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Title: A Treatise on Chancel Screens and Rood Lofts - Their Antiquity, Use, and Symbolic Signification
Author: Pugin, A. Welby
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Treatise on Chancel Screens and Rood Lofts - Their Antiquity, Use, and Symbolic Signification" ***

Transcriber's Note.

Apparent typographical errors, including inconsistent use of hyphens,
have been corrected. The author's use of accents has been retained.

Italics are indicated by _underscores_ and the use of blackletter font
by +signs+. Small capitals have been replaced by full capitals.

Any period below a superscript, or that is superscripted itself, has
been removed.

The plates illustrate many of the screens and rood lofts that are
described in the text. They have been moved to the end of appropriate
chapters. They each bear the inscription "London Published by C Dolman
61 New Bond Street."

There may be some confusion between the cathedrals of Sens and of
Senlis, both near Paris. There is an illustration of the screen of the
former, but no text; and a paragraph on the latter that mentions an
illustration, which is absent.





Their Antiquity, Use, and Symbolic Signification.








 +Introduction+                                                        1

 +Of the Enclosure of Choirs+                                         14
  Of the Choir                                                        16
  High Altar                                                          16
  Jubé or Rood Loft                                                   17
  Furniture of the Rood Lofts                                         18

 +On Screens in Italy and Spain+                                      22
  The Sistine Chapel Screen                                           24
  Quirinal Chapel                                                     25
  San Clemente                                                        25
  Basilica of St. Nerei and Achille, Rome                             26
  Santa Croce                                                         27
  San Michele                                                         27
  San Petronio, Bologna                                               28
  Padua                                                               28
  Venice                                                              29

 +On Screens in Germany and Flanders+:
  Screens at Lubeck                                                   31
  Munster                                                             33
  Brunswick                                                           34
  Hildesheim                                                          35
  Bremen                                                              35
  Basle                                                               36
  Friedberg and Glenhausen                                            36
  Marburg, Halberstadt, and Ulm                                       36
  S. Lawrence, Nuremberg                                              37
  Great Church at Oberwesel                                           37
  Haarlem                                                             38
  Dixmude                                                             39
  Aerscot                                                             39
  Louvain                                                             39
  Tournai                                                             40
  Bruges                                                              40
  Church of Hal, near Brussels                                        40
  Antwerp                                                             41
  Ghent                                                               42

 +On Screens in France+:
  Cathedral of Amiens                                                 44
  Abbaye de S. Bertin, S. Omers                                       45
  S. Quentin                                                          45
  Cathedral of Lyons                                                  46
  Cathedral of Orleans                                                46
  Abbey of S. Denis, near Paris                                       46
  Notre Dame de Mantes                                                47
  Abbaye de Fontenelle, or S. Wandrille                               47
  Conventual Church of the Grand Augustins, Paris                     48
  Church of the Mathurins, Paris                                      48
  Rheims                                                              48
  S. Nicaise, Rheims                                                  49
  S. Gatien, Tours                                                    49
  Church of Souvigny, in the Bourbonnais                              49
  Abbaye de S. Ouen, Rouen                                            49
  Rouen Cathedral                                                     51
  Cathedral of Auxerre                                                52
  Cathedral of Chartres                                               52
  Cathédrale d'Albi                                                   53
  Cathédrale d'Autun                                                  54
  Cathédrale de Senlis                                                54
  Cathedral of Toulouse                                               54
  Church of S. Sernin, Toulouse                                       54
  Cathedral of Auch                                                   55
  Cathedral of Rodez, Languedoc                                       55
  Cathedral of Troyes                                                 55
  Account of the Jubés formerly standing in the Churches of Troyes    57
  Villemaur                                                           58
  S. Germain de l'Auxerrois, Paris                                    59
  S. Etienne du Mont, Paris                                           59
  Bourges                                                             59
  Notre Dame, Paris                                                   60
  Abbey of Fecamp                                                     61
  Cathedral Church of Bayeux                                          61
  S. Riquier, near Abbeville                                          62
  S. Wulfran, near Abbeville                                          62

 +On Screens in Brittany+:
  S. Fiacre le Faouet                                                 63
  Lambader                                                            63
  Folgoet                                                             64

 +On Screens in England+                                              65
  Accounts of S. Margaret's, Westminster                              70
  S. Lawrence, Reading                                                71
  Churchwardens' Accompts of S. Mary Hill                             72
  Churchwardens' Accompts of S. Helen's, Abingdon                     72
  Extracts from the Churchwardens' Accompts of Heybridge              73
  Extracts from the Churchwardens' Accompts of Walberswick            73
  Extracts from the Churchwardens' Accompts of Woodbridge             73
  Account of the Screen in the Church of S. Giles-in-the-Fields       74

 +Of the four classes of Ambonoclasts+:
  The Calvinist Ambonoclast                                           76
  The Pagan Ambonoclast                                               81
  The Revolutionary Ambonoclast                                       91
  The Modern Ambonoclast                                              98

 +Conclusion+                                                        100


    I. FRONTISPIECE. { A Cathedral Screen.
                     { A Parochial Screen.

   II. { Elevation of Screen of Old S. Peter's Church, at Rome.
       { Plan of the Chancel of Ditto.

       { Marble Screen in the Basilica of SS. Nerei and Achille.
  III. { Iron Screen from an ancient painting at Sienna, representing
       {   the Life of Pius II., by Pinturicchio.

   IV. { Marble Screen in the Church of the Frairi, Venice.
       { Detached Altar of S. Michele, Florence, with its Brass Screen.

    V. { Rood Screen of the Marienkirche, Lubeck.
       { Rood Loft, Cathedral, Munster.

   VI. { Screen in the Dom-Kirche, Lubeck.
       { Screen and Rood Loft, Hospital, Lubeck.

  VII. { Rood Loft, S. Katherine's Church, Lubeck.
       { Screen and Rood Loft, Dom, Hildesheim.

 VIII. { Screen at Glenhausen.
       { S. Elisabeth's Church, Marburg.

       { Screen at Oberwesel.
   IX. { Plan of the Jubé, Cathedral, Metz.
       { Plan of the Jubé, Cathedral, Toul.
       { Screen of S. Nicholas's Church, Lorraine.

       { Rood Screen, Cathedral, Antwerp: seventeenth century.
    X. { One of the Altars erected against the Nave Pillars, with its
       {   Brass Screen-work.

   XI. { Iron Screen, Choir of S. Sernin, Toulouse.
       { Iron Screen at Toledo.

  XII. { Screen in the Cathédrale de Sens.
       { Screen in S. Agnes, Picardy.

       { Screen in S. Fiacre le Faouet.
 XIII. { Screen in S. Folgoet.
       { Screen in S. Germain, in Ribermont.
       { Plan of Jubé, Notre Dame de l'Epine.

       { Lambader, Brittany.
  XIV. { Iron Screen at S. Riquier: eighteenth century.
       { Wooden Screen in the Church of Urnes, near Bergen.



The subject on which I am about to treat is one of far more importance
than the generality of men may be willing to admit; it is not a mere
question of architectural detail, respecting a few mullions and a
transverse beam, but it involves great principles connected with
discipline, and even faith, and it is a question in which all those who
either wish for the revival of ancient solemnity and reverence, or even
the preservation of what yet remains, are most deeply interested. The
contest that has been raised by the restoration of screens in England is
not altogether new; it occurred in France during the latter part of the
last century, when a vile spirit of modern innovation appears to have
arisen among a portion of the French clergy, chiefly in the capitular
bodies, and more injury was then inflicted on the great churches of that
country than was caused by the outrages of the Calvinists and Huguenots
in the civil wars of the sixteenth century. The traditions of the
church, as regards the _disposition_ and _arrangement_ of ecclesiastical
buildings in the northern countries, do not appear to have been much
affected by the revived paganism of the sixteenth century; the details
were debased and incongruous, but the _things_ remained unaltered _in
principle_,—rood lofts were erected, choirs were stalled, cruciform
churches, with aisles and lateral and lady chapels, and transepts, were
the general type followed,[1] and screens for choirs, side chapels, and
altars were universal. But gradually, from the adoption of the details
of classic antiquity, the buildings themselves became objects of
imitation, till revived paganism displayed its full absurdity in the
substitution of a temple of Jupiter for a church of the crucified
Redeemer in the huge _room_ called the Madeleine. Designed by infidels,
built by infidels, and suited only for infidel purposes, and then turned
over, for want of another use, to become a church!

The very decorations are an insult to Christianity; an ambitious
conqueror, set up as a deity, occupying the place of our divine Redeemer
himself, a mockery and a terrible blasphemy against that God to whose
service the place has been unfortunately devoted; moreover, this
monument of absurd impiety has been raised at a greater cost than what
would have produced one of the fairest churches of mediæval
construction, and it is so practically unsuited for even the ordinary
requirements of a church, that there are no means for hanging bells, but
a vain attempt was made of suspending them in the roof, where they
stunned all _within_ the building, and were inaudible to those
_without_, for whose benefit they were intended, and, after a short
trial, they were finally removed.

I have been induced to speak particularly of this edifice, as it is the
beau ideal of a modern church in the minds of those who are opposed to
screens; for the principles of these men, worked out to their legitimate
ends, are subversive of every tradition and the whole system of
ecclesiastical architecture. Screens are, in truth, the very least part
of the cause of their animosity to the churches of their Fathers, for if
any man says he loves pointed architecture, and hates screens, I do not
hesitate to denounce him as a liar, for one is inseparable from the
other, and _more_, inseparable from _Catholic arrangement in any style_,
Byzantine, Norman, Pointed, or debased. We have now to contend for the
great principles of Catholic antiquity,—tradition and reverence against
modern development and display. It is not a struggle for taste or
ornament, but a contention for _vital principles_. There is a most
intimate connection between the externals of religion and the faith
itself; and it is scarcely possible to preserve the interior faith in
the doctrine of the holy eucharist if all exterior reverence and respect
is to be abolished.

"There is no higher act in the Christian religion," says Father Le Brun,
"than the Sacrifice of the Mass; the greater portion of the other
sacraments, and nearly all the offices and ceremonies of the church, are
only the means or the preparation to celebrate or participate in it
worthily." Such being the case, it is but natural that the place where
this most holy sacrifice is to be offered up, should be set apart and
railed off from less sacred portions of the church, and we find this to
have been the case in all ages, in all styles, and in all countries
professing the Catholic faith down to a comparatively very recent
period, when in many places all feelings of sanctity, tradition, and
reverence, seemed to have been superseded by ignorant innovation and
love of change.

It will be shown in this work that the idea of room-worship, and the
all-seeing principles, is a perfect novelty. Those indeed who would make
the mass _a sight_, are only to be compared to the innovators of the
16th century, who made it essential to be _heard_; those who compiled
the Book of Common Prayer converted the mass into all-hearing service;
this was the great object of the vernacular change, that people might
_hear_ the priest; they were to be edified by what he _said_, more than
what he _did_; the sacrificial act was merged into the audible
recitation of prayers and exhortations; for this reason the altars, in
the reign of Edward the Sixth, were to be moved down from their eastern
position to the entrance of the chancel, to enable the people to hear;
this led to the demolition of stone altars and the substitution of
tables. For this reason the whole congregation crowd into the choirs of
the cathedrals, leaving the rest of the church deserted. For this
reason, in large parochial churches, the chancel has been often entirely
cut off, and a portion of the nave glazed in and reduced to such a size
that the people could hear the clergyman; these were all natural
consequences of the change of principle consequent on the translation of
the mass, and the altered nature of its celebration. That churches are
now built after the old tradition for the service of the separated
portion of the English Church, is purely owing to an internal revival of
Catholic feelings and traditions in that body: the cause is a return to
Catholic truth and reverence; the effect is the erection of churches in
accordance with those feelings. It has been a charge and reproach made
by Catholics against their separated countrymen, that the old fabrics
were unsuited to their service, and unquestionably, on the principle
that it was essential for _every one to hear_, they were so. But I will
ask these new-fashioned men if it is indispensable for _every one to
see_, how much better are they adapted for modern Catholic rites? They
become as unfit for one as the other, for it is unquestionable, that
comparatively very few persons in these cruciform churches could obtain
a view of the altar, and this _independent of any screen-work_, the
disposition of the pillars intersecting and shutting out all those who
are stationed in the aisles and transepts.

I have always imagined that one great distinction between the Protestant
and Catholic services was this, that the former was essentially a
_hearing_ service, at which only a comparatively few persons could
assist, while at the latter many thousands, or, indeed, hundreds of
thousands could unite in one great act of adoration and praise,
concentrating their thoughts and intentions with the priest who is
offering at God's altar, although he is far shut off from their vision.

_Real Protestants_ have always built rooms for their worship, or walled
up the old churches, when they have fallen into their possession, into
four or five distinct spaces, as in Scotland. But the separated church
of England, though Protestant in position, in name, and in practice, has
retained so much of the old traditions in her service, and is linked by
so many ties to older and better times, that she naturally turns back to
them with affection and reverence, and seeks, as far as her maimed rites
and fettered position will admit, to restore the departed glory of the
sanctuary. Few persons are aware that the choirs of three of the English
cathedrals were completely restalled, and after the old arrangements, by
the munificence of churchmen in the seventeenth century; moreover, the
completion of some towers and extensive works date from the same period.
It is a consoling fact, that the cathedrals of England retain more of
their old Catholic arrangements and fittings than most of those on the
continent: and as regards the fabricks, they have suffered less injury,
and have preserved their original character most wonderfully.
Architecturally, we must certainly admit that the Anglicans have been
good tenants of the old fabricks; we must not test them by the works of
preceding centuries, but by the corresponding period; and when we
reflect on the debased state of design and art that prevailed, even in
those countries which were nominally exclusively Catholic, we may be
thankful that our great religious edifices have been so well handed down
to our own times, when the recognition of their beauty and grandeur is
daily increasing.[2] I have dilated on this subject, for if the
lingering remains of Catholic traditions which have been so imperfectly
preserved since the separation of England in the sixteenth century, have
yet produced such edifying results, how much more have we reason to
expect from those who should possess them in all their fullness! and how
heart-rending, how deplorable, how scandalous is it to behold (as, sad
to say, we have now fearful examples) even priests of the very temple
combining, by word and deed, to break down the carved work of the
sanctuary, and destroying the barriers erected by ancient reverence and

But to return, I cannot too strongly impress on the minds of my readers
that the very _vitals_ of Catholic architecture are assailed by the
opponents of screens.

Those who complain of not being able to see in a Pointed church should
have assisted at an ancient service in a Roman basilica; the altar
surrounded by pillars sustaining veils and curtains, and covered by a
ciborium, was placed in _front_ of the celebrant, of whom nothing could
be discerned by the congregation except an occasional glimpse of his
head; the space behind the altar was reserved for the bishop and his
presbyters, while in front was the choir for those who sung, walled
round to a considerable height, averaging five feet, and within, or
occasionally outside, this space, were the ambones for the epistle and
gospel, marble rostrums, ascended by steps, and usually of large
dimensions; moreover, the basilicæ were constructed with aisles, like
pointed churches, so that not one-tenth part of the congregation could
have seen either the celebrant or the mensæ of the altar. And although
it does not appear that the Latin church has purposely excluded the
sight of the altar from the people, yet from the beginning the canonical
arrangement of her sacred edifices has had the practical effect of
cutting off its view from a very large portion of the assisting faithful.

Christians of the present time have but little idea of the solemnity of
the ancient worship of the Catholic church; ordained ministers were
alone permitted to fill the humblest offices about the sanctuary, every
object connected with the sacred rites were considered deserving of the
most loving care; even in the very early ages, the vessels of the altar
were usually of precious metals, and studded with jewels. The books of
the holy gospels were written in golden text on purple vellum, bound in
plates of silver encasing ivory diptychs, and deposited in portable
shrines, like relics. Though all this should fill us with admiration,
there is nothing to excite surprise, when we reflect on the very sacred
nature of the Christian mysteries—no sign typical and prophetic, as
under the Mosaic law, but our blessed Lord truly present and abiding in
the temple in the holy sacrament of the altar,—it is by no means
wonderful that the Christian worship should assume a form of solemnity
formerly unknown, and we are only astounded that with the perpetuation
of the doctrine the practice of external solemnity should have so
lamentably become decayed in the latter times; indeed, so sacred, so
awful, so mysterious is the sacrifice of the mass, that if men were
seriously to reflect on what it really consists, so far from advocating
mere rooms for its celebration, they would hasten to restore the
reverential arrangements of Catholic antiquity, and instead of striving
for front seats and first places, they would hardly feel worthy to
occupy the remotest corner of the temple. The form and arrangement of
the ancient churches originated from the deepest feelings of reverence;
the altar, or place of sacrifice, was accessible only to those who
ministered, it was enclosed by pillars and veils; the sanctuary was
veiled, the choir was enclosed, and the faithful adored at a respectful
distance. All this, and the custom of every succeeding century, is in
utter opposition to the modern all-seeing principle, and which, if it is
carried out, ends in an absurd conclusion; for if it be essential for
every worshipper to see, even a _level room_ would not answer the
purpose, and the floor must be raised like an amphitheatre to elevate
the receding _spectators_, for unless the people be thus raised, they
form a far greater barrier than any screen-work; and even at St. Peter's
itself, when the Pope celebrates, there is a living screen of Swiss
troops and noble guards that effectually shuts out the sight of what is
going on, except to those taking part in the functions, or a favoured
few, who by means of gold or interest are seated in raised loggia. If
religious ceremonies are to be regarded as spectacles they should be
celebrated in regular theatres, which have been expressly invented for
the purpose of accommodating great assemblages of persons to hear and
see well. It has been most justly said, that there is no legitimate
halting-place between Catholic doctrine and positive infidelity, and I
am quite certain that there is none between a church built on Christian
tradition and symbolism and Covent Garden Theatre with its pit, boxes,
and gallery.[3] It is only by putting the question in this forcible
contrast that persons can really understand the danger of these new
notions, or the lengths to which they may eventually lead; and I trust
it may be the means of raising a feeling of the greatest repugnance to
them in the hearts of every true Catholic.

As regards screens, I believe there are no portions of church
architecture the origin and intention of which are less understood, and
I have seen most absurd and contradictory arguments brought forward in
their defence as well as by their assailants; they have originated from
a natural as well as a symbolical intention,—it is a natural principle
to enclose any portion of a building or space which is set apart from
public use and access, and when such a boundary is erected round the
place of sacrifice in a church, it teaches the faithful to reverence the
seat of the holy mysteries, and to worship in humility.

From the earliest times the choirs and sanctuaries of the Christian
churches were separated off from the rest of the building by open
metal-work and dwarf marble walls, and at the present day, in those
churches where the old screen-work has been destroyed by debased tastes
or revolutionary violence, it has invariably been replaced by high iron
railings, as indispensably necessary for the order and discipline of the
church; and though these railings are meagre in effect and prison-like
in appearance, they are screens to all intents and purposes, and serve
like their more ornamental prototypes to exclude unauthorized persons
from the sacred enclosures.

The choirs of the early Christian churches, which were all frequented by
the people, were enclosed by open screens, like trellis-work, usually
made of brass, and this principle has descended through all ages in
churches destined for _parochial worship_ and _the use of the people_,
while in cathedral, collegiate, and conventual churches, which were
intended more especially for the use of ecclesiastics, the solid screens
were invariable, not only across the nave but round the choir, so that
the canons and religious were completely enclosed. The introduction of
these close screens was coeval with the commencement of the long
offices, and were positively necessary for those who were compelled to
remain so many hours in choir, and who would have been unable to resist
the cold if exposed to the free passage of the currents of air which
prevail in these large edifices.[4]

But, like every object generated in necessity, the church soon turned
them to a most edifying account, and while the great screen was adorned
with the principal events of our Lord's life and passion, surmounted by
the great rood, the lateral walls were carved with edifying sculptures
and sacred histories, many of which still remain, as at Notre Dame,
Paris, Amiens, Chartres, Auch, &c. I do not think that the theory, which
some writers have advanced, of these _close_ screens being erected to
increase the mystery of the celebration, and to procure greater respect
for the sacrifice, is tenable; the mass is not more holy in one church
or one altar than another, and it is most certain that no parochial
churches, built as such, ever had close screens, but always open ones;
and, indeed, we very often find altars erected outside these close
screens of cathedral and conventual churches, for the benefit of the
people, as will be seen by the plates given in this work, which would
involve a complete contradiction in principle, supposing the high altar
to be hid on symbolical grounds. The _close_ screens belong properly to
the choir rather than the altar, as in many Italian churches served by
religious, the clergy sat behind the screen, while the altar is partly
without, so that the celebration served for both the religious and the

At Durham Abbey, the Jesus altar was outside of the great screen; and at
St. Alban's Abbey, in the screen which traverses the nave, there are the
evident marks of an altar which doubtless served for the parochial mass.

It will be seen from these remarks that close screens, as a principle,
are only suitable for churches intended for cathedral chapters or
conventual and collegiate bodies; and they are certainly most unsuitable
for any churches to be erected in this country under existing
circumstances, where the limited extent of means and number of the
clergy render it necessary for all services to be available for the
faithful in general, and the bishops' churches, like the original
basilicæ, to be in a manner parochial.

But as regards open screens the case is widely different; they existed
under the form of trellis (opere reticulato) in the oldest churches,
and, in succeeding centuries not only was every chancel and choir
enclosed by them, but each chapel, and even altar; they were to be found
in every parochial church, either of metal, stone, or wood; in Germany,
Flanders, and the North, metal was the usual material, but in England
and France stone and wood, while in Italy and the South they were
usually composed partly of marble and partly of metal. But their use was
universal, they commenced many centuries _before the introduction of
pointed architecture_, and _they have survived its decline_; in fact,
they belong to the first principles of Catholic _reverence and order_,
and _not to any particular style_, though, like everything else
connected with the church, they attained their greatest beauty in the
mediæval period.

The church of San Michele, at Florence, contains an altar erected in the
fourteenth century, in honour of a venerated picture of the Blessed
Virgin; it is a most interesting example of a detached altar surrounded
by a screen. Like all the Italian mediæval works, it is exquisitely
beautiful in detail, and admirable in the sculptured enrichments; it is
entirely surrounded by a screen, partly composed of bronze and partly of
marble, divided in open panels of pointed tracery; this supports a
cresting, with prickets for tapers, and at the four angles are images of
angels bearing metal candlesticks of elegant design. In order to convey
a more perfect idea of this beautiful and decorated altar, I have
figured it among the illustrations. In Ciampini's great work, "Vetera
Monimenta," are plates of some of the altars which stood in old St.
Peter's Church, at Rome, enclosed by brass screens, surrounded by
standards for lights; and as a proof of the extent of this traditional
enclosure of altars, when Antwerp Cathedral was restored to Catholic
worship, after its pillage by the Calvinists in the sixteenth century,
there not only was a great marble screen and rood loft restored across
the choir, but a new range of altars having been set up against the
pillars of the nave, each altar was enclosed by an open brass screen
about six feet high, supported on a marble base, as may be most
distinctly seen in a view of the church painted at the time by Peter
Neefs, still preserved at Bicton House, near Sidmouth, and from which I
have made the drawing etched in this work. I consider these authorities
rather important, as when this church was restored for the Catholic
worship all feeling for pointed design had been superseded by Italian;
but change of detail had not then produced change of sentiment, and I
shall clearly show that Catholic traditions, in this respect, have
survived all changes of form and ornament.

It is, therefore, these open railings, or screen-work, for which we
contend as an essential characteristic of Catholic reverence in the
enclosure of chancels, chapels, and altars; practically, they prevent
any irreverence or intrusion in the sacred places at those times when no
celebration or office is going on; and symbolically, they impress on the
minds of the faithful the great sanctity of all connected with the
sacrifice of the altar, and that, like the vicinity of the "burning
bush," the ground itself is holy. Wherever this screen or enclosures
have been removed, as in some modernized churches of Italy and France,
distressing irreverence has been the consequence; and, on more than one
occasion, I have seen an altar turned into a hat-stand within a few
minutes after the holy sacrifice had been offered up upon it, while
animals defile the frontals, and lazzaroni lounge on the steps.

These screens serve also for a most edifying purpose; while the
principal one across the chancel or choir sustains the great rood, with
its attendant imagery and ornaments, the lateral enclosures are
surmounted by ranges of metal standards for lights, to burn on great
feasts, while the mouldings and bratishings are enriched with texts and
sacred devices.

