.
Baluzii, on the prosperity of the Franciscans, 255.
Bangor, Monastery of, founded, 123;
  slaughter of its monks, 165.
Barbarians, the struggle of the monks with, 148, 149, 170;
  conversion of, 398.
Basil the Great, 63;
  revolts against excessive  austerities, 64;
  founder of Greek monasticism, 64, 65;
  his rules, 65;
  adopts irrevocable vows, 65;
  on marriage, 66;
  enforces strict obedience, 66.
Bede, The Venerable, on the British
  Church, 123; on monks and
  animals, 156.
Begging Friars, _see_ Mendicants,
  Franciscans and Dominicans.
Benedict, Pope, XI., 221; XII.,
  consecrates Monte Cassino,
  135; on the stigmata of St.
  Francis, 221.
Benedict of Aniane, his attempted
  reform, 176.
Benedict, of Nursia, birth and
  early life, 131; his trials, 132;
  his fame attracts followers, 133;
  his strictness provokes opposition,
  133; retires to Monte Cassino,
  134; conquers Paganism,
  135; his miracles and power
  over barbarians, 137; his last
  days, 13 8; his rules, 138; Schaff
  on same, 148; Cardinal Newman
  on mission of, 149; saying
  of, on manual labor, 403.
Benedict, Order of St., 131; rules
  of, 138; the novitiate, 140;
  daily life of monks, 140; meaning
  of term "order," 143;
  abbots of, 144; manual labor,
  147, 403; Schaff on rules of,
  148; its dealings with barbarians,
  148, 398; its literary and
  educational services, 151; its
  agricultural work, 155, 404;
  spread of, 158; its followers
  among the royalty, 159.
Bernard, of Clairvaux, his birth
  and monastic services, 193;
  character of his monastery,
  192; on drugs and doctors,
  194; his reforms, 195; Vaughan
  on, 195; Storrs on, 197; the
  Crusades, 197; on the abuses
  of charity, 411.
Bernardone, Peter, father of Francis,
  208. _See_ Francis.
Bethlehem, Jerome's monasteries
  at, 85, 88; Paula establishes
  monasteries at, 100.
Bible, The, and monasticism, 30,
Bigotry, of monks, 394.
Biography, monastic history centers
  in, 84.
Björnstrom, on the stigmata, 223.
Blæsilla, murmurs against monks
  at her funeral, 125.
Blunt, on the: fall of the monasteries,
Boccaccio, comments on his visit
  to Monte Cassino, 136.
Boleyn, Anne, and Henry VIII.,
Bollandists, Catholic, on Dominic
  and the Inquisition, 238.
Bonaventura, on the stigmata of
  Francis, 220; a Franciscan, 228;
  on vices of the monks, 337.
Boniface, the apostle to the Germans,
Bonner, Bishop, persuades Prior
  Houghton to sign oath of
  supremacy, 303.
Brahminism, asceticism under, 19.
Britain, Tertullian, Origen, and
  Bede, on Christianity in, 123;.
  relation of early church in, to
  Rome, 162; monasticism in,
  162, 168.
Brotherhood of Penitence, 229.
Bruno, the abbot of Cluny, 177.
Bruno, founder of Carthusian order,
  188; Ruskin on the order, 189;
  the monastery of the Chartreuse, 189;
  his eulogy of solitude, 396.
Bryant, poem of, on fall of monasteries, 353.
Buddha, on the ascetic life, 357.
Buddhism, asceticism under, 19.
Burke, Edmund, quoted by Gasquet on fall of monasteries, 312.
Burnet, on report of Royal Commissioners, 316.
Bury, Father, on Chinese monks, 20.


