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Title: Jovinian - A Story of the Early Days of Papal Rome
Author: Kingston, William Henry Giles, 1814-1880
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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A Story of the Early Days of Papal Rome
By WúHúGú Kingston
Published by Hodder and Stoughton, London..
This edition dated 1890.

Jovinian, by W.H.G. Kingston.





The glorious sun rose in undimmed splendour on a morning in the early
part of the fourth century over everlasting Rome, his rays glancing on
countless temples, statues, columns, and towers, on long lines of
aqueducts and other public edifices, and on the proud mansions of the
patricians which covered the slopes and crowned the summits of her seven
hills.  The populace were already astir, bent on keeping holiday, for a
grand festival was about to be held in honour of Jupiter Optimus Maximus
and his two associate divinities Juno and Minerva.  The flamens, with
their assistants, and the vestal virgins, aided by many fair patrician
matrons and maidens eager to show their piety and to gain the favour of
the gods, had been labouring all night in decorating the temples; and
already the porticoes and the interior columns appeared adorned with
wreaths and festoons of green leaves and gay flowers; while wax tapers
in silver candlesticks, on countless shrines, had been prepared for
lighting at the appointed moment.  At the entrance of each temple,
either fixed in the wall or standing on a tripod, was an
acquiminarium,--a basin of silver or gold, freshly filled to the brim
with holy-water, with which salt had been united; a minor flamen in
white robes, with brush in hand, standing ready to sprinkle any who
might desire the purging process.  Others of their fraternity were busy
hanging up in the temples of Aesculapius votive offerings--in the shape
of arms, legs, and other parts of the human body, representing the limbs
of his worshippers, which by his powerful instrumentality had been
restored to health.  Bands of musicians with a variety of instruments,
and dancers in scanty dresses, were moving about singing and playing,
and exhibiting their terpsichorean performances before the temples and
minor shrines erected at the corners of the principal highways.  The
fronts of the shrines were, like the temples, adorned with wreaths of
flowers; while tapers, in horn lanterns, burned before them.  Swarms
also of mendicant priests, habited in coarse robes, with shaven crowns,
and huge sacks at their backs, were parading the streets going from
house to house begging for doles, and holding up small images of the
gods to be adored by the ignorant populace; never failing to bestow
their heaviest maledictions on those who refused them alms, cursing them
as Christian atheists.

It was yet early when two persons, quitting the Curia Hostilia at the
foot of the Coelian Hill, took their way past the magnificent Flavian
Amphitheatre towards the Sacra Via.  Their costume was alike, and
consisted of a fine toga, with a deep purple border, and on the head an
apex--a conical cap surmounted by a spike of olive-wood--which showed
them to belong to the Holy College of the Pontiffs.  The dress of the
elder of the two had, in addition, stripes of purple, marking his
superior rank.  To prevent their togas from being soiled by the dust on
the road, they had drawn them up under their right shoulders, so as to
allow the skirts to hang gracefully over their left arms, exhibiting the
richly-embroidered thongs which secured their sandals.  They passed
onward with a dignified and haughty air.  Both were fine-looking men.
The elder possessed a handsome countenance; his firm-set mouth, high
brow, and keen piercing eyes, showed determination and acuteness of
intellect, though at the same time the expression was rather repulsive
than pleasing.  His companion's features were less handsome, and it
might have been seen at a glance that he was fond of the good things of

They had nearly reached the colossal statue of Nero--now wearing the
head of Apollo, placed on it by Vespasian instead of that of the
tyrant--which towered almost as high as the lofty walls of the
amphitheatre.  After having hitherto kept silence, absorbed in his own
thoughts, the elder pontiff addressed the younger.

"We shall triumph still, Gaius, though, by the Immortals, these
Christians have made fearful progress of late.  They swarm in this city,
and even, as I hear, throughout every part of the world; for since the
time when the Emperor Diocletian wisely resolved to put them down, by
destroying the places where they met to worship, preventing their secret
assemblies, and burning their books, they have once more risen in an
audacious manner and walk about with all the airs of freedmen.  I hope
ere long to see the arena of the amphitheatre again filled with the
atheists, struggling unarmed against the wild beasts let in on them, to
tear them limb from limb.  I well remember many such a scene.  The
populace delight in it even more than in the games of Carinus, the
magnificent displays of the Naumachia, or even than in the combats of a
thousand gladiators.  The exhibition we have prepared for to-day will do
much, I suspect, to win back the fickle multitude to the worship of the
gods.  The ignorant naturally delight in gorgeous shows and spectacles
of all sorts, incapable as they are of comprehending the refinements of
philosophy; and when they benefit by the flesh of the victims
distributed among them, they will, depend on it, be strong advocates for
the continuance of sacrifices to the gods."

"I hope, Coecus, that we shall succeed, but in truth these Christians
have hitherto shown a wonderful amount of obstinacy, not only in
adhering to their mysteries, but in propagating them in all directions.
I cannot understand their faith--without even a visible representation
of a God before which to bow down, or a single object for the eye to fix
on," observed the younger pontiff.  "I know, however, something about
their belief; but even were I not a pontiff I should object to it.  In
addition to the hatred they display towards the ancient religion, they
would deprive us poor mortals of all the pleasures of life.  They rail
against rich viands and generous wines; and, by Bacchus, were they to
have their way, the gods and, what is of more consequence, we their
priests, would no longer be supported, and these our magnificent temples
would fall to decay.  Still, I confess that, would they consent to
worship publicly before the shrines of the gods, they might, as far as I
am concerned, practise their rites in secret, and attend, as they are
wont to do, to the sick and suffering.  I have less hatred for them than

"For my part, I hate them with an undying hatred, if it is of the
accursed Nazarenes you speak, Gaius," said Coecus, gnashing his teeth.

"You speak, Coecus, of these Nazarenes with less than your usual
philosophical calmness," observed the younger pontiff.

"I have cause to do so; one of the vile wretches dared to cross my path
and rob me of a jewel I valued more than life itself," exclaimed the
elder pontiff, his eyes flashing and his lips quivering with rage.
"While yet the hot blood of youth coursed through my veins, I met the
beautiful Eugenia, daughter of the patrician Gentianus, at an exhibition
of the Naumachia.  To see her once was to love, to adore her: in grace
and beauty she surpassed Venus herself; in majesty of form she was
Juno's rival; while on her brow sate the calm dignity of Minerva.  I
soon obtained an introduction to Gentianus; and though I found him
somewhat reserved, I had reason to believe that he was not unfavourable
to my suit.  Eugenia, aware of the admiration she had excited, received
me kindly, and I did everything I could think of to gain her good
graces.  Matters were progressing favourably, when I perceived a change
in her and her father.  I was admitted as before, but her manner became
cold and distant, and Gentianus no longer looked on me with a favourable
eye.  I discovered, as I believed, the cause.  A rival had appeared,
Severus by name, a stranger in Rome; not in good looks, in figure, or
manners to be compared to me.  I watched Severus with a jealous eye, and
employed spies to track his footsteps.  I learnt that he attended the
secret meetings of the Nazarenes.  He had, in truth, a soft and silvery
tongue, and by his art and eloquence had won over Eugenia and Gentianus
to his accursed faith.  Still, knowing that wealth is all-potent in Rome
as elsewhere, I resolved to demand the hand of Eugenia of her father.
He neither refused nor accepted my offer, but, instead, endeavoured to
explain to me the doctrines of the new faith.  Astonished, I bluntly
asked whether he had himself adopted them, `I have,' he replied, `and as
a Christian I could not allow my daughter to wed an idolater!'--for so
he dared to call me.  I dissembled my anger while he continued speaking,
decrying the immortal gods, and endeavouring to induce me to adopt the
tenets of his religion.  It may have been, at that time, that Severus
was not, as I supposed, affianced to Eugenia; but ere long they were
betrothed, and she ultimately became his wife.  Still, I could not
abandon all hope of winning her--a dagger might end her husband's life--
and while brooding over my disappointment, and seeking for some means of
gratifying my love and revenge, the edict of Diocletian against the
Christians was promulgated.  Numbers of the fanatics were seized, and
once more the Flavian Amphitheatre witnessed their tortures and death--
some compelled to do battle with trained gladiators, others, naked and
unarmed, to struggle with ferocious lions.  The time for which I yearned
had now arrived.  I fully expected to get the hated Severus and his
father-in-law, Gentianus, into my power, resolving not to rest till I
had given the former over to the wild beasts, and compelled the old man
to renounce his creed and consent to his daughter becoming my bride.
Believing that their capture was certain, I set off with a band of
faithful followers, and surrounded their house; but on breaking open the
door, what was my rage to discover that my intended prey had fled!  I
sent emissaries, under various disguises, to every part of the city to
search for them; I ascertained, however, that scarcely an hour before I
visited their house, they had left it, and made their way out of the
city towards the entrance of those numerous galleries hewn in the
sand-rock far down beneath the surface of the earth.  Not to be
defeated, I ordered a trusty band to search for the fugitives in those
subterranean regions, but having no wish to descend to Avernus before my
time, I myself remained outside.  My people were some time away; they
came back at length, dragging four or five trembling wretches of the
meaner sort, while their swords were dripping with the blood of several
others they had slain.  Whether or not the chief quarry had escaped, I
was left in doubt, as they brought no token to prove who were those who
had fallen, and they vowed that they would not return to run the risk of
losing their way and perishing miserably amid the labyrinthine passages
of that underground region.  The shades of evening compelled me at last
to return to the city with the wretched prisoners who had been captured,
and I registered a vow at the shrine of Bellona that I would wreak my
vengeance on the heads of Gentianus and Severus should I ever get them
into my power.  In vain, however, did I seek for Eugenia and her father:
they had either made their escape from the neighbourhood of Rome or had
carefully concealed themselves underground.  I had good reason, however,
ere long to know that the latter was the case.  I have since in vain
searched for them; concealed by their fellow-religionists, they have
eluded my vigilance.  That abominable edict which our politic emperor
issued at Milan, allowing the Christians to enjoy their religion in
peace, made me abandon all expectation of being able to wreak my
vengeance on the head of Severus by open means, though I still cherished
the hope that he would come forth from his hiding-place, when the
assassin's dagger would quickly have finished his career and given me my
still-beloved Eugenia.  Still, I have reason to believe that they are in
existence, and that Gentianus, knowing that I am not likely to break my
vow, is afraid to issue from his concealment; notwithstanding that on
the revocation of the edicts by Maxentius the Nazarenes have generally
ventured forth from their hiding-places.  They have, indeed, since then,
in vast numbers, appeared in public, openly declaring their creed, and
diligently endeavouring to obtain proselytes from all classes,--thus
daringly showing their hatred and contempt of the gods whose priests we
are.  It is high time, indeed, since the emperors no longer care to
preserve the ancient faith, that we should be up and doing, and if we
cannot employ open means, should by craft and subtlety put a stop to the
pernicious system.  What say you, Gaius?"

"I can fully enter into your feelings," observed Gaius.  "I myself have
been crossed more than once by these Nazarenes; although, were it not
that our order is in some peril, I confess that I have felt no great
antipathy to them.  Indeed, some years ago, my only sister Livia became
indoctrinated with their opinions, and married one of them.  He was
seized, and died, with many hundreds more, in yonder arena but she
escaped, and disappeared for some years from sight.  I again at length
met her, reduced to great distress, supported, I believe, by her
co-religionists; but so poverty-stricken were they that they could
afford her but the common necessaries of life.  She was a sweet and
gentle creature and, though I condemned her heresy, I had not the heart
to leave her to perish.  You will say, Coecus, that I should have been
more stoical, but I had a motive which will excuse me in your sight.
She had an only child, a handsome boy, the young Jovinian, who reminded
me of her in the days of her youth and beauty.  Once, too.  I should
have said, she tended me when I was sick, and might have died, in spite
of all the offerings my friends made to Aesculapius, and the skill of
the physicians who attended me, had it not been for her watchful care.
Gratitude induced me to visit her; I procured the best assistance
medical skill could afford; but whether it was counteracted by the
visits of her Nazarene friends I know not,--so the gods willed it, she
gradually sank.  Her only thoughts seemed to be about the welfare of her
boy, and in spite of all the offers I made to give him a college
education befitting his patrician rank--for his father was of our order
as well as his mother--and to watch over his advancement in life, she
would not yield him to me, but preferred rather to confide him to the
care of a miserable poverty-stricken relative, who was the means
originally of her perversion from the ancient faith.  Visiting her one
day, I found her boy with her.  She was evidently much worse.  In vain I
endeavoured to console her: she breathed her last shortly afterwards.
It was truly piteous to hear the child calling on her to speak to him.
At length, discovering the truth, he sank fainting over her inanimate
body.  I took him in my arms, and, in spite of his struggles, bore him
away, intending to send the Libertinarii to arrange for poor Livia's
funeral.  Wrapping him in a lacerna, and shrouding his head in the hood
to stifle his cries, I committed him to the slaves in attendance
outside, who carried him off to our college, where he could be well
looked after.  As they bore him along the narrow streets several
persons, who were, I suspect, Nazarenes, looked out from the overhanging
balconies to watch us.  My object was to prevent my relative Amulius
from discovering what had become of the boy.  I had little doubt that I
should soon reconcile him to the change, and teach him to worship the
gods of his fathers.  I have had, I must own, more difficulty than I had
expected.  He was continually talking of his mother, but not with the
sorrow I should have anticipated, as he seemed satisfied that she was in
the realms of bliss--a glorious place in which she had taught him to
believe,--while he offered petitions to some unknown being to help and
support him, and to keep him faithful to the creed with which she had
indoctrinated his young mind.  It seemed surprising that at so early an
age he should be so determined in his belief.  He, indeed, as I
understood him, prayed continually to an Almighty God, to whom he could
approach boldly by the intercession of One he called Jesus, without the
intervention of demigod or priests.  I gained more knowledge of the
extraordinary faith of the Nazarenes from the young boy than I had
hitherto possessed.  It seems wonderfully simple.  They believe that one
Almighty God rules the universe; that man was placed on the earth free
to accept or reject this mighty God, but bound to obedience; that being
disobedient, he and all his descendants have become prone to sin, but
yet this Almighty Being, loving men, sent One, a portion of Himself,
down on earth, born of a woman; who, offering Himself as a sacrifice for
their sins, was put to death on the accursed Cross, thus satisfying the
Almighty's justice, the guiltless One being punished instead of the
guilty.  Thus all who believe on Him are considered free from sin and
reconciled to the great Being whom, by their sins, they have offended.
Can you understand this doctrine, Coecus?"

"Not in the slightest degree," answered the pontiff, who had been paying
but little attention to what his companion was saying, his mind being
engaged on projects for the maintenance of his order, which he had good
reason to fear was in danger.  "It is to me incomprehensible."

"So, by Bacchus, it is to me, though I understand with tolerable
clearness the principles of the system," observed Gaius.  "What I
greatly object to in it is, that these Nazarenes seem to require no
priests nor sacrifices, and worship without any forms or ceremonies, as
they declare that this Jesus is their sole priest, and that He is at the
right hand of their great God, pleading His own sacrifice, whereby all
their sins were purged away.  I have done my utmost, I should say, as in
duty bound, to drive such notions out of the mind of my nephew.  I
forgot to mention that after I had made such arrangements for the
funeral of my sister as became her rank, when the Libertinarii arrived
with the slaves to wash and anoint the body, to place a coin on its
mouth to pay the ferryman in Hades, and to plant a branch of cypress at
the door of the house in which she died, it was found that the Nazarenes
had removed it, in order to inter it according to their own rites, some
way without the city, instead of allowing it to be carried, as I should
have wished, on a handsome praetrum, followed by mourners and bands of
music, to the bustum, there to be consumed on the funeral pyre."

"It matters little what became of the poor dame; she must have been a
weak creature," observed Coecus, in a supercilious tone, re-arranging
the folds of his toga and walking on.



The two pontiffs had proceeded some way, when Coecus stopped.  "What
have you done, Gaius, with this young nephew of yours?" he asked.  "Have
you managed by this time to teach him the worship of the gods?"

"As to my success, I can say but little," answered Gaius.  "A strict
watch is, however, kept over him; for I believe that he would escape
from me even now, could he obtain the opportunity.  I have an affection
for him, and hope in time, as he grows older and gains more
intelligence, to make him see the folly of the faith his mother adopted,
and to induct him into our mysteries.  I have already endeavoured to
make him understand that he need not believe in the gods more than we
do, or in the tricks of the augurs, of whom Cicero wittily observes, `It
is a wonder they can ever look each other in the face without

"If you care for his welfare you will follow the plan you have adopted,
and we may have the lad elected some day as a member of our college,"
said Coecus.  "We must be very careful of our interests, and I doubt not
that if we are wise we shall still retain the management of the sacred
affairs of the city, and may even extend our influence over the whole
country, whatever changes time may bring about.  For my part, I have
confidence that our system will endure, and that we shall still retain
the power we have hitherto enjoyed."

"May the gods favour us!" answered Gaius.  "Happily, the people are
easily deceived and led, though the patricians may give us some

"We can manage them by showing that it is to their interest to support
us," observed Coecus: "I have not studied human nature without
discovering the follies and absurdities to which the minds of men, no
matter their rank, are ready to submit.  Think what a vast amount of
intellect and skill, aided by the labours of the abject toilers for
their daily bread, has been employed in erecting these superb temples
and magnificent statues of the gods; and yet we despise both one and the
other, except for their external beauty, which we can appreciate even
better than they do."

The pontiff, as he spoke, stretched his right hand over the scene of
architectural magnificence which, as he and his companion looked
westward, was displayed to their eyes.  They had just passed through the
arch of Titus, on the top of the Summa Sacra Via, when the Capitol, with
all its glories, suddenly burst on their view.  On the summit of the
hill was seen the vast and magnificent temple of Jupiter Optimus
Maximus, with those of Juno and Minerva on either side, its roof of
gilded tiles vying in splendour with the eastern sun now shining on it,
and deriving additional lustre from the background of that deep blue
Italian sky against which its outlines were sharply defined.  A complete
forest of high pillars, perfect examples of the art of the greatest
sculptors of Greece, supported the lofty roof.  The pediment and
acroterium were adorned with statues--scarcely, however, to be
distinguished at that distance.  Near the temple stood a colossal statue
of Jupiter, the majestic features of the face, turned towards them,
being clearly discerned.  Not far off was another gigantic statue of
Apollo; while around the principal temple were clustered others of
lesser size, as if to do it homage, the intervals and the space in front
being adorned with statues, which appeared at that distance like living
men and women.  A depression of short extent separated the Capitol from
another abrupt elevation, on the summit of which stood the citadel, or
acropolis, crowned by the magnificent temple of Juno Moneta, also
surrounded by similar temples,--the elegant one of Jupiter Tonans,
another, that of Fortuna, and the temple of Honour et Virtus.  On each
side the ground was covered, almost to the verge of the Forum, with
thickly-clustered dwellings, but of no great height, so that the view
from the sumptuous mansions on the Palatine of the sacred and triumphal
processions which passed that way should not be obstructed.  Close to
them was the dwelling of the Rex Sacrificulus, while on the left
appeared the temples of Vesta and of Castor, behind which ran the Nova
Via, directly at the base of the Palatine.  Descending a steep
declivity, beneath the arch of Fornix Fabian us, on the left, stood the
Regia, or house of the Pontifex Maximus, and at the corner of the Forum
beyond it rose the superb temples of Antoninus and Faustina, and that of
Divus Julius, as the first Caesar was called when he took rank among the
gods.  The temple stood on the spot where his body had been consumed at
his apotheosis.  The Forum, which they had now reached, was surrounded
by magnificent buildings, many others crowning the neighbouring hills to
a hundred feet in height, giving it an air of extraordinary grandeur.
On looking eastward, on the crest of the Aria Capitolina was seen, lined
by a double row of porticoes one above the other, the Tabularium of
Catullus.  Below it, to the north, stood the Temple of Concord, and on a
lower level, nearer the Forum, rose the temple of Saturn, its pediment
surmounted with figures of Tritons blowing horns.  In front of it was
the Milliarium Aureum, or gilded milestone, set up by Augustus as a
standard for distances within the walls.  Behind it lay another small
temple--that of Ops; and visible from the Forum, on the eastern face of
the hill, was the ill-famed Tarpeian Rock, whence criminals condemned to
death were wont to be precipitated.  At the upper end of the Forum,
under the Capitoline Hill, was the Comitium, adorned with fresco
paintings, and covered with numerous statues surrounding the tribunals
of the Praetor Urbanus.  Here also was the sacred fig-tree, the Ficus
Ruminalis, under which Romulus and Remus were nursed by the wolf, so the
populace believed.  On the south-western extremity of the Forum was the
Basilica Julia, and not far off the still more magnificent temple of
Castor, from its position on a lofty terrace visible on all sides.
Farther on, at no great distance from the arch of Severus, in front of
the Curia, was another celebrated temple, the last we shall mention, of
bronze--that of Janus Bifrons, the two-faced deity, the index of peace
or war.  Many more buildings surrounding the Forum might be mentioned,--
the Aedes Vesta, encircled by a grove, near the temple of Castor, and
the column of Phocas,--while to the north was the Forum Augusti, with
its Curia.  A fine road between the Capitoline and Quirinal Hills led
into the Campus Martius, through the splendid Forum of Trajan.  Numerous
other temples of equal grandeur were visible, the porticoes, or chief
entrances, looking, whenever possible, westward, which side was at the
same time faced by the divinity within, so that persons offering prayers
or sacrifices at the altar looked towards the east; the eastward
position being considered of the greatest importance by the
superstitious idolaters of old.  The custom, originating among the
worshippers of the Sun, who were wont to watch for the appearance of
their divinity above the horizon, had been generally imitated by the
heathen world, though the source whence it had been derived was
forgotten.  When it was impracticable to build a temple in the favourite
position, it was placed, like that of Jupiter Maximus, in such a manner
that the greater portion of the city could be seen from it; and when
erected by the side of a street or road, it was always so situated that
the passers-by might look in to salute the divinity, to obtain a
sprinkling of holy-water, and to leave their votive offerings in the
eager hands of the watchful flamens.

The two pontiffs, little regarding the magnificent scene which has been
described, hurried into the Regia, or house of the Pontifex Maximus--for
though the office had long been held solely by the emperors, the
building was inhabited by the chief pontiff and several of his principal
coadjutors.  It stood hard by the house of the vestal virgins, who were
especially committed to the care of the pontiffs.  They had, indeed, the
lives and liberties of the fair damsels under their complete control,
and could, should a vestal be found guilty of breaking her vows, punish
her with imprisonment, or put her to death by entombing her while still
alive.  Entering by the ostium, the two pontiffs passed onwards through
the several courts known as the atrium and the cavum coedium into the
tablinum, where, having thrown themselves upon couches surrounding the
central table, ready slaves removed their sandals and head-gear, while
others brought water to wash their hands and feet.  A third party
meantime spread the table for the prandium with various dishes, hot as
well as cold, fish, eggs, and refreshing beverages, light wines, and the
seductive calda.  The pontiffs took good care, whatever the outside
world might say about the matter, to live well on "what the gods

"We have had a fatiguing walk, and require something to restore our
exhausted strength, while a hard day's work is before us; but I have
never prepared with greater zest to engage in a spectacle such as is
about to take place, convinced as I am that it will repay us for all our
trouble," remarked Coecus.

They were soon joined by several other pontiffs, who came to hear the
result of their visit to the Curia Hostilia, and to make final
arrangements concerning the order of the procession.



At the time that the two pontiffs were leaving the Curia Hostilia, a
female slave was making her way along the Appian Road, about two miles
from her home.  She wore over her usual dark dress a coarse laena, which
served to conceal a basket filled with provisions which she carried on
her arm.  Turning off to the left, she followed a slightly beaten track,
scarcely perceptible to the ordinary eye.  After pursuing it for some
distance, she again crossed a track of wild and barren ground till she
reached a hollow or basin of some extent.  Stopping at the edge, she
looked carefully around, and then rapidly descending the slope, was
completely hidden from the view of any one who might be passing in the
distance.  Reaching the bottom of the basin, which had the appearance of
a huge sand-pit long since disused, she directed her course towards what
was seemingly a heap of large stones piled up against the side.
Stooping down, however, she discovered a space large enough to admit
her, and, by bending her head, she passed through it, when she was once
more able to stand erect.  Stopping an instant, she produced from
beneath her cloak a lantern, and, quickly lighting it, proceeded without
hesitation along a passage hewn in the sandstone rock, about ten feet in
height and five or six in width.  Casting the light before her as she
went on, she carefully noted the passages which branched off on either
hand.  Into one of these, after proceeding for five or six hundred
yards, she entered, after minutely examining a mark on the wall--a sign
to her that it was the one she sought.  Still on she went, not a sound
reaching her ear, till she reached what appeared to be a heap of rubbish
piled up before her.  Throwing the light of the lantern on one side of
it, she discovered an opening similar to the one through which she had
entered the subterranean labyrinth.  As she advanced, the light of her
lamp glancing on the walls revealed numerous slabs let into them, on
which various inscriptions, with significant symbols, were rudely
carved, marking them as the tombs of those who had departed in the faith
of Jesus, to sleep in peace till summoned by the last trump to meet
their risen Lord.  Here the crown and palm-branch marked the
resting-places of those who had been faithful unto death, triumphing
over sin, the world, and the devil; farther on was an anchor, typifying
the Christian's hope, sure and steadfast; here a ship entering harbour,
to signify an entrance into the everlasting kingdom; there a dove, and
an olive-branch, the everlasting peace enjoyed by those who slept
within.  Still more numerous were the simple and short epitaphs, some
with merely the words, "In Christ;" others, "He sleeps in peace."  On
some were rude emblems denoting the trade or name of those buried
within; on others were figures of men or women standing with
outstretched hands and open palms--the universal posture of prayer.