The rest of this work may be considered only as a justification and
proof of what I have advanced in this brief essay, viz.—1st. That open
screens and enclosures of choirs and chancels have existed from the
earliest known period of Christian churches down to the present century,
that they form an essential part of Catholic tradition and reverence,
and that no church intended for Catholic worship can be complete without
them. 2nd. That their introduction belongs to no particular period or
style, and that their partial disuse was not consequent on the decline
of pointed architecture, but to the decay of reverence for the sacred
mysteries themselves, as I have found screens of all styles and dates.
3rd. That closed screens are only now suited to conventual and
collegiate churches in this country, the cathedrals being required for
the worship of the people, from whom the view of the altar has never
been purposely concealed. 4th. That those who oppose the revival and
continuance of open screens are not only enemies of Catholic traditions
and practices, but the grounds of their objections militate as strongly
against every symbolic form and arrangement in ecclesiastical
architecture, and, therefore, till they retract their opposition they
are practically insulting the traditions of the church, impeding the
restoration of reverence and solemnity, and injuring the progress of

[1] The church of St. Eustache, Paris, is a striking example of a
pointed church, both in plan, disposition, and proportion, carried out
in Italian detail; but even much later, the churches of St. Roch and St.
Sulpice, in the same city, were constructed on Catholic traditions,
although all trace of the ancient detail has disappeared; they are
_cruciform_, _choral_, and _absidal_, with _aisles_ and chapels, a
clerestory, and vaulting supported by flying buttresses, and the latter
has even two great western towers for bells. Notwithstanding their
debased detail, these edifices have still the character of churches, and
are adapted by their _arrangement_ for the celebration of Catholic rites.

[2] I trust to be able before long to put forth an impartial statement
relative to the destruction of Catholic edifices and ornaments
consequent on the change of religion in England. After the most patient
investigation, I have been compelled to adopt the conclusion, that the
most fearful acts of destruction and spoliation were committed by men
who had not only been educated in the ancient faith, but who were
contented externally to profess its doctrines. I had originally fallen
into popular errors on these matters in some of my early publications,
and it is but an act of justice to affix the odium of the sacrilege on
those who were really guilty. I feel quite satisfied that one of the
most urgent wants of the time is a real statement of the occurrences
connected with the establishment of Protestantism and the loss of the
ancient faith; of course, I have to treat the subject in an
architectural view, but still I trust to bring forward many facts that
may lead to a better understanding and more charity on both sides, for
we may all exclaim, "Patres nostri pecaverunt et non sunt, _et nos
iniquitates eorum portavimus_."

[3] I have been credibly informed, that an amphitheatre was deliberately
proposed, a few years since, as the best form of a Catholic church for

[4] These enclosures were also to prevent the distraction which large
bodies of people moving about the church might occasion to the



It is most certain (writes the learned Thiers) that in the three first
centuries there were churches, that is to say, places set apart for the
faithful to meet in prayer and assist at the holy sacrifice; but we have
no record respecting the internal arrangements of those places, which
often were mere rooms in private houses, hence it is impossible to say
whether any separation existed in them between the people and the clergy.

But from the time of Constantine's conversion, it is beyond doubt that
the choirs were divided off from the other portion of the church by
veils or screens. Eusebius describes the choir of the Church of the
Apostles, erected by Constantine at Constantinople, as enclosed by
screens, or trellis-work, marvellously wrought.—"Interiorem ædis partem
undique in ambitum circumductam, _reticulato opere_ ex ære et auro
affabre facto convestivit."

The same writer thus speaks of the choir of the Church of Tyre, built
and consecrated by the Bishop Paulinus:—"Porro sanctuario hoc modo
absoluto et perfecto, thronisque quibusdam in altissimo loco ad Præsidum
ecclesiæ honorem collocatis, et subselliis præterea undique ordine
dispositis, decore eximieque exornato, altarique undique tanquam Sancto
Sanctorum in medio sanctuarii sito, ista rursus, ut a plebe et
multitudine eo non posset accedi, cancellis ex ligno fabricatis
circumdedit, qui adeo artificiosa solertia ad summum elaborati sunt, ut
mirabile spectaculum intuentibus exhibeant."

The emperor Theodosius divides the church into three parts:—"Sacro
sanctum Altare _Cancellis Clausum_, quadratum Templi oratorium murorum
ambitu circumseptum, et locum residuum usque ad ecclesiæ fores
exteriores." And St. Paulinus, Bishop of Nola, describes three doors in
the screens of the Church of St. Felix.

Trinaque Cancellis currentibus ostia pandunt.

Among the decrees of the Second Council of Tours, in 557, it is ordered
that lay persons are not to enter the chancel which is divided off by
screens, except to receive the holy communion:—"Ut Laici secus altare,
quo sancta mysteria celebrantur, inter Clericos, tam ad vigilias, quam
ad Missas, stare penitus non præsumant; sed pars illa _quæ a Cancellis
versus Altare dividitur_, Choris tantum psallentium pateat Clericorum.
Ad orandum vero et communicandum laicis et feminis, sicut mos est,
pateant Sancta Sanctorum."

St. Germanus, patriarch of Constantinople, thus explains the intention
and meaning of the choir screens:—"Cancelli locum orationis designant,
quojusque extrinsecus populus accedit. Intrinsecus autem sunt Sancta
Sanctorum solis Sacerdotibus pervia. Sunt autem revera ad piam memoriam
_Cancelli ænei_,[5] nequis simpliciter et temere ingrediatur."

The space enclosed by these screens in those churches where the aisles
extended round the choir was entered by three double gates, those to the
west, at the lower end of the choir, were called "the holy doors," the
others were placed between the choir and the sanctuary, on the epistle
and gospel sides. But in smaller churches, where the chancel alone forms
the eastern extremity, there was only one pair of gates, or holy doors,
at the west, and this most ancient arrangement has continued down to the
present day, even in churches that have been fitted up with modern iron

From the authorities above quoted, which are some cited by Father
Thiers, in his treatise, Sur le Cloture des Chœurs, it will be seen that
open screens existed from the earliest erection of churches, and that
they were composed of wood or metal, most frequently brass. This style
of enclosure prevailed universally in all classes of churches till the
end of the twelfth century, when, in the cathedral and collegiate
churches, they were altered into solid walls, in the manner and for the
reasons before described in the introduction to this work.

In the "Constitutions" of the great St. Charles Borromeo, which were of
course subsequent to the Council of Trent, are the following interesting
decrees relative to the enclosure of altars:—


The place of the choir (since it ought to be by the high altar, whether
it surround it from before, as the ancient custom was, or it be behind,
because either the site of the church, or the position of the altar, or
the custom of the place so require) being separated from the space
occupied by the people (as the ancient structures and the nature of the
discipline show) and surrounded by screens, ought to extend so far, both
in length and breadth, where the space of the site allows of it (even to
the form of a semicircle, or some other shape, according to the
character of the church or chapel, in the judgment of the architect), as
to correspond fitly in capaciousness, as well as in becoming adornment,
to the dignity of the church, and the number of the clergy.


The high altar ought to be so placed as that there shall be between the
lowest step to it and _the screen-work by which it is, or is to be,
fenced_, a space of eight cubits, and even more where possible, and the
size of the church requires it for its proper adornment.


It was the custom of the primitive church, and long afterwards, to sing
the Epistle and Gospel from two stone pulpits placed at the lower end of
the choir, from whence they could be conveniently heard by the people;
and from this reason they were termed "ambones." Of these, many examples
are remaining in the ancient basilicas, especially at San Lorenzo, San
Clemente, &c., at Rome. These pulpits were also used for chanting the
lessons of the Divine Office, and from the reader asking a blessing
before commencing with, Jubé Domine Benedicite, they were commonly
called "jubés," which name was retained when those pulpits were exalted
into a lofty gallery reaching across the choir.

It is difficult to affix the precise period when the transverse jubés,
or rood lofts, were first erected, but they must be of very great
antiquity, as that of St. Sophia at Constantinople was large enough to
enable the emperors to be crowned in it, a function which would require
space for a considerable number of persons.

The French kings always ascended the jubé of Rheims Cathedral at their
coronation; and on the accession of Charles X., as the ancient rood loft
had been demolished, a temporary one was erected for the solemnity of
his coronation.

These jubés were usually erected on a solid wall to the choir, and
pillars with open arches towards the nave; and under them there was
usually one or more altars for the parochial mass.

They were usually ascended by two staircases, either in circular
turrets[6] or carried up in the thickness of the wall, which was
generally the case in England.

Occasionally we find altars were erected in the lofts, under the foot of
the cross; such was the case at Vienne, in the Church of St. Maurice,
where the parochial altar was in the centre of the rood loft, and the
Blessed Sacrament was also reserved there Sub titulo crucis.


1.—The GREAT CRUCIFIX and ROOD, with its attendant images, stood always
in the centre of the loft.

The cross was usually framed of timber, richly carved, painted, and
gilt; at its extremities the four Evangelists were depicted, and
frequently on the reverse the four doctors of the church. The
Evangelists were sometimes represented as sitting figures in the act of
writing, but more frequently under the form of the apocalyptical
symbols. The extremities of the cross usually terminated in
fleur-de-lys, and its sides were foliated or crocketed.

The Blessed Virgin and St. John were the almost invariable
accompaniments of the crucifix, but cherubim were occasionally added. As
these Roods were of great weight, their support was assisted by
wrought-iron chains, depending from the great stone arch on the entrance
to the choir and chancel, and the staples for these chains are
frequently to be seen in churches from which the Roods have been removed.

2.—LECTERNS for the Epistle, Gospel, and Lessons. These lecterns were
either moveable brass stands, like those in choirs, or marble desks,
forming part of the masonry of the design: these are still left in many
churches on the continent. Those at the Frairi at Venice are most
beautiful, and, to come nearer home, in a rood loft at Tatershall Church
is a curiously-moulded stone desk for the reader of the lessons.


Coronels of silver or other metal were suspended on all the great rood
lofts, and filled with lighted tapers, on solemn feasts. The maintenance
of the rood lights was a frequent and somewhat heavy item in the old
churchwardens' accounts, as will be seen by extracts published in this

At Bourges there were twenty-four brass basins, with prickets for
tapers, which the bishops used to supply at their own cost.

The Blessed Sacrament was usually exposed from the rood loft. The
exposition on the high altar of Lyons Cathedral was mentioned as
occurring for the first time in the year 1701. All the solemn
expositions at Rouen took place from one of the altars under the rood
loft, and there is every reason to believe that the Blessed Sacrament
was usually exposed either on the rood lofts or the altars attached to
them; but these expositions were only at considerable intervals of time,
and only permitted on some great and urgent occasion, and they were then
conducted with the greatest possible solemnity, as may be seen in the
account given by De Moleon of the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament at
the Cathedral, Rouen. Branches of trees were commonly set up in these
rood lofts at Christmas and Whitsuntide, and they were also occasionally
decorated with flowers.

The principal use of these lofts was for the solemn singing of the
Epistle and Gospel; but, as I have said before, the lessons and the
great antiphons, &c., were also chanted from them. In the Greek Church,
the deacon read the diptychs from the rood loft, and formerly warned the
catechumens and the penitents to depart before the mass, crying out
Sancta Sanctis! The fronts of the old rood lofts were frequently most
richly decorated with paintings or sculptures of sacred history, divided
into panels or niches, surmounted by a rich bratishing of open
tracery-work and foliage.

THE ROOD BEAM.—In the generality of wooden screens, the breastsumer of
the screen forms the beam on which the rood is fixed and tennanted; but
there are instances where the beam is fixed at some height above the
top, as at Little Malvern, the intervening space being filled in with
some tracery, or enrichment. The position of this beam gave rise to a
very ludicrous mistake on the part of one of the recent screen
opponents, who cited this church as an example of a mere beam to sustain
a rood without a screen; but unfortunately for his argument, the screen
itself is still standing beneath, in its original position. In Italy, at
Milan, Sienna, Ovieto, and several of the larger churches, there is only
a beam sustaining the rood, with images of the Blessed Virgin and St.
John. Some of them are ornamental in design, but I do not think any of
them older than the sixteenth century. There are several examples in
France, but all comparatively modern; but in the Domkirche, at Lubeck,
there is a most remarkable example of a rood beam, that merits a
particular description. The beam itself is composed of a great many
pieces of timber, deeply moulded and carved, and enriched with pendent
tracery and crocketed braces. It stretches across the nave in the
westernmost arch, on a line with transept, the rood screen being across
the easternmost one.

The cross is covered with open tracery, and crocketed; each crocket is
an expanding flower, from which the bust of a prophet issues, bearing a
scroll with a prophecy relative to our Lord's passion. The same images
are carved at the extremities of the four great quatrefoils, containing
the emblems of the Evangelists. The images of the Blessed Virgin, St.
John, St. Mary Magdalen, and the bishop at whose cost the work was set
up, are placed on the beam: the two latter are kneeling. Between these,
the dead are seen arising from their graves; and in either angle, on a
corbel, an angel of justice and mercy. Beyond these, on the piers of the
church, are two images of Adam and Eve; and a host of smaller angels and
images complete the personages of this most extraordinary work. Some of
the images are rather barbarous, but the foliage and details are
exquisitely wrought, and the whole design is most striking and original.

There are rood beams at Nuremberg, but the originality of that in St.
Lawrence's Church is rather doubtful,—though the antiquity of the rood
itself is certain. Each arm of the cross ramifies into three branches,
at the extremities of which are angels, with chalices, and on the top
branch a pelican.

Gervase, the monk of Canterbury, in his description of that cathedral,
makes the following statement: Under the great tower was erected the
altar of the holy cross, and a screen which separated the tower from the
nave: a _beam_ was laid across, and upon the middle of this beam a great
cross, with images of the Blessed Virgin and St. John, and two cherubim.

There is a rood beam of some antiquity at the church of Séran, near
Gisors. It is placed across the westernmost arch of the central tower.
And the same may be remarked in several of the Normandy churches; but in
some cases they stand considerably above the top of the screen; while in
others the screens have been removed at a very recent period, probably
that of the great revolution.

_From the Instructiones Fabricæ of S. Charles Borromeo._

Under the vaulted arch of the chancel in every church, especially
parochial churches, let a cross, having thereon the image of Christ,
devoutly and becomingly made of wood, or any other material, be exposed,
and conveniently placed.

But if, on account of the great depression of the arch or vaulting, it
cannot be placed so well there, then let it be put up against the wall,
over the arch, under the ceiling; or let it be placed over the chancel

[5] The custom of using brass for the material of choir screens is to be
traced to a very late period, as at St. Gatier, at Tours; Cathedral,
Rouen; and in many of the Flemish cathedrals.

[6] The only instance I have found in England of circular staircases to
a rood loft, inside the church, is at Ely, before the old alterations of
the choir.


I commence with Italy, first, because it has been the fountain from
whence Catholic truth has flowed to other parts of Christendom, and
secondly, as I believe it is a very general delusion that screens formed
no part of the fittings of a Roman church.

As an overwhelming contradiction to this often-repeated error, I produce
a representation of the great screen in old St. Peter's, from the most
irrefragable authority,[7] from which it will be seen that a _double_
marble wall was erected, about six feet high, and twelve feet apart,
that on these walls stood twelve porphyry pillars, supporting a
transverse cornice surmounted with standards for lights. Moreover, at
the neck of these pillars, under the cap, rods were extended for the
suspension of lamps, which were kept perpetually burning in honour of
the Apostles, whose relics lay beneath the high altar.

This altar, as will be seen by the plan, stood considerably within the
screen, surrounded by pillars, and covered by a ciborium. The back of
the altar is turned towards the nave, with a cross and candlesticks upon
it, and must have effectually concealed the celebrant from the people;
behind all this is seen the great apse, with the cathedra for the pope,
mosaic ceiling, and usual decorations.

This is the most important authority for the use of screens in the
ancient Roman church; and the dignity and sanctity of the old basilica
of St. Peter was so great, that it would be naturally considered as the
type for other churches; moreover, if we except the details which belong
to the early period of its erection, it is a perfect type of a Pointed
screen,—convert the twelve pillars into shafts, surmount them with
arches, and terminate them by a bratishing, and we have a work of the
mediæval period. It is also exceedingly interesting to observe that this
screen is surmounted by standards for wax tapers, and many lamps were
suspended from it. The most modern screens of the seventeenth and
eighteenth century still preserve these features, and the traditional
arrangement has lasted from the reign of the emperor Constantine down to
our time. It will be seen by the plate which represents the screen, that
the altar is covered with an elevated ciborium, raised on four pillars,
connected by rods, from which veils of silk and precious stuffs were
suspended. It may be useful to remark, that, although as I have before
said, the altar itself was never shut off purposely from the sight of
the people, yet it is most certain that all altars were provided with
these veils or curtains, which were closely drawn during the
consecration. There is especial mention of the gifts of such curtains by
the early popes to the altars of churches in Rome;[8] and though this
rite has been long disused, yet the lateral curtains, suspended on rods,
which still hang in many continental churches, are remains of the
ancient reverential practice. It is greatly to be desired that these
ciborium altars were more generally revived in our times, especially for
the reservation of the holy sacrament. Their vaulted coverings are not
only most majestic in appearance, but they are practically useful in
preventing the deposition of dust on the altar and tabernacle. In all
cases, side curtains should be retained for altars in lateral chapels,
as they preserve the celebrant from distraction, and protect the tapers,
&c., from currents of air. But to answer these ends, it is essential
that the curtains should be suspended nearly at right angles to the
reredos, and not expanded flat against the walls, as may be seen in some
churches of our own time.


This screen, which is still standing, is probably not older than the
sixteenth century. It is composed of an elevated basement of marble,
about five feet high, and divided above this into compartments, by
square pillars of marble, supporting an entablature, and the spaces
between them being filled by a bronze grating of crossing bars, making a
total height of above 12 feet. On the top of the entablature are metal
standards for tapers.

Father Bonanni, who wrote in the seventeenth century, describes the
chapel as arranged in the following manner:—1. The altar. 2. The pope's
throne. 3. The benches for the cardinals and prelates. 4. An enclosed
space for the religious and officers of the pope's court. 5. A sort of
balustrade which separates these portions from the laity: at the top of
this balustrade are placed four, six, or seven tapers, according to the
solemnity of the time.

The term balustrade has been usually applied by old writers to screens,
and must not be understood in the modern acceptation, of signifying a
sort of rail hand high; in this instance we have a clear proof to the
contrary, for the screen termed a balustrade is still standing, and,
with the exception of the style of pillars and mouldings, is very
similar to those erected in Pointed churches. Trevoux, in his great
dictionary, has the following explanation of the word: "Balustre also
signifies those small _pillars_ to shut off the alcove in a room, or the
chancel of a church or chapel. Columellæ, Cancelli, &c." In this sense
they are always to be understood when mentioned by old writers in
reference to church architecture. Low balustrades, or rails, were
unknown to antiquity. The enclosures were always of a sufficient height
to prevent persons getting over them, and the low rails round altars,
are, in England, a pure Protestant introduction, and originated in the
necessity of preventing the gross irreverence offered by the Puritan
party to the holy tables, on which they frequently sat during the
sermon. If the word balustrade as used by French and Italian writers, be
not thoroughly understood, it must lead to a misconception of the old
arrangements. Pistolezi, in his great work on the Vatican, describes
this screen as a balustrade; his words are as follows:—"La Capella—e
divisa in due spartamenti, il minore, che della Porta alla _Balustrata_
de marmore si estende, _serve per i Laici_," &c.


Has a wall in the same position as the screen of the Sistine chapel,
about five feet high, surmounted by pillars, bearing candelabra for
large wax tapers, but the spaces between these are open. This was set up
in the pontificate of Pius VI.


The marble enclosure of the choir is four feet six inches high; the
floor of this choir is two steps above the nave. Between this choir and
the sanctuary is a cross wall of marble, six feet high, with an opening
in the centre, through which only the back of the altar can be
discerned, as the basilica is turned to the west. It will be readily
perceived by these arrangements, that although no ornamental screen-work
existed, yet, practically, the sanctuary is far more shut out than in
Pointed parochial churches, where the solid panelling rarely exceeds
three feet six inches; and it must be admitted, that, if the first few
feet were built up solid, as at San Clemente, it is a matter of little
consequence, as regards facilities of seeing, whether this base is
surmounted by open work, or terminated by a cornice.

The original fittings and choral arrangements of the greater part of the
ancient churches at Rome have been entirely modernized, with a view to
their embellishment, during the revived Pagan period. Indeed, this city
has been singularly unfortunate. During the prevalence of Christian art,
it was almost deserted, and even the Popes resided at Avignon, in a
pointed palace of stupendous dimensions and design. But on their return,
the new and corrupt ideas of art had arisen, and so much money was
expended in rebuilding and altering the ancient edifices, that Rome
possesses far less interesting ecclesiastical buildings than many
comparatively small cities of Italy, and it is impossible to form the
least idea of the beauty of Italian mediæval art, without visiting those
places that have had the advantages of poverty and neglect, and the
consequent preservation of the ancient and appropriate fittings.


This remarkable screen is of marble, about seven feet high, cut like a
panelled wall. A flight of steps ascends on each side behind the screen,
to an elevated platform, from which rise the steps and ciborium of the
altar; on this same level the Epistle and Gospel were sung by the deacon
and sub-deacon, from marble desks enriched with carvings, and fixed on
the entablature of the screens. There are two twisted candlesticks for
tapers, and it is probable that originally there were a greater number.
The altar, as usual, has its back turned towards the people; so that
this truly ancient and interesting church is in diametrical opposition
to the all-seeing principle of modern times.

I have figured a curious example of an iron screen from a painting in
the cathedral of Sienna, by Pinturicchio. I imagine this sort of metal
trellis screens to have been very common in the Italian churches.[10]

We next proceed to Florence, where the remains of mediæval architecture
are far more extensive and interesting than at Rome. The choir of the
cathedral is immediately under the dome; an octagon subasement supported
a screen of the Doric order, covered with sculptures and bas-reliefs.
This was only removed a few years since, and, in consequence of its
removal, the canons, in order to preserve themselves from the cold air,
usually officiate during the winter months in a glazed chapel, very like
a large counting-house, that has been erected on the north side of the
church. It is, I believe, practically impossible to keep choir in this
church without a screen.


In this church many of the old screens yet remain. They are for the most
part composed of metal trellis-work, supported by wrought uprights, and
terminated by open bratishing. Those on the north side are quite
perfect, and evidently coeval with the fabric.


The altar of the church San Michele, which was erected in a building
originally a corn-market, out of devotion to a picture of our Blessed
Lady, that was depicted against one of the pillars. It is surrounded by
a superb screen of marble and bronze, which will be better understood by
referring to the plate, on which it is figured. The execution of the
sculpture of this altar is most admirable, and the minutest details are
finished with extreme delicacy and care, and many of the panels are
enriched with precious stones and jaspers. The upper part of the screen
supports a richly-moulded brass trough, to receive the drippings of the
numerous tapers offered upon this altar, and for which standards with
prickets are disposed above each mullion or division of the screen. The
whole is in the most perfect state, and offers a splendid example of
mediæval Italian art.


The nave of this gigantic and noble church is alone completed. The choir
at the eastern end is therefore but a temporary erection in the two last
bays. Several of the side chapels are enclosed by Pointed screens,
coeval with the erection of the church. They are composed partly of
wood, and partly of marble and metal; but they are elaborate and lofty,
and quite of the same character as those of the northern churches.


The church of San Antonio has a large screen and rood loft, of
cinque-cento-work, at the entrance of the choir, which is also
surrounded by screen-work, and another screen, of a much older date,
with open arches and tracery-work executed in marble, divides off the
chapel of S. Felice from the main body of the church. The arrangement of
the choir of this remarkable church is very similar to that which
prevailed in the French cathedrals; and some of the churches in Venice
bear a very close resemblance to the Flemish ecclesiastical buildings.

The chapel of Santa Maria dell' Arena, in the same city, remains nearly
in its original state, and exhibits a very curious example of choral
arrangement. The stalls partly return on each side of the entrance, and
are backed by stone walls about four feet high on the inside, and seven
on the outside; the space between them is ascended by steps, and forms a
platform or ambo for the chanting of the Gospel and Epistles, for which
purpose an iron and a marble desk, both of the fourteenth century, still
remain. These form a screen to the choir, and serve as dosells or
reredoses to two altars which are placed against them. There are no
appearances of there ever having been any screen-work above these, but
all above a solid wall seven feet high is of small consequence as
regards facilities of seeing for those in the nave. This chapel was not,
however, parochial, but erected for the use of a confraternity.


The screen of S. Mark has been so often depicted, that it has not been
thought necessary to give a plate for its illustration; but it is a very
fine example of an early Italian screen. Some writers have commonly
described it as Byzantine, but it differs entirely from Greek screens,
which are invariably solid, and entered by three doors; whereas that of
S. Mark is open above the subase, and has only one pair of doors in the
centre. It is a very remarkable work of the period, and decorated with
several marble images above the entablature, executed by early Pisan
sculptors. The images are of a much more recent date than the screen
itself, which is one of the most ancient and best preserved examples of
screens now remaining in Italy.

The church of Frairi, or Santa Maria Gloriosa, contains a very
remarkable choir screen, which I have figured among the plates. It is
composed of marble, and quite solid; the front is divided into
compartments representing the prophets, boldly designed, and carved in
bas-relief; at each end are the ambones for the Epistle and Gospel, with
an angel for the book-bearer.