Cambridge, University of, the friars at, 252, 405.
Campeggio, Cardinal, the divorce proceedings of Henry VIII. and, 294.
Capraria, Rutilius and Ambrose on island of, 126.
Capuchins, 246.
Carlyle, Thomas, on Mahomet, 33;
  quotes Jocelin on Abbot Samson's election, 145;
  on the twelfth century, 157;
  on the monastic ideal, 174;
  on Jesuitical obedience, 271;
  views of, criticised, 278.
Carmelites, 246.
Carthusians, The, establishment of, 188;
  famous monastery of, 189;
  rules of, 189;
  in England, 191, 334.
  _See_ Charterhouse.
Cassiodorus, the literary labors of, 152.
Casuistry, of the Jesuits, 272; 429.
Catacombs, visited by Jerome, 87.
Catharine, of Aragon, Henry's divorce from, 293.
Catholic, Roman, _see_ Rome, Church of.
Celibacy, praised by Jerome and Augustine, 112;
  views of Helvidius on, opposed by Jerome, 113;
  the struggle to establish sacerdotal, 183;
  Lingard on, 183;
  Lea on, 184;
  vow of, 380;
  and Scripture teaching, 381;
  early Fathers on, 381;
  a modern ecclesiastic's reasons for, 381;
  how vow of, came to be imposed, 382;
  no special virtue in, 419.
Cellani, Peter, Dominic retires to house of, 238;
Celtic Church, _see_ Britain.
Cenobites, meaning of term, 425;
  origin of, in the East, 57;
  habits of early, 58;
  aims of, 60.
Chalcis, desert of, 87.
Chaldea, asceticism in, 20.
Chalippe, Father Candide, on miracles of saints, 224.
Channey, Maurice, on fall of the Charterhouse, 302.
Channing, William E., on various manifestations of the ascetic
     spirit, 385;
  on exaggerations of monasticism, 415.
Chapter, The,
  defined, 144;
  of Mats, 228.
Chapuys, despatches of, to Charles V., 297.
Charity, of monks, 348, 410;
  true and false, 348, 412;
  Bernard, Jacob of Vitry and Lecky on abuses of, 411;
  as a passport to Heaven, 411.
Charlemagne, 118.
Charles V., Emperor, Pole writes to, 296;
  Chapuy's despatches to, 297.
Charterhouse, of London, 191;
  execution of monks of, 301, 334;
  and the progress of England, 343.
  _See_ Carthusians.
Chartreuse, Grand, monastery, 189.
Chastity, vow of, in Pachomian rule, 61.
  _See_ Celibacy.
China, asceticism in, 20.
Chinese monks, Father Bury on, 20.
Christ, _see_ Jesus Christ.
Christian clergy, character of, in the fourth century, 77.
Christian ideal, tending toward fanaticism, 129.
Christian discipleship, nature of true, 390.
Christianity, asceticism and apostolic, 27, 28, 31;
  conquers Roman empire, 71, 76;
  endangered by success, 77;
  in Rome in the fourth century, 79;
  Lord on same, 80;
  is opposed to fanaticism, 94;
  in ancient Britain, 123, 161, 162;
  Clarke on, 171;
  Mozoomdar on essential principle of, 359;
  requires some sort of self-denial, 390, 418, 419;
  monasticism and, compared, 420;
  monasticism furnishes example of, 422.
  _See_ Britain and Church.
Chrysostom, becomes an ascetic, 84;
  brief account of life of, 116;
  monastic cause furthered by, 117.
Church, Christian, the triumphant, compared with church in age of
     persecution, 109;
  ideal of, furthers monasticism, 129;
  and the barbarians, 149;
  of the thirteenth century, 206;
  its life-ideal, 369;
  its union with paganism, 370.
  _See_ Anglo-Saxon Church, Britain, and England, Church of.
Cistercian Order, the monks and rule of, 192;
  decline of, 193.
Citeaux, Monastery at, 192.
Civic duties and monasticism, 399.
  _See_ Monasticism.
Clairvaux, Bernard of, _see_ Bernard;
  Monastery of, 193.
Clara, St., Nuns of, founded, 228.
Clarke, William Newton, on Christianity of first and second
     centuries, 171.
Clarke, James Freeman, on Brahmin ascetics, 20.
Classics, Jerome's fondness for the, 95;
  the monks and the, 405.
Clement XIV., Pope, dissolves the Society of Jesus, 279.
Clergy of the Christian Church, 77.
Clinton, Lord, on the work of suppression, 311.
Cloister, 426.
  _See_ Monastery.
Cluny, Monastery at, 177;
  the congregation of, 178.
Coke, Sir Edward, quoted, 329.
Columba, St., his church relations, 162.
Commissioners, The Royal, appointed to visit monasteries of England,
     their methods, 308, 333;
  character of, 311;
  begin their work, 313;
  their report, 316;
  Parliament acts on same, 319.
Confession, among the Jesuits, 269.
Conscience, liberty of, renounced by monks, 394.
Constantine the Great, 71.
Contemplation, John Tauler on, 395;
  Bruno on, 396.
Convents. _See_ Monasteries.
Copyright, first instance of quarrel for, 170.
Council, of Saragossa, 122;
  of Trent, 382;
  Lateran, 242.
Court of Augmentation, 319.
Crocella, Santa, chapel of, 131;
  Romanus the monk, 131.
Cromwell, Richard, on Sir John Russell, 326.
Cromwell, Thomas, his life and aims, 308;
  Green and Froude on, 309;
  his religious views, 309;
  Foxe and Gasquet on character of, 310;
  becomes Vicegerent, 310;
  inspires terror and hatred, 324;
  his removal demanded, 326;
  overcomes the Pilgrims of Grace, 326;
  bribed for estates, 329.
Cross, loyalty to the, fostered by monks, 414;
  power of the doctrine of, 418.
Crusades, effect of, on monastic types, 373.
  _See_ Military Orders and Bernard.
Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria, 61;
  and murder of Hypatia, 68.


Damian, Church of St., repaired by Francis, 211, 214.
Danish invasion of England, its consequences, 180.
Dante, on Francis and poverty, 215.
Democracy, Christian, and monasticism, 422.
Desert, Jerome on attractions of, 89.
De Tocqueville, on self-subjection, 143.
Dhaquit, the Chaldean, quoted, 20.
Dharmapala, on the ascetic ideal in India, 357.
Dill, Samuel, on Rome's fall and the Christian Church, 74, 79, 108,
Domestic life, a field of forbidden fruit, 394, 398.
  _See_ Family-ideal and Jerome.
Dominic, St., Innocent III. dreams of, 216;
  early life of, 230;
  his mother's dream, 231;
  visits Languedoc, 232;
  rebukes papal legates, 234;
  his crusade against Albigensians, 234;
  his relation to the Holy Inquisition, 235;
  establishes his order, 239;
  at Rome, 239;
  his self-denial and death, 240;
  canonized, 241.
Dominic, St., Nuns of, 242.
Dominicans, The, the Inquisition and, 238;
  order of, founded, 239;
  constitution of the order of, 241;
  spread of, 241;
  eminent members, 242;
  three classes of, 242;
  the preaching of, 249;
  quarrel with the Franciscans, 249;
  enter England, 251;
  fatal success and decline of, 253, 256;
  on the stigmata of Francis, 221;
  liberal education and, 408.
Ducis, on the Hermits, 32.
Duns Scotus, a Franciscan, 228.
Dunstan, reforms of, 182;
  his character and life-work, 186.


East, monasticism in the, _see_ Monasticism and Monks.
Echard, a Dominican, 242.
Eckenstein, Lina, on Morton's letter, 339.
Edersheim, on the Essenes, 24.
Edgar, King, aids Dunstan in reform, 186.
Education, The Mendicants and, 248;
  the monks further, in England, 253;
  the effect of monasticism on, 407.
Edward I. and III., confiscate alien priories, 338.
Egypt, The hermits of, 33;
  Kingsley and Waddington on same, 34.
Elijah, and asceticism, 30.
Elizabeth, Princess, and the Act of Succession, 298.
Endowments of monasteries, abolished by first Mendicants, 244;
  reason for some, 361.
England, Church of, separates from Rome, 328;
  causes of, and by whom separation secured, 340, 342.
  _See_ Britain.
Essenes, asceticism of, 23.
Ethelwold, aids Dunstan, 186.
Eudoxia, Empress, banishes Chrysostom, 117.
Eustochium, _see_ Paula.