But the eye of the slave paused not to rest on any of these objects,
though she did not fail to notice them as she moved along.  Stopping
again to trim her lamp, she listened for a moment, but her ear was
unable to catch the slightest sound.  She then proceeded more cautiously
than before, till she reached the top of a flight of steps, down which
she descended into another passage, which extended to a distance far
greater than the rays from her lantern could penetrate.  Counting her
steps, she stopped at a spot where was a large slab of stone, on which
certain figures were carved, understood only by the initiated, scarcely
to be distinguished from the wall of the gallery, and which appeared to
be let into it.  She touched it on one side, when it opened, and she
proceeded as before.  Here and there a faint ray of light came down from
above, the aperture through which it had passed serving to ventilate the
gallery, the atmosphere of which would otherwise have been
insupportable.  Advancing some way farther, she again stopped and
listened, when human voices united in melodious song reached her ear.
She now hurried on with more confidence than before.  She could
distinguish the words: they were those of a hymn such as Christians
alone, imbued with the true light of the Gospel, could have uttered.

The countenance of the girl, hitherto grave and anxious, beamed with a
calm joy as she drank in the words.  Moving forward for some fifty yards
or more, she stood in front of a deep recess, considerably higher, and
several times wider, than the passage which had conducted her to it.  It
resembled, indeed, a deep archway supported by simple columns, but was
otherwise totally unadorned.  On either side, on rough benches, were
seated about twenty persons, who, as shown by their costumes, were of
varied ranks, from the patrician in his toga and the high-born lady with
fringed dress to the humble fossor or excavator.  They varied also in
age: some were far advanced in life, others were grave men and matrons,
and among them was a young girl scarcely past her days of childhood.  At
the further end of the chamber, near a small table, sat a man of
venerable aspect, clothed as a patrician, with a white beard hanging
over his breast.  A scroll was in his hand, from which, by the light of
a lamp standing on the table, he was reading aloud.

Rolling up the scroll, he rose and addressed the assembly.  The slave,
advancing slowly, and placing her basket on the ground, took her seat at
the outer end of one of the benches.  He had already made some remarks,
when he continued--"Ye have not so learnt Christ.  He, our risen Lord,
is our one Mediator between God and man.  He has assured us that we
require no other intercessor, but if we trust in His perfect sacrifice
He will take us by the hand and present us, clothed in his pure and
spotless robes, to the All-pure and All-holy One.  He, the God of love
and mercy, requires no penances, no lacerations of the body, no
abstinence from lawful pursuits, no works of any sort to fit us for
approaching Him.  All, all he demands is faith in our risen Lord, His
dear Son, whom He gave, and who willingly came, urged by love
unspeakable to fallen man, to die, instead of the sinner returning to
Him.  He requires no human soul departing from the body to pass through
purifying fires, as the foolish heathen believe, to fit that soul to
come to Him; the blood of Jesus Christ alone cleanseth from all sin--
that fountain which gushed forth on Calvary is flowing still, as
efficacious as ever--that one sacrifice superseded all other sacrifices.
No other is acceptable to Jehovah.  Oh, the love, the love of Jesus!--
that love surpassing all human understanding, unequalled by the love of
created beings, of the angels in heaven for sinful man: that sympathy
exhibited at the grave of Lazarus, that love shown at the time the Lord
wept as he thought on the woes coming upon Jerusalem,--that love, that
sympathy, exists bright and undiminished as ever, and will exist through
all eternity, for surely it is part and parcel of the Divine Nature, an
attribute of the Almighty.  That ear, ever open to the petitions of
those who came to Him when He walked on earth, does that become dull or
hard of hearing?  No, surely no!  He is as ready as ever to hear all who
come to Him desiring to be cleansed of sin.  Does He, who while on earth
knew what was in the heart of man, not see now into the inmost recesses
of the soul?  Can he who has numbered every hair of our heads, without
whose knowledge not a sparrow falls to the ground, no longer watch over
those who trust to Him?  Can He who went about doing good--curing the
sick, restoring the lunatics to reason, giving sight to the blind,
feeding the multitudes--who blessed the marriage feast at Cana of
Galilee, who mixed freely in all social intercourse with his
fellow-men--can He, I ask, take pleasure in seeing men and women exclude
themselves from their fellow-beings, emaciate and weaken the body and
mind by fastings, vigils, flagellations, such as are practised by
idolaters?  Oh no! our King demands a willing joyous, active service
from His subjects.  He would have them look to Him as their example,
strengthening the mind and body, that they may the better go about and
do good, as He did to their fellow-men!

"I speak of these things, beloved brethren and sisters, because I see
evil times coming on the assemblies of Christ's followers.  Already
many, departing from the true faith as taught by the apostles, believe
in foolish fables devised by Satan, to mislead, if possible, the very
elect; offering prayers to other mediators, men and women like
themselves--to those who, though martyrs, required as much as we all do
the cleansing blood of Jesus to purify them from sin: even to Mary of
Nazareth, the honoured mother of the Lord, do they pray--to her whom He
committed to the care and keeping of the beloved disciple, knowing that
she required the support of a fellow-creature.  And--oh, miserable
folly!--some are even placing value on dead men's bones; as if, when the
soul has departed, those remnants of humanity are aught else but the
dust from whence they were taken.  As senseless are they as the
idolaters who fall down before the images of the false gods.  I warn
you, beloved ones, brethren and sisters in the faith, pray for grace to
be guided and directed aright, that you may keep free from the erroneous
practices, the idolatries, into which so many, naming the name of
Christ, are daily falling.  Already the enemies of the truth, the
emissaries of Satan, are up and doing; and as Christians depart from the
simplicity of the Gospel as it is in Christ Jesus, so does the great
opponent of the Gospel gain an influence over them, and lead them away
captive at his will.

"I beseech you, then, be warned; seek for grace to hold fast the faith,
ever looking to Jesus, its Author and Finisher, for guidance and
support, imitating closely His walk on earth; be armed with the shield
of truth, the breastplate of faith, and the helmet of salvation!"

The venerable speaker sat down, and another rose--a person of middle
age, and grave, dignified demeanour--apparently, from the tone of
authority with which he spoke, an elder of the assembly.  His address
was also one of warning: he pointed out the danger to which Christians
were exposed, now that they were no longer persecuted by the rulers of
the earth, from the false teaching of the philosophers, who had embraced
some of the tenets of their faith, as well as from others, who, not
going to the fountain-head--to Moses and the prophets, to the Gospels
and Epistles--brought forward notions and ideas of their own.
Especially, too, he warned them against the danger to which the
assemblies were exposed from the wealth now flowing freely into the
hands of those in authority, intended for the widows and orphans, and
the support of hospitals for the sick, but which, as he pointed out, had
in too many other places been diverted from its proper object, and
expended in enabling the bishops to appear with the pomp and show of
worldly rulers.  "Let us," he concluded, "pray that the Holy Spirit may
give us grace that we may continue to worship the Father, through the
mediation of our Blessed Lord and Master, according to the example set
us by the apostles, and in withstand the numerous heresies which are
making inroads among the assemblies of Christians."

Again all rose, and, led by their venerable president, lifted up their
voices in prayer.  Another hymn was sung, and the president then taking
a loaf of bread, wrapped in a cloth, broke it, and poured out some wine
from an amphora into a cup.  After reading from the Gospel the
institution of the Lord's Supper, he distributed the bread and wine to
each individual of the assembly, simply saying, "As Christ's body was
broken for us on the accursed tree, and as His blood was shed for us, so
do we eat this broken bread and drink this wine in remembrance that he
died for our sins, offering thereby a full and sufficient propitiation,
and that He rose again, and ascended into heaven, to take His seat at
the right hand of God, and there to plead His death for the remission of
the sins of all who believe in Him."

The young slave, who had partaken with the rest of the bread and wine,
now rose, and presented her basket of provisions, as sent by the
presbyter Amulius and the assembly in his house, to their beloved
brethren and sisters, Gentianus, Severus, Eugenia, and the rest.

"Say that Gentianus and his child return their heartfelt thanks,"
replied the aged president.  "Do you, Severus, distribute the food to
our brethren," he added, turning to the presbyter, who advanced to take
it; and, aided by the female slave and another person, he gave a portion
of the contents to each of the company.  There was an ample supply, both
of food and wine, for all present, and still the basket was not half
emptied.  Before any one commenced eating the president uttered a short
prayer, that their Heavenly Father would bless the food to the
strengthening of their bodies and the support of their spiritual life.
It was then eaten with thankfulness, while a cheerful conversation was
carried on among all present.  Gentianus then beckoned to the slave.

"What news do you bring from the city, Rufina?  Has Amulius sent any
message by you?" he asked.

"Alas! my lord Gentianus, although Augustus supports the Christians in
the East, the heathens in Rome still struggle desperately to maintain
their supremacy," replied the slave.  "They dare not openly oppress
believers, but by every secret means they endeavour to overthrow the
faith; and knowing that Coecus still seeks your life and that of my lord
Severus, Amulius advises you to remain in concealment till happier times
arrive.  That will be, he hopes, ere long; for already the emperor--
though, alas, himself ignorant of the truth--professes to have become a
Christian, and has raised Christians to posts of power and dignity in
the state and in his army; many heathen temples, where abominable rites
were wont to be practised, have by his orders been closed; and
information has been received that he purposes to interfere with those
in Rome, to prohibit the practice of magic arts, the impostures of the
augurs, and to place the Christians on an equal footing with the

This announcement, which would, it might have been supposed, have
produced unmitigated satisfaction among the assembly, was listened to by
Gentianus with the gravity he had before maintained.  "Timeo Danaos et
dona ferentes--I fear the Greeks even when bringing gifts.  The man who
through jealousy put to death his eldest son, who has murdered without
compunction his nephews and other relatives, can have none of the spirit
of Christ, and any support he affords the Christians must be given from
political motives," he observed.  "Let us not be deceived by them, my
beloved brethren; outward prosperity and the patronage of the great ones
of the earth are far more fraught with danger to the true faith than
were the persecutions we have gone through; already have many been
seduced from the truth by the allurements of wealth and the desire to
obtain worldly dignities and power.  And now, Rufina," he continued,
after speaking for some time on the same subject, "what account do you
bring us of the young Jovinian?  Has he succeeded in escaping from the
power of his uncle, the pontiff Gaius?"

"No; he is still held captive, and strictly watched," answered Rufina.
"I have in vain endeavoured to communicate with him through the Numidian
who has him in charge.  His faith must be put to a sore trial, but the
presbyter Amulius believes that he has been too well instructed in the
truth to depart from it."

"Let us pray that grace may be given him to hold firmly to the faith,"
said Gentianus.  "I feel a deep interest in the youth, for his sainted
mother was brought out of darkness into the blessed light of the Gospel
by my instructions, and I know how earnestly she prayed that her only
child should remain faithful, even though martyrdom might be the
consequence.  Could Jovinian escape from his guardians, he might here
remain concealed, and be further established in the faith, till Gaius
has abandoned all search for him, or an opportunity offers of flying
with you, Severus and Eugenia, to some place where you may be safe from

"I would, as a sacred duty, take charge of the orphan boy, and instruct
him in the truth, so that he may be qualified to perform his duty in
spreading the Gospel," said Severus.

"And I will let him share a mother's love with our young Julia," said

"Tell Amulius what you have heard, Rufina," said Gentianus; "and now
return to the city, thank those who have provided for our necessities,
and bring us, we pray thee, intelligence of anything important Amulius
deems it necessary to send."

The assembly now broke up.  Rufina returned by the way she had come,
accompanied by several persons who had visited the abode of Gentianus
for the purpose of joining in the religious meeting, but who lived above
ground in the neighbourhood of Rome.  Some regained the upper world by
different outlets; besides Gentianus and his household, a few only, who
for some cause had reason to dread the hostility of the idolaters still,
remaining in those subterranean passages.  Here, in chambers excavated
in the soft rock, they had their dwellings, which they quitted only at
night to enjoy the fresh air, when trusty persons were placed on the
watch to give notice of the approach of any who might betray them.  Many
of the fossors or excavators had from the early days of Christianity
been converted, and had thus been able to act as guides to the fugitives
from persecution, and to hollow out chambers in the remoter parts of the
galleries where they could live without being discovered, unless, as was
sometimes the case, they were betrayed by the treachery of pretended



The sun had scarcely risen half-way to the meridian when the head of the
sacrificial procession streamed forth from the Temple of Peace, in the
wide forum belonging to which its component parts had been collected and
arranged.  Preceded by banners came the pontiffs of the sacred college,
walking under silken canopies to shield their persons from the sun's
burning rays.  They were followed by the augurs in saffron and purple
togas, wearing on their heads the conical caps with spikes of
olive-wood, and carrying the litui--long staffs with golden crooks at
the ends [Note 1].  Then came the tubicini, or trumpeters, sounding
loudly on their curved instruments of bronze with shrill notes, and the
tubas, straight silver trumpets, hollowing them, with various ensigns
and insignia, emerged the chief flamens, wearing the laena and apex,
with wreaths of laurel.  Now, after a profusion of banners, appeared a
chariot drawn by four white steeds, richly adorned with wreaths, bearing
along a magnificent statue of Jupiter Tonans [Note 2], with thunderbolts
in hand, followed by superb statues, larger than life, of Mars, Apollo,
Juno, Venus, and Minerva--the goddesses habited in robes either supplied
by pious matrons or from the properties of the temples.  The car of
Juno, adorned with peacocks' feathers [Note 3], that of the Cytherean
Venus, with apple in hand, was drawn along, her car bearing imitations
of swans and doves, and ornamented with wreaths of myrtle and roses.
The car of Minerva followed, the goddess represented by a gigantic
statue, a sphinx in the middle of the helmet, supported on either side
by griffins, while standing on her car were huge dragons, cocks, and
owls, with branches of the olive-tree arranged upon it.  All these cars
were drawn, not by horses, but by young patricians, who eagerly sought
the opportunity to perform so grateful a service to the deities they
worshipped.  In a long line came other gods and goddesses, not seated in
cars, but placed on high platforms, carried by men, some appearing
singly and others in groups, representing the various actions for which
they were renowned.  Between each god or goddess walked youths, swinging
censers, emitting as they moved them to and fro sweet odours grateful to
their divinities.  The bearers of the almost countless images were, like
those who drew the chariots, mostly patricians, or young men of wealth
of plebeian family, who thus sought an easy mode of exhibiting their

Now came, preceded by lictors with their fasces, the vestal virgins,
seated in silver chariots drawn by milk-white steeds, followed closely
by another band of flamens, leading a long line of hostia (oxen to be
sacrificed), their horns richly gilded, their heads adorned with
wreaths, each animal led by a victimarius.  So numerous were they, that
it appeared as if the line would never end; for Coecus had arranged to
offer up a whole hecatomb of victims.

Following the hostia came another band of trumpeters with numerous
banners, the ornaments at their summits glittering in the sun; with a
band of inferior priests, minor flamens, popos [Note 4], and other
attendants at the temples, chanting loudly in honour of their gods;
while next came large parties of citizens in festive dresses, eager to
show their affection for the long-established religion of their
ancestors; the whole followed by a body of troops, with their standards
unfurled, and other insignia held aloft.  The procession, as seen from a
distance, had indeed the appearance of some enormous serpent with
shining scales, as, emerging from the precincts of the temple, it wound
its way along through the narrow streets, past the temples of Venus and
Rome, under the colossal statue of Nero, on the outside of which
scaffolding had been erected, affording accommodation to thousands of
spectators; then turning westward, under the arch of Titus, and between
the numerous temples which lined that portion of the Sacra Via, through
the Forum Romanum, under the arch of Severus; when, gaining the Capitol,
it proceeded direct towards the temple of Jupiter Optimus.  Here the
head of the vast column, the pontiffs, the flamens, and the augurs, as
they arrived, gathered in due order under the porch,--the various
statues of the gods being ranged on either side, the vestal virgins
taking the post of honour awarded to them, while the people arranged
themselves so as to leave an open space round the numerous altars, which
stood prepared for the sacrifice of the victims.  The animals, as they
came up held by the victimarii, were arranged in front of the altars;
when the flamens, having strewed their heads with roasted barley-meal,
the popos, stripped and girt ready, advanced with huge hammers in their
belts; then, at a signal from the chief pontiff, the fires were lighted,
and each of the performers having been previously sprinkled with
holy-water, the popos, holding up the heads of the animals, gave the
fatal blow which brought them to the ground; when, the deadly knives
being plunged into the victims' hearts, they were rapidly and skilfully
dismembered.  The augurs, with due care, examined the intestines, which,
being placed on the altars, were now strewed with barley-meal; and as
the fires blazed up, wine was poured forth, and incense thrown upon
them; the trumpets the meantime sounding, and the choristers loudly
singing hymns in praise of Jupiter and the immortal gods.  As the
incense rose in thick clouds towards the sky from the multitudes of
altars, the pontiff delivered a stirring oration to the people in praise
of the gods, exhorting them to continue firm to their worship.  As the
pontiff ceased, the whole temple became filled with the sweet-scented
smoke of the incense, the drums sounded out their loudest notes, and as
the people shouted forth their vows to adhere to the ancient faith under
which Rome had become great and powerful, many declared that the gods
were seen to smile in approval of their piety.

When the procession first emerged from the temple, close to where Gaius
walked was seen a powerful Numidian slave, holding by the hand a young
and handsome boy.  Every now and then Gaius glanced at the latter,
apparently to observe what so imposing a scene was producing on his
mind.  The boy appeared to pay but little attention to the pageant; but
though he did not struggle, he walked as one who felt himself a captive,
and his eye ranged eagerly over the countenances of the spectators,
especially on those who stood far back in the crowd, as if he were
searching for some one with whom he desired to speak.  He made but short
replies to the slave, who seemed to take pleasure in telling him the
names of the temples, and describing the attributes of those gods to
whom they were dedicated.  At length, when the temple of Jupiter, on the
Capitoline Hill, was reached, and Gaius stood, with others of the
pontiffs, on the steps, the Numidian led the boy to a position behind
his master, where he could see all that was going forward.  The victims
had been slain, and their entrails were still burning, when, at a sign
from Gaius, the Numidian brought forward the lad.

"This must have been an interesting sight for you, my dear Jovinian,"
said Gaius to his nephew; "let me see that you appreciate it.  Come, you
shall have the privilege of taking part in the sacrifice.  A flamen will
give you some incense: cast it on the altar; the act is a simple one,
and will prove a grateful offering to the Immortals."

"I would obey you, uncle, in all the things of life," answered Jovinian
firmly; "but understand that the God we Christians adore is a spirit,
and desires to be worshipped from the heart in spirit and in truth, and
that the offering of incense, even to Him, is offensive as it is vain;
much more so is it when burnt in honour of those who are no gods, but
the foolish imaginings of ignorant men; and I will not do what is
displeasing to Him, and would bitterly grieve the heart of my beloved
mother, could she see me."

"Boy! boy! how dare you use language such as this to me, a Roman
pontiff!" exclaimed Gaius, becoming angry; then, after a moment,
resuming his calm demeanour, he continued, "What folly is this, that you
should object to so trifling an act as that I wish you to perform!"

"No act, however trifling, if offensive to the true God, can be
performed without sin," answered Jovinian.  "I am told that thousands
submitted to be torn to pieces, or crucified, or to be slain by
gladiators, in yonder Flavian amphitheatre, rather than act as you would
have me do."

"Remember, Jovinian, that I have the power to compel you to do as I
desire," said Gaius; "it is not for my own pleasure, but to satisfy the
scruples of my principal, and to prove that you are a true child of
ancient Rome."

"Uncle, I will not do this sinful thing," answered the boy, in a tone of
determination in which Gaius had never before heard him speak.  "You may
order the Numidian to flog me, you may refuse me food, or have me put to
death with any tortures you can devise, but I tell you I possess a
strength beyond my own.  It is that which God gives to those who trust
Him.  He is omnipotent, and nothing human can withstand His power.
Therefore, I say again, you cannot compel me."

Gaius was astonished at the bold answer of his young relative, and was
afraid to press the point, lest the bystanders might overhear the
conversation.  He accordingly judged it prudent to commit him again to
the care of the Numidian, directing the slave, as he valued his life,
not to let the boy escape.  Meantime the augurs had been examining with
sagacious looks the entrails of the slain animals, and soon unanimously
announced with authoritative voices that the gods were pleased with the
liberal sacrifices offered to them, and that, undoubtedly, as long as
Rome itself should stand, their ancient faith would continue, in spite
of the assaults made on it by the Christians and other atheists.  The
vast multitude shouted loudly at the announcement, their cries being
taken up by those who stood at the eastern brink of the Capitoline Hill,
and echoed by the masses who thronged the streets along the Forum even
to the Flavian Amphitheatre, where many remained to watch the return of
the procession to the spot whence it had set out.  The carcases of the
beasts not consumed were distributed liberally among the families of the
inferior flamens and servitors at the temples, the begging priests
pushing eagerly forward to get a share of the flesh, of which there was
enough to supply large numbers of the people.  Coecus, again marshalling
his forces, led the way from the temple, the various performers
following in due order.  "This day's work, as I foretold would be the
case, has been a success, Gaius," he observed to the younger pontiff, as
with stately step they marched along through the Forum.  "We must devise
others of a similar nature to amuse the populace, and use every effort
to win back those of the patricians who are showing indifference to the
worship of the gods.  Provided we employ proper measures, they can be as
easily gulled as the ignorant multitude; but we must suit the bait to
the nature of the birds to be caught."

"I feel not so certain of success.  Those who have once adopted the
principles of the Nazarenes are not likely to be won back again,"
answered Gaius.  "I have lately had an example of the obstinacy of these
people; they are not to be influenced by persuasion or dread of
consequences.  We know how they behaved in former ages; and even when
Diocletian found that they were dangerous to the state, and allowed them
to receive the punishment they deserved, they still persevered in
propagating their faith, unmoved by the dread of the fate awaiting them.
Then what can we expect now that the emperor patronises them, and, as
it is reported, actually professes to have become a Christian?"

"By Bacchus! then we must find another mode of acting," said Coecus.
"If we cannot destroy, we can corrupt their faith, and, depend on it,
success will attend our efforts."

Meantime young Jovinian, attended by the Numidian, had returned to his
uncle's abode.  Gaius, taking the hint from Coecus, still hoped to win
over his nephew, for whom he entertained all the affection a man of his
nature was capable of feeling.  Observing that the boy suffered from
confinement, he allowed him to take walks through the city, closely
attended by the Numidian Eros--who was charged, however, to keep a
strict watch on him, that he might be prevented from making his escape
or communicating with any of his mother's Christian friends.


Note 1.  Ever since borne by the bishops of the Roman Church.

Note 2.  One day to appear in the edifice dedicated to Saint Peter, to
act the part of the apostle; the ignorant multitude being taught by the
modern flamens devoutly to kiss its toe.

Note 3.  Still used in the papal processions.

Note 4.  The popes were priests appointed to put the victims to death.



Jovinian was treated with much consideration by his uncle Gaius.  He
enjoyed the privilege of a room to himself, in which he could read
without interruption, and to which his meals were generally carried.
When, however, he went to the door, he found the Numidian, or another
slave who acted as his assistant, stretched on a mat at the entrance, or
seated on a stool close at hand.  He had thus evidence that he was
treated as a captive, and suspected of being desirous of making his
escape.  He was abundantly supplied with books,--Horace, Virgil, and
Ovid for lighter reading, and translations of the works of Plato and his
disciples for his more serious studies.  But beautiful as was the
language, he turned from them with disgust, so full of sophistries did
they appear.  There was one book which he took up with greater
satisfaction than all the others.  He had obtained it when out walking
one day with Eros, and the Numidian's watchful eye was for a short
period averted from him.  While gazing at a spectacle exhibited in one
of the temples, Jovinian had recognised his friend the presbyter
Amulius, who was coming quickly towards him.  Before Eros had looked
round, Amulius had slipped into his hand a roll of parchment; he
immediately concealed it in his bosom.  He was on the point of
whispering, "Oh, take me with you!" and stretching out his hand to his
relative, when Eros turned round.  The Numidian seemed to have suspected
his design, for he immediately grasped him by the arm, and took care for
the remainder of the walk not to withdraw his eye from him.

On reaching home, Jovinian eagerly examined the roll.  He discovered, to
his delight, that it was the Gospel written by the apostle John.  The
roll contained another small piece of vellum, on which were written some
lines from Amulius, urging him to practise the gift of patience, and to
remain firm to the principles delivered to him by his beloved mother.
Henceforth the book was his constant study, and from its page he drew
consolation and instruction.  One morning Eros, entering his chamber,
inquired whether he was disposed to go out and enjoy the air.  He
thankfully agreed to the proposal, and having concealed his precious
volume beneath his dress, he accompanied the Numidian.  It was a day on
which one of the numerous festivals held in honour of the gods was being
celebrated in the city.  The streets were thronged by persons of all
ranks and ages, the shrines as usual lighted up and decorated with
flowers, the lower order of priests were going about collecting
contributions for their temples, and holding up the small images of
their gods.  They were passing the temple of Bellona, the Isis of the
Egyptians, when Eros, grasping Jovinian's arm, pulled him in.

"Here is a scene worth witnessing," he observed; "see how devoted are
the worshippers of the great goddess."

Unlike most of the other temples, it was enclosed by walls to exclude
the light of day.  Following the windings of a narrow passage, the
Numidian and the reluctant youth found themselves in a gallery within
the temple, which appeared shrouded in gloom, except at the further end,
where, above the altar, was seen, surrounded by pale lights, the statue
of the goddess standing on a crescent moon, holding a globe in her hand;
while before her were several closely-shorn, bare-footed priests,
habited in linen garments, now bending low before her, now lifting up
their hands in the attitude of prayer, while the whole area was filled
with a multitude of persons in rapid motion, from whom issued cries and
groans, above which could be distinguished the sound of the whips
echoing through the edifice.

For some minutes, Jovinian's eye, unaccustomed to the darkness, could
not see what was taking place; but at length he perceived that all the
persons below him were armed with whips, with which they were
unmercifully flagellating, not each other, but their own bodies stripped
naked to the waist.  Some, from their dark skins, were apparently
Egyptians, but many among them were evidently Romans.  Now some of the
priests, throwing off their robes, and seizing whips, which lay beside
the altar, joined the mad throng, shouting and encouraging them to
perseverance in the extraordinary performance.  While this scene was
enacting, several other persons appeared, issuing from doors on either
side of the altar.  Among them, Jovinian, to his surprise, distinguished
his uncle Gaius, with Coecus and other pontiffs, who stood by, while a
flamen, with his back to the people, lifted up his hands above his head,
as if offering sacrifice to the goddess.