Beneath the corbels which support these ambones are the four Evangelists
represented seated and writing the Gospels. The corbels themselves are
beautifully wrought with cherubims and angels. The choir stalls within
this screen are of elaborate Gothic-work, and ornamented with skilful
inlay. Altogether, this church is another most striking example, out of
multitudes of others, of the extreme fallacy and absurdity of the modern
notion that Pointed architecture is unsuited to Italy and the south; and
yet we hear this continually put forth in the most positive manner; and
instead of men importing the grand ideas and spirit of those Italian
artists who flourished in the mediæval era, we are inundated with the
wild eccentricities of Bernini, or the more insipid productions of an
even later school.

Not having visited Spain, I am not able to give any account of the
church fittings from personal observation, but I have had an opportunity
of inspecting several accurate drawings made on the spot, and from them
it appears that huge screens of ornamental iron-work, reaching to a vast
height, and elaborate in detail, are by no means uncommon. I have
figured one on a small scale from the cathedral of Toledo, and I have
little doubt that they greatly resemble the choir screens of St. Sernin
at Toulouse, which I have given to a larger scale. This city partakes
most strongly of a Spanish character, which strengthens my supposition
regarding the similarity of the screen-work.

[7] Ciampini, de Sacris Ædificiis, p. xvi. Fontana, Templum Vaticanum,
p. 89. Pistolezi, Il Vaticano Descritto, vol. 7, p. 57. From Professor
Willis's History of Canterbury Cathedral:—"Screen of old St. Peter's, at
Rome.—In front of the steps were placed twelve columns of Parian marble,
arranged in two rows; these were of a spiral form, and decorated with
sculpture of vine leaves: the bases were connected by lattice-work of
metal, or by walls of marble breast high. The entrance was between the
central pillars, where the cancelli, or lattices, were formed into
doors, which gave access to the presbytery as well as the confessionary.
Above these columns were laid beams, or entablatures, upon which were
placed images, candelabra, and other decorations; and, indeed, the
successive Popes seem to have lavished every species of decoration in
gold, silver, and marble-work upon this enclosure and the crypt below.
The entire height, measured to the top of the entablature, was about
thirty feet; the columns, with the connecting lattices and entablatures,
formed, in fact, _the screen of the chancel_."

[8] Anastasius, in his Lives of the Popes, mentions Sergius I., Gregory
III., Adrian I., Leo III., Pascal I., Gregory IV., Sergius II., Leo IV.,
and Nicholas I., as munificent donors of costly veils for the altars of
various churches in Rome, as may be seen at length in Thiers's Traité
des Autels, chap. xiv.

[9] There are five illustrations of this church in an interesting
Italian work, entitled Monumenti della Religione Cristiana.

[10] These pictures are all engraved in a work entitled Raccolta delle
più celebri Pitture di Sienna.

 [Plate II:
 _Elevation of Screen of Old Sᵗ Peters Church at Rome._
   A. _Ciborium of the High Altar._
   B. _The Holy Gates._
   CCC. _Metal lattices._
   EE. _Marble Basement._
   GG. _Rods for Suspending Lamps & offerings in honour of Sᵗ Peter._
   HH. _Standing Candlesticks for great feasts._
 Gates; Plan.]

 [Plate III:
 _Marble Screen in the Basilica of SS Nerei and Achille, at Rome._
 _Iron Screen from an ancient Painting at Sienna representing the life
 of Pius the second, by Pinturicchio._]

 [Plate IV:
 _Marble Screen in the Church of the Frairi, Venice._
 _Detached Altar of Sᵗ Michele, Florence, with its Brass Screen._]



The churches of this ancient city have preserved all their internal
fittings as perfectly as those of Nuremberg, although the Catholic rites
have ceased within them for nearly three centuries. The minutest
ornaments remain intact, and but very trifling additions or alterations
have been made in the original arrangement; accordingly, we find
splendid examples of screens, which I have figured in the adjoining

The first is in the Dom or cathedral. It originally consisted of three
moulded arches, springing from slender quatrefoil shafts, supporting an
open gallery. The choir was entered by two doors under the side arches,
while an altar was erected in the centre compartment, and this
arrangement is almost universal in the German screens, reversing the
custom of France and England, of placing the entrance in the centre,
with two lateral altars. This screen received a considerable quantity of
enrichment in the way of imagery and tabernacle-work in the fifteenth
century; the original arches are probably as old as the early part of
the thirteenth. In Lutheran times, a clock has been added on the epistle
side of this screen, which completely destroys its symmetry and

Two bays westward of this is a gigantic rood, on a beam, described under
rood beams.

Each lateral chapel is enclosed by open screens, most artificially
wrought in brass, and of great variety of design.

The next most important screen at Lubeck is in the Marienkirche. This
screen consists of five bays, or compartments, with crocketed labels and
images in the spandrels; the masonry is of the fourteenth century, but
the upper panels, containing images and paintings, are not older than
the fifteenth. As this was always a parochial church, the arches are all
open, and filled with light brass-work. I examined them most carefully,
and they evidently had been open according to the original design, nor
were there any marks of altars ever standing under them as at _the
cathedral_. The whole choir of this church, as well as the side chapels,
are enclosed with light and beautiful brass screens, and a very
elaborate screen of carved oak, surmounted by open bratishing, and
basins for tapers, divides off the Lady chapel.

The Katherinen Kirche contains a most beautiful rood screen of very
original design.

The church belonged formerly to religious, and the choir is raised some
eighteen or twenty feet above the level of the church floor, supported
by three ranges of vaulting resting on dwarf marble pillars, and forming
a sort of above-ground crypt. Immediately over the front of these
arches, rises the rood loft, fronted by carved panels, most beautifully
painted with sacred images, and terminated in a very bold floriated
bratishing of admirable execution; in the centre is the great rood, with
the Evangelists in floriated quatrefoils, and the attendant images of
our Blessed Lady and St. John, on octagonal pedestals. At the eastern
end of the lower church is an enclosed choir, divided off by three light
metal screens from the parishioners, so the religious and people had
distinct altars, and were entirely separated in the same church—a most
singular and beautiful arrangement.

The great Hospital is constructed like a church, with beds and chambers,
open at top, under three vast roofs, covering a nave and aisles. The
entrance to this is like a fore choir or antechapel, and dedicated for
divine worship. It contains no less than five altars, three of which are
under the arches of three screens, the stonework of which is probably
the oldest in Lubeck, and to which I should assign the date of the
middle of the thirteenth century. The upper part of the loft, consisting
of carved panels and paintings, is a work of the fifteenth century.

It is worthy of remark that, although the Lutheran religion has
exclusively prevailed in this city for several centuries, many of the
branches set up to burn tapers in front of the images in this and other
churches bear the date of 1664, and even later.

St. James's church contains several wooden screens of a remarkably early
date. They are certainly not later than the middle of the thirteenth
century, and are most exquisitely carved with heads of saints,
stringcourses, bratishing, images of doctors and evangelists in
quatrefoils, and in style of art corresponding to the early work in
Wells cathedral.

As this treatise is devoted to the subject of screens, I have confined
my remarks to them, but I must add that I consider the churches of
Lubeck to be the most interesting, as regards fittings and details, of
any ecclesiastical buildings remaining in Europe. There are examples of
metal-work, early painting, and wood-carving, of the thirteenth,
fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries, and the finest monumental brass in
the world, most probably by the same artist as produced the famous one
at St. Alban's, but much larger and more elaborate.


The churches of this city having been completely sacked during the
usurpation of the infamous John of Leyden, present few traces of the
ancient furniture, and they are for the most part fitted up in the
vilest possible taste. But the cathedral has by some good fortune
retained its ancient screen and choir, which, with the exception of the
high altar, remains in its original state. The screen is of stone, most
richly carved, and composed of five bays, the centre one elevated over
the others; under this is an altar, according to German custom, with two
doors leading into the choir on each side. In the two external
compartments there are two other altars, but these I conceive to be
modern additions.

The eastern elevation of this screen, towards the choir, is most
beautiful; there are three richly-canopied stalls at the back of the
altar, and the loft, which is very spacious, is ascended by two openwork
spiral staircases, of most elaborate design. The present rood is modern,
and by no means commensurate in beauty with the screen; but there are
evident marks of the former existence of a very large rood, partly
supported by iron ties from the vaulting.

The lateral screens of the choir are solid, as is universally the case
in cathedral churches; but those which enclose the side chapels are
composed of brass and marble, and were erected in the _seventeenth
century_, at the cost of the then bishop. Altogether, this choir is one
of the most perfect in Germany, and, happily, restored for Catholic
worship, without suffering any modernization.


Though a very unpromising name to Englishmen, who are accustomed to
associate it with very modern times and places in their own country, is
a most interesting ancient city, full of fine mediæval remains, and
curious domestic architecture. The Dom (Lutheran) contains the remains
of a rood screen and loft, with a central altar; but in a church now
disused for worship, and of which I was unable to ascertain the name, a
most elaborate screen, partly of stone, and partly of wood, is still
standing uninjured; the style verges on the cinque-cento, but all the
traditional forms and enrichments are preserved, and altogether it is a
magnificent and imposing work.

The other churches have been much modernized in adapting them to
Lutheran worship, which appears to vary in different places and
countries to a very considerable extent; for while at Lubeck and
Nuremberg the Catholic fittings remain intact, at Brunswick and other
places they have nearly disappeared, and been replaced by modern
abominations. Perhaps the preservation of these fine remains is
principally owing to the want of funds in the cities whose commerce has
decayed; they have not had the temporal means to spoil them. This is
strikingly observable in remote parish churches in England, where no
rates could be raised for their repairs, for they are usually in a very
perfect state; while in large and populous towns, the churchwardens have
had so much to expend, that they are completely gutted and ruined.


The cathedral, though it has suffered most severely from extensive
alterations in the seventeenth century, has still preserved a most
curious stone rood loft, debased in style, but still carrying out the
principles of the old traditions. It was approached by two flights of
steps, the choir being elevated over a crypt, which gives it a most
imposing appearance. On the top of the first platform is an altar, and
immediately over it a stone pulpit, with a brass lectern, on the left
side, in the form of an eagle, doubtless for the deacon to sing the holy
Gospel to the people. On either side of this are doors, with gates of
open metal-work; above are five arched canopies, which contain
sculptures in alto-relief, representing the sacrifice of Abraham;
bearing the cross; entombment of our Lord; Jonas and the whale; and
under the foot of the rood, in the centre, Moses setting up the brazen
serpent in the wilderness; an appropriate type of the great reality, our
Lord lifted up on the cross, or rood, which is, as usual, sculptured
with the attendant images of St. John and the Blessed Virgin. There are
two Byzantine coronæ for lights still suspended in this church, and many
of the details of the choir, crypt, &c. are exceedingly interesting.


This cathedral has been much modernized by the Lutherans, but the
ancient rood loft, though removed from its original position, is still
standing in the church, as a sort of gallery. The sculpture is of a very
superior description, and it may be ascribed to the early or middle part
of the fifteenth century. In the centre part of the aisle are some
exceedingly curious fragments of stall-work, as old as the thirteenth
century, which doubtless formed a portion of the original choir
fittings. They are very remarkable in design and execution, being cut
out of huge oak planks, several inches thick, and, though somewhat rude,
have a fine, bold, and severe character.


This cathedral, now used for Lutheran worship, has a very fine close
screen, with the remains of a central altar, and two side doorways.


Have the same arrangement, as may be seen by the plates.


The screen is a decorated wall, entirely shutting off the choir, with an
altar in the centre. See plate.


Has a fine rood loft, of the end of the fifteenth, or beginning of the
sixteenth century.


The central altar, surmounted with screen and canopy-work, is still
remaining; but the connecting work between it and the stalls has
been removed, probably about the middle of the last century, and an
iron railing substituted. This church, which is one of the finest in
Germany for its elevation and interesting details, is now used for the
Lutheran worship, but, with the exception of this screen, the original
fittings remain perfect.


Here the great rood is supported by an arched beam, over the entrance of
the choir, and as it is some years since I visited this church, I am not
prepared to state positively if this is the ancient arrangement; but as
I have never seen a corresponding example in a Pointed church where the
fittings are coeval with the date of the edifice, I should greatly doubt
it; especially as it is most certain that this portion of the building
has undergone considerable alterations in adapting it to the Lutheran

The ancient arrangement of these German screens, with the central altar
and side doors, is often depicted in pictures by the early masters. I
may mention one remarkable instance at the Gallery of the Academy,
Antwerp. The background of a small picture of our Blessed Lady
represents the interior of a church. The screen is depicted as of grey
marble, supported on porphyry pillars. The holy doors, of perforated
brass-work, are closed, and the whole is surmounted by a rood and
accompanying images. The arms of the cross are supported by elaborate
metal chains, descending from the vaulting.


Has one of the most perfect, as well as the most beautiful screens in
Germany (see plate); but in its arrangement it resembles the French,
rather than the German types, as the entrance to the choir is in the
centre, and there are two side altars in the vaulted space under the
loft. The details of this screen are most beautifully wrought, and the
mouldings are of the purest form. This church was served by religious,
and the screen is therefore solid, and panelled, to correspond with the
division of the pillars. The screen is not the only interesting object
in this church. The stalls are finely wrought, and the high altar is
surmounted by a splendid triptych, richly painted and gilt. The sacristy
remains in the original state; there are several incised slabs and mural
paintings, and altogether it is a church of very great interest.


The Dutch churches have, for the most part, been completely gutted of
their ancient Catholic fittings, but S. Bavon, at Haarlem, is a
fortunate exception. It has preserved the brazen screens of its choir;
they are of wrought work, exceedingly open, and very similar in design
and execution to those at Lubeck. There can be no doubt that all the
churches were provided originally with similar screen-work, the traces
of which may be frequently discerned in the piers and pillars. I have
been informed of some brass screens yet remaining in the more northern
part of Holland; but not having personal knowledge of them, I can give
no description of their dates or design. There is, however, quite
sufficient to establish the great fact, that in Catholic times the Dutch
churches were in no way inferior in this respect, but that screens were
as usual in them as in other parts of Christendom.[11]

The finest example of a Pointed screen remaining in Belgium is at
Louvain; but even this has been sadly modernized, and its use and
symbolical signification both destroyed. It consists at present of three
open arches, through which people can pass into the choir. Within the
memory of many persons yet living, the side arches were filled by two
altars and reredoses, and the centre one closed by two gates of open
metal-work. The removal of this beautiful and essential furniture for
the screen was coeval with the destruction of the sedilia, the
demolition of the ancient high altar, and the substitution of a Pagan
design in marble, and a variety of other enormities, by which the whole
character and ecclesiastical arrangement of the choir was destroyed; and
what is most lamentable, all this was brought to pass by those very
ecclesiastical authorities who ought to have been foremost in preserving
the ancient traditions.

But to return. The upper part of the screen and rood loft is still,
happily, perfect, and is surmounted by the original rood, with its
attendant images. The details of the cross are admirably executed, and
the whole effect is most striking and devotional. The cross is gilt, and
relieved in colour; the images are also painted. The arms of the cross
are supported by wrought-iron chains, fixed to the stonework of the
great arch, on the rood loft. The three staples to sustain these chains
may yet be discerned in most of the Belgian churches, and point out the
ancient position of the rood, which modern innovation has removed.


Has a very late florid screen and rood loft. It is divided like that of
Louvain, into three compartments. The altars, which, however, have been
much modernized, are still remaining. The decorations, as well as the
reredoses, are of the seventeenth century. The loft is surmounted by a


The rood loft in this church is of the same date as that of Dixmude, and
most probably designed by the same artist; the side altars here are also
remaining, but covered with decorations of the seventeenth century, in
very bad taste.

The rood, crucifix, Blessed Virgin, and St. John are still remaining.


S. Gertrude.—The screen was much injured by alteration in the
seventeenth century; but, though modernized, it retained a great deal of
its original character, till the monstrous idea was conceived, about
three years ago, of suppressing the return stalls, and throwing open the
whole choir. This has been very lately carried into execution, and the
church has suffered most materially, not only in its church
arrangements, but in the general effect of the building.

The Dominican church had a fine rood and screen, of which there are
still some remains, though greatly injured by the widening of the choir


A huge rood screen of black and white marble, erected in the seventeenth
century, surmounted by a crucifix, and decorated with sculptures.
Although erected at a very debased period, it still retains all the old
traditional arrangements.


S. Salvator's.—A black and white marble screen and loft of the
seventeenth century. It is divided into three arched compartments, but
without altars; the side spaces are filled with open brass-work, and the
choir gates, or holy doors, are of the same material.[12]

Notre Dame.—A screen of a very similar description, only of a plainer
character. It is remarkable for having the altar erected in the centre
of the loft, out of which grows the great rood, supporting the crucifix.

S. Giles's church has a very curious screen of the seventeenth century,
exceedingly rich in carving, and supporting a rood loft. It is designed
in perfect conformity to the ancient traditions, although the detail is
necessarily of a debased period.


Must have had a very fine rood loft originally, but being a place of
pilgrimage, it became most unfortunately very rich from offerings, which
were employed (with the best possible intention) to destroy the ancient
furniture of the church; the great rood itself, elaborately carved,
hangs up on the south side of the great tower, and is a fine specimen of
what the beauty of the loft must have been in the old time.


This great cathedral was completely sacked by the Calvinists, in the
latter part of the sixteenth century, previous to which its fittings
were in perfect unison with the edifice. But, unfortunately, when it was
restored to Catholic worship, the spirit of Paganism had entered into
the arts, and the new furniture exhibited all the marks of debasement.
However, the old traditions still ruled the mind as regarded principles,
and it will be seen, by reference to the plate, that the screens were
conceived in the old spirit; and although the introduction of altars
against the nave pillars was a great and distressing innovation, yet
they were still protected by elevated screen-work, and not left open for
profanation. There is a most striking correspondence between this
screen-work and that round the altar of S. Michele, at Florence. The
whole of these fittings have disappeared, partly during the occupation
of the French, and partly by injudicious repairs. The choir is now being
lined with stalls, some of the details of which are deserving of great
commendation, but they have been designed in utter contradiction to
ecclesiastical tradition. If this is to be made a cathedral church, the
choir should be enclosed; but if it is to serve a parochial purpose,
instead of the lofty canopies, and solid back, the choir should have
been enclosed with open metal screens, like those at Lubeck, and an open
rood loft across the choir; at present it is neither one thing nor the
other. The whole entrance of the choir is open to the public, who crowd
up to the high altar, and the stalls are filled with the first comers;
the whole arrangement is disgraceful, unecclesiastical, and irregular,
and loudly calls for reform. Frequented as this church is by such masses
of people, the screen should certainly be an open one, and the back,
above the stalls, should correspond. There are two enormous canopies,
over nothing, that stand against the pillars; at first I imagined they
indicated the seat of some dean or dignitary, but I soon found they
projected only over a vacant space, by which the stalls were ascended,
and were simply placed there as a vehicle for exhibiting a great
assemblage of pinnacles and buttresses, and expending a sum of money
unhappily, that would have half built the rood loft. The authority from
which I have taken the representation of the old screen, &c., is a
picture by Peter Neefs, preserved at Bicton, the seat of Lady Rolle.

All the churches in Antwerp have been wofully modernized; but there is
something like a screen at S. James's: two huge masses of marble wall,
projecting from each of the great pillars, at the entrance of the choir.
It is a work of the seventeenth century, heavy, and ill-contrived; and
for a parochial church, most unsuitable.


The cathedral of S. Bavon has two projections of a similar description,
leaving the space open in the centre for an entrance to the choir. These
form lofts at top, and are ascended by staircases. On Sundays and
festivals, I regret to add, they are filled with _fiddlers_! Were they
joined at top, this would form a regular rood loft, but as it stands at
present, it is a most anomalous pile of marble-work, effectually
shutting out half the choir, without any attempt at beauty or symbolism.

The old Dominican church has a remarkable screen of the seventeenth
century; it is overloaded with sculpture and ornament of a very bad
period; but it has a rood and loft, and it separates the choir from the
nave of the church, which, like the usual Dominican churches, consists
of a long parallelogram, with side chapels, gained out of the projection
of the buttresses. The building itself is of the fine, severe Pointed
style that prevailed in the fourteenth century; but all the fittings,
erected probably at the same time as the screen, are of very debased
character. It may be proper to remark that all the side chapels of the
great Belgian churches are enclosed by marble screens, intermixed with
perforated brass-work. These are mostly the work of the early part of
the seventeenth century, and no doubt replaced the more ancient oak and
metal screens that were mutilated or destroyed by the Calvinists in the
devastating religious wars of the Low Countries. They are an existing
proof that the traditional principles of enclosure and reverence
outlived the change of style of architecture; for, although all these
are of debased Italian design, they are constructed principally on the
old arrangement, and are usually surmounted by standards for tapers.

The custom of screening off these side chapels was universal. We find
them in Italy at a very early period (see Bologna), and many beautiful
pointed examples, both in wood and stone, exist in Germany, France, and
England; they are subsequently found of every date and style. In the
eighteenth century they were usually constructed with elaborate
wrought-iron-work, and in our time of a simple form in the same
material; but the principle still remains in every part of Christendom,
excepting some of the most modern Italian churches, where all tradition
seems to have been lost, or abandoned by their artists and architects.

This account of screens in Germany and Flanders is necessarily very
incomplete; but it is sufficient to illustrate the intention of the
work, and anything like a complete list would be both too voluminous and
tedious to the reader.

Chancel screens appear to be very general in the old timber churches of
Norway, and I have figured one in the church of Urnes, near Bergen,
which is exceedingly interesting; and though it is by no means easy to
affix dates to these rude productions, there is every reason to suppose
this to be a work of considerable antiquity. This church is now used for
Lutheran worship, but, like every ancient edifice erected for Catholic
rites, it bears indelible evidence of the enclosure of the chancel and
the erection of the rood.

[11] I have been informed, from good authority, that one of the churches
in Amsterdam has preserved its brass screen-work, but I am not able to
supply the name.

[12] The screen across the Bootmakers' Chapel, in the north transept of
this church, is of a great antiquity, probably of the middle of the
fourteenth century. It is executed entirely in oak, most beautifully
carved; and skilfully framed in the rails of the doors are bas-reliefs
of angels bearing the cognizance of the confraternity of bootmakers, at
whose cost this chapel was erected and founded. There are other oak
screens in the south transept of a later date,—fifteenth century, and
the choir and lateral chapels are all arched, with marble screens,
filled with perforated brass-work.

 [Plate V:
 _Rood Screen of the Marienkirche, Lubeck._
 _Rood Loft, Cathedral, Munster._]

 [Plate VI:
 _Screen in the Dom Kirke, Lubeck._
 _Screen & Rood Loft, Hospital, Lubeck._]

 [Plate VII:
 _Screen & rood Loft Dom, Hildesheim._
 _Rood Loft Sᵗ Katherine's church, Lubeck._]

 [Plate VIII:
 _Choir; Gelnhausen._
 _Choir; Sᵗ Elisabeth's Church at Marburg._]

 [Plate IX:
 _Screen at Oberwesel._
 _Plan of the Jubé. Cathedral, Metz._
 _Plan of the Jubé. Cathedral, Toul._
 _Screen of Sᵗ Nicholas church, Lorraine._]

 [Plate X:
 _From an Old Picture by Peter Neefs._
 _The Rood Screen, Cathedral, Antwerp. 17 Century._
 _One of the Altars, erected against the nave Pillars, with its Brass
   Screen work._]



Previous to the year 1755, the choir of Amiens cathedral had retained
its ancient and magnificent fittings,—altar, sedilia, jubé, all were
perfect; but at that fatal period, Mons. de la Mothe, a pious and
well-intentioned bishop, but a man of execrable taste, and devoid of all
feeling for true ecclesiastical architecture, conceived the unfortunate
project of modernizing this glorious choir: and, at an enormous expense,
the ancient works were demolished, to be replaced by the incongruous
masses of marble clouding and meretricious decorations that so wofully
disfigure this noble church. Then was it, and _not till then_, that the
great jubé was removed, that most wonderful book of stone, as Mons.
Duval most aptly terms it, in which the people had, for so many
centuries, beheld a lively representation of the life and sufferings of
our Lord. At the same time, eight of the unrivalled stalls were hewn
down to widen the choir gates; and the remainder of this matchless work
of Arnould Boulen were only suffered to remain on account of the immense
cost of replacing them by modern work.

These barbarous innovations were strongly opposed by many members of the
chapter, but the influence of M. de la Mothe prevailed, to the
irreparable loss of this mighty fabric.