Fabiola, St., Lecky on her charities, 105;
  her care for sick, 105;
  her death, 105.
Family-ideal, of monastery, Taunton on, 143.
  _See_ Domestic Life.
Fanaticism, Christianity hostile to, 94;
  tendency toward, among early Christians, 129.
Farrar, on the luxury of Rome, 75.
Fasting, amusing instance of rebellion of monks against, 120;
  Athanasius on, 121.
  _See_ Self-denial, Ascetic and Asceticism.
Ferdinand, of Austria, educated by Jesuits, 277.
Feudalism, monasticism affected by, 373.
Finnian, the monk, quarrels with Columba, 170.
Fisher, G.P., on the stigmata of Francis, 223.
Fisher, execution of, by Henry VIII., 301, 306.
Filial love, strangulation of, by monks, 397.
Forsyth, on St. Francis, 225.
Foxe, on Thomas Cromwell, 310.
France, New, and the Jesuits, 282.
Francis, St., his birth and early years, 208;
  his dreams and sickness, 209;
  visits Rome, 210;
  seeking light on his duty, 210, 211;
  sells his father's merchandise and keeps proceeds, 211;
  renounces his father, 212;
  assumes monkish habit, 213;
  repairs Church of St. Damian, 214;
  Dante on poverty and, 215;
  visits Innocent III., 216;
  visits Mohammedans, 217; a
  lover of birds, 217;
  Longfellow's poem on a homily of, 218;
  his temptations, 218;
  the stigmata, 219;
  death of, 224;
  his character, 225;
  his rule, 226;
  on prayer and preaching, 249;
  method of, forsaken, 421.
Franciscans, The, first year of, 215;
  order of, sanctioned, 216, 217;
  three classes of, 226;
  the rule of, 226;
  Sabatier on rule of, 227;
  the title "Friars Minor," 227;
  number of, 228;
  St. Clara and, 228;
  The Third Order of, 229;
  quarrel over the vow of poverty, 246;
  prosperity of, 246;
  educational work of, 248;
  quarrel with Dominicans, 249;
  settle in England, 251;
  Baluzii on success of, 255;
  fatal success of, 253.
Fratricelli, sketch of the, 247.
Freedom, religious, want of, 402.
Friars, Begging, _see_ Franciscans, Dominicans and Mendicants.
Friars Minor, 227.
Froude, on the Charterhouse monks, 302, 304;
  on Thomas Cromwell, 309;
  on the report of the Royal Commissioners, 317;
  on the Catholics and the Reformation, 346.
Future punishment, the monks and the doctrine of, 417.


Gairdner, on Henry's breach with Rome, 301.
Galea, the Goth, awed by St. Benedict, 137.
Gardiner, burns heretics, 311.
Gasquet, on Thomas Cromwell, 310;
  quotes Burke on the suppression, 312.
Gauls, monastic, complain to St. Martin, 120.
Germany, monasticism enters, 122.
Gervais, reason for his donations, 361.
Gibbon, on bones of Simeon, 57;
  on Egyptian monks, 62;
  on Roman marriages, 110;
  saying of, applied to Ambrose, 116;
  on military orders, 199;
  quotes Zosimus, 348;
  on the monastic aim, 362;
  on the character of the monks, 388.
Gindeley, on the Jesuits and the Thirty Years' War, 277.
Giovanni di San Paolo, on gospel perfection, 226.
Glastonbury, fall of Abbey of, 314.
Gnostics, and asceticism, 27, 366.
Godfrey de Bouillon, endows Hospital of St. John, 201.
Godric, his unique austerities, 132.
Goldsmith, on the English character, 166.
Grand Chartreuse, monastery, 189.
Greece, asceticism in, 20.
Greeks, ancient, asceticism among the, 21.
Greek Church, monasticism of the, 64, 67.
Green, J.R., on the preaching friars, 254;
  on Thomas Cromwell, 309;
  on the suppression, 323.
Gregory of Nazianza, on ascetic moderation, 65.
Gregory, Pope, I., 138;
  II., 135;
  VII., 160, 178;
  IX., 241;
  X., 245.
Gregory, St., Monastery of, rules of, 141.
Griffin, Henry, on the Royal Commissioners, 311.
Grimke, on historic movements, 84.
Guigo, rules of, 190;
  on vow of obedience, 383.
Guizot, on state of early Europe, 149;
  on the Benedictines, 404;
  on monastic education, 407.
Gustavus, contrasted to monks, 394.
Guzman, _see_ Dominic.


Hallam, on the Albigensians, 233, 235;
  on the suppression, 334;
  on charity of the monks, 349.
Happiness, the key to, 392.
Hardwick, on the Albigensian doctrines, 233.
Harnack, on early ascetics, 28;
  on nominal Christianity of Rome, 77;
  on life-ideal in the early church, 129;
  on monasticism and the church, 414.
Hell, the monks' teachings about, 417.
Helvidius, on celibacy, 113.
Henry, King, II., and the British church, 165;
  III., invites students to England, 252;
  IV., confiscates alien priories, 338.
Henry VIII., and the independence of English church, 163;
  and the fall of the monasteries, 286;
  opinions respecting his character, 288, 290;
  inconsistencies of, 291;
  "Defender of the Faith," 293;
  his divorce from Catharine, 293;
  breach with Rome, 294, 300;
  dangers to his throne, 295;
  monks enraged at, 296;
  as "Head of the Church," 297, 298;
  Act of Succession, 298;
  Oath of Supremacy, 298, 301;
  excommunicated, 306;
  the struggle for power, 324;
  suppresses "Pilgrims of Grace," 326;
  his use of monastic revenues, 328, 330;
  Coke on his promises to Parliament, 329;
  his motives for the suppression, 332;
  Hooper on reforms of, 339;
  an unconscious agent of new forces, 344;
  two epochs met in reign of, 346;
  Lecky on his use of monastic funds, 411.
Heresy, growth of, in thirteenth century, 206;
  monks attempt extirpation of, 261, 402;
  Jesuits and, 276, 409.
Heretical sects, attack vices of monks, 245.
Hermit life, founder of, 35;
  unsuited to women, 107.
Hermits, The, of India, 20;
  of Egypt, 33;
  their mode of life, 49;
  visit Rome, 71;
  effect of story of, in Rome, 71, 80, 84;
  of Augustine, 246.
Hilarion, the hermit, 49.
Hildebrand, _see_ Gregory VII.
Hill, on manual labor, 142;
  on fall of monasticism, 345.
History, monastic contributions to, 406.
Hoensbroech, Count Paul von, on Jesuitical discipline, 268.
Holiness, false views of, 421.
  _See_ Soul-purity and Salvation.
Holy Land, motives for exodus to, 97.
Holy Maid of Kent, 337.
Home-life, not to be despised, 420.
Honorius, III., Pope, sanctions Franciscan Order, 217;
  confirms Dominican Order, 239.
Hooper, Bishop, on Henry's reforms, 339.
Hospital, Knights of, _see_ Knights.
Hospitals, founded by Fabiola, 105;
  Lecky on, 105;
  result of woman's sympathy, 111.
Houghton, Prior, _see_ Charterhouse.
Household duties, Jerome on, 114.
  _See_ Domestic Life.
House of Lords, majority in the, changed, 347.
Houses, Religious, _see_ Monasteries.
Hugh, St., of Lincoln, and the swan, 157;
  Ruskin on, 189.
Human affection, monks indifferent to, 394, 397.
Hume, on the suppression, 333.
Hypatia, Kingsley's, quoted, 61;
  death of, 48.