"What can induce those people thus to torment themselves?" asked
Jovinian.  "It appears to me as if they had all gone mad together!"

"Know you not that we stand in the temple of the Queen of Heaven, the
most ancient goddess known to mortals?" exclaimed the Numidian.  "These,
her votaries, are thus inflicting pain on their bodies to purify
themselves from sin, and be able to approach her shrine and merit her
approval and affection."

"Can it be possible that people are so ignorant as to suppose that any
being of a divine nature can take pleasure in mortal suffering?" asked
Jovinian.  "How different must she be to the true God, so full of mercy
and loving-kindness, who delights in showering blessings on His
worshippers!  Let us go hence; I can no longer stay to witness such
egregious folly and wickedness."

Still the Numidian seemed inclined to linger; but Jovinian, breaking
from him, made his way towards the passage by which they had entered,
and Eros was compelled to follow for fear of losing sight of his charge.
Jovinian breathed more freely when he got into the open air.  He was
too much lost in thought to make any further remark to his companion.
As they proceeded on their walk they passed numerous shrines, before
each of which Eros stopped, and lifting up his hands, invoked the idol,
seeming to care very little which of the gods or goddesses it

"Can those marble figures render you any service, think you?" asked
Jovinian, as they walked on.

"I know not; but my betters say so, and it is as well to be on the safe
side," answered the Numidian, with a shrug of his shoulders.

"But suppose they represent demons instead of divine beings, if you
invoke them they are more likely to do you harm than good; and knowing,
as I do, that there is but one true, all-powerful God, I am sure that He
does not allow any inferior creatures to interfere between Him and man,"
replied Jovinian.  "We, who are His children through faith in His Son,
can go direct to Him in prayer, requiring no other intercessor but our
Lord and Master, nor any symbol to aid us in worshipping Him."

"Yours seems a very simple faith; and if I thought that the one great
and all-powerful God of whom you speak would hear my prayers and grant
them, I would cease to worship all the gods and goddesses, whose very
names I have a difficulty in remembering, and would trust only to Him,"
answered Eros.

"You would act most wisely and happily for yourself," said Jovinian.
"Come with me into yonder building; I see several persons entering who,
by their dress and demeanour, I know to be Christians."

Eros made no objection.  The edifice was enclosed by a wall, which shut
out those within from public gaze.  Passing through a door, they entered
a spacious hall capable of containing several hundred persons.  No
statues nor pictures were to be seen; at the further end was a raised
desk, at which stood a lector or reader, while a higher desk at the same
part of the building, formed like a rostrum, served for the preacher who
was to address the congregation.  In the centre stood a long table, with
seats round it, while the remainder of the area was filled with benches
in rows, so arranged that their occupants could look towards the lector
and preacher.  The building was filling fast; in a few minutes all the
seats were occupied.  Shortly afterwards an aged man, habited in a toga,
entering, took his seat on a chair close to the rostrum; then, standing
up, after a minute of silent prayer, he gave out a hymn, in which the
whole of the congregation joined.  Portions of the Gospel and Epistles
were read; a prayer was then offered up, in which all the congregation
joined.  After another hymn, the presbyter ascended the rostrum, and
delivered an address.  It explained simply the principles of the
Christian faith, and the plan of salvation offered by God to sinful man.
Eros listened attentively, and drank in every word.  He sighed when it
terminated.  Another hymn having been sung, the congregation began to

"Would that I could hear more of it!" the slave observed to Jovinian;
"after this I can never again pray to the stocks and stones which I have
hitherto called my gods."

"You can come as often as you like; and there are several other places
in Rome where assemblies of the faithful are wont to be held, thanks to
the liberality of the emperor, who allows the Christians to meet
everywhere as they desire," said Jovinian.  "But I would urge you to
speak forthwith to the presbyter who delivered the discourse, or to the
venerable overseer who presided; or, if you would prefer it, I would
take you to the house of my relative Amulius.  He is always ready to
give instruction; and there are some, I fear, holding false doctrines,
who would mislead you as to the principles of our holy faith."

"What, do you Christians differ from each other in your belief?" asked
the Numidian, in a tone of surprise.

"Alas!  I am told that there are many who call themselves Christians,
holding opinions contrary to those taught by the Holy Scriptures," said
Jovinian; "but they differ greatly one from the other.  Such was the
case even in the time of the apostles, and we cannot expect it to be
otherwise at present, when men in their pride of reason refuse to submit
themselves to the plain teaching of Christ."

"You appear to have thought much on these subjects, for one so young,"
observed the Numidian.

"I have been well instructed by those who know the truth, and have ever
sought guidance from God's Holy Spirit," answered Jovinian.

Eros was silent; he was pondering deeply on what he had heard.

Jovinian, on his return to the college, retired to his room.  Gaius was
still absent; he was too much engaged when he returned, fortunately for
Jovinian, to question him as to where he had been during his walk.  The
pontiff was acute enough to discover that he was not likely to win his
nephew over to a belief in idolatry; but he hoped, by giving him the
writings of the Greek philosophers, and of their numerous disciples and
imitators of the present time, so to draw his mind away from the truth
that he might be willing to enter into his schemes, and to become in
reality a sceptic in all religious matters, as he was himself, with one
exception: if, indeed, he had any belief, it was in the great goddess of
Babylon--Astarte or Ashtaroth, the Queen of Heaven--whose worship,
having spread through Asia into Egypt, had, with that of her son Horos,
long been established in Italy under different names.  In Egypt she was
known as Isis, in Rome as Bellona.  He, as was the case with the other
pontiffs, had long been initiated into her mysteries, and he trusted
that in time his nephew would be qualified to become one of her
votaries.  Her worship had, indeed, ever been the most popular, and
provided that could be maintained, he felt sure that it would
successfully oppose the two principles of the Christian faith, which he
understood to consist in the belief of one God and one mediator between
God and man.  He was not aware of the power of simple faith when he thus
entertained hopes of winning over his nephew, or that Jovinian went
daily to the fountain-head to seek for that strength he so much needed
in order to resist the temptations presented to him.  Jovinian soon
discovered the tendency of the works his uncle gave him, and as he read
he sought for grace to refute their sophistries; nor did he seek in
vain.  He found, however, that it was wise not to enter into discussions
with Gaius, who fully believed that ere long his nephew's faith would be
completely overcome.  The pontiff now began to open his views to
Jovinian, and to excite his ambition with the prospect, should he follow
his advice, of becoming great and powerful, and ruling his
fellow-creatures through their superstition, he frequently invited him
out, taking the precaution to have a slave following close at hand to
stop him should he attempt to escape, though he believed that there was
now little probability of his doing so.  At length, so complete was the
confidence he placed in him, that he allowed him to be present at the
councils of the pontiffs, where, seated, his book in hand, at the
further end of the hall, his presence was not observed.  Jovinian, very
naturally, did not object to this, nor could he fail to be interested in
the discussions he frequently overheard.



At length, one evening, the whole of the pontiffs of the sacred college
were assembled, and it was evident from their manner that a matter of
more than usual importance was to be brought forward.  The gods being
invoked, and the usual forms hurried over, Coecus, who acted as
president, rose.

"Friends and brother pontiffs," he began, "disastrous news has reached
me.  You well know that the emperor has long been favourable to the
Christians.  He has now openly declared himself a convert to their
faith.  His motive it is easy to perceive: he considers that the
Christians throughout the empire already outnumber the followers of the
ancient faith; and perchance he hopes to obtain pardon from the God of
the Christians for the murder of his son, the hapless Crispus, of his
wife, the traduced Fausta, of his nephew, and brother-in-law, Licinius,
and the many others his jealousy has doomed to death.  Be that as it
may, his acts show enmity to the ancient faith; he has already in the
East destroyed numerous temples of the gods, and prohibited the
celebration of many of those august mysteries which have existed from
time immemorial.  Holding, as he does, the office of Pontifex Maximus,
putting us and our holy college on one side, he has taken upon himself
the right to raise the ministers of the Christians to high ranks and
dignities, and has issued edicts accordingly, so that from henceforth
those men whom we have hitherto looked down upon will, claiming the
authority of the emperor, vaunt it over us; and, what is of more
consequence, will obtain the revenues which have hitherto flowed into
our coffers; while we, neglected and degraded, must sink into
insignificance.  Are we, I ask, my friends, tamely to submit to such
treatment?  Are no means to be found to arrest the progress of this
pestiferous religion, which so many of wealth and rank are eagerly
embracing, and which, now it has become fashionable at court, will still
further increase?  Can no one suggest a scheme by which we may retain
our office, and still, as of yore, govern the minds of the multitude?
Unless some plan can be devised, I warn you all that our course is run,
and penury and neglect must be our lot."

Silence followed the address of Coecus--a groan alone now and then
escaping from the bosoms of the pontiffs; for they had not watched the
rapid increase of the Christian faith among all ranks without being
conscious that the system which they supported was tottering to its
base.  At length, one by one, they broke silence; but their proposals
were treated as vain and useless by the sagacious Coecus.

"We have but one resource, my friends," he answered; "far from giving
way to despair, I feel confident that it will succeed, if carried out
with due wisdom and secrecy.  But we must be united, and by forming
strict rules for our guidance, we shall still retain our power and
influence, and govern the minds, not only of the people of Rome, but of
those of the nations subject to her.  We ourselves must become
Christians!  Some few may doubt our conversion, but the great mass will
gladly welcome us, and continue to pay us the honour we have hitherto
received.  I say not this till after profound reflection.  Our sacred
college will still exist, and by the exertion of our influence, we shall
obtain the appointment of the bishops and presbyters of the Christians,
chosen either from our own body or from among such men as we shall find
ready to support us.  We shall have but to change the names of the gods.
Already have many of the Christians begun to worship those whom they
esteem holy or who were put to death in the times of Nero, Diocletian,
and other emperors.  Their folly will greatly facilitate our object, and
it will matter little to us under what names the immortal gods are
worshipped.  We may, by proper caution, induce them to adore our own
great goddess, the Queen of Heaven,--she who has been, shall be, and
whose mysterious existence none among mortals can comprehend.  Be it
known to you, my friends, that He whom these Nazarenes worship, the
Prophet of Nazareth, was, they say, born of a woman; and surely, as they
adore Him, so may they easily be induced to adore His mother; and it
appears to me that they can be led away from the worship they pay to
Him, to offer it to one whom we would present to them in the place of
that human mother.  Thus shall we by degrees wean them from the faith
they now hold,--if we cannot openly oppose the progress of this new
religion, we can corrupt it,--and if the gods and goddesses of ancient
Rome are overthrown, we can place other objects of worship in their
stead, or re-name them, rather, from the persons whom the Christians are
wont to regard with respect.  Those who have been taught to worship a
dead Caesar will as willingly fall down before the statue of a woman
whom they consider a saint; thus it will give us but little trouble to
change the religious observances and ceremonies to which the people have
been accustomed to suit the new religion.  Let us not, then, give way to
despair: Rome will continue, as of yore, faithful to the worship of the
ancient gods, and we, their priests, shall retain our power and

The scheme proposed by Coecus met with general approbation.  Jovinian
had retained his seat, his eyes fixed on his manuscript, but attentively
listening to all that was uttered.  The words he heard, "If we cannot
overcome, we can corrupt," especially struck his ear; he was too well
acquainted with the errors which had crept in among the assemblies of
the Christians not to be sensible that even those who held the faith
might be led astray: how much more easily might the ignorant idolaters
be led to worship any objects presented to them!  As he sat motionless
in his place of concealment, yet more of the scheme was revealed; the
characters of the very persons who were to be made its instruments were
discussed.  A feeling of horror and dismay crept over him.  Could he by
any means be enabled to counteract it?  He resolved to take counsel of
his aged friend, Gentianus.  So strictly had he hitherto been watched
that he knew full well the difficulties to be encountered in making his
escape; should his uncle Gaius discover that he had been present he
would guard him still more closely.  He dared not move lest he might be
seen; at present he was concealed from the assembled pontiffs by a
pillar, but the slightest movement might betray him.  At length the
conclave broke up, and drawing their togas around them, the pontiffs
retired.  Jovinian, trembling at the thought of the dark scheme he had
discovered, made his way back to his room.  Helpless as he was, he felt
unable to do anything to counteract the plans of the conspirators, yet
it was at all events his duty to make them known to the leading
Christians of Rome; but whom among them could he trust besides Amulius,
and Gentianus and his family?  The first, though a presbyter, and a
faithful and earnest man, might not have the courage to denounce a
person of power and influence like the pontiff Coecus, supported as he
was not only by the members of his college, but by all the wealthy
philosophers and idolaters in Rome.  Amulius might even doubt the
accuracy of his statements; Gentianus was far more likely to believe
them, could he manage to communicate with him.  Should, however, Gaius
suspect that he had been present at the conference, he would be kept a
far closer prisoner than before.  Was Eros to be trusted?  He could not
have failed to discover that Jovinian had been absent from his room,--he
might have informed Gaius of the fact.  Though Eros had professed to be
deeply interested in what he had heard at the assembly of the
Christians, it was doubtful whether he had been really converted; even
if he were so, the dread of the consequences to himself should his
captive regain his liberty, might prevent him from conniving at his
escape.  Jovinian, therefore, felt it would be prudent not to trust him;
and, eager as he was to get away, he endeavoured to appear reconciled to
his lot.  From principle as well as from disposition, anything like
duplicity was especially hateful to him, but he was driven to practise
it, as affording him the only prospect of escaping from the thraldom in
which he was held.  Gaius appeared to be completely deceived; he spoke
more openly to his nephew than he had hitherto done, though at the same
time he was too wary not to keep the same strict watch over him as at
first.  He now frequently took him out when he went abroad to visit the
temples to give directions to the flamens and to advise them how to
comport themselves in the perilous circumstances in which they were
placed.  One and all were alarmed at the information which constantly
reached them of the emperor's opposition to the ancient faith, and the
support and patronage he afforded the Christians.  Already numerous
conversions had taken place among the patricians, as well as among
persons of inferior rank; whole families who had hitherto appeared to be
staunch idolaters now professed themselves Christians.  They not only
met together openly for worship in several parts of the city, but had
already begun to erect several churches; while money contributed by the
faithful for the support of widows and orphans and others in distress
flowed into the coffers of their bishop.  Wherever Gaius went the
flamens met him with sad countenances; though after he had held
conversation with them in private, they generally appeared to become
more cheerful.

He was one day paying a domiciliary visit to the temple of Apollo,
having entered by the door sacred to the flamens in the rear of the
edifice.  Gaius had a long conversation with the chief flamen while
Jovinian was allowed to amuse himself with looking over some ancient
manuscripts kept in a chest in the room in which they were sitting.  The
flamen listened attentively to the remarks of his superior.

"By the Immortals, we need not despair, Coecus guiding us!" he
exclaimed; "whatever he proposes, he may depend on our carrying out to
the letter."

"Then listen, Flaccus," said Gaius; "we can no longer hide from the
people the progress made by the new faith, or that it is patronised by
the emperor; but we may persuade them that the gods are grieved at the
abandonment of their ancient worship; or should a pestilence occur, or
an earthquake, or a storm of unusual violence, we may easily make them
believe that the infliction has been sent as a punishment for their
infidelity.  Would that such would occur! it would help us greatly in
our object.  In the meantime, we can employ such means as are at our
disposal.  It would be well if we could make all the statues of the gods
in Rome weep together, or roll their eyes, or groan in concert."

"The thought is a bright one," answered Flaccus; "by means of
arrangements in the interior of our statue we can reach the head, and
through the two small holes in the corners of the eyes press forth from
a sponge a rivulet of water, if we so wish.  I will then, from before
the altar, announce the cause of the great Apollo's grief, and urge his
votaries to renewed devotion, and to withstand the pernicious teachings
of the Christians."

"The temple is already well filled, and the sooner we play the--I mean,
the sooner the miracle is performed the better, for delays are
dangerous," said Gaius.

"We might perform it at once," answered Flaccus; "but we require a boy
of small size who can climb up into the head of the statue; and my own
son, whom I can trust, is sick at home.  The youth yonder, however,
though somewhat big, might manage to climb up without much difficulty."
As he spoke he looked towards Jovinian.  "You can confide in him that he
will not betray us?"

"I am not certain on that point," answered Gaius; and calling to his
nephew he desired him to swear that he would not reveal what he was
about to communicate.

"If lawful, I am ready to do whatever you desire," answered Jovinian.

"Can it be otherwise, foolish boy, when I wish it?" exclaimed Gaius.
"Know you not that I have the power to force you to do whatever I may

"I will, at all events, promise not to repeat whatever you may think fit
to say to me," said Jovinian.

"I wish you, then, simply to play off a trick upon the ignorant people
collected in the temple," said Gaius.  "See here: all you have to do is
to climb into the head of the statue through the trap which the flamen
Licinius Flaccus will show you, and to press a sponge into the hollows
of the eyes till you have emptied the amphora which you will take up
with you.  Be not startled if you hear some deep groans close to your
ears; they will be uttered by the flamens, and will serve to give more
effect to the flowing of the tears."

"Pardon me, but I cannot take part in such a device," answered Jovinian.
"I have given my promise not to repeat what you have told me; but obey
you in this matter I cannot."

Gaius, whose aim was to gain the affections of his nephew, restrained
his rising anger, and turning to the flamen, observed, "You must find
some other boy of smaller size, for my nephew is, I suspect, too big
properly to perform the task."

"I am unwilling to lose this opportunity of working on the minds of the
people," answered Flaccus; "I will, therefore, send for my son, or some
other boy who can be trusted."

He immediately went out.  While he was absent, Gaius lectured his
nephew; but Jovinian was firm, and even ventured to expostulate on the
subject with Gaius, who, however, only laughed at him for his folly, as
he called it.  In a short time the flamen returned, bringing a short and
slight lad, who was directed what to do.  Two of the flamens remained
behind, while the rest entered the temple.  The boy was led to a
trap-door at the back of the altar, while two flamens mounted to a
gallery level with the head of the statue.  Presently groans were heard,
so deep and mournful that it seemed scarcely possible they could be
uttered by a human being, while cries and shouts arose from the temple,
and the words which reached Jovinian's ears were, "The great god is
weeping!  Apollo mourns!  Woe, woe to Rome!"

He was thankful when at length Gaius, taking his hand, led him from the
temple.  On their way through the streets they heard people talking of
the wonderful miracle which had just been witnessed in the temple of

"The god sheds tears at the thoughts of being driven ignominiously from
the city where he has so long dwelt!" exclaimed some.  "Did you hear how
he groaned?  Fearful!  What will next happen?  It is a wonder the great
Jove and all the gods did not descend from their pedestals and drive
these Nazarene infidels into the Tiber."

"It would be a worthy deed, and well-pleasing to the Immortals, if you,
who carry weapons, were to attack the wretches, and treat them as they
deserve," whispered Gaius to the crowd of idolaters among whom he was
making his way.  Just then a line of twelve lictors appeared carrying
the fasces, making way for one of the consuls, who walked along with
dignified pace on some official business.

"Silly people!" he remarked, as he heard the exclamations of the crowd;
"you will, ere long, see the statues of the Nazarene saints weeping if
you obstinately refuse to follow the faith our august emperor has

He smiled as he saluted Gaius, and their eyes met; but the presence of
the lictors restrained them, and they separated, going towards their
respective homes.  Gaius did not speak a word to Jovinian till they
reached the college.  "Go to your room: I will follow you there," said
the pontiff to his nephew, in a sterner tone than he was wont to use.
Jovinian was prepared for a severe lecture.  He prayed that he might
have grace to act consistently with his profession.  In a short time
Gaius appeared, and having ordered Eros, who was at his post, to retire,
he threw himself on the couch by the table on which Jovinian's books
were placed.

"Of what folly have you been guilty!" he exclaimed; "what induced you to
refuse to take part in a harmless deceit, such as has been frequently
practised on occasions of necessity, when it has been important to
awaken the slumbering faith of the votaries of the gods?  Know you not
that it is one of our chief maxims that deceit of any sort is lawful
when the result is likely to prove beneficial, and that evil may be done
provided a good object is to be attained?  You have been miserably
taught if you do not understand this."

"According to the precepts of the faith I hold, no deception can be
practised and no evil done without offending a pure and a holy God, who
looks upon all deceit as sinful, and cannot sanction the slightest
approach to sin," answered Jovinian, boldly.  "I could not, without
offending Him whom I serve, have assisted in the imposture practised on
the ignorant multitude.  I promised not to speak of what I heard, or I
would tell the people of the trick played upon them, and thus win them
to the worship of the one true God."

"What is this I hear?" exclaimed Gaius; "I had hopes that you had been
weaned from your folly, and would have been ready to follow the career I
have marked out for you.  Should I disown you and turn you out into the
world, by what means can you support your miserable existence?"

"The Lord I desire to serve cares for those who love Him," answered
Jovinian, without hesitation.  "I have no fear of what man can do to me.
I speak with no disrespect to you, my uncle--I am ready to obey you in
all things lawful."

"You are a foolish and obstinate boy," exclaimed Gaius.  "I will,
however, give you a further trial.  Only do as I desire, and you may
retain your Christian faith; but if you thwart my plans, I must use
sterner measures than I have hitherto adopted.  Perhaps ere long you
will discover that I am not so much opposed to the faith of the
Nazarenes as you now fancy."

Gains rose, and leaving Jovinian to reflect on what he had said,
returned to the hall, where the other pontiffs were assembled to discuss
the subject which now occupied all their thoughts.



Jovinian's position became excessively trying.  He was more strictly
watched than before; it was evident that Gaius had lost all confidence
in him.  Still he did not abandon the hope of escaping; he did not wish
to commit Eros, who, should he connive at his escape, would be severely
punished; he had, however, hopes that the mind of the Numidian was
gradually opening to spiritual truth.  Whenever Gaius was abroad, and
Eros had no fear of being interrupted, he entered Jovinian's room, and
begged him to read from the wonderful book he possessed.  This Jovinian
gladly did, and the humble slave gradually began to comprehend the faith
which his proud master rejected.  Though Jovinian was convinced that
Eros had become a true Christian, yet still he would not tempt him to
assist in his escape.  Eros had early become interested in his young
captive; he was now deeply attached to him.  He observed with an eye of
affection that the confinement to which he was subjected was injuring
his health.  "He requires fresh air and exercise, and the society of
those of like mind," Eros said to himself.  "I must persuade the pontiff
to let him go out as before, or, if my petition is refused, I will run
all risks, and give him his liberty.  He has not asked me to set him
free, because he believes I should be the sufferer; but, as he has given
me the greatest blessing I can enjoy on earth, I am bound, in gratitude,
to enable him to do what his heart desires."

With these thoughts in his mind, Eros went to his master, and strongly
urged that, unless the young Jovinian were allowed to go out and breathe
the pure air, he would fall sick, and very likely die.  His request was
granted much more easily than he had expected.

"Take him forth, then," answered Gaius; "but beware, slave, lest the
youth escape your vigilance; you will be answerable with your life for
his safe custody."

"The life of the slave is in the hands of his master," answered Eros.
"The air is fresh and cool; a walk into the country will restore vigour
to his limbs and the colour to his pale cheek."

"See to it, and let me hear a better account of him," observed the
pontiff, as the slave left his presence.

"Joyful news I bring!" said Eros, as he entered the chamber; "we may set
off without delay.  Let me advise you not to leave your gospel behind,
nor any article that you value."

Jovinian did not enquire why Eros gave this advice, but gladly
accompanied the slave into the open air.

"In what direction shall we go?" he asked.

"We will take the way at the foot of the Palatine, and along the banks
of the Tiber," answered Eros; "then round by the Aventine hill, and
return home by the Flavian amphitheatre."

"That seems a somewhat long circuit to make," replied Jovinian.

"The fresh air will enable you to enjoy it, and possibly you may be
induced to prolong your walk," replied the Numidian.  Every step they
took Jovinian felt inclined to proceed farther and farther.  Instead,
however, of following the road along the bank of the river, Eros turned
off to the left, and passing through the nearest gate of the city,
struck directly across the country.  They had gone on for some distance,
when a female was seen approaching them.  She stopped as she observed
Jovinian.  "Surely I know you!" she exclaimed, taking his hands, "though
grown so much and become so manly.  Have you forgotten Rufina?"

"No, indeed! never can I forget one who was ever so faithful to my
beloved mother," answered Jovinian: "but how happens it that we have
thus met?"

"I have long been watching for you," answered Rufina, in a low voice,
drawing Jovinian aside.  "There are some friends not far off who greatly
desire to embrace you--one especially, by whom your mother Livia was
greatly beloved: Eugenia, now the wife of the presbyter Severus--and
should you desire to escape from the thraldom in which you are held,
they will afford you a secure asylum where the pontiff Gaius can never
find you.  Fear not," she added, as she observed Jovinian glance towards
Eros; "the Numidian will not stop you.  I have communicated with him,
and promised to secure his safety.  Though he may not accompany you, he
can no longer willingly serve a heathen master, and the price of his
freedom has been provided."

"Can you assure me of this?" asked Jovinian.  "Much as I desire to
obtain my liberty, I would not risk the safety of Eros, now that he is a
Christian; and terrible would be his punishment were Gaius to discover
that he had willingly allowed me to escape."

"I will speak to him, and his answer shall convince you that I am not
mistaken," said Rufina; and, advancing towards Eros, she told him what
Jovinian had said, adding, "I will now bid you farewell."

"I desire not to impede you from going whithersoever you wish, though
grieved that I may not accompany you," said Eros.  "My prayer is that we
shall soon meet again, and that I may serve you as a freedman; and I
rejoice to know that no longer as a slave shall I be compelled to act
the guard and spy upon you.  Farewell, Jovinian: Rufina forbids me to
follow your footsteps, or I would thankfully accompany you.  But do not
be alarmed about my safety; she has provided a refuge where I can remain
concealed, for I would avoid the enmity of Gaius,--he is aware that I
know too many of the secrets of the college to allow me to retain my
liberty, or even my life, could he get me into his power."

