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Title: Curiosities of Christian History - Prior to the Reformation
Author: James, Croake
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Curiosities of Christian History - Prior to the Reformation" ***

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Curiosities of Christian History.


  _Author of "Curiosities of Law and Lawyers"_

  Methuen & Co.

  _All rights reserved_

Printed by Hazell, Watson, & Viney, Ld., London and Aylesbury.


History is often a dreary study except to a few experts; and yet the
Christians of to-day naturally wish to know more about their predecessors
in the old time before them. There is always much difficulty in separating
what to them must be interesting from masses of detail which do not touch
their sympathies.

From the time of Christ to the epoch of the Reformation there were no
Dissenters--only traitors and heretics, who were deemed unworthy to live
in the same world and to breathe the same air as Emperors, Popes, and
Bishops. But the Christian temperament can be traced through all the
centuries--whether the devout people of the period were martyrs or
hermits, monks, nuns, or friars, pilgrims or crusaders, priests or
warriors. The same aspirations, misgivings, trials, and difficulties
existed then as now, though the trials and difficulties may now be less.
The best people of to-day may be trusted to recognise a touch of their own
kindred amid all the varieties of time and place and circumstance which
make up the past.

I have here collected from many histories, annals, chronicles, and
biographies, far and wide, some particulars of the interesting persons,
episodes, and events from the Christian's point of view during the first
fourteen centuries. The literature of so many ages is vast, and the things
now deemed of most interest are overlaid with heavy material. But I have
left out all the miracles--most of the wordy war of doctrines--most of the
atrocities of persecutors and inquisitors. I have only culled a few
flowers; I have only tried to snatch from oblivion a few brief memorials
which may suggest wholesome thoughts and inquiries to modern Christians of
every denomination.

C. J.




    Heathen Knowledge about the Virgin, 1; Simeon's Great Age, 2;
    Portraits of the Virgin, 2; Marriage of Joseph and Virgin Mary, 3;
    Massacre of Innocents, 4; Flight to Egypt, 5; Holy Family Leaving
    Egypt, 6; Assumption of Virgin Mary, 7; Christ Learning Alphabet, 9;
    Joseph and Jesus as Carpenters, 10; Christ's Baptism, 10; Portraits of
    Christ, 11; King Agbarus, 12; Christ's Preaching, 13; Sentence on
    Christ, 14; Christ Appearing to James, 14; Forms of Crosses, 15; The
    Holy Cross, 15; Thieves at Crucifixion, 16; Soldier who Pierced the
    Saviour's Side, 17; Legend of the Cross, 17; Stations of Cross, 18;
    Crown of Thorns, 19; Apocryphal Gospels, 20; False Christs, 21;
    Septuagint Bible, 21; English Versions of Bible, 22.



    Death of the Apostles, 23; Apostles who were Married, 23; St. Matthew
    and St. Mark, 24; St. Luke and St. Bartholomew, 25; St. Thomas and St.
    Simeon, 26; St. Timothy and St. Barnabas, 27; St. Titus, St. Philip,
    and St. Andrew, 28; James and John, 29; St. John the Apostle, 30; St.
    John and his Partridge, 31; St. John's Last Days, 32; St. John and
    Edward the Confessor, 33; St. James the Less, 33; St. James the Great,
    34; St. Peter and St. Paul, 36; Deaths of St. Peter and St. Paul, 37;
    St. Peter when in Rome, 38; Churches of St. Peter and St. Paul at
    Rome, 39; If St. Paul in Great Britain, 40; Judas Iscariot, 41.



    Sages of Greece and Rome on Christian Prodigies, 42; Zacharias and
    John the Baptist, 44; Pontius Pilate, 45; Herod the Great, 46; Mary
    Magdalene, 47; St. Martha, 48; St. Veronica, 48; Hillel, 49;
    Sanhedrim, 49; Working Man in Christ's Time, 50; Pharisaic Niceties,
    50; Sieges of Jerusalem, 50; Antioch, 51; Palestine Explorations, 52;
    Jordan to the Dead Sea, 53; Sea of Galilee, 53; Sources of Jordan, 54;
    Waters of Merom, 55; Rivers of Damascus, 55; Populousness of Galilee,
    56; Climate of Palestine, 57; Mount Hermon, 57; Lilies of the Field,
    58; Wayside Fruits and Flowers, 58; The Birds, 59; Wild Beasts and
    Animals, 60; Jerusalem, 60; Nazareth, 61; Capernaum, 62.



    Church History Divided into Ages and Periods, 63; Apostolic Church,
    64; The Millennium, 64; Community of Goods, 65; Emblems of Christians,
    66; Christian Names, 66; Auricular Confession, 67; Religious Riots,
    68; Preaching much Applauded, 68; Dress and Appearance of Clergy, 69;
    Priests and Deacons, 69; Early Bishops, 70; The Pastoral Staff, 71;
    Ancient Churches, 72; Deaconess, 72; Liturgy, 73; Ritualism, 74; The
    Mass, 74; Ancient Church Service, 75; Organs and Bells, 76; Separation
    of Sexes, 77; Praying for the Dead, 77; Sin-eaters at Funerals, 78;
    Praising the Lord Day and Night, 78; Christmas Day and Easter Day, 79;
    Festival of All Saints, 80; Holidays and Feasts, 80; Feast of the Ass,
    81; The Boy Bishop, 81; Miracle Plays, 82; Passion Plays, 82; Festival
    of the Rose, 83; The Millennium, 84; Church Building Age, 84; Round
    Towers, 85; Worship of the Virgin, 85; Truce of God, 86; Number Seven
    in Scripture, 87; A Jubilee Year, 87; King's Prayer for Rain, 89; The
    Black Death, 90; Dancing Mania, 91; Monk Flagellants, 91; Extravagant
    Dress, 92; Telling Fortunes, 93.



    The Name of Christian, 94; Early Pagan Riot, 94; Early Christians and
    Slavery, 95; The First Persecution, 96; How Christians Appeared to
    Pagans, 97; Shows of Wild Beasts, 97; Testing Fidelity of Christians,
    98; Constantine the Great, 99; Standard of the Cross, 100; Dream of
    Constantine, 100; Constantine Preaching, 101; Last Illness of
    Constantine, 102; First Church Council, 102; Silencing the Pagans,
    103; How to Refute a Heretic, 103; Julian the Apostate, 105;
    Theological Disputes, 105; Controversy about the Trinity, 106;
    Athanasius, 107; Sermon on the Trinity, 108; Against Demolishing
    Temples, 108; First Demolishing of Temples, 110; Image at the Palace,
    111; St. Martin of Tours, 112; The King of the Goths, 112; Attila,
    King of the Huns, 113; Vandals Sacking Rome, 114; Justinian, 115;
    Mahomet's Knowledge, 115; Oak of Geismar, 116; Pope Defending Rome,
    117; Forged Decretals, 118; Separation of Greek and Latin Churches,
    119; Jew and Christian, 119; Julian Inciting the Jews, 120; Hating the
    Jews, 121; Golden Age of Judaism, 121; The Pope and the Jews. 122; The
    Jews of York, 122; Jews Crucifying English Boy, 124; The Black Death,
    124; Jews Stealing the Host, 125; Torquemada's Zeal, 126; Jewish
    Physicians, 127; Converting a Jew, 128; Controversy about Image
    Worship, 129; The Iconoclasts, 130; John of Damascus, 131; Claudius of
    Turin, 133; Trying to Convert Image Worshippers, 134; Empress Irene,
    135; Empress Theodora, 135; Image Worship in Spain, 136; Pope
    Hildebrand, 137; St. Thomas Aquinas, 137; The Popes as Temporal
    Princes, 139; Rienzi, 139; Last Hours of the Roman Empire, 140;
    Election to Holy Roman Empire, 141.



    Martyr Valeria, 142; St. Thecla and Polycarp, 143; St. Felicitas, 144;
    The Martyrs of Lyons, 144; St. Cecilia, 145; Perpetua, 146; St.
    Ursula, 146; St. Barbara, 147; Potamiana, 147; St. Genes the Actor,
    148; Genesius, 148; St. Alban, 149; Didymus and Theodora, 149; St.
    Cyprian and Justina, 150; St. John Chrysostom, 150; St. James
    Intercisus, 151; Martyr for Image Worship, 151; Huss the Bohemian,
    152; Joan of Arc a Modern Patriotic Martyr, 153; Joan's Mission, 153;
    Joan taken Captive and Burnt, 159; Outbreak of Hermit Zeal, 160; First
    Monastic Life, 160; St. Antony, 161; Hermit Visiting, 161; Hermit and
    Grapes, 162; Hermit's Courtesies, 162; Hermits' Quarrel, 163;
    Political Economy of Hermits, 163; The Wise Sayings of St. Pambo, 164;
    A Hermit's Olive Tree, 164; Macarius, 165; St. Martin of Tours, 165;
    Dorotheus, the Architect, 166; St. Poemen, Prince of Hermits, 167; St.
    Moyses, Water-carrier, 167; Hermit's New Austerities, 168; St.
    Carileff, 169; First Saxon Hermit, 169; St. Guthlac, 170; St. Simeon
    Stylites, 171; A Pillar Monk, 171; St. Herbert of Derwentwater, 171;
    St. Ethelwald at Farne, 172; English Queen Consulting Hermit, 174;
    Conscientious Hermit, 174; St. Bartholomew of Farne, 175; French King
    sends for Hermit, 176; Consecration of Hermits and Recluses, 177; St.
    Methodius the Martyr, 177; Miracles of Saints, 178; Local and Patron
    Saints, 179; St. Geneviève, 179; Reverence for Relics, 180; Secrecy in
    Removing Relics, 181; Capturing Holy Relics, 181; Stealing Relics,
    182; Defending his Relics, 183; Forgery of Relics, 183; How to Flatter
    a Relic Worshipper, 184; Empress Begging for Relics, 185; If Genuine
    Relics, 185; The Crown of Thorns Pawned and Sold, 186; King of France
    shows Holy Cross, 187; Blood of Christ at Westminster, 188; St.
    Stephen's Relics, 188; St. Dunstan, 189; John Huss on Relics, 190;
    Crucifix During the Plague, 190; Purchasing the Head of St. Andrew,
    191; Pilgrimage to Walsingham, 191; Pilgrimage in Switzerland, 192;
    Pilgrims to Canterbury, 192.



    Origen, 194; St. Ambrose, 194; St. Jerome, 197; St. Jerome's
    Reflections, 198; St. Jerome with Lion and Ass, 198; Deathbed of St.
    Jerome, 199; St. Jerome's Epistles, 199; St. Chrysostom's Eloquence,
    200; St. Chrysostom on Monkery, 201; St. Augustine Witnessing
    Miracles, 202; Vision of St. Augustine, 203; St. Augustine's Faith in
    Dreams, 203; St. Cyril of Alexandria, 204; Some Notions of the
    Fathers, 204.



    Origin of Monachism, 206; Miracles of Monks, 207; Philosophy of
    Monkery, 207; Motives for Monks, 208; Weak Side of, 208; St. Benedict,
    209; The Reformers of Monkery, 209; Early Difficulties, 210; Advice to
    Monks, 211; A Monk Denounces Ferocity, 211; Making the Monks Work,
    212; Improvements, 212; Monk at Court, 213; Monks First Drinking Wine,
    214; Charlemagne about Monks, 214; Leaving Court to be Monk, 215; Monk
    going to Court, 215; The Reason of so many Monasteries, 216; Life in a
    Convent, 216; A Day's life in Monastery, 217; Routine of English
    Monks, 218; Arrangements of an Abbey, 218; Monks and Friars, 219;
    Friars and Priests, 220; Enmity between Monks, 220; Monks Disliked by
    Clergy, 220; Monk who Wanted to be an Angel, 221; Death of Abbess at
    Aries, 221; Cædmon, Monk Poet, 222; Monk Sleeping too long, 223; Abbot
    lecturing his Monks, 223; The War of the two Abbots, 224; Monks and
    Gregorian Chant, 225; Those who Pillage Monks, 225; Monks to Live
    Frugally, 226; Monk's Burial, 227; Sick Monks, 227; Monks Honour Rich
    Men, 228; Good Lessons of the Monks, 229; Pope Inviting a Fellow Monk,
    229; Order of Friars, 230; Cinderella of the Convent, 230; Nuns at
    Sempringham, 231; Compunctious Visitings of Monks, 232; Monkery Worked
    Out, 232; War of the Nuns of Basle, 233; Stealing another Monk's Food,
    234; Monks Deciding on Creeds, 234; Monk Interceding for Prisoners,
    235; How Carthusians Acquired a Site, 235; Luther at his Old Convent,
    236; Monks and Polite Letters, 236; Literature about Saints, 237;
    Scriptorium in St. Gall, 237; Beautiful Manuscripts, 238; Penmanship
    of Monks, 239; Monasteries as Museums, 239; Embroidery of Nuns, 240;
    Monks at Missal Painting, 241; Music and Illuminating, 241.



    Nun Converts the Iberians, 243; Fourth-century Missionary, 243; Sermon
    by St. Patrick, 244; Monk Warding Off Locusts, 244; First Planting the
    Cross in England, 245; Pope Gregory and England, 246; Impression on
    Saxon King, 247; Methodius Preaching, 247; Apostle of Switzerland,
    248; St. Eligius, 248; Anschar the Apostle, 249; St. Neot, Cornish
    Saint, 250; Conversion of Russia, 251; Bishop Otto, 251; Norbert and
    Clerical Vices, 252; Fulk, 252; St. Dominic's Zeal, 253; St. Francis
    of Assisium, 254; St. Francis tending the Lepers, 254; The Stigmata of
    St. Francis, 255; Biography of St. Francis, 256; St. Antony of Padua,
    256; English Friars Disdained Shoes, 257; Raimund Lull, 258; St.
    Ignatius of Loyola, 259; St. Vincent de Paul, 260; Mediæval
    Missionaries, 261; Friar Startling Judges, 261; The Schoolmen, 262;
    Friars on Useless Ornaments, 262; Friar on Fashionable Vices, 263;
    Denouncing Female Headdresses, 263; Savonarola, 264.



    A Monk with a Genius for Monkery, 266; St. Ninian, the Scottish Saint,
    267; St. Mungo, 267; Monk Absenting Himself from Prayers, 268; Death
    of St. Benedict, 269; St. Columba of Iona, 269; Death of St. Columba,
    270; The Monk Columban, 271; St. Aidan of Lindisfarne, 272; St. Chad,
    273; St. Hilda, Abbess, 274; The Abbey and Monks of St. Gall, 274; The
    Venerable Bede, Monk and Historian, 275; St. Cuthbert Admitted Monk,
    275; The Body of St. Cuthbert, 277; Deathbed of Venerable Bede, 278; A
    Warrior Duke becomes Monk, 280; The Swiss Abbey of Einsiedeln, 281;
    St. Meinrad, a Monk of the Alps, 282; Croyland Abbey Burnt, 283; Nuns
    of Coldingham, 283; Monks of Cluny, 281; St. Dunstan, Archbishop, 285;
    Monks of St. Bernard, 285; Chancellor becomes Monk, 286; Deathbed of
    Abbot Turketel, 286; Monk Nilus, 287; Monastery of Bec, 289; Fire at
    Crowland Abbey, 290; Monks of Vallombrosa, 291; A Monk Transcriber of
    Holy Books, 292; A Monk Musician, 293; Training of Monk Bishop, 293;
    Monk Abelard and Nun Heloïse, 294; Abelard and St. Bernard, 295;
    Abelard's Last Days, 295; Order of Carthusians, 296; Order of
    Cistercians, 297; St. Bernard as a Young Monk, 297; St. Bernard as
    Abbot, 298; St. Bernard's Miracles, 298; Bernard and his Sister, 299;
    Bernard and Peter the Venerable, 300; Schoolmen of Middle Ages, 301;
    Deathbed of Abbot, 302; Visions of Sister Hildegard, 302; Travelling
    to Rome, 303; Portrait of Abbot Sampson of St. Edmundsbury, 304; Monks
    Rebuilding their Altar, 305; Abbot Harassed with Cares, 306; Annoyed
    at Visit of the Legate, 307; Deathbed of Princess, 308; Stealing St.
    Antony's Psalm Book, 308; Monk for a King, 309; Elizabeth of Hungary,
    310; Panic among Saracens, 310; Fancies of the Starved Monk, 311;
    Monasteries of Mount Athos, 312; Monks of La Trappe, 312; Certosa
    Monastery, 313; Catherine of Siena, 314; Monks of Lucca, 314; Thomas
    à Kempis, 315; Peter of Alcantara, 316; Visions of St. Theresa, 317;
    The Emperor Monk, 318; Emperor Monk's Dress, 319; His Apartments, 319;
    Detestation of Heretics, 320; Interest in Clock-making, 321; His
    Confessor, 321; His Choir, 322; At Dinner-time, 323; He Celebrates his
    own Funeral, 323; Funeral Sermon on Emperor Monk, 324.



    Unity of the Clergy, 326; Supremacy of Pope, 326; Election of Popes,
    328; Dress of Cardinals, 328; The Degraded Bishop, 329; Emperor and
    the First Abdication, 330; Bishop Building Workhouse, 330; Bishops
    Striving for a Site, 331; How Bishops were Made, 331; Fifth-century
    Bishop, 332; Putting Down Soothsayers, 338; Bishop Releasing
    Prisoners, 334; The King of the Gauls, 334; Pope Getting Rid of
    Pestilence, 335; Choosing Archbishop, 335; Pope Gregory and the
    Emperor, 336; John the Almsgiver, 337; Giving a Bishop a Horse, 338; A
    Christian's Scruples, 339; A Model Churchman, 339; Why Pope's Foot
    Kissed, 340; Agobard of Lyons, 340; St. Swithin, 341; King Alfred,
    341; King Alfred's Love of Reading, 342; Bishop at Head of Troops,
    343; Two Scapegrace Popes, 344; The Ugliest Archbishop, 345; Bishop
    and Emperor's Jokes, 345; King Canute, 346; Peasant Rebuking Bishop,
    347; St. Margaret of Scotland, 348; Death of William the Conqueror,
    348; English King Marrying Nun, 350; Awaking Bishop for Mass, 351;
    Anselm, Archbishop, 351; Saracen King by Divine Right, 352; Archbishop
    Turstin, 353; King John and the Bishop, 354; St. Thomas à Becket, 355;
    Monk Describes Papal Interdict, 356; Pope Punishing Kings, 357; Candid
    Friend to Pope, 358; Excommunication of Emperor, 359; Emperor
    Retaliating on Pope, 360; Pope's Clerks Extorting Money, 360; Aerial
    Music at Bishop's Death, 362; Fool Posing Theologians, 362; Hermit for
    Pope, 363; Philip the Fair and the Pope, 364; Pope of Fourteenth
    Century, 365; Wicliff, the Reformer, 365; The Popes at Avignon, 366;
    The Rival Popes, 367; Three Popes at one Time, 368; Pope John XXIII.,
    370; Owl Attending a Council, 370; Sale of Indulgences, 371; Bishop
    Inviting his Old Master, 372; Sultan who Abdicated, 372; Pope Nicholas
    V., 373; Fop Elected Pope, 374; Pope Leo X., 375; Turning Pagan into
    Christian Monuments, 376; The Inquisition, 377; Spanish Inquisition at
    Work, 379; Torquemada, 379; An Auto-da-Fè in Spain, 380; Assassination
    of Inquisitor, 380; Cardinal Ximenes, 381; Irrepressible Heretics,
    382; Waldenses, 382; Lawyer for Pope, 383.



    Lives of Saints, 385; Christian Legends, 385; How Legends Grow, 386;
    Thundering Legion, 387; The Theban Legion, 387; The Divining Rod, 387;
    St. George and the Dragon, 388; St. Christina, 389; St. Christopher,
    389; Hallelujah Victory, 391; Prophecies of Merlin, 391; Devil Showing
    a Book, 392; Wandering Jew, 392; St. Sabas, 393; Theophilus and the
    Devil, 393; Holy Grail, 394; Seven Sleepers, 394; Little Blind Herve,
    395; Supper of St. Gregory, 395; St. Gregory Releasing Trajan, 395;
    St. Bega, 397; St. Fructuosus and the Doe, 397; Pope Joan, 398; Bishop
    Hatto, 398; St. Conrad, 399; The Piper of Hameln, 399; Lady Godiva,
    399; Sacred Fire in Greek Church, 400; Superstitions of the Greek
    Church, 401; Prester John, 401; Loretto, 401; King Richard I.'s Story,
    402; St. Francis and his Love of Birds, 403; Bonaventura, on St.
    Francis, 405; St. Antony Preaching to the Fishes, 406; St. Roch, 407.



    Monk Historian on the Crusades, 408; Crusades Beneficial, 408;
    Practice of Pilgrimages, 409; Early Travels in Palestine, 410; Ways of
    Pilgrims, 410; Peter the Hermit, 411; Pope Urban II., 413; Hunger for
    Earth of Palestine, 413; Getting Rid of Spies, 414; Discovering the
    Holy Lance, 415; Testing a Doubtful Point, 417; First Sight of
    Jerusalem, 417; Assaulting Jerusalem, 418; Capturing Jerusalem, 419;
    First Visit to the Holy Places, 419; A Second Crusade, 420; French
    Queen as Crusader, 421; St. Bernard on his Crusade, 422; Bringing
    Relics, 422; Another Crusade, 423; Emperor's Crusadership, 423; Fulk
    of Neuilly, 424; Death of Richard I., 424; French Pillaging
    Constantinople, 425; Crusaders against Heretics, 425; The Albigenses,
    427; Children's Crusade, 428; Preaching of Crusade, 428; Escaping the
    Crusader, 429; Master of Hungary, 430; Deathbed of St. Louis, 430;
    Crusaders on their Way Home, 431; Bequeathing a Heart as Crusader,
    432; Knights Templars, 433; Faith in Providence, 434; Columbus
    Crusader, 435; Numbers of Crusaders, 436; Greek Church, 437.



    Early Church Architecture, 438; Coptic Church, 439; Spires, Towers,
    and Dimensions of Cathedrals, 440; Gothic Cathedrals, 440; Altar, 441;
    Incense and Holy Water, 442; St. Peter's at Rome, 442; The Sistine
    Chapel, 443; Genoa and Turin, 444; Milan, 445; Florence and Pisa, 446;
    Naples, 447; Santiago Compostella, 448; Leon, 449; Seville and Toledo,
    450; Cordova and Amalfi, 451; Valencia and Oviedo, 452; Paris,
    Marseilles, and Strasburg, 453; Amiens, 454; Rheims and
    Aix-la-Chapelle, 455; Treves and Antwerp, 456; Cologne and St.
    Petersburg, 457; Vienna and Constantinople, 458; Mosque of Omar and
    Jerusalem, 459; Bethlehem, 460; British Churches and St. Paul's, 461;
    Canterbury and York, 463; Durham, 465; Winchester and Oxford, 466;
    Peterborough, 467; Salisbury and Wells, 468; Other English Cathedrals,
    469; Welsh Cathedrals, 471.



    Pictures in Churches, 472; Monk Painter, 472; Pictures in Monasteries,
    473; Sacro Monte, 473; Images in Spain, 474; Cimabue, 475; Bishop's
    Ape Takes to Painting, 475; Painter's Critics, 477; Nuns Criticising
    Artist, 477; Brother Artists Rivals, 478; Painter Affronting Angel,
    479; Angelico, 479; Bronzes for the Gates of Paradise, 480; Old
    Painters' Perspective, 481; Monks Overfeeding Artist, 481; A Clumsy
    Crucifix, 482; Killed by a Sight of Gold, 482; Artist Deceiving Birds
    and Beasts, 483; Finding a Model, 483; A Divine Artist, 484; Leonardo
    da Vinci's Last Supper, 485; Raphael's Pictures, 487; A Last
    Masterpiece, 489; The Inquisition on Sacred Art, 490; Painting Face of
    Christ, 491; Assisting Artist with Prayers, 492; Michael Angelo, 492;
    Vargas's Devotion to Sacred Art, 496; Titian's Head of Christ, 496;
    Diffident Artist, 496; Rubens's Great Pictures, 497; Monks Getting a
    Bargain of Picture, 498; Velasquez's Crucifixion, 498; How Monks Got
    Pictures, 499; The Divine Murillo, 499; Cano's Picture of the Virgin,
    500; A Painter Incautiously Watching Effects, 501; Origin of Church
    Bells, 501; Sanctity of Bells, 502; Chimes on Church Bells, 502; The
    Swiss Horns, 402; Early Church Music, 503; Singing in Church, 503;
    Origin of Singing in Church Service, 504; The Organ in Church Music,
    504; Augustine Converting the Britons with Music, 506; The Earliest
    Hymns, 506; Monk Musicians, 506; Nicholas Peregrinus, 507; Heresy
    Propagated by Music, 507; The Pope Reforming Church Music, 508;
    Singing the Miserere, 508; Luther's Church Music, 509; Originator of
    Oratorios, 509; The Heaven-born Composer of Anthems, 510; First
    Impressions of Handel, 511.





According to an ancient legend, the Emperor Augustus Cæsar repaired to the
sibyl Tiburtina to inquire whether he should consent to allow himself to
be worshipped with Divine honours, which the Senate had decreed to him.
The sibyl, after some days of meditation, took the Emperor apart, and
showed him an altar; and above the altar, in the opening heavens, and in a
glory of light, he beheld a beautiful Virgin, holding an Infant in her
arms; and at the same time a voice was heard saying, "This is the altar of
the Son of the Living God." Whereupon Augustus caused an altar to be
erected on the Capitoline Hill, with this inscription--"_Ara primogeniti
Dei_"; and on the same spot in later times was built the church called the
_Ara-Coeli_, well known, with its flight of one hundred and twenty-four
marble steps, to all who have visited Rome.

This particular prophecy of the Tibertine sibyl to Augustus rests on some
very antique traditions, Pagan as well as Christian. It is supposed to
have suggested the "Pollio" of Virgil, which suggested the "Messiah" of
Pope. It is mentioned by writers of the third and fourth centuries, and
our own divines have not wholly rejected it; for Bishop Taylor mentions
the sibyl's prophecy among "the great and glorious accidents" happening
about the birth of Jesus.


It is related that when Ptolemy Philadelphus, about two hundred and sixty
years before Christ, resolved to have the Hebrew Scriptures translated
into Greek, for the purpose of placing them in his far-famed library, he
despatched messengers to Eleazar, the high priest of the Jews, requiring
him to send scribes and interpreters learned in the Jewish law to his
court at Alexandria.

Thereupon Eleazar selected six of the most learned rabbis from each of the
twelve tribes of Israel, seventy-two persons in all, and sent them to
Egypt, in obedience to the commands of King Ptolemy; and among these was
Simeon, a priest and a man full of learning. And it fell to the lot of
Simeon to translate the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. And when he came to
that verse where it is written, "Behold, a Virgin shall conceive and bear
a Son," he began to misdoubt in his own mind how this could be possible;
and after long meditation, fearing to give scandal and offence to the
Greeks, he rendered the Hebrew word _Virgin_ by a Greek word which
signifies merely a _young woman_. But when he had written it down, behold,
an angel effaced it, and substituted the right word. Thereupon he wrote it
again and again; and the same thing happened three times; and he remained
astonished and confounded. And while he wondered what this could mean, a
ray of Divine light penetrated his soul. It was revealed to him that the
miracle which in his human wisdom he had presumed to doubt was not only
possible, but that he, Simeon, "should not see death till he had seen the
Lord's Christ."

Therefore he tarried on earth by the Divine will for nearly three
centuries, till that which he had disbelieved had come to pass. He was led
by the Spirit to the Temple on the very day when Mary came there to
present her Son and to make her offering; and immediately taking the Child
in his arms, he exclaimed, "Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in
peace, according to Thy word."


Nicephorus Callixtus says that the person of the Virgin Mary was described
by Epiphanius, who lived in the fourth century, and who derived the
particulars from his predecessors. He said: "She was of middle stature;
her face oval; her eyes brilliant and of an olive tint; her eyebrows
arched and black; her hair was of a pale brown; her complexion fair as
wheat. She spoke little, but she spoke freely and affably; she was not
troubled in her speech, but grave, courteous, tranquil. Her dress was
without ornament, and in her deportment was nothing lax or feeble."

Mrs. Jameson says that Raphael's "Madonna di San Sista," in the Dresden
Gallery, comes nearest to her notion of the Virgin.


In the College of Jesuits at Valencia a picture of the Virgin by Juanes is
looked upon with immense admiration. The tradition runs that Father
Alberto was on the eve of the Assumption waited on by the Blessed Virgin
herself, who required him to cause her portrait to be taken in the dress
she then wore, which was a white frock or tunic, with a blue cloak; and
Christ was to be represented also in the design as placing a crown on her
head, while the Holy Ghost in the form of a dove hovered over the group.
Alberto therefore gave the commission to Juanes, who, appreciating the
honour, devoutly set himself to work, and put forth all his skill on the
composition. The first sketch did not please Alberto; but the Father
assisted the artist so effectually with his prayers, that at last the
artist's pencil seemed to succeed at every stroke; and in the end the
Father, taking credit himself for much of the work, was highly pleased
with the happy result. During the work Juanes was one day seated on his
scaffold finishing the upper parts of the picture, when the structure gave
way, and he was in the act of falling, when the Holy Virgin stepped
suddenly out of the canvas, and, seizing his hand, preserved him from
instant death. This being done, the Blessed Virgin returned to her canvas,
and has continued there ever since, all the supplicants and worshippers
who look on it devoutly believing in this being an exact counterpart of
the original. This great artist died in 1579; and Valencia contains many
of his masterpieces, for he ranks high in the school of Raphael.


The legend of the marriage of the Virgin Mary is thus given in the
"Protevangelion" and the "History of Joseph the Carpenter": "When Mary was
fourteen years old, the priest Zacharias inquired of the Lord concerning
her what was right to be done; and an angel came to him and said, 'Go
forth and call together all the widowers among the people, and let each
bring his rod (or wand) in his hand; and he to whom the Lord shall show a
sign, let him be the husband of Mary.' And Zacharias did as the angel
commanded, and made proclamation accordingly. And Joseph the carpenter, a
righteous man, throwing down his axe and taking his staff in his hand, ran
out with the rest. When he appeared before the priest and presented his
rod, lo! a dove issued out of it--a dove dazzling white as the snow--and
after settling on his head, flew towards heaven. Then the high priest said
to him, 'Thou art the person chosen to take the Virgin of the Lord and to
keep her for Him.' And Joseph was at first afraid, and drew back; but
afterwards he took her home to his house, and said to her, 'Behold, I have
taken thee from the temple of the Lord, and now I will leave thee in my
house, for I must go and follow my trade of building. I will return to
thee, and meanwhile the Lord be with thee and watch over thee.' So Joseph
left her, and Mary remained in her house."


Milman says that the murder of the innocents by Herod's orders is a
curious instance of the reaction of legendary extravagance on the plain
truth of the evangelic history. The Greek Church canonised the fourteen
thousand innocents; and another notion, founded on a misinterpretation of
Rev. xiv. 3, swelled the number to one hundred and forty-four thousand.
The former, at least, was the common belief of the Church, though even in
the English Liturgy the latter has in some degree been sanctioned by
retaining the chapter of Revelation in the "epistle for the day." Even
Jeremy Taylor admits without scruple or thought the fourteen thousand. The
error did not escape the notice of the acute adversaries of Christianity.
Vossius was the first divine who pointed out the monstrous absurdity of
supposing such a number of infant children under two years in so small a


The journey of the Holy Family to Egypt, being about four hundred miles,
must have occupied five or six weeks. It is related in the legend as
follows: "We are told that, on descending from the mountains, they came
upon a beautiful plain, enamelled with flowers, watered by murmuring
streams, and shaded by fruit trees. In such a lovely landscape have
painters delighted to place some of the scenes of the flight into Egypt.
On another occasion, they entered a thick forest, a wilderness of trees,
in which they must have lost their way had they not been guided by an
angel. As the Holy Family entered this forest, all the trees bowed
themselves down in reverence to the Infant God; only the aspen, in her
exceeding pride and arrogance, refused to acknowledge Him, and stood
upright. Then the Infant Saviour pronounced a curse against her, as He
afterwards cursed the barren fig tree; and at the sound of His words the
aspen began to tremble through all her leaves, and has not ceased to
tremble even to this day."


Another legend about the journey of the Holy Family to Egypt is this:
"When it was discovered that the Holy Family had fled from Bethlehem,
Herod sent his officers in pursuit of them. And it happened that when the
Holy Family had travelled some distance, they came to a field where a man
was sowing wheat. And the Virgin said to the husbandman, 'If any shall ask
you whether we have passed this way, ye shall answer, "Such persons passed
this way when I was sowing this corn."' For the Holy Virgin was too wise
and too good to save her Son by instructing the man to tell a falsehood.
But, behold, a miracle! For, by the power of the Infant Saviour, in the
space of a single night the seed sprang up into stalk, blade, and ear, fit
for the sickle. And next morning the officers of Herod came up, and
inquired of the husbandman, saying, 'Have you seen an old man with a woman
and a Child travelling this way?' And the man who was reaping the wheat
replied, 'Yes.' And they asked him again, 'How long is it since?' And he
answered, 'When I was sowing this wheat.' Then the officers of Herod
turned back and left off pursuing the Holy Family."


One of the most popular legends concerning the flight into Egypt is that
of the palm or date tree which at the command of Jesus bowed down its
branches to shade and refresh His mother; hence, in the scene of the
flight, a palm tree became a usual accessory. In a picture by Antonello
Mellone, the Child stretches out His little hand and lays hold of the
branch; sometimes the branch is bent down by angel hands.

Sozomen, the historian, relates that, when the Holy Family reached the
term of their journey and approached the city of Heliopolis, in Egypt, a
tree which grew before the gates of the city, and was regarded with great
veneration as the seat of a god, bowed down its branches at the approach
of the Infant Christ. Likewise it is related (not in legends merely, but
by grave ecclesiastical authorities) that all the idols of the Egyptians
fell with their faces to the earth.


The "Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew" contains the following (chapter xix.): "In
like manner lions and leopards adored the Child Jesus, and kept company
with the Holy Family in the desert. Whithersoever Joseph and Blessed Mary
went, they went before them, showing the way and bowing their heads; and
showing subjection by wagging their tails, they adored Him with great
reverence. Now, when Mary saw lions and leopards and various kinds of wild
beasts coming round them, she was at first exceedingly afraid; and Jesus,
with a glad countenance, looking into her face, said, 'Fear not, mother,
because they come not to thy hurt, but they hasten to come to thy service
and Mine.' By these sayings He removed fear from her heart. Now, the lions
walked along with them, and with the oxen and asses and the beasts of
burden which carried necessaries for them, and hurt no one, although they
remained with them; but they were tame among the sheep and rams, which
they had brought with them from Judæa, and had with them. They walked
among wolves, and feared nothing, and no one was hurt by another. Then was
fulfilled that which was spoken by the prophet, 'Wolves shall feed with
lambs; lion and ox shall eat chaff together' (Isa. xi. 6-9; lxv. 25).
There were two oxen also with them, and a cart, wherein they carried
necessaries; and the lions directed them in their way."


Jeremy Taylor says, as to the pagan idols, as follows: "The Holy Family,
on their departure for Egypt, made, it is said, their first abode in
Hermopolis, in the country of Thebais; whither, when they first arrived,
the Child Jesus, being by design or providence carried into a temple, all
the statues of the idol-gods fell down, like Dagon at the presence of the
ark, and suffered their timely and just dissolution and dishonour,
according to the prophecy of Isaiah: 'Behold, the Lord shall come into
Egypt, and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at His presence.' And in the
life of the prophet Jeremy, written by Epiphanius, it is reported that 'he
told the Egyptian priests that then their idols should be broken in pieces
when a Holy Virgin with her Child should enter into their country.' Which
prophecy possibly might be the cause that the Egyptians did, besides their
vanities, worship also an infant in a manger and a virgin. From
Hermopolis to Maturia went these pilgrims in pursuance of their safety and
provisions, where it is reported they dwelt in a garden of balsam till
Joseph ascertained by an angel the death of Herod."


St. Bonaventure, a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, who died 1274,
wrote a Life of Christ, which is or was much read by all good Catholics,
and which contains the following: "The next morning, when the Holy Family
are ready to set out on their journey from Egypt, imagine you see some of
the most respectable matrons of the city and the wiser part of the men
come to accompany them out of the gates. When they were out of the gates,
the Holy Joseph dismissed the company, not suffering them to go on any
farther, when one of the wealthiest of them called the Child Jesus, and in
compassion to the poverty of His parents bestowed a few pence upon Him;
and the rest of the company, after the example of the first, did the same.
Compassionate here the confusion of the Divine Child, who, blushing, holds
His little hands out to receive what the love of poverty has reduced Him
to want. Pity likewise His holy parents, who share with Him His confusion;
and think on the great lesson here set you when you see Him who made the
earth and all that is in it make choice of so rigorous a poverty and so
penurious a life for His blessed parents and Himself. What lustre does not
the virtue of poverty receive from their practice! And how can we behold
it in them without being charmed to the love and imitation of the like
perfection! After returning thanks to their company and taking their
leave, they proceeded on their journey."


It was usually believed that the Virgin Mary lived to a great age, and her
death is unknown. It was a tradition that she was assumed to glory without
dying. The practice of praying to her has been traced as far back as the
second century. In the fourth century a sect called the adversaries of
Mary rose up and affirmed that she had, after the birth of Christ, several
children by Joseph. On the other hand, a sect honoured her as a divinity
and offered cates to her.


The legend of the death and assumption of the Virgin Mary was to this
effect. One day an angel appeared to the Virgin, bringing her a branch of
palm gathered in Paradise, and saying that it was to be carried before her
bier, for in three days her soul should leave her body. The Virgin then
asked that the Apostles might be reunited before she died, so as to
witness her death, and she asked that no evil angel should harass her
soul. The angel agreed, and returned to heaven; and Mary lighted the
lamps, and prepared her bed, and waited for the hour. At that instant,
John, who was preaching at Ephesus, Peter, at Antioch, and all the other
Apostles dispersed throughout the world, were suddenly caught up as by a
miraculous power and came into her chamber. The palm branch was put in
John's hand, and he wept bitterly. At the third hour of the night a mighty
sound filled the house, and a delicious perfume filled the chamber. And
Jesus appeared Himself, accompanied by an innumerable company of angels,
patriarchs, and prophets, all surrounding the bed of the Virgin and
singing hymns of joy. Jesus presented a crown to His mother; and as the
angels sang and rejoiced, her soul left her body, and was received into
the arms of her Son, and they ascended into heaven. The Apostles looked
up, beseeching her to remember them when she came to glory. The body of
the Virgin remained on earth; and when three of the virgins washed and
clothed it in a shroud, such a glory of light surrounded it that though
they touched they could not see it, and no human eye beheld those sacred
limbs unclothed. The Apostles took up the body reverently, and placed it
on a bier. John carried the celestial palm before the procession, and
Peter sang the 114th Psalm, in which the angels joined. Her soul then
rejoined the body, and she ascended to heaven as the angels were blowing
their silver trumpets, singing as they touched their golden lutes, and
rejoicing as she rose. One disciple, Thomas, was absent; and when he
arrived soon after, he would not believe in the resurrection of the
Virgin, as he would not formerly believe in that of Christ. He desired
that the Virgin's tomb should be opened before him; and when it was
opened, it was found to be full of lilies and roses. Then Thomas, looking
up to heaven, beheld the Virgin bodily in a glory of light, slowly
mounting towards heaven. And she, for the assurance of his faith, flung
down to him her girdle, the same which is to this day preserved in the
cathedral at Prato. And there were present at the death of the Virgin
Mary, besides the twelve Apostles, Dionysius the Areopagite, Timotheus,
and Hierotheus; and of the women, Mary Salome, Mary Cleophas, and a
faithful handmaid whose name was Savia. When Thomas went as an apostle to
the East, he entrusted the precious girdle to one of his disciples. After
the lapse of a thousand years, one Michael, a crusader, fell in love with
the daughter of a Greek priest, who had the custody of the girdle, and she
got it as a dowry, and brought it with Michael, whom she married. It was
thus that it came to be deposited in the cathedral at Prato, where it
still remains.


There is a legend in the "Gospel of the Infancy" to this effect. When the
Holy Family had returned from Egypt, our Lord being then about seven or
eight years old, Mary was exhorted to send her Son to school. And although
she knew perfectly that He required no human teaching, she complied. She
brought Him to a certain schoolmaster whose name was Zaccheus, and the
schoolmaster wrote out the alphabet for Him, and began with the first
Hebrew letter, saying, "Aleph." And Jesus pronounced after him "Aleph."
Then the master went on to the second letter, saying, "Beth"; but Jesus
said, "Tell me first what means this letter 'Aleph,' and then afterwards I
will say 'Beth.'" But the schoolmaster could not tell Him. And Jesus began
to teach him and to explain the meaning and the use of all the
letters--how they were distinguished, why some were crooked and some were
straight--until Zaccheus the schoolmaster stood in astonishment, and
exclaimed, "Was this Child born before Noah? for, behold, He is wiser than
the wisest man, and needs no teaching."


The "Apocryphal Gospel of Thomas" has the following (chapter vii.): "One
day, when Jesus went up on a certain housetop with some children, He began
to play with them. But one of the boys fell through the back door, and
immediately died. And when the children saw it, they all fled; but Jesus
remained on the housetop. And when the parents of the boy that was dead
had come, they said to Jesus, 'Truly thou didst make him fall.' And they
laid wait for Him. But Jesus, going down from the housetop, stood over the
dead child, and called with a loud voice the name of the child: 'Sinoo,
Sinoo! arise, and say if I made thee fall.' And suddenly he arose and
said, 'No, Lord.' Now, when his parents saw so great a miracle which Jesus
did, they glorified God and adored Jesus."


The "Arabic Gospel of the Infancy" has the following (chapter xxxix.): "On
a certain day the King of Jerusalem sent for him and said, 'Joseph, I wish
thee to make me a throne of the measure of the place where I have been
used to sit.' Joseph obeyed, and immediately after he put his hand to the
work; he remained two years in the palace, until he had finished making
the throne. But when he had it removed into its place, he perceived that
on each side it was two spans shorter than the proper measure. On seeing
this the king was angry with Joseph; and Joseph being greatly afraid of
the king, passed the night supperless, and tasted nothing whatever. Then
he was asked by the Lord Jesus why he was afraid. 'Because,' said Joseph,
'I have lost all that I have done for two years.' The Lord Jesus said to
him, 'Fear not, nor lose heart; but take thou one side of the throne, and
I will take the other to set it right.' And when Joseph had done as the
Lord Jesus had said, and each had pulled on his own side, the throne was
made right, and brought to the exact measure of the place. When this
prodigy was seen, they who were present were amazed, and praised God. Now,
the wood of the throne was of that kind which was celebrated in the time
of Solomon the Son of David--that is, variegated and diversified."


The following is said by Jeremy Taylor to be a current version of this
prayer: "O Father, according to the good pleasure of Thy will, I am made a
man; and from the time in which I was born of a Virgin unto this day I
have finished those things which are agreeable to the nature of man, and
with due observance have performed all Thy commandments, the mysteries and
types of the law; and now truly I am baptised; and so have I ordained
baptism, that from thence, as from the place of spiritual birth, the
regeneration of men may be accomplished. And as John was the last of the
legal priests, so am I the first of the evangelical. Thou therefore, O
Father, by the meditation of My prayer, open the heavens, and from thence
send Thy Holy Spirit upon this womb of baptism; that as He did untie the
womb of the Virgin and thence form Me, so also He would loose this
baptismal womb, and so sanctify it unto men, that from thence new men may
be begotten, who may become Thy sons, and My brethren, and heirs of Thy
kingdom. And what the priests under the law, until John, could not do,
grant unto the priests of the New Testament (whose chief I am in the
oblation of this prayer), that whensoever they shall celebrate baptism, or
pour forth prayers unto Thee, as the Holy Spirit is seen with Me in open
vision, so also it may be made manifest, that the same Spirit will adjoin
Himself to their society in a more secret way, and I will by them perform
the ministries of the New Testament, for which I am made a man; and as the
high priest I do offer these prayers in Thy sight."

This prayer was transcribed out of the "Syriac Catena" upon the third
chapter of St. Luke's Gospel, and is by the author of that Catena reported
to have been made by our Blessed Saviour immediately before the opening of
the heavens at His baptism, and that the Holy Spirit did descend upon Him
while He was thus praying; and for it he cites the authority of St.


It is singular that there are no authentic portraits of Christ in
existence. The evangelists do not think it necessary to make any
statements as to Christ's personal appearance. Origen, born 186, seems the
earliest writer who notices that subject, and he says the Saviour had no
external beauty. But the Fathers and the artists have all insisted that
His countenance must have corresponded to His character. A letter supposed
to have been written by Lentulus, a friend of Pilate, to the Roman Senate,
professes to describe the personal appearance, but some doubt its
authenticity. It was preserved, and first came to light among the writings
of Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, who lived in the eleventh century.
Another description is contained in the writings of St. John of Damascus,
who flourished in the eighth century, and he professes to have known from
earlier writers that Jesus had "eyebrows that joined together, beautiful
eyes, curly hair, black beard, a yellow complexion, and long fingers like
His mother." Others say that St. Luke was a painter, and Nicodemus was a
sculptor, and thus that some portraits must have existed. It is also said
that Pilate took secretly a portrait of Christ. There is also a legend
that King Agbarus wrote a letter to Christ, asking for a visit to cure him
of leprosy, and at all events for a portrait; and that Christ answered
that He could not visit him, having other work to do, but He would send a
disciple who would cure him. And St. Thomas did so. Others add that Christ
sent His portrait on a handkerchief to Agbarus. Again, there is a legend
about Veronica and her handkerchief, which had a portrait miraculously
impressed, and which she preserved.


The letter purporting to be written by Publius Lentulus, a friend of
Pilate, to the Roman Senate, and preserved in St. Anselm's writings, if
not genuine, is supposed to have been fabricated as early as the third
century, and is as follows: "In this time appeared a man who lives till
now--a man endowed with great powers. Men call Him a great prophet. His
own disciples term Him the Son of God. His name is Jesus Christ. He
restores the dead to life, and cures the sick of all manner of diseases.
This man is of noble and well-proportioned stature, with a face full of
kindness and yet firmness, so that the beholders both love Him and fear
Him. His hair is the colour of wine, and golden at the root--straight and
without lustre--but from the level of the ears curling and glossy, and
divided down the centre, after the fashion of the Nazarites. His forehead
is even and smooth; His face without blemish, and enhanced by a comely
red; His countenance ingenuous and kind; nose and mouth in no way faulty.
His beard is thick, of the same colour as his hair, and forked in form.
His eyes are blue and extremely brilliant. In reproof and rebuke He is
formidable; in exhortation and teaching, gentle and amiable of tongue.
None have seen him to laugh; but many, on the contrary, to weep. His
person is tall; His hands beautiful and straight. In speaking he is
deliberate and grave, and little given to loquacity. In beauty surpassing
most men."


Eusebius, who died about 338, mentions the legend about King Agbarus, who
sent to Christ by the hand of Ananias, his footman, a letter inviting Him
to Edessa, saying that he had heard of the cures performed by Christ, and
that he earnestly desired to be cured of a disease. Our Lord replied that
He could not come, for His mission to the Jews must be fulfilled; but
after His Ascension He would send one of His disciples, who would cure him
and all that were with him. Nothing further is known, except that St. John
of Damascus, writing in the eighth century, alluding to the story, says
that Agbarus also requested Christ's picture as a means of cure. Others
say Agbarus sent a painter to take the likeness, but he found an
insurmountable difficulty in the light which beamed from the Lord's
countenance. Christ, knowing the thoughts of the messenger, took His robe,
and, pressing it to His countenance, a perfect portrait was left upon it;
and this was sent to King Agbarus, who was cured thereby. Others add that
Ananias, in conveying the portrait, had occasion to stop at Hierapolis,
and, fearing to lose it, hid it among some bricks; but a supernatural
light surrounded the place, and the image was also copied on a brick lying
near the cloth, and this brick was also preserved. The original cloth
afterwards found its way to Constantinople, another to Rome, and another
to Genoa. The replica of the cloth is shown in St. Sylvester's, in Rome.


Dr. Jortin thus happily describes the novel, striking, and permanent
beauty of Christ's style of preaching: "In the spring our Saviour went
into the fields and sat down on a mountain, and made that discourse which
is recorded in St. Matthew, and which is full of observations arising from
the things which offered themselves to His sight. For when He exhorted His
disciples to trust in God, He bade them behold the fowls of the air, which
were then flying about them, and were fed by Divine Providence, though
they did not sow nor reap nor gather into barns. He bade them take notice
of the lilies of the field, which were then blown, and were so beautifully
clothed by the same power, and yet toiled not, like the husbandmen who
were then at work. Being in a place where they had a wide prospect of
cultivated land, He bade them observe how God caused the sun to shine and
the rain to descend upon the fields and gardens, even of the wicked and
ungrateful. And He continued to convey His doctrine to them under rural
images, speaking of good trees and corrupt trees--of wolves in sheep's
clothing--of grapes not growing upon thorns, nor figs on thistles--of the
folly of casting precious things to dogs and swine--of good measure
pressed down, and shaken together and running over. Speaking at the same
time to the people, many of whom were fishermen and lived upon fish, He
says, 'What man of you will give his son a serpent, if he ask a fish?'
Therefore, when He said in the same discourse to His disciples, 'Ye are
the light of the world: a city that is set on a hill cannot be hid,' it is
probable that He pointed to a city within their view, situated upon the
brow of a hill. And when He called them the salt of the earth, He alluded
perhaps to the husbandmen who were manuring the ground; and when He
compared every person who observed His precepts to a man who built a house
upon a rock, which stood firm; and every one who slighted His word to a
man who built a house upon the sand, which was thrown down by the winds
and floods,--when He used this comparison, it is not improbable that He
had before His eyes houses standing upon high ground, and houses standing
in the valley in a ruinous condition, which had been destroyed by


St. Basil affirms that the high priest caused the Holy Jesus to be led
with a cord about His neck; and in memory of that the priests for many
ages wore a stole about theirs. But the Jews did it, according to the
custom of the nation, to signify He was condemned to death.

Jeremy Taylor says that it cannot be thought but the ministers of Jewish
malice used all the circumstances of affliction which in any case were
accustomed towards malefactors and persons to be crucified; and therefore
it was in some old figures we see our Blessed Lord described with a table
appendent to the fringe of His garment, set full of nails and pointed
iron, for so sometimes they afflicted persons condemned to that kind of
death. And St. Cyprian affirms that Christ did stick to the wood that He
carried, being galled with the iron at His heels and nailed even before
His execution.


Jeremy Taylor says that after the resurrection Christ appeared also unto
James, but at what time is uncertain, save that there is something
concerning it in the Gospel of St. Matthew which the Nazarenes of Berea
used, and which it is likely themselves added out of report; for there is
nothing of it in our Greek copies. The words are these: "When the Lord had
given the linen in which He was wrapped to the servant of the high priest,
He went and appeared unto James. For James had vowed, after he received
the Lord's Supper, that he would eat no bread till he saw the Lord risen
from the grave. Then the Lord called for bread; He blessed it and brake
it, and gave it to James the Just, and said, 'My brother, eat bread, for
the Son of man is risen from the sleep of death.'"

By this it would seem to be done upon the day of resurrection; but the
relation of it by St. Paul puts it between the appearance which He made to
the five hundred and that last to the Apostles, when He was to ascend into


The early Christian writers even in the second century treated prominently
the cross as a symbol of the faith, and it came to be held in high honour.
The precise figure of the cross, however, is somewhat doubtful, and
various forms have been accepted less simple than that now so familiar.
There are modifications according to particular countries and places.

One cross resembles the Hebrew letter T, there being no upper limb above
the horizontal line. The Greek Cross is a cross where the four limbs are
of equal length. The Latin Cross is that commonly used by Christians, the
lower perpendicular limb being at least twice the length of the upper
limb. The Cross of the Resurrection has a small banner attached to the
upper portion, and the lowest perpendicular limb is much longer than the
other three. The Cross of the Baptist has also a smaller scroll attached
in like manner. The Patriarchal Cross, or Cross of the Holy Sepulchre, was
a Greek Cross brought from the East by the Crusaders, also called the
Archbishop's Cross and the Cross of Lorraine, and it has two transverse
bars, one shorter and above the other. The Papal Cross is like the last,
but has three transverse bars. The Greek Cross, known in mediæval times as
St. Andrew's Cross, consists of slanting bars, instead of perpendicular
and horizontal. There are other fanciful forms of cross, called the Cross
of Jerusalem, having a small lip at the end of four equal limbs. The Irish
Cross, or Cross of Iona, has a circle placed over the upper part of the
cross. There are pectoral crosses more or less fanciful, worn as relics
and ornaments of dress.


When Constantine triumphed over his enemies by the miraculous power of the
cross, he resolved to build a magnificent church in Jerusalem. His mother,
St. Helena, then resolved, though eighty years old, to go herself to
discover the identical cross there. On her arrival none could tell where
it was, as the heathens, it was thought, purposely concealed it from the
Christians by burying it under heaps of rubbish, building over it a temple
of Venus, and placing there a statue of Jupiter. But Helena persevered,
and pulled down these pagan erections, and at a great depth discovered
three crosses, and also the nails used and the label or superscription. A
difficulty then arose as to which of the three was the cross on which the
Saviour was hung. To solve this doubt, Bishop Macarius suggested that the
three crosses should be carried and shown to a sick and dying lady. Two of
the crosses having produced no effect, the third, on being touched by her,
cured the patient at once. St. Helena on this was delighted, and built a
church on the spot where the cross was found, and she carried part of the
cross to Constantinople to her son Constantine: another part was sent to
the church at Rome. St. Helena died the same year, in 326. The board on
which Christ's title was printed in red letters was about twelve inches
long, and was sent to Rome. The main part of the cross was inclosed in a
silver shrine, and given to be kept in Jerusalem by St. Macarius in the
church which Helena and Constantine built there. St. Paulinus said that
though chips were almost daily cut off from the cross and given to devout
persons, yet the sacred wood suffered no diminution. And pieces were taken
to all the ends of the earth. The church at Jerusalem was called the
Basilica of the Holy Cross.


The nails of the cross were traced with great devotion. Calvin said there
were fifteen. There was one at Rome, one at Sienna, one at Venice, one in
the Church of the Carmelites in Paris, and some in other places. A
practice arose of filing part of the nail and touching a true nail with
other nails, and so giving a kind of sanctity to those. St. Gregory the
Great and other popes sent raspings of the chains of St. Peter as relics
in the same way. As to the true nails of the cross, it was said St. Helena
threw one into the Adriatic Sea to allay a violent storm from which the
ship was sinking, whereon the storm at once ceased. St. Ambrose said that
Constantine the Great fixed one of the nails in a rude diadem of pearls to
be worn on great occasions, and he put another in the costly bridle of his
horse as a protection in time of battle.


There is an ancient tradition that, when the Holy Family, travelling
through hidden paths and solitary defiles, had passed Jerusalem and were
descending into the plains of Syria, they encountered certain thieves, who
fell upon them; and one of these would have maltreated and plundered them,
but his comrade interfered and said, "Suffer them, I beseech thee, to go
in peace, and I will give thee forty groats, and likewise my girdle,"
which offer being accepted, the merciful robber led the Holy Travellers
to his stronghold on the rock, and gave them lodging for the night. And
Mary said to him, "The Lord God will receive thee to His right hand, and
grant the pardon of thy sins."

And it was so: for in after-times these two thieves were crucified with
Christ, one on the right hand and one on the left; and the merciful thief
went with the Saviour into Paradise. The scene of this encounter with the
robbers, near Ramla, is still pointed out to travellers, and still in evil
repute as the haunt of banditti. The crusaders visited the spot as a place
of pilgrimage; and the Abbé Orsini considers the first part of this story
as authenticated, but the legend concerning the good thief he admits to be


There is a legend that the soldier who pierced the Saviour's side, whose
name was Longinus, was struck with wonder and remorse, and exclaimed,
"Truly this man was the Son of God!" He was therefore the first of the
Gentiles to be converted. As soon as he had lifted his blood-stained hands
to his face, his eyesight, which for years had been weak, was healed. He
repented, was baptised, and was for twenty-eight years an ardent
missionary. He was then ordered to sacrifice to the false gods, and on
refusal said he longed to become a martyr, and told the governor, who was
blind, that he would recover his sight only after putting him to death.
Accordingly, Longinus was beheaded, and the governor had his sight
restored, and became himself also a Christian. St. Longinus, as the
first-fruits of the Gentiles, is painted by the artists, and he became the
patron saint of Mantua; and the spear with which he pierced the Saviour's
side is preserved among the treasures of St. Peter's at Rome.


A Life of Christ published in 1517 at Troyes told the following story.
When Adam, after being banished from Paradise, in his old age felt the
approach of death, he sent Seth to Paradise to ask the archangel who kept
the gate to give him a balsam that would save him from death. Seth with
difficulty traced the way, and on reaching it was transported with wonder
and rapture at the dazzling beauty of the scene, and the music, and the
glittering sword of the cherub. He had not courage to remember his
message; but the angel read his thoughts, and told him that the time of
pardon had not yet come, and that four thousand years must roll on before
the Redeemer would open the gate to Adam. Nevertheless, as a token of
future pardon, he allowed Seth a glimpse of the interior of Paradise, and
of the mighty tree on which redemption was to be won. The cherub gave Seth
three seeds of this tree, which were to be placed in the mouth of Adam
when buried. This was done a few days after Seth's return, when Adam died
and was buried. Out of this grave rose a cedar, a cypress, and a pine.
Moses had a rod of one of these trees. The cedar, after many ages, was
that of which the Cross of Calvary was made. It was carried off on the
plundering of Jerusalem to Persia, but was recovered by Heraclius on
September 14th, 615, the day afterwards commemorated as the Feast of the
Exaltation of the Cross.


The painters of sacred subjects for churches used to divide the stages of
the Crucifixion into seven, and latterly into fourteen. The first
importation of the stations into Europe was said to be by a citizen of
Nuremberg, who returned from a pilgrimage to the Holy City in 1477, and
soon after engaged Kraft, a friend of Albert Dürer, to execute seven
sculptures for stone pillars to be erected in the city of Nuremberg. The
fourteen stations afterwards came to be entitled as follows: (1) Jesus is
condemned; (2) Jesus takes the cross; (3) Jesus falls for the first time;
(4) Jesus meets His blessed mother; (5) Simon the Cyrenian appears; (6)
Jesus meets St. Veronica; (7) Jesus falls for the second time; (8) the
daughters of Jerusalem; (9) Jesus falls for the third time; (10) Jesus is
stripped of His garments; (11) Jesus is nailed on the cross; (12) Jesus
dies on the cross; (13) Jesus is laid in the arms of His blessed mother;
(14) the entombment.


Not only the cross, but the crown of thorns, also had its history. The
crown of thorns had been preserved for several centuries at
Constantinople, and had been pledged to the Venetians for a large sum of
money, as is stated afterwards in more detail. The crown of thorns was at
last given by the Emperor Baldwin II. to St. Louis, King of France, in
acknowledgment of the king's contributions to defend the holy places, and
he redeemed it from the Venetians. It was carried in a sealed case by holy
religious men from Venice into France; and St. Louis and his family, and
prelates and princes, met the holy treasure five leagues beyond Sens. The
king and his brother were barefoot and in their shirts, and were bathed in
tears, and a great procession followed them. It was ultimately lodged in
La Sainte Chapelle, the exquisite Holy Chapel at Paris, built for the
purpose of receiving it. A part of the cross was also afterwards received
and added to the deposit there. The holy sponge used at the Crucifixion
was shown at Rome in the church of St. John Lateran tinged with blood. The
holy lance was kept at Jerusalem with the main part of the cross. It was
afterwards buried at Antioch to preserve it from the Saracens. It was at a
later date taken to Jerusalem, and then to Constantinople. It was said the
Emperor Baldwin pawned the point of it to raise money, and it was redeemed
by St. Louis of France and taken to the Holy Chapel in Paris. At a later
date, in 1492, the Sultan sent the lance as a present to Pope Innocent
VIII., stating that the point was in the possession of the King of France.
The blood of Christ was also shown in some places, particularly at Mantua.


This pawning was as follows. When Baldwin II., Emperor of Constantinople,
was hard pressed in 1213, Gibbon relates that the crown of thorns had been
preserved in the Imperial Chapel of Constantinople. In his absence the
barons of Romania borrowed a sum of 13,134 pieces of gold (about £6,567)
on the credit of the crown. They failed to repay the loan, and a rich
Venetian, Nicholas Querini, undertook to satisfy the impatient creditors,
on condition that the relic should be lodged at Venice, to become his
absolute property if not redeemed within a short and definite period. The
barons apprised their sovereign of the hard treaty and the impending loss;
and as the empire could not redeem the crown, Baldwin was anxious to
snatch the prize from the Venetians, and to vest it with more honour and
emolument in the hands of the most Christian king, Louis IX. of France.
The king's ambassadors, two Dominicans, were despatched to Venice to
redeem and receive the holy crown, which had escaped the dangers of the
sea and the galleys of Vataces. On opening a wooden box, they recognised
the seals of the Doge and barons, which were applied on a shrine of
silver, and within this shrine the monument of the Passion was enclosed in
a golden vase. The reluctant Venetians yielded to justice and power. The
Emperor Frederick granted a free passage. The King of France and his court
advanced as far as Troyes, in Champagne, to meet with devotion the
inestimable relic. It was borne in triumph by the king himself, barefoot
and in his shirt; and a free gift of 10,000 marks of silver reconciled
Baldwin to his loss. The success of this transaction tempted Baldwin to
offer, with the same generosity, the remaining furniture of his chapel. A
large and authentic portion of the true cross, the baby linen of the Son
of God, the lance, the sponge, and the chain of His Passion, the rod of
Moses, and part of the skull of John the Baptist, were purchased by Louis
IX. for 20,000 marks, and lodged in Sainte Chapelle in Paris.


Certain books have been written and circulated in the early ages of
Christianity which professed to recite events not mentioned in the Four
Gospels or New Testament. Though all are spurious and of uncertain
authorship, there is, nevertheless, great interest in some of the
incidents; and as they were so extensively read by early Christians some
account of these is acceptable to all readers of sacred subjects. Though
in all ages treated with contempt by the authoritative teachers in the
Church, it is easy to comprehend how they came to attract so much notice,
for there is an air of simplicity and verisimilitude in some of the
incidents, and of course no human being is in a position to affirm or deny
the substance of the things thus recorded. Milman says these legends can
still be traced in some of our Christmas carols. One of these apocryphal
gospels is called the "Protevangelion, or Gospel of James," who was one of
the sons of Joseph the carpenter, and it records incidents of the
childhood of Jesus. The existence of this gospel is traced to the fourth
century. Another is the "Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, or of the Infancy of
Mary and of Jesus," supposed to be written in the fifth century. Another
is the "Gospel of the Nativity of Mary." This was fathered upon Jerome,
and supposed to be written in the fifth century, and it was much read in
the Middle Ages. Another is the "History of Joseph the Carpenter,"
supposed to belong to the fourth century. Another is the "Gospel of
Thomas, or Gospel of the Infancy of Jesus," said to be written about the
middle of the second century. Another is the "Arabic Gospel of the
Infancy," ascribed to the fifth or sixth century. There is also a
professed correspondence between Jesus and King Agbarus, part of which is
said to belong to the sixth century and part to the third century. There
is also the "Gospel of Nicodemus, or Acts of Pilate," supposed to be
written in the second century. There are also Letters and Reports of
Pilate and Herod about Christ, professing to narrate facts and incidents
of that time. All these gospels or legends abound in miracles and
prodigies, some of them very puerile. A translation was published of the
above-mentioned legends by B. Harris Cowper in 1867.


False Christs began to appear early, as is mentioned in St. Luke and by
Josephus: Jortin mentions other successors. In the reign of Adrian one
Barcohab pretended to be Messias. In 434 one Moses Cretensis promised,
like Moses, to divide the sea at Crete and deliver the Jews there; and
some people, when commanded by him, actually cast themselves into the
waves and perished. Again, about 420, the time of Socrates the historian,
another impostor appeared. Again, in 520, one Dunaan; one Julian in 529;
one Mohammed in 571; another, a Syrian, in 721. In 1138 another in France;
in 1157 another in Spain; in 1167 another in Fez. In Arabia, in 1167,
another appeared, and was brought before the king, who asked the pretender
what sign or miracle he could show in attestation of his power. The man
replied, "Cut off my head, and I will return to life again." The king took
him at his word, and the head was cut off, but it never was put on again
nor life restored. Again, another appeared in Persia in 1174; another in
Moravia in 1176; another, who was also an enchanter, in Persia in 1199;
another in Spain in 1497; another in Austria in 1500; another in Cologne
in 1509; another in Spain, burnt by the Emperor Charles V., in 1534;
another in the East Indies in 1615; another in Holland in 1624; another in
Smyrna in 1666, named Sabbatar Sevi, who raised great expectations;
another in 1682, named Rabbi Mordecai, a German Jew.


Vast difficulties surround the settlement of the orthodox list of books of
the New Testament. The Old Testament was not used as a name in the time of
Christ; but the sacred books, or the Law and the Prophets, were the modes
of reference, these being read regularly in the synagogues as part of the
ceremonial of public worship. In the third century before the Christian
era, the Old Testament was translated into Greek, or at least was begun to
be so, in order to meet the wants of the Greek-speaking Jews. Ptolemy II.
is said to have asked the high priest at Jerusalem to select skilful
elders to make the translation, and a copy was to be deposited in the
library at Alexandria. Some think the word "Septuagint" implied that there
were seventy translators; others that it only meant that the work was
approved by the Alexandrine Sanhedrim. The translation is said to be
defective in several passages. The Septuagint came soon to be the standard
version, as Hebrew had become almost an unknown language even to the Jews
of Palestine. The dates and order of the Gospels have also given rise to
interminable controversies. The Apostles all gave oral recollections of
the facts of Christ's life and sayings. The expression "New Testament" did
not come into use until the latter part of the second century. A canon was
at length settled, though the date is uncertain, expressing the authentic
collection of Christian Scriptures. And yet the earliest known list of
books of the New Testament was not discovered till the seventeenth century
in the Ambrosian Library at Milan, and the original of it was said to be
of the date of 150 A.D.


Mr. Dore says that there is no English Bible known to be in existence
earlier than the fourteenth century. But the Psalter and other portions of
the Old and New Testament were translated from the Latin into English at
various times between the seventh and fourteenth centuries. Three versions
in English of the Psalter bear a date soon after 1300. The first entire
Bible in English was the work of Nicholas de Hereford and John Wycliffe,
about 1380. Tyndale's New Testament was printed in English about 1525, and
he died in 1537. Coverdale's Bible in the English language was published
in 1535. The Genevan Version, published in English at Geneva in 1560, by
its singular rendering of Gen. iii. 7, is commonly known as the Breeches
Bible. A Roman Catholic translation into English of the New Testament was
published at Rheims in 1582, and later at Douai, on the removal of the
Roman Catholic College to the latter place. King James I.'s new
translation of the Bible, called the Authorised Version, was first
published in 1611.




St. Matthew suffered martyrdom by being slain with a sword at a distant
city of Ethiopia. St. Mark expired at Alexandria, after having been
cruelly dragged through the streets of that city. St. Luke was hanged upon
an olive tree in Greece. St. John was put into a caldron of boiling oil,
but escaped death in a miraculous manner, and was afterwards banished to
Patmos. St. Peter was crucified at Rome with his head downward. St. James
the Great was beheaded at Jerusalem. St. James the Less was thrown from a
lofty pinnacle of the Temple, and then beaten to death with a fuller's
club. St. Philip was hanged against a pillar at Hierapolis, in Phrygia.
St. Bartholomew was flayed alive. St. Andrew was bound to a cross, whence
he preached to his persecutors till he died. St. Thomas was run through
the body with a lance at Coromandel, in the East Indies. St. Jude was shot
to death with arrows. St. Matthias was first stoned and then beheaded. St.
Barnabas of the Gentiles was stoned by the Jews at Salonica. St. Paul,
after various tortures and persecutions, was at length beheaded at Rome by
the Emperor Nero.


Eusebius says that Clement, who lived in the first century, gave a
statement of those Apostles who continued in the married state. Peter and
Philip had children. Philip also gave his daughters in marriage to
husbands. Others say that Philip had four virgin daughters who prophesied.
Paul does not demur in a certain epistle to mention his own wife, whom he
did not take about with him, in order that he might expedite his ministry
the better. It is said that Peter, seeing his own wife led away to
execution, was not displeased, and he called out to her in a comforting
voice, addressing her by name, "Be sure to remember the Lord!"


Levi was the name of Matthew, who was of Jewish extraction, and was born
in Galilee. He was a publican or tax-collector, which was a profession
odious among the Jews, as it reminded them of their slavery to the Romans.
After the Ascension he preached in Judæa and the neighbouring countries
till the dispersion of the Apostles, and a little before the latter date
he wrote his gospel, his object being to satisfy the converts of
Palestine: while Mark wrote his for the Roman converts; Luke, to oppose
the false histories; and John, to oppose the heresies of Cerinthus and
Ebion. Matthew afterwards went as apostle to the East. He lived sparingly,
ate no flesh, and was a vegetarian. He was in the south and east of Asia,
ended in Parthia, and suffered martyrdom at Nadabar. He was said to be
honourably interred at Hierapolis. His relics were brought to the West,
and in 1080 Pope Gregory VII. said these were kept in a church which bore
his name at Salerno. The Apostles each had some mystical animal as an
emblem. John had the eagle; St. Luke had the calf; Mark had the lion; and
Matthew had a man, to denote Christ's human generation. The primitive
Christians always stood up when the Gospel of Matthew was read, and in
many places candles were lighted, though it was day. Thomas Aquinas always
read the gospel on his knees.


St. Mark was born a Jew, and was said to be converted by the Apostles
after the Resurrection. He became attached to St. Peter, and was called
his disciple. He was sent by St. Peter to found the Church at Aquileia,
and was afterwards appointed Bishop of Alexandria, then considered the
second city of the world after Rome. He was afterwards a martyr there,
having incurred suspicion of being a magician from the miracles he worked.
He was tied and dragged about the streets, and thrown over rocks and
precipices, and died in 68, three years after St. Peter and St. Paul. His
body was afterwards conveyed by stealth to Venice in 815, and was
deposited in a secret place in the Doge's rich chapel of St. Mark, and he
is deemed the patron saint of Venice.


Jeremy Taylor says that "the house of John, surnamed Mark (as Alexander
reports in the life of St. Barnabas), was consecrated by many actions of
religion: by our Blessed Saviour's eating the Passover; His institution of
the Holy Eucharist; His farewell sermon; and the Apostles met there in the
octaves of Easter, whither Christ came again, and hallowed it with His
presence; and there, to make up the relative sanctification complete, the
Holy Ghost descended upon their heads in 'the Feast of Pentecost'; and
this was erected into a fair fabric, and is mentioned as a famous church
by St. Jerome and Venerable Bede; in which, as Andrichomius adds, 'St.
Peter preached that sermon which was miraculously prosperous in the
conversion of three thousand; there St. James, brother of our Lord, was
consecrated first Bishop of Jerusalem; St. Stephen and the other were
there ordained deacons; there the Apostles kept their first council and
compiled their Creed.'"


St. Luke was a native of Antioch, was well educated, and studied and
became eminent as a physician. Some think he was converted by St. Paul,
and he attached himself to that apostle. He wrote the gospel in 57, four
years before his final arrival at Rome. He attended St. Paul to Rome in
61. After the martyrdom of St. Paul, he preached in Italy, Gaul, and
Macedonia. It is thought he was crucified at Elæa, in the Peloponnesus, on
an olive tree, at the age of eighty-four. His bones were, by order of the
Emperor Constantine, in 357 removed from Patras, in Achaia, and deposited
in the Church of the Apostles at Constantinople, together with those of
St. Andrew and St. Timothy. Some of his relics went to Brescia, some to
Nola, some to Findi, and some to Mount Athos. The head of St. Luke was
brought to Rome, and laid in the church of the monastery of St. Andrew.
Old manuscripts of the Gospel of Luke represent him as surrounded with
instruments of writing.


There have been differences of opinion as to the identity of St.
Bartholomew, some being of opinion that he was the same Nathanael whose
simplicity and guilelessness were commended. He was chosen one of the
Twelve, and was a witness of the Resurrection. He went after the Ascension
as an apostle to the Indies and Persia. He was afterwards in Phrygia, and
Lycaonia, and Great Armenia, in which last place he was crucified. Some
say he was first flayed alive. In 508 the Emperor Anastasius removed his
relics to the city of Duras, in Mesopotamia. Soon after they were
translated to the Isle of Lipari, near Sicily, in 809 to Benevento, and in
983 to Rome, and are deposited under the high altar in the Church of St.
Bartholomew, in the Isle of Tiber. An arm of the apostle's body was sent
to Edward the Confessor by the Bishop of Benevento, and it was put in
Canterbury Cathedral. A fine statue of the apostle is in the cathedral at
Milan, representing him flayed alive. The characteristic quality of St.
Bartholomew was zeal.


St. Thomas was a Galilean fisherman, and was made an apostle in 31. He was
rather slow in understanding, but of great simplicity and ardour. He
offered to go to Jerusalem and die with Christ, when the priests and
Pharisees were contriving His death. After the Crucifixion Thomas refused
to believe the report of the Resurrection until he actually saw the prints
of the nails and felt the very wound in Christ's side; and Christ, in His
condescension to this weakness, allowed him to satisfy himself, whereupon
Thomas was prostrated with compunction. After the descent of the Holy
Ghost, Thomas went to preach in Parthia, and laboured in Media, Persia,
and Bactria, as well as India. He is said to have suffered martyrdom at
Meliapor, or St. Thomas's, on this side the Ganges, on the coast of
Coromandel, where his body was discovered pierced with lances. The body
was carried to the city of Edessa, and deposited under the great church
there with veneration. St. Chrysostom said, in 402, that the sepulchres of
only four of the Apostles were then known--namely, Peter, Paul, John, and
Thomas. John III., of Portugal, ordered the body of St. Thomas to be
searched for at Meliapolis, and when digging there in 1523 a deep vault
was discovered, containing the bones of the saint, and part of the lance
with which he was slain, and a vial tinged with his blood. The apostle's
body was put in a chest of porcelain adorned with silver. The Portuguese
built a new town about this church, and called it St. Thomas's.


St. Simeon, son of Cleophas or Alphæus and of Mary, sister of the Virgin,
and cousin-german of Christ, was about nine years older than Christ. He
succeeded his brother St. James the Less as Bishop of Jerusalem in 62. The
Christians having been warned to leave Jerusalem, St. Simeon and they
departed before Vespasian, general of the Romans, entered and burnt the
city. Heresies grew up in the Church before the death of St. Simeon. He
was crucified at the age of 120, having governed the Church at Jerusalem
about forty-three years.


St. Timothy was early adopted as disciple by St. Paul, having been in his
youth a great reader of pious books. He was made Bishop of Ephesus before
St. John arrived there. Under the Emperor Nerva, in 97, while St. John was
still in Patmos, Timothy was slain with stones and clubs by the heathen,
owing to his opposing the idolatrous practices then current. His relics
were conveyed to Constantinople in 356, in the reign of Constantius, and
with those of St. Andrew and St. Luke were deposited under the altar in
the Church of the Apostles.


The Scriptures contain no mention of St. Barnabas after he separated from
St. Paul and sailed for Cyprus. Some say he afterwards went to Milan, and
became the first bishop there. In an apocryphal work of the fifth century,
it is said he suffered martyrdom in Cyprus, being stoned by the Jews, who
hated him on account of his unorthodox views. The apostle was buried in
the island; but four centuries later his relics were removed to
Constantinople, and a church erected and dedicated to him. It is said that
at the discovery of the relics of St. Barnabas there was found lying on
his breast a copy of the Gospel according to St. Matthew, written in the
Hebrew tongue, and as was supposed in St. Barnabas's own hand. The relics
were translated in the seventh century to Milan. Still later, it was said
that the body was taken to Toulouse, where also were the bodies of five
other apostles: James, the son of Zebedee; Philip; James, son of Alphæus;
Simon; and Jude. The head is now exhibited there apart from the body,
which reposes in its own shrine. Another head of St. Barnabas is in Genoa,
another at Naples, another in Bavaria; and legs and bones and jaw are
dispersed in other places. There was extant in the second century an
Epistle of St. Barnabas, but its authenticity has long been discredited.


St. Titus was born a Gentile, and seems to have been converted by St.
Paul. He was afterwards ordained by St. Paul to be Bishop of Crete. He
lived to the age of ninety-four, and died in that island. His body was
kept with great veneration in the cathedral of Gortyna, the ancient
metropolis of the island, and six miles from Mount Ida. This city was
destroyed by the Saracens in 823, and the relics could not be discovered.
But the head of the saint was conveyed safely to Venice, and is venerated
in the ducal basilica of St. Mark.


St. Philip, who lived at Bethsaida in Galilee, was, when called to his
office, a married man with three daughters, two of whom lived virgins to a
great age. It was Philip to whom Jesus proposed the problem how to feed
the multitude of five thousand in the wilderness. After the Ascension
Philip preached in Phrygia, and was known to Polycarp, and attained a
great age. He was buried at Hierapolis, and his relics, it was believed,
often saved the city. An arm of St. Philip was sent to Florence in 1204:
the body was said to be in the Church of St. Philip and St. James in Rome.


St. Andrew the Apostle was a native of Bethsaida, on the banks of Lake
Gennesareth, and brother of Simon Peter. St. Andrew became a disciple of
John the Baptist, and heard John hail Jesus as the Lamb of God. Believing
there was some mysterious significance in this saying, he followed Christ
wistfully, and asked where He dwelt, whereon Christ bade him come and see,
and that night was spent in His company. The result was that Andrew was
the first called of the Apostles; hence called by the Greeks Protoclete.
Andrew could not rest till he had told Peter, and he was also called as a
disciple. Jesus once lodged at the house of the two brothers, and healed
their mother of a fever. Andrew was specially consulted as to the loaves
and fishes available to feed the five thousand. After the Resurrection
Andrew preached in Scythia, also in Greece, where he confounded all the
philosophers. He went also to Muscovy. He was at last crucified at Patræ,
in Achaia, and some say it was on an olive tree. His body was carried from
Patræ to Constantinople in 357, along with those of Luke and Timothy, and
deposited in the Church of the Apostles. Some of his relics were taken to
Milan, Nola, and Brescia; and the French, in 1210, brought some of them to
Amalphi. It is a common opinion that the cross of St. Andrew was in the
form of the letter X, styled a cross decussate; and it is said his cross
was brought from Achaia to the nunnery of Weaune, near Marseilles; then to
the abbey of St. Victor, Marseilles, in 1250, and where it is still shown.
Part of it was taken to Brussels by Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, who
founded the Knights of the Golden Fleece, each of whom wears a St.
Andrew's Cross, or the Cross of Burgundy. An abbot of St. Andrew's,
Scotland, also, in 369, brought certain relics from Patræ, and deposited
them in a monastery, now the site of St. Andrew's, and many foreign
pilgrims long visited that church. The order of knighthood in honour of
St. Andrew was ascribed by the Scots to King Achaius in the eighth
century, and James VII. revived it. The collar is of thistles and rue.


When Angus MacFergus succeeded in 731 to the throne of the Picts, he had
several enemies to subdue, and carried his forces across the Firth of
Forth to fight the Saxons of Northumbria. A monk, Regulus, at that time
brought the relics of the apostle to Scotland. Previous to a great battle
in Lothian, St. Andrew appeared to King Angus either in a dream or during
the battle with the figure of the St. Andrew's Cross in the air, and told
the king that he (the saint) was defender of his kingdom, and that on the
return of the king to his home he must devote one-tenth part of his
kingdom in honour of St. Andrew. Angus gained a great victory over the
Saxon general, named Athelstane, who fell at the place now called
Athelstaneford. After this date St. Andrew became the patron saint of
Scotland, up to which time, as Bede says, St. Peter had filled that
office. The church at Hexham and the church of St. Andrew's were both
dedicated to St. Andrew, and both possessed relics of the apostle.


James and John, the sons of Salome, claimed the two first places in
Christ's kingdom. James was put to death by Herod. As to John, he alone of
the Apostles attended the Crucifixion, and was harassed by the spectacle.
In his old age, when he survived all the other Apostles and governed all
the Churches of Asia, he was arrested at the instance of Domitian, and
then taken prisoner to Rome in 95.


St. John the Evangelist and Apostle was the son of Zebedee and Salome, a
Galilean, and younger brother of St. James the Great. John was a disciple
of John the Baptist, and is supposed to have been with Andrew, when the
two left the Baptist to follow Christ. John was the youngest of all the
Apostles, being about twenty-five when called, and he lived seventy years
after the Crucifixion. He lived a bachelor. John went with Peter to the
sepulchre on hearing the news from Mary Magdalene, and he outran Peter and
had the first view. He and Peter returned to their fishing, and he first
recognised Christ walking on the shore. After the meeting of the Apostles,
John preached first in Jerusalem, then went to Parthia. He afterwards took
charge of all the Churches of Asia. In the persecution of 95, John was
apprehended in Asia, and sent to Rome, where he was thrown into a caldron
of boiling oil; but he was not injured. He was afterwards banished by
Domitian to the isle of Patmos, in the Archipelago, and there he wrote the
Revelation. At the death of Domitian in 97, John returned to Ephesus, some
months after the martyrdom of St. Timothy there. He was pressed to take
charge of that Church. John wore a plate of gold on his forehead, as an
ensign of his Christian priesthood. It was to confute the blasphemies of
Ebion and Cerinthus, who denied the divinity of Christ, that John composed
his gospel in 98, at the age of ninety-two. He also wrote the three
epistles. He died in peace at Ephesus at ninety-four, though some ancients
said he never died. He was buried on a mountain outside of Ephesus, and
his dust was said to be famous for the miracles it wrought.


St. Augustine mentions and ridicules a tradition that St. John ordered his
own grave to be made, lay down in it, and went to sleep,--still sleeping
there, as is manifest by the heaving of the earth over him as he breathes.
This was the tradition founded on John xxi. 22, 23, where Jesus said to
Peter, "If I will that he [John] tarry till I come, what is that to thee?
Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should
not die." Some afterwards explained this by saying that John died without
pain or change, and immediately rose again in bodily form, and ascended
into heaven to rejoin Christ and the Virgin.


It was related by Clement of Alexandria that, when St. John was at
Ephesus, and before he was exiled to Patmos, he had taken under his care a
young man of promising character, and whom he left in charge to a bishop
during his own absence. But the youth took to evil courses, and went to
the forest and headed a band of robbers and assassins. When John, on
returning, asked for the youth and heard this account, he rent his
garments, and wept with a loud voice at the faithless guardianship, and
called for a horse and rode to the forest in search of the youth. When the
latter as captain beheld his old master and instructor, he turned and
would have fled from his presence. But St. John by the most fervent
entreaties prevailed on him to stop and listen to his words. After some
conference, the robber, utterly subdued, burst into tears of penitence,
imploring forgiveness; and while he spoke he hid beneath his robe his
right hand, which had been sullied with so many crimes. But St. John,
falling on his knees before him, seized that blood-polluted hand, and
kissed it and bathed it with his tears, and he remained with his
reconverted brother till he had by prayers and encouraging words and
affectionate exhortations reconciled him with Heaven and with himself. It
was also related that two young men had sold all their possessions to
follow St. John, and afterwards repented. He, perceiving their thoughts,
sent them to gather pebbles and faggots, and on their return changed these
into ingots of gold, and said, "Take back your riches and enjoy them on
earth, since you regret having exchanged them for heaven!"


There is a tradition relating to St. John, and which is sometimes
represented by the sacred artists--namely, that he had a tame partridge,
of which he was fond, and he used to amuse himself with feeding and
tending it. It is added that a certain huntsman, passing by with his bow
and arrow, was astonished to see the great apostle, so venerable for age
and sanctity, engaged in such an amusement. The apostle, however, answered
him by asking whether he always kept his bow bent. The huntsman replied
that that would be the way to render it useless. The apostle then
rejoined, "If you unbend your bow to prevent its becoming useless, I do
the same, and unbend my mind for the same reason."


The Syrian legend as to the last days of St. John says that the apostle
once fled in fear and indignation out of a bath that had been polluted by
the presence of the heretic Cerinthus. It is also said that at last his
whole sermon consisted in these words: "Little children, love one
another." And when the audience remonstrated at the wearisome iteration,
he declared that in these words the whole substance of Christianity was
found. Many reject the authority of Tertullian, who says that St. John was
taken for trial before Domitian at Rome, and plunged into a boiling
caldron of oil, from which he came forth unhurt.


Irenæus, Bishop of Lyons, in 177 had been a pupil of Polycarp, who in his
youth had many conversations with St. John, who died about 100. Irenæus
writes to a friend thus: "I can tell the very place in which the blessed
Polycarp used to sit when he discoursed, and his goings out and his
comings in, and his manner of life, and his personal appearance, and the
discourses which he held before the people, and how he would describe his
intercourse with John and with the rest of those who had seen the Lord,
and how he would relate their words. And whatsoever things he had heard
from them about the Lord, and about His miracles, and about His teaching,
Polycarp, as having received them from eyewitnesses of the life of the
Word, would relate altogether in accordance with the Scriptures. To these
things I used to listen at the time with attention, by God's mercy, which
was bestowed upon me, noting them down, not on paper, but in my heart; and
constantly, by the grace of God, I reflect upon them faithfully." Irenæus
says Polycarp told him the story of St. John and Cerinthus. Polycarp, at
the age of eighty-six, was ordered to be burnt; but it is said that the
fire would not consume his body, which shone like silver, and he was then
despatched with a dagger. The Roman pro-consul had ordered him to forswear
and revile Christ. But the answer was: "Eighty-and-six years have I served
Him, and He hath done me no wrong. How, then, can I speak evil of my King,
who saved me?"


A miracle attributed to St. John, and represented by some sacred artists,
related to the Empress Galla Placidia. She was returning from
Constantinople to Ravenna with her two children during a terrible storm.
In her fear and anguish she vowed to St. John that if she landed safely
she would dedicate to his honour a magnificent church. Both events
happened; but still, owing to there being no relic to deposit in her
church, she remained somewhat dissatisfied. John, however, took pity upon
her; for one night, as she prayed earnestly, he appeared to her in a
vision, and when she threw herself at his feet to embrace and kiss them he
disappeared, but left one of his sandals in her hand, and this has been
long preserved. The ancient church at Ravenna of Galla Placidia contained
some mosaics, now vanished, but two bas-reliefs refer to the sandal.


The English monkish chroniclers have also a legend of St. John and King
Edward the Confessor. One night a pilgrim accosted the Confessor as he was
returning from mass at Westminster, and begged alms for the love of God
and St. John. The king, who was merciful, immediately drew from his finger
a ring, and delivered it privately to the beggar. Twenty-four years later,
two Englishmen, returning from the Holy Land, after being asked questions
about their country by a pilgrim, were entrusted with a message to thank
their king for the ring he had bestowed, when that pilgrim begged of him
many years before, and which he had preserved and now returned; and
further to say this--that "the king shall quit the world and come and
remain with me for ever." The travellers, astounded, asked who the pilgrim
was, and the answer was, "I am John the Evangelist. Go and deliver the
message and ring, and I will pray for your safe arrival." He then
delivered the ring and vanished. The pilgrims praised and thanked God for
this glorious vision, went on their journey, repaired to the king,
delivered the ring and the message, and were received joyfully and
feasted. Then the king prepared himself for his departure from the world.
On the eve of the Nativity next following, being 1066, he died, and the
ring was left to the Abbot of Westminster, to be for ever preserved among
the relics. This legend is represented on the top of the screen of Edward
the Confessor's Chapel in Westminster Abbey, and also was once on one of
the windows in Romford Church.


St. James the Less was so called to distinguish him from the other apostle
James, either from his smaller stature or his youth. He was also known as
James the Just, from his eminent sanctity. He was the son of Alphæus and
of Mary, sister of the Virgin Mary, and was some years older than the
Saviour, his cousin. He had as brother St. Simeon and also Jude. Christ
appeared separately to James and John and Peter after the Resurrection.
The Apostles elected James the Less to be Bishop of Jerusalem, and it was
said he wore a plate of gold on his head as an ensign of authority. He was
unmarried, and never shaved nor cut his hair, and never drank any strong
liquor, never ate flesh, nor wore sandals, and the skin of his knees and
forehead was said to be hardened like a camel's hoof from his frequent
prayers. He wrote his epistle in Greek, some time after Paul's epistles
were written to the Galatians and to the Romans. He was afterwards, in 62,
accused by the Jews of violating the laws, and was sentenced to be stoned
to death; but he was first carried to the battlements, in the hope he
would recant in public, and on his refusing this he was thrown over and
dashed to the ground. He had life enough to rise again on his knees to
pray for pardon for his murderers, and was then despatched with stones by
the mob. His body was buried near the Temple in Jerusalem, and it was said
the city was destroyed for the treatment he received. His relics were
brought to Constantinople about 572.


St. James, the brother of St. John, son of Zebedee and Salome, was called
the Great, to distinguish him from the other apostle called James the
Less, probably from his small stature. St. James the Great was about ten
years older than Christ, and was many years older than his brother John.
St. James was a Galilean and a fisherman. He and John and Peter were
distinguished by special favours, being admitted to the Transfiguration,
and to the Agony in the Garden. Their mother, Salome, in her pride at
their devotion, once asked if they were not to sit, one at Christ's right
hand and another at His left. After the Ascension James is said to have
left Judæa and visited Spain. He was a bachelor, and very temperate, never
eating fish or flesh, and wearing only a linen cloak. He was the first of
the Apostles who suffered martyrdom, being beheaded at Jerusalem in 43 by
order of Agrippa. His accuser was so struck with James's courage and
constancy that he repented and begged to be executed with James, who
turned round and embraced him, saying, "Peace be with you," and they were
beheaded together. The apostle's body was interred at Jerusalem, but
carried by his disciples to Spain at Compostella, where many miracles were
wrought and pilgrims flocked. His intercession, it was thought, often
protected the Christians against the armies of the Moors.


The apostle James the Great, after Christ's ascension, as already said,
went to Spain. One day, as he stood on the banks of the Ebro with his
disciples, it is said that the Blessed Virgin appeared to him seated on
the top of a pillar of jasper, and surrounded by a choir of angels; and
the apostle having thrown himself on his face, she commanded him to build
on that spot a chapel for her worship, assuring him that all this province
of Saragossa, though now in the darkness of paganism, would at a future
time be distinguished by devotion to her. He did as the Holy Virgin had
commanded, and this was the origin of a famous church, known as Our Lady
of the Pillar.


Another legend relates that a German noble, with his wife and son, made a
pilgrimage to St. James of Compostella, and while lodging at an inn at
Tolosa, where the host had a beautiful daughter, she fell in love with the
youth, but he refused to listen to her. She then, out of revenge, hid her
father's silver cup in the youth's wallet, and next morning, on
discovering the loss, he was pursued, accused before a judge, and
condemned to be hanged. The afflicted parents prayed at the altar of St.
Jago or James, and thirty days after, on returning and seeing their son on
the gibbet, he suddenly spoke to them, and said he had been very
comfortable, for the blessed apostle James had been at his side. The
parents at once hastened to the judge to inform him, and he was sitting at
dinner. On hearing their report, however, he mocked them, and said their
son was as much alive as the fowls in that dish on the table, pointing to
the dish; but he had scarcely uttered the words when the fowls rose up
full feathered in the dish, and the cock began to crow, to the great
admiration of the judge and his officers. Then the judge rose and went to
the gibbet, and released the youth and gave him up to his parents, and the
fowls were placed under the protection of the church, in the precincts of
which they lived, and a long line of progeny after them, as a standing
testimony of the miracle then wrought.


When the apostle James the Great had founded the faith in Spain, he
returned to Judæa, and preached and worked miracles for many years. Once a
sorcerer, named Hermogenes, set himself up against the apostle to compete
with him, and sent his pupil Philetus to dispute with James. The pupil, on
returning and confessing his defeat, was bound with spells by Hermogenes,
who dared James to deliver him. James sent his cloak to Philetus's
servant, and this set him free. Hermogenes, being then enraged, caused
both James and Philetus to be bound in fetters by demons and brought to
him. But a company of angels seized on the demons, and punished them until
they went and brought Hermogenes himself bound. On James declining to
punish him, the sorcerer felt he was defeated, and cast his books into the
sea, and became a disciple of James. At James's death his body was
privately carried away for fear of the Jews, and put on board a ship which
was miraculously directed to Spain. During the journey they touched at
Galicia; and Queen Lupa, coming to the shore, found that the body had
become enclosed with wax. She brought some wild bulls, and harnessed them
to the car to tear it asunder; but the bulls were docile as lambs, and
drew the body straight into her palace, whereon she was confounded and
became a Christian, and built a church to receive the body. St. James is
the patron saint of Spain as well as of Galicia; and the church of
Compostella, which is dedicated to him, is a shrine visited by pilgrims
from all quarters. In some of the pictures St. James is represented
sitting on a milk-white horse, encouraging the Spaniards to fight and
defeat the Moors.


The following is the origin of the emblem of the scallop-shell at
Compostella. When the body of the saint was being miraculously conveyed in
a ship without sails or oars from Joppa to Galicia, it passed the village
of Bouzas, on the coast of Portugal, on the day that a marriage had been
celebrated there. The bridegroom, along with his friends, was amusing
himself on horseback on the sands, when suddenly his horse grew restless
and plunged into the sea. Thereupon the miraculous ship stopped in its
voyage, and presently the bridegroom emerged, horse and man, close beside
it. The saint's disciples on board informed the astonished rider who it
was who saved him from a watery grave, and explained to him the Christian
religion. He was converted and baptised forthwith. The ship then resumed
its voyage, and the knight went galloping back over the sea to rejoin his
astonished friends. He told what had happened, and they also were
converted, and he baptised his bride with his own hands. It was noticed
that when the knight emerged from the sea, both his dress and the
trappings of his horse were covered with scallop-shells, and the Galicians
ever afterwards took the scallop-shell as the sign of St. James. Those
shells were forbidden by the Pope, under the pain of excommunication, to
be sold to pilgrims at any other place than the city of Santiago.


Lord Lindsay, in his "Christian Art," says that St. Peter was generally
represented in ancient art as blessing and St. Paul as preaching,--the
former with white hair and beard, the hair sometimes plaited in three
distinct partitions; the latter with a lofty and partially bald brow and
long, high nose, as characteristic of the man of genius and the thorough
gentleman, as the former is of the warm-hearted, frank, impetuous manly
fisherman. The likenesses may be correct; they were current at least in
the days of Eusebius in the fourth century, who speaks of their portraits
as then of some antiquity. A portrait of St. Paul was said to have come
down by tradition from his own time, and to have existed in the days of
St. Ambrose and St. Chrysostom, a little later in the same century. The
painter Giotto invariably adhered to these traditional types. After his
time the heads of living models were often painted for the imaginary


There is some doubt as to the time and place of the death of St. Peter and
St. Paul. The earliest writer, St. Clement, Bishop of Rome, near the end
of the first century, alludes to both as suffering martyrdom nearly at the
same time, but does not state when or where. A later writer, Dionysius,
Bishop of Corinth, who lived in the middle of the second century, says
they died in Italy at the same period, and tradition of a later date
specifies Rome as the place, and that Peter was crucified by Nero in Rome
with his head downwards, and the year was 67 A.D.


Though the precise spot at Rome where St. Peter was crucified or slain is
not settled, the following legend obtained currency. In several churches
at Florence and Rome the legend referred to was to this effect. The
apostle Peter had a daughter named Petronilla, who accompanied him to Rome
from the East. She there fell sick of a grievous infirmity, which deprived
her of the use of her limbs. And it happened that, as the disciples were
at meat with him in his house, one said to him, "Master, how is it that
thou, who healest the infirmities of others, dost not heal thy daughter
Petronilla?" And Peter answered, "It is good for her to remain sick." But
that they might see the power that was in the word of God, he commanded
her to rise and serve them at table, which she at once did. Having done
so, she lay down again, helpless as before. But many years afterwards,
being perfected by long suffering, and praying fervently, she was healed.
Petronilla was wonderfully fair; and Valerius Flaccus, a young Roman noble
who was a heathen, became enamoured of her, and sought her in marriage. As
he was very powerful, she feared to refuse him, but begged him to return
in three days, and promised that he should then marry her. She prayed
earnestly to be delivered from this peril; and when Flaccus returned in
three days, prepared to celebrate the marriage with great pomp, he found
her dead. The company of nobles thereupon carried her to the grave, in
which they laid her, crowned with roses, and Flaccus lamented greatly.


When St. Peter went to Rome, it is said that he lodged in the house of a
rich patrician named Perdeus, whose wife and two daughters, Prasceles and
Prudentiana, were converted. And during the first persecution these
daughters devoted themselves to visiting and comforting the martyrs,
braving every danger and suffering, and they escaped by a miracle. St.
Peter was also said to lodge at Rome in the house of Aquila and Priscilla;
and it was there that St. Prisca, a Roman virgin of great beauty, was
baptised. She was afterwards thrown to the lions; but they refused to
touch her, and she was at last beheaded. St. Peter, when in prison at
Rome, was said to have promised to heal Paulina, the sick daughter of the
jailer, named Artemius, if he would believe in the true God. But the
jailer mocked him, and put him in the deepest dungeon, and told him to see
if his God would deliver him from that depth. In the middle of the night
Peter and Marcellinus, in shining garments, entered the chamber of
Artemius as he lay asleep, who, being struck with awe, fell down and
worshipped Christ.


When the day appointed for the execution of St. Peter approached, it is
recorded in the legend that the Christians of Rome urged him to escape. He
resisted their importunities long, but at last got over the wall of the
prison and fled. As, however, he approached the gate of the city, he met
our Blessed Lord bearing His cross, just entering. The astonished apostle
said, "Lord, whither goest Thou?" The answer was, "I go to Rome to be
crucified afresh." At this St. Peter was smitten to the heart, and with
tears returned and delivered himself up to his keepers. The church of
_Domine quo Vadis_ is believed to stand on the very spot of this meeting.
Peter was thereafter scourged and led to the top of the Vatican Mount to
be executed. He entreated that he might not be crucified in the ordinary
way, but might suffer with his head downwards and his feet towards heaven,
affirming that he was unworthy to suffer in the same posture wherein his
Lord had suffered before him. His body was embalmed and buried in the
Vatican. The small church being demolished by Heliogabalus, Peter's body
was removed for a time two miles off, but was brought back before the time
of Constantine, who enlarged and rebuilt the Vatican in honour of St.
Peter. The Emperor is said to have dug the first spadefuls, and to have
carried twelve baskets of rubbish with his own hands, as a beginning, in
honour of the twelve Apostles. The relics of St. Peter are numerous. The
chains are in the church _Ad Vincula_; the wooden chair is in the Vatican.
The sword with which the ear of Malchus was cut off was anciently
preserved at Constantinople, and is shown at Toledo. His cap is at Namur;
part of his cloak is at Prague. The bodies of Peter and Paul are said to
be both in St. Peter's Church at Rome.


The body of St. Peter was buried immediately after his martyrdom on the
Vatican Hill; afterwards it was removed to the cemetery of Calixtus, and
brought back to the Vatican. The body of St. Paul was buried on the Ostian
Way, where his church now stands. These tombs were visited from the first
by crowds of pilgrims. Constantine the Great, after founding the Lateran
Church, built seven others at Rome; one of these was the Church of St.
Peter on the Vatican Hill, where he suffered martyrdom. Another was the
Church of St. Paul, at the site of his tomb on the Ostian Road. A revenue
was charged to maintain these churches out of the spices imported from
Egypt and the East, and lands at Tyre and Alexandria and elsewhere were
given as possessions for the same purpose. These churches were built in a
magnificent style, so as to vie with the finest structures in the Empire.
St. Peter's was rebuilt in part in 1506 and 1626. The richest treasure
consists of relics of St. Peter and St. Paul, which lie under a
magnificent altar in a sumptuous vault, called the Confession of St. Peter
on the Threshold of the Apostles. Raphael and Michael Angelo were in
succession the architects. The area of St. Peter's Church is 700 feet long
by 509 feet wide.


It was at one time believed that St. Paul had entered Great Britain as
within his mission, and preached to the natives. But Thackeray, in his
"Researches into the State of Ancient Britain" (1843), comes to a
conclusion in the negative for the following reasons: (1) There is no
mention nor even allusion to it in the New Testament; (2) the statement of
his friend Clemens, Bishop of Rome, to the effect that Paul preached to
the utmost bounds of the West, is far too vague to be available, and seems
only a hyperbolic mode of expressing the magnitude of his labours; (3)
there is no probable allusion to Paul's journey to Britain to be found in
the whole range of literature prior to Theodoret, early in the fifth
century, and even he does not specify Britain; (4) there is no mention of
any such mission to be found in our own historians prior to the Norman


The fact that St. Paul, when addressing the Athenians on the summit of the
Areopagus or Hill of Mars, quoted a Greek poet for the saying, "Ye are
also his offspring," has led scholars to search for the originals. And the
saying is found in two poets who flourished before the Christian
era--namely, Aratius and Cleanthes. There are two other quotations (Titus
i. 12; 1 Cor. xv. 33), traced to Epimenides and Callimachus. Some have
inferred from these quotations that St. Paul may have been familiar with
the poets of Pagan antiquity. But the researches of scholars tend to show
that the quotations were only common sayings of the period, and the
inferences one way or another as to the Pagan learning of the apostle are
mere speculations. The occasion also on which St. Paul spoke on Areopagus
has been the subject of discussion, as to whether Paul was at the moment
charged with some indictable offence against the sanctity of the gods, or
whether there was some inquisition held by authority in order to include
Jesus as one of the recognised divinities, or whether it was merely an
address at the request of the keen-witted Epicurean and Stoic philosophers
of the time. No certain conclusion can be arrived at on these moot points.