Ideal, monastie, 354. _See_ Monasticism.
Ignatius, St., _see_ Loyola.
Independence, Jesuitism and personal, 270;
  of thought, renounced  by monks, 394.
  _See_ Freedom, Liberty.
India, asceticism in, 18, 357.
India, monasticism in, 18, 357, 358;
  causes of same, 355.
Individual, influence of the, 91;
  effect of self-sacrifice upon the, 390;
  effect of solitude upon the, 393.
Industry, modern, not to be despised, 420.
Innocent, Pope, III., 216, 234, 239, 242;
  IV., 250;
  VIII., 339.
Inquisition, The Holy, the Albigensian crusade and, 233;
  relation of Dominicans toward, 235;
  its establishment and management, 238.
Intellectual progress, monasticism opposed to true, 407;
  in Europe, 409.
Introspection, evil effects of morbid, 392.
Iona, Monastery of, 168.
Ireland, St. Patrick labors in, 123;
  monasteries of, as centers of culture, 169.
Isidore, the hermit, visits Rome, 72.
Itineracy, substituted for seclusion in cloister, 244.


Jacob of Vitry, on abuses of charity, 411.
James, the Apostle, quoted on rich men, 377.
Jerome, St., his life of Paul of Thebes, 35;
  on Pachomian monks, 59;
  his letter to Rusticus, 59;
  on solitude, 61;
on number of Egyptian monks,
  63; on clergy of the fourth and
  fifth centuries, 77; in his cell,
  85; Schaff on, 86; his birth
  and early life, 86; his travels,
  and austerities, 87, 92; organizes
  monastic brotherhood,
  88; his literary labors, 88;
  glorifies desert life, 89; influences
  Rome, 91; his temptations,
  93; his fondness for the
  classics, 95; his biographies of
  Roman nuns, 96; his life of
  St. Paula, 97, and of Marcella,
  102; on folly of Roman women,
  108; on marriage and celibacy,
  112; on household duties, 113;
  attacks the foes of monks, 127;
  on vices of monks, 128; on
  monastic aim, 360; on the
  natural, 366.
Jesuits, _see_ Jesus, The Society of.
Jesuits, The Pagan, 22, 426.
Jesus Christ, the Essenes and, 26;
  quoted by early ascetics, 31,
  and by Jerome, 92; teachings
  of, used by monks, 366, 376;
  his doctrine of wealth, 377;
  his attitude toward rich men,
  379; the doctrine of the cross
  and, 418.
Jesus, The Society of, Sherman on
  nature of, 258; rejects seclusion,
  258; Bishop Keane on,
  259, 273; how differs from
  other monastic communities,
  259; founded by Loyola, 264;
  constitution and polity of, 265;
  grades of members of, 265;
  vow of obedience in, 266; von
  Hoensbroech on, 268; confession
  in, 269; Carlyle on
  obedience in, 271; casuistry of,
  272, 429; its doctrine of probabilism,
  274; the Roman
  Church and, 275; Roman foes
  of, 276; mission of, 276; its attitude
  toward Reformation, 277;
  the Thirty Years' War and, 277;
  calumnies against, 279; Clement
  XIV. dissolves, 279; expulsion
  of, from Europe, 279;
  missionary labors of, 280; Parkman
  contrasts, with Puritans,
  281; failure of, 283; restoration
  of, 283; causes for rise of,
  374; hostility of, to free government,
  402; liberal education
  opposed by, 409. _See_ Loyola.
Jewish asceticism, 23.
Jocelin, quoted by Carlyle, 145.
John,  King, confiscates alien
  priories, 338.
John, St., Knights of, _see_ Knights.
John, St., of Calama, visits his
  sister in disguise, 397.
John, the Apostle, on love of the
  world, 377.
John the Baptist, and asceticism,
Johnson, on Monastery of Iona,
Joseph, St., Church of, in England,
Josephus on the Essenes, 23.
Jovinian, hostility of, toward
  monks, 127; compared by
  Neander to Luther, 127.
Julian, Emperor, the exodus of
  monks and the, 127.
Juvenal, satire of, on Roman
  women, 82.


Keane, Bishop, on the Jesuits,
  259, 273.
Kennaquhair, installation of abbot
  of, 145.
King, on Hildebrand, 178.
Kingsley, on Egypt and the hermits,
  34; on Roman women,
  82, 106; on fall of Rome, 78,
Knights of St. John, their origin
  and mission, 200.
Knights of the Hospital, sketch
  of the, 198.
Knights Templars, rule of the,
  197; rise and fall of, 202.