It is worthy of remark that a pastoral letter of M. de Sebatier, the
predecessor of M. de la Mothe in the see of Amiens, is still preserved,
in which that prelate actually recommends the destruction and removal of
ancient imagery and furniture from the churches in his diocese, as
incompatible with _simplicity_ and _cleanliness_! Such were the ideas of
the men under whom the great churches of France were mutilated and

"Nous avons été surpris de voir que dans les églises où l'on avait fait
des dépenses considérables et de nouvelles décorations, on y eut étalé
les mauvais restes des tabernacles, des figures mutilées, et des autres
vieux ornements, dans d'autres endroits de l'église, où ils ne sont pas
moins difformes que dans l'endroit dont on les a tirés, et qui bien loin
de servir d'ornement, ne servent qu'à amasser de la poussière, et y
faire un nouvel embarras. Nous aurions donc souhaité que les figures
mutilées eussent été enterrées secrètement dans la cimetière, et les
vieux ornements, ou de bois ou de pierre, vendus, s'ils en valaient la
peine, au profit de la fabrique, plutôt que de rester dans cet état.
C'est aussi ce que nous espérons qu'on fera dans la suite pour éviter la
confusion qu'un amas inutile de ces vieux restes a coutume de causer
dans les églises dont la propreté et la simplicité doivent faire le
principal ornement."


The Abbé de Condite is mentioned in the cartulary of S. Berlin as having
erected in 1402 a jubé or doxale of wood, decorated with many images in
copper, gilt. This jubé was replaced by one of black and white marble,
commenced in the year 1621, and completed in 1626.

The entrance to the choir was closed by brass gates of open design, and
the whole was surmounted by a great crucifix suspended from the
vaulting, with the accompanying images of St. Mary and St. John. This
cross was made by Abbot Simon II. in the twelfth century, and was
doubtless the same that belonged to the ancient jubé. This grand church
was desecrated and ruined in the great revolution, and _totally
demolished under the Restoration_!


The choir of this church was enclosed by sculptures representing the
life of the patron saint, under canopies similar to those at Amiens
cathedral, with a jubé of the same character. Both destroyed at the
revolution in 1790.


The old jubé was demolished by the Huguenots in 1562, and rebuilt by the
canons in 1585, as was proved by the following inscription, cut on a
marble slab:—


This screen was entirely demolished in the revolution of 1790.—Thiers's
Dissertation sur les Jubés.


A jubé of marble, designed by J. Hardouin Mansard, was erected in 1690,
and destroyed, as well as the choir stalls, in the great revolution.


Dom Michel Felibien, a Benedictine monk of the Maurist congregation,
thus describes a screen erecting at St. Denis in his time: "They are now
working at the erection of a screen of iron-work, of the Ionic order,
with pilasters terminating in caryatides; the centre door will be
surmounted by a cross, covered with plates of gold, enriched with
ornaments and precious stones, the workmanship of which is traditionally
ascribed to S. Eligius."—Histoire de l'Abbaye Royale de S. Denis; Paris,
1706, p. 533.

From this description it is evident that this screen, with the exception
of the cross, must have been of wretched design; still there is all the
principle of the olden arrangement; and in the plan of the church
figured in the same work, the two staircases leading up to the ambones
for the Epistle and Gospel are distinctly marked. This screen, which
replaced the ancient jubé, probably erected in the time of Abbot Suger,
was entirely demolished in 1792.


"The jubé, separating the choir from the nave, was of wrought stone,
with open arches, supported by pillars. On each side of the entrance
were chapels and altars; that on the left hand dedicated to the Blessed
Virgin, with a (_retable_) reredos, decorated with small bas-reliefs of
our Lord's passion, painted and gilt, similar in style to that behind
the high altar of the church. In the gallery of the jubé (rood loft), on
an elevation of several steps, was an image of St. John, supporting a
desk from whence the Gospel was chanted. Above this jubé was a large
cross of wood, gilt and painted, and covered with fleur-de-lis, which
extended nearly the width of the church, having an image of our Lord
crucified, and on either side two cherubim, with wings of gold, and
beyond these, images of the Blessed Virgin and St. John in mantles,
covered with fleur-de-lis, with borders of inscriptions. This was
demolished in 1788, at the same time that the chapter removed the
splendid ancient altar, with its brass pillars and ciborium, and
replaced it by a miserable design, described (_à la Romaine_). Within
three years after this destruction the church was in the hands of
revolutionists, the clergy expelled, and the new-fashioned altar, &c.
reduced to a heap of fragments."—See Antiquités Nationales, par Aubin
Louis Millin: Paris, l'an second de la liberté, 1791.


"The original jubé was destroyed by the fall of the great central tower,
on the night of the 21st of December, 1631. A new screen was commenced
in 1670, and completed in 1672, by Emmanuel Boynet, architect. It was
supported by four marble pillars, with two altars on each side the choir
door."—Essai sur l'Abbaye de Fontenelle, par E. Hyacinthe Langlois:
Paris, 1827.


"The jubé, which separates the choir from the nave, is of a very
ordinary design, and built in the year 1665. It is supported by ten
Corinthian pillars, in Dorian marble, between the clusters of which are
two altars, one dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, the other to S.
Nicholas of Tolentino."—Antiquités Nationales, par Aubin Louis Millin:
Paris, l'an second de la liberté, 1791, page 57, vol. iii.


"The choir is separated from the nave by six Ionic columns of Flemish
marble, supporting an entablature of stone, supporting a large image of
our Lord crucified, and several images of angels bearing emblems of the
passion: the spaces between the pillars are filled with rich iron-work.
The whole was completed about 1640."—Ibid. vol. iii. p. 14.


The rood loft was constructed in 1420; it was twenty-nine feet in
height, forty-two wide, and thirteen deep, ascended by two staircases of
open tracery, and provided, as usual, with two altars. This exquisite
monument of mediæval art, covered with imagery and sculpture, was
demolished in 1747, to be replaced by a heavy and lofty iron railing, in
the Rococo style of that debased period.

Mons. de Jolimont, in his notice on Rheims cathedral, writes in the
following manner on this destruction: "Le chœur était anciennement
entouré d'une clôture en pierre, et l'entrée fermée par un magnifique
jubé, monument curieux du quinzième siècle, orné d'autels, de statues,
de colonnes, d'escaliers en spirale, et de sculptures les plus
délicates; il fut détruit, comme tant d'autres, à une époque où le
mauvais goût faisait une guerre à outrance au _Gothique_, ou pour
satisfaire la vanité des gens opulens qui croyaient bien mériter de la
posterité, en substituant à grands frais, à ces respectables antiquités,
de prétendus embellissemens de mode, que les motifs les plus puériles
semblaient rendre nécessaires; on doit déplorer, dans l'église de Reims,
plus d'un exemple de cette espèce d'attentat officieux."—Chapuy,
Cathédrales Françaises.


The jubé of this church was erected in 1507, and its sculptured front
represented the history of the Old Testament from Noah to Daniel. It was
utterly destroyed at the great revolution.


When De Moleon wrote his Voyage Liturgique, the choir of this church was
enclosed with brass screens, seven feet high, and the great rood loft
was standing perfect. His book was printed in 1757.


Has still preserved a most elegant choir screen. It is divided by
slender stone mullions into compartments, filled with light and elegant
tracery, surmounted by crocketed canopy-work, terminated by bratishing.
It is a work of the fifteenth century, and greatly resembles the English
screens of the same period, both in design and detail.


The splendid screen and rood loft that once decorated this most glorious
church is figured in Dom Pomeraye's history of this famous abbey.

It consisted of three divisions of double arches, supported by clusters
of pinnacles and niches; the two centre ones were carried up higher than
the others, and were terminated by two images, of St. John and the
Blessed Virgin; a crocketed arch, enriched with tracery cusps, was
carried up between these pinnacles, and supported the great crucifix;
under this arch was an image of our Lady of Pity. The choir gates were
of pierced-work in brass, and on either side two altars, surmounted by
many images of saints in tabernacles. The loft was ascended by two
spiral staircases, of most ingenious construction, and enriched with
tracery, panels, and sculpture. Over the engraving of this screen is the
following significant inscription, in French:

"Jubé of the church of S. Ouen: Erected in the year of our Lord 1462, by
the Cardinal D'Estouteville; ruined by the heretics in 1562; and
restored in 1656, by Dom Guillaume Cotterel, grand prior of the abbey."

This screen was finally demolished by the infidel revolutionists of
1790, who turned the church into a smith's workshop, and who found that
the screen impeded the _progress of their waggons through the choir_!

The following notice of the screen occurs in the text:

"It was through the liberality of Cardinal D'Estouteville that the jubé
was erected, which is one of the most beautiful and delicately-worked
screens in existence. It was universally admired, and would still
command the same admiration, had it not so severely suffered from the
fury of the heretics. It is so skilfully placed, that neither the
appearance of the transept or the choir are the least injured. It was
formerly covered with admirable images and carvings, but these miserable
sectaries, who could not endure the sight of this fine work, which,
although almost new, was older than their false religion, attacked it
with their accustomed fury, and completely defaced the images of holy
personages with which it was covered, together with its exquisite
details and ornaments. At the same time the Calvinists pulled down and
carried off all the lateral absidal screens of the choir, which were of
solid brass, most curiously wrought."—See Histoire de l'Abbaye Royale de
S. Ouen, de Rouen, par un religieux Bénédictin de la Congrégation de S.
Maur: Rouen, 1662; pp. 192 and 198.[14]


Langlois, Notice sur l'Incendie de la Cathédrale de Rouen:—

"1467. The stalls of the choir erected. The ancient jubé was probably
built at the same time.

"1526. An open screen-work of brass, most artificially wrought, set up
round the sides of choir, at the cost of the Cardinal D'Amboise.

"1562. Pillage of the cathedral by the Calvinists, the jubé defaced, and
the brass screens carried off and melted.

"1639. A new altar, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, was erected under
the screen, in consequence of a vow made during a pestilence.

"1642. A new altar, dedicated in honour of S. Cecily, erected under the

"1777. The chapter erect a new screen (consisting of eight marble
pillars, of the Ionic order, surmounted by an entablature and open
balustrade. In the centre a large crucifix, and two marble altars, with
images on either side of the choir gates)."

This screen is still standing, and although of execrable design, and
most incongruous with the noble church in which it has been erected, it
is still a proof that, at the end of the eighteenth century, a screen
and rood loft was considered necessary by the clergy of this cathedral,
and being entirely of white marble, its cost was far greater than that
for which a splendid screen in perfect character with the church could
have been constructed.


"The choir is vast, and was formerly enclosed by a jubé, but which was
demolished by the Calvinists in the latter part of the sixteenth
century."—Vues Pittoresques de la Cathédrale d'Auxerre, par Chapuy:
Paris, 1828; p. 9.

The choir is at present enclosed by an iron railing, about fourteen feet
high; an arch of scroll-work is carried up over the centre gates, and
supports a cross.—A. W. P.


The ancient jubé was sixty-six feet long, and twelve feet nine inches
wide. It was divided into seven compartments by slender shafts, and
richly decorated with sculpture, foliage, and pinnacles; it was ascended
by two staircases, approached from either side of the choir door.

This screen was only demolished in 1772, and then not with a view of
throwing open the choir, but of substituting a wretched design of
debased Italian, which I have figured in this work. It is worthy of
remark, that coeval with this alteration, the following atrocities were
perpetrated: the ancient altar, erected in 1520, with its pillars of
brass, supporting curtains, and surmounted by angels bearing
candlesticks, and the whole terminated by a venerable image of our
Blessed Lady in silver, was removed to make room for the Pagan
sarcophagus which serves for the present altar. The clustered shafts and
foliage capitals of the choir pillars were encased with marble veneers,
and converted into heavy square piers and pilasters of Italian design,
and the ancient stalls, with their fine canopies, were demolished.

Monsieur Louis, the architect of the Duc d'Orleans, conducted these
lamentable alterations, which, as might be expected, were rapidly
succeeded by the still more destructive power of the revolution. Vide
Vues de la Cathédrale de Chartres, par Chapuy, pp. 22 and 23.

In the summer of 1848, in making some necessary repairs of the pavement
in front of the present screen, the underside of what appeared a common
slab was found to be richly sculptured with sacred imagery. This led to
further investigation, and a very considerable number of fragments of
sculpture, in the style of the thirteenth century, and of most
surpassing beauty, were discerned. These had formed portions of the
ancient jubé, and had been used on its demolition as common materials
for flooring the church!

From these remains the design of this magnificent screen can be
ascertained with considerable accuracy. The front must have consisted of
circular pillars, with richly-foliated caps, supporting arches,
surmounted with a succession of subjects carved in alto-relief, and
representing the life and passion of our Lord, interspersed with images
of prophets, patriarchs, and apostles. The whole was richly painted and


The jubé of this cathedral is fortunately still standing, and nearly in
all its original beauty. It is remarkable in its construction, having
three doors, beside the two recesses anciently filled with altars, and
there is a sort of aisle running round between the main pillars of the
choir and the screen of enclosure.


"Before the year 1765, the choir was enclosed by a fine screen of
mediæval design, but this was pulled down to make some pretended
improvements in the choir, and at the same time a most curious zodiac,
illustrating the seasons, &c., executed by a monk named Martin, at the
order of Bishop Stephen, which was found in mosaic in the pavement of
the choir, was totally destroyed, as well as several other objects of
the highest interest."—Chapuy, pp. 9 and 10.


The ancient jubé was demolished during the revolution, and the present
screen is a miserable erection of _this century_. I have figured it as a
specimen of a _modern French screen_, combining every objection that has
been raised by the ambonoclasts of our days, without possessing any of
the beauties of the ancient works.


This screen, which I have figured in the plates, was erected in the
seventeenth century, and though of debased Italian, is constructed with
a rood loft, or jubé, and surmounted by a large crucifix. This jubé is
still standing.


The choir of this church is enclosed by iron screens of remarkable
design and beautiful execution, figured in the plates.

They are evidently a work of the middle or latter part of the fifteenth
century. The lilies and leaves bent up out of the iron plates are
produced with wonderful skill. Some of the lateral chapels in the same
church have corresponding screen-work, and as Toulouse is a city
partaking much of the Spanish character in its buildings, streets, &c.,
I am inclined to think that it has also borrowed the design of this
screen-work from Spain; as Seville, Toledo, and other great churches,
have curious iron screens, reaching forty or fifty feet in height, and
of a very similar description of work. In the same plate with the
Toulouse iron-work, I have figured a screen from the cathedral of
Toledo, from which the great similarity of style may be readily


The jubé was constructed during the early part of the sixteenth century,
in the style of the Renaissance, enriched with most elaborate arabesques
and details of the period, and provided with lateral altars. It is still
standing, although some attempts have been made by innovators to remove
it; but hitherto the canons have resolutely resisted all propositions
for ruining the ancient choir.


This jubé, which is still standing, was erected in the early part of the
sixteenth century. It is divided into three open arches, by clustered
pinnacles, with tabernacle-work and imagery. The centre doorway into
choir is surmounted by richly flamboyant tracery; on either side are two


The jubé was supported by eight pillars; on either side of the choir
entrance an altar; it was ascended by a staircase on the Gospel side.

The following notice respecting the jubé occurs in the records of the

"En 1382, le chapitre fit marché pour la construction du jubé avec Henri
Nardau et Henri de Bruxelles, moyennant cinq sous par jour, ou un mouton
d'or par semaine. La première pierre fut posée et bénie par l'Evêque
Pierre d'Arcys, le 22 Avril, 1383; il donna la somme de cinq livres pour
présent; l'ouvrage ne fut cependant commencé qu'en 1385, et achevé
entièrement qu'en 1400. L'image de S. Pierre, qui était au côté de la
porte, fut faite par Maître Drouin de Mantes, moyennant cinq livres, et
celle de S. Paul, par Maître Gérard, qui eut six livres; quatre
chanoines firent les frais de ces statues.

"On lit dans les comptes de l'œuvre de 1383, l'article suivant, qui
prouverait qu'un concours avait été ouvert pour le projet du jubé:—

"'Primo pour ung pourtrait fait en parchemin pour ledit jubé, par Henry
de Bruisselles, maçon, don commend. de Messigneurs pour monstrer aux
bourgois, et aux ouvriers de la ville encontre ung aultre pourtrait,
fait par Michelin le maçon, auquel pourtrait, fait par ledit Henry,
lesdiz bourgois et ouvriers se sont tenus pour être le meilleur pour ce
paie audit Henry don commend. de Messigneurs, xx s.'"

This screen remained perfect till 1793, when it was destroyed by the

It is worthy of remark that the ancient altar, erected by Bishop Odard
Henequin, surrounded with curtains, supported by rods attached to brass
pillars surmounted by angels, was demolished by the chapter in 1780, to
substitute one of modern design; and within twelve years from that time
the clergy were dispersed, and the church in the hands of the infidels.

Behind this high altar was a raised loft of carved wood-work, richly
painted and gilt, in which the shrines of S. Helene and S. Savinien were
placed. The access to this loft was by a circular staircase on the
Gospel side, and a corresponding one to descend on the Epistle, to
prevent confusion when great numbers of the faithful visited the relics
or the feasts.

The great relics of the Sainte Chapelle, at Paris, were reserved in a
similar loft behind the high altar, and the circular staircases, of
beautiful design, have been recovered, and restored to their original

_Account of the Jubés formerly standing in the Churches of Troyes._

That of the cathedral already described.

The jubé of the collegiate church of S. Stephen was constructed in 1549,
by Dominic Rocour, a Florentine, and Gabriel Fabro, masons of Troyes. It
was composed of three arches, or porticos, of the Corinthian order,
surmounted by an attic, decorated with bas-relievi and images.
Demolished in 1792.

The jubé of the Cordeliers' church was of stone, supported by Doric
pillars, and enriched with gilt ornaments. Demolished with the church in

The jubé of the Jacobins' church was constructed in wood; the front was
decorated with bas-relievi and other ornaments, painted and gilt. It was
pulled down, by order of the prior, J. B. Pitras, to open the choir.

The jubé of the abbatial church of S. Martin was also of wood, richly
painted and gilt. It was pulled down by order of the prior, François
Robin, in the year 1760, as he thought it looked too ancient (il le
trouvait trop ancien). Thus, of these rood lofts, three were destroyed
by the revolutionists, and two by the bad taste of two unworthy priors
of the _eighteenth_ century.

The jubé of the parochial church of S. Mary Magdalene yet remains
perfect; it is of late date and florid design, but exceedingly beautiful
in execution.

The subjoined account, as well as the foregoing details, is taken from
Monsʳ. Arnaud's Voyage dans le Département de l'Aube.[15]


A most interesting jubé, constructed of wood, and erected in the
sixteenth century, is still remaining in the parish church of Villemaur.
The front of the loft is divided into eleven panels, each containing a
mystery of our Lord's passion, carved in bas-relief; below these are a
series of arches springing from pendants. The screen is open, with
mullions richly carved in the arabesque style, and the loft is ascended
by a circular staircase on the Epistle side, enclosed with open
mullions. The arrangement of this staircase greatly resembles that of
the rood loft at Lambader, in Brittany.


"The jubé is admirable.[16] Clagni was the architect, and Jean Goujon
the sculptor. It is composed of three arches supported on Corinthian
pillars, the centre one forming the entrance of the choir, and the two
side ones chapels with altars. Above the parapet are images of the four
Evangelists, and under the cross a fine bas-relief of Nicodemus
entombing our Lord."—Sauval, Histoire des Antiquités de la Ville de
Paris: tom. i. p. 304. Paris, 1724.

This screen was demolished in the great revolution.


"The jubé erected by Biart is a fine work, the staircases by which it is
ascended are most skilful in construction, but it is rather overloaded
with ornament."—Ibid. tom. i. p. 407.

This screen, erected at the end of the sixteenth century, is still


The choir of this church was formerly enclosed by a screen of wood,
extending across the nave, on which were thirty brass candlesticks
standing in large basins for wax-lights on great feasts.

This screen was provided with three doors, and the front was enriched
with sculptures representing the life and passion of our Lord. The whole
was demolished in 1774.


Claude Malingre, in his Histoire de Paris, gives the following
description of the enclosure of the choir of this church. "The choir is
enclosed by a solid wall, but open with pierced work round the high
altar, above which are represented sacred personages gilt and painted.
The upper screen represents the history of the New Testament, and below,
the Old, with scriptures explaining the subjects.

"The great rood which is over the entrance of the choir, is all of one
piece,[17] and a chef-d'œuvre of sculpture.

"Below this, on the south side, is an image of the Blessed Virgin held
in great devotion, and on the altar is another image of our Lady, called
Notre Dame de Consolation, and near it the image of an archbishop with
this scripture, 'Noble homme Guillaume de Melun, archevesque de Sens, a
fait faire ceste histoire entre ces deux pilliers, en l'honneur de Dieu,
de Nostre Dame, et de Monseigneur S. Estienne.'

"On the north side, opposite the Porte Rouge, is an image of a man
kneeling, with the following inscription on a label:

"'C'est Maistre Jean Ravy qui fut masson de Notre Dame de Paris, pour
l'espace de xxvi. ans, et commença ces nouvelles histoires: et Maistre
Jean de Bouteillier les a parfaites en l'an MCCCLI.'"

A great portion of these sculptures still remain, but the choir-screen
or jubé described by Malingre must have been demolished in the
alterations consequent on the ill-judged vow of Louis XIII., as an old
view of the interior of this church, published in the seventeenth
century, represents a jubé of a Rococo style, similar to the wood-work
of the choir. It was composed of four large piers with four engaged
pillars to each: between these, the centre space was filled by two open
metal-work gates, and two lateral ones were occupied as usual by altars,
but in a most degenerate style of decoration. This screen was so similar
to some that I have engraved of a corresponding period, as at Sens, &c.,
that I have not thought it necessary to do more than give a description
of its arrangement. It was demolished in the great revolution of 1790,
and has been replaced since the restoration of religion by a very meagre
railing and dwarf marble wall.

It is proper to observe that the tradition of the ambones is still
retained in two rostrums on either side of the western extremity of the
choir, on which the Epistle and Gospel are sung on all great feasts and


"The length of this church appears at first sight out of all proportion
to its width, but this is caused by the destruction of the great screen
which separated the choir from the nave. This splendid work, commenced
in the year 1500 by Robert Chardon, monk of the abbey, and of exquisite
lightness of design, and covered with admirable sculptures, was
barbarously demolished by the Vandals of 1802."—Essai sur l'Abbaye de
Fécamp, par Leroux de Lincy. Rouen, 1840.


"The screen worked in Caen stone was a gift of the late Monsʳ. de
Mesmond. It is supported by six pillars of black marble, given by Canon
Baucher; it was commenced in 1698, and completed in 1700. Between the
pillars are excellent statues of the Blessed Virgin and S. Joseph, and
the whole is surmounted by an image of our Lord crucified, boldly
carved. It was erected on the 23rd of December, 1702."—Histoire de la
Ville de Bayeux, par M. Beziers. Caen, 1773.

N.B. The original screen was irreparably injured by the Calvinists, who
sacked this noble church in 1561. A full account of the sacrilege
committed by them, may be seen in the same work, p. 236.


The original screen of this magnificent church was demolished, together
with the ancient choir fittings, by an unworthy abbot of the eighteenth
century; but even at that period, a screen of some kind was considered
indispensable, and one of wrought iron, about eighteen feet high, was
set up. I have figured this in the plates as a curious specimen of the


There is a rococo iron screen of about the same date as that at S.
Riquier, and probably executed by the same smiths. It is divided into
three compartments, with the gates in the centre.

[13] De Moleon mentions in his voyage that three silver crosses, each
holding three tapers, were suspended in the rood loft, under standing
candlesticks; he also describes the jubé as being built of marble, and
of what was considered in his time a fine design.

[14] _Extrait de l'Histoire de S. Ouen, de Rouen._

Ce fut par sa magnificence que l'on bastit le jubé, qui étoit une des
plus belles et des plus delicates pièces que l'on eust pû voir, et que
l'on admireroit encore aujourd'huy, si depuis il n'auoit ressenty les
effets de la rage des hérétiques. Il est placé avec tant d'adresse, que
n'y la croisée n'y le chœur n'en sont aucunement incommodez. Il étoit
enrichy d'excellentes figures et de quantité de rares embellissemens qui
étoient sortis de la main d'un très habile ouvrier. Mais ces malheureux,
ne pouvant souffrir ce bel ouvrage, qui bien que quasi tout neuf, ne
laissoit pas d'estre beaucoup plus ancien que leur fausse religion, et
de leur en reprocher la nouveauté, le ruinerent avec leur fureur
accoûtumée, et jetterent par terre toutes les saintes images et tous les
autres ornemens, qui étoient autant de chefs-d'œuvres de sculpture. Mais
ce ne fut pas là la plus grande perte qu'ils causèrent à cette Abbaye,
ainsi que nous dirons. Les armes de ce magnifique cardinal qui étoient
sous le jubé, c'est à dire, dessus la porte par où l'on entre de la nef
dans le chœur, furent abatues et détruites dans ce mesme pillage; et ci
celles qui sont au haut d'une vitre du costé de la croisée, par où l'on
descend dans le cloistre, n'eussent esté hors de la prise de ces
furieux, elles eussent aussi couru la mesme fortune.