A legend of the death of St. Paul relates that a certain Roman matron
named Plautilla, one of the converts of St. Peter, placed herself on the
road by which St. Paul passed to his martyrdom, in order to behold him for
the last time; and when she saw him, she wept greatly and besought his
blessing. The apostle then, seeing her faith, turned to her, and begged
that she would give him her veil to bind his eyes when he should be
beheaded, promising to return it to her after his death. The attendants
mocked at such a promise; but Plautilla, with a woman's faith and charity,
taking off her veil, presented it to him. After his martyrdom, St. Paul
appeared to her, and restored the veil stained with his blood. It is also
related that, when he was decapitated, the severed head made three bounds
upon the earth, and wherever it touched the ground a fountain sprang
forth. This legend is sometimes represented in the pictures of the
martyrdom of St. Paul. The church of _San Paolo_ at Rome, where the body
of St. Paul was interred, rich with mosaics, was consumed by fire in 1823.


Not far from the old city of Valetta, in the island of Malta, there is a
small church dedicated to St. Paul, and just by the church a miraculous
statue of the saint with a viper on his hand, supposed to be placed on the
very spot on which he was received after his shipwreck on this island, and
where he shook the viper off his hand into the fire without being hurt by
it. At that time the Maltese assure us the saint cursed all the venomous
animals of the island and banished them for ever, just as St. Patrick
banished those of Ireland. Whether this be the cause of it or not, it is
said to be a fact that there are no venomous animals in Malta.


The "Apocryphal Gospel," called the "Arabic Gospel of the Infancy," has
the following (chapter xxxv.): "In the same place there dwelt another
woman, whose son was vexed by Satan. He, Judas by name, whenever Satan
seized him, bit all who approached him; and if he found no one near him,
he bit his own hands and other members. Therefore the mother of this
unfortunate youth, hearing the fame of Lady Mary and her Son Jesus, arose
and took with her her son Judas to my Lady Mary. Meanwhile, James and
Joses had taken away the Child Lord Jesus to play with other children; and
after leaving home, they had sat down, and the Lord Jesus with them. Judas
the demoniac came nigh, and sat down at the right of Jesus; and then,
being assaulted by Satan as he was wont to be, he sought to bite the Lord
Jesus, but he could not; yet he struck the right side of Jesus, who for
this cause began to weep. Forthwith Satan went forth out of the boy in
form like a mad dog. Now, this boy who struck Jesus, and from whom Satan
went out in the form of a dog, was Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him to the
Jews, and that side of Him on which Judas had smote Him the Jews pierced
with a spear" (Matt. x. 4; John xix. 34).




Gibbon observes that during the age of Christ, of His Apostles and their
first disciples, the doctrine which they preached was confirmed by
innumerable prodigies. The lame walked, the blind saw, the sick were
healed, the dead were raised, demons were expelled, and the laws of Nature
were frequently suspended for the benefit of the Church. But the sages of
Greece and Rome turned aside from the awful spectacle, and, pursuing their
ordinary occupations, were unconscious of anything extraordinary. Under
the reign of Tiberius, the whole earth, or at least a celebrated province
of the Roman Empire, was involved in a preternatural darkness of three
hours. Yet this miraculous event passed without notice in an age of
science and history. It happened during the lifetime of Seneca and the
elder Pliny, who must have experienced the immediate effects or received
the earliest intelligence of the prodigy. Each of these philosophers in a
laborious work has recorded all the great phenomena of
Nature--earthquakes, meteors, comets, and eclipses--which his
indefatigable curiosity could collect. Both the one and the other have
omitted to mention the greatest phenomenon to which the mortal eye has
been witness since the creation of the globe. A distinct chapter of Pliny
is designed for eclipses of an extraordinary nature and unusual duration,
but he contents himself with describing the singular defect of light which
followed the murder of Cæsar, when during the greatest part of the year
the orb of the sun appeared pale and without splendour. This season of
obscurity, which cannot surely be compared with the preternatural darkness
of the Passion, had been already celebrated by most of the poets and
historians of that memorable age.


Jeremy Taylor says that Herod slew Zacharias between the Temple and the
altar "because he refused to betray his son to the fury of that rabid
bear,--though some persons, very eminent amongst the stars of the
primitive Church, report a tradition that, a place being separated in the
Temple for virgins, Zacharias suffered the mother of our Lord to abide
there after the birth of her Holy Son, affirming her still to be a virgin;
and that for this reason, not Herod, but the scribes and Pharisees, did
kill Zacharias. Tertullian reports that the blood of Zacharias had so
besmeared the stones of the pavement, which was the altar on which the
good old priest was sacrificed, that no art or industry could wash the
tincture out, the dye and guilt being both indelible; as if, because God
did intend to exact of that nation 'all the blood of righteous persons,
from Abel to Zacharias,' who was the last of the martyrs of the synagogue,
He would leave a character of their guilt in their eyes to upbraid their
irreligion, cruelty, and infidelity. Some there are who affirm these words
of our Saviour not to relate to any Zacharias who had been already slain,
but to be a prophecy of the last of all the martyrs of the Jews who should
be slain immediately before the destruction of the last Temple and the
dissolution of the nation. Certain it is that such a Zacharias, the son of
Baruch (if we may believe Josephus), was slain in the middle of the Temple
a little before it was destroyed; and it is agreeable to the nature of the
prophecy and reproof here made by our Saviour that 'from Abel to
Zacharias' should take in 'all the righteous blood' from first to last
till the iniquity was complete, and it is not imaginable that the blood of
our Lord and of St. James their bishop (for whose death many of themselves
thought God destroyed their city) should be left out of the account, which
certainly would be if any other Zacharias should be meant. In reference to
this, Cyprian de Valera expounds that which we read in the past tense to
signify the future: 'Ye slew'--_i.e._, shall slay."


Elizabeth fled with her son John the Baptist when he was about eighteen
months old into the wilderness, where after forty days she died. His
father Zacharias, at the time of his ministration, which happened about
this time, was killed in the court of the Temple. According to the
tradition of the Greeks, God deputed an angel to be his guardian and
nourisher, as he had formerly done to Ishmael and Elias.


The Jews ascribed to the murder of John the Baptist the fate that befell
Herod and Salome. Herod, in journeying to Rome four years after Christ's
death, was deprived of his tetrarchate and banished along with Herodias to
Gaul, and they died in great misery at Lyons or in Spain. Salome in
crossing the ice in winter fell into the water; and the ice, after
parting, joined again, and decapitated her. John the Baptist's disciples
honourably buried his body. It was said the Pagans rifled the tomb and
burned the body in the reign of Julian the Apostate; but some of the bones
were sent to St. Athanasius at Alexandria. In 396 Theodosius built a great
church in that city in honour of the Baptist, and there the holy relics
were deposited. The head of the Baptist was discovered in 453, and in 800
it was conveyed to Constantinople; in 1203 the lower jaw was taken to
France, and is preserved to this day. Part of the head is in St.
Sylvester's Church at Rome.


Jeremy Taylor says that John was imprisoned in the castle of Macheruns,
where Herod sent for him and caused him to be beheaded. His head Herodias
buried in her own palace, thinking to secure it against a reunion, lest it
should again disturb her unlawful lusts and disquiet Herod's conscience.
But the body the disciples of John gathered up, and carried it with honour
and sorrow, and buried it in Sebaste, in the confines of Samaria, making
his grave between the bodies of Elizeus and Abdias the prophets. And about
this time was the Passover of the Jews.


Temples were dedicated to John the Baptist in the first ages of
Christianity, the earliest and most celebrated being that known at Rome as
St. John Lateran. The next most celebrated church dedicated to St. John is
the Baptistery at Florence, dedicated by the Princess Theodolunda about
589. In this baptistery every child born in Florence of the Roman Catholic
faith must by law be baptised. This renowned church is decorated both
inside and without with miracles of art.


Pilate, after ten years of service, was disgraced and called to Rome. One
of that cloud of false witnesses who sprang up every year told the people
of Samaria that he knew where the sacred vessels lay hid, and fixed a day
when they should meet him in thousands on Gerizim to dig them up. Hearing
of this movement, Pilate sent troops into the highways and villages round
Shechem; and these soldiers, setting upon the people, slew the innocent
with the guilty, and put the whole body of Samaritans to flight. A great
cry for vengeance arose in Samaria; the Senate sent an embassy to Antioch;
and Vitellius, a man of craft and policy, wishing to stand well with the
Jews, put the government of Samaria and Judæa into fresh hands, and
commanded Pilate to report himself in Rome. Here we lose sight of him.
Legends make him a suicide--some in a Roman prison, others in Gaul, and
others again near the Lake of Lucerne, on the summit of the mountain which
bears the name of Mount Pilatus.


About sixty years B.C., Herod, misnamed the Great, had partly by bribery
prevailed on Antony and Augustus to make him king of the Jews, and
Josephus describes his visit to Rome on that appointment. Herod has always
been a monster of cruelty. He married a beautiful woman named Mariamne,
whom he put to death after being the mother of several of his children.
Then he had a fit of remorse, and frantically called her by name, and
ordered his servants to do so. Then he next slew the grandfather and
brother of Mariamne, the latter being ordered to be suffocated while his
servants were engaged in a bathing frolic. In his old age he was seized
with a sudden suspicion against two sons, whom he accused of a plot
against him, and after some wavering caused them to be strangled, and some
three hundred who sympathised with them to be stoned to death. After these
symptoms of madness, a year before his death, being alarmed by the reports
of the visits of the Magi, and the prophecies of the birth of Christ, he
ordered the massacre of the innocents. He died a year after, at the age of
seventy-one, of a disgusting disease, accompanied with horrible tortures,
having reigned thirty-five years. In order that he should not die without
being lamented, he had ordered a large number of the chief inhabitants of
Jerusalem, as soon as he was dead, to be slain by his soldiers. He died
enormously rich, and even Horace refers to his vast palm groves. There was
a lengthened litigation and appeal to Rome about the division of his
estates and governments. The son who succeeded him so misconducted himself
that after nine years he was banished by Augustus and his wealth


There were three Marys--Mary of Bethania, Mary the sister of Lazarus, and
Mary Magdalene; and some think they were all one person. Most of the early
writers say that she and Lazarus and Martha left Galilee and settled at
Bethany, and there Christ often visited them. The penitent woman and she
are by some treated as the same person; but it is at best only a
conjecture. It is a popular tradition that Mary and Lazarus, and Martha or
Mary their sister, were expelled after the Ascension, and put to sea, and
reached Marseilles, and founded a Church there, of which Lazarus was the
first bishop. The relics of these saints were alleged to be discovered in
Provence in the thirteenth century, and Mary Magdalene's were at St.
Maximius, near Marseilles, where a convent now stands. Her festival is
kept July 22nd, and once was a holiday in England.


A Provençal legend states that after the Ascension Lazarus, with his two
sisters Martha and Mary, Maximius and seventy-two disciples, also Cedon
the blind man whom our Saviour restored to sight, and Marcella the
handmaiden were put by the heathen in a vessel and set adrift; but, guided
by Providence, it landed at Marseilles in France. The people were then
Pagans, and refused to give the pilgrims food or shelter, so that they
were fain to take refuge under the porch of a temple. And Mary Magdalene
preached to the people, reproaching them for their senseless worship of
dumb idols. And though at first they refused to listen, yet they were
after a time convinced by her eloquence, and by the miracles she and her
sister performed; and they were all converted and baptised. These things
being accomplished, Mary Magdalene retired to a desert near the city,
where there were only rocks and caves, and she devoted herself to solitary
penance for thirty years, weeping and bewailing for the past. She fasted
rigorously, and must have perished, but the angels came down from heaven
every day and carried her up in their arms into regions where her ears
were ravished with the sounds of heavenly melody, and where she beheld the
glory and the joy prepared for the penitent sinner. One day, a hermit,
having wandered near the spot, beheld this wondrous vision of the angels
carrying the Magdalene up to heaven in their arms, and singing songs of
triumph; and after recovering from his amazement, he returned to the city
of Marseilles and reported what he had seen. Fra Angelico has a most
interesting picture of the Magdalene preaching from the steps of a
building to an audience composed mostly of nuns, who are in rapt


St. Martha, the sister of Lazarus and Mary, was a favourite member of that
family whom Christ often visited, staying a night on His visits. On the
first visit, Martha attended to the practical details of hospitality,
while Mary was intensely absorbed in the spiritual charm of the
conversation, and did nothing but listen, and yet was commended for this,
as if each was entitled to follow her own way of displaying her affection.
The message sent at a later date to Christ by the two sisters was simply
this--"He whom Thou lovest is sick": they knew it was enough to say that
one word. On the last visit of Christ, Mary poured costly ointment on
Christ's feet, which Judas Iscariot said was a shocking extravagance. St.
Martha seems to have been present at the Crucifixion. After Christ's
ascension, she, as stated under the head of Mary Magdalene, went to
Marseilles, and her body is deposited in a vault under the church at
Tarascon. King Louis XI. gave a rich bust of gold, in which the saint's
head is kept.


St. Veronica was the woman who was healed by touching the hem of Christ's
garment. She greatly longed for a portrait of Christ, and brought a cloth
to Luke, who was a painter, to make one. But he tried three times to make
a good portrait and failed. And Veronica being distressed, Christ told her
He would help her if she would go home and prepare a meal, which He would
take with her. She prepared the meal, and Christ went at the time
appointed; and on receiving from her a cloth to wipe His face after
washing it, He pressed it to His face, and it received a miraculous
portrait of His features. This He gave to her, and it performed afterwards
many miracles. The Emperor hearing of these miracles, sent for Veronica to
show him the portrait. She went to Rome with it, and was received with
great honour, and showed it to the Emperor, who, on seeing it, was
immediately cured. Others say that Veronica was a compassionate woman,
who, seeing the drops of agony on the brow of Christ, as He was bearing
the cross to Calvary, wiped His face with a napkin, or with her veil, and
then she found His likeness miraculously stamped upon the cloth. She
afterwards came to Europe in the same vessel with Lazarus and Mary
Magdalene, and suffered martyrdom in Provence or Aquitaine.


Of the Great College which inspired and guided Jewish thought, the chief
luminary had been Hillel, surnamed the Great. Hillel was a Babylonian Jew
by birth, though in blood (on his mother's side at least) he belonged,
like Joseph of Bethlehem, to the royal line. Hence he was of kin to Mary
and Jesus. Like Joseph, too, he was a craftsman in one of the noble
trades. When he left the Farther East for Syria, he was already forty
years of age; when he came to Jerusalem and entered himself a student in
the school of Menachem the Essene and Shammai the Pharisee, he had to
labour for his college fees and daily bread. He sat under Sammias and
Pollion. Each of these eminent scholars had risen by his virtues and
learning to the high rank of rector of the Great College. Under him the
college made a new start for fame. He invented the seven rules. A thousand
pupils entered his classes: eighty are said to have become famous as men
of letters, doctors, and scribes. He lived to the age of a hundred and
twenty, and died when Jesus was fourteen years of age (in the tenth year
of our era). He may have been one of the doctors with whom Christ talked
in the Temple. Simeon succeeded his father in the rectorship, and was
still alive when Jesus began to preach, and died two years after the


The Sanhedrim's strength had been reduced first by Herod the Great,
afterwards by the Roman governors of Judæa. Herod, on capturing Jerusalem,
had seized the whole body of the Sanhedrim, thrown them into prison, and,
with two illustrious exceptions, put them all to death. Around Hillel and
Shammai, the men whom Herod had spared, a new council had been formed; but
the prestige of the Sanhedrim could never be restored. Pilate abridged
their rights, taking from them more particularly the power of life and
death; yet even after they had lost the right to torture prisoners and
stone offenders, they still exercised a vast authority in Jerusalem, and
in every other Jewish city. Pilate could not dispute their jurisdiction
over Jews, however, in whatever land they dwelt, so long as they did not
encroach on the civil powers. The Sanhedrim comprised three
classes--priests, Levites, and ordinary Jews. The priestly element was
strong. Caiaphas, being the official high priest, had a right to preside.
In his absence the chair was filled by Simeon, rector of the Great
College. Whoever filled the chair was considered as sitting in the place
of Moses.


No handicraft could be followed by a slave, and none but a freeman could
learn a trade. Some trades were indeed less eminent than others--to wit,
the art of a tanner was condemned as noisome; the arts of a barber, a
weaver, a fuller, a perfumer, were all considered mean; and no man
following these crafts could be allowed on any pretence to serve in the
sacred office. A tanner, like Jose of Sephoris, might become a rabbi; he
could never be made high priest. Not so with the craft of carpenter--a
craft which had a part of its functions in the synagogue and Temple, which
was often adopted as a profession by men of noble birth, and which enjoyed
the same sort of repute among the Jews that is given in England to the
Church, the Army, and the Bar.


The Pharisees were so rigid that, according to Buxtorf ("Syn. Judaica"),
if an ox or other animal fell into a pit, it was deemed lawful to draw it
out only when leaving it till Sabbath would involve risk to life. When
delay was not dangerous, the rule was to give the beast food sufficient
for the day; and if there were water in the bottom of the pit, to place
straw and bolsters below it that it might not be drowned. The same author
states that it was a breach of the law to let a cock wear a piece of
ribbon round its leg on Sabbath, for it was making it bear something. It
was also forbidden to walk through a stream on stilts, because, though the
stilts appear to bear you, you really carry the stilts. While scrupulously
observing the law which prohibited the cooking of food on Sabbath, they
did not by any means make the holy day a day of fasting.


From the time Pompey (63 B.C.) captured Jerusalem and subjected the
country to the Roman yoke, the Jews were always on the verge of
insurrection. In 65 A.D., when Florus the Roman procurator robbed the
sacred treasury, and brought on an insurrection, Bernice, the wife of
Agrippa, rushed with bare feet through the streets to intercede with
Florus; but it was in vain. In 69 A.D. Titus approached and besieged the
city, starved out the inhabitants, and destroyed the Temple. Many Jewish
captives were afterwards carried to Rome to swell the triumph of Titus,
and were thrown to the wild beasts or forced to kill one another. The
triumphal arch of Titus, erected soon after his death, remains to this day
in Rome. From that date the Jews ceased to be a nation, and were dispersed
over the world. There are no clear accounts of what became of the Apostles
after the fall of Jerusalem. Some say that they arranged to go into
different regions, as Scythia, Asia, Parthia, India. Those writers who
profess to give later accounts of the Apostles flourished only in the
third or fourth century.


Not long before the outbreak of the Jewish War, seven years before the
siege of Jerusalem, a man, by name Jesus, came to the city at the Feast of
Tabernacles, and in a fit of abstraction cried continually, "Woe to the
city! woe to the Temple!" He alarmed the authorities, who ordered him to
be scourged as a madman; but he continued these exclamations, and during
the siege he was last seen sitting on the wall, still repeating the same
cries, till a missile put an end to him. The Jews rebelled against the
Romans in 66. The Christians, remembering our Lord's admonition (Matt.
xxiv. 15), forsook the city, and fled beyond the Jordan. In April 70, when
the city was filled with strangers, the siege began, and history records
no other instance of such obstinate resistance, such desperate bravery and
contempt of death. The Castle of Antonia was surprised and taken by night.
The famine was so severe that many swallowed their jewels; a mother even
roasted her own child. Titus wished to spare the Temple. But in a fresh
assault a soldier, unbidden, hurled a firebrand through the golden door.
When the flame arose the Jews raised a hideous yell. The Roman legions
vied with each other in feeding the flames. It was burnt on August 10th,
70, the same day of the year on which the first Temple was, according to
tradition, destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. The sight was terrible. The
mountain seemed enveloped in one sheet of flame; all was covered with
corpses; over these heaps the soldiers pursued the fugitives. Josephus
says the number of Jews slain was 1,100,000, and the number sold into
slavery was 90,000. The Christian Church was by this event liberated from
local influences, and took up an independent position in the world.


The interest of Antioch consists in certain memorable events having
occurred there in the first ages of Christianity. It was situated where
the chain of the Lebanon, running north, and the chain of Taurus, running
east, meet, and was partly on an island. It was here that the Christians,
when dispersed from Jerusalem at the death of Stephen, preached the
Gospel. Here was the first Gentile Church founded; here the disciples of
Christ were first called Christians; here St. Paul first settled as a
minister of the Church and started on his first mission; here St. Paul
rebuked St. Peter for conduct into which he had been betrayed through the
influence of emissaries from Jerusalem. Jews were from the first settled
in Antioch in large numbers. The city was founded in 300 B.C., and became
prosperous. The citizens were noted for scurrilous wit, and for the
nicknames they gave, and perhaps the name of Christian had its origin in
this disposition of theirs. The modern place known as Antioch is a small
and insignificant town of 6,000 inhabitants, though the ancient city was
supposed to have had a population of 200,000. An earthquake destroyed most
of the city in 526, and again in 583. The Saracens captured it in 635; the
Crusaders stormed it in 1089; and it fell under the Moslem rule in 1286,
since which time it has dwindled into insignificance.


In modern times the geography of Palestine was chiefly known through the
works of Dr. Robinson, Burckhart, and Vande Velde; but in 1864 a society
sprang up in England for the purpose of a more systematic exploration.
Successive expeditions were sent there for that purpose. In 1868 the
Moabite Stone was discovered by the Rev. F. Klein. It is a block of basalt
about 3-1/2 feet by 2 feet, and has on its face thirty-four lines of
writing in the character known as Phoenician. If it had remained entire,
there would have been no great difficulty in reading the inscription; but
when the Arabs heard that the Europeans attached great value to its
possession, they quarrelled about it and broke it up. About two-thirds of
the fragments were afterwards collected and pieced together. And,
fortunately, a "squeeze" of the whole had been taken before it was broken,
and a translation has been arrived at. The restored monument was preserved
in the Louvre at Paris, and a plaster cast is in the British Museum. The
inscription is supposed to be a record by Media, King of Moab (nearly nine
hundred years before Christ), of the victories and public works he had
achieved. Besides the Moabite Stone, the explorers discovered numerous
dolmens, being circular terraces 3 feet high, some of which were
conjectured to be burial-places; also, dolmens being flat, table-like
surfaces, probably used as altars by the Canaanite tribes.


Mr. Macgregor, of the _Rob Roy_ canoe, traversed the upper part of the
Jordan, and arrived at certain measurements, which have been corrected
slightly by the Palestine Survey Commission. From the source to the Dead
Sea it is 200 miles long. The source of the tributary of the Hasbany is
1,700 feet above the level of the sea. The Dead Sea is 1,292 feet below
the level of the sea. The Lake of Tiberias is 682 feet below the level of
the sea. The river at first runs 20 miles, then falls into the basin of
Hooleh, 4 miles long; then runs 10 miles, and falls into the basin of
Tiberias, or the Lake of Galilee, 12-1/2 miles long and 8 miles wide; then
runs 65 miles, and falls into the basin of the Dead Sea, 47 miles long and
10 miles wide. The Dead Sea is 1,278 feet deep at its greatest depth; the
Sea of Galilee is 165 feet deep at the greatest; Hooleh about 15 feet
deep. The Jordan ranks in size with the Dee of Aberdeenshire, but is
rather less rapid. The Jordan has nearly the same rapidity as the Clyde
and the Tweed. The Dead Sea, called in the Old Testament the Salt Sea, has
no outlet to the south, but gets rid by evaporation from the surface of
all the water poured into it. This is said to be the most remarkable
depression of the kind on the face of the earth. There is no port, and
there are no fish. The waters of lakes which have no outlet, such as the
Caspian, the Sea of Aral, Lakes Balkash, Van, Uramiah, and the Dead Sea
ultimately become more or less saline. The excessive saltness of the Dead
Sea is represented as 24·57 lbs. of salt in 100 lbs. of water; while that
of the Atlantic is only 6 lbs. of salt in the same quantity.


The Sea of Galilee, or Tiberias, or Gennesaret, is pear-shaped, tapering
towards the lower end. In its central part it varies from 60 feet to 165
feet deep. It is 12-1/2 miles long, and its greatest width is 8 miles.
Bethsaida, now called Tabiga, is on the upper shore of Galilee, and
consists of a few huts and mills. Some hot springs here flow into the
lake, and great numbers of fish crowd round that spot, which cormorants
and gulls watch and feed upon. Here was the miraculous draught of fishes.
Here Christ stood in a ship a little from the shore and addressed the
multitude. There was also a Bethsaida on the east of the Jordan at St.
Tell, where the five thousand were fed. The site of Capernaum, as related
(p. 62), is now doubtful; but Mr. Macgregor thought it was at Khan Minyeh,
about a mile west of Bethsaida and on the shore of Galilee. Magdala is on
the west shore of the lake near the middle, now called Midgel, and is a
poor village without beauty or cleanliness. It gives the name to Mary, who
is known over the whole world. Behind Magdala the hills rise abruptly to
about 1,000 feet. Tiberias is three miles farther down the west coast than
Magdala, and is now a filthy town, especially in the Jews' quarter. Christ
seemed never to have entered this town, and the chief reason given is that
it was full of foreigners.


The boats now used on the Sea of Galilee have dwindled to about six, of
five oars each; and for half a century travellers seldom have seen more
than one or two on the lake. The fish in the lake were said by Macgregor
to be the carp and the cat-fish, or coracinus. When Dr. Tristram visited
the country in 1869, he found a mode of fishing in vogue which was to
scatter poisoned bread crumbs, which caused the fish to die and float on
the surface in large shoals. He was told that there were fourteen species
of fish in the lake, but only three sorts were eatable. He also saw a man
wade in naked to guide his seine net round, and then draw it ashore. The
storms or squalls on the Sea of Tiberias are often violent, and this is
said to be owing to its depth below the level of the sea, where the air is
so rarefied and causes a gap in the continuity of the atmosphere. The
steep place where the herd of swine ran down into the Sea of Tiberias is
judged to be at Kersa, directly opposite to Magdala.


Mr. Macgregor, with the _Rob Roy_ canoe, about the year 1868 explored the
sources of the Jordan, which are three. One is the Hasbany, due north,
near which is the Pool of Fuarr, which the natives all believed to be
1,000 feet deep, being unapproachable by them; but when sounded it was
only 11 feet deep. There is a weir made to form this pool, and to supply a
mill near this point, and also a bridge with two arches crosses the stream
a little lower down. Two miles to the east of the Hasbany is another
source of the Jordan, called the Leddan; and on the east bank is a mound,
about 30 feet high and 600 feet wide, said to have been once the town of
Dan, where Jeroboam set up the idol (1 Kings xii. 28). Near this spot is
an impenetrable thicket, covering a pool 100 feet wide, supplied by a
subterranean stream. The natives believed the pool bottomless, but it was
found by the _Rob Roy_ to be only 5 feet deep. This pool also supplies a
mill. About fourteen miles farther east is the third source of the Jordan,
issuing out of a cavern at the village of Banias, which was once the town
of Cæsarea Philippi, where Christ asked His disciples who they thought He
was. Near this spot was supposed to be the scene of the Transfiguration.
Near this also are the vast ruins of the Castle of Subeibeh, built by the
Herods, and held by the Crusaders. It is 1,500 feet above the plain.


The three sources of the Jordan--the Hasbany, the Leddan, and the
Banias--unite, after running about 12 miles, at a place called Tell Sheik
Yusuf. The Banias is about 70 feet wide before it reaches this point, and
the banks are 20 feet high and abrupt. The united river is called the
Jordan from this point, being then about 100 feet wide, and 8 or 9 feet
deep. After running about 6 miles, the river becomes dispersed into small
channels, and these are soon lost in a vast morass, called the Hooleh, or
Waters of Merom, choked with reeds and papyrus, and swarming with leeches.
These obstacles prevent even a canoe passing. The passage being thus
blocked for half a mile, the water is again collected in a central pool or
lake about 60 yards wide. A clear channel of a 100 feet wide and 10 feet
deep flows from this pool, between thick walls of papyrus, which grows to
a height of 15 feet above the water. And this is said now to be the
largest papyrus ground in the world. Pelicans and water-fowl abound in
Hooleh, and Mr. Macgregor killed a pelican which measured 10 feet between
the tips of the extended wings. The Hooleh lake, or that part of it which
is clear of the papyrus, is about 4 miles wide and 6 miles long, tapering
to a point at the lower end, where the Jordan again issues as a river. The
lake is not deeper than 15 feet, and is more usually 9 and 10 feet only.
The Jordan, on its issuing from Hooleh, is about 60 feet wide; and after
running 10 miles very rapidly, falls into the Sea of Tiberias or Galilee,
or Lake of Gennesaret.


When Naaman the Syrian went to Elisha to be healed of leprosy, and was
told to wash seven times in the Jordan, he exclaimed, "Are not Abana and
Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel?" In
1868 Mr. Macgregor, with the _Rob Roy_ canoe, visited these places.
Damascus was picturesque in its situation, but the houses and people
exceedingly dirty. It is said to be the oldest inhabited city in the
world. Vines and orange trees relieve the mud walls, but there is nothing
really beautiful except the scenery surrounding this city. The population
is said to be now 150,000. The river rises a little to the east of the
source of the Jordan out of the Anti-Lebanon Mountains, and flows due east
past Damascus. It is a deep and rapid river about sixty feet wide, with
high banks, without trees, and with fruitful plains on each side.
Tortoises and land crabs abound. The _Rob Roy_ canoe sailed down to the
Tell of Salahiyeh, which is a small green hill like Primrose Hill, near
London. There are many canals used for irrigation in the course of the
river. The river then divides into three branches, on one of which is the
spot known as Abraham's Well, now called the village of Harran. These
three branches become lost in a large morass called Ateibah. The _Rob Roy_
explored this morass, and found it perfectly still water, choked with
reeds and osiers about five feet high. The natives never go into it,
believing some of the pools to be bottomless. The morass or lake is of a
double form, and the whole is about fourteen miles long and four miles
wide, seldom visited except for wild ducks and the myriads of other fowl
which are the only active inhabitants of the spot, and make the only noise
that can be heard. A few villages are dotted over the surrounding plains.
The river Pharpar flows parallel to the Abana in a line about twelve miles
more to the south. It also runs into a large morass, south of which is the
land of Bashan. Here wild boars have their tracks through the reeds. The
"bulls of Bashan" are shaggy buffaloes, which stand up to their middle in
the marshes enjoying the coolness, till the Arab herdsman with a long
stick drives them away, when they bellow and snort, raise their tails and
scamper off, spreading terror all round.


According to Josephus, who lived a few years after the Crucifixion, the
populousness of Galilee was far before most other regions of the world. He
says that in a district of between fifty and sixty miles long, and sixty
or seventy miles broad, there were no less than 204 cities and villages,
the least of which contained 15,000 souls. If this were true, then,
leaving out of view the straggling villages, the population of the
province would amount to the incredible number of 3,060,000. There were,
according to Strabo, many Egyptians, Arabians, and Phoenicians in Galilee
about that period.


Major Conder, engaged in the survey of Palestine about 1874, said that
Palestine is still a land of corn, wine, and oil, as of yore, and sheep
are still fed in the same pastoral regions; the same vineyards are still
famous; the corn of its plains still yields a hundred-fold. Plagues,
famines, fever, and leprosy still are common. There are still the former
and the latter rains; and the rose of Sharon has not withered; the purple
iris is still royally robed. Except in the disappearance of the lion and
the wild bull there is no change in the fauna. The deer, the antelope, the
fox, the wolf, the hyæna, the jackal, the ostrich, and the crocodile still
survive in the wilder part of the land, and the great boar, the leopard,
the wild goat, and the wild ass. The corn ripens even in April in the
Jordan Valley, and in May on the hills; and the olive harvest and the
vintage follow in the early autumn. In January comes the snow, with ice
and hail. In one year in Jerusalem there were seven falls of snow.


Mount Hermon, the second mountain in Syria, is a range of hills lying east
and west, all on the east side of the source of the Jordan, often called
the Anti-Lebanon. The highest cone is entirely naked. The snow never
disappears from the summit, though in the height of summer it melts here
and there, except in the ravines radiating from the top. The parallel
range nearest the Mediterranean is called the Lebanon; and Mount Lebanon,
the highest part, is snow-capped the greater part of the year. The range
decreases in elevation southward. The average height of both ranges,
exclusive of the peaks, is 1,500 to 1,800 feet. The range is rugged,
consisting of deep fissures, precipices, towering rocks, and ravines. The
forests of Lebanon consist of the cedars of Lebanon and a great variety of
trees; but the cedars have dwindled to about 1,400. In the lower valleys
and plains fig trees cling to the rocks, mulberries are cultivated in rows
on step-like terraces, vines also are trained along narrow ledges, and
dense groves of olives occupy the lower parts of the glens. The date palm,
once abundant, is now almost extinct.


Considerable variety of opinion has existed as to the precise flower which
Christ alluded to in the ever-memorable Sermon on the Mount (Matt. vi.
28). Some have thought it must have been the rose; but the Septuagint
translated the same word into lily, and this is considered the standard
meaning. Father Souciet laboured to prove it ought to be the crown
imperial, a plant common in Persia. Whatever flower was indicated, it was
no doubt conspicuous and beautiful, as well as common. There are red or
purple and white lilies; and probably the scarlet or purple colour was the
one referred to, called the scarlet martagon, which grows in profusion in
the Levant, and in the district of Galilee in April and May. The purple
flowers of the khob or wild artichoke, which abounds in the plains north
of Tabor, are thought by some to be the lilies of the field. A recent
traveller also introduces to notice a plant with lilac flowers like the
hyacinth, which he thought probably the flower meant. Dean Stanley says
the only lilies he saw in Palestine were the large yellow water-lilies
near Lake Merom. Mr. Thompson, in "The Land and the Book," seems to prefer
a large species of lily which grows among thorns, and is fed upon by the
gazelles. He calls the colour gorgeous, but does not state what the colour
is. The anemone _coronaria_ is also noticed by Mr. John Smith, of Kew,
with its brilliant colours, growing everywhere, and is abundant on the
Mount of Olives. The lily of the valley, as known in England, is not a
native of Palestine, and is not the flower of that name mentioned in the


The most substantial as well as ordinary corn and fruits of Palestine are,
and probably were in our Lord's time, wheat, maize, lentils, barley,
vines, olives, figs, and pomegranates. The land was ploughed by oxen. The
fields were not usually separated by hedges, walls, or fences. The plough
was a rude and light implement, which did not penetrate deeply into the
soil, but merely scratched the surface a little. The threshing floor was
merely a smooth and hard place where the corn was piled in a heap in the
centre, and the oxen led round the outside to trample out the grains. The
usual vegetables in Palestine are beans, peas, beets, turnips, carrots,
and radishes. Gourds also abound. The herbs are lettuce, parsley, mint,
mustard, lentils, cabbages, onions, and garlic. Melons and cucumbers are
rather luxuries, the former being manured from the dove-cotes which
abound, and which are often substantial round buildings. The vineyards,
which are surrounded by a hedge and ditch, are carefully watched during
the ripening season to protect them from thieves, and also from the
invasion of foxes, jackals, badgers, bears, and wild boars. The vineyards
also have cherry, apple, pear, fig, and nut trees. The olives are planted
in rows in the orchards. It is a tradition that the olives still growing
at the foot of Mount Olivet were growing in the time of our Lord; but this
is highly improbable, and is contradicted by some facts recorded by
Josephus. The olives are first salted, then crushed in the olive press by
a round stone as a press, run out into stone troughs, and the oil is
stored in skin bottles or in stone jars, which are buried in the ground.
The date palm abounds in the low and sheltered places. The palm tree
consists of a single stem or trunk, rising to sixty or eighty feet without
a branch, and with a tuft of leaves on the top. The fig tree, with its
short stem and wide lateral branches, with sprigs of little figs growing
all round the trunk, is the easiest to climb. The cedar tree was
considered the most excellent for size, beauty of form, and for fragrance
and durability of its wood. Hence Solomon used it chiefly for the Temple.
It attained sometimes 120 feet in height. The wild cypress yielded gopher
wood, of which the Ark was made. The oak and the terebinth are sometimes
confounded together; but a small kind of the latter produces pistachio
nuts. The poplar, evergreen, and sycomore are conspicuous in the jungles
near the Jordan, as well as the tamarisk and cane. Of flowers the rose is
a favourite. The flower called the rose of Sharon was rather the flower of
a bulbous root. The lily of the field referred to in the Sermon on the
Mount has been sometimes identified as a red tulip, called by the French a
meadow anemone or queen of the meadows. It is remarkable for its great
variety of colours, the scarlet abounding especially. There are also
buttercups, dandelions, daisies, poppies, white and yellow crocus,
mandrake, hyacinth, and sweet-scented stock. Of wild shrubs the oleander
grows to a height of twelve to fifteen feet, and with its bright red
flowers adorns the banks of the Jordan. The maidenhair fern hangs
luxuriant round the fountains.


The birds found in modern times in Palestine include the following:--The
woodpecker, the robin, the lark, the thrush, the willow wren, and
chiff-chaff; the true bulbul, which is the nightingale of Palestine; the
grackle, or orange-winged blackbird, haunting the gorges of the Dead Sea;
also rock doves issue from the caverns; the wagtail; rock swallows; the
black-headed jay; great spotted cuckoos; the black-shouldered kite; the
red-legged partridge; ducks, rails, and coots; the eagle owl, as large as
those in Central Europe; also little owls; the bat; the seagull, flamingo,
crane, and cormorant; the imperial eagle; the vulture, griffon, and
falcon; the hooded crow, the rook, and jackdaw. Of all the birds of
Jerusalem the raven is the most conspicuous, one species being the
ashy-necked, and smaller than the common sort. These ravens haunt the
trees of the Kedron and Mount Olivet.


The wild beasts in Palestine include the following:--The ichneumon, which
frequents the rocks, being as large as a badger, and of the same colour;
the fox, the hedgehog, and the badger; the mole rat, which frequents all
ruins, being twice the size of the English mole, and of a pale slate
colour; the wild boar, the hyæna, and jackal; hares and gazelles. The bees
are of smaller size than the English; butterflies the same as in England.
Lizards and snails are common.


The situation of Jerusalem is such that the ancient Jews believed it to be
the centre of the world, and yet it was out of the great highways, and so
had an immunity from disturbance. It stands on the edge of one of the
highest tablelands in the country. Hence its great height used also to be
constantly mentioned as a noted feature. Its highest point is about 2,600
feet above the level of the sea; the Mount of Olives overtops the highest
part, being 2,724 feet. The situation of Jerusalem was not unlike that of
Rome, except that Rome was in a well-watered plain, leading direct from
the sea, while Jerusalem was on a bare tableland in the heart of the
country. Each had its own cluster of steep hills. One great difficulty was
as to supplying water for the gardens on the north side, as no trace of an
ancient reservoir is now discovered in the upper parts. The arrangement of
streets is now perhaps the same as in early times. A dull, leaden, ashy
hue is everywhere on the buildings and ruins. The three great works in
Solomon's time were the Temple, the Palace, and the Wall of Jerusalem.
After its destruction in 70, the city disappeared from history for fifty
years, and its very name was almost forgotten, till Constantine built the
Martyrion on the site of the Crucifixion. In 326 Constantine's mother, the
Empress Helena, erected magnificent churches in Bethlehem and on the Mount
of Olives. In 369 the Emperor Julian the Apostate made an abortive attempt
to rebuild the Temple. In the fourth and fifth century pilgrims began to
visit it. In 529 the Emperor Justinian built a splendid church in honour
of the Virgin. The Christians ceased to have power there when the Khalif
Omar in 637 captured it. In 1099 the Crusaders first captured it, and held
it till 1187, when Saladin retook it. In 1243 it again came to the hands
of the Christians. It again in 1244 was retaken by the Mohammedans, and
has remained under the Sultans till modern times. There are various
theories of geographers as to the topography of Jerusalem. Some think that
the sites of all the chief places were correctly ascertained in the early
centuries; while others say there is nothing but guesswork as to the site
of the Holy Sepulchre and the Temple.


Nazareth, the city or village where Christ lived after the return from
Egypt till manhood, is situated in a basin among the hills just before
they sink down into the plain of Esdraelon. The surrounding heights rise
about 400 or 500 feet higher, with rounded tops, and they are composed of
the glittering limestone, diversified with fig trees and wild shrubs. The
hollyhock is one of the gay flowers of the field. The valley, which is
about a mile long and a quarter of a mile wide, is rich and well
cultivated, having corn-fields and gardens, hedges of cactus, and clusters
of fruit-bearing trees. The fruits are pomegranates, oranges, figs, and
olives. The village has now about 4,000 population, chiefly Christians,
with a few Mohammedans, a mosque, a Franciscan convent, and two or three
chapels of other confessions. In the rainy season the streams pour down
rapid floods through the hills. The wise man there takes care to build and
dig deep down to the rock, and not to trust to the loose soil as a
foundation. From the heights extensive views are obtained of the Lebanon,
Hebron, Carmel, Gilead, and Gilboa. In this village Christ taught in the
synagogue, and was once dragged to a precipice by His fellow-townsmen to
be cast down. The origin of the disrepute in which Nazareth was held is
not clearly known; but all the inhabitants of Galilee were looked upon
with contempt by the people of Judæa, because they spoke a rude dialect,
and were more exposed to contact with the heathen. Near the village is
shown the Fountain of the Virgin, where the angel's salutation is said to
have taken place, as the Virgin, like the rest of the inhabitants,
resorted there for supplies of water. Another place of note is the cliff
or precipice, about two miles south-east of the town; but geographers
think that a cliff of fifty feet high near the Maronite Church is the
locality where the mob wished to precipitate Christ. It is related that no
Christians lived in Nazareth till the time of the Empress Helena, mother
of Constantine, who built the first Church of the Annunciation. The town
was all but destroyed by Sultan Bibars in 1263, and it was many ages
before it recovered. No Jews reside in Nazareth in modern times.


The place where our Lord was so conspicuously occupied, the city of
Capernaum, has caused great controversy among the geographers. The doom
pronounced against it and the other unbelieving cities has been notably
fulfilled, for no one can in the present day pronounce between the two
most probable spots. One of these is Khan Minyeh, a mound of ruins close
to the shore of Gennesaret, at the north-west extremity of the plain. The
other is Tell Hum, three miles north of the last place, where are ruins of
walls and foundations, half a mile long by a quarter wide. It also
projects into the lake, and is backed by rising ground. Dr. Wilson
supports the second, as also do the geographers dating from 1675; while
Dr. Robinson, relying on Josephus, supports the first. It is one of the
insoluble problems.




Dr. Schaff, in his "History of the Apostolic Church," has divided the
whole history of the Church as follows:--

FIRST AGE.--The Primitive or Universal Church, from its foundation on the
day of Pentecost to Gregory the Great, thus embracing the first six
centuries (A.D. 30-590).

_First Period._--The Apostolic Church, from the first Christian Pentecost
to the death of the Apostles (A.D. 30-100).

_Second Period._--The Persecuted Church, to Constantine (A.D. 100-311).

_Third Period._--The Established Church of the Græco-Roman Empire, and
amidst the Barbarian storms, to Gregory the Great. (A.D. 311-590).

SECOND AGE.--The Church of the Middle Ages, or Romano-Germanic
Catholicism, from Gregory the Great to the Reformation (A.D. 590-1517).

_Fourth Period._--The commencement of the Middle Ages, the planting of the
Church among the Germanic nations, to the time of Hildebrand (A.D.

_Fifth Period._--The flourishing period of the Middle Ages, the summit of
the Papacy, monasticism, and scholastic and mystic theology, to Boniface
VIII. (A.D. 1049-1303).

_Sixth Period._--The dissolution of the Middle Ages and preparation for
the Reformation (A.D. 1303-1517).

THIRD AGE.--The Modern or Evangelical Protestant Church in conflict with
the Roman Catholic Church from the Reformation to the present time.

_Seventh Period._--The Reformation, or productive Protestantism and
reacting Romanism (A.D. 1517-1600).

_Eighth Period._--Orthodox Confessional and Scholastic Protestantism in
conflict with ultramontane Jesuitism, and this again with semi-Protestant
Jansenism (seventeenth century and first part of eighteenth).

_Ninth Period._--Subjective and negative Protestantism, Rationalism, and
Sectarianism, and positive preparation for a new age in both Churches
(middle of eighteenth century to present time).


The Apostolic period, from A.D. 30 to 100, or rather 117, the death of
John, may be subdivided into three: (1) the founding of the Christian
Church among the Jews, chiefly the labours of St. Peter, A.D. 30-50; (2)
the founding of the Christian Church among the Gentiles, or the labours of
St. Paul (A.D. 50-64), who made Christianity more and more independent of
Jerusalem, and the destruction of Jerusalem completed the severance; (3)
the summing-up and organic union of Jewish and Gentile Christianity in one
whole, chiefly the work of John. The three important local centres were
Jerusalem, the mother Church of Jewish Christianity; Antioch, the
starting-point of the heathen missions; Ephesus, the later residence of
John. At the same time, Rome, where Peter and Paul spent their last days,
was the centre of Western Christianity. The Apostolic period differs
essentially from all subsequent periods. In the first place, Christianity
comes forth from the bosom of Judaism, and for a long time clothes itself
in the forms of that religion. The Apostles are all Jews. In their
preaching they all, not excepting Paul, go first to their brethren, preach
in the synagogues, visit the Temple at Jerusalem. The Church gradually
separates from the home of its birth. The second peculiarity is the
unstained purity and primitive freshness of doctrine and life, and its
extraordinary spiritual gifts, working harmoniously together, and
providing, by their creative and controlling power, for all the wants and
relations of the infant Church. Müller called the first century the
century of wonders. At the head of the Church were men who enjoyed
immediate intercourse with the Saviour of the world, were trained by Him
in person, and filled in an extraordinary degree with the Holy Ghost. Such
infallible vehicles of Divine revelation, such sanctified and influential
persons, are found in no subsequent age. The Apostolic period contained
the germs of all subsequent periods, Christian personalities, and


In the ancient Church of the first three centuries there was always an
expectation of the millennium, as they counted, according to the
Septuagint Version then current, 6,000 years to end soon after the coming
of Christ. The primitive Church of Antioch considered the creation of the
world took place 6,000 years before Christ. In the fourth century this
period was reduced to 5,500, next to 5,200. The authority of the Vulgate
and of the Hebrew text, as accepted by the moderns, fixed 4,004 as the
period. The joyful Sabbath of 1,000 years was then to begin, and Christ
would reign in the New Jerusalem. The assurance of such millennium was
inculcated by a succession of Fathers, from Justin Martyr and Irenæus
(130), who conversed with the immediate disciples of the Apostles down to
Lactantius, who was the preceptor to the son of Constantine (317). The
joys of the millennium were to be balanced by a concurrent conflagration
and destruction of Rome, as the mystic Babylon. It was affirmed that those
who since the death of Christ had obstinately persisted in the worship of
demons would be delivered over to eternal torture. And the Christians of
that time were said to enjoy a spiritual pride in witnessing the
destruction of their enemies. Tertullian, who died in 240, an energetic
Father and champion of the truth, thus alluded to the matter: "You are
fond of spectacles: expect the greatest of all spectacles, the last and
eternal judgment of the universe. How shall I admire, how laugh, how
rejoice, how exult, when I behold so many proud monarchs and fancied gods
groaning in the lowest abyss of darkness; so many magistrates who
persecuted the name of God liquefying in fiercer fires than they ever
kindled against the Christians; so many sage philosophers blushing in
red-hot flames with their deluded scholars; so many celebrated poets
trembling before the tribunal, not of Minos, but of Christ; so many
tragedians declaiming their own sufferings; so many dancers," etc., etc.


One of the difficulties of the early Christians was to know how to act as
regards their worldly goods, seeing that they were all brethren. They
acknowledged this brotherhood, and yet were not clear where to draw the
line. They used to salute each other with a holy kiss (Rom. xvi. 16); and
they held love-feasts (or _agapæ_), by way of maintaining their
fellowship; and these were held especially in connection with the Lord's
Supper. But these feasts were found not to work satisfactorily--chiefly,
perhaps, because there was no suitable place of meeting. They were
condemned and discontinued even in the time of the Apostles. In the first
ardour of the Church at Jerusalem, they tried the experiment of community
of goods. The Apostles were careful to point out that the surrender was
entirely voluntary. Instances of hypocrisy and avarice soon disgusted
many, as in the notable case of Ananias (Acts v. 1), and the dissatisfied
Hebrew widows (Acts vi. 1). It is not known how long this experiment
lasted at Jerusalem. It was an experiment which could not succeed
according to the constitution of human nature; for the love of an
exclusive proprietorship is inherent, and it has been found in all
succeeding ages that individuals, as well as nations, flourish most when
each attends to his own business, and is satisfied to make the best of his
own opportunities, and to cease to covet the acquisitions of others. It is
found most salutary when each seeks only to gain riches by his own
exertions, and without undue interference with others. Many dreamers have
often looked forward to a community of goods as the most perfect state;
but a little practical knowledge soon teaches every one that it is a
dream, and nothing more. All the virtues of life are compatible with the
exclusive possession of property; and few virtues are possible when there
is no security for property as a basis.


In the early centuries, before paintings and images were introduced in
places of worship, and which at first were thought to resemble too closely
the Pagan practices, there were some favourite emblems used by the
Christians on their walls and drinking vessels and rings. One was the
figure of the Good Shepherd, representing Christ carrying a lamb on His
shoulders. On rings would be carved a dove, the symbol of the Holy Spirit;
or an anchor of hope, or a fisherman with a draught of fishes; or a lyre,
signifying joy and praise. These were suggested by the subjects that made
most impression on their daily thoughts.


One of the early notions of Christians was to select the name of some
apostle or saint as one of the names of their children; and this was
deemed, if not an infallible, at least a wise and prudent incentive to
worthy actions. Hence it became universal to adopt a Christian name, and
to mention it at the time of baptism; and heathen names were, on the other
hand, forbidden. It was long thought right that the bishop, if he found
some pagan name suggested, should forbid it and alter it into some proper
Christian name. Indeed, it was long deemed an accepted custom, if not the
law, that the Christian name once given either by a bishop or priest at
baptism was indelible, and that some offence was or would be committed by
seeking to change it. This, however, in modern times, is known to be a
delusion; and whatever may have been the name or names given to a child by
parents or priests, it is the right of every one, without anybody's leave,
at any time thereafter, to change his name, both Christian and surname if
he thinks fit, into any other; and if he choose to adhere to one name of
his own choice, people will seldom trouble themselves to dispute it or to
deny him this gratification. The only condition is that this change must
not be made for purposes of fraud.


Mr. Roberts, in his "Church Memorials," says that in 459, which was the
last year but one of the eventful pontificate of Leo I., the usage which
had long prevailed in the Churches of the West, that there should be a
public recital of sins which had been privately confessed, and a committal
of the same to writing, was suppressed by the authority of Leo as of
dangerous consequence to morals and good government. It seemed to that
Pope that the practice of bringing these secret things to light before the
congregation was unnecessary and pernicious. He deemed it enough for the
penitent to make his confession first to God, and then to the priest who
was to make intercession for him and procure the needful remission. And
this may be considered as the date of private or auricular confession
under the full sanction of ecclesiastical authority. Nor was public
confession in general understood to be interdicted by this arbitrary Pope,
but only the promulgation in public of such sins as were clandestine and
could transpire only by the revelation of the secret by the sinner
himself. The Roman Church has, however, always maintained the confession
to a priest to be necessary, as a ground for the remission of sins
committed after baptism, and essential as a constituent part of the
penitential ordinance. It seems but of little importance to investigate
the origin of the rite of penance, which lies buried behind the rubbish of
superstition and priestcraft, or to travel through the various periodical
changes in its forms and ceremonies. It is to the praise of the early
Church that none of the Fathers of the apostolical and primitive ages laid
stress on auricular confession as an essential part of Christian duty. The
Council of Lateran in 1215 declared it necessary to salvation. And in
1521 the Council of Trent issued a decree making both penance and
auricular confession alike necessary.


The sixth century opened a sanguinary internecine feud between sects of
the Church, and the first religious war was said to arise about the
correct words of the Trisagion as used in the Church service in
Constantinople. The blood of thousands was shed in the streets, squares,
and churches; and at last the Emperor had to abdicate to conciliate an
insolent mob, principally composed of infuriated monks. Gibbon thus
describes it: "In the fever of the times the tense, or rather the sound,
of a syllable was sufficient to disturb the peace of an empire. The
Trisagion (thrice holy), 'Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts!' is
supposed by the Greeks to be the identical hymn which the angels and
cherubim eternally repeat before the throne of God, and which about the
middle of the fifth century was miraculously revealed to the Church of
Constantinople. The devotion of Antioch soon added, 'who was crucified for
us'; and this grateful address, either to Christ alone or to the whole
Trinity, may be justified by the rules of theology, and has been gradually
adopted by the Catholics of the East and the West. The Trisagion, with and
without this obnoxious addition, was chanted in the Cathedral by the two
adverse choirs; and when their lungs were exhausted, they had recourse to
the more solid arguments of sticks and stones. The aggressors were
punished by the Emperor, and defended by the Patriarch, and the crown and
the mitre were staked on the event of this momentous quarrel."


One remarkable feature of the ancient services of the Church was, that the
people used to applaud and encourage the preacher with clapping of hands
and loud acclamations. St. Jerome, writing to Vigilantius, says, "The time
was when he himself had applauded him with his hands and feet, leaping by
his side and crying out 'Orthodox' for his sermon on the Resurrection."
And George of Alexandria relates that "the people applauded the sermons of
St. Chrysostom, some by tossing their thin garments, others moving their
plumes, others laying their hands upon their swords, and others waving
their handkerchiefs and crying out, 'Thou art worthy of the priesthood!
thou art the thirteenth apostle! Christ hath sent thee to save souls!'"
etc. And Gregory in his dream describes how the people during the sermon
moved their bodies like the waves of the sea raised by the wind. But the
great ambition of the preacher was rather to melt the congregation into
tears. St. Jerome says the preacher should labour to excite the groans of
the people rather than their applauses. St. Austin says he once preached
in Cæsarea, in Mauritania, where a savage custom existed of the citizens
engaging in a bloody fight once a year by throwing stones at each other.
And he directed all his eloquence against this custom, and was glad to
notice the tears shed by many, and he rejoiced at the time of writing that
eight years had since passed and the fight had never been there renewed.
St. Chrysostom, the most effective of all the ancient preachers, said
once, "I have thought of making it a law to forbid such acclamations, and
to persuade you to hear in silence." It was a frequent practice for
notaries to take down the sermons of favourite preachers in shorthand, and
in that way many have been preserved to the present day.


At a very early period the leaders of the Church attributed great
importance to the particular dress and appearance of the clergy, and laid
down stringent rules on that subject. The Canons said a decent mean must
be observed--neither too nice nor too slovenly. In particular the extremes
of baldness and long hair were equally objectionable, so that all were
obliged to shave the crown of the head and beard. This distinguished them
from the priests of pagan deities. So they were to observe a medium in
dress, and to wear neither white nor black. But the colours varied in
different times and places. It was noticed that these directions as to
garb arose after the danger of detection during times of persecution had
ceased. One garment, called the caracalla, and since cassock, was adopted
after the time of Constantine. It was a long garment, reaching down to the
heels, such as the Roman people put on when they went to salute the


So early as the fourth century there were very worldly and self-seeking
officers in the Church. St. Jerome in his "Treatise on Virginity" says:
"There are some of them who aspire to the office of priest or deacon that
they may visit women with the greater liberty. Their chief care is to be
well dressed, neatly shod, and perfumed; they curl their hair with irons,
they have bright rings on their fingers, and they walk on tiptoe, looking
more like bridegrooms than clerks. Some of them make it their only
business to find out the names and residences of ladies of quality, and to
discover their dispositions. I will describe one of them who is a master
in the art. He rises with the sun, the order of his visits is arranged, he
finds out the shortest ways, and the troublesome old man enters almost the
very chambers in which they rest. If he sees a cushion, a napkin, or any
other little article that he likes, he praises it and admires the neatness
of it; he takes it in his hand, then complains that he has not something
of that kind; and, in short, he snatches it away before it is given to
him." St. Jerome also mentions the avarice of these self-seeking priests,
who, under pretence of giving blessings, reach out their hands to receive
money. This plain speaking of St. Jerome made him many enemies, who
attacked in turn his own reputation and the fascination he exercised over
fashionable ladies, so that he had to leave Rome and retreat to Palestine.


Great learning has been shown by ecclesiastical historians as to the
precise position of early bishops--one side contending that these high
officials were appointed by Christ, or at least by His Apostles; and the
further inference is then drawn, that therefore this mode of governing the
Church is the best possible and the only right and orderly kind of
government for a true Church. Both points have been denied, and especially
the second, because it is urged that even if there were bishops appointed
by the Apostles, it would prove nothing, except that the Apostles thought
them the best kind of officers for the time being, and yet that they might
not be the best in other and different countries and circumstances. Most
of the Christians of all times till the Reformation too hastily overlooked
the fundamental principle, that each country and age is necessarily the
best judge of the peculiar mode of governing the Church, and should not
surrender its better judgment to the views of earlier and less experienced
ages as to matters not expressly enjoined by Scripture. The defenders of
bishops delight to dwell on some facts, or assumed facts, in favour of
their theory. They say that St. John was one of the authors of the order
of bishops, and that he went about ordaining for various stations, and
especially Polycarp, while St. Peter ordained Clement at Rome and St. Paul
ordained Timothy at Ephesus. The list of the first bishops is, however,
very obscure. It is said that James, the Lord's brother, was the first
Bishop of Jerusalem, and was ordained by the Apostles immediately after
the Crucifixion. And hence it is argued that our Lord must have sanctioned
this act in some way. One consequence of the theory of bishops was, that
the bishop alone had an inherent right to administer the sacraments of
baptism and the Lord's Supper, and also to preach and ordain others; while
a presbyter could only do so with his permission express or implied. And,
above all, the bishop could call presbyters to account and excommunicate
and censure them, thereby implying that the one order of priests was
inferior to the other in jurisdiction.


In the early centuries it became a custom for people to refer disputes of
all kinds to the bishops as arbitrators, and in that respect their so
acting superseded the action of courts of law. St. Augustine said that
nearly his whole time was taken up with this duty, so that it became a
burden to him. It became also an early practice for bishops to intercede
with the government for prisoners. There was an ancient custom for the
people to bow their head whenever they met a bishop, as if asking for his
blessing; and even emperors rendered this mark of respect. It was also
usual for people to kiss the bishop's hand, for Ambrose said people
thereby thought themselves protected by the bishop's prayers. Sometimes a
still higher honour was rendered to the bishop by singing hosannas to him;
but Jerome admits this was too great an honour to mere mortal man. Bishops
also wore a mitre or crown, and they sat upon what was called a kind of
throne. It is said that St. James, Bishop of Jerusalem, first sat on this
throne. When a bishop was consecrated, he was conducted by the other
bishops to a throne; and the form of prayer at their consecration besought
the Almighty to give the bishop power to remit sins, and loose every bond
according to the power which was given to the Apostles. One of the curious
things connected with the early bishops and presbyters also was, that they
were frequently seized by force and compelled to act if elected by a
congregation. St. Austin himself was thus compelled, and so was Paulinus.


The bishops of all countries seem to have agreed in using the pastoral
staff as one of the symbols of their authority. The form used is that of a
shepherd's crook, or a straight cane or staff, with a knob or volute made
of cypress wood or ivory or some metal ornamented. Each bishop used some
peculiarity of workmanship, and it went with the office to his successor.
The head of some was formed like a serpent, or a lion, or a bird.


The ceremony of consecrating churches was adopted in the three first
centuries, and indeed some say from the time of the Apostles. Nothing very
distinct, however, is found till the fourth century, when Constantine's
protection gave an impetus to church-building. St. Ambrose composed a form
of prayer for such occasions. In the sixth century a practice began to
consecrate also the altar separately. A church was not allowed to be put
to any profane use, though religious assemblies and meetings of clergy
were not forbidden. But no one was to have meat or lodging there. The
sacred vessels of the church were also kept religiously for the single use
of the sacraments. And when Julian the Apostate once sent two officers to
plunder the Church of Antioch and fetch away the vessels and convert them
into money, all believed that Julian was immediately seized with an ulcer
and died miserably. One ancient custom was for the congregation to wash
their hands before entering. In some places also, particularly in Egypt,
the members took off their shoes. It is doubtful whether the custom of
bowing toward the altar on entrance was not general, because it was merely
following the custom of the Jews. One gate of the church was called the
Beautiful or Royal Gate, being that at which kings entered, in which case
they had to lay aside their crowns, for it was deemed indecent that they
should wear such badges in presence of the King of kings. Even though it
was a universal custom to allow debtors and criminals to take refuge for a
time in churches, they were not allowed to lodge there, but were
maintained in a precinct outside. The women sat in a separate part of the
church from the men, and each entered by a separate door. In the fourth
century pictures of saints and martyrs began to be set up in churches, and
this continued, subject to the iconoclast persecution, to become more and
more in keeping with the thoughts and views of the time till the
Reformation finally stopped it in all the Reformed Churches.


It is said that the office of deaconess existed in the Apostolic age, for
St. Paul called Phoebe a servant or deaconess of the Church (Rom. xvi.
1). The deaconess was always a widow, who had had children, who had been
only once married, and who was at least forty, fifty, or sixty years old.
Immense importance was attached to her having been only once married.
Learned men differ as to whether she was ordained by the imposition of
hands, or, if so, whether this meant anything more than a benediction. But
all seemed to admit that she could not administer the sacraments, though
some heretics allowed women this power also. The main duties of the
deaconess were to assist at the baptism of women; to be private catechists
to the women preparing for baptism; to visit women who were sick and in
distress; to minister to the martyrs and confessors in prison; to attend
the women's gate and regulate the behaviour of women in the church, for
the women went into church at a different gate from the men. The order of
deaconess flourished till the twelfth century in the Greek Church, and the
tenth or eleventh century in the Latin Church, and then the practice fell
into abeyance, probably owing to the new views about the celibacy of the


The clergy have been said to be at first all bishops, until the growth of
population and numbers made it expedient to subdivide a city or country
into parishes of such size that one priest might conveniently attend to
it. Each bishop at first appointed his own form of service. And the
learned have disputed whether in the earliest ages the service included or
consisted of what corresponds to a modern liturgy or stereotyped form of
prayer and praise. There are authorities for both views. The Lord's Prayer
was generally one of the forms, and there were always hymns and psalms,
and these would naturally be in set forms. Also, there were certain set
prayers for special occasions. Peter Diaconus in 520 says that St. Basil,
seeing that men's sloth and degeneracy made them weary of a long liturgy,
prepared a shorter form for them. And Julian the Apostate was said to
admire the Church forms of worship; for when he intended the heathen
priests to imitate the Christians, he specified particularly those prayers
which were so composed that the people might make their responses. St.
Ephraim of Syria and St. Ambrose were great composers of hymns. The grand
hymn of _Te Deum_ was composed by St. Ambrose and St. Austin jointly. St.
Austin says there were five parts in the liturgy or service of the
Church--namely, psalmody, reading of the Scriptures, preaching, prayers of
the bishop, and the bidding prayers of the deacon. The last were
directions to the people what particulars they were to pray for, the
deacon going before them and repeating every petition, to which the people
made answer: "Lord, hear us," "Lord, help us," or "Lord, have mercy," and
the like. It seems to have been a practice for the people to turn their
faces to the east in the solemn adorations, the east being the symbol of
Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, and also of the locality of Paradise.
The Psalms were usually sung by the people standing. The sermons and
homilies, which were an hour or even two hours long, were sometimes
written and sometimes extempore. The preacher usually sat and the people
stood; but there was no fixed rule, for the preacher seems also to have
stood and the people to have sat. Many people in those times also thought
the sermon too long, and went out before it ended.


In the ninth century some attention began to be paid to the meaning of
rites and ceremonies. One Amalarius, a deacon of Metz, in 820 composed a
treatise on the Divine office, and on the order of the antiphonary, in
which he attempted to make all the stages of the liturgy represent some
doctrine. All the incidents of Divine service, every attitude and gesture,
the dresses of the clergy, the ornaments of the church, the sacred seasons
and festivals, were expounded as full of symbolical meaning. Agobard,
Archbishop of Lyons, on the other hand, being something of an iconoclast,
and severe against the superstitions of relic hunters, advocated the
exclusion of much irrelevant matter, as profane and heretical, from the
service-book and hymn-book. He said that far too much attention had been
given to music, and far too little to the study of Scripture. Agobard
opposed the writings of Amalarius as full of idle comments and errors in
doctrine. Not content with this exposure, Florus, master of the cathedral
school of Lyons, wrote strongly against Amalarius, and cited him before
two councils, the latter of which examined the mystical theories of
Amalarius, and condemned them as being founded on nothing but the writer's
fancy, and dangerous. The theories of Amalarius, however, kept possession
of many writers of the Middle Ages, and even in the nineteenth century had
their admirers and advocates.


The great distinguishing ceremony of Christians is the celebration of the
Mass or Communion, or Administration of the sacrament in commemoration of
our Lord's Supper. The word Mass was used as early as about the second
century, and is derived from the Hebrew _missach_, signifying a freewill
offering, or _mincha_, an oblation of meal. The name of Mass was used to
include all the offices and festivals of which the Holy Communion was a
leading feature. After the Reformation the word Mass was discontinued in
England, and superseded by the words Holy Communion. The days and times of
celebrating the Communion have differed from age to age. High Mass was
sung with music and solemn ceremony and the assistance of numerous
ministers, but the Communion was seldom given at High Mass. Low Mass was
said by a priest attended by a single clerk. The Eucharistic bread, or
Host (from _hostia_, the sacrifice), was required by a council of Toledo
in 925 to be made in form of a wafer, so as to be easily broken, and was
expressly baked for the altar. Unleavened bread came to be almost
universally used. In England, after the Reformation, ordinary bread is
ordered to be used, and not wafers or stamped bread. The Elevation of the
Host, or lifting up of the paten (a small flat plate so called) and
consecrated bread above the head of the celebrant, was instituted by Pope
Honorius III. in 1210, and he directed that it was to be adored when
elevated. This practice has been prohibited in England since the
Reformation. The pyx is the box in which the Host is kept or conveyed,
often made of silver or ivory. The wine for the Communion used by the
Greeks was mixed with water, and was red wine. The Roman Church now uses
white wine. The English Church forbids water to be mixed with the wine.
When the custom of carrying about and exposing the Host began, about the
fourteenth century, the name of the vessel in which it was shown was
called a monstrance, resembling a chalice. The _Agnus Dei_ is a little
round cake of perfumed wax, stamped with the figure of the Holy Lamb
bearing the standard of the Cross. The cakes were burned as perfumes,
symbolical of good thoughts, or in memory of the deliverance of men from
the power of the grave at Easter by the Lamb of God. The French shepherds,
during the time of the Crusades, were observed to use these perfumes. And
people burned them in their houses as a safeguard against evil spirits.
The _Agnus Dei_ was also the name given to a hymn sung in the canon of the


The learned Bingham, in his "Antiquities of the Christian Church," says
that there is abundant testimony that in the earliest services of the
Church it was a rule that the liturgies and forms of prayers should be in
the mother tongue of the people, and not, as had been a modern practice,
invariably in the Latin tongue. St. Jerome says that at the funeral of
Lady Paula the Psalms were sung in Syriac, Greek, and Latin, because there
were men of each language present at the solemnity. He also says it was
the practice for the young virgins to sing the Psalter morning and
evening, and to learn the Psalms and some portion of the Scripture every
day; and St. Basil says that all the people sung the Psalms alternately,
and the children joined. And the Church took care to have the Bible
translated into all languages--Syrian, Egyptian, Indian, Persian,
Ethiopian, Armenian, Roman, Scythian, and Gothic. Another custom pointing
to the same conclusion was, that Bibles were laid in the churches for the
people to read in private at their leisure. So that none of the ancient
Fathers ever dreamt that a time would come when the Scriptures should be
only in the hands of the bishops and clergy. St. Chrysostom, in one of his
sermons upon Lazarus, says expressly, "The reading of the Scriptures is
our great guard against sin. Our ignorance of them is a dangerous
precipice and a deep gulf." A Church Council of Chalons in 813 expressly
ordered that the bishops should set up schools to teach the knowledge of
the Scriptures. There was an order of officers, called Readers, expressly
to assist the people in this matter. And Eusebius relates that a blind man
called John, one of the martyrs of Palestine, had so good a memory that he
could repeat any part of the Bible as readily as the reader could do.
Therefore it was an entire departure from ancient practice when the Church
in mediæval and later times discountenanced the reading of the Scriptures
by the people at large.


Though music in Divine service had always a place, yet the use of
instrumental music seems not to have become general till the time of
Thomas Aquinas, about 1250. And it is related that one Marinus Sanutus,
who lived about 1290, was the first to introduce wind organs into
churches, whence he was called Torcellus, which is the name for an organ
in the Italian tongue. This instrument had long been known as a curiosity
before that time, and one was sent by the Greek Emperor about 766 to King
Pepin. The use of bells as a mode of summoning worshippers to Divine
service was soon thought of as a substitute for employing deacons or
deaconesses to give private notice to each attendant. In Egypt the early
Christians imitated the Jews by blowing a trumpet. In the early monastery
set up by Paula at Jerusalem, one of the virgins was set apart to go round
singing hallelujah. In the time of Bede, in the seventh century, bells
began to be used as a mode of summoning to worship. And in 968 Pope John
XIII. consecrated the great bell of the Lateran Church in Rome, calling it


The custom of separating the sexes in church had a very remote origin.
John Gregorie, in his works (published in 1646), says: "There is a
tradition that in the ark, so soon as ever the day began to break, Noah
stood up towards the body of Adam and before the Lord, he and his sons,
Shem, Ham, and Japhet. And Noah prayed and his sons; and the women
answered from another part of the ark, 'Amen, Lord.' Whence you may note
too (if the tradition be sound enough) the antiquity of that fit custom
(obtaining still, especially in the Eastern parts) of the separation of
the sexes, or the setting of women apart from the men in the houses of
God. Which sure was matter of no slight concernment if it could not be
neglected, no, not in the ark, in so great a straightness and distress of


Bingham, in his "Christian Antiquities," says that the Ancient Church used
prayers for all the saints, martyrs, confessors, patriarchs, apostles, and
even the Virgin Mary herself. But the practice was not founded in a belief
in purgatory, but upon a supposition that they were going to a place of
rest and happiness, the soul being supposed to be in an imperfect state of
happiness till the Resurrection. Moreover, many of the ancients held the
opinion of the millennium, or the reign of Christ a thousand years upon
earth before the final day of judgment. There was also a kindred practice
by which the holy books or diptychs used to be rehearsed during the
service. These recited the names of famous bishops, emperors, and
magistrates connected with the district; also the names of those who had
lived righteously, and had attained to the perfections of a virtuous life.
And this was done partly to excite and conduct the living to the same
happy state by following their example, and partly to celebrate the memory
of them as still living according to the principles of religion, and not
properly dead, but only translated by death to a more Divine life.


In Kennet's "Parochial Antiquities" it is stated by an old person living
about 1640 that "in the county of Hereford there was an old custom at
funerals to hire poor people, who were to take upon them all the sins of
the deceased party, and were called sin-eaters. One of them lived in a
cottage near Ross, in Herefordshire. The manner was this: When the corpse
was brought out of the house and laid on the bier, a loaf of bread was
delivered to the sin-eater over the corpse, as also a mazar bowl (gossips'
bowl) full of beer, which he was to drink up, and sixpence in money. In
consideration whereof he took upon him at once all the sins of the
defunct, and freed him or her from walking after they were dead. In North
Wales the sin-eaters were frequently made use of; but there, instead of a
bowl of beer, they have a bowl of milk. This custom was by some people
observed even in the strictest time of the Presbyterian government."


About 400 or soon after, a monk, Alexander, projected a new order of
monks, who were to be detailed into companies for the performing of Divine
offices day and night without intermission. This order acquired the name
of watches, dividing the twenty-four hours into three watches, each
relieving the other, and thus keeping a perpetual course of Divine
service. This order attained great esteem and veneration, and many
monasteries were built for their use at Constantinople. Among others one
Studius, a nobleman of Rome of consular dignity, renounced the world and
joined the order, erecting a famous monastery for their use, which was
called after him Studium. In course of time, however, these monks were
believed to be led away by the Nestorian heresy, and lost credit. We are
also told that Sigismund, Burgundian king, after renouncing Arianism about
524, restored the ruined monastery of Agaune at the entrance of the
principal passage of the Alps, the gorge of the Valais on the Rhone. It
was built in honour of St. Maurice and the Theban Legion, whose relics
were collected and there deposited. A hundred monks were obtained from
Condat to give a beginning, and eight hundred more were brought together
and bound under conditions, the chief of which was, that a service of
praise was to be kept up without a break, day and night. For the purpose
the nine hundred monks were divided into nine choirs, who sang alternately
and without intermission the praises of God and the martyrs. The king, to
expiate an offence in his own family, himself become a monk for a time.
This notion of keeping up the praise of God every day and night during the
whole year was also carried out in the seventeenth century by an English
gentleman, Nicholas Ferrar, who with his family made up a small colony,
all having semi-monastic tendencies, and lived at the retired parish of
Little Gidding, eighteen miles from Cambridge. He was the son of a wealthy
London merchant, was born about 1586, and educated at Cambridge, and for
some time was a Member of Parliament, and had also travelled. He, with his
mother, sister, nephews, nieces, and servants, numbering thirty, at last
took vows of celibacy, settled at this rustic abode, decorated their
little chapel with great care, and devoted their time to works of charity;
but one peculiarity was always in view--namely, that all day and night
they relieved each other in turns, and kept up constant services of prayer
and praise. Isaac Walton says that in this continued serving of God the
Psalter or whole Book of Psalms was in every twenty-four hours sung or
read over from the first to the last verse, and this was done as
constantly as the sun runs his circle every day about the world, and then
begins again the same instant that it ended. The ritual was that of the
Church of England. And there were candles of white and green wax, and
suitable decorations. At every meeting every person present bowed
reverently towards the Communion table. The community was called "The
Protestant Nunnery" by the peasants living near. In that age the Puritans
were developing their power, and there were also reactions, so that both
parties had their zealous champions in turns.


One of the most universally cherished customs of Christians was to keep in
remembrance the day of Christ's nativity, and celebrate and hold it in
honour by some special service of praise and thanksgiving of a religious
character. A kind of feast was celebrated on that day, and in the fourth
century it was very generally observed. But the correct date was long
matter of doubt in the early centuries. Some reckoned it on January 6th;
some in April and May. The Western Christians soon accepted December 25th
as the proper anniversary, while the Oriental Churches preferred January
6th. But by the time of the sixth century all Christians concurred in
observing December 25th. Almost every country has some peculiar custom of
a religious or festive character connected with Christmas Day. Another
commemoration day of universal observance was Easter Day, the anniversary
of the Resurrection, the preceding Friday being called Good Friday. And in
the early centuries there were also controversies as to the correct mode
of fixing the date. It was a day on which good Christians observed the
solemn Communion, as well as baptisms and acts of hospitality and
almsgiving. Choral processions and singing of hymns and anthems were
thought fit exercises for this memorable anniversary. The Sunday before
Easter Sunday, called Palm Sunday, in commemoration of the strewing of
palms on Christ's entry into Jerusalem, is also attended with particular
observances. In Italy it is called Olive Sunday; in Spain, Portugal, and
France it is called Branch Sunday; in Russia, Sallow Sunday; in Wales,
Flower Sunday; in Hertfordshire, Fig Sunday, in allusion to the cursing of
the fig tree.


The festival of All Saints was instituted in Rome in the eighth century.
At the end of the tenth century a new celebration was annexed to it. It
was related that a French pilgrim, on returning from Jerusalem, had been
cast on a little island in the Mediterranean, where he met a hermit, who
told him that the souls of sinners were tormented in the volcanic fires of
the island, and that he could often hear the devils howling with rage
because their prey was rescued from time to time by the prayers and alms
of pious men, and especially of the monks of Cluny. The hermit solemnly
adjured the pilgrim to report this when he returned home, and accordingly
the pilgrim mentioned it to the Abbot Odilo of Cluny, who in 998 appointed
the morrow of All Saints to be solemnly observed there for the repose of
all faithful souls, with psalmody, masses, and copious alms to all the
poor people present. The celebration was soon extended to the whole
Cluniac order; and eventually some Pope, whose name is not known, ordered
its observance throughout Christendom.


There were several holidays or celebrations of events very popular with
young people and the lower clergy during the Middle Ages, and which had
some connection with religious matters. These were the Feasts of the Ass,
of the Deacons, of the Kings, of the Buffoons, and of the Innocents, all
involving some horseplay and rude merriment, such as the Carnival still
exhibits. About the twelfth century the Feast of the Kalends was
conducted by actors having hideous beards over their faces. In the Feast
of Buffoons of the same period the duties and rank of the clergy were
caricatured and turned into fun and ribaldry. In the Feast of the Ass that
animal was dressed like a priest, and all the people brayed as the
incidents at the stable of Bethany and of Balaam's conversation were
rehearsed. In the Feast of Buffoons there were mock cardinals and a mock
Pope. In the procession of the Mère Folle there were a mock tribunal, mock
judgments, and mock sentences. As a counterpart to these boisterous
revels, there were famous legends or superstitions represented, such as
the story of the "Wandering Jew," so called from a rebuke given to an
insulting assault made on the Saviour at the Crucifixion, which was
followed by a supposed sentence on the offender that he should await
Christ's second coming; the superstition about Prester John, a sort of
pontiff king, half Jew, half Christian, who was said to have governed a
vast Indian empire, but no particulars of which were ever ascertained, and
yet he was said to have invited the Pope to go and live in his dominions.


The Feast of the Ass, already alluded to, was a feast celebrated in
several churches in France in commemoration of the Virgin Mary's flight
into Egypt. And the gross absurdities then practised under the pretence of
devotion would surpass belief were there not such incontrovertible
evidence of the facts. A young female, richly dressed, with an infant in
her arms, was placed upon an ass, when High Mass was performed with solemn
pomp. The ass was taught to kneel; and a hymn replete with folly and
blasphemy was sung in his praise by the whole congregation. And as the
climax to this monstrous scene of absurdity and profaneness, the priest
used at the conclusion of the ceremony, and as a substitute for the words
with which he on other occasions dismissed the people, to _bray three
times_ like an ass, which was answered by three similar brays by the
people, instead of the usual response, "We bless the Lord," etc.


The childish solemnities of the boy bishop on the Festival of St.
Nicholas, though prohibited so early as 1274 by the Synod and Bishop of
Salzburg, were always much appreciated by the public. On the eve of the
Holy Innocents the child bishop and his youthful clergy, in little copes
and with burning tapers in their hands, went in procession chanting
versicles, made some prayers before the altar, and sang complin. By the
Statute of Sarum no one was to interrupt or press upon the children during
their procession or service in the cathedral upon pain of anathema. This
ceremony existed not only in collegiate churches, but in almost every
parish. It is supposed that the anniversary montem at Eton, which used to
be celebrated in winter, was only a corruption of this ceremony, and was
as such suppressed by an order of Henry VIII.


The miracle play was a theatrical representation of scenes in the
Scriptures, and it seemed to be popular in mediæval times, and the monks
took part in it as active promoters. But there were some of these in every
century after the third. In times when reading was impossible, and the
fancy of the public was kept alive chiefly by the pictures and images in
churches, it was natural that this cognate representation by means of
actors on a stage should occur to those who catered for something like a
recreation. Chaucer and Piers Plowman allude to this as a frequent
indulgence. In the eleventh and twelfth centuries religious plays were
acted in England, France, and Spain. Bishops and canons and monks all
supported them, and they were acted in churches and on Sundays, as was
said to be the case in St. Paul's until the time of Charles I. At length
it was found that they degenerated into buffoonery and indecency. Some
have said that the practice arose out of the lively spirits of the troops
of pilgrims returning from the shrines of Compostella or St. Michael or
Canterbury, and chanting or reciting sacred songs and hymns. The plays
went out in England soon after the Reformation, and they became thereafter
mere secular amusements.


Dean Milman says he was present at one of the performances of the last of
the ancient mysteries which still linger in Europe, the _Passion Spiel_ by
the peasants of the Ammerghau. He never saw even in leading theatres finer
scenic effects, more rich and harmonious decorations, and dresses more
brilliant with blended colours. All was serious, solemn, and devout;
actors and audience were equally in earnest. The Saviour was represented
with a quiet gentle dignity, admirably contrasting with the wild life and
tumult, the stern haughty demeanour of the Pharisees and rulers in their
secret plottings and solemn council, and the frantic agitation of the
Jewish people. There were one or two comic touches and rude jests, as in
the greedy grasping of Judas after the pieces of silver, and the eager
quarrelling of the Roman soldiers throwing dice for the seamless coat. The
theatre was not roofed, but was erected at the bottom of a green valley
flanked by picturesque mountains. The effect of all this on the peasants
was said to be excellent. No one was permitted to appear even in the
chorus unless of unimpeachable character.


St. Medard or Mard, who died in 545, was in his youth impulsively
generous. One night a thief entered his garden and stole his grapes; but,
losing his way in the dark, was caught and brought before Medard. All that
the saint said was, "Let him go; I have given him the grapes." It was St.
Mard who founded the Festival of the Rose at Salency. He charged his
family estate with a fund sufficient to yield a sum of money, to be given
annually with a crown of roses to the best-behaved girl in the village.
Not only must the girl have the highest character, but her parents also.
As lord of the manor, he had the privilege of selecting one of three
girls, who were presented to him as candidates. When he had named the
successful one, he announced it next Sunday from the pulpit, and asked all
who had any objections to bring them forward. Then at the day and hour
appointed, the Rosière, dressed in white, and attended by twelve girls in
white with blue sashes, and twelve boys, went to the castle in a
procession, and thence to the church. Vespers were sung, and afterwards
the priest took the crown or hat of roses from the altar, blessed it, and
gave her the hat and a purse containing twenty-five francs. The procession
returned to the church, where a _Te Deum_ was chanted with an anthem. This
custom was said to be a standing encouragement for centuries of the good
behaviour of all the girls in the parish.


The Rosary is a festival instituted to commemorate the victory of the
Christians over the Turks at Lepanto in 1571. It was a practice of the
ancient anchorites to count the number of their prayers by little stones
or grains. In the twelfth century one lady was said to recite every day
sixty angelical salutations. Peter the Hermit taught the laity who would
not read the Psalter to say a certain number of "Our Fathers" and "Hail
Martyrs." St. Dominic was eminent for encouraging the custom of reciting
fifteen decades of the angelical salutations, with one "Our Father" before
each decade, in honour of the principal mysteries of the Incarnation. This
repetition of a hundred and fifty angelical salutations was instituted by
him in imitation of the hundred and fifty Psalms, on which account the
Rosary has been often called the Psalter of the Blessed Virgin.


As the year 1000 approached, among the many senseless notions then
prevalent, and industriously cherished by the priests for the sake of
lucre, was the persuasion that the last day was at hand. This doctrine had
been broached in the preceding century, grounded upon the Revelation of
St. John, and now was generally taught and received in Europe, and
produced an excessive terror in the minds of the people. For the apostle
had clearly foretold, as was taken for granted, that, after the tenth
decade from the birth of Christ, Satan would be let loose, Antichrist
would come, and the destruction of the earth would ensue. Hence great
numbers, leaving their possessions and giving them to churches or
monasteries, repaired to Palestine, where they thought that Christ would
descend from heaven to judge the world. Others solemnly devoted themselves
and all their goods to churches, monasteries, and the clergy, and entered
their service as bond-slaves, performing a daily task. Their hope was
that, if found in such a condition of life, their fate would be more
favourably judged. Hence, when an eclipse of the sun or moon happened,
they fled to rocks and caverns to hide themselves. Crowds flocked to be
near where the Saviour was expected to appear for judgment. Others
consecrated their effects at once to God and the saints--that is, to
priests and friars. Hence many also suffered their houses to go to ruin,
thinking these would soon be of no use. This delusion was not got rid of
till the end of the eleventh century.


As the millennium had been expected by all Christendom to occur in the
year 1000, most pious people at that date suspended all undertakings of a
lasting character. When the time arrived and the event did not take place,
a passion arose to build churches. Old churches were taken down, and new
churches built on a larger scale and with splendid embellishments.
Charlemagne's cathedral at Aix, which had been copied from the Byzantine
type, was imitated in many churches built along the Rhine. St. Mark's at
Venice was built about that time. The art of staining glass was supposed
to be invented or greatly extended at this period, and the cathedral of
Rheims was described as having windows adorned with divers histories.


The learned men of many generations have been much exercised as to the
origin, object, and use of the round towers, of which there are two in
Scotland and seventy-six in Ireland, and, like the campaniles of Italy,
are altogether detached from any neighbouring structure. In Scotland one
is at Brechin, and the other at Abernethy. The height is eighty-six and
seventy-two feet; the building tapers gradually, and the interior is
divided into seven sections. The entrance in one case is on the west side;
the other on the north side, in the form of a semicircular arch,
surmounted by a figure of the Crucifixion, a small statue on each side,
one carrying a pastoral staff, the other a cross-headed staff, and also a
book. The walls are three and a half feet thick, and the diameter of one
is about thirteen feet and the other eight feet in the interior. These
structures are both in ancient churchyards. The learned have concluded
that the Scotch towers were erected by Irish monks between the ninth and
twelfth centuries. Those being warlike ages, it is conjectured that they
were meant as a defence against the savage irruptions of the Danes--not
only as a refuge for ecclesiastics, but also as a secure hiding-place for
relics, shrines, books, bells, crosiers, and other treasures of the


Peter Damiani was born at Ravenna in 1002, and soon became a famous
teacher. He developed a strong turn for asceticism, wore sackcloth, fasted
and prayed, and used to tame his passions by rising from bed and standing
for hours in a stream till his limbs were cold and stiff, and then he
would hasten to visit churches and recite the Psalter. Once, on offering a
silver cup to some monks as a present to their abbot, and which they
refused because it was too heavy to carry, he was so pleased with their
unworldly views that he soon became monk, and no one could equal him in
his austerities. He was early enlisted by Hildebrand to propagate the
doctrine of the supremacy of the Pope over all emperors and kings; and
though his style of preaching was only a rhapsody of scriptural phrases
and allegories, he always carried out the High Church doctrines of his
employer. He distinguished himself by his deification of the Virgin and
his devotion to flagellation. His glorification of the Virgin consisted in
making her the centre of all power in heaven and in earth. His enthusiasm
on this subject led to offices of prayer being framed for her, which
afterwards became developed into a series of prayers known as the Rosary.
But Damiani's masterpiece was the discovery and education of Dominic, a
priest, and the greatest master of the art of self-flagellation. Dominic
wore a light iron cuirass, which he never put off except to chastise
himself. His body and arms were confined by iron rings, his neck loaded
with heavy chains, his clothes were scanty rags. His usual exercise was to
recite the Psalter twice a day, while he flogged himself with both hands
at the rate of a thousand lashes to ten psalms. These self-flagellations
were said to serve as a satisfaction for the sins of other men. This
system of Dominic was extolled by Damiani as something divine. Damiani was
also a determined enemy to the marriage of the clergy, which he denounced
as a very Gomorrah. By Hildebrand's influence he was made a cardinal, and
died in 1072.


At the end of the tenth century Guido, Bishop of Puy, in Velai, was said
to be the first to establish the _Treuga Dei_, which was the origin of the
great expedient for securing peace, emanating a century later from the
monks of Cluny. The Council of Clermont (1095) decreed that the Truce of
God should be observed during the leading Church festivals, and every week
from sunset on Wednesday till sunrise on Monday. At the Council of
Soissons in 1155 King Louis VII. and many princes assembled, and swore to
observe the Truce of God inviolably. And in 1209 the Pope's legate
prescribed its observance to the barons of France. Others say that the
Truce of God was brought into prominence by Rudolph the Bald in 1033, as
in that year there had been, after three years' famine, a most abundant
harvest, and the clergy suggested that men's minds would then be well
disposed to any sacrifice, more especially as the recent events connected
with the expected millennium in 1000 were still in vivid remembrance. The
Council of Limoges resolved that those who refused to adopt a similar
practice, called the Peace of God, should be excommunicated, and their
country laid under an interdict. Yet there was a vigorous opponent, named
Gerard of Cambray, who protested that war was an affair of state in which
the clergy had no business to interfere; moreover, that the exercise of
arms was sanctioned by Scripture. But the vast majority of the people
welcomed the new practice, and the time chosen, between the evening of
Wednesday and the dawn of Monday, was noted to include the interval
between the Saviour's betrayal and the Resurrection. The time was soon,
however, abridged. Odilo of Cluny had been a prominent advocate of this
restriction on the military barbarism of his time; and William the
Conqueror, before the Conquest, had also joined in its observance.


Students of Scripture have noticed how frequently the number seven is
chosen as the standard for a vast variety of computations. The seventh day
after the Creation God rested. The children of Israel on the seventh day
of the seventh month feasted seven days and remained seven days in tents.
The seventh year was the Sabbath of rest for all things: for the land
lying fallow; for release of debts. Seven was fixed for Jacob's years of
serving for Rachel; for years of plenty and then for famine in Egypt; for
fat beasts and lean beasts; for ears of full corn and blasted corn; for
bullocks and rams sacrificed; for King Ahasuerus' feast days; for Queen
Esther's maids of honour; for days of unleavened bread; for days of feast
of tabernacles; for Joseph mourning; for Churches of Asia; for golden
candlesticks; for stars, lamps, seals, angels, devils, phials of wrath. It
is noticed that our Saviour spoke seven times from the cross, remained
seven hours, appeared seven times. Then there were seven heavens, planets,
stars; seven notes in music, primary colours, deadly sins, senses. A child
was not named before seven days; the teeth sprang in the seventh month,
renewed in the seventh year; faculties develop in thrice seven years, and
life extends to ten times seven.


In 1300 Pope Boniface VIII., whose chief objects were ambition, avarice,
and revenge, celebrated with religious ceremonies the year of Jubilee. A
rumour had been raised in 1299 among the people of Rome that whosoever in
the ensuing year should visit the temple of St. Peter might obtain
remission of all his sins, and that this blessing and felicity was annexed
to every secular year. Boniface ordered inquiry to be made into the truth
of this common opinion, and found, from the testimony of many witnesses
of undoubted credit, that it was decreed from the most ancient times that
they who repaired to St. Peter's Church with a devout disposition on the
first day of the secular year should obtain indulgences of a hundred
years. The Pope, therefore, by a circular epistle addressed to all
Christian people, declared that those who at this time would piously visit
the churches of St. Peter and St. Paul at Rome, confessing their offences,
and declaring their sorrow for them, should receive an absolute and
plenary remission. The successors of Boniface not only adorned this
institution with many new rites, but, learning by experience how honoured
and how lucrative it was to the Church of Rome, brought it within a
narrower compass of time, so that soon every twenty-fifth year was a year
of Jubilee. From every part of Latin Christendom crowds of the faithful
began to pour towards Rome. John Villani, the chronicler, who was present,
estimates that there were 200,000 strangers in the city. Another
chronicler describes the multitudes as resembling an army constantly
marching both ways along the street. And even the poet Dante, who was then
a visitor, being away from the republic of Florence, watched the people in
their multitudes passing to and from St. Peter's, along the bridge of St.
Angelo, which, to prevent confusion, had a partition erected to facilitate
the passengers. Some authors say that the magnificence of the scene gave
the poet, and also a contemporary chronicler, the idea of composing their
respective works. The coffers of the Pope were filled to overflowing, and
one chronicler says he saw at St. Paul's two of the official clergy raking
together infinite heaps of money. Boniface was so intoxicated with his
success that next day he showed himself in the attire of an emperor, with
a sword in his hand, explaining that he was Cæsar and emperor, as well as
successor of St. Peter. Boniface, in his soaring ambition to subject to
his jurisdiction all temporal powers, met in Philip the Fair of France an
antagonist as keen and unscrupulous as himself, and their quarrels have
amused posterity. He died of insanity and rage in 1303.


John Villani, the chronicler of Florence, who died of the plague in 1348,
thus relates his visit to Rome at the Jubilee of 1300: "For the
consolation of the Christian pilgrims every Friday and solemn festival,
there was shown in St. Peter's the _sudarium_ of Christ; on which account
a great portion of the Christians then living made this pilgrimage, women
as well as men, from different and distant countries, from afar off as
from near places. And it was the most astonishing thing that ever was
seen, how continually throughout the whole year they had in Rome, beside
the Roman people, 200,000 pilgrims, besides those who were on the road
going and coming; and all were furnished and satisfied with food in just
measure, men and horses, with great patience and without noise or
contentions, and I can bear witness to it, for I was present and saw it.
And from the offerings made by the pilgrims the Church gained great
treasure, and the Romans from supplying them all grew rich. And I, finding
myself in that blessed pilgrimage in the holy city of Rome, seeing her
great and ancient remains, and reading the histories and great deeds of
the Romans, as written by Virgil, Sallust, Lucan, Livy, Valerius, Paulus,
Orosius, and other masters of history, who wrote the exploits and deeds,
both great and small, of the Romans, and also of strangers in the whole
world, to leave a record and example to those who are to come, so I took
style and form from them, though as a disciple I was not worthy to do so
great a work, and I began to compile a book in honour of God and of the
Blessed John, and in praise of our city of Florence."


In 1343 Juzef Ben Ismail, King of Granada, made a truce of ten years with
King Alphonso of Castile, and was noted for his pious laws and ordinances.
Among other reforms he forbade people to go through the streets praying
for rain, as he said those who made that offering should go forth to the
fields with much devotion and humility, and utter the following prayer: "O
Lord Allah, Thou, the ever merciful, who hast created us out of nothing,
and knowest our faults, by Thy clemency, O Lord, Thou, who dost not desire
to destroy us, regard not our shortcomings, but rather consider Thy mercy
and longsuffering. Thou who hast no need of us or our services, O Lord,
have pity upon Thy innocent creatures, the unconscious animals and birds
of the air, who find not wherewithal to sustain their lives. Look upon the
earth which Thou hast created, and upon the plants thereof, which perish
and are wasted for lack of the waters that should be their nourishment. O
Lord Allah, open to us Thy heavens, turn upon us the blessing of Thy
waters, let us again be refreshed with Thy life-giving airs, and send upon
us that mercy that shall revive and refresh the dying earth, giving
succour and support to Thy creatures, that the infidel may no longer say
Thou hast ceased to hear the prayer of Thy true believers. O Lord, we
implore Thee by Thy great mercy, for Thou lookest with pity on all Thy
creatures. O Lord Allah, in Thee it is we believe, Thee we adore, from
Thee we hope for pardon for our errors, and at Thy hands we seek for
succour in our need."


The black death, which was said to have carried off one-fourth of the
population in four years, and in England carried off half the population,
was a disease which puzzled the scientific men of the period. Carbuncles,
tumours, spots on arms and thighs, became fatal in about three days, and
the disease spread like fire among dry fuel. The effect on society was
enormous. Merchants of unbounded wealth began to carry their treasures to
monasteries and churches, and to lay them at the foot of the altar; but
the monks in their turn shuddered at the gift, as in their view it only
brought death, and they threw it over the convent walls. People were
driven by despair to take up pious works as a last defence. In Avignon the
Pope found it necessary to consecrate the Rhone, so that bodies might be
thrown into the river as the speediest mode of burial. The morals of the
people suffered by the hopeless and ghastly spectacles around, for
churches were deserted by priests, and the people without shepherds gave
way to covetousness as well as licentiousness. When the alarm was over,
there was a notable increase of lawyers, who, like locusts, devoured the
property left without owners. The plague raged from 1347 to 1350; and
owing to the Pope Clement VI. appointing a jubilee in 1350, and a vast
concourse of pilgrims to Rome, it was said that scarcely one in a hundred
escaped alive. The Brotherhood of the Cross or of the Flagellants
reappeared at this time, which betokened the end of the world to many,
and, taking on themselves the sins of the people, went about scourging
themselves in churches and markets, as a mode of averting the wrath of
Heaven. This imposing sacrificial ceremony had been invented about a
century before by Dominic, and was kept up from time to time in various
countries. The panic of the black death was in some places ascribed to the
infidel practices of Jews, who were accordingly hunted to death and burnt
in their synagogues, or put to the sword without compunction. The
physicians of the period were all at their wits' end how to administer
remedies to those requiring a remedy. Among those carried off by this
scourge was John Villani, the historian, and Laura, the beloved of
Petrarch. Though the black death was so fatal in England, it was noted
that Ireland escaped.


Scarcely had the panic of the black death subsided when a delusion arose
in Germany, a demoniacal epidemic, called the dance of St. John or St.
Vitus, which seized upon people, convulsing body and soul, and leading
them to perform a wild dance, screaming and foaming with fury. Assemblages
of these fanatics became prominent in 1374, and continued more or less to
exhibit the same fascination for about two centuries. They first broke out
at Aix-la-Chapelle among crowds who were said to come from Germany, who
formed circles hand in hand, whirling about for hours together in wild
delirium, shrieking, and insensible to the wonder, horror, and jeers of
the bystanders. After the fit they fell down and groaned, as if in the
agonies of death, when their companions swathed them in cloths tightly
drawn round the wrists, and then thumped or trampled on the parts
affected. Some after this frenzy pretended to see the heavens open, and
the Saviour and the Virgin Mary enthroned and beckoning to them. The
clergy were gradually led to believe that these people were possessed of
devils which required to be exorcised. The people affected were mostly of
the class of poor, and little removed from vagabondism. Another visitation
of a kindred nature was the sweating sickness, which was a violent
inflammatory fever, that after a short rigor prostrated the powers as with
a blow, and amid painful oppression of the stomach, headache, and
lethargic stupor suffused the body with a fetid perspiration. In England
it prevailed in 1485, and some chroniclers estimated that scarcely one in
a hundred escaped when once seized; and it was said to be locally confined
to England, and did not extend either to Scotland or Ireland or Calais.
The disease was said to be traced to a season of heavy torrents of rain
and inundations of rivers.


The austerities of monks for ages had created an admiration for the
practice of flagellation, and this grew till a new sect arose, which
believed in this as a supreme rule of life. Sovereign princes, as Raymond
of Toulouse, kings, as Henry II. of England, had yielded their backs to
the scourge. And St. Louis of France used it as if it were a daily luxury.
Peter Damiani had taught it by precept and example. Dominic, called the
Cuirassier, had invented or popularised by his fame the usage of singing
psalms to the accompaniment of self-scourging. At last, about 1259, all
ranks, both sexes, all ages, were possessed with this madness; nobles,
wealthy merchants, modest and delicate women, even children of five years
old, admired it. They stripped themselves naked to the waist, covered
their faces that they might not be known, and went two and two in solemn
slow procession with a cross and a banner before them, scourging
themselves till the blood tracked their steps, and shrieking out their
doleful psalms. They travelled from city to city. Whenever they entered a
city, the contagion seized the onlookers. They marched by night as well as
by day. The busy mart and the crowded streets were visited by processions;
in the dead midnight the sound of the scourge and the screaming chant were
accompanied with tapers and torches. Thirty-three days and a half, the
number of the years of our Lord's sojourn on earth, was the usual period
of this penance. In the burning heat of summer, and when the wintry roads
were deep with snow, the crowds moved on. At length the madness wore
itself out. Some princes and magistrates, finding it was not sanctioned by
the Roman See or by the authority of any great saint, began to interpose,
and after being for a time an object of respectful wonder the practice
sank into general contempt. A contemporary tells us that in the height of
the mania for flagellation the fields and mountains echoed with the voices
of the sinners calling to God. Usurers and robbers restored their
ill-gotten gains, criminals confessed their sins and renounced their
vices, the prison doors were thrown open, and the captives walked forth;
homicides offered themselves on their knees with drawn swords to the
kindred of their victims, and were embraced with tears; old enemies were
forgiven, and exiles were permitted to return to their homes. The movement
spread to the Rhine lands, and throughout Germany and Bohemia. But the
excitement disappeared as rapidly as it came, and was even denounced as a
heresy. Ulberto Pallavicino was resolved to keep the new heretics out of
Milan, and erected three hundred gibbets by the roadside, at the sight of
which the enthusiasts abruptly retraced their steps, and their enthusiasm
left them.


Dress was carried to a pitch of costliness and vanity in the time of
Edward III. Men holding dignities, parsonages, prebends, benefices with
cure of souls, treated the tonsure with scorn, and allowed their hair to
hang down over their shoulders. They imitated the dress of soldiers,
having an upper jump remarkably short and wide, and long hanging sleeves
not covering the elbows. Their hair was curled and powdered. They wore
caps with tippets of great length, rings on their fingers, long beards,
costly girdles, to which were attached purses enamelled with figures, and
sculptured knives hanging at their sides to look like swords. Their
sleeves were chequered with red and green, exceedingly long, and pinked
with various colours. They had also ornamented cruppers to their saddles,
and baubles like horns hanging down from their horses' necks, and their
cloaks were furred at the edge, though this was contrary to canonical


In the sixth century an abuse crept into religious circles of using the
Bible, like a book of fate, to discover future events. Cæsarius, Bishop of
Arles, warned his people against many of the current superstitions, such
as a superstition against sneezing, considering Friday an unlucky day,
etc. He told them not to return anybody's salutation on the way, but on
starting merely to make the sign of the cross and trust the rest to the
Lord. One abuse, however, withstood all his efforts, and that was the
practice of seeking for oracles in the Bible. St. Augustine also, a
century before, had observed on this pagan practice. He said the custom
displeased him of wishing to use the Word of God, which speaks in
reference to another life, for worldly concerns and the vain objects of
the present life. Even among the clergy the abuse prevailed. In doubtful
earthly concerns persons would lay down a Bible in a church upon the
altar, or especially on the grave of a saint, would fast and pray and
invoke the saint that he would indicate the future by a passage of
Scripture, and sought for the answer on the first passage which met the
eye on opening the Bible. Against the practice a decree of the Council of
Agde, in 508, was made, to the effect that since many persons, both of the
clergy and laity, practised divination under the semblance of religion, or
promised a disclosure of the future by looking into the Scriptures, all
who advised or taught this were to be excluded from Church communion.