Labor, manual, Jerome on, 59;
  in Pachomian rule, 60; Hill on
  benefits of, 142; among the
  Benedictines, 147, 404; Benedict
  on, 403; effect of Mendicants
  on, 404; not to be despised,
Lama, Grand, in India, 21.
Lateran Council, 242.
Latimer, Bishop, and the monastic
  funds, 323.
Laumer, St., and wild animals,
Laveleye on Christianity, 378.
Lay abbots, disorders among the,
Layton, a Royal Commissioner,
  311. 312.
Lea, on celibacy, 184; on the
  Reformation, 342.
Learning, influence of Alcuin
  and Wilfred on, 167; Irish
  monasteries as centers of, 169;
  monks further, in England,
  252; the monks and secular,
  406; effects of monasticism on
  the course of, 407. _See_ Literary
Lecky, on Fabiola's hospitals, 105;
  on asceticism and civilization,
  401; on industry and the monastic
  ideal, 405; on abuses of
  alms-giving, 411; on the monastic
  doctrines of hell, 418.
Legh, a Royal Commissioner, 311.
Leo X., Pope, 293.
Liberty, the Jesuits on, 375. _See_
  Freedom and Independence.
Libraries, monastic, 152.
Lincoln, Abraham, quoted, 205.
Lingard, on Bede and the conversion
  of King Lucius, 124;
 on the Anglo-Saxon Church,
Literary services of monks, 153,
  406. _See_ Learning.
Lollardism, way paved for destruction
  of cloisters by, 294.
  _See_ 429.
Lombards destroy Monte Cassino,
London, John, a Royal Commissioner,
Longfellow, poem of, on Francis,
  218; on Monte Cassino, 135-
Lord, John, on needed religious
  reforms, 80.
Loyola, St. Ignatius, his birth,
  261; enters upon religious work,
  262; his pilgrimage to the Holy
  Land, 263; his education, 263;
imprisonments, 263; founds Society
  of Jesus, 264; his "Spiritual
  Exercises," 265, 267; on
  obedience, 267; his mission,
  276; Sherman on, 278; compared
  with Hamilcar, 409. _See_
  Society of Jesus.
Lucius, a British king, embraces
  Christianity, 124.
Luther, influence of, in history, 92;
  an Augustinian monk, 118;
  Henry VIII. attacks, 293.
Lytton, his views of Jesuits denounced,