[15] "Enfin, entre tant de jubés détruits, un seul, le plus riche de
tous, celui de l'église paroissiale de la Madeleine, est resté debout.
Son existence peut être regardée aujourd'hui comme un problème, si l'on
considère les différentes causes qui ont amené la destruction des
premiers. Aussi ce n'est pas sans avoir éprouvé quelques mutilations, et
sans avoir été menacé plus d'une fois d'une ruine complète, que ce
monument a traversé trois siècles, et est parvenu jusqu'à nous. Outre la
richesse des détails, sa construction est remarquable; il est absolument
plat, et terminé en sous-œuvre par trois culs-de-lampe à jour, et sans
aucune apparence de voûte. Chacune des deux faces se compose de trois
arcs ou archivoltes, ornées de moulures et de festons à jour, dont les
courbes sont réunies par des pommes de pin. La retombée des arcs au
milieu reste suspendue en l'air, et se termine par des doubles
culs-de-lampe, dont les plus saillants portaient jadis des statues,
parmi lesquelles on voyait Saint Longin, tenant la lance, et des anges
tenant les autres instruments de la passion. Les clochetons, ornés de
fleurons et découpés à jour, que l'on voit dans l'intervalle des
archivoltes, abritaient ces statues. Entre les clochetons sur chaque
arc, est posé un cadre à plusieurs pans, rempli par des petites figures
de saints en bas-relief; autour des cadres le champ est occupé par
diverses fleurs et feuilles d'ornement. Au-dessus règne la rampe, ou
galerie, qui est entièrement découpée à jour. La forme élégante des
fleurs-de-lis couronnées, qu'on y remarque, suffirait pour faire
connaître l'âge du monument, si nous ne savions d'ailleurs qu'il fut
construit vers 1506, à la même époque où l'on jetait les fondements des
tours de la cathédrale. Sur la rampe on voyait autrefois quatre statues
qui accompagnaient le Christ; il n'en reste que deux, celle de la Vierge
et de Saint Jean. Aux angles il y avait des vases à parfums munis d'un
couvercle. A chaque extrémité, le jubé est terminé par une construction,
en forme de chapelle, appuyée aux gros piliers du chœur. Ces chapelles
sont décorées de chaque côté par un pilastre chargé d'arabesques. Au
milieu, il existe un enfoncement considérable, de forme carrée, avec des
angles rentrant dans la partie supérieure; cet enfoncement était
autrefois rempli par un bas-relief, qui en a été arraché et détruit.
Au-dessus on voit trois niches sans statues, dont le haut est terminé
par des petits dômes et des pyramides évidés à jour avec beaucoup de
délicatesse. L'escalier est habilement disposé à droite sous la première
arcade du chœur, de manière à ne pas être aperçu de la nef, et à ne pas
gêner le service. Il s'élève sur une base octogone, engagée dans le gros
pilier, et autour de laquelle la rampe, formée de petites arcades en
ogives, se contourne en formant un encorbellement; le dessous de cette
saillie est orné de moulures et de gorges profondes remplies par des
feuilles d'ornement et des figures d'animaux fantastiques. Sous ce jubé
a été enterré Jean Gualde, ou Gaylde, son auteur; on y voyait autrefois
son épitaphe, gravée sur un carreau de marbre. Il s'y désignait lui-même
par la qualité de maistre maçon, semblait nous donner une garantie de la
solidité de son ouvrage, en ajoutant qu'il attendait dessous la
resurrection bienheureuse sans crainte d'être écrasé. Le jubé de la
Madeleine a de largeur, compris les deux chapelles qui en font partie,
trente-six pieds, et de hauteur, jusqu'au haut de la rampe, dix-neuf
pieds dix pouces."

[16] This is Sauval's description.

[17] This must be a mistake of the historian: a crucifix of these
dimensions could not possibly be worked in one piece of timber; but it
was a very vulgar error to attach great importance to the idea of
tabernacle-work, &c. being worked out of a single block or piece; recent
investigation has shown the absurdity of these ideas.



This remarkable rood loft, which I have figured in the plates, is worked
in oak, and has been richly painted. The arrangement of the crucifix,
and images of our Blessed Lady and St. John, is very singular, as they
are placed in front of the loft, instead of being elevated above it. The
two thieves are also represented, as is usual in the Crucifixions and
Calvaries in Brittany. The crosses to which they are attached are
composed of branches of trees.

On the Epistle side the Fall of Man caused by the first Eve, and on the
opposite angle the Redemption of Man, through the second Eve, the
Blessed Virgin, to whom the angel is announcing the mystery of the

There are several very curious carvings in the frieze, among which the
popular subject of the mass of S. Martin is easily distinguished.

The church which contains this very curious rood loft is situated in a
remote locality, and almost deserted; but a few years since, this
venerable relic of ancient piety and art was actually on the point of
being sold, had not a neighbouring innkeeper, who derived no small
profit from the lovers of antiquity, whom this screen brought to his
house, so resolutely opposed its removal, that it was at length suffered
to remain.


This screen, which is beautifully preserved, with flamboyant tracery, is
remarkable for the spiral staircase by which it is ascended, supported
by slender shafts, and most ingeniously constructed; the wood groining
under the rood loft is bad in principle, as savouring too much of stone
construction; but the front of the loft is elaborately carved with
tabernacle-work and imagery.


This screen, equally remarkable for the elegance of the design as the
beauty of its sculptured enrichments, is divided into three
compartments, consisting of open cusped arches, supported by pillars,
with images, under tabernacle-work, which run up above the arches, and
terminate in niches and pinnacle-work. The spaces between this and the
canopy-work over arches is filled with quatrefoil-work.

There are two altars on either side of the entrance door, and the space
between this and the arch is filled with open tracery-work, like windows.

There are numerous screens yet remaining in many of the churches of
Brittany, and originally they were to be found in all. Many others of
great interest might be described, but those selected are sufficient to
illustrate the argument.

 [Plate XI:
 _Iron Screen, at Toledo._
 _Iron Screen, Choir of Sᵗ Sernin, Toulouse._]

 [Plate XII:
 _Screens erected in the 18ᵗʰ Century._
 _Église D'Agnes, Picardie._
 _Sᵗ Paul, Trois Chateaux, Dauphiné._
 _Cathédrale de Sens._]

 [Plate XIII:
 _Screens in Brittany._
 _Sᵗ Fiacre le Faouet._
 _Chapelle Sᵗ Germain, in Ribermont._
 _Plan of Jubé, Notre Dame de Lépine._]

 [Plate XIV:
 _Lambader Brittany._
 _Iron Screen at Sᵗ Riquier. 18th Century._
 _Wooden Screen in the Church of Urnes, near Bergen._]


There is no country in Christendom where so many screens are still
preserved and standing, as in England. Till within a very recent period,
every cathedral church had retained its ancient separation between the
nave and choir; but sad to relate, one of the most venerable of our
churches is now denuded of this most essential and ancient portion of
the fittings of a cathedral. I refer to Durham: where choir and nave are
thrown into one great vacant space, and all the dignity and reverence of
choir worship, suited to a capitular body, destroyed. Although the
screen was of most debased design, and erected by a Pagan architect
(Inigo Jones), at a Pagan period; yet, being placed in the old and
proper position, and having attained a respectable colour, through age,
it did its work, and was ten times preferable to the modern vacuum
caused by its removal. Indeed, all the alterations at Durham are so many
enormities. For centuries the western doors of the cathedral were
closed, a chapel built outside them, termed the Galilee, and an altar,
dedicated in honour of the Blessed Virgin, stood in the recess of the
centre door, but lately, without any reason, for, as I have before said,
no entrance can be obtained to the church from that end, have these
doors been opened, and the remains of the altar removed, thus destroying
one of the most curious traditions belonging to this venerable
cathedral. Even the old Cromwellian Puritans did not injure the church
so much as _its present restorers_, and it is greatly to be regretted
that there are no means to compel these authorities to desist from their
insane innovations. In the eyes of all true ecclesiologists Durham has
lost half its apparent length, half its grandeur, since it has lost its
screen, and it has got somewhat of the conventicle. But to return—York,
Lincoln, Southwell, Wells, Exeter, Bristol, Chichester, Canterbury,
Rochester, Chester, Norwich,[18] have all their old screens and
rood-lofts standing. These are too well known amongst persons interested
in this subject to need detailed description, but I may observe that
they nearly all are ascended by staircases in the thickness of the
eastern walls, rising up on each side, and that lateral altars in the
screens were not so common as on the continent. The roods, in all cases,
have been replaced by organs, which are badly placed both as regards the
chanters and the effect of the building. The only instance I have ever
met with the remains of a rood is at Columpton, near Exeter, where a
large block of oak, carved like rock-work, with a skull and bones,
evidently intended to represent Calvary, is still left, and in its upper
part a deep mortice to receive the end of the rood.

Our parochial churches are yet rich in screens; of wooden rood-lofts we
may particularize Sleaford, Newark, Bury St. Edmunds, Fairford, Tong,
Lanryst, Sefton, Ranworth, and Southwold as some amongst the most
remarkable. The countries most abounding in screens, are Norfolk,
Suffolk, Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, and Devonshire, but each county
presents many interesting examples, and it must be distinctly understood
that every church, small or great, was originally provided with a screen.

In Norfolk, the churches of Cawston, Sall, N. Walsham, Worsted, Walcot,
Trunch, Happisburgh, Bacton, Paston, Lynn, Ranworth, Cley, Castle Acre,
Cressingham, Snetisham, and Ackle, &c., have all fine screens. Many of
them are richly painted, and the lower panels filled with images of
saints on gold and diapered grounds. The best preserved are those at
Ranworth and Cawston. About five different painters were employed in the
decoration of these, as the various styles may be distinctly traced over
various parts of the country. Some of them exhibit far greater skill
than others, but all have a deal of quaint character, and the images
fill up the spaces in which they are placed, by the adjustment of
drapery, &c.

There is a great deal of fine screen-work in Suffolk, at Woolpitt,
Elmswell, Thurston, Lavenham, Long Melford, Brandon, Southwold,
Blythburgh, Hawsted, and many other churches.

In Lincolnshire there are splendid screens at Winthorpe, Ingoldmills,
Orby, Burgh, Croft, Boston, Hackington, Swineshead, Tattershall, Ewerby,
Newark, Grantham.

In Devonshire the screens have been generally preserved, and on many of
them the painted panels with saints and imagery are quite perfect. They
are mostly constructed on one principle, with projecting wooden
ribbed-work crossing the rood-loft; at Honiton, Feniton, Bradwinch, West
Buckland, Columpton, Dartmouth, Kenton, Pinhoe, Plymtree, Tollaton,
Tiverton, Atherington, Dawlish, &c., are screens surmounted by
rood-lofts; but at Bridford, Burlescombe, Clayhanger, Dartington,
Hempston, Plymstock, West Ogwell, &c., there are only screens without
lofts, but of exceedingly elaborate design, and for the most part richly
painted and gilt, some with saints in the lower panels, like those in
Norfolk. A very numerous list, indeed, might be made of churches in this
country, where screens of some kind are to be found; they are not always
of the same material, for the examples of stone are numerous, as at
Totness, Culmstock, Colyton, and Paignton, &c., this latter being
monumental, and containing family tombs, introduced in the screen-work.
Although the counties above mentioned are those which abound the most in
fine examples of screen-work, yet most numerous and interesting
specimens may be found in every county.

Sefton church, in Lancashire, has a splendid rood and side screens
enclosing the chancel, of a later period, but most elaborate detail.

The parish church at Lancaster contains some very magnificent screen and
canopy-work of the time of Edward I. The treatment of the crockets is
quite peculiar, as they are joined together, forming a sort of solid
enrichment on the gablets.

The priory church of Hexham is rich in carved fittings. The stalls and
screen-work of the choir are perfect, and though rude in execution are
extremely interesting; this being a conventual church, the screen-work
is quite solid. If we proceed further north, we shall find the same
system of enclosure of choirs and chancels by screens. The rood-loft at
Glasgow is still perfect, and though the Scotch churches have been
horribly mutilated, the ancient position of the enclosures is to be
traced in most of them.

The churches in Wales were mostly furnished with rood-lofts. The screen
and loft at Lanryst are most elaborate in carved enrichments; they were
probably erected in the beginning of the fifteenth century, and it is
worthy of remark that in this, as well as others, there is a striking
similarity between the screens in Wales and Brittany.

Were it not tedious, I could supply a long list of fine screens yet
remaining in every part of the country, but there are few of an older
date than the thirteenth century, as so many of these churches have been
rebuilt or refitted since that period. There can be no doubt that even
the Saxon churches were provided with some enclosure across the arch
which divided off the chancel. Indeed, so natural and right does it seem
to have this separation, that the principles of screens survived the
Reformation, as will be mentioned hereafter. But not only do we find the
cathedrals and parochial churches to have been furnished with screens,
but also chapels in private houses and hospitals for the poor. The
archbishop's chapel at Croydon is divided by a plain but very
substantial and effective screen, figured in the first volume of Pugin's

Browne's hospital at Stamford, Bishop Bubwith's almshouses at Wells, S.
John's hospital at Sherburne, the bede-houses at Northampton and
Leicester, the Vicar's chapel at Wells, have all screens in their
chapels, and some of them of most elegant design. In the private chapel
of an ancient mansion at Cothele, on the banks of the Tamar, is an open
screen of perpendicular work. In short, I do not imagine that any
building dedicated to divine worship was considered complete, unless
furnished with a suitable screen.

In the reign of Edward VI., the roods, with their attendant images, were
removed, and it is probable that the lofts were stript at the same time
of the candlesticks and basons of latten, wherein the lights were set
up. But the screens themselves do not appear to have suffered, and
indeed, in accordance with the decree that the chancels were to remain
as in time past, the screens were absolutely necessary. Considering the
great number of screens yet standing, it is evident that those which
have been removed, were demolished, through the ignorance or
indifference of the authorities during the repairs that the buildings
have undergone, and I am personally acquainted with several instances
which corroborate this fact. There are several examples of
post-Reformation screens, one at Gedington church, of a simple but good
character, and another at Martham church, Norfolk, which is painted and

The choir of Wimborne Minster, Dorsetshire, was fitted up in the
beginning of the seventeenth, or end of the sixteenth century, quite
after the old traditions, as regards screen-work and arrangement, though
the details were of course debased.

The collegiate chapels of the universities present several remarkable
examples of post-Reformation screens, as Wadham, Baliol, Lincoln, the
old screen of Magdalene, before the recent alterations, at Oxford; and
Peterhouse, Caius college, Clarehall, at Cambridge; even the screen of
King's college chapel itself was not erected till after the schism, as
the initials of Anna Boleyn occur in its decorations.

I have been informed of a screen in one of the churches at Leeds,
erected in the seventeenth century; and an oak screen of a still later
date is standing in the church of St. Peter, upon Cornhill, London. Lady
Dudley, a most pious lady, in the time of Charles I. set up a screen in
the church of St. Giles-in-the-fields, which was afterwards destroyed by
the Puritan faction. The whole transaction is so illustrative of the
spirit of those times, and so applicable to the fanatics of our own
days, that I have printed it at length at p. 74.

From these instances it will be seen that the principle of screening off
chancels has been retained in the church of England since its separation
from Catholic unity, and the partial discontinuance in the eighteenth
century was purely owing to extreme ignorance of ecclesiastical
traditions, which prevailed throughout the members of this communion at
that period, remarkable only for debased taste, and a total disregard of
the wonderful productions of Catholic antiquity.

To this brief account of screens in England, I have subjoined some
interesting extracts from churchwardens' accounts and other documents,
printed in Nichol's illustrations, which will illustrate their history
and decoration.



 "Item. The said wardens, now accomptants, received of Mrs. Elizabeth
 Morley, widow, towards the new making of a Rood, Mary, and John, in the
 roodeloft, at the time the parish be of power and substance, to build
 and make the same rood loft, the sum of £10. 0ˢ 0ᵈ.

 "Item. Received of the gift of Watir Gardynar, to the making of the
 rode-loft in the middle isle within the church, as more plainly
 appeareth by acquittance made by the said churchwardens to the said N.
 Watir, dated the ... day of October, the 9ᵉ yere of the reign of King
 Henry VII., £38. 0ˢ 0ᵈ".

The next item occurs in the reign of Edward VI.—

 "Paid to Thomas Stockdale, of XXXV ells of cloth for the frunte of the
 rood-lofte, whereon the commandments be written...."

It appears from this, that the commandments were set up originally in
the rood lofts, and not over the altars. But in the succeeding reign of
Mary, this cloth, on which the commandments were painted, was turned to
a different purpose, for in 1557, we find the following item:

 "For making iii serplys of the cloth that hung before the rode loft,
 written with the commandments, 2ˢ 0ᵈ."

In 1559, the rood was destroyed, and in a barbarous manner, for we find
the following items:

 "Paid to John Rial for his iii days' work to take down the roode, Mary,
 and John, 2ˢ 8ᵈ.

 "Item. To the same for cleaving and sawing of the rood, Mary, and
 John, 1ˢ".

In 1561, "Paid to joyners and labourers about the taking down and new
reforming of the rood loft, as by a particular book thereof made doth
appear, £37. 10ˢ 2ᵈ".

This is the last item which occurs respecting the rood loft of this


_From Coate's History of Reading._


 "It. Rec. at Alhalow-tyde for the rode light xˢ iiiiᵈ.

 "It. Payed for xliii.-li. of ire wark, on the south end of the rode
 loft to stay the lyght, the li. iiᵈ Smᵃ viiˢ iiᵈ.

 "It. Payed for xxvi. li. of irewark on the north syde or end of the
 same rode loft to stay the same lyght, pic le li., ii. Smᵃ iiiiˢ iiiiᵈ.

 "It. Payed for lyne to draw the curtens in the same lofte, iiiᵈ.

 "It. Payed for scouring of the laten bolls in the said loft, iiiiᵈ.

 "It. Payed for six laten bolls on the north side of the rode loft,


 "It. Paied for settyng up of the said rode, Mary, and John, for the
 remouing of the organs, and for making yᵉ sete for yᵉ player of yᵉ same
 organs, xxᵈ.

 "It. Paied to Henry Blanksten, paynt for gilding the rode, Mary, and
 John, in the rode loft, xiiiiˢ."


_Costs paid for penting of the roodes, with karvying, and oder costs also._


 "Item. To Sir John Plomer, for makying of the fyugyrrs of the roode,
 £0. 1ˢ 8ᵈ.

 "Item. To the karvers for makyg of iii. dyadems,[19] and of oon of the
 Evangelists, and for mendyg the roode, the crosse, the Mary and John,
 the crown of thorn, with all odir fawts, £0. 10ˢ 0ᵈ.

 "Item. To Undirwood, for peynting and gyldyng of the roode, the crosse,
 Mary and John, iiii. Evangelists, and the iii. dyadems, with the
 nobills that I owe to him in money, £5.

 "Item. For makyng clene of standards, candlesticks, braunches, with the
 bolls of laten upon the beame of the rodeloft, anenst the fest of Est.,
 A.D., 1486."



 "Payde for making the roode and peynting the same, £0. 5ˢ 4ᵈ.

 "For making the roode lyghtes, £0. 10ˢ 6ᵈ.

 "For the roode lyghtes at Christmase, £1. 3ˢ 2½ᵈ.


 "Received of the paryshe for the roode lyghts at Christmas. Payde for
 peynting the roode of Marie and John, and the patron of the churche,
 £0. 6ˢ 8ᵈ.

 "For the roode, Marie, and John, with the patron of the church, £0. 18ˢ


 "To the somner, for bringing the order for the roode loft.

 "To the carpenter and others for taking down the roode lofte, and
 stopping the holes in the wall, where the joices stoode, £0. 15ˢ 8ᵈ.

 "To the peynter, for writing the scripture where the roode loft stoode,
 and overthwarte the same isle, £0. 3ˢ 4ᵈ."


 "Payde for waxe for the roode-lofte light agenst Chrystemas last paste,
 pryce the pounde 10ᵈ, £0. 4ˢ 2ᵈ.

 "A cloth of the Passyon to hang in the roode lofte in Lente."


 "Item. Paide to Robt. Bungyng, for helpyng of oon borde in the roode
 lofte, £0. 0ˢ 2ᵈ.

 "Item. Payd for mendyng and staying yᵉ roodeloft, in hale, £0. 0ˢ 2ᵈ.

 "Item. To ye said Stephin, for mendyng yᵉ herne wark in yᵉ rode lofte,
 £0. 0ˢ 4ᵈ."


"Hic jacet Johannes Albred quondam Twelewever, istius ville. Ob. primo
die Maii, 1400, et Agnes uxor eijus.

"This Twelewever, with Agnes, his wife, were at the charges (people of
all degree being, as then, forward to beautifie the house of God), to
cut, gild, and paint a rood loft or partition betwixt the body of the
church and the quire, whereon the pictures of the crosse and crucifixe,
the Virgin Mary, of angels, archangels, saints and martyrs are figured
to the life: which how glorious it was when it was all standing, may be
discerned by that which remaineth. This, their work of pietie, was
depensild [painted] upon the fabricke, of which so much as is left.

"'Orate.—Johannes Albrede et Agnetis—Soluerunt pro pictura totius hujus
operis superne:—videlicet, crucis crucifixi, Marie, archangelorum et
totius candeleb.'

"The names of some of the saints pourtraied upon the worke and yet
remaining, are these, S. Paul, S. Edward, S. Kenelm, S. Oswald, S.
Cuthbert, S. Blaze, S. Quintin, S. Leodegare, S. Barnaby, S.
Jerome."—From Weever's Funeral Monuments.


"The said church is divided into three parts: the sanctum sanctorum
being one of them, is separated by a large skreene in the figure of a
beautiful gate in which is carved two large pillars and three large
statues: on the one side is Paul with his sword; on the other Barnabas
with his book; and over these, Peter with his keys; they are all set
above with winged cherubims, and beneath supported by lions.

"This screen, which was erected by the pious munificence of Lady Dudley,
about ten years previous, was demolished by the Puritans in 1644. We
find a party in the parish in 1640, exhibiting articles to Parliament
against the rector, Dr. Heywood. It was stated that, in the parish
church were set up crucifixes, and divers images of saints, and likewise
organs with other confused musicke, hindering devotion." The screen
given by Lady Dudley was also decreed as superstitious, and in 1644 is
the following memorandum respecting it: "Also, we, the auditors of this
account, doe find that the accomptant, Edward Gerrard, was commanded, by
ordinance of Parliament, to take down the screene in the chancell, it
being found superstitious, which was accordingly done, and it sold for
fortye shillings;

"Also, out of the receipt for church goods, were paid the bricklayer for
mending the walls on both sides the chancel, where the screen
stood."—From Parton's History of St. Giles-in-the-Fields.

It is remarkable what a similarity of feeling against screens is to be
found among Puritans and Paganisers.

[18] Till very recently there were distinct traces of the side altars
under this screen, but they have been removed, and modern tracery put in
their place.

[19] _Diadem_, the old English word for Nimbus.