Though for the last sixteen centuries the name of Christian has been used
throughout the whole world, this descriptive word was not much used in the
first four centuries. The Christians used to call each other disciples,
believers, elect, saints, and brethren. Third parties called them at first
Jesseans, spiritual physicians, or gnostics. When heretics or followers of
peculiar opinions of a novel kind arose, these were called by the name of
their leaders, as Marcionites, Valentinians, Donatists; while those
holding the standard or orthodox opinions adhered to the name of
Christians or Catholic Churchmen. The heathen often called the new body
Jews, as the early Christians were of that race. There were also names of
reproach given by the heathen, such as Nazarenes, Galileans, atheists,
Greeks, impostors, magicians, superstitionists, Sibyllists, self-murderers
(on account of their desire for martyrdom), desperadoes, fagot-men (from
being so often burned), skulkers (from meeting in secret). The division
between clergy and laity was soon acknowledged, all those who held regular
offices in the Church being called _clerici_, or clerics, or clerks; and
to this day the word "clerk" is the proper legal denomination of a priest
of the Church of England. The origin of the word is disputed, but is
generally traced to the Greek word "cleros," signifying that the clergy at
first were chosen by lot.


The teaching of Christian doctrines seems to have already begun to tell
upon Pagan practices when St. Paul worked at Ephesus. After he had been
preaching there two years, the great feasts and shows connected with the
worship of Diana came round. A silversmith, named Demetrius, found out
during the fair that his little silver shrines were not sold so
extensively as before, and that business was slack. He spoke to many in
the trade, and they all agreed that their business had fallen off, and
that it could be caused by nothing but by the missionary preaching of
Paul. So they resolved to hold an indignation meeting, and, if necessary,
get rid of this new-fangled sect. Demetrius harangued the mob, and they
all shouted, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians!" and "Down with the Jews!"
They all rushed to seize that invidious sect. Paul was concealed from the
popular vengeance by Priscilla and her husband. The crowd then rushed to
the theatre, which was large enough to hold 30,000 people. Paul wanted to
address the excited audience, but his friends warned him to avoid it. One
Alexander was asked to satisfy them that all the Jews were not Christians.
The yelling and confusion grew worse. At last the town clerk made a most
businesslike speech, never to be forgotten for worldly wisdom, and which
amounted to this--that if Paul or the Christians had done wrong, the law
was open to the persons thereby aggrieved, but that this was no excuse for
dragging them about and maltreating them. This soon quelled the storm, and
the mob became more peaceable. And soon after Paul left the city, and went
elsewhere to carry out his missionary labours.


The Pagans treated slavery as an integral part of society, and their
wisest men never dreamt of a time when slaves could be dispensed with. On
the contrary, one radical doctrine of Christianity being that all men are
brethren, it is at first difficult to understand how it took eighteen
centuries to bear upon this old vice. Dr. Schaff, in his "History of the
Apostolic Church," states the reasons in this way: The Apostles did not
attempt even a sudden political and social abolition, and would have
discountenanced any stormy and tumultuous measures to that effect. For, in
the first place, the immediate abolition of slavery could never have been
effected without a revolution which would have involved everything in
confusion, a radical reconstruction of the whole domestic and social life
with which the system is interwoven. In the next place, a sudden
emancipation would not have bettered the condition of the slaves
themselves, but would have rather made it worse, for outward liberation,
in order to work well, must be prepared by moral training for the rational
use of freedom, and by education until majority was attained. And this
can only be done by a gradual process. Paul, moreover (1 Cor. vii. 17),
lays down the general principle that Christianity primarily proposes no
change in the outward relations in which God has placed a man by birth,
education, or fortune; but teaches him rather to strive for a higher point
of view, and to attain glimpses of a new spirit, until in time a suitable
change shall be worked out. He recommends Christians to emancipate their
slaves (Eph. vi. 9), and he himself sent back Onesimus, a runaway slave,
to his master, asking that master to receive the slave kindly. He does not
exhort slaves to burst their bonds, but to give reverential and
single-hearted obedience to their masters for the time being.


St. Paul was released from his first trial at Rome in A.D. 63, and the
next year Rome was devastated by a great conflagration. Some say that the
Emperor Nero set fire to one place, and this, owing to the inflammable
materials, spread in all directions, and the inhabitants fled to the
fields. Men were going about with torches, saying that they had orders to
spread the fire, though perhaps this was only an excuse for plunder. Nero
at the moment was at Antium, and did not return till his own palace had
caught fire. He set apart the Campus Martius and his own gardens whereon
to fix temporary structures to accommodate the houseless. A general report
was circulated that Nero went on the stage of his private theatre while
the city was burning, and sang "The Fall of Troy," as being similar in its
catastrophe. At length on the sixth day numbers of buildings had been
demolished, so as to intercept the flames. The capital was rebuilt with
wider streets. Meanwhile the rumour spread more and more that Nero had
himself ordered the fire. To stop this rumour Nero accused and punished
with exquisite tortures the people called Christians. Many were clothed in
skins of wild animals and torn to pieces by dogs, or crucified, or set on
fire, and were burned like lamps. Nero made a holiday spectacle of these
atrocities, riding about like a charioteer in the circus. Tacitus, though
referring to Christ as a Jewish malefactor put to death by Pilate, and
treating Christianity as an Eastern superstition, yet said the people were
slain, not for the public good, but because of the cruelty of one man.
This is usually called the first persecution of the Christians. Four years
later Paul was tried again at Rome for some offence, and it is usually
believed that he perished there by the sword.


Pliny the younger, one of the most eminent advocates of Rome, and full of
sprightliness and good-nature, when appointed a governor of Pontus and
Bithynia, near the Black Sea, wrote to the Emperor Trajan in 101 this
account of the Christians, who used to be charged before him for refusing
to worship the Pagan gods. He said: "Some who said they had once been
Christians affirmed the whole of their guilt or their error to be, that
they met on a certain stated day before it was light, and addressed
themselves in some form of prayer to Christ or to some god, binding
themselves by a solemn oath--not for the purposes of any wicked design,
but never to commit any fraud, theft, or adultery--never to falsify their
word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up,
after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to eat in
common a harmless meal. I tried to extort the real truth by putting two
female slaves to the torture who were said to administer religious
functions, but I could discover nothing more than an absurd and excessive
superstition on their part. This contagious superstition is not confined
to the cities only, but has spread its infection among the country
villages. Nevertheless, it still seems possible to remedy this evil and
restrain its progress. It is possible that numbers might be reclaimed from
their error if a pardon were granted to those who shall repent." The tone
of this letter showed that Pliny had misgivings as to the proper way of
treating the new sect. The Emperor in reply said that Pliny seemed to have
acted rightly, though it was difficult to lay down a rule; but that though
these Christians were not to be run after, yet should they chance to be
accused and convicted they ought to be punished.


The brutal spectacles in which Pagan Rome delighted--the fights of
gladiators, and the combats of men with beasts--roused the indignation of
the Christians. Not merely did women crowd the amphitheatre during these
fierce and almost naked encounters, but it was the especial privilege of
the Vestal virgins to give the signal for the mortal blow, and to watch
the sword driven into the quivering entrails of the victim. St. Augustine
describes the frenzy and fascination of the spectators for these brutal
shows. A Christian student of the law was once compelled by the
importunity of his friends to enter the amphitheatre. He sat with his eyes
closed and his mind totally abstracted from the scene. He was suddenly
startled from his trance by a tremendous shout from the whole audience. He
opened his eyes. He could not choose but gaze on the spectacle. Directly
he beheld the blood, his heart caught the common frenzy; he could not
choose to turn away; his eyes were riveted on the arena. The interest, the
excitement, the pleasure grew into complete intoxication. He looked on, he
shouted, he was inflamed; he carried away from the amphitheatre an
irresistible propensity to return to its cruel enjoyments. Emperor after
emperor gradually prohibited first one part then another part of these
disgusting spectacles, being influenced by the persistent remonstrances of
Christians. The progress was not, however, very rapid. At last an Eastern
monk, named Telemachus, travelled all the way to Rome, in order to protest
against the disgraceful barbarities. In his noble enthusiasm he leaped
into the arena to separate the combatants; but whether with or without the
sanction of the prefect or that of the infuriated assembly, he was torn to
pieces--a martyr to Christian humanity. The impression of this awful scene
of a Christian and a monk thus murdered in the arena was so profound, that
Honorius (who died 423) issued an edict, putting an end to such bloody
spectacles. This edict, however, only suppressed the mortal combats of
men; the conflict of wild beasts continued till the supply was cut off by
the narrowing of the limits of the empire. The distant provinces no longer
rendered their accustomed contributions of lions from Libya, leopards from
the East, dogs of remarkable ferocity from Scotland, crocodiles and bears
and other wild animals from remote regions. Towards the end the improving
humanity of the people allowed artificial methods to be substituted, so as
to excite the fury of the beasts without endangering the lives of the
combatants. In the West these games sank with the Western Empire; in the
East they disappeared at the close of the seventh century under the
prohibition of the Council of Trullo.


Sozomen says that the Emperor Constantius (who died at York in 306) wished
to test the fidelity of certain Christians as excellent and good men who
were attached to his palace. He called them all together, and told them
that if they would sacrifice to idols as well as serve God they should
remain in his service and retain their appointments; but that if they
refused compliance with his wishes, they should be sent from the palace,
and should scarcely escape his vengeance. When difference of judgment had
divided them into two parties, separating those who consented to abandon
their religion from those who preferred the honour of God to their present
welfare, the Emperor determined upon retaining those who had adhered to
their faith as his friends and counsellors; but he turned away from the
others, whom he regarded as unmanly impostors, and sent them from his
presence, judging that those who had so readily betrayed their God could
not be faithful to their king. Hence, as Christians were deservedly
retained in the service of Constantius, he was not willing that
Christianity should be accounted unlawful in the countries beyond the
confines of Italy--that is to say, in Gaul, in Britain, or in the region
of the Pyrenean mountains as far as the Western Ocean.


Constantine the Great, son of the Emperor Constantius, deserved the
appellation of the first emperor who publicly professed and established
the Christian religion, and in whose epoch, accordingly, all Christendom
is interested. While the Pagans represented him as a disgraceful tyrant,
the Christians treat him as a hero, or even as a saint, and equal to the
Apostles. His stature was lofty, his countenance majestic, and his
deportment graceful. He delighted in society, and had a turn for raillery;
and, though rather illiterate, he was indefatigable in business, and a
consummate general in the field. He accepted the purple at York, where his
father, Constantius, died in 306, and in his career gained signal
victories over the foreign and domestic policy of the republic. In the
last fourteen years of his life (323-337) he was said to have degenerated,
being corrupted by fortune, and growing rapacious and prodigal. He
affected an effeminate and luxurious dress. He is represented with false
hair of various colours, laboriously arranged by the skilful artists of
the times; a diadem of expensive fashion; a profusion of gems and pearls,
of collars and bracelets; and a variegated and flowing robe of silk, most
curiously embroidered with flowers of gold. He was twice married, and had
an only son, Crispus, by the first wife, and by the second wife, Fausta,
three daughters and three sons. Crispus was amiable and popular, and had
been a pupil of the eloquent Christian Lactantius, but he soon incurred
the suspicion and jealousy of his father, and was, owing to the intrigues
and jealousies of the second family, put to death. Constantine, it was
said, then discovered the falsehood of the charges against his son,
erected a golden statue to his memory, and the cruel stepmother, in turn,
was said to have suffered death or imprisonment. In his latter days
Constantine had to chastise the pride of the Goths, then led by Alaric,
and spreading terror and desolation. In 337 Constantine, the only emperor
since Augustus who had reigned so long as thirty years, died at the age of
sixty-four at Nicomedia. His body, adorned with purple and diadem, was
transported to Constantinople, and deposited on a golden bed, at which the
great officials, with bended knees, offered their respectful homage as
seriously as if he had been alive, so that his flatterers remarked that by
the peculiar indulgence of Heaven he reigned after his death.


When Constantine, in 324, was invested with the sole dominion of the Roman
world, he exhorted, by circular letters, all his subjects to imitate
without delay his example and embrace the Divine truths of Christianity.
The Christians, knowing that the Emperor's father, Constantius, was on
their side, had looked to the elevation of Constantine as intimately
connected with the designs of Providence, and they confidently expected
some Divine and miraculous aid to attest the great revolution in the
world's affairs then at hand. History accordingly has preserved full
particulars of the standard, the dream, and the celestial sign which
sealed their hopes. The Emperor took measures to have the standard of the
cross affixed to his own statue, and on the helmets, shields, and banners
of his army. The principal standard was styled the _labarum_, which was a
long pike intersected by a transverse beam, from which hung down a silken
veil, which was curiously inwrought with the images of the reigning
monarch and his children. The summit of the pike supported a crown of
gold, which enclosed the mysterious monogram at once expressive of the
figure of the cross and the initial letters of the name of Christ. The
safety of the _labarum_ was entrusted to fifty guards of approved valour
and fidelity. The opinion soon grew that so long as the guards of the
_labarum_ were in the execution of their office, they were secure and
invulnerable amidst the darts of the enemy. The sight of the standard gave
the troops an invincible enthusiasm, and scattered terror and dismay among
the enemies. There is still extant a medal of the Emperor Constantine,
where the standard of the _labarum_ is accompanied with these memorable
words, "_By this sign thou shalt conquer!_"


In the age of Constantine the sign of the cross had come to be used by
the primitive Christians in all their ecclesiastical rites, in all the
daily occurrences of life, as an infallible preservative against every
species of spiritual and temporal evil. A contemporary writer affirms with
perfect confidence that in the night which preceded the last battle
against Maxentius Constantine was admonished in a dream to inscribe the
shields of his soldiers with the celestial sign of God, the sacred
monogram of the name of Christ; that he executed the commands of Heaven;
and that his valour and obedience were rewarded by the decisive victory of
the Milvian Bridge. The senate and people, exulting in the success of
Constantine, acknowledged that his victory surpassed the power of man. The
triumphal arch which was erected about three years after the event
recognised that by an instinct or impulse of the Divinity Constantine had
saved and avenged the Roman Republic. Twenty-six years after the event the
historian Eusebius narrates that in one of his marches Constantine saw a
luminous cross in the sky inscribed with the words, "By this conquer," and
this sign astonished the whole army; and that in a vision of the ensuing
night Christ appeared to the Emperor, displaying the same celestial sign
of the cross, and directing him to march with an assurance of victory.
These incidents were universally adopted, as undoubted truths, by the
Catholic Church both of the East and the West; but it is noted by the
sceptics that, though the Fathers of the fourth and fifth centuries often
celebrated the triumphs of Constantine, they do not allude to these signs
and wonders as accompanying the event.


The Emperor Constantine revolutionised the Empire by giving a chief place
to Christian doctrines and practices. He issued an edict of toleration in
313; decreed the observance of Sunday, the use of prayer in the army;
abolished the punishment of crucifixion, gladiatorial games, infanticide,
private divinations; and encouraged slave emancipation. He was a great
admirer of good preaching. Eusebius says he himself once delivered a
sermon in the palace before the marvellous man on the Church of the Holy
Sepulchre. There was a crowded audience. The Emperor stood erect the whole
time; would not be induced to sit down on the throne close by; paid the
utmost attention; would not hear of the sermon being too long; insisted on
its continuance; and on being entreated to sit down, replied, with a
frown, that he could not bear to hear the truths of religion in any easier
posture. More often he was himself the preacher, and one sermon of his is
preserved by Eusebius. These sermons were always in Latin, but they were
translated into Greek by interpreters appointed for the purpose. On these
occasions a general invitation was issued, and thousands of people flocked
to the palace to hear the Emperor do duty as the preacher. He stood erect,
and then with a set countenance and grave voice poured forth his address,
to which, at the striking passages, the audience responded with loud
cheers of approbation. He usually discoursed on the follies of Paganism,
the scheme of Providence and redemption, and the avarice and rapacity of


The Emperor Constantine was anxious to see a reunion of the Arian and
Athanasian controversialists; but owing to the sudden death of Arius at a
critical moment, and, as was often surmised, by a Divine judgment, the
opportunity lapsed. Constantine had been seized with sudden illness while
preparing for his Persian expedition, and he tried the mineral waters near
Helenopolis in vain. He now bethought himself of the necessity of baptism,
which he had omitted, though he had been for twenty-five years convinced
of the Christian faith. In the church of Helenopolis he was admitted a
catechumen by the imposition of hands. He then cast off his imperial
purple robes and assumed those of dazzling whiteness, and was baptised by
an Arian bishop, but nevertheless ordered the recall of the orthodox
Athanasius. He was greatly comforted at the accomplishment of his baptism,
and on his deathbed bade his friends rejoice at his speedy departure. He
died at the age of sixty-four. His body was laid out in a coffin of gold,
and carried by a procession of the whole army to Constantinople. For three
months the body lay in state in the palace, lights burning around and
guards watching. The Bishop of Nicomedia, who had been entrusted with the
Emperor's will, alarmed at its contents, placed it for security in the
dead man's hand till his son Constantius arrived. It was believed to
express the Emperor's conviction that he had been poisoned by his brothers
and their children, and to call on Constantius to avenge his death. That
bequest was obeyed by the massacre of six princes of the imperial family.
Prayers were offered up to the dead Emperor, and miracles were believed to
be wrought by him.


When the first great Church controversy arose as to the Trinity, the
Emperor Constantine summoned the first great Council of the Church at
Nice in 325 to settle this and other doubtful points. Three hundred
bishops attended, with many presbyters and deacons and laity. The assembly
sat in solemn silence till the Emperor entered with great state and
glittering with jewels. The whole assembly rose to do him honour. He
advanced with modest dignity to a low golden seat, and did not take the
seat till a sign of permission had been given by the bishops. A leading
prelate began with a short address and hymn; then the Emperor delivered an
exhortation to unity. The debate next began, and mutual accusations,
defences, and recriminations followed, the Emperor occasionally softening
asperities and commending pacific views. The council sat two months, and
at the end the Emperor invited the bishops to a sumptuous banquet. They
all attended, and were delighted at the prosperous turn which affairs had
at last taken. The Nicene Creed was the result. Three hundred and eighteen
bishops signed it, and five dissented, though ultimately only two of these
withstood to the last.


When Alexander was Bishop of Byzantium, about 314, being then
seventy-three years old, he presided at a conference which the Emperor
Constantine appointed to be held between the Pagan philosophers and the
bishop. The latter was called an apostolic bishop, owing to his reputation
for sanctity. And the historians say that on the occasion of the
conference he put the spokesman of the Pagans to silence by firmly
exclaiming, "In the name of Jesus Christ, I command thee to be silent!" On
another occasion the same bishop was an ardent opponent of Arius, who then
enjoyed the patronage of the Court party. The Emperor Constantine ordered
that Arius should be admitted to the Communion. But Alexander was
determined not to admit the heretic, and rather than comply with the royal
command shut himself up in the church of Irene for purposes of prayer.
Strange to say, Arius died suddenly on the following morning, as he was
proceeding in triumph to the cathedral, and the people all believed that
this was a judgment on the heretic in answer to the good bishop's prayers.


Gregory of Nyssa relates of Ephraim the Syrian, who died about 373, and
who was a most voluminous author, preacher, commentator, and hymn-writer:
One Apollinaris had written a treatise in two volumes, containing much
that was contrary to Scripture. These volumes he had entrusted to a lady
at Edessa, from whom Ephraim obtained a loan of them by pretending that he
was a disciple of Apollinaris, and was preparing to defend his views. But
before returning them he glued the leaves together, and then challenged
the heretic to a public disputation. Apollinaris accepted the challenge,
but only so far as to consent to read from these books what he had
written, and declining to do more on account of his great age. The
controversialists met; but when Apollinaris endeavoured to open the books,
he found the leaves so firmly fastened together that the attempt was in
vain, and he withdrew, mortified almost to death by his opponent's
unworthy triumph.


As there are many examples of kings and emperors converted to the
Christian religion, so there is a notable example of one relapsing to the
condition of an apostate. Julian the Emperor was brought up as a
Christian, and had the repute even of a zealous Christian till he attained
the age of twenty, when he took a grudge against the Christians, and
resolved to restore, if possible, the worship of the gods as it used to be
before the Christian era. He was initiated into the Eleusinian mysteries,
and studied with the Pagan philosophers. He composed an elaborate work
against the Christians. To spite the Christians he resolved to rebuild the
Temple of Jerusalem; but earthquakes, whirlwinds, or fiery eruptions
destroyed these attempts. He prohibited the Christians from teaching
rhetoric and grammar, and excluded them from offices of trust, ordered the
Christian temples to be demolished and the Pagan temples to be rebuilt,
and showed an irrepressible dislike to the progress of Christianity.
Julian admitted that neither fire nor the sword could change the faith of
mankind. He therefore prohibited the putting to death of the Galileans, as
he called the Christians. He looked on them as wild, savage, and
intractable brutes, or at least poor, blind, misguided creatures, who
needed only be left to punish themselves. The Pagans of Antioch received
him with rapture; but on entering the temple of Apollo, where he expected
to find a magnificent procession, he found only a solitary priest, and a
single goose for sacrifice, at the very sight of which parsimonious
neglect he was greatly incensed. While he was busy urging on the
restoration of Apollo's temple, it took fire, and this the Christians
viewed as a judgment; while Julian, on the other hand, attributed it to
their malice. He retaliated on the cathedral at Antioch by despoiling it
of the sacred vessels. Julian died in battle after two years' enjoyment of
the throne, and it was said his last words were, "Thou hast conquered, O
Galilean!" But the most trustworthy accounts state that he died in 363
without remorse, as he had lived without guilt, and delivered an
impressive address to his friends, submitting with dignity to the stroke
of fate.


Sozomen relates that Julian, when governor of Egypt, put the presbyter,
Theodoret of Antioch, the custodian of the sacred ornaments of the church,
to cruel tortures, and then caused him to be slain. Julian then proceeded
to the sacrilege of the sacred vases, which he flung upon the ground and
sat upon, at the same time uttering incredible blasphemies against Christ;
but his impious course was suddenly arrested, for certain parts of his
body were turned into corruption, and generated enormous quantities of
worms. The physicians confessed that the disease was beyond the reach of
their art; but from fear and reverence towards the Emperor, they tried all
the resources of medicine. They procured the most costly and the fattest
birds, and applied them to the corrupted part, in hope that the worms
might be thereby attracted to the surface. But this was of no effect; for,
in proportion as some of the worms were thus drawn out, others were
generated in the flesh, by which he was ceaselessly devoured, until they
put an end to his life. Many believed that this disease was an infliction
of Divine wrath visited upon him in consequence of his impiety, and this
supposition appears the more probable from the fact that the treasurer of
the Emperor, and others of the chief officers of the Court who had
persecuted the Church, died in an extraordinary and dreadful manner, as if
Divine wrath had been visited upon them.


When the Arians and Athanasians, early in the fourth century, were in the
height of their controversy about the mysteries of the Trinity, the public
also took sides, and things beyond all human comprehension became the
fashionable topic of conversation at Court. The dispute spread to the
people of high rank, and then pervaded the classes below. Socrates said
that a war of dialectics was carried on in every family. Gregory of Nyssa
in one of his orations thus graphically described the state of public
excitement: "Every corner and nook of the city is full of men who discuss
incomprehensible subjects--the streets, the markets, the people who sell
old clothes, those who sit at the tables of the money-changers, those who
deal in provisions. Ask a man how many pence it comes to, he gives you a
specimen of dogmatising on generated and ungenerated beings. Inquire the
price of bread, you are answered, 'The Father is greater than the Son, and
the Son subordinate to the Father.' Ask if the bath is ready, and you are
answered, 'The Son of God was created from nothing.'"


The controversy between the Arians and the Athanasians exercised the
leaders of the Church from the time of Constantine to the Second Ecumenic
Council in 381. All the great and commanding minds of the age were with
the Trinitarians, each condemning the Arian heresy in his own peculiar
way. One leader was Ephraim, the Syrian monk, who wept night and day for
the sins of mankind and for his own, and who poured forth verse and prose
in defence of orthodoxy. It was said his very writings wept, even his
panegyrics and festival homilies flowed with tears. His psalms and hymns,
however, animated his monkish companions, and were the occupation and
delight of all the earnest believers, and all his thoughts and emotions
were rigidly Trinitarian. St. Basil the monk, whose boast it was to be
"without wife, without property, without flesh, almost without blood," was
equally zealous for the Trinity, and as its champion he was made
Archbishop of Cæsarea. St. Gregory of Nazianzen was equally zealous and
eloquent in the same cause; and even the Arian monks and virgins were
excited to tumults and bloodshed by his exasperating popularity.
Chrysostom in the same cause offended the Empress, who was inclined to the
Arians. He was banished; but the Empress, on seeing the commotion caused
by an earthquake, was afraid, and he was recalled amid the enthusiasm of
the whole inhabitants, who went forth to welcome his return. His renewed
insults led the Emperor to send his military officers to seize Chrysostom
at the altar during the celebration of the Sacrament, and he was carried
off. The same night the church took fire, for which his followers were
blamed, and he never returned from exile. The cause of the Trinitarians
triumphed at last and became the settled faith.


Athanasius, the great champion of the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity,
who died in 373, escaped many imminent dangers in his career. When
Syrianus, Duke of Egypt, at the head of five thousand soldiers attacked
Alexandria in 356, the Archbishop Athanasius was with his clergy and
people engaged in their nocturnal devotions. The troops with horrid
imprecations battered in the door and interrupted the service; but the
archbishop, seated on his throne and expecting the approach of death,
merely desired the trembling congregation to chant one of the Psalms of
David which celebrates the triumph of the God of Israel over the haughty
and impious tyrant of Egypt. When the door was burst in, a cloud of arrows
was discharged, and the soldiers with drawn swords rushed forward, their
armour gleaming under the lights round the altar. Athanasius refused the
importunate prayers of the monks and presbyters who urged him to escape,
and insisted on keeping his seat till he had dismissed in safety the last
of the congregation. The darkness and tumult of the night favoured his own
retreat, though he was thrown down in the crowd and was eagerly searched
for by the soldiers, who had been instructed by their Arian guides that
the head of Athanasius would be a most acceptable present to the Emperor
Constantius, who was zealous for the Arian faction. It was on this
occasion that Athanasius was lost sight of for six years, making
hairbreadth escapes during all that period.


Sozomen says that Athanasius, the champion of orthodoxy, on hearing of the
death of Constantius in 362, appeared by night in the church at
Alexandria, to the astonishment of his friends. He told them that while
his enemies were seeking to arrest him he had concealed himself in the
house of a holy virgin in Alexandria. She was only twenty years old, and
was of such extraordinary beauty, modesty, and wisdom that the gravest and
best men felt indescribable fascination in her presence. It is said that
Athanasius was led by the revelation of God to seek refuge in her house,
and the result showed that all the events were directed by Providence. The
friends and relatives of Athanasius would thus have been preserved from
danger had search been made for him amongst them, and had they been
compelled to swear that he was not concealed with them. There was nothing
to excite suspicion of a bishop being concealed in the house of so lovely
a virgin. She had, moreover, the courage to receive him and sufficient
prudence to preserve his life. She alone ministered to him and supplied
his wants. She washed his feet, brought him food, provided him with the
books he wanted, and acted so prudently that during the whole time of his
residence with her none of the inhabitants of Alexandria suspected the
place of his retreat. The people of Alexandria rejoiced at this unexpected
reappearance of Athanasius, and at once restored his churches to him.


Alanus de Insulis was a schoolman of immense renown in the eleventh and
twelfth centuries. He had appointed a certain day to preach on the Blessed
Trinity and to give a perfect explanation of that mystery to his auditors.
On the preceding day, as he took a solitary walk on the margin of a river,
he saw a little boy scooping out a small trench, and trying to fill it
with water from a shell; but the water escaped through the sandy bottom as
fast as he filled it. "What are you doing, my pretty child?" asked Alanus.
The reply was, "I am going to put all the water of the river into my
trench." "And when do you think, my child, that you will succeed in this
great design?" "Oh," said the child, "I shall succeed before you succeed
in yours. For they say you are to explain the Trinity, in your sermon
to-morrow, by the rules of science." Alanus was struck with this reply and
seized with compunction. He returned home meditating deeply on the child's
remarks and his own presumption. On the morrow, when the hour of the
sermon arrived, a great crowd assembled. Alanus mounted the pulpit and
uttered these words, which were his whole discourse, "It is sufficient, my
friends, that you have seen Alanus." He immediately descended and
withdrew, leaving the people in astonishment. The same day he left Paris
for Burgundy, and repaired to the abbey of Citeaux, where he became a
monk, and ended his days in holy offices and far-reaching reflections.


When the young Emperor Valentinian, who died A.D. 375, was about to carry
out the edict of his predecessor and demolish the Pagan temples and remove
the statue of Victory, the eloquent prefect of Rome, Symmachus, ventured
to remonstrate, and in the Senate he lavished his eloquence in defence of
the immortal gods and the religion of his ancestors. He was cautious,
dextrous, and conciliatory. He told the Emperor how their old religion had
subdued the world to the Roman dominion, that Heaven was above them all,
and there were many ways by which we arrive at the great secret. But he
presumed not to contend on this occasion; he was a humble suppliant. It
would surely be a disgrace to the imperial treasury to be enriched by the
paltry saving in the maintenance of the Vestal Virgins and by confiscating
legacies bequeathed by the piety of individuals. Yea, the deified father
of the Emperor would look down with sorrow from the starry citadel to see
the intolerance of that day's proceedings. Ambrose, the Archbishop of
Milan, was, however, at hand to confront and confute this Pagan harangue.
He told the Emperor that ancestors were to be treated with reverence, but
that the question now was the right way of treating with God alone. No
part of the public revenue must be given to maintain idolatry. He who
offered to images would have his offerings returned by the Church with
disdain. All the gods of Rome had done nothing for her. It was the courage
of the legions, and not the influence of all the false idols, that turned
in their favour the issue of battles. Valentinian was murdered before the
final step was taken, and his successor hesitated. Ambrose had to fly from
Milan, for the soldiery boasted that they would stable their horses in the
churches and press the clergy as soldiers. Alaric soon arrived on the
scene, the Roman aristocracy became absorbed by the Christianising
population, and Paganism at last gradually died out in 493, and the new
religion took its place in the old temples.


The ruin of Paganism and its idols took place in the age of the Emperor
Theodosius (378-395). The Roman priests, with their robes of purple,
chariots of state, and sumptuous entertainments, were the admiration of
the people; and they found their great champion and advocate in Symmachus,
who in turn was baffled by Ambrose, Archbishop of Milan, whose influence
caused the Pagan orator to be exiled. On a vote of the Senate as to
whether the worship of Jupiter or of Christ should be the religion of the
Romans, a large majority condemned Jupiter, and this led to a special
committee of officers, who were directed to shut up the temples and
destroy the instruments of idolatry. The Sophists who stood by the Pagan
religion describe the acts of the Christian image-breakers as a dreadful
and amazing prodigy which covered the earth with darkness. They
pathetically relate how the Pagan temples were converted into sepulchres,
and how the filthy monks polluted holy places with relics of martyrs which
were nothing better than the heads--salted and pickled--of those infamous
malefactors who, for the multitude of their crimes, had suffered an
ignominious death. But the monks triumphed, and the bodies of St. Andrew,
St. Luke, and St. Timothy were transported from their obscure graves in
solemn pomp and deposited in the Church of the Apostles, which the
magnificence of Constantine had founded in Constantinople. The example of
Rome and Constantinople confirmed the faith and discipline of the Catholic
world; and the influence of this part of the worship of the faithful
lasted during the twelve hundred years which elapsed between the reign of
Constantine and the reformation of Luther.


When Theodosius, the Christian Emperor, in 379 made an edict ordering the
demolition of idolatrous temples, it filled the Pagans with dismay.
Theophilus, the Archbishop of Alexandria, hastened to execute the order.
Marching at the head of the military, he entered the proud temple of the
god Serapis, to which a hundred steps led up, and magnificent portices and
pillars surrounded the spot. There stood the celebrated colossal statue of
the god, made of gold, silver, and other metals fused together, and inlaid
with precious stones. When the Christians entered the vast deserted
building, the centre of adoration for centuries, they stood silent and
awestruck, and after a pause of wonder a soldier was ordered to strike the
statue on the knee. He did so timidly, for the spectators expected some
terrific outburst of thunder and lightning to destroy him instantaneously.
There was an echo, but no sign came. The man, being emboldened, then
climbed up to the head, and with one blow struck it off and made it roll
to the ground. Another pause. Still no sign of insulted godhead; but a
large colony of rats, disturbed from their peaceful abode, suddenly leapt
out and scampered about in all directions. The multitude, with their
high-strung nerves, were prepared for some act of personal vengeance, but
at once dissolved with mirth; peals of loud laughter and jests and mockery
mingled with the rest of the work. The curious crowd were further
gratified by discovering some of the machinery by which the tricks were
produced which had so long imposed on their simple faith, such as letting
the light through an aperture fall suddenly on the lips of the statue at
the right moment, also a magnet in the roof, which kept a small statue
suspended in the air. The fragments of the statue of Serapis were
zealously dragged through the streets, and the foundations of the walls
were rooted up. The Pagans waited in vain for some sequel of god-like
retribution to come; but the river Nile flowed on unmindful of its god
without any unusual outbreak. And like scenes were repeated in other
cities with the same impunity. In some of the earlier demolitions,
however, in other parts of the empire the Pagans resisted, and in some
cases successfully. The war against the temples began in Syria. One
enthusiastic iconoclast, named Marcellus of Apamea, after successfully
destroying temples in other neighbouring places, when attacking that in
his own district was seized rudely by the inhabitants and burned alive.
The synod of Christians, thinking it a glorious death, refused to revenge
on the ignorant barbarians their precipitate outrage.


When the Emperor Theodosius in 386 directed the prætorian prefect
Cynegius, an ardent supporter of Christianity, to shut up all the Pagan
temples, this was not done without great excitement. One Theophilus,
Bishop of Alexandria, a somewhat worldly man, who was rather bent on
erecting splendid churches than on carrying out the spirit of
Christianity, obtained from the Emperor a gift of a temple of Bacchus, and
he proceeded to convert it into a Christian church. He acted most
injudiciously, first collecting all the indecent decorations out of that
impure place, and ordering these to be carried in a procession through the
streets, so as to expose them to the ridicule and contempt of the people.
But it had rather a contrary effect, for it roused the fanatical spirit,
and caused the mob to create a riot and retaliate on the Christians,
driving them off and themselves taking refuge in the magnificent temple of
Serapis, the pride of Pagan idolaters. There a fanatical Pagan named
Olympius, who was clad in the garb of a philosopher, harangued his
followers, and instigated them to fight for the sanctuaries of their
fathers. The spirit of the mob rose to fever heat, and the loss of life in
these commotions was so great that the Emperor took occasion of it to
issue a decree, in which he found it necessary to pardon the ringleaders
of the Pagans, but at the same time he directed all the heathen temples at
Alexandria to be destroyed, since it was through these that such serious
disturbances had been created. And this led, amongst others, to the
demolition of the celebrated temple of Serapis, and its conversion into
churches and cloisters. After these events it was expected that Paganism
would soon die out.


There was a magnificent image of Christ erected over the bronze portal of
the Imperial Palace at Constantinople. The legend was, that Theodore, a
wealthy merchant, after losing all his property at sea, went to borrow
some capital from a wealthy Jew, who demanded good security. Theodore had
nothing of value but an image of Christ, and this he boldly offered as his
surety. The Jew was so amused and yet overwhelmed at this simplicity that
he agreed to accept it. The result was that the merchant won back all his
wealth, and repaid the Jew to the uttermost farthing, and the great image
called the Surety was set up. When the imperial decree was published
against this and other images, a soldier of the Emperor's guard erected a
ladder in order to take it down to be burned. But a crowd of women
collected, demanding that the image should be spared; and when they
watched the soldier striking his axe at it, they were so maddened with
indignation, that they pulled the ladder from under his feet, and caused
him to fall, and he was killed. The Emperor sent troops to the spot to
drive away the people, and set up a plain cross instead of the image which
had so won upon the reverence of the lieges.


St. Martin of Tours (who died 396) distinguished himself by his zeal and
efficiency as a destroyer of the Pagan temples when the word was given to
destroy them. The Pagans occasionally used to resist. Once, after
demolishing a temple, he was also desirous of cutting down a pine that
stood near it. But the Pagans opposed this, and after some argument agreed
that they themselves would fell it upon condition that he, who boasted so
much of his trust in God, would stand under it where they would place him.
The saint consented, and suffered himself to be tied to that side of the
tree on which it leaned. When it seemed just ready to fall upon him, he
made the sign of the cross, and it fell on the contrary side. Whereupon
the Pagans were so astonished that they all upon the spot demanded to be
enrolled in his list of catechumens. Another time he was pulling down a
temple, when a great number of Pagans fell upon him with fury, and one
attacked him sword in hand. The saint, however, merely took off his mantle
and presented his bare neck to him, whereupon the Pagan was so terrified
that he fell backwards, and begged the saint to forgive him.


When Alaric, King of the Goths, besieged Rome the third time, in 410, the
Salarian Gate was silently opened by his confederates inside at midnight,
and the inhabitants were roused by the piercing sound of the Gothic
trumpet. The tribes of Germany and Scythia then rushed in, eager to
enrich themselves with the spoils of the great city. Alaric exhorted his
troops to respect the churches of the Apostles, St. Peter, and St. Paul.
The Goths were impressed, and showed here and there some self-restraint.
One barbarian chief burst open the humble dwelling of an aged virgin,
demanding all her silver and gold, and was astounded at the readiness with
which she conducted him to a splendid hoard of massy plate curiously
inwrought, which made the eye of the captor sparkle with delight. But the
woman with a confident air said to him, "These are the consecrated vessels
belonging to St. Peter; if you presume to touch them, the sacrilegious
deed will haunt your conscience. As for me, I dare not keep what I am
unable to defend." The captain was awestruck; and after reporting the
circumstance to the king, the latter ordered all the consecrated plate and
ornaments to be transported without damage or delay to the Church of the
Apostles, and a detachment of Goths thereupon marched in battle-array,
bearing aloft these sacred treasures amid barbarian shouts and the psalms
of rejoicing Christians who joined in the procession. The Goths, in
pillaging the city, spared nothing beyond these select vessels of the
Church; and gold, jewels, silks, and works of art were piled in waggons
for their own spoil. The victorious Goths evacuated the city on the sixth
day and marched south, spreading terror and destruction. On reaching
Sicily, Alaric's life was cut short, and his funeral was celebrated with
barbaric pomp. A small river, Busentinus, that washes the walls of
Consentia, was diverted from its course, and in its bed the hero's body
with the spoils and trophies of Rome were buried. The prisoners who had
been compelled to execute this work were then massacred, and the river was
restored to its former channel, so as to conceal for ever the place of


When Attila, the King of the Huns, was supposed to meditate the invasion
of Italy, so great was the consternation that the Senate and people
thought it prudent to send a solemn embassy to deprecate the wrath of that
ferocious monarch. He listened to the appeal, and the deliverance of Italy
was purchased by the immense ransom or dowry of the Princess Honoria. When
Attila talked of carrying his victorious arms to the gates of Rome, both
friends and foes warned him that Alaric did not long survive the conquest
of the Eternal City; but in 453 he carried out his resolution. Meanwhile,
Leo, the bishop, was induced to venture his life to endeavour to mollify
the conqueror. Leo's eloquence and majestic aspect and sacerdotal robes
made an immense impression on the superstitious barbarian. It was said by
the chroniclers that the two apostles St. Peter and St. Paul appeared in
person on the occasion, and threatened Attila with instant death if he
rejected the prayer of their successor. He was much embarrassed; but
before he evacuated Italy he still threatened to return more dreadful and
implacable if the Princess Honoria were not delivered up to him according
to the treaty. Fortunately for Italy, Attila was one night seized with
sudden illness, during which a blood-vessel burst and suffocated him in
his sleep. After solemnly exposing his body under a silken pavilion,
squadrons of Huns wheeled round, chanting a funeral song to his memory.
They inclosed his remains in three coffins, of gold, of silver, and of
iron, and privately buried him in the night, throwing into his grave the
spoils of nations and the bodies of captives massacred for the purpose.


When Genseric, King of the Vandals, was secretly invited by the Empress
Eudoxia to deliver her from the brutal treatment of the Emperor Maximus,
the African galleys brought an army to the mouth of the Tiber. Maximus
being, meanwhile, slain in a tumult of his subjects, the Vandals advanced
at once to the gates of Rome; but instead of meeting an army, saw only a
procession of clergy, headed by the bishop, who by his venerable
appearance sought to mitigate the ferocity of the conqueror. Some show of
mercy was promised; but the conquerors, nevertheless, were allowed to
pillage the city, which they did for fourteen days and nights. Vast spoils
were collected, including the splendid relics of the temples, both Pagan
and Christian. Magnificent furniture, sideboards of massy plate, and
jewels stripped from the persons of the Empress and her daughters were
collected and stowed in the ships. Amongst others, the holy instruments of
the Jewish worship, the gold table and the gold candlestick with seven
branches, originally framed by the direction of God Himself, and which
were placed in the sanctuary of His Temple, had been displayed to the
Roman people by Titus, and afterwards deposited in the Temple of Peace.
These spoils of Jerusalem at the end of four hundred years were
transferred from Rome to Carthage by the Vandals. It has been related that
the vessel which transported the relics of the Capitol was the only one of
the fleet which suffered shipwreck. Thousands of Romans of both sexes, and
mostly those skilled in the arts, were included among the captives; and
the Bishop of Carthage generously sold the gold and silver plate of his
church to relieve them.


Though Julian the Apostate, in his zeal to re-establish Paganism, made no
great impression, the schools of the Greek philosophers, with their dreamy
morality, were not allowed to expire like a worn-out veteran in peaceful
dignity. The impatient zeal of the Emperor Justinian in 526 led him to
forcibly expel the remnant of the old philosophers from the ancient groves
and porches of Athens. Seven followers of Proclus were obliged to find a
retreat in Persia; but the Magi there were still more intolerant than the
Christians. Philosophy found no resting-place; it found itself supplanted
by a new faith, which now domineered over the human mind. Justinian
governed the Roman Empire for thirty-eight years (527-565), and great and
curious events occurred in his time. The Empress Theodora was daughter of
an official called the Master of the Bears, and took to the stage in her
youth. Her forte was not to sing or dance or play on the flute, but to act
in pantomime and buffoonery, her eyes being bright, and her agile and
elegant form drawing down endless applause. She captivated the nephew of
the Emperor Justin, young Justinian, whom she married, and she maintained
an ascendency over him to the last. She developed into a rapacious and
cruel tyrant, and yet patronised many charitable schemes; and her
influence and power with the Emperor were unbounded, and many a courtier
fell a victim to her caprice. Her physicians at last warned her that her
health required her to use the Pythian warm baths. She went there attended
by a splendid train of four thousand officials. Highways and palaces were
repaired and made ready during the progress. In passing through Bithynia
she distributed liberal alms to the churches, the monasteries, and
hospitals that they might implore Heaven for the restoration of her
health. At last in 548, the twenty-second year of her reign, she was
carried away by a cancer.


Mahomet's knowledge of and connection with Christianity are inferred from
the fact that his favourite slave Zeyd leaned to the Christian faith. And
the monk Bahari, who conversed with Mahomet on his first journey with the
camel-drivers, who professed to foresee and welcome the future greatness
of the prophet, may have communicated many of the traditions of the
faith. Though Mahomet was not well acquainted with the canonical gospels,
yet the apocryphal gospels with the current traditions of the time were
familiar to him. He adopted the legend of the Seven Sleepers at Ephesus,
and of the Wandering Jew. Many incidents of ecclesiastical history have
analogies in the Koran. There is a priesthood in the sense of men devoted
to the interpretation of the Koran. The saints are also venerated, and
pilgrims make annual visitations. The ceremonial rites are even more
mechanical than are to be found in any portion of the Christian Church.


When St. Boniface was sent as a missionary by the Pope in 724 to convert
the Germans, they were found grovelling in Pagan superstition, putting
their faith in sacred groves and fountains. The missionary, when made a
bishop, determined to strike a blow at this creed. There was an old and
venerable oak of immense size in the grove of Geismar, in Upper Hesse,
hallowed for ages to Thor, the thunder-god. Attended by all the clergy,
Boniface, who felt that one visible ark of sacred confidence must be
replaced by another, went publicly forth to fell this tree. The Pagans
assembled in multitudes to behold a trial of strength between the rival
gods. They awaited the issue in profound silence, some expecting that the
sacrilegious axe would recoil on the impious Christians. But only a few
blows had been struck when a sudden wind was heard in the groaning
branches, and down it came toppling, and split into four pieces. The
shuddering Pagans at once bowed before the superior might of Christianity.
Boniface at once built out of the wood a chapel dedicated to St. Peter.
After this churches and monasteries sprang up, and zealous labourers from
England flocked to help in civilising the Teutonic race. Eadberga, the
abbess of Minster, in the isle of Thanet, sent presents of clothes and
books. Boniface was then made a metropolitan, with his throne at Mentz, on
the Rhine, and Christianity spread from that time throughout that
district, and it was by his hand that Pepin the Little was anointed king.
In his old age Boniface descended the Rhine in a boat towards the Zuyder
Zee. He took with him a shroud, in which his body might be wrapped and
sent back to Fulda in Hesse in case of accident. It proved that the Pagan
priests attacked him, and then, laying his head upon a volume of the
gospels, he received the fatal blow, being killed in 755, and his
seventy-fifth year.


When Luitprand, the Lombard King, was conquering Italy in 742, and was
approaching Rome, Pope Zacharias went and met him at Terni, surrounded
with a courtly array of bishops. He chose the church of St. Valentine for
the place of meeting; and the Pope, availing himself of the solemnity of
the building, and reminding the king of the last account and the damnation
that must await him, made such an impression that the king was overawed
and agreed to a treaty, making the concessions asked; and the Pope, after
a solemn service in church, ended by inviting the king to a banquet. But
ten years later another Pope (Stephen) was less successful with the next
Lombard king, Astolph. The Pope's ambassadors were received and listened
to, but nothing more. The king did not stay his career, but approached
Rome. Not all the Litanies, not all the solemn processions to the most
revered altars of the city, in which the Pope himself with naked feet bore
the cross and the whole people followed with ashes on their heads, and
with a wild howl of agony implored the protection of God against the
blaspheming Lombards, arrested for an instant his progress. The Pope
appealed to Heaven by tying a copy of the treaty violated by Astolph to
the holy cross. Astolph entered notwithstanding; and, strange to say,
while he remained he busied himself digging up the bodies of saints, not
for insult, but as the most precious trophies, and carried them off as
tutelar deities to Lombardy. At the same time the Pope was making a
journey to King Pepin of France, and there met with a warm reception,
which led to many future favours from that quarter.


Pope Adrian I., who died 795, in his troubles with emperors and kings,
finding Charlemagne a rising power, wrote a letter to him exhorting him to
imitate the liberality and revive the name of the great Constantine. He
used for that purpose a legend for which he vouched, and which was to this
effect: The first of the Christian emperors was healed of the leprosy, and
purified in the waters of baptism by St. Sylvester, the Roman bishop, and
the physician was gloriously recompensed, for that emperor withdrew from
the seat and patrimony of St. Peter, declared his resolution of founding a
new capital in the East, and resigned to the Popes the free and perpetual
sovereignty of Rome, Italy, and the provinces of the West. By this
plausible story it was made to appear that the Popes were made by the best
of titles supreme; and such were the ignorance and credulity of the
times, that this absurd fable was received with equal reverence in Greece
and France. It turned out that the story was a forgery concocted near the
end of the eighth century by one Isidore, a scribe. It was, nevertheless,
accepted and handed down as a _magna charta_ of papal rights, until some
opposition to its authenticity proceeded from a Sabine monastery about
1100. In the revival of letters, an eloquent critic and Roman patriot,
named Laurentius Valla, who died 1457, completed the exposure of the
forgery, to the amazement of his contemporaries, and before the end of the
next age the imposture was rejected with the contempt of all the
historians. But it served its purpose. As Gibbon observes, "The Popes
themselves have indulged a smile at the credulity of the vulgar, but a
false obsolete title still sanctifies their reign; and by the same fortune
which has attended these forged decretals, and the Sibylline oracles, the
edifice has subsisted after the foundations have been undermined."


One of the clever stratagems by which Pope Nicolas I., who died in 867,
tried to establish his supremacy over the whole world in all things
spiritual was the promulgation of the false decretals. This Pope was said
to have tamed kings and tyrants, and to have ruled the world like a
sovereign. A rebel Transalpine prelate, Hincmar, Archbishop of Rheims, had
disputed the jurisdiction of the Pope, but was compelled to submit. On a
sudden, at the nick of time, there was promulgated a new code, including
thirty-nine (false) decrees of Popes and councils. These not only asserted
the supremacy of the Pope, his dignity and privileges, but included a
whole system of Church discipline on Church property, sacraments,
festivals, rites, and ceremonies. The whole is composed with an air of
profound piety and reverence, and a specious purity of tone. But for the
too manifest design, the aggrandisement of the whole clergy in
subordination to the See of Rome; but for the monstrous ignorance of
history, which betrayed itself in glaring anachronisms, and in the utter
confusion of the order of events and the lives of distinguished men--the
former awakening keen and jealous suspicion, the latter making the
detection of the spuriousness of the whole easy, clear, irrefragable--the
false decretals might still have maintained their place in ecclesiastical
history. They are now given up by all; not a voice is raised in their
favour. The utmost done is to palliate the guilt of the forger, who
fortunately is unknown.


The restoration of the Western Empire by Charlemagne was speedily followed
by the permanent separation of the Greek and Latin Churches. About 850
Photius, an ambitious layman and captain of the guards, was promoted to
the office of Patriarch of Constantinople, thereby superseding Ignatius,
who had a large following. Both appealed to Pope Nicolas I., a proud and
aspiring pontiff, who embraced the welcome opportunity of judging and
condemning his rival of the East. The patriarch had the aid of his own
court, and deposed the Pope; but in turn he and his patrons lost ground,
and the original patriarch, Ignatius, was restored. Thereafter the feud
continued more or less fiercely, till at last, in 1054, the then patriarch
was excommunicated in Constantinople by the Pope's legates. Shaking the
dust from their feet, they deposited on the altar of St. Sophia a direful
anathema, which enumerated seven mortal heresies of the Greeks, and
consigned the Eastern Church, its teachers and sectaries, to everlasting
damnation. Though the forms of civility thereafter were sometimes
maintained, the Greeks never recanted the errors and the Popes never
repealed their sentence. This aversion of the Greeks and Latins was
nourished and manifested in the three first expeditions to the Holy Land.
The Eastern Christians never gave a cordial welcome to the Crusaders, and
rather treated them as schismatics, and sometimes took part in thwarting
them. In 1183 the Greeks carried out a massacre, in which the Latins were
slaughtered in houses and streets, their clergy burnt in the churches, and
the sick in their hospitals. The Greek monks and priests actually chanted
a thanksgiving to the Lord when the head of a Roman cardinal, the Pope's
legate, was severed from his body, fastened to the tail of a dog, and
dragged in savage mockery through the city.


In the fourth century, after miraculous powers ceased to attend the
progress of Christianity, and a system of wonder-working was established,
the Jews, who had long watched with jealousy the advance of their rivals,
began to think that they could also become adepts in pious frauds. Next
one party took to magical arts as weapons of superiority. A conference is
said to have taken place in the presence of Constantine and the devout
empress-mother Helena between the Jews and the Christians. Pope Sylvester
had already triumphed in argument over his infatuated opponents, when the
Jews had recourse to magic. A noted enchanter commanded an ox to be
brought forward; he whispered into the ear of the animal, which instantly
fell dead at the feet of Constantine. The Jews shouted in triumph, for it
was the word _Ham-semphorash_, the ineffable name of God, at the sound of
which the awestruck beast had expired. Sylvester, with some shrewdness,
observed, "As he who whispered the name must be well acquainted with it,
why does not he fall dead in like manner?" The Jews answered
contemptuously, "Let us have no more verbal disputations; let us come to
actions." "So be it," said Sylvester; "and if this comes to life again at
the name of Christ, will ye believe?" They all assented. Sylvester then
raised his eyes to heaven, and said with a loud voice, "If _He_ be the
true God whom I preach, in the name of Christ arise, you ox, and stand on
your feet." The ox sprang up and began to move and feed. The legend then
adds that the whole assembly was baptised.


Sozomen says that, though Julian the Apostate hated and oppressed the
Christians, he was benevolent to the Jews merely in order to spite the
Christians. He commanded the Jews to rebuild their Temple at Jerusalem,
and gave them money to do so. They entered on the undertaking without
reflecting that according to their holy prophets it could not be
accomplished. They sought the most skilful artisans, collected materials,
cleared the ground, and entered so earnestly on the task that even the
women carried heaps of earth and sold their ornaments towards defraying
the expense. Yet when they cleared the ground an earthquake occurred, and
stones were thrown up from the earth, wounding those near, and houses were
thrown down. After the earthquake the workmen returned to the task; and
instead of regarding the unexpected wonder as a manifest indication that
God was opposed to the re-creation of the Temple, they were consumed by a
fire which burst from the foundations. This fact is related by all the
contemporaries, who agree that the fire burst out either from the
foundations or from the bowels of the earth. A still more extraordinary
prodigy occurred, for the sign of the cross appeared on the garments of
the workmen. These crosses were disposed like stars, and appeared the work
of art. Many were hence led to confess that Christ was God, and repented
and were baptised.


Southey says, "That the primitive Christians should have regarded the Jews
with hostile feelings as their first persecutors was but natural, and that
that feeling should have been aggravated by a just and religious horror
for the crime which has drawn upon this unhappy nation its abiding
punishment. But it is indeed strange that during so many centuries this
enmity should have continued to exist, and that no sense of compassion
should have mitigated it. For the Jews to have inherited the curse of
their fathers was in the apprehension of ordinary minds to inherit their
guilt; and the cruelties which man inflicted upon them were interpreted as
proofs of the continued wrath of Heaven, so that the very injuries and
sufferings which in any other case would have excited commiseration served
in this to close the heart against it. Being looked on as God's outlaws,
they were everywhere placed, as it were, under the ban of humanity. And
while these heart-hardening prepossessions subsisted against them in full
force, the very advantages of which they were in possession rendered them
more especial objects of envy, suspicion, and popular hatred."


The Jews seemed never to be so prosperous as in the age of Pepin and
Charlemagne (about 768-800). The laws were not enforced against them, and
they were practically free from restrictions, except as to keeping
Christian slaves and following the law of dower. Bishops, abbots, and
abbesses were only prevented by heavy penalties from pledging or selling
to the circumcised the costly vestments, rich furniture, and precious
vessels of the churches. Jews became physicians, ministers of finance to
nobles and monarchs; and when Charlemagne sent an embassy to Caliph Haroun
al Raschid, a Jew was sent with two Christian counts as ambassadors, and
as they died on the road he conducted the business and brought back costly
presents, including an enormous elephant, which the monks of the period
described as a wonder of the world. The monks also described the
accomplishments of a Jew physician named Zedekiah, who was a confidential
adviser of Louis the Débonnaire or the Pious. They relate that he could
swallow a whole cart of hay and fly in the air. The toleration and equal
treatment of Jews and Christians greatly shocked Agobard, Bishop of Lyons,
who issued edicts to his people prohibiting their intercourse. But on
appeal the king ordered an inquiry, and the edicts were withdrawn. About
the same time in Spain, from the conquest by the Moors till the end of the
tenth century, the Jews enjoyed nearly equal laws; and one Moses, their
rabbi, became wealthy and influential; and when his grandson Nathan
enjoyed a drive in the groves near Cordova, seven hundred chariots joined
in the procession that followed him.


Various Christian countries for centuries maintained laws making it
necessary that Jews should wear a particular dress or badge to distinguish
them. They were always viewed by Christian communities with suspicion. One
of the common accusations against them was that of crucifying children,
after scourging them and crowning them with thorns; and this they were
suspected of doing annually. This was said to be done out of hatred to the
Christian religion, and it was even alleged that the Jews received the
heart of the sacrificed child at their own Communion. The Jews were also
accused of scourging crucifixes and profaning images and crosses. These
and other imputations were adroitly used as pretexts for confiscating the
wealth of the Jews. One remarkable badge of subjection and suspicion took
its rise in the twelfth century--namely, the conduct of the Jews at the
installation of a new Pope. They are obliged to wait for the Pontiff on
the road to St. John de Lateran, and there on their knees they present him
with a copy of their Law. On receiving this, the Pope thus addresses them:
"I revere the law which God gave to Moses, but condemn the false sense you
give it by vainly expecting the Messiah who has been long come, and whom
the Church believes to be Jesus Christ our Lord." This custom took its
rise when Pope Innocent II., on his retreat to France, made his entry into
Paris, on which occasion the Jews went to meet him with great solemnity,
and in a very respectful manner presented him with the holy books of their


A time of monstrous persecution and cruelty towards the Jews was the
coronation of Richard I. in 1189. One Benedict, a York Jew, to save his
life had submitted to baptism in London, but died of injuries received
during a riot there. The people of York, equally excited, attacked
Benedict's house there, and his wife and children took refuge in the
Castle with their valuable effects. Other Jews being with them, all at
last suspected that the governor was in treaty with their enemies to
surrender them, and while the governor was temporarily absent they shut
the gates against him. This made the populace frantic, and eager to enter
and despatch them. A canon urged the mob on; and at last a rabbi, seeing
the hopelessness of their situation, addressed his fellow Jews as follows:
"Men of Israel, the God of our fathers calls upon us to die for our Law.
Death is inevitable, but we may yet choose whether we will die speedily
and nobly, or ignominiously, after horrible torments. My advice is that we
shall voluntarily render up our souls to our Creator, and fall by our own
hands. The deed is both reasonable and according to the Law, and is
sanctioned by the example of our most illustrious ancestors." The old man
sat down in tears. The assembly was divided, but debated; and finally,
while a few left the place, the great majority made up their minds to die.
They collected their precious effects into a pile and burnt them. They
then cut the throats of their wives and children. The rabbi and Joachim
were the last to suffer; but one slew the other and then himself. Next
morning the mob broke in, only to find the fire burning in all quarters,
and they took care to have all the bonds and obligations and money
securities of the dead men burned in an enormous bonfire. No proper
punishment was ever inflicted on the ringleaders who thus caused the death
of seven or eight hundred persons, though some of the ringleaders were


Matthew Paris says: "About 1240 the Jews circumcised a Christian boy at
Norwich, and after he was circumcised they called him Jurnim; they then
kept him to crucify him, in contempt of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
The father of the boy, however, from whom the Jews had stolen him, after a
diligent search at length discovered him confined in custody of the Jews,
and with a loud cry he pointed out his son, whom he believed lost, shut up
in a room of one of the Jews' houses. When this extraordinary crime came
to the knowledge of William de Kele, the bishop, a wise and circumspect
prelate, and of some other nobles, in order that such an insult to Christ
should not be passed over unpunished through the neglect of the
Christians, all the Jews of that city were made prisoners; and when they
wished to place themselves under the protection of the royal authority,
the bishop said, 'These matters belong to the Church; and when the
question raised is concerning circumcision and insult to religion, it is
not to be decided by the King's Court.' Four of the Jews therefore, having
been found guilty of the aforesaid crime, were first dragged at the tails
of horses, and afterwards hung on a gibbet, where they breathed forth the
wretched remains of life."


Matthew Paris also says that in 1255 some Jews of Lincoln stole a boy of
eight years, shut him up in a room, fed him on milk, and then sent to all
the cities in England where Jews lived to come and be present at a
sacrifice to take place at Lincoln, when a boy was to be crucified. A
great many Jews attended, and one was appointed to take the place of
Pilate, who subjected the boy to divers tortures. They beat him till blood
flowed and he was quite livid; they crowned him with thorns, derided him,
and spat upon him. Then he was pierced by each of them with a wood knife,
was made to drink gall, was overwhelmed with reproaches and blasphemies,
and was repeatedly called "Jesus, the false prophet," by his tormentors,
who surrounded him, grinding and gnashing their teeth. At last they
crucified him, and pierced him to the heart with a lance, took down his
body from the cross, disembowelled him, and used his body to practise
magical operations, and then threw it into a well. The boy's mother began
tracing the boy to a Jew's house, and excited the compassion of the
citizens by her suspicions. A wise man, John of Lexington, encouraged the
hue and cry with his eloquence, and one or two Jews were arrested, and a
pardon offered if confession were made. One Jew professed then to confess
that the Jews crucified a boy every year as an insult to the name of
Jesus. The boy's body was afterwards found in the well, and exposed to the
gaze of the citizens. The canons of the cathedral inquired into it, and
the king was informed. The Jew who confessed was tied to a horse's tail
and dragged to the gallows; and at a later day eighteen wealthy Jews were
also hanged, and others imprisoned to await a like fate, though it was
said that some indiscreet minor brethren interceded for them.


The disease known as the Black Death first appeared at Constantinople in
1347, and soon spread along the north of the Black Sea, then to Sicily,
Marseilles, France, Italy, and Spain. The black patches on the skin and
the pestilential breath of the sick, who spat blood, carried contagion far
and near. There were also atmospheric disturbances, deluges of rain, and
earthquakes. In England in 1349 the Parliament was prorogued on account
of this plague. The Princess Joan, daughter of Edward III., then on her
way to marry the eldest son of the King of Castile, caught the disease at
Bordeaux and died. Wicliff, then a student at Oxford, wrote a book on "The
Last Age of the Church," in which it was predicted that the end of the
world would be in 1400 at latest. The effect on people was twofold. Some
lived more temperately, while others gave themselves up to revelling and
drinking. The Flagellants, as a new religious order, went about scourging
and being scourged, as a means of propitiating Heaven, and singing psalms
and ringing bells. Some started the theory that the Jews were the cause of
this disease, and many were put to death (as was mentioned _ante_, p. 90).
Labourers, from the scarcity, demanded higher wages, and under Wat Tyler
many joined in a local rebellion.


In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries the German Jews were subject to
frequent spoliations and massacres. The sect of Flagellants, who, with mad
enthusiasm, passed through the cities of Germany, preceded by a crucifix
and scourging their naked and bleeding backs, used, as they said, to atone
for their own transgressions by plundering and murdering as many Jews as
they could in Frankfort and other places. The Jews were thus hunted
through all Germany, Silesia, Brandenburg, Bohemia, Lithuania, and Poland.
As a justification for this systematic cruelty, the following legend was
circulated and believed in most countries: A certain Jew, named Jonathan
of Enghien, desired to possess himself of the consecrated Host in order to
treat it with sacrilegious insult. He bribed a desperado, named John of
Louvain, to procure the sacred symbol. John mounted by night into the
chapel of St. Catherine, stole the pyx, with the sacred contents, and
conveyed it to Jonathan. The latter assembled his friends, who most
impiously met and blasphemed and pierced it with knives. At that time
Jonathan was advised for safety to migrate to Brussels; and there, in the
synagogue, the Jews treated the Host with every insult, piercing it with
knives, and though blood flowed forth the obdurate unbelievers, unmoved,
continued their insults. They next sent the treasure to Cologne for
similar treatment; but having entrusted it to a woman whose conscience
smote her, she betrayed them to the clergy. The consequence was that the
Jews were arrested, put to the torture, convicted, and sentenced to be
torn with red-hot pincers and then burnt alive. This memorable act of
vengeance was said to be justified by many miracles that were worked in
Brussels, the place of punishment.


Though the Jews were often treated with gross cruelty and injustice in the
Middle Ages, they sometimes had it in their power to retaliate. The Jews,
often acquiring great wealth, defied the clergy and refused to pay tithe.
It was often a question whether the clergy should admit servants of the
Jews to baptism. Once large numbers of bishops forbade Christians, under
pain of excommunication, to frequent the banquets of the Jews. In 1478 one
Francis de Pizicardis, a great and cruel usurer, was buried in the Church
of St. Francis in Placentia. It happened to rain torrents during many
days, till a report spread through the city that it would never cease as
long as the said body was in holy ground. The young men of the city in a
body, as if convoked by the bishop, went to the church, burst open the
gates, dug up the body, and dragged it by a cord through all the streets
of the city. And as they passed the house of one old woman, she ran out
and insulted it, saying, "Give me back my eggs!" for she had given him two
fresh eggs every day as interest for a ducat which she owed him. At length
the body was dragged out of the city, suspended from a willow tree, and
finally thrown into the Po. And, strange to say, according to the
annalist, the rain then ceased. Some Polish rulers were so indebted to the
Jews that, in order to keep their creditors quiet, they favoured the
Jewish merchants more than the Christian.


After the Spanish sovereigns Ferdinand and Isabella had succeeded in
driving the Moors from Spain, and when at last they had agreed to send
Columbus on his expedition to the New World, the clergy inflamed the minds
of the sovereigns and the Inquisition against the Jews, who obstinately
resisted all efforts to convert them. While the Jews were negotiating with
the sovereign to avert this odium, Torquemada, the Inquisitor-General,
burst into the apartment of the palace, and, drawing a crucifix from under
his mantle, held it up, and exclaimed, "Judas Iscariot sold his Master for
thirty pieces of silver. Your Highnesses would sell Him anew for thirty
thousand. Here He is; take Him and barter Him away." So saying, this demon
priest threw the crucifix on the table, and left the apartment. The royal
pair were overawed, and their superstitious forebodings were so
effectually worked upon that they signed, in 1492, the edict for the
expulsion of the Jews which caused so much misery. The Jews, who were then
estimated to be about six hundred and fifty thousand, resolved to abandon
the country and sacrifice all rather than their religion. They had to sell
their property for a trifle, owing to the market being glutted. A house
would be sold for an ass and a vineyard for a piece of cloth. Some Jews
swallowed their jewels; others tried to conceal them in clothes and
saddles. Some ships carrying the fugitives were visited by the plague.
Those suffered all the miseries of hunger who travelled by land, and many
sold their children for bread. Some were cast naked and desolate on the
African coast. Some tried to escape into Portugal; and King Joan II. drove
a hard bargain, fixing a high capitation tax, which his tax-gatherers
lined the frontiers in order to collect. This was only for permission to
pass through the country and embark for Africa. The new king, Emanuel,
acted still more brutally, and ordered all Jewish children to be kidnapped
and torn from their parents' arms, in order to be brought up in the
Catholic faith. The Dominicans watched, during these years of massacre and
pillage, the moment when a Jewish person was visible, rushed forth with
crucifix in their hands to hunt and roast the offender, and for this
brutal work of merit the reward was said to be that the sufferings in
purgatory should be confined to a hundred days. This expulsion of Jews
seriously marred the national prosperity.


Southey says that nothing exposed the Jews to more odium, in ages when
they were held most odious, than the reputation which they possessed as
physicians. So late as the middle of the sixteenth century, Francis I.,
after a long illness, finding no benefit from his own physicians,
despatched a courier to Spain, requesting Charles V. to send him the most
skilful Jewish practitioner in his dominions. This afforded matter for
merriment to the Spaniards. No Jewish physician being heard of, a
Christian one was sent, but was dismissed without a trial; and at last a
Jew came from Constantinople, who, however, prescribed nothing more for
the royal patient than asses' milk. This reputation of the Jewish
physicians was said to be founded on the notion that they had stores of
knowledge not accessible to other people, especially as to all the drugs
known in the East. Yet at the same time there were tales as to the
disreputable knowledge they had, such as killing Christian children to use
their fat as cosmetics. The conduct of the Romish Church tended to
strengthen this obloquy. Several councils of the Church denounced
excommunication against any persons who should place themselves under the
care of a Jewish physician; for it was said to be pernicious and
scandalous that Christians, who ought to despise and hold in horror the
enemies of their holy religion, should have recourse to them for remedies
in sickness. The decree of the Lateran Council, by which physicians were
enjoined under heavy penalties to require that their patients should
confess and communicate before they administered any medicines to them,
seems to have been designed as much against Jewish practitioners as
heretical patients. The Jews on their part were not more charitable, and
used to forbid rabbis to attend upon either a Christian or Gentile unless
he dared not refuse, and above all never to attend such patients


In the seventeenth century one Engelberger, a Bohemian Jew, was sentenced
to imprisonment for stealing the plate from a synagogue at Prague. In
prison he became a great reader; and a holy Father, who visited him and
took an interest in him, promised him not only absolution but a
considerable reward if he would renounce his faith. He did so, and was
received into the Church, thereby drawing on him the contempt and
vengeance of the other Jews, and the praise and congratulation of the
Christians. He published a book vindicating his conversion, became a
favourite of high society, and was invited to Vienna, where he was well
received by the Emperor Ferdinand III. But the convert by degrees was
suspected of hypocrisy; and on the first opportunity he robbed the royal
treasury, and after trial was condemned to death. He again affected
sincere piety and contrition, expecting that his sentence would be
remitted. But at the last moment, being told the contrary, and while
receiving the last Sacrament on the scaffold, he spat the sacred wafer
from his mouth; he shouted to the mob that he deserved his fate for
abjuring the faith of Moses, and he called on them to bear witness that he
died in the faith of the patriarchs. The mob, who had formerly almost
deified the renegade, were now enraged at this insult to the Catholic
faith, and wanted to tear him to pieces; but he was withdrawn for a few
days. He was then again exposed, and drawn on a hurdle through the streets
of Vienna. And a more diabolical sentence had meanwhile been passed. His
right hand was first cut off; his tongue torn from his mouth; he was
suspended from the gallows with his head downward, and dogs were allowed
to tear him to pieces; and then his dead body was thrown into the Danube.
An inscription in the Guildhall at Vienna records the date of this
appalling example of religious fanaticism.


The mode in which the great controversy about worship of images in
churches arose was said to be as follows: A hermit had sent to Gregory the
Great, who was appointed Pope in 589, for an image of Christ and other
religious symbols. The latter sent him a picture of Christ and the Virgin
Mary, also of St. Peter and St. Paul, and added some observations as to
the right use of images. The Pope observed that, though it was grounded in
man's nature that he should seek to represent things invisible by means of
the visible, yet the representations were not to be worshipped as God, but
only used to enkindle the love of Him whose image was present to the eye.
About that time country bishops reported that the worship of images was
spreading, and that those opposed to that tendency demolished them and
cast them out of churches. Parties began to be formed on both sides. In
the Greek Church the church books had long been ornamented with pictures
of Christ, of the Virgin, and the Saints; and private houses and household
furniture also had like embellishments. There were legends connected with
each. Some prostrated themselves whenever they approached within sight of
these symbols. The most noted and determined enemy of images was the
Emperor Leo, the Isaurian, who was full of zeal, and paid small respect to
what he thought to be wrong. He was very arbitrary. He forced the Jews to
receive baptism, which only made them more and more tenacious of their
antipathy. He also forced the Montanists to join the dominant Church, and
this so enraged them that they burned themselves in their own churches.
Leo's first ordinance of 726 forbade any kind of reverence to be paid to
images or pictures, and any prostration or kneeling. One bishop in defence
attributed miracles which were wrought to these images, and said he knew
from his personal experience this was not a delusion; moreover, an image
of Mary at Sozopolis, in Posidia, distilled balsam, as was well attested.
In short, party spirit ran high, and at last a great champion of images
arose, named John of Damascus. Leo waged war against images for twelve
years, until his death. His son Constantine was as zealous an iconoclast
as his father; but great disturbances were caused by his proceedings. In
754 he convoked a council of three hundred and thirty-eight bishops, who
agreed with the Emperor. They denounced the wretched painters who with
profane hands attempted to depict the sacred feelings of the heart, and
laid down the rule of faith to be, that there was only one true image or
symbol, which was the bread and wine used in the Sacrament of the Lord's
Supper. Painting was described as a Pagan, godless art, which degraded the
Divine Majesty; and whoever in future should manufacture an image to
worship it either in church or dwelling-house should, if an ecclesiastic,
be deposed; if a monk or a layman, he should be expelled from the
communion of the Church. An anathema was pronounced accordingly against
all images. Though the council by a majority so decided, yet the monks as
a body were equally zealous and determined to resist all attempts to do
away with images. It was said the monk Stephen was thrown into prison for
his zeal in favour of images; he refused to touch the food which the
gaoler's wife secretly brought to him, until she secretly assured him that
she kept a casket in her own chamber containing several images of Divine
persons, and which she showed to the monk to reassure him of her genuine
devotion. Constantine, during the thirty years of his reign, flattered
himself that he had struck a final blow at image worship; but after his
death the next emperor married Irene, an Athenian lady, who was an
unscrupulous supporter of images, and she cunningly brought about a
reaction and restored things to their former footing.


Thus a strong feeling grew up, maintained by the Emperor Leo, the
Isaurian, that the Christians were going to an excess in their worship of
images, and the contest raged for a hundred and twenty-five years, and led
to bloodshed and civil war. The precise occasion of this revolt is not
known with certainty; and it was thought afterwards to be unfortunate, for
Christians at that time were called upon rather to combine against
Mohammedanism than think of dividing their forces. When Leo had reigned
ten years, he issued in 726 a prohibition against the worship of all
statues and pictures of the Saviour, the Virgin, and the Saints; and all
statues and pictures were to be raised sufficiently high that they could
not receive pious kisses. Soon after a second edict was issued, commanding
the total destruction of all images and the whitewashing of the walls of
churches. The clergy and monks were driven to absolute fury by this
tyrannical measure. An imperial officer had orders to destroy a statue of
our Saviour in a church in Constantinople, an image renowned for its
miracles. The crowd (as stated _ante_, p. 112), consisting chiefly of
women, saw with horror the officer mount the ladder. Thrice he struck with
his impious axe the holy countenance which had so benignly looked down
upon them. Heaven interfered not; but the women seized the ladder, threw
down the officer, and beat him to death with clubs. The Emperor sent his
troops to put down the riot, and a frightful massacre ensued; but the
image worshippers were viewed as martyrs, and cheerfully encountered
mutilation and banishment, while the Emperor was denounced as worse than a
Saracen. The Pope prohibited the Italians from paying tribute to the
Emperor, and wrote letters defending the practice of the Church. He
alludes to that practice as including pictures of the miracles, of the
Virgin with choirs of angels, of the Last Supper, the Transfiguration,
Crucifixion, Resurrection, and other like subjects. The Pope's letter,
however, had no effect.


The great champion who rose to defend image worship against Leo, the
iconoclast, was John of Damascus, the most learned man in the East, and a
subject of the Sultan. The ancestors of John, when that city was taken by
the Mohammedans, had remained faithful Christians; but, being wealthy and
respectable, were employed by the Sultan in high judicial posts. One day,
when John's father was a judge, a Christian monk, named Cosmas, was about
to be executed, and was weeping and bewailing so much that he was asked
why he, a monk, should so earnestly plead for his life. The monk answered
that he did not weep so much for losing life as for the treasures of
knowledge that would be buried with him, for he knew nearly everything
under the sun--rhetoric, logic, philosophy, geometry, music, astronomy,
theology. All he wanted was some heir who could inherit this vast
patrimony of knowledge, so that he might not go down to the tomb an
unprofitable servant. John's father saw at once that this was a remarkable
monk, begged his life, and made him tutor to his son; and in due course
the son John became, under such tuition, the greatest master of knowledge
extant, as the monk took care to assure the grateful father. With these
accomplishments John of Damascus entered the lists in due course, and
composed three immortal orations in favour of image worship, in which all
the learning of the world was brought to bear upon that delicate subject.
The Emperor being indignant at John's oration, procured a letter to be
forged in a similar handwriting, containing a proposal to betray his
native city of Damascus to the Christians, and purporting to be signed by
John. This letter was sent by the Emperor to the Sultan with specious
friendly comments. The result was that John's right hand was cut off for
his wicked treason. John, however, entreated the Virgin to restore his
hand; and after kneeling before her image and praying fervently, he fell
asleep, and when he woke his hand was restored and was as well as ever.
This astonished and convinced the Sultan, who reinstated John at once in
all his honours. These orations, while containing some puerile matter, are
distinguished for zeal and ingenuity. John of Damascus maintained that
pictures were great standing memorials of triumph over the devil; that
whoever destroys these memorials is a friend of the devil; that to reprove
material images is Manicheism, as betraying the hatred of matter, which is
the first tenet of that odious heresy; and that it was a kind of Docetism
too, asserting the unreality of the body of the Saviour. In support of his
doctrine John concluded by citing a copious list of miracles wrought by
certain images. This question of images was so serious a disturbance that
a council met, called the Third Council of Constantinople, in 746; and
three hundred and forty-eight bishops attended, and all these united in
condemning images and excommunicating those who set them up. The Empress
Irene, however, afterwards favoured the image worshippers; and in 787
another council, called the Second Council of Nicæa, again considered the
subject; and three hundred and eighty-seven bishops and monks came to a
decision the reverse of the decision of the former council. Succeeding
emperors, however, again favoured the iconoclasts, till the Empress
Theodora, in 842, at last restored the images and made the clergy happy.
They all then met and held a solemn festival, marching with processions of
crosses, torches, and incense to the church of St. Sophia, in
Constantinople. They made the circuit of the church, and bowed to every
statue and picture; and the heresy of the iconoclasts was extinguished for
ever from that time.


John of Damascus, the champion of image worship, in his many eloquent
discourses in support of it, sneered at Leo's arbitrary decrees against
what was noticed to be a rising influence among the nations of the West.
"You have only to go," said John, "into the schools where the children are
learning to read and write, and tell them you are the persecutor of
images, and they would instantly throw their tablets at your head. Even
the ignorant would teach you what you would not learn from the wise."
"Men," he further said, "spent their estates to have these sacred stories
represented in paintings. Husbands and wives took their children by the
hand, others led youths and strangers from Pagan lands, to these
paintings, where they could point out to them the sacred stories with the
finger, and so edify them as to lift their hearts and minds to God; but
you hinder poor people from doing all this, and teach them to find their
amusements in harp-playing and flute-playing, in carousals and


Claudius of Turin, a bishop who flourished about 795-839, was great in
censuring the gross superstition attaching to the use of the cross and
pilgrimages. Though a chaplain of King Louis I. of France, who became
emperor, he devoted himself to purifying the ritual of the Church by
writing commentaries on the Scriptures and exposing the abuses of image
worship. He said those who worship the images of the saints have not
forsaken idols, but changed their names. Whether the walls of churches are
painted with figures of St. Peter and St. Paul or of Jupiter and Saturn,
the latter are not gods, and the former are not apostles. Better worship
the living than the dead. If the works of God's hands, the stars of
heaven, are not to be worshipped, much less ought the works of human hands
to be worshipped. Whoever seeks from any creature in heaven or on earth
the salvation which he should seek from God alone is an idolater. Those
who pretend to honour the memory of Christ's passion forget His
resurrection. If one must worship every piece of wood bearing the image of
the cross because Christ hung on the cross, for the same reason one should
worship many other things with which Christ came in contact while living
in the flesh. God has commanded us to bear the cross, not to adore it.
Those are not adoring it who are unwilling to bear it either spiritually
or bodily. In like manner it is foolish in people, and an undervaluing of
spiritual instruction, to be always striving to go to Rome in order to
obtain everlasting life. It is vain to ascribe so much merit to
pilgrimages, and forget the seal of true penitence in the soul. One gets
no nearer to St. Peter by finding himself on the spot where his body was
buried, for the soul is the real man. In this manner Claudius displayed
his aversion to the monastic life as misleading. It was thought that he
must soon be proceeded against as a heretic; but after publishing works
which made a great impression on his age, the bishop died.


When Leo the Isaurian had secured his empire against foreign enemies, he
set himself resolutely to convert heretics. He issued a decree that Jews
and Montanists should be forcibly baptised. In 724 he issued his first
decree against the superstitious use of images, which made the monks and
John of Damascus so furious. When Leo died in 741, his son, Constantine
Copronymus, so called from his having polluted the baptismal font,
succeeded him, and reigned thirty-four years. He was also a resolute enemy
of image worship. He procured a council of three hundred and thirty-eight
bishops to sit in 754, and resolve unanimously that all pictures and
sculptures of sacred subjects were Pagan and idolatrous, and that all
images must be removed out of churches. They pronounced anathemas against
John of Damascus and other champions of images. Constantine, on the
strength of this council, ordered paintings on church walls to be effaced,
and paintings of birds and fruits to be substituted. The monks were
furious; and he ordered, in retaliation, monasteries to be destroyed and
turned into barracks. One of his governors, named Lachanadraco, put many
rebellious monks to death. He anointed the beards of some of these with
oil and wax, and set them on fire; he burnt the monasteries, the books,
and the relics. The relics of St. Euphemia at Chalcedon, which used to
exude a fragrant balsam, were thrown into the sea, though the monks
afterwards narrated that these were miraculously preserved. One monk,
named Stephen, exasperated by these brutalities, boldly defied the
Emperor, and to show his contempt produced a coin stamped with the
Emperor's head, threw it on the ground, and trod on it. The Emperor
ordered him to prison; but noticing that some sympathy seemed to be shown
by his attendants, exclaimed, "Am I or is this monk emperor of the world?"
The courtiers in turn, in their zeal to defend the Emperor, rushed to the
prison where Stephen was kept, brought him out, and, tying a rope round
his neck, dragged the body through the streets, and then tore it to
pieces. The patriarch being also charged with abetting the monks, was
stripped of his robes, set upon an ass with his face towards the tail, led
through the streets, jeered by the mob, and then beheaded. Constantine
died in 775, a resolute enemy of images to the last.


Though Leo the Isaurian and his son Constantine had for thirty years
worked so energetically in stamping out image worship, yet at the death of
the latter a reaction was brought about. The Emperor Leo, grandson of the
Isaurian, married an Athenian wife, Irene, who was constitutionally
devoted to image worship and sensuous art, and her devotion to these so
worked on her irresolute husband as to baffle the labour of years. She
took care to procure all the important vacancies in the Church to be
filled by monks. Her household officers were encouraged to practise in
secret the adoration of images, and there were concealed some figures
under her pillow; and though the Emperor, on discovering this petty
treason, ordered the chief actors to be scourged, yet on his death in 780
Irene assumed the government and changed everything. She took care to get
a patriarch appointed who was of her way of thinking, and for that purpose
first induced the then holder of the office to resign and retire into a
monastery. She then spread the report that this change was due to remorse
of conscience; and the new patriarch, acting in concert with her,
professed his inability to assume the high office unless she would convoke
a council to review the late heresy of the iconoclasts. After great
manoeuvring on the part of the monks, and secret meetings to canvas the
chief men of the assembly, and by the Empress deciding to attend in person
and with great state, she so managed affairs that a council of three
hundred and fifty bishops met, and they all in her presence returned to
the old traditions, declaring the worship of images agreeable to Scripture
and reason, and shouted their approval and ended with the enthusiastic
exclamation, "Long live the orthodox Queen Regent!"


The Empress Irene having in 780 so skilfully turned the tide in favour of
images, the contest was still maintained during the five succeeding
reigns, a period of thirty-eight years between the worshippers of images
and the iconoclasts. The final victory of the images was achieved by a
second female, the widow Theodora, after the death of the Emperor
Theophilus in 842. Her measures were bold and decisive. She sentenced the
iconoclast patriarch to a whipping of two hundred lashes instead of the
loss of his eyes. At this stroke of power the bishops trembled, the monks
shouted, and the festival of orthodoxy preserves the annual memory of the
triumph of the images. The only point left unsettled was, whether images
were endowed with any proper and inherent sanctity, and this continued to
be discussed in the eleventh century. The Churches of France, Germany,
England, and Spain had steered a middle course between the adoration and
the destruction of images, which they professed to admit into their
temples, not as objects of worship, but as lively and useful memorials of
faith and history. Charlemagne had used his authority in assembling a
synod of three hundred bishops at Frankfort in 794, who professed to blame
the superstition of the Greeks. But the worship of images advanced with
silent progress, and reached to the idolatry of the ages which preceded
the Reformation. Theodora skilfully gained over many bishops by
representing that her husband the Emperor on his deathbed repented of his
errors, and that her young son at the same time had also registered a vow
to restore images.


In Spain image worship reached a height hardly attained in any other part
of Christendom. Besides the most holy effigies heaven-descended, like the
Black Lady of the Pillar at Saragossa, and the Christ of the Vine Stock at
Valladolid, there were many sacred images, which, even before the hands
which fashioned them were cold, began to make the blind see, the lame
walk, and friars flourish and grow powerful. St. Bernard was modelled and
clothed like a brother of the order in his own white robes; St. Dominic
scourged himself in effigy till the red blood flowed from his painted
shoulders; and the Virgin, copied from the loveliest models, was presented
to her adorers gloriously apparelled in clothing of wrought gold. Many of
these figures not only presided in their chapels throughout the year, but,
decked with garlands and illuminated by tapers, were carried by
brotherhoods or guilds instituted in their honour in the religious
processions. The colouring was sometimes laid on canvas, with which the
figure was covered as with a skin. The effects and gradation of tints were
studied as carefully as in paintings on canvas. The imitation of rich
stuffs for draperies was a nice and difficult branch of the art. For
single figures real draperies were sometimes used, especially for those of
the Madonnas, which possessed large and magnificent wardrobes and caskets
of jewels worthy of the queens of the Mogul.


During the time that Hildebrand, son of a carpenter of Soan in Tuscany,
became noted and acquired an ascendency with the Popes, he advocated
certain reforms. The first was to make the Popes independent of the
Emperor: this he achieved by procuring a decree that the Pope should be
chosen by the cardinals, bishops, and priests assembled in college. He
also put a stop to the immorality of the clergy by enforcing celibacy of
priests. He also procured more stringent laws against simony. He succeeded
to the popedom in 1073 as Gregory VII., and in carrying out his ambitious
schemes he summoned the German king, Henry IV., and ultimately
excommunicated him, in retaliation for Henry having procured a sentence of
deposition by the Synod of Worms against himself as Pope. These two
potentates exchanged some defiant and insulting letters. Henry at last was
reduced to such difficulties that he had to go in the guise of a penitent,
clad in a thin white dress, while the ground was deep in snow, and he
waited humbly at the outer gate of the Castle of Canossa three days before
he was received into the presence of his Holiness, who gave him
absolution, but under most humiliating circumstances. Gregory, however, at
last was punished in his turn in 1080, and he had to become an exile, in
which condition he died friendless and deserted in 1085, and muttering the
words: "I have loved righteousness and hated iniquity; therefore I die an


St. Thomas Aquinas was born in 1227, and became the greatest theologian
and master of logic and powerful reasoner of his age. He was at first
thought dull at school, and used to be called the great dumb Sicilian ox;
but his genius soon broke forth, and he came to be called the angelical
doctor. His versatility, power of abstraction, and memory astonished
everybody. Louis IX. of France (St. Louis) made him a privy councillor,
and often consulted him. Once at dinner with the king, after a long
silence, Thomas thumped the table energetically, muttering to himself,
"That is an overwhelming argument against the Manicheans!" and the king,
curious to know what sudden thought it was, begged him to explain it,
which was done, and committed to writing by clerks. While praying one day
in the church at Naples, his friend Romanus, who had died some time
before, appeared to Thomas and spoke to him, and said that his works
pleased God, and that he (Romanus) was now in eternal bliss. Thomas then
asked whether the habits which are acquired in this life remain to us in
heaven. Romanus answered, "Brother Thomas, I see God, and do not ask for
more." He then vanished. One day Thomas was writing a treatise on the
Sacrament, and was praying, when the figure on the crucifix turned towards
him and said, "Thomas, thou hast written well of Me: what reward desirest
thou?" "Nought, save Thyself, Lord," was the saint's immediate reply.
Another time Thomas, while celebrating Mass, was seized with a sudden
rapture, owing to a vision which appeared to him, and which he said was so
glorious that all he had written appeared worthless compared with what he
had just seen. In his last illness the monks of Fossa Nuova, near Maienza,
waited on him with unceasing devotion, and begged of him to expound to
them the Canticle of Canticles, as St. Bernard did. The saint replied,
"Get me Bernard's spirit, and I will do your bidding." He yielded to their
wish. The saint, growing feebler, died; and while a corpse, a blind man
begged to approach and pay his last tribute of respect, when the man's
sight was restored that moment.


Guizot thus sums up the attitude between Popes and foreign governments:
"From the tenth century and the accession of the Capetians (989) the
policy of the Holy See had been enterprising, bold, full of initiative,
often even aggressive, and more often than not successful in the
prosecution of its designs. Under Innocent III. (1198-1216) it had
attained the apogee of its strength and fortune. At that point its motion
forward and upward came to a stop. Boniface VIII. (1294-1303) had not the
wit to recognise the changes which had taken place in European
communities, and the decided progress which had been made by laic
influences and civil powers. He was a stubborn preacher of maxims he could
no longer practise. He was beaten in his enterprise; and the Papacy, even
on recovering from his defeat, found itself no longer what it had been
before him. Starting from the fourteenth century, we find no second
Gregory VII. or Innocent III. Without expressly abandoning their
principles, the policy of the Holy See became essentially defensive and
conservative, more occupied in the maintenance than the aggrandisement of
itself, and sometimes even more stationary and stagnant than was required
by necessity or recommended by foresight. The posture assumed and the
conduct adopted by the earliest successors of Boniface VIII. showed how
far the situation of the Papacy was altered, and how deep had been the
stab which, in the conflict between the two aspirants to absolute power,
Philip the Fair (1283-1314) had inflicted on his rival."


The feuds of Guelphs and Ghibellines kept up constant irritation at Rome.
In 1118, when Paschal II. was officiating at the altar on Holy Thursday,
he was interrupted by a mob, who demanded that he should confirm the
appointment of a favourite magistrate, and his silence only exasperated
them. During the festival of Easter, while the bishop and clergy barefoot
and in procession visited the tombs of the martyrs, they were twice
assaulted with volleys of stones and darts. The houses of the Pope's
friends were demolished, he escaped with difficulty, and his last days
were embittered by the strife of civil war. His successor, Gelasius II.,
in 1118 was dragged by his hair along the ground, beaten and wounded, and
bound with an iron chain in the house of a factious baron named Cencio
Frangipani, who stripped and beat and trampled on the cardinals. An
insurrection of the people delivered the Pope for a while; but a few days
later he was again assaulted at the altar, and during a bloody encounter
between the factions he escaped in his sacerdotal garments. He then shook
the dust from his feet, and withdrew from a city where, as he described
it, one emperor would be more tolerable than twenty. About a quarter of a
century later, Pope Lucius II., as he ascended in battle-array to assault
the Capitol, was struck on the temple by a stone, and expired in a few
days in 1145. Again in 1185 a body of priests were seized, and the eyes of
all put out except those of one. They were crowned with mock mitres,
mounted on asses with their faces to the tail, and paraded as a lesson to
Pope Lucius III.


The Pope having lived long away from Rome, and the government of the city
being impracticable, a youth named Rienzi, the son of a publican and a
washerwoman, who was handsome and gifted with eloquence, aspired to raise
the enthusiasm of the mob and revive the old glory of the first city of
the world. He assumed the title of tribune, began to introduce order, and
for a time he carried all before him. He was, however, soon intoxicated
with his success, claimed a Divine mission, procured himself to be crowned
as a successor of the Cæsars, imposed heavy taxes, and displayed great
extravagance in dress and in vulgar exhibitions of grandeur. At last the
Pope's legate anathematised him as a heretic, and enemies combined to
crush him. He fled in 1308 to Prague; there he entered into wild schemes,
was captured and imprisoned, but was spared from punishment as a heretic.
He reappeared, and again obtained such favour with the Pope as to be made
a senator in 1353, and encouraged to resume his influence over the mob in
Rome. He was placed in high command, but again ruined his position with
tyrannical and foolish schemes. His personal habits were gross and
sensual; he became addicted to wine, and his body became bloated with his
indulgences till he was likened to a fatted ox. In a sudden riot brought
on by his own folly he attempted to escape, but the mob captured him and
cut him to pieces.


When Mahomet II. in 1453 besieged Constantinople, the Greek Emperor
implored the assistance of earth and Heaven to check the invaders and ward
off the destruction of the Roman Empire. The celestial image of the Virgin
was exposed in solemn procession, but no succour came. At last the houses
and convents were deserted, and the inhabitants flocked together in the
streets like a herd of timid animals, and poured into the church of St.
Sophia, filling every corner. They placed no small confidence on some
prophecy that had been circulated that an angel would descend from heaven
and deliver the empire with some celestial weapon. While so wailing and
confiding, the doors were broken in with axes, and the Turks seized the
company, binding the males with cords, and the females with their veils
and girdles. All ranks were mixed in groups--senators, slaves, plebeians
and nobles, maids and children. The loudest in their wailings were the
nuns, who were torn from the altar and consigned to the usual fate of
slavery, and worse. The monasteries and churches were profaned. The dome
of St. Sophia itself, a throne of heavenly splendour, was despoiled of the
oblations of ages, and the gold and silver, the pearls and jewels, the
vases and sacerdotal ornaments, were most wickedly perverted to the basest
uses. After the divine images were stripped, the canvas and woodwork were
torn or burnt or trodden under foot. The libraries, with a hundred and
twenty thousand manuscripts, were sold as wastepaper. The Sultan passed in
triumph through the wreck and plunder. He ordered the church to be
converted into a mosque; the instruments of superstition to be removed;
the crosses, images, and mosaics to be dismantled and washed and
purified. The cathedral of St. Sophia was soon crowned with lofty
minarets, and surrounded with groves and fountains for the devotion and
refreshment of the Moslems. He took care, however, to leave the churches
of Constantinople to be shared between the Mussulmans and the Christians.


The empire which Charlemagne founded over so many kingdoms, being a
revival of the old Roman Empire and in imitation of the empire claimed by
the Bishop of Rome over all other Churches, was commonly believed till the
end of the sixteenth century to be elective, and the privilege of electing
was confined by a decree of Gregory V. about 996 to seven persons. These
were the archbishops of Mentz, Treves, and Cologne; the dukes of the
Franks, Swabians, Saxons, and Bavarians. The Franks and Swabians were
superseded respectively by the palatinate of the Rhine and the margravate
of Brandenburg. A golden bull of Charles IV. in 1356 regulated the mode of
election and fixed the place at Frankfort. A majority of votes carried the
election. An eighth and ninth elector were added afterwards, the eighth
being the elector of Brunswick, who succeeded to the English throne in
1714. An extravagant importance was attached to this titular potentate and
his electors. Though he was only elected, yet he was thought to reign by a
Divine right as a sort of Lord of the World. The sovereigns of Europe long
continued to address the Emperor as a superior and as entitled to
precedence, and it was even thought that he had the power of creating
kings, though in actual resources he stood below the kings of France and
England. The epithet "holy" was applied by Frederick I. (Barbarossa) in
1156. There was once a vague notion that the English kingdom was a vassal
of the empire, but Edward I. and Edward III. notably disclaimed any such
submissiveness. When Charles V. was elected, Francis I. of France and
Henry VIII. of England were competitors. Charles V. not succeeding in
dragooning the Protestants into conformity to the Catholic Church, the
influence of the empire declined. After long flickering, the Holy Roman
Empire came to an end by the resignation of Francis II. in 1806, about a
thousand years after the coronation of Charlemagne.




St. Martial, the apostle of the Gauls, when a lad of fifteen, was taken by
his father to see Christ, and became thenceforth a constant follower, and
at a later date was a companion of St. Peter. In his career as first
bishop of Limoges, he was hospitably entertained by a noble widow named
Susanna. Her daughter Valeria devoted her virginity to the Lord, and
having taken a vow of chastity she rejected the marriage which had been
arranged for her with Duke Stephen. He was so enraged at her indifference
to his offers that he ordered her to be beheaded. When she reached the
place of execution, she spread out her hands in prayer and commended
herself to the Lord, during which voices from heaven were heard
encouraging her. She voluntarily offered to her executioner her head,
which was cut off with a blow. Before her death she had predicted the
death of the tyrant Stephen; and when this was afterwards reported to him
by a squire, the latter was seized with fear and trembling, and fell dead.
The duke was then greatly alarmed, and besought Martial to come to him and
restore his squire to life. Martial came and prayed with a loud voice, and
in presence of the people restored the dead squire, whereupon the duke
knelt before the holy bishop and implored forgiveness for his sins. The
bishop enjoined penance for putting to death the virgin martyr, and
baptised the duke and his officers, and they gave large sums of gold to
build churches and endow a hospital to the memory of Valeria, and also
erected a church over her tomb. The duke after these events lived an
exemplary life; and while he was a wise father of the Christians, he was a
fierce persecutor of the Pagans.


St. Thecla was a native of Lycaonia, of great beauty, and was early
engaged to be married to a rich noble named Thamyris, but she was
converted by St. Paul, and she then and there vowed that she would
renounce the world and devote herself to virginity. She broke her plighted
troth. The friends of the youth pressed her to keep her promise; but she
forsook father and mother and riches and plenty, and would not listen to
any of them. So the youth in revenge obtained a decree that she should be
torn by wild beasts. She remained undaunted, and was exposed naked in the
amphitheatre; and tigers, lions, and pards, starved and raging with fury,
were let loose upon her. But the lions, instead of attacking, crouched at
her feet and meekly kissed them; and though excited by the keepers again
and again, they shrank like lambs. This startling picture of innocence
saved from harm was a standing text with the Fathers, who glowed with
enthusiastic eloquence while dilating on the story. At another time the
virgin martyr was exposed to fire, and was in like manner untouched. It
was said she was first converted by listening to St. Paul, whom she
attended in several of his apostolic journeys. At last she died in peace
in a retirement in Isauria, aged ninety, and was buried at Silencia, being
treated as the first female martyr. A sumptuous church bearing her name
was erected over the body, and crowds of pilgrims have always visited the
spot. The great cathedral at Milan is dedicated to God in her honour, and
part of her relics are deposited there. It is said that St. John deposed a
priest for forging some scandalous tales about St. Paul and St. Thecla,
and such tales were repeated in later ages also.


When Polycarp, the Bishop of Smyrna, was burnt as a martyr about 168, a
contemporary account by the leaders of the Church contained in Eusebius
says this: "As soon as the martyr uttered 'Amen' after his prayer the fire
was lighted, and a great flame burst out in the form of an arch, as the
sail of a vessel filled with wind, surrounding as with a wall the body,
which was in the midst, not as burning flesh, but as gold and silver
refining in the furnace. We received in our nostrils such a fragrance as
proceeds from frankincense or some other precious perfume. At length the
wicked people, observing that the body could not be consumed with the
fire, ordered the executioner to approach and to plunge his sword into his
body. Upon this such a quantity of blood gushed out that the fire was
extinguished, and all the multitude were astonished to see such a
difference providentially made between the unbelievers and the elect.
Afterwards the body was burned, and we gathered up the bones, more
precious than gold and jewels, and deposited them in a proper place,
where, if possible, we shall meet, and the Lord will grant us in gladness
and joy to celebrate the birthday of his martyrdom, both in commemoration
of those who have wrestled before us, and for the instruction and
confirmation of those who come after." Polycarp was burned at the age of
eighty-six, and had been a pupil of St. John the Evangelist.


A rich widow named Felicitas lived at Rome about 173, and had seven sons,
whom she brought up as Christians. She was cited before the tribunals for
not sacrificing to the false gods. But she refused; and being told she
should comply out of regard to her sons, she replied that her sons would
know how to choose between everlasting death and everlasting life. They
also were cited; but the mother encouraged them to defy the tyranny and
refuse to obey. Then they were ordered to be tortured most cruelly, each
in different form and before the mother's eyes; but she heroically stood
by and encouraged them to be firm. Instead of flinching, she gloried that
she had seven sons worthy to be saints in Paradise, and she herself was
subjected to a barbarous and lingering death, and at length beheaded or
plunged into boiling oil.


Eusebius, referring to the end of the second century, says that one day,
in place of the gladiatorial combats at Lyons, Blandina and Attalus were
thrown to the wild beasts. Blandina was bound to a stake; and as her body
appeared to hang in the form of the cross, this greatly encouraged her
fellow-martyr. As none of the beasts touched her, she was remanded to
prison to be kept for another day. Attalus was then demanded by the mob.
He bore a label: "This is Attalus the Christian." He was placed on the
iron chair and his body roasted; but he maintained his courage to the
last. Blandina was again brought forward, along with a youth of fifteen,
named Ponticus. Refusing to swear as they were ordered, they were led the
whole round, and subjected to horrible brutalities. When Ponticus drew his
last breath, Blandina stood exulting, as if she were invited to a marriage
feast rather than thrown to the wild beasts. After scourging and exposure
to the beasts, and after being roasted, she was finally wrapped in a net
and tossed in the air before a bull; and when she had been tossed by that
beast, and had now no longer any sense of what was done to her by reason
of her hope, confidence, and faith in Christ, she too was despatched. The
Gentiles confessed that no woman among them had ever endured sufferings as
many and great as these; yet they insisted on watching the dead bodies,
and what remained after the mangling of beasts, day and night, lest the
Christians should attempt to bury them. They finally burnt the remains to
ashes, and cast them into the Rhone, that there might not be a vestige of
them left on dry land. Some of the ashes, however, were preserved in the
church at Lyons.