Macarius, the hermit, 49.
Macaulay, his views of Jesuits
  opposed, 278; on the aims of
  Jesuits, 283; on the Roman
  Church, 402.
Mabie, H.W., on the monks
  and the classics, 408.
Mahomet, Carlyle on, 33.
Maitland, on Benedictine monasteries,
Maitre, on desecration of cloisters,
Malmesbury, his charges against
  the monks, 173.
Manicheism, relation of, to Albigensians,
Marcella, St., Jerome on life of,
  102; her austerities and charity,
Maria dei Angeli, Sta., Francis
  hears call in church of, 214.
Marriage, Basil on, 66; how
  esteemed in Rome, 110; Gibbon
  on, in Rome, 110; Jerome
  and Augustine on, 112;
  vow of celibacy and, 381.
Married life in Rome, Jerome on,
Martensen, on ascetics, 391; on
  solitude and society, 395.
Martin, St., of Tours, credibility
  of biography of, 119; sketch
  of his life, 120; his death, 122;
  churches and shrines in honor
  of, 122.
Martinmas, 122.
Materialism, monasticism and, 350,
  413; of the West, 371.
Mathews, Shailer, on Christ and
  riches, 379.
Matthew of Paris, on prosperity
  of friars, 246.
Maur, St., walks on water, 137.
Maximilian, of Bavaria, educated
  by Jesuits, 277.
Melrose Abbey, 289.
Mendicant Friars, The, 205; success
  of, 242, 255; their value
  to Rome, 243; confined to four
  societies, 246; quarrels among,
  246; their educational work,
  248; in England, 251; decline
  of, 253; as preachers, 244;
  254; effects of prosperity on,
Mendicity of monks, 245.
Milan, church of, Emperor refused
  entrance to the, 115.
Military-religious orders, their origin,
  labors and decline, 197.
Militia of Jesus Christ, 242.
Mill, John Stuart, on preaching
  friars, 244.
Milman, on the early church leaders,
  129; on dream of Dominic's mother, 231;
on bigotry of monks, 395;
  on monks and natural affections, 398.
Milton, contrasted to monks, 394.
Miracles, 224.
  _See_ Anthony, Stylites, St. Martin, etc.
Missionary labors, of monks, 148, 171, 398;
  of the Jesuits, 280, 281.
Modern life and thought, monasticism rejected by, 421.
Mohammedans, mission of Francis to, 217.
Monastery, of Pachomius, 58;
  Monte Cassino, 134;
  St. Gregory's, rules of, 141;
  Kennaquhair, 145;
  Vivaria, 152;
  Bangor, 165;
  Iona, 168;
  Cluny, 177;
  Grand Chartreuse, 189;
  Charterhouse, 191, 301, 334, 343;
  Citeaux, 192;
  Clairvaux, 193;
  St. Nicholas, 240;
  Melrose, 289;
  Glastonbury, 314.
Monasteries, in Egypt, 44;
  of Jerome, 88;
  of Paula, 100;
  in early Britain, 123;
  as literary centers, 151;
  decline of, in Middle Ages, 173;
  destruction of, by Danes, 180;
  corruptions of, in Dunstan's time, 185;
  abandonment of endowments, 244;
  fall of, in England, 286;
  fall of, in various countries, 288, 430;
  obstacles to progress, 343;
  new uses of, 350;
  life in, 392;
  charity of, 410.
Monasteries, The Fall of, in England, 286;
  various views of, 288;
  necessity for dispassionate judgment, 289;
  events preceding, 293;
  progress and, 300;
  the Charterhouse, 302;
  the Royal Commissioners and their methods, 308, 313;
  Glastonbury, 314;
  report of commissioners, 313, 314;
  action of Parliament, 319;
  the lesser houses, 319;
  the larger houses, 320;
  total number and the revenues of, 321;
  effect of, upon the people, 322;
  Green on same, 323;
  uprisings and rebellions, 325;
  use of funds, 328;
  justification for, 331;
  Bale, Blunt and Hume on justification for, 333;
  Hallam on, 334;
  charges against monks true, 336;
  Bonaventura and Wyclif on vices of monks, 337;
  confiscation of alien priories, 338;
  compared with suppression in other countries, 339, 430;
  alienation of England from Rome, 342;
  superficial explanation of, 343;
  true view of, 344;
  monks and reform, 344;
  causes of, enumerated, 345;
  results of, 345, 347;
  general review of, 352;
  Bryant on, 353.
Monasticism, Eastern, origin of, 17, 29;
  philosophy and, 18;
  Christian, 29;
  the Scriptures and, 30;
  in Egypt, 33;
  virtual founder of, 42;
  under Pachomius, 58, 63;
  under Basil, 63;
  character of, in Greek church, 67;
  perplexing character of, 69.
  _See_ Jerome, Basil and Athanasius.
Monasticism, Western, 71;
  introduction in Rome, 71;
  effect upon Rome, 80;
women and, 96, 106;
  Gregory the Great and, 160;
  in England, 162; spread of, 115;
  in Germany, 122;
  in Spain, 122;
  in early Britain, 123, 168;
  disorders and oppositions, 124;
  enemies of, 127;
  its eclipse, 130;
  code of, 139;
  reforms of, and military types, 173, 197;
  decline of, in the Middle Ages, 173, 179;
  Benedict of Aniane tries to reform, 176;
  in England, in Middle Ages, 180;
  failure of reforms, 196, 207;
  its moral dualism, 205;
  its recuperative power, 205;
  in the thirteenth century, 206;
  new features of, 244;
  popes demand reforms in, 286;
  attacked by governments, 287;
  Hill on fall of, in England, 345;
  a fetter on progress, 347;
  alms-giving and, 348;
  age of, compared to modern times, 351.
Monasticism, Causes and Ideals of, 354;
  causative motives, 355;
  the desire for salvation, 356;
  quotations on the ideal, 129, 173, 174, 357, 358, 360;
  nothing gained by return to ideal, 352;
  motive for endowments, 361;
  the love of solitude, 362;
  various motives, 364;
  beliefs affecting the causative motives, 365;
  Gnostic teachings, 366;
  effect of the social condition of Roman Empire, 367;
  the flight from the world, 368;
  causes of variations in types, 371;
  East and West compared, 371;
  effect of political changes, 372;
  the Crusades, 373;
  effect of feudalism, 373;
  effect of the intellectual awakening, 374;
  the Modern Age and the Jesuits, 374;
  the fundamental vows, 375.
Monasticism, Effects of, 386;
  the good and evil of, 387;
  variety of opinions respecting, 387;
  the diversity of facts, 389;
  elements of truth and worth, 390;
  effects of self-sacrifice, 390, of solitude, 393;
  the monks as missionaries, 398;
  civic duties, 399;
  upon civilization, 401;
  upon agriculture, 403;
  upon secular learning, 405;
  the charity of monks, 410;
  upon religion, 412, 413;
  the sense of sin, 414;
  the atonement for sin, 417;
  the distinction between the secular and the religious, 418;
  monasticism and Christianity, 420;
  old monastic methods forsaken, 421;
  summary of effects, 423.
Monastic Orders, the usual history of, 174.
  _See_ Benedict, Order of St., Franciscans, etc.
Monks, not peculiar to Christianity, 17;
  Jerome on habits of, 36;
  in Egypt, 44;
  Pachomian, 58;
  number of Eastern, 63;
  under Basil, 63;
  character of Eastern, 67, 69;
  as theological fighters, 68;
  Hypatia and the, 68;
  in the desert of Chalcis, 87;
  in early Rome, 96;
  motives of early, 106, 128;
  of Augustine, 118; under
Martin of Tours, 120;
  opposition to Roman, 125, 147;
  disorders among the early, 128, 150;
  literary services of, 151, 153, 167, 169, 248, 253, 405, 406;
  agricultural services of, 155, 192, 403;
  wild animals and the, 156;
  early British, 162, 168;
  influence of the, in England, 166;
  the barbarians and the, 148, 171, 398;
  military, 173, 197;
  corruptions of, 124, 173, 175, 179, 196, 206, 336;
  the celibacy of, 183;
  changes in the character of, 284;
  rebel against Henry VIII., 296;
  as obstacles to progress, 300, 343;
  required to take the Oath of Supremacy, 301;
  pious frauds of, in England, 318;
  receive pensions, 320;
  oppose reforms in England, 344;
  privileges and powers of the, affected by the suppression, 347;
  charity of the, 348, 410, 411;
  objects of the, 360;
  once held in high esteem, 361;
  their flight from Rome, 368;
  diversity of opinions respecting the, 388;
  effect of austerities on the, 390;
  effect of solitude on the, 393;
  deficiencies in the best, 394;
  as missionaries, 398;
  civic duties and the, 399;
  military quarrels incited by the, 401;
  enthusiasm for religion kept alive by the, 413;
  their sense of sin, exaggeration in their views and methods, 413;
  their doctrine of hell, 417;
  the doctrine of the cross and the, 418.
  _See_ Mendicants, Benedict, Order of St., etc.
Montaigne, on the temptations of solitude, 393.
Montalembert, on Eastern monachism, 67;
  on Benedict, 130;
  on the ruin of French cloisters, 351;
  on the attractions of solitude, 364;
  on the value of the monks, 388, 406.
Montanists, The, and asceticism, 27.
Monte Cassino, Monastery at, Montalembert on, 134;
  sketch of its history, 134.
Montserrat, tablet on Ignatius in church at, 262.
More, Sir Thomas, causes of his death, 298;
  his character, 299;
  influence of, in prison, 303, 305;
  on Henry's ambition, 322.
Morton, Cardinal, on the vices of the monks, 338.
Mosheim, on Francis, 225;
  on the quarrel of the Franciscans, 247.
Mozoomdar, on the motives and spirit of Oriental asceticism, 358.
Mutius, taught renunciation, 62.


Neander, compares Jovinian to Luther, 127;
  on the dreams of Francis, 209.
Newman, Cardinal, on Benedict's mission, 149.
Nicholas, St., Monastery of, 240.
Normans, The, and the alien priories, 341.
Novitiate, Benedictine, extended by Gregory, 160;
  of the Jesuits, 260, 269.
  _See_ various orders.
Nun, _see_ Women.
Nunneries, origin of, 106.


Obedience, vow of, in Pachomian rule, 61;
  enforced by Basil, 66;
  among the Jesuits, 266;
  Loyola on, 267;
  Dom Guigo on, 383;
  its value and its abuses, 384.
Observantines, 246.
Oliphant, Mrs., on the temptations of Francis, 218;
  on the stigmata, 222.
Origen, on Christianity in Britain, 123.
Oswald, aids Dunstan in reforms, 186.
Oxford University, friars enter, 251;
  founded by monks, 406.