When we now behold the city of London, with its narrow lanes, lined with
lofty warehouses and gloomy stores, leading down to the banks of the
muddy Thames, whose waters are blackened with foul discharges from
gas-works and soap-boilers, while the air is darkened with the dense
smoke of chimneys rising high above the parish steeples, which mark the
site of some ancient church, destroyed in the great conflagration, it is
difficult to realize the existence of those venerable and beautiful
fabrics where the citizens of London assembled in daily worship, and
whose rood lofts shone so gloriously on Easter and Christmas feasts. But
this great and ancient city was inferior to none in noble religious
buildings; and in the sixteenth century the traveller who approached
London from the west, by the way called Oldbourne, and arriving at the
brow of the steep hill, must have had a most splendid prospect before
him; to the right the parish church of S. Andrew's, rising most
picturesquely from the steep declivity, and surrounded by elms, with its
massive tower, decorated nave, and still later chancel; on the left the
extensive buildings of Ely-house, its great gateway, embattled walls,
lofty chapel and refectory, and numerous other lodgings and offices,
surrounded by pleasant gardens, as then unalienated from the ancient see
after which it was called, it presented a most venerable and
ecclesiastical appearance. Further in the same direction might be
perceived the gilded spire of S. John's church of Jerusalem and the
Norman towers of S. Bartholomew's priory. Immediately below was the
Fleet river, with its bridge, and the masts of the various craft moored
along the quays. At the summit of the opposite hill, the lofty tower of
S. Sepulchre's, which though greatly deteriorated in beauty, still
remains. In the same line, and over the embattled parapets of the
Newgate, the noble church of the Grey Friars, inferior in extent only to
the cathedral of S. Paul, whose gigantic spire, the highest in the
world, rose majestically from the centre of a cruciform church nearly
seven hundred feet in length, and whose grand line of high roofs and
pinnacled buttresses stood high above the group of gable-houses, and
even the towers of the neighbouring churches. If we terminate the
panorama with the arched lantern of S. Mary-le-Bow, the old tower of S.
Michael, Cornhill, and a great number of lesser steeples, we shall have
a faint idea of the ecclesiastical beauty of Catholic London. But to
return to our more immediate subject, each of these fine churches was
provided with its screen and rood. Numerous are the entries in the old
churchwardens' accounts yet remaining of pious offerings made by the
citizens to beautify the devotional sculptures which decorated them, and
to provide tapers and branches to deck them for the returning festivals.
There were veils for Lent, when the glory of our Lord was partially
obscured by his approaching Passion; and there were garlands for Easter,
and paschal lights, and crowns, and diadems. The old parish church of S.
Mary-at-Hill was inferior to none in the beautiful partition of its
chancel; it was principally the work of a pious citizen, who, on the
decay of the older work, renewed the same; or, as the old chronicle
expresses it:—"For the love he bore to Jesu and his holy Modir did sett
up at his own proper costes and charges, and most artificially
dispensil, the image of Christ, Mary, and John, and many saynts and
aungels, with the loft whereon they stood: and for the due maintainyng
of a perpetual light to hang brenyng before the same, and for a priest
to synge at his anniversary he also left two tenements in the paryshe of
Barkynge; and when he died he was buried under a grey stone, over and
against the holy doors of the chancel, and till the sad time of the
civil wars, was his portraieture in brass, and that of his wife, and 3
sons and 5 daughters at their feet, and his shield of mark, and the arms
of the honourable Company of the Fishmongers, and round the bordure,
with an Evangelist at every corner, was this inscription: '✠ Good
Christen people, of your charitie pray for the soulys of John Layton,
citizen and fyshemonger of London, who deceeded on the feast of S.
Stephen, in the yeare of our Lorde 1456, and of Margaret his wyffe, on
whose sowlys and the sowlys of Christen men may Jesu have mercy. Pater,
ave, Amen.'" And on the brestsumer of the rood loft were carved divers
devices, such as S. Peter's keys for his Patron, and dolphins and
sea-luces salterwise for the Company, and scrolls, with +Lays+ coming
out of tuns for the founder, and above all was a most artificial
bratishing, with large bowls of brass, with prickets for tapers on great
feasts, and there was a staircase of freestone, closed by an oak door,
set up on the south side of the aisle, for the convenience of ascending
to the same; and on each of the lower panels of the holy doors and of
the bays of the screen were pictures of saints and martyrs, on grounds
of gold diaper, each with their legend. For nearly a century this goodly
work had stood the pride and delight of the parishioners, who bestowed
much cost on sustaining its lights and ornaments, as the church books
yet testify. But a sad and fearful change was approaching—new and
heretical doctrines were circulated and even heard at Paul's Cross; men
became divided in heart and mind; the returning festivals exhibited no
unity of joy and devotion; many gloomily stayed away; and it was
currently reported that nocturnal meetings were privately held at some
citizens' houses, where preachers from beyond sea taught novel opinions,
and inveighed against altars and priests, and sacred images and ancient
rites; and soon there was a quest to examine into the ornaments of the
churches, and many a goodly pyx, and chalice, and chrismatory were
seized by the sacrilegious spoilers for the state; and shortly after the
ancient service was interrupted by scoffers and infidels, and they who
adhered to the old faith of England's church were filled with sorrow and
dismay, and they worshipped in fear and sadness, and every day brought
new troubles and greater sacrilege.

It was late in the evening, or rather the early part of the night, that
a number of persons, evidently of very varied ranks and conditions, were
crowded into a back chamber in the habitation of a citizen notoriously
disaffected to the ancient religion; they were listening with
considerable earnestness of attention, to the exhortations, or rather
ravings, of a man of sour aspect, whose dress and gestures announced him
as belonging to the class of unordained preachers called the New
Gospellers. The subject of his discourse was the extirpation of
idolatry; the triumphs of the Jewish people over the unbelieving nations
was the principal source from whence he drew his denunciations. The
texts relating to the destruction of the heathen idols he transferred to
the ancient images of the church, and succeeded in rousing the passions
of his hearers to the utmost frenzy. "But why," he exclaimed, "do we
waste time? Let us lay the axe to the root of the tree; the famous rood
of S. Mary-at-Hill standeth hard by, to the shame and reproach of
Christian men. Let us pluck it down and utterly deface it, so it perish
and be seen no more." Some of the most zealous of the fanatics instantly
acted on this suggestion. Descending to the street, they soon surrounded
the residence of the aged sacrist (who still retained his office, though
the duties were sadly curtailed), and rousing him from his rest,
demanded the keys of the church. Alarmed by the uproar, many casements
were opened; but the numbers of the clamouring party appeared so
considerable, and the prospect of any assistance from the watch (which
was then only perambulatory) so remote, that none ventured down to the
assistance of the old clerk, who, terrified by the menaces of his
assailants, and without any companion except a lad who acted as his
servant, at length surrendered the keys. A few links had by this time
been procured, and by their smoky and lurid light the southern door was
opened, and the whole party tumultuously crowded into the venerable
edifice. The lamp so liberally provided by John Layton had ceased to
burn for some time; its revenue had been sequestered as superstitious,
and the chancel was shrouded in impenetrable darkness. Against this
gloomy background the rood and its attendant images stood out in red
reflected light, but the Jews themselves that scoffed on Calvary's mount
were not more bitter in their scorn than the New Gospellers, who uttered
loud shouts and cries as they beheld the object of their sacrilegious
vengeance. The sound of hollow blows echoes through the church, the
lower door is forced: ascending footsteps are heard on the staircase;
then the rebounding tread of heavy feet on the loft itself, torches
appear—axes gleam—heavy blows fall thick; some cleave, some pierce, some
shout, and with one great crash it totters and falls—images, cross—all
lie a ruin on the ancient pavement. The work of destruction now
proceeds: some wrench the extended limbs from the sculptured cross;
broken and dismembered, the sacred image of the Redeemer is dragged down
the nave; while others deface and cleave the evangelistic symbols,
tossing the fragments in wild derision; some curse, some spit, some
foam, others exclaim, "Into the fire with it!" and a glare of light
striking through the western window, showed that the suggestion had been
followed; it crackled in the garth, and now the mangled images are piled
on the roaring mass, while furious cries, "Away with it! Destroy it
utterly!" break through the stillness of the night, and scare the
affrighted parishioners, who behold this horrible spectacle from their
gabled residences. Nearly three hundred years have elapsed, and the rood
was again raised in glory in this very city, and the cry "Away with it!"
was again heard. Came it from the blaspheming Jews? No. Came it from the
bitter Calvinists? No. Came it from the incarnate fiends? No. It
proceeded from a _modern Catholic ambonoclast_!!!!


Louis de Chantal was born in France, of noble parents, about the middle
of the eighteenth century; being a younger brother, he was destined from
his earliest years to the ecclesiastical state, but on arriving at a
maturer age, his tastes and inclinations were so adverse to the sacred
functions, that he proceeded no further than receiving the tonsure,
which enabled him to hold the rich ecclesiastical preferment in the gift
of his family, and entitled him to the appellation of Monsieur l'Abbé de
Chantal. He soon became commendatory abbot of two once great religious
establishments, then languishing under a sad decay of zeal and
discipline consequent on the loss of a regular head. The great object of
commendatory abbots was to keep the number of religious to the lowest
possible amount, in order to profit the more by the revenues, which they
diverted to their own private benefit and luxury. At Conques the decay
of the temporal kept pace with that of the spiritual; the buildings
which, for the most part, had been erected during the glorious period of
S. Louis, were falling fast to ruin. The regular portions, now much too
large for the habitations of the few religious that remained, exhibited
the desolate appearance of neglect and emptiness. Verdure luxuriated in
the untrodden courts, and sprung up even in the very cloister, whose
vaults had long ceased to echo the regulated tread and solemn chaunt of
the ancient Benedictines. It was evident that essential repairs could
not long be postponed, and a bull issued by the Pope a few years
previous, requiring the conventual buildings of France to be
substantially repaired out of the revenues, was still in force. The
matter was, however, deferred for a short time, as our young abbé was
about to proceed on his travels to the more classic ground of Italy, at
that period ignorantly regarded as the great repository and source of
all art and taste. The noble mediæval cathedrals of France were
considered by Monsieur de Chantal as so many specimens of ancient
barbarism, but the extravagancies of Bernini and the distortions of Le
Pautre were splendid achievements in his eyes. It may be readily
conceived what class of objects arrested his attention in his travels:
his enthusiasm on arriving at the Eternal City was boundless—he almost
believed that the heathen mythology was revived, and that he was in the
presence of those divinities whose exploits had been the study of his
early youth. The splendid galleries of voluptuous art, where the
metamorphoses and amatory combats of Ovid were depicted to the life. The
marble goddesses in shady groves, and sporting tritons cooling the air
in high and sparkling jets—the obelisks, the sarcophagi, the endless
treasures of classic art. Then even the churches, they were scarcely to
be distinguished from the exquisite taste of the heathens themselves.
Thinly draperied saints were borne into paradise by hovering Cupids.
Voluptuous female statues reclined on the sarcophagi of bishops and
ecclesiastics,—herculean martyrs writhed like dying gladiators, while
naked angels held aloft the victor's crown. Our abbé was ravished with
astonishment and delight as the eager cicerone drew him from one
far-famed object to another, each more wonderful than the last. In his
perambulations he occasionally passed some venerable looking
sanctuaries, but the usual exclamation of the guide, _eh, una
porcheria_, was quite sufficient to repress any desire of examining
them; and in a word, he returned from Italy like most of the
ecclesiastics of that period, with a thorough contempt for the ancient
traditions of church architecture, and a determination to Italianize, as
far as possible, in any work with which he might be connected. The time
had now arrived when the repairs of the abbey of Conques could be no
longer delayed, and accompanied by an architect of the Souflot style,
with a thickly curled wig reaching half-way down his shoulders, he one
morning started from his hotel at Paris, and proceeded thither. Although
only a few leagues distant, the bad roads so delayed their progress,
that it was late in the afternoon when they attained the top of the
descent that led down into the valley where the abbey was situated. A
little to the eastward of the scattered houses which formed the village,
and small but characteristic church, stood the then lofty and irregular
abbatial buildings. High above the rest rose the long grey mass of the
church, surmounted by a high leaden roof, whitened with age. A forest of
pinnacles surrounded the apse, while buttress and arc buttant continued
in regular succession to surround the vast fabric. At the western end
were two towers, but the southern one alone had been carried up to its
intended height, the other had received a temporary roof, when raised a
few feet above the nave; the abbacy shortly after fell into _commendam_,
and it rose no higher. A small but elegant leaded spire was placed at
the intersection of the nave and transept, but it was evidently a
substitute for some far grander design in the way of a centre lantern,
as might be divined by the rising of angle masonry left incomplete.

A dense mass of wood covered the opposite hill with a deep green, while
the warm tints of a westerning sun relieved each turret and pinnacle in
a glowing hue on the verdant background. A rapid descent soon brought
the abbé and his companion to the gates, which were opened with some
difficulty to admit the equipage within the first court; such vehicles
were utterly unknown when these buildings were raised, and further
progress was impossible except on foot. The abbé then alighted, and was
received with much external respect by the few religious who remained
the occupants of a monastery, where more than a hundred sons of S.
Benedict had kept the rule together in older and better times.

The next morning the architect waited on Monsieur de Chantal in his
chamber, "Monseigneur," he exclaimed, "j'ai parcouru les bâtimens;—rien
de plus gothique, de plus mauvais; point de règles, point de principes;
ces gens-là ils n'ont jamais connu le beau; il faut tout démonter, tout
démolir." This proposition, however well it might accord with the tastes
of the commendatory abbot, was by no means agreeable to his intentions,
as the proposed demolition and rebuilding would cost a considerable sum,
which he thought might be as well expended on some new gardens attached
to his hotel at Paris, and he therefore, on a personal inspection,
considerably modified the sweeping intentions of his architect, and
confined his operations to indispensable repairs and the erection of
some new offices. These points arranged, he proceeded at once to the
inspection of the church. On entering by the western cloister door, the
venerable fabric appeared nearly in its original state: the nave was
divided into nine bays with light clustered shafts, the centre one of
each running quite up to receive the groin; the triforium was divided
into compartments corresponding to the mullions of the clerestory
windows, and filled with imagery and devices in painted glass. The upper
windows contained the image of a saint in every light, under a high
canopy of rich design. The lower windows of the aisles had been altered
in the fifteenth century, the tracery was more elaborately ramified and
the glass exhibited a higher degree of pictorial skill, though inferior
in severity and style to the more ancient glazing.

The ribs of the groining were richly painted at the intersections, with
images in relief on every boss. The pavement was irregularly studded
with incised slabs of benefactors, who were permitted to repose beneath
the floor of that edifice to whose support and glory they had
contributed while living. But the most striking object that presented
itself to the sight, was a most elaborate jubé or rood loft, extending
completely across the entrance to the choir. Eight slender shafts
sustained seven arches, richly crocketted on the labels, with images of
angels in sexfoils, filling up the spandrils. Between every arch and
over the shafts, was an image standing on a corbel under a projecting
tabernacle; immediately over them were sixteen arched and canopied
recesses, each containing, in high relief, a mystery of our Lord's life
and passion, most artificially wrought in stone, and heightened with
gilding and colours, and over all, in the midst, was a great rood rising
almost to the vault of the church, with most cunning work of leaves and
foliage running up and about it, and sprouting forth at its extremities,
and on it an image of our Lord as it were a king with a diadem on his
head, and a long tunic, all gilt, reaching down to his feet, with the
borders set with crystals, and on either side an image of our Blessed
Lady and S. John, and two cherubims with images of gold. This rood,
which was held in singular veneration by neighbouring inhabitants, and
by them commonly termed Le Bon Dieu de Conques, found but little favour
in the eyes of our refined abbé; "Il faut démonter cette vieillerie-là,"
said he, turning to the architect. "Ah, mon Dieu, oui," was the ready
answer, "_ça fera du bien_; on peut y mettre une grillage en fer, comme
à S. Denis."[20]—"C'est une bonne idée!" cried Monsieur de Chantal, "et
je la ferai exécuter." It is probable that, in carrying out this
barbarous and sacrilegious intention, the abbé meant to _improve_ the
church!! Brought up in the principles of error and paganism, to him
nothing was beautiful that did not savour of classic art. It is probable
that he really meant well, as far as so debased a mind could mean well;
let us hope his ignorance obtained his final pardon, and that he was
permitted to expiate in his doleful end this terrible deed of
destruction. The religious of Conques mourned most bitterly over the
demolition of the ancient jubé. Men who live a religious life are
naturally adverse to change: the removal of an image, a picture, an
object on which they have been accustomed to look with devotion, is to
them an irreparable loss, and great were the wailings of the little
community when they learned their abbé's decision; remonstrance was,
however, useless against such superior power, and the demolition of the
whole was finally decided. But its destruction was not deplored by the
religious only,—the inhabitants of Conques, a simple-minded but devout
race, had, for many generations, regarded this ancient and edifying
imagery with singular veneration. From their early years, succeeding
fathers had taught their little ones that the great king upon the cross
was the son of the king of kings, who expired on the rood to save them,
and there was his blessed mother weeping at his side, and the beloved
disciple to whose care she was committed; and below all were wonderful
mysteries shown, from the salutation of the angel to the painful bearing
of the cross to Calvary. All these and much more were set forth and most
artificially, and great was the lamentation of the good people of
Conques when they heard that it was to be no more seen.

Impatient to begin his improvements, the abbé procured some workmen to
commence the demolition before his return to Paris. Among those who
presented themselves was a young man of great athletic powers, but of a
sinister and scornful countenance, and who appeared to proceed in the
task of destruction with singular alacrity and energy. Several men with
ropes and ladders had now ascended the upper part of the rood, while the
young man before mentioned stood at the foot, and alternately applied a
crow and axe to cut away the mortice in which the base rested and prise
it out. Before the men above had the ropes properly fast to lower all,
by a tremendous effort he forced the foot from its socket, and the
cross, inclining to the Gospel side, fell over, carrying away the image
of the Blessed Virgin in descent, and the whole mass lay broken on the
pavement. The movement was so sudden that it startled the abbé, who was
standing near the man, and a feeling of dread seemed to appal the other
workmen as they gazed on the fallen rood, but the face of the youth was
flushed with ill-concealed exultation, which the abbé remarked, and
attributed at the time to his successful display of strength; but it
came from a far deeper feeling, as he afterwards discerned to his own

The whole screen was afterwards demolished; and by the end of the
succeeding year, when Monsieur de Chantal came to inspect the
alterations, he found, to his great satisfaction, that something of the
character of a Berninian church had been imparted to the ancient choir.
A rococo screen of open iron work, with his own arms in the centre, had
supplanted the ancient screen. Pointed arches had been turned into round
ones by help of plaster; the ancient capitals, luxuriant in salient
foliage and quaint imagery, had been transferred into heavy Corinthians;
most of the painted glass had been removed and replaced by large square
white panes. The shafts of the pillars were marbled by streaks of paint,
and this once perfect choir reduced down to a base and bad imitation of
the corrupt Italian style.

About a furlong from the abbey-gate was the old parish church, a simple
and unpretending structure, with its slate-topped steeple and gilded
cock, a most fitting emblem of the exemplary and vigilant pastor, the
Père Duchesne, a venerable priest, who for many years had most
faithfully discharged the sacred duties of his cure; a man of most
retired habits, who devoted that portion of his time that was not
occupied by parochial cares to learned researches and pursuits. He was
deeply read in liturgical lore, and held the ancient traditions and
offices of the church in great veneration. Every Sunday and feast the
most respected of his parishioners assembled round the lectern in the
chancel, where they sang the praises of God in the old plain song, for
no other music was tolerable to the ears of either priest or people. The
interior of the church, though simple, was not devoid of interest. There
were considerable remains of painted glass, especially towards the
eastern end; the high altar was coeval with the erection of the church
itself, and had been traditionally consecrated by a holy bishop, now
numbered among the saints of God. The altar of the Lady chapel dated
from the end of the fourteenth century, and was erected by a seigneur
who lived in the old chateau on the hill, then in ruins. The rood loft
was remarkable; the front was supported by four pillars, sustaining
three equal arches; the space between these pillars was enclosed by a
sort of iron trellis, set up with the original work, as a protection to
two side altars, the reredoses of which formed a solid wall for nearly
six feet high, and were then divided by mullions into lights, like a
window; these were also secured by bars, and a massive pair of doors,
with rich ornamental iron-work, closed the entrance to the chancel. I
have been thus particular in the description of this screen, as it is
important for a subsequent part of this history. Such was the church,
and such its curé. The Abbé de Chantal, in ordinary courtesy to the old
priest, determined to call at his residence previous to his departure.
On arriving, he was ushered into a small chamber, where the curé was
seated with a folio extended on the table before him. Somewhat surprised
at the sudden entrance of the abbé, and not over well pleased, as he
held such quasi ecclesiastics at the lowest estimation, he begged to
know the reason for so unlooked-for a visit. "Oh, Monsieur le curé,"
carelessly exclaimed the abbé, "I have been making great improvements at
the abbey, and I wish to know if you have seen what has been done?" "I
have, indeed, seen what has been done, or rather undone," cried the old
priest with increasing emotion, "but surely you cannot expect me to
approve the destruction of Catholic antiquity and symbolism, and the
substitution of unmeaning and offensive novelties." "_Eh, patience_,
Monsieur le curé; why I was going to propose to you to reform your
church _à l'Italienne_, and to get rid of the monstrous barrack in the
middle, _on les démonte partout_." At these words, the curé, reddening
with indignation, exclaimed, "Monsieur de Chantal, the present degraded
state of ecclesiastical discipline permits you, a layman in every
respect but in the fashion of your clothes and the form of your peruke,
to hold the highest office in a foundation where, in more ancient and
better days, you would not have been permitted to take part in the most
menial duties. You have destroyed that which your predecessors
respected; you have defaced and mangled the Temple of God; you have
dressed it out à la mode; and its solemnity is departed for ever, to the
sorrow and disgust of myself and my people. But allow me to tell you,
the parish church is under my care, and while I live not one stone of
that venerable enclosure of the holy place shall be touched or removed,
or its sacred imagery injured." The abbé, deeply mortified at the
reproaches of the curé, endeavoured to conceal his mortification by
diverting the discourse on the times and his parishioners. The curé,
however, turning to his visitor, said in a sad and solemn tone, "The
times are full of sad presage. The riches, the corruptions, immunities,
and extravagant privileges that disgrace even the highest ecclesiastics
of the land, are the subject of deep and merited murmurs among the
neglected people; men begin to hate religion for the vices of its
ministers, and those who squander in worldly vanity the revenues
intended for the service of religion and Christ's poor, will have to
give a fearful reckoning." The abbé started to his feet: "Nay, hear me,"
continued the curé. "You are one of these spoilers; it is true the abbey
was given to you as a heritage, but it was the gift of those who had no
power to bestow. Think of that choir, once filled with a hundred devout
servants of God chanting his praises by night and day, now debased and
almost deserted. The vast refectory in ruins,—its vaulted gateway, where
hundreds partook the hospitality and charity of the house, now scarcely
shelters a single straying mendicant—all is neglect and decay, and how
will it end?" "Ah, mon Dieu," cried the abbé, "I cannot bear this; how
often have I thought and tried for better things! But no, impossible. My
rank, my family honour, all must be supported." So, hastily departing,
he summoned his servants and carriage.—"To Paris!" he exclaimed. That
night the Hotel de Chantal was a blaze of light, the rendezvous of the
_élite_ of the capital; and among the many cavaliers who escorted the
fair dames of Paris that graced the mirrored and lustred saloons, none
could surpass the gallantry and devotion of the noble owner of the
mansion, the commendatory abbot of Conques....

Fifteen years had elapsed since that night of revelry—the Hotel de
Chantal is closed—it has been pillaged of its costly furniture—its
saloons are desolate: some few miserable people live in its upper
rooms—a ferocious _sans-culotte_ has replaced the liveried porter. Where
is its once noble, its wealthy owner? In the corner of a miserable
mansard of the Faubourg S. Germain crouched the figure of a man
approaching the middle age, but whose unshaven visage and neglected
state added several years to his appearance. His dress was that of a
labourer, but the coarseness of his outer garments but ill accorded with
his fair and unworked hands. A small leathern valise was by his side,
and he anxiously listened to every sound. "This was the time he should
have arrived," he exclaimed, "my retreat is only known to him. Mon Dieu!
can he have betrayed me?" At this moment a confused and increasing sound
of cries and snatches of songs was heard in the street—it is on the
staircase—the tramp of ascending footsteps, mingled with imprecations of
vengeance, strikes on the terrified ears of the unhappy Chantal, for
such was the seeming labourer. He rushed to the window, but it afforded
no chance of escape, as the eaves of the tiles were overhanging the
street at a prodigious height, and the steepness of the pitch precluded
all hope of ascending to the top. At this moment the door was assailed,
the feeble fastenings soon gave way, and a party of men rushed in, among
whom De Chantal distinguished his treacherous servant, who had betrayed
his retreat. "Le voila!" he exclaimed, and in a moment the abbé was in
the grasp of men who never spared an aristocrat. At the same time a red
handkerchief held out of the window, announced to the crowd below that
the victim had been captured and was secured, amid yells of triumph and
execration. A few moments served to drag down the unfortunate abbé to
the street, half filled by a mixed rabble, in which the women were
conspicuous for their savage exclamations and menaces. "A bas les
aristocrats, à bas les prêtres, à bas les tyrans," were heard on all
sides, while the terrified abbé was forced along, strongly grasped by
two ferocious _sans-culottes_.