Peter de Natalibus says: Cecilia, virgin and martyr, born of a noble house
among the Romans about 180, was brought up in the faith of Christ, and
always carried the Gospel hid in her bosom, and never ceased from Divine
colloquy and prayer. She composed hymns to the glory of God, which she
sang so sweetly that the angels came down from heaven to hear them and
sing along with her. Being espoused to a youth named Valerian, who heard
her often speaking of an angel whom he desired to see, she told him where
to go; he was directed to the Catacombs, where the angel appeared to him
in white raiment, holding a book, on which was written, "One Lord, one
faith, one baptism." Valerian thereupon received baptism from Pope Urban.
Valerian earnestly desired that his brother Tiburtius should be brought to
the knowledge of the truth. So when on the morrow Tiburtius came to salute
his sister-in-law Cecilia, he perceived an excellent odour of lilies and
roses, and asked her wondering whence she had roses at that untimely
season. He was told that God had sent them crowns of roses and lilies, but
that he could not see them till his eyes were opened and his body
purified, and yet that he also might see them if he would believe in
Christ and renounce idols. And Tiburtius also believed and was baptised.
The two brothers were afterwards seized and put to death. Cecilia also was
ordered by the prefect Almachius to be burned; but though put in the fire
a day and night, it had no effect on her. Nor could the executioner,
though striking thrice at her neck, kill her. On the third day of her
sufferings she distributed her goods and departed this life.


In the early persecution of 202 under the Emperor Severus, a touching
scene occurred between a young wife, aged twenty-two, named Perpetua, and
her father. She was arrested, and implored by her father, who threw
himself in tears at her feet, beseeching her to renounce her creed, and
not bring ruin on her brothers and parents and relatives. But she gloried
in being called and in calling herself a Christian. The father brought her
child in his arms, and called on her in vain to spare his grey hairs and
to pity the child, and join in the Pagan sacrifice to the Emperor. The
guards at last ordered him to be removed after his last appeal to her
pity; and after tearing the hair of his beard in his anguish, she only
exclaimed, "I am pained at the sight of my father as if I had been struck
with a blow. His grief is enough to move any creature." But no other
faltering word escaped her. She and some young companions were thrown to
the wild beasts to gratify the brutal tastes of the multitude when
celebrating a prince's birthday. The cruel spectacle made such an
impression on one of the jailers, named Pudens, that he felt an
irresistible impulse to acknowledge that there must be something divine in
such a triumph over human weakness. He could not choose but indulge the
friends of the wretched prisoners by giving them access to cheer the
latter in their desolate state.


Ursula and eleven thousand British virgins were said to have suffered
martyrdom at Cologne in 237. The story is somewhat vague, and some even
suggest that, another virgin being named _Undecimilla_, some play on that
word gave rise to the extraordinary number mentioned. The writers of the
tenth century began to tell the story that Ursula was the daughter of a
British prince, and had taken a vow of celibacy, but her father had wished
her to marry the son of some ferocious tyrant. To get quit of the
proposal, she said she would agree if her father and the king should
choose each ten virgins of her own age and beauty, and that each of those
ten should have a thousand damsels under them, and that they should all be
allowed to cruise about as unsullied virgins for three years in eleven
triremes. The tyrant succeeded in collecting the virgins and in providing
gaily equipped galleys, and they put to sea and were driven by stress of
weather up the Rhine to Cologne. From that place they went to visit the
Apostles' tombs at Rome, and on their return the barbarous Huns murdered
them all at Cologne. The church of St. Ursula at Cologne is still visited
by pilgrims who invoke the saint.


St. Barbara was the daughter of a rich noble in Heliopolis, and, being of
singular beauty, her father destined her for some great alliance. But she
heard of Origen and visited him, and took his instruction and was
converted to the Christian religion. Her father being a rabid Pagan, built
a high tower in which to imprison her; and one day, on visiting it, and
seeing only two windows in the plan, she ordered the workmen to add a
third. Her father on hearing of this became enraged, dragged her by her
hair to a dungeon, and procured a decree that she should be scourged and
tortured; and as she still refused to acknowledge his gods he cut off her
head. But thunder and lightning at once descended and consumed him. She
became the patron saint to protect from lightning and gunpowder.


Eusebius says that at the end of the third century a soldier named
Basilides was ordered to lead the celebrated Potamiana to execution, who
had resisted many attacks on her purity. She was in the bloom of beauty,
and was known far and wide for her virtues. She was, after horrible
tortures, the mere relation of which made one shudder, ordered by a brutal
judge for execution. The soldier who had charge of her showed much
compassion and kindness in warding off the insolent mob. Perceiving this,
she exhorted the soldier to be of good cheer, for that after she was gone
she would intercede with her Lord for him. Boiling pitch was then poured
over different parts of her body, gradually by little and little, from her
feet up to the crown of her head. Not long afterwards it was observed by
his comrades that Basilides himself refused to swear and take the oaths,
and for this offence he was committed to prison. When some of the
Christian brethren visited him to ascertain the cause of this unexpected
conduct, he declared to them that for three days after the martyrdom of
Potamiana she stood before him at night, placed a crown upon his head, and
said that she had entreated the Lord on his account, that she had obtained
her prayer, and that ere long she would take him with her. Thereupon the
brethren baptised him, and he, bearing his testimony to the Lord, was


St. Genes was an actor performing before the Emperor Diocletian in 303,
and, being a clever mimic, played the character of a sick man, troubled in
mind about the false gods and the future, before him. He professed to lie
on his deathbed groaning over his sins, which he said were heavy and
burdensome, and he wished to be lightened of them. The other actors then
approached him; and one of them, being the clown, exclaimed to the rest,
"Oh, if the poor fellow feels overweighted, we can only do one thing with
him--take him to the carpenter's and get him planed, and so lighten him."
At this sally there was a great roar of laughter. The sick man still
groaned and sighed, and said he desired to be a Christian, and wished them
to call in a priest and an exorcist. Thereupon two actors came in dressed
to represent these two characters, and they suggested baptism, whereon a
great vat of water was brought on the stage, and the sick man dragged out
of his bed and plunged in, clothed in white. At this last sally there was
another roar of laughter. At the next moment some actors dressed as Roman
soldiers rushed on the stage, and arrested the new convert and had him
tried and sentenced. This was part of the jest. But Genes sprang to his
feet, threw off the guards, and knocking down a statue of Venus, addressed
the Emperor, saying that though he had amused them with mimicking the
Christians, yet after all he was himself one in his heart, and having in
sickness felt the comfort, he now confessed Christ to be very God, and in
Him alone he would trust. The mimic was so earnest and serious in this
address that the whole assembly were petrified. The Emperor called the
actor before him, and told him not to carry the joke too far. But the
actor persisted, said he was in earnest, and defied all the threats of
power. He was first tortured and then beheaded. The artists often
represent this saint with a clown's cap and bells.


Genesius was a notary at Arles in 303. He had originally been a soldier,
and then he became registrar of a local court. In this capacity he was
called on to read an edict of persecution issued by Diocletian, and rather
than read it he resigned his office and fled. He ardently longed to be
baptised, and requested the Bishop of Arles to grant him this favour. The
bishop, for some reason not known, deferred it, but assured Genesius that,
if called upon to die for Christ, he should in thus shedding his blood
receive the perfection of the grace of baptism. Genesius was soon
afterwards arrested, whereupon it is related that by the inspiration of
the Holy Ghost he flung himself into the Rhone, wherein he received
baptism, the river having become for him a second Jordan. The officers
followed him to the other bank, and there beheaded him without any formal
trial. Ado, speaking of this death of Genesius, says that "he received the
crown of martyrdom, being baptised with his own blood."


The first of the British martyrs was St. Alban, a wealthy native of
Verulam and citizen of Rome, who in 303 entertained one Amphibalus, a
Christian preacher from Caerleon in South Wales, then a Roman settlement.
It was said that Alban exchanged clothes with his guest, and thus effected
his escape. For this act of friendship Alban was beheaded in presence of a
great concourse of people. And many other martyrdoms followed. About the
same time Constantius, the father of Constantine the Great, who had been
chosen emperor of the western provinces of France, Spain, and Britain,
died at York, at which last city Constantine was born, who was the first
Christian Emperor. Some, however, alleged that Constantine was born at
London, and some at Colchester. Ten years after Alban's death a stately
church was erected and dedicated to his memory; and in 1880 a new and
separate bishopric of St. Albans was created.


The virgin Theodora, about 304, was a great beauty, and was condemned to
hateful punishment for not sacrificing to the gods, and was kept in prison
awaiting her terrible doom. Didymus was a young man moved to pity, and
resolved to rescue the virgin of Christ out of her danger. He dressed
himself as a soldier, and went into her room and told her to change
clothes, and he would remain in her stead. She consented, and being
instructed not to betray herself by any unusual walk or conduct, she
escaped. When the truth was discovered, Didymus said he was inspired by
God to rescue Theodora, and he was ready to undergo any tortures to which
he might be exposed, for he would never consent to sacrifice to devils. He
was ordered to be burnt. Then Theodora, hearing of this, ran to the spot,
and wished to die in his place, and she was beheaded soon after his death.
St. Ambrose dwells with rapture on the glorious contention between those
two for the crown of martyrdom.


St. Cyprian, surnamed the Magician, who died in 304, was a native of
Antioch, and had travelled in all the countries where magic was
cultivated, in order to acquire that diabolic art. In Antioch lived a
young heathen virgin, named Justina, with whom a pagan noble, named
Agladius, was deeply in love. And as she would not listen to him,
Cyprian's magical powers were invoked in order to overcome her resolution.
She made the sign of the cross and warded off all their evil arts. Cyprian
himself was equally enamoured, and, enraged at being baffled, resolved to
give up the diabolic art. He consulted a priest, named Eusebius, who took
him to an assembly of Christians, when he was struck with the new signs of
devotion. He became a convert, and burned his books of magic, gave all his
goods to the poor, and enrolled himself as a catechumen. Agladius was also
about the same time converted. Justina was delighted to see this change,
cut off her hair, gave away her jewels, and dedicated herself to a holy
life. The persecution of Diocletian breaking out, they were all scourged,
and torn with hooks, kept in chains, and finally beheaded. Their relics
were carried to Rome by Christians, and a pious lady, named Rufina, built
a church to their memory, near the square which bears the name of
Claudius. The relics were afterwards removed to the Lateran basilica.


St. John Chrysostom, who died about 407, passed many years among the
anchorites who lived on the mountains near Antioch. When he was ordained
deacon, he became a powerful and fervid preacher. Once, on a seditious
resistance made by the people to a new tax levied by Theodosius I., he
assisted the bishop in obtaining a pardon for the ringleaders. When he
became himself bishop, he preached with great force against the indelicacy
of the female dress, and against gaming, theatres, and swearing. The other
bishops conspired against him, and obtained his banishment for alleged
seditious acts, but he was soon recalled at the instance of the people. He
was again banished to a bleak desert, and died after being a bishop about
ten years. His body was carried to Constantinople, and was laid in the
Church of the Apostles. He was said to be the most eloquent and fervid of
the Fathers. Thomas Aquinas said he would rather be author of his homilies
on St. Matthew than own the whole city of Paris.


St. James was a Persian noble. The king declared war against the
Christians, and the noble had not firmness to refuse. His wife and mother,
however, being Christians, and shocked to see this, upbraided him, and
wrote a letter that they renounced him for ever. This sank into his soul,
and he withdrew from the Court, bewailing the crime he had committed; and
the king, hearing of his change of views, was enraged, and, after calling
the Council of Ministers, they all agreed that James should be hung on the
rack, and his limbs cut off, joint after joint. The executioners, after
entreating him in vain to recant, with their scimitars cut off his right
thumb. The judge and bystanders, in tears, called out to him that it was
enough, and he ought to surrender. But he exulted, and finger after finger
was cut off; then the little toe of the left foot, and all the other toes.
After fingers and toes and arms and feet left him only a trunk weltering
in his blood, he continued to pray and speak cheerfully, till at last a
guard severed the head from the body. This happened in 421. The Christians
offered a large sum to obtain the relics, but were refused. They, however,
watched an opportunity, and collected them by stealth, finding the limbs
in twenty-eight different places. They were all buried in an urn, and in a
place concealed from the heathen. The glory of this martyr was renowned in
all the Persian, Syrian, Greek, and Latin Churches.


During the controversy raised by the iconoclasts, when all the monks
resisted the decrees against image worship, one monk, Stephen, a hermit
who had lived thirty years in a cave at Sinope, greatly distinguished
himself. The monks had flocked to the desert to watch in security over
their tutelary images, and the most devout of the laity crowded round the
cell of Stephen, who furiously denounced the iconoclasts. So many pilgrims
resorted to him as their champion that the Emperor ordered him to be
carried away from his cell, and shut up in a cloister at Chrysopolis. This
act drove the other monks to frenzy. One named Andrew hastened from his
dwelling in the desert and boldly confronted the Emperor in the church of
St. Mammas, and sternly addressed him thus: "If thou art a Christian, why
do you treat Christians with such indignity?" The Emperor commanded his
temper, but after again ordering this monk into his presence, the latter
was so violent and scornful that the Emperor ordered him to be scourged.
Stephen, however, continued to thunder from his cell against the
iconoclasts, and mounted a pillar to be better heard; and other monks
flocked and built their cells round this pillar. But this did not satisfy
Stephen, who returned to the city and openly denounced and defied the
Emperor, and collected a large following. The Emperor ordered him to
prison. His followers on hearing of his majesty's annoyance at last rushed
to the prison, dragged the old man into the streets and murdered him, and
threw his body into the malefactors' grave (as is elsewhere mentioned,
_ante_, p. 134).


John Huss, who was a Luther a century too soon, was born in 1369, became a
preacher, and soon began to see the impostures connected with relic
worshipping and indulgences, and became known as a great admirer of
Wicliff's writings. He was soon marked out as a heretic, and worried with
citations and excommunicated. When three young artisans publicly exclaimed
against the sale of indulgences and were seized and condemned and
executed, great excitement arose. Some friends dipped their handkerchiefs
in the blood of the victims, a woman in the crowd offered white linen to
enshroud them; the dead bodies were carried as saints with chanted hymns
and anthems, and buried with great solemnity under the direction of Huss.
Huss was summoned to answer for his many heresies, and he offered to
defend himself before the Council of Constance, on condition of the
Emperor securing him a safe conduct. The assurance was given, the Emperor
Sigismund being at first thought favourable to the views of Huss. But the
bishops craftily, on pretence of his attempt at escape, seized and
imprisoned him. The Emperor acted weakly and with too much deference to
the cardinals, who professed to give Huss a hearing, but took care that it
should be only before themselves. His friends had early presentiment that
Huss would be done to death by hook or crook. His faithful friend the
Knight of Chlum stood always by his side, and protested vigorously against
the breach of faith, in all the crafty steps taken, and by the
imprisonments imposed before the hearing of the case. At one prison on the
Rhine Huss was nearly killed by the noisome effluvia. He was next removed
and imprisoned in a tower, and chained day and night. The usual result
followed after a few hearings before the council, where he had no
opportunity of meeting most of the charges, and where he was mocked and
offered a period to recant, and then sentenced to be burnt as an
incorrigible heretic. Seven bishops were appointed to see him clothed in
priestly vestments, then stripped and degraded. A cap painted with devils
was placed on his head and inscribed with the word "Arch-heretic." He was
placed on a pile of fagots, and chained to it by the neck. He sang hymns
till the smoke and flames stopped him. When his body was burned the ashes
were cast into the Rhine, so that nothing of him might be left to pollute
the earth, as his murderers vainly imagined.


One consequence of William the Conqueror's success was the long and bloody
wars which lasted for three centuries. It was a misfortune that William
Duke of Normandy, one of the great French vassals, should become King of
England. From the eleventh to the fourteenth century--from Philip I. to
Philip de Valois--this position gave rise between the two crowns and the
two states to questions, to quarrels, to political struggles, and to wars
which were a frequent source of trouble to France. The evil and the peril
became far greater still when in the fourteenth century there arose
between France and England--between Philip de Valois and Edward III.--a
question touching the succession to the throne of France, and the
application of exemption from the Salic law. Then there commenced between
the two crowns and the two peoples that war which was to last more than a
hundred years, was to bring upon France the saddest days of her history,
and was to be ended only by the inspired heroism of a young girl, who
alone in the name of her God and His saints restored confidence and
victory to her king and country. Joan of Arc at the cost of her life
brought to the most glorious conclusion the longest and bloodiest struggle
that had devastated France and sometimes compromised its glory.


In 1412 this little girl was born at Domremy, and soon learnt to sew and
spin and to tend her parents' cattle and sheep. She did not take to
dancing, like other girls, though willing to sing and eat cakes under the
fairy beech tree of her village. At the age of nine she was noted for her
constant attendance at church; the sound of bells enchanted her, and she
went often to confession and communion, and was even then taxed with being
too religious. France was then torn with civil strife; and the sight of
lads of the village sent home torn and bleeding from the wars, and the
stories of her poor neighbours whose houses were fired and homesteads
devastated by troopers, and the domineering and brutal English, then
masters of France, whom she always called "Goddams," stirred her blood and
made her wonder that the God in heaven could allow such mad work to go on.
When she was thirteen, she declared then, and ever after, that, as she was
sitting in her father's garden, she heard a voice from heaven calling her,
and a great brightness all round the church; and listening with awe, she
heard the voice of angels which urged her to go to France and deliver the
kingdom. She became then rapt in thought, and often the voices came to her
again and again, urging her on. She at last broke the secret to her
father; but he, being only a stupid peasant, chided her for her nonsense,
and even threatened to drown her if she repeated it. She soon found home
uncomfortable, and went and nursed her aunt, and also opened her heart to
her uncle, begging him to take her to see the captain of the bailiwick,
for she was sure he would help her to go to the Dauphin and assist to
recover France for the French. She did get an audience, and told the
captain she came from the Lord, who would be sure to help the Dauphin. On
asking her who was her Lord, she said He was the King of Heaven, at which
the captain set her down at once for a little madcap who should be sent
home and well whipped. But the little persistent cow-girl, still further
excited by news of the wars, told the captain that she was determined to
go and raise the siege of Orleans, and that if she had a hundred fathers
and mothers, and if she were the King's daughter, she must and would go in
spite of them all. At last the captain, puzzled and at his wits' end,
wrote about the little crazy girl and her visions to the Duke of Lorraine,
who was so impressed that he sent for her, and then everybody began to
talk of her wild schemes and enterprise as the wonder of the times.


When Joan of Arc, aged nineteen, got the length of being sent for by the
Duke of Lorraine, John of Metz, the knight, was assigned to escort her,
and he asked if she meant to go in her little red petticoat. "No," said
she, "I should like to be in man's clothes." When this was known, the
people round about subscribed to get her a military costume, and she was
supplied with a horse, a coat of mail, a lance, a sword, a messenger, and
a train; and she took farewell of her rustic friends and got their
blessing. In the journey of eleven days her spirit never flagged, and she
only wished she could hear Mass daily which she contrived once or twice
to do. Everybody treated with respect the inspired cow-girl, and her
constant appeals to Heaven and to the commission which she said she bore
direct from the God of Battles. She was rather tall, well shaped, dark,
with a look of composed assurance which staggered even the old veterans of
the war. Once on her journey a band of roughs had prepared to waylay and
rob her; but on a sight of her they were struck motionless and quailed.
When she arrived near to headquarters, the King's council debated whether
the King ought to receive her; and as he was then at his wits' end, and
had spent all the money in the treasury, it was decided that he might. The
high steward conducted her forward; it was candlelight: warriors and
knights, richly dressed, stood in rows looking on; and yet it was noticed
that she by instinct fixed on the King among the crowd of grandees, and
the young shepherdess at once made her bends and courtesies, as if she had
been bred in courts. She at once took high ground, and said, "Good
Dauphin, my name is Joan, the maid. The King of Heaven sends me to assure
you that you shall be anointed and crowned in the city of Rheims, and
shall be lieutenant of the King of Heaven, who is King of France. It is
God's will that these English foes shall be driven out of our country."
The King was astounded, and the chroniclers say he received her message
with radiant face as a message from Heaven. Many interviews followed, and
as he listened he began to believe in Heaven, and even in himself as
destined to recover his kingdom as the true heir of France.


After Joan of Arc had had an interview with the King and assured him that
God was on her side, the King took the advice kindly, but his stiff-necked
courtiers shook their heads at the shepherdess and her schemes. At last a
large committee of bishops, kings, councillors, and learned doctors
resolved to go and question this presumptuous young person. One doctor
tried to puzzle her by asking why she wanted men-at-arms to go and rout
out the English, when, if it were God's will, no men would be needed. She
answered that warriors would fight, and God would give them the victory.
Another pundit asked her in what language the voices spoke to her, and she
retorted, "A better dialect than yours." A third pundit thought he would
stop her by asking if she believed in God, to which she replied, "More
than you do." Next the wiseacres told her they must have a sign before
they could trust her with an army. She answered, "In the name of God, I
am not come to Poitiers to show signs; take me to Orleans and I will give
you signs of what I am sent for. I come on behalf of the King of Heaven to
cause the siege of Orleans to be raised, and to take the King to Rheims
that he may be crowned and anointed there." The doctors and councillors
kept up their siege of questions at this obscure shepherdess for a
fortnight, and her good temper and unflagging faith in her mission broke
down their unbelief, so that they all decided that she must surely be
inspired. Next a deputation of princesses and court ladies visited and
questioned her, and they also were all so struck with the modesty,
sweetness, and grace of her demeanour and speech that they were subdued to
tears. The King no longer hesitated. Joan was accepted as a heaven-born
marshal, and there was assigned to her a squire, a page, two heralds, a
chaplain, many serving-men, and a complete suit of armour. She asked that
her sword should be marked with five crosses; her banner was white and
studded with lilies, and there were the words "Jesu Maria," with angels
adoring, and a picture of God in the clouds holding in His hand the globe
and its destinies. These accoutrements being provided, she was urgent for
the immediate departure of the expedition, as she said Orleans was crying
aloud for succour. It took five weeks to get together an army of twelve
thousand men; but at last off they went, Joan's chaplain and some priests
chanting sacred hymns, much to the amazement of the swearing troopers, who
had never seen the like before.


When the army marched with Joan to succour Orleans, the generals suggested
that the best plan would be for her to go into the city with a convoy of
provisions, and she at once acted on the advice; and with her banner and
priests and two hundred men-at-arms she entered the city at night; and on
sight of her the besieged inhabitants rose in a mass, and with torches and
shouts of joy hailed her as a goddess sent to deliver them. She said her
first duty was to enter the church and give thanks to God, and then she
would go to the governor's house. A splendid supper was prepared for her,
but she would only dip some slices of bread in wine and water. Her modesty
and simplicity charmed all the company, and she had quarters in the
governor's house, and slept with one of his daughters. The besiegers heard
of Joan and the frenzy she had excited, and they cursed her as a little
sorceress. But her own soldiers were keen to go out at once and storm the
bastiles of the English. She thought it fair to give the enemy warning,
and mounted one of the bastions and shouted to the English to stop and be
gone; but the English general only jeered at her; and told her to go home
and mind her cows. The battle went on a few days, and Joan, having called
for her horse and armour, eagerly joined and encouraged the garrison. At
one stage of the attack she took a scaling-ladder, set it against the
rampart, and was the first to mount. But an arrow struck her between the
neck and shoulder, and she fell. Yet, after retiring to have her wound
dressed, she remounted her horse and shook her banner in the air; her men
rallied, and with one great rush carried the bastile and routed the
English. The bells rang out all night at this victory, and the _Te Deum_
was chanted. The English were soon seen to be in retreat, leaving much
victual and ammunition behind, and many sick and prisoners. The siege of
Orleans was raised. A few days later Joan was anxious to visit the King;
and when they met, he took off his cap and held out his hand, and the
chroniclers say he would fain have kissed her for the joy that he felt.
She on her side thought of nothing but to urge him to march at once while
the enemy was flying, and get himself crowned at Rheims. The pious maid
again reminded him that the voices were urging her and would not let her


After the siege of Orleans was raised, and Joan of Arc was urging the next
part of the programme, to have the King crowned at Rheims, she took part
in sieges and assaults, and was gravely consulted by the generals.
Difficulties were started about going at once to Rheims, and sometimes she
issued military orders herself which embarrassed the plans; but she had
great influence with the army and the people and those who flocked to join
the standard attracted by her fame. She urged an instant assault on
Troyes, and got a grumbling assent of the chiefs; and when mounting the
earthwork and shouting out "Assault," it so happened that Troyes
capitulated to the King on terms. The royal forces then entered in
triumph, with the maid at the King's side carrying her banner. At that
stage some of her old village friends came to see her in her great
position, and she received and welcomed them like a born princess, so that
they were charmed. The King in a day or two thereafter entered Rheims, and
at the coronation Joan rode in state between a general, an archbishop, and
the Chancellor of France. When this great ceremony was over, Joan said she
had completed the charge given her by the Lord, and now if it pleased Him
she would gladly go back to her father and mother and tend the cattle as
before. On hearing this the great councillors more and more believed that
Joan had been sent as a messenger from Heaven. But difficulties still
surrounded the army, and Joan seemed bent on driving out the English. Yet
people noticed that Joan's power somehow drooped after the King was
crowned. She kept with the King and busied herself with affairs. Talbot,
the English general, insulted her by sending flags painted with a sign of
the distaff and the words, "Now, fair one, come on!" The King moved on to
Paris, and she took part in an unsuccessful assault there and elsewhere.
When she was fighting at Compiégne, and the enemy being determined to
capture the little warrior in her red sash and rich surcoat, she was at
last overmastered, and was taken prisoner. She had for some time before
surmised that she would be betrayed, and that her career was near its


When Joan had raised the siege of Orleans and was urging the King to go to
Rheims to be crowned, and he was distracted by the diversity of his
councillors, a young prince, Guy de Laval, wrote on June 8th, 1429, to his
mother about Joan as follows: "The King had sent for Joan to come and meet
him at Selles-en-Berry. Some say that it was for my sake, in order that I
might see her. She gave right good welcome to my brother and myself, and
after we had dismounted at Selles I went to see her in her quarters. She
ordered wine, and told me that she should soon have me drinking some at
Paris. It seems a thing divine to look on her and listen to her. I saw her
mount on horseback, clad all in white armour save her head, and with a
little axe in her hand, on a great black charger, which at the door of her
quarters was very restive and would not let her mount. Then said she,
'Lead him to the cross,' which was in front of the neighbouring church on
the road. There she mounted him without his moving, and as if he were tied
up; and turning towards the door of the church, which was very nigh at
hand, she said in a soft womanly voice, 'You priests and churchmen, make
procession and prayer to God.' Then she resumed her road, saying, 'Push
forward! push forward!' She told me that three days before my arrival she
had sent my dear grandmother a little golden ring, but that it was a very
small matter, and she would have liked to send you something better,
having regard to your dignity."


When Joan was taken prisoner at the siege of Compiégne, she was kept six
months in various castles by John of Luxemburg; but her youth, virtue, and
courage made friends of her gaolers. The governor, however, was a sordid
creature, and sold her to her enemies for English gold. Then another
brutal creature called a bishop of Beauvais, also an inquisitor, rose up
and insisted on his right to judge her, as she was captured within his
diocese. She was taken to Rouen to be tried as a rebel heretic. Joan had a
presentiment of her fate, and said, "I know well that these English will
put me to death; but were they a hundred thousand more Goddams than have
already been in France, they shall never have the kingdom." On hearing
this, the English Earl of Stafford half drew his dagger to strike her, but
was held back. As she was led to Rouen, great crowds came to see her;
ladies of distinction went five leagues to speak comfort to her and
encourage her, and wept on parting. The brutal bishop, like a vulture of
the desert, seized on her as his prey; and though some lookers-on cried
shame, and protested that the trial was illegal, this demon inquisitor had
her locked in an iron cage, with irons on her feet, and kept in a dark
room, guarded night and day in a castle tower, while a sham trial was kept
up for forty days, and idle questions cast at her. The demon judge, after
trying in vain to shake her fortitude, at last had her brought into the
torture chamber. But Joan told him, "If you tear me limb from limb, you
shall get nothing more from me; nay, if I were at the stake and saw the
torch lighting the fagots, I shall say naught else." Joan was declared a
heretic and a rebel; she was harassed to sign an abjuration, and a mock
signature being forced from her, she was at first condemned to perpetual
imprisonment. Part of her alleged crime was the wearing of man's clothes,
and after a struggle she refused to give this up. She was tried and
retried, and at last forty judges agreed that she must be burned at the
stake. A woman's dress was put on her, and she was dragged to the place of
execution. Her last wish was to have the cross, whereon God hung, kept
continually in her sight as long as she lived. She was then done to death,
and even the demon bishop was said for once to drop a tear as the inspired
maid was in her last agony.


Egypt afforded the first example of the monastic life; and at the head of
the new zealots for macerating the body in order to perfect the soul was
Antony, an illiterate youth, born in 305. After rehearsing the solitary
life in Thebais and searching for a suitable site in the desert, he
settled on Mount Colzim, near the Red Sea. He was a friend of Athanasius,
the champion of the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity. Others followed his
example, and the region of the Nile soon swarmed with disciples. It was
said that five thousand anchorites peopled the Desert of Nitria, south of
Alexandria. Some thought that half of the population had taken to this
sequestered mode of life, so that the old saying was repeated that in
Egypt it was less difficult to find a god than a man. Athanasius
introduced the knowledge and admiration of the monastic life to the Roman
senators who began to take an interest in this new philosophy. A Syrian
youth, named Hilarion, was incited by his enthusiasm to follow Antony's
example, and fix his cell on a sandy beach seven miles from Gaza, where he
lived forty-eight years. Even Basil once spent some time in a savage
solitude in Pontus. And Martin of Tours, who was soldier, hermit, bishop,
and saint, established the monasteries of Gaul. The fame of these hermits
filled the whole earth wherever a knowledge of Christianity had spread.
This pilgrim, visiting Jerusalem, carried there the habits of the new
models of Christian life, and members of wealthy families yielded to the
fashion of piety. Jerome himself persuaded Paula and her daughter
Eustochium to retire to Bethlehem and found monasteries, and pursue a
system of rigid self-mortification.


The monastic life, as a system, was not much known till the end of the
fourth century. It has been conjectured that the circumstances of the
Decian persecution, about the middle of the third century, caused many
persons in Egypt to retreat for safety to the desert, and then, finding
complete security, this became a second nature, the climate being mild and
cells and cottages being easily constructed. There were at first only
individuals here and there, and no regular society till the peaceable
reign of Constantine, when Pachomius is said to have founded some
monasteries in Thebais. Antony, the first hermit of note, gave a
contemporary of Pachomius this account: "When I first became a monk, there
was as yet no monastery in any part of the world where one man was
obliged to take care of another, but every one of the ancient monks, when
the persecution was ended, exercised the monastic life by himself in
private. Afterwards Father Pachomius, by the help of God, brought the
monks to live in communities." Before 250 those who lived a lonely life
were called ascetics. Hilarion, who was scholar to Antony, was the first
monk who ever lived in Palestine or Syria. Not long after this new mode of
life spread to Armenia, Paphlagonia, and Pontus; then it reached Thrace
and parts of Europe. It was not till Athanasius came to Italy and Rome in
340 that he introduced this mode of society. Marcella was the first noble
woman who took to this life at Rome, being instructed by Athanasius during
the Arian persecution. Pelagius, about 400, introduced monastic life into
Britain. Monks at first were laymen and not clergy, their office being not
to teach but to mourn. It was not till after 1311 that Pope Clement
obliged all monks to take holy orders, so that they might say private Mass
for the honour of God.


St. Antony, the founder of the monastic life in Egypt, who died in 356, at
the age of one hundred and four, soon after he began to live in the tombs
as a hermit was found in a trance, and carried to a church as one dead. He
afterwards related that in the night the devil had sent his legions to
terrify him. They upraised so great a clamour that the whole place seemed
to quake, and, as if bursting through the four walls of the cell, devils
rushed in upon him from all sides, transformed in the guise of wild beasts
and creeping things, and the place was straightway filled with spectres of
lions, bears, leopards, bulls, serpents, asps, scorpions, and wolves, all
of them in motion after their proper fashion,--the lion roaring as about
to spring on him, the bull threatening to gore him, the serpent hissing,
the wolf in the act of flying at him, but all in seeming only as under
restraint, though dire were the noises and fierce the menaces of those
phantoms crowding around him. And Antony mocked them and said, "Ye seek to
terrify me with numbers, but this aping of wild beasts only proves your
weakness. If you have any power, delay not, but come on; for faith in the
Lord is my seal and my wall of salvation." And they all gnashed their
teeth at him, looking as if preparing to assail him. But the Lord
meanwhile did not forget Antony, and came to his assistance. The saint,
looking up, saw as it were the roof opened and a ray of light descending
upon him. And the devils on a sudden disappeared; and the pain of his body
was straightway assuaged, and the cell was clear as before. And Antony
rose up and prayed, and received more strength than he ever had before.


Ruffinus says that Macarius once went to visit Antony in the mountain,
and, knocking at the door, Antony opened to him and asked, "Who art thou?"
He answered, "I am Macarius." And Antony, to prove him, shut the door and
left him without, as if holding him in contempt, till, considering his
patience, he opened and admitted him joyfully, saying, "Long have I heard
of thy fame and desired to see thee." And then he made ready, and they ate
together in charity. And in the evening Antony wetted certain palm leaves
to weave baskets with, and Macarius asked for some likewise to work along
with him; and thus sitting and discoursing of things useful to the soul
they made a mat of those leaves; and Antony, seeing that what Macarius had
woven was well done, kissed his hands, and said, "Much virtue issues forth
of these hands, my brother."


Macarius the hermit, in order to subdue the rebellious flesh, remained six
months in a marsh, and exposed his naked body to the attacks of African
gnats. Once he was presented by a traveller with a bunch of grapes, at
which he looked longingly; but on reflection he thought another brother
was more worthy, to whom he gave them. That brother again remembered
another still more worthy, and passed them on. The tempting cluster passed
from hand to hand, from worthy to more worthy, until it came back once
more to the hands of Macarius, who, not to be tempted overmuch by the
devil, flung the morsel far out of his reach.


St. Jerome, in his Life of Paul, the first hermit, who for fifteen years
never slept except standing against a wall, relates that Antony, hearing
that there was a better hermit than himself, went across the desert to
find him, and after many dangers at last saw a wolf enter a cave, and
divined that this must be the cell of Paul. So he went in, and at the
noise Paul shut his door; but Antony fell on his knees and prayed, and
then besought admittance, which was granted. Paul then said, "Behold him
whom thou hast sought with such labour, with limbs decayed by age, and
covered with unkempt white hair. Behold, thou seest but a mortal soon to
become dust. But because charity bears all things, tell me, I pray thee,
how fares the human race--whether new houses are rising in the ancient
cities, by what emperor is the world governed--whether there are any left
who are led captive by the deceits of the devil." As they spoke thus, they
saw a raven settle on a bough, which, flying gently down, deposited, to
their wonder, a whole loaf for their use. When he was gone, "Ah!" said
Paul, "the Lord, truly loving, truly merciful, has sent us a meal. For
sixty years past I have received daily half a loaf, but at thy coming
Christ has doubled his soldier's allowance." Then having thanked God, they
sat down on the bank of a glassy spring. But here a contention arising as
to which of them should break the loaf, occupied the day till well-nigh
evening. Paul insisted as the host; Antony declined as the younger man. At
last it was agreed that they should take hold of the loaf at opposite
ends, and each pull towards himself, and keep what was left in his hand.
Next they stooped down and drank a little water from the spring; then
raising to God the sacrifice of praise, they passed the night watching.


Ruffinus, in his Lives of the Fathers, relates that there were two ancient
hermits who dwelt together and never quarrelled. At last one said to the
other, with much simplicity, "Let us have a quarrel, as other men have."
And the other answering that he did not know how to quarrel, the first
replied, "Look here, I will place this stone in the middle between you and
me. I will say it is mine, and do you say that it is not true, for that it
is yours; in this manner we will make a quarrel." And placing the stone in
the midst, he said, "This stone is mine." And the other said, "No, it is
mine." And the first said, "If it be yours, then take it." Not being able
either to stamp and swear and blaspheme and slang and defame each other's
parents, and shake their fists or strike a blow at a venture at each
other, they could not carry the conversation further, and the whole
quarrel collapsed.


St. Jerome and others relate that a certain anchorite in Nitria having
left one hundred crowns at his death, which he had acquired by weaving
cloth, the monks of that desert met to deliberate what should be done with
all that money. Some were for giving it to the poor, others to the
Church; but Macarius, Pambo, Isidore, and others, who were called the
Fathers, ordered that the one hundred crowns should be thrown into the
grave and buried with the corpse of the deceased, and that, at the same
time, the following words should be pronounced: "May thy money go with
thee to perdition!" This example struck such a terror into all the monks
that no one dared lay up any money.


In the fourth century lived St. Pambo, who became a famous hermit, and
practised rush-weaving. One day the blessed Melania took a fine present to
him of a silver vessel, which he did not raise his head from his work even
to acknowledge, and which caused her to ask if he knew its value. He
replied, "He to whom it was offered need not that you should tell him."
Two Spanish brothers spent their fortune, one by building hospitals, and
the other by giving it away and becoming an anchorite, and Pambo was asked
which was the more perfect. His reply was, "Both are perfect before God:
there are many roads to perfection, besides that which leads through the
desert cell." Some one gave Pambo gold to distribute in alms, and told him
to count it. He answered, "God does not ask _how much_, but _how_!" He was
on a visit at Alexandria, and there saw an actress perform. Pambo looked
sad and observed, "Alas! how much less do I labour to please God than does
this poor girl to delight the eyes of men!" He used to say that "a monk
should only wear such a dress as no one would pick up, if thrown away."
When Pambo was on his deathbed, he said, "I thank God that not a day of my
life has been spent in idleness; never have I eaten bread that I have not
earned with the sweat of my brow. I thank God that I do not recall any
bitter speech I have made, for which I ought to repent now." It is said
that Pambo, on beginning his own career, consulted Antony how to act, and
the latter gave this advice: "Never trust in your own merits; never
trouble yourself about transitory affairs; keep a check on your stomach,
and learn to hold your tongue." And Pambo acted strictly on these lines.


Mr. Baring-Gould says that Meffreth, a German priest of Meissen, in 1443,
told, in one of his sermons, this story of a hermit: There was once an
aged hermit in the Egyptian Desert, who thought it would be well with him
if he had an olive tree near his cave. So he planted a little tree; and
thinking it might want water, he prayed to God for rain; and so rain came
and watered his olive. Then he thought that some warm sunshine would do
good and swell its buds; so he prayed, and the sun shone out. Now the
nursling looked feeble, and the old man deemed it would do good if some
frost would come and harden it. He prayed for frost, and hoarfrost settled
that night on its branches. Next he thought a hot southerly wind would
benefit his tree, and, after praying, the south wind blew upon the olive
tree. And then it died. Some little while after, the hermit visited a
brother hermit, and lo! by his cell door there grew a flourishing olive
tree. "How came that goodly plant here, brother?" asked the unsuccessful
hermit. "I planted it, and God blessed it as it grew." "Ah! brother, I,
too, planted an olive, and when I thought it wanted water I asked God to
give it rain, and the rain came; and when I thought it needed sun, I
asked, and the sun shone; and when I thought it needed strengthening, I
prayed, and the frost came. God gave me all I demanded for my tree, as I
saw fit, and yet it is dead." "And I, brother," replied the other hermit,
"left my tree in God's hands, for He knew what it wanted better than I."


Ruffinus, in his Life of the hermit Macarius, says that that holy man,
sitting one day in his cell and feeling himself bitten in the foot by a
gnat, put his hand to the place, and, finding the gnat, killed it. On
seeing the blood he blamed himself, as it seemed to him he had revenged
himself for the injury received. For this thing and in order to learn
meekness he went into the utmost solitude of the wilderness called Scilis,
where those gnats are largest and most venomous. He lived there for six
months naked, that he might be stung by them; and at the end of that time
he returned so disfigured and wounded that he was unrecognisable save by
his voice, being covered all over with boils and blisters, so that he lost
all shape and appeared leprous.


St. Martin of Tours, who died 397, was from infancy devout, but was
obliged to enter the army, owing to a decree of the Emperor. While in the
army, one very cold and frosty day a poor naked and shivering beggar stood
near the gate of Amiens; and as none relieved him, St. Martin, having
already given away all he had, took off his own cloak, and with his sword
cut it in two, giving one half to the beggar and keeping the other. The
bystanders laughed at the figure of the saint; but the following night in
his sleep he was astonished to see Jesus Christ appear to him dressed in
the beggar's half of the cloak, and asked if he knew it. Jesus then said
to a troop of angels attending him, "Martin, yet a catechumen, has clothed
Me with this garment." This vision encouraged the saint to persevere in
his course. He soon left the army, went into a monastery, and afterwards
became a bishop. He had many visions and had great insight into impostors.
One day when he was praying in his cell, the devil came to him environed
with light and clothed in royal robes, with a crown of gold and precious
stones upon his head, and with a gracious and pleasant countenance told
Martin how that he was Christ. Martin looked hard at him and said, "The
Lord Jesus said not that He was to come clothed with purple and crowned
and adorned with a diadem. Nor will I ever believe Him to be Christ who
shall not come in the habit and figure in which Christ suffered, and who
shall not bear the marks of the cross in his body." At these words the
fiend vanished and left in his cell an intolerable stench. The bishop died
of a fever at the age of eighty, and insisted in his last days on lying
among ashes and in a hair shirt, refusing any comforts; for he said, "It
becomes not a Christian to die otherwise than on ashes." Thousands of
monks and virgins and the whole population, with hymns, carried his body
to its resting-place.


Sozomen, who wrote his history about 440, says that about two thousand
monks dwelt near Alexandria in a district called the Hermitage. Dorotheus,
a native of Thebes, was among the most celebrated of these. He spent the
day in collecting stones upon the seashore, which he used in erecting
cells for those who were unable to build them. During the night he
employed himself in weaving baskets of palm leaves, and these he sold to
obtain the means of subsistence. He ate six ounces of bread with a few
vegetables daily, and drank nothing but water. Having accustomed himself
to this extreme abstinence from his youth, he continued to observe it in
old age. He was never seen to recline on a mat or a bed, nor even to place
his limbs in an easy attitude for sleep. Sometimes from natural lassitude
his eyes would involuntarily close when he was at his daily labour or his
meals, and the food would drop on the way to his mouth. One day Piammon, a
presbyter, was conducting the service, and said that he noticed an angel
standing near the altar, and writing down the names of the monks who were
present and erasing the names of those who were absent.


The prince of the desert, the chief of the solitaries and the
fellow-citizen of angels, as he was long called, was St. Poemen, an
Egyptian who flourished in 450. He had six brothers, and they all had a
turn for fasting and self-mortifications, and retired to the desert and
lived there, scorning the indulgences of ordinary life. All the people
round soon confessed that Poemen was the greatest hermit of his time, and
his sayings were quoted over all Christendom. A monk who suffered from
violent temptations consulted Poemen how to overcome his evil temper, and
was told to retire into the desert and wrestle there with his temper and
conquer it. The monk said, "But, father, how if I were to die without
Sacraments in the wild waste?" To this Poemen answered, "Do you think God
would not receive you, coming from the battle-field?" Another monk,
perplexed where to live and how to act, asked Poemen whether he should
live in community or in solitude. Poemen replied, "Wherever you find
yourself humble-minded, there you may settle down and dwell with
security." Another monk went a long journey to see and consult Poemen, and
began to talk about subtle theological niceties. Poemen looked grave and
silent, till the visitor departed, expressing his disgust at coming so far
for nothing. Poemen observed on this afterwards, "This anchorite flies far
above my reach. He sails up to heaven, while I creep along the earth. If
he would talk about our passions and infirmities and how to overcome them,
then we should have some subject in common to talk about." Another time
Poemen, asked by a troublesome monk to tell him what was a living faith,
replied, "A living faith consists in thinking little of oneself and
showing tenderness to others." He also once said, "A warm heart, boiling
with charity, is not troubled with temptations, any more than with the
flies hovering round it. When the caldron cools, then the flies collect
and swarm round it." Poemen lived to one hundred and ten, and had no equal
in his time.


St. Moyses of the tenth century was a brawny negro slave who had escaped
from his master and lived for a time by rapine and murder. In one of his
hairbreadth escapes he took refuge among the hermits, and began to see
great merit in them, and tried to live like them and conquer his own
furious passions. He consulted the Abbot Isidore, who told him this
enterprise would take some time. Moyses said he would wait and try, and he
became a priest. In order to give himself exercise and tame his evil
spirit, he made a practice of regularly going round the cells of the
hermits, and wherever he found one sick he would go and fetch water and
fill his pitcher. And this he would do at any hour of the night and go any
distance. One night, in stooping over a pool and filling a hermit's
pitcher, he was doubled up with an attack of lumbago, and thought the
devil had given him a sudden stroke with a club. Moyses lay groaning with
pain till next morning, when he was carried to a church, and there people
took care of him. He was many months disabled, but on recovery at once
resumed his work. One day, the governor hearing of Moyses and being
curious to see him, met Moyses, and asked where that famous hermit Moyses
lived. Moyses replied, "He's not worth visiting, for he is only a fool."
The governor related this to the monks at the nearest monastery, and said
that the man who thus answered him was a huge old black fellow, covered
with rags. The monks thereupon all exclaimed, "That was Moyses himself; it
could be no other."


In 479 Barnadatus, a Syrian monk, devised some new ways of
self-mortification. First he shut himself up in a small chamber; and then,
ascending a mountain, he made for himself a wooden box, in which he could
not stand upright, and was always confined to a stooping posture. This box
having no close covering, he was exposed to the wind, to the rain, and to
the sun, and for a long time dwelt in this incommodious house. Afterwards
he always stood upright, stretching up his hands to heaven, covered with a
garment of skin, with only a small aperture to draw his breath. James,
another contemporary monk, lived at first in a small hut, and afterwards
in the open air, with only heaven for his covering, enduring the extremes
of heat and cold. He had iron chains round his neck and waist, and four
other chains hung down from his neck, two before and two behind. He had
also chains about his arms. His only food was lentils. For three days and
nights he was often so covered with snow, whilst he was prostrate and
praying, that he could hardly be seen. This man, according to Theodoret,
was celebrated for the many miracles which he wrought.


St. Carileff was a monk at Menat, near Clermont, and died about 540. He
early became dissatisfied with his monastery, and resolved to penetrate
farther into the forest, and live a more retired and perfect life. He and
a companion went to reconnoitre, and in a remote corner came upon an old
neglected vineyard, where they thought of settling down. One hot day the
saint was working and had hung his hood on an oak tree, and on returning
to resume it he found a wren had laid an egg in it. So the good hermit
rejoiced and left his hood, so as not to disturb the tiny creature's nest.
When he reported to his abbot this circumstance, the latter said, "This is
no accident; return thither, and there a monastery shall arise some day."
Carileff returned and settled in the old vineyard, and he gained the
confidence of other animals besides the wren; for a large buffalo used to
come to his cell and let him rub his shaggy neck, and then it galloped
back into the forest. One day the king heard of this splendid buffalo
roaming about, and made up a hunting party to secure it. But it took
refuge in the hermit's cell; and the huntsmen, hot with pursuit, were so
amazed at seeing the great monarch of the forest standing thus peaceably
beside its protector, that they acknowledged the man of God's superior
power, and ended by giving him a grant of lands to build a monastery
there. When the king told this story, the queen was eager to visit the
holy recluse, and sent a message; but he most peremptorily refused to see
her, saying, "As long as I live I shall never see the face of a woman, and
no woman shall ever enter my cell. Why should this queen be so anxious to
see a man disfigured by fasting and toil, and as brown as a chameleon? I
will pray for her. A monk has no need of great possessions, nor has she of
a monk's blessing. But his blessing she shall have, if she will only leave
him alone."


Fuller, in his "Church History," says: "St. Guthlake, a Benedictine monk
in 708, was the first Saxon that professed a hermitical life in England,
to which purpose he chose a fenny place in Lincolnshire called
Crowland--that is, the 'raw or crude land'; so raw, indeed, that before
him no man could digest to live therein. Yea, the devils are said to claim
this place as their peculiar, and to call it their own land. Could those
infernal fiends, tortured with immaterial fire, take any pleasure or make
any ease to themselves by paddling here in puddles and dabbling in the
moist dirty marshes? However, Guthlake took the boldness to 'enter common'
with them, and erect his cell in Crowland. But if his prodigious life may
be believed, ducks and mallards do not now flock thither faster in
September than herds of devils came about him, all whom he is said
victoriously to have vanquished. After the example of Moses and Elias, he
fasted forty days and nights, till, finding this project destructive to
nature, he was forced in his own defence to take some necessary but very
sparing refection. He died in his own cell; and Pega, his sister, an
anchoritess, led a solitary life not far from him."


This St. Guthlac, according to his biographer, after he had been two years
living in a monastery, began to long for the wilderness and a hermitage.
Being directed to a fen of immense size in the east of England, he met a
man named Tatwaine, who told him of an island which many had attempted to
inhabit, but no man could do it on account of manifold horrors and fears
and the loneliness of the wide wilderness, so that no man could endure it
and fled from it. The holy man at once selected and went through the wild
fens till he came to a spot called Croyland. It was a place of accursed
spirits; but he was strengthened with heavenly support, and vowed that he
would serve God on that island all the days of his life. He used neither
woollen nor linen garments, but was clothed in skins; and he tasted
nothing but barley bread and water. He was sorely tempted by the devil;
but at last the ravens, the beasts, and the fishes came to obey him. Once
a venerable brother named Wilfred visited him, and they held many
discourses on the spiritual life, when suddenly two swallows came flying
in, and, behold, they raised up their song rejoicing. And often they sat
fearlessly on the shoulders of the holy man Guthlac, and then lifted up
their song, and afterwards they sat on his bosom and on his arms and his
knees. When Wilfred had long beheld with wonder the birds so submissively
sitting with him, he asked the reason, and Guthlac answered him thus:
"Hast thou never learned, brother Wilfred, in Holy Writ, that he who hath
led his life after God's will, the wild beasts and birds have made friends
with him? And the man who would separate himself from worldly thoughts, to
him the very angels come near." When Guthlac died in due time, angelic
songs were heard in the sky, and all the air had a wondrous odour of
exceeding sweetness.


St. Simeon Stylites, who immortalised himself by living on a high pillar,
flourished about 459, was the son of a shepherd, and in his youth
displayed a genius for mortifications of the flesh. He begged admittance
to a monastery, and at once outdid all the monks there; for while they ate
only once a day, he ate only once a week, and that on Sunday. He at a
later stage passed the forty days of each Lent without eating or drinking.
Not content with a hermitage, he built himself a small unroofed enclosure
of rude stones, on a high mountain forty miles east of Antioch, exposed to
the weather. Crowds began to flock to see him and get his benediction. He
next built a pillar six cubits high, and lived on it four years. He
gradually raised higher pillars; and the fourth time he made a pillar of
forty cubits (sixty feet) high, on which he spent his last twenty years of
life. It was only three feet in diameter at the top, so that he might not
have even the luxury of lying down or sitting. He sometimes prayed in an
erect attitude, with his outstretched arms in the figure of a cross; but
his most familiar practice was that of bending his meagre skeleton from
the forehead to the feet. He bowed his body in continual prayer, and a
visitor once counted twelve hundred and forty-four reverences of adoration
made by him in one day. He made exhortations to the people twice a day. He
died at sixty-nine in the act of prayer on his pillar, and the bishops and
all the people round attended his burial, and many miracles were said to
have been worked that day in testimony of his sanctity.


In 591 Vulfilaic, a monk of Lombardy, had a pillar erected for him at
Treves, and stood upon it barefoot, enduring great hardship in the winter.
The bishops therefore compelled him to come down and to live like other
monks, telling him that the severity of the climate would not permit him
to imitate the great Simeon of Antioch. He obeyed his superiors, but with
tears and reluctance. And this, says Fleury, is the only instance that we
know of a stylites or pillar monk in the Western world.


Herbert was a monk of Lindisfarne or of Melrose at the same time as St.
Cuthbert, by whose advice he retired to the island in Derwentwater, which
is five miles long and one and a half miles broad, and lived there. He
used to meet St. Cuthbert once every year; and at their meeting about 687
that saint, being then Bishop of Lindisfarne, said to him on parting,
"Remember at this time, brother Herbert, to ask and say to me all that you
wish, for after our parting now we shall not see each other with the eyes
of the flesh in this world; for I know that the time of my departure is at
hand, and that I must shortly put off this tabernacle." On this Herbert,
falling at his feet with groans and tears, said, "For our Lord's sake, I
beseech you not to leave me, but remember your most faithful companion,
and entreat the mercy of Heaven that we who have together served Him on
earth may pass together to behold His grace and glory in the heavens. You
know I have always studied to live according to your direction; and if
from ignorance or infirmity I have in any point failed, I have taken pains
to chastise and amend my fault according to the decision of your will."
The bishop bent in prayer, and being immediately informed by the Spirit
that his request was granted, said, "Rise up, my brother, and do not
mourn, but rather rejoice greatly, for the mercy of Heaven has granted
what we asked." They separated, and never again met; for on March 20th,
687, their spirits, departing from the body, were immediately united in
the blessed vision of each other, and by the ministry of angels translated
to the kingdom of heaven. In 1374 the then Bishop of Carlisle directed
that the anniversary of these saints' death should be commemorated by the
vicar of Crosthwaite, with a choir chanting the Mass of St. Cuthbert on
this St. Herbert's isle.


St. Cuthbert, the first hermit of Farne, near Holy Island, was succeeded
by Edelwald about 700, and next by Felgund, who told the following
anecdote to the Venerable Bede: The walls of St. Cuthbert's oratory in
Farne, being composed of planks somewhat carelessly put together, had
become loose and tottering by age, and the planks left an opening to the
weather. The venerable man, whose aim was rather the splendour of the
heavenly than of an earthly mansion, had taken hay or clay or whatever he
could get, and filled up the crevices, that he might not be disturbed from
the earnestness of his prayers by the daily violence of the winds and
storms. When Ethelwald entered and saw these contrivances, he begged the
brethren who came thither to give him a calf's skin, and fastened it with
nails in the corner where himself and his predecessor used to kneel or
stand when they prayed, as a protection against the storm. Twelve years
after, he also ascended to the joys of the heavenly kingdom, and Felgund
became the third inhabitant of the place. It then seemed good to the
Bishop of Lindisfarne to restore from its foundation the time-worn
oratory. This being done, many devout persons begged of Christ's holy
servant Felgund to give them a small portion of the relics of God's
servants Cuthbert and Ethelwald. He accordingly determined to cut up the
above-named calf's skin into pieces, and give a portion to each. But he
first experienced the influence on his own person, for his face was much
deformed by a swelling and a red patch. The malady increased, and fearing
lest he should be obliged to abandon the solitary life and return to the
monastery, presuming in his faith, he trusted to heal himself by the aid
of those holy men whose house he dwelt in, and whose holy life he sought
to imitate; for he steeped a piece of the skin above mentioned in water
and washed his face therewith, whereupon the swelling was immediately
healed, and the cicatrice disappeared. "This I was told," says Bede, "in
the first instance by a priest of the monastery of Jarrow, who said he
knew Felgund, and saw his face before and after the cure, and Felgund also
told me the same. This he ascribed to the agency of the Almighty grace."
The Venerable Bede says he was told also of another miracle by one of the
brothers on whom it was wrought, namely Guthrid, who narrated as follows:
"I came to the island of Farne to speak with the reverend father
Ethelwald. Having been refreshed with his discourse, and taken his
blessing, as we were returning home, on a sudden when we were in the midst
of the sea, there ensued so dismal a tempest that neither the sails nor
the oars were of any use to us, nor had we anything to expect but death.
After long struggling with the wind and waves to no effect, we looked
behind us to see if we could return, and then we observed on the island of
Farne Father Ethelwald, beloved of God, come out of his cavern to watch
our course. When he beheld us in distress and despair, he bowed his knees
to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ in prayer for our life and safety,
upon which the swelling sea was calmed, so that the storm ceased on all
sides, and a fair wind attended us to the very shore. When we had landed,
the storm which had ceased for a short time for our sakes immediately
returned, and raged continually during the whole day; so that it plainly
appeared that the brief cessation of the storm had been granted from
Heaven, at the request of the man of God, in order that we might escape."
Ethelwald lived twelve years on the island of Farne, and at his death his
remains were taken to Lindisfarne and buried beside his master, St.
Cuthbert. Here they remained two centuries till the Danes frightened the
holy household, when they were taken away, and at last in the tenth
century were buried under the shadow of the new cathedral at Durham.


Matilda of Flanders, the wife of William the Conqueror, being greatly
distressed by the constant quarrels between the King and her favourite son
Robert, sent to a German hermit of great sanctity, entreating his prayers
and advice. The hermit gave his answer thus: "Tell your mistress I have
prayed in her behalf, and the Most High has made known to me in a dream
the things she desires to learn. I saw in my vision a beautiful pasture
covered with grass and flowers, and a noble charger feeding therein. A
numerous herd gathered round about, eager to enter and share the feast,
but the fiery charger would not permit them to approach near enough to
crop the flowers and herbage. But alas! the majestic steed in the midst of
his pride and courage died, the terror of his presence ceased, and a poor
silly steer appeared in his place as the guardian of the pasture. Then the
throng of meaner animals, who had hitherto feared his approach, rushed in
and trampled the flowers and grass beneath their feet, and that which they
could not devour they defiled and destroyed." The hermit then explained
that the steed was William the Conqueror, the silly steer was Robert, and
added, "Illustrious lady, if, after hearing the words of the vision in
which the Lord has vouchsafed to reply to my prayers, you do not labour to
restore the peace of Normandy, you will henceforth behold nothing but
misery, the death of your royal spouse, the ruin of all your race, and the
desolation of your beloved country." It is said that this answer of the
hermit gave no comfort to the Queen, who redoubled her prayers and
penitential exercises, but drooped and soon died of a broken heart at the
age of fifty-one. She was buried at Caen in a convent.


The blessed Schetzelo was a hermit about 1138, living in the woods near
Luxemburg, feeding on roots and acorns. His clothing was so scanty as to
be scarcely decent; and St. Bernard, who greatly respected him, sent his
monks with a present of a shirt and a pair of drawers. Schetzelo at once
put them on, but on reflection he pulled them off again, saying that he
found he could do without them, and that it was his earnest desire to live
without superfluities. The monks asked him if he had suffered many
temptations in his time. "Yes," he answered; "the life of man is one long
series of temptations." And he then told them how he had once given way,
and how heavily he felt the bitterness of self-reproach ever since. One
winter, he said, he was lying out in the snow, and the drift covered all
his body except the face, where his breath had melted a hole. A poor,
half-frozen rabbit, seeking shelter, jumped into the hole and crouched on
the hermit's breast. He was moved first to laughter, and then to
compassion and pleasure, for the little creature, benumbed with cold,
suffered him to stroke its fur; and so, said Schetzelo, "when I ought to
have been praying and meditating, I was playing with the rabbit under the


St. Bartholomew, in 1151, was living quietly as a monk in the cathedral
monastery at Durham, when St. Cuthbert appeared to him in a dream and bade
him go to the island of Farne, near Holy Island, and there live as a
hermit. He went off with the prayers of all the convent, and took up his
abode and lived sequestered from the world. He found, however, another
monk there before him, called Ebwin, who was very jealous of the newcomer;
but Bartholomew endured all the scoffs and reproaches patiently, and at
last Ebwin left the place entirely to him. Bartholomew had a cow and a
little patch of ground on which he grew barley. He also caught fish
occasionally, and filled up the pauses with chanting psalms and hymns,
repeating the whole Psalter once, twice, and thrice every day. He was
charmed to watch the seagulls and cormorants, his only companions. He
would allow no passing sailor to throw stones at these birds. He even
tamed one, which came regularly to feed out of his hand every day. One day
when he was out fishing, a hawk pursued this poor bird into the chapel and
killed it, leaving only the feathers and bones lying on the portal of the
holy place. The assassin, however, could not find its way out of the
chapel, and kept wheeling round and round, beating against the windows and
walls. Brother Bartholomew entered at last and found the cruel bird with
its bloody talons, looking shameless and helpless. He mourned bitterly
over the fate of his poor favourite and caught the hawk. He kept it two
days without food to punish it for its crime, and then, seized with
compassion, let go the guilty prisoner. Another time the saint was sitting
on the seashore, when he was surprised to feel a cormorant close by his
side, pulling with its bill the corner of his garment. He rose and
followed the bird along the beach till he came to a hole in the rock, down
which one of the young ones had fallen. He soon extricated the trembling
creature and restored it to its mother. After living forty-two years in
this way, one night one of the brethren at Lindisfarne dreamed that
Bartholomew was dead. He immediately aroused the convent, and a party of
monks at once sailed across to Farne, and sure enough the holy hermit was
lying in his stone coffin, having just died at the time indicated by the


When Louis XI. of France was in his last illness, in 1483, and his
sufferings awoke in him remorse for many crimes, he gathered round him all
the most famous relics which could be procured--among others, the holy
phial, which had never been removed from Rheims since the time of Clovis
(656). He entreated Pope Sixtus IV. to send him any relics to relieve his
agonies, and liberal supplies were given. The King also sent for hermits
and other holy men, in the hope that their intercessions for his life
might prevail. The most renowned of the holy men of the period was Francis
of Paola, in Calabria, who was born with one eye; but his mother had vowed
that, if the other eye might be granted to him, he should become a
Franciscan. And her desire was fulfilled. Though utterly illiterate, he
became a Minorite friar, and soon withdrew to live in a cave, where the
austerity of his life and his supposed miraculous powers made him famous.
When Louis first sent a message to Francis, the latter refused; but the
Pope interposed and commanded him. The hermit passed through Rome, and
caused great excitement, and led the Pope to give leave to Francis to
found a society of "Hermits of St. Francis." On reaching the French Court,
Francis was received with as much honour as if he had been the Pope
himself. Louis could not live without his company, knelt before him, hung
on his words, and entreated the holy man to spare his life, even if for a
little longer. Rich rewards were heaped on the hermit, and even convents
founded in his honour, the members of which were called Minims, owing to
their habit of self-abasement. After a few weeks Louis died,
notwithstanding the hermit's merit.


The great idea of the hermit life was to live entirely alone, though some
hermits lived in small communities in one district in close neighbourhood.
Pope Innocent IV., in the middle of the thirteenth century, enrolled these
into a separate order with the rule of St. Augustine, and hence called
Austin Friars. There were also two grades of hermits. Hermits occasionally
visited their fellow-men, but those called recluses abstained from any
such visits. The female solitaries were usually recluses. The English
hermit of the Middle Ages lived more luxuriously than the foreign hermit,
and sometimes had one or two servants to wait upon him in the hermitage,
which was often a comfortable house. The usual garb of a hermit was a
brown frock with girdle, and over it an ample gown or cloak with hood. A
man latterly could not become a recognised hermit without consecration by
a bishop, which was a religious service, and he was assigned a district.
The service for blessing a hermit consisted of prayers and psalms and a
gift of the eremitical habit. Some hermitages had cells to accommodate
more than one, as the hermitage at Wetheral, near Carlisle, cut out of the
face of a rock one hundred feet high, nearly midway. These hermits and
recluses lived in places where alms were likely to be found, and an
almsbox was hung up for receiving gifts. The bishop, before giving his
licence, usually satisfied himself that alms would be forthcoming
sufficient for maintenance. Some female recluses had a room or
anchor-house assigned to them near a church or in a churchyard, as was the
case at St. Julian, Norwich, and other places, so that the benefit of
hearing or seeing Mass was available. In the latter days anchoresses were
blamed as having too great a tendency to gossip. Their founder and
patroness was Judith, and the first who made any formal rule for their
mode of life was one Grimlac, who lived about A.D. 900.


When the iconoclastic Emperor Leo was persecuting all who defended images
in churches, those calling themselves the orthodox party were equally
resolute, and furnished also their martyrs ready to die for what they
thought to be the truth. St. Methodius was sent by the Pope to make
requisitions for the orthodox, but was thrown by the Emperor into prison,
and shut up with two thieves in a narrow cell. One of the thieves died,
and the corpse was left to putrefy; yet the patience and sweetness of
Methodius so gained upon the other thief, that when offered his liberty
the thief preferred to remain where he was. After nine years' confinement,
Methodius, when drawn out of the cave, was shrivelled to the bone, his
skin was bleached, and his rags clotted with filth. Soon again Methodius
was brought before the Emperor Theophilus, charged with opposing the
destruction of images, and he thus addressed his oppressor: "Sire, be
consistent. If we are to have the images of Christ overthrown, then down
with the images of the Emperors also." At this Theophilus, being enraged,
ordered the monk to be stripped and lashed with thongs of leather, till he
fainted with loss of blood. Methodius was then thrown into a dungeon, and
his jaw was broken in the struggle. In 842, however, on the death of
Theophilus, Methodius was released and made Patriarch of Constantinople.
The saint mounted the throne humble as a monk, and wearing a bandage round
his face to support his broken jaw, a living monument of the violence of
his persecutors and of his confessorship of the orthodox faith. He
instituted an annual festival, called the Festival of Orthodoxy, and died
in 846.


The view taken of the alleged miracles performed by saints, especially in
the earlier centuries, divided broadly the Roman Catholic from the
Protestant Christians, the former still maintaining, defending, and
believing in the existence of the power of working miracles, the latter
ostentatiously and dogmatically denying such power. Guizot says that the
Bollandist collection of Lives of Saints includes twenty-five thousand,
and nearly all the saints there recorded occasionally worked miracles. It
is true that many educated Roman Catholics admit that it is not necessary
for them to believe all these records. Since the revival of learning and
the Reformation incredulity has set in, and sapped and mined nearly all
the miraculous feats recorded in the Lives of the Saints. Middleton in
1748 published his "Free Inquiry," and shook the faith of the moderns in
any of these miracles subsequent to those recorded in the New Testament.
As Lecky observes in his "History of Rationalism," the miracles of the New
Testament were always characterised by dignity and solemnity; they always
conveyed some spiritual lesson, and conferred some actual benefit, besides
attesting the character of the worker. The mediæval miracles, on the
contrary, were frequently trivial, purposeless, and unimpressive,
constantly verging on the grotesque, and not unfrequently passing the


There were some universal saints of Christendom, such as the Apostles and
early martyrs, the four great Fathers of the Latin Church--some few like
St. Thomas à Becket, held up as a martyr of his order; St. Benedict, the
founder of the Benedictine order; and some founders of monastic
institutes, as Dominic and Francis. Other saints had a more limited fame,
and each kingdom of Christendom had its tutelar saint. France had
three--St. Martin of Tours, St. Reine, St. Denys; Spain had the Apostle
James, St. Jago of Compostella; Germany had Boniface; Scotland had St.
Andrew; Ireland had St. Patrick; and England had St. George. Every city,
town, or village also usually had its own saint. Female prophets were
called Brides of Christ, and were thought to have constant personal
intercourse with the saints, the Virgin, and our Lord Himself, like St.
Catherine of Sienna and St. Bridget of Sweden. In later days Christian
charity had its saints, as Vincent de Paul, St. Teresa, and St. Francis de
Sales. Every one of the saints had his life of wonder, the legend of his
virtues, his miracles, perhaps his martyrdom, his shrines, his reliques.
The legend was the dominant universal poetry of the times. And the legend
was perpetually confirmed, illustrated, and kept alive by reliques, shown
either in the church or under the altar or upon the altar. It was a pious
enterprise even to steal reliques. Clotaire II. cut off and stole an arm
of St. Denys. The head of St. Andrew was once carried away by a king in
his flight; kings vied for the purchase, and vast sums were offered for


About 430, as St. Germanus and St. Lupus were on their way to England to
refute the Pelagian heresy, they stayed one night at Nanterre, a village
near Paris. The villagers went in a crowd to look at these renowned
saints, and a little girl in the crowd attracted the notice of Germanus,
who called her to him, asked her name and all about her, and ended by
bidding her parents to rejoice in the sanctity of their daughter. He then
addressed little Geneviève on the exalted condition of perpetual
virginity, and appointed a service in the church that he might consecrate
her at once to that holy life. The service was performed, and the saint
gave her at parting a brass coin, shaped like a cross, which he told her
to wear as her only ornament, and leave silver and precious stones for the
children of this world. From that day miraculous gifts descended on the
child, who excelled all others. She once had a trance, in which she was
led by an angel to survey the dwellings of the just, and the rewards of
the spiritual life. She also received the gift of divining people's
thoughts. She soon became marked out, and, like other holy people, excited
envy for the powers she possessed. When the Huns invaded Paris, the
terrified citizens were told by her to take courage, and she assembled the
matrons that they might seek deliverance by prayer and fasting; and the
deliverance came, for the Huns were diverted through the efficacy of her
prayers from Paris. She had great powers of abstinence, and from her
fifteenth to her fiftieth year she ate only twice a week, and that was
bread of barley or beans; and after fifty a little fish and milk were
added to her diet. Every Saturday night she kept a vigil in the church of
St. Denys, and then retired to her cell, where she was as much visited by
crowds as a saint on his pillar. After she was dead her relics were
eagerly sought after by rival Churches, and these stayed the horrors of
plague and famine and flood wherever they were taken. All Paris believed
in her as the patron saint.


The extravagant veneration paid to the martyrs roused great opposition in
the fifth century, and the presbyter Vigilantius of Barcelona wrote a
tract censuring these ashes-worshippers and idolaters. He represented it
as supremely ridiculous to manifest this adoration of a miserable heap of
ashes and wretched bones, and covering these with costly drapery and
kissing them. He also complained that the practice of placing lighted
lamps before the martyrs was only an imitation of the Pagan practice
before the images of their gods. Why should they think it a merit to place
miserable wax candles before the effigies of those on whom the Lamb in the
midst of God's throne reflected all the brightness of His majesty? He also
thought the practice of nocturnal assemblies, held by both sexes in the
churches of the martyrs, was a temptation to misconduct. And he even
questioned the reliance placed in the intercessions of the martyrs.
Jerome, on the other hand, defended most of these practices. His answer
was, that if the Apostles and martyrs in their earthly life, before they
were out of the conflict, were able to pray effectually for others, how
much more could they do so after they had obtained the victory! The
worship of the Virgin Mary was thought to be mainly due to the ascetic
spirit brooding over the cradle of Christianity.


The acquisition and preservation of relics by the monks may be said to
absorb all their zeal. It was decreed once that the body of St. John of
the Cross should be secretly removed from Ubede to Segovia, and an officer
of the Court arrived by night at the monastery, and having desired an
audience of the father prior on a matter of the greatest consequence, he
intimated to him the order of which he was the bearer. The order enjoined
the prior, on pain of excommunication, to take up the body secretly,
without apprising any one of what was to be done. This was an unexpected
blow to the prior; but he took precautions, and when every one in the
monastery was asleep, he went down into the grave accompanied by the
officer and two monks bound to secrecy. They opened the grave; but lo! the
saint being dead a year, the body was still perfect and the flesh
undecayed. As the bones only were demanded, the object could not be
effected, but quicklime was laid in the grave, and the officer departed
and returned in nine months. The same precautions being adopted and the
grave opened, the body was still perfect; but being dried by the lime, it
was put in a leather case and committed to the messenger. The men left at
about midnight, and strange visions were seen the same hour. One monk
awoke greatly perturbed and went down to the church; but finding the prior
standing at the door, who refused to allow any one to enter, the uneasy
and curious monk was ordered to return to his bed without receiving any
explanation. The officer meanwhile bearing the body, declared that after
leaving Ubede and passing some desert mountains, he heard awful voices in
the air which were not human, and which greatly disturbed him.


Bishop Etheric of Dorchester, who died in 1038, having ascertained that
the remains of St. Felix, formerly Bishop of East Angles, were lying
neglected, obtained leave from King Canute to have these taken charge of,
and privately informed the monks of Ramsey of the inexhaustible treasure
which they might secure to themselves by getting the possession. On
receiving this message Alfwin, the prior, and a number of his monks
proceeded by water to the place pointed out, and being armed with the
authority of the king and bishop, they overmastered all opposition, and
placed on board their boat the holy ashes and the bones of St. Felix, and
with psalms of joy steered their way back to Ramsey. No sooner, however,
did the monks of Ely hear of what was on foot, than they became desirous
of possessing so great a treasure themselves, and therefore they hurried
on board their ships with a strong body of armed persons, resolved by
their superior numbers to capture the relics. An event, however, occurred
which was evidently not the work of human hands, but was the dispensation
of the Divine will, for at the very moment when the vessels came in sight
of each other a dense mist arose, which blinded the Ely crew, and yet
allowed the Ramsey boat to steer right on to its destination. Whether this
can be viewed as a miracle or not, still the fact is handed down by
tradition that the relics of St. Felix were successfully removed to the
church of Ramsey, where they were with due honour enshrined, and where
that holy saint for ages bestowed benefits on those who sought his


About the year 1090, says Orderic, one Stephen, the chanter of the
monastery of Venosa in the city of Angers, went to Apulia, with the
express sanction of the Lord Natalis, his abbot, divested himself of the
monastic habit, and lived as a clerk at Bari, where he became familiar
with the sacristans of the church. At length, watching his opportunity, he
secretly purloined an arm of St. Nicholas, which, set in silver, was kept
outside the shrine for the purpose of giving the benediction to the
people. He then attempted to withdraw into France, that he might enrich
his own monastery with the precious treasure. The people of Bari, however,
soon discovered their loss, and guarded all the avenues to prevent the
thief's escape. Nevertheless, Stephen reached Venosa safely, where he
passed the winter in great alarm, trying to conceal himself. He then fell
into great poverty, and was compelled to detach the silver from the holy
relic and apply it for his support. Meanwhile, the noise of the robbery of
the arm of St. Nicholas spread through the whole of Italy and Sicily, and
at last some one recognised the silver covering. The monks heard of this,
and Erembert, an active monk, suddenly presented himself and demanded from
the sick man with great vehemence the arm of St. Nicholas. The sick man,
perceiving he was detected, and not knowing where to turn, pale and
trembling, produced the precious relic. The resolute monk joyfully seized
it, and carried it to the abbey of the Holy Trinity, the other monks and
citizens returning thanks to God to this day. St. Nicholas there
miraculously succoured all who implored his aid.


Sir Thomas More, contemporary of Luther, says: "Luther wisheth in a sermon
of his that he had in his hand all the pieces of the holy cross, and saith
that, if he so had, he would throw them there as never sun should shine on
them. And for what worshipful reason would the wretch do such villainy to
the cross of Christ? Because, as he saith, that there is so much gold now
bestowed about the garnishing of the pieces of the cross that there is
none left for poor folk. Is not this an high reason? As though all the
gold that is now bestowed about the pieces of the holy cross would not
have failed to have been given to poor men, if they had not been bestowed
about the garnishing of the cross. And as though there were nothing but
that is bestowed about Christ's cross! How small a portion, ween we, were
the gold about all the pieces of Christ's cross, if it were compared with
the gold that is quite cast away about the gilting of knives, swords,
spurs, arras, and painted cloths; and (as though these things could not
consume gold fast enough) the gilding of posts and whole roofs, not only
in the palaces of princes and great prelates, but also many righteous
men's houses. And yet among all these things could Luther spy no gold that
grievously glittered in his bleared eyes, but only about the cross of


Fuller, in his "Church History," observes as follows: "The pretended
causes of miracles are generally reducible to these two heads: (1) Saints'
relics; (2) saints' images. How much forgery there is in the first of
these is generally known, so many pieces being pretended of Christ's cross
as would load a great ship. But amongst all of them commend me to the
cross at the priory of Benedictines at Bromehead in Norfolk, the legend
whereof deserveth to be inserted. Queen Helen, they say, finding the cross
of Christ at Jerusalem, divided it into nine parts, according to the nine
orders of angels. Of one of these (most besprinkled with Christ's blood)
she made a little cross, and, putting it into a box adorned with precious
stones, bestowed it on Constantine her son. This relic was kept by his
successors until Baldwin, Emperor of Greece, fortunate so long as he
carried it about him, but slain in fight when forgetting the same: after
whose death Hugh, his chaplain, born in Norfolk, and who constantly said
prayers before the cross, stole it away box and all, brought it into
England, and bestowed it on Brome Holme in Norfolk. It seems there is no
felony in such wares, but 'catch who catch may'; yea, such sacrilege is
supererogation. By this cross thirty-nine dead men are said to be raised
to life, and nineteen blind men restored to their sight. It seems such
merchants trade much in odd numbers, which best fasteneth the fancies of
folk; whilst the smoothness of even numbers makes them slip the sooner out
of men's memories. Chemnitius affirmeth from the mouth of a grave author
that the teeth of St. Apollonia being conceived effectual to cure the
toothache in the reign of Edward VI. (when many ignorant people in England
relied on that receipt to carry one of her teeth about them), the King
gave command in extirpation of superstition that all her teeth should be
brought in to a public officer deputed for that purpose; and they filled a
tun therewith. Were her stomach proportionable to her teeth, a county
could scarcely afford her a meal's meat. The English nuns at Lisbon do
pretend that they have both the arms of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of
Canterbury; and yet Pope Paul III., in a public Bull set down by Sanders,
doth pitifully complain of the cruelty of King Henry VIII. for causing the
bones of Becket to be burned and the ashes scattered to the wind, the
solemnity whereof is recorded in our chronicles. And how his arms could
escape that bonfire is to me incredible!"


The belief in the efficacy of saints' relics to work miracles was so
general in the ninth century that at last monks and bishops aspired also
in their own lifetime to imitate this wonder-working power. A monk who was
credited in his lifetime as a miracle worker begged that his brethren
would not bury his body in the cloister, for that after his death the
crowds of people coming to be cured of their diseases there would be too
troublesome to them all. Another monk of St. Gall, being anxious to
ingratiate himself with his bishop and the lord of the manor, bethought
himself of the following expedient: He one day entrapped a fox without
injuring it, and then carried it as a present to Bishop Recko. The bishop,
after admiring the creature, expressed his wonder how the monk could have
caught it without doing it any injury, whereupon the monk replied, "Oh, I
can explain that. When I saw the fox in full chase, I cried out to it, 'In
the name of Lord Recko, stop and be still!' The fox at once on hearing the
name stood stockstill till I seized him, and I thought it due to your
lordship to bring it as an offering." The bishop was so pleased at this
efficacious appliance of his own reputation for sanctity that he became a
warm patron thenceforth of the artful ways of relic hunters.


The Empress Constantina asked of St. Gregory the head of St. Paul or some
part of his body to put in the church which they were building at
Constantinople in honour of that apostle. Gregory sent this answer: "You
ask of me what I dare not and cannot do. For the bodies of the apostles
St. Peter and St. Paul are so formidable by their miracles that none can
approach them, even to pray, without being seized with great terror. My
predecessor, having attempted to change a silver ornament which was over
the body of St. Peter, though at the distance of fifteen feet, had a
frightful vision. I myself wanted to repair something near the body of St.
Paul, and we were obliged to dig near the sepulchre. The superior of the
place found some bones which yet did not touch the sepulchre, and moved
them to another place. After having seen a terrible apparition he died
suddenly. So when some monks assisted in repairs near the body of St.
Lawrence, though they did not touch the body, they died within ten days.
Know then, madam, that when the Romans give any relics of saints they
never touch the bodies; they only put in a box a piece of linen, which
they place near the holy body. Then it is withdrawn and shut up in the
church which is to be dedicated, and then as many miracles are wrought by
it as if the body itself were there. In the time of St. Leo some Greeks
doubting of the value of such relics, he called for a pair of scissors and
cut the linen, and blood issued out, as our ancestors assure us. But not
to frustrate your pious desire, I will send you some portion of the chains
which St. Paul wore, and which work many miracles, if, however, I be able
to file off any. These filings are often begged. And the bishop applies
the file; and sometimes he immediately gets the filings; at other times he
labours in vain."


In 844 two pretended monks brought to the church of St. Cenignus at Dijon
a parcel of bones, which they said were the relics of some saint brought
from Italy. The bishop did not wish to acknowledge nor yet to despise
them, but desired the monks to get testimonials. One monk went away in
quest of a certificate, but never returned; the other monk died.
Meanwhile, it was reported that the bones worked miracles; for a woman
fell down suddenly in church, as if tormented, and yet with no visible
cause for her ailment. A rumour then arose, and crowds flocked to the
church of all ages and refused to leave. The bishop then consulted the
archbishop as to what should be done. The archbishop said that, as there
was no certainty, the bones should be removed secretly in presence of
witnesses and buried. He said that the bones might have been brought by
beggarly knaves only to gratify their avarice, and cause pretended
miracles to give them an appearance of sanctity. It was not uncommon for
knaves to encourage these abuses, that they might share in the profit and
fill their bellies and their purses. He himself had seen in his own
diocese persons brought to him who said that they were possessed, but by
the exorcism of a few bastinadoes properly applied confessed the
imposture, and declared that poverty had led them into it. He advised the
bishop to exhort the people to stay quietly each in his own parish; and
that when the alms and oblations should be cut off, the rabble would
quietly disperse, the illusion would cease, and all would be quiet.


When Baldwin II. was Emperor of Constantinople, the crown of thorns was
pawned, as narrated _ante_, p. 19. Another chronicler gives the following
account of that interesting event: In the absence of the Emperor the
barons of Romania borrowed money upon the security of this precious relic;
and as they could not redeem it, a rich Venetian, Nicholas Querini,
undertook to satisfy the creditors on the condition that the relic should
be lodged at Venice. The barons informed the Emperor of this bargain; but
Baldwin was anxious to snatch the prize from the Venetians, and to vest it
with more honour and emolument in the hands of St. Louis, King of France.
The King sent two ambassadors to Venice to negotiate for the redemption of
the holy crown. The crown was enclosed in a golden vase, and was duly
forwarded to Troyes in Champagne, where the Court of France were ready to
welcome the inestimable relic. The King made a free gift of ten thousand
marks of silver to Baldwin, who was so pleased that he was encouraged to
offer the remaining furniture of his chapel, and for twenty thousand marks
more the King acquired a large portion of the true cross; the baby linen
of the Son of God; the lance, the sponge, and the chain of the Passion;
and part of the skull of St. John the Baptist.


Matthew Paris's account is this: In 1240 France exulted in repeated
favours of our Lord Jesus Christ, for besides being rewarded with the body
of the Confessor Edmund, who had removed himself from England, it was
rejoiced by obtaining our Lord's crown of thorns from Constantinople.
Baldwin, Emperor of Constantinople, had sent word that if the French King
would give him effectual pecuniary assistance, he, the Emperor, would, in
consideration of his old ties of friendship, give him the veritable crown
of our Lord, which the Jews had woven and placed on His head when about to
suffer on the cross for the redemption of the human race. The French King,
by the advice of his council, willingly agreed to this, and, with his
mother's concurrence, liberally sent a large sum of money to the Emperor,
whose treasury had been exhausted by continual wars, and this supply
inspired the said Baldwin with confident hopes of obtaining a victory over
the Greeks. In return for this great benefit obtained from the King, the
Emperor, according to promise, faithfully sent to him the crown of Christ,
precious beyond gold or topaz. It was therefore solemnly and devoutly
received, to the credit of the French kingdom, and indeed of all the
Latins, in grand procession, amidst the ringing of bells and the devout
prayers of the faithful followers of Christ, and was placed with due
respect in the King's Chapel at Paris.


Matthew Paris says that in 1241 the French King and his mother, Blanche,
gave a large sum of money to the Saracens, in order to obtain possession
of the holy cross of our Lord. The cross had at first been bought by the
Venetians, then pawned by Baldwin, and at last was sold to the French
King. This cross, on reaching Paris, was placed in a carriage, in which
sat the King, his mother, his wife, and brothers, in presence of the
archbishops and nobles, and a countless host of people who were awaiting
the glorious sight with great joy of heart. After all had worshipped it
with due reverence and devotion, the King himself, barefooted, ungirt, and
with head bare, and after a fast of three days, carried it in wool to the
cathedral church of the Blessed Virgin at Paris. The two queens also
followed on foot. They also carried the crown of thorns, which the Divine
mercy had given to France the year before, and raising it on high on a
similar carriage, presented it to the gaze of the people. When they
arrived at the cathedral church, all the bells in the city were set
ringing; and after special prayers had been solemnly read, the King
returned to his palace, carrying his cross, his brothers carrying the
crown, and the priests following in a regular procession--a sight more
solemn or more joyful than which the kingdom of France had never seen. The
King ordered a chapel of handsome structure, suitable for the reception of
the said treasure, to be built near his palace, and in it he afterwards
placed the said relics with due honour. Besides these, there were in the
same beautiful chapel the garment belonging to Christ, the lance--that is
to say, the iron head of the lance--the sponge, and other relics besides.


Matthew of Westminster says that about the year 1247 the blood of Christ,
which was preserved in the Holy Land as a most precious treasure, was sent
and presented to the lord the King of England (Henry III.) by a certain
brother of the Hospital, who also sent the treasure written by the lord
the Patriarch of Jerusalem, and the masters of the body of knights of the
Temple and Hospital, who all with unanimous goodwill and prompt devotion
sent and gave and presented this treasure to the lord the King; and he
consigned it to his own special house in the church of St. Peter, at
Westminster, on the day of the translation of St. Edward, giving it to
that church out of his own spontaneous magnificence and liberality. He
also on the same day obtained from the bishops who were then present an
indulgence of six years and one hundred and sixteen days for all those who
came to worship the holy relics and the presence of the Lord. And about
the year 1249 the preaching brothers brought a stone of white marble,
which ever since the time of Christ had borne the print of the Saviour in
the Holy Land; and the inhabitants of the Holy Land asserted that that
impression was the print of the footstep of Christ when He was ascending
into heaven. And the aforesaid lord the King gave it as a noble present to
the church of Westminster, as he had, a little while before, given it the
blood of Christ.


Though Stephen was the first martyr, nobody knew for near four hundred
years where his body was buried, except that it was at Caphargamala or
borough of Gamaliel, twenty miles from Jerusalem. Lucian, the priest of
that place, in 415 was one night asleep or half awake, when suddenly a
comely old man, of venerable garb and long white beard, with a golden
wand, entered the baptistery and told Lucian to go to Jerusalem and ask
Bishop John to come and open the tomb where lay Stephen, who was stoned by
the Jews, and whose body was exposed to wild beasts; but they would not
touch it. Whereupon the body was taken away by Gamaliel and buried in a
particular spot near the body of Nicodemus. Lucian asked who this
venerable messenger was, and the answer was, "I am Gamaliel, who
instructed Paul." The vision appeared several times to Lucian, as well as
others, giving further particulars. The search was afterwards made, and
three coffins found, one of which was Stephen's, at the opening of which
the earth shook and an agreeable odour issued. Many miracles were wrought
by these relics, and they were carried amid singing of psalms and hymns to
the church of Sion at Jerusalem. Portions of the relics were carried to
Spain by Orosius, and there caused many sudden conversions. Some also were
given to St. Austin for his church of Hippo. In 444 the Empress Eudocia
built a stately church about a furlong from Jerusalem, where Stephen's
relics were translated, the site being supposed to be that where he was
stoned to death.


As Dunstan, who died 988, was a most domineering and imperious monk in his
day, and stood up for his order, his bones were sacred. When Glastonbury
Abbey, after a great fire in 1184, was rebuilt, there was a great stirring
up of relics which were placed in shrines. Amongst others the St. Dunstan
relics gave rise to a quarrel between the monks of Glastonbury and those
of Canterbury, which lasted some four centuries. There was an old monk at
Glastonbury, named John Canan, who was believed to be the sole depositary
of the secret of Dunstan's burying-place, and a boy named John Waterleighe
was employed to get at the secret. The old monk, in circuitous phrase,
told the boy at last that the place was near the door where the holy water
was sprinkled, and this was divulged, and the other monks lifted a stone
and found a wooden chest plated with iron. The prior and all the convent
assembled to see it opened, and they found some of the bones of Dunstan
and a ring, in one half of which was a picture curiously worked. There was
a crown and the word _sanctus_ under it, so that they all were confident
these were the right relics. The relics were accordingly solemnly placed
in a shrine covered with gold and silver. When the monks of Canterbury
heard of this they were profoundly agitated, for they drew pilgrims
chiefly under the belief that their own abbey had the better part of the
saint. The rival monks wrote furious letters against each other; and
intrigues continued at Canterbury with varying success till the time of
the Reformation.


John Huss, born 1369, became a stirring preacher, and was appointed in
1401 to officiate at the chapel of Bethlehem, where poor people chiefly
attended. The archbishop of that time was anxious to check some of the
current superstitions, and used Huss as a means to that end. One matter
caused great wonder. A knight had destroyed a church some years before,
but left a stone altar standing. In one of the cavities were found three
wafers coloured red, as if with blood. Though such a colour is naturally
produced in bread and similar substances long exposed to moisture, there
being a fungus gradually formed, which under the microscope is easily
seen, but to the naked eye having a close resemblance to blood, the
ignorant multitude at once accepted this as a miracle, symbolical of the
blood of Christ; and extraordinary excitement grew up, and pilgrimages
were made from Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Hungary, Poland, and Bohemia, in
order to view it. The monks and clergy encouraged the wonder. The
archbishop, shocked by such a scandal, appointed a committee of three, one
of whom was Huss, to examine and report. Huss drew up a report reflecting
on this and many similar relics as entire delusions, and hinting that they
were put forward merely by greedy ecclesiastics for base purposes. He
reviewed the history of these impostures, and also exposed another fraud,
about a silver hand hung up by a citizen of Prague in a church, and which
was long believed to be in testimony of a lame hand of the donor being
miraculously cured, though there had been really no cure, as hundreds
could attest.


The extent to which images and their makers have produced effects on
excitable crowds was shown during the plague of Malaga in 1649. A certain
statue of Christ at the column carved for the cathedral by Giuseppe
Micael, an Italian, performed prodigies of healing, and bade fair to rival
that holy crucifix sculptured at Jerusalem by Nicodemus, and possessed by
the Capuchins of Burgos, which sweated on Fridays and wrought miracles all
the week. While the pestilence was yet raging, the sculptor stood one
evening musing near the door of the sanctuary where his work was
enshrined, but with so sorrowful a countenance that a friend, hailing him
from afar, according to the usages of plague-stricken society, inquired
the cause of his sadness. "Think you," said the artist, "that I have
anything more to look for on earth after seeing and hearing the prodigies
and marvels of this sovereign image which my unworthy hands have made? It
is an old tradition among the masters of our craft that he shall soon die
to whom it is given to make a miraculous image." And Giuseppe erred not in
his presentiment; his chisel's task was done. Within eight days the
dead-cart carried him to the gorged cemetery of Malaga. His fame was long
preserved by his statue, which obtained the name of the "Lord of Health."


In 1461 great excitement was caused in Rome by the arrival of Thomas
Palæologus, brother of the last Byzantine emperor, who had been driven
from Greece, and brought with him from Patras, the supposed place of St.
Andrew's martyrdom, a head of that saint. The Pope (Pius II.), on hearing
of this venerable relic, eagerly entered into a treaty and secured it,
notwithstanding that many princes were his competitors. The head was
brought, with much ceremony, from Ancona, and was met at Narni by
Bessarion and other cardinals, and on its arrival in Rome it was received
with extraordinary reverence. Invitations were at once sent out by the
Pope on the same terms as for a jubilee, and great crowds flocked from all
parts. The head was carried to St. Peter's by a procession attended by
thirty thousand torches, while the palaces and houses along the route were
hung with tapestry and filled with altars. The weather was exceptionally
fine, and the procession filed from the Flaminian gate. The Vatican
basilica was splendidly illuminated, and the Pope addressed the holy relic
in an eloquent and impressive speech, the delivery of which was
interrupted by frequent tears, sobs, and beating of breasts. When the
ceremony was concluded, the head of St. Andrew was deposited beside that
of St. Peter.


In 1061 an obscure widow, inhabiting a small village on the wild and
tempestuous coast of Norfolk, by erecting a little chapel resembling that
at Nazareth, where the Virgin was saluted by the angel Gabriel, was able
to impart a renown to that village which extended to all England. Erasmus
thus described it in his time: "Not far from the sea, about four miles,
there standeth a town living almost on nothing else but upon the resort of
pilgrims. There is a college of canons there, supported by their
offerings. In the church is a small chapel, but all of wood, whereunto,
on either side, at a narrow and little door, are such admitted as come
with their devotions and offerings. Small light there is in it, and none
other than by wax tapers, yielding a most dainty and pleasant smell; nay,
if you look into it, you would say it is the habitation of heavenly
saints, so bright and shining all over with precious stones, with gold and
silver." Camden also mentions that princes have repaired to this chapel,
walking thither barefoot.


Abbot Rodolph, about 1110, describes his pilgrimage across the Alps: "We
were detained at the foot of Mount Jove (Great St. Bernard), in a village
called Restopolis, from which we could neither advance nor retreat, in
consequence of the heavy snow. At length the guides conducted us as far as
St. Remi, which is on the same mountain, where we found a vast multitude
of travellers, and where we were in danger of death from the repeated
falls of snow from the rocks. We were detained there till at length the
guides said they would lead us, but demanded a heavy price. Their heads
and hands were guarded with skins and fur, and their shoes armed with iron
nails, to prevent them from slipping on the ice, and they carried long
spears in their hands, to feel their way over the snow. It was very early
in the morning, and with great fear and trembling the travellers
celebrated and received the holy mysteries, as if preparing themselves for
death. They contended with each other who should first make his
confession; and since one priest did not suffice, they went about the
church confessing their sins to each other. While these things were
passing within the church with great devotion, there was a lamentable
shout heard in the street; for the guides, who had left the town to clear
the way, were suddenly buried under a great fall of snow, as if under a
mountain. The people ran to save them, and pulled them out--some dead,
some but half alive, others with broken limbs. Upon this we all returned
to Restopolis, where we passed the Epiphany. Upon the weather clearing, we
again set out, and succeeded, happily, in passing the profane Mount of
Jove." St. Aderal of Troyes made twelve pilgrimages to Rome on foot. He
passed the Apennines in a season of intense cold barefooted, that he might
suffer something for Jesus Christ, and he used to beat the rocks with bare


In 1179 Louis VII., King of France, in the disguise of a common pilgrim
visited Canterbury as a humble supplicant at the tomb of À Becket, for the
restoration of sanity to the Dauphin, a prayer that was instantly complied
with. Louis proved his sincerity by offering a rich cup of gold and the
famous stone called Regal of France, which Henry VIII. appropriated to his
own use for a thumb ring. The great St. Thomas not only attended to the
prayers of mankind and restored eyes, limbs, and even life to hundreds;
but, to evince his power and exhibit his tenderness to all animated
nature, frequently, at the intercession of the monks, restored to life
dead birds and beasts. The Pope naturally encouraged these enthusiastic
feelings, though it is rather surprising that his holiness Pope Alexander
should cause a liturgy to be composed and read, in which our Saviour is
supplicated to redeem mankind, not by His holy blood, but by that of the
saint. Indeed, to such an extent was the adoration of Becket carried that
it nearly absorbed all other devotion. In one year the offerings at the
altar of the Deity at Canterbury amounted to £3 2_s._ 6_d._; at the
Virgin's, £63 5_s._ 6_d._; and at Becket's, £832 12_s._ 3_d._ And in
another year £954 6_s._ 3_d._ was received at Becket's altar, only £4
1_s._ 8_d._ at the Virgin's, while at that of the Deity the oblation did
not amount to one farthing!




When a persecution was raging against the Christians about 206, Leonidas
and his son Origen were among the suspected. Leonidas was beheaded.
Origen, then aged seventeen, was also eager to meet the same fate, and he
would have been beheaded also, but his mother privily in the night season
conveyed away his clothes and his shirt. Whereupon, more for shame to be
seen than for fear to die, he was constrained to remain at home. He was
zealous, however, and wrote to his father, telling him not to change for
his and his mother's sake. Then Origen, to assist his mother and six
brothers, kept a school, and afterwards was made a bishop. He was a great
worker, lived sparingly, and went barefoot. He wrote as much as seven
notaries and so many maids could pen every day. The number of his books
was six thousand volumes. He encouraged and comforted all the martyrs, and
was a redoubted champion of doctrines.


St. Ambrose, who died 397, was not only the great advocate and defender of
the order of virginity, but he displayed a high sense of dignity in
guarding the purity of his church. He refused to allow the Emperor
Marcellus to enter the church because he was stained with the blood of
Gratian. He also opposed the Empress Justina in her Arian tendencies. He
was also the champion who opposed the orator Symmachus, who pleaded for
retaining the old heathen idols in their old places of worship. When the
Emperor Theodosius, in the fourth century, had ordered what most people
considered a brutal massacre at Thessalonica of seven thousand persons as
they were sitting in a circus to witness a race, and this by way of
punishment for a previous riot in the city, all eyes were turned to the
Bishop of Milan to avenge this outrage. When the Emperor reached the city
some days later, the bishop avoided meeting him, but wrote a letter, in
which he said: "So bloody a scene as that at Thessalonica is unheard of in
the world's history. I had warned and entreated you against it. You
yourself recognised its atrocity. You endeavoured to recall your decree.
And now I call on you to repent." Soon after, when Ambrose came back to
Milan, the Emperor, as usual, presented himself at the hour of service.
Ambrose met him in the porch, and thus spoke: "It seems your majesty has
not repented of the heinousness of your murder. Your imperial power has
darkened your understanding, and stood between you and the recognition of
your sin. Consider the dust from which you spring. How can you uplift in
prayer the hands which still drip with innocent blood, or receive into
such hands the body of the Lord! Depart; add not sin to sin. Find in
repentance the means of mercy which can restore you to health of soul."
The Emperor humbled himself. For eight months as a penitent he abstained
from presenting himself at Divine service. During the penance Theodosius
bitterly complained that the Church of God was opened to slaves and
beggars, but to him was closed, and with it the gates of heaven. He tried
once to gain admittance, but Ambrose sternly refused until the Emperor
promised to show openly his repentance by taking his place in the church
among the penitents. The spirit displayed by Ambrose in this episode
raised his reputation, and has left an example to all future bishops when
contending against absolute power.


St. Martin, Bishop of Tours, died in 397, on the day which he himself had
predicted. On that day Severinus, Bishop of Cologne, asked his archdeacon
if he heard any sounds in the air. The latter stood erect and listened,
and then answered, "I hear voices as of those singing in heaven, but what
they may be I know not." And Severinus was then informed that these were
the songs of angels as they carried Martin up to heaven. At that same hour
also the blessed Ambrose was celebrating Mass at Milan, and the custom
was, that the reader should not begin to read till the bishop nodded to
him. And when he would have begun standing before the altar, the blessed
Ambrose fell asleep on the altar. Though many saw this, no man presumed to
wake him, till after two or three hours had elapsed, when they spoke to
him, saying, "The hour has passed by; let my lord the bishop command the
lector to read, for the people are waiting and already are very weary."
And Ambrose bade them not be disturbed, for that his brother Martin had
departed from the flesh, and he had just been attending his funeral. And
greatly astonished, and noting the day and hour, they afterwards
discovered that at that very time the blessed Martin had been buried at
Tours, where the whole city and neighbourhood had followed him with hymns
and tears to the grave.


It was related that an obstinate heretic who went to hear St. Ambrose
preach, only to confute and mock him, beheld an angel visible at his side
and prompting the words the saint uttered. On seeing this, the scoffer was
self-convicted and became a convert. One day St. Ambrose, calling at the
house of a Tuscan nobleman, was hospitably received, and began to inquire
into the condition of his host, who replied, "I have never known
adversity--every day has seen me increasing in fortune, in honours and
possessions; I have a numerous family of sons and daughters, who have
never caused me a moment of sorrow; I have a multitude of slaves, to whom
my word is law; and I have never suffered either sickness or pain." On
hearing this, Ambrose rose suddenly from the table and said, "Let us make
haste to quit this roof ere it fall upon us, for the Lord is not here!"
And he had scarcely left the house when an earthquake shook the ground and
swallowed up the palace and all its inhabitants. The church, the basilica
of St. Ambrogio Maggiore at Milan, is one of the oldest and most
interesting in Christendom, and was founded in 387. Though rebuilt and
restored at least twice, it still retains the form of the primitive
churches, with doors of cypress wood. On the front of the high altar,
which is all of plates of gold enamelled with precious stones, are
represented in relief scenes from the life of our Saviour.


One of the points which stagger modern Christians about St. Ambrose and
St. Augustine is their enthusiastic and apparently genuine belief in
saints' relics. When St. Ambrose was asked to consecrate a new church, and
he consented on condition that he should have some new relics to place
therein, the relics were soon forthcoming. He professed that he was told
in a dream where the relics of Gervasius and another saint were buried.
The bodies were afterwards found in the spot indicated and placed in the
new church. Ambrose delivered impassioned and fanciful harangues during
the proceedings, claiming for these relics that they had expelled demons
and restored sight to a blind butcher named Severus, who merely touched
them. Mosheim, Gibbon, and Isaac Taylor treat all this as a mere trick or
imposture. But others are not prepared to come to any decision, as next to
nothing is known as to the circumstances under which all these events or
apparent events happened. The expelling of demons may be explained by some
hysterical excitement; and the blindness may have been something more or
less temporary. Ambrose, however, apparently had the most unfeigned belief
in the miracles, and he related the whole story to his sister Marcellina
in a letter which does not savour of knavery. St. Augustine, at a later
date, also related similar miracles worked by the same relics, which he
vouches to be true.