Pachomius, St., 32;
  birth and early life of, 58.
Pachomian Monks, rules of, 58;
  vows, 61;
  their number and spread, 63.
Pagan philosophy powerless to save Rome, 76.
Palgrave on the miter, 400.
Pamplona, Ignatius wounded at siege of, 262.
Parkman, Francis, on the Puritans and the Jesuits, 281;
  on the Roman Church, 386.
Parliament of Religions, World's Fair, views of asceticism at the,
  357, 358.
Paris, University of, 249, 406.
Paschal II., Pope, the gift of Cluny, 178.
Patrick, St., 122;
  labors in Ireland, 123;
  was he a Romanist? 162.
Paul, The Apostle, on asceticism, 27.
Paul III., Pope, excommunicates Henry VIII., 306.
Paul of Thebes, Jerome's life of, 35;
  his early life, 36;
  visited by Anthony, 37;
  his death, 40;
  effect of his biography on the times, 42.
Paula, St., Jerome on death of, 98, 101;
  her austerities and charities, 98, 100;
  separates from her children, 98;
  her monasteries at Bethlehem, 100;
  inscription on her tombstone, 102;
  faints at her daughter's funeral, 125.
Paulinus, embraces ascetic Christianity, 84.
Peter, The Apostle, marriage of, 115.
Peter the Venerable, 178.
Petrarch, Mabie on, and the classics, 408.
Peyto, Friar, denounces Henry VIII., 296:
Philanthropy, spirit of, kept alive by monks, 412.
  _See_ Charity.
Philip IV., King, of France, his charges against the Knights, 202.
Phillips, Wendell, on the reading of history, 386.
Philo, on the Essenes, 23;
  on the Therapeutæ, 27.
Philosophy, ascetic influence of Greek, 21;
  Gnostic, 27;
  Pagan, and fall of Rome, 76.
Pike, Luke Owen, on the character of Henry VIII., 290;
  on the lawlessness of monks, 336.
Pilgrims of Grace, 326;
  their demands and overthrowal, 327.
Pillar Saints, 51.
Plague, Black, and the monks, 410.
Plato, ascetic teachings of, 22.
Pliny, on the Essenes, 25.
Pole, Reginald, on Henry VIII. and Rome, 295.
Politics, not to be despised, 420.
Portus, inn at, 105.
Potitianus, affected by Anthony's biography, 83.
Poverty, vow of, in Pachomian rule, 61;
  Franciscans quarrel over, 246;
  and the Scriptures, 376.
Preaching Friars, _see_ Dominicans, Franciscans and Mendicants.
Pride, spiritual, of monks, 395.
Probabilism, doctrine of, 274.
Protestantism, effect of, upon monasticism, 286;
  guilty of persecution, 332;
  and the Church of England, 340;
  its real value to England, 346;
  its religious ideal, 356.
Putnam, on the rule of St. Benedict, 139;
  on Cassiodorus, 153;
  on the first quarrel over copyright, 170.
Pythagoras, asceticism of, 21, 426.


Reade, Charles, on the monk's flight from the world, 368.
Reading, the monks of, their pious frauds, 318.
Recluses, _see_ Hermits.
Reformed Orders, 173.
Reform, monastic, 173, 205;
  fails to stop decline of monasteries, 196, 207, 286;
  demanded by popes, 286;
  failure of, 336.
  _See_ Monasticism.
Reformation, The Protestant, furthered by certain Franciscans, 247;
  relation of Mendicants to, 248;
  the Jesuits and, 277; 278, 283;
  in England, its character, and results, 345,346;
  and the monastic life, 374.
Relics, fraudulent, 128, 318.
Religion, monasticism and, 18, 412;
  influence of feelings and opinions, 354;
  enthusiasm for, fostered by monks, 413;
  the sense of sin, 414;
  salvation, 417;
  the distinction between the secular and the religious, 418, 420;
  the doctrine of the cross, 418;
  essence of, 419;
  true, possible outside of convents, 421.
Religious houses, _see_ Monasteries.
Renunciation of the world, 358, 369.
  _See_ Self-denial.
Rice, Ap, a Royal Commissioner, 311.
Riches, _see_ Wealth.
Richard II., confiscates alien priories, 338.
Robertson, F. W., on excessive
  austerities, 94.
Rome, Church of, her claims
  respecting the early British
  Church, 162; writers of, on
  the stigmata, 223; her relation
  to the Jesuits, 275, and the
  English people, 294, 341;
  martyrs of, 332; writers of, on
  the fall of monasteries, 334,
  335; England separates from,
  342; her religious ideal, 356;
  Parkman on, 386; Macaulay
  on, 403. _See_ Henry VIII.
Rome, Monasticism introduced in,
  71; social and religious state
  of, in the fourth century, 72,
  74; Dill on causes of the
  fall of, 74; classes of society
  in, 75; Farrar on luxury of,
  75; epigram of Silvianus, 76;
  Kingsley on ruin of, 78; Jerome
  on sack of, by Alaric, 103.
  _See_ Jerome.
Roman Empire, nominally Christian,
  73;. its impending doom,
  73, 367.
Romanus, a monk, 131.
Royalty, affected by monasticism,
Rules, monastic, the first, 58;
  before Benedict, 107; of Augustine,
  118; of St. Benedict,
  138, 139, 147, 151, 158; of
  Dom Guigo, 189; of St. Francis,
  226. _See_ Celibacy, Poverty,
Ruskin, on St. Hugh of Lincoln,
Rusticus, a monk, 59.
Rutilius, on the monks, 126.