In a short time they arrived at a small open space; some straw was
scattered on the pavement, and by the side of a common butcher's block,
hastily brought to the spot, stood a man of enormous muscular strength
and lofty stature, a shirt loosely bound round his waist and a pair of
sabots completed his attire, while he wielded a huge chopper or axe, in
savage impatience for his victim. The abbé cast a terrified look at this
popular executioner, and seemed indistinctly to recollect his ferocious
features. "Oh, Jesu, Jesu," he shrieked, in agony of soul, when the
furious infidel, bending towards him, in a voice of savage irony
exclaimed, "_Il n'y est plus_, Monsieur l'Abbe; _nous l'avons démonté à
Conques_, ha! ha!"—The executioner and the youth who cut away the rood
were the same.—In a few moments a badly severed head and a bleeding
corpse were tossed to and fro amid the frantic mob, and exposed to every
indignity, till a common cart removed them and bore them to an
unhallowed grave, and no cross ever marked the spot which held the
mutilated remains of the last commendatory abbot of Conques, the _Pagan


Jacques Frénin was the name of the man who so fearfully figured as the
executioner of the abbé. From an early age he had imbibed those infidel
opinions that were too industriously propagated among the French people
for a considerable time previous to the breaking out of the great
revolution. He hated the priests, because he thought they were rich, and
not obliged to labour like himself; for the same reason he detested the
nobility and higher classes. He considered religion as a mere invention
of priestcraft; he was never seen at its offices, or participating in
its rites; it was therefore not surprising that he assisted at the
demolition of the ancient rood of the abbey with a sort of diabolical
satisfaction. "Ma foi," he exclaimed, "c'était un beau commencement,
mais ça ne s'arrêtera pas là;" and indeed, a few years later the full
principles of infidelity developed themselves in the closing of all the
temples of God, and total destruction of many of the most glorious
religious monuments. As soon as popular fury had made head against all
regular government, Jacques entered the National Guard, and proceeded to
Paris, where his great strength and daring courage soon raised him in
the estimation of his fiend-like associates. He was always the ready
destroyer of a cleric or aristocrat; hence the terrible part he
performed at the close of the last chapter. Through the continual
occasions of plunder that presented themselves in those lawless times,
he obtained a considerable sum of money, and with this he determined on
retiring to his village, and securing some property. The abbey buildings
had been nearly demolished for the materials, with the exception of the
great western towers, which had resisted destruction, and stood now
isolated, and of immense apparent height. Fragments of shafts, mullions,
ribs, and ashlar-work were piled in heaps for sale, and the area of the
church was one great mound of lime and broken materials. The sad scene
of desolation produced no regret on the mind of the hardened Jacques,
who merely exclaimed, "Ah, c'est fini!" and turned towards the old
parish church, which was still standing. On drawing near he perceived an
affiche announcing it for sale as part of the propriétés nationales.
"Here is a capital chance," he thought; "a store for wood is what I
require, and then if I buy that neighbouring forest my fortune is made."
In a short time the purchase was concluded, and the venerable temple,
which had for some time ceased to echo the divine praises, was disposed
of to become a common wood-store. The interior of the building had a
most desolate appearance; the whole was denuded of every ornament; the
side altars were standing, but the high altar had been thrown down in a
fruitless search for supposed treasure. An ancient image of our Lady had
been removed, but the corbel remained, and the outline of the figure
itself was traceable on the wall. The floor was strewed with rubbish,
and damp was gathering round the bases of the pillars and chancel steps.

Jacques viewed his purchase with great satisfaction. Could he but fill
it with wood, what profit he should realize! "But, peste!" he exclaimed,
"with that diable de jubé, it is impossible to get a cart up near the
end. Tu descendras vite." Now Frénin had assisted during his
revolutionary campaigns at the destruction of many a noble church, and
had remarked the expeditious way in which this was effected by cutting
away the bases of the shafts, and propping them up with pieces of
timber, smeared with pitch, which, when fired, were rapidly consumed,
and caused the instant fall of the superincumbent weight; so that, as
one of the writers of that period triumphantly explains, "_On peut
détruire toute une cathédrale dans un petit quart d'heure._" Having
frequently witnessed the success of this plan on a great scale, Jacques
determined to apply it to the pillars of the rood screen, and with the
aid of a mason who had been employed in the demolition of the abbey, he
succeeded in stilting all the shafts on wooden shores, which he
afterwards covered with grease and pitch. He calculated that in their
fall they would bring in the vaulting of the loft, and, in fine, save
all the trouble of pulling down piecemeal. All being prepared, he
entered the church early in the morning, and twisting the wooden props
with straw, he proceeded to ignite them. Those who have read the last
chapter should remember the peculiar construction of this screen, with
its iron trellis-work between the walls, the solid reredoses towards the
chancel. A volume of smoke rose from each of the four piles of wood,
succeeded by fierce crackling flames, and still denser smoke. Frénin was
quickly escaping, when in the confusion of the moment, he pressed the
iron gate from him; it closed with a spring catch, and with the rebound
shot the key far beyond his reach into the nave. He rushed to the
chancel doors, but they were barred within. In the midst of the
increasing flame he frantically dashed himself now against the door, and
now straining at the iron trellis, he roared with despair and terror;
for at that early hour no one would be near to force the gates and save
him. But two little children, belonging to a devout widow of the
village, had been taught to go and offer their morning prayers before
the church doors, though its portals had been closed for the ingress of
the faithful; and, as usual, they bent their knees before the sacred
threshold. Scarcely had they commenced their orisons, when the crackling
sounds within the building attracted their attention; these were rapidly
succeeded by the shouts of Frénin. Looking through the crevice, they
beheld flames, and ran back affrighted to the village, exclaiming, "Le
feu est à l'église." At this cry the peasants rushed from the houses,
and the smoke, which now escaped from the broken windows of the edifice,
showed that the alarm was too well founded. Proceeding to the western
doors, which Frénin had closed on entering, they forced them open by
means of a felled tree, swung by their united efforts as a ram.

On entering, the most horrible spectacle presented itself. The pillars
and arches of the rood screen encircled in fire, and in the midst of
smoke and blaze the gigantic figure of a man whose hair and clothes were
already burning, yelling imprecations; in the agony of despair he
grasped the bars with fruitless efforts to tear them from their faithful
rivets. "Ah, mon Dieu, c'est Frénin," exclaimed the terrified villagers.
"Il est perdu!" cried another voice, and at that instant the wooden
shores, reduced to gleaming embers, gave way, and arches, vaulting, all
fell in crushing weight on the wretched ambonoclast, who was speedily
consumed beneath the burning mass. Water was now procured, and by the
ready help of the numerous villagers who had been gathered to the spot,
all danger to the fabric itself was soon prevented; but when the smoking
ruins had been cleared away, a few ashes were all that remained of the
powerful frame of Jacques Frénin, the revolutionary ambonoclast.

At this moment a man of venerable aspect entered the building, and who,
notwithstanding his secular apparel, might still be recognized as the
old curé, the Père Duchesne; for it was him, indeed. He had been
concealed during the Reign of Terror by a neighbouring farmer, in whose
loft the holy rites had often been privately celebrated. "My children,"
he exclaimed, "you behold the terrible judgments of God on those who
sacrilegiously deface his holy temples. The unhappy Abbé de Chantal
perished by the hand of that wretched man of whose awful death you have
but just been the terrified spectators." A cry of subdued horror was
heard among the listening people. "Yes," he continued, "I was an
unwilling witness of his murder at Paris, and it was Frénin who struck
the blow. Inured to every crime, a despiser of God's ordinances and of
his ministers, he came at last to pollute this very temple to profane
uses. But divine justice would not suffer this enormity; he has perished
by his own hands, and his end was destruction. My dear children,"
continued the curé, "my heart bleeds to enter this church where I for so
many years united with you in daily sacrifice and prayer, and from which
we have been so long excluded, to see it so forlorn and desolate; and
even now who knows but by my presence here I may be discovered and
destroyed?" "Ah, mon père, mon père," murmured the villagers, "we will
protect you." "God's will be done!" replied the curé. At that moment the
sound of an approaching horseman was heard. The women instantly drew
near the pastor, while some of the men hastened to the doors, to
ascertain the person who was arriving. In a few moments they returned
with a substantial farmer of the neighbourhood, covered with dust, who,
hastening to the curé, exclaimed, "Ah, Monsieur le curé, nous sommes
sauvés; le premier consul a restauré le culte," and handed a paper to
the venerable priest, who could scarcely peruse it from emotion. It was,
indeed, true; the concordat with the Holy Father was made, religion was
restored. Such was the exultation of the inhabitants, that they would
have had mass celebrated in the church, if the curé had not explained to
them that, after its recent desecration, and the horrible death of
Frénin, it would require reconciliation before any sacred rites could be
performed within its walls; and for that purpose they must wait either
for the bishop or his authority.

A procession in thanksgiving was then speedily arranged; and now with
what alacrity long-concealed objects appeared! One good woman
triumphantly produces a cope she had concealed under a quadruple layer
of mattresses; another hastens with the holy water vat, brightening it
up as she came along; half the contents of the ancient sacristy returned
to view as if by magic. But what gave greater joy to the old curé than
all the rest, was the ancient rood, that had been removed from the jubé
and concealed in a roof by a pious parishioner. It came supported by
four of the strongest youths, carried in triumph. The voice of the curé,
enfeebled by age, and tremulous with overflowing devotion, could
scarcely entone the Vexilla Regis, but it was instantly taken up by a
chorus of voices. With caps in hand, tearful eyes, and swelling hearts,
the villagers of Conques followed the venerable image of the Redeemer
till arrived at the cemetery. The curé, after an ardent address of
exhortation and thanksgiving, dismissed them with his blessing. One bell
yet remained in the old tower; a rope was soon obtained, and loudly it
rang on that happy day. The church was soon after reconciled, and the
holy sacrifice has been continually offered up ever since. The rood was
raised again on high, with great rejoicings, and Père Duchesne saw that
day, and sang his _Nunc Dimittis_. He reposes in peace in the adjoining
cemetery, but his spirit lives in his successor, who equally venerates
the ancient traditions of his ancient faith. The rood is now safe from
further profanation. The traces of Frénin's destruction will be shortly
effaced by a perfect restoration; but the frightful end of the
ambonoclasts of Conques will long form the subject of discourse among
the inhabitants of the village.


This character is of comparatively recent creation,—none of the species
having been seen about in this country previous to the consecration of
S. George's church. About that time two or three made their appearance,
and, though not by any means in a flourishing condition, they have
somewhat increased. It has been asserted that their first dislike of
screens arose from a desire of literary notoriety, and that, finding
several old women of both sexes had taken a most unaccountable and
inexplicable offence at the ancient division of the chancel, and the
restoration of the crucifix, which had been so wisely destroyed in the
good old days of Queen Bess, they profited by the occasion to increase
the sale of a periodical. But this may be mere calumny; and, indeed, it
is very probable that it is a case of pure development, as at first they
did not exhibit any repugnance to pointed churches, which they rather
lauded, and only took objection to certain upright mullions and painful
images; but they speedily developed other propensities and ideas, and
latterly have exhibited symptoms almost similar to hydrophobia at the
sight, or even mention, of pointed arches or pillars. The principal
characteristics of modern ambonoclasts may be summed up as
follows:—Great irritability at vertical lines, muntans of screens, or
transverse beams and crosses; a perpetual habit of abusing the finest
works of Catholic antiquity and art, and exulting in the admiration of
everything debased, and modern, and trumpery; an inordinate propensity
for candles and candlesticks, which they arrange in every possible
variety; they require great excitement in the way of lively, jocular,
and amatory tunes at divine service, and exhibit painful distress at the
sound of solemn chanting or plain song; at divine worship they require
to sit facing the altar, and near the pulpit, and then, if the edifice
be somewhat like a fish-market, with a hot-water pipe at their feet, a
gas-pipe in the vicinity, and a stove in the rear, they can realize a
somewhat Italian atmosphere in cold and cheerless England, and revive
some sparks of that devotion that the gloomy vaulting of Westminster and
the odious pillars of a new rood screen had well nigh deprived them of.
It must be, however, stated, to their credit, that the modern
ambonoclasts, unlike their predecessors, confine their attacks to
strokes of the pen; and we do not believe that they have hitherto
succeeded in causing the demolition of a single screen. Indeed, it is
probable that, if the development of their real character had not
proceeded so rapidly, they might have caused some serious mischief to
Catholic restoration; but the _cloven foot_ is now so visible, that men
are looking out in expectation of the _tail_, and are already on their

[20] The choir of S. Denis, near Paris, had been modernised a few years


It now only remains to make some remarks on the recent revival of
Catholic art and architecture, the difficulties with which it has to
contend in England, and the opposition that has been raised against it.
As the enclosures of the sanctuary can be traced from the erection of
the earliest Christian churches, and as they are inseparably connected
with reverence and solemnity, we might have hoped, and indeed expected,
that the restoration would have been hailed by all who profess the
ancient religion as an evidence of returning faith. But, alas, we have a
class of men to oppose the revival of ancient symbolism, on whom the
examples of fifteen centuries of Catholic antiquity fail to produce the
slightest recognition of respect. The past is to them a nullity, and
they would fain have us believe that the present debased externals of
religion are to be equally received and propagated as those which were
generated during the finest ages of Christian art. Now, knowing the
whole history of this debasement in religious art, its origin and
progress, and the general decline of Catholic faith and Catholic
principles, corresponding to its increasing influence, it is impossible
for us to regard its very existence otherwise than as an intolerable
evil, and we must labour incessantly for its utter expulsion from our
churches. The decline of true Christian art and architecture may be
dated from a most corrupt era in the history of the church; and ever
since that most unnatural adoption of Pagan externals for Catholic
rites, we mourn the loss of those reverend and solemn structures which
so perfectly embodied the faith for which they were raised. Bad as was
the Paganism of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, it was dressed
out in much external majesty and richness; but now nothing is left but
the fag end of this system; bronze and marble are replaced by calico and
trimmings; the works of the sculptor and the goldsmith are succeeded by
the milliner and the toyshop; and the rottenness of the Pagan movement
is thinly concealed by gilt paper and ribands,—the nineteenth century
apeings of the dazzling innovations of the Medician era. Cheap
magnificence, meretricious show, is the order of the day; something
pretty, something novel, calico hangings, sparkling lustres, paper pots,
wax dolls, flounces and furbelows, glass cases, ribands, and lace, are
the ornaments and materials usually employed to decorate, or rather
disfigure, the altar of sacrifice and the holy place. It is impossible
for church furniture and decoration to attain a lower depth of
degradation, and it is one of the greatest impediments to the revival of
Catholic truth. It is scarcely possible for men to realize the awful
doctrines and the majestic ritual of the Church under such a form; and
yet these wretched novelties are found on the altars of some of the most
venerable temples, equally as in the abortions of modern erection. They
disfigure alike the cathedral of the city and the wayside chapel of the
mountain-pass; they flourish in religious communities, and are even
tolerated in the seminaries for the education of the priests of the
sanctuary. Bad, paltry, miserable taste has overrun the externals of
religion like a plague; and to this state of deplorable degradation
would these new men bind our desires and intellects, as if it were of
God, and on a par with the noble works achieved in times of zeal and
faith, and at a period when all the art and talent of Christendom was
devoted to the one object of increasing the glory and magnificence of
the great edifices devoted to the worship of Almighty God. Moreover, it
is very important to observe the extraordinary similarity of idea that
actuated the artists of all Christian countries during the middle ages.
Making due allowance for climate and materials, the same ruling spirit
presided over the arts of Italy and England. The same devout effigies,
recumbent and praying, each robed in the flowing ecclesiastical habits
of the order, may be seen in every old Italian church, as in our own
cathedrals. There was no difference then between a Roman chasuble and an
English chasuble, between a Roman mitre and an English mitre. The same
beautiful forms and proportions reigned universal. Even where the
Christians extended their conquests in the East, in the city of
Jerusalem itself, the edifices they raised were in architecture Pointed
and Christian; some of which even still remain. Everywhere the Catholic
might be traced by the works he raised; but now, alas, excepting by the
extreme ugliness, and deformity, and paltry ornament, that are the usual
characteristics of modern Catholic erections, it would be difficult to
distinguish them from the recent productions of modern sects. Is it not
a consideration that should fill every true Catholic heart with grief,
that the propagation of the faith is no longer attended by the
propagation of ecclesiastical traditions? Every year what zealous
missionaries depart for distant climes, bearing with them, indeed, the
true principles of faith, but with it the most degraded externals
possible. The sources from whence they supply themselves are the
magazines of Lyons and Paris, places filled with objects made entirely
on the principle of cheap magnificence, uncanonical in form and often in
material, hideous in design, utter departures from the beautiful models
of mediæval antiquity, calculated only to please the vulgar and the
ignorant, dazzling in the eyes of savages, but revolting to every man of
true ecclesiastical knowledge and feeling. These things are not only
expedited to the colonies and even to the antipodes to form in any
mission a fresh nucleus of deplorable taste and ideas, but they inundate
the sister island itself; yes, in Ireland, where, even in times
considered barbarous, the ancient goldsmiths wrought exquisitely cunning
work for the altar and the shrine, they now deck out her sanctuaries in
Parisian trumpery, and borrow the model of her churches from the
preaching-house of the Presbyterian settler; and to such a low ebb is
all feeling for ecclesiastical art and architecture fallen—that when a
cathedral is raised after the old form of the cross of Christ, its very
bishop walls off the holy place, and converts it into _a room_!
Room-worship, where all see, is the modern shell in which innovators and
nineteenth-century men could _exhibit_ those sacred mysteries for which
Catholic antiquity raised those glorious choirs and chancels, witnesses
of their reverence and our degeneracy. But sad to relate, this principle
of room-worship is gradually extending itself into those majestic
edifices of antiquity by the manner in which they are perverted to the
modern system. The month of May is more especially devoted to the honour
of our Blessed Lady, an excellent devotion, but how is it carried out?
All who have had the misfortune of travelling on the continent during
this month must have noticed an unusual disfigurement of the fabric in
the shape of enormous festoons of red calico or some other material, as
the case may be, pendent from the groining over a catafalque of painted
canvass, flower-pots, and glass cases, surmounted by an image intended
for our Blessed Lady herself, in the most meretricious attire covered
with gauze and spangles. This miserable representation is usually set up
in the very centre of the transept or the last bay of the nave,
completely altering the whole disposition of a church. Great devotion to
the blessed mother of our Lord, was a striking feature in mediæval
antiquity. Almost every cathedral was dedicated in honour of Notre Dame,
and where was the parish church of any size that did not possess its
Lady chapel set apart for her peculiar honour? What beautiful examples
have we of these in England, though, grievous to relate, some of them
are converted to unworthy purposes, and all disused; but in many of the
continental churches it is little better; for, except an occasional
mass, Lady chapels, _as such_, are no longer kept up. In one of the
finest churches of Liege I saw an altar set up for the month of May, a
heap of paltry showy materials; but on getting to the other side I
discovered this gilded front to be sustained by old packing-cases,
trestles, casks, and planks, hastily piled up, and not even concealed
from those who might penetrate eastward of the nave. Further on was the
real Lady chapel in a very neglected state, without furniture or
decoration: this was undoubtedly the portion of the church where the
devotions of May should be celebrated; but the nave is more like a
_room_, and is therefore used in preference to that portion of the
fabric which the devout builders had set apart for the purpose. And what
majestic Lady chapels did the old churches contain! usually the most
eastward portion of the church,—the _refugium peccatorum_; they
displayed in their windows and their sculptures all those edifying—those
touching mysteries of our Lady's history which are so fruitful for
contemplation, and the tryptych altar unfolded its gilded doors when
adorned for sacrifice, with many a saint and angel depicted on its
painted panels, and the office was sung by our Lady's chaplains, all in
their stalls of quire, and the morrow mass-priest celebrated most
solemnly, and many a taper burnt brightly before her image, and our
Lady's chapel was one of the fairest portions of these fair churches.
But now, alas, while these chapels are in a great measure abandoned to
neglect, a wretched piece of scenery is substituted, and this is set up
in the centre of the nave, to the disguise of the architecture and the
impediment of its proper use. Even making all allowances for the reduced
revenues of the continental churches, it must be admitted that they are
for the most part most miserably neglected, and in a great measure
disused. There are splendid crypts where no rites are ever celebrated.
Lateral chapels turned into confessionals, or what is much worse, into
deposits for lumber; everything is carried on on the smallest scale, and
with the least trouble, and not only are the generality of modern
Catholic churches on the continent most miserable abortions, but every
year sad mutilations are permitted in many of those sacred buildings
that are still preserved for religious purposes.

Even in the Pontifical States, within a very short period, a fine
church, of mediæval construction, was shorn of both its aisles, by the
act of the very canons themselves; one they demolished for the
materials, and the other they converted into a custom house and stores.
Indeed, many modern canons have been miserable stewards of the churches
committed to their care, which makes their partial suppression in the
eighteenth century the less to be regretted. As shown in the course of
this work, they were great destroyers of choral arrangements and painted
glass in the latter times; and from a much earlier period they were
accustomed to raise a revenue by permitting domestic erections against
the sacred edifices themselves,—shops and houses between buttresses and
lodgments in porches.

At the north portal of Rouen cathedral but a few years since, I was
obliged to climb into the roof of a wretched barrack or book-stall,
erected in the seventeenth century, to inspect the unrivalled sculpture
representing the creation of the world and the early Scripture history,
and the very purloins of the roof were held by mortices cut into images
of splendid design, and the rough walls built rudely against the most
elaborate tabernacle-work and bas-reliefs. The tenants of these
miserable shops, which gave the name of the Cour des Libraires to the
northern approach of the cathedral, paid regular rent to the chapter
down to the great revolution. I am happy to state that these unsightly
excrescences have been demolished by the government, and the whole
beauty of the original design is now visible.

At Aix-la-Chapelle, a city reported, and, I believe, with truth, to be
full of devout persons, the Dom is incumbered with houses and shops for
the sale of snuff-boxes, pipes, and tobacco, between every buttress of
the apsis surrounding the high altar, and the owners of these
habitations are driving their bargains and cooking their victuals within
a few feet of the high altar of a church which is the depository of the
most venerable reliques of Europe. I mention these things to show how
sadly the ancient reverence of sacred buildings and things has declined
in latter times, and most assuredly they are intimately connected with
the screen question. Rites so sacred as those of the Catholic church
require every watchfulness, both in conduct and in externals, to
preserve them in due veneration; and an irreverent arrangement in the
construction of a church may be the cause of infinite sin and scandal.
Now, therefore, that we are beginning, as it were, _de novo_, to restore
the churches of God, how important is it that we should so construct
them, that they may by their symbolic and ancient fashion, set forth the
stupendous mysteries for whose celebration they are raised, and, at the
same time, prove them to belong to that very faith that generated,
centuries ago, those great principles of Christian art which we may
rival, but scarcely excel!

The Catholic body in England is now suddenly become the spectacle of the
world. An immense responsibility has been incurred; how will it be
supported? Our episcopal rulers bear titles which are associated with
the most venerable men and places in the history of the English
church,—names associated with the first planting of Christianity in this
land,—names known far and wide as pertaining to some of the fairest
fabrics that Catholic hands ever raised to the honour of their
Creator,—and names the very possession of which in a manner demand a
conduct and principles in accordance with their import. May we not then
hope, nay, expect, that better times are approaching; that our spiritual
rulers will, in very deed, set forth, if not the full glories of the
ancient men, at least a continuation of their principles, so that, in
all the works undertaken under their auspices, the old spirit and
intention may be evident. Christian architecture must now become a
_principle_, and not a _mere matter of whim and caprice of individuals_,
or its advocacy or rejection treated as a mere jest. Architects may
suggest and execute, _but the moving power must come from episcopal
authority—that is the legitimate source_. The finest churches, unless
the ecclesiastics enter into the spirit of the arrangement and
construction, are only so many evidences of modern degeneracy; and the
erection of a choral church for an orchestral service is a farce, and a
prostitution of ancient symbolism to a profane and irreverent purpose,
even more painful than when it is carried on in a meeting-house with an
altar in it. And as for those men who would import the debased modern
externals of Italy into this land for religious purposes, whatever their
intentions may be, _they can only be practically considered as the
greatest and worst enemies with which we have to contend_, for they
lower the majesty of religion to the level of a common show, and degrade
the sacrament before the people, giving occasion for scoffing and
ridicule, and putting stumbling-blocks in the way of our separated
countrymen, dressing up the altar of God like a mountebank's show, and
imparting a strange and modern appearance to that which was indeed the
ancient faith of this land. What a mockery would it be to lead those
devout men, (who though separated in position, have been united in heart
with the ancient religion, who have prayed in deserted aisles and
chapels, kissed the prostrate consecrated stones of ancient sacrifice,
and mourned over desecrated shrines and rifled tombs of holy dead,) up
to the threshold of that very gate within which they fondly hoped for
the realization of all those glories on which they have existed for
years, on its being opened, to introduce them into a sort of
drawing-room chapel with a deal altar hung with gauze, lace, and
ribands, surmounted by a _chiaro oscuro_ of an ecstatic friar dancing a
naked Bambino in his arms, and a bason on a neat stool for a font.
"Impostors," they would exclaim, "is this the realization of the ancient
faith? why, the wreck we have left savours more of the old spirit than
this miserable show." But let us reverse the scene, and introduce our
pilgrims into a church, raised after the ancient fashion of those in
which they had been used to worship, but restored to life and beauty.
First, that veiled altar and ardent lamps tell of the divine presence
abiding among men: _ecce tabernaculum Dei cum hominibus_. What sanctity
this imparts to the whole fabric, and how dead do even the most
stupendous churches appear when denuded of the sacramental presence; the
ground itself in such a place is holy: not only the disposition of the
fabrick itself, but every enrichment, every detail harmonises in setting
forth one grand illustration of the faith. The windows sparkle in
saintly imagery and sacred mysteries, the very light of heaven enters
through a medium which diffuses it in soft and mellowed hues. What a
perspective is presented to the sight, of successive pillars supporting
intersecting arches, leaving distant openings into aisles and chapels!
Then the chancel, with its stalled quire seen through the traceried
panels of the sculptured screen, above which, in solemn majesty, rises
the great event of our redemption, treated after a glorified and
mystical manner, the ignominious cross of punishment changed into the
budding tree of life, while, from the tesselated pavement to the
sculptured roof, every detail sets forth some beautiful and symbolical
design; how would such a fabric strike to the heart of a devout soul,
seeking for the realization of ancient solemnities! And is it not a case
of gross infatuation for men professing the old faith to reject what we
may truly imagine to be a revelation made by the mercy of God for the
consolation of his servants upon earth, and to turn back to the old
vomit of Pagan design, associated only with the infernal orgies of false
gods and heathen corruptions? Does it not show an utter loss of all
appreciation of the beautiful and the true, and a state of mental
degradation as deplorable, as it is alarming in its practical results?