St. Jerome, in his Life of Paul, the first hermit, says that Paul, when a
boy, suspecting his life to be in danger, fled to the wilderness, and
found a convenient great cave in which to live. "In this beloved
dwelling," says Jerome, "offered him as it were by God, Paul spent all his
life in prayer and solitude, while the palm tree gave him food and
clothes; as to which, lest it should seem impossible to some, I call Jesus
and His holy angels to witness that I have seen monks, one of whom, shut
up for thirty years, lived on barley bread and muddy water; another, in an
old cistern, which in the country speech they call the Syrian's bed, was
kept alive on five figs each day. These things therefore will seem
incredible to those who do not believe, for to those who do believe all
things are possible." St. Paul the hermit, in his one hundred and
thirteenth year, was visited by Antony, who was ninety, Paul being in a
dying state in a sequestered cell. Antony was sent on a message, and on
his return Paul was found on his knees with hands uplifted as if in
prayer, but was quite dead. Antony, according to previous instructions,
wished to bury the saint, but had no spade, and sat down to consider how
he was to proceed. Forthwith, as Jerome relates, two lions came running
from the desert tossing their manes, fearless and innocent as doves. They
went straight to the corpse, crouched, wagged their tails and roared, and
then began to claw the ground and dig a deep place, large enough to hold a
man. When they had finished they came to Antony, dropped their necks, and
licked his hands and feet, as if praying for a blessing. Antony praised
God, who taught the dumb animals, and without whose word not a leaf drops
nor one sparrow falls to the ground; and then signing with his hand to the
lions, they went away peaceably to the desert from which they came.


St. Jerome, after narrating the life and death of Paul, the first hermit,
thus concludes: "I am inclined at the end of my treatise to ask those who
know not the extent of their patrimonies, who cover their houses with
marbles, who sew the price of whole farms into their garments with a
single thread, What was ever wanting to this naked old man? Ye drink from
a gem; he satisfied nature from the hollow of his hands. Ye weave gold
into your tunics, he had not even the vilest garment of your bondslave.
But, on the other hand, to that poor man Paradise is open; you, gilded as
you are, Gehenna will receive. He, though naked, kept the garment of
Christ; you, clothed in silk, have lost Christ's robe. Paul lies covered
with the meanest dust to rise in glory; you are crushed by wrought
sepulchres of stone, to burn with all your works. Spare, I beseech you,
yourselves; spare at least the riches which you love. Why do you wrap even
your dead in golden vestments? Why does not ambition stop amid grief and
tears? Cannot the corpses of the rich decay save in silk? I beseech thee,
whosoever thou art that readest this, to remember Jerome the sinner, who,
if the Lord gave him choice, would much sooner choose Paul's tunic with
his merits than the purple of kings with their punishments."


A legend of St. Jerome, who died 420, relates that one evening as he sat
within the gates of his monastery at Bethlehem, a lion entered, limping as
in pain, and all the brethren when they saw the beast fled in terror. But
Jerome arose, and went forward to meet the lion as though it had been a
guest. And the lion lifted up his paw, and Jerome, on examining it, found
that it was wounded by a thorn, which he extracted; and he tended the lion
till it was healed. The grateful beast remained with his benefactor, and
Jerome confided to him the task of guarding the ass, which was employed in
bringing firewood from the forest. On one occasion, the lion having gone
to sleep while the ass was at pasture, some merchants passing by carried
away the ass, and the lion, after searching for him in vain, returned to
the monastery with drooping head as one ashamed. St. Jerome, believing
that it had devoured its companion, commanded that the daily task of the
ass should be laid upon the lion, and that the faggots should be bound on
its back, to which it magnanimously submitted, until the ass should be
recovered, which was in this wise. One day, the lion having finished its
task, ran hither and thither, still seeking its companion, and it saw a
caravan of merchants approaching, and a string of camels, which, according
to the Arabian custom, was led by an ass. And when the lion recognised its
friend it drove the camels into the convent, and so terrified the
merchants that they confessed the theft and received pardon from St.
Jerome. Hence the lion is often introduced into the pictures of St.


The ancient biographer Peter de Natalibus thus describes the last hours of
Jerome: As Jerome's death drew near, he commanded that he should be laid
on the bare ground and covered with sackcloth, and calling the brethren
around him, he spoke sweetly to them, and exhorted them in many holy
words, and with tears received the blessed Eucharist. And sinking
backwards again on the earth, his hands crossed on his heart, he sang the
_Nunc Dimittis_, which being finished, suddenly a great light as of the
noonday sun shone round about him, within which light angels innumerable
were seen by the bystanders in shifting motion. And the voice of the
Saviour was heard inviting him to heaven, and the holy doctor answered
that he was ready. And after an hour that light departed, and Jerome's
spirit with it. And at that very hour Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, was
sitting in his cell meditating a treatise on the beatific vision, and had
begun an epistle to Jerome, consulting him on that mystery, when an
ineffable light with a fragrant odour filled his cell, and a voice came to
him therefrom, reproving him of presumption for deeming that, while yet in
the flesh, he could comprehend the eternal beatitude. And Augustine
demanding who spoke to him, the voice answered, "Jerome's soul, to whom
thou writest, for I am this very hour loosed from the flesh, and on my way
to heaven." And after Augustine had asked him many questions concerning
the joys of heaven, the angelic nature, and the Blessed Trinity, and
Jerome had answered thereto, the light and the voice departed.


Mr. Roberts, in his "Church Memorials," speaks of St. Jerome as follows:
The various letters of Jerome to Helvidius, Jovinian Vigilantius, and even
to Augustine, leave the fact unquestionable that he was a man of great
infirmity of temper, disposed alike to depreciate the merits of others and
unduly exalt his own. To the exercise of his vituperative talents it must
be owned that we are indebted for some of his most vigorous productions.
Few of his corresponding friends were without some experience of the rough
discipline of his pen. Ruffinus says he spared none, neither monk nor
maiden. Ambrose and Didymus and Chrysostom himself shared his reproaches.
Those who submitted to the obligation of celibacy on the ostensible ground
of religious abstinence were among the rare objects of his eulogy. He
breaks out in his writings into gross and unwarrantable sallies against
the matrimonial estate, and exalting above all comparison with it the
felicity of virgins. His opinions on this subject appear to have arisen
out of the self-sufficiency of his own brain, which led him to consult his
own fervid impressions and prejudices rather than the teaching of Divine
wisdom. But after making all necessary deductions from the dignity and
deserts of Jerome on the score of prejudice and passion, our obligations
to him remain very great, not only for his admirable contributions to the
stores of sacred learning in all its departments, but for his strenuous
and efficacious advocacy of the truth as it is set forth in the oracles of
God. Lessons of practical piety and discriminating Christian prudence not
seldom flowed from his able pen.


St. Chrysostom became noted for the eloquence of his sermons soon after he
was ordained a presbyter in 386. One of his sermons at a time when the
people were given to riots ended thus: "When you return home, converse on
these subjects with all your house, as some, when returning from the
meadows, take home to their families garlands of roses or violets or some
such flowers; others branches laden with fruit from the gardens; or the
superfluous dainties from costly feasts in like manner. When you depart
home, carry admonitions to your wives, your children, your dependants. For
these counsels are more profitable to you than flowers, fruit, or feasts.
These roses never wither; these fruits never decay; these meats never
corrupt. The former impart a transitory pleasure; the latter insure a
lasting advantage, an enjoyment both present and to come. Let us thus
occupy ourselves instead of the accustomed anxiety with which we trouble
to ask each other, 'Has the Emperor heard of the things that have
happened? Is he incensed? What sentence has he pronounced? Has any one
appeased him? Can he persuade himself to utterly destroy so great and
populous a city?' Casting these and the like cares upon God, we shall do
well to heed only the observance of His commandments. Thus will all our
present sorrows pass away."


Though St. Chrysostom was himself a hermit for six years, he thus, in the
height of the mania for monkery, exposed the weakness of that practice in
one of his sermons: "Those who forsake the city, the favour and society of
men, and cease to instruct others, are apt to excuse themselves by saying
that they must not become dead to godliness. How much better were it to
become more dead to godliness, and to profit others rather than remain on
the heights looking down on their perishing brethren! For how shall we
overcome our enemies if the greater part of us have no heed to godliness,
and those who have a heed to it withdraw from the order of battle? No deed
can be truly great unless it impart benefit to others. This is manifest
from the example of him who returned the talent, which he had received,
whole, because he had added naught to its value. Wherefore, my brethren,
though ye fast, though ye sleep upon the bare ground, though ye strew
yourselves with ashes, though ye mourn without ceasing, yet if ye do no
good to any one, ye shall have done no great thing, for this was the chief
care of those great and holy men who were in the beginning. Examine
closely their lives, and ye will see clearly that none of them ever looked
to his own interest, but to that of his neighbour. If ye seek not the
advantage of your neighbour, ye cannot attain unto salvation."


St. Chrysostom, who died 407, in his homily on the text, "Brethren, be not
children in understanding," thus rebuked the habits of his people in
church: "The church itself is a house, or rather worse than any house. For
in a house one may see much good order. But here great is the tumult,
great the confusion, and our assemblies differ in nothing from a vintner's
shop, so loud is the laughter, so great the disturbance: as in baths, as
in markets, the cry and tumult is universal. And these things occur here
only: since elsewhere it is not permitted even to address one's neighbour
in the church, not even if one have recognised a long-absent friend; but
these things are done without, and very properly. For the church is no
barber's or perfumer's shop, nor any other merchant's warehouse in the
market-place, but a place of angels, a place of archangels, a palace of
God, heaven itself. As therefore if one had rent the heaven and had
brought thee in thither, though thou shouldst see thy father or thy
brother, thou wouldst not venture to speak, so neither here ought one to
utter any other sound but those which are spiritual. For in truth the
things in this place are also a heaven. Here the buffoon who is moving
laughter or the giddy woman who collects vast crowds is listened to; but
when God is speaking from heaven on subjects so awful, we behave ourselves
more shamelessly than dogs."


St. Augustine in 426 relates two miracles which he himself witnessed. Two
persons, Paul and Palladia, brother and sister, natives of Cæsarea, were
afflicted with excessive trembling in their limbs. They had visited many
places in search of a cure, and at last were directed by a venerable
person, who appeared in a vision to Paul, to go to the church at Hippo,
where St. Stephen's relics had been deposited a year before. One Easter
Sunday Paul was praying before the relics, when he suddenly fell and lay
motionless, as if asleep, but without trembling. The spectators were
astonished, and uncertain whether to raise him up or leave him alone. He
rose up soon quite healed, whereon the congregation began to praise God
and shouted with joy. They ran to another part of the church to tell St.
Augustine, who was already beginning the service. He next day made Paul
and his sister sit in a raised part of the church, the one healed, the
other trembling, and after a general discourse thus concluded: "Now,
listen to what we have heard of this miracle. During the stoning of St.
Stephen a stone which had struck him on the elbow rebounded on a believer
who was present. He took it up and kept it. This man was a sailor, whom
chance at last brought to Ancona, and he knew by revelation that he was to
leave this stone there. A chapel was erected there to St. Stephen, and a
report was spread that one of his elbows was there. It was afterwards
understood that the sailor had been inspired to leave this stone in that
place because Ancona signifies 'the elbow' in Greek. But no miracles were
wrought there till after the body of Stephen had been discovered." St.
Augustine was going on with his discourse, recounting other miracles from
these relics, when a great shout arose, and the congregation interrupted
him, and some brought before him Palladia, who had just been suddenly
healed in the same way as her brother Paul when she went again to pray
before the relics. The people were overjoyed, and continued their shouts
till Augustine had to pause; and when they were a little silent, he
concluded with a thanksgiving.


St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, near Carthage, who died 430, and whose
magnificent tomb in the cathedral of Pavia is rich as a work of art, had
in the course of his studies, while writing discourses on the Trinity, a
dream or vision, which he thus related: "I was wandering along the
seashore lost in meditation. Suddenly I beheld a child, who, having dug a
hole in the sand, appeared to be bringing water from the sea to fill it. I
inquired of the child what was the object of this task, and it replied, 'I
intend to empty into this hole all the waters of the great deep.'
'Impossible!' I exclaimed. 'Not more impossible,' replied the child, 'than
for you, O Augustine, to explain the mystery on which you are now
meditating.'" This incident is also related of another great preacher (see
_ante_, p. 108). St. Augustine is often in mediæval pictures represented
as standing arrayed in his episcopal robes on the seashore, gazing with
astonishment on an infant Christ, who holds a bowl, a cup, and a ladle.
Murillo has a great picture on this subject. St. Augustine admitted with
shame that when a boy he had robbed an orchard, and that the
multiplication table was detestable to him.


St. Augustine's faith in dreams was illustrated by him in a letter to a
friend, who was speculating about future life. He said there was a beloved
physician at Carthage named Gennadius, who, though an earnest benefactor
of the poor, had doubts about the future life. One night Gennadius dreamt
that a noble-looking youth came to him and said, "Follow me." He followed,
and was led to a city in which he heard delicious music of hymns and
psalms, and the youth explained that this was the singing of the blessed
and the holy. When he awoke and found it was a dream, he attached no
importance to it. But on another night the same youth came again, and
asked, "Do you remember me?" "Yes," said Gennadius, "I saw you in my
dream, and you took me to hear the songs of the blessed." "Are you
dreaming now?" "Yes." "Where is your body at this moment?" "In my bed."
"Your eyes, then, are closed and bound in sleep?" "Yes." "How is it, then,
that you see me?" Gennadius could give no answer, and the angel said,
"Just as you see me without the eyes of the flesh, so it will be when all
your senses are removed by death. There shall still be life in you and a
faculty to perceive. Take care that henceforth you have no doubts about
the life to come." St. Austin adds: "You may say that this was a dream,
and any one may think what he likes about it. Nevertheless, there are some
dreams which have a Divine significance."


A famous champion of orthodoxy was St. Cyril of Alexandria, who flourished
in 444. He spent five years of his youth in the monasteries of Nitria, and
became an ardent student of theology, and his uncle, the Archbishop
Theophilus, recalled him to take office in the church. He soon became a
popular preacher, having a comely person and a sonorous voice, and his
friends stationed themselves in convenient places in the church to applaud
him and bring out all his merits. He soon succeeded to the patriarchate,
which gave him civil as well as ecclesiastical powers. He had no patience
with heretics, and not only interdicted the Moravians from performing
public worship, but confiscated their holy vessels. His virulent rage
against the Jews had no bounds, and without warning or authority he led a
fanatic mob early one morning and attacked their synagogues and demolished
them, rewarded his followers with the plunder, and expelled the ancient
people from the city. He insisted on paying the highest honours to a monk
who, like an assassin, had wounded the prefect. He also took umbrage at
Hypatia, a young and beautiful woman, who taught philosophy, and who was
said to take the part of the prefect against Cyril. One day it was said
Cyril's fanatical followers seized this lady, stripped and butchered her,
and burnt her body in the church, thereby leaving an indelible stain on
his character. He also was indefatigable in persecuting Nestorius, an
alleged heretic.


Some of the notions to which the Fathers clung were these: That Christ
would return and reign with the saints in Jerusalem in the flesh for a
thousand years; that the angels had bodies and appetites; that Christ's
body was not sensitive to the stripes and torments inflicted; that after
death all should pass a fiery trial before the final judgment day; that
God's Providence was confined only to men as rational creatures, but had
nothing to do with the beasts of the field, with bugs and flies and worms;
that marriage was in any circumstances a degrading institution, but a
second marriage was accursed; that infants which die before baptism cannot
be saved; that the baptism of heretics was invalid and null; that an oath
was utterly unlawful for Christians to take; that our Saviour lived fifty
years, and was not crucified at the age of thirty-three.




As early as the second century men and women began to feel the charm of a
peaceful, contemplative life, wholly severed from the selfish, sensual,
and brutish ways of large communities. Hence they were attracted to
deserts and secluded places, and to seek happiness by living entirely
alone. It is thought this turn of religious life was first developed in
Egypt. About 378 St. Basil, afterwards Bishop of Cæsarea, introduced
monachism into Asia Minor, and thence into the East, and he enjoined
poverty, obedience, chastity, and self-mortification as the great objects
to be kept in view. A peculiar habit was found to answer best to this kind
of life. Both monks and nuns chose plain coarse clothes and girdles. The
monks went barelegged, and their hair was more or less shaven. In 529 St.
Benedict, an Italian of noble birth, instituted a code of conduct for his
monastery on Monte Cassino, a hill between Rome and Naples, and added
manual labour for seven hours a day. St. Augustine, the apostle to the
Anglo-Saxons, about 596, belonged to the Benedictine order, and so did St.
Dunstan, about 930. The habit of the Benedictines consisted of a white
woollen cassock, and over that an ample black gown and a black hood. The
female houses had also a white under-garment, a black gown and black veil,
with a white wimple round the face and neck. The monks of Clugny, in
Burgundy, founded in 927, abandoned manual labour and devoted themselves
more to contemplative studies. The Clugniacs, the Carthusians, the
Cistercians, and the orders of Camaldoli and Grandmont, all sprang from
the Benedictine order, each having their own variations. St. Bernard
joined the Cistercians in 1113. The Augustinians were a milder order than
the Benedictines, and were divided into canons secular and canons
regular. A branch of the Augustinians were the military orders, or Knights
of the Temple, who arose about 1118, after the experience of the
Crusaders, and devoted themselves to escorting pilgrims to Jerusalem and
the holy places.


Gibbon sums up his account of the monks as follows: "The monastic saints,
who excite only the contempt and pity of a philosopher, were respected and
almost adored by the prince and people. The Christian world fell prostrate
before their shrines, and the miracles ascribed to their relics exceeded
at least in number and duration the spiritual exploits of their lives. But
the golden legend of their lives was greatly embellished by the artful
credulity of their interested brethren; and a believing age was easily
persuaded that the slightest caprice of an Egyptian or a Syrian monk had
been sufficient to interrupt the eternal laws of the universe. The
favourites of Heaven were accustomed to cure inveterate diseases with a
touch, a word, or a distant message, and to expel the most obstinate
demons from the souls or bodies which they possessed. They familiarly or
imperiously commanded the lions and serpents of the desert, infused
vegetation into a sapless trunk, suspended iron on the surface of the
water, passed the Nile on the back of a crocodile, and refreshed
themselves in a fiery furnace. These extravagant tales, which display the
fiction without the genius of poetry, have seriously affected the reason,
the faith, and the morals of the Christians. Their credulity debased and
vitiated the faculties of the mind; they corrupted the evidence of
history, and superstition gradually extinguished the hostile light of
philosophy and science. Every mode of religious worship which had been
practised by the saints, every mysterious doctrine which they believed was
fortified by the sanction of Divine revelation, and all the manly virtues,
were oppressed by the servile and pusillanimous reign of the monks."


Dr. Johnson said: "I do not wonder that, where the monastic life is
permitted, every order finds votaries and every monastery inhabitants. Men
will submit to any rule by which they will be exempted from the tyranny of
caprice and of chance. They are glad to supply by external authority their
own want of constancy and resolution, and court the government of others,
when long experience has convinced them of their own inability to govern


It would be vain to analyse the many modes by which men were induced to
become monks. It has been remarked that young men who became monks out of
penitence for their sins were most distinguished for zeal. Men of the
first rank, struck by the force of momentary impressions or by sudden
reverses of fortune, reminded of the uncertainty of worldly goods, the
nearness of death, the vanity of earthly glory, would go into solitude as
anchorites or enter a monastery. About 1090 Count Ebrard, of Breteuil, a
youth of family and fortune, suddenly forsook all his pleasures, and went
about earning his bread as an itinerant charcoal burner, and then for the
first time found true peace of mind. Another noble youth, named Simon,
about the same time was so struck by the transitoriness of wealth on
seeing his father's dead body, that he also became a monk. Many were
driven by sickness, poverty, shame, and remorse to do likewise. Those
driven into monasteries by the fear of death were said soon to lose their
firmness of purpose. Once St. Bernard, when visiting Count Theobald of
Champagne, and seeing a crowd following a robber who was about to be
executed, begged of the count to give up to him the criminal to be
reformed, and Bernard converted him into an exemplary monk, who lived such
for thirty years thereafter. Another monk, Bernard, who lived on a desert
island near Jersey, made such an impression on a band of pirates, that
when afterwards they were on the point of shipwreck and in fear of sudden
death, they remembered the good advice of the hermit, and repented,
returned, and joined him in holy exercises for the rest of their days.
Anselm of Canterbury, when discoursing on the virtues of monks and the
temptations of worldly life, said, "It was true that it was not monks only
who are saved. Still, it may be asked, Which of the two attains salvation
in the most certain and noble way--he who seeks to love God alone, or he
who seeks to love God and the world too at the same time? Was it rational,
when danger is on every side, to choose to remain where the danger is


Though there were many good points in monachism, the Fathers were not slow
to point out its defects. Chrysostom lamented that Christian virtue which
ought to dwell in cities had fled into deserts. Vigilantius observed, "If
all Christian men shut themselves up in cloisters and withdrew into
deserts, who shall preach the Gospel and call sinners to repentance?"
There was one Roman monk named Jovinian, sometimes called a prototype of
Luther, and obviously before his time, who was uncompromising in his
denunciations of the whole system. "There is," he said, "one and the same
Divine life springing from fellowship with the Redeemer, in which all
genuine Christians share, and a higher stage cannot exist." But in spite
of all cavils the system held its ground down to the time of Luther. As
Neander remarks: "The more the monks occupied themselves with their
temptations, instead of looking from themselves to the Lord, so much the
more those temptations increased, many of which they could easily have
overcome if they had been willing to forget themselves in an activity of a
calling that would have laid under requisition all the powers of their
nature; on which account they felt the need of occupying by manual labour,
such as basket-making and other handicrafts, the senses and lower powers
of their nature."


St. Benedict was born in 480, and gave a fresh impetus to monkish
communities and devised better laws. After some experience in other
places, he selected one of the heights of the Apennines for the great
capital of the monastery orders--namely, Monte Cassino. He combined
agriculture and woodcutting with exercises of piety, and introduced a more
severe system of discipline. Many young nobles flocked to take up their
abode. They acted as missionaries and almsmen to the poor. After fourteen
years' presiding over the monastery, he had a last interview with his
sister Scholastica, whom he survived forty days. A violent fever seized
him, and he ordered his sister's tomb to be opened for him, and himself to
be carried to the chapel of John the Baptist. Then, supported by his
disciples, he insisted on standing and receiving the holy _viaticum_, and
extending his arms and uttering his prayers, he died standing like a
sentinel at his post. His influence lasted a thousand years; his relics
were carefully guarded and taken to France. In the eleventh century one of
his bones was sent from France to Monte Cassino, and there received with
great enthusiasm.


Though Benedict was a great reformer of the monks by introducing
systematic labour into the spiritual life, and though his new order of
things began with so fair a promise and had done wonders, yet the monks
had by degrees yielded to the treacherous influences of fame, ease, and
wealth. The Benedictine monasteries were filled with scholars, whose
devotion was directed more to the preservation of classic texts than the
performance of the Divine office; with luxurious monks, strangers to
fasting and unused to vigils, revelling in the good things of life, and in
their rich revenues; then abbots were lords and rulers living in princely
state, and riding out on richly caparisoned palfreys. The old humility of
the monastic life was lost; they took part in state intrigues, dictated
laws to kings, shook the thrones of monarchs who had offended them, and
began to aspire after worldly power and dominion. At last St. Francis
arose in 1180, the founder of the Friars Minors, who discovered that there
was nothing in the world really great and thoroughly satisfactory except
poverty and self-humiliation, accompanied with efficient street preaching.
St. Dominic also about the same time introduced mendicancy, or the absence
of wealth, as part of the system of life. Yet in course of time both these
last systems broke down, long before the period of the Reformation.


When the Irish abbot Columban (who died 615) left the monastery of Bangor,
where he had been reared, he became at the age of thirty consumed with a
zeal to found a monastery of his own; and having obtained his abbot's
permission, he went off with twelve youths to France, and they betook
themselves to an immense wilderness in Vosges, and chose the ruins of an
old castle as a settlement. As the monks were obliged to till the
adjoining land, they at first suffered greatly from hunger. At one time
the monks had nothing to eat but the bark of trees and wild herbs; and
what made matters worse, one of their number was sick, and the others
could do nothing to relieve him. Three days they spent in prayer, seeking
relief for their sick brother, when suddenly they saw a man standing at
the door of the convent, whose horses were laden with sacks of provisions.
The man told them that he had felt an indescribable impulse to go and
assist with his means those who from love to Christ endured such
privations in the wilderness. Another time they had for nine days suffered
similar want, when the heart of another abbot moved him to send
provisions. When a foreign priest once visited them and expressed surprise
at their cheerfulness amid such trials, Columban only said, "If people
faithfully serve their Creator, they will suffer no want; for in the
Psalms it is said, 'I have never seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed
begging bread.' He who could satisfy five thousand men with five loaves
can easily fill our barns with meal."


When the Abbot Ebrolf settled with his monks in the seventh century in a
thick forest inhabited by wild beasts and robbers, one of the robbers,
struck with awe at the simplicity of the newcomers, said to them, "You
have not chosen a suitable place for yourselves. The inhabitants of this
forest live by robbery, and can endure nobody near them who seeks to
support himself by the labour of his hands. This is no place for you." The
monk answered, "Know, my brother, that the Lord is with us; and since we
are under His protection, we fear not the threatenings of men who can kill
the body, but cannot kill the soul. Know that He will supply His servants
abundantly with food even in a desert. And thou also, my friend, mayst be
a partaker of these riches, if thou wilt renounce thy evil vocation and
vow to serve the true and living God. Despair not of God's goodness on
account of the greatness of thy sins, but be assured the eyes of the Lord
are upon the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry, and the face
of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of
them from the earth." Upon this the robber departed, meditating upon these
words, which to him were so extraordinary. The next morning he hastened
back to the monks, carrying to the abbot a present, such as his poverty
could furnish, of three coarse loaves and a honeycomb, and professing his
willingness to join them and become a monk. After his example other
robbers were from time to time persuaded either to become monks or to
labour honestly for a livelihood with their own hands.


The monk Paul Diaconus was at Court in the time of King Rutchis (A.D.
744-749), and relates having himself seen that king after a banquet show
the famous goblet which Albuin had made of the skull of Cummund, King of
the Gepidi. As is known, Albuin had killed King Cummund in battle, and
afterwards married his daughter Rosamund, and used on solemn occasions to
drink out of his skull, which had been made into a cup. One day Albuin
commanded that the goblet should be handed to the Queen, calling upon her
to drink gaily with her father. This horrible outrage was at a later time
cruelly avenged by Rosamund. Paul Diaconus, on seeing the goblet and
remembering this brutal act of a former king, made this entry in his
memoirs: "Lest this should seem incredible to any, take note that I speak
the truth in Christ, for indeed I saw on a certain feast day King Rutchis
holding this cup in his hand and showing it to his guests."


Amid the growing demoralisation of monasteries, Benedict of Aniane, whose
original name was Witïza, when a boy, was cup-bearer in the Court of
Pepin, and continued with Charlemagne. In returning from Rome in 774, in
the retinue of that king, he narrowly escaped drowning in attempting to
save his brother. This turned his thoughts towards joining a monastery,
which he soon entered, and at once excelled in all the austerities. He
macerated his body by excessive fasting, clothed himself with rags, which
soon swarmed with vermin, slept little and on the bare ground, never
bathed, courted derision and insult like a madman, and expressed his fear
of hell in loud outcries. On the death of his abbot Benedict became his
successor, and built a little hermitage on the bank of the river Aniane.
Some monks tried to live with him, but found the regimen too severe;
others succeeded better. He and his monks resolved to build a monastery
between them. They had no oxen to drag the materials, and they did the
work themselves. The walls were of wood, the roof thatched with straw, the
vestments were coarse, the vessels of wood, but all of their own making.
They lived chiefly on bread and water, sometimes a little milk, and on
Sundays a scanty allowance of wine. Yet it was noticed that they soon
tended to greater luxury and splendour, for in 782 the wooden monastery
was replaced by one more solid--marble and decorations and costly vessels.
Charlemagne himself contributed, and exempted the building from all taxes;
and he appointed Benedict and two others to collect and recast the rules
of monasteries and nunneries. Benedict to the last helped to plough and
dig and reap, and died in 821, aged seventy.


When Benedict, Abbot of Aniane, in Languedoc, born in 750, left the Court
in early life, disgusted with its ways and bent on monastic labours,
thought of founding a new monastery, he found the system then in vogue
far too lax. He taught his monks to accustom themselves to earn a living
by their own industry, and then do the utmost good with their earnings.
When starving crowds came to his new settlement, he taught them to join in
storing all the grain that could be spared till next harvest, and each
made his portion support himself and supply a surplus, as a boon to the
needy ones outside. The monastery was also turned into an industrial
centre for library work. Louis the Pious thought so well of these
improvements in discipline, that he drew up a code in 817 on the same
principles, and circulated it throughout the Frankish Empire. Benedict
used to say, "If it seem to you impossible to observe many of the
commandments, then try only this one little commandment: 'Depart from evil
and learn to do good.'"


Paul Diaconus was for some time a monk at Monte Cassino, on the banks of
the Moselle, and was sent to the Court of Charlemagne to use influence to
obtain a pardon for his brother, then in banishment. The King treated him
well, and Paul thus wrote to Theodomar, the abbot: "Although my body is
separated by a vast distance, yet my affection for you can never suffer
any diminution, nor can I hope to express in a letter, and within the
brief limit of these lines, how constantly and profoundly I am moved by
the thought of your affection and that of my elders and brethren. For when
I consider the leisure, filled with sacred occupations, the delectable
refuge of my dwelling, your pious and holy dispositions--when I think of
the holy band of so many soldiers of Christ, zealous in all Divine
offices, and the shining examples of special excellence in particular
brethren, and the sweet converse we had on the perfections of our
celestial home--I tremble, I gaze, I languish, I cannot restrain my tears,
and my breast is rent with many sighs. I am living amongst Catholics and
followers of Christian worship. I am well received. All show me abundant
kindness for the love of our Father Benedict and for the sake of your own
merits. But compared to your convent, this palace is a prison in contrast
to the great serenity of your life; my life here seems only a continual
storm. I am only detained in this country by the weakness of my body, but
my whole soul goes out to you. Now I seem to be in the midst of your
Divine songs, now to be sitting with you in the refectory, where the
reading is even more satisfying than the bodily food. Now, methinks, I am
watching each at his own special work, now inquiring into the health of
the aged and sick, now wearing with my feet the tombs of the saints, who
are dear to me as heaven itself."


Fuller, in his "Church History," says that about 760 the bill of fare of
monks was bettered generally in England, and more liberally indulged in
their diet. It was first occasioned when Ceolwolphus, formerly King of
Northumberland, but then a monk in the convent of Lindisfarne, or Holy
Island, gave leave to that convent to drink ale and wine, anciently
confined by Aidan, their first founder, to milk and water. Let others
dispute whether Ceolwolphus thus dispensed with them by his new abbatical
or old regal power, which he so resigned that in some cases he might
resume it, especially to be king in his own convent. And indeed the cold,
raw, and bleak situation of that place, with many bitter blasts from the
sea and no shelter on the land, speaks itself to each inhabitant there.
This local privilege, first justly indulged to the monks of Lindisfarne,
was about this time extended to all the monasteries in England, whose
primitive over-austerity in abstinence was turned now into a
self-sufficiency that soon improved into plenty, that quickly depraved
into riot, and that at last occasioned their ruin.


The monasteries were growing rich in the time of Charlemagne, and he saw
many weak points in the system. He thought many made false professions of
withdrawing from the world and entering as monks merely to escape military
service. He therefore made an order in 805 that those who forsake the
world shall be obliged to live strictly as canons or monks according to
rule. In 811 the King censured the abbots as caring only to swell the
number of their monks, and to obtain good chanters and readers without
caring about their morals. He asked sarcastically how the monks and clergy
understood the text against entangling themselves with worldly affairs:
whether those could be said to have forsaken the world who were
incessantly striving to increase their possessions by all sorts of
means--who used the hopes of heaven and the terrors of hell, the names of
God and the saints, to extort gifts not only from the rich, but from the
poor and ignorant, and by diverting property from the lawful heirs drive
these to theft and robbery. "How," asked the King, "can they be said to
have forsaken the world who suborn perjury in order to acquire what they
covet, who keep what secular property they can get and surround themselves
with bands of armed men?" In that age abbots as well as bishops were
addicted to war, as well as hunting and hawking, to games of chance, and
to the society of minstrels and jesters. Gross immorality was winked at
among the recluses of both sexes. That state of things led to the
appearance of St. Benedict, a renowned reformer of monkish life (_ante_,
p. 212).


Duke William had well served Charlemagne and often routed the infidels,
but at last in 801 he resolved to retire from the world and be a monk in a
desert in the Cevennes. But he must first obtain the consent of his King,
and in seeking an interview he began: "My lord, you know how I have loved
you more than my life and the light of day. I have followed you in the
field and been always ready to lay down my life for you. Now I ask leave
to become a soldier of the Eternal King. I have long vowed to retire to a
monastery and renounce the world." At these words Charlemagne's eyes
overflowed with tears, and he said, "My Lord William, these are hard and
bitter words, which have wounded my heart; nevertheless, since it is
devout and reasonable, I will not oppose. If you had preferred the service
of any other mortal king, I might have felt it an injustice; but as you
wish to be a soldier of the King of angels, I consent. Only you must take
with you some gift as a token and memorial of our friendship." With these
words the King fell on his neck and wept bitter tears. William thereafter
returned to Aquitaine; and visiting the monastery of St. Julian, at
Brives, he deposited his arms as an offering to God. His buckler was long
shown there as a priceless possession, and its gigantic form and strength
long attracted all eyes. William then took the humble habit, and entered
the monastery of Gelon, comporting himself as the lowliest of the
brethren. He might be seen at harvest among the reapers, mounted on an
ass, carrying a vessel of wine, from which he refreshed each reaper. Thus
he who had so often given battle to the Saracens, and won renown among the
warriors of his age, gave himself up entirely to humble occupations and
works of charity.


When Alcuin, a monk, who died in 804, was called to the Court of
Charlemagne, he gave vent to his feelings thus: "O my cell, sweet and
well-beloved home, adieu for ever! I shall see no more the woods that
surround thee with their interlacing branches and flowery verdure, nor thy
fields full of wholesome and aromatic herbs, nor thy streams of fish, nor
thy orchards, nor thy gardens where the lily mingles with the rose. I
shall hear no more those birds, who, like ourselves, sing matins and
celebrate their Creator in their own fashion; nor those instructions of
sweet and holy wisdom, which sound in the same breath as the praises of
the Most High, from lips and hearts always serene. Dear cell! I shall weep
and mourn for thee always. But thus it is: everything changes and passes
away; night succeeds to day, winter to summer, storm to sunshine, weary
age to ardent youth. And we--unhappy that we are!--we cling to this
fugitive world. It is Thou, O Christ, that puttest all away, that we may
love Thee only, and Thou canst satisfy every heart."


Bishop Otho of Bamberg, the apostle of Pomerania, being asked in 1150 why
he founded and built so many monasteries, replied, citing the parable of
the Good Samaritan, thus: "The world is only a place of exile, and as long
as we live in it we are at a distance from our Lord. Therefore we need
inns and stables. Now, monasteries and cells are inns and stables. These
are then of great utility to us poor wanderers; and if we fall among
robbers and are stripped and wounded and left half dead, certainly we
shall find by experience how much better it is to be near an inn than at a
distance from one. For when sudden destruction comes upon us, how can we
be carried to a stable if it be far off? So it is much better that there
should be many such places than few, seeing how great is the danger, and
how large is the number of persons exposed to it. And now, especially that
men are so multiplied upon earth, it is not absurd that monasteries should
be multiplied, since the abundant population admits of numbers embracing a
chaste life. Finally, it is well to have these built, that in all things
God might be honoured and man assisted; and how great is the honour to God
and the utility to man which daily result from monasteries! The spiritual
is even greater than the temporal utility; for there the blind see, the
lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the dead are raised, and the poor have
the Gospel preached to them."


A convent or monastery as a place of residence for a religious community
was made up of various orders and degrees. There were cloister monks, lay
and clerical; the professed brethren, also lay and clerical; the clerks;
the novices; and the servants and artificers. There were recruits from
every rank of society--knights and ladies, scions of noble houses,
minstrels, and merchants. All were governed by the abbot, who was elected
by the community, who lived like a prince, and who had a separate
establishment within the precincts set apart for him. He administered the
property and enforced discipline, being also confessor to the monks. He
had his falconer and his forester, and his minstrels entertained company
and travellers. He had officers under him, such as the prior, precentor,
cellarer, sacrist, hospitaller, infirmarer, almoner, master of the
novices, porter, kitchener, seneschal, etc., according to the size of the
building; and these were usually elected by the convent and approved by
the abbot. Under the monastery were abbeys, or smaller establishments,
each governed by a prior, who had all the abbot's powers, except deposing
and consecrating, and he also had a separate chamber. The nucleus of a
monastery was the cloister court, a quadrangular space of greensward
surrounded by the cloister buildings, and a covered ambulatory went round
the four sides as a promenade for the monks. The church was the principal
building, and built in the form of a cross, with a nave and aisles. The
scriptorium was a large apartment, where much work was done in
transcribing books and illuminating them. The abbot kept open house in the
hospitium, and entertained travellers of every degree.


The following is Mr. Travers Hill's account, given in his "English
Monasticism," of the order of the day in the monastery at Glastonbury, and
which went on much the same for ten centuries: At 2 a.m. the bell tolled
for matins, when every monk arose, and, after performing his private
devotions, hastened to the church and took his seat. When all were
assembled, fifteen psalms were sung; then came the nocturn and more
psalms. A short interval ensued, during which the chanter, choir, and
those who needed it had permission to retire for a short time if they
wished; then followed lauds, which were generally finished by 6 a.m., when
the bell rang for prime. When this was finished, the monks continued
reading till 7 a.m., when the bell was rung and they retired to put on
their day-clothes. Afterwards the whole convent, having performed their
ablutions and broken their fast, proceeded again to the church, and the
bell was rung for tierce at 9 a.m. After tierce came the morning Mass,
and as soon as that was over they marched in procession to the
chapter-house for business and correction of faults. This ceremony over,
the monks worked or read till sext (12 a.m.), which service being
concluded, they dined. Then followed one hour's sleep in their clothes in
the dormitory, unless any of them preferred reading. Nones commenced at 3
p.m., first vespers at 4 p.m., then work or reading till second vespers at
7 p.m.; afterwards reading till collation; then came the service of
complin, confession of sins, evening prayers, and retirement to rest about
9 p.m.


The formalism of monkery was well displayed in the code drawn up by
Lanfranc, who was made Archbishop of Canterbury by William the Conqueror.
By this code the monks were to be called from their beds before daybreak,
and go in their night-clothes to the church to sing. Thence to the
cloister and hear the boys read till the bell tolls for them to put on
their shoes. They were to pass to the dormitory for their day-dress and to
the lavatory to wash. They were then to comb themselves, and when the
great bell sounded they were to enter the church to receive the holy
water. On the signal of another bell, they were to pray, and of another
bell to sing, and afterwards to proceed to the altar to say or hear Mass.
They were again to dress themselves and to return to the choir, to sit
there till the bell summoned them to the chapter-house. On another signal,
they were to resort to the refectory. After a certain hour no one was to
speak till the children left the monastery; then when the bell sounded
again, their shoes were to be taken off, their hands to be washed, and
they were to enter the church to repeat the Litany and to hear High Mass.
At another signal they were to go in procession. When the bell rang again,
they were to pray, and afterwards to revisit the refectory. Some were then
to sit in the choir, and those who liked might read. At a fresh signal the
nones were to be sung; similar tasks were to succeed again in allotted
order, till they were dismissed to their beds.


The officers in abbeys are, first, the abbot, who is supreme, and to whom
all the others owe obedience. Next is the prior or president, then the
subprior and lower officers. The gatehouse was the place where guests are
admitted. The refectory was the hall where the monks dine. The
_locutorium_ or parlour where leave was given to them to converse, there
being silence enforced in other parts. The oriel was a side-room where the
indisposed monks were allowed to dine. In the abbey church the cloisters
were the consecrated ground. The _navis ecclesiæ_ was the nave or body of
the church. The presbyterium was the raised choir on which the monks
chanted. The _vestiarium_ or vestry where the copes and clothes were
deposited. The century or sanctuary was the place where debtors took
refuge. The farm or grange was so called a _grana gerendo_--the overseer
whereof was called the prior of the grange. The abbot was a baron in the
English Parliament, and was summoned during and after the reign of Henry
III.; and so were priors of quality. In 49 Henry III. no less than
sixty-four abbots and thirty-six priors with the master of the Temple were
all summoned. In Edward III. they were reduced to twenty-six.
Gloucestershire was said to be fullest of monasteries, and Westmoreland
the freest from them. Shaftesbury had the richest nunnery.


Fuller, in his "Church History," says: "It is necessary to premise what
was the distinction between monks and friars. For though some will say the
matter is not much, if monks and friars were confounded together, yet the
distinguishing of them conduceth much to the clearing of history. Some
make monks the _genus_ and friars but the _species_, so that all friars
were monks, but _e contra_ all monks were not friars; others, that monks
were confined to their cloisters, whilst more liberty was allowed to
friars to go about and preach in neighbouring parishes. I see it is very
hard just to hit the joint, so as to cleave them asunder at an hair's
breadth, authors being so divided in their opinions. But the most
essential difference whereon we must confide is this--monks had nothing in
propriety (exclusive property), but all in common; friars had nothing in
propriety nor in common, but, being mendicants, begged all their substance
from the charity of others. True it is they had cells or houses to dwell
or rather hide themselves in, so the foxes have holes and the birds of the
air have nests; but all this went for nothing, seeing they had no means
belonging thereunto. Yea, it hath borne a tough debate betwixt them
whether a friar may be said to be owner of the clothes he weareth; and it
hath been for the most part overruled in the negative. Foresters laugh at
the ignorance of that gentleman who made the difference between a stag and
a hart that the one was a red, the other a fallow deer, being both of a
kind, only different in age and some other circumstances. Monks and friars
hate each other heartily."


In the time of Edward IV. a contest raged between the Begging Friars and
secular priests. Fuller, in his "Church History," says that "it was beheld
to be a most pestiferous doctrine that the friars so heightened the
perfection of begging that, according to their principles, all the
priesthood and prelacy in the land, yea by consequence the Pope himself,
did fall short of the sanctity of their order. Yet hard it was for them to
persuade his Holiness to quit Peter's patrimony and betake himself to
poverty, although a friar (Thomas Holden by name) did not blush to preach
at Paul's Cross that Christ Himself, as first founder of their society,
was a beggar--a manifest untruth, and easily confuted out of Scripture.
For vast the difference betwixt begging and taking what the bounty of
others doth freely confer, as our Saviour did from such who ministered
unto Him of their substance (Luke viii. 3). After zealous preachings and
disputings, Pope Paul II. interposed, concluding that it was a damnable
heresy to say that Christ publicly begged, whereon the mendicants let the
controversy sink into silence never more to be revived."


The enmity between the Franciscans and Dominicans was notorious. A friar
of each order came at the same time to the side of a brook, which it was
necessary to ford, and the Dominican requested the Franciscan to carry him
across, as he was barefooted, and must otherwise undress. The Franciscan
took him on his shoulders and carried him to the middle; then suddenly
stopped and asked if he had any money with him. "Only two reals," replied
the Dominican. "Excuse me then, father," said the Franciscan; "you know my
vow--I cannot carry money." And in he dropped him. It is stated in
Surtees' "History of Durham" (vol. i., p. 42): "The monks well knew how
impossible it was to preserve peace betwixt two bodies of ecclesiastics
having property contiguous to each other, and therefore wisely provided in
most of their grants that neither their feoffees nor tenants should lease
or alienate to Jews, nor to any religious house save their own."


The chronicler Matthew Paris says that in 1207 the preachers who were
called Minors arose under the favour of Pope Innocent and filled the
earth, dwelling in towns and cities in bodies of ten or seven, possessing
nothing whatever, living on the Gospel, displaying a true and voluntary
poverty in their clothes and food, walking barefoot, girded with knotted
ropes, and showing a noble example of humility to all men. But they caused
great alarm to many of the prelates because they began to weaken their
authority--first of all by their preaching and secret confessions of
penitents, afterwards by their open receptions.


It is related among the wise sayings of Antony the hermit and others, that
a monk of Mount Sinai, finding his brethren working, said, "Why labour for
the meat which perisheth? Mary chose the good part." On hearing this the
abbot ordered the monk to be put in his cell, and when the dinner-bell
rang the monk was not called, which made the monk ask the reason why. The
abbot replied, "Thou art a spiritual man, and needest not food. We are
carnal, and must eat because we work; but thou hast chosen the better
part." The monk was then rather ashamed of his brave resolution. Another
monk, John the dwarf, also wanted to be "without care, like the angels,
doing nothing but praising God." So he threw away his cloak, left his
brother the abbot, and went into the desert. But after seven days he came
back and knocked at the door. "Who is there?" asked his brother. "John."
"Nay, John is turned into an angel and is no more among men." So he left
John outside all night; and in the morning gave John to understand that,
if he was a man, he must work; but that if he was an angel, he had no need
to live in a cell.


In 632 St. Rusticule, abbess of the convent of St. Cesarius at Arles,
died, and her last illness is thus related: "It happened on a certain
Friday that after singing vespers as usual with her nuns, finding herself
fatigued, she exceeded her strength in making the usual reading. She knew
that she was shortly to pass to the Lord. On the Saturday morning she felt
cold and lost the use of her limbs. Lying down on a little bed, she was
seized with fever; but she never ceased praising God with her eyes raised
to heaven. She commended to Him her daughters, whom she was about to leave
orphans, and with a firm mind she comforted those who wept around her. She
found herself still worse on Sunday; and as it was her custom that her
bed should only be made once a year, the servants of God begged permission
to give her a softer bed, but she would not consent. On Monday, which was
the day of St. Laurence, she lost all strength, and her breathing became
difficult. At this sight the sad virgins of Christ poured forth tears and
sighs. It being the third hour of the day, as the congregation in its
affliction repeated the Psalms in silence, the holy mother in displeasure
asked, 'Why do I not hear the chanting of psalmody?' The nuns replied that
they could not sing through grief. 'Do sing still louder,' she replied,
'in order that I may receive the benefit of it, for it is very sweet for
me to hear it.' The next day her body had lost the power of motion, but
her eyes preserved their lustre and shone like stars. Looking on all
sides, and not being able to speak, she made signs with her hand that they
should cease weeping and be comforted. When one of the sisters felt her
feet, she said it was not yet time; but shortly after, at the sixth hour
of the day, with a serene countenance and eyes that seemed to smile, this
glorious and blessed soul passed to heaven and joined the innumerable
choir of saints."


When St. Hilda was abbess of Whitby, about 660, the rustics used to have
their beer-parties, at which they sang or recited warlike songs, turn
about, to the accompaniment of the harp. One of the rustics, when the harp
was passed round to him in his turn, confessed he could not sing, and left
the company covered with shame and confusion. That night he lay in his
cattle-shed and had a dream. Some one approached him and said, "Cædmon,
sing me something." He said he could not, and that was the reason of his
leaving the party; but the visitor said he knew better, and insisted that
Cædmon should sing, and sing then and there of the Creation. Whereupon in
his sleep he sang some verses. On waking he remembered the verses, and
told the bailiff what had happened. All who heard the verses believed he
was inspired, and suggested to him fresh subjects, and he immediately
turned them into sacred songs equally impressive. The abbess hearing of
this, told Cædmon to become a monk and learn sacred history, which he did.
He soon became famous for his extemporaneous versifications of all kinds
of sacred subjects, such as the Resurrection, the future judgment, the
Passion, and the heavenly kingdom. He is now known as the father of
English poetry, and the metrical paraphrase now extant and known as
"Cædmon" is a singularly graphic description of sacred scenes. He was the
wonder of his time for this gift of song, and lived long among the monks
of Whitby. He was cheery in his talk; and when he drew near his end, he
asked them to bring the Housel, which he took into his hands, and solemnly
said he had friendly disposition towards all God's servants. The monks
wondered what he meant. He asked them how long it would be before the
brethren would be awakened for nocturnal lauds. On being answered he said,
"Good; let us wait for that hour." They waited; he then signed himself
with the cross, lay back on his pillow, and died amid the music of the
sacred hymns he loved so well.


Alcuin (who died 804), when a boy of eleven and devoted to the church, was
one night sent by the schoolmaster of the monastery at the request of a
lay brother who was left alone in charge of the building to go up and
sleep there that night as some company to the brother. They retired to
rest; and when it was about cock-crowing, they were awoke by the signal
for service. The rustic monk only turned in his bed, and went to sleep
again. Not so Alcuin, who soon perceived that the room was full of demons.
They surrounded the bed of the sleeping monk, and cried, "You sleep well,
brother!" He at once awoke, and they called out, "Why do you alone lie
snoring here, while all your brethren are watching in the church?" And
they belaboured him heavily as a warning. Meanwhile Alcuin lay trembling
under the impression that his turn would come next, and ejaculated to
himself that if he were only delivered he would never again love Virgil
more than the melody of Psalms. The demons, after punishing the monk, then
looked about, and found the boy completely covered up in his bedclothes,
panting and almost senseless. On seeing himself discovered, he burst into
tears and screamed, whereupon his avengers consulted together, and after a
little resolved that they would not beat him, but would turn up the
clothes at the foot of the bed and cut his corns, by way of making him
remember his promise. The clothes were no sooner touched than Alcuin
jumped up, crossed himself, and sang the 12th Psalm with all his might;
the demons thereupon vanished, and he and his companion set off to church
for safety.


Theodoric, abbot of St. Evroult, in Normandy, about 1040 used to lecture
his monks and warn them against idleness, and told them this story:
"There was a monk in a certain monastery who was guilty of many
transgressions against its rules; but he was a transcriber; and being
devoted to that work, he of his own accord wrote out an enormous volume of
the Divine law. After his death his soul was brought before the tribunal
of the just Judge for judgment. And when the evil spirits sharply accused
him, and brought forward his innumerable crimes, the holy angels on the
other hand showed the book which that monk had written in the house of
God, and counted up the letters of that enormous volume as a set-off
against the like number of sins. At length the letters had a majority of
only one, against which, however, the demons in vain attempted to object
any sin. The clemency of the Judge therefore spared the monk, commanded
his soul to return to his body, and mercifully granted him space for
reformation of his life. Frequently think of this, dear brethren; cleanse
your hearts from vain and noxious desires; constantly offer the sacrifice
of the works of your hands to the Lord God. Shun idleness with all your
power. Frequently consider that only one devil tempts a monk who is
employed in any good occupation, while a thousand devils attack him who is
idle. Pray, read, chant, write, and employ yourselves, and wisely arm
yourselves against the temptations of evil spirits."


At the critical epoch when the Emperor and Pope were at war, two abbots
living twenty miles apart took opposite sides. The monastery of St. Gall,
on Lake Constance, founded about 650, was ruled about 1077 by Ulric of
Eppinstein as abbot, who took the side of the Emperor; while Eckard, abbot
of Reichnau, took the side of the Pope. Ulric was a man of polished
manners, versed in the ways of the world, as fit to lead an army as to
wield the crosier, of great wealth, and with a host of retainers. He was a
little king, at the head of the richest abbey in Europe. The monastery
was, however, exposed, being merely the centre of a large village; while
Reichnau was on an island, with strong fortifications and safe from
attack. For fifteen years the two monasteries were at feud, each seeking
occasion to take advantage and overcome its opponent, and engaged in
constant skirmishes. Each of the abbots was proud, ambitious, and eager to
crush his enemy. The abbot of Reichnau one day tried to draw Ulric, and
advanced almost to the gates, but failed to bring on an engagement. After
long fencing, a traitor was found in the abbey of Reichnau. As the abbot
of Reichnau was making a journey to obtain a personal interview with the
Pope, the Emperor's troops captured him, and kept him in prison for two
years, and a report was circulated of his death. The Emperor then
conferred the vacant abbey on Ulric, as a recompense for his eminent
services. A friendly duke then seized the opportunity of getting charge of
St. Gall and appropriating its revenues. The abbot of Reichnau, on
obtaining his freedom from prison, resumed the warfare; but after many
intricate turns of affairs a peace was at last concluded in 1094, and put
an end to the long series of skirmishes, battles, conflagrations, sieges,
and plunderings between these two belligerents.


In 1083 Roger de Hoveden says that a disgraceful quarrel arose between the
monks and the Abbot Turstin of Glastonbury, who had been most unworthily
appointed to his office. In his folly he treated the Gregorian chant with
contempt, and wanted to force the monks to learn instead the chant of one
William of Feschamp. The monks were averse to the change; but one day
Turstin rushed unexpectedly into the chapter-house with a body of
soldiers. The monks fled into the church and to the altar, and the
soldiers pursued them, piercing the crosses, images, and shrines of the
saints with darts and arrows, and even speared a monk while embracing the
altar. The monks stoutly defended themselves with the benches and
candlesticks; and though grievously wounded, at last drove the soldiers
beyond the choir. The result was that two monks were killed and fourteen
wounded, and some of the soldiers also were wounded. On investigation the
King removed the abbot, and some of the monks also were transferred to
other abbeys. The abbot afterwards wandered about, and died in misery, as
became a homicide.


In 1136 we are told by Orderic, a contemporary, that a famous archer,
Robert Boet, with his banditti, rushed like wolves on their prey and
ravaged the lands of his fellow-monks of St. Evroult. The people of the
neighbouring bourg were so incensed that they caught and hanged six of the
gang. But the other robbers came soon after, in great fury, to take
revenge, and set fire to the village, burning eighty-four houses to ashes.
The monks, in a paroxysm of terror, tolled the bells and chanted psalms
and litanies in the church, fearing that instant ruin threatened the
monastery. Some of the monks went forth with tears to entreat the
assailants to desist, and lawful satisfaction would be given; but the
bandits, maddened with fury and blind with rage, insulted the envoys and
dragged them from their palfreys, and fired the houses near the church. It
was only through God's mercy that the wind changed at the right moment and
drove the flames in another direction. The monks' lodgings, with the books
and ecclesiastical ornaments, were saved. It was noticed that after
sacking the village of St. Evroult no enterprise of those robbers against
their enemies prospered. On the contrary, by God's judgment, they suffered
frequent losses, some of their gang being slain and others taken
prisoners. It was but just that those who had attacked unarmed and
inoffensive people, whom no fear of God induced them to spare, should meet
with the derision of stronger and well-trained troops, by whose
superiority they were soon brought low.


In the time of Philip, King of France, the venerable abbot Robert of
Moleme assembled some devoted disciples, and agreed that they did not
live, as they ought, in holy poverty, and procure food and raiment by the
labour of their hands. But the convent of monks did not agree with this
view, and said that they must wear garments suited to the climate of their
own convent. The men in cold climates must wear trousers, and could not go
about like women, with loose robes reaching to the ankles. Manual labour
was very well, but it was wholly incompatible with constant meditation and
profitable silence, or with chanting day and night the Psalms of David.
They objected to all innovations. Therefore the abbot and twelve monks
withdrew; and having received a gift from the Duke of Burgundy, built a
monastery at Citeaux in the diocese of Chalons, and lived there in strict
rule. But the Pope being referred to, ordered the Abbot Robert to return
to Moleme, which he did, and a substitute was appointed to be abbot of
Citeaux. The impulse given by Abbot Robert at Citeaux drew there a great
concourse of monks, and sixty-five monasteries were soon after founded,
all subject to the superior abbot of Citeaux. The monks of the Cistercian
order wear neither trousers nor robes of fur, abstain from fat and flesh
meat, maintain perpetual silence, and labour with their own hands for
their food and raiment. From September 13th to Easter they fast every day
except Sunday; their doors are always shut close; they bury themselves in
profound secrecy, admitting no monks belonging to any other religious
house into their cells, nor allowing them to be present in the chapel at
Mass or other Divine offices. Multitudes of noble champions and learned
men join their society from the novelty of its institution, and rejoice to
chant triumphant anthems to Christ in the right way.


In the records of the church of Durham it is written that when any monk
died there he was dressed in his cowl and habit, and boots were put on his
legs, and immediately he was carried to a chamber called the dead man's
chamber, where he remained till night. At night he was removed thence into
St. Andrew's Chapel, adjoining to the same chamber, and there the body
remained till eight o'clock in the morning. The night before the funeral
two monks, either in kindred or kindness nearest to him, were appointed by
the prior to be especial mourners, sitting all night on their knees at the
dead man's feet. Then were the children of the ambry, sitting on their
knees in stalls on either side of the corpse, appointed to read David's
Psalter all night through incessantly till eight in the morning, when the
body was conveyed to the chapter-house, where the prior and the whole
convent met it, and there did say their dirge and devotion; and then the
dead corpse was carried by the monks into the centry-garth, where it was
buried, and there was but one peal rung for him. The body of St. Francis
is placed in a vault under the marble vault in the great church at Assisi,
and it is in an upright position, and the vault has a small opening,
through which one may look and see a lamp burning. In the convent of the
Poor Clares at Assisi, in a vault under the high altar, lies the body of
St. Clare, with a lamp burning in front of the opening over it.


When a monk was sick and in prospect of death, a servant brother was
appointed, who should have nothing else to do but to tend him day and
night. The cross was placed before his face, and every night a wax taper
was kept burning by his side until broad day. Other monks were allowed to
be in attendance on him, in order to sing the regular hours and to read
the Passion in his extremity. The experienced servants were to watch the
proper moment, and to spread the ashes and gently to place the sick man
upon them, and then to give a signal by striking the door of the
cloister, when all the brethren were to run to the chamber, for this was
one of the two occasions when it was permitted to them to depart from
their usual measured pace, the other being in the event of fire. If Mass
should be celebrating or any regular office, all who were without the
choir were to hasten, and those within were to remain. If the monks were
in the refectory, the reading was to be instantly suspended, and the monks
were to haston. The Litany was then to be chanted and the prayers,
according to the progress of his agony. The custom of showing penitence by
spreading ashes was well observed. Thus at the death of St. Martin, who
desired it, sackcloth was spread on the ground, and ashes were strewed
upon it in form of a cross, and the assistants gently laid his dying body
upon it. The monk of St. Denis says that Louis IX. gave up the ghost on
sackcloth and ashes, and with his arms composed in the form of a cross.
When the Maid of Orleans asked at her death for a crucifix and none was at
hand, an Englishman broke a stick in two parts and made a cross, whereupon
the maid kissed it, pressed it to her bosom, and mounted the martyr's


St. Bonaventura explains it thus: "It may be asked why do monks and friars
honour rich men more than poor, serving them more promptly in confessions
and other things? God has care of all men alike; therefore we ought to
love all men alike. If the poor man be better than the rich, we should
love him more, and yet we must honour the rich more for four reasons.
First, because God in this world has given pre-eminence to the rich and
powerful; and therefore we conform to His ordination in honouring them so
far as relates to this order. Secondly, because of the infirmity of the
rich, who, if they are not honoured, grow indignant, and so become more
infirm and worse, and a burden to us and to other poor; whereas we ought
not to be a scandal to the weak and a cause of their becoming weaker
still, but should rather provoke them to good. Thirdly, because a greater
utility results from the correction of one rich man than of many poor; for
a rich man's conversion is of advantage to many in several respects.
Fourthly, since we receive more corporeal support from the rich, it is but
just that we should repay them spiritually. Besides, the affairs of the
poor are more easily expedited, because they are not bound by so many ties
nor involved in so many perplexities which require counsel oftener."


One of the narratives told by monks about the year 1199, according to
Cæsar of Heisterback, was this: Two citizens of Cologne confessed in Lent
that they were guilty of lying and perjury, but then that they could not
sell anything without both. The priest thereupon reproved them, and
strongly recommended them just to try for one year to do without lying.
They did agree; but Satan having found out their plan, contrived that
nobody should enter their shops; and the tradesmen returned and reported
that their obedience had cost them dear, and that really they could not
carry on their business that way at all. The priest, however, reassured
them once more, telling them that they should really resolve never to
offend God this way, whatever might be the consequence. They made this
solemn promise; and, strange to relate, from that hour people flocked to
their shops, and they soon prospered exceedingly. Another narrative was
about one Rocherus, a high dignitary in the church at Magdeburg, who was
playing at chess, when a servant boy entered and whispered to the butler
that a poor sick woman was at the gate, and sent him to beg just a little
wine. Rocherus overhearing this, ordered that some wine should be given to
her; but the butler said there was none unless he opened a new cask.
Rocherus ordered him at once to open one for the purpose; but the butler,
going out, pretended only to comply, and sent away the messenger empty.
Scarcely had two hours elapsed when the church bells tolled for a death;
and on Rocherus making strict inquiry, and finding that it was the poor
woman who asked for wine, and who had not been supplied with any, he
summoned the butler to appear, and, boiling with indignation, commanded
him instantly to empty the entire hogshead of wine on the ground,
declaring that he would never make use of that of which a part had been
refused to one of Christ's poor. He also dismissed the man, and forbade
him ever again to enter his presence.


Pope Paul IV., on his election to the papal chair in 1555, being mindful
of his ancient friendship for Jerome Suessanus, the hermit of Monte
Corona, sent orders to him to come to Rome. The obedient hermit arrived,
and was joyfully welcomed; but the Pope, raising him up, said, "What
garment is this, Jerome? It is too mean. You must lay it aside." "Nay,
holy father," said Jerome; "when clad in this habit I can walk more
easily amid the oaks and brushwood; nor would any other be suitable to a
penitent." "Oh, but," said the Pope, "you shall be no longer in the woods
and desert; you shall remain here with us, and from a hermit become a
cardinal." The hermit at once fell prostrate on the earth, and with tears
implored the Pontiff not to think of executing such a resolution,
declaring that he knew of no happiness beyond the solitude of the desert.
The Pope admitted, on reflection, that it would be grievous to press him
further; so the holy man returned in triumph to his cell in the woods.


The thirteenth century saw the rise of a new class of religious orders,
actuated by different views from monachism. The basis of monkery was
entire seclusion from the world and its busy ways, in order to fix the
mind on holy contemplations, and hence monasteries were built in wilds and
deserts. The friars thought they could improve their usefulness by mixing
with mankind and helping them by active duties. Hence they established
their houses in or near great towns, and acted like home missionaries,
teaching and preaching; and they cultivated science as well as religion.
There soon grew up four leading orders of friars--Dominicans, Franciscans,
Carmelites, and Augustines. The Dominicans laid themselves out for
converting heretics; the Franciscans for preaching the Gospel and
promoting charity; the Carmelites originated at Mount Carmel, in
Palestine; the Augustines were called Austin Friars. The friars renounced
property, and resolved to work for a livelihood or live on alms; and they
were called the Pope's Militia.


St. Basil relates that in a female convent at Tabennes, in Egypt, one of
the sisters was treated by all the rest as the fool of the convent, and
made to wash up the dishes and do the humblest menial work. And to crown
the contempt shown towards her, she was made to wear a turban of patchwork
and a dress of rags. She was never seen to sit at table and join in meals.
Yet she never complained nor uttered a reproach. A holy man named Pyoterus
lived not far from the convent, and one night an angel appeared and bade
him go and visit a sister in the convent who wore a turban as a headdress.
"That sister," said the angel, "is holier than thou art. Though always in
tribulation both night and day, she is always mindful of God, and never
troubled in mind, as you are." Pyoterus went to the convent and asked to
see the sisters. All were brought and presented to him. But he said, "One
is still missing." "Nay, holy father," said the abbess, "all are here,
except the poor scullion, who is a fool." "Let me see her," said the
hermit. Then Isidora was brought; whereupon Pyoterus fell at her feet and
exclaimed, "Bless me, my sister, beloved of the Lord." The four hundred
sisters were astounded at this spectacle; but Pyoterus said to them, "Pray
that you may find as much favour in the day of judgment as this despised
one. I tell you the Lord hath said you think yourselves wise, but it would
be well if you were as wise as this fool." So saying, he left the convent.
The treatment afterwards bestowed on Isidora caused her to leave the
convent altogether.


About 1139, says Robert Manning, of Brine, St. Gilbert established a
priory at Sempringham, in Lincolnshire, for poor maidens. At first these
were served only by poor maids; but soon lay brothers did that duty, and
priests ministered to them. The two sexes lived within the same enclosure,
but were separated by a high wall, with a small hole of a window to pass
food and necessaries. On high feast days both sexes met in the church of
the nuns, but they were separated by a cloth. All the food was prepared by
the nuns and the sisters, and passed through the small window. When the
priests entered the nuns' house, they were to be accompanied by a number
of persons, and the nuns were to have their faces covered in their
presence. No gossiping or talebearing was allowed. The lay brothers were
never to enter the nuns' enclosure save in case of fire, thieves, etc. The
nuns and sisters washed the linen of the canons, but not of the lay
brothers, who had to do their own. The women were permitted to sew for the
men, but not to cut out, make, or mend their breeches for them. The head
prioress and nuns, on their annual journey round the nuns' houses, were to
have an escort of a canon and a lay brother to protect them and supply
necessaries. There was to be no more conversation between them than was
absolutely necessary, and the men were enjoined to retire to a respectful
distance whenever the women had to descend from their travelling waggon.
On journeys the women were never to lodge in the same houses as the men,
if it could possibly be helped. Disorderly monks were expelled, and
disorderly nuns were shut up in a little hut separate from the rest,
there to repent till death released them. In the priory no flesh was
allowed: beer was the only liquor allowed; and if it ran short, wine might
be used if well watered. In the management of the farms, where milkmaids
and reapers were hired, no lay brother was allowed to speak except in
presence of witnesses. And young and pretty women were to be especially
shunned. The lay brothers were not allowed any books, and learned only the
Paternoster, the Credo, the Miserere, and other necessary prayers.


St. Waltheof was a son of the Earl of Northumberland, and died about 1160.
He became a monk and entered a monastery in Lincolnshire. He was most
vigorous and scrupulous in his habits. One day, riding with the abbot, he
was pestered by a horsefly, and often flapped it away with his sleeve,
till at last in a fit of anger he gave a violent snap and killed it. At
this fatal turn of affairs he immediately dismounted and flung himself
prostrate before the dead fly, and in presence of the abbot confessed his
sin in thus killing a creature of God, which he was unable to restore to
life again. The abbot smiled benignly, and imposed a very light penance
for the offence. St. Benno, born at Hildesheim and Bishop of Meissen, was
an enthusiastic reviver of church music. When the Pope excommunicated his
king, Benno ordered two of his canons to throw the keys of his minster
into the river Elbe. He was intensely conscientious and mindful of the
feelings of others. One evening, as he was walking in the fields near
Meissen, meditating and praying, he was disturbed by the croaking of the
frogs. He angrily bade them be silent, and they obeyed. But he had not
gone far when his conscience smote him. He repeated to himself the verse,
"O ye whales and all that move in the waters, bless ye the Lord." Then
overwhelmed with shame, as the thought occurred to him that perhaps the
praises of the poor frogs might be as acceptable as his own to the great
Creator, he returned to the marsh and said aloud, "O ye frogs, sing on to
the Lord your song of thanksgiving." This good bishop died in 1106.


By the twelfth century the status of monk was beginning to deteriorate.
The fine theories on which it started lost hold, and demoralisation was
setting in. The loose way of admitting all and sundry led to a difficulty
in keeping strict control. It used to be said they began to steal each
other's clothes and cups and little articles of property. It is said that
in the abbey of St. Tron, about 1200, each monk had a locked cupboard
behind his seat in the refectory, wherein he carefully secured his napkin,
spoon, cup, and dish. Even the bedclothes were not safe. Then so many went
about traversing every corner of Christendom, bearded and tonsured and
wearing the religious habit, living by begging and imposture, and peddling
false relics, that the very name of monk became a term of contempt. Yet
William of Newburgh says that under Stephen's short reign (1135-1154) more
monasteries were founded in England than during the hundred years


About 1297 a convent was established at Little Basle called the Sisters of
Klurgenthal, who during the next century acquired great reputation, not so
much from the austerity of their rules as for their wealthy connections
among all the nobles of the district. The prior of a Dominican monastery
in Basle was the advocate of the sisterhood; but they had long felt this a
grievous burden, and they resolved to get rid of the interference of the
monks. About 1430, one day, the friar called, when they barred him out,
and let him know he need not show his face again within the house. The
indignant monks then spread abroad rumours of the luxurious dresses,
habits, and loose living of the sisters, and even slandered their
characters and invoked the interference of the Pope to put down the
scandal thereby created. The Pope sent commissioners, who felt it their
duty to hold a solemn inquiry into the allegations against their
dissipated and ungodly lives. The ladies demurely listened to the papal
commissioner, and then retired without saying a word; but a few minutes
later they each and all returned, armed with every kitchen implement they
could find, and belaboured right and left the commissioners, who in their
terror fled, leaving the papal bull behind them, and with their clothes
torn off their backs. This appalling treason shocked the papal
authorities, who ordered the sisters to be expelled and stripped of their
possessions. One or two of the sisters who professed to be shocked at
their companions begged to be allowed to remain till they could get their
things put together; and during this interval, which was extended on one
pretext or another to months, they appealed to their noble cousins,
brothers, and relatives to come to their rescue, and they even procured
the support of the Emperor to their claims. The nobles did so, and with a
large body of retainers so contrived that the Pope had to consent to an
arbitration to settle all matters in difference with the jealous and
rapacious monks who longed to succeed to the nuns' possessions. So
skilfully was the rest of the war directed on the part of the nuns that
they practically reversed the adverse judgment, and were restored to all
that they had lost, returning with pomp like deposed queens, and they
became more powerful and kept up a more brilliant establishment than ever.


It is related by Ruffinus that a monk was in the habit of coming to the
cell of a holy anchorite and secretly stealing his food; and although the
latter knew of it, still, in order to subdue himself, he made as if he
perceived him not, and exerted himself to work more diligently in order to
repair his loss. He thus reasoned with himself: "God hath sent me
aforetime that which I needed, and this brother too will be a blessing to
me." And having sustained this tribulation a long time, his strength
failed, and he was dying. And many brethren stood around looking upon him;
and seeing among them the brother who had for so long a time stolen his
bread, he called him to his side and kissed his hands, and said before
them all, "I render thanks to these hands, my brethren, for by means of
them I trust to enter Paradise." On hearing and understanding this, that
brother took shame to himself, and was touched with remorse, changed his
life, did heavy penance for his sins, and became a perfect monk through
the example of the holy father who had died.


When the Monothelite heresy arose and disturbed the Church--namely, the
doctrine that Christ had only one will, though He had the human and
Godlike natures separate--the sixth general council of the Church was held
at Constantinople in 680 to settle it. A monk named Polychronius, and a
resolute Monothelite, rose and challenged the council to put the doctrine
to the test of a miracle. He proposed to lay his creed on a dead body: if
the dead rose not, he surrendered himself to the will of the Emperor. A
body accordingly was brought into a neighbouring bath. The Emperor, the
ministers, the whole council, and a wondering multitude adjourned to this
place. Polychronius presented a sealed paper, which was opened and read;
it declared his creed, and that he had been commanded in a vision to
hasten to Constantinople to prevent the Emperor from establishing heresy.
The paper was laid on the corpse; Polychronius sat whispering into its
ear; and the patient assembly awaited the issue for some hours. But the
obstinate dead would not come to life. A unanimous anathema was then
pronounced, condemning Polychronius as a heretic and deceiver; and he was
degraded from his functions. The council then anathematised all round who
thereafter disbelieved the doctrine that there were two wills and two
operations in Christ's nature.


The monk Severinus, in the fifth century, was asked to intercede for some
Roman subjects who were condemned to hard labour by Gisa, Queen of the
Rugii. She made an angry answer, and bade the monk to be gone to his cell
to his prayers, and not presume to interfere with her doing as she pleased
with her own prisoners. Not long afterwards she issued harsh orders to
some goldsmiths who were imprisoned, and compelled to work beyond their
strength, in order to complete some royal ornaments which she required. By
accident her little son one day strayed into the prison, whereupon the
prisoners seized him and threatened that, as they were tired of life and
reckless of consequences, they would first kill the child and then
themselves, unless some royal messenger was sent to assure them of their
immediate release. The Queen, filled with alarm, was conscience-struck,
and acknowledged the Divine retribution thus prepared for her. She acceded
to the prisoners' demands, and not only released the men, but she sent to
Severinus to entreat his forgiveness for the way in which she had
neglected his admonitions.


The order of Carthusian monks had the credit of having, the most strictly
of all the orders, adhered to its rules for some six hundred years. One of
the rules, that each monk was to be bled five times a year--which modern
science, however, shuns--must have been founded on some misapprehension.
The astute manner in which this order acquired a gift of land in Paris has
been recorded as follows: St. Louis had given the order a house at Paris,
from the windows of which they saw another more extensive and convenient
mansion and site in the neighbourhood. Soon afterwards this house opposite
was found to be haunted by spirits and goblins, which made a great noise
in the night, rattling their chains, and sending forth the most horrid
yells and groans. Amongst other hideous things a green monster appeared
every night, with a large white beard, half man and half serpent,
terrifying all the passengers and neighbourhood. What was to be done with
this intolerable nuisance? The pious monarch gave the house to the
Carthusians, after which no more noises were heard and no more spectres
appeared; but the street in which the house was situated was long known as
Hell-fire Street, which name it bore in St. Foix's time.


It is related by Audin, in his Life of Luther, that on the eve of Palm
Sunday Luther arrived at Erfurth and descended at the convent of the
Augustines, where a few years before he had taken the habit. It was
nightfall; a little wooden cross over the tomb of a brother whom he had
known, and who had lately departed sweetly to the Lord, struck his
attention and troubled his soul. He was himself no longer the poor friar
travelling on foot and begging his bread. His power equalled that of
Charles V., and all men had their eyes on him. That morning, on his march,
he had sung the famous war hymn, which Heyne compares to the Marseillaise,
and the Emperor was about to resist him, as he said in his imperial
rescript, "though at the peril of his own blood, of his dignity, and of
the fortune of the empire." The triumphant innovator was recalled to
himself for an instant by seeing the tomb of a faithful brother. He
pointed it out to Doctor Jonas. "See, there he rests; and I----" He could
not finish. After a little while he returned to it and sat down on the
stone, where he remained more than an hour, and till Amsdorf was obliged
to remind him that the convent bell had tolled the hour for sleep. Well
might the heart in which such tempests were still gathering have wept at
the image of that quiet grave.


Cassiodorus, a most accomplished and high-born youth, became prime
minister to Odoacer and then to Theodoric; but on the downfall of the
Ostrogoths he become tired of diplomacy, and at seventy years of age
retired and founded the monastery of Viviers about 527, at the foot of
Mount Moscius. He was not satisfied with the usual occupations of monastic
life; and having always been devoted to the pursuit of learning and
science, he sought to distinguish his monastery from the others by making
it the asylum of literature and the arts. He endowed the institution with
his Roman library, containing the accumulations of half a century. Not
only were the monks incited by his example to the study of classical and
sacred literature, but he trained them likewise to the art of carefully
transcribing manuscripts of rare and precious works. He introduced also
the arts of bookbinding, gardening, and medicine. He employed much of his
own spare time also in the composition of scientific treatises, and in
making clocks, sundials, and lamps. His mode of arranging the occupations
of monks became known as a system, and was adopted beyond the boundaries
of Italy; and thus the multiplication of manuscripts became a recognised
employment, like prayer and fasting. He is said to have lived to be a
hundred years old, and left several interesting works of his own on sacred


The early Christians had great difficulty in obtaining knowledge of the
Scriptures, though it was the duty of the bishops and priests and deacons
to read these as part of the service. And the want of printing was a great
drawback to the circulation of every kind of book knowledge at the
fireside. But the Lives of the Saints were the favourites, and the most
keenly sought after from the sixth to the sixteenth century. Many of the
biographies were written by some friend or pupil of the deceased person,
and still remain most graphic pictures of the habits of the age. The
ingenuity of the authors, when they lived long after their hero, was taxed
in order to crowd into the narrative every incident which could sustain
the craving for the marvellous and romantic, and these were the inventions
of the composer. The Lives were written in the language of the people, and
the supply seemed to be equal to the demand. They moulded the creed of all
the common people, and the artists embodied them in endless forms in
stained windows, mosaics, and pictures. So wonderful were the works
usually recorded that they not only arrested the ear at once, but they
became so blended and intermixed with history, that it is almost
impossible to separate the fact from the fiction. Many of the details seem
purposeless in their absurdity; while a few are well narrated and so
probable that they were implicitly believed by all who enrolled themselves
among the faithful.


The monastery of St. Gall, in Switzerland, which rose to be one of the
chief religious houses in the Frankish Empire in 816-883, had a fine
library and scriptorium, where the monks excelled in copying manuscripts
and illuminating them. The monks sat daily in perfect silence at
writing-tables, copying the works of the Fathers and the Bible. They often
wrote marginal notes, giving vent to their wants and desires of the
moment. Each house had its peculiar style of penmanship. In the time of
the Abbot Hartmut, about 870, there were three famous monks at St. Gall,
called Notker the Stammerer, Ratpert, and Tutilo, and close friends.
Notker was said to be the most learned man of his time; and one day a
presumptuous emperor's chaplain went up to him, saying, "Most learned sir,
you know everything; pray tell us what God is doing now." Notker at once
replied, "He is doing now what He is always doing, and what He will soon
do to thee. He is exalting the humble and abasing the proud." A chronicler
says that this chaplain, in departing in the Emperor's train, was thrown
from his horse and disfigured for life. Notker was a great musician, and
set the best hymns to music for use in all the Western Churches. Ratpert
also composed sacred songs and a chronicle of the abbey. Tutilo was
skilful as an orator, as well as carver and painter, and played on the
flute. His delight was to travel from monastery to monastery, where he was
always welcome; for he carved and painted and made gifts of his own fine
workmanship. These three friends greatly enjoyed their time of meeting
each night in the scriptorium, where they discoursed on Bible subjects.
One night they overheard the new abbot, who was greatly disliked,
listening at the door, and they seized him and chastised him vigorously,
to the great delight of the brethren. In revenge the abbot wilfully cut
and spoiled the leaves of some valuable Greek works then in course of
being copied by Notker.


The art of transcribing manuscripts flourished in the monasteries till
about a century before the discovery of printing. Gerbert, in his "History
of the Black Forest," says that if there was nothing else, the beautiful
writing of the tenth century, by means of which so many valuable monuments
have been transmitted to us, ought to convince us that it was not a
barbarous age. Books were then so beautifully painted and embellished with
emblems and miniatures that the whole seemed to be the produce not of
human but of angelic hands. The fervour of the abbots in that tenth
century in employing writers to preserve valuable books by multiplying
copies can never be sufficiently praised. Tangmar, in his Life of St.
Berward of Hildesheim, says that he established scriptoriums, not only in
the monasteries, but in divers places, by means of which he collected a
copious library of books, both of divines and philosophers. In fact, the
art of writing never attained to such perfection as in the ninth and tenth
centuries; and all antiquarians will admit that the form--more or less
elegant--of characters in the manuscripts of different ages places before
our eyes the state of the sciences at that time, according as it was more
or less flourishing. The same parchment was sometimes twice or thrice
written upon. The monks only followed the practice of the Romans in thus
rewriting on the same parchment.


One of the departments of every monastery was the scriptorium or
writing-office, where, during the dark ages, many precious books were
copied and circulated, and no member was admitted except the heads of the
house or on business. There were two classes of monks in this department,
called the _antiquarii_, who made copies of valuable old books, and the
_librarii_, who copied new books and inferior ones. The books chiefly
copied were the Scriptures, also missals or church services, works on
theology, and the classics. St. David, the patron saint of Wales, is said
to have begun shortly before his death to transcribe the Gospel of St.
John in letters of gold with his own hand. In this constant practice
sprang up the art of illumination, so vainly imitated by the artists of
the present day, not from want of genius, but from want of something
almost indescribable in the conception and execution--a tone and
preservation of colour, and especially of gilding, which was essentially
peculiar to the old monks, who must have possessed some secret both of
combination and fixing of colours which has been lost with them. This
elaborate illumination was devoted to religious books, psalms, missals,
and prayer-books; in other works the first letters of chapters were
beautifully illuminated, and other leading letters in a lesser degree.
Such were the peculiar labours of the scriptorium; and to encourage those
who dedicated their time to it, a special benediction was attached to the
office. We got our Bible and our classics from them.


Kings and emperors often bequeathed their rarest treasures of gold and
jewels to monasteries. The kings of France often left their crowns to the
abbey of St. Denis. Monte Cassino had great store of presents from kings
of chalices and patens, crowns and crosses, phials and vases, and precious
ornaments of purest gold, and silks with gold and gems. When the Danes
arrived at the abbey of Peterborough in 1070, they took away the golden
crown in the church embellished with gems from the head of the crucifix,
and the golden stool set with gems, and rare articles of gold and precious
stones. In the monastery of Ripon were four gospels written on a purple
ground in letters of gold, inclosed in a golden casket. The furniture for
St. Ina's famous chapel in Glastonbury was of silver and gold of great
value, the covers of the gospels were of gold, and the priests' vestments
interwoven with gold and cunningly ornamented with precious stones. In the
treasury of the abbey of the Isle Barbe, the horn of Roland was preserved;
in the abbey of St. Denis the chessboard and men used by Charlemagne. In
the abbey of Rheinau was a wooden cross nine inches high, cut out of a
single piece, and showing in more than a hundred figures the chief
passages of our Saviour's life. In the abbey of St. Stephen, at Troyes,
the Psalter of Count Henry, the founder, written in letters of gold, was
still fresh after eight hundred years. In the treasury of Citeaux was the
chair in which St. Bernard sat as a novice; and there were ancient
breviaries of the monks, written in small letters, as pocket companions in
their travels. At Treves the gospels, written in letters of gold covered
with jewels, were the present of Princess Ada, sister of Charlemagne.


The nuns who followed the Benedictine order often displayed learning as
well as manual skill. Willibald says those of Britain and Germany excelled
in the studies usual to men. They followed the example of the monks in
transcribing books, and even in composing others. Those of the monastery
of Eikers, in Belgium, were celebrated for their labours in reading and
meditating, in writing and in painting. The abbesses Harlind and Renild,
besides works of embroidery and weaving, were said to have written with
their own hands the four gospels, the whole Psalter, and many other books
of Scripture, which they ornamented with liquid gold, gems, and pearls.
Cæsaria, abbess of Arles, and her nuns wrote out many Divine books during
the time that was spent between psalmody and fasting, vigils and readings.
Heloise and her nuns proposed difficult questions on the sacred Scriptures
to Abelard, and showed an acuteness and discernment little inferior to his
own. Peter the Venerable, in his letter to Heloise, said it was sweet to
prolong discourse with her, for her erudition was not less celebrated than
her sanctity. So that there was always a succession of noted women from
age to age, like Marcella, whose acuteness and learning were constantly
extolled by St. Jerome in his letters.


The art of illumination was one of the great triumphs of the monks in the
Middle Ages, though the same, or at least a kindred, art was practised in
Egypt long before the Christian era. So early as the fourth century St.
Jerome complained of the ornamentation of enormous capital letters in
books as an abuse. A copy of the New Testament was executed in the fourth
century in letters of silver, with the initials in gold, and is still
preserved in the royal library at Upsal under the title of the "Codex
Argenteus." In the seventh century enormous initial letters began to
supersede the current practice of introducing miniatures in the
ornamentation. The new style then consisted of interlaced fretwork or
entwined branches of white and gold on a background of variegated colours.
Irish monasteries excelled the British about that age in this kind of
work, and the Anglo-Saxon youths went to Ireland to obtain a mastery of
the favourite styles. St. Dunstan was himself an expert illuminator. A
fine specimen, called St. Cuthbert's Gospels, was executed by a bishop of
Lindisfarne about 721, and is now in the Cottonian Library. The finest
specimen of English illumination of the tenth century is the Duke of
Devonshire's "Benedictional," executed by the Bishop of Winchester in 984,
where pictures of glorified confessors are on the first page. The initial
letters became longer and longer, until their tails reached nearly the
whole length of the page, and next they were carried round the three
sides. The foliage, flowers, birds, animals, and miniatures in the
background were carefully drawn. The printing-press was the death-knell of
this elaborate style of decorating books; yet the earliest printed books
had also spaces for illumination. While it flourished, the great artists
were vastly appreciated. It was a saintly work and a labour of love, and
success in it was the highest ambition of the best men of the age.


Roger De Warrene, nephew of the Earl of Surrey, became a monk in the abbey
of St. Evroult, and lived there forty-six years, abounding in zeal and
every good work. Though his person was handsome, he chose to disfigure it
by a mean dress. A respectful modesty marked his whole demeanour; his
voice was musical, and he had an agreeable mode of speech. His strength of
body enabled him to undergo much toil, while he was at all times ready to
sing psalms and hymns. He was gifted with pleasing manners, and was
courteous towards his brother monks. He was abstemious himself, but
generous to others; always alive for vigils, and incredibly modest. He did
not plume himself with worldly ostentation on his noble birth, but obeyed
the rules with unhesitating humility, and was always pleased to do the
lowest offices required of the monks. For many years he was in the habit
of cleaning the brethren's shoes, washing their stockings, and cheerfully
doing other services which would be irksome to stupid and conceited
persons. He ornamented a book of the gospels with gold, silver, and
precious stones, and procured several vestments and copes for the
chanters, with carpets and curtains and other ornaments for the church. He
got all he could from his brothers and relations as occasion offered, and
what he wrested from their bodily gratifications he applied with joy to
Divine offices for the good of their souls.




In the reign of the Christian Emperor Constantine, early in the fourth
century, a Christian nun, called Nunia, was carried off captive by the
Iberians, and was given as a slave to one of the natives. Her ascetic and
devotional life soon attracted the notice of the Pagans, who became
convinced that she had some magical power of life and death. A child was
thought to be at the point of death, and was carried from place to place
in search of a physician. Some one suggested the nun, who when challenged
said she knew of no remedy but Christ, when all other help was wanting.
She prayed for the child, and it recovered. This made an extraordinary
impression, and the miracle reached the ears of the Queen. The Queen fell
sick, and was prayed for, and also recovered. The King hearing of this,
wanted to send a rich present, but was told the Christian woman despised
such earthly goods, and looked for her only reward in bringing people to
join in worshipping the true God. Some time afterwards the King lost his
way while hunting, and remembered this Christian woman's action, and made
a vow that, if he were saved, he would join in this new worship. Presently
the sky cleared, and the King was able to find his way back. He then set
about inquiring, and soon engaged teachers and preachers of the new
doctrine. And this was the beginning of Christianity among the Iberians,
who soon united with the Armenian Church.


Near the end of the fourth century, a monk, Abraham, in Phoenicia, having
recovered from a dangerous illness, felt impelled to prove his gratitude
to the Lord by exposing himself to great danger in publishing the Gospel.
In the disguise of a merchant he betook himself with some companions to a
village in Lebanon, where all were Pagans, under the pretext that they
wished to purchase walnuts, for which the place was noted. They took sacks
for the purpose. But when the people heard him singing spiritual songs
with his friends in a hired house, they met in a rage, barricaded the
house, and were on the point of murdering the inmates, though at last
these were allowed to escape. Just at that moment the tax-gatherers came
and made heavier demands than the people could meet, whereupon Abraham
interceded, and raised among his friends a sum sufficient to buy out the
excisemen, and became surety for them also. This conduct made at once a
great impression on the villagers, who changed from violent hostility into
great gratitude and reverence. They requested their deliverer to undertake
the office of their overseer or governor--an office then vacant. He
agreed, on condition of their building a church, which they soon assented
to. He then urged them to appoint a priest, and they begged him to act as
such himself. He did so, and in three years he established a mission which
was afterwards known as the tribe of Maronites, who became noted for their
pure and simple way of life.


It is said that St. Patrick, who died 466, once went through the four
gospels in one exposition to the Irish at a place called Finnablair, and
he was three days and nights about it, without intermission, to the great
delight of the hearers, who thought that only one day had passed. St.
Bridget was present, but it was observed that she took a sleep and had a
comfortable vision during its continuance.


Severinus, a monk missionary, who laboured among the German races near the
Danube, and who died in 482, was deemed the holiest man of his generation,
and Providence was said to be visibly supporting his ministry. Once a
great swarm of locusts settled on the country. Severinus was asked for his
prayers, as a means of deliverance from the plague. After quoting
Scripture and urging them to works of repentance, he said, "Let no one of
you now go to his fields, thinking that by human care you can ward off the
locusts." All were affected by this advice, and assembled in church,
acknowledging with tears their sinful courses. Only one poor man, from
anxiety about his land, while the rest were at church was absent all day,
trying to drive away the locusts, and only in the evening found time to
join the rest at church. But next morning he found his field devoured by
the locusts, while the other fields had escaped. This occurrence made a
great impression, which Severinus turned to account by teaching them how
their duties towards God should take precedence of everything else. But he
also added, "It is but reasonable that by your bounty this poor man should
be maintained during the present year, seeing that by the punishment he
has suffered he has given you a lesson of humility." Accordingly, they all
contributed jointly to support the poor man for a year.


There are two theories of historians as to the first foundation of the
Anglican Church. Some say it began with the mission of St. Augustine;
others say it was coeval with the Apostles. The latter party maintain that
there were Christian Britons at Rome when St. Peter was there, and that
the British kings and nobles used to send their sons to be educated at
that period in Rome. It is said that at the time of Peter's preaching
there were about a hundred converts, Britons and others, who were in the
habit of assembling at a certain house for prayer and worship. This house
belonged to a British lady, Claudia, and her husband, Pudens. One Eubulus
was the father of Claudia. In this house, and entertained by Claudia and
Pudens, lived St. Peter, by whom they had been converted to Christianity,
and many of their friends and acquaintances. Few things are said to be
clearer than that St. Peter, when in Rome, was the guest of this British
lady Claudia. Claudia and Pudens had two daughters, Pudentiana and
Praxedes, and their son Novatus. Nearly all these persons are mentioned by
St. Paul, who must have known them well. The poet Martial corroborates
this account in his fifty-third epigram. Therefore, as there were British
Christians at Rome known to St. Peter and to St. Paul, it is highly
probable that those converts increased in number, and that some of them
found their way to their native place. Justin Martyr, in the early part of
the second century, says that professors of Christianity had gone to every
country; and Tertullian expressly mentions Britain as one of these
countries. So does Eusebius in the fourth century. Moreover, Gregory and
St. Augustine, in sending their mission to England at the end of the sixth
century, recognise the fact of an already existing Church in Britain.


Bede narrates the origin of the mission to Christianise England thus: One
day, certain merchants having lately arrived at Rome, a quantity of goods
was brought into the market for sale, and many people had resorted thither
to buy; and among the rest Gregory the Great himself came, and saw,
together with other merchandise, some boys exposed for sale--their bodies
white, their faces handsome, and their hair very beautiful. And having
looked at them, he asked, as they say, from what country or land they had
been brought, and was told from the island of Britain, whose inhabitants
were of such appearance. Again he asked whether the same islanders were
Christians, or were still involved in Pagan errors; and was told that they
were Pagans. Then fetching a deep sigh from the bottom of his heart,
"Alas! the pity," said he, "that the author of darkness should possess men
of so bright a countenance, and that persons conspicuous for so much grace
of aspect should have minds void of inward grace." He therefore again
asked what was the name of that nation. He was answered that they were
Angles. "That is well," said he, "for they have angelic faces, and such
men ought to be coheirs with the angels in heaven." He asked other things;
and then repairing to the Bishop of the Roman and Apostolic See (for he
himself had not yet been made Pontiff), he asked him to send into Britain
some ministers of the Word, by whom they might be converted to Christ,
declaring himself ready to undertake the work with the Lord's assistance,
if only the Pope were pleased that he should do so; which thing he was not
for a while able to perform, because, although the Pope was willing, yet
the citizens of Rome would not allow him to withdraw so far from the city.
Afterwards, when he was himself made Pope, he achieved the work so long
desired, sending other preachers indeed, but himself aiding by his
exhortations and prayers that their preaching should bear fruit.


When Gregory the Great, in 596, sent St. Augustine to convert the
Anglo-Saxons, the saint, on landing in the Isle of Thanet, sent messengers
to Ethelbert, the Saxon King, to say he was the bearer of joyful tidings.
The King, however, stipulated that their first interview should be in the
open air, as he had a fear of charms and spells. So the King crossed the
river Stour, and waited under an oak in the middle of the Isle of Thanet.
To make a deeper impression, Augustine came up from the shore in solemn
procession, preceded by a verger carrying a large silver cross, and
followed by one bearing aloft, on a board, a well-gilt picture of the
Saviour. Then came the rest of the brethren and the choir chanting a
solemn litany for the eternal welfare of the Saxon people. On their
meeting, the saint could not speak Anglo-Saxon, and the King could not
speak Latin, but the priests interpreted the conversation. The saint told
of the Son of God having left His heavenly throne to come to the world,
where He died for the sins of the guilty. The King listened fairly, and
confessed that the tidings were new and full of significance. He would not
at once engage to change the customs of his people, but he promised
hospitality and kindness to the strangers, and agreed that none of his
people should be prohibited from adopting the new religion. The saint was
pleased at this success, and with his companions again formed a procession
and crossed the river to Canterbury (which was then a rude place
surrounded with thickets, and the capital of the kingdom), chanting all
the way their solemn litanies. The missionaries took up their abode,
waiting till the King made up his mind, and they devoted themselves to
prayers and fasting. Their conduct made a great impression; and Ethelbert,
a year after the first interview, avowed his acceptance of Christianity
and was baptised. Augustine, soon after, returned to France, and was
consecrated at Arles the first Archbishop of Canterbury.


In Moravia, King Swatopluk and his Queen having been converted to the new
faith, applied, about 862, to the Emperor Michael to send them some
Christian teachers, and two missionaries named Cyril and Methodius were
sent. They took with them a relic, supposed to be the body of St. Clement
of Rome, a martyr. They obtained great success, for the ordinary practice
of the time was to use the Greek and Latin tongues; whereas these men saw
that nothing could be done without first mastering the language of the
country. They set about learning the Slavonic tongue, compiled an
alphabet, and rapidly spread a knowledge of the truth, which led to the
building of churches and great interest in the new doctrines, so that they
were summoned to Rome, charged with some kind of heretical error. But they
proved their orthodoxy, and the Pope consecrated Methodius as Archbishop
of the Moravians. At a later date he was again cited before the Pope for
using the Slavonic tongue in the Liturgy. But he again overcame all
opposition, and showed that the praises of the Lord were not confined to
the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin languages, for St. Paul said, "Let every
tongue confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord," and it was a scriptural
command, "Praise the Lord, all ye nations." It was said that Methodius
afterwards met some heathen dukes at the King's table; and after talking
to them, one of the dukes asked what he might expect to gain by becoming a
Christian. The answer given was that the change would exalt him above all
kings and princes; whereupon the savage chiefs were all there and then
baptised. It seemed that after the death of Methodius, about 885, the
orthodox people still professed antipathy to the Slavonic liturgy as an
innovation; but it lasted at least to the fall of the Moravian kingdom in


One of the Abbot Columban's favourite scholars who went with him from
Ireland to France was Gallus, who died 646. The party, on settling in the
old castle in Bregenz, found three gilded images of Pagan idols; and at
the first discourse preached to a large company by Gallus, he in his zeal
dashed the idols in pieces, which made a great impression on the
congregation. Gallus, besides being a zealous preacher, was expert at
gardening and weaving nets, and was so successful in fishing that he not
only supplied the monks' table, but made gifts to guests and strangers.
Gallus was too sick to accompany Columban from France to Italy; and when
left behind he took a few friends and ranged the forests, which abounded
in wild beasts, and looked out for a settlement. They came to a stream
full of fish. These Gallus caught with ease, and they broiled them on the
banks, and with some bread out of their knapsack made a meal. Gallus then
went into the bush to pray, and was so pleased with the situation that he
suddenly became satisfied that there he should settle. He made a cross
with a small twig, thrust it in the ground, and hung up some relics, and
the party knelt in prayer. On this spot was founded the great monastery
called by his name, St. Gall. There he trained many monks and spread the
light of the Gospel among the surrounding people. He preached in Latin,
and one of his scholars translated the discourse into German.


St. Eligius is said to have rebuked the superstitions of his time, such as
fortune-telling. He said, "Attend not to omens, to sneezing, the flight of
birds, or strange creatures met in journeys; but whatever you do sign
yourself in the name of Christ, and say the Creed and Paternoster with
faith and devotion, and then no enemy can hurt you. Let no Christian
attend to the day or to the moon for beginning any work. Practise no Pagan
buffooneries, believe in no charms, for these are diabolical works; for
the sun and moon are the creatures of God, and serve the necessities of
men by His order. Let the sick have no recourse to magicians, but let them
trust in the sole mercy of God. Adore not the heavens, or the stars, or
the earth, or any other creature, because God has made and disposed them
all. High indeed are the heavens, vast the earth, immense the sea,
beautiful the stars, but more immense and beautiful is He who created
them. And if those things that we see are so incomprehensible--that is,
the various sights of the earth, the beauty of flowers, the diversity of
fruits, the races of animals, the prudence of the bees, the winds and the
dew, and the lightning and the succession of the seasons, all which things
no human mind can fully comprehend,--if these things are such which we
behold, what must be those heavenly things which have not yet been seen?
or what their Maker, whose hand created them, or by whose will they are
all governed? Brethren, Him you must fear, adore, and love; hold to His
mercy, and never despair of His goodness."


Anschar was born in 801, near Amiens, his mother being noted for her
piety, but dying while he was in his fifth year. One night, in his
schooldays, he had a vision and an ecstasy. He dreamt that he stood on a
slippery precipice, and could see no way of extricating himself; but on a
pleasant meadow not far off a shining group of white-robed females
attracted his eye; and in scanning them he beheld his own mother in the
crowd, which was led on by the Virgin Mary as Queen. The Virgin kindly
saluted him, and asked if he would not come to his mother. He answered
that he would gladly do so if he could; whereon the Queen replied, "If you
wish to join us, you must eschew vanity and diligently take heed to your
ways." From that time a change came over him. He joined the convent of
Corbie, and there he had another vision and ecstasy. He dreamt that he was
transported to the assembly of the blessed, and saw and heard what filled
him with inexpressible delight--a company of angels surrounded with
glorious colours; and Peter and John came to be his guides, when suddenly
a voice issued from the centre of light, full of sweetness and majesty. It
said, "Go hence, and return to Me with a crown of martyrdom." Two years
afterwards he had a third vision, in which he beheld the glorified figure
of Christ, who invited him to confess his sins, that he might receive
forgiveness, at which he knelt down and made confession. From that time
Anschar felt that he was consecrated to be a missionary. As a monk he
became known to the Jutland King, Harold, who had just been baptised at
the monastery near the Rhine, and who wished to take home with him a
Gospel preacher. Anschar was selected, and for forty years he laboured
incessantly in Denmark and Sweden, and became a great civiliser of men.
When at last a mortal sickness attacked him, his only regret was that he
had not been thought worthy to die a martyr, instead of being tended by
loving hands all the days he lay on his bed (in 865).


St. Neot was a monk at Glastonbury, and an angel was sent to him, telling
him to prepare to go a long journey. After many wanderings, he reached a
place in Cornwall among the hills. Each morning, both in summer and
winter, he went and stood up to the neck in a well, repeating the Psalter
through. One day, in the depth of winter, he was disturbed by a hunting
party, and sprang hastily out of the well, and was retiring, but dropped
one of his shoes. He had not time to wait; but soon afterwards, when he
had finished his psalms and prayers, he remembered the shoe, and sent his
servant to fetch it. Meantime a fox had passed and wanted to steal the
shoe; but an angel who hovered over that place smote the fox, and the
thongs of the shoe were found in the creature's mouth at the time of its
death. Another time St. Neot was standing in his valley by the water's
side, when a young and beautiful fawn bounded from the adjoining thicket,
and, panting from weariness and terror, sought a refuge at his feet.
Hitherto the poor creature had known man only as its foe; but the serene
countenance of the holy man had no terror for the innocent and oppressed;
and crouching closely to him, with upturned imploring eyes, it appeared to
beseech his protection. Not so the fierce and hungry bloodhounds that
followed hot behind. Nature has nothing more terrible to savageness and
cruelty than the gentle majesty of virtue, and the frightened animals
shrank back cowed and overawed into the wood. Up came the wild huntsman,
and hallooed them towards the prey; but his hot spirit too was quenched in
the pure influences which flowed from the countenance of the saint. He
felt the reproach; the mild rebuke cut him to the heart; and in the first
enthusiasm of repentance he hung up his horn as an offering at the shrine
of St. Petrox, and himself assumed the habit of a monk. St. Neot soon
founded the monastery of Neotstowe, where he not long afterwards died,
about 890.