Jovinian, satisfied on hearing that Eros was cared for, followed Rufina,
who hastily led him along over the uncultivated country, which even in
her palmiest days surrounded the city, till they reached one of the
entrances to those subterranean labyrinths which have already been
described.  Jovinian followed her without hesitation; he had been well
acquainted with them in his younger days, when he had dwelt in
concealment with his mother and many other Christians.  A well-trimmed
lamp, which Rufina found within, enabled her to guide him through the
intricate turnings of the labyrinth.  Although several years had elapsed
since he had entered them, he recognised, as they went along, many of
the tombs of those who had departed in the faith.  She stopped suddenly
before one of them; he read the inscription on it.  "Livia, the
well-beloved!  She rests in Christ."  The symbol above it was a dove,
with an anchor carved on its breast.  He gazed at it earnestly, and knew
at once that it indicated his mother's tomb.

"They brought her here to rest in peace, as she desired.  And may I ever
possess that sure and certain hope, the anchor of the soul, which
enabled her to endure without wavering the storms and trials of life,"
he mused.

Rufina stopped to throw a light on the slab, unwilling to interrupt his
meditations, and remained without speaking.  At length she observed, "We
must hurry on, or the oil in the lamp may be exhausted before we reach
our destination."

They continued their course, proceeding along several galleries,--now
descending some flights of steps, now ascending others,--till they
reached a slab of stone, which resembled many they had passed, let into
the wall, with rude inscriptions on them.  Rufina knocked three times on
the slab with a small mallet which she carried in her basket.  Placing
her ear against the slab, she listened, when, in the course of a few
minutes, she heard the sound of a bolt being withdrawn, and the stone
slowly swung back, allowing an opening sufficiently large for a person
to pass through.  Rufina taking the hand of her young companion, they
entered, when the slab was immediately closed behind them.  So rapid had
been their movements, that to any one following them they would seem to
have vanished.  The janitor, a humble fossor, after saluting Rufina as a
sister, led them on to the end of a long passage, when another door, of
a similar character to the first, being opened for them to pass through,
they found themselves, after advancing a short distance further, at the
entrance of a small hall, from the roof of which hung a silver lamp, its
rays casting a pale light on several persons assembled within.  Jovinian
hung back, not recognising those he saw before him; but no sooner had
Rufina stated who he was than he heard himself greeted by friendly

"Welcome, son of our well-beloved: thou hast been faithful as she was!"
said the aged Gentianus, who was seated at a table in the centre of the
hall.  He drew Jovinian towards him, and placing his hand on the lad's
head, gazed into his face as he spoke.  "We indeed rejoice that you have
escaped from the power of the pontiff Gaius, and still more that you
have resisted the temptations he offered you to depart from the faith.
May the Holy Spirit ever strengthen and support you in the fiery trials
you may be called on to go through.  The mystery of iniquity doth
already work, and who shall escape its toils?  Those alone who cling
fast to Christ.  May you be among them, my son!"

Much more to the same effect was said by the patrician Gentianus, when
his daughter Eugenia, and her husband Severus, advancing, welcomed
Jovinian.  His mother's dearest friend was well disposed to treat him
with affection.  By her side was a young girl--her daughter Julia.  As
the maiden took his hand, Jovinian gazed at her with admiration.  Her
lovely features beamed with intelligence, and the light of Christian
virtue.  Firm in the faith, had the days of persecution returned she
would have been ready to suffer martyrdom rather than renounce the
Saviour who had bought her.  Since their childhood Jovinian and Julia
had not met, for Gentianus and his household had resided far away to the
south, on the sunny slopes of the Apennines, where he and Severus had
devoted themselves to the spreading of the truth among their heathen
neighbours of all ranks.  They had lately returned, called by important
business, both secular and on matters relating to the Church; but,
warned of the undying hostility of Coecus the pontiff, they had judged
it prudent to take up their residence in their former abode, whence,
undiscovered, they could communicate freely with their friends in the
city, and afford an asylum to those Christian converts who might be
compelled to escape from the malice of their idolatrous relatives.
There was persecution even in those days; for though heathenism, as a
system, was crumbling away, and few of the better educated or wealthy
believed in the myths of the gods of Olympus, yet many clung to the
ancient faith, or rather to its form, simply because it was ancient, and
their ancestors were supposed to have believed in it.  These persons in
most instances treated with supreme contempt, and often with great
cruelty, any of their relatives or dependents who openly professed a
belief in Christ, refusing to have any transactions with them, and
endeavouring to ruin or drive them into exile.  Still more terrible were
the penalties inflicted by the sacerdotal orders on any of their number
who, abandoning idolatry, embraced the truth.  If unable to escape from
Rome, the dagger or poison too generally overtook them.  Their safest
place of refuge was in the subterranean galleries in which Jovinian now
found himself.  Thus it happened that he met numerous visitors at the
abode of Gentianus.  He had been conversing with his old friends, when
he saw emerging into the light a lady of radiant beauty, habited in
white, without the slightest ornament on her dress or head, a purple
band round her forehead confining her close-cut hair.  A second glance
convinced him that he had seen her before, seated in a silver chariot on
the day of the procession.

"Who is she?" he asked of Julia.

"She is the vestal Marcia," was the answer.  "Already the light of truth
has entered the dark recesses of the temple; Marcia has received it, and
would escape from the thraldom in which she is held, but that she has a
young sister, Coelia, also a vestal, who is yet undecided.  Coelia has
heard the Gospel, and imbibed many of its truths, but the shackles of
superstition are still around her; and while she dreads the malignity of
Coecus should he discover that her faith in the false goddess has been
shaken, she cannot resolve on flight.  Marcia has come to seek counsel
of Gentianus on the matter."

"Surely he will advise her to urge her sister no longer to delay!" urged
Jovinian.  "Would that I could tell her all that I know of that fearful
man!  He will hesitate at no deed, however dark, so that he may attain
his ends."

Taking Jovinian's hand, Julia, rapid in all her actions, made him known
to Marcia.  He, being under no vow of secrecy with regard to the aims of
the pontiffs, briefly explained them to her.

"And are such the men who have so long directed the rites and ceremonies
of the time-honoured religion of Rome!" she exclaimed.  "Alas! how have
we been duped.  They themselves do not even believe in the false gods
they pretend to worship."

"Not only have they long held sway over the religious affairs of
idolatrous Rome, but will continue to lead and govern in our future
Rome, unless her sons and daughters adhere to the simple truths of our
holy faith as taught by the apostles in the blessed Gospel," said
Gentianus, solemnly.

These words sank deeply into Jovinian's mind.  He never forgot them.

The vestal Marcia, having a dark robe thrown over her white dress,
conducted by the guide--a Christian slave like Rufina, who had brought
her to the abode of Gentianus--returned to the temple of Vesta.



Several days passed by.  The small company in this remote portion of
those vast galleries waited anxiously for news from the upper world.
They had themselves no fear of discovery; for treachery alone, which
they had no cause to dread, could betray their retreat.  Other parts,
however, of that underground labyrinth were frequently visited by large
numbers of Christians from the city; and that he might converse with
them, Severus, accompanied by Jovinian, guided by an aged fossor,
traversed the galleries in various directions.  What he saw and heard
caused him deep grief as he passed by the groups he here and there found
assembled.  Some had come to visit the tombs of relatives or friends
slain during the Diocletian persecutions, or who had died in later days.
They were standing with arms outstretched, and open palms.  Several
were praying aloud.  Severus stopped to listen.

"Cease, friend, cease, I entreat you!" he exclaimed.  "Is it possible
that you, a Christian, can be addressing the spirit of a departed
brother?  Have you so learnt Christ?  Know you not that His ear is ever
open to our prayers; that His heart beats in sympathy with all in
distress; and that you are dishonouring Him by attempting to employ any
other mediator between God the Father and ourselves than our one sole
great High-priest, the risen Saviour of the world!"

Some to whom Severus spoke stared without answering; others defended the
practice, which had lately, copied from the heathens, been creeping in
among professing Christians; a few only listened respectfully to the
arguments the presbyter brought against it.

Severus and his companions passed on till they reached some vaults, or
rather enlargements of the galleries.  Here numerous persons were
assembled, employed in eating and drinking before the tombs contained
within the walls.  They were holding love-feasts in commemoration of
their departed friends; but already the simplicity of the custom had
been changed, as was shown by the flushed brows of several of the
revellers; while some, more abstemious, were kneeling or prostrate on
the ground, offering up prayers to the dead martyrs.

Severus, before passing on, warned them of their sin and folly.  "O
foolish people, whence have you derived these revellings, this custom of
praying to the dead?  Surely from the idolaters by whom you are
surrounded!" he exclaimed.  "Instead of being lights shining in the
midst of a dark world, you have become as the blind leaders of the
blind.  Beware, lest the light you have be altogether taken away!"

Guided by the aged fossor, he and his companions made their way to those
parts where in the days of the earlier persecutions the bodies of the
few martyrs which had been rescued by their friends had been deposited.
Great was the astonishment of Severus to find several persons with
pickaxes and spades engaged in breaking open the tombs, and placing the
mouldering remains in metal and wooden boxes.

"Why are you thus disturbing the bodies of the departed saints?" he
exclaimed, as he stopped among them.  "Could you not allow them to rest
till summoned to rise by the trump of the archangel?  Whither are you
about to convey them?  How do you intend to dispose of them?"

No one at first replied to those questions.

At length one, who appeared to be a deacon or exorcist, advancing,
answered, "We have been assured that the bones of martyrs can cure
diseases of all sorts, and work many other miracles; and as few can come
here to benefit by them, we are about to convey the sacred relics to
shrines where all may visit them; and some we would send to foreign
lands, where they may assist in spreading the blessed Gospel."

"Say rather, O foolish men, where they may tend to confirm the heathen
in their ignorance.  The very idea is taken from the idolaters, who
worship blocks and stones, or any objects presented to them by their
false priests.  Could, even in their lifetime, these departed saints
have cured any of the maladies which flesh is heir to?  Then much less
can their poor rotting bones, which ere long will be dust.  With which
of those bones, with which of those particles of dust, will their
spirits be pleased to dwell, in order to impart such healing power?  Oh,
folly unspeakable! to think that the saints of God have further concern
with the frail tenement they have shaken off!  They are with Christ, to
whom alone let me urge you to address your prayers.  His arm is not
shortened; His love is not lessened.  As he healed the sick when he
walked on earth, so can He cure if He thinks fit those who apply to

Much more Severus said; and he was continuing to address the people,
some of whom were moved by his arguments, when a cry was raised that
soldiers were in the galleries.  Presently the ruddy glare of torches
was seen in the far distance.

"Hasten this way," cried the fossor, who suspected that, whatever the
object of the soldiers' visit, those he had in charge might be placed in
danger.  Severus and Jovinian followed him, as he rapidly retreated in a
direction opposite to that in which the lights were seen.  Loud shouts
were heard echoing through the galleries.  It was evident that the
soldiers were in pursuit of some one.  The sounds drew nearer.  The
fossor ran as fast as his aged limbs would allow; his companions
supporting him.  Numerous long passages were traversed.

"The soldiers have a guide with them, or they would not venture thus
far," said the fossor; "but we may still escape them."

As he spoke he led the way through a narrow opening.  Severus followed;
Jovinian was about to do so, but he turned for a moment to ascertain the
distance their pursuers still were from them.  He then passed through
the opening, but the light from the fossor's lantern was not visible, he
feared to cry out, lest his voice might betray him.  He groped his way
forward with outstretched arms.  He felt convinced that of two passages
he had taken the wrong one.  He turned to retrace his steps.  In a few
seconds a bright light flashed in his eyes, and he found himself in the
hands, of several Roman soldiers, who roughly demanded what had become
of his companions.

When Jovinian and Eros made their escape from the college Gaius was
absent, and was not expected to return till the next morning.  Of this
the Numidian was aware, and had taken advantage of the occasion.

On the return of the pontiff, somewhat later in the day than usual, when
he inquired for his nephew, he was told by a slave, afraid of speaking
the truth, that Jovinian had gone forth to walk with Eros, and had not
yet come back.  Supposing that they had simply taken advantage of the
permission he had granted, he took no further trouble about the matter,
but, throwing himself on a couch, called for a cup of Falernian to
quench his thirst.  He was about to order a second when Coecus entered.
A frown was on his brow, and his countenance wore a moody aspect.  He
sat down opposite to Gaius, who, looking up, observed, "If aught
troubles you, follow my example, and quaff a cup or two of this generous
wine.  Nothing so effectually dissipates the mists which are apt to
gather at times round our brains and obscure the vision."

Coecus turned his eyes away with an expression of contempt from his
convivial companion, and muttered something inaudible.  "I have ample
cause for anger and annoyance," he said, at length.  "What think you?
This pestiferous doctrine of the Nazarenes has found its way even into
the temple of Vesta.  On entering unexpectedly, as it proved, to visit
our fair charges, I found the vestal Coelia, who ought to have been
attending to the sacred fire, so absorbed in reading a book that the
flames were almost extinguished.  She started on seeing me, and
endeavoured to conceal the roll; but I snatched it from her, and as I
glanced my eye over the pages, great was my astonishment and indignation
to discover that it was not the production of one of our poets, which I
might have pardoned her for reading, but a portion of what the Nazarenes
call their Scriptures!  I cast it on the altar, and, as it was
consuming, I watched the expression of grief which overspread her
countenance, as if she were beholding the destruction of some precious
object.  I demanded whence she had obtained the roll, but she stubbornly
refused to inform me.  I threatened her with condign punishment; but,
folding her arms on her bosom, she claimed her right as a Roman maiden
to peruse a work approved of by Augustus.  `As a vestal, sworn to obey
the rules of your order, you have no right to read what may shake your
confidence in the great goddess to whom your life is dedicated,' I
answered.  Much more I said, using persuasions and threats to learn how
she had obtained the roll, and whether others in the temple had imbibed
any of these Christian doctrines.  Vain, however, were all my efforts.
I did not expect to find one so young and gentle so determined.  I
reminded her that she might be condemned for breaking her vows, and of
the fearful punishment which would follow.  She smiled, as if she dared
my power.  While we were speaking the sacred fire went out.  She seemed
in no way appalled, but handing me two pieces of wood from a felix
arbour, suggested that I should at once re-light it.  As in duty bound I
should have scourged her for her neglect, but her youth and beauty
forbade such a proceeding, especially as I had been partly the cause of
the catastrophe.  I followed her advice, and the flame soon burned up
again brightly.  Reminding her of the double punishment she had
incurred, I sent another vestal to take her place, and delivered her
over to the charge of the Vestalis Maxima, with strict injunctions to
the venerable dame to keep a strict watch over her movements, and to
report to me all she says, and with whom she holds communication.  We
must afford her liberty, or it will be difficult to convict her.  It is
a question for consideration whether we should assert the supremacy of
our ancient laws, and make an example of the vestal Coelia--there will
be no difficulty in proving that she has broken her vows--or whether the
time has arrived for assuming the masks we have designed, and at once
declaring ourselves convinced of the truth of the Christian doctrine."

"I dread the task we should impose on ourselves if we turn Christians,
and would therefore defer the day as long as possible," answered Gaius,
stretching himself on his couch.

"In that case the vestal Coelia must die," said Coecus, in a calm tone.
"We can have no half measures.  If we do not swim with the tide, we must
stamp out this creed at once."

"No easy matter, considering, as I understand, that it has existed
well-nigh three hundred years, in spite of all the efforts made to
destroy it, since a certain Paul, a man of no mean ability, visited our
city on several occasions," observed Gaius.  "Had our fathers known in
those days to what this doctrine was tending, they would have nipped it
in the bud, and we should have been saved a vast amount of trouble."

"It is useless regretting the past," said Coecus; "we must keep our eyes
steadily fixed on the future.  But, I repeat, that I have no hope of
destroying the name of Christian."



Coecus, finding that his companion had fallen asleep, set himself to
consider his plans with regard to the hapless Coelia.  He held to the
opinions put forth by some of the leading heathen philosophers of that
age, that the end justifies the means, and no feeling of compunction as
to the cruel fate he designed for the young vestal entered his heart.
He was of the material of which arch-inquisitors were in after years to
be made.  There would be no difficulty in that corrupt city to obtain
evidence to condemn his victim, as well as to prove that the partner of
her supposed guilt had escaped.  After resting for some time, he went
forth again to make the arrangements he had determined on.

When, late in the day, Gaius awoke, he sent for his nephew, and, after
some inquiries, discovered that Jovinian and Eros had been absent since
the previous forenoon.  At first he could not bring himself to believe
that they had really escaped; but his inquiries at length convinced him
of the fact, and, moreover, that Eros had been known to accompany
Jovinian to some of the Christian places of worship.  "Then the wretched
slave has himself been led to embrace this new doctrine," he exclaimed.
"It may be suited to such as he; but, notwithstanding, if I can capture
him, he shall be made to pay the full penalty of his crime."

The pontiff was, in truth, as much annoyed as it was in his nature to
be; but he was disposed to vent his anger on the head of Eros rather
than on that of his nephew.

Several days passed by, and no information could he obtain as to where
the fugitives were concealed.  From a few words let drop by Coecus, he
at length began to hope that he might recover Jovinian.  The chief
pontiff had heard that the man he hated above all others on earth--the
presbyter Severus--was again in the neighbourhood of Rome; and from the
friendship which had existed between his sister and Eugenia, he
suspected that Jovinian, if he knew of her abode, would have gone there.
What Coecus intended to do he did not say, but the muttered threats of
vengeance in which he indulged showed the evil feelings rankling in his
bosom.  Assassins were to be found, even in those days, to perform any
deed of blood required of them; vice was rampant; and crimes of all
soils were committed with comparative impunity.  But Rome even thus was
purer than it became in after ages; the people had been taught to
respect the laws, criminals did not always escape the arm of justice,
and no inconsiderable Christian community, leading pure and faultless
lives, leavened the mass, and contributed to keep the heathen in check.

Coecus had to proceed with more caution than suited his bold and
impulsive character.  He succeeded, however, in persuading the chief
civil authorities that there were some persons with designs dangerous to
the state concealed in the underground galleries in the neighbourhood of
the city, and in obtaining a guard of soldiers to search for them.  He,
with some difficulty, obtained a guide who professed to be acquainted
with all the intricate turnings of the galleries, and, moreover, to know
Severus and Eugenia by sight.  Coecus, who was well aware that
considerable danger might attend the expedition, had no intention of
accompanying it, but remained in Rome, indulging himself in the hope
that he should at length destroy his old rival, or get him into his
power, while he at the same time exulted in the idea that, from the
measures he was taking, he should prolong the existence of idolatry as
the religion of the state.  One of his plans was to organise another
procession in honour of one of the gods, similar to that which has been
described; for such spectacles, he knew, were at all times attractive to
the populace, and it mattered little to them whether Bacchus, Apollo,
Venus, or any other divinity had the most prominent position in the

He had given directions to the vestals to prepare for the ceremony, in
which, as usual, they would be expected to take a leading part; and he
guessed that, should any besides Coelia be tainted with the new
doctrines, they would endeavour to escape appearing on the occasion.
Coelia herself remained under the strict charge of the Vestalis Maxima,
whose office was in later days to be represented by that of the mother
superior of a nunnery.  The Vestalis Fausta being long past her prime,
and having spent her life within the walls of the temple, had no
interests beyond them.  Her temper had become soured, her better
feelings seared; and being thus a willing instrument in the hands of the
pontiffs, she was ready to execute any act of tyranny and cruelty they
might direct.  Her mind, narrowed by the dull routine of duties she had
so long performed, she was a devout worshipper of the goddess she
served; and she heard with the utmost horror and dismay that one of
those under her charge had embraced the hated doctrines of those whom
she called the atheist Nazarenes.  Poor Coelia had no hope of mercy from
such a person.  Marcia, finding that she herself was not suspected, kept
her own counsel, determined at all costs to rescue her friend.  It was a
sore trial to her, for she felt herself guilty of dishonouring Christ
while continuing to serve in the temple of a false deity.

The pontiffs, meantime, were busily engaged in arranging the details of
the procession.  Gaius troubled himself less than the other pontiffs
about the matter.  He especially disliked the exertion of the long march
through the city, and he doubted whether the result would be as
satisfactory as Coecus anticipated.  He was seated in the college, when
it was announced that a female slave desired to see him.  He directed
that she should be admitted, when Rufina entered.  Taking a bag of coin
from under her cloak, she, without hesitation advanced to where he sat.

"I have come to bring the price of one who was your slave, but desires
manumission," she said calmly, offering the bag of money to the pontiff.
"It contains thirty solidi, the full value you can claim for Eros, he
of whom I speak," she continued, seeing that Gaius did not put forth his
hand to receive the bag.  "Me might have escaped beyond pursuit, and
allowed you to lose his value, but, as a Christian, he knows that such
would be wrong, and therefore I have been sent to pay it into your

"The Numidian Eros a Christian! such an idea is folly!" exclaimed Gaius,
starting up with more animation in his tone and manner than he had
hitherto shown.  "If he is a Christian, he thus only adds to his crime.
The money he must have stolen--probably from me; I refuse, however, to
receive it.  Let him return to the bondage from which he has escaped, or
if I discover him he will rue the consequences.  And for yourself, girl,
as you have ventured in here, unless you inform me where he is hidden,
and will promise to assist in his recovery, I will detain you and punish
you as you deserve with the scourge."

"I came to do the bidding of my master; and should any harm befall me,
there is one to whom he will appeal for justice--the emperor," answered
Rufina, without betraying the slightest fear.  "You dare not detain me.
Again I offer the value of your once slave, and, though you refuse, I
have fulfilled my duty, and must be gone."

Gaius was almost speechless at what he considered the unexampled
audacity of the slave girl; and as he still refused to take the bag,
Rufina, while he was considering what to do, turned, and left the hall.
Before her figure had disappeared among the marble columns he started
up, and summoning one of his attendants, often employed in secret
matters, he directed him to follow Rufina, but to keep himself
concealed, to obtain what assistance he might require and not to return
without bringing back Eros and Jovinian as his captives.  The slave,
instantly comprehending what was required of him, started off to execute
his master's orders.

The pontiff sank down again upon his couch.  "Though I have lost the
solidi, I shall have the satisfaction of wreaking my vengeance on the
head of the Numidian,--and, what is of more consequence, shall recover
my graceless nephew," he said to himself, stretching out his arms and
giving a yawn.  "Ungrateful as he has been, I will still afford him
another chance."

On the appearance of Coecus, Gaius told him of the hopes he entertained
of recovering Jovinian and his runaway slave.

"The vile wretch of whom you speak must receive the full penalty of his
crime, or we shall have all the slaves in Rome turning Christians and
claiming their freedom," observed Coecus.  "As to your nephew, the bed
of the Tiber will be the safest place to which you can consign him.  The
young atheist, with the early training he has received, will never
become a trustworthy supporter of the ancient gods."

"I will try him, notwithstanding," answered Gaius; "but I have not
caught him yet."

Several more days passed by; but neither Jovinian nor Eros had been
captured, and Gaius began to fear that he had lost his money and his

The pontiffs had been seated in conclave, and were on the point of
separating, when a message was brought to Gaius.  A gleam of
satisfaction passed over his countenance.

"Stay, fathers, for a few moments," he said.  "A rascally slave who,
forsooth, has taken it into his head to turn Christian, and to decamp,
moreover, with my nephew, of whom he had charge, has been captured, I
would question the vile wretch as to what has become of the youth; and
failing to draw forth the information, as I think likely, we will make
some sport of the slave before he is sent off to receive the punishment
he merits."

The countenance of Coecus exhibited a look of disgust, as if he had no
desire to be troubled in the matter; but three or four of the other
pontiffs acquiescing, Gaius directed that the Numidian should be brought
in.  Eros soon appeared, heavily manacled, with a guard of four armed
men, who watched narrowly every movement he made, and kept their weapons
ready for use, as if they feared that even now he would endeavour to

The prisoner advanced with an undaunted countenance, and head erect, as
if perfectly fearless of the stern judges before whom he stood.  In vain
Gaius inquired what had become of Jovinian.  Eros replied that he had
parted from him outside the gates, that he had gone with a friend, and
that more about him he knew not.  He acknowledged without hesitation
that he had sinned against his master in allowing the youth committed to
his charge to depart, and that he was ready to pay the penalty of his
fault.  "Wretched being! you have heaped crime upon crime," exclaimed
Gaius: "you have endeavoured to escape from slavery, you have disobeyed
my commands, and, as I understand, deny the existence of the immortal
gods, and, following the example of the impious Nazarenes, refuse to
worship them."

"I worship One who is willing and able to save me, who died that I might
be set free, and who has forgiven me all my sins," answered the

"What blasphemy is this we hear!" exclaimed several of the pontiffs in
chorus.  "He does not deny his crime, and yet talks of his sins being
forgiven.  Away with him.  Let the cross be his doom!"

Gains, who had no wish to lose the services of a valuable slave, pleaded
that a less severe doom than death would be sufficient, and suggested
that instead he should be subjected to the ordinary punishment inflicted
on runaway slaves--that of being hung up by the hands with weights
attached to his feet, exposed to the noonday sun till he should faint
from exhaustion.  The other pontiffs, however, were inexorable.  The
slave had been brought before them for trial, and his death alone would
satisfy their cruelty.  Perhaps they took a secret pleasure in annoying
their brother pontiff.

Coecus decided the matter, though he had apparently taken no interest in
the discussion.  "Let the wretch die the vilest of deaths.  He has
dishonoured the immortal gods!" he muttered.  "It may advance our cause,
as it will serve to bring into contempt the name of their founder, when
the Christians see a base slave suffering the death he was said to have

Short time was allowed to the Numidian to prepare for his doom.  He was
to suffer not as a martyr, but as a runaway slave.  Strictly guarded all
night, he passed it in prayer and in singing hymns to the Saviour he had
so lately learnt to love and trust.  Early in the morning he was led
forth to be conducted outside the city, bearing on his shoulders a heavy
beam with a crosspiece attached, on which his arms were to be extended
till death should put an end to his sufferings.