Sabatier, on rule of St. Francis,
Saint, Paul of Thebes, 35; Anthony,
  37; Athanasius, 42; Abraham,
  50, 60; Macarius, 49;
  Hilarion, 49; Simeon Stylites,
  51; Pachomius, 58; Basil,
  63; Gregory of Nazianza, 65;
  Jerome, 85; Paula, 97; Marcella,
  102; Fabiola, 105; Ambrose,
  115; Chrysostom, 116;
  Augustine, 117; Martin of
  Tours, 119; Maur, 137; Patrick,
  123, 162; Benedict of
  Nursia, 131; Hugh of Lincoln,
  157, 189; Gregory the Great,
  159; Columba, 162, 168, 170;
  Boniface, 167; Wilfred, 167;
  Benedict of Aniane, 176;
  Dunstan, 182; Bruno, 188;
  Bernard, 192; Francis, 208;
  Clara, 228; Dominic, 230;
  Loyola, 261.
Salvation, the desire for, 70, 111,
  355, 396; the struggle for,
  95; monastic views of, 417.
Samson, Abbot, election of, 145.
Santa Crocella, chapel of, 131.
Saracens burn Monte Cassino
  monastery, 135.
Saragossa, Council of, forbids
  priests to assume monks' robes,
Savonarola, a Dominican, 242.
Saxons invade England, 180.
Schaff, Philip, on origin of monasticism,
  18; on Montanists,
  28; on the biography of the
hermit Paul, 35;
  on St. Jerome, 86;
  on Augustine, 117;
  on Benedictine rule, 148;
  on monasteries as centers of learning, 153;
  on effects of monasticism, 387.
Scholastica, story about, 138.
Schools, monastic, 154, 167.
  _See _ Learning.
Scott, Walter, on installation of an abbot, 145;
  on the crusaders, 199.
Seclusion, 244, 259.
  _See_ Solitude.
Secular life, duties of, 113;
  the monks and, 399;
  distinction between religion and the, 418;
  true view of, 420.
Self-crucifixion, 418.
Self-denial, its nature, 356;
  Mozoomdar on, 358.
Selfishness, engendered by monasticism, 396.
Self-forgetfulness, the key to happiness, 392.
Self-mastery, the craving for, 70.
Self-sacrifice, effect of, upon the individual, 390;
  meaning of true, 419.
  _See_ Asceticism.
Serapion, monks of, 63.
Severus, his life of St. Martin, 119.
Sherman, Father Thomas E., on the Society of Jesus, 258;
  on Loyola, 278.
Sick, ministered to by women, 350.
  _See_ Charity.
Silvianus, epigram of, on dying Rome, 76.
Simon de Montfort, 237.
Simeon Stylites, birth and early life of, 51;
  austerities of, 52;
  his fame, 52;
  lives on a pillar, 53;
  Tennyson on, 54;
  death of, 56;
  refuses to see his mother, 397;
  method of, forsaken, 421.
Sin, monastic confessions of, 413;
  consciousness of, preserved by monks, 414;
  exaggerated views of, 415;
  false methods to get rid of, 416;
  monastic influence on doctrine of atonement for, 417.
Sisterhoods, _see_ Women.
Sixtus IV. and V., Popes, on the stigmata, 221.
Social service, spirit of, 419, 423.
Solitude, of Egypt, 33;
  provided for in Pachomian rules, 60;
  Jerome on, 61;
  the love of, as a cause of monasticism, 362, 363;
  effects of, upon the individual, 393;
  Montaigne on temptations of, 393;
  society and, 395.
Soul-purity, struggles for, 95.
  _See_ Salvation.
Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius, 265.
Spain, monasticism enters, 122.
Starbuck, Charles C., on the casuistry of the Jesuits, 274.
Stigmata, of St. Francis, 219.
Storrs, on Bernard, 197.
Subiaco, desert of, 131.
Superstitions, monastic, when revolt against is justifiable, 423.
Suppression of monasteries,
  _see_ Monasteries, The Fall of.
Supremacy, the monks required to take the oath of, 301.


Tabenna, Monastery at, 32, 58.
Tauler, John, a Dominican, 242;
  on service and contemplation,

Taunton, E.L., on the family-idea
  of monasteries, 143; on Augustine
  and British monks, 165.
Taylor, Isaac, on the biography
  of Anthony, 48.
Templars, _see_ Knights.
Tennyson, on Stylites, 54.
Tertullian, on Christianity in
  Britain, 123.
Thackeray, views of, on Jesuits
  opposed, 278.
Theodoret, on Stylites, 51, 53.
Theodosius, Abbot, 50.
Theology, the monks and, 406;
  White on same, 416.
Theophilus, joins Eudoxia against
  Chrysostom, 117.
Therapeutæ, Philo on the, 27.
Thieffroy, on charity of monks,
Third Order, _see_ Franciscans and
Thirty Years' War, the Jesuits
  and the, 277.
Trench, on monastic history, 175;
  on genius in creation, 207;
  on the stigmata, 223.
Trent, Council of, restricts Mendicants,
  246; on marriage, 382.


Universities, foundations of, laid
  by monks, 405.
Urban II., Pope, the gift of
  Cluny monastery, 178.


Valens, Emperor, fails to stop
  flight from Rome, 127.
Vaughan, on Bernard's reforms,
  195; on the need of reformation,
Virgins, _see_ Marriage.
Virgil, Jerome's fondness for, 95;
  Mabie on reading of, 408.
Vivaria, literary work in monastery
  at, 152.
Voltaire, on the monks, 388.
Vows, monastic, 61; irrevocable,
  66, 112; usual history of,
  174; of the military orders,
  198; the fundamental, 375;
  the passing away of, 423. _See_
  Poverty, Celibacy and Obedience.
Vulgate, Jerome, 85.


Waddington, on the hermits, 34;
  on conscience and method of
  monks, 390.
War, monks incite to, 401.
Watch-dogs of the Church, a term
  applied to the Dominicans, 249.
Wealth, Christ's doctrine of, 377;
  not in itself an evil, 379; its
  true value, 405; compatible
  with Christianity, 420.
White, on the theology of the
  monks, 416.
Whiting, Richard, Abbot of
  Glastonbury, 315.
Widows, _see_ Women and Marriage.
Wilfred, St., his monastic labors, 167.
William of Aquitaine, 177.
William of Amour, 250.
William of Orange, 394.
Wolsey, Cardinal, 294, 308.
Women, welcome call of monks, 81;
  Kingsley on same, 82;
  Juvenal on Roman women, 82;
  Jerome's influence on, 86, 96;
  monasticism and, 106;
  hermit life unsuited to, 107;
  effect of corrupt society on, 107,
  no; distinguished by mercy, in, 350;
  compared with monks, 111;
  married life of, in Rome, 112;
  influence of Ambrose upon, 126;
  regulation of Guigo concerning monks and, 190.
Wyclif, attacks the friars, 253, 337;
  spirit of, affects monasticism, 295, 429.


Ximenes, Cardinal, a Franciscan, 228.


Zosimus, on charity of monks, 348.

_Printed at_ THE BRANDT PRESS, _Trenton, N.J., U.S.A_.

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