Photius, Patriarch of Constantinople, took credit for having assisted in
the conversion of the Russians about 864, with the aid of the
missionaries. But the new doctrine took no visible root till 955, when the
then ruling Queen, Olga, resolved to visit Constantinople. Constantine
Porphyrogenitus is said to have received her with great pomp, and her
vanity was gratified with titles, banquets, and presents. She openly
professed to be baptised along with her retinue of domestics, ministers,
and leading merchants. On her return to Kion and Novgorod, she persisted
in her new religion, but her family and nation remained obstinate and
indifferent. Her example, however, was long appealed to by a few, and the
Greek missionaries worked with zeal and led the people to imitate the dome
of St. Sophia, with its pictures of saints and martyrs, the pomp of
priestly vestments and ceremonies. A little later, in 968, the marriage of
King Wolodomor with a Roman bride gave a fresh impulse to Christian zeal;
and the god of thunder, the chief Pagan deity, was dragged through the
streets, battered with clubs, and thrown into the sea. Other relics of
Paganism soon followed, and a broad foundation was laid for the culture of
Christian rites.


Bishop Otto, of Bamberg, was induced in 1124 to set out as a missionary to
Pomerania. Amid the difficulties caused by the Pagan superstitions, a mob
in Stettin was incited by the native priests to destroy the Christian
church and all who were assembled in it. Otto was not alarmed, but by his
calm confidence and courage reassured his band of followers. After
commending himself and his friends in prayer to God, he went forth in his
episcopal robes in the midst of the clergy, who bore before him the
crucifix and relics, singing psalms and hymns. The calmness of the bishop
confounded the raging multitude for a while. A stout priest, of portly
stature and sonorous voice, tried to inflame the fury of the Pagans and
incite them to vengeance. But Otto's venerable appearance, at the head of
a company of believers, enabled them to proceed without further difficulty
in consecrating a church and founding a permanent society of Christian


About 1114 Norbert, the founder of the Premonstrants, had been in early
life a courtly ecclesiastic, and a favourite of Henry V. While riding for
pleasure he was caught in a storm, and prostrated by a flash of lightning.
On recovering his senses, he was so impressed by this escape from sudden
death that he at once began a new life. He laid aside his sumptuous
apparel, entered the order of priests, became an itinerant preacher, went
barefoot and wearing a sheepskin, and having his body girt with a cord. He
exposed the worldly-minded and degenerate clergy of his time, and became
popular, having obtained from the Pope a roving licence to preach.
Whenever he entered a village or approached a castle, the herdsmen who
caught sight of him circulated the news; the bells were rung, and young
and old hastened to church, where, after performing Mass, he exhorted the
people. After the sermon he conversed with individuals on the concerns of
their souls. Towards evening he was conducted to his lodgings, and all
were eager to have him as their guest. He did not, like others, take up
his abode in monasteries or priests' houses, but preferred the populous
places, where he could reach the multitude with ease. The Pope wished to
see him, as a means of reforming the lives of the clergy; but so violent
was their opposition that Norbert retired to a desert region in the valley
of Premonstre, in the forest of Couchy, and founded a new spiritual
society, resembling in its rule that of Augustine; and his power was so
great that he made the wolves do the duty of sheepdogs. Finally, Norbert
became Archbishop of Magdeburg, being chosen because he suddenly appeared
at an election there. He died in 1134. The Premonstrantensians were, by
their rules, specially forbidden to keep rare and curious tame animals, as
deer, bears, monkeys, peacocks, swans, or hawks. Even when Norbert became
archbishop he went barefooted and meanly dressed, and once his own porter
was about to shut him out as a beggar. The order thus founded long kept up
its austere discipline; but after a time, like other societies, it grew
rich and careless.


About 1190 a bustling priest near Paris, named Fulco of Neuilly, said to
be ignorant and worldly-minded, achieved a great reputation. He had
attended the lectures of Peter Cantor, and obtained an insight into his
impressive style. In a coarse cowl, and girt about with a leather thong,
he fearlessly denounced the vices of the time. His sermons wrought such
deep conviction that people scourged themselves, fell down before him on
the ground, and confessed themselves in public. Usurers made restitution
of their gains; engrossers and corndealers threw open their granaries;
abandoned women forsook their haunts; the clergy separated from their
concubines. A curse from his lips spread alarm like a thunderbolt. His
hearers would fall down in convulsive fits, foaming at the mouth. The sick
were brought to him to be healed by his touch. His garments were sometimes
seized and torn into shreds, to be preserved as precious relics. He was so
mobbed in the street that he had to swing his staff violently about to
clear his way; and those wounded, so far from murmuring, kissed the blood
that flowed from their wounds, as if they had been instantaneously healed.
His stirring example gave a great impetus to preachers, and students of
theology were turned into itinerant missionaries. Afterwards Fulco stood
forth as a preacher of the Crusades, and great sums of money were sent to
him, which he divided among the Crusaders. It was noticed that, however
impressive were his discourses when delivered by himself, those who
redelivered the same after they had been taken down by shorthand writers
and copied fell far short in their effect. It was also said that he
impaired his influence by riding on horseback, shaving his hair, and
indulging in dress and food. It was he who reproved Richard of England for
cherishing his three daughters--pride, covetousness, and luxury; to which
the King replied that he had bestowed his pride on the Templars, his greed
on the Cistercians, and his luxury on the prelates.


St. Dominic, who died 1221, said it is not by the display of power and
pomp, by cavalcades of retainers, and richly houselled palfreys, or by
gorgeous apparel that the heretics win proselytes; it is by zealous
preaching, by apostolic humility, by austerity, by seeming, it is true,
but yet seeming, holiness. Zeal must be met by zeal, humility by humility,
false sanctity by real sanctity, preaching falsehood by preaching truth.
He noticed how eagerly the women, especially the noble ladies of
Languedoc, listened to the heretical preachers; hence he first founded a
convent of females, so as to dispose of the most impressible of that sex.
St. Dominic's great maxim was--the man who governs his passions is master
of the world; we must command them or be enslaved by them.


St. Francis, who died in 1226, was born at Assisium, a town situated on
the brow of a hill called Assisi, in Umbria, Italy. He was in youth
abandoned to all sorts of amusements, but became serious by being made a
prisoner and also by a long illness. One day, on riding out and seeing a
beggar, he changed clothes with him, and then became conscious of the
innate beauty of poverty and humility. He visited Rome to see the tombs of
the Apostles. He gloried in tending the sick lepers and in all the
hardships of poverty. He wandered over the Umbrian Mountains, praising God
for all things--for the sun which shone above, for the day and for the
night, for his mother the earth, and for his sister the moon, for the
winds which blew in his face, for the pure precious water and for the
jocund fire, for the flames under his feet and for the stars above his
head, saluting and blessing all creatures, whether animate or inanimate,
as his brethren and sisters in the Lord. He existed entirely on the alms
begged from door to door. He espoused poverty. He was endowed with an
extraordinary gift of tears; he wept continually for his own sins and
those of others. He founded the order of Franciscans. He held his first
chapter of the order when five thousand friars assembled in tents at the
foot of the hill of Assisi, called the Chapter of Mats, because mats were
spread over their booths for shelter. He created an enthusiasm for
austerities and mortifications. The body of St. Francis stands upright in
a subterranean vault under the altar of the rich chapel of St. Francis at
Assisium. On his deathbed he particularly requested to be buried at the
common place of execution among the bodies of malefactors. All the princes
of Christendom sent offerings, and all the neighbouring towns sent their
artists to decorate his church.


In the Speculum Vitæ this is related as to the attempts of the friars to
help the lepers: "There was in a certain place a leper so impatient,
froward, and impious that every one thought he was possessed by an evil
spirit. He abused all that served him with terrible oaths and
imprecations, often proceeding to blows. What was still more fearful, he
uttered the direst blasphemy against Christ and His holy mother and the
holy angels. The friars endured this ill-usage patiently, but they could
not tolerate his blasphemies; they felt they ought not, and therefore they
resolved to abandon the leper to his fate, having first taken counsel
with St. Francis. Brother Francis visited the leper, and upon entering the
room said to him in the usual salutation, 'The Lord give thee peace,
brother.' 'What peace,' exclaimed the leper, 'can I have who am utterly
diseased?' 'Pains that torment the body,' replied St. Francis, 'turn to
the salvation of the soul, if they are borne patiently.' 'And how can I
endure patiently,' rejoined the leper, 'since my pains are without
intermission night and day? Besides, my sufferings are made worse by the
vexation I endure from these friars you have appointed to wait upon me.
There is not one of them who serves me as he ought.' St. Francis perceived
that the man was troubled by a malignant spirit, and went away and prayed
to God for him. Then returning, he said, 'Since others do not satisfy you,
let me try.' 'You may if you like; but what can you do more than the
rest?' 'I am ready to do whatever you please,' replied St. Francis. 'Then
wash me,' replied the leper, 'because I cannot endure myself; the stench
of my wounds is intolerable.' Then St. Francis ordered water to be warmed
with sweet herbs; and stripping the leper, began to wash him with his own
hands, whilst a friar standing by poured water upon him."


After giving away all his property, St. Francis of Assisi, who died 1226,
set himself the task of repairing the church of St. Damian at Assisi. And
he had an ingenious mode of collecting funds. He said to the mob, "Whoever
will give me one stone shall have one prayer; whoever gives me two shall
have two prayers; and three stones three prayers." The mob laughed and
jeered; but he carried the stones with his own hands, and gradually he
accumulated materials enough. He was equally adroit with the Pope,
Innocent III. One day his Holiness was walking on the terrace of the
Lateran, when a mendicant of the meanest appearance presented himself,
proposing to convert the world by poverty and humility. The haughty
pontiff dismissed him with contempt. But on second thoughts he had a
vision, and then saw that this was a very feasible way of meeting the
heretics on their own ground. He sent for St. Francis, and on the whole
approved of the new order.


The remarkable characteristic of St. Francis was that his hands and feet
had marks resembling those of Christ after the Crucifixion, called the
stigmata of St. Francis. He had in the solitude of Monte Alverno been
holding a solemn fast in honour of the archangel Michael. He had thrice
opened the Scriptures, and thrice they opened on the Passion of our Lord.
One morning, it is said, he was praying with great devotion, when he saw a
vision, which, on approaching, was a seraph with six wings, and having the
likeness of the crucified Saviour. This left on his mind an indescribable
impression of delight and awe. Instantaneously there appeared on his hands
and feet marks of the Crucifixion, like those he had seen in the vision.
Two black excrescences, like nails having heads and points, grew in these
spots. There was also a wound on his side, which frequently flowed with
blood and stained his garment. Francis, in his humility, sought to conceal
this wondrous sight from his disciples, but fifty of them at one time had
seen these marks. Afterwards Pope Alexander IV. also saw them, and
publicly declared that they were there. Francis died two years afterwards,
and then again the wondering disciples saw this sight on his body. These
marks at once identified Francis with the Saviour, and this singularity
became part of the creed of Christendom.


Thomas of Celano was a friend and biographer of St. Francis, and gives
this portrait of the saint: "Oh, how beautiful, how splendid, how
glorious, did he appear in the innocence of his life, in the simplicity of
his words, in the purity of his heart, in his love of God, in brotherly
charity, in fragrant obedience, in angelic aspect! Gentle in manners,
placid in nature, affable in conversation, faithful in undertakings, of
admirable foresight in counsel, able in business, gracious to all, serene
in mind, gentle in temper, sober in spirit, steadfast in contemplation,
persevering in grace, and in all things the same; swift to forgive, slow
to anger, free in intellect, bright in memory, subtle in dissertation,
circumspect in judgment, simple in all things. Rigid towards himself,
pious towards others, discreet to everybody--a most eloquent man, of
cheerful aspect and benevolent countenance, free from idleness, void of
insolence. He was of the middle stature, rather inclined to shortness, his
head was of the medium size and round, with an oblong and long face, a
small smooth forehead, black and simple eyes, dark-brown hair and straight
eyebrows; his nose was thin, well proportioned, and straight; his tongue
was placable, though fiery and sharp; his voice was vehement, though
sweet, clear, and sonorous; his teeth well set, his lips of moderate size,
his beard black, his neck thin; small arms, thin hands, long fingers and
nails; thin legs, small feet, a delicate skin, and very little flesh. He
wore a rough vest, took very little sleep, and though he was most humble
he showed every courtesy to all men, conforming himself to the manners of
every one. As he was holy among the holy, so among sinners he was as one
of them."


St. Antony of Padua, who died in 1231, was in early life fired with zeal
for martyrdom, and was anxious to enter the Franciscan convent at Assisi;
but there was no opportunity, and he entered a hermitage at Bologna. There
he was made to serve in the kitchen, and his talents and learning were not
suspected till one day, owing to there being no one ready to preach, the
managers asked Antony to take the duty. Antony answered that his proper
work was to wash up dishes and scrub the floors; but these objections
being overruled, he entered the pulpit. From the first his manner and
style attracted attention. He had a rich voice of great compass and
flexibility; his action was graceful, his language was choice, and his
face shone with the enthusiasm of a seraph. The great St. Francis soon
heard of the success, and gave his blessing to the young recruit. With
this encouragement, Antony preached in many leading cities, and attracted
great crowds. The churches were found too small, and he stood in
churchyards and market-places. Shops were shut when he was announced, and
ladies rose early to secure places. Sometimes people remained all night in
the church in order to be sure of a seat next day. Crowds pressed on him
as he went to the place appointed, and begged to kiss his hand and touch
his garment. He swayed the congregations as he pleased--sobs of the
hardened sinners sometimes drowned all sounds; his clear, bell-like voice
was heard in all the neighbouring streets, and the excitement of the
population was intense. His memory was so good that he knew the Scriptures
by heart. He once addressed a ferocious tyrant who used to shed innocent
blood, calling on the sword of the Lord to smite him. The congregation was
worked to the highest pitch of excitement, when the tyrant fell on his
knees and promised amendment. Antony's exertions under this high pressure
brought on paralysis, and he died at the age of thirty-six.


Thomas of Eccleston relates that the Franciscan friars, on coming to
England in 1224, were full of zeal, and resolved to adhere to the
strictest rules of the order. In one of their London stations, two weary
and hungry strangers one night arrived, and the seniors had not a drop of
beer to give them; but after much anxious consultation, they at last made
up their minds to borrow a pot of beer, and when the pot was passed to
them, the brethren of the convent were only to pretend to take a sip. By
this device they got through the entertainment. They resolutely made up
their minds to go barefooted in spite of the cold and mud. At the Oxford
station it is said that Friar Walter de Madeley, of happy memory, found
two shoes, and when he went to matins put them on. He stood at matins
accordingly, and felt considerable comfort. But afterwards, when he went
to bed, and was resting, he dreamt that he had to go through a dangerous
pass between Oxford and Gloucester--Boysalum--where there are usually
robbers; and when he was going down into a deep valley, they ran up to him
on each side of the way, shouting, "Kill him! kill him!" Overpowered with
dread, he said he was a Friar Minor; but they said, "You lie, for you do
not walk barefooted." He, believing himself to be as usual unshod, said,
"Yes, I do walk barefooted"; and when he boldly put forth his foot to look
at it, he found himself standing before them shod with those shoes. In his
excessive confusion he immediately awoke from sleep, and pitched the shoes
into the middle of the yard as an unclean thing.


In 1236 Raimund Lull was born, and early developed a turn for verse, and
wrote sprightly drinking songs; but at the age of thirty he suddenly felt
a desire to convert the Saracens, as the Crusaders hitherto had made so
little impression on them. Yet he did not know the language; hence he
bought a Saracen, who taught him Arabic. His notion was to go and
encounter the most learned Mohammedans, and refute all their arguments
against Christianity face to face. He first went and urged the Pope to
found colleges to educate missionaries in foreign languages, saying that
missions would keep them better employed than they used to be in their
idle haunts. But he made no impression, and felt bound to go out
singlehanded and encounter all the dangers of the enterprise he advocated.
He arrived at Tunis, and assembled the Mohammedan doctors and disputed
with them. One of them, however, soon complained that he was seditious,
and proposed that Raimund should be put to death; but another of the
natives interceded and saved him, on condition of his quitting the
country. He then composed a learned work, in which he refuted all the
arguments usually brought against Christians, urging again and again the
necessity of schools and colleges to train the missionary mind. He also
tried his skill at argument on all the Jews and Saracens within his reach
at Majorca and Cyprus. He soon again became restless, and sailed to Africa
and attacked the Mohammedan religion, and again he narrowly escaped death
and was banished. He next wrote a treatise, setting forth his plan for
establishing colleges for missionaries, and also for uniting the various
orders of knighthood, to recover the countries taken from the Christians
by unbelievers. He thought that unbelievers ought never to be fought with
the sword, but only by the force of truth, and that martyrdom in such a
cause was the greatest of honours. He could not repress his desire to act
on this view, and again he sailed to Africa and attacked the leading men
with fiery zeal. They at last stoned him to death, and his body was
afterwards brought and buried in his native island, Majorca.


Ignatius was born in 1491 in his father's castle of Loyola, the family
being ancient and noble. He was the youngest of eight sons, and was
spirited and keen-witted from his earliest years. One day, after he had
vowed to be a monk, he gave away his rich clothes to a beggar, who was
then accused of larceny, but released after the donor followed to explain
the gift; while Ignatius gloried in his freedom from the livery of sin,
and indulged in the self-imposed austerities of his order. Being wounded
in both legs at the siege of Pampeluna, he was long confined to his couch;
and it was in seeking for amusement from romances that he was supplied
with the Lives of the Saints, which first struck the new chord in his
heart; and he vowed that he would devote his life to the service of Jesus
and the Virgin. He transferred the habits of military obedience to the
order he founded, and called it the Company of Jesus. He had nine
associates closely connected with him, of whom Xavier and Faber were two.
His head and face showed an imperious temper; and his visions, penances,
and miracles soon attracted attention far and wide. Ignatius was general
of his society about fifteen years, and died in 1556, aged sixty-five. He
lived to see his society flourishing in every country. His body was buried
in the church of the Virgin in Rome, and in 1587 removed to the church of
Jesus under the altar, being the most magnificent church in the world
next to the Vatican, and called the church of St. Ignatius, where is a
statue of gold and silver and diamonds. He was beatified in 1609 and
canonised in 1622.


St. Vincent was born in 1576, and in his time originated many useful
philanthropic institutions. In his youth he was taken by pirates and
carried off to slavery, and kept as a slave for two years. When afterwards
a domestic chaplain to a benevolent countess, he had to visit and
distribute alms, and he set to work to organise a system of relief in some
respects resembling a modern poor law. He divided a town into districts,
and set inspectors to weed out the tramps and beggars and arrange lists of
the really necessitous. He also devised a system of home missions for
preaching the Gospel to the poor. In Paris a large building of the name of
St. Lazare was dedicated to the service of candidates for holy orders, and
he introduced method into the institution for training all the recruits
who came, and to this was added soon a seminary for training young
clergymen. In course of his works of charity he met with Madame le Gras, a
lady of good family and devoted to good works, and they founded in 1633
the institution known as a new Society of Sisters of Charity, which grew
rapidly into favour, and soon twenty-eight houses were established in
different districts. The rest of France and Poland followed the example.
Their chief care were the sick, poor, widows, orphans, wounded soldiers,
and hospital patients. They soon added to their flock the foundlings and
convicts. These Sisters of Charity or Grey Sisters underwent a five years'
training. He also instituted a kindred order, called the Company of Ladies
of Charity, with like objects. It is said that in one year these ladies
converted or reclaimed seven hundred and sixty heretics. The number of
foundlings taken care of averaged about three hundred and four each year,
and the Congregation of St. Vincent Sisters are said to take charge of
such poor children in Paris. Many other institutions were originated by
this apostle of charity. He died in 1660 in his armchair, as the Fathers
of the Mission were saying matins, having reached his eighty-fifth year.
St. Vincent de Paul, the apostle of compassion, thus showed a genius for
his work, and also founded the hospital of La Madeleine for penitent
girls. He became a friend of Richelieu, and was summoned from his
attendance on the galley slaves to the deathbed of Louis XIII. He was
called the Father of the Poor. In some of the sacred pictures he is shown
with a newborn infant in his arms and a Sister of Mercy at his side.


It is related by Pasquier, on the authority of Joinville, born in 1220,
and the biographer of St. Louis IX. of France, that when Louis was in the
island of Cyprus, he there received from the Cham of the Tartars an
embassy, informing him of the Cham's conversion to Christianity. On this
intelligence, the zealous monarch, full of joy, despatched preachers to
attempt the conversion of the other Tartars. These preachers incessantly
in their sermons repeated that the Pope was the Vicar of God on earth,
whereupon it occurred to the Cham that he should send ambassadors to the
Pope to pay him filial obedience. The preachers, hearing of this design,
thereupon began to fear that if the ambassadors should go to Rome, and
there witness the disorders that reigned among Christians, they would on
their return recommend their master to continue in his errors, and
resolved to dissuade the Cham from carrying out any such enterprise.


In Venice, one day in 1552, when the tribunal of Quaranthia, consisting of
the Doge and senators, sat to try causes of life and death, a hermit or
friar suddenly called out with a terrific voice, "To hell shall go all who
do not administer true justice--to hell the mighty who oppress the
poor--to hell the judges who shed the blood of the innocent!" After the
first emotions of surprise, the intruder was recognised to be a Capuchin
friar who had been a well-known preacher in Venice, and not only
admonished sinners, but spent his days in works of mercy. He had no
habitation, but slept at nights under the portico of St. Mark or of the
Rialto, or under the campanile of the church of St. Moses, and was often
seen at early dawn before the church doors in prayer. The Doge was annoyed
at this unseemly interruption, and was about to order his expulsion, but
an illustrious senator named Sebastian Venerius interposed, and thus
addressed his brother judges: "Most serene prince and conscript fathers,
we are constituted judges in this republic; and what ought to be more
desired by us in our administration of justice than that we should be
admonished of our duty by celestial messengers? This is a most serious
judgment we are engaged in, for another sentence can be corrected; but
that which deprives men of life is immutable. These words of the holy man
recall to our minds how important and perilous is the office which we
discharge. Though we all hold in horror a wilful violation of justice, yet
our judgment may sometimes sleep. And now if God should have sent this man
as an angel to awaken us from sleep, ought he to be driven out and his
admonition rejected, because we judge the man who conveys it to be mean,
estimating his mind from the habit he wears? Far be such scorn from us who
boast to be disciples of the humble Fisherman!" This address made such an
impression on the assembly that the friar was allowed ever after to repeat
his imprecations.


The mendicant friars under St. Francis and St. Dominic early forced their
way into the chairs of the chief universities of Europe. Alexander Hales
went first into Paris, then Oxford, giving a great impulse to the higher
studies. The Dominicans produced Thomas Aquinas, the prince of schoolmen,
who was born in 1228. The Franciscans also claimed Alexander Hales,
Bonaventura, and Duns Scotus. These rival schoolmen divided the allegiance
of the leading intellects of their time.


It is related that in 1429, when Brother Richard, a Franciscan, returned
from Jerusalem, he delivered so stirring a sermon that the people of Paris
kindled hundreds of fires, in which men burned card and billiard tables,
and the women their extravagant and gaudy ornaments. So at the preaching
of Friar Jerome at Florence, the friars during the carnival incited a
numerous flock of children to go round in all districts and in a spirit of
humility and devotion beg people to deliver up all the profane books and
pictures that were kept by them. These were freely given; and the devout
women yielded humbly to these innocent preachers, suffered themselves to
be despoiled of their dearest personal ornaments, and of everything that
was used to give them a fictitious beauty. On the last day of the
carnival, after having heard Mass, clothed in white, carrying on their
heads garlands of olive, and red crosses in their hands, the children made
a procession, singing psalms to the Piazzo dei Signori, where a pyramidal
scaffold had been erected, upon which these instruments of pleasure and
profane luxury were deposited. The children mounted the rostrum, and after
having sung spiritual hymns the four deputies came down with lighted
torches and set fire to the pile, and watched it as it was consumed amidst
voices of joy and the sound of trumpets. Another saint of the Franciscan
order, named Bernardine of Sienna, born in 1380, undertook a reform which
was styled of the strict observance, and was the means of founding five
hundred convents in Italy. He was a most famous preacher, and shone in his
denunciations of the then prevailing weaknesses, which were the vices of
gaming and divination and magic. His power over his contemporaries was
supreme as a reconciler of long-standing enmities. He distinguished
himself by collecting on the Capitoline Hill an immense assemblage of
pictures, musical instruments, implements of gaming, false hair, and
extravagant female dresses, of which he made an enormous bonfire. This
saint was said to work miracles, but at last was charged with heresy and
idolatry, on account of his using an ornament which he invented as a help
to devotion. The Pope pronounced against this ornament, and the saint
dutifully gave it up. He died in 1444, and at the jubilee in 1450 was
canonised at the instance of Pope Nicolas V.


John Capistran, a Franciscan friar of the fifteenth century, was noted for
his eloquence. At Nuremberg, where he went to preach in 1452, he caused a
pulpit to be set up in the middle of the great square, and there preached
for some days in so forcible a manner against vice that he led the
inhabitants to make a pile of their cards and dice, and afterwards set
fire to them; which being done, he exhorted them to take up arms against
the Turks. The year after, he went to Breslau, in Silesia, and there
inveighed strongly against cards and dice; and commanding a pile to be
made of them all, he set fire to it. But the power of his eloquence was
not confined to inanimate things; for exerting his eloquence in a most
intolerant manner against the Jews, he caused a great number of these
people to be burnt in all parts of Silesia, upon pretence of their
behaving with irreverence towards the consecrated bread.


Thomas Conecte, a Carmelite monk, born in Brittany in 1434, was the
greatest preacher of his time. When in Flanders, he drew vast crowds and
discoursed vehemently on the vices of the clergy, the luxury and
extravagance of women's head-dresses, which were of prodigious height,
called hennins. These were high and broad horns an ell long, having on
each side ears so large that they could not get through doors. The
preacher not only denounced these, but gave presents to little children to
cry and hoot at them, and even throw stones at the wearers. The ladies at
last durst not appear, except in disguise, to listen to Brother Thomas's
fervent appeals. For a time the excess was reduced; but when he left the
country the head-dresses were put on again, with still higher toppings
than before, as if to redeem the lost time. As Paradin relates: "After
Thomas's departure the ladies lifted their horns again, and did like the
snails, which, when they hear any noise, pull in their horns, but when the
noise is over suddenly lift them higher than before." Wherever Thomas went
his zeal against the senseless ornaments and crying vices of the day led
to many superfluous clothes, tables, dice, cards, and frivolities being
burned. He passed triumphantly from the Netherlands to Italy, exciting
great attention and awakening no small jealousy. At last the Pope was
moved to put him on his trial, when he was found guilty of the dangerous
heresy of denouncing the vices of the clergy and the gluttony of the
monks. He met an appropriate fate by refusing to retract, and then by
being burnt, as being far too advanced a reformer for his times.


Savonarola at an early age chose the study of theology for a profession,
and devoted himself to the Holy Scriptures, and at the age of twenty-two
was greatly impressed by the preaching of a friar. He became member of a
Dominican convent at Bologna. He was removed to Florence, then became
friar, and saw great need of reform in the lax and worldly ways of the
monks. He soon developed great gifts as a preacher, and had a rapt and
impassioned style of oratory; and his early study of the Apocalypse led
him into mystical language, which heightened the effect. His denunciations
of the current vices made him a formidable censor, and even gave him
political influence, and excited enmities. Like some of his near
contemporaries, his influence over the ardent youths caused them at the
carnival of 1497 to go the round of the city and collect all the rich and
extravagant dresses, pictures, musical instruments, books of sorcery, and
false hair into a large pile; and then, amid singing of hymns, sounding of
bells and trumpets, the heap was fired amid great enthusiasm. His attacks
on the vices of the period led the Pope to excommunicate him. But his
preaching was a constant attraction and kept up the excitement. Shorthand
writers took the sermons down, printed and dispersed them all over Italy.
Once he was challenged by a bitter enemy to walk through a burning pile
forty yards long, in order to test which of two opposing doctrines was
true; and he felt bound to accept the challenge, though ultimately this
mode of trial was prohibited by the magistrates. He was, like other
advanced reformers, charged with heresy, tortured, and ultimately
sentenced to be burnt alive, after being degraded. The sentence was
carried out in 1498, and his ashes were thrown into the river, under the
idle notion that his name and influence would perish. Some have denounced
him as a fanatic, and others as a reformer too far advanced for his age,
though Luther was only a few years his junior. In Germany also three noted
reformers appeared between 1450 and 1489--namely, John of Goch, John of
Wesel, and John Wessel, whose teaching tended towards Lutheranism, then in
the bud and soon about to flower.




Arsenius the Great was a famous monk, born about 354, and had been early
in life made tutor to the sons of the Emperor Theodosius; but finding it
an unsatisfactory post, retired at the age of forty, resolving to cleanse
his soul and fly from the society of men. He went to Egypt; and being
anxious to be taken in as a monk, applied to John Colobus (the Dwarfish),
who invited him to a meal to test his suitability. Arsenius was kept
standing while the others sat. John then flung a biscuit to him, which
Arsenius ate in a kneeling posture. "He will make a monk," said John; and
he was admitted forthwith. Arsenius soon afterwards went to Scetis, and
lived as a hermit. A senator once left him a legacy; but the hermit
rejected it, saying, "I was dead before him." Two monks once called on
Arsenius, and were received with absolute silence; they waited on another
famous monk, called Moses, who received them with cordial welcome. The
visitors were perplexed at two great men acting so dissimilarly; but the
doubt was solved by another monk, who one day saw in a vision two boats on
the Nile. One boat contained Arsenius, with the Spirit of God; the other
boat contained Moses, fed with honey by angels. Arsenius was often rude to
his visitors. One was a high-born Roman lady, who requested to be
remembered in his prayers; but the monk brusquely told her that he hoped
he might be able to forget her. She complained of this to Theophilus, who
told her she was but a woman, and the old man would pray for her soul
notwithstanding. Arsenius once took a thievish monk into his cell to cure
him, but found it impossible. He used often to say that he had been sorry
for having spoken, but never for having been silent. When his end drew
near, he was seen to weep, which made the other monks ask, "Are _you_
then, father, afraid?" "Truly," said Arsenius, "the fear that is with me
in this hour has been with me ever since I became a monk."


St. Ninian was a Briton, born about 360, of Christian parents, and of a
grave and earnest disposition. After much searching of the Scriptures, he
went to Rome in order to know more of the truth. When arrived there, he
wept over the relics of the Apostles, and the Pope received him
graciously. After spending some years there, it was made clear to the Pope
that Western Britain was much in need of Christian enlightenment, and
Ninian was consecrated a bishop, and sent there as the first bishop of his
nation. On his way he visited the famous St. Martin of Tours, the
demolisher of Pagan temples. The two saints were mutually pleased and
edified. They were described as two cherubims, from the intimate
understanding and mutual light displayed by them. Ninian, on returning to
Scotland, erected a church at Whithorn, in Galloway, and he was anxious to
imitate what he had seen at Tours, and begged the loan of masons from that
place, and the church was dedicated to St. Martin. Ninian became there a
great preacher and evangelist, and the miracles he performed spread his
fame everywhere. If he read the Psalter in the open air, the shower would
avoid touching him and his book. If thieves tried to steal his cattle, an
angel drove them away. One of Ninian's scholars, being afraid of a
whipping, fled to the seashore, but took care to steal his master's
pastoral staff; and this staff, after the youth had prayed, guided his
boat in safety, and was both rudder and mast and sail by turns. The saint
converted the Picts far and near, and was succeeded by St. Mungo and St.
Columba. His relics also were said to continue to work miracles long after
he was dead.


While St. Servanus, an early bishop of the Scots, was settled at Culross,
near Loch Leven, one Kentigern, who had been born about 514, under
mysterious circumstances, at a seaport in East Lothian, was taken to the
bishop by the shepherds, and said to be a child of promise. On seeing the
child, Servanus smiled welcome, carefully instructed him, and gave him the
name of Mun Cu or Mungdu (the Gaelic words for "Dear one"), since named
Mungo. The boy soon began to work miracles by restoring birds and dead
bodies to life. This gift excited the jealousy of the other pupils, and
caused Mungo to flee. He went to Dumfries, and thereafter settled at
Glasgow. The King and clergy soon afterwards elected him as bishop, an
office then vacant. He lived on bread and butter and cheese, abstaining
from flesh and wine. He was clothed in a rough hair shirt, and slept every
night in a stone trough, which was in shape like a coffin, strewed with
ashes, and a stone for a pillow. Every morning he went and stood in the
neighbouring stream up to the neck, however cold it might be, till he had
chanted the Psalter, after which he came out clean and pure as a dove
washed in milk. He had the gift of silence, and spoke seldom, yet
weightily. He could scarcely help working miracles. One day he went to
plough, but had no oxen at hand; and a wolf and deer passing that way, he
hailed them, and they both came and quietly entered under the yoke. After
he had given away all his corn to the poor, he would sow the land with
sand, and great crops grew up. One day he asked the King to supply him
with corn, but met with an indignant refusal, whereon the river Clyde rose
and swept away the King's barn, and floated the contents up the Molendinar
burn, and they landed near the saint's dwelling. The King in a passion
once lifted his foot to strike the saint, and the foot became gangrened,
and the King died soon after. The saint went seven journeys to Rome, where
he was highly valued. The Queen once lost a ring, which had been thrown
into the Clyde, and she applied to St. Mungo, who caused a salmon to be
caught which had swallowed the ring. He died at the age of one hundred and
eighty-five, full of years, and in the odour of sanctity.


It is related in the Life of St. Benedict, born in 480, who founded the
famous monasteries for monks, that in one of these monasteries there was a
certain monk, who could not endure to abide with the brethren during the
time of prayer, but the moment they knelt down went out, and with a
wandering mind betook himself to things purely transitory and worldly. And
this being told to the man of God, and admonition proving unavailing,
Benedict visited the monastery; and when the psalms were ended, and the
brethren knelt down to pray, he saw a little black boy drawing the monk
referred to out of the church. And pointing it out to the superior, and
the latter not being able to see the boy, "Let us pray," said Benedict,
"that you may." And after two days Maurus, a pupil of Benedict, saw him;
but still the superior could not. And on the third day, after prayer,
Benedict found the monk standing outside the door; and striking him with
his staff in reproof of the blindness of his heart, from that day forth he
was no more troubled by that black boy, but stayed out the prayers
patiently with his brethren.


St. Benedict, the patriarch of the Western monks and founder of the
Benedictine order, died in 543, and his biographers and contemporaries
thus described his death: "Shortly before the decease of St. Benedict,
standing at the window by night and praying to God, suddenly he perceived
a great light, and (as he thereafter declared) the whole world was brought
together before his eyes, collected as under a single ray of the sun. For
his spirit being dilated and rapt into God, he saw without difficulty
everything that is beneath God. And at the hour of his death there
appeared unto two of the brethren, then absent and apart from each other,
the self-same vision; for they saw a path stretching from his cell up to
heaven, strewed with robes of silk and with numberless lamps, burning all
along it, ascending towards the east. And, behold, a man of majestic mien
and in seemly attire stood over against them, and asked whose that path
was. And they confessing that they knew not, he answered, 'This is the
path through which Benedict, the beloved of God, is ascending to heaven.'
And thereby they knew of his decease."


Columba, who had first an Irish name, was born about 518 at Gartan, in
Donegal, of good family. After his ordination he entered the monastery of
Glasnevin, near Dublin. He soon after founded the monasteries of Derry and
of Durrow. He determined to be a missionary, after engaging in some family
feuds and being tired of fighting. About 563 he left Ireland, then called
Scotia, and, accompanied by twelve disciples, took to the sea in a wicker
wherry covered with hides, leaving the result to Providence. They first
landed at Colonsay, then crossed to Iona. Two savage kings having fought a
battle, the successful one gave him the island to settle in. He made an
early visit to the Pictish King; and though at first rudely treated, he
made a conquest and obtained speedy honours. He soon became known also as
a worker of miracles. One day the inhabitants were much alarmed at the
visits of a sea monster that lived in the river Ness and roared terribly;
the saint raised his hand, and making the sign of the cross in the air,
called on the brute to desist, and, strange to say, it vanished amid the
breathless amazement of the crowds that were watching it. The saint and
his followers settled in the island of Iona, and lived somewhat in the
fashion of a monastery, but they acted as missionaries. One day a stranger
visited Iona in disguise; and joining Columba in celebrating the
Eucharist, the latter suddenly looking the stranger in the face as he
stood at the altar, said, "Christ bless thee, brother, consecrate alone,
for I know thou art a bishop." On hearing this the stranger wondered
exceedingly at the second sight of the saint, and all the bystanders gave
glory to God for the honour done by the visit of a bishop, a personage
then unknown in that quarter. Columba died in 597 as he was praying at the
altar, and the other monks saw the church filled with a strange light, for
the saint was leaving an example of piety to all future ages.


It is related by Adamnan, the biographer of St. Columba, that in the early
days, when Columba was in deacon's orders, going about in Leinster along
with his tutor Gemman, a brutal chief was pursuing a young girl who fled
before him on the level plain. As she chanced to notice the aged Gemman as
he sat reading, she ran straight towards him. The old man being alarmed at
this spectacle, called to Columba, who was reading at some distance, to
help him in defending the girl. But the brutal chief on coming up to them,
without taking the least notice of their presence, in his rage stabbed the
child as she was hiding herself under their cloaks, and leaving her dead
at their feet, turned to go back. At this the old man, turning to Columba,
said, "How long, O holy youth, shall God the just Judge allow this horrid
crime and this contempt of our faith to go unpunished?" Then the saint at
once pronounced this sentence: "Mark well, that at the very instant, when
the soul of this young innocent ascends to heaven, shall the soul of the
murderer descend into hell." Scarcely had Columba spoken the word, when
the murderer of innocent blood, like Ananias before Peter, fell down dead
on the spot. The news of this awful retribution soon spread through the
land; it made the name of the holy deacon a praise and protection to the
innocent, and a sure avenger of every brutal oppression on the part of
those savage chiefs who then ruled the land.


The biographer of St. Columba of Iona, who died in 597, aged
seventy-seven, after thirty-four years' missionary work, says that on
feeling the hand of death he was at his own request carried out of doors
in a car to visit the working brethren, and then he warned them of his
early departure, and blessed them and the island and its inhabitants. On
the following Saturday, he told the friends that that would be the last
day of his life. He begged them to take him out, that he might bless the
barn and the crops of corn which were the supplies of their food. On going
back to the monastery, the old white pack-horse, that used to carry the
milk-pails, strange to say, came up to the saint, laid its head on his
bosom, and uttered plaintive cries, like a human being, also shedding
tears. The attendant began to drive away the beast; but the saint forbade
him, saying, "Let it alone; let it pour out its bitter grief. Lo, thou who
hast a rational soul canst know nothing of my departure--only expect what
I have just told you; but to this brute beast, devoid of reason, the
Creator Himself hath evidently in some way made it known that its master
is going to leave it." And saying this, he blessed the poor work-horse,
which turned away from him in sadness. The saint then ascended a hillock
overhanging the monastery, and stood musing and looking round, and said
that, small as that place was, it would be held in after-times in great
honour by kings and foreign rulers and saints of other Churches. On
returning to the monastery, he sat in his cell and transcribed part of the
thirty-third Psalm. The rest of the night he lay on the bare ground, with
a stone for his pillow. He discoursed to the brethren on the blessing of
peace, harmony, and charity among themselves. When the bell rang at
midnight, he rose quickly and knelt before the altar, and a heavenly light
was noticed to surround him; and the brethren knew that his soul was
departing; and after signifying to them his holy benediction, he breathed
his last. The matin hymns being then finished, his sacred body was
carried, the brethren chanting psalms; and being wrapped in fine clean
linen, was buried after three days and nights. A violent storm had been
raging for these days, preventing any person crossing the sound; but after
the burial the storm ceased, and all was calm.


The monk Columban, who died 615, was held in great honour by Thierry II.,
the King of Burgundy, where his convents were situated. The abbot took on
himself at times to reprove the King's voluptuous life; but the
grandmother of the King took offence, and schemed till she got Columban
banished. In his journeying through France, he arrived with some followers
at the city of Nantes, and was meditating in his cell, when a beggar came
before it. Columban caused the last measure of meal to be served out of
his stores to the hungry man. The next two days the abbot had to contend
with want himself, yet he kept up his spirits, full of faith and hope,
when suddenly some one knocked at the door, and this person turned out to
be the servant of a pious female of the city, who had sent a considerable
supply of corn and wine for him. Afterwards he went to Italy, and
established in the vicinity of the Apennines the famous monastery of
Bobbio, and there the abbot found rest and ended his days. One of his
sayings was, "If thou hast conquered thyself, thou has conquered all
things." He was a disciplinarian among his monks. He said to them, "A monk
must learn humility and patience, silent obedience and gentleness. Let him
not do his own will; let him eat what is offered to him, let him fulfil
the day's work prescribed to him, let him go to bed weary, and let him be
taught to get up at the time appointed."


St. Aidan, whose death made such an impression on the youthful Cuthbert,
was the most shining character among the early British Christians, a man
of the utmost gentleness, piety, and moderation. He came from Iona in 635,
settled in Northumbria, and became Bishop of Lindisfarne. He established a
training school for twelve English boys, one of whom was St. Chad. He used
to retire occasionally to complete solitude in Farne Island, and there
fast. He was an earnest missionary, and used to travel on foot and get
into conversation with any fellow-traveller, rich or poor. As he walked
along with them, they used to meditate on texts or recite psalms. Oswald
was then king; and being himself a saint, both worked amicably together.
Oswald often invited Aidan to the royal table; but the saint, after taking
very little refreshment, was always called away to some prayer meeting or
mission work of an urgent kind. One Easter Sunday he took luncheon with
the King, and they were just about to help themselves to some dainties,
when a thane rushed in and said that there was a mob of famished people at
the gates begging for alms. Oswald at once ordered the dish of untasted
dainties to be carried away and divided among them, and the saint was so
charmed that he seized the King's right hand and said, "May this hand
never decay!" That hand never decayed, and was kept with pride in a silver
casket for four centuries later by the monks of Durham. Another time King
Oswy gave a fine horse to Aidan, on which he might ride during his
mission work, so as to save much time; but soon afterwards, a beggar man
coming up, and Aidan having no change in his pocket, dismounted and gave
horse and all the trappings to the beggar instead. The King hearing of
this, asked Aidan why he did such a thing, and the answer was, "Surely a
mare is nothing to compare with that son of God?" The King at first
thought this no answer at all, and was moody; but on reflection he
relented, and threw himself at the feet of Aidan, saying he would never
again dispute as to what or how much should be bestowed on sons of God. So
they were good friends ever after. Aidan was the glory of his age, and
died in 651, and his relics long worked miracles.


St. Chad was one of the twelve pupils of St. Aidan of Lindisfarne, and in
due time was recommended by Archbishop Theodore as Bishop of Lichfield.
St. Chad was of an ascetic and retiring manner, and went his rounds on
foot; but Theodore insisted that he should ride, and gave him a horse, and
with his own hands lifted him up to mount. Chad was a busy and careful
bishop, but pre-eminently a grave and serious man, and dwelt most on the
awful side of religion. Bede says, "He was ever subject to the fear of the
Lord, and in all his actions mindful of his end." Everything in Nature was
viewed as a call to sacred employments. If it was a high wind during the
service, Chad would stop his reading and implore the Divine mercy for all
mankind. If it became a storm or thunder and lightning, he would repair to
the church and give himself up with a fixed mind to prayer and the
recitation of psalms until the weather cleared up. If questioned as to
this, he would quote the Psalmist's words, "The Lord thundered out of
heaven," and he spoke of the last great fire, and of the Lord coming in
the clouds with great power and majesty to judge the quick and the dead.
Chad's death was remarkable, and occurred during a pestilence which swept
away many of his flock. One night his faithful monk, Owin, when at work in
the fields, heard a sweet sound as of angelic melody, which came from the
south-east and entered and filled the oratory where Chad then was, and
next it rose heavenward. As Owin was wondering what this could mean, he
noticed Chad open the window and clap his hands, as if beckoning to some
one. Owin entered, and was told to summon the brethren; and Chad
addressing them seriously, and charging them to carry on the good work
steadily, told them his end was near, for the lovable guest who had
summoned so many brethren had come to him that day. He gave them his
blessing, and told Owin privately that the voices he had heard were those
of angels come to summon him to his heavenly reward, and that they would
return for him in seven days. So on the seventh day he died, and was
always called the "most glorious" St. Chad.


St. Hilda, who died in 680, was of the royal family of Northumbria, and
devoted her life to the monastic profession, and taught the strict
observance of justice, piety, and chastity. She was usually called mother,
in token of her piety and grace. For the last eight years of her life she
was sorely tried by a long sickness, accompanied with fever; but during
all that time she never omitted either to give thanks to her Maker or to
teach both publicly and privately the flock committed to her. When at the
last she felt her end to be near, she received the viaticum of the Holy
Communion; and then, having summoned to her the handmaids of Christ who
were in the same monastery, she continued admonishing them, all the while
she perceived with joy her own death approaching. On that same night the
Omnipotent Lord deigned to reveal by a manifest vision her death to
another monastery, where a holy woman, named Begu, had dedicated her
virginity to the Lord for thirty years. Begu was then resting in the
dormitory, when she suddenly heard in the air the well-known sound of the
bell by which they were wont to be aroused when any one of them was called
forth from the world. She noticed a great light in the heavens; and
looking earnestly at it, she saw the soul of Hilda, the handmaid of the
Lord, borne to heaven by attendant and conducting angels. Begu immediately
arose and told her abbess how Hilda, the mother of them all, had just then
departed from this world, ascending with exceeding light, having angels
for guides to the abodes of eternal light, and the society of the
celestial citizens. Yet these monasteries were distant from each other
thirteen miles.


The abbey of St. Gall was founded by St. Gallus, an Irish monk, who left
his monastery in Belfast Lough in the seventh century to preach the Gospel
on the Continent; and he settled near Lake Constance, on the banks of the
Steinach, then a wilderness. He taught the savage tribes the arts of peace
and civilised them, and the cell which he inhabited began to be visited
by pilgrims, and after his death miracles were wrought at his tomb. This
led to an abbey being founded, which became the most famous as well as
being the oldest in Germany. It was the asylum of learning from the eighth
to the tenth centuries, where the classics were most studied and copied.
The monks of St. Gall in time grew ambitious, and became imbued with a
military disposition, and used to sally forth sword in hand to conquer (as
narrated _ante_, p. 224). Their wealth, from the donations of pilgrims,
also turned their heads, and their military campaigns embroiled them with
the authorities; and in the fifteenth century the inhabitants of the
neighbouring town obtained the mastery, and soon afterwards the estates
were secularised. The library is still exhibited as a famous collection of
old manuscripts.


Bede, the most valuable of the early historians of English ecclesiastical
affairs, who died in 735, gives this account of himself: "Thus much of the
ecclesiastical history of the Britons, and especially of the English
nation, as far as I could learn, either by the writings of the ancients or
from the tradition of our ancestors, or by my own knowledge, I, Bede, a
servant of God, and priest of the monastery of the blessed Apostles Peter
and Paul, which is at Wearmouth and Jarrow, have composed. And being born
in the territory of that monastery, when I was seven years old, I was
given to be educated to the most reverend Abbot Benedict and afterwards to
Ceolfrid; and having spent my whole life since that time in the same
monastery, I have devoted myself entirely to the study of Scripture, and
at intervals between the observance of regular discipline and the daily
care of singing in church, I always took delight in learning, or teaching,
or writing. In the nineteenth year of my life, I received deacon's orders;
in the thirtieth, those of the priesthood,--both by the ministry of the
most reverend Bishop John, and by order of Abbot Ceolfrid. From which time
of my becoming a priest, till the fifty-ninth year of my age, I have made
it my business, for the use of me and mine, to make brief notes on Holy
Scriptures from the writings of venerable Fathers, or even to add
something to their interpretations, in accordance with their views on the
beginning of Genesis and part of Samuel." Bede died aged sixty-two.


Cuthbert was a shepherd-boy in 651, watching his flock on the Lammermuir
Hills, by the side of the river Leader, not far from the ancient town of
Lauder. One night, as his companions were sleeping and he was praying, on
a sudden he saw a long stream of light break through the darkness of the
night, and in the midst of it a company of the heavenly host descended to
the earth, and having received among them a spirit of surpassing
brightness, returned without delay to their heavenly home. The young man
beloved of God was struck with awe at this sight, and stimulated to
encounter the honours of spiritual warfare, and to earn for himself
eternal life and happiness. He began to offer up praise and thanksgiving,
and called on his companions to join. He then told them he had just seen
the door of heaven opened, and there was led in thither amidst an angelic
company the spirit of some holy man, who now, for ever blessed, beholds
the glory of the heavenly mansion and Christ its King, while they were
still grovelling amid this earthly darkness. He said he thought it must
have been some holy bishop, or some favoured one of the company of the
faithful, whom he saw thus carried into heaven amidst so much splendour by
that large angelic choir. As Cuthbert said these words, the hearts of the
shepherds were kindled up to reverence and praise. When the morning came,
he found that Aidan, Bishop of the Church of Lindisfarne, a man of exalted
piety, had ascended to the heavenly kingdom at the very moment of the
vision. Immediately, therefore, he delivered over the sheep that he was
feeding to their owners, and determined forthwith to enter a monastery. He
went to Melrose, the monastery two miles east of the present abbey, where
Boisil was prior, and being admitted, Boisil at once saw the future
greatness of this young novice, who lived a holy life there for ten years
more. Some other accounts state that St. Cuthbert was of Irish parentage,
and was brought by his mother when a child into Britain.


St. Cuthbert, after leaving the monastery at Melrose, became an eloquent
preacher in Galloway and that neighbourhood, and in 664 was made prior of
Lindisfarne, in the Farne Islands, where to this day the little shells
found only on that coast are called St. Cuthbert's shells, and the sea
birds, his favourite friends, are called St. Cuthbert's birds. He built a
cell, and pilgrims from all parts flocked to ask his counsel and his
blessing during eight years, when he was chosen Bishop of Lindisfarne. He
took special interest in the monasteries of nuns, of which there were
several in his diocese, such as Coldingham and Whitby. When not visiting
officially his charges, he retired to his cell at Farne. When his last
days drew near, in 687, he directed his brethren to wrap his body after
his death in the linen which the Abbess Verca had given to him, and to
bury it, as they so earnestly desired, in their church at Lindisfarne.
"Keep peace with one another," were his last words, "and ever guard the
Divine gift of charity. Maintain concord with other servants of Christ.
Despise not any of the household of faith who come to you seeking
hospitality; but receive, and entertain, and dismiss them with
friendliness and affection. And do not think yourselves better than others
of the same faith and manner of life; only with such as err from the unity
of Catholic peace have no communion." These were his last words. His
remains were taken to Lindisfarne, where, amid the prayers and solemn
chants of the brethren, they were interred in a stone sarcophagus on the
right of the altar in St. Peter's Church. Eleven years later the body,
still uncorrupt, was taken from the tomb, wrapped in fresh linen, and
placed in a shrine of wood which was laid on the floor of the sanctuary.
Great sanctity was shown to the saint's relics by King Alfred, King
Canute, and William the Conqueror. His own copy of the Gospels is still
preserved in the British Museum as a fine specimen of Celtic art. The
cathedral of Durham was at a later date dedicated to his memory, and in
the twelfth century his relics were transferred to that place; and in
1537, when his shrine was plundered, his body was found still to be


When the Danes were ravaging the north of England in 875, causing great
terror among all the monasteries, Eardulph, Bishop of Lindisfarne, in
which church the body of St. Cuthbert rested, and Abbot Edred took
suddenly the resolution to carry away the body for safety. When the people
living near heard of this, they also resolved to leave their houses, and
with their wives and children accompany the sacred charge, thinking that
life without the saint's protection would be unsafe. This company
traversed nearly the whole country, carrying the body with them; and being
after a time advised to seek refuge in Ireland, sailed from the mouth of
the Derwent, in Cumberland, after taking a distressing farewell of their
friends, who stood watching on the shore. A dreadful storm overtook the
ship, and a copy of the Evangelists adorned with gold and jewels fell
overboard into the sea. The vessel was in such distress that the party
turned back, and landed at the place from which they started. They
suffered many trials, and it is said for seven years they were in charge
of the holy body and fleeing from the barbarians. At length the saint
himself appeared in a vision, and told the monk Hunred where to search for
the book when the tide was out, and also where to find a horse to draw the
carriage on which the body lay. The book was duly found, and its leaves
were all sound and perfect. And when a bridle was held up before the
horse, it ran up to the monk and offered itself to be yoked. The body was
afterwards carried to Chester-le-Street, the second see of the diocese of
Durham, and there deposited; and on account of the sanctity thereby
imparted, the King settled extensive lands on the Church for ever. King
Alfred confirmed this grant, and on one occasion St. Cuthbert appeared to
King Alfred as he was sitting reading the Scriptures, while his men were
out fishing, and not only promised an abundant supply to their nets, but
encouraged him to persevere in routing the Danes, all which promises were
duly fulfilled.


St. Cuthbert, pupil of Bede, wrote to a friend this account of the last
days of his master: "Bede was much troubled with shortness of breath, yet
without pain, for a fortnight before the day of our Lord's resurrection;
but he passed his time cheerful and rejoicing, giving thanks to Almighty
God every day and every night, nay every hour, and daily read lessons to
us his disciples; and whatever remained of the day he spent in singing
psalms. He also passed all the night awake in joy and thanksgiving, except
so far as a very slight slumber prevented it; but he no sooner awoke than
he presently repeated his wonted exercises, and ceased not to give thanks
to God with uplifted hands. O truly happy man! He chanted the sentence of
St. Paul the apostle, 'It is dreadful to fall into the hands of the living
God,' and much more out of Holy Writ, wherein also he admonished us to
think of our last hour and to shake off the sleep of the soul; and being
learned in our poetry, he quoted some things in it. He also sang
antiphons, according to our custom and his own, one of which is, 'O King
of glory, Lord of all power, who triumphing this day did ascend above all
the heavens, do not leave us orphans, but send down upon us the Spirit of
truth which was promised by the Father! Hallelujah!' And when he came to
the words 'do not leave us orphans,' he burst into tears and wept much;
and an hour after he began to repeat what he had commenced, and we
hearing it, mourned with him. By turns we read and by turns we wept; nay,
we wept always while we read. In such joy we passed a period of fifty
days. During these days he laboured to compose two works, well worthy to
be remembered--the translation of the Gospel of St. John, and some
collections from the 'Book of Notes' of Bishop Isidorus. When the Tuesday
before the ascension of our Lord came, he began to suffer more in his
breath, and a small swelling appeared in his feet. But he passed all that
day, and dictated cheerfully, and now and then among other things said,
'Go on quickly. I know not how long I shall hold out, and whether my Maker
will not soon take me away.' When the morning appeared, he ordered us to
write with all speed what he had begun, and this done, we walked in
procession with the relics of the saints till the third hour, as the
custom of that day was. There was one of us, however, with him who said to
him, 'Most dear master, there is still one chapter wanting. Do you think
it troublesome to be asked any more questions?' He answered, 'It is no
trouble. Take your pen, and dip and write fast.' Which he did. But at the
ninth hour he said to me, 'I have some little articles of value in my
chest, such as pepper, napkins, and incense; run quickly and bring the
priests of our monastery to me, that I may distribute among them the gifts
which God has bestowed on me. The rich in this world are bent on giving
gold and silver and other precious things. But I, with much charity and
joy, will give my brothers that which God has given to me.' He spoke to
every one of them, admonishing and entreating them that they would
carefully say masses and prayers for him, which they readily promised; but
they all mourned and wept, especially because they said that they should
no more see his face in this world. They rejoiced, however, because he
said, 'The time is come that I shall return to Him who formed me out of
nothing. I have lived long; my merciful Judge well foresaw my life for me;
the time of my dissolution draws nigh, for I desire to die and be with
Christ.' Having said much more, he passed the day joyfully till the
evening; but the boy above mentioned said, 'Dear master, there is yet one
sentence not written.' He answered, 'Write quickly.' Soon after the boy
said, 'The sentence is now written.' He replied, 'It is well; you have
said the truth. It is ended. Let my head rest on your hands, for it is a
great satisfaction to me to sit opposite my holy place, in which I was
wont to pray, that I may also, sitting, call upon my Father.' And thus on
the floor of his little cell, singing, 'Glory be to the Father, and to the
Son, and to the Holy Ghost,' when he had named the Holy Ghost, he
breathed his last, and so departed to the heavenly kingdom. All who were
present at the death of the blessed Father said they had never seen any
other person expire with so much devotion and in so tranquil a frame of
mind. For, as you have heard, so long as the soul animated his body, he
never ceased to give thanks to the true and living God, with outstretched
hands exclaiming, 'Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy
Ghost,' with other spiritual ejaculations."


Duke William was commander of the first cohort in Charlemagne's army, and
fought many battles with the infidels and subdued the Saracens, and then
founded the monastery of St. Saviour, in the Herault. Afterwards, in 806,
he disclosed to the King his desire of becoming a monk, a resolution which
caused much grief to all the Court. He rejected the liberal gifts which
were then offered him, but only asked for and obtained a reliquary
containing a portion of the wood of the holy cross. It had been sent to
Charles by Zechariah, Patriarch of Jerusalem. A crowd of nobles forced
their way into his presence and implored William not to desert them. But
being inflamed with a Divine ardour, he abandoned all he held dear, and
amid tears and groans took his farewell. When he reached the town of
Brives, he offered his armour on the altar of St. Julian, the martyr,
hanging his helmet and splendid shield over the martyr's tomb in the
church, and suspending outside the door his quiver and bow, with his long
lance and two-edged sword, as an offering to God. He then set forth in the
guise of a pilgrim of Christ, and passed through Aquitaine to the
monastery which he had built a short time before in the wilderness. He
drew near to it with naked feet, and with haircloth about his body. When
the brethren heard of his approach, they met him at the cross-roads, and
forming a triumphal procession against his will, conducted him to the
abbey. He then made his offering of the reliquary more precious than gold,
with gold and silver vessels and all kinds of ornaments; and having
proffered his petition, gave up the world with all its pomps and
enticements, was made a monk, and became another person in Christ Jesus.
(See another account, _ante_, p. 215.)


When Duke William, in 806, became a monk in the abbey of St. Saviour, in
the Herault, he at once showed his delight in every lowly task. He set
about making a good road up the steep cliffs, and cut through rocks to
make a causeway, using hammer and pickaxe like a day labourer. He also
planted vineyards and fruit-trees and laid out gardens. He laboured in all
ways with his own hands in true humility. He often prostrated himself
before the abbot and brethren, beseeching that for God's mercy he might be
allowed still greater self-renunciation and hard work. He sought the
lowest offices in the monastery, and the meaner the toil the more welcome.
He would gladly act as a beast of burden for the brethren in the Lord's
house. He who had been a mighty duke was not ashamed to mount a poor
donkey with a load of bottles, or carry fagots and pitchers of water, or
light the fires, or wash the bowls and platters. When the hour of
refection came, he would spread the table for the monks in due order, and
remain to watch the house, fasting till the meal was over. Once, when the
wood for baking was exhausted, he was forced to use twigs and straw, which
choked the oven, and was chidden for his delay. He had nothing with which
to clear out the ashes; but, rather than be late, he invoked Christ, and
making the sign of the cross, entered the oven himself and used his hands,
and neither was he scorched while throwing out hot cinders, nor was his
cowl singed. After this, the abbot and brethren consulting, forbade his
engaging in servile work, and allotted him a suitable cell, so that he
might apply his leisure to prayer and holy meditation. Thus, by degrees,
William arrived at great perfection in every virtue. He predicted the day
of his death, and when it occurred there was heard in the air a loud and
strange tolling of bells, though no human hands touched them.


The second most famous monastery in Switzerland is Einsiedeln, which rises
high on an undulating plain, and was founded in the days of Charlemagne. A
monk named Meinrad lived at that time, and had resolved to spend the rest
of his life in the wilderness devoted to prayer and to the faithful
guardianship of a little black image of the Virgin, which had been given
to him by Hildegarde, the abbess of Zurich. In 861 this holy man was
murdered by two robbers, who hoped to escape, but were pursued by two pet
ravens of the saint, which flapped their wings and haunted them till the
men reached Zurich, when notice was taken of the strange sight, and the
men were convicted and executed. The fame of the ravens and the saint
became published, and pilgrims and hermits flocked to the spot where the
saint had lived, and a Benedictine community built an abbey and church
there. They got a bull of Pope Pius VIII., authorising the consecration of
the church, and the bishop of Constance was about to proceed with the
consecration, when, on the night before, he was aroused by sounds of
angelic minstrels, and it was announced by a voice from heaven that there
was no need to go on with the sacred rite, as it had already been
consecrated by the powers of heaven and by the Saviour in person. The Pope
was satisfied that this was a true miracle, and granted plenary indulgence
to all pilgrims who should repair to this shrine of Our Lady of the
Hermits. From that time, during nine centuries, there has been a constant
series of pilgrimages, and the wealth of the monastery has grown
immensely, the abbot being a prince of the Holy Roman Empire. The French,
in 1798, stripped the chapel of its holy image; but the monks were equal
to the occasion, and produced a duplicate, which they said was the
original. Another attraction to pilgrims is a fountain with fourteen jets,
from one of which it is believed the Saviour once drank. Here pilgrims and
worshippers swarm, and rejoice in being near so hallowed a place.


This St. Meinrad, born about 863, when a young monk yearned to live alone
on the serene heights of the Alps, and he fixed on Mount Etzell, about six
miles from Lake Zurich. The pine forest behind, though frequented by
wolves, did not deter him. He tore himself from his brethren, and with one
pupil set out. He took nothing with him but his missal, a book of
instructions on the Gospels, the rule of St. Benedict, and the works of
Cassian. He fixed his eyes on the glittering pinnacles of ice and snow,
and settled down in solemn silence, with nothing but the creaking of the
pines and the chatter of the magpie within hearing. He made a little pine
house interlaced with boughs, and a widow who entertained him at a
half-way house built for him a little chapel and oratory. The mysterious
noises of this lofty abode, and its grand panorama of shining realms and
flitting colours, made his hut a constant pleasure. But pilgrims found him
out and began to increase, so that he had to leave it and retire far into
the forest. He took with him two young ravens to be the companions of his
solitude. One day, after he had been some years enjoying perfect solitude,
a carpenter in search of wood discovered his cell and gave him a present
of a little statue of the Virgin, which became miraculous. Pilgrims found
this out, and gave him presents till he was thought to be rich. Then two
robbers murdered him; but owing to their being pursued by the ravens,
they were suspected, then watched, and then convicted, as already stated.


In 870, the Danes having defeated the English near Croyland Abbey, the
fugitives reaching that place and relating the news caused the greatest
terror. The abbot and monks, confounded at the disaster, at once resolved
to keep with them the elder monks and children in the abbey, in the hope
of exciting pity, and to send off all the younger brethren with the relics
and jewels and the body of St. Guthlac by water. Among their treasures was
a large silver table, which, with some chalices, they threw into the well
of the cloister; but the table was so long that it could not be concealed,
and so had to be buried under ground. The younger monks carried off the
rest of the property into the woods. Meanwhile the abbot and monks clothed
themselves in their vestments, and entering the choir, chanted the
services of the hours, and went through all the Psalms of David, after
which the abbot himself said the High Mass. When the Mass was finished,
and the abbot and attendants had communicated, the Danes burst into the
church and slew the venerable abbot on the altar. The rest of the brethren
in vain endeavoured to escape, and were put to the torture, so that they
might reveal the place where the treasure was concealed. One little boy,
aged ten, who was under the charge of the prior, seeing his patron about
to be put to death, nobly entreated that he might be allowed to perish
with him. Fortunately one of the Danish earls took a fancy to the boy and
saved him. But all the monks were slain, and the brutal pirates broke into
the tombs and monuments of saints in search of treasure. When
disappointed, they collected all the dead bodies of their victims and set
fire to the monastery, and all were consumed. Next day the Danes proceeded
to Peterborough, and broke into the abbey, destroyed the altars and tombs,
and burned the books and charters, reducing the whole to a heap of ashes,
which smouldered for a fortnight.


During one of the marauding expeditions of the Danes in 870, when they
fixed their headquarters at York and ravaged all the country round,
brutally killing men, women, and children, the monks and nuns were
especial objects of their fury, and all lived in terror of a visit. In
Coldingham, an abbey in Yorkshire, the lady abbess, foreseeing, from the
proximity of the enemy, that her own house would shortly be attacked, and
valuing her honour more than life itself, called the nuns into the
chapter-house. There she made to them a touching address, setting forth
the brutal passions of the Danes and their own imminent peril. All
promised to listen to her advice and implicitly follow it. Upon this the
abbess, seizing a knife, cut off with it her nose and upper lip, and the
whole sisterhood immediately redeemed their promise by mutilating
themselves in the same manner. The next day the Danish troops invaded the
monastery, and seeing the horrible spectacle, recoiled from their victims
and gave orders that the house should be fired. This command was
immediately executed, and the abbey was burned to ashes, together with the
abbess and nuns, who thus nobly suffered martyrdom rather than risk a
worse fate.


After the Council of Trosley in 909 expressed a resolution as to the
disorderly life carried on in monasteries, where lay abbots, with wives
and children, soldiers and dogs, occupied the cloisters of monks and nuns,
some wealthy chiefs sought after new foundations. Duke William of Auvergne
invited Berno, abbot of Beaune, to take charge of a new institution at
Cluny. Berno began with twelve monks, and soon showed his skill in
reforms. He required his monks at the end of meals to gather up and
swallow all the crumbs of bread. This rule was complained of; but a dying
monk one day exclaimed in horror that he saw the devil was holding up in
accusation against him a bag of crumbs which he had been unwilling to
swallow. This glimpse of the future terrified the other monks into
submission. The monks of Cluny were also obliged to observe periods of
perfect silence, and this was also complained of; for they dare not shout,
even if they saw their horses stolen, or if they were seized and carried
to prison by the Northmen. The monks were bled five times a year, as their
only safeguard against disease; and when once two monks entreated the
abbot to allow them to take some medicine, he told them angrily that they
would never recover, and sure enough they died after taking it. Cluny soon
obtained much reputation, and bred saints and attracted great wealth.
Popes, kings, and emperors consulted the abbot as if he were an oracle.
One abbot was called the "archangel of monks"; another, named Odilo, was
called "King Odilo of Cluny." To be the abbot of Cluny came to be a higher
station than an archbishop or even a Pope. At the end of the twelfth
century there were no less than two thousand monasteries affiliated with
that of Cluny as head centre.


Monastic life in England had been at a low ebb when St. Dunstan was born
at Glastonbury, in Wiltshire, of noble parentage, in 925. He was an
excellent musician, as well as a painter and worker in brass and iron,
which accomplishments recommended him to the Court of King Edmund about
933. He was so ingenious that he was accused of magic arts; and it was an
item of evidence against him that his harp, when hanging on the wall,
twanged of itself. He was banished from Court, and lived for a time in a
small cell at Glastonbury. One night the devil appeared to him in the
shape of a beautiful woman; but he, knowing better, plucked a red-hot pair
of tongs from the fire, and seized her or him by the nose till the fiend
roared and bellowed. It was thought this legend was founded on the fact
that a lady of wealth who greatly admired Dunstan made him her heir, and
he built the abbey of Glastonbury with her money, and became the first
abbot thereof. He built also other monasteries. After many reverses of his
Court favour, he at length was made Bishop of Worcester, then of London,
and next Archbishop of Canterbury; and he died and was buried there in
987, though his body was afterwards carried off clandestinely by the monks
of Glastonbury to lie in their own abbey. On one occasion he is said to
have gained a victory over his opponents by exhibiting a crucifix which
spoke on his side; and another time, after arguments, he ended by
committing the cause of the Church to God, and immediately the floor of
the room fell where his enemies stood, while his own friends remained
unharmed, owing to the firmness of the beam supporting their side.


The monastery of St. Bernard was founded about 962 by a famous saint of
that name, at the head of a pass of the Alps, about 8,131 feet above the
sea. It is a massive building and exposed to tremendous storms. The chief
building accommodates eighty travellers, with stabling and storerooms.
Here live a community devoted to works of benevolence, in a desolate
region where seldom a week passes without a fall of snow, and which lies
eight feet deep all the year round, and often more. No wood grows within
two leagues, and all fuel is brought from a forest four leagues distant,
and forty horses are kept to fetch it. Ten or twelve brethren are always
on duty, for travellers pass nearly every day, notwithstanding all the
perils; and five or six dogs are kept in the hospice. When a traveller
reaches a certain house not far from the summit, a servant and dog issue
from the monastery to conduct the stranger. The dog is the only guide, and
nothing is seen of it except its tail, which directs the cavalcade. These
dogs are a cross between the Newfoundland and the Pyrenean. This hospice
soon became famous, and attracted many donations and grew wealthy. In 1480
it possessed ninety-eight benefices of the Church, and attained its
greatest prosperity; but its resources are now greatly reduced.


About 946 Turketul, who had been chancellor to King Edward, as well as to
his son Edmund and his other son Edred, had occasion to pass through
Croyland, when three old monks invited him to stay overnight in that
monastery. They took him to prayers, showed their relics, told their
wants, and begged him to act as their advocate with the King. The
hospitality of that night made a great impression on the chancellor, who
expressed to the King his wish to go there and turn monk himself some
early day. The King was amazed, yet could not thwart his faithful servant,
and at last consented and fixed a day to accompany the new monk to his
destination; and meanwhile the chancellor gave away all his manors to the
King, giving one-tenth to the monastery. The day arrived, and also the
King, and his old servant, who, after laying aside his lay habit and
receiving the benediction of the bishop, became abbot of Croyland. Many
learned men soon joined and became priests or monks in the same house. The
abbot employed them in school-keeping, and made a point of going every day
to inspect the progress of each pupil, taking with him a servant, who
carried figs or raisins, nuts or walnuts, apples or pears, to distribute
as rewards. Turketul made great improvements at Croyland during his rule,
which continued till 975, and the monastery became wealthy and powerful.
He presented a great bell to the monastery, called Guthlac, and it and
some others, soon afterwards added, made up the best peal of bells in all
England of that day. A great fire destroyed this famous monastery in 1091.


In 975 Abbot Turketul, of Croyland, caught a fever, and on the fourth day,
lying on his bed, he assembled forty-seven monks and four lay brethren in
his chamber, and called his steward to state the position and treasures
of the convent. There were numerous most precious relics, which the
Emperor Henry and other kings and nobles, desiring to obtain the goodwill
of Turketul, had bestowed upon him while he was chancellor. Among these he
chiefly reverenced the thumb of the blessed Apostle Bartholomew (a gift of
the Emperor), so that he always carried it about with him, and crossed
himself with it in all perils and in storm or lightning. He greatly
reverenced likewise some of the hairs of the holy mother of God, Mary,
which the King of France had given him, enclosed in a golden box. Also a
bone of St. Leodegarius, bishop and martyr, a gift of the Prince of
Aquitaine, and many other relics. The steward also produced the whole of
the gold and silver vessels, which he and the treasurer preserved entirely
for the wants of the monastery. As the fever increased, Turketul
communicated in the sacred mysteries of Christ, and embracing with both
arms the cross which his attendants had brought from the church before the
convent, he kissed it so frequently with many sighs, tears, and groans,
and so devout were the sayings which he addressed to each of the wounds of
Christ, that he excited to copious tears all the brethren who stood around
him. On the day before his death he delivered a short discourse to his
brethren who were present on the observance of order, on brotherly love,
on guarding against negligence. He also, in a prophetic admonition,
cautioned them thus: "Guard well your fire"--which some interpreted to
mean love, and others the conflagration of the building, which afterwards
actually took place. Then bidding them a last farewell, he from the bottom
of his heart besought God for them all. And then the vital powers failed,
and languor oppressed him till he passed from this world to the
Father--from the toils of the abbey to Abraham's bosom. He was buried in
his own church which he had built from the foundations near the great
altar in the sixty-eighth year of his age and the twenty-seventh of his
monkhood. The great fire took place one hundred years later.


The monk Nilus, who was reputed to be the wisest man of his age, was
grieved that his friend John, Archbishop of Placenza, should be so much
inclined to meddle in politics, and warned him rather to retire from the
world. John would not be warned, and was punished for joining a conspiracy
against the Pope by having his eyes put out, his tongue cut off, and being
cast into a dungeon. Nilus was so shocked at this news that he left his
monastery near Gaeta and journeyed to Rome, and begged the Emperor then
to let him join the archbishop, that they might do penance together for
their sins. But the Pope and Emperor, instead of this, ordered further
punishments for the archbishop. Nilus then told them both plainly that, as
they had shown no mercy to the poor prisoner who had been committed to
their hands, neither could they expect any mercy from the Heavenly Father
for their own sins. The young Emperor Otho III. was rather pleased with
his plain speaking, and invited Nilus to ask any other favour he pleased;
but Nilus answered, "I have nothing to ask of you but the salvation of
your own soul; for though you are an emperor, you must die like other men,
and then must give account of your deeds, be they good or bad." The
Emperor on hearing this burst into tears, took the crown off his head, and
begged the man of God to give him his blessing. When Nilus had reason to
know that when he died the Governor of Gaeta intended to bring his body to
Gaeta for public burial, and to preserve his bones as a patron saint to
Gaeta, Nilus was shocked, and protested that he would rather let no one
know where he would be buried. So in his old age he took leave of his
monks and set off towards Rome, telling them, as they wept, that he was
going to prepare a monastery where they should all meet once more. On
reaching Tusculum, he rode into a small convent of St. Agatha, saying,
"Here is my resting-place for ever." He would not leave the spot, and
charged the monks not to bury him in a church nor build any arch or
monument over his grave; but if they wished some token, then to make it a
resting-place for pilgrims, for he had been a pilgrim all his life.


The monk Nilus, who lived in the tenth century, was dedicated in his
infancy to the service of God, and at an early age was delighted to read
of the monks St. Antony and St. Hilarion and St. Simeon Stylites, and
developed a turn for an ascetic life. This led to his being consulted by
men of all ranks, who put to him puzzling questions. One day a noble, who
lived a loose life, put some unbecoming queries, when a priest, to divert
the conversation, asked Nilus of what kind was the forbidden fruit which
Adam tasted in Paradise. Nilus answered, "A crab-apple." Whereupon the
party laughed. He then rebuked them. "Laugh not; such a question deserves
such an answer. Moses has not told us precisely what tree it was: why
should we wish to know what the Holy Scriptures have concealed?" Another
day Nilus was visiting a castle, when he met a Jewish physician, who
professed to fear that Nilus's habits of fasting might bring on epileptic
fits, and gave him a medicine that would save him from all diseases. Nilus
only replied, "One of your own countrymen, a Hebrew, has told us that it
is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. We have a
great Physician of our own--the Lord Jesus Christ; in Him we trust, and do
not need your remedies." Nilus was once sent for to advise a rich duchess
who had incited her two sons to murder her nephew, and her conscience was
ill at ease. The bishops had prescribed for her to repeat the Psalter
three times a week and to give alms to the poor. But she could not rest
till she took the advice of Nilus. After thinking a little he said to her,
"Give one of your sons to the relations of the murdered man, to do with
him what they please, for the Lord has said, 'Whoso sheddeth man's blood
his blood shall be shed again.'" The widow said she could not do that, for
they might kill her son. She then wept bitterly, and gave money to Nilus
that he might purchase from God a forgiveness of her sins. This excited
the anger of Nilus, who hurried away, determined to be no partaker in her


The chronicle _Beccense_ thus describes the origin of the famous monastery
of Bec: "In the year 1034 Herluinus, at the inspiration of our Lord Jesus
Christ, the Author of all good things, casting aside the nobility of the
world, for which he had been not a little conspicuous, having thrown off
the girdle of military service, betook himself with entire devotion to the
poverty of Christ, and that he might be free for the service of God alone,
through the single love of God, assumed with great joy the habit of a
monk. This man, who had been a passionate warrior, and who had gotten
himself a great name and favour with Robert, the son of the second
Richard, and with the lords of different foreign countries, first built a
church on a farm of his, which was called Burnevilla. But because this
place was on a plain and lacked water, being admonished in a dream by the
Blessed Mother of God, he retired to a valley close to a river, which is
called Bec, and there began to build a noble monastery to the honour of
the same St. Mary, which God brought to perfection for the glory of His
name, and to be the comfort and salvation of many men. To which Herluinus
God, according to the desire of his heart, gave for his helpers and
counsellors Lanfranc, a man every way accomplished in liberal acts; then
Anselm, a man approved in all things, a man affable in counsel, pitiful,
chaste, sober in every clerical duty, wonderfully instructed--which two
men through God's grace were afterwards consecrated Archbishops of
Canterbury. And to this same Bec, which began in the greatest poverty, so
many and such great men, clerical as well as lay men, resorted, that it
might fitly be said to the holy abbot, 'With the riches of thy name hast
thou made thy house drunk, and with the torrent of the wisdom of thy sons
hast thou filled the world.'"


Ingulph, abbot of Croyland, describes the fire of 1091 thus: "Our plumber,
who had been employed on the tower of the church, one night, with fatal
madness, covered his fire over with dead cinders, so that he might be more
prepared to begin work next morning, and left for supper. Some hours
after, when all were buried in slumber, and a strong north wind blowing,
the inhabitants of the town, seeing great flames in the belfry, began to
shout and batter at the gates. The clamour of the populace awoke me, and I
could discern, as clear as noonday, the servants of the monastery
shouting, wailing, and rushing hither and thither. As I rushed to the
dormitory I was severely burnt with the drippings of molten lead and
brass. I called and shouted to the brethren, still plunged in sleep, and
on recognising my voice they leaped from their beds in terror in their
nightdresses and half naked, many being wounded and maimed in the hurry of
escape. I attempted to regain my own chamber to get the clothes which I
had there, and distribute them in case of necessity. But the heat was so
excessive and the streams of molten lead so copious that even the boldest
of the young men dared not to enter. I then found that the infirmary had
been caught with the flames, invincible in their fury; and even the green
trees, ashes, oaks, and osiers, growing near, were scorched. The tower of
the church soon fell on the southern side; and I, terrified at the crash,
dropped upon the ground half dead in a swoon, and lay till I was rescued
by my brethren. At dawn of day the brethren, weeping and depressed, some
of them pitiably mangled in the limbs, performed in common Divine service
with mournful voices and woful accents in the hall of our great master.
After having fully completed the daily and nightly hours of Divine
service, we proceeded to examine the state of the whole monastery. The
fire still raged and destroyed the granary and stable. We searched the
choir, which had been reduced to ashes, and found that all the books of
the Divine service, both the antiphoners and graduals, had perished.
Entering the vestry, we found that all our sacred vestments, the relics of
the saints, and some other valuables there deposited, were uninjured by
the fire. Some of the muniments in the charter room were shrivelled up by
the heat; and our beautiful writings, ornamented with golden crosses,
paintings, and ornamented letters, were destroyed in this night of
blackness. Besides these our whole library, containing more than three
hundred original volumes, besides the lesser volumes, numbering more than
four hundred, perished. By that casualty we lost a very beautiful tablet,
admirably constructed of every kind of metal to represent the various
stars and signs of the zodiac, each of a different colour--a gift from the
King of France to Turketul. Our dormitory, as also the necessary house,
the infirmary, and washing house, the refectory and all its contents
except a few dark-coloured cups, and the cross cup of the late King of the
Mercians, were, together with the kitchens and all their contents, reduced
to ashes. Our cellar and the very casks full of beer were destroyed. The
abbot's hall also, and his chamber, and the court of the monastery
perished in the conflagration, the flames of which, burning as it were
with Greek fury, overran them on all sides. A few of the huts of the
almsmen, the feeding houses of our beasts of burden, and the sheds of the
other animals, which were separated by stone walls, alone remained
unburnt. This conflagration was prognosticated by many signs and portents.
Repeated visions by night predicted it; all were understood after the
occurrence of the fact. The words of our holy Father Turketul in his last
moments, earnestly warning us to guard diligently our fire; the words of
our blessed Father Ulfran, bidding me in a nightly vision at Fontenelle to
preserve well the fire of the hospice and the three saints Guthlac, Neot,
and Waldeve,--of all these plain warnings I now understand and recognise
the meaning; but I do so unprofitably and too late. I now indulge in vain
complainings, and pour forth those lamentations and inconsolable tears
righteously exacted by my faults. Many nobles contributed to our wants,
and in the long list of benefactors let not the sainted memory of a poor
woman, Juliana of Weston, be forgotten, who gave us of her poverty her
whole substance--namely, a great quantity of reels of cotton wherewith to
sew the vestments of the brethren of our monastery."


The constant desire to reform the ways of monks brought forward John
Gualbert, a Florentine of noble birth. When a youth he was ordered by his
father to avenge a kinsman's death; and meeting the murderer on Good
Friday in a narrow pass, he was about to fall upon him and slay him, when
suddenly the murderer threw himself from his horse and placed his arms in
the form of a cross, as if expecting certain death. The avenger, however,
in token of the holy sign and sacred day, spared him. Another time
Gualbert halted to pay his devotions in the monastic church of St.
Minian's, near Florence, when he noticed that the crucifix inclined its
head towards him. This turned his thoughts to holy things. He entered a
monastery, and after ten years' experience he resolved to found one of his
own at Vallombrosa, in 1039. He drew together a society of hermits and
coenobites. But his great discovery was the introduction of lay brethren,
whose business it was to practise handicrafts, and to manage the secular
affairs of the community, while by these labours the monks were enabled to
devote themselves wholly to spiritual contemplation. The system
established was rigorous. A novice had to undergo a year's probation,
doing degrading work, such as keeping swine and daily cleaning out the
pigsty with bare hands. The monks of Vallombrosa were attired in grey; but
afterwards this was changed to brown, and then to black. Gualbert died in


Of all the incentives to monkish industry none excelled that used by
Theodoric, abbot of St. Evroult, and stated _ante_, p. 223. Another
chronicler gives this version of the same: "One of the brethren in a
certain convent was guilty of repeated transgressions of monastic rule,
but was a good scribe, and so applied himself to writing that he copied of
his own accord a bulky volume of the Holy Scriptures. After his death his
soul was brought before the tribunal of the righteous Judge. There the
evil spirits sharply accused him, and laid to his charge innumerable
offences. On the other hand, the holy angels produced the volume which the
brother had transcribed in the sanctuary of the Lord, counting letter for
letter of the enormous volume against the sins the monk had committed. At
last the letters had a majority of one, against which all the devices of
the devils could discover nothing as a set-off. The mercy of the Judge was
therefore extended to the sinful brother, and his soul was permitted to
return to his body, in order that he might enjoy an opportunity of
amending his life. Ponder well, then, my dearly beloved brethren, and shun
sloth as a deadly poison. Remember what an eminent Father once said--that
only a single evil spirit vexes with his wiles the monk who is
laboriously occupied, while a thousand devils infest the idler, and
provoke him by manifold temptations on every side, causing him to hanker
after the soul-destroying vanities of the world, and after indulgence in
fatal delights. You have not the means to feed the poor or build stately
churches, but you can pray that the avenues to your hearts may be guarded.
Pray, read, chant, write; be instant in occupations of a like kind; and
you will prudently arm yourselves against the temptations of evil


Among the monks of St. Evroult, a monk named Witmund, about 1063, was an
accomplished musician as well as grammarian, of which he left evidence in
the antiphons and responses which he composed, consisting of some charming
melodies in the antiphonary and collection of versicles. He completed the
history of the Life of St. Evroult by adding nine antiphons and three
responses. He composed four antiphons to the psalms at vespers, and added
the three last for the second nocturn with the fourth, eighth, and twelfth
response, and an antiphon at the canticle, and produced a most beautiful
antiphon for the canticle, at the Gospel in the second vespers. The
history of the Life of St. Evroult, composed for the use of the monks, was
first recited by two young monks, Hubert and Rodolph, sent for that
purpose by the abbot of Chartres. Afterwards Reginald the Bald composed
the response "To the glory of God," sung at vespers with seven antiphons,
which still appeared in 1063 in the service books of the monks of St.
Evroult. Roger de Sap also and other studious brethren produced with pious
devotion several hymns, having the same holy Father for their subject, and
which they placed in the library of the abbey for the use of their


In 1062 Wulfstan was made Bishop of Worcester. His parents devoted him to
a religious life from his childhood, and he took the monastic habit in the
monastery at Worcester. He quickly became remarkable for his vigils, his
fastings, his prayers, and all kinds of virtues, and was soon made master
and tutor of the novices, and then precentor and treasurer of the church.
Having these opportunities and devoting himself wholly to a life of
contemplation, he resorted to it day and night, either for prayer or holy
reading, and assiduously mortified his body by fasting for two or three
days together. He was so addicted to devout vigils that he not only spent
the nights sleepless, but often the day and night together, and sometimes
went for four days and nights without sleep--a thing we could hardly have
believed if we (says Orderic) had not heard it from his own mouth--so that
he ran great risk from his brains being parched, unless he hastened to
satisfy the demands of nature by the refreshment of sleep. Even at last,
when the urgent claims of nature compelled him to yield to sleep, he did
not indulge himself by stretching his limbs to rest on a bed or couch, but
would lie down for a while on one of the benches in the church, resting
his head on the book which he had used for praying and reading. After some
time this reverend man was appointed prior and father of the convent, an
office which he worthily filled, by no means abating the strictness of his
previous habits, but rather increasing it in many respects, in order to
afford a good example to others. When, after the lapse of some years, he
was named for the office of bishop, though at first he declared with an
oath that he would rather submit to lose his head than be advanced to so
high a dignity, he at last yielded to the general desire.


The monk Abelard, or Master Peter, was twelve years the senior of Bernard,
of noble family, haughty in manner, singularly handsome, and dressed to
great advantage. He had a commanding intellect, and became a teacher of
renown, being followed by crowds of admirers. His success intoxicated him,
and he gave way to pleasure. He was said to have been a tutor to a niece
of a Canon Fulbert, named Heloïse, and their intimacy led to an
unconquerable love, since celebrated by all the poets. They were at last
secretly married, and after being covered with reproaches from relatives,
were separated, he seeking refuge in the abbey of St. Denis, and Heloïse
becoming a nun at Argenteuil, and afterwards a prioress in Troyes
district. Abelard was dogged by enemies, charged with heresy, and he
became a hermit on the banks of the Ardusson, near Troyes. Yet wherever he
was, his magnetic power drew the crowd after him, and he had again to
escape to a monastery of St. Gildas on the coast of Brittany, where,
however, the morals of the fraternity were very loose. At intervals he and
Heloïse met and corresponded, and their constancy was well known.
Abelard's views relating to the Trinity, which he expounded with
extraordinary ingenuity and power, roused the enmity of the orthodox
Bernard, who challenged him to a public discussion at Sens. These two men
were the ablest theologians of their day, and the approaching contest
excited extraordinary interest in the civilised world; the king, and
bishops, and abbots, and grandees watched keenly the stages of the
meeting. After, however, Bernard had begun to attack the heretical book,
Abelard abruptly left the meeting, saying that he preferred to appeal to
Rome. Abelard ended his days in pious exercises in the monastery of Cluny.


This public discussion as to orthodox doctrines so eagerly looked forward
to between Abelard and St. Bernard, and which ended so abortively, was
described by Abelard's disciple Berenger in a letter somewhat satirically.
He describes Bernard as a mere idol of the crowd--gifted with a plentiful
flow of words, but destitute of liberal culture and of solid
abilities--one who, by the solemnity of his manner, imposed the merest
truisms on his followers as if they were profound oracles. He ridicules
Bernard's reputation as a worker of miracles; hints that his proceedings
against Abelard were prompted by a spirit of bigotry, jealousy, and
vindictiveness, rendered more odious by his professions of sanctity and
charity. Of the opinions imputed to his master, he maintains that some
were never held by Abelard, and the rest, if rightly interpreted, were
true and Catholic. The book of Abelard, he says, had been brought up for
consideration at Sens when the bishops had dined, and it was then read
amidst jests and laughter while the wine was doing its work in their
brains. Any expression above the reach of their understanding excited
their rage and curses against Abelard. As the reading went on, one after
another succumbed to sleep, and when the question was put to them they
answered without being able to articulate a word. The council reported
their condemnation of Abelard's doctrines, and requested Abelard to be
interdicted from teaching. Bernard also used his influence with the Pope,
who, without even calling on Abelard for explanations, ordered him to be
shut up in a monastery; and it was there that the abbot of Cluny offered
an asylum, in which Abelard ended his days.


After Abelard died a monk in Cluny, the lord abbot of Cluny gave this
account of him to Heloïse: "I write of that servant and true philosopher
of Christ, Master Peter, whom the Divine dispensation sent to Cluny in the
last days of his life. A long letter would not unfold the humility and
devotion of his conversation while among us. When at my order he took a
high place in our large company, he always appeared the least of all by
the meanness of his attire. In the processions, when he with the others
preceded me, I wondered, nay, I was well-nigh confounded, to see so famous
a man able so to despise and abase himself. He was so sparing in his food,
in his drink, in all that related to his body, as in his dress; and he so
condemned both in himself and others, both by word and deed, I do not say
superfluities, but all save the merest necessaries. He read continually;
he prayed frequently; he was silent always, unless the conversation of the
monks, or a public discourse in the convent, addressed to them, urged him
to speak. What more shall I say? His mind, his tongue, his work, always
meditated, taught, or confessed philosophical, learned, or Divine things.
A man simple and upright, fearing God and eschewing evil--in this
conversation for a time he consecrated his life to God. In the exercise of
all holy works, the advent of the Divine visitor found him, not sleeping,
as it does many, but on the watch. When his end came, how faithfully he
commended his body and soul to Him here and in eternity, the religious
brethren are witnesses, and the whole congregation of that monastery. Thus
Master Peter finished his days."


The popular legend as to the origin of the order of Carthusians is, that
about 1084 one Bruno, a native of Cologne, and master of the cathedral
school of Rheims, was anxious to escape from a domineering archbishop,
whose favourite saying was, "The archbishopric of Rheims would be a fine
thing, if one had not to sing masses for it." Bruno one day, being in
Paris, witnessed the funeral procession of a very pious and learned
doctor, and while on its way to the grave the corpse raised itself from
the bier and exclaimed, "By God's righteous judgment I am judged." This so
horrified the company that the ceremony was postponed to next day. But
next day the same thing happened, and again on a third day, the mournful
tone of the dead man shocking every listener. Bruno was so overcome with a
sense of the vanity of all earthly things that he resolved to retire into
some solitude. A bishop of Grenoble advised him to choose the rocky woods
of Chartreuse, and to that place he and six companions retired. They wore
goatskins, and lived on the most meagre fare. They spoke only on Sundays
and festivals, and underwent a weekly flagellation. But by their rules no
one was to impose any extraordinary austerity on himself without the leave
of the prior. The community at first consisted of hermits and coenobites.
They contrived soon to acquire a good library, and they excelled in
transcribing and literary labours. After six years Bruno was invited by
the Pope to Rome; but he grew weary of city life, and founded a second
Chartreuse. The order of Carthusians gradually flourished; but their rule
was too rigid for females; their habits were less prone to luxury than
those of other orders. Yet the convents in the seventeenth century were
said to be reduced to five.


About 1098, one Robert, the son of a noble in Champagne, having entered a
monastery, and finding the rule too lax for his tastes, went, with twenty
companions, to Cistercium or Citeaux, a lonely wood near Dijon, where they
settled and built a monastery. The third abbot was Stephen Harding, an
Englishman, who framed the rules of their order. Their dress was white;
they were to avoid pomp and luxury and refuse all gifts. From September to
Easter they were to eat only one meal daily. The monks were to give
themselves to spiritual employments, and instead of slaves they hired
servants to assist in labour. The white dress, being a novelty in France,
gave offence and caused rivalry to other orders, who wore black, the white
being deemed a badge of overweening self-righteousness. The order of
Citeaux acquired great celebrity by producing St. Bernard, its most famous
member. The mode of government resembled the aristocratic rather than the
monarchical, the affiliated monasteries joining in the election of abbot.
One remarkable feature of the rule was the holding of an annual general
chapter, at which every abbot of the order was imperatively required to
attend. This meeting helped to keep the branch societies in harmony. The
order spread very rapidly, and in 1151 was said to consist of five hundred
monasteries. Until the rise of the mendicant orders, the Cistercians were
the most popular of the orders, and grew rich.


St. Bernard, perhaps the most influential of all monks, was born in 1071,
had great beauty of person, charming manner, and a facile eloquence, which
gave him an early ascendency. The monastery at Citeaux, near Dijon, had
been founded fifteen years, when, at the age of twenty-two, he felt a
yearning to join the company. One Stephen Harding, an Englishman, was the
abbot, and kept the whole of St. Bernard's rule literally. They had one
meal a day, and never tasted meat, fish, grease, or eggs, and even milk
only rarely. When Bernard entered, a scarcity bordering on famine was felt
there. The rule of the house then was as follows: At two in the morning
the great bell was rung, and the monks rose and hastened from their
dormitory, along the dark cloisters, in solemn silence, to the church. A
single small lamp suspended from the roof gave a glimmering light. After
short private prayer they began matins, which lasted two hours. The next
service was lauds, at the first glimmer of dawn. During the interval the
monk's time was his own. He went to the cloister, and employed the time in
reading, writing, or meditation. He then devoted himself to various
religious exercises till nine, and next went forth to work in the fields.
At two they dined; at nightfall they assembled to vespers; and at six or
eight, according to the season, finished the day with complin, and passed
at once to the dormitory. Bernard took to these austerities with great
enthusiasm. He used to say that whatever knowledge he had of the
Scriptures he had acquired chiefly in the woods and fields, and that the
beeches and oaks had been his best teachers in the Word of God. He said
cities to him were like a prison, and solitude was a paradise.


St. Bernard, the son of a noble in Burgundy, as already stated, soon
displayed a genius for self-mortification as a Cistercian monk. He was so
self-concentred that, when he had walked a whole day on the banks of
Lausanne Lake, he never noticed that there was any lake at all. Once he
borrowed a horse for a journey, but never noticed what sort of bridle it
had. He had such a reputation for learning and piety that many potentates
referred their differences to him, and Bolingbroke said that the cell of
Bernard was a scene of as much intrigue as the court of the Emperor. He
said of Abelard that he knew everything that is in heaven and earth but
himself. Bernard died at sixty-three, and was buried at Clairvaux in 1153.
He said many men know many things--measure the heavens, count the stars,
dive into the secrets of Nature--but know not themselves.


The biographers and chroniclers ascribe abundant miracles to St. Bernard.
A boy with an ulcer in his foot begged the holy man to touch and bless
him, and the sign of the cross was made and the lame was healed. Once a
knight had been suffering from a quartan fever for eighteen months, and
used to foam at the mouth and lie unconscious; but Bernard cured him
instantly with a piece of consecrated bread. Young Walter of Montmirail,
when three months old, was brought by his mother to be blessed; the
conscious child clutched at Bernard's hand and kissed it. Once an
incredible number of flies filled the church at Foigny at the time of its
dedication, and their noise and buzzing were an intolerable nuisance; but
the saint merely said, "I excommunicate them," and next morning they were
all dead, and had to be shovelled out with spades. On another occasion, as
Bernard was returning from Chalons, the wind and rain and cold were
fierce, and one of the company by some accident lost his horse, which
scampered away over the plain. Bernard said, "Let us pray," and they were
scarcely able to finish the Lord's Prayer before the horse came back tame
and mild, stood before Bernard, and was restored to its owner.


St. Bernard had at an early age converted his brothers and made monks of
them; but he had a sister, Humbeline, who showed no enthusiasm for a
nunnery. She married a man of rank and affluence, and did her part in the
gay world. One day she thought she would like to go and visit her brothers
in the monastery, and with great pomp and retinue she drove to the gates
of Clairvaux and asked to see Bernard. But he, "detesting and execrating
her as a net of the devil to catch souls," refused to go out and meet her.
Her brother Andrew, whom she encountered at the gate, also treated her
with harshness, and observed with unbecoming contempt upon her fine
apparel. She burst into tears at this coldness, and at last exclaimed,
"And what if I am a sinner? It is for such that Christ died! It is because
I am one that I need the advice and conversation of godly men. If my
brother despises my body, let not a servant of the Lord despise my soul.
Let him come and command: I am ready to obey." This speech brought out
Bernard, who ordered her to imitate her saintly mother: to renounce the
luxuries and vanities of the world, to lay aside her fine clothes, and to
become a nun inwardly even if she could not assume the outward appearance.
The sister went home, thought over all this, and ended by coming round to
Bernard's views. She astonished her friends and neighbours by the sudden
change in her ways of life. Her fastings, prayers, and vigils showed that
she also had a turn for the monastic life. She got permission from her
husband and retired to the convent of Juilly, where she emulated his
austere devotion, and became worthy of such a brother as Bernard.


A rivalry sprang up between the monks of Cluny and those of Citeaux, the
white dress of the latter causing much bitterness to those in black.
Bernard of Clairvaux was the champion of the Cistercians, and Peter of the
Cluniacs. Bernard blamed the Cluniacs for their luxury and secular habits.
He said many of the monks, though young and vigorous, pretended sickness,
that they might be allowed to eat flesh. Those who abstained from flesh
indulged their palate without stint in exquisite cookery; while, in order
to provoke the appetite, they drank largely of the strongest and most
fragrant wines, which were often rendered more stimulating by spices. At
table, instead of grave silence, light worldly gossip, jests, and idle
laughter prevailed. The Cluniacs had coverlets of fur or of rich and
variegated materials for their beds. They dressed themselves in the
costliest furs, silk, and cloth, fit for robes of princes. Even the stuff
for a cowl was chosen with feminine and fastidious care. This excessive
care for the body betokened a want of mental culture. Even the mode of
worship and magnificence of the churches were excessive in splendour. The
churches were elaborately adorned and the poor were neglected. There were
pictures and monstrous and grotesque carvings in the walls, wholly
unsuited to sacred worship and apt to distract the mind. The chandeliers
and candlesticks were of gold and silver and set with jewels; the
pavements were inlaid with figures of saints and angels, whose character
was thereby degraded. The golden shrines containing relics seemed only to
flatter the wealthy and allure them into opening their purse-strings.
These abbots travelled at home with a pomp and retinue of sixty horses,
only suited to distant undertakings of great pith and moment. All these
unseemly practices cried aloud for redress.


Peter the Venerable replied to St. Bernard and defended the Cluniacs. He
retorts that the white dress of the Cistercians was too significant of
pride, while the black dress of Cluny was better suited to the grave and
sad. The severity of the Cistercian discipline was excessive, and only
drove monks out of the order. The use of furs and materials for dress and
bedding and the relaxation of fastings were properly made to suit the
diversities of climate. Moreover, as coats of skins were given to Adam and
Eve, not for pride, but for shame, the use of furs might well serve to
remind us that we were exiles from our heavenly country. If the Cluniacs
had lands, they were at least more indulgent to their tenants; if they had
serfs, this was because these could not be separated from the lands. If
the Cluniacs had castles, these were generally turned into houses of
prayer; if they had tolls, they were reminded that St. Matthew came from
the class of toll-collectors; if they had tithes, they at least had
forsaken all earthly possessions before entering the order, and gave an
ample equivalent in the prayers and tears and alms which the monks used
for the benefit of the public. It was not necessary for the monks to work
at manual labour when they had ample employment in spiritual concerns and
priestly exercises. The washing of feet on receiving pilgrims and
strangers always involved a great waste of time. Though the Cluniacs were
blamed for having no bishops, this was sufficiently explained from their
being under the Bishop of Rome.


The subtle and ingenious schoolmen and doctors of the Middle Ages were too
often only "madly vain of dubious lore." One doctor of Paris, named Simon
Churnai, having acquired great fame in 1202 by his defence of the doctrine
of the Trinity, was so conceited as to say, "Oh, poor Jesus! how greatly
have I confirmed and exalted Your position! If I had chosen to attack it,
I could have destroyed it by much stronger reasons and objections!" Peter
Lombard, friend of St. Bernard, and author of the popular work entitled
"The Sentences," ventured to discuss such problems as the following: When
the angels were made, and how; whether they be all equal in essence,
wisdom, and freewill; whether they were created perfect and happy, or the
reverse; whether the demons differ in rank among themselves; whether they
all live in hell, or out of it; whether the good angels can sin, or the
bad act virtuously; whether they have bodies; and whether every person has
or has not a good angel to preserve him and a bad one to destroy him. The
most famous of the doctors had their favourite adjectives, as in the
following list:--

  The irrefragable doctor      Alexander Hales     1230.
  The angelical doctor         Thomas Aquinas      1256.
  The seraphic doctor          Bonaventura         1260.
  The wonderful doctor         Roger Bacon         1240.
  The most profound doctor     Ægidius de Columna  1280.
  The most subtle doctor       John Duns Scotus    1304.
  The most resolute doctor     Durand              1300.
  The invincible doctor        W. Occham           1320.
  The perspicuous doctor       Walter Burley       1320.
  The most enlightened doctor  Raymond Lully       1300.