As Eros, staggering under the heavy weight of the cross, proceeded
through the streets of Rome, many there were who looked on with horror
and dismay at the spectacle.  Coecus, more thoughtful than Gaius, had
provided a guard, for he well knew that the Christians were already
sufficiently numerous and powerful to have effected a rescue should they
have discovered that he was really suffering for holding to the faith of
the Gospel.  A crowd had collected, and was following, composed chiefly
of such idlers as are invariably attracted by any spectacle, though it
may even be to see a fellow-creature put to death.  Gaius and some of
the other pontiffs walked at some distance behind, the motives which
induced them to come being in no way superior to that of the vulgar
mass.  The condemned slave and his guards had proceeded some distance,
when a litter, preceded by a lictor, was seen approaching.  It stopped,
for the crowd was too dense to allow it to pass; Eros cast up his eyes,
and met those of the vestal Marcia, horror-struck at what she saw.  The
love of life, the dread of the torture prepared for him, prompted the
condemned slave.  Throwing down his burden, before his guards could stop
him, he sprang towards the litter, and, clasping the vestal's feet,
claimed her protection.

"It is given," she answered.  "Citizens of Rome, the right is mine, as
you all know, to set this criminal free.  Let no man lay hands on him."

"He is free! he is free!" shouted several persons from among the crowd.
"The ancient laws of Rome must be supported."

The guards and some others seemed unwilling to be disappointed of their
prey, but the lictors kept them off; and some, evidently recognising
Eros as a Christian, gathering round, bore him off out of sight just as
Gaius and his companions arrived on the spot.  They dared not disallow
the claim made by Marcia, for it had been the privilege of the vestals
from time immemorial, should they meet a criminal going to execution, to
demand his release, provided the encounter was accidental, and that such
was the case in this instance there appeared to be no doubt.

Marcia proceeded on her way, and Gaius, who was not altogether
displeased at the occurrence, as he hoped to recover his slave, returned
to the college.



The vestal Coelia was summoned to undergo her trial before the college
of pontiffs seated in council.

She stood looking pale but undaunted in their presence.  The pontiff
Coecus was her judge, and at the same time one of her accusers.  With
the others she was not allowed to be confronted.

She acknowledged without hesitation that the sacred fire had gone out
while under her charge, and she condescended so far to defend herself as
to remind Coecus that it was in consequence of his holding her for so
long a time in conversation.  She confessed also that she had been
reading a book held in respect by the Nazarenes, and she claimed the
right of a free-born Roman to peruse the work, which was one well known
to be approved of by the emperor.

"You may have a right to read that or any other work, but not to imbibe
the principles of that accursed sect which it advocates," answered
Coecus; "and that you do hold them you have acknowledged to me."

"And I pray for grace that I may hold them to the end," replied Coelia,
looking the pontiff calmly in the face as she held her hands clasped
hanging down before her.

"She admits that the sacred fire was extinguished in consequence of her
carelessness," exclaimed Coecus, turning to the other pontiffs; "nor
does she express the slightest regret at her horrible sin.  One guilty
of so terrible a crime is capable of committing any other wickedness,
however odious; and that she has done so, and that she has broken her
vows, has been proved by the witnesses we have examined.  That she is no
longer worthy of being numbered among the vestals of Rome, I have
already placed sufficient evidence before you."

Coecus read over the false accusation which had been brought against the
vestal.  The guilty participator of her crime had escaped, he observed,
but would undoubtedly be captured.  Still, from the oaths of the several
witnesses--which he named--her guilt was evident.

A flush mantled on the brow of the young vestal as she heard herself
accused of a crime so foreign to her nature; yet she did not quail
before that of her stern judge and accuser.

"You know, and these my other judges know, that I am innocent," she
said, in a voice which trembled but slightly.  "If I am to be put to
death, I am ready to die, if you have a right to destroy me, as a Roman
maiden, with fame unsullied; I am guilty only of no longer believing in
the goddess to whom in my childhood and ignorance my vows were made.  I
confess myself a Christian, and confess also that I desire to escape
from longer serving the false goddess in whom you pretend to believe.
But I indignantly deny the terrible accusation brought against me, which
you yourself know to be utterly false."

"Away with the girl: terror has made her mad!" cried the enraged
pontiff, forgetting the dignity of his position, and shaking his fists
fiercely at the accused maiden.

Coelia did not reply, but raising her hands to heaven--the only time she
had altered the position which she had from the first maintained--she
implored that protection which He in whom she believed was able and
willing to afford.

She did not deign to plead to her cruel judges.  She saw clearly that,
for some object of their own, they had pre-determined on her
destruction.  She calmly waited to hear what more they had to say.

Coecus, standing up, pronounced her doom--that which from time
immemorial had been inflicted on vestals who had been guilty of breaking
their vows.

Her garments--worn by the vestals--and badges of office were to be taken
from her, and she was to be habited as a corpse, placed in a litter, and
borne through the Forum, attended by her relatives and friends, with all
the ceremony of a real funeral.  Then she was to be carried to the
Campus Sceleratus, situated close to the Colline Gate, just within the
city walls.  In this spot a small vault underground, as in other cases,
would have been prepared.  It would contain a couch, a lamp, and a
table, with a jar of water and a small amount of food.

Had the Pontifex Maximus been in Rome, it would have been his duty to
take a chief part in the ceremony.  Having lifted up his hands, he would
have opened the litter, led forth the culprit, and placed her on the
steps of the ladder by which she would be compelled to descend to the
subterranean cell, and he would there have delivered her over to the
common executioner and his assistants.  They would lead her down into
her living tomb, draw up the ladder, and then fill in the passage to the
vault with earth so as to make the surface level with the surrounding

Here the hapless vestal, deprived of all marks of respect ordinarily
paid to the spirits of the departed, would be left to perish miserably
by starvation, should terror not have previously deprived her of life.

Such was the doom pronounced on Coelia.

She heard it unmoved, and walked with unfaltering steps between two of
the officers of the pontiff, to be delivered back to Fausta, the
Vestalis Maxima, who was in waiting to receive her.  Not an expression
of pity escaped the lips of the old vestal, although she knew as well as
Coecus that Coelia was innocent of the graver crime of which she was
charged.  But her heart had become hardened and scathed; not a grain of
sympathy for her fellow-creatures remained in her bosom.

She believed she was acting in a way pleasing to the goddess she served;
and she would have been ready to sacrifice her nearest relatives, if by
so doing she would have advanced the cause of idolatry.  She was aware
that she no longer retained the affection of any of the vestals under
her charge.  Marsh and irritable, she ruled them with a rod of iron; and
believed that the service of the temple was never so faithfully
performed as it had been since she became its principal priestess.
Fausta has since had countless imitators, most of whom have been as
completely deceived as she was.

Coelia was conducted back to the cell in which she had before been
confined, beneath the floor of the temple, where only the coarsest
viands were allowed her to sustain nature.  She was guarded night and
day by two vestals, who were directed to summon assistance should they
require it.  Coecus was satisfied that the death of the vestal would
prove to the multitude that the ancient religion of Rome was still
paramount, notwithstanding the predilections of the emperor in favour of
Christianity, and the privileges he was inclined to grant to the
Nazarenes.  He therefore hardened his heart against all feeling of pity
at the terrible fate about to be inflicted on the innocent maiden, and
now prepared, with all the energy of his nature, to make arrangements
for the grand procession about to take place, and which he had resolved
should precede the cruel ceremony he had determined to carry out.  He
was well aware that the Emperor Constantine would forbid so barbarous an
act; but as he was engaged in the East in building his new city, it was
impossible for him to hear of it for a long time to come, and although,
when he became cognisant of what had occurred, he would undoubtedly
blame the pontiffs, Coecus believed that he and the other members of the
college had yet sufficient influence in Rome to set even Augustus
himself at defiance.

The day broke bright and beautiful.  All the altars in the temples and
the shrines in the streets were gaily decorated with wreaths and
flowers; while banners and gaily-coloured cloths were hung out from the
windows, or over the walls of the private houses, in the streets through
which the procession was to pass.  As usual, numbers of religious
mendicants--belonging to a brotherhood devoted to begging--with huge
satchels on their backs, and figures of gods or demigods in their hands,
were on foot, eager to collect contributions from the multitude
assembled on the occasion.  The members of several other heathen
brotherhoods also might have been seen hurrying through the city, to
take their part in the spectacle.

Now the procession streamed forth from the temple of Flora, which formed
one of a line of magnificent temples extending from the Flavian
amphitheatre to the north of the Palatine and Capitoline hills--that of
Rome and Venus being the most easterly, and nearest to the amphitheatre.
As it appeared, shouts of joy and applause were raised by the
multitude.  There had been no lack of persons ready to perform the duty
of carrying the banners and figures of the gods and the goddesses.
Coecus had also secured the assistance of as large a number of the
female part of the population as he could collect, for he believed that
could he keep them attached to the old faith, there would be less danger
of their husbands becoming its opponents.  Some hundreds of dames and
damsels dressed in white, their heads adorned with glittering jewels and
bright wreaths, issued from the temple, scattering handfuls of flowers
before and around them.  Bands of musicians performed their most lively
airs suited to the occasion; vast numbers of young children, dressed
likewise in white, with floral ornaments, chanted at intervals hymns in
honour of the goddess.  Priests also, of numerous temples, with shorn
crowns, there were, carrying banners or figures of the gods they served,
or sacred relics.  The heathen magistrates and officers of state had
willingly consented to attend and exhibit themselves in the procession,
although the Christians had universally refused, under any pretence, to
take a part in the idolatrous performance.  Coecus, as he watched the
pageant winding its enormous length along the streets, the banners and
gilded statues glittering in the sun, before he took his accustomed
place with his brother pontiffs, felt satisfied that the larger portion
of the population of Rome still sided with them.

Gaius alone, as he walked along, muttered not a few expressions of
discontent.  "To say the least of it, these processions are a bore," he
grumbled.  "They may please the mob, but sensible men ridicule them; and
we who superintend them, and have thus to parade through the streets,
have become the laughing-stock of all the wise men and philosophers.  It
will in no way benefit us, notwithstanding the trouble we take in the
matter: how completely I have failed of convincing my young nephew of
the advisability of the worship of the immortal gods his running away
and refusing to return is strong evidence.  As to putting to death this
poor girl Coelia, I do not half like it.  The emperor will visit us with
his anger should her Christian friends prove her innocence, as they are
sure to attempt doing.  They are wonderfully active in defending their
own friends, when they can do so by means of the law, without having
recourse to force.  This may be on account of their mean and timid
spirits; though it is said that they fight well in battle, and that the
emperor places great dependence on their courage and fidelity.  Well,
well, `Times change, and we must change with them,' as one of our poets
sings; but for my part I would rather have retained our old-fashioned
ways.  What has endured so long must be the best.  The oldest religion
cannot but be the right one, at all events most suited to the multitude,
while it has not failed to bring a copious revenue into our coffers, and
that, after all, is the matter of chief consequence to us.  All the
accounts, however, which come from Byzantium show that Augustus is
becoming more and more inclined to favour these Christians.  I wish that
Coecus hid not been so obstinate, and would at once have consented to
abandon our failing cause."

When passing close to the Arch of Constantino, which had been erected
after the visit of the emperor to Rome close to the Flavian
amphitheatre, he glanced up at it with a look of contempt.  "What can be
expected of our Romans nowadays, when the whole architectural talent of
our city can only produce a monstrosity like that!" he observed to a
brother pontiff walking next to him.  "`The times are changed, and we
must change with them,'" he repeated, "if we wish to retain our

The other pontiff only shook his head, and groaned.



As the procession moved along towards the Sacra Via, Gaius observed a
number of persons of a better class standing aloof, and watching it with
looks far removed from admiration.  Although the most earnest Christians
kept away from such exhibitions, there were several people of good
position who he knew had embraced the new faith, while there were
others, among whom he recognised a poet, an architect, a sculptor, two
or three philosophers, and some other men of intellect, who, although
not Christians, he suspected had no belief in the immortal gods of Rome,
as they were wont to look with most supreme contempt on spectacles such
as that in which he was taking a part.

"There they stand, sneering at us," he muttered; "perhaps they come to
look as they believe it to be for the last time at our gods and
goddesses parading our city; but they are mistaken,--our old divinities
will hold their places still in the faith and affections of the people,
albeit they may be habited in somewhat different garments."

Now and then the eye of Gaius caught that of some young gallant, who
nodded to him familiarly, and smiled at his evident annoyance as he
endeavoured to keep up his dignity.  The procession moved along towards
the Capitoline Hill, on which stood the great temple of Jupiter, where
the chief ceremonies of the day were to be performed.  The people waved
garlands, and shouted, the more devout prostrating themselves before the
statues as they passed along, until the hill was gained.  Coecus had
taken care to have a large number of animals ready for the sacrifice, so
that the people might not be stinted in their expected portions of meat.
He well knew that they chiefly valued these ceremonies for the food
they were certain to obtain after them.

The procession once more filed off through the streets, depositing the
figures of the gods and goddesses in their respective temples and
shrines; but the business of the day was not over.  Coecus and his
brother pontiffs had undertaken to superintend a ceremony of a very
different character.

On arriving at the temple of Vesta they there found Fausta prepared for
the part she was to play.  Within the court was seen a litter closely
covered in, borne by men with shrouded faces, and habited in dark robes.
Its appearance was lugubrious in the extreme.

"Have you prepared the guilty creature for her just doom?" asked Coecus
of the Vestalis Maxima.

"She awaits you in her cell," answered Fausta; "but you have not as yet
inflicted the scourging--which, according to the ancient custom, she
should suffer."

"We will omit it in her case," answered Coecus, with whom his brother
pontiffs had previously pleaded, even their minds revolting at causing
one so young and innocent to suffer such degradation.  "It would of
necessity have to be inflicted in private; therefore, no one will know
whether or not she has suffered.  No object therefore will be gained,"
observed Coecus.

"Are we in these days thus to neglect our ancient customs?" exclaimed
Fausta.  "That she is young and beautiful is no reason why she should
escape the punishment which is her due."

The pontiff made no reply; perhaps even he discerned the love of cruelty
which the remark of the ancient priestess exhibited.

"I am thankful I have not to submit to the discipline which the old
virgin is inclined to inflict on her disciples," muttered Gaius.  "I
would as lief see a tigress deprived of her cubs placed in charge of a
flock of sheep as a band of young maidens given to the custody of a
bitter old woman like Fausta.  If they were not inclined to act
naughtily before, they would be driven to do so, in very despair, when
subject to her tender mercies."

"We can delay no longer," said Coecus to the elder vestal; "let the
criminal be brought forth and placed in the litter."

His orders were obeyed.  After a short interval a figure, closely
veiled, in coarse attire, was conducted out, and unresistingly placed in
the litter.  Coecus then gave the word to the bearers and attendants to
move on.  Fausta and three other vestals accompanied the funeral
procession, but no weeping relatives and friends--as in most instances
would have been the case--followed Coelia.  She was alone in the world,
without loving kindred.  Her male relations were far away with the
armies of the emperor, and her mother, sisters, and female connexions,
had been removed by death since she, in her extreme youth, had been
dedicated by her heathen father to the service of the goddess.

She was thus considered a fit victim, whose barbarous fate there was no
one to revenge.  Marcia had spoken of her as her sister, but she was a
sister only of the affections.  Slowly the mournful procession moved on,
and a stranger would have supposed that a corpse was being borne to the
funeral pile; but those who watched at a distance knew well--from the
direction it was taking, to the Campus Sceleratus--that there was a
terrible fate prepared for the occupant of the litter.  Such a spectacle
had not been for a long time seen in Rome, and did not fail to attract a
large number of the population.

Gaius, who was looking about him, remarked amongst the crowd a
considerable number of persons whom he knew to be Christians, who walked
along with sad and averted looks.  Some he recognised as presbyters and
deacons, and other officers of the Christian Church.  He felt no little
surprise at seeing them: he even fancied that he saw the Christian
bishop; but as his costume differed but slightly from the rest of the
people, he was uncertain that such was the case.  Me did not feel
altogether satisfied about the matter; but still, as they were unarmed,
he believed that, even should they feel inclined to rescue the doomed
vestal, they would not make the attempt.  "What can it mean?" said he to
himself.  "I wish that Coecus had left the matter alone; it is my belief
that we shall gain nothing by the death of this young creature, and we
shall have much greater difficulty hereafter, when we pretend to turn
Christians, in persuading these presbyters and others that we are in
earnest.  However, it is too late now to expostulate with him.  Coecus
is a man who, having once determined on carrying out an object, is not
to be deterred from it."  The Campus Sceleratus was at length reached.
It was a gloomy spot, and was called the Campus Sceleratus, because it
was here that vestal virgins convicted of breaking their vows had for
ages past been entombed alive; for even although doomed to this fearful
punishment, they retained the privilege of being interred within the
walls.  Ruin and desolation reigned around, for only the poorest and
most abandoned were willing to erect their abodes in the neighbourhood
of a spot deemed accursed.  Beyond rose the dark walls erected around
the city--a sign of the degeneracy of the inhabitants, whose breasts and
stout arms in former days had been considered sufficient for its
protection.  Near it was the Porta Collina, from whence started two
important roads (the Via Salaria and the Via Nomentana), passing close
to the enormous baths erected by the Emperor Diocletian.  Thus, people
from all parts of the city had easy access to the spot.  A large crowd
soon collected.  Even some of the frequenters of the bath sauntered
forth, prompted by their curiosity to see what was taking place.

Coecus had kept his intention a secret; how it had become known he could
not tell.  Although he wished to have some spectators who were likely to
approve of his proceedings, he had no desire to have them witnessed by
so large and mixed a concourse.  Still, he was determined to go through
with what he had undertaken.

The litter stopped near the centre of the field, on the summit of a
slight elevation.

The earth turned up in heaps showed the entrance to the horrible tomb
prepared for the hapless vestal.  The sun was now sinking behind the
Pincian hill, but still shot forth its rays above the trees which
crowned its summit, and lighted up the dark litter and those who stood
around.  In the hollow below were the fossors, with the public
executioner and his attendants, ready to receive the doomed vestal and
to lead her into her tomb.  Coecus, who had to perform the part which
would have been taken by the Pontifex Maximus--a dignity long held by
the emperors, as it was still by Constantino--raised his hands to the
skies; but his words, if he uttered any, were not heard.  He then gave
directions to the bearers to place the litter on the ground, and
advanced, in order to lead forth his victim.  He started back.  Without
assistance a figure rose from within, and stepped forth, when, casting
off the dark garment which shrouded her, instead of Coelia, the vestal
Marcia, in her white robes, with a purple fillet encircling her brow,
appeared in all her radiant beauty.

"She whom you cruel men would have destroyed has escaped!" she said.
"Me you cannot accuse of the crime with which you falsely charged her.
My eyes have been opened; from henceforth no longer will I serve your
false goddesses!  I declare myself a Christian, and appeal for
protection to the emperor.  Ah! you dare not stop me," she added, as
Coecus, hoping that what she had said had not been heard by those
around, stepped forward to grasp her arm.  At the same moment several
persons were seen approaching, who were at once perceived to be
presbyters and other men of influence in the Christian Church.  They
were attended by several lictors and other officers of the law.

Coecus drew back as Marcia spoke, but his presence of mind did not
desert him.

"I see that there is One who protects the Christians more powerful than
the gods of the ancients," he exclaimed.  "We were ignorantly
endeavouring to perform what we considered our duty; but it is evident
that a miracle--of which I have heard the Christians speak--has been
wrought.  Brother pontiffs, what say you?  For my own part I am inclined
to embrace the faith which has become that of the fair and beautiful

"Anything you please," muttered Gaius in a low voice; "but it seems to
me that we have gained but little by this proceeding."

Coecus, however, was, as has been seen, a man of prompt action.
Ordering the fossors to fill in the tomb, he declared that from
henceforth no vestal should be buried on that spot.  He expressed his
belief that he had been greatly deceived by some of the witnesses who
had been suborned to swear falsely against the innocent Coelia.  He then
advanced towards Amulius, and the other presbyters, and expressed his
wish to be instructed in their faith.  "I will," he added, "in the
meantime retain my position as chief of the pontiffs; but it shall be
that we may together design the means of advancing further the Christian

Whether or not Amulius and the other presbyters trusted to the
expressions of Coecus it was difficult to say, but the larger number of
persons among the crowd, many of whom were Christians, believed him;
while the idolaters, who had been wont to look up to him as the director
of their religious mysteries, were unable to comprehend the meaning of
the wonderful change which had taken place.  That the chief pontiff of
Rome, who had clung to her idolatries, and even defied the emperor after
he had expressed himself openly in favour of the new faith, should thus
suddenly declare his intention of becoming a Christian, seemed to them a
thing altogether incomprehensible.

The first rejoiced under the idea that they had gained a great accession
to their strength, since the chief of their opponents had thus openly
declared himself willing to become one of their number; while to the
crowd of heathens it was a matter of indifference, so long as they
should receive their accustomed doles of food, and could enjoy the
spectacles with which they had so long been indulged.



When Jovinian found himself in the hands of the Roman soldier, he
naturally struggled to get free.  He was held fast, however, by the man
who had seized him.

"Why, by Mars, I believe he must be the youth we were sent to look for
with the slave Eros whom we captured yesterday and took back to his
master, the pontiff Gaius," exclaimed the soldier, holding his torch so
that the light fell on Jovinian's countenance.

"Whether or not you speak the truth, I am a Roman citizen, guilty of no
crime, with perfect right, prompted by whatever cause, to visit these
galleries," answered Jovinian, feeling that his best course was to put a
bold face upon the matter, and not to exhibit any signs of fear.

"You cannot deny that you are the youth we are in search of--the nephew
of the pontiff Gaius," said the soldier.  "Although we may have missed
the larger game we were sent to hunt down, we have secured you, and
shall obtain the reward promised us; so come along."

"What! and give up the search for the others we expected to capture!"
observed another soldier.  "The youth was in company with two or more
persons.  Will you consent to lead us to where your friends are
concealed?" he continued, addressing Jovinian; "it will be well for you
if you do, for if we take them we will allow you to go free."  So
debased was the soldier, that it did not occur to him that he was making
a proposal which was sure to be refused, "I know not where those you
speak of have gone, nor would I lead you to them if I did," answered
Jovinian.  "I insist, however, on being set at liberty.  By what
authority do you detain me?"

"By that of the grip I have on your arm," answered the soldier,
laughing; "your boldness proves you to be the youth we were sent to look
after; so come along, I say, and if you will not show us the way your
friends have taken we must try and find it ourselves."

While the man was speaking some of his companions discovered the gallery
along which Jovinian had been endeavouring to make his escape.  "This
way, this way!" cried several of the soldiers; "they must have gone down
here, and we shall soon overtake them."

The party, dragging Jovinian with them, entered the gallery; but he
observed that most of their torches were nearly burnt out, and he knew
that if they continued on long they would be left in total darkness.
This, however, the soldiers did not appear to have thought of.  Jovinian
was relieved of all anxiety about his friend Severus and the fossor from
finding the soldiers proceeding along the gallery by which he had at
first attempted to escape until convinced that it was not the path he
ought to have followed.  What he had expected soon happened: first one
torch went out, then another.

"We must beat a retreat, or we shall be losing our way," said the man
who held him, calling to his comrades.  "No time to lose!  Quick!
quick!--our safest plan is to retreat by the road we entered; let all
the torches be put out except one, which will suffice to guide us; these
galleries have no end, they say, or may conduct, for what I know, to the
infernal regions."

Even the plan proposed availed the party but little.  They had made
their way much farther than they supposed along the galleries.

The first torch was quickly burnt out, a second and third were soon
after extinguished; and in a short time, before they had got to any
great distance from the entrance to the gallery where Jovinian had been
captured, the torch alone of the soldier who held him by the arm was
left alight.

"Here, Bassus," said his captor, addressing a comrade, "hold him fast
and bring him along.  I will go ahead and lead the way, or we shall be
left in darkness."

The speaker hurried forward, and Jovinian felt his arm clasped by his
fresh guardian.

Directly afterwards the other man, in his eagerness, stumbled over a
block of stone, and dropped his torch into a pool of water, by which it
was immediately extinguished.  The men groped their way in the direction
they had before been going.  "On! on!" cried their leader: "we must
escape from this as fast as we can."

Other passages turned off from the gallery they had been following; and,
as a natural consequence, some of the men went into one of them, others
into a second, and more into a third, and then, suspecting that they
were going wrong, they tried to retrace their steps, and in a short time
completely lost themselves.

Jovinian and his guard had not gone far when the latter whispered to
him, "If you know the road out of this, and wish to make your escape,
you are welcome to do so.  It is my belief that we shall be all lost in
this labyrinth; the further we go the less hope there will be for you.
I would not involve you in our destruction.  I am a Christian, and would
gladly accompany you, but I must not desert my comrades."  As Bassus
spoke he released his captive's arm.

Jovinian was at first inclined to doubt the man, but this last remark
convinced him that Bassus was a follower of the Lord.

"If you will accompany me I will try and find the way," he said; "and
would rather have you with me than be alone."

"No, no; go, and save yourself," said Bassus.  "I am committing a
military crime in letting you go; but I feel sure that I shall never be
questioned on the subject."

At length Jovinian, finding that he could not persuade Bassus to
accompany him, took his advice.  With arms outstretched before him, he
hastened along the gallery away from the soldiers.  He had carefully
noted the distance he had come since leaving the mouth of the passage
along which Severus and the fossor, he was now satisfied, had proceeded.
He hoped that they would come back and look for him, and if not, that
he might be led by Providence to the abode of Gentianus.  For some time
he could hear the soldiers shouting to each other, but their cries grew
fainter and fainter.  The entrance to the gallery he was seeking for was
on the left side, and then he ought, he supposed, to take the first
opening on the right, instead, as he had before done, of going straight
forward.  On he went, but in the darkness his progress was of necessity
very slow; still, as he had the path mapped, as it were, clearly in his
mind, he proceeded without hesitation.  At last he entered the gallery
he was seeking for.