Warin, abbot of St. Evroult, after serving God under the monastic rule for
forty-three years, one day in June 1137 was observed to sing Mass with
great devotion in the morning, when they buried the corpse of a soldier.
In the course of the day he took to his bed, and lay dangerously ill for
five days, during which the sick man heard Mass daily, and said an office
which he had regularly performed himself for the thirty years of his
priesthood. Seeing now that he was going the way of all flesh, he
earnestly sought the _viaticum_ for the great journey, and prepared to
present himself to the Most High King of Sabaoth by confessing his sins
with tears in his eyes, earnest and constant prayer, the holy unction, and
the life-giving participation of the Lord's body. At last, strengthened
with these great aids, he departed on June 21st; and having performed all
that belonged to a faithful champion of Christ, and commended himself and
his spiritual sons to the Lord God, fell asleep in the fifteenth day of
his government. The sorrowing brethren all joined in paying the last
offices to their lamented father, and he was buried in the chapter by the
side of the tomb of Abbot Osbern. A white stone was placed over his grave;
and, adds Orderic, "for the love I bore to my old and dear associate, and
afterwards my spiritual father, I composed an epitaph to be engraved upon


When Pope Eugenius was visiting Albero, Archbishop of Treves, in 1147,
with whom he remained three months, he was consulted and asked for an
opinion as to the prophecies of Hildegard, head of a monastic sisterhood
at St. Disibod's, in the diocese of Mentz. Hildegard, born in 1098, had
from her childhood been subject to fits of ecstasy, during which it was
said that, though ignorant of Latin, she uttered oracles in that
language, and these were eagerly heard, recorded, and circulated. With
the power of prophecy she was credited with the power of working miracles.
She came to be consulted on all manner of subjects by emperors, kings, and
popes. Her tone in addressing the highest personage was like that of a
true prophetess--one of pronounced superiority. She denounced the
corruptness of the monks and clergy with a vigour which delighted their
enemies. Even St. Bernard, when in Germany, became interested in the
position of Hildegard, and it was at his instance that the Pope examined
the subject, and gave her his approval and sanctioned a design she
entertained of building a convent in a spot on St. Rupert's Hill, near
Bingen, which had been revealed to her in a vision. Another ecstatic
visionary about the same period was Elizabeth of Schonau, who used in her
trances to utter oracles in Latin, and to relate her interviews with
angels and the Queen of Heaven; and both Hildegard and she attained the
honour of saintship. A little later, about 1190, Joachim, a Calabrian,
though not a prophet, attained the dignity of a seer, and was consulted by
popes and princes.


Abbot Sampson of Edmundsbury used to relate this: "In my earlier days as a
monk I journeyed to Rome on the business of this convent, and I passed
through Italy at that time when all clerks bearing letters of our lord the
Pope Alexander were taken, and some were imprisoned, and some hanged, and
some with nose and lips cut off were sent back to the Pope to his shame
and confusion. I, however, pretended to be a Scotchman; and putting on the
garb of a Scotchman, I often shook my staff in the manner they use that
weapon, which they call a pike, at those that mocked me, uttering fierce
language after the manner of the Scotch. To those who met and questioned
me as to who I was, I answered nothing but 'Ride, Rome, turn Canterbury.'
This I did to conceal myself and my errand, and that I should get to Rome
safer under the guise of a Scotchman. Having obtained letters from the
Pope even as I wished, on my return I passed by a certain castle, and was
taking my way from the city, and behold the officers thereof came about
me, laying hold upon me and saying, 'This vagabond, who makes himself out
to be a Scotchman, is either a spy or bears letters from the false Pope
Alexander.' And while they examined my ragged clothes, my leggings, my
breeches, and even the old shoes which I carried over my shoulders, after
the fashion of the Scotch, I thrust my hand into the little wallet which
I carried, wherein was contained the writing of our lord the Pope, close
by a little mug I had for drinking. And the Lord God and St. Edmund
permitting, I drew out that writing, together with the mug, so that,
extending my arm aloft, I kept the writ underneath the mug. They could see
the mug plainly enough, but they did not notice the writ; and so I got
clean out of their hands in the name of the Lord. Whatever money I had
about me, they took away; therefore I was obliged to beg from door to
door, being at no danger until I arrived in England."


Sampson, abbot of Edmundsbury (Bury St. Edmunds), was thus sketched by his
faithful chronicler Jocelyn of Brakeland: "The Abbot Sampson was of middle
stature, nearly bald, having a face neither round nor yet long, a
prominent nose, thick lips, clear and very piercing eyes, ears of the
quickest hearing, lofty eyebrows and often shaved, and he soon became
hoarse from a brief exposure to cold. On the day of his election he was
forty-seven years old, and had been a monk seventeen years, having a few
grey hairs in a reddish beard, with a few grey in a black head of hair,
which somewhat curled, but within fourteen years after his election it all
became white as snow; a man remarkably temperate, never slothful, well
able and willing to ride or walk, till old age gained upon him and
moderated such inclination; who on hearing the news of the cross being
captive, and the loss of Jerusalem, began to use under-garments of
horsehair, and a horsehair shirt, and to abstain from flesh and flesh
meats; nevertheless, he desired that meats should be placed before him
while at the table for the increase of the alms-dish. Sweet milk, honey,
and suchlike things he ate with greater appetite than other food. He
abhorred liars, drunkards, and chatterers; for virtue ever is consistent
with itself and rejects contraries. He also much condemned persons given
to murmur at their meat and drink, and particularly monks who were
dissatisfied therewith, himself adhering to the uniform course he had
practised when a monk. He had likewise the good quality, that he never
changed the dish you set before him. Once when I, then a novice, happened
to serve in the refectory, it came into my head to ascertain if this were
true, and I thought I would place before him a mess which would have
displeased any other but him. Yet he never noticed it. An eloquent man
both in French and Latin, but intent more on the substance of what he said
than on the manner of saying it."


One night Abbot Sampson of St. Edmundsbury dreamt that St. Edmund
complained to him that his altar required rebuilding, and that the shrine
or _loculus_, in which the saint lay buried, must be transferred. Sampson
took care to carry out this monition, and Jocelyn the chronicler relates
the imposing ceremony thus: "The festival of St. Edmund now approaching,
the marble blocks are polished, and all things are in readiness for
lifting of the shrine to its new place. A fast of three days was held by
all the people, and the abbot appointed the time and way for the work.
Coming therefore that night to matins, we found the great shrine raised
upon the altar, but empty, covered all over with white doeskin leather,
fixed to the wood with silver nails. Praises being sung, we all proceeded
with our disciplines. These finished, the abbot and some others with him
are clothed in their albs, and approaching reverently set about uncovering
the _loculus_. There was an outer cloth of linen inwrapping the _loculus_,
and all within this was a cloth of silk, and then another linen cloth, and
then a third; and so at last the _loculus_ was uncovered and seen resting
on a little tray of wood, that the bottom of it might not be injured by
the stone. Over the breast of the martyr there lay fixed to the surface of
the _loculus_ a golden angel about the length of a human foot, holding in
one hand a golden sword and in the other a banner. Lifting the _loculus_
and body therefrom, they carried it to the altar, and I reached out my
sinful hand to help in carrying, though the abbot had commanded that none
should approach except called. And the _loculus_ was placed in the shrine,
and the shrine for the present closed. We all thought that the abbot would
show the _loculus_ to the people, and bring out the sacred body again at a
certain period of the festival. But in this we were wofully mistaken. Our
lord the abbot spoke privily with the sacristan and Walter, the doctor,
and order was taken that twelve of the brethren should be appointed
against midnight who were strong to carry the shrine. I, alas! was not of
the twelve. The abbot then said that it was among his prayers to look once
upon the body of his patron, and that he wished the sacristan and doctor
to be with him. The convent, therefore, being all asleep, these twelve,
clothed in their albs, with the abbot, assembled at the altar; and when
the lid was unfastened, all except the two forenamed associates were
ordered to withdraw. The abbot and they two were alone privileged to look
in. The head lay united to the body, a little raised with a small pillow.
But the abbot looking close, found now a silk cloth veiling the whole
body, and then a linen cloth of wondrous whiteness, and upon the head was
spread a small linen cloth, and then another small and most fine silk
cloth, as if it were the veil of a nun. These coverings being lifted off,
they found now the sacred body all wrapt in linen, and so at length the
lineaments of the same appeared. But here the abbot stopped, saying he
durst not proceed further or look at the sacred flesh naked. Taking the
head between his hands, he thus spake, groaning, 'Glorious master, holy
Edmund, blessed be the hour when thou wert born. Glorious martyr, turn it
not to my perdition that I have so dared to touch thee, miserable and
sinful that I am; thou knowest my devoted love and my secret thought.' And
proceeding, he touched the eyes and the nose, which was very massive and
prominent, and then he touched the breast and arms; and raising the left
arm, he touched the fingers, and placed his own fingers between the sacred
fingers. And proceeding, he found the feet standing stiff up, like the
feet of a man dead yesterday; and he touched the toes and counted them.
And now it was agreed that the other brethren should be called forward to
see the miracles, and accordingly those ten now advanced, and along with
them six others, who had stolen in without the abbot's assent; and all
these saw the sacred body, but Thurstan was the only one of them who put
forth his hand and touched the saint's knees and feet. And that there
might be abundance of witnesses, one of our brethren, John of Dice,
sitting on the roof of the church with the servants of the vestry, and
looking through, clearly saw all these things. The body was then lifted to
its place in the shrine, and the panels of the _loculus_ refixed. When we
assembled to sing matins, and understood what had been done, grief took
hold of all that had not seen these things, each saying to himself, 'Alas!
I was misled.' Matins over, the abbot called the convent to the great
altar, and briefly recounting the matter, explained that it had not been
in his power, nor was it permissible or fit to invite us all to the sight
of such things. At hearing of which we all wept, and with tears sang _Te
Deum laudamus_, and hastened to toll the bells in the choir."


When Sampson was abbot of St. Edmundsbury, Jocelyn, his chronicler,
writes: "On one occasion I said, 'My lord, I heard thee this night wakeful
and sighing heavily, contrary to thy usual wont;' and he answered, 'No
wonder: thou art partaker of my good things--in meat and drink, in riding
abroad, and suchlike; but you have little need to care concerning the
conduct of the house and household of the saints and arduous businesses of
the pastoral cares, which harass me and make my spirit to groan and be
heavy.' Whereto I, lifting up my hands to Heaven, made answer, 'From such
anxiety, almighty and most merciful Lord, deliver me!' I have heard the
abbot say that, if he could have been as he was before he became a monk,
and could have had five or six marks of rent wherewith he could have been
supported in the schools, he never would have been monk or abbot. On
another occasion, he said with an oath that, if he could have foreseen
what and how great a charge it had been to govern the abbey, he would have
been master of the almonry and keeper of the books, rather than abbot and
lord. And yet who will credit this? Scarcely myself, and not even myself,
unless from being constantly with him by day and night for six years I had
had the opportunity of becoming fully conversant with the worthiness of
his life and the rule of his wisdom."


The worthy chronicler of St. Edmundsbury, Jocelyn, thus relates the
sensation caused in his convent: "In 1176 there came intelligence to Hugh,
the abbot, that Richard, the Archbishop of Canterbury, purposed coming to
make a visitation of our church, by virtue of his authority as legate; and
thereupon the abbot, after consultation, sent to Rome and sought a
privilege of exemption from the power of the aforesaid legate. On the
messenger's return from Rome, there was not the means of discharging what
he had promised to our lord the Pope and the cardinals, unless indeed,
under the special circumstances of the case, the cross which was over the
high altar, the Virgin Mary, and the St. John, which Stigund, the
archbishop, had adorned with a vast quantity of gold and silver, and had
given to St. Edmund, could be made use of for this purpose. There were
certain of our convent who, being on terms of intimacy with the abbot,
said that the shrine of St. Edmund itself ought to be stripped, as the
means of obtaining such privileges, these persons not considering the
great peril that would ensue from obtaining ever so valuable a privilege
by such means as this, for there would be no means of calling to account
any abbot who might waste the possessions of the Church and despoil the


Joanna, daughter of Henry II. of England, and a favourite sister of
Richard Coeur-de-Lion, and, like him, fond of the clang of trumpets and
the martial music of armies, went to Syria, encouraging the Crusaders, and
afterwards married Earl Raimond of Toulouse. She died at the age of
thirty-four; and though neglectful of the monks in her busy days, she
repented and wished she had joined the nuns. A monk thus describes her
deathbed: "Trusting to the truth and mercy of the Most High, who will give
a penny to him who works only at the eleventh hour, as well as to those
who have laboured from the first, she greatly desired to assume a
religious habit, and commanded the prioress of Fontevraud to be summoned
by letters and messengers; but when distance delayed her coming, feeling
her end approaching, she said to the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was
then present, 'My good lord, father, have pity on me, and fulfil my
earnest desire; furnish my body with the arms of religion to fight my
adversary, that my spirit may be restored more pure and free to its
Creator; for I know and believe that, if I might be joined in body to the
order of Fontevraud, I should escape eternal punishment.' But the
archbishop, trembling, said that this could not be lawfully done without
her husband's consent; but when he saw her constancy and the Spirit of God
speaking in her, moved by pity and conquered by her prayers, he with his
own hand consecrated and gave her the sacred veil, her mother and the
abbot of Tarpigny with other monks being present, and offered her to God
and the order of Fontevraud. She now, rejoicing and unmindful of her
pangs, declared she saw in a vision the glorious Mother of God; and as the
abbot told us, she cast her veil at the enemy, saying, 'I am a sister and
a nun of Fontevraud: thus strengthened, I fear thee not.'" The royal nun
died very soon, and was buried in the monastery.


It is related by Ribadeneira, in his Life of St. Antony of Padua, that a
certain Franciscan novice, throwing off his habit, ran away from the
monastery in which the saint lived, and took away with him a psalm book
written with St. Antony's own hand and explained with marginal notes,
which the saint often used when he privately expounded the Scriptures to
the friars. As soon as St. Antony perceived his book to be stolen, he fell
down on his knees and earnestly entreated God to restore him his book
again. In the meantime, the apostate thief having his book with him, as he
prepared to swim over the river, met the devil, who with a drawn sword in
his hand commanded him to go back again immediately, and restore to St.
Antony the book he had stolen from him, threatening to kill him in case of
noncompliance. The devil gave his order with so dreadful an aspect, that
the thief, being astonished, returned immediately to the monastery,
restored the saint his book, and continued in a religious course ever
after. Hence it became a saying, that St. Antony is implored to restore
lost goods.

A MONK FOR A KING (A.D. 1226).

St. Louis, King of France, in 1226, had been bred up a monk by a
strong-minded and austere mother, Queen Blanche. The young King took
naturally to all the austerities. He wore coarse sackcloth next his skin,
ate fruit once a year, never laughed or changed his raiment on Fridays. In
his girdle he wore an ivory case of iron chain scourges, and every Friday
locked his door on himself and his confessor, who then used these
incitements to piety over his bleeding shoulders. He would walk with bare
feet to distant churches; or sometimes, to disguise his devotion, wore
sandals without soles. He constantly washed the feet of beggars. He
invited the poor and sick to his table. He not only gave alms but even a
brotherly kiss to lepers. He heard Masses twice or thrice a day. As he
rode, his chaplain chanted or recited the offices. When challenged for
these constantly repeated exercises, he would say, "If I spent twice as
much time in dice and hawking, should I be so rebuked?" A woman, one day
as he sat in court, exclaimed, "Fie! you are not King of France; you are
only a king of friars, of priests, and of clerks. It is a great pity you
ever were King of France; you should be turned out of your kingship." He
would not allow his officers to chastise this free speech, but answered,
"Too true! It has pleased the Lord to make me king; it had been well if it
had been some one who had better ruled the realm." And he ordered some
money to be given to the woman. The King was altogether ignorant of polite
letters. He read only his Latin Bible and the Fathers. He loved everybody
except Jews, heretics, and infidels. He once thought of abdicating and
becoming a real monk. He joined the Crusades because he knew God would
fight His own battles. His expedition took three years to complete, and it
was a disastrous failure. He was defeated and made a prisoner, but he bore
it all like a monk, and his people ransomed him.


Elizabeth, daughter of a King of Hungary, and who died in 1231, was
destined from a baby to be married to Ludwig, a son of the Landgrave of
Thuringia, and the two as children were rocked to sleep in the same
cradle. When she was fifteen they were married, and she developed a strong
instinct to help the poor and sick, and always kept up a place of refuge
for them. Five years after her marriage an inquisitor named Conrad became
her confessor, and being of a brutal and malignant disposition, became so
arrogant and domineering that her life was made miserable by his dictation
and arbitrary orders. His cruel treatment of many so-called heretics
ultimately roused the spirit of some nobles, who waylaid him; and when the
miserable wretch begged his life, they told him he should meet with the
same mercy he had shown to others, and cut him down. Ludwig went to join
the Crusaders, and he afterwards died abroad; and during his absence his
brothers dispossessed Elizabeth and turned her adrift with her three
children, and for a time she had scarcely the means to live except on
charity. Her former subjects were also afraid to shelter her, and she had
often to spin for a livelihood. Amid all her own troubles she did not
cease to help the poor; and when some friends came to her assistance with
funds, it was always her first thought to give away all her means and even
her clothes in charity. Her father at last hearing of her misfortunes,
offered her a home; but she refused to leave the place where her husband
had lived. Conrad, her confessor, brutally thwarted her in all her
charitable schemes. At last her health gave way, and she lay on her
deathbed. A little bird perched on her window-sill and sang so cheerfully
that she could not choose but to sing also. She soon, however, sank, at
the age of twenty-four, and her body was richly enshrined in the church
dedicated to her at Marburg, where her relics were prized and attracted
many pilgrims. It was after her death that the brutal Conrad was murdered.
She is the patron saint of all charities.


St. Clara, who flourished in 1253, was a devout follower of St. Francis of
Assisi, and though highly born gave her life up to exercises of
self-mortification. In her nunnery of San Damiano it happened once that
the Saracens were about to attack the city of Assisi, and she was on a bed
of sickness, when roused by the cries of the sisterhood. She caused
herself to be borne to the point of danger, preceded by the Host. She
flung herself before the sacred symbol and said, "My God, suffer not these
feeble ones to fall a prey to barbarians without pity. I cannot protect
them. I place them in Thy hands." She thought she heard an answer, "I will
preserve them." She further entreated, "Lord, have mercy on this city,
which has sustained us with its alms." Again she felt sensible that she
heard the words, "It shall not suffer. Be of good courage." It was noticed
that a sudden panic then fell on the Saracens. They had already climbed
the walls; they jumped down outside, withdrew their ladders, and deserted
Assisi, leaving it unhurt. Everybody then said it was St. Clara's doing;
the holy nun had saved them.


St. Nicolas of Tolentino, who died in 1305, was in his youth so impressed
by a sermon on self-mortification that he resolved to embrace a religious
life. He showed great aptitude for fasting, even at the growing age of
fifteen, and the superior of the monastery warned him against carrying it
too far and wearing himself to a skeleton; for, after all, the torture of
the body was not necessary to salvation. But Nicolas hesitated; and going
to church, he fell into a trance and saw a vision, which told him to
remain at Tolentino. He had great delight in the spiritual exercises of
Mass. At the altar his face shone with rapture and tears streamed from his
eyes. He became a fervid preacher, but he also took so little food that
his mind was a prey to thick-coming fancies. The cats racing over the
tiles of his cottage and squalling in the night, and the rats gnawing
pieces of mortar and scampering behind the wainscot, seemed to him to be
an army of fiends let loose and envious of his prayers. Through his open
window one night a great bat upset his candle, but he blew the
extinguished candle so long that it rekindled, and this was deemed by all
the neighbours quite a miraculous revival. The devil one day was said to
have beaten him with a club at cockcrow, but went off without the stick,
and this is still preserved as a trophy in the convent. Nicolas was ill
from exhaustion, and was ordered some meat. But when a roasted partridge,
hot and steaming with rich gravy, was brought to him, he looked with
horror, as if he was asked to commit a mortal sin. With folded hands and
tearful eyes he implored his superior to excuse him; and when he received
consent not to touch the tempting bird, he made the sign of the cross over
it. All at once the bird, shocked at his indifference, rose in the dish,
collected its scattered materials, resumed its feathers, and flew out of
the window with a whir. One day an old lady baked Nicolas some nice
loaves, which he ate, and got well. In memory of the wonderful event
little loaves are baked and blessed and given to the sick to this day on
the feast of St. Nicolas of Tolentino.


The peninsula of Mount Athos is about forty miles long and four miles
wide, and abounds in ridges and valleys of the finest scenery of rock and
wood, with twenty monasteries situated on the best spots. These are either
hermit villages or convents of the ordinary kind; but they enjoy an
organisation under what is called a Holy Synod, consisting of
representatives, though before 1500 the supreme government was intrusted
to a single governor or first man. Mount Athos, at the seaward end, rises
seven thousand feet high. Every part of the promontory is covered with
vegetation, and its position in the waters keeps the forests fresh and
green when all the neighbouring mainlands are burnt up by the summer and
autumnal heats. The origin of the monasteries is lost in the early ages,
and for at least a thousand years the hermits have been known to occupy
these places. Most of these monasteries possess ancient manuscripts and
relics of the early saints. Nearly every convent on Athos possesses a
portion of the true cross. Among the relics distributed are found a piece
of the Blessed Virgin, which is a narrow strip of some red material sewn
with gold thread and ornamented with pearls; the gifts of the three kings,
gold, incense, and myrrh; a drop of the blood of St. John the Baptist;
part of the skull of St. Bartholomew; a hand and a foot of St. Mary
Magdalene; the left hand of St. Anne; part of the head of St. Stephen
Protomartyr; relics of St. Andrew and St. Luke; a piece of our Lord's
coat; the jaw of St. Stephen; the head of St. James the Less; three of our
Lord's hairs; a leg of St. Simon Stylites. No instrumental music of any
kind is permitted in the Eastern Church; but sometimes a sort of voice
accompaniment of one note, like the drone of a bagpipe, keeps up a low
murmuring sound whilst the other voices are engaged upon the tune.


The convent of La Trappe had been founded in 1122, but about the year 1663
the monks had dwindled to seven. De Rancé, who had been many years a
wealthy prodigal and sensualist, entered La Trappe, which had an evil
repute for loose living. He became abbot and began reforms; and though
threatened with assassination, he introduced a system of rigorous
self-denial and asceticism worthy of the hermits of the Thebaid. By
degrees his numbers increased. The monks, though living in the same house,
were strangers to each other. Each one followed to the choir, the garden,
or the refectory the feet that were moving before him, but he never raised
his eyes to discover to whom the feet belonged. There were some who passed
the entire year of their novitiate without lifting up their eyes, and who,
after that long period, could not tell how the ceiling of their cells was
constructed, or whether they had any ceilings at all. There is mention
made of one whose whole anxiety was for an only brother whom he left
leading a scandalous and disorderly life in the world. This monk never
passed a day without shedding tears and praying for the grace of
repentance to that lost brother. On his dying-bed he had one request to
make to his abbot, which was, that there might be a continuance of his
prayers for this brother. De Rancé retired for a moment, and returned with
one of the most useful and valued members of the brotherhood. When the
cowl which concealed his features was removed, the dying monk recognised
the lost brother for whom he had so often wept and prayed. De Rancé was a
valued friend of Bossuet, the greatest orator of his age, and received his
visits. During the last six years of his life he sat in an easy-chair
almost without changing his position. He died in 1700, and was deemed the
first anchorite of his time.


The Certosa of Pavia is the most splendid monastery in the world, and is
called the monastery of the Blessed Virgin of Grace. It was founded in
1396 by the first Duke of Milan, as an atonement for guilt and to relieve
his conscience of the murder of his uncle and brother-in-law. On the
general suppression of convents it became a national monument. The
architect was Bernardo da Venezia, and he so contrived the building that
from whatever side it was viewed the perspective lines were admirably
disposed. Sculptures and paintings in profusion decorate the interior.
Rich bronze gates divide the nave of the chapel from the transept. The
most rare and costly materials were used in the structure, and the
bas-reliefs are exquisite. There are many fine pictures of saints, setting
forth various legends in sacred art.


St. Catherine was born at Siena in 1347. She was of great beauty and had a
genius for virginity; and though her parents wished her, at the age of
twelve, to engage herself in marriage, she resisted, and thereby brought
on herself systematic tyranny and insult. At the age of fifteen she began
to live on herbs, to wear haircloth, and an iron girdle armed with spikes.
At eighteen she entered a nunnery and underwent with zeal a series of
mortifications. She devoted herself to nursing the infected and to
delivering exhortations, so that people flocked to see and hear her. When
the furious factions of Guelphs and Ghibellines raged, and the Pope sent
an army to subdue Florence, the inhabitants implored her to mediate, and
she went, attended with great pomp of ambassadors, to the Pope, on whom
she made a great impression. She was then looked up to as a sort of
ambassadress in many critical State affairs, and attained high honour in
all her undertakings. She had ecstasies and wonderful visions, and was
deemed of sublime virtue and self-denial. She died in Rome, aged
thirty-three, and was buried there, her skull being taken to the Dominican
church at Siena, and she was canonised in 1461. Next to Mary Magdalene she
is the most popular of all the female saints; and owing to her great
learning and to her refuting the philosophers of Paganism, she is deemed a
Christian Minerva. In one of her ecstasies she said the Virgin appeared to
her and introduced the Saviour, who put a ring on her finger. One legend
says a wheel with spikes was used to put her to death, but fire came from
heaven and broke the wheel in pieces and killed the executioners. The
saint and her wheel were painted by many of the great painters, and so was
her marriage to the Saviour.


In the fourteenth century the Franciscan monks of Lucca found that,
however industrious they were in begging, the inhabitants had gradually
ceased to contribute alms to the money-box, and they were on the point of
starvation. The richest man of the place drove them from his gate and
called them idle vagabonds, who wanted to live at their neighbours'
expense. The courage of the friars drooped; they saw their tables laid out
daily for dinner, but not a morsel of bread. They thought of selling the
silver vessels or leaving the locality. The abbot felt or feigned
patience, courage, and resignation, and counselled them to trust in the
Lord; but in their inmost hearts they all felt despair, and the devil
triumphed at their approaching ruin. At this desperate juncture the
Archangel Michael descended and caught an emissary of the devil as he was
gloating over his prey, and condemned that emissary to do service to the
monks, in spite of his evil nature. The devil gnashed his teeth and swore
he would do nothing for the brood of St. Francis, his arch-foe. But
Michael told the fiend that he had nothing to do but obey. So the fiend,
sorely against his will, assumed the guise of a friar of higher degree,
got into conversation with the abbot, and hearing of the drooping fortunes
of the house, said he would compel the public to serve them and restore
their comfort. The abbot looked again and again at this mysterious friend,
whose bearing and confident airs made a profound impression, and asked his
name, which the visitor said was "_Obligatus_." So Obligatus entered the
monastery, set to work, harangued the people in byways and comers, and his
extraordinary eloquence soon worked an immediate change in the situation.
The people were spellbound, and poured their contributions into the
alms-boxes. The fame of the unwilling preacher filled all the country
round, so that the monastery flourished and became too small, and then he
prevailed on the people to build a second house. A rich man of the place
fell sick unto death and sent for the eloquent friar, but at last he died
impenitent; and this event greatly rejoiced the disguised saint, for
Obligatus felt the devil within him so strong that he broke out into
raptures. The secret of the demon friar was then disclosed. He tore off
his friar's habit, declared that his truce with St. Francis was ended,
that he had done his work, and Francis had conquered. The friar then
vanished disgusted and enraged, and was never more heard of. But the
monastery flourished ever after.


Thomas à Kempis, the author of the "Imitatio Christi," an inspired
handbook of all that is best in monkish life, was born in 1380 at Kempen,
in the diocese of Cologne. At the age of thirteen he went and joined the
Brothers of Common Life, a small company or cloister founded by Gerard
Groot and Florentius at Deventer, and seven years later he entered the
convent of St. Agnes at Zwolle, where he filled several offices, and died
in 1471, aged ninety. His book was first printed in 1471, and soon became
the delight of all the best monks, as truly representing their higher
life. Father Lamennais said of this book that "there is something
celestial in its simplicity. One would almost imagine it was written by
one of those pure spirits who have seen God face to face, who had come
expressly to explain His ways and to reveal His secrets. One is profoundly
moved at this aspect of that soft light which nourishes the soul and
fortifies and animates without troubling it." Mr. Kettlewell also well
says, "It shows how the life of a Christian in ordinary circumstances may
be made lovely by the cultivation of the spiritual life; how a lowly life
may become sublime and heavenly." In appearance Thomas had a broad
forehead and thoughtful face and bright eyes. The Brothers of Common Life
were employed not only in writing out Scripture, which was to them a great
means of support, but in manual labour of a homely kind. Thomas in his
studious hours contrived to extract the sweetness out of all the best
writings of those who lived before him. Thomas's idea of a cloister is
quoted by Mr. Kettlewell, his biographer, and gives this charming picture:
"A well-founded cloister, separated from the tumult of the world, adorned
with many brethren and with sacred books, is acceptable to God and to His
saints. Such a place, it is piously believed, is pleasing to all that love
God and take a delight in hearing the things of God; because the cloister
is the castle of the Supreme King, and the palace of the Celestial
Emperor, prepared for the dwelling of religious persons where they may
faithfully serve God. For this is none other, as we read and sing, than
the house of God in which to pray, the court of God to offer praise, the
choir of God to sing unto Him, the altar of God whereon to celebrate, the
gate of God whereby to enter heaven, the ladder of God to rise above the
clouds. As a noble city is preserved with walls and gates and bars, so
also is the monastery of the religious with many devout brethren, with
sacred books, and with learned men. It is decorated with gems and precious
stones to the praise of God and to the honour of all his saints, who now
rejoice in heaven with Him, because they followed in the footsteps of His
passion on earth."


At Estremadura, in Spain, St. Peter, a law student and son of the
governor, born in 1499, early embraced the religious life, and was eager
to crucify the flesh with its affections. He never lifted his eyes from
the ground, and could not tell whether his cell had a ceiling or bare
rafters. He had charge of the refectory for six months, and allowed his
brethren to go without apples and pomegranates because he would not lift
his eyes to see whether there were any ripe for table. He did not know by
sight one of the friars who had lived for years with him in the same
house. He lay in a small cell not long enough to stretch his body in at
full length. He wore only one garment, and that was a serge habit made
like a short cloak with tight leggings. When it was torn he carefully
removed the tattered portion underneath, lest he should be in the
enjoyment of the double cloth. One day he was visited by a stranger, and
Peter had been washing his only garment, and while it was drying in the
sun he was of course not presentable to company. In his devotions he
roared and howled so loudly that strangers thought he was insane, though
the devout described him as only struggling manfully with the devil. To
hear one of these performances was said to be far more impressive than any
sermon of his contemporaries. One hot day, going to visit a nobleman, he
dismounted from his ass and fell asleep, and the ass took the opportunity
of trespassing and eating up the vegetables in a poor woman's garden. On
seeing the mischief done, she tugged at Peter's cloak, which caused him to
fall over and cut his head on a stone. The nobleman coming up at this
point, was about to slay the woman for this rudeness, but Peter interceded
for her, and begged his lordship rather to pay for the damage done by the
ass, and this was done. Peter lived for forty-seven years in a perpetual
penance, and was highly esteemed for the spirit he showed in so trampling
the world under his feet. He had the look of a gnarled root of oak, rugged
and eccentric, yet when he opened his mouth he was most affable and showed
an excellent understanding. He died preaching to and admonishing the


St. Theresa astounded all her contemporaries with her numerous visions and
high-flown devotional works. She was thought in her youth to be too much
given to gossip; and when grown up, her confessors were told so many
wonderful things that they plainly assured her these were mere delusions
of the devil. She thus related one of these visions: "One day, when our
Lord was communing with me, I gazed at His great beauty, and the sweetness
with which He uttered His words with His most lovely and Divine mouth,
sometimes also with sternness. I had a great desire to observe the colour
of His eyes, and their shape and size, that I might give a description of
them; but I have never been able to behold them, nor have I succeeded in
gaining my point, as the vision has usually faded. And though sometimes I
see He looks at me with compassion, yet the sight is so overpowering that
the soul is not able to endure it, but remains in so high a rapture that,
in order to enjoy Him the more completely, this beautiful apparition
disappears altogether. When I am in trouble, He has shown me His wounds as
He hung on the cross or was in the garden. One day, as I was holding the
cross in my hand which was at the end of my rosary, He took it into His
hand, and when He returned it to me it consisted of four great stones
incomparably more precious than diamonds," etc., etc. St. Theresa founded
no less than sixteen convents in Spain, and she died at the age of
sixty-seven, in 1582, in an ecstasy such as she had so often had during
her lifetime; and the nuns who attended on her said they saw our Lord
waiting at the foot of her bed with saints to carry her to realms of
bliss. She had joined with her nuns in the penitential psalms and litany,
and she then lay in a trance for her last fourteen hours in the posture in
which the blessed Magdalene is commonly drawn by painters, holding a
crucifix firmly in her hands, so that the nuns could not remove it till
after her death. They all noticed her lips moving and a glow of heavenly
hope on her face. Her body was so sacred that parts of it were dispersed
throughout the Christian world.


The Emperor Charles V. having for twenty years looked forward to the step
he was now taking, took leave of many of his old servants, and on February
2nd, 1537, was placed in his litter, and with a company of fifty-two
retainers, besides his household of sixty, crossing the leafless forest,
halted at the gates of Yuste, the Jeromite convent in Estremadura in
Spain. There the bells were ringing a peal of welcome, and the prior was
waiting to receive his imperial guest, who, on alighting, was placed in a
chair and carried to the door of the church. At the threshold he was met
by the whole brotherhood in procession, chanting the _Te Deum_ to the
music of the organ. The altars and the aisle were brilliantly lighted up
with tapers and decked with their richest frontals, hangings, and plate.
Borne through the pomp to the steps of the high altar, Charles knelt down
and returned thanks to God for the happy termination of his journey, and
joined in the vesper service of the feast of St. Blas. This ended, the
prior stepped forward with a congratulatory speech, in which, to the
scandal of the courtiers, he addressed the Emperor as "your paternity,"
until some friar with more presence of mind and regard to the situation
whispered that the proper style was "your majesty." The orator next
presented his Jeromites to their new brother, each kissing his hand and
receiving a fraternal embrace. Some of the friars bestowed on his gouty
fingers so cordial a squeeze that the pain compelled him to withdraw the
hand and say, "Pray, don't, father; it hurts me." During this ceremony the
retiring halberdiers who had escorted their master to the journey's close
stood round with tears and lamentations as they took leave and felt their
occupation gone. Sounds of mourning at the final parting were heard as the
Emperor was conducted to an inspection of the convent, and then to supper,
and then to a repose which had so long been the dream of his life.


The Emperor monk's dress was always black and very old. He had an old
arm-chair with wheels and cushions. Some of the apartments had some rich
tapestry wrought with figures, landscapes, and flowers. His usual black
dress was such another as that painted by Titian in the fine portrait
wherein the Emperor sits before us, pale, thoughtful, and dignified, in
the Belvidere palace at Vienna. He still had an old cap to save his best
velvet one in case of a shower. He had a few rings and bracelets, medals
and buttons, collars and badges, some crucifixes of gold and silver,
various charms (such as the bezoar-stone against the plague, and gold
rings from England against cramp), a morsel of the true cross and other
relics, three or four pocket watches, and several dozen pairs of
spectacles. He had a few well-chosen pictures worthy of the patron and
friend of Titian, a composition on the subject of the Trinity, and three
pictures of Our Lady by that great master. He had three cased miniatures
of the Empress painted in her youthful beauty, also some family portraits
of near relatives. Over the high altar of the convent and in sight of his
own bed he had placed that celebrated composition called the Glory of
Titian, a picture of the Last Judgment, in which Charles, his wife, and
their royal children were represented in the master's grandest style as
conducted by angels into life eternal. Also another masterpiece of the
great Venetian--St. Jerome praying in his cavern with a sweet landscape in
the distance--was an altar-piece in the Emperor's private oratory.


The Emperor's house or palace, as the friars loved to call it, in Yuste
was such as many a country notary would call comfortable. It had a simple
front of two storeys to the garden and the noontide sun. Each of the
eight rooms had an ample fireplace, such as a chilly invalid of Flemish
habits required. Charles inhabited the upper rooms, and slept in one which
had a window commanding the high altar. From the window on the opposite
side of the corridor, where his cabinet stood, the eye ranged over a
cluster of rounded knolls, clad in walnut and chestnut, in which the
mountain died gently away into the broad bosom of the Vera. A summer-house
peered above the mulberry tops at the lower end of the garden, and a
hermitage of Our Lady of Solitude about a mile distant hung upon a rocky
height which rose like an isle out of the sea of forest. Immediately below
the windows the garden sloped gently to the Vera, shaded here and there
with the massive foliage of the fig, or the feathery boughs of the almond,
and breathing perfume from tall orange trees, cuttings of which some of
the friars in after-days tried in vain to keep alive at the bleak
Escurial. The garden was easily reached from the western porch or gallery
by an inclined path, which had been constructed to save the gouty monarch
the pain and fatigue of going up and down stairs. This porch, which was
much more spacious than the eastern, was his favourite seat when filled
with the warmth of the declining day. A short alley of cypress led from
the parterre to the principal gate of the garden, and beyond was the
luxuriant forest, and close in the foreground a magnificent walnut tree.


While the Emperor monk was at Yuste, he retained all his fiery zeal
against heretics, and notice of any successful capture of an impious
Lutheran was welcome news when forwarded to him. He always in his letters
entreated his daughter, the Princess Regent, to lose no time and spare no
pains to uproot the new and dangerous doctrines. He used to say to his
confessor, "Father, if anything could drag me from this retreat, it would
be to aid in chastising these heretics. I have written to the Inquisition
to burn them all, for none of them will ever become true Catholics or are
worthy to live." He would have their crime treated in a short and summary
manner, like sedition or rebellion. The King, his son (he said), had
executed sharp and speedy justice upon many heretics, and even upon
bishops in England. Upon news arriving about any hunt after heretics, he
used to converse with his confessor and the prior on a subject that lay so
near his heart. He told them that, in looking back on the early religious
troubles of his reign, it was ever his regret that he did not put Luther
to death when he had him in his power. He had spared him, he said, on
account of his pledged word, but he now saw that he greatly erred in
preferring the obligation of a promise to the higher duty of avenging upon
that arch-heretic his offences against God. Had Luther been removed the
plague might have been stayed. He had some consolation, however, in
recollecting how steadily he had refused to hear the points at issue
between the Church and the schismatics argued in his presence.


The Emperor Charles, while a monk, often visited in spare hours the
workshop of Torriano, who had long been at work on an elaborate
astronomical timepiece, which was to tell the month and year and the
movements of the planets. He had revolved the plan for twenty years, and
the making of it actually occupied three and a half years. Of wheels it
contained eighteen hundred; the material of the case was gilt bronze, and
round. The clock was two feet in diameter, rather less in height, and with
a tapering top, ending in a tower containing the bell and hammer. The
Emperor helped the inscription by adding to the name of Torriano "The
Prince of Clockmakers," and caused his own portrait to be engraved on the
back. Torriano also made for the Emperor a smaller clock in a crystal
case, which allowed the whole working of the machinery to be seen. The
same artist constructed a self-acting mill, which, though small enough to
be concealed in a friar's sleeve, could grind two pecks of corn in a day;
also the figure of a lady who danced on the table to the sound of her own
tambourine. Other puppets were attributed to the artist: minute men and
horses, which fought, pranced, and blew tiny trumpets; and birds which
flew about the room, as if alive,--toys which at first scared the prior
and his monks out of their wits, and made them think the artificer a
wizard. Besides these sedentary amusements, the Emperor had also his pet
birds, his wolf-hounds, and even sometimes was unmonkish enough to stroll
to the forest with his gun, and pop at the wood-pigeons on the chestnut


Regla, the son of a poor Aragonese peasant, and who was taken into the
convent of St. Yuste at the age of thirty-six, and became a devoted son
and rigid disciplinarian, was selected by the Emperor Charles V. as his
confessor. The recipient of so great an honour felt unworthy to take
charge of His Majesty's conscience. But Charles told him to take courage,
adding, "I have had five learned divines, who have been busy with my
conscience for three years past in Flanders, and all with which you will
have to concern yourself will be my life in Yuste." The meek confessor
soon gained the good opinion of the Emperor, and obtained the great boon
of being allowed to be seated in the royal presence--an act of
condescension which greatly scandalised the loyal Quixada, the major-domo,
who regarded it as an indignity that a poor friar should be placed on a
level with his august sovereign. The monk felt the awkwardness--for it was
the practice to keep up the same high state at Yuste in the Emperor's
presence--and he fell on his knees and besought the Emperor to allow him
to stand in his presence; "for when any one enters the room," said the
friar, "it makes me feel like a criminal on the scaffold dressed in his
_san benito_." "Be in no trouble about that," said Charles to him: "you
are my father confessor; I am glad that people should find you sitting
when they come into the room, and it does not displease me that you should
change countenance sometimes at being found so." After the confessor
assisted Charles in his morning devotions, the latter usually went and
watched Torriano, the mechanician, who was always busy with some
mechanical invention and with improving the watches and clocks which so
interested the Emperor.


At the convent of Yuste the Emperor Charles had with him a little organ
with a silver case and of exquisite tone, which had long been kept at the
Escurial, and which was also the companion of his journeys and the solace
of his evenings when encamped before Tunis. The choir at Yuste, in order
to gratify the Emperor's love of music, had been reinforced with fifteen
friars, chosen from different monasteries for their fine voices and skill
in the art. The Emperor took a lively interest in the management of the
choir and organ, and from the window of his bedroom his voice might often
be heard accompanying the chant of the friars. His ear never failed to
detect a false note and the mouth from which it came. A singing-master
from Plasencia, being one day in the church, ventured to join in the
service, but he had not sung many bars when orders came down from the
palace to keep silence. Guerrero, a "chapel-master" of Seville, having
composed and presented to the Emperor a book of masses and motets, one of
the former was selected for performance at Yuste. When it was ended, the
imperial critic remarked to his confessor which were the stolen passages
skilfully appropriated from the best masters and their works and names.


The Emperor Charles V., though all his life looking forward to being a
monk, did not understand a monkish dinner. After a year's sojourn in
Yuste, his physician considered His Majesty well enough to leave off his
sarsaparilla and liquorice water. Then, as usual, Charles ate voraciously.
His dinner began with a large dish of cherries or strawberries, smothered
in cream and sugar; then came a highly-seasoned pasty; and next the
principal dish of the repast, which was frequently a ham, or some
preparation of rashers--the Emperor being very fond of the bacon products
of Estremadura. "His Majesty," said the doctor, "will not hear of changing
his diet or mode of living, trusting too much to the force of habit, and
forgetting the consequences to bodies like his, full of bad humours." His
hands occasionally troubled him, and his fingers were sometimes ulcerated.
But his chief complaint was of the heat and itching in his legs at night,
which he endeavoured to relieve by sleeping with them uncovered--a measure
whereby temporary ease was purchased at the expense of a chill which crept
into the upper part of his body, in spite of blankets and eiderdown
quilts. Then came threatenings of gout, attempts to cure by cold bathing,
perpetual itching, and other symptoms, which gradually enfeebled him. It
was said that His Majesty's cook was driven out of his wits to invent new
dishes for table, and that he believed there was nothing left but to serve
up a fricassée of watches.


The Emperor used, when any of his friends died, to do honour to their
memory by causing their obsequies to be performed by the friars, and each
on a different day. At last he asked his confessor whether he might not
now perform his own funeral, and so do for himself what would soon have to
be done for him by others. "Would it not be good for my soul?" asked the
Emperor. And the monk replied that certainly it would, for pious works
done during life were far more efficacious than when they were postponed
till after death. Preparations were therefore at once set on foot. A
catafalque was erected, and next day the celebrated service was actually
performed. The high altar, the catafalque, and the whole church shone with
a blaze of wax lights; the friars were all in their places at the altars
and in the choir, and the household of the Emperor attended in deep
mourning. The pious monarch himself (says his biographer) was there,
attired in sable weeds and bearing a taper to see himself interred and to
celebrate his own obsequies. While they were singing the solemn mass for
the dead, he came forward and gave his taper into the hands of the
officiating priest, in token of his desire to yield his soul into the
hands of his Maker. High above, over the kneeling throng, the gorgeous
vestments, the flowers, the curling incense, and the glittering altar, the
same idea shone forth on that splendid canvas whereon Titian had pictured
Charles kneeling on the threshold of the heavenly mansions prepared for
the blessed. The funeral rites ended, the Emperor dined, but he ate
little; and feeling a violent pain in his head, he lay down, and next day
he told his confessor that the funeral of the day before had done him
good. He died six weeks later.


When the Emperor Charles V. died, a monk at Yuste, his chamberlain said of
him that he was the greatest man that ever lived, or ever would live, in
the world. In his last moments he said, "The time is come; bring me the
candle and the crucifix." These cherished relics he had long kept for this
supreme hour, and he died with his eyes fixed on the crucifix. His body
was embalmed and laid in a coffin in front of the high altar. The eloquent
preacher Villalva preached a funeral sermon so impassioned, that the
hearers declared that it made their flesh creep and their hair stand on
end. Sixteen years later messengers went to remove the body to the
mausoleum at the Escurial. The monks bewailed the loss of so precious a
deposit, and one of them took occasion to preach an affecting sermon, in
which he thus apostrophised the dead monarch: "Although you are but a
lifeless corpse, the garment of the spirit which has long enjoyed, as we
believe, the glory of God, we thank your Cæsarean majesty for the grace
which you have bestowed on Yuste and on our order. In a year and eight
months passed in this solitude we are well assured that you have gained
more renown than in the whole of your long reign. History, indeed, will
never forget your great achievements, but in the end of your life you
surpassed them all. Grief for losing you, who so loved us, chokes my
utterance; for I know that when you are gone, although we who are now
alive are your devoted servants and chaplains, a time will come when even
in this place your memory will be regarded no more than if you had never
dwelt within our walls." This last allusion was prophetic; for in 1849,
when Mr. Stirling visited Yuste, he found it in ruins, and all save the
great walnut tree told only of mouldering decay. O'Campo, the chronicler
of the Emperor Charles V., had undertaken to write his history; but having
begun at Noah's flood was, after forty years' labour, surprised by death
while narrating the exploits of the Scipios, B.C. 183.




The clergy, including the monks and friars, were one throughout Latin
Christendom. Whatever antagonism, feud, hatred, and estrangement might
rise between rival prelates, rival priests, rival orders, whatever
irreconcilable jealousy there might be between the seculars and regulars,
yet the caste seldom betrayed the interest of the caste. The clergy in
general were first the subjects of the Pope, then the subjects of their
temporal sovereign. The Pope came to be acknowledged over the whole of
Christendom as the guardian, and in some respects the suzerain, of Church
property all over the world. He was at least a more impartial judge than
their rival or antagonist--the civil ruler. The universal fraternity of
the monastic orders and of the friars was even more intimate than the bond
between the clergy. The wandering friars found everywhere a home. Their
all-comprehending fraternisation had the power and some of the mystery,
without the suspicion and hatred, which attaches to secret societies. It
was a perpetual campaign, set in motion and still moving on with
simultaneous impulse from one or from several centres, but with a single
aim and object--the aggrandisement of the society, with all the results
for evil or for good.


Milman says: "The essential inherent supremacy of the spiritual over the
temporal power was in the time of Innocent III. (1198-1216) an integral
part of Christianity. Splendid indeed it was, as harmonising with man's
natural sentiment of order. The unity of the vast Christian republic was
an imposing conception, which, even now that history has shown its
hopeless impossibility, still infatuates lofty minds: its impossibility,
since it demands for its head not merely that infallibility in doctrine
so boldly claimed in later times, but absolute impeccability in every one
of its possessors; more than impeccability--an all-commanding,
indefeasible, unquestionable majesty of virtue, holiness, and wisdom.
Without this it is a baseless tyranny, a senseless usurpation. In those
days it struck in with the whole feudal system, which was of strict
gradation and subordination; to the hierarchy of Church and State was
equally wanting the crown, the sovereign Liege Lord. The Crusades had made
the Pope not merely the spiritual but in some sort the military suzerain
of Europe. He had the power of summoning all Christendom to his banner;
the raising of the cross, the standard of the Pope, was throughout Europe
a general and compulsory levy. The vast subventions raised for the Holy
Land were to a certain extent at the disposal of the Pope. An immense
financial system grew up. Papal collectors were in every land; Papal
bankers in every capital to transmit these subsidies. He claimed to be
supreme judge of all the ecclesiastical courts in every country, and to
approve and degrade bishops, to grant dispensations, and to found new
orders and direct canonisations. This claim of supremacy made lawless
kings tremble, and in this way did some good. Nothing could be more
sublime than the notion of a great supreme religious power, the
representative of God's eternal and immutable justice upon earth,
absolutely above all passion or interest, interposing with the commanding
voice of authority in the quarrels of kings and nations, persuading peace
by the unimpeachable impartiality of its judgments, and even invested with
power to enforce its unerring decrees. But the sublimity of the notion
depends on the arbiter's absolute exemption from the unextinguishable
weaknesses of human nature. If the tribunal commands not unquestioning
respect, if there be the slightest just suspicion of partiality, if it
goes beyond its lawful province, if it has no power of compelling
obedience, it adds but another element to the general confusion; it is a
partisan enlisted on one side or the other, not a mediator conciliating
conflicting interests or overawing the collision of factions. Yet such was
the Papal power in these times: often, no doubt, on the side of justice
and humanity--too often on the other; looking to the interests of the
Church alone, assumed, but assumed without ground, to be the same as those
of Christendom and mankind, the representative of fallible man rather than
of the infallible God. Ten years of strife and civil war in Germany were
traced, if not to the direct instigation, to the inflexible obstinacy of
Pope Innocent III."


Under the first Christian princes the chair of St. Peter, like the throne
of other bishops, was submitted to a popular election, and constant
tumults attended these, owing to the vague and unsettled views of the
voters. The voters were the clergy, the nobility, the heads of
monasteries, and the common people, who all voted indiscriminately by the
show of hands or counting of heads. In 1179 Pope Alexander III. abolished
the popular mode of election, and assigned the sole right of election to
the College of Cardinals, or two-thirds of their number. The number of
cardinals seldom exceeded twenty-five, till the reign of Leo X. (1513). By
this mode of election a double choice had only occurred once in six
hundred years after Alexander III. In 1274 Gregory X., by his bull, fixed
a short interval for filling up the vacancy. Nine days were allowed for
the obsequies of the deceased Pope and the arrival of the absent
cardinals. On the tenth day these are each sequestered with one domestic
in a common apartment, or conclave, without any separation of walls or
curtains. A small window is reserved for the introduction of necessaries;
but the door is locked on both sides and guarded by the magistrates of the
city, so as to exclude all correspondence with the world. If the election
is not accomplished in three days, the tables are restricted to a single
dish at dinner and supper. After the eighth day the food is reduced to a
scanty allowance of bread, water, and wine. During the vacancy the
cardinals are prohibited from touching the revenues or government of the
Church, and all agreements between the electors are null and void. It is
said that the cardinals have three modes of election: (1) by scrutiny; (2)
by compromise; (3) by inspiration. By the first mode three of a committee
take the vote of each elector in secret, and two-thirds carry the
election. By the second mode each on oath pledges himself to agree to
whatever candidate three others selected from the whole may select. By the
third method, when all agree without a dissentient on one name, this is
deemed to be by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Or if two-thirds
unanimously salute one candidate as Pope, this is called an election by


The name of cardinal was merely a synonym for presbyter and deacon, and
came to be given specially to those rectors or presbyters whom the Pope
made use of in the government of the Churches in Rome. Till the end of the
tenth century these cardinals were of lower rank than the bishops who met
in Church councils. The rectors of the seven Churches which were situated
nearest to Rome and helped the Pope in celebrations of the liturgy began
at first to be called Roman bishops, and in the eleventh century cardinal
bishops of the Lateran Church, as being assistants in Divine service in
the Lateran Church. By degrees these began to obtain precedence over other
bishops. In 1059 they were allowed to have the chief voice in electing the
Pope, and their authority was continually increasing, and in the twelfth
century the election of a Pope was taken away from the people and clergy
of Rome and vested in the cardinals exclusively. After that the cardinals
used to be called the "Pope's holy senate," "princes of the world," and
"judges of the earth," taking precedence of all other bishops. In the
fourteenth century the number of cardinals was fixed by Urban VI. and
directed not to exceed twenty; in another century they became twenty-four;
in 1514 they reached thirty-nine, and in 1535 reached to forty, and then
to seventy. They began in the thirteenth century to wear a purple dress
and a red hat, which in shape was like a very small cap, with scarcely any
brim. A silk mitre of damascene work and a red hood followed.


When the severity of persecution relaxed in the first three centuries, the
effect was seen in the growing vice of unprincipled persons assuming the
Christian religion and using it as a cloak for licentiousness. One Paul of
Samosata was made Bishop of Antioch in 260, and contrived to make the
service of the Church a lucrative profession. He extorted frequent
contributions from the faithful, and appropriated to his own use much of
the public revenue. His pride and luxury soon made him odious. Crowds of
suppliants and petitioners frequented his house for evil ends. When he
harangued his people from the pulpit, he affected the figurative style and
theatrical gestures of an Asiatic sophist, whilst the cathedral resounded
with the loudest and most extravagant acclamations in the praise of his
Divine eloquence. He was arrogant, rigid, and inexorable to his enemies;
but he relaxed the discipline and lavished the treasure of the Church on
his dependent clergy, who were, like himself, given up to dissipation.
Some errors of his as to the Trinity excited the indignation of the other
bishops. They often met and obtained promises and treaties; but eighty of
them of their own authority took on themselves at last to excommunicate
him; and as they did so somewhat irregularly, it took four years to turn
him out of possession. The Emperor Aurelian was appealed to; and after
hearing both sides, he resolved to execute the sentence of the other
bishops, and to expel Paul from the possession of his see.


The Emperor Diocletian, who joined in 303 in a persecution of the
Christians, and who died in 313, was the first who made the throne of
dazzling splendour in the eyes of the people. Up to his time the emperors
assumed no airs and talked familiarly to the citizens. But Diocletian
introduced the Persian habits, which approached adoration towards the
king. Not content with the robe of purple, like his predecessors, he
assumed the diadem, a broad white fillet set with pearls. His robes were
silk and gold, his shoes studded with the most precious gems. The avenues
of the palace were guarded by schools of officials and the interior
apartments by eunuchs. When an audience was allowed, the subject was
obliged to fall prostrate on the ground, as if adoring the great lord and
master. The whole ceremony resembled a theatrical performance. All this
naturally led to a great increase of taxation. After enjoying supreme
power twenty-one years, this emperor had the glory of giving to the world
the first example of a voluntary resignation, though he did not, like his
successor Charles V., enter a monastery and live like a monk. When
Diocletian abdicated, he was of the age of fifty-five, and Charles was
fifty-nine. Diocletian had, soon after the ceremony of his triumph, caught
a chill during the cold and rainy winter of 304, which brought his body
down to a state of emaciation and caused him to seek repose, and it was
said that he was averse to enforce his edict against the Christians. The
ceremony of his abdication was performed in a spacious plain, three miles
from Nicomedia. He ascended a lofty throne, and in a speech full of reason
and dignity declared his intention. As soon as he divested himself of the
purple, he withdrew from the public gaze and in a covered chariot to his
favourite retirement of Salona, in Dalmatia, his native country. He spent
his leisure hours in building, planting, and gardening. He prided himself
on his cabbages; but he covered ten acres of ground with his new palace,
and it was said that the stately rooms had neither windows nor chimneys,
but were heated with pipes. It was said to be doubtful how he died in 313,
some surmising that it was by suicide.


Though the care of the poor was long viewed as properly falling under the
province of the Church, and after the time of Elizabeth it was transferred
by English law to the occupiers of lands in each parish, a great outcry
was made against St. Basil, Bishop of Cæsarea, about 373, for establishing
a large workhouse or hospital. The Phocotropheion, or hospital, for the
reception and relief of the poor, was erected by Basil in the suburbs of
Cæsarea. His enemies denounced this project to the governor of the
province as a dangerous innovation. It was called sometimes "the new
town," and at a later date the Basilead, after its founder. It was a
gigantic structure, and included a church, a palace for the bishop,
residences for the clergy; hospices for the poor, sick, and wayfarers;
workshops for the artisans and labourers connected with the building, and
their apprentices. There was also a special department for lepers, with
arrangements for their proper medical treatment, and great care was taken
of these loathsome patients. By this enormous establishment Basil's
enemies said he was aiming at an invasion of the civil power. But he
adroitly parried the accusation by pointing out that there were also
apartments in his establishment provided for the governor of the province,
and that, after all, the chief glory of the structure would redound to the
latter. This view pacified the angry critics.


About 420 two bishops in Libya had set their hearts on securing, as a site
for a new church, a place which had been formerly kept as a strong refuge,
well fortified against the incursions of the barbarians. Each intended to
convert it into a magnificent temple according to a plan of his own. In
order to secure the spot one of them resorted to the following stratagem:
He pressed his way in by force, caused an altar to be instantly set up,
and then and there consecrated upon it the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper.
According to the superstition or settled faith of the time, this was
deemed equivalent to consecration, after which the place could not be used
for any secular purpose of social life. When this incident was reported by
Bishop Synesius to Theophilus, Patriarch of Constantinople, he condemned
it as sharp practice and a debasing of holy things to unworthy purposes,
most unbecoming to any genuine Christian.


Germanus of Auxerre was born in 380, of high family and rich. He was
educated as a lawyer, soon became an advocate, next married a wealthy
lady, and was appointed to a high office as Governor-General. His great
delight was then in hunting, and he used to hang up all the heads of the
beasts he killed on a pear tree. The bishop, St. Amator, used to reprove
him for this weakness; and one day, in the absence of Germanus, the bishop
cut down the pear tree as a remnant of superstition. Germanus, on his
return, was furious with rage, and threatened the bishop with death. But
the bishop knew by revelation that his own end was near, and that Germanus
was destined to be his successor. St. Amator went away to the Prefect, and
asked leave to perform the tonsure on Germanus. Leave being given, St.
Amator assembled his people, told them of his end, and bade them choose a
successor and repair to the church. When they were there, he ordered the
doors to be locked; and collecting a crowd of clergy and nobles, they
seized Germanus by force, cut off his hair, and stripped him of his
secular garments, clothed him as a deacon, and told him he was to be next
bishop after St. Amator. St. Amator died a few days afterwards, and the
clergy and people elected Germanus, and he was obliged to act, though very
reluctant. When elected, however, he became another man. He embraced a
life of poverty; sold off all his goods; gave up wine, oil, vinegar, salt,
and even wheaten bread, living entirely on barley meal, which he made by
his own labour. He ate his frugal meal only once a day, and sometimes only
once a week. He lay on a box bed filled with ashes with his clothes on and
in his hair shirt. He carried always a little box suspended on his breast,
having in it relics of saints. He distributed all his property among the
poor, founded several monasteries, discovered the sepulchres of several
martyrs, and worked many miracles. He died in 448.


Sidonius Apollinaris, elected bishop of Auvergne in 471, and the
son-in-law of the Emperor Avitus, thus wrote to Donidius: "In visiting
this delightful country I have passed a time of the greatest enjoyment
with my kind and polite friends Ferreolus and Apollinaris, who are near
neighbours. On the morning of each day there was an agreeable contention
between our hosts whose kitchen should first begin to smoke with the good
things to be prepared for us. Thus we hurried from one entertainment to
another. Hardly had we passed the threshold when, behold, regular matches
of tennis-players within the circular enclosures, and the frequent noise
and rattling of dice, with the clamours of the players. In another part
were placed such an abundance of books ready for use, that you might
suppose yourself in the libraries of the grammarians, or among the benches
of the Roman Athenæum. After these studies a messenger from the chief cook
reminded us punctually at the third hour that dinner was on the table.
This copious repast was served up in few dishes, although there were both
roast and boiled. Little stories were told while we were taking our wine,
which conveyed delight and instruction as they happened to be dictated by
experience or gaiety. We were decorously, eloquently, and abundantly
entertained. Having shaken off our after-dinner nap, we amused ourselves
with a short ride to get an appetite for our supper. We then repaired to
the hot baths, and passed an hour or two in the midst of much wit and
merriment, during which we were all thrown into a most salubrious
perspiration, being enveloped in the steam as it came hissing from the
water. When we had been suffused with this long enough, we were plunged
into the hot water; and being well cleansed and refreshed, we were
afterwards braced by an abundance of cold water from the river Viardus, a
transparent and gentle stream abounding in delicate fish. I might go on
and give you a description of our sumptuous suppers did not my paper put a
stop to my loquacity."


Cæsarius, Bishop of Arles, was born in 470, and in course of his career
sought to suppress the then growing superstition of seeking for oracles in
passages of Scripture. The first trace of the abuse was found by St.
Augustine, who said: "Although it is to be wished that those who seek
their fortunes out of the Gospels would rather do this than run to ask
their idols, yet this custom displeases me--the wishing to use the Word of
God, which speaks in reference to another life, for worldly concerns and
the vain objects of the present life." The clergy joined in this idle
superstition. In doubtful earthly concerns persons would lay down a Bible
in a church upon the altar, or especially upon the grave of a saint, would
fast and pray, and invoke the saint that he would indicate the future by a
passage of Scripture, and sought for the answer in the first passage which
met the eye on opening the Bible. Cæsarius promoted a decree against this
practice at the Council of Agde in 508, which excluded from Church
communion all persons, both of the clergy and laity, who practised
divination under the semblance of religion, or promised a disclosure of
the future by looking into the Scriptures.


In the turbulent age when Bishop Cæsarius lived, about A.D. 500, a great
number of prisoners were brought into the city of Arles, and the bishop
used all his power in providing clothing, food, and money to purchase
their freedom. It is related that, after exhausting the church chest and
selling the gold and silver vessels, he stripped the walls and pillars of
the church in order to raise money. One day the steward suggested that all
the funds were gone, and nothing was left except to send out the prisoners
into the streets to beg. Before taking this extreme step the bishop went
into his cell, and prayed that the Lord would grant supplies for the poor.
He then returned with a cheerful face, and reproved the steward for his
want of faith, telling him to bake the last grain of corn into bread, that
they might all have one meal together, so that they might be able to fast
the following day. This was done, and the next day was looked forward to
by all with great anxiety; but in the early morning three vessels hove in
sight, laden with corn, which the Burgundian kings Gundobad and Sigismund
had sent to Cæsarius in aid of his good work, and so all were relieved
from a critical situation. Another time a poor man asked the bishop for
money to ransom a captive, and the bishop went to fetch his sacerdotal
dress, and gave it to be sold for a price to set the captive free.


Clovis I., King of the Gauls, who died in 511, and who by successful
battles made a kingdom for himself, had been brought up a Pagan till his
thirteenth year. He married Clotilda, niece of the Arian King of Burgundy,
and she felt bound to convert her husband. Remigius, Bishop of Rheims, was
induced to explain the advantages of the Christian faith, whereupon Clovis
and three thousand of his subjects were at once baptised with great
solemnity. When he was told of the sufferings and death of Christ, he
broke out into a passion, and exclaimed, "Had I been present at the head
of my valiant Franks, I would have revenged His injuries." The King,
however, had many battles still to fight, and lived a turbulent life, but
was disposed to confide in future in the protection of the Lord of Hosts.
The sepulchre of St. Martin of Tours was then the centre of pious interest
from the multitude of miracles, and the King made rich offerings to the
saint, whom he sometimes described as a rather expensive friend. For he
had made a present of his war-horse after a great victory, and on wishing
to redeem it by the gift of a hundred pieces of gold, the enchanted horse
refused to leave its stable till he had doubled the sum offered. In his
pursuit of the expedition against the Goths, and during his march from
Paris through Tours, he directed his messengers to remark the words of the
psalm which should happen to be chanted at the precise moment when they
entered the church. It happened that the words were about Joshua who went
forth to battle against the enemies of the Lord. This greatly encouraged
the army. A white hart of great size and beauty was also noticed to guide
the troops in the right direction, and a flaming meteor appeared in the
air above the cathedral of Poitiers. With these good omens Clovis went on
conquering till he established on a sure foundation the kingdom of France.
A diadem was placed on his head, and he was invested in the church of St.
Martin of Tours with a purple tunic and mantle.


St. Michael being the archangel, captain of the heavenly host who chained
the revolted angels, and the patron saint of the Church militant, had a
church dedicated to him in Rome before 500. It is also related that when
Rome was depopulated by a pestilence in the sixth century, St. Gregory,
afterwards Pope, advised that a procession should be made through the
streets of the city, singing the service since called the Great Litanies.
He placed himself at the head of the faithful, and during three days they
perambulated the city; and on the third day, when they had arrived
opposite to the mole of Hadrian, Gregory beheld the Archangel Michael
alight on the summit of that monument, and sheathe his sword bedropped
with blood. Then Gregory knew that the plague was stayed, and a church was
dedicated to the honour of the archangel; and the tomb of Hadrian has
since been called the Castle of St. Angelo to this day.


The See of Constantinople once became vacant in the sixth century; and to
prevent troubles and secure a perfect appointment, the Emperor caused a
blank paper, sealed with his own seal, to be laid on the altar of one of
the churches, accompanied by a written instrument, by which he and the
clergy of Constantinople bound themselves to choose the person whose name
should be found written on the blank paper under the seal. The access to
these papers was guarded night and day by soldiers under the command of
the great chamberlain. A fast was enjoined for forty days, during which
time prayers were unceasingly offered up for the choice to be divinely
directed. At the end of the forty days, the paper was opened in the
presence of the Emperor and the whole body of the clergy, and Fravitas
being found to be the name written on the blank paper, he was forthwith
proclaimed Archbishop of Constantinople amidst loud acclamations. It so
happened that Fravitas died within a year after his ordination, leaving
debts due from his estate for large sums borrowed at exorbitant interest
from money-lenders. An inquiry into these unlooked-for circumstances being
set on foot, it transpired that the money had been borrowed by Fravitas to
bribe the great chamberlain, who was thereby induced to open the paper,
and having written upon it the name of Fravitas, to reseal it with the
imperial seal, of which he was the official keeper. On the discovery of
the cheat, the great chamberlain was put to death and his estate
confiscated. The exposure was probably of some use in guarding even in
those days against the easy access of pious imposture, and reflects light
on many supposed miracles then so frequently occurring.


Gregory the Great, before being elected Pope in 590, had been on a mission
to Constantinople, and then gained great favour at Court. He afterwards
thus wrote to the Empress Constantina: "Having heard that there are many
Gentiles in the island of Sardinia, and that according to their depraved
custom they still sacrifice to idols, and that the priests of the island
have become lax in preaching our Redeemer, I sent one of the Italian
bishops there, who with the help of God converted many of these Gentiles
to the faith. But he has informed me of a sacrilegious custom--namely,
that those who sacrifice to idols pay a tax to the judge for a licence to
do so, of whom some now, being baptised, have given up sacrificing to
idols; yet still this tax for the licence is exacted from them by the same
judge even after baptism. And when he was found fault with by the bishop
for this, he answered that he had bought his office and could not afford
to keep it up unless the tax were paid. And the island of Corsica is
oppressed by the tax-gatherers to such an extent that the inhabitants can
hardly satisfy these demands even by selling their own children. All which
things I am quite sure have never reached your pious ears; for if they
had, they would not have lasted till now. Make them known on fitting
occasions to your devout lord, that he may remove such a heavy load of sin
from his own soul, from the Empire, and from his children. Whoever have
children of their own should know well how to feel for the children of
others. Let it therefore be enough for me to have suggested these things,
in order that your piety may not lie ignorant of what is happening in
those parts, and I might not be arraigned by the severe Judge for my


Matthew of Westminster says that there flourished in 613 John, Archbishop
of Alexandria, who, on account of his eminent liberality to the poor of
Christ, deserved to obtain the surname of the Almsgiver. And it happened
that a certain foreigner, beholding his excessive compassion for the poor,
wishing to tempt him, came to him whilst he was visiting the sick
according to his custom, and said to him, "Pity me, because I am poor and
a prisoner." And the patriarch said to his steward, "Give him six pieces
of gold." And when the beggar had received them, he changed his dress, and
coming again from another quarter he fell at his feet, saying, "Have mercy
upon me, because I am tormented with hunger." Again the patriarch said to
his steward, "Give him six pieces of gold." And when he had done so, his
steward whispered in the ear of the patriarch, "Master, he has now
received twice to-day." He came again a third time and asked alms; and the
servant told his master that it was the same man. And that merciful bishop
said, "Give him twelve pieces of gold, lest perchance he be Christ
Himself, who is come to tempt me."


This John the Almoner became the last Patriarch of Alexandria, his
reputation for piety prevailing with the Emperor as well as the people who
joined in the appointment. His zeal in redeeming captives, establishing
hospitals, and rebuilding churches was soon displayed. He would not allow
applicants for charity to be denied because they wore golden ornaments,
saying that the riches of God were infinite. During a famine a rich man
offered to supply a vast store of grain for public use provided he was
made a deacon. John spurned the offer, saying, "God, who supported the
poor before either of us was born, can find the means of supporting them
now. He who blessed the five loaves and multiplied them can bless and
multiply the two measures of corn which remain in my granary." Scarcely
had the tempting bait been refused, when tidings came that two large
cargoes of grain had arrived in the ships belonging to the Church. Though
John had vast stores intrusted to him for dispensing to the public, his
own fare was poor and simple, and the couch on which he slept was no
better than an artisan's. One day a rich friend purchased and presented to
him a magnificent bed; and John, being unwilling to hurt the donor's
feelings, accepted it; but after using it one night he said it hindered
his sleep by reminding him of his slothfulness and luxury, while so many
poor were lying in cold and misery. He therefore sold the bed and gave
away the proceeds in charity. The original donor, however, repurchased it,
and presented it again, with the same result; and this took place a third
time. When he saw that the Persians were advancing and that Alexandria
must fall into their hands he retired to Cyprus, but on his way was
strongly urged to pay a visit to the Emperor Heraclius at Constantinople.
He was about to comply, but was forewarned in a dream that his own end was
approaching, whereupon he said to the royal messenger, "You invite me to
the Emperor of the earth, but the King of kings summons me elsewhere." He
died at his native place at Amathus, in Cyprus, aged sixty-four, in 620,
and his tomb was long visited by pilgrims.


King Oswin of Northumbria, says Bede, was comely to behold, tall in
stature, and courteous and bountiful to all. One day he gave an excellent
horse to Bishop Aidan, so that the latter might cross rivers and perform
journeys in his diocese. Soon after, a poor man meeting the bishop and
asking alms, the bishop dismounted and gave the horse, richly caparisoned,
to the beggar. The King heard of this, and next day at dinner said, "How
was it, lord bishop, that you gave away that fine horse to a beggar man?
Have we not many horses less valuable that would have suited the man just
as well?" The bishop's answer was, "Surely, King, the foal of a mare
cannot be dearer to you than that son of God?" This sunk into the heart of
the King, who, reflecting upon it, ungirded his sword, and threw himself
at the bishop's feet, desiring that the bishop would forgive his hasty
remark, for he would never again attempt to judge what or how much he
might give to the sons of God. The bishop in turn begged the King to rise
and be cheerful, but it was noticed that the bishop was in tears, as he
knew that the King would not live long, for the nation was not worthy to
have such a ruler. Not long after the King was killed, as the bishop
foresaw, and the bishop himself lived only twelve days afterwards.


Bishop Eligius of Noyon, who was born in 588, was anxious to found a
monastery, and requested the French King to grant him a piece of land as a
site. The King consented, but Eligius afterwards discovered that he had
misrepresented the extent of the ground to be a foot less than it actually
measured. This vexed the bishop exceedingly, and he could not rest till he
had gone to the King to inform him of the mistake. The King said to the
bystanders, "See, what a noble thing is Christian integrity! My nobles and
treasurers amass great wealth for themselves, and this servant of Christ,
on account of his fidelity to his Lord, could not be easy till he had
accounted for this extra handful of earth." On another occasion the King
had required Eligius to take an oath in reference to some matter of
business; and according to the custom of the times, this required to be
done by laying the witness's hand on certain relics. The bishop's
conscience was troubled at this requirement, which was contrary to his
settled convictions. At last the King was touched with this mark of tender
religious feeling, and graciously expressed his consent to waive the
formality, and declared that he would be quite content to believe his word
in preference to any number of oaths.


The Venerable Bede in his history thus describes St. Acca, Bishop of
Hexham, who lived about 740: "He was a most active man, and great in the
sight of God and man; he much adorned and added to the structure of his
church dedicated to St. Andrew. For he made it his business, and does so
still, to procure relics of the blessed Apostles and martyrs of Christ
from all parts to place them on altars, dividing the same by arches in the
walls of the church. Besides which he diligently gathered the histories of
their sufferings, together with other ecclesiastical writings, and created
there a very large and noble library. He likewise provided industriously
the holy vessels, lights, and such things as pertain to the adornment of
the house of God. He also invited to come to him a famous singer named
Maban, who had been taught to sing by the successors of the disciples of
the blessed Gregory in Kent, so that the clergy should be well instructed
in music, and kept him twelve years, to teach such sacred songs as were
not known and to restore those which had been corrupted or too long
neglected. Bishop Acca was a most accomplished singer himself, and most
learned in the Holy Scriptures, most pure in the confession of the
Catholic faith, and most observant of the laws of the Church; nor did he
ever cease to be so till he received the reward of his pious devotion." It
is related of Aldhelm, Bishop of Sherborne about 710, that he could find
no better mode of commanding the attention of his townsmen than by
standing on a bridge and singing a ballad which he had composed.


Matthew of Westminster relates that Pope Leo III., when a young man, was
doing penance for some misconduct before the altar of the Virgin, that he
suddenly became changed into another man, and afterwards came to be Pope.
When he was celebrating Mass for the first time, about 795, offerings of
great value were made to him. And among those who brought offerings, a
woman whom he had known in early days pressed his hand so warmly that she
made him almost forget his sacred duties. He felt so ashamed that he cut
off this hand, and afterwards the Blessed Virgin restored a new hand to
the arm. He showed long afterwards the old hand, which still remained
undecayed, to his brethren, and narrated to them all that had happened in
respect to it. From that time a rule was made, that henceforth those who
brought offerings should not kiss the hand of the Pope, but his foot. In
memory of this miracle the hand which was cut off was still preserved
(till 1300, the date of Matthew's history) in the Lateran treasury, and it
was kept free from decay by the Lord in honour of His mother.


Though previously some attempts had been made to check simony, and check
the evils of the vagrant friars, these abuses reached a high pitch in the
ninth century, as Agobard, Archbishop of Lyons, attested. He was zealous
for the dignity of the spiritual order and calling, but lamented over its
degradation. He said that many of the nobles procured the most unsuitable
men, sometimes their own slaves, to be ordained as priests, and employed
these mechanically to perform the rites of worship in the chapels of their
castles, and at the same time to do menial offices, such as waiting at
table and feeding the hounds. The bishops assembled at Pavia in 853 to
deliberate, and complained that the multiplication of chapels in castles
contributed greatly to the decline of parochial worship, and to the
neglect of preaching, the nobles being satisfied with the mechanical
performance of Mass by their priests, and taking no further concern in the
public worship; whence it happened that the parish churches were
frequented only by the poor, while the rich and noble had no opportunity
of hearing sermons which might recall their thoughts from their debasing
worldly pursuits. The council of Pavia again in 850 made a canon
disapproving of the laity having the Mass celebrated continually in their
houses, and encouraging those ecclesiastics and monks who roved from one
district to another, disseminating their own crude errors without let or


Matthew of Westminster says that St. Swithin, Bishop of Winchester, died
in 867, a pattern of clemency and humility. Once he was sitting on
Winchester bridge encouraging his workmen, when a woman came along
bringing her eggs to market and the men most wantonly sprang at her and
broke her eggs. At this the woman's lamentations were so piercing that, on
learning of the loss, the good bishop, moved with pity, made the sign of
the cross, and repaired the fractures. The great humility of the bishop
was shown in his conduct when consecrating a new church. However great the
distance, he would walk all the way on foot, refusing the use of horse or
carriage; and lest this singularity should excite ridicule, he took care
to travel by night. When he was near his end, he enjoined his domestics to
bury his corpse outside his church, where it might be exposed to the feet
of the passers-by and to the raindrops that fell from the roof.


Simeon of Durham says that, in 884, when Alfred was king, there came to
England John Scotus, a Scot by birth, a man of clear intellect and much
eloquence, who, leaving his country some time before, had gone over to
France to Charles the Bald. Alfred received him with great respect, and
John soon became an inseparable companion, both at table and in the King's
retirement, owing to his ready wit and pleasantry. One day at dinner John
was sitting at table opposite King Charles, who, while the cups were going
round, with a gay face had chid John for some want of politeness, and
ended by asking what difference there was between a Scot and a sot. John
at once cleverly replied, "Only this table." On another occasion, when a
servant had handed to the King at table a dish which contained two very
large fishes and one very small, the King gave it to John to divide with
two clerics seated beside him. The clerics were both of gigantic stature,
while John was very little. John very gravely kept the two large fishes to
himself, and gave the little fish to the two giants. The King at once
challenged this as a most unfair division; but John had this ready excuse:
"Nay, I have done well and fairly. Here is one small one," pointing to
himself, "and there are two large ones," pointing to the fishes. And then
looking at the two clerics, "There also are two large ones, and," pointing
to the fish, "there is a little one." John had translated some Greek
authors at the request of King Charles, and therein made observations
concerning the ranks or orders of celestial beings which the Pope urged on
Charles as flat heresy, whereon John grew disgusted with France, and went
to England, allured by the munificence of King Alfred, and settled at
Malmesbury; but his pupils there greatly worried him and made his life a
burden. He was highly esteemed, however, after his death.


Asser, the biographer, after stating that King Alfred was anxious to give
up to God the half of his service, bodily and mental, by night and by day,
and was at a loss how to count the hours, continues thus: "After long
reflection on these things, Alfred at length, by a useful and shrewd
invention, commanded his chaplains to provide wax in a sufficient
quantity, and he caused it to be weighed in such a manner that, when there
was so much of it in the scale as would equal the weight of seventy-two
pence, he caused his chaplains to make six candles out of it of equal
length, so that each candle might have twelve divisions marked
longitudinally upon it. By this plan, therefore, those six candles burned
for twenty-four hours, a night and a day exactly, before the sacred relics
of God's elect, which always accompanied the King wherever he went. But
sometimes when they would not continue burning a whole day and night till
the same hour that they were lighted the preceding evening, owing to the
violence of the wind which blew day and night without intermission through
the doors and windows of the churches, the fissures of the partitions, the
plankings of the wall, and the thin canvas of the tents, they then
unavoidably burnt out, and finished their course before the appointed
time. The King therefore considered by what means he could shut out the
wind, and so by a useful and cunning invention he ordered a lantern to be
beautifully constructed of wood and white ox-horn, which, when skilfully
planed till it is thin, is no less transparent than a vessel of glass.
This lantern, therefore, was wonderfully made of wood and horn, as we
before said, and by night a candle was put into it, which shone as
brightly without as within, and was not extinguished by the wind. By this
contrivance six candles lighted in succession lasted twenty-four hours,
neither more nor less; and the King gave up to God the half of his daily
service as he had vowed."


Asser, the monk, biographer, and friend of King Alfred, was born in Wales,
and says: "The King had sent for me to visit and take up my residence with
him. I was honourably received by him, and remained that time at court
eight months, during which I read to him whatever books he liked and such
as he had at hand, for this was his most usual custom night and day in the
midst of his many other occupations of mind and body, either himself to
read books or to listen whilst others read them. And when I frequently
asked his leave to depart, and could in no way obtain it, at length, when
I had made up my mind by all means to demand it, he called me to him at
twilight on Christmas Eve, and gave me two letters, in which was a long
list of all the things which were in two monasteries, called in the Saxon
tongue Ambresbury and Banwell, and on that same day he delivered to me
those two monasteries, with all the things that were in them, and a silken
pall of great value, and a load for a strong man of incense, adding these
words: that he did not give me these trifling presents because he was
unwilling hereafter to give me greater; for in the course of time he
unexpectedly gave me Exeter, with all the diocese that belonged to him in
Saxony and in Cornwall, besides gifts every day without number in every
kind of worldly wealth, which it would be too long to enumerate here, lest
they should make my reader tired. But let no one suppose that I have
mentioned these presents in this place for the sake of glory or flattery,
or that I may obtain greater honour. I merely certify to those who are
ignorant of it how liberal the King was in giving."


Bishops in the ninth century occupied so influential a position that they
were expected to take the field, as Bishop Fulbert took the command of
the besieged troops when the Hungarians attacked the city of Cambray. In
955, when the Hungarians threatened the fortified town of Augsburg, the
bishop mounted on horseback in his priestly robes, without shield or
buckler, sat unmoved amid flights of javelins and stones, and directed the
mode of defence and the erection of fortifications until nightfall, after
which he spent the night mostly in prayer. After matins he distributed the
Holy Supper to the combatants before they returned to continue the fight,
and exhorted them to put their trust in the Lord, who would be with them,
so that they had nothing to fear even in the shadow of death. So, in 1200,
Bernard, Bishop of Hildesheim, led the defence of his people against the
incursions of the Normans. It is true that Damiani protested against this
double function, saying, "With what face can the priest, as his duty
requires, undertake to reconcile contending parties with each other, when
he himself strives to return evil for evil? Our Saviour taught people only
to excel in love and patience: why should priests grasp the sword for the
temporal and perishable things of earth?" A band of unarmed monks dressed
in monkish habits had once struck knights and their followers with such
awe, that they dismounted and fled panic-stricken.


In 956 Pope John XII. was elected at the age of eighteen, and was a
monster of iniquity. He was accused and convicted in a council of simony,
perjury, fornication, adultery, sacrilege, murder, incest, blasphemy,
atheism, and was deposed for these exploits. But he recovered his see and
deposed the Pope who had been appointed in his room. His real name was
Octavianus, but he took that of John XII., and was the first Pope who
introduced the custom of assuming a new name. His end was suitable to his
behaviour; for being one night caught in a scandalous act, he received a
blow on the head from an unknown hand which killed him. About the same
time Theophilus had, at the age of sixteen, been made Patriarch of
Constantinople, and was such another as John XII. He openly sold
bishoprics and all ecclesiastical offices. He loved hunting and horses
even to madness. He kept two thousand, and fed them with all sorts of
dainties. On a Holy Thursday as he was at Mass word was brought to him in
church that his favourite mare had foaled. He instantly left in the middle
of the church service to pay her a visit, and then came back to make an
end of the service. He introduced the custom of dancing in the church on
holy days, with indecent gestures and accompanied with comic ballads.


It is reported by Matthew of Westminster that, in 1012, the Emperor Henry
II. went out one Sunday to hunt, and his companions being all dispersed,
he lost himself near the edge of a wood where there was a church, into
which he went, and stating falsely that he was a soldier, asked the priest
in a simple manner to give him the Mass. The priest, named Hubert, was a
man eminent for his piety, but so ugly in his person that he seemed rather
a monster than a man. And when the Emperor had carefully looked at him, he
began greatly to marvel why God, from whom all beautiful things proceed,
allowed so unsightly a man to celebrate His Sacraments. But presently the
Mass was commenced, and they came to that part of the service in which a
boy chanted, "Be ye sure that the Lord He is God." And the priest,
reproving the boy for his negligence in singing, said with a loud voice,
"It is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves," at which words the
Emperor was much struck, and thinking the priest a prophet, raised him, in
spite of great opposition, to the Archbishopric of Cologne. And when he
had received the archbishopric, he adorned that see by his religion and
worthy course of life. It happened that out of a monastery of nuns in that
city a beautiful damsel was captured by a wealthy young noble and made his
wife. The archbishop reclaimed her; but a second time she was carried off,
and he excommunicated both. When the archbishop was on his deathbed, the
young man sent a messenger to ask absolution, which the archbishop
refused, unless the young man agreed to leave the woman. This being
refused, the archbishop foretold his own death, and also that the young
man would be called to his account on the same day and hour in the
following year. And, strange to say, both of them were struck with
lightning and died at that very time.


Meinwerc, appointed Bishop of Paderborn in 1009, had occasionally his joke
with the Emperor Henry II. On one occasion Henry sent the bishop after
vespers his own golden cup of exquisite workmanship full of good liquor,
charging the messenger not to come away without the cup. The bishop
received the present with many thanks, and after a long chat the
messenger left the cup behind him. The bishop, noticing the cup,
immediately sent for his goldsmiths, and had the cup converted into a
chalice, and used it next day, which was Christmas. One of the Emperor's
chaplains, who officiated at Mass that day, recognised the cup and took it
to the Emperor, who charged the bishop with theft, telling him that God
abhorred robbery for burnt offering. The bishop replied that all he had
done was only to rob the vanity and avarice of Henry by consecrating the
cup to the service of God, and dared Henry to take it away. "I will not,"
said the Emperor, "take away that which has been devoted to the service of
God, but I will myself humbly offer to Him that which is my own property;
and do you honour the Lord, who vouchsafed us on this night to be born for
the salvation of all men, by the performance of your own duties."


According to Matthew of Westminster, as King Canute, who died in 1035, was
flourishing and magnificent in the kingdom of England which he had
acquired by his bravery, he one day ordered his royal chair to be placed
on the seashore, and then mounting, he sat down in it, and said in a
threatening voice, "You are under my dominion, O sea, and the land on
which I sit is mine, nor is there any one in it who can dare with impunity
to resist my authority. I now command you not to come upon my land, nor to
presume to wet my royal vestments." But as wave after wave rose up and
disregarded his injunctions, and without any respect wetted the feet and
legs of the King, he waited till it was almost too late to leap from his
chair, and said, "Let all the inhabitants of the world know that the power
of kings is vain and frivolous, and that no one is worthy of the name of
king except Him in obedience to whose nod the heaven and earth and sea and
all that is in them are subject to eternal laws." And from that time forth
the King never wore his crown, but he always placed it on the head of the
image of his crucified Master, and so gave a great example of humility to
all future kings. He was buried at Winchester in the old monastery with
all royal honour. Other historians relate that Canute sat on the shore of
the river Thames at Westminster on the occasion referred to.


Canute, King of England and Denmark, in 1031 paid a visit to Rome, and
wrote a long letter to the English archbishop and bishops, describing
the honours paid to him. He said: "I have lately been to Rome to pray for
the redemption of my sins and the salvation of my people. I had long since
made a vow to do this. At Easter a great assembly of princes was present
with Pope John and the Emperor Conrad, and all received me with honour and
presented me with magnificent gifts. But more especially was I honoured by
the Emperor with various gifts and offerings in gold and silver vessels,
with palls and exceedingly costly garments. I spoke with the Emperor
himself, and with our lord the Pope, and with the princes who were there,
respecting the necessities of my people and their better security on their
journeys to Rome, and their claim to freedom from harassing barriers and
exactions. All the princes declared and assured me this should be attended
to. I also complained to our lord the Pope that my archbishops were
oppressed by the immense sums demanded from them on receiving the pall,
and it was decreed that this should never again occur. All the princes
willingly granted and confirmed their concessions by oaths, and with the
attestation of four archbishops and twenty bishops and a numberless crowd
of dukes and noblemen who were then present. I have humbly vowed to the
Almighty God to reform my life in all things, justly and piously to govern
my kingdom and the people who are subject to me. I call to witness and
command my councillors to allow no injustice to be practised in any
portion of my kingdom."


Fulgosius gives a story how a peasant in the electorate of Cologne puzzled
his bishop. The peasant was at work in his field, when he saw his bishop
pass by, attended by a train more becoming a prince than a successor of
the Apostles. He could not forbear laughing loud and long, which caused
the bishop to ask the reason. The peasant answered, "I laugh when I think
of St. Peter and St. Paul, and see you in your equipage. Sure, they were
ill advised to trudge on foot when they were heads of the Christian
Church, the lieutenants of Jesus Christ, the King of kings; and here is
yourself, only a bishop, yet so well mounted and with such warlike
attendance that thou resemblest a prince rather than a pastor of the
Church." To this his reverence replied, "Nay, my friend, thou dost not
consider that I am both a count and a baron as well as your bishop." The
rustic laughed still louder at this, and added, "Yea, but when the count
and the baron, which you say you are, shall be in hell, where will the
bishop be?" This rather confounded the bishop, who rode off without
answering a word.


St. Margaret, a great-niece of Edward the Confessor and granddaughter of
Edmund Ironsides, married Malcolm, King of Scotland, in 1069. She was of a
saintly mind, and showed a genius for self-mortification and fasting, and
also for charity to the poor. The King was accustomed to offer coins of
gold in the church at High Mass, but the Queen devoutly pillaged them and
bestowed them on the beggars who besought her help. The Queen and the
ladies of her Court were constantly employed in making vestments and other
ornaments for Divine service, and her attendants were taught frequently to
exercise themselves in works of piety and charity. She was not only a
model mother of a family, but she had a wonderful gift of eloquence, and
could teach the most learned doctors of her time out of the Holy
Scriptures things that they never knew or had forgotten. Her views about
the right way of observing the forty days' fast of Lent carried conviction
to all the wise men, for before her time fewer Sundays used to be computed
in the forty days, so that she added four days, and thereby made the
Scotch conform to the rest of the world. She also taught her subjects to
be more sound and rigid in observing Sunday, so that no one should on that
day carry any burdens himself or compel others to do so. She was a great
friend of the monasteries, and also of the hermits who lived in cells, and
whom she often visited and begged to remember her in their prayers. As
they would not on principle accept any gift from her, she begged them to
bid her perform some alms deed or work of mercy, and she would do it
forthwith. She erected some convenient dwellings to entertain the many
pilgrims who visited the church of St. Andrews, and even chartered ships
to bring the pilgrims from afar. She also rebuilt the monastery at Iona.
She died in 1093, aged forty-seven, and in 1250 she was declared a saint
and her body placed in a silver shrine in the abbey of Dunfermline.


When William the Conqueror had reigned seventeen years, his Queen,
Matilda, died in 1083, after a long sickness. She was buried in her own
church at Caen, where her eldest daughter was already a professed nun, and
William erected a tomb over her resting-place, rich with gold and gems.
After this blow he never recovered his spirits. In 1087 he was resting at
Rouen, under medical treatment for his corpulency, and King Philip made a
jest of it by saying that William was only lying in! William, stung by
this levity, swore that he would rise up again and have his revenge. He
did rise, and set about harrying and devastating the vineyards and
harvests of France, gladdening his sight with burning and demolishing
castles, churches, and monasteries in his enemy's country. But one day his
horse stumbled, and his heavy body fell among some burning cinders. He was
carried a dying man to Rouen, and for quietness was tended for some weeks
in the priory of St. Gervase. His physician gave him up. He made his will
and spoke his last wishes, and many a crime of his earlier days rose up
against him. One morning he heard a great minster bell sounding for prime;
and after inquiring what it was, he commended his soul to the Holy Mother
of God and passed away, aged sixty-three. No sooner was the breath out of
his body than his trusty chiefs took to their horses and scampered home,
foreseeing that anarchy was at hand and self-preservation their first
duty. The weeping attendants took care to pillage the weapons, clothes,
and furniture in his room, leaving his body to lie a day on the bare
floor. An archbishop at last took on him to order the body to be borne to
Caen, but all the household had vanished, each carrying off as much booty
as he could stow away, and not a vassal was to be found ready to help. A
strange Norman knight, moved by natural piety, at last volunteered to
wash, anoint, and embalm the royal corpse, and to find a carriage to
convey it. But as the bier approached the abbey of St. Stephen, where
monks and clergy stood ready to receive it, and were singing the office of
the dead, a fire broke out near hand, and the members of the procession
had to leave and assist in that emergency. At last the Mass of the dead
was sung, and a bishop mounted the pulpit to harangue the audience on the
mighty deeds of the great King. No sooner had this concluded when a knight
stood forth and claimed the ground in which the King's body was about to
be laid, saying it was his property, of which he had been robbed by the
King, and he challenged all and sundry to interfere with it, and swore
that no robber's body should ever be covered with his mould. The company
were staggered, and yet feared it was too true, so that the bishops and
nobles deemed it prudent to make a bargain on the spot and to pay a
suitable purchase money. But this was not all. Some unskilful workmen had
made the coffin too small to hold the great mass of flesh which William
left behind. The body burst in the process of handling, and a fearful
stench filled the church. The rest of the holy office was therefore
hurried over, and this was the end of all. It was afterwards left to
William Rufus to erect a fitting monument and shrine to the mighty dead,
with some verses from the archbishop, reciting how small a house was now
enough for the great King William. The monk Orderic, a contemporary, thus
moralises on this career: "O secular pomp, how despicable art thou,
because how vain and transient! Thou art justly compared to the bubbles
made by rain; for like them thou swellest for a moment to vanish into
nothing. Survey this most potent hero, whom lately a hundred thousand
knights were eager to serve, and whom many nations dreaded, now lying for
hours on the naked ground, spoiled and abandoned by every one! The
citizens of Rouen were in consternation at the tidings. Every one fled
from his home and hid his property or tried to turn it into money, that it
might not be identified."


When Henry I. of England at the age of thirty-one suddenly succeeded to
the crown on the death of William Rufus, he demanded in marriage Matilda
of Scotland, daughter of King Malcolm and of his saintly Queen Margaret.
It was rumoured that she was a nun, and Henry persuaded Anselm, Archbishop
of Canterbury, to question her, and see if this scandal could be avoided.
On inquiry she explained that the rumour had no foundation, and all that
happened was that, when she was a girl of eight, her aunt one day put a
piece of black cloth over her head, and she sometimes kept it on as an
excuse for unsuitable marriages, and as a protection against the rudeness
of the Norman nobles. This being deemed a satisfactory explanation, the
chronicler William of Malmesbury thus described the wedding that took
place in 1100 as follows: "At the wedding of Matilda and Henry I. there
was a most prodigious concourse of nobility and people assembled in and
about the church at Westminster, when, to prevent all calumny and ill
report that the King was about to marry a nun, the Archbishop Anselm
mounted into a pulpit and gave the multitude a history of the events
proved before the synod and its judgment, that the Lady Matilda of
Scotland was free from any religious vow, and might dispose of herself in
marriage as she thought fit. The archbishop finished by asking the people
in a loud voice whether any one there objected to this decision, upon
which they answered unanimously with a loud shout that the matter was
rightly settled. Accordingly the lady was immediately married to the King
and crowned before that vast assembly." It was said that this virtuous
Queen took a leading part in persuading Henry to grant Magna Charta. She
died in 1118, aged forty-one.


An old chronicler, Helmandus of Froidmont, about 1100, relates that
"Philip, Bishop of Beauvais, once tarried with us--not, we suppose, for
enjoying our hospitality, but for devotion. 'Now,' said the bishop, 'call
me to hear early Mass.' On going to him on the morrow when primes had
begun, I found him still sleeping, and none of his household dared to
disturb him. But I drew near him, saying in joke, 'The sparrows have long
risen to praise the Lord, and our bishops still snore in bed; listen,
father, to the Psalmist: "Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I
meditate on Thy word." Upon that the gloss of Ambrose says, "It is
indecent for a Christian to be found by the sun's rays lying slothful in
bed."' The bishop, waking up, was confused and wroth for my reproving him
so freely, and said angrily, 'Be off, you wretch, and kill your lice.' But
I turned his anger into a joke, and forthwith rejoined, 'Beware, father,
lest your worms kill you. It is the worms of the rich that kill the rich,
but the poor kill theirs. Read the history of the Maccabees and Josephus,
and the Acts of the Apostles, and you will find that the most powerful
kings Antiochus and Herod Agrippa were eaten by worms.' Crushed by this
reason and the authorities, the bishop straightway held his peace."


In the twelfth century the greatest theologian was said to be Anselm, bred
a monk in the monastery of Bec, in Normandy. He soon became prior and
afterwards abbot, and was the life and soul of all the best monkish work.
He objected to the rigorous discipline to which monks were subjected. He
also had an insight into the mode of educating children by kindly methods
instead of brutalising them by tyrannical punishments. To show his mastery
of this new method, he reclaimed one of the most stubborn and intractable
boys, so that this youth, named Osbern, became greatly attached to his
master, who in turn, when the youth contracted a fatal disease, nursed him
night and day. In 1093 he was made Archbishop of Canterbury, but he became
entangled in the contests of the time, as he thought the Church should be
independent of kings; and incurring too much risk, he took refuge with the
Pope, and travelled about France and Italy, always distinguishing himself
by works of piety till he died in 1109. He retained through life his
austere and self-mortifying habits as to food, so that Queen Matilda wrote
to him a letter strongly pressing upon him the necessity of avoiding
excessive abstinence as destructive to his powers of doing good. He was
noted for his placidity of mind, and his constant attempts to meditate on
the deeper problems of the Christian life. It is said that, on meditating
about the gift of prophecy when he was prior of Bec, he awoke early, and
he became so absorbed in this mystery that he at last himself actually saw
through the wall all the preparations going on for Mass in the next
building, and hence he said it was easy for God to reveal the future in
the same way to chosen servants. On another occasion he fell into a
trance, and during the celebration of vigils solved to his own
satisfaction some mysteries that had long baffled his researches, he being
for a time in a grand ecstasy of supernatural intuition. He also
distinguished himself in his controversies with the schoolmen as the most
expert and orthodox theologian of his age.


Before Archbishop Anselm died in 1109, at the age of seventy-six, he lay
down in his last illness, and one of the priests who stood around his bed
said to him, it being then Palm Sunday, "Lord father, it appears to us
that, leaving this world, you are about to keep the passover in the palace
of your Lord." The ambitious theologian replied, "If indeed this be His
will, I gainsay it not. But if He should choose that I should yet remain
among you at least long enough to settle the question which I am revolving
in my mind concerning the origin of the soul, I should take it gratefully,
because I do not know whether any one will be able to determine it after I
am dead. If I could but eat I might hope to recover, for I feel no pain in
any part, except that, as my stomach sinks for lack of food which it is
unable to take, I am failing all over."


When El Mehedi, one of the Arab kings in Spain, died in 1130, his vizier,
Abdelmumen Aben Ali, contrived to be named his successor, and vindicated
his Divine right by the following artifice. The premier kept the King's
death concealed for three years, and meanwhile taught a parrot to utter
various little speeches. He also brought up a young lion to fawn upon him
and caress him. He prepared a proper cage for the bird, and a proper
hiding-place for the lion in a large hall, when he invited the chief
nobles to meet and consult about the royal demise. He announced the death
of the King, which gave rise to great lamentations, and then harangued
them with great propriety and due acknowledgments of the Divine mercy in
teaching the value of harmony and union against their enemies. He then
remained silent, and the nobles being greatly perplexed and undecided,
suddenly, as if by some Divine intuition, the bird spoke these words:
"Honour, victory, and power to our lord the Caliph Abdelmumen, Prince of
the Faithful; he is the defence and support of the Empire." At the same
moment a fierce lion bounded out of a hole into the middle of the hall,
lashing its tail and glaring at the company, to the terror of all, when
the vizier, calmly advancing, faced the monster, which at once succumbed,
and caressed him and licked his hands. The nobles were at once confounded;
and treating these demonstrations as the voice of the Divine will, took
the oath of allegiance. This king became one of the most illustrious in
Spain, who brought nearly the whole country under his rule, as well as the
dependencies in Africa, and he carried on the Holy War against the
Infidels, as the Christian rebel princes were then called. He reigned
thirty-three years, and died in 1164.


Archbishop Turstin of York, in 1138, though so old and feeble that he had
to be carried in a litter, had energy enough to rouse and summon the
nobles of Yorkshire to resist an irruption of Scots under King David.
After a fast of three days they all swore a solemn oath to fight, and they
easily defeated the Scots. John of Hexham says that the archbishop adhered
to monastic usages; he was frequent in prayers, and had from God the grace
of tears in the celebration of Masses. He wore a shirt of haircloth, and
amid frequent confessions did not spare himself from corporal castigation.
He was the founder of the monastery of Fountains, and watched over the
monks, and was bountiful in offerings to the church of York. Feeling at
last in 1140 that the vigour of life was growing weak in him, he wisely
set his house in order, paying his servants' wages, restoring what had
been taken away, and taking thought about each separate matter. Having
assembled in his chapel the priests of the church of York, and solemnly
made confession before them, he stretched himself naked on the ground
before the altar of St. Andrew, and received from them the discipline of
corporal chastisement with tears flowing from a contrite heart; and
mindful of the vow which as a young man he had made at Clugny, he went to
the monks of the Clugniac order at Pontefract, the elders of the church of
York and many of the laity accompanying him; and there he solemnly
received the habit and benediction of a monk, and during the remaining
days of his life he was intent on the salvation of his soul. At last,
surrounded by religious men, as the hour of his summons drew near he
himself celebrated nine vigils for the departed, and himself read the
lesson, gave the verse of the response, _Dies illa, dies iræ_, laying a
mournful and significant emphasis on each word; and at the end of lauds,
the monks being all assembled, he yielded up his spirit. He was buried
with becoming honour before the high altar. Many years after, the monks in
carrying out repairs required to remove the stone over his tomb, and
neither his corpse nor his vestments showed any appearance of corruption.


When King John succeeded to the English crown in 1199, he at once sent for
Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln, and made much of him, promising to be guided by
his directions. For two or three days John's conduct in public was very
decorous; but the biographer of Hugh relates that the very next (Easter)
Sunday John attended church, when the chamberlain, according to custom,
put twelve pieces of gold in John's hand to be presented to the bishop.
John, instead of giving it, held the coins in his hand, rattling them
about, to the astonishment of the attendant nobles. Hugh indignantly asked
why this noise was made, when John replied, "In truth, I am looking at
these pieces of gold, and thinking that if I had got them a few days
since, I should not have given them to you at all, but put them in my own
purse." Hugh drew back, refusing to touch the gold, nor suffering his hand
to be kissed by John, bidding him put the money in the offertory dish, and
withdrew. After this, Hugh preached a long sermon containing much
specially intended for John's benefit about good and bad princes. While
all others acclaimed, John was exceedingly wearied. Three times he sent
messages to Hugh, insisting on his coming to an end and allowing him to
get away and break his long fast. He at last hurried away without
partaking of the Sacrament, and it was said he had not received it since
he had attained the years of discretion. John did the same thing at his
coronation on Ascension Day.