The way before Jovinian was now unknown, and he had to walk with the
greatest caution.  He might meet with some pit, or hole, or flight of
steps, or the gallery might turn off abruptly to the right or left.  He
had heard that persons had been lost in these galleries, and wandered
about for days, unable to find their way out, when they had sunk down
from hunger and fatigue, and died.  These were, however, heathens who
had gone in pursuit of the Christian fugitives.  The God of the
Christians, he knew, would be watching over him; he, therefore, had no
cowardly fears, but went forward in the full confidence that he would be

Even with a torch the undertaking would have been a difficult one.  It
appeared to him that he had gone on for half an hour or more.  Every now
and then he shouted out, in the hope that Severus might hear him; but no
answer came to his cries, except an occasional echo from the galleries
on either hand.  He remembered that he and his friends had proceeded a
considerable distance before they encountered the soldiers, so that it
must of necessity take him a long time to get back.  He was surprised
that Severus and the fossor had not come to look for him, feeling
confident that he was following the gallery they had taken.  How much
longer he wandered on he could scarcely tell.  At times he felt almost
inclined to sit down in despair; but then he said to himself, "He who
watches over Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps; I will trust to Him,"
and with renewed courage he went on.  Although he might not discover the
abode of Gentianus, or find his way out of the catacomb, he was sure to
encounter some of the persons who might come to visit the tombs of the
martyrs, or to pray at the graves of their relatives, and they would
certainly render him all the assistance in their power.

It also occurred to him that other parties might have been sent in
search of Gentianus and Severus, and it would be dangerous to fall into
their hands.

He might conceal himself, however, should he discover any
suspicious-looking persons approaching.  He was too anxious to
experience any sensation of hunger; but he at length began to feel very
weary.  He fancied, indeed, that he must already have been groping his
way for several hours.  If so, he could hardly have proceeded in a
straight line, and might, for aught he could tell, be actually turning
back in the direction from which he had come.  "Had I myself only to
depend on, such might be the case!--but the God of love and mercy will
lead me; I will trust Him," he exclaimed.

Becoming accustomed to the darkness, he found that he could move much
faster than at first, and, with his hands stretched out, the instant his
fingers came in contact with the rock, he was able easily to avoid it.
At length his feet struck against a slab of stone.  It was the facing of
a tomb, which had never been placed in its intended position.  This
showed him that he was in a part of the galleries likely to be visited,
and reminded him also that he might probably stumble over other similar

He sat down to rest, at the same time listening for a sound which might
assist to guide him, should persons perchance be in any of the
neighbouring galleries.  He had sat thus for some time, and was on the
point of moving onwards, when a faint cry reached his ear; it came from
the direction towards which he had been proceeding, he had gone a few
paces, when he saw a light streaming along the gallery, on the left.  He
hurried towards it.  As he approached the spot from whence the light
shone forth, he observed that it issued from a lantern held by a female,
whom he recognised as Rufina.  Another female was bending over a person
who lay stretched on the ground.  The first was Julia, the other
Eugenia, whom she appeared to be endeavouring to restore to animation,
uttering, at the same time, expressions of grief and endearment.  "Oh,
mother! mother! speak to me," she exclaimed.  "Revive! the danger is
over; we have escaped our pursuers, and are safe here!"  So engaged were
Julia and Rufina in their efforts to recall Eugenia to consciousness
that they had not heard Jovinian approach.  Rufina, her ear catching the
sound of footsteps, at length perceived him.  At first she cast towards
him a look of alarm, but discovering who he was, she uttered an
exclamation of joy.  "Here is Jovinian, dear lady," she exclaimed; "your
husband Severus cannot be far off, and we shall be able to escape from
the wretches who were following us."  From what Jovinian heard, he knew
that Severus and his guide must still be wandering about the galleries,
or else that they had been overtaken by some of the parties sent to
capture them.  Unwilling, however, to deprive his friends of the hopes
Rufina had endeavoured to raise, he did not express his fears; but,
kneeling down by the side of Eugenia, he tried to assist Julia and
Rufina in restoring her to animation.

"There is a fountain near," he said; "I heard the sound of the water
bubbling forth as I came along: very likely a cup or basin may have been
left near it to enable passers-by to drink; let me take the lantern, and
I will quickly return."

"Oh, go! go!" said Julia; "we shall not fear to remain in darkness."

He was not disappointed in his expectations; a small metal cup was
placed in a niche by the side of the rock, out of which the water
bubbled forth, making its escape by some hidden course beneath the
ground.  This showed that the gallery must be frequently visited.

Jovinian hastened back with the cool liquid, with which Julia bathed her
mother's brow and lips, pouring a small quantity down her throat.

Julia thanked him more by her looks than with her lips.  "Oh, see! she
is reviving now," she exclaimed.

After a short time Eugenia was able to sit up, and declared herself
strong enough to proceed, should it be necessary.

"We are as safe here as in any other part of the gallery," observed
Rufina.  "Should any person approach, we can seek for shelter in one of
the many passages which turn off close to us."

Eugenia's first inquiry was for her husband.

"I trust that he is safe," answered Jovinian; and he then described how
he had been parted from him.  His answer appeared rather to increase
than to calm Eugenia's alarm.  Jovinian now inquired of Rufina what had
caused them to take to flight; for he was unwilling to question either
Julia or her mother, who was, indeed, little able to answer him.

"It was I who have been the instrument in God's hands of warning them of
the dangers with which they were threatened, and of assisting them to
escape from their heathen enemies," answered Rufina.  "It happened in
this wise: Eros had ventured forth, unwisely as it proved, from his
hiding-place, when he was captured by some emissaries of your uncle
Gaius.  We mourned him as lost, feeling sure that his life would be
sacrificed to the vengeance of the pontiff.  We were not mistaken: he
was doomed to be crucified.  The night before he was to suffer, when it
was believed by his guards that he would never again hold communication
with his fellow-creatures, he sat with heavy chains on his legs and
arms; they, either supposing him to be asleep, or not caring whether he
heard or not, began to talk of various projects on foot; some of those,
which only showed in what vile offices they were engaged, were matters
of indifference to him.  At length, however, they spoke of a design for
the destruction of Gentianus and Severus.  They hoped to obtain a
guide--one well acquainted with the galleries, a recreant to the faith
of the Gospel--and by his means they felt sure of accomplishing their

"What he heard brought deep grief to the heart of Eros.  A slave bound
in chains and expecting to die on the morrow, he could render no
assistance to the noble patrician who was thus placed in such fearful
jeopardy, and about whom I had so often spoken to him."  Rufina then
described how the life of Eros had been saved by the vestal Marcia.  "As
soon as he was at liberty," she continued, "he hastened to me, and told
me what he had heard--I being better able to warn our friends than any
one he knew.  There was not a moment to be lost, he said, for that very
day the assassins would set out on their search.  Eros offered to
accompany me; but this I declined, and hastened as fast as my feet would
convey me to the entrance of the galleries.  After much difficulty I
found the ladies, Eugenia and Julia, with the patrician Gentianus; I
warned them of the approach of the assassins, entreating Gentianus to
fly with his daughter and Julia.

"`I should only impede them,' he answered.  `Rufina, I charge you
conduct them to a place of safety; I will remain here; I am prepared for
whatever Heaven will allow my enemies to do.'

"In vain we pleaded with him.  He made his commands imperative on us.
`Seek for Severus, and warn him,' he added; `his life is of more value
than mine; he may still live to preach the Gospel and to exhort sinners
to turn to the Saviour.'  Again he charged us to fly, in a way we could
not disobey; and Eugenia, who had ever implicitly followed his commands,
taking Julia by the hand, accompanied me in the direction I considered
the safest.

"Scarcely had we left the gallery when we heard the shouts of the
assassins, as, led by their treacherous guide, they burst into the
long-concealed chamber.  I judged by their voices that they were
expressing their disappointment at not discovering Severus.  The guide,
either knowing his way no farther, or having performed what he had
undertaken, must have refused to lead them on, for they did not follow
us, as I feared they would have done.  I could not leave Eugenia and
Julia, or I would have retraced my steps, and endeavoured to ascertain
the direction they had taken.  Judging by the sounds I heard, I believed
that, dreading to remain in the gallery, they had endeavoured to regain
the upper world."

Jovinian trusted that such might be the case; but greatly feared they
were more likely to have gone in search of Severus.  He offered to try
and find his way to the abode of Gentianus, if Rufina could give him
sufficient directions.  "I have been so many hours moving in the dark
that I do not fear to make the attempt," he said, "and the lamp hanging
to the roof, which it is not likely has been extinguished, will guide me
when I approach the chamber."

Eugenia, deeply anxious to know what had occurred to her father, gladly
accepted Jovinian's offer.

"Oh that I might go with, you!" said Julia, taking his hand.

"No," said Rufina; "it will be far safer for you to go alone."  And she
then proceeded to give him such directions as he believed would enable
him to direct his course aright.

He set out, counting his steps, that he might not fail to know the
distance he had traversed.  More than once he stopped, fearing that he
had missed his way; but, feeling the importance of his errand, he
persevered in his endeavour, and so well did he remember his directions,
that he made no mistake.  At length he reached the entrance to the
gallery which led to the chamber.  It had been left open by Rufina, who
had been unable to shut it, and at the farther end he saw the faint
light of the lamp still burning.  He stopped and listened.  No sound
reached his ear.  He feared that the assassins, disappointed at not
finding their chief victim, had wreaked their anger on the head of his
aged father-in-law.  He hurried forward as he approached the chamber,
hoping to see Gentianus still seated in his chair; but the chair was
empty.  In another minute he was kneeling beside the old man, who was
stretched his length on the ground.  Jovinian at first thought that
Gentianus was dead; but as he lifted up the head of his venerable
friend, the few faint words uttered by Gentianus showed him that he was
still conscious.

"Have they escaped?" he asked; "have my beloved Eugenia and Julia been
preserved from the daggers of the assassins?  And Severus,--can you give
me news of him, my son? or have their cruel weapons struck him down?"

Jovinian replied that he had but just left Eugenia and Julia, and
trusted that Severus, being accompanied by the fossor, would have been
enabled to conceal himself from the assassins, even should they have
gone in pursuit of him.  "But can I render you no aid?" he continued;
"let me endeavour to staunch the blood which flows from your side."

"It is too late now," answered Gentianus; "you must not attempt to move
me.  I know not how many daggers entered my body, though the hands of
those who desired my death failed to strike home.  I would forgive them,
as I would also the relentless foe by whom they were despatched on their
bloody errand.  Hasten back, my son, and bring my beloved daughter and
child; I would thankfully see them once more ere I die."

Jovinian rose to obey the commands of Gentianus.  As he did so he heard
footsteps approaching.  Stopping a moment, he recognised Severus and the
fossor.  "Heaven has sent you assistance!" he said, again kneeling down
by the side of his wounded friend.  Ere long Severus joined him, and
they together endeavoured to ascertain the injuries received by the old

"It is useless," said Gentianus; "you cannot for long prolong my life,
and I am willing to depart, and to be with Christ.  Go, Jovinian, summon
my beloved daughter and her child; I would speak to them again ere my
spirit wings its flight to Him who has gone before to prepare a place
for me."

Severus, struck with horror at what he saw, had scarcely spoken, nor had
he time to inquire by whom Gentianus had been wounded; but the words he
heard assured him that his wife and daughter were still safe.

Jovinian would have gone alone, but the old fossor, who carried a
lantern, at a sign from Severus, accompanied him, and he was thus able,
much more speedily than otherwise would have been the case, to return to
where he had left his female friends.

He endeavoured to prepare Eugenia and Julia for what had occurred, his
heart at the same time beating with gratitude to Heaven for enabling
them to escape the fearful danger to which they had been exposed.  What
had caused the assassins to retreat he could not tell; but he dreaded
that they might return, and discover Severus.  He resolved, therefore,
to advise his friend to seek immediately some other place of

Gentianus was still conscious when they regained the chamber; indeed, he
appeared to have somewhat recovered his strength.  His daughter and
grandchild threw themselves down beside him, and assisted Severus in
supporting his head.

"Do not mourn over me, my children," he said, taking Eugenia's hand.
"The days of my pilgrimage were naturally drawing to a close; God in His
mercy has allowed them to be somewhat shortened, and has saved me from
witnessing the result of the corruptions and errors which have crept in
among our brethren at Rome in consequence of their departure from the
clear teaching of the blessed Gospel.  They having neglected the light
which was in them, it is becoming darkness.  I see it but too plainly,--
the greed of riches and power possesses the hearts of many of those who
should have been the humble overseers of Christ's flock; and the
presbyters and deacons but too willingly support them, for the sake of
sharing the wealth they seek to acquire.

"Many rejoice that the emperor supports the Christians, and has bestowed
worldly rank and dignity on the overseers and presbyters; but I warn
you, my children, that he is a far greater foe to the true Church of
Christ than those monarchs who have been deemed its greatest
persecutors.  Oh, let me charge you, my beloved ones, to cling closely
to the simple Gospel!  Be living stones of the temple of which Christ is
the chief corner-stone!  Let not Satan succeed in inducing you, with the
offer of wealth, dignity, or honours, to depart from the truth.
Endeavour by God's grace to stem the tide, and never cease to protest
against the errors and corruptions which have crept in among those who
have a name to live, but are dead.  Seek for guidance and direction with
prayer and supplication, and, if you find that you cannot succeed, go to
some other land, and preach the truth of the Gospel among its heathen
inhabitants; ground them soundly in the faith, teaching them that there
must be no compromise, that they must turn to the true God, and worship
Him in spirit and truth through Christ, abandoning all their idolatrous
practices, that they must live as Christians lived in the apostolic
days, not looking to emperors, or rulers, or men great in the world's
eye for support, but to Christ the risen One alone."

"With God's grace I will follow your counsel," said Severus, to whom
Gentianus had stretched out his hand.  Jovinian also took it, and with
deep earnestness repeated the same words.

"Now, my children, I feel myself sinking.  My beloved Eugenia, I leave
you with confidence under the protection of Severus."  Then, taking
Julia's hand, he placed it in that of Jovinian.  "May heaven give you
life and strength, and may you, together, fight the good fight of faith,
and prove a blessing to each other, as God, in His loving-kindness, has
ordained that those united with His will shall ever be to one another."

Jovinian pressed Julia's hand.  "With her, I promise, thankfully and
joyfully, to obey your wishes," he said.

Thus were Jovinian and Julia betrothed.

The old man continued to address those grouped around him, while Rufina
and the fossor kept watch at the two entrances to the chamber.

The voice of Gentianus grew fainter and fainter.  It ceased at last, and
his children knew that his spirit had departed.



Although Severus would have gladly remained, and have spread the Gospel
among the benighted inhabitants of the capital, he reluctantly
determined to follow the counsel of his father-in-law, and the advice
now given him by his friends, and to retire to a region on which he had
long fixed his thoughts.  It was among the western spurs of the Alps,
where exists a series of secluded vales inhabited by an industrious and
primitive population, and where the great apostle to the Gentiles had,
it was said, converted many to the truth.  Here, therefore, he would
receive a welcome from many brethren in the faith, and be the means of
aiding and supporting them, and yet further extending among the
surrounding people the blessings of Christianity.

Instead of travelling by land--a long and tedious journey, with many
steep and rugged passes to traverse--he determined to embark at Ostia,
from whence a pleasant voyage over the waters of the Mediterranean of
three or four days, should the wind prove favourable, would enable him
to reach the port at which he hoped to disembark.

Jovinian, on hearing his plans, entreated that he might be permitted to
accompany him, although Amulius had offered the youth a home, should he
have desired to remain in Rome and continue his studies.  Severus gladly
accepted Jovinian's offer to bear him company.

"I would not willingly have parted from you, my son," he said, "although
I wished to leave you free to follow the bent of your own inclination.
I will also gladly assist you in the studies which you may desire to

Jovinian expressed his thanks--his only fear being that his uncle Gaius
might attempt to detain him.  He was aware that the pontiff, being his
nearest relative, had some legal claim over him; and he knew too well
also, even had such not been the case, that might often prevailed over
right in Rome, as elsewhere.  It was therefore settled that he should
pass the time before the commencement of the journey with Severus and
his family.

During their stay news reached the party in the catacombs of the events
which had taken place at Rome: of the pontiffs' last unsuccessful effort
to promote the cause of paganism; of the escape of the vestal Coelia;
and of the strange and almost incredible report that Coecus himself had
declared his readiness to embrace Christianity.

"Then the pontiff has already commenced his project for destroying the
true faith which I heard discussed," observed Jovinian to Severus.

"Would that we could warn our Christian friends not to trust him!  They
might influence a few; but I fear that the multitude would rather
confide in one who will ever be ready to pander to their tastes than in
those who have their true interest at heart," answered Severus.  "We
must use every effort, however; and Amulius and other faithful friends
will, I trust, not be deceived."

Then came further news from Byzantium.  The emperor, although not
baptised, had given undoubted proof of his desire to be considered a
Christian.  He had held conferences with Christian bishops and
presbyters, and had issued decrees bestowing rank and dignity on
numerous bishops.  It was said that he intended dividing the empire into
four ecclesiastical departments, after the model of the several civil
divisions.  Thus there were to be four prefectures, containing thirteen
dioceses, which embraced one hundred and sixteen provinces.  Over these
ecclesiastical officers were to preside, bearing the titles of
patriarchs, metropolitans or archbishops, and simple bishops,--dignified
titles hitherto unknown in the Christian Church!  One chief object of
the emperor in thus bestowing rank and wealth on the Christian ministers
was to obtain their assistance in governing the State by means of the
religious sentiment or superstition of the people.  The Christians had
hitherto been the most docile and loyal of his subjects, as their faith
inculcated implicit obedience to magistrates and all established
authorities.  His successors were to find that the semi-paganism which
he had established under the name of Christianity had no such effect on
the minds of their subjects, and that they were as ready to take up arms
and resort to force whenever their passions were aroused as the heathens
had been.

These, and other events of a similar character, confirmed Severus in his
resolution to quit the country.

At length the day he was free to depart arrived.  Amulius had made all
the necessary preparation.  Three "petorritas"--the ordinary carriages
at that time in use--drawn by mules, arrived at a convenient spot near
the entrance to the galleries.  Two litters also came--their occupants
remaining concealed within.  Amulius and several friends, who had come
to bid Severus and his family farewell, stepped out of the petorritas.
Garments and several necessary articles had been purchased by Amulius
for the use of the family, and these were already packed in the
carriages.  The faithful Rufina was to return to her master, but
remained to the last with those whom she had so essentially served.
Severus led forth his wife, and Jovinian followed with Julia.

They were about to enter one of the carriages, when Amulius remarked,
"We have brought two other travellers who are desirous of accompanying
you."  Ongoing to the litters he handed out two females habited in the
ordinary dress of Roman ladies.

Jovinian at once recognised in one of them, although their heads were
veiled, the vestal Marcia.  As those around him were all of the
faithful, there was no necessity for concealment.

The other lady was introduced by Marcia,--she was Coelia, whose life she
had been the means of preserving.  Marcia now explained that she and
another vestal, who had also become a Christian, and was particularly
attached to Coelia, had been placed by Fausta in charge of the prisoner,
and that, having taken her place, she had allowed her to escape, aided
by Christian friends, who had been watching outside the temple.  They
were under the guidance of Eros--he having, with the ever-active Rufina,
been the means of perfecting the plan for her release.  "The unhappy
Vestalis Maxima," she added, "when on her return to the temple she
discovered that so many of those under her rule had become Christians
that the sacred fire itself had been allowed to go out, and that even
Coecus, as she supposed, had deserted the ancient faith, stabbed herself
in despair."

Just as Jovinian was stepping into the petorrita he found his hand
grasped.  Looking up, he saw Eros.

"I am to accompany you with the other runners on foot," he said, "and I
have a favour to ask: it is that you will entreat Severus to allow me to
go with you, for Rome is no place for me, and I will gladly serve him
faithfully without wages."

Jovinian willingly promised to do what Eros desired, feeling sure that
the request would not be refused.

The direct road to the port of Rome was about sixteen miles; but as a
considerable circuit would have to be made, it would occupy a large
portion of the day.  The friends, therefore, who had come out of Rome,
returned, and the travelling party set out.  The first part of the
journey was by by-paths, and being somewhat rough, the mules could only
proceed at a slow rate.  When once the high road was gained they were
able to move much faster.  It was well paved with slabs skilfully
joined, which formed a smooth stony surface, enabling the wheels of the
vehicles to run easily along.  Here and there villas were seen, the
inhabitants of which were still wrapt in slumber.

The travellers--although their equipages were simple--were received with
respect at the inns where they stopped to rest their mules or partake of
refreshment.  They selected those whose hosts were Christians, and who
welcomed them as brethren.  Ostia was inhabited by a considerable number
of Christians, engaged in commercial pursuits, and who had collected
there from various parts of the world.  The church of Ostia, said to
have been formed in the days of the apostle Paul, was presided over by
an aged bishop, with several presbyters and deacons.  That it was of
great antiquity was certain, as the apostle, while remaining at the
port, when either embarking or landing on his journeys to and from Rome,
would undoubtedly have gained many proselytes to the faith.

Jovinian passed his time happily in company with Julia, to whom he was
attached with all the strength of his ardent nature.  Notwithstanding
his present happiness, he did not feel altogether secure while remaining
in the neighbourhood of Rome.  His uncle Gaius, who possessed, he
believed, a legal claim over him, might discover his retreat, and
prevent him from quitting the country.  About Eros he had no fear, for
having been once set free, the emancipated slave could not again legally
be forced back into captivity, Eros himself, however, was not quite so
well satisfied about the matter, and had, with the permission of the
master of the _Dolphin_, gone on board, and obtained concealment in the
hold.  It might have been wise in Jovinian to have followed his
example--at all events to have lived on board the vessel until his
friends were ready to embark.  Instead of that he went everywhere about
the town with them, and attended public worship.  They were to go on
board early in the morning, and to sail as soon as the tide was high
enough to enable the _Dolphin_ to cross over the bar.  Many of the
principal Christians in Ostia accompanied the party down to the place of
embarkation, where a boat was waiting to convey them on board the
_Dolphin_, which lay with her sails loose out in the stream.

Severus, with his wife, and Marcia and Coelia, had already taken their
seats; and Jovinian, who had walked down by the side of Julia, was on
the point of assisting her on board, when he felt his arm seized, and a
man in the dress of an emissary of the law exhibited an official
document before his eyes.  "You are, young sir, still a minor; your
uncle Gaius claims you as his ward; resistance is vain, for I can summon
those who would compel you to obey," said the officer.

Julia clung to Jovinian's other arm.  "Oh, come, come!" she whispered:
"he cannot detain you, and the boat will in an instant be away from the

Jovinian felt greatly inclined to follow this hint.  As he was strong
and active, by a strenuous effort he might shake himself free from the
officer's grasp.  It was a great trial to him.  Severus, whose attention
had been called to what was occurring, stepped forward at once to his
assistance; but the officer, fearing that a rescue was intended,
summoned his attendants, dragged Jovinian from the strand, and delivered
him to them.  His numerous Christian friends could not, on principle,
resist the law under which the officer professed to be acting.

In vain Julia entreated Jovinian to return to the boat; he was too
securely held to make his escape.  The mariners were anxious to sail,
and not to lose the advantage of the wind and tide.

Severus had but a short time to speak a few words to his young friend.
"The law must not be disobeyed," he said; "but let me urge you to hold
fast to the truth; we will pray for you and welcome you joyfully
whenever you can quit Rome and join us."

"I look forward to the day when I shall be free, and able to hasten to
wherever you are settled," answered Jovinian.  "Your prayers will
support me; I, too, will pray for myself, that I may be kept to the

The heathen officer could not be induced to allow Jovinian to exchange
further farewells with his friends, being still afraid--seeing the
number of persons around--that an attempt might be made to rescue his
prisoner.  They did their utmost to console him, after the boat pushed
off; but it was with an aching heart that he saw the sails spread, and
the _Dolphin_ gliding out into the blue sea, which shone brightly in the
rays of the rising sun, beyond the harbour.

Jovinian, with a heavy heart, walked with the officer to the inn, where
the vehicle was waiting which was to convey him back to Rome.  The blow
he had received was so sudden that he could not for some time recover
from it.  He had been looking forward to days of happiness in the
company of Julia and her parents, when his faith would have been
strengthened, and he would have been able to profit by the guidance and
instruction of Severus.  He was now, once more, he supposed, to be
exposed to the importunities of his uncle to turn idolater: and although
he trusted that he should not be moved, it would be painful to be
continually engaged in controversies with his relative.  From the
treatment he had before received, he was not much afraid that force
would be used; at the same time he could not tell to what devices Gaius
might resort to influence him.  He fervently prayed that he might have
strength to resist them.

On reaching the inn, the officer desired him to enter the petorrita
which stood with the horses put to, before the door, and then took a
seat by his side.  The driver urging on his steeds, the carriage moved
forward, the officials in attendance, with their garments girt about
them, following rapidly on foot.  The road, worn by the heavy waggons
passing along it, was in several places full of ruts and holes, over
which the vehicle went jolting on, the driver caring very little for the
shaking his passengers were receiving.  No stoppages were made, as the
officer had been directed to return without delay to Rome.  At length
the Appian way--the high road between the capital and the south--was
reached, when the carriage moved on more smoothly.  They now passed
between numerous sepulchres,--monuments erected on both sides the road,
in which the ashes of many generations of the noble dead reposed.
Jovinian recognised more than one in which his own heathen ancestors
were interred.  A feeling of gratitude to heaven rose to his heart at
the thought that his own beloved mother had accepted the truth in her
early youth, and that he had been born under the full light of the
Gospel.  Several large buildings were passed--that of the sanctuary of
Mars, as it was called, beyond the city, within whose walls criminals
flying from justice could obtain safety.  The carriage then, passing
under one of those vast structures of masonry erected to carry water
into the city, entered Rome by the Porta Caperia.  The vehicle could now
proceed but slowly, as obstacles of all sorts occurred every moment.
Sometimes a large waggon conveying building materials stopped the way.
The streets were also blocked up by the booths of hucksters, butchers,
vintners, pastry-cooks, and vendors of articles of all descriptions.
Some of the passengers of the lower orders amused themselves by jeering
at the young occupant of the carriage, when they recognised the officer
of the law, and suggested that he was probably some Thespio who had been
robbing his master, or filching the goods from the stalls.  Egyptian
jugglers were performing their wonderful tricks, allowing the most
venomous snakes to wind themselves round their arms and necks,--the
crowd which had collected around them showing no inclination to make way
for the carriage.  Here also could be seen boys selling sulphur matches,
others carrying huge basins of boiled pease, a dish of which they
dispensed to the poorest classes for the smallest coin.