Fitzstephen, the secretary of Thomas à Becket, says that Thomas's
countenance was mild and beautiful; he was tall of stature, had a
prominent nose, slightly aquiline. He generally amused himself, not
incessantly, but occasionally, with hawks, falcons, hunting dogs, or
chess. His house and table were open to every rank. He never dined without
the society of earls and barons whom he had invited. He ordered the hall
to be strewn every day with fresh straw and hay in winter, and with green
leaves in summer, that the numerous knights, for whom the benches were
insufficient, might find the floor clean and neat for them to sit down on,
and that their rich clothes and beautiful tunics might not be soiled and
injured. His board shone with vessels of gold and silver, and abounded
with costly dishes and precious beverages, so that whatever objects of
food and drink were recommended by their rarity were purchased by his
officers at exorbitant prices. But amid all this he was himself singularly
frugal. When the King and he one day met a beggar, the King proposed to
take Thomas's warm cloak and give to the poor man, while Thomas objected,
and suggested the King should give something of his own, and they had a
sharp struggle for the cloak, each holding and pulling it till a button
gave way and remained in the King's hands. The King gave the button to the
beggar, then told the story to his attendants, who burst into loud
laughter, to the annoyance of the grave Thomas. When Thomas's dead body
after the murder was stripped by the monks, they were not a little curious
to discover whether he was really a monk. They found under his outer
garments a hair shirt, and then they were half convinced he must have been
a godly man. But when they found also hair drawers, and examined these
garments, and saw their dirty state, surpassing belief, they were in
raptures, and were then wholly convinced that Thomas was a true saint and
worthy of unbounded veneration in all ages.


In 1174, when Henry II. crossed from France to visit the tomb of St.
Thomas à Becket, he reached Southampton after a rough passage. Roger of
Wendover says that the King then fasted on bread and water, and would not
enter any city until he had fulfilled the vow which he had made to pray
at the tomb of St. Thomas, Archbishop of Canterbury and glorious martyr.
When he came near Canterbury he dismounted from his horse, and laying
aside all emblems of royalty, with naked feet, and in the form of a
penitent and supplicating pilgrim, arrived at the cathedral, and, like
Hezekiah, with tears and sighs sought the tomb of the glorious martyr,
where, prostrate on the floor and with his hands stretched to heaven, he
continued long in prayer. Meanwhile, the Bishop of London was commanded by
the King to declare in his sermon that he neither commanded, nor wished,
nor by any device contrived the death of the martyr, which had been
perpetrated in consequence of his murderers having misinterpreted the
words which the King had hastily pronounced; wherefore he requested
absolution from the bishops present, and, baring his back, received from
three to five lashes from every one of the numerous body of ecclesiastics
there assembled. The King then made costly offerings to the martyr, spent
the remainder of the day in grief and bitterness of mind, for three days
took no sustenance, giving himself up to prayer, vigils, and fasting--by
which means the favour of the blessed martyr was secured, and God
delivered into his hands William, King of Scots, who was forthwith
confined in Richmond Castle.


About 1137 Orderic says that "in the diocese of Séez, in Normandy, a Papal
interdict was put in force over all the territories of William Zalvas. The
sweet chants of Divine worship, sounds which calm and gladden the hearts
of the faithful, suddenly ceased; the laity were prohibited from entering
the churches for the service of God, and the doors were kept locked; the
bells were no longer rung; the bodies of the dead lay in corruption
without burial, striking the beholders with fear and horror; the pleasures
of marriage were forbidden to those who sought them; and the solemn joys
of the ecclesiastical ceremonies vanished in the general humiliation. The
same rigorous discipline was extended to the diocese of Evreux, and
enforced through all the lands of Roger de Toeni, in order to terrify and
restrain the perverse and disorderly inhabitants. Meanwhile Roger himself
lies fettered in close confinement, weeping and groaning for the loss of
his liberty of action, and cursed by the Church for the use he insolently
made of that liberty, when he had it, in the profanation of sacred things;
and all his lands lie under a terrible interdict. Thus proud and desperate
rebels are doubly crushed; but the hard hearts of those who witness such
spectacles, alas! are not changed nor converted to amendment of their
perverse designs."


Pope Innocent III. in 1199 ordered Philip Augustus, King of France, to
take back a discarded wife, which the King would not do. An interdict was
then pronounced against France. At midnight, each priest holding a torch,
the clergy of France chanted the _Miserere_ and the prayers for the dead,
the last prayers which were to be uttered by them during the interdict.
The cross on which the Saviour hung was veiled with black crape; the
relics replaced within the tombs; the Host was consumed. The cardinal in
his mourning stole of violet pronounced the territories of the King of
France under the ban. All religious offices from that time ceased; there
was no access to heaven by prayer or offering. The sobs of the aged, of
the women and children, alone broke the silence. So, for the injustice of
the King towards his Queen, the whole kingdom of France, thousands of
immortal souls, were cut off from those means of grace which, if not
absolutely necessary (the scanty mercy of the Church allowed the baptism
of infants and the extreme unction to the dying), were so powerfully
conducive to eternal salvation. For the King's personal sin a whole nation
at least thought itself in danger of eternal damnation. The doors of the
churches were watched, and the Christians driven away from them like dogs;
all Divine offices ceased; the Sacrament of the body and blood of the Lord
was not offered; no gathering together of the people at the festivals of
saints; the bodies of the dead not admitted to Christian burial, but their
stench infecting the air. There was a deep sadness over the whole realm,
while the organs and the voices of those who chanted God's praises were
everywhere mute. The King had to yield, or at least pretend to yield,
within the space of a year. In like manner Pope Innocent III. ordered King
John of England to accept Stephen Langton as archbishop, and for his
refusal an interdict was levelled at England. From Berwick to the British
Channel, from the Land's End to Dover, the churches were closed, the bells
silent, the dead were buried like dogs in ditches or dung-heaps without
prayer, without a tolling bell; yet King John, weak, tyrannical, and
contemptible as he was, held out for four years. Had he been a popular
king the barons and people would have stood by him. One consequence of the
interdict and excommunication was, that his kingdom was declared to be
forfeited, and any one might seize it, and Philip Augustus of France
thought of attempting it. But before any regular encounter John made peace
with the Pope, and received Stephen Langton as archbishop. And Stephen
afterwards became a leader of the barons, and on June 15th, 1215, extorted
Magna Charta at Runnymede, which became the great title deed of the
British Constitution for all time thereafter. John complained to the Pope
that the charter had been forced from him unreasonably, and the Pope
professed to agree, and even ordered the rebellious barons to be
excommunicated. While John was in despair and defending himself against
the expected invasion of Philip, King of France, whose design was favoured
by the barons, he was marching northward, and his carriages were cast away
in crossing the river Ouse. This misfortune happened through the ignorance
of the guides and the tide coming too fast upon them. And thus the
regalia, the King's plate, and all his treasure were lost. This loss
weighed heavily upon the King's spirits, and threw him into a fever, of
which he died at Newark Castle a few days after. Some little time before
he expired, forty of the barons sent him assurances of their submission,
but he was in no condition to receive that satisfaction. The young King
Henry III., aged ten, was crowned on October 28th, 1216.


When John of Salisbury, the friend of Thomas à Becket, was sent by Henry
II. to Pope Adrian in 1200, they had a confidential conversation, and the
Pope said he wished he had never left the obscure retreat of the cloister
for the Papal chair, as it was beset with thorns, and he asked John what
people were saying of him and the Church of Rome. John says he answered
thus: "What I have heard in many countries I will freely tell you. They
say the Church of Rome shows herself not so much the mother of other
Churches as their stepmother. Scribes and Pharisees have their seats in
her, who lay grievous burdens on the shoulders of men, which themselves
will not touch with one of their fingers. They domineer over the clergy
without being an example to the flock; they heap together rich furniture
and load their tables with gold and silver, whilst their hands are kept
shut by avarice. The poor rarely find access to them unless when vanity
may introduce them. They raise contributions on the Churches, and excite
litigations, promote disputes between pastor and people, deeming it the
best religion to procure wealth. With them everything is venal, and they
may be said to imitate the devils, who, where they cease to do mischief,
glory in their beneficence. From this charge a small number of exceptions
may exist. The Pope himself is a burden to Christendom which is scarcely
to be borne. The complaint is, that while the churches which the piety of
our fathers erected are in ruins, and their altars neglected, he builds
palaces and exhibits his person clothed not only in purple, but
resplendent with gold. These things and more than these the people are
heard to utter." The Pope listened patiently. "And what is your own
opinion?" asked Adrian. "Your question distresses me," said John; "I wish
neither to be a flatterer nor to give offence. I cannot presume to
contradict a cardinal of your Church who says that the real source of all
the evils is the fund of duplicity and avarice of its officers, and yet I
know many living examples to the contrary. I will only say that your
precept is better than your practice." Adrian smiled, and observed that it
was like the old apologue of the stomach and the limbs.


When the Emperor Frederick II., in his quarrels with the Pope, was
excommunicated in 1238, and sentence was ordered to be published in all
Christian countries, such was the impression of the power of the Emperor
that no priest in Germany had the courage to declare it. At last a
Jacobite Friar was discovered who ventured to make it known in the
disguise of the following fable. "Sire," said the friar, "there was once a
lion so fierce and strong that no beast durst attack him; but one hot
summer day a fly placed itself between his two eyes and bit him severely.
'Who art thou,' said the lion, 'who darest to bite me?' 'I am a fly,' said
the other. 'A fly,' said the lion, 'the most insignificant of beasts! bite
on. If thou wert not so insignificant a beast, those shoulders would
answer for it, but I disdain to revenge myself on thee.' And, sire," added
the friar, "I compare your Majesty to the lion, and myself in my little
condition to the fly, who pronounces upon you from our Holy Father the
Apostle the sentence which you have incurred by your rebellion against the
Holy Church." "Well," said the Emperor, "'tis true if it were not for your
poor station you should certainly be made to repent this." It was also
noticed that when, in the following year, 1239, the Emperor went to Padua,
he was handsomely entertained for several months by the abbot of the
monastery of St. Justina; and in spite of the thunders of the Vatican
hurled at the Emperor, the latter was treated with becoming courtesy, was
provided with a throne and a footstool, and all the necessary
appurtenances of the most exalted rank.


When Pope Gregory IX. in 1239 excommunicated the Emperor, the latter sent
a circular letter to the King of England and his brother, beginning with
the words, "Attend, ye sons of men; understand, ye nations;" and it
contained these scornful sentences: "Moreover, we think him (the Pope)
unworthy to be considered a vicar of Christ, a successor of Peter and
regulator of the souls of Christians. We grieve at his sin and
prevarication in the fact that, not content with spending money in order
to gain over the nobles and chiefs of Romania to become his followers and
adherents, he wasted the possessions of the Roman Church. Condole
therefore, my good friend, with us as well as those dear to thee, and not
only with us, but the Church which is the congregation of all faithful
Christians; for its head is sick, its prince is in the midst like a
roaring lion, its prophet mad and faithless, its priest polluting its
sanctuary and unjustly acting against the law. We earnestly beg of you to
consider the contumely heaped on us as your own injury, and to hasten to
your own house with water when the fire is raging in the neighbouring
houses. Without waiting for our decision or for our taking counsel of our
advisers, he vomited forth against us the poison he had conceived. We for
our own sake adjure you and ask your aid, and that of all of you, the
magnates and princes of the whole world, not because our own strength is
not sufficient to avert such injuries from ourselves, but that the whole
world may know that the honour of all secular princes is touched when the
person of one is offended." The Pope replied thus: "There has risen from
the sea a beast full of words of blasphemy which, formed with the feet of
a bear and the mouth of a raging lion, opens its mouth in blasphemies
against God's name, and continually attacks His tabernacle and the saints
who dwell in heaven," etc., etc.


During 1241 Matthew Paris says the avarice of the Romans still continued
unsatiated; for after the legate's departure two of the Pope's clerks
remained in England, as if to fulfil the duty of the legate. These two
were Peter, surnamed Le Rouge, and Peter de Supino--two indefatigable
extortioners, who held a Papal warrant for exacting procurations,
imposing interdicts, excommunicating, and extorting money by divers
methods from the wretched English Church, as they stated, that the Roman
Church, which was injured in manifold ways, might again breathe freely.
The aforesaid Peter Le Rouge, who placed himself above the other one,
conducted himself after the manner of the legate, wrote his letters to
this and that abbot and prior, and the letter always ran thus: "Master
Peter Le Rouge, familiar and relative of his Holiness the Pope, greeting,"
etc. On such authority he continued to exact and extort procurations and
various other collections. His colleague, Peter de Supino, by permission
of the King, went to Ireland on the part of the Pope, and bearing a
warrant from him whereby he was assisted by secular power, he with great
tyranny extorted money from all the prelates of that island. This Peter in
the ensuing autumn took his way to Rome, carrying with him 1,500 marks
(£1,000), and having his saddle-bags well filled.


Matthew Paris says that these two clerks, Peter de Supino and Peter Le
Rouge, with their saddle-bags thus well filled, proceeded under the escort
of the monks of Canterbury to Dover, and suddenly and secretly set sail,
for they had heard that the Pope was not expected to live. They therefore
suddenly and clandestinely took flight with their booty, lest the King
should hear of the Pope's death and confiscate it. Scarcely had they
entered France, when lo! Master Walter de Oera, a messenger of the
Emperor, arrived in all haste, with letters of credence from the Emperor
and a message from the King to detain the booty as well as the robbers if
to be found in England. The messenger was indignant at not having caught
them, but followed their steps, carefully watching the meanderings of the
foxes, in order to report the result to the Emperor. Meanwhile the Pope's
agents, hearing that they were watched, spared not their horses, and
secretly stowed away their money with relatives in secret places. The
Emperor, however, ordered them and the relatives to be arrested and
imprisoned, and to render a strict account of the money collected, which
was committed to writing and circulated among the merchants of the chief
cities and ultimately distributed. Thus these wretched ecclesiastics, who
ought to have been protected under the wings of the Pope, were utterly
despoiled, and the enemies of the Church more daringly oppressed them.


Matthew Paris says that Robert, Bishop of Lincoln, died in 1253 at
Buckdon, in the night of St. Denis's day. During his life he had openly
rebuked the Pope and the King; had corrected the prelates and reformed the
monks; in him the priests lost a director, clerks an instructor, scholars
a supporter. He had shown himself a persecutor of the incontinent, a
careful examiner of the Scriptures, a despiser of the Romans. In the
discharge of his Pontifical duties he was attentive, indefatigable, and
worthy of veneration. That same night Faulkes, Bishop of London, then
staying not far off, heard in the air above a wonderful and most agreeable
kind of sound, the melody of which refreshed his ears and his heart and
fixed his attention. It was a supernatural sound, like that of a great
convent bell ringing a delightful tune in the air above. It at once struck
the listener that his beloved and venerable brother of Lincoln was passing
from this world to take his place in the kingdom of heaven, and this noise
was a warning, for there was no convent near in which there was a bell of
that sort and so loud. The Bishop of London inquired, and found out that
at that very time the Bishop of Lincoln had departed from this world. This
wonderful circumstance was told as a fact to Matthew Paris by Master John
Cratchale, a confidential clerk to the bishop. On the same night also some
brethren of the order of Minorites, in passing through the forest of
Vauberge, having lost their way and wandering about, heard in the air
sounds as of the ringing of bells, amongst which they clearly
distinguished one bell of a most sweet tune, unlike anything they had ever
heard before. This circumstance greatly excited their wonder, for they
knew that there was no church of note near. Next morning at dawn, being
directed by the foresters to the right road to Buckdon, and inquiring as
they went about the reason of the solemn ringing of bells that had filled
the air the night before, they were informed that at that very hour the
Bishop of Lincoln had breathed forth his happy spirit.


John of Peckham, about 1284, says that a fool was once in company with
some theologians at Paris, and he asked them which was better--to do what
a man knows, or to learn what he does not know. Thereupon the doctors
argued together for and against, and the fool, listening to their
altercations, looked on, waiting for their conclusion. At last their
deliverance was, that it was better to do what a man already knows than to
learn what he does not know, because, as says the apostle to the Romans,
"For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the
law shall be justified." And Isidorus in _De Summo Bono_ says, "A zealous
student will be more prompt to perform what he reads than to know, for it
is a less sin not to know what you desire to know than not to perform what
you do know." Then said the fool, "You are all mad, for you are working
day and night only to learn what you do not know, and you do not care to
act up to anything you do know."


In 1294, after the cardinals had tried in vain for a year and a half to
agree upon a Pope, and no one would give way to another, a sudden solution
was found by their choosing a solitary monk named Peter of Morone, in the
Neapolitan territory, then distinguished in the wilderness for his
austerities. He seemed to outdo the famous anchorites of old. He wore
haircloth with an iron cuirass, lived on bread and water and herbs. At the
age of twenty, when he became an earnest monk, one day the Virgin and St.
John both stood before him and chanted portions of the Psalter, and every
night a celestial bell with sweetest tones aroused him to prayer. Angels
often visited him, and showered roses on his head. God pointed out a great
stone, under which he dug a hole in which he could neither stand nor
stretch, but only crouch behind a grating, and the place abounded with
lizards, serpents, and toads. Yet crowds came to see him, and hailed him
as a kind of leader of a new brotherhood. Somehow a voice from heaven
pointed out to the perplexed cardinals that here was a Pope ready to their
hands, and he was fixed upon unanimously. A deputation went to his cell.
They found he was an old man, with a long shaggy beard, sunken eyes, heavy
brow, pale cheeks, and meagre limbs. But they fell on their knees before
him. He thought it must be a dream. He protested he was unworthy and
unfit. But the news spread, and the crowd increased and urged him on, and
he could not but accept. He at first refused to put on the gorgeous
Pontifical robes, but had to consent. He then went with them, riding on an
ass, with a king on each side holding the bridle. Never was an election
more popular, and he took the title of Celestine V. Two hundred thousand
people crowded the streets as he approached, and he had to show himself
now and then on a balcony and give his benediction. After a few months
the cardinals, kings, and nobles began to think that this Pope was not to
be a success. He was incapable of business. He lavished his dignities and
offices, and was easily duped. He became weary of his burden. He contrived
to make a cell in the palace, which shut out the sky. But this was not
enough. He wanted to abdicate. This at first was thought impossible and
illegal. But he did abdicate, and at once went off to his old hermitage.
It was the first instance of an abdication, and all agreed that nothing
became him so well as the leaving of the high office a few months after
having entered upon it. All the other hermits praised this last act as one
of transcendent humility enhancing his glory.


When Philip IV. of France offended the Pope, the latter harangued his
council and boasted that, as his predecessors had already deposed three
kings of France, he would depose Philip like a groom. The act was done in
1303. Two supporters of the King, William of Nogaret and Sciarra Colonna,
with three hundred horsemen and infantry, made their way to Anagni, where
Pope Boniface VIII. then was, and beset his palace, and after a short
truce set fire to the doors of the church adjacent and made their way
through the flames; and the crash so alarmed the Pope that he felt his
hour was come, and resolved that he would die with dignity. He put on the
Papal mantle and the imperial crown of Constantine, and sat on the throne
with the pastoral cross in one hand and with the keys of St. Peter in the
other. The assailants, though at first awed at this sight, dragged him
from the throne, struck him on the face, and forced him to parade through
the town on a vicious horse, with his face to the tail. A rescue party,
however, surprised the guard, and carried the Pope to the market-place,
where, famishing with hunger, his wants were supplied by willing hands,
and he was sufficiently restored to pronounce absolution on all but the
plunderers of the church. He was then conveyed by his friends to Rome,
where a frenzy fever overcame him, and he was put under restraint, dying
very soon at the age of eighty-two. Some say he was poisoned; others that
he refused food, and like a mad dog bit his own flesh; others that he was
found with the bedclothes stuffed in his throat, and his staff lying as if
it had been gnawed by him in his rage. The saying was that "he entered
like a fox, reigned like a lion, and died like a dog."


Boniface VIII., at the beginning of the fourteenth century, carried Papal
absolution and worldliness to its highest point. After procuring his
predecessor Celestine V. to abdicate and be imprisoned and then taken off
by poison, he saw a great advantage in the ushering in of 1300 as a means
of satisfying his cupidity. He circulated an address that all persons
visiting St. Peter's on January 1st, 1300, would obtain an extraordinary
indulgence. Crowds flocked and left their offerings. Then he issued a bull
offering the fullest indulgence to all who visited the cathedral at
Easter, on the condition that they truly repented and confessed their
sins. Attracted by his bull, multitudes repented and were allowed to see
the handkerchief of St. Veronica, as many as two hundred thousand a day.
The gain to the Church was vast. This Pope persecuted his enemies with
uncommon zeal. He managed to ruin the powerful family of Colonna, which
had opposed his election, demolishing their castles and confiscating their
estates. Philip the Fair, King of France, his equal in avarice and
ambition, had taxed the clergy, and a bull was issued excommunicating all
princes and nobles who dared to demand tribute from the clergy, to which
Philip replied with defiance, and sent a troop to arrest the Pope, which
was done, as already narrated. The mob, after a few days, at last pitied
his Holiness, and turned against the French, who retired. The excitement,
however, threw him into a fever, and then into insanity, in which state he
died. The Florentine historian recognised the judgments of God in thus
punishing a Pope who was so worldly, and further in punishing such a king
as was the instrument in the hands of Providence. King Philip made a tool
of his own the next Pope, and kept him in France, and in 1309 began the
seventy years' residence of the Popes in Avignon, while they lived in a
state of servility to France.


Wicliff having been early disgusted at the worthless creatures who filled
all the high offices of the Church, and joined some friends in trying to
restore the simplicity and self-denying zeal of Apostolic times, was soon
marked out as a heretic to be watched. Pope Gregory XI., in 1377, was
advised to condemn Wicliff's doctrines, and directed that he should be
imprisoned; but John of Gaunt and other powerful friends were resolved
that at least a semblance of a hearing should be given to him first; and
he managed without recanting anything to say nothing which his enemies
could lay hold of. He published in 1380 his translation of the Scriptures
into English. Wicliff was a determined enemy of the Mendicant Friars, as
disturbing the parish priests in their more useful labours. Wicliff was
cited by the Archbishop of Canterbury before a council, but an earthquake
occurred at the time to interrupt this inquisition. He used to look on
this earthquake council, as he called it, as a judgment of God in his


It has been recently discovered, as is said by Mr. Hill in his "English
Monasticism," that there were two John Wicliffs contemporaneous and both
members of Oxford University, and that the biographers of the important
John Wicliff have confounded these two and their performances. The
Reformer was master of Balliol College in 1361, and the other John Wicliff
was a fellow of Merton in 1356 and warden of Canterbury Hall. The Reformer
was born at Hipswell, one mile from Richmond in Yorkshire. In 1361 he was
appointed to the rectory of Fylingham, and in 1375 to that of Lutterworth,
and resigned the mastership of Balliol. His first public appearance was
his reading lectures at Oxford, in which he castigated the corruptions of
the Friars Mendicants of his day. He was cited before the judges for
heresy, one of the judges being William of Wykeham; and John of Gaunt
attended with Wicliff and somewhat resented the want of fair play towards
his friend; but the proceedings were not carried out, owing to the
interference of the Princess of Wales. The great work of Wicliff's life
was the first translation of the Scriptures into English. This work he
lived to finish, though in all probability he was assisted in it by
others. In 1384, during the celebration of Mass in his parish church at
Lutterworth, Wicliff was seized with paralysis, and died on December 31st.
The adherents of his opinions were known as the Lollards. In 1401 the
Franciscans attacked his Bible, and persecution was carried out against
the Lollards. In 1428 Wicliff's bones, or supposed bones, were dug up and
cast into the river Severn, under the vain delusion that he and his doings
would never more be heard of.


After the death of the ambitious Pope Boniface VIII., whose contests with
Philip the Fair of France killed him in 1303, and after the death of the
next Pope in eight months, the election of the next Pope again was so
skilfully brought about by the leader of the French party, Cardinal Du
Prat, that one was chosen who made a bargain with the French King to meet
his views if elected. He was elected, and took the name of Clement V. He
disappointed his Italian supporters by refusing to leave France, and in
1309 he settled at Avignon, where the Popes remained for seventy years.
During all that period the Popes were noted for their servility to the
French kings. Corruption grew more and more to be a second nature in all
the branches of Papal government. The most worthless creatures purchased
their way to the highest spiritual dignities. Extortion in collecting
money, extravagant expenditure when it was collected, simony, nepotism,
and debauchery ran through all the ramifications of clerical life. The
disgrace reflected by this scandal made laymen and learned men question
the foundations of the Popish system of government. A general murmur arose
from the universities as to the degraded position in which the Popes must
ever remain unless and until they should bring back the seat of government
to Rome. Petrarch, then employed on Papal embassies, strongly urged this
view. The leading men advocated the calling of a general council to
overrule the Pope and compel him to act for the sole good of the Church. A
schism then prevailed, which led to two sets of Popes being elected, who
continued for forty years to keep up their intestine conflicts.


The line of Popes, as already stated, continued unbroken till 1305, when,
owing to their constant interference in the politics of Europe, Clement V.
submitted to the King of France, and fixed his chair within the
jurisdiction of a Papal vassal, Robert of Anjou, at Avignon. For seventy
years this captivity lasted, and the effect was to weaken greatly the
power and influence of the Church. In 1376 Catherine of Siena, then an
influential saint, advised Pope Gregory XI. to return to Rome, his old
metropolis. Soon a fresh difficulty arose at his death in 1378, owing to a
feud between the cardinals. The majority of them being at that time
French, the Roman mob burst into the palace and demanded that the new Pope
should be an Italian. The cardinals yielded and elected Urban VI.; but six
months later they repented and wished to substitute a Frenchman, and
crowned Clement VII. There being thus two Popes in the field, the chief
kingdoms were almost equally divided as to recognising the one or the
other as the real Pope. The quarrel lasted forty years, the two lines
being continued for that period. At last a general council, that of Pisa
in 1409, met and summoned both Popes before it, and dismissed both for
contumacy. The cardinals then elected Alexander V. And there were then
three Popes, each claiming exclusive authority. A second council met at
Constance in 1414, and claimed to be superior to the Pope. Another
election took place, and Martin V. was elected in 1417; and the line of
Popes was resumed as before, but a continual pressure from without
weakened the authority of the successors. The council of Basle in 1431
showed an antipapal spirit, and set up a higher power in synods and
councils, thereby lowering the other power in proportion.


When Clement VII. was told that the leading men and the University of
Paris had resolved that both Popes should abdicate in order to put an end
to the absurdity of the dual election, he was thrown into a fever of
agitation, and died in 1394. Each cardinal then took an oath that if
elected he would resign if necessary, to put an end to the schism.
Benedict XIII. was elected; but no sooner was this appointment made than
he gave evasive answers to all who reminded him of this condition. Another
assembly of bishops by a majority of four to one resolved that both Popes
should resign. But Benedict conscientiously opposed their view, and said
he would rather be flayed alive than resign. In 1402 Benedict sent a
mission to his rival Boniface IX., asking for a conference. But Boniface
treated him as an antipope, and himself as the only Pope. Boniface,
however, was so frightened at the aspect of affairs, that he contracted an
illness and died in 1404. The cardinals were then implored not to proceed
to another election, but they treated this advice as a jest, and elected
Innocent VII. Innocent, though an old man, and though he had bound himself
if elected to resign if necessary, yielded to the greed and scheming of
his relatives, and put off the evil day; but he died in 1406. The
cardinals were again urged not to appoint another Pope, but they said they
would choose one who would resign if his rivals would resign, and they
chose Gregory XII. Though Gregory was the most active in getting all the
cardinals to pledge themselves to resign if chosen, he soon showed himself
a mere dissembler; for though he professed to be willing to resign, his
relatives, who saw the loss of many good appointments, compelled him to
keep possession. These two Popes, Benedict and Gregory, kept up
appearances of meeting in conference and settling a plan of mutual and
simultaneous resignations, but they both showed extraordinary ingenuity in
discovering perpetual obstacles to this desired consummation, and for
blaming each other for every delay. At last the Council of Pisa deposed
both Popes, and the cardinals then elected Alexander V. in 1409. Both the
deposed Popes claimed to be still Popes. And Alexander V., instead of
carrying out the reforms that were expected, made lavish appointments to
vacant offices, saying to all who complained that he was rich as a bishop,
poor as a cardinal, but a beggar as Pope. He was carried off by poison in


The continuance of two rival Popes in 1406 was felt to be so great a
scandal that the rival sets of cardinals were bent on finding a way of
reuniting the Papacy in one person. They chose Gregory XII., then eighty
years of age, as a likely person to facilitate this object with the other
Pope, Boniface; for they thought a person on the verge of the grave might
be relied upon to consider the peace and unity of the Church his sole
object. He professed well at first, and his supporters brought him to the
point of trying to arrange some common plan of action, by which the rival
Popes might mutually surrender in favour of a third person who should
supersede both. The two rival Popes, however, were evidently averse to
strip themselves of power. They played against each a series of perpetual
evasions, postponements, and cross-purposes. Their progress to a common
ground where they might meet and settle their affairs was a mere game of
subterfuges, both the actors being over seventy years of age, and yet
exhausting every artifice to ward off the final surrender, each blaming
the other and both acting as consummate hypocrites. Their friends called
for a general council to meet at Pisa and solve the problem. At this
council a leading cardinal (afterwards himself a Pope) thus described the
position of the two Popes: "You know how these two wretched men calumniate
one another and disgrace themselves by invectives full of rant and fury.
Each calls the other antipope, obstructionist, antichrist." The council at
last deposed both, and declared the Papal chair vacant. The cardinals
bound themselves so that whichever of them should be elected Pope should
keep the council open till all schism was healed. They elected Alexander
V., but he proved useless, and dying in 1410, a most dissolute monster of
depravity, John XXIII. succeeded, who turned into ridicule and defeated
all the schemes of reform then put forward by the best men of the time.
The leaders of reform were disgusted, and desired that all the three Popes
should resign, and an upright man be chosen in their place. At last the
council deposed John also in 1415, and in 1417 Martin V. was elected.


Pope John XXIII., whose name was Cossa, was all his life a scandalous
character, and more fit to be a roystering and swearing trooper than a
priest. It was said that he in early life entered the service as a pirate,
when Naples and Hungary were at war, and he then contracted the habit of
sleeping by day and doing his work by night. He was daring and ingenious
in every kind of corruption, buying and selling clerical offices, vending
indulgences, imposing hateful taxes, and brutal and licentious in
gratifying his lusts. His conduct was deemed so disgraceful that a general
demand arose for the Council of Constance to settle the question whether a
Pope or a general council be the highest authority in the Church. A
meeting of eighteen thousand ecclesiastics met, and charges against John
were formulated, and at last this crafty Pope agreed to the proposal that
he would resign, if the other two rival Popes would resign. This
resolution caused general satisfaction, though at first he refused to act
on it. It was at this council that Huss was brought to his mock trial.
John was charged with seventy-two offences, including nearly all the
vices. He was styled a poisoner, a murderer; he had intended to sell the
head of John the Baptist from the church of St. Sylvester to some
Florentines for 50,000 ducats. John was at length deposed. He was stripped
of the insignia of his office on May 31st, 1415, and at the same time
confessed that he had never passed a day in comfort since he had put them
on. He was kept in prison at Heidelberg till he made submission to a new
Pope, who, out of pity, gave him the dignity of a cardinal bishop, but he
died at Florence before he took possession of his see.


After John XXIII. in 1410 mounted the Papal throne through all the grades
of bribery and corruption, he convoked in 1412 what he was pleased to call
a reformatory council at Rome; but only a few Italian prelates attended
and disposed of some trifling matters, besides a condemnation of Wicliff's
writings. What was chiefly remarkable was the advent of a congenial
visitor. At the celebration of the _Missa Spiritus Sancti_, previous to
the opening of the council, when the _Veni Creator Spiritus_ was sung
according to custom, an owl flew up suddenly, screaming with a startling
hoot, into the middle of the church, and perching itself upon a beam
opposite to the Pope, whence it stared him sedately in the face. The
cardinals ironically whispered to each other, "Only look; can that be the
Holy Ghost in the shape of an owl?" His Holiness was greatly annoyed, and
turned pale, then red, and in an awkward and abrupt fashion dissolved the
meeting. All who were present were, however, singularly impressed, and
never forgot what was viewed by each as an evil omen. But at the next
session, says Fleury, the owl took up his position again, fixing his eyes
on John, who was more dismayed than before, and ordered them to drive away
the bird. A singular scene then ensued, the prelates hunting the bird,
which insisted on remaining, and flinging their canes at it. At last they
succeeded in killing the owl as an incorrigible heretic.


About 1411, after John Huss had published his disputation on indulgences,
some priests were engaged in selling these to the highest bidders, when
three young men of the artisan class came up and called out to the priest,
"Thou liest! Master Huss has taught us better than that. We know that it
is all false." This impious taunt was at once followed up with
imprisonment and a summary sentence of death. Huss, on hearing of the
matter, used great exertions to save the men, and two thousand students
attended him to hear him address the council in mitigation of the
sentence. He took on himself the blame, if any there was. He obtained a
promise that no blood should be shed, but a few hours later much of the
excitement of the mob was over, and the sentence was executed. This
created a still greater excitement, and as the men were viewed as martyrs,
handkerchiefs were dipped in their blood and cherished as precious relics.
A woman present offered white linen as a shroud for the dead bodies; and
these were carried to Huss's chapel, as those of saints, with chanted
hymns through the streets, and great solemnities. The chapel was
thereafter named the chapel of the Three Saints. The part taken on this
popular demonstration was afterwards used as a handle by Huss's enemies
before the council at Constance, which condemned him to be burned alive,
after which his ashes were cast into the Rhine, so that nothing might
remain of him to pollute the earth.


Master Alan, the celebrated doctor, but still poor, was invited to dinner
by a former disciple already a bishop, who, seeing his poverty, said,
"Master, I marvel not a little that your scholars are already become great
men: one is an abbot, another is a bishop, another an archbishop, and you
are left in ridiculous poverty." Alan, indeed, thinking otherwise--for he
had a true and right judgment as to the gradations of merit--is said to
have answered thus: "You do not know," quoth he, "what is the height of
the most perfect dignity, and the true greatness of man? It is not to be a
great bishop, but a good clerk. Everybody knows that by the voice of three
rascally canons, to whom is given the power of election, a bishop is made;
but if all the saints in Paradise and all the sensible men in the world
said together in one voice before God, 'Martin is a good clergyman,'
Martin would not on that account be a good clergyman if he remained an


Sultan Amurath II., who died in 1451, was the only sultan who has twice
abdicated, being a great warrior as well as learned, merciful, religious,
charitable, and a patron of merit. He was a zealous Mussulman; and though
the scimitar was their usual instrument of converting unbelievers, his
moderation was attested by the Christians. His most striking
characteristic was that, in the plenitude of his power at the age of
forty, he discerned the vanity of human greatness, resigned the crown, and
retired to join a society of saints and hermits in Magnesia. He there
submitted to fast and pray and rotate with the dervishes. In two years,
owing to a sudden invasion of Hungarians, his son and successor, as well
as his former subjects, implored him to return and take command of his
janizaries; and, after fighting and conquering, he a second time resigned
the crown and resumed his monkish life. A second time he was recalled by
another danger of the State, and again resumed the crown. He had not
another opportunity of becoming a dancing dervish, as he died as Sultan at
the age of forty-nine.


When Pope Nicholas V. was elected in 1447, he had had a reputation for
universal knowledge, and within the short period of eighteen months
became bishop, cardinal, and Pope. A little spare man, with a keen eye and
overweening self-confidence, he soon made up his mind to proclaim a
crusade against the antipope, and authorised the French King to seize his
territories, though this became unnecessary, owing to the antipope's
resignation. This Pope lived in an age of great intellectual progress, and
he took pleasure in inviting men of letters and scholars. He soon
gratified a long-standing desire to collect manuscripts, and caused many
monastic libraries to be ransacked for treasures. He added in eight years
five thousand manuscripts to the Vatican library, and kept a staff of
copyists and translators, and even carried out in part a new translation
of the Bible. It was under his patronage that Laurence Valla, the eminent
scholar, produced a treatise on the donation of Constantine, exposing the
impudent forgery which had so long been palmed off by preceding Popes for
the foundation of their jurisdiction over the world in general. The
author, however, was astute enough to withdraw from Rome before the effect
of his researches became known, for he was soon arrested by the
Inquisition, and would have been burned but for the intercession of King
Alfonso. The literary men whom Nicholas encouraged were given to quarrels
and jealousies, and even tended towards too great an admiration of
Paganism. Nicholas was also bent on rebuilding the Vatican quarter of
Rome, and proceeded to act on a design of a new structure in the form of a
Greek cross with a cupola; but the execution of the work had only risen a
few feet above ground when the Pope died, and a yet more magnificent
structure was carried out in the following century. Though these great
palatial schemes were not executed, he gave his contemporaries a taste for
magnificence of every kind in the services of the Church, and for mitres,
vestments, altar-coverings, and gold inwoven curtains. He patronised the
saintly painter Angelico, and sculptors and architects. He also had a most
successful jubilee in 1450, which recouped his great expenditure, though
the occurrence of a plague acted adversely. It happened that
Constantinople fell a prey in Nicholas's time to the Mohammedans, who
despoiled and profaned the churches and dispersed the treasures of Greek
literature. This disaster, which happened in 1453, caused much sympathy;
for the Emperor Frederick was said to weep at the news and express a vague
wish for a crusade, though he took no active step. At a great festival at
Lille, a lady representing the Church appeared before the Duke of Burgundy
seated on an elephant led by a giant, and in a versified speech invoked
assistance, which led the Duke to register a vow to succour the Church;
but the enthusiasm soon died away. The Pope, however, consoled the chiefs
of Christendom by issuing a bull, in which he declared the founder of
Islam to be the great red dragon of the Apocalypse, and invited the
princes to buy indulgences in order to raise a fund to exterminate the
infidels. It was maliciously insinuated, however, that the money thus
raised only went to pay for needless fortifications at Rome, and nowise to
influence affairs in the East. The Pope died in 1455 before any of these
great enterprises were begun. It was said that Pope Nicholas's example
stirred up the Florentine merchant Cosmo de Medicis to carry on similar
researches for old manuscripts, and his grandson Lorenzo de Medicis
procured from the East a further treasure of two hundred writings. The
Greek language came to be publicly taught in the University of Oxford
towards the end of the fifteenth century.


In 1464 the choice of the cardinals for a new Pope fell on Peter Barbo, a
Venetian of high descent. He had been made a cardinal at twenty-two by his
uncle, and had always been noted for his elegant and foppish manners. The
previous Pope, Pius II., used to call him _Maria pientissima_, on account
of his soft and affected manner, coupled with a faculty of shedding tears
at will when urging any request. He was so vain of his handsome appearance
that he proposed to assume the name of Formosus, till some cardinals
laughed him out of it. His love of display and theatrical show led him to
spend large sums on jewels, precious stones, and millinery; and to provide
means for this great end of his being, he took care to keep in his hands
the income of vacant offices, and postpone the appointments. He not only
clothed himself in gorgeous attire, but to heighten the dramatic effect he
painted his face. One peculiarity of his was to transact all his business
by night, probably owing to the artificial manner in which he presented
himself, and to prevent cracks in his enamel being detected. He is said to
have given an impulse to the festivities of the Roman carnival, and used
to watch with congenial interest and enthusiasm the frolics of old and
young during the races on the Corso, where Jews, horses, asses, and
buffaloes were the performers. The cardinals, on appointing this Pope,
bound him over to many urgent duties and stipulations, but he threw off
these incumbrances as he would put off his cloak. He spent most of his
energies in seeking and buying alliances in Germany and in selling
offices. He also entertained the Emperor on a visit of seventeen days,
and showed him all the jewels. One day Paul II. was found dead in his bed
in 1471, the popular belief being that he had been killed by a devil,
which he was said to carry locked up in a signet ring; and this solution
was entirely satisfactory.


John de Medicis was elected Pope in 1513, and took the title of Leo X. He
had been made cardinal at fourteen. He had been dissipated in his youth,
and had undergone a serious surgical operation at the time of his
predecessor's death, and was carried in a horse litter to join the
conclave of cardinals who were busy in measures for the election. The
Cardinal de Medicis made himself so busy in canvassing that his ulcer
broke, causing a noisome smell in all the cells he visited. While the
cardinals obstinately supported the opposing candidates, and there
appeared no hope of agreement, they were yet all satisfied that poor de
Medicis had not a month to live. So it occurred to several of them that it
would be as well to select him for the present, so as to stave off the
discords raging, and give them a few weeks longer to complete their own
arrangements and arrive at unanimity. This view led to John de Medicis
being at once elected Pope, though only thirty-six years old. He soon
recovered his health, and lived eight years longer, so that the old
cardinals had occasion to repent of their credulity. The young Pope
celebrated his coronation by lavish expenses. He insisted on being crowned
on the same day that he lost the battle of Ravenna and was taken prisoner,
and rode the same Turkish horse that bore him on that day. This horse was
greatly valued, and carefully kept and pampered to an extreme old age. Leo
X.'s head was full of the magnificence of ancient Rome, which he sought to
perpetuate. His life was voluptuous; he gloried in the pleasures of the
chase. He protected men of wit and learning, and kept a poet laureate to
make verses and act as buffoon at the revels constantly going on. While he
thundered anathemas against Luther, he did not cease in private to
ridicule the whole Christian doctrine as a mere fable. It is said he died
in a fit of extravagant merrymaking when he heard the news that the
Emperor had defeated the French at Milan. Leo X. kept a table of
extraordinary luxury. He tried experiments on the cookery of monkeys and
crows and peacock sausages. He kept poets and comedians to enliven the
diversions. Card-playing for heavy stakes followed the banquet. He used to
scatter gold among the spectators of a game.


Pope Sixtus V., elected in 1585, had a genius for architectural projects,
and seemed anxious to make the Rome of his time rival the ancient city. He
had a rage for destroying as well as for rebuilding. He was bent on
turning Pagan into Christian monuments. He allowed a statue of Minerva to
stand, but took away the spear of the goddess, and put a huge cross in her
hand. He dedicated the column of Trajan to St. Peter, and the column of
Antoninus to St. Paul. He set his heart also on erecting the obelisk
before St. Peter's, the more because he wished to see the monuments of
infidelity subjected to the cross on the very spot where the Christians
once suffered crucifixion. The architect, Fontana, thought it impossible;
but the Pope would not listen to objections. It was an extremely difficult
task to upheave the obelisk from its basis by the sacristy of the old
church of St. Peter, to let it down again, transport it to another site,
and there finally set it up again. It was an attempt to earn renown
throughout all ages. The workmen, nine hundred in number, began by hearing
Mass, confessing, and receiving the Communion. The obelisk was sheathed in
straw mats and planks riveted with iron rings. There were thirty-five
windlasses, each worked by two horses and ten men. The signal was given by
sound of trumpet. The obelisk was raised from the site on which it had
stood fifteen hundred years. A salvo was fired from the castle of St.
Angelo; all the bells of the city pealed; and the workmen carried their
architect in triumph round the barrier with never-ending hurrahs. Seven
days afterwards the obelisk was let down with no less dexterity, and then
it was conveyed on rollers to its new site, and some months elapsed before
its re-erection. A force of one hundred and forty horses was used to
elevate it. At three great efforts the obelisk was moved, and it sank on
the backs of the four bronze lions that served to support it. The people
exulted. The Pope was immensely satisfied, and set it down in his diary
that he had achieved the most difficult work which the human mind could
conceive. He erected a cross upon the obelisk, in which was enclosed a
piece of the supposed real cross. Sixtus V. also wanted to complete the
cupola of St. Peter's, which, it was estimated, would take ten years to
do; and his eyes were never wearied in watching its progress. He set six
hundred men to work at once night and day, and in twenty-two months the
cupola was completed. He did not, it was true, live to see the leaden
casing placed on the roof. This Pope kept a memorandum book in which
every detail of his daily life was recorded; and on succeeding to the
Papal throne it was noticed that his skill in finance was displayed in a
profusion of complexities. He amassed great sums, and also spent great
sums. One of the great sources of his profit was the sale of offices. He
created offices, and then sold the nominations at a great price. He also
imposed new taxes on the most laborious callings, such as those on the men
who towed vessels on the river; and he taxed heavily the necessaries of
life, such as wine and firewood.


Pope Gregory IX., on the plea that the bishops were overtasked,
transferred in 1232 the duty of inquiring into heretics to officers
specially appointed by himself. In the rules by which these inquisitors
should be guided every principle of natural equity was outraged. The
accused were not to be confronted with the accusers--were not even to know
their names. Persons of infamous character might be received as witnesses
against them. Elaborate schemes for the treacherous entrapping of victims
were part of the instructions with which an inquisitor was furnished. A
large share of the goods of the condemned went to the judges who condemned
them; the remainder, if sometimes to the Papal Exchequer, very often went
to the temporal princes who should carry out the Church's sentence, whose
cupidity it was thus sought to stimulate, and whose co-operation was thus
rewarded. The guiltless children of the condemned were beggared. They
could hold no office; the brand of lifelong dishonour clung to them. Even
the very bones of the dead were burnt to dust and dispersed to the winds
or the waves. In the latter half of the fifteenth century the Inquisition
found its main occupation in the burning of Jews. Torquemada, in Spain,
alone sent to the stake some eight or nine thousand.


Owing to the mode of execution under a sentence of the Inquisition, the
populace were gratified with a view of the last agonies of the martyrs for
heresy. The culprit was not, as in the later Spanish Inquisition,
strangled before the lighting of the fagots, nor had the invention of
gunpowder suggested the expedient of hanging a bag of that explosive
around his neck to shorten his torture. An eyewitness thus describes the
execution of John Huss at Constance in 1415: "He was made to stand upon a
couple of fagots, and tightly bound to a thick post with ropes around the
ankles, below the knee, above the knee, at the groin, the waist, and under
the arms. A chain was also secured around the neck. Then it was observed
that he faced the east, which was not fitting for a heretic, and he was
shifted to the west. Fagots mixed with straw were piled around him to the
chin. Then the Count Palatine Louis, who superintended the execution,
approached with the Marshal of Constance, and asked him for the last time
to recant. On his refusal they withdrew and clapped their hands, which was
the signal for the executioners to light the pile. After it had burned
away there followed the revolting process of utterly destroying the
half-burned body, separating it in pieces, breaking up the bones, and
throwing the fragments and the viscera on a fresh fire of logs." When, as
in the case of Arnold of Brescia, some of the spiritual Franciscans, Huss,
Savonarola, and others, it was feared that relics of the martyr would be
preserved, especial care was taken after the fire to gather the ashes and
cast them into a running stream.


When the Inquisition was becoming popular, it was commonly taught that
compassion for the sufferings of a heretic was not only a weakness but a
sin. As well might one sympathise with Satan and his demons writhing in
the endless torment of hell. The stern moralists of the age held it to be
a Christian duty to find pleasure in contemplating the anguish of the
sinner. Gregory the Great, five centuries before, had argued that the
bliss of the elect in heaven would not be perfect unless they were able to
look across the abyss and enjoy the agonies of their brethren in eternal
fire. Peter Lombard, the Master of Sentences, quotes St. Gregory with
approbation, and enlarges upon the satisfaction which the just will feel
in the ineffable misery of the damned. Even the mystic tenderness of
Bonaventura does not prevent him from echoing the same terrible
exultation. The schoolmen easily proved to their own satisfaction that
persecution was a work of charity for the benefit of the persecuted. By a
series of edicts from 1220 to 1239 a complete code of persecution was
enacted. Heretics and favourers of heretics were outlawed; their property
was confiscated, their heirs disinherited. Their houses were to be
destroyed, never to be rebuilt. All rulers and magistrates were required
to swear that they would exterminate all whom the Church might designate
as heretics, under pain of forfeiture of office. All this fiendish
legislation was hailed by the Church with acclamation. The Inquisition
has sometimes been said to have been founded in 1233.


In 1481 two Dominican monks were appointed to proceed to Seville and carry
on the work of the Inquisition, and the Jews were hunted up with vigour
and burnt in the _autos-da-fé_ of that city. In 1483 the brutal
Inquisitor-General Thomas de Torquemada added further horrors. The details
of these brutalities are now of no interest; but Prescott, the historian,
thus sums up the situation. The proceedings of the tribunal were plainly
characterised throughout by the most flagrant injustice and inhumanity to
the accused. Instead of presuming his innocence until his guilt had been
established, it acted on exactly the opposite principle. Instead of
affording him the protection accorded by every other judicature, and
especially demanded in his forlorn situation, it used the most insidious
arts to circumvent and crush him. He had no remedy against malice or
misapprehension on the part of his accusers or the witnesses against him,
who might be his bitterest enemies, since they were never revealed to nor
confronted with the prisoner, nor subjected to a cross-examination which
can best expose error or wilful collusion in the evidence. Even the poor
forms of justice recognised in this court might be readily dispensed with,
as its proceedings were impenetrably shrouded from the public eye by the
appalling oath of secrecy imposed on all, whether functionaries,
witnesses, or prisoners, who entered within its precincts. The last and
not the least odious feature of the whole was the connection established
between the condemnation of the accused and the interests of his judges,
since the confiscations which were the uniform penalties of heresy were
not permitted to flow into the royal exchequer until they had first
discharged the expenses, whether in the shape of salaries or otherwise,
incident to the Holy Office.


Torquemada, while at the head of the Inquisition in Spain, is said to have
convicted about six thousand persons annually. The Roman See during his
ministration made a painful traffic by the sale of dispensations, which
those rich enough were willing to obtain. This monster, the author of
incalculable miseries, was permitted to reach a very old age and to die
quietly in his bed. Yet he lived in such constant apprehension of
assassination that he is said to have kept a reputed unicorn's horn
always on his table, which was imagined to have the power of detecting and
neutralising poisons, while for the more complete protection of his person
he was allowed an escort of fifty horse and two hundred foot in his
progresses through the kingdom. Prescott says that this man's zeal was of
such an extravagant character that it may almost shelter itself under the
name of insanity. He waged war on freedom of thought in every form. In
1490 he caused several Hebrew Bibles to be publicly burnt, and some time
after more than six thousand volumes of Oriental learning, on the
imputation of Judaism, sorcery, or heresy, at the _autos-da-fé_ of
Salamanca, the very nursery of science.


The last scene in the dismal tragedy of a so-called trial before the
Inquisition, says Prescott, was the Act of Faith (_auto-da-fé_)--the most
imposing spectacle, probably, which has been witnessed since the ancient
Roman triumph, and which was intended, somewhat profanely, to represent
the terrors of the Day of Judgment. The proudest grandees of the land, on
this occasion, putting on the sable livery of familiars of the Holy Office
and bearing aloft its banners, condescended to act as the escort of the
ministers, while the ceremony was not unfrequently countenanced by the
royal presence. It should be stated, however, that neither of these acts
of condescension, or more properly humiliation, was witnessed until a
period posterior to the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella. The effect was
further heightened by the concourse of ecclesiastics in their sacerdotal
robes, and the pompous ceremonial which the Church of Rome knows so well
how to display on fitting occasions, and which was intended to consecrate,
as it were, this bloody sacrifice. The most important actors in the scene
were the unfortunate convicts, disgorged for the first time from the
dungeons of the tribunal.


When Ferdinand and Isabella, in 1486, introduced the Inquisition into
Arragon, the higher orders and the Cortes were greatly opposed to it, and
sent a deputation to the Court of Rome and to Ferdinand to suspend an
institution so hateful and oppressive. Both Pope and King paid no regard
to the remonstrance. The Arragonese thereupon, in self-defence, formed a
conspiracy for the assassination of Arbues, and subscribed a large sum to
defray the expenses. Arbues, being conscious of his unpopularity, wore
under his monastic robes a suit of mail and a helmet under his hood, and
his sleeping apartment was well guarded. But the conspirators managed to
surprise him while at his devotions. Near midnight Arbues was on his knees
before the great altar of the cathedral at Saragossa. They suddenly
surrounded him; one of them wounded him in the arm with a dagger, while
another dealt a fatal blow in the back of his neck. The priests, who were
preparing to celebrate matins in the choir, hastened to the spot, but too
late. They carried the bleeding body of the inquisitor to his apartment,
but he survived only two days, and it is said he blessed the Lord that he
had been permitted to seal so good a cause with his blood. This murder was
soon avenged, and the bloodhounds of the tribunal tracked the murderers,
after hundreds of victims were sacrificed, cut off their right hands, and
hanged them; and Arbues was even honoured as a martyr, and after two
centuries was, in 1664, canonised as a saint.


Cardinal Ximenes, who had acquired great reputation for the austere life
he had led, was appointed confessor to Queen Isabella in 1492, and in 1495
was appointed by her Archbishop of Toledo. He maintained all his
austerities in the new situation. Under his robes of silk or fur he wore
the coarse frock of St. Francis, which he used to mend with his own hands.
He used no linen about his person or his bed, and slept on a miserable
pallet, which was concealed under a luxurious couch. He was a rigorous
reformer of the monkish fraternities, and this excited violent complaints.
The general of the Franciscans, full of rage, demanded an audience of the
Queen; and when challenged by her for his rudeness and for forgetting to
whom he was speaking, he petulantly replied, "Yes; I know well whom I am
speaking to--the Queen of Castile, a mere handful of dust, like myself!"
The Queen was not moved by this insolence, but supported Ximenes in his
trenchant reforms. Ximenes vehemently urged the King and Queen in 1499 to
extirpate the Mohammedan religion, and he did not scruple to bribe the
Moors to accept baptism, and it was said he baptised three thousand in one
day. In 1502 he procured a decree enforcing baptism or exile on all Moors
above fourteen. Ximenes founded the University of Alcala, which was opened
in 1508. He also carried out a scheme for publishing a Bible, being the
first successful attempt at a polyglot version of the Scriptures. This
took fifteen years to prepare, and it was completed in 1517. Charles V.
wrote a cold-blooded letter, dispensing with Ximenes's services, and it so
excited the cardinal that he was seized with fever and died at the age of


Among all the sects of the Middle Ages, by far the most important in
numbers and radical antagonism to the Church were the Cathari or the Pure,
as with characteristic sectarian satisfaction they styled themselves.
Albigenses they were called in Languedoc, Patarenes in North Italy, Good
Men by themselves. Stretching through Central Europe to Thrace and
Bulgaria, they joined hands with the Paulicians of the East, and shared in
their views, which have been variously represented, and were somewhat
mystical. It is difficult to understand the mighty attraction which these
doctrines--partly Gnostic, partly Manichean--exercised for so long a time
on the minds and hearts of many. Baxter's estimate of the Albigenses
was--Manichees with some better persons mixed. First attracting notice in
the latter half of the eleventh century, the Cathari multiplied with
extraordinary rapidity, so that in many districts they were during the
next century more numerous than the Catholics. St. Bernard, who undertook
a mission among them in 1147, describes the churches of the Catholics as
without people, and the people without priests. The Cathari disappeared at
the close of the thirteenth century, and then the Beghards and Beguins
become prominent, who were pietists associated for works of Christian
beneficence. Then some extreme Franciscans were mixed up with them, and
called themselves Zealots, or Little Brethren, or Spirituals. These
remonstrants drifted by degrees into open antagonists of the Church, and
talked of the Pope as the mystical antichrist. Other less commendable
mediæval sects were the Brethren and Sisters of the Free Spirit. About
this time all countries were hotbeds of various sects. Pope Innocent III.
tried to let loose a crusading army, under Simon de Montfort, against the
Cathari, and great brutalities were perpetrated, and at length the still
more brutal Inquisition carried on the purposeless warfare.


The Waldenses may be described as representing the general craving of the
better class of Christians of their time for a fuller acquaintance with
the Scriptures. Peter Waldo, a rich citizen of Lyons, obtained from two
friends in the priesthood a copy of the Gospels and a collection of the
sayings of the Fathers. He sold all his goods and associated himself with
others in search of a higher standard of living than was then met with.
They were called the Poor Men of Lyons on one side of the Alps, the Poor
Men of Lombardy on the other side. They began on the stock of their
acquired knowledge of the Scriptures to preach in the streets, thus
diffusing this precious knowledge. They had no intention of opposing the
Church; but the bishops of the day foresaw that dangerous knowledge was
likely to spread and cause trouble. In 1178 the Archbishop of Lyons
forbade their preaching. They tried to get the Pope's sanction to
circulate a translation of the Scriptures. The Pope, after due inquiry,
dismissed the deputation and condemned them to absolute silence. This
sentence did not convince. There were German and Swiss reformers then
rising up, seeking similar ends. The authorities, however, rather hunted
them, sometimes as wild beasts, and always subjected them to persecution
and outrage, both in France and Savoy. They retired into mountain
fastnesses from their persecutors. Milton's sonnet well immortalises and
avenges "these slaughtered saints, whose bones lie scattered on the Alpine
mountains cold."


Pope Paul V. was elected in 1605. He had been a lawyer, and excelled in
that profession, and then rose successively through all the grades of
ecclesiastical dignity. It was noticed how skilfully he avoided making
enemies, and this characteristic marked him out for the supreme dignity.
He was chosen Pope unexpectedly, but this only caused him to attribute his
good fortune to a direct interposition of the Holy Ghost. He became at
once exalted in his own estimation above himself and all his
contemporaries as a heaven-born Vicar of Christ. He soon resolved to
introduce into ecclesiastical polity the rigour, exactitude, and severity
of the civil code. Other Popes signalised their elevation by some act of
clemency or grace. He began by striking terror into the bystanders by a
severe sentence. A poor author had written a Life of a prior Pope, and
compared him to the Emperor Tiberius; but the work was unpublished, and
lay only as a manuscript in the author's desk. The matter came to the ears
of this Pope, who, notwithstanding the intercession of ambassadors and
princes, ordered the writer to be beheaded one morning on the bridge of
St. Angelo, the crime being treated as treason. The same Pope treated as a
mortal sin the practice of non-residence in a bishop. He treated decretals
as laws of God, and all who disobeyed them as blasphemers.
Excommunication was freely launched against petty misdemeanants. He
claimed rights of sovereignty over Venice, which for centuries had been in
abeyance. He asserted indeed a universal sovereignty, and treated all
mankind as sheep who had no business to criticise or question their
shepherd. It has been said his overweening arrogance only made the
Protestant reaction, then beginning, more prompt and decisive.




In the ninth century the monks busied themselves with collecting,
compiling, and reviving biographies and histories of saints and martyrs.
Many of the records of monasteries had been pillaged and destroyed by the
ravages of the Northmen, and it was necessary and expedient to keep alive
the memories of notable saints. Some prominent monks of St. Germains, of
Paris, of Notker and St. Gall, devoted themselves to this task, and many
narratives, genealogies, and legends were rewritten, embellished, and
invented, so as to add to the glory of the Church. In the following
century, at a Roman Council in 993, much discussion arose as to the
holiness of Ulric, who had died twenty years previously, and of whom many
miracles were related, and it was agreed that such as he deserved the
veneration of the world, and were true mediators between Christ and
mankind. This was said to be the first instance of canonisation, a mode of
certifying that a saint was to be held in reverence throughout all
Christendom. This mode of canonising was at first used by metropolitans,
but in 1153 Pope Alexander III. declared that henceforth the Pope alone
was to exercise this imperial power.


Milman says: "That some of the Christian legends were deliberate forgeries
can scarcely be questioned. The principle of pious fraud appeared to
justify this mode of working on the popular mind; it was admitted and
avowed. To deceive into Christianity was so valuable a service as to
hallow deceit itself. But the largest portion was probably the natural
birth of that imaginative excitement, which quickens its day-dreams and
nightly visions into reality. The Christian lived in a supernatural world:
the notion of the Divine power, the perpetual interference of the deity,
the agency of the countless invisible beings which hovered over mankind
was so strongly impressed upon the belief, that every extraordinary and
almost every ordinary incident became a miracle, every inward emotion a
suggestion either of a good or an evil spirit. A mythic period was thus
gradually formed, in which reality melted into fable and invention
unconsciously trespassed on the province of history. This invention had
very early let itself loose in the spurious gospels or accounts of the
lives of the Saviour and His Apostles, which were chiefly composed among
or rather against the sects which were less scrupulous in their veneration
for the sacred books. The lives of St. Antony by Athanasius, and of
Hilarion by Jerome, are the prototypes of the countless biographies of
saints, and with a strong outline of truth became impersonations of the
feeling, the opinions, the belief of the time."


Torquemada relates that a certain woman being desirous of rising a few
hours before dawn, and not finding any fire under the ashes, sent her
servant out with a candle to get a light. The servant going from house to
house, nowhere found any fire. At length she perceived a lamp burning in a
church. She called to the sacristan who was sleeping within, and he awoke
and lighted her candle. Meanwhile the mistress, tired of waiting, had
taken another candle, and had found a fire in a neighbour's house, and
came out with her light just as the servant was returning with another,
and both were in white. At that moment a neighbour, while rising and
looking out half asleep, seeing the two figures, thought they were
phantoms. And next there went a rumour that there had been a procession of
spirits that night round the church. On another occasion a solemn burial
of a noble knight in a certain monastery in Spain was appointed to take
place next day. A poor female idiot had strayed into the church, and
remaining after the doors were closed, took shelter from the cold under
the great velvet pall which covered the coffin. The monks coming into the
choir to sing matins, the idiot awoke and made a noise which startled the
religious men, who, however, continued to sing their matins, and then
retired. The rumour soon ran of what had been heard and seen, each relater
adding something, till at length the poor idiot grew into a supernatural
being sent from the skies to add honour to the noble warrior.


When the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, who died 180, warred against
the Vandals, Salmatians, and Germans, his army was shut up in hot and dry
places, where they had been without water for five days, and were much
discouraged. The Emperor in a letter which he wrote said he had 975,000
men leagued against him, and he prayed to his national deities, but got no
assistance. He had, however, some Christians in his army, who fell on
their faces and prayed to a God unknown to him, when suddenly there
descended from the sky on him and his troops a most cool and refreshing
rain, but on the enemy hail mixed with lightning, insomuch that he at once
perceived that a most potent God had interposed irresistibly in his
favour. The enemy were put to flight. Wherefore he granted full toleration
to these people called Christians, lest peradventure by their prayers they
should procure some like interposition against him. And it was ordered
that in future it should not be deemed a crime to be a Christian.


In the time of Diocletian, who died 313, part of the Roman army consisted
of a Theban legion, which was six thousand six hundred and sixty-six men
strong, all Christians, and noted for discipline and piety. After marching
towards Gaul on service against the Christians, they encamped on the Lake
of Geneva; and when ordered to join in the sacrifices to the gods, the
whole legion, with their commander Maurice, refused to obey or to fight
against their fellow-Christians. The Emperor, being enraged, ordered them
to be decimated, and they thought this the highest honour, and vied with
each other in being selected as the first victims. Still refusing, they
were ordered a second time to be decimated, and then a third time, with
like results. Maurice at the third decimation spoke thus: "Noble Cæsar, we
are thy soldiers, but we are also the soldiers of Jesus Christ. From thee
we receive our pay; from Him we receive eternal life. To thee we owe
service, to Him obedience. We are ready to follow thee against the
barbarians, but we are also ready to suffer death rather than renounce our
faith or fight against our brethren."


There was long current a tradition that as Moses and Aaron had a rod, so
there still existed persons who could divine the inscrutable by means of a
rod of a particular tree and shape, some said the hazel. It was
efficacious to discover hidden treasures, veins of precious metal, springs
of water, thefts, and murders. In the fifteenth century, Basil Valentine,
a monk, described the general use of the divining-rod. In 1659 a Jesuit
writer said that this rod was used in every town of Germany to discover
mines and springs. In 1692 one Jacques Aylmar astonished Europe by his
marvellous discoveries in tracking thieves and murderers, and his services
were sought by corporations and high officers of state. The circumstances
were related by three eye-witnesses who vouched for the truth. At last a
plot was laid for Aylmar, and it was believed he was proved to be an
impostor. Some individuals have professed to use like powers, and have
made singular discoveries, particularly one Parangue at Marseilles in
1760, and one Jenny Leslie, a Scotch girl, about the same date.


Saint George of Cappadocia was an early Christian of high position. In the
reign of Diocletian, when the edict of that Emperor against the Christians
was published, stimulated by a Divine zeal he tore the paper to pieces,
treating it as infamous. For this act he was put to a death of horrible
torture on April 23rd, 303. There is much mystery about the identity and
the mode of death of the saint. The account in later ages which was given
was, that he was first thrust with spears, but that they snapped like
straw when they touched him. He was next bound to a wheel set with knives
and swords, but an angel kept him harmless. He was then buried in a pit of
quicklime, but that could not kill him. And his limbs were next broken, he
was made to run in red-hot iron shoes, then scourged and made to drink
poison--all of which cruelties were harmless; and at the end of seven days
he restored an ox to life in testimony of his miraculous help. But he was
at last murdered. His story was made into a legend, in which he was
represented as slaying a dragon which infested a lake and had devoured
sheep and alarmed the natives, who were told that unless the king's
daughter was thrown to the beast it could not be got rid of. This step was
about to be taken by the despairing king, when George, passing that way,
heard of the difficulty and offered at once to save the young princess and
kill the monster, which he did by making the sign of the cross and
dexterously using his lance. Temples and churches and monasteries were
dedicated to the victorious knight in many countries. The Crusaders,
including our Richard I., all invoked his protection. In 1348 Edward III.
founded St. George's Chapel, Windsor, and used the saint's name when
besieging Calais and routing the French. The effect of St. George's name
was so marked that he was adopted as the patron saint of England in lieu
of Edward the Confessor. In 1349 the Order of St. George was instituted.
In 1545 the saint's day was made a red-letter day, with a proper collect,
epistle, and gospel, in the services of the Church. Many of the great
painters have shown their skill in representing the legend.


St. Christina, who died 295, was the daughter of a noble who lived near
Lake Bolseno, and was early a convert to the Christian faith. One day,
looking on a crowd of poor people whose wants she could not supply, she
broke her father's silver and gold idols and divided them among the
beggars. He was enraged and beat her and threw her into a dungeon, but
angels came and healed her wounds. He next was determined to drown her,
and fastened her to a millstone and threw both into the lake; but angels
held up the stone and clothed her with white garments and led her safely
to land. He then thought there must be witchcraft, and threw her into a
fiery furnace; but she remained there five days unharmed, singing praises
to God. Her head was then shaved, and she was dragged to do obeisance at
the temple of Apollo; but she had no sooner looked at the idol than it
fell down before her. At seeing these things her father became so
terrified that he died. Next the governor ordered her tongue to be cut
out, but she only sang more loudly and sweetly. Serpents and reptiles
became harmless as doves before her; but at last she was shot dead with
arrows, and angels waited and carried her pure spirit to heaven. This
saint with the millstone is often painted to decorate the churches in


Christopher the martyr was a gigantic negro, who in early life had a fancy
that he would never be happy till he took service under the most powerful
prince in the whole world. He took means first to seek out King Maximus,
who, on seeing the stature and strength of his petitioner, at once
employed him. One day the King's minstrel recited a lay in which the devil
was often mentioned, and each time the King, who was a Christian, made
the sign of the cross on his forehead. This astonished Christopher, who
after many questions elicited the reason, which was this--that it was done
for fear of the devil. Christopher from this at once concluded that there
must be a still more powerful prince than Maximus, and he could not rest
till he sought out that prince, the devil. He passed through deserts in
search; and one day seeing a great crowd of warriors, with one terribly
fierce at their head, he made bold to say, when questioned where he was
going, that he was seeking the devil. The warrior told him that the devil
was before him; so Christopher at once was engaged to serve him. One day
as they were journeying they came to a cross at the wayside, and the devil
made a circuit so as not to pass the spot, and afterwards rejoined his
troop farther on. This made Christopher ask the reason, and it was told
him that there had been a man named Christ hung upon that cross whom the
devil feared greatly. Christopher again came to the conclusion that Christ
must after all be the greatest prince, and he set off to seek for Christ.
He met a hermit, who told him to fast and pray; but Christopher said that
these things did not suit him, and he wanted some easier service. So the
hermit told him that as he was tall and strong he should dwell near a
great river not far off and carry over the passengers. He did so; and one
night a little boy called on him for help, and Christopher took him on his
shoulders, when the river was in flood, but the child proved heavy as
lead, and on reaching the shore Christopher said he felt as if the whole
world had been on his back--it was a wonder he had got over safe. The boy
answered that Christopher had no cause to marvel, for he had just been
carrying, not the world, but Him who created the world, for that He was
Christ the Lord. In token of this Christ told Christopher to plant his
staff in the earth, and it would immediately bud and bear fruit; and then
Christ vanished. The staff was planted, and in the morning it bore dates
like a palm tree; and thus Christopher knew it was Christ whom he had
carried. After these things Christopher went to the city of Ammon, where
he saw Christians tortured, and he sought to comfort them, saying he would
avenge their injury were he not a Christian. His habit of praying was
reported, and he was taken before King Dagnus, who on seeing such a giant
as Christopher fell to the ground for fear. But steps were taken to throw
Christopher into prison, and the officers beat and scourged him, put him
on a bed of red-hot iron, burnt pitch under him, and at last with three
hundred archers shot him to death. All this time Christopher prayed, and
a light shone from his countenance, and his relics began to work miracles.


In 430 St. German and Lupus were in Britain preaching to the Britons, and
the Saxons joined the Picts in attacking the former in Flintshire near
Mold. A deputation went from the Britons to German and Lupus, then
preaching, to ask them for help. The saints complied, and were made
generals of the British forces. Every day they preached to the soldiers,
and on Easter-day many were in course of being baptised, when the approach
of the enemy was announced. German saw that the enemy would come through a
valley surrounded with high hills. He posted his army on these hills. As
soon as the enemy entered the valley, a loud shout of Hallelujah resounded
in the mountains, and passed from hill to hill, gathering sound as it
re-echoed. Consternation filled the enemy; and as if the rocks were ready
to fall and crush them, seized with a general panic, they took to flight,
leaving their arms, baggage, and even clothes behind them. A large number
perished in the river Alen. The Britons, who had remained motionless, now
came forth to collect the spoils of a victory which all acknowledged to be
the gift of Heaven. Thus did Faith obtain a triumph without slaughter with
two bishops as leaders. The place of this battle is known to this day as
the Field of German, and is about a mile from Mold. Gregory the Great,
three hundred years later, referred to it as a wonderful example of the
lust of war being tamed by the simple word of God's priests.


Merlin lived about 447, a contemporary of St. Germanus, Bishop of Auxerre.
He crossed over to England twice, and fought against the Anglo-Saxons,
then Pagans, and defeated them in the Hallelujah victory. Merlin showed
Vortigern, King of Britain, in mystic language the future history of his
country, describing events as arising out of a contest between red worms
and white worms, lions and dragons fighting against each other, and other
allegories no longer worth repeating. But Orderic, who lived six hundred
years later, narrates that Merlin's prophecies had come true. Indeed, all
the intervening generations for some reason or other devoutly believed
that Merlin was inspired, and commentaries were written expressly to
demonstrate the truth revealed by that prophet.


In a painting at the back of the stalls of Carlisle Cathedral, which was
the only cathedral in England, the episcopal chapel of which belonged to
Augustinians, there is a representation of scenes from the life of St.
Augustine of Canterbury, and one of the devil with a book. The legend is,
that the devil one day appeared to St. Augustine carrying a book. The
saint asked what the book contained, and was answered, "The sins of men."
He then adjured the devil to show him any passage in which his own sins
were recorded, and found that the only entry against him was, that on one
occasion he had neglected to repeat the office of complin. Thereupon,
commanding the devil to await his return, Augustine entered a neighbouring
church and repeated that office. The entry in the book at once
disappeared, and the devil greeted St. Augustine as he came out of the
church thus: "You have shamefully deceived me. I regret I ever showed you
my book, for with your prayers you have wiped out that sin of yours." And
so the devil disappeared in high dudgeon.


The legend of the Wandering Jew is said to be based on Matt. xvi. 28 and
Mark ix. 1. The earliest account seems not older than Matthew Paris, in
1228, who says it was related to the monks at St. Albans by a visitor. It
was this: that when Jesus was dragged to the Crucifixion and reached the
door of Cartaphilus, a porter in Pilate's service, he impiously struck
Jesus, telling Him in mockery to go quicker, whereon Jesus gravely
replied, "I am going, and you will wait till I return." This meant that
the man would not die till the Second Coming. He was afterwards baptised
and called Joseph. He is a grave and circumspect and taciturn man, who,
when asked, but not unless asked, will give details as to the Crucifixion
not found in the Scriptures. He never smiles. He says he sinned through
ignorance. He once assisted a weaver in Bohemia to find some hidden
treasure. He has been met with in all countries. He eats and drinks
little. When offered money, he only accepts a small sum of fourpence. He
once appeared at Stamford in 1658; his coat was purple, and buttoned down
to the waist. About 1700 an impostor attracted attention in England as
being the Wandering Jew. Other impostors appeared in England in 1818,
1824, and 1830. Some say the Wild Huntsman of the Harz Mountains is the
same person, and cursed with perpetual life and with the desire to hunt
the red-deer for evermore.


St. Sabas, a renowned patriarch of the monks of Palestine, who died 532,
when a child went into a monastery and showed a genius for his work. One
day, while at work in the garden, he saw a tree loaded with fair and
beautiful apples, and gathered one with an intention to eat it. But
reflecting that this was a temptation of the devil, he threw the apple on
the ground and trod upon it. Moreover, to punish himself more perfectly,
he made a vow never to eat any apples as long as he lived. At eighteen he
went to visit the holy places at Jerusalem, and became member of a
monastery about twelve miles from Jerusalem, and as a luxury often asked
leave to go and remain in a cave, where he prayed and lived by
basket-making. In one of these caves he met a holy hermit, who had lived
thirty-eight years without seeing any one, feeding on wild herbs. Once
Sabas went into a great cave to pray, and a huge lion happened to make it
his den. At midnight the beast came in, and, finding the guest, dared not
to touch him, but gently plucked his garments, as if to draw him out. The
saint was not terrified, but leisurely went on to read aloud the midnight
psalms. The lion went out; and when the holy man had finished matins, came
in again and pulled his clothes gently as before. The saint spoke to the
beast and said the place was big enough to hold them both. The lion at
those words departed and returned thither no more. Certain thieves found
Sabas in this cave, but he converted them to a penitential life. Others
joined him and turned it into a monastery; but he preferred to retire
elsewhere and enjoy the sweetness of perfect solitude. He was afterwards
sent to Constantinople to help with his advice in restoring peace to the
Church. He died at ninety-one, an example of admirable sanctity.


About 538 a priest named Theophilus lived in Cilicia, and on the decease
of the bishop he was chosen by acclamation to fill the vacancy. But his
deep humility urged him to refuse the office. Slanders circulated against
him, and the bishop investigated them, found him guilty, and deprived him.
Being unable to clear his reputation, he consulted a necromancer, who took
him at midnight to a place where four cross-roads met, and conjured up
Satan, who promised to reinstate Theophilus and clear his character. But
it was first necessary that Theophilus should sign away his soul with a
pen dipped in his own blood, and to abjure Christ and the Holy Mother.
Next day the bishop sent for Theophilus and admitted the sentence was
wrong, and asked pardon for being so misled, and restored Theophilus. The
populace also welcomed his return. But Theophilus found no rest for his
conscience. He prayed long and often without a ray of comfort. At last he
fasted forty days. The Virgin at the end of that time appeared and assured
him of forgiveness; and one morning, on awaking, he found the accursed
deed which sold his soul lying on his breast. He rose and went to church
full of joy and exultation, made a public confession, and showed to the
people the compact signed with blood. He craved absolution from the bishop
and had the deed burned. He then took the Sacrament, and soon after died
of a fever. He has ever since been treated as a saint.


The story of the Sangreal was one of the traditions of King Arthur's
knights. When Christ was transfixed with the spear and the blood flowed
out, Joseph of Arimathæa collected it in the vessel from which the Saviour
had eaten the Last Supper. Joseph was thrown into prison and left to die
of hunger, but he lived forty years, being nourished and invigorated by
the sacred vessel. Titus released Joseph, who started with the vessel for
Britain, and before his death he confided it to a nephew. Others say the
Grail was preserved in heaven till a race of heroes grew up fit to protect
it. A temple was founded by some king to hold the Grail, the model being
the Temple at Jerusalem; and the vessel gave oracles, and the sight of it
inspired perpetual youth and made its guardians incapable of wounds or
hurt. The knights who watched the Grail were pure, and whenever a bell was
rung one was bound to go forth and fight for the right. Endless variations
of the legend appear in different countries.


The legend of the seven sleepers was told in the fifth and sixth
centuries. The Emperor Decius, having gone to Ephesus, commanded all the
Christians to worship idols or die. Seven young men refused, and being
accused and reprieved, they sold all their goods and determined to conceal
themselves in a cave, and fell asleep. Lest they should be hiding in the
cave, the mouth of it was blocked up with stones. After the lapse of three
hundred and fifty years, these stones being removed for a new building,
the sleepers awoke; but on returning to Ephesus and searching for their
parents, and finding no trace of them, and yet seeing crosses erected
everywhere, they were confounded. One of them having offered a coin for
bread, was taken up as a sorcerer who had discovered hidden treasure and
concealed it. But when the governor and the bishop examined into the
story, the bishop turned to the governor and said, "The hand of God is
here." They visited the cave, and saw the other six sleepers, all fresh
and radiant. They said they were kept alive to prove the truth of the
Resurrection, and then died. William of Malmesbury says these sleepers had
lain all the time on their right side.


When the British emigrants in the sixth century went to convert the
inhabitants of Armorica, in Brittany, they took also a bard named
Hyvernion, who married a female bard; and these two had a little blind
child named Herve, who, when an orphan at the age of seven, went about the
country singing hymns with the voice of an angel. He became a universal
favourite, and people wished him to be made a priest. But he would not
leave a little monastery of his own which he had founded in a forest, and
where he had a school and a church and taught children's songs. This
church was managed by a child cousin of his own, a little girl named
Christina, who used to be compared to a little white dove among the crows.
Three days before his death Herve fell into a trance, in which he saw
visions of choirs of angels, and of his father and mother among the saints
of heaven. The third day of his illness he told Christina to make his bed
with a stone for a pillow and ashes for a couch, as he was anxious that
the black angel should find him in that state. The little girl, on
comprehending that his end was near, begged him to ask God to let her
accompany him, and the prayer was granted, for when he died she threw
herself at his feet and died too immediately. Ever since then the little
blind monk is often heard singing his little hymns, and he is the patron
of all the mendicant singers of Brittany. The same legend says that his
mother used to be so proud of her minstrel boy as to think that, if there
were a thousand singing together, she could still distinguish little
Herve's voice among them.


St. Gregory was in his early days a monk in St. Andrew's at Rome, though
afterwards he became Pope and sent St. Augustine to preach to the Saxons
at Canterbury. When at St. Andrew's a beggar once came to the gate and was
relieved, and he came again and again till all the monk's means were
exhausted. At last Gregory ordered the silver porringer which his mother
Sylvia had given to him to be handed to the mendicant. When Gregory became
Pope, he used to entertain every evening to supper twelve poor men, and
one night he was surprised to notice that there were thirteen seated at
the table. He called to the steward and said he had given orders that
there should be twelve only. The steward looked and counted them over and
said, "Holy father, there are surely twelve only!" Gregory said nothing
more, but at the end of the meal he called to the thirteenth and unbidden
guest, "Who art thou?" The answer was, "I am the poor man whom thou didst
formerly relieve, and my name is the Wonderful, and through me thou shalt
obtain whatever thou shalt ask of God." Then Gregory knew that he had
entertained an angel, or, as some say, our Lord Himself. This legend is
often represented in pictures, Christ sitting as a pilgrim with the other
guests. Another legend represents St. Gregory officiating at the Mass
where some one was near who doubted the real presence; and the Saviour in
person descended upon the altar surrounded by the instruments of His
passion in answer to a prayer addressed by the saint.


The doctrine of purgatory was said to arise from the feelings expressed by
St. Gregory at the following incident in the life of Trajan. That Emperor
was once hastening at the head of his legions, when a poor widow flung
herself in his way, crying aloud for justice and vengeance over the
innocent blood of her son, killed by the son of the Emperor. Trajan
promised to do her justice when he returned from his expedition. The widow
then exclaimed, "But, sire, if you are killed in battle, who then is to do
me justice?" Trajan answered, "My successor." She then retorted, "But what
will it signify to you, Emperor, if it is left to some other person to do
me justice? Is it not better that you should do this honourable action and
receive the reward yourself?" Trajan, moved by her piety and her
reasoning, then alighted, and having examined into the matter, he gave up
to her his own son in place of her son, and also bestowed on her likewise
a liberal pension. Now it came to pass that one day, as Gregory was
meditating in his daily walk, this action of the Emperor Trajan came into
his recollection, and he wept bitterly to think that a man so just should
be condemned as a heathen to eternal punishment. And entering a church, he
prayed most fervently that the soul of the good Emperor might be released
from torment. And a voice said to him: "I have granted thy prayer, and I
have spared the soul of Trajan for thy sake; but because thou hast
supplicated for one whom the justice of God had already condemned thou
shalt choose one of two things: either thou shalt endure for two days the
fires of purgatory, or thou shalt be sick and infirm for the remainder of
thy life." Gregory chose the latter, and this accounted for the many
bodily infirmities of the saint during the rest of his life.


In Cumberland, on a promontory of the Irish Sea, stood the monastery of
St. Bees, named after St. Bega, who was one of the nuns under the great
abbess St. Hilda of Whitby. St. Bega was the daughter of an Irish king,
the most beautiful woman of her time, and was sought in marriage by a
prince of Norway. But she had vowed to live a nun, and had received from
an angel a bracelet marked with the sign of the cross, as the seal of her
high calling. On the night before her wedding day, while her father's
retainers were carousing, she escaped alone with nothing but the bracelet,
and in a skiff landed on the western shore of Northumbria, and took refuge
in a cell in a wood, and then joined St. Hilda till she could build a
monastery of her own. During the building she prepared with her own hands
the food of the masons and waited on them. Her bracelet was long preserved
as a relic. She was celebrated for her austerity, her fervour, and her
kindness to the poor, and remained the patron saint for six hundred years
after her death of the north-west coast of England.


Fructuosus, who died about 665, displayed when a mere child a genius for
monkery. When a boy he had already fixed on a site for a monastery; and
when he had carried out his enterprise and gathered a large body of
followers, and was praying in a secluded spot in a forest, a labourer took
him for a fugitive slave, and put a rope round his neck and brought him to
a place where he was recognised. Another time he was wandering covered
with a goat skin, and a huntsman thinking him a wild beast shot an arrow
at him, and only then discovered that it was a man perched on the top of a
rock with his hands extended in prayer. On another day a hind pursued by
the hunters threw itself into the folds of the monk's tunic, and he was
so pleased at this mark of confidence that he took the wild creature home
and treated it kindly. They soon became mutually attached. The simple doe
followed him everywhere, slept at the foot of his bed and bleated
incessantly if he was out of her sight. He tried to send her back to the
woods, but she soon returned to his cell and haunted it as before. At last
a brutal fellow, who was supposed to have no goodwill to the monks, one
day killed her while Fructuosus was on a journey. On his return his eyes
searched in vain for a welcome from his faithful friend, and when informed
of her death he fell prostrate on the floor of the church, quivering with
agony. The bystanders thought he was asking of God some punishment for
this brutality. Soon after the murderer fell sick, and begged urgently
this monk to go to his aid. The monk avenged himself nobly; he went and
healed his greatest enemy, and at the same time made him repent of his

POPE JOAN (A.D. 854).

The story that there was once a female Pope, who succeeded Leo in 854, and
reigned two years and five months, was first told three hundred years
later by a chronicler named Stephen, a French Dominican, who died in 1261.
She concealed her sex, but on her way to the Lateran she was delivered of
a child in the street, and died shortly afterwards. Others say the child
was born as she was celebrating High Mass. The story was embellished as
time advanced. But it has been in modern times treated as a fable devised
and kept up by the Protestant reformers in order to discredit the Papacy.
Some added that Joan was the daughter of an English missionary, and fell
in love with a monk; that she dressed herself in male attire in order to
pursue her studies, became celebrated for her learning, and at last
arrived at the high dignity of Pope. Others say she was an Athenian woman
celebrated for her learning, who had come to Rome as an adventuress.
Others say she was a native of Mayence, who fell in love and went in man's
attire to Rome, and after many adventures succeeded to the highest


Bishop Hatto had a castle on a little rock in the Rhine. In 970 a famine
existed in Germany, and the famishing people asked the bishop for help,
and he invited them to go into a large barn. He set fire to the barn, and
they were all consumed. Soon afterwards an army of rats collected and
moved towards the palace, and on seeing them the bishop fled to his tower
in the Rhine, thinking they could not follow him. But they swarmed through
the river and climbed up into the holes and windows and ate up the bishop.
This story was told for the first time at the beginning of the fourteenth
century, and a similar legend is found in the records of Poland and


It is related of St. Conrad, a devout bishop who died in 976, that he was
celebrating the Mass on Easter Day, when a great spider dropped into the
chalice. The insect might have been taken out and then decently burnt, but
out of devotion and respect for the holy mysteries the bishop swallowed
the spider, which he vomited up some hours after without receiving any


The town of Hameln was infested with rats, which swarmed everywhere and
drove the people mad. One day a stranger came saying he was a ratcatcher,
and offered to rid the place of the vermin for a sum of money. This was
agreed to, and the piper began to pipe, and the rats with a mighty
rumbling noise came out of their holes and followed him. The townspeople,
on seeing the rats leaving them, repented of the bargain, and refused to
pay the money, on the ground of the piper being a sorcerer. The piper then
waxed wroth and threatened revenge, and soon after he came again into the
town and blew his pipe, whereon all the children rushed out and followed
him towards a side of the mountain, when they all vanished through an
opening, and none of them were ever seen again. There were one hundred and
thirty children. The street through which the poor children were decoyed
is called the Bungen Strasse, and to this day no music is ever tolerated
in it.


It is related by Matthew of Westminster that Count Leofric, who died in
1057, and his noble and pious wife Godiva, had founded a monastery in
Coventry, had established monks in it, and endowed it so abundantly with
estates and treasures of various kinds that there was not found such a
quantity of gold, silver, and precious stones in any monastery in all
England as there was at that time in that monastery. The countess had on
an occasion wished in a most pious spirit to deliver the city of Coventry
from a burdensome and shameful slavery, and often entreated the count her
husband with earnest prayers to deliver the town from that slavery. And
when the count reproached her for persevering in asking to no purpose for
a thing which he disliked, he at last charged her never for the future to
mention this subject to him. She, however, prompted by female persistence,
continued her entreaties, till her husband was provoked, and then taunted
her thus: "Mount then your horse naked and ride through the market of the
town from end to end, and when you return you shall succeed in your
request." The countess replied, "I am willing even to do that if you will
give me your permission." And he gave it. Then the countess, beloved of
God, on a set day mounted her horse naked, letting her tresses of hair
fall, which covered her whole body except her beautiful legs; and when she
had finished her journey without being seen by any one, she returned to
her husband with joy. He looked on this as a miracle, released the city
from slavery, and confirmed the charter with his own seal.


A ceremony was long prevalent among the Greek Christians at Jerusalem
which resembled the carnival in Rome. On Easter Eve it was pretended that
fire descended from heaven into the sacred sepulchre. In order to keep up
this illusion, all the lamps were extinguished. The crowd then collected
round the sepulchre, some crying "Eleison" and jumping on each other's
backs, and throwing dirt about like people at a fair. Some held up their
wax tapers, as if imploring the Almighty to send the fire. Then people
marched round the sepulchre, some personating the archbishops and bishops.
At last one entered the sepulchre and pretended his taper had caught fire.
The crowd then pressed round to light their tapers at that which first
took fire. Great rioting and tomfoolery then succeeded. Some ascribe the
origin of this superstition to a real miracle of the same kind which once
happened, and it is added that God Almighty being provoked at the
irregularities of the Christian Crusaders refused to work the miracle, but
at last vouchsafed to do so after fervent supplications. It was said the
fire had never descended since the beginning of the twelfth century. Part
of the above ceremony consisted in the crowd bringing pieces of linen
cloth, said to be marked with a cross by the tapers kindled at the sacred
fire; and these cloths were preserved as winding-sheets and sacred


The Greeks of the Holy Land all believed as an unquestionable fact that
the birds which fly about Jerusalem never sing during Passion Week, but
stand motionless and confounded, as if in sorrow. Pilgrims to Jerusalem
got certain marks imprinted on their arms with indelible characters, and
which they afterwards produced as certificates of their pilgrimage. The
Grecian populace ascribed to the waters of the Jordan the supernatural
virtue of healing several distempers. The plant known as the rose of
Jericho was in their opinion a sure defence against thunder and lightning.
They also believed that on Easter Day the lands all round Cairo and the
Nile throw up their dead and continue to do so till Ascension Day.


The belief that a great Christian Emperor reigned in Asia arose in the
twelfth century. He was called Presbyter Johannes, and had defeated the
Mussulmans and was ready to assist the Crusaders. Pope Alexander III. once
sent a physician with a letter to this Emperor, but the messenger was
never again heard of. The first chronicler who mentioned the existence of
this doubtful sovereign was Otto, who wrote at the date 1156, and stated
that the Priest John's kingdom was on the farther side of Persia and
Armenia, and that he had routed the Persians after a bloody battle. He was
supposed to belong to the family of the Magi who visited Christ in His
cradle. He wrote a letter in 1165 to various Christian princes, giving
details of the splendour of his country and his possessions. He said
seventy-two kings paid him tribute, and the body of the holy Apostle
Thomas was buried in his country beyond India. His country was the home of
the elephant, the griffin, the centaur, the phoenix, giants, pigmies, and
nearly all living animals.


The small city of Loretto, about twenty miles from Ancona, has been for
five centuries a popular place of pilgrimage, so called from a grove of
laurels in which the Santa Casa is said to have rested. This is the holy
cottage which, according to the tradition, was the birthplace of the
Virgin, as well as the dwelling of the Holy Family after the flight out of
Egypt. The house was held in extraordinary veneration throughout Palestine
after the Empress Helena discovered the true cross, and it was conveyed
by angels from Nazareth in 1291 to the coast of Dalmatia, and in 1294 it
was suddenly again transported to a grove near Loretto, and the Virgin
appeared in a vision to St. Nicholas of Tolentino to announce its arrival
to the faithful. It three times changed its position before settling down,
and pilgrims soon flocked to visit it. The city is very small, and stands
on a hill three miles from the sea, and it consists chiefly of shops which
carry on a great trade in crowns, medals, and pictures of the Madonna di
Loretto. The place now swarms with beggars who appeal for charity, while
the shrine glistens with gold and diamonds. The church contains the Santa
Casa, which is a small brick house twenty-nine feet long, thirteen feet
high, and twelve feet broad, and a humble dwelling of rude workmanship is
enclosed in a marble casing adorned with beautiful sculptures. In a niche
above the fireplace is the celebrated statue of the Virgin said to have
been sculptured by St. Luke. The height of this statue is thirty-three
inches, and the child fourteen inches. The figures are rude, but are hung
with glistening jewels; and silver lamps are constantly burning before the
shrine. There are also three earthen pots here which are said to have
belonged to the Holy Family.


About 1196 Matthew Paris says that Vitalis, a Venetian noble, who was rich
and miserly, went into a forest to hunt for venison for his daughter's
marriage feast, and fell into a large pit cunningly set for lions, bears,
and wolves, out of which escape was impossible. Here he found a lion and
serpent; but as he signed with the cross, neither animal, though fierce
and hungry, ventured to attack him. All night he called aloud with
lamentations for help, and a poor woodcutter being attracted, went to the
pit's mouth and heard the story. Vitalis offered him half of all his
property--namely, five hundred talents--if he would rescue him; and the
woodcutter said he would do so if Vitalis would be as good as his word. A
ladder and ropes were brought and let down by the poor peasant, but the
lion and serpent eagerly strove to be the first to rush out, and then came
Vitalis, who was conducted to a place of safety, and being asked where and
when the promise would be discharged, told his deliverer to call in four
days at his palace in Venice for the money. The peasant went home to
dinner, and while sitting at table was surprised to see the lion enter and
lay down a dead goat, and then lick his feet. Then came the serpent, and
brought a jewel as a present. When the peasant went to claim his money,
Vitalis pretended he had never seen or heard of the poor man, and ordered
the latter to be put out by his servants and cast into prison. But by a
sudden spring the peasant managed to escape, and then applied to the
judges of the city. The judges at first hesitated; but when the peasant
took witnesses, and visited the lion and serpent, both of which fawned on
him, the justices were satisfied, and compelled Vitalis to fulfil his
promise and pay compensation. This story used to be told by King Richard
I. to expose the conduct of ungrateful men.


One day St. Francis met in his road a young man on his way to Siena to
sell some doves which he had caught in a snare. And Francis said to him,
"My good young man! these are the birds to whom the Scripture compares
those who are pure and faithful before God; do not kill them, I beseech
thee, but give them rather to me." And when they were given to him, he put
them in his bosom and carried them to his convent at Ravacciano, where he
made for them nests, and fed them every day, until they became so tame as
to eat from his hand. And the young man had also his recompense, for he
became a friar and lived a holy life from that day forth. St. Francis also
loved the larks, and pointed them out to his disciples as always singing
praises to the Creator. A lark once brought her brood of nestlings to his
cell to be fed from his hand. He saw that the strongest of these nestlings
tyrannised over the others, pecking at them, and taking more than his due
share of the food. Whereupon the good saint rebuked the creature, saying,
"Thou unjust and insatiable! thou shalt die miserably, and the greediest
animals shall refuse to eat thy flesh." And so it happened, for the
creature drowned itself through its impetuosity in drinking; and when it
was thrown to the cats they would not touch it. On St. Francis returning
from Syria, in passing through the Venetian Lagune, vast numbers of birds
were singing, and he said to his companion, "Our sisters the birds are
praising their Creator; let us sing with them." And he began the sacred
service. But the warbling of the birds interrupted them; therefore St.
Francis said to them, "Be silent until we have also praised God," and they
ceased their song and did not resume it till he had given them permission.
On another occasion, preaching at Alviano, St. Francis could not make
himself heard for the chirping of the swallows, which were at that time
building their nests. Pausing, therefore, in his sermon, he said, "My
sisters, you have talked enough; it is time that I should have my turn. Be
silent and listen to the Word of God." And they were silent immediately.
On another occasion, as St. Francis was sitting with his disciple Leo, he
felt himself penetrated with joy and consolation by the song of the
nightingale, and he desired his friend Leo to raise his voice and sing the
praises of God in company with the bird. But Leo excused himself by reason
of his bad voice; upon which Francis himself began to sing, and when he
stopped the nightingale took up the strain; and thus they sang alternately
until the night was far advanced and Francis was obliged to stop, for his
voice failed. Then he confessed that the little bird had vanquished him;
he called it to him, thanked it for its song, and gave it the remainder of
his bread; and having bestowed his blessing upon it, the creature flew
away. A grasshopper was wont to sit and sing on a fig tree near the cell
of the man of God, and oftentimes by her singing she excited him also to
sing the praises of the Creator. And one day he called her to him, and she
flew upon his hand; and Francis said to her, "Sing, my sister, and praise
the Lord thy Creator." So she began her song immediately, nor ceased till
at her father's command she flew back to her own place; and she remained
eight days there, coming and singing at his behest. At length the man of
God said to his disciples, "Let us dismiss our sister; enough that she has
cheered us with her song and excited us to the praise of God these eight
days." So being permitted, she immediately flew away, and was seen no
more. When Francis found worms or insects in his road, he was careful not
to tread on them. He would even remove them from the path, lest they
should be crushed by others. One day, in passing through a meadow, he
perceived a little lamb feeding all alone in the midst of a flock of
goats. He was moved with pity, and said, "Thus did our mild Saviour stand
alone in the midst of the Jews and the Pharisees." He would have bought
the lamb, but had nothing in the world but his tunic. A charitable man,
however, passing by and seeing his grief, bought the lamb and gave it to
him. When he was at Rome in 1222, he had with him a pet lamb which
accompanied him everywhere; and in pictures of St. Francis a lamb is
frequently introduced.


Another story of St. Francis is, that finding the neighbourhood of Gubbio
was held in terror by the ravages of a wolf, he went out fearlessly to
meet the beast, and when found he addressed the latter as "Brother Wolf,"
and brought him to a sense of his wickedness in slaying not only brute
animals but human creatures. And Francis promised that if his friend Wolf
would desist from such practices the citizens of Gubbio would maintain
him. Brother Wolf, as a token of this sensible overture, put his paw into
the saint's right hand and accompanied him to the town, where the people
gladly ratified the preliminaries of the treaty. The wolf spent the rest
of his days in innocence and competence, and when he died in his old age
he was lamented by all Gubbio.


Roger of Wendover, a contemporary of St. Francis, in noticing his death in
1227, thus describes him: "This servant of God, Francis, built an oratory
in Rome, and, like a noble warrior, engaged in battle against evil spirits
and carnal vices. When the Roman people despised him, he said, 'I have
preached the Gospel of the Redeemer to you. I therefore call on Him to
bear witness to your desolation, and go forth to preach the Gospel of
Christ to the brute beasts, and to the birds of the air, that they may
hear the life-giving words of God and be obedient to them.' He then went
out of the city, and in the suburbs found crows sitting among the dead
bodies, kites, magpies, and other birds flying about in the air, and said
to them, 'I command you in the name of Jesus Christ, whom the Jews
crucified, and whose preaching the wretched Romans have despised, to come
to me and hear the Word of God in the name of Him who created you and
preserved Noah in the ark from the waters of the deluge.' All that flock
of birds then drew near and surrounded him; and having ordered silence,
all kinds of chirping were hushed, and those birds listened to the words
of the man of God for the space of half a day without moving from the
spot, and the whole time looked in the face of the preacher. This
wonderful circumstance was discovered by the Romans passing and repassing
to and from the city; and when the same had been repeated by the man of
God to the assembled birds, the clergy and crowds of people went out and
brought back the man of God with great reverence. And he then softened
their obdurate hearts. His fame spread abroad, and many of noble birth,
following his example, left the world and its vices. The order of the
brethren soon increased and scattered the seed of the Word of God and the
dew of the heavenly doctrine."


Bonaventura, in his Life of St. Francis, thus explains the circumstance
which Giotto the painter made the basis of his painting: "Drawing nigh to
Bevagno, Francis came to a certain place where a vast multitude of birds
of different kinds were gathered together, whom seeing, the man of God ran
hastily to the spot, and saluting them, as if they had been his fellows in
reason (while they all turned round and bent their heads in attentive
expectation), he admonished them, saying, 'Brother birds, greatly are ye
bound to praise your Creator who clotheth you with feathers, and giveth
you wings to fly with and a pure air to breathe in, and who careth for you
who have so little care for yourselves.' While he thus spake the little
birds, marvellously commoved, began to spread their wings, stretch forth
their necks, and open their beaks, attentively gazing upon him. And he,
glowing in the spirit, passed through the midst of them, and even touched
them with his robe, yet not one stirred from his place until the man of
God gave them leave, when with his blessing and at the sign of the cross
they all flew away. These things saw his companions who waited for him on
the road; to whom returning, the simple and pure-minded man began greatly
to blame himself for having never hitherto preached to the birds." One of
the pictures by Giotto in the church of Assisium represents this legend,
also a small picture in the Louvre at Paris.


St. Antony of Padua being come to the city of Rimini, where were many
heretics and unbelievers, he was heard to say, that he might as well
preach to the fishes, for they would more readily listen to him. The
heretics stopped their ears and refused to listen to him; whereupon he
repaired to the seashore, and stretching forth his hand, he said, "Hear
me, ye fishes, for these unbelievers refuse to listen." And truly it was a
marvellous thing to see how an infinite number of fishes, great and
little, lifted their heads above water and listened attentively to the
sermon of the saint. The saint addressed them, and part of his sermon was
as follows: "It is God that has furnished for you the world of waters with
lodgings, chambers, caverns, grottoes, and such magnificent retirements as
are not to be met with in the seats of kings or in the palaces of princes.
You have the water for your dwelling, a clear, transparent element,
brighter than crystal. You can see from its deepest bottom everything that
passes on its surface. You have the eyes of a lynx or of an argus. The
colds of winter and the heats of summer are equally incapable of molesting
you. A serene or a clouded sky is indifferent to you. Let the earth abound
in fruits, or be cursed with scarcity, it has no influence on your
welfare. You live secure in rains and thunders, lightnings and
earthquakes. You have no concern in the blossoms of spring or in the
glowings of summer, in the fruits of autumn or in the frosts of winter.
You are not solicitous about hours or days or months or years, the
variableness of the weather or the change of seasons. You alone were
preserved among all the species of creatures that perished in the
universal deluge. For these things you ought to be grateful; and since you
cannot employ your tongues in the praises of your Benefactor, make at
least some reverence--bow yourselves at His name." He had no sooner done
speaking than the fish bowed their heads and moved their bodies, as if
approving what had been spoken by St. Antony. Heretics who had listened
were converted, and the saint gave his benediction to the fishes and
dismissed them.


St. Roch was born of noble and wealthy parents at Montpellier in 1280. He
was seized early with a consuming passion to render help to the sick and
the poor, and abandoned all his wealth to become a pilgrim. He was eager
to minister to the most helpless and to the plague-stricken. He was
attacked during this mission with fever and ulcers, and crawled into the
street; but being driven away for fear of contagion, he retired to the
woods to die. There help came to him. He had a faithful little dog, and it
went every day to the city and brought back to him a loaf of bread. An
angel also came and dressed his wounds. He gloried in his sufferings; and
at last, haggard and wasted, he returned to his own country and estate;
but his relatives did not know him, and