As they entered the city Jovinian was much struck by observing masons
dismantling two or three of the smaller heathen temples, which had been
held in but slight consideration--mules and carts being engaged in
carrying off the materials.

In their places new edifices were in course of erection, the beams and
stones being wound aloft by cranes fixed on the summit of the portions
already erected.  It appeared to him that there was much more life and
bustle in the city than he had ever before observed; but his silent
custodian would afford him no information on the subject.  "That is not
my business," he answered, when Jovinian asked a question; "your uncle
Gaius will inform you all about the matter, young man."

Jovinian had expected to drive up to the college of the pontiffs; but
before reaching it the carriage turned off to the left, and stopped at a
mansion under the Palatine hill.  As it drew up before the _ostium_--the
entrance to the house--two slaves came forth, whose countenances
Jovinian did not recognise.  They seemed, however, to expect him, and
the officer, without hesitation, delivered him into their hands,
following, as they conducted him through the _atrium_ into an inner
court, in a small room at the side of which he saw his uncle reclining.
Several books were on the table before him.  Gaius rose, and put out his
hand to receive his nephew, his countenance exhibiting no sign of anger.
The officer, having formally delivered his charge into the hands of
Gaius, retired, and the uncle and nephew were left alone.

"And so you would have deserted me, your only relative, and followed the
fortunes of strangers?" said Gaius, in a half-pathetic, half-comic tone,
but which certainly exhibited not the slightest feeling of resentment.

"I escaped from you, my uncle, because you desired me to embrace a faith
I abhor; and although I have now been brought back, I shall be still, I
trust, withheld from following your counsels."

"Ah! that is a matter which troubles me.  I am thankful I did not
succeed," exclaimed Gaius, in the same tone as before; "I have seen that
the system of idolatry is rotten, since the emperor and other good men
have deserted it; and I wish to be instructed in the doctrines of the
faith you hold."

Jovinian was struck, as he well might be, with astonishment at hearing
this, although he did not express his feelings.  As he gazed steadily at
the countenance of Gaius, he thought that he detected a twinkle in his
eye which much belied his assertion.  "I would thankfully be the means
of bringing you to a knowledge of the truth," he said at length, "but
God alone can enlighten your mind."

"Well, well, all I require you to do is to instruct me in the articles
of your belief, and in the forms of your worship, and I may hope in a
few weeks to make a very respectable appearance as a Christian; and if
you prove an intelligent tutor I will allow you all the liberty you may
desire.  You can visit our relative, the presbyter Amulius, or any other
friend you may desire to see, and report to them the progress I am

"What, my uncle, are you really serious in your wish to become a
Christian?" asked Jovinian, who had not forgotten the discussion he had
overheard among the pontiffs, although he felt it would not be prudent
to let his uncle know that he had been an eavesdropper on the occasion.

"Of course I am," answered Gaius.  "Surely the religion which the
emperor adopts must be one we must all desire to follow."

Jovinian sighed; he knew the truth too well to be deceived by his
uncle's remark, and he felt that, even should Gaius have some faint wish
to become a Christian, he was very far as yet from the kingdom of
heaven.  He resolved, however, to do what he conceived to be his duty,
and to instruct Gaius as far as he was able in the principles of
Christianity.  He judged it wise not to complain of being dragged away
from his friends--supposing his uncle had a legal power to act as he had
done--and he hoped when his services were no longer required that he
should be allowed to rejoin Severus.



Jovinian was treated with much kindness, and allowed all the liberty he
desired--being permitted to visit Amulius and the few other friends he
possessed.  He still had doubts of his uncle's sincerity.  He could not
forget the scheme proposed by Coecus; and Gaius might desire to take the
step he proposed for the sole object of forwarding it.

Still, the temptations to join the religion professed by the emperor
were great.  It might pave the way to honour and wealth.  Although many
doubted that the emperor was really a Christian, the edicts he had
issued showed that he was influenced by Christian counsellors.  Among
them were those for the abolition of the punishment by crucifixion, the
encouragement of the emancipation of slaves, the prohibition of
gladiatorial games, and the discouragement of infanticide.

Another edict ordered the use of prayers for the army; but that to which
perhaps even the idolaters least objected was one for the observance of
the Sabbath throughout all the cities and towns in the empire.  The
Christians, however, were greatly puzzled when they found it designated
as "Dies solis," or Sunday; and it was supposed, not without justice,
that the emperor selected that title in consequence of his lingering
affection towards the worship of the sun, to which he had, in former
times, been addicted.  The other days in the week were, to please the
idolaters, called after the names of the various gods, and especially
dedicated to them.  The second day was Luna's day, sacred to the moon;
the next was Mercury's day; while Jupiter and Venus had also their days;
so that the populace were still kept in remembrance of their ancient
gods and goddesses, although they were professedly Christians.

Jovinian found it no easy task to instruct his uncle in the truths of
Christianity.  Gaius readily understood and remembered the facts
mentioned in the Bible; but he appeared utterly unable to comprehend
their spiritual meaning, although he listened to all his nephew said.

"How is it that I see so many sects and divisions among those who call
themselves Christians?" he asked: "bishops, presbyters, and people in
one place quarrelling and disputing with those in another.  I hear of
Athanasius and Miletius, Eusebius, Arius, and numberless other heads of
your sects, condemning each other,--the one party refusing to hold
communion with the other, while both profess to serve the same Lord,
whom you call Christ.  Now look at the system of religion which has
prevailed undisturbed for centuries in Rome.  We have had no quarrels or
disputes, and all have submitted implicitly to us, their pontiffs, the
directors of their rites and ceremonies.  Our men and women have been at
liberty to worship the gods and goddesses they have preferred.  We have
added new demigods as occasion required, nor did we refuse to place the
divinities of other nations in the Pantheon, whenever they could prove a
good title to the honour.  We have raised our emperors after death,
however little we may have loved them in their lifetime, to the same
advanced rank.  I do not say that the religion in which you are
attempting to instruct me may not prove in the end the best, especially
as it has been adopted by the emperor; but you must acknowledge that the
worship of the immortal gods has the advantage of antiquity to recommend
it, and that under it Rome became great and powerful, and conquered the

Jovinian was puzzled how to answer some of these objections.  He could
not deny that disputes raged furiously among the Christian churches,
especially in the East, and that many of the bishops seemed more intent
on increasing their worldly wealth and dignity than on spreading the
Gospel.  In regard to the immortal gods, he asked his uncle whether he
had ever seriously believed in their existence, or had the slightest
authority for supposing that they were other than creatures of the

"Well, well,--as to that, the people believed in them, and we, the
directors of their religious rites, have reaped the benefit of their
superstition," answered Gaius.

"But you must acknowledge," said Jovinian, "that idolatry has debased
the people with its numberless obscene and cruel rites, that the
consciences of its votaries have become scathed, and have allowed them
to indulge in the grossest crimes without shame or remorse.  Now, on the
contrary, while we acknowledge that we are vile and sinful beings,
utterly unfit to enjoy a pure and holy heaven, yet we know that God has
provided a way by which we can be made pure and holy, have our sins put
away and forgiven, at the same time that we are bound to strive to
imitate our Saviour, and to live pure and holy lives, free from the
rebuke of a rude and perverse generation."

"That may be," answered Gaius; "but I wish to have the cause of these
dissensions of which I hear explained to me, that I may decide whether I
shall join Athanasius, Miletius, Arius, or any other party."

Jovinian hastened to consult Amulius how he should reply to Gaius.

"Remember that the apostles have told us that from the first these
dissensions have existed among those calling themselves Christians,"
answered the presbyter.  "Instead of becoming `as little children,' and
submitting themselves to the teaching of the Holy Spirit through God's
written Word, they bring their crude philosophy, their pride of
intellect, their passions, their lust of power and wealth, into the
creeds they endeavour to form.  Most of them, it is true, profess to be
guided by the Holy Spirit; but they act like a person who invites a
charioteer to drive his horses, and then seizes the reins and turns them
in any direction he may please.  I have long watched the fearful
struggle going on between the Prince of this world, the real supporter
of idolatry, and the true faith as it is in Christ; and the signs I have
observed too surely warn me that the former will triumph.

"Although the emperor professes to be a Christian, all his acts show
that the mists of heathen darkness have not been dispelled from his
mind, and that the encouragement he affords nominally to the Christians
is fraught with the greatest danger to the true Church of Christ.  Here
in Rome, especially, I apprehend the worst.  As you well know, the
Romans are more wedded to idolatry than the inhabitants of any other
city in the Empire.  They still cling to it, notwithstanding the favour
shown by the emperor to the Christian Church.

"The emperor, who is resolved to have uniformity of faith, and to make
all his subjects Christians if he can, will not fail to offer such
bribes as are not likely to be refused by the heathen leaders.  Still,
though he may wish to encourage the Christians in Rome, he has no
affection for Rome itself, and would gladly forget that such a city
exists, for it was here that some of his darkest crimes were committed.

"Here also he was insulted by the idolatrous Romans in a way he can
never forget.  I was a witness of the scene.  Soon after his arrival a
magnificent ceremony was held to celebrate the Battle of Regillus, when,
as the idolaters believe, the twin gods Castor and Pollux, having fought
for Rome, galloped on their fleet steeds to bring the glad tidings to
the city.  The aim of the idolaters was to surpass all previous
anniversaries.  The temples were lighted up, and decorated as usual,
victims smoked on every altar, and all the members of the equestrian
order, numbering five thousand horsemen, clothed in purple, and crowned
with olive-leaves, rode in state to the Forum.  It was altogether one of
the most splendid pageants ever seen at Rome; and it was supposed that
Constantino would take part, as previous emperors had done, in the
religious rites usual on the occasion.  But this he positively refused
to do, and it was reported that he openly indulged in his sarcastic
humour, by jeering at the sham knights and the empty pomp he beheld
while watching the procession in the distance from his palace.

"I can see him now,--his countenance handsome, his figure tall, although
somewhat stout and broad-shouldered,--and his whole appearance
betokening sturdy health and vigour.  His eye had a peculiar brightness,
such as few men's possess, and I especially noted it when it assumed, as
it did several times, a glare which could not fail to remind me of that
of a lion; while, as he uttered his remarks, he threw back his head,
bringing out the full proportions of his thick neck.  Rough and
unrefined in appearance, his voice was remarkable for its gentleness and
softness.  In those days he had not assumed, as is now the case, that
splendour of costume which he has copied from the princes of the East.
He carried simply a spear in his hand, as an insignia of his office, and
to show that by the spear he had won and intended to keep his Empire.
Since then, I hear that he never goes abroad without a helmet bound
round with an oriental diadem studded with jewels, that his robe is a
purple silk richly embroidered with pearls and flowers worked in gold,
while he wears wigs of false hair of various colours, a short beard
ornamenting his chin.  On this occasion he appeared simply as a
victorious general.  His refusal to join in the religious ceremonies
usual on the occasion _so_ displeased the turbulent populace that they
threatened vengeance of all sorts.  Some of the most evil disposed
proposed to attack the Christians at whose instigation it was supposed
the emperor had acted; others dared even to throw stones at the head of
his statue.

"When a courtier rushed in, bringing news of the outrage, he smiled, and
passing his hand over his face, observed,--`Truly it is surprising, but
I feel not in the least hurt; nothing do I find amiss in my head,
nothing in my face.'  Although he had thus received the news so calmly,
it created a disgust in his mind, both against the city and religion of
Rome, which he has never overcome; and to this day he speaks of Rome--
alas! with too much justice--as an `idolatrous and abandoned city.'  In
spite of the wealth and influence of our bishop, our numbers, compared
to that of the population, have continued to be small; and had it not
been for the refuge afforded by the subterranean galleries outside the
city, the church in Rome during the days of persecution would have been

Jovinian was allowed to pursue his studies at home under such tutors as
Amulius recommended.

Many months thus passed away, faster than he could have supposed

Gaius now treated his nephew with apparently perfect confidence,
speaking unreservedly to him on matters of all sorts.

Jovinian thus heard much more of what was going on than he otherwise
probably would have done.  He found that both Gaius and Coecus--although
professedly Christians, as were some of the other pontiffs--visited the
college frequently, on which occasions discussions were held with closed
doors.  So great at length became the confidence which Gaius reposed in
his nephew, that he invited him frequently to attend these meetings,--
extracting a promise, however, that he would not divulge what he heard.
On these occasions the pontiffs discussed the plans that had been
proposed for maintaining their rank and position in Rome.  Those who
professed to have become Christians appeared to be and evidently were,
on most friendly terms with the idolaters, all being united by a common
interest.  Their great object was to maintain their college in its

"We may thus," observed Coecus one day, when visiting Gaius, "by keeping
up our influence over the mass of the people, secure the election of the
candidate of whom we approve to the office of bishop or any other
dignities of the Church.  We may select some of our own brethren, or any
other persons whom we deem suitable."

The plan was universally approved of.  Its fruit was to be observed in
after years, when the bishops of Rome found themselves controlled by the
college of cardinals, the successors of the pontiffs.

Christianity appeared to be making great progress in Rome.  Several new
churches and basilicas were in course of erection, and even some of the
heathen temples were being converted so as to suit the worship of the

The idolaters generally, however, objected to allow their temples to be
so employed.  Jovinian was greatly struck by the appearance of the
statues which adorned the new places of worship, and he recognised among
them some which had undoubtedly been heathen idols.  In several of the
churches were statues representing the virgin Mary, which had previously
acted the parts of Isis, Juno, Venus, or some other goddess; and he
could not help remarking that by far the larger number of worshippers
bent before these statues and offered them the same respect which they
had been accustomed to pay to the heathen goddesses.  Among those who
met at the college of pontiffs was a visitor who had come from a college
long-established at Mount Carmel, where students in the Babylonian
worship were instructed: he was said to be learnt in magical science.
He spoke, however, of his admiration of the Christian faith, and came,
it appeared, to discuss with Coecus and the other pontiffs the
possibility of uniting it to the ancient faith without offending the
followers of the latter.  The idolaters seemed so completely in favour
of this proposal that Coecus expressed his confidence that it would

Jovinian was sick at heart at all he saw.  His uncle Gaius, although he
had obtained the rank of a presbyter, was too evidently no nearer the
truth than he was before.  Idolatry still prevailed in all directions.
In few places of Christian worship was the truth faithfully preached.
Even Amulius appeared to be going with the stream, or, at all events, to
be making but slight efforts to stem it.  "I, too, shall be carried away
if I remain," said Jovinian to himself; "it is a sin to expose myself to

The bishop, who had long been at the head of the Church, died, and
another was elected whose character was but little known, although
Jovinian observed that Coecus, Gaius, and other pontiffs were very
active in his election.  He had not long been seated in the episcopal
chair when he, too, died; and soon after news came that the emperor had
expired.  He had received the rite of baptism on his death-bed; but it
was evident that he was not of Christ when it became known that he had
expressed his belief that his brothers had poisoned him, and had charged
his son, Constantius, to put them and their offspring to death,--a
charge too faithfully fulfilled.

He was preparing for an expedition against Persia when sickness overtook
him.  Feeling that it was mortal, he desired to be baptised--a stop he
had hitherto not taken, although he had for years presided at councils
and preached to his people, and even been designated as the "Bishop of
bishops."  He was received as a catechumen in the church of Heliopolis;
he then moved to his palace in the suburbs of Nicomedia, when, calling
Eusebius and several other bishops around him, he desired to have the
rite administered.  Here, having laid aside his purple robes, he was
habited in white, and thus, stretched on his death-bed, he received
baptism from the hands of Eusebius.  One of his last acts was to recall
Athanasius, a rival of Eusebius, who had been banished.  Thus, with
calmness and dignity, he awaited death.  His last will he gave into the
custody of his chaplain Eustiocius, to be delivered to his eldest son,
Constantius, who was now absent; and on the 22nd of May, in the
sixty-fourth year of his age, after a reign of thirty years, he expired.
His body was conveyed in a coffin of gold to Constantinople, where it
lay three months in state, with lights burning around and guards
watching.  On Eustiocius exhibiting the will to the bishops of
Nicomedia, so alarmed were they at the contents that they placed it for
security in the hands of the dead man, there to remain until Constantius
should appear to receive it.  When his eldest son arrived and read the
document, he found that the emperor expressed in it his conviction that
he had been poisoned by his brothers and their children, and he called--
so it was expressed--on Constantius to avenge his death.  This fact
alone proves, that whatever amount of Christian knowledge the emperor
might have possessed, he had not understood its chief principles, at all
events.  Constantius faithfully fulfilled his father's dying bequest by
the massacre of his uncles and their offspring, amounting to no less
than six persons, two alone escaping.

The idolatrous population of Rome, when the tidings reached them,
ignoring the fact of his having professed himself a Christian, resolved
to regard the deceased emperor as one in the series of Caesars.  A
picture of his apotheosis was exhibited.  Festivals were instituted in
his honour.  He was enrolled, as had been his predecessors, whatever
their character, among the gods of Olympus, and incense was offered
before his statues.  The true Christians in Rome mourned at what took
place, but their influence was weak compared to that of the idolaters,
supported as the latter were evidently by many who had professed to
embrace the new faith.  Jovinian resolved no longer to remain in Rome,
but to join, as soon as possible, his friend Severus, who, with his wife
and daughter, were anxiously, they wrote word, looking for his arrival.
To Jovinian's surprise, Gaius offered no objection.  "Go and dwell with
those of like mind with yourself; you are too honest for us Romans, and
will never, I see, make a figure either in the Church or State.  Men, to
succeed here, must regard all creeds alike; supple courtiers, who are
hampered by no ideas of honour or integrity, but know the importance of
filling their coffers while the sun shines.  You, Jovinian, will die a
poor and unknown man if you remain in Rome, whereas in some country
district, should you enter the Church, you may rise to the dignity of a
presbyter,"--and Gaius laughed ironically.  "Farewell, my nephew; we
have disputed occasionally, but remembering that you are the only child
of my poor sister Livia, I have always had the truest regard for you."

Jovinian, feeling that it was his duty, was about once more to place the
simple truths of the Gospel before his uncle, and to entreat him to
accept them.

"Cease, cease! my good nephew," exclaimed Gaius.  "I settled that matter
in my own mind long ago, when I resolved on the course I am taking.  I
intend to enjoy the good things of this life while I can obtain them,
and leave the affairs of the future to take care of themselves."

Farewell visits were paid to Amulius and others, who sent brotherly
greetings to Severus; and Jovinian, bidding adieu, as he thought it
probable, for ever to Rome, set out on his journey northward.



Jovinian had settled to proceed by land instead of going by sea to
Genoa, as Severus had done.  Amulius and several other persons in Rome
wished to make him the bearer of letters to various Christian friends
residing in different parts on the northern road.  As no public means of
conveyance existed in those days, it was customary to send epistles
either by the hand of special messengers or by those travellers
proceeding in the desired direction.  Jovinian would thus enjoy the
benefits of finding a house to rest at, and a kind greeting at many of
his stages.  At some places he would, however, have to stop at a
roadside inn, or at the hut of a peasant.  His attendant, Largus, rode
alongside him, leading a mule which carried their baggage, among which
were books for his own use and others to be presented to Severus.

Neither Jovinian nor Largus carried arms.  Any attempt to defend
themselves against robbers would be useless, for should such make an
attack on them, they would do so in overwhelming numbers; while bears
and wolves were not likely to be met with in the regions through which
they were to pass.

The road for the first part of the way was tolerably level, so that good
progress was made.  Etruria, with its ancient temples and shrines of the
gods, to the worship of whom the people still tenaciously clung, was
traversed.  Then, after crossing the Amis--near the town of Pise, where
a day was spent with Christian friends--a more mountainous region was
entered near Luca.  Now the road led along the sides of the lofty
Apennines, towards Liguria.  Jovinian had relieved his mind by
delivering most of his letters, and as from a height he had ascended he
beheld the Cottian Alps, their lofty peaks capped with snow, he
anticipated a happy termination to his journey.  But he had still many
rugged mountain passes to traverse.  The day was drawing to a close, and
neither he nor Largus were certain where they would find shelter for the
night.  Rugged and precipitous rocks rose up on the right hand, while on
the left yawned deep chasms, unfathomable to the eye.  The stones, as
they slipped beneath the horses' feet, went bounding down until the
sound died away in the depths below.  To proceed faster than they were
going was impossible without the risk of falling over the precipices,
but the path was descending; and at last a gorge was reached, the sides
so lofty that it appeared as if the sun could never penetrate to the

"Surely no human beings can fix their habitations in such a spot as
this, and we shall have to pass the night under the blue vault of
heaven," observed Jovinian.

"We must push on, and find our way out of it before darkness sets in,"
answered Largus.

Just as he spoke some figures were seen descending from the heights
above, leaping from rock to rock.  They made their way towards the

"Who can they be?" asked Jovinian.

"I do not like their looks; if they are honest I shall be very much
surprised," said Largus.

The two travellers did not attempt to alter their pace, seeing that they
could not escape by flight.  No shafts were aimed at them, and in a
short time they found themselves surrounded by a party of armed men,
with unkempt hair, long beards, and soil-stained garments, which showed
the wild life they were accustomed to lead.

"Who are you, and where are you going?" asked the leader of the
robbers--for such it was very evident they were.  He drew a dagger as he
spoke, and held it ready to strike Jovinian.

"We are simple travellers, carrying but few articles which you would
deem of value--our necessary garments and some books," answered

"And what about your money?" asked the robber, laughing; "that is of
more consequence to us than the articles you mention; however, we will
not stop here.  You must spend a night with us.  You cannot reach any
human abode before dark, and we will take the opportunity of looking
into these matters."

Jovinian and Largus could only comply, and, attended by the robbers,
they proceeded in the direction in which they were before going.  They
were soon out of the gorge, and entered a region even more wild and
barren than the one they had left.

Black rocks lay scattered about, amid which a rapid stream hissed and
roared along through a narrow bed.  Further off, on the other side of a
broad valley, rose precipitous cliffs, rent by the convulsions of
Nature, which had formed dark gorges between them.  In some places the
mouths of gloomy caverns could be distinguished in the sides of the
cliffs--fit abodes for wild beasts, or lawless men such as those into
whose power the travellers had fallen.  Towards one of these caves the
robbers were conducting their captives, when suddenly from behind a rock
a person started forth, whom Jovinian, from his strange appearance, took
to be a madman or some being possessed of an evil spirit, driven from
the haunts of men.  If is dress, of coarse texture, stained with dirt,
hung in rags and tatters about him, exposing a hair garment, worn next
his skin.  His person was emaciated in the extreme, his hair cut close,
his head and neck sprinkled with ashes.  He waved about him a staff,
which he carried in his hand.

"What are ye about, ye men of violence?" he exclaimed, pointing his
staff at the robbers.  "Begone! fly! or be prepared for the vengeance of
one who knows how to protect the innocent!"

The robbers drew back, trembling with fear; and as the recluse--for such
he was--continued waving his staff, they took fairly to flight, and left
Jovinian and Largus to pursue their way with their mules and baggage.

Jovinian, as he now observed the strange being to whom he was so much
indebted, was reminded of those heathen eremites of whom he had read as
long existing in the far East, who, by self-imposed tortures, abstinence
from the society of their kind, and long prayers, hoped to merit a
blissful immortality among the shadows of the blessed.  Wishing to thank
the recluse for the services just rendered, he rode towards him.

"You are, I judge by your appearance and bearing, Christians, and as
such are welcome to rest during the coming night in my abode, for you
can reach no other shelter before nightfall," said the recluse, without
listening to Jovinian's thanks.  "Or, should you be moved by the holy
life led by me and my companions, you shall be at liberty to take up
your residence with us."

Jovinian thought it wise to make no reply to the last part of his
invitation, but gladly accepted the shelter offered him.

"Follow me, then," said the recluse; and, making use of his staff to
support his steps, he strode on over the rough ground before the
travellers towards one of the gorges which opened out at some distance
before them, mounting the steep sides of the hill at a pace with which
the horses could hardly keep up.  He stopped before a wooden porch built
of logs, at the entrance of a cavern.

"Your steeds will find grass at the bottom of the gorge, and water at a
rill which trickles out of the mountain-side; here no one will molest
them--even those bold outlaws dare not approach my abode," said the
recluse, as he signed to Jovinian and Largus to dismount.  Fortunately
the travellers had brought provisions, or they would have fared but ill
on the lentils and water which constituted the food of the recluse.
Bringing water from a neighbouring rill in a large bowl, their host
insisted on washing the travellers' feet--although not until they saw it
would cause offence longer to refuse did they permit him to perform this
act of humiliation.

As the shades of evening drew on, a voice was suddenly heard chanting a
hymn from the opposite side of the gulf.  It was echoed by another
further up, until nearly a dozen voices had joined in the solemn

"They are my brethren who have come here to dwell, and devote themselves
to calm contemplation, fasting, prayers, and penance," said the recluse.
"You shall be made known to them to-morrow, and hear the words of
heavenly wisdom taught from their lips."

Jovinian and Largus made their beds by the aid of their saddles and
horse-cloths in the outer porch, and were glad that they were not
invited to enter the interior of the cavern.  It appeared dirty in the

Mephitic odours pervaded the air.  At the further end was a rough cross
formed of wood, in front of which two palms were burning.  They saw
their host prostrate himself before it, and lie at full length with his
arms stretched out for a long period; but he did not invite them to join
in his devotions.  He then rose and closed the intermediate door, so as
to shut himself out from their view.  Occasionally, during the night,
they heard the sound of a lash, while groans and cries issued from the
cell.  Suddenly, as they were just dropping off to sleep, they were
aroused by a voice from within: "Begone, Mercury--I know thee well, and
thy ever-changing form; licentious messenger of uncleanness, thou canst
not deceive me; and thou, mighty Jove, ended is thy reign, thy
thunderbolts fall harmlessly, thy lightnings cannot strike me."  Thus,
one after the other, the heathen gods were addressed as if they were
present endeavouring to win back the anchorite to their worship.

At daybreak next morning their host roused up his guests, and invited
them to join him in prayer.  So extravagant were the expressions he
uttered that Jovinian could with difficulty retain a due composure.

While they were breaking their fast, the recluse, who refused to eat,
recounted to them numbers of miracles which he affirmed that he had
performed, but which Jovinian was convinced--were he not purposely
imposing upon them--were the hallucinations of a disordered brain.
Jovinian could not fail to observe in his unhappy host a vain-glorious
exaltation of self, and a spirit of pride combined with a false
humility, which the system of asceticism was so calculated to foster.
He saw, too, that this vain attempt to merit the favour of God arose
from utter ignorance of God's loving and merciful character, that it set
at nought Christ's finished work--His blood which cleanseth from all
sin,--and was directly opposed to all the teaching of the Gospel.

His host afterwards entreated Jovinian to remain a few days, that he
might learn more of the mode of life; and practices of himself and his

"Before I can join you I must consult the holy volume which is my rule
of faith, and ascertain whether your practices are in accordance with
its precepts," answered Jovinian.  "I have not so learnt Christ, and I
cannot believe that He who spent His ministry on earth in going about
doing good among human beings would have His followers spend their lives
where they can be of no use to any one."

The pale brow of the anchorite flushed as he heard the young man speak.
"Come, you may think better of my proposal; but I will now take you to
visit my associates."

The tour which Jovinian made among the other huts rather strengthened
than altered his first impression.  The inmates, he observed, were
profoundly ignorant of Christian truth; a self-righteous ignoring of the
righteousness of Christ prevailed universally among them.  Some had
probably been mad when they resorted to their present mode of life, and
others had produced madness by their self-inflicted tortures or
abstinence from proper nourishment.  When he spoke to them he found that
they were far from living in brotherly love: jealousy and ill-will
prevailed, while several, asserting their superior sanctity, accused the
others of being guilty of all sorts of horrible crimes.

Such was the commencement in Italy of the anchorite or monkish system,
which had long existed in the East, and which soon spread over the
western part of Christendom.

Jovinian returned to the hut; and, desiring Largus to saddle the horses
without delay, bade farewell to their host.

"You will come back and join us?" said the anchorite, not at all aware
of the impression made on Jovinian's mind.

"Not until I find that the system you are pursuing is according to God's
way, and that I can thereby promote His honour and glory," was the

"Alas, alas!" exclaimed the anchorite, as Jovinian and his attendant
rode off; "you will never gain heaven if you thus refuse our way of
seeking it."

Jovinian made no reply; arguments were useless with one who appeared
little better than a madman.



As Jovinian and his attendant proceeded over the rugged paths, they
naturally looked out somewhat anxiously to reaching their journey's end
in safety.

For several days they were compelled to put up at the huts of the
mountaineers, and twice to seek shelter in caverns which it was evident
had been used by other wayfarers.  They were now travelling over some of
the Cottian Alps.  Here the mountains, broken by precipices, amid which
they had to wind their way, rose on every side--the rocky bulwarks of
those secluded valleys towards which they were directing their course.
Here crag rose above crag, enormous masses of rock extending into the
glens beneath--abysses of a depth which the eye could not penetrate.
Innumerable springs of water gushed forth from the rocks, some uniting
and forming torrents, which dashed foaming downwards into the hollows
below.  At length, surmounting a lofty ridge, they looked down upon a
valley which presented scenery of the most beautiful description.  So
completely encircled was it by a rocky chain of mountains, that it
appeared as if no rough winds could ever disturb its tranquillity.
Sparkling fountains, issuing from the sides of the hills, made their way
towards a bright stream which flowed at the bottom of the valley,
irrigating the land in its course.  The declivities were clothed with
trees of every description, among which were numbers bearing fruit--the
mulberry, the chestnut, the cherry, the walnut, and others.  Cottages
could be seen scattered about in every direction, showing that this
favoured spot was thickly inhabited.

Here and there were dwellings of greater pretensions, which peeped forth
from amid the groves.  One edifice specially struck Jovinian: it had the
form of a basilica such as those lately erected in Rome, and he had no
doubt that it was used for Christian worship.  No heathen temples were
anywhere seen, although here and there a mass of ruins might have marked
the spot where the shrine of an idol had stood.  Jovinian's heart beat
more joyously than it had done for a long time.  One of those
residences, he was certain, must be the abode of Severus.  Many months
had passed since he last had heard from him, and a still longer period
since he had been able to despatch a letter to his friend.  Jovinian,
therefore, was not expected; but his arrival would, he hoped, cause
pleasure as well as surprise.  The travellers, therefore, did not spend
many moments in contemplating the enchanting scenery spread out before
them, but, urging on their steeds, descended by a narrow pathway,
leading from the heights they had gained through a deep gorge, which had
to be passed before the valley could be entered.  From the first peasant
they met they inquired the way to the house of Severus.

"It is hard by the basilica which he has had erected for us," was the
answer; "and if Christians, as I know you to be, you will be welcomed as
brethren, for so every one is received who comes in that character to
his door."

Already the shadows of the mountains were extending over the valley.
They drew near a villa of elegant form, although not of costly
materials; and Jovinian observed Severus walking to and fro on the
terrace before the entrance.  Throwing himself from his horse, Jovinian
advanced towards his friend, who immediately recognised him, although he
had grown into manhood since their separation.

Hurrying forward, Severus embraced him warmly.  "We did not doubt your
faithfulness, but we feared some accident had happened to you, since no
letter has reached us for a year or more," said Severus.  "You will
rejoice the hearts of my wife and child, who have been most anxious
about you."

Jovinian was soon in the presence of Eugenia and Julia--the latter
blushing as she received his affectionate greeting.

"I have never had cause to regret coming here instead of remaining at
Rome," said Severus.  "Although I hold that we are bound to bravely
fight the good fight of faith against the world, the flesh, and the
devil--being in the world, yet not of it--I should have proved of far
less benefit to my fellow-creatures in Rome than, by God's grace, I have
been able to be here by faithfully preaching the pure Gospel,
instructing the children, and advancing at the same time the temporal
interests of the community.  I have not confined myself to this valley
alone, but have visited many others surrounding it.  It is with
gratitude to our Heavenly Father I am able to say that not a heathen
temple remains within them, and that the people have mostly, if not
altogether, abandoned all their idolatrous practices and superstitions;
but still there is much work to be done, as there ever will be while the
prince of this world has power over the children of men; and to that
work, I trust, my beloved son, you will, from henceforth, devote
yourself."  Such was Jovinian's earnest desire.

It was with no small pleasure that he again met Eros, who greeted him
with warm affection.  The once ignorant slave had become the trusted
overseer of Severus' property, and at the same time an active promoter
of the truth.  There were two other persons of whom Jovinian wished to
hear--Marcia and Coelia.

"They are both happily married, and are mothers.  Marcia resides at the
further end of this valley, and Coelia in the one beyond, where their
husbands, greatly aided by them, minister to the spiritual wants of
their neighbours," was the answer.

Jovinian, who visited them, could scarcely recognise in the cheerful
smiling matrons the once unhappy vestals.

Before long Jovinian became the husband of Julia; and he found in her an
active helpmate in all his efforts for the good of the people among whom
they had cast their lot.



Years passed by; Jovinian became a deacon and presbyter of the Church of
the valleys, and, in conjunction with other faithful men, was the means
of extending the blessings of the Gospel among the inhabitants of even
the most remote districts.  No sound of the tumults which agitated the
larger portion of the western empire penetrated to these remote valleys.
The news which came from Rome was unsatisfactory.  Revolts and cruel
warfare had occurred in various directions.  Magnentius had assumed the
imperial purple.  The tide of war had extended westward, in the very
neighbourhood of the valleys of the Cottian Alps.  A battle had been
fought, when, the usurper being defeated, Constantius became sole master
of the Roman empire.  In the council held at Milan he obtained the
banishment of Athanasius of Alexandria, a bishop highly respected for
his orthodoxy; and Arianism was once more in the ascendency.
Christianity, by the accounts received, appeared to be spreading at
Rome, but so corrupted by idolatry that in many respects it could
scarcely be distinguished from the old faith.  At length Julian became
master of the Roman empire, and, for a short time, the heathen system
was declared to be the religion of the state.

Many at Rome, and elsewhere, who had been supposed Christians, now
openly resumed their idolatrous practices, proving the real character of
their faith.

By the death of Julian--who was shortly after succeeded by Valentinian--
Christianity once more obtained the support of a sovereign.

For many years Jovinian and Julia enjoyed uninterrupted happiness, and
were blessed with a numerous family.

At length Severus and Eugenia, both advanced in years, were taken from
them, their places being well filled by their daughter and her husband.
Although contented with his lot, and knowing that he was of use in the
position he filled, Jovinian had for long desired to re-visit Rome, and
ascertain for himself the state of affairs in regard to the Church in
that city.  He hoped that he should find some faithful men with whom he
could hold brotherly intercourse, and that he might return to the home
of his adoption with fresh strength and knowledge.  He had now a son who
would be able to perform the duties he had taken upon himself; and Julia
so ably ruled his household that he could leave his home for a period
without detriment.  Although she naturally felt some anxiety at the
thoughts of his performing so long a journey, she did not attempt to
alter his resolution, believing that he would thereby benefit those he
was about to visit, and gain for himself spiritual strength.

Instead of travelling by land--the fatigues of which he was less able to
endure than he had been on his former journey northward--he decided on
proceeding to the nearest port at which he could embark.  Even then he
had many fatigues to endure, a mountainous region to traverse, and
torrents to pass over.  Under the providence of God, however, the port
was reached in safety.  He found a vessel on the point of sailing for
Ostia, and, after a rapid passage, he landed at that town.

He had reason to mourn the changes he everywhere witnessed.  The former
bishop had long been dead, and his successor seemed bent on gaining
proselytes by every possible means.

There were several new Christian churches; but as Jovinian entered them
he saw people prostrating themselves before figures closely resembling
the heathen gods.  A few persons seemed somewhat dissatisfied with the
state of things; but in the whole place he found nobody to whom he could
speak openly as to a brother.

His stay, therefore, was short; and engaging a vehicle, he hastened on
to Rome, by the same road he had taken when compelled to return by his
uncle Gaius.  On approaching the sanctuary of Mars, the driver, who
professed to be a Christian, informed him that it had been taken
possession of by a body of holy recluses.  On getting near the gate, a
man was seen rushing with frantic speed, a sword dripping gore in his
hand, as if he were flying from the avengers of blood.  As the murderer
neared the gate, it was thrown open; and springing in, he was received
by several men in long coarse garments, and at once the door was closed.
When the officers of the law arrived, they were refused admission.  "We
claim the ancient privileges of the place," cried the monks.  The
officers, not venturing to dispute the point, returned to the city.

"What will the recluses do with the murderer?" asked Jovinian of the

"He will become one of them," was the answer.  "Several of their number
have been guilty of like crimes, and have thus escaped from justice!"

From what Jovinian had witnessed at Ostia, he was somewhat prepared for
the scene which Rome presented as he drove through the streets.
Christian basilicas--some of considerable magnificence--rose in every
direction; but a large number of heathen temples remained, a few only
having been pulled down to afford sites or materials for the
before-mentioned edifices.  Many temples were, however, closed, while
others had been slightly altered to fit them for the Christian worship.
At the corners of the streets were shrines, as in days of yore.  They
one and all contained female statues, which the driver told Jovinian
were those of the mother of God.  In the arms of several of the statues
was an infant, who, his loquacious guide informed him, was "Jesus," her
son.  Jovinian recognised the figures as those of the Babylonian Astarte
and her son Horos: she, under the name of Isis, had long been worshipped
in Rome.

Amulius had gone to be with the Lord whom he served on earth; but he had
left a son, Prudentius, who had inherited his property, and had invited
Jovinian to take up his abode with him should he ever visit Rome.

Prudentius--who had been a mere boy when he had last seen Jovinian--
remembered him with affection, and warmly greeted him on his arrival.
He had a numerous family, whom he had brought up in the simple faith of
the Gospel; but he expressed his anxiety lest they should be led away by
the corruptions which everywhere prevailed.

"By my father's wish I refrained from entering the ministry, and have
practised the law instead," observed Prudentius.  "It was his opinion
that I should thus be far more free to advocate the truth,--for, had I
become a deacon or presbyter, I should have been under the orders of
superiors who were too likely to support the errors long creeping in
among us."

"I had heard that the inhabitants of Rome had become almost universally
Christians," said Jovinian.

"Alas, alas! they are so only nominally," answered his friend.
"Paganism in a modified form prevails as of yore.  The more abominable
rites, it is true, have been suppressed; but although the people have
been taught no longer to trust in the heathen gods, they have retained
their superstitions and the larger portion of their former customs.  The
aim of the bishops and other leaders in the Church has been to
amalgamate the two systems, so as to induce the pagans to more readily
afford them their support.

"Recently multitudes have been added to the Church; but, as you will
have an opportunity of judging, the number of faithful men among us is
few indeed.  Our present bishop is, it is said, very ill; and, should he
die, we have reason to fear no improvement will take place under his

"The Arians are still numerous at Rome, and will make an effort to have
a bishop of their own profession elected.  Damasus, a presbyter, who has
lately appeared among us, is said to have been educated among the
recluses of Mount Carmel, in the East,--a college which I have ample
reason to believe supports the Babylonian worship so prevalent in all
parts.  He has been received here by a powerful party, of whom I have
ever had the greatest mistrust, as I have observed that they are among
the chief promoters of the worship of the Virgin Mary, which is so
rapidly gaining ground in the city.  These men belong to what is known
as the `Holy College,' and are the successors of the heathen pontiffs,
by whom, after the latter had become Christians, they were successively
elected.  They exercise almost as much influence among the Christian
population as their predecessors did among the heathen."

Jovinian recollected the plans he had heard discussed by Coecus, and saw
too clearly how successfully they had been carried out.

On inquiring of his friend for information about the last days of his
uncle, who had long been dead, Prudentius replied, "Yes: hearing he was
ill, my father, being a relative, went to visit him, and afford him the
last consolation of religion; but Gaius made no sign, and, turning his
face to the wall, so died."

"The pontiff Coecus: what ending did he make?" asked Jovinian.

"He lived to a great age, and, when Julian attempted to overthrow the
Christian Church, he openly advocated the restoration of the heathen
temples; but, finding that his plans were unsuccessful, he took poison
and so died, and went to his place," answered Prudentius.

"But the harm he has done lived after him," observed Jovinian; and he
then recounted to his friend the knowledge he had gained of the plans of
the pontiffs for the destruction of religion.

Many days passed by; and the more Jovinian saw of the state of things in
Rome, the more convinced he was that those plans had been fearfully

The Bishop, Liberius, was declining rapidly, and great excitement
prevailed among those who would take part in the election of his
successor.  A fresh candidate had appeared, in the person of Ursinus--a
man of considerable influence in Rome, who had lately become a deacon,
but who was in no way distinguished for his Christian virtues.

Jovinian and Prudentius had together been visiting some of the churches,
and were returning with heavy hearts at what they saw, when they met
Juventius, the city prefect.

"The Bishop Liberius can live but a few hours longer," observed the
prefect.  "I feel greatly anxious as to what may happen.  Armed men are
collecting from all quarters, and repairing, some to the residence of
Damasus and others to that of Ursinus; and I much fear that the rival
factions will resort to force instead of waiting the result of a legal

"Can these men believe themselves to be ministers of our holy Religion,
followers of Him who exhorted His disciples to love one another, to
refrain from violence, and do all the good they can to their
fellow-creatures?" exclaimed Prudentius.  "Alas, alas! how do they
differ from those who in the early ages gained the love and respect even
of the heathen!"

As they were speaking, a man rushed past them, crying as he ran, "The
bishop is dead! the bishop is dead!"

"Then I must summon my guards to preserve order," observed Juventius,
hurrying off.

"Can the prefect possibly fear that those who are desirous of becoming
the leaders of Christ's flock should resort to force of arms?" exclaimed

"He has observed what has been taking place in the city for some days
past, since the illness of Liberius became known, and he considers the
temporal value of the post the candidates are seeking," answered
Prudentius.  "If we wish to avoid the risk of getting entangled among
the mob, it would be wise to return home."

The two friends were at this time at a considerable distance from the
house of Prudentius.  They accordingly bent their steps as he advised.
They were approaching the Basilica Sicininus, when they saw advancing
towards it a large body of armed men, headed by a person whom Prudentius
recognised as Ursinus, one of the candidates for the vacant bishopric.
This basilica being the principal church, it was considered that the
party which held it would have the best chance of success.  Another band
directly afterwards came rushing along from an opposite direction,
evidently with the intention of endeavouring to intercept the first.

The two friends, with the greatest difficulty, avoided being carried on
with the tumultuous throng by stepping into a deep archway which happily
presented itself.  They observed, however, that the first party gained
the threshold of the entrance to the church, and with loud shouts and
shrieks took possession.  The second band attempting to force a way in,
being less numerous, was driven off, leaving several dead on the ground,
while others were bleeding from severe wounds.

As they retreated they uttered cries of vengeance, threatening ere long
to return and drive out the occupants of the sacred edifice.

Jovinian and Prudentius now again attempted to make their way homeward;
but they were once more stopped by having to avoid a band led by
Ursinus, who issued out of the church, leaving a strong garrison within
it.  Before long they met another party of the supporters of Damasus,
whom, however, they put to flight.  Now reaching the abodes of some of
their opponents, they broke into the houses, which, having thrown out
the furniture, they set on fire.

This example was quickly imitated by others of the opposite party.  The
friends had not gone far when they caught sight of Damasus himself, at
the head of a larger band than had yet appeared, supported by several
presbyters, deacons, and other officials, while among them appeared a
party of men wearing cowls and coarse garments, who were evidently monks
invited by Damasus to assist him.  Whether ecclesiastics or not, the
whole multitude carried arms, spears, swords, or daggers.  They were
encountered by a band of the hitherto victorious followers of Ursinus.
A fierce fight took place under the walls of the burning houses; neither
party would give way, and many had fallen, when Juventius, the city
prefect, appeared with his guards.  In vain he shouted and ordered the
combatants to desist; no one listened to him, until, rushing forward, he
endeavoured to separate them.

Indignant at his interference, the leaders turned their rage towards
him, and, attacked by both parties, he was compelled to retreat.  A part
of the maddened mob pursued him, shouting out that as he was a civil
officer he had no business to interfere in the affairs of the Church.
Finding not only that all his efforts to restore order were futile, but
that the rioters were sufficiently strong to overpower him, he, together
with his guards, escaped for safety into the suburbs.

The wildest disorder and confusion prevailed throughout the streets of
Rome during that night.

Not without great risk to themselves had Jovinian and Prudentius been
able to reach home.

From the roof to which they mounted they could see fires blazing in all
directions, while the shrieks and cries of the enraged factions rose up
from the streets--some near, and others in the far distance.

Whenever the followers of Ursinus met those of Damasus, they attacked
each other with the greatest fury.

During the whole night the tumult raged.  In the morning bodies of dead
men were seen scattered about in all directions.  Ursinus still held the
basilica, which his followers began to fortify.  The party of Damasus
resolved to dislodge them.  For this purpose he and his supporters were
employed the whole day in gathering together all they could induce to
join them.  Heathens, provided they came armed, were as welcome as
others.  The prospect of sacking the houses of the other party afforded
them sufficient temptations.  Once more did the prefect attempt to
restore order; but barely escaped with his life.  The voting for the two
rival candidates for the bishopric had been going on,--first one party,
then the other, being at the head of the poll.  The rage of the rival
factions increased when either appeared to be successful or were losing
ground.  The tumult raged with even greater violence than on the
previous night.  Now Damasus, at the head of an organised band, advanced
through the streets towards the basilica.  Ursinus himself, with a less
numerous party, in vain attempted to reach it, in order to support its
garrison.  The doors were burst open, and the forces of Damasus rushed
in.  A fearful combat took place.  The edifice in which prayers and
hymns of praise were wont to ascend resounded with the frantic shouts of
the combatants, with the shrieks of the wounded and the groans of the
dying.  For hours the fight continued to rage.  Now the assailants
gained an entrance; now they were again driven out by the desperate
efforts of the besieged, who believed that a general massacre would take
place should they once be overcome.

At length so many of their number had fallen, that, bursting through the
door opposite to that at which the chief attack was going on, they made
their escape, pursued by their enemies.  The party of Damasus, flushed
with victory, drove back the followers of Ursinus wherever they were
met; and he himself, believing that his cause was lost, retreated with a
few of his ecclesiastical supporters from the city.

When morning broke he was nowhere to be found.  His few followers wisely
retired to their homes; and the prefect, returning, was at length able
to restore order.

Fearful were the scenes which Rome presented, as Jovinian and Prudentius
once more ventured forth.  Smoking ruins in all directions; corpses
scattered in every street; some, where the combat had been fiercest, lay
in heaps, many blackened and charred by the burning houses near which
they had fallen.  Fighting had taken place in several other churches
besides the Basilica of Sicininus, and blood stained their pavements;
the bodies of many of the dead still lay where they had fallen.
Prudentius proposed going on to the Basilica of Sicininus, where the
fiercest struggle had taken place.  On entering the church they started
back with horror.  Before them lay, with distorted countenances and in
attitudes showing the ferocity with which they had fought, scattered
throughout every part of the building, the corpses of the slain.  They
were chiefly those of the defeated party, although several of their
opponents had of course fallen.  On counting them, they were found to
number one hundred and thirty-seven.  The prefect had issued orders for
the interment of the dead.  It had been a question whether they should
receive Christian burial, or be deposited together in one of the
catacombs outside the walls.  But Damasus insisted that the followers of
Ursinus only should be thus buried,--"he having arranged," he said, "a
fitting funeral for those who had fallen as martyrs for the truth."

Prudentius, when he met the prefect, inquired whether he intended to
bring Damasus and his followers to account for the tumult.

"It is more than I dare do!" he answered.  "Were I to make the attempt,
it would probably cause another outbreak, with equally disastrous
results.  Supported by the emperor, your Christian bishop has more power
than I have, and I must allow him full licence to promote, as he thinks
best, what he calls the interests of religion.  I leave you to judge,
however, whether the late events are calculated to recommend it to the
minds of the heathen.  The Romans may yet rue the day they consented to
be ruled by their bishops."

Damasus was declared duly elected, by the presbyters and deacons, and
the Christian population of Rome.

The following day he paraded through the streets in a handsome chariot,
attended by a numerous body-guard richly clothed.  In his hand he
carried the Lituus,--the long used insignia of the augurs, since known
as the bishop's crozier,--proving that he considered himself to be their
lineal successor.

Having taken up his residence in the palace of the Lateran, he gave a
magnificent banquet to his chief supporters, which was said to surpass
in sumptuousness those, not only of the more wealthy citizens, but of
the emperor himself.  He had become possessed of the wealth left by his
predecessor, and had reason to be sure that more would, ere long, flow
into his coffers from the piety of the matrons of Rome.  In this he was
not mistaken; eternal happiness being freely promised to all who would
thus enrich the Church.  Many pious people also devoted their wealth to
the building of basilicas, to which they claimed the right of appointing
the ministers, following the example of those who had erected heathen
temples, of selecting the priests to attend them.

Every day Jovinian remained at Rome brought more sorrow to his heart.

There were still many heathen temples; and from the Altar of Victory--
which had been restored by Julian--the smoke of sacrifices ascended.  In
many of the basilicas statues which he recognised as those of Isis, or
some other heathen goddess, now generally clothed in rich garments, held
most prominent places.  Numerous other clothed statues were placed in
niches with lamps burning before them.  Jovinian had no difficulty in
distinguishing those which had before represented the heathen gods and
goddesses from the figures of the apostles and martyrs, also carved in
wood or stone--the latter exhibiting a melancholy proof of the decadence
of art in the capital.  Everywhere, indeed, he found that the plan of
Coecus had been successful.  The worship of the Babylonian goddess,
under her new name, prevailed throughout the city.  Although
Christianity had not been crushed, it had been fearfully corrupted; in
reality, idolatry had won the victory in the battle which it had long
been waging with the Christian faith; no longer in Rome was the simple
Gospel preached.  Flowery discourses, at which the people signified
their approval by loud applause, were delivered from the pulpits.  The
Christian ministers now appeared in the same rich garments which had
been worn by the heathen priests.  Relics were adored, and supposed to
work miracles; prayers were offered up for the dead, and to the martyrs,
as well as to her whom they called "Mary the virgin mother;" people were
taught that penances were meritorious; ascetic practices were
inculcated; the existence of purgatorial fires, as believed in by the
heathen, was taught as a reality, from which the dead could be
emancipated alone by the prayers of the priests; while so notorious had
become the efforts of the clergy to obtain wealth from the devout among
the female sex, that an edict was published by the emperor forbidding
ecclesiastics to receive any gifts, inheritance or legacy, at the hands
of devout women, and the ministers were compelled, according to custom,
to publish this decree from all the pulpits in the city,--thus becoming
the heralds of their own rapacious propensities.

In vain Jovinian made every effort to stem the tide of corruption.  He
preached, whenever he could obtain an opportunity, in the churches,
faithfully pointing out the fearful errors into which the Christians
were falling, until every basilica was closed against him.  He
continued, however, to preach in the houses of a few faithful men, and
even at times in the open streets; but at length--branded by the bishop
as a heretic and a disturber of the public peace--he received an order
forthwith to quit the city.  As his liberty, if not his life, would have
been in danger had he ventured to disobey the order issued by the
powerful pontiff, he bade farewell to Prudentius, and turned his face

From the tranquil valleys among which he had taken up his abode he often
wrote to his friend, and received letters in return.  In one of them
Prudentius, giving way to despair, thus expressed his opinion: "By the
unholy union which has been effected, idolatry has strangled
Christianity in her baneful embrace [Note 1], and has sent forth instead
a gaudily-dressed being, which, calling herself the True Faith, insists
that all mankind shall fall down and worship as she dictates."

"Be not in despair, my friend," answered Jovinian.  "God has promised to
protect His Church; and be assured that He will raise up faithful men in
coming ages who will protest against all these corruptions, and the time
will come when the simple Gospel will be again faithfully preached, and
the practices of the apostolic age be restored even in Rome itself,
where the mystery of iniquity has begun its fearful reign."



Note 1.  Sir Isaac Newton states that before the end of the fourth
century the idolatrous worship of the Virgin Mary had been universally
established, while nearly all the corrupt practices of the Church of
Rome had been already commenced, although many of her dogmas were not
introduced till centuries later.

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