Yes, it is mainly to these causes that the reproaches of debasement,
that are so frequently urged against us by Protestants, are to be
traced, nor can we scarcely wonder that those who judge by externals and
do not penetrate beneath the surface, should come to such conclusions,
judging by what is presented before them even under the most glorious
vaults of Christendom. But when we turn to true Catholic art, what do we
behold? the works of men profoundly versed in symbolism and the holy
scriptures: indeed, the great portals of the foreign cathedrals are
_Bibles in stone_. There we trace the sacred history from the first
moving of the spirit of God on the waters to the creation of all matter
and man himself; there we are led down through the Mosaic history to the
prophets foretelling the redemption of man, each with his phylactery and
appropriate emblem; beside those, all the types of the old law, those
mystical foreshadowings of our blessed Lord and his passion, till we
come to the realities, and every scene and every mystery connected with
the redemption of man, from the angelical salutation to the ascension
into heaven, are so severely, yet so piously treated, that they at once
address themselves to the inquiring mind of childhood, and draw tears of
devout admiration from mature and reflective age. O, spirit of ancient
Catholic art, how is it that you no longer abide among its people? What
curse, what blight, has deprived us of your aid? Is it not that the sons
of the church have forsaken the old traditions of faith, and have gone
straying after strange forms and gods, and substituted debased novelties
for ancient excellence, and to these profane and irreverent
representations they have given the name of Christian saints, using the
mysteries of religion as a mere peg whereon to hang their abominable

This system prevailed to such an extent that, in the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries, the people, and even the historians themselves,
lost all knowledge of what some of the sculptures of their very
cathedrals represented, and explained the prophecies of scripture and
the histories of the Old Testament by modern legends,[21] with which
they were not in the least connected, as may be seen in the histories of
Amiens, Rouen, &c.

There can be no doubt that in modern art the great and important
mysteries of Catholic truth have been in a great manner supplanted by
the representations of novel devotions and dubious representations.[22]
Among these latter, heart painting has a most extraordinary vogue.
Without being wanting in the respect due to the authorized devotion of
the sacred heart, I should be deficient in duty as a Christian artist if
I did not protest most strongly and candidly against the external form
in which it is usually represented. It is quite possible to embody the
pure idea of the divine heart under a mystical form that should
illustrate the intention without offending the sense; but when this
_most spiritual idea_ is depicted by an anatomical painting of a heart
copied from an original plucked from the reeking carcase of a bullock,
and done with sickening accuracy of fat and veins, relieved on a chrome
yellow ground, it becomes a fitting subject of fierce denunciation for
every true Christian artist, as a disgusting and unworthy representation
for any object of devotion. The rage that appears to exist among many
modern communities for hearts, is quite astonishing. To a casual
observer of some of their oratories it would really appear that their
whole devotion consisted in this representation: it is depicted in every
possible form and variety, sometimes _revolvant_ and smoking, sometimes
_volant_, with a pair of wings growing out of the sides, sometimes
_ardent_, flaming, fizzing, bursting like an exploding shell, sometimes
_nayant_, floating in a pool, sometimes in pairs, sometimes in clusters.
In fine, we have them in every possible variety, and they are by no
means dissimilar to the illustrations of those amatory epistles so
largely circulated in this country about the feast of S. Valentine.
Whether there lingers any association of ideas between these latter and
their more spiritual counterparts in the minds of pious ladies, I do not
pretend to determine, but most certainly these vile caricatures have a
wonderful hold of the fair sex, whose very book-marks generally consist
of such representations. Moreover, the bad and vicious taste that
prevails in the greater part of our religious communities of women, is a
very serious evil;[23] many of them are houses of education, and it is
most lamentable that, with the first elements of religion and piety, the
pupils imbibe the poison of bad and paltry taste which, from early
associations, affects them perhaps through life, and vitiates all their
ideas on those subjects connected with the externals of religion. It is
true that, by the blessing of God, the principles of Catholic art are by
degrees penetrating these strongholds of prejudice and bad taste, but as
yet I am not aware of one house of education where there is even a
decent chapel; the great reforms have been effected among the active
orders of ladies, and I will most fearlessly appeal to their convents,
where trash of every kind has been excluded, where both the needle and
pen reproduce the beautiful ornaments of antiquity, and where the united
voices of the community send forth the old Gregorian tones from their
stalls, as examples of what may be done by those who, even with slender
human means, apply themselves to the revival of true Catholic art and
practices. But this is only in England, and I fear that, at the present
time, nearly the whole conventual system on the continent is sunk in the
production of the veriest trash that was ever contrived for the
desecration of the altar and degradation of ecclesiastical costume. What
an appalling field of labour lies before the missionaries of Christian
art! Yet the very magnitude of the task should only serve to animate its
disciples to heroic exertion in its propagation, and to rescue the
Catholic faith from the external degradation into which it has fallen,
and to reinstate it in all its former majesty, and to restore the
reverend usages of the ancient fabrics, by which the sacred mysteries of
the church may be set forth in a more lively and striking manner,
strengthening the zeal and devotion of the faithful and drawing to the
fountain of truth those souls whom the theatrical choirs and modern
abuses have deterred from uniting.

If men were but acquainted with the Catholic church as she really is, in
her canons, and her authoritative service books, how differently would
they think and speak of her! The majesty of the language used in her
ritual and pontifical is inferior only to that of the sacred scriptures
themselves, and would almost seem to bear the evidence of inspiration in
the text. How we must admire the appropriate fitness of each
consecration to the peculiar object to be devoted to the service of
Almighty God, from the walls of the temple and altar of sacrifice to
those heralds of solemnity, the bells, whose brazen notes can animate a
whole population with one intention and one prayer! Then if we consider
the divine song of the church, its serenity, its melody, and indeed its
almost sacramental power in infusing faith into the heart as its tones
flow into the ears of the assistants, while the rhythm most perfectly
expresses the sense of the sacred words thus solemnly sung, without vain
repetitions and distracting fugues, but as is ordered by the Roman
ceremoniale, sit devota, distincta, et intelligibilis, so that men
listen, not to curious sounds, but sing in prayer and with one voice,
glorify God in unison of heart and sound. What majestic, what consoling
services has the church provided for her children! What happiness, even
on earth, might they not realize by fulfilling the loving intentions of
such a mother, and by devoting their means and energies, carry out the
authorized and ancient ritual! But alas, such is the degenerate spirit
of this age, that even among those who profess the ancient faith in this
land, the existence of solemn services is the exception and not the
rule; and while this is the case how can we wonder at the feelings with
which they are regarded by the majority of our separated countrymen, who
from curiosity or better motives of inquiry attend them? A great portion
of the old country missions have usually a sort of room with a look of
chilling neglect, at one end of which a wooden sarcophagus or quatrefoil
box serves for an altar, duly supplied with some faded artificials and
mean candlesticks of a culinary pattern. A mouldy picture of the bad
Italian school, given by some neighbouring patron on account of its
worthlessness to the chapel, hangs above. A cupboard, painted in marble
streaks, serves for a tabernacle; a half-parlour, half-kitchen, for a
sacristy and confessional, damp and neglected; and a range of benches,
with kneeling boards, provided with every description of carpet patch
and moth-eaten cushions, complete the fittings of these establishments;
and here, Sunday after Sunday, is a short said mass, badly responded by
some poor lad, a large amount of English prayers, with a discourse, &c.
&c. This is the only service which the congregation hear on the greatest
festivals; to them the solemn offices of Holy Week and the alleluias of
the Paschal time are equally unknown. A poor priest, ill supported and
alone, without means and persons to aid in his functions, abandons the
glories of religion in despair, and thinks himself truly fortunate if he
can secure the essential sacraments to those committed to his charge.
But what is the consequence? Though the old people, from long habit, are
content with this state of things, their children do not imbibe any of
that zeal and Catholic spirit that the glorious offices of the church
infuse into the tender mind,—that love of the house of God and of his
service,—that interest which the succeeding and varied festivals awake
in the youthful heart; and, sad to relate, many of the old congregations
are decaying, and some have already _died out_. Now, if this state of
things was the result of absolute unavoidable poverty, it would seem
cruel to allude to it; but I grieve to say, many of these sort of places
are sustained, or pretended to be sustained, by old and wealthy
families, who, out of abundant fortunes, dole a much worse pittance to
the chaplain than the butler: and who, to avoid the inconvenience of
people coming too near their habitations, have fitted up an unoccupied
stable, or an old outhouse, for the tabernacle of the living God!! This
is no overdrawn picture, and I draw it to try if public shame can work
on these men, who seem dead to every other. Why, there are estates
possessed by nominal Catholics so broad, that six parochial churches
might be raised, and filled with the faithful; and yet, perhaps in this
vast space is only one wretched room like that described for all the
Catholic community, thus depriving more than two-thirds of the Catholic
population of even the practical means of fulfilling the duties of their
religion! It is a common cry that the Catholic body are poor,—but it is
false: the bishops are poor, the clergy are poor, the masses of town
population are poor; but there is wealth yet in possession of men who
have not altogether renounced the name, although they have the practice
of Catholics (if the world and Satan did not grasp their hands), to
restore religion throughout England, and to place it in such a position
as to be a beacon and a light to all. What, then, must be the black
despair of one of these men, when the world to whom he has sacrificed
all is passing away from him for ever! His gay companions of the turf
who have cheated him, and fattened on his rents and lands, have left him
to die alone,—not one of these jovial friends are there. A few mercenary
attendants hover round, to watch the last, and divide what they may. No
chapel or chaplain: the priest has long been driven out to live on a
distant portion of the property; the old chapel is a disused garret,
where a few moth-eaten office-books and unstrung beads tell of the
departed piety of the older members of the family. But many years have
elapsed since holy rites or holy men were there seen or heard. Stupified
with disease, the wretched owner of a vast estate, childless and
deserted, draws near his end. He has wasted a life which might have been
one of usefulness and honour. He has impaired a property which was ample
enough to have enabled him to have placed the religion of his fathers on
a noble footing; he might have founded missions, established schools,
encouraged his tenants, and been the means of bringing numerous souls to
God. But he has done nothing—he has got nothing, but the whitening bones
of some racers that cost him thousands, lost him thousands, and were
shot in an adjoining paddock, and stocks of empty bottles, consumed in
entertaining worthless associates, and a broken constitution now bearing
him to a premature end. It is over. He is no more. Unrepentant,
unshriven, unanealed, his spirit has gone to judgment. No ministers of
God, no rites of holy church, were there to exhort and strengthen the
departing soul. There was not one of all those mighty consolations which
the church has provided for dying Christians and their survivors. No
stoled priests kneel around in prayer and supplication; no ardent lights
show forth the glorious hope of resurrection; no poor bedesmen receive
the funeral dole, and cry, "May God have mercy on him!" no solemn knell
invites the departing prayer; the chamber of death is close and still:
the Protestant undertaker encloses the festering corpse in costly
coffins, hideous in form and covered with plated devices, but not one
Christian emblem among them all; a huge pile of sable feathers, as if in
mockery, surmounts the whole; and thus it stands, till, in a few days,
it is committed to moulder in the old vault. Placed on the north side of
an old parish church that had been built for Catholic rites, but now
blocked up with unsightly pews and galleries of uncouth and rude
construction, and denuded of every ancient decoration, the family vault
had once stood within a chantry, but the roof had long disappeared,
while the walls were crumbled into shapeless mounds. In the midst of a
small space, rank with weeds and nettles, was a huge brick tomb railed
in with bar and spike. A slippery way dug out at the lower end showed a
rapid descent to a dark aperture, formed by the removal of a large
stone, piled against the side. Over this stood the clergyman of the
parish, in a loosely fitting surplice ill concealing his semi-lay attire
beneath, attended by a decrepit clerk, who alternately recited the
appointed office. The executor, the lawyer, and the undertaker's men,
with some curious lookers-on, are alone present at this sad and desolate
spectacle. The coffin is lowered down the incline, the heavy mass is
forced into its narrow space, jammed in amongst the mouldering shells of
older interments. The men issue from the vault—the stone is replaced—the
heavy fall of earth clods resound on its hollow surface, and as the
access is filled in, all depart—the executors to the will—the
undertakers to the nearest tavern. Two old men linger on the spot.
"Well," one exclaimed, "I would not have thought the squire would have
died thus." "Alack, alack!" replied his companion, "it was all along of
bad company. I have heard Father Randall say, many a time, _he were a
good young man_." It was so indeed, _he was a good young man_. He was
taught and fulfilled his duties, but he never knew the grandeur or the
majesty of the faith in which he was reared. It was not his pride, his
glory. He knew it only as the persecuted—the contemned religion of his
ancestors, to which he was bound to adhere, but he never felt its power,
nor understood it as the fountain, the source of all that is majestic,
true, and ennobling upon earth, and so, when he heard it laughed at as
an old-fashioned jest, and got entangled with worldly men, he abandoned
its observances by degrees, and sunk into worldly pleasures and feelings
till he became dead to every call of conscience, even for the most
essential duties of religion, and came to that miserable end. If this
illustration be considered unsuitable for an architectural work, I reply
that the revival of true architecture is intimately mixed up with
education and the formation of the minds of the rising Catholic
generation. It is during the first few years of mental training that the
character and feelings are generally formed, and I maintain the moral
part of Catholic architecture, that is to say, the fitting of the mind
to understand and appreciate the external beauties of religion, and to
produce that love of God's service in the youthful heart, is quite as
important, and can only be raised in places where the offices of
religion are solemnly performed, and in suitable edifices. Now this
should be most strictly considered for the education of both clergy and
laity, for while the clergy have to officiate in these edifices, and
carry out their various uses, it is to the laity that they must look
both for the funds for the erection and the necessary means of support
after they are erected. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that
both receive the initiations in this matter, for early impressions are
everything. How truly deplorable are the ordinary class of chapels
attached to bishops' seminaries in France, for the most part whitewashed
saloons, without anything ecclesiastical about them, except bad
pictures, worse even than the walls they cover. Fortunately, they are
usually in the vicinity of some fine old church, where the
ecclesiastical students assist occasionally; but still, all should be in
harmony, the seminary with the cathedral, and the clergy with both.

In respect of collegiate chapels we are certainly far in advance in
England, but one great chapel, very nearly completed, yet lingers on in
an unfinished state, when a little effort might render it available for
divine service, and, in the meantime, many students must quit the
college without that true love of ecclesiastical art that is only
imparted to the soul by a devout assistance at the functions of religion
in these solemn edifices. The mere inspection of them is nothing, it is
when they become associated with the life of divine worship that they
produce the full power and lift the soul in ecstasy. Let us hope and
pray that not only in colleges, but in all places set apart for the
education of youth, suitable chapels may be provided, so as to make the
students love the beauty of God's house. I must confess, with every wish
to preserve my charity, I am moved to indignation when I hear proposals
for erecting great sheds to serve as Catholic churches, places
resembling a depot for railway goods or the housings of a wharf. What
treatment is this for the divine mysteries! what treatment for the poor,
who are brought to worship God in a place little, if any, better than
the union, or market shambles themselves! One of the many great benefits
conferred by church architecture, is its affording the poor man a
glorious edifice where he may enter at will; his position of course
shuts him off from participating in all worldly grandeur or
magnificence, but the portal of the Catholic church is open to him early
and late; there he is no intruder, he may rest on the marble pavement or
kiss the costliest shrine—he is spurned from every other ground and
noble edifice but this—and yet this new system would bring the churches
down to a level with the offices of a parish workhouse, and deprive him
for ever of so great a consolation as the sight and enjoyment of a
solemn pile. No blessing can be expected for those who erect the temples
of God in a sparing and commercial calculating spirit. It is a positive
insult to divine providence to build a church on such low and niggard
principles, calculated to draw down a curse instead of a blessing. It is
contrary to first principles: if we saw a man pretending to make an
offering to us, in which he had economized in every possible manner,
should we be disposed to receive his gift with the same feelings as for
another who poured out his offering in a heartfelt and abundant manner?
From those who have little it shall be taken away, and it is impossible
to conceive any blessing attending one of these cast iron shells. It now
remains briefly to consider the actual revival of Christian architecture
among the English Catholic body, and to point out some important
practical principles which are as yet but imperfectly understood.

In restoring the ecclesiastical architecture of the middle ages, there
are certain modifications and changes which the altered position of
religion renders absolutely necessary; for instance, in erecting a
cathedral or bishop's church it should be so arranged as to _be
perfectly available for the public worship of the faithful_, and the
choir, on that account, should not be enclosed in a solid manner, but
with open screens like the great parochial churches at Lubeck, and many
other continental cities, and also not unfrequently in England, as at
Newark, a grand parochial church; S. Nicholas, Lynn; Great Yarmouth,
Southwold, and many other such edifices intended for parochial worship.

These churches may be as spacious and magnificent as cathedrals, as
indeed many of them are, but perfectly adapted for a great body of
people assisting at the sacred rites. It was currently reported that the
learned Père Martin declared that the old screens contributed to the
loss of faith among the people. Now if the reverend father did make this
statement, I have no hesitation in contradicting it, and for this
reason, that in those times when the cathedrals had enclosed choirs,
they were erected and used for the purpose of keeping up a great choral
service, and a worship of Almighty God _irrespective of popular
assistance_; but coeval with these were multitudes of grand parochial
churches like S. Maclou, at Rouen, relatively as magnificent as
cathedrals, and where there never existed any enclosed choirs at all,
but open ones, as I have shown in this work; it appears therefore that
the assertion of the reverend father has been made hastily, and without
sufficient grounds.

At the present time, when we are almost on the apostolic system of the
primitive times, a cathedral should be perfectly adapted for parochial
as well as episcopal use, which was indeed the ancient arrangement in
corresponding times of antiquity when neither churches nor clergy were
very numerous.

The next important point is the arrangement of the chancels, that they
may be perfectly adapted for the easy access and egress of large bodies
of communicants which have greatly increased since the middle ages. The
chancels of all large town churches should be continued either like
apsidal choirs, or taken out of the body of the church with the aisles
continuing eastward on either side, and terminating in chapels, thus
permitting the free egress of those who have communicated without
returning through the holy doors. This arrangement is not of any
importance in country parishes where the number of communicants is
necessarily limited, and where the elongated chancels may be retained,
but in great towns it is almost indispensable. And this leads us to
another matter of considerable importance. Almost all the pointed
churches that have been erected in towns, have been taken from examples
in the country villages, and although low churches built of rubble walls
with broach spires look most beautiful and appropriate amid cottages,
elm trees, and rural scenery, they appear quite out of place when
transplanted among the lofty mansions and scenery of a great city. A
church has recently been erected in London the design of which _per se_
is exceedingly pleasing, but instead of the sky line of the gable roofs
we have the attic story and Roman cement balustrades and hideous
chimney-pots of an adjoining terrace rising above them.

In all ancient cities where the houses were lofty, _the churches were
the same_, as at Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent, Lubeck, Ratisbonne, Nuremberg.
There are houses in the old towns whose gables are much higher than are
our first-rate houses, but the churches rise very far above them, so
that when seen from a considerable distance, the temples of God appear
over all surrounding objects. Moreover, internal grandeur can only be
produced by great height; it is a most important feature, and one which
cannot be exaggerated, therefore I hope and trust that in future
erections, no false economy, will interfere with this important and
symbolic principle. Another point to be considered in the erection of
town churches is the approach or entrance, which, if it be possible,
should be contrived through a cloister or porch, answering to the
ancient atrium. This would not only prevent noise and break currents of
air, but it would serve to prepare the mind of the worshipper before
entering the church itself, as a most devotional effect might be
imparted to the cloister by sculptures and paintings, of which there are
examples in several churches of Cologne and other cities in Germany. I
believe these would be found most advantageous, not only for these
religious reasons, but as completely shutting off the ingress of
external cold air,[24] and the church itself might be free from drafts
and yet properly ventilated from above. And it is a great point for the
revival of true church architecture, that it should be practically
convenient both for clergy and people, and that it is quite possible to
preserve an even temperature in the largest buildings is proved at S.
Peter's, Rome, and which really constitutes its greatest—if not its only

It is also most essential to erect spacious sanctuaries, and cloisters
for the vesting of the singing clerks, who should not enter the priests'
sacristy, and they should be so contrived as not to be converted to
rooms of passage, or where women could find any excuse for penetrating.
The sacristies of the old Italian churches are magnificent, both in
dimensions and decorations. They are like second churches; and, indeed,
they should be considered and treated with nearly equal respect on
account of the sacred vessels and ornaments that are reserved within
their ambries. But to erect these noble adjuncts to churches some
considerable funds must be granted, and architects must not be expected,
as has fallen to my lot, to build a sacristy and fittings for £40, and
find some candlesticks into the bargain.

Our churches should now combine all the beauty and symbolism of
antiquity with every convenience that modern discovery has suggested, or
altered ecclesiastical discipline requires. The revival would then
become a living monument and a true expression of the restoration of
religion in the land. But I grieve to say, from what I see of the
majority of pointed churches now erecting, that they are calculated to
inflict greater injury on the cause than even the Italian abortions,
which can only excite disgust, and drive men to the opposite opinion,
and therefore practically of some service. It is now time that the
movement assumed a regular principle; in the commencement everything was
strange and ill understood; step by step we had to fathom, and works
which now appear easy of execution were then deemed almost
impracticable. A great many errors and failures were the natural
consequence, and no man has been guilty of greater mistakes than myself;
some of them were caused by want of experience in this new and difficult
career, others through total inadequacy of funds. However, I feel
certain that, but a few years ago, even unlimited funds could not have
produced a truly fine work; and now I believe that a very majestic
building could be accomplished at a comparatively moderate outlay. But I
am sorry to say that, as yet, I see no man who has profited by my
original errors. The new churches are more elaborate and full of
decoration, but as convenient buildings are rather a decline from those
originally produced, and much more costly and very unsuitable for their
intentions. There is no distinction between churches intended for
religious orders and those for parochial purposes, though their use is
widely different. Formerly every order built in accordance with its own
rules, and it is easy, on the mere inspection of these buildings, to
ascertain their origin. The Dominicans were great preachers, and
consequently their churches are like immense naves, with lateral chapels
between the buttresses; the high altar placed against a reredos, behind
which was the choir for the religious. Christian architecture lends
itself perfectly to all these varieties: a Carthusian, a Dominican, or a
Franciscan church may be and _were_ quite in accordance with true
ecclesiastical architecture, and yet most differently disposed, to suit
the various religious rules. Unless Pointed architecture is carried out
on these adaptive rules, which are the old ones, it is not a living
monument. It is quite certain that our present race of architects, as a
body, do not yet understand the language: they transcribe words, and
even sentences, accurately, but it is a dead imitation of something
already done, and not a living creation; and, consequently, great sums
are thrown away in fine and praiseworthy and well-intentioned attempts,
but which will be shortly deplored by all concerned. I grieve to see
this, as, unless it is remedied, it may be the means of giving the
Pagans a _temporary_ triumph. I say temporary, because their eventual
destruction is as certain as that of the power of the devil himself,
but, like him, they have done and may do a deal of mischief till they
are finally bound.

I therefore most earnestly conjure all those men who profess to revive
true architecture to look to the wants and circumstances of the time,
_not to sacrifice principles, but to prove that the real principles can
combine with any legitimate requirement of religion_; let the bishops
and clergy practically perceive that Christian architecture fulfils
perfectly all their wants: let there be light, space, ventilation, good
access, with the absence of drafts, which destroy devotion and excite
prejudice against Pointed doorways. Avoid useless and over-busy detail,
and rely on good proportions and solemnity of effect. Above all, we must
remember that everything old is not an object of imitation—everything
new is not to be rejected. If we work on these golden principles, the
revival would be a living monument, as it was in days of old; and that
God may grant us means to carry it out, that he will enlighten the
hearts of the obdurate, and unite the faithful in one great bond of
exertion for the revival of the long-lost glory of his church,
sanctuary, and altar, is the earnest prayer of the writer of this book.

[21] In the old histories of Amiens, the bas-relief representing the
prophecy of Micheas, cap. iv., v. 3, "Et concidant gladios suos in
vomeres, et hastas in ligones," was commonly described as representing
the ancient manufacture of arms, for which that city was celebrated, but
to which it has not the slightest reference. At Rouen, the history of
Joseph and his brethren, with their sacks, and the cup, with the hanging
of the chief butler, was considered as that of a cheating corn-factor,
by the seizure of whose property the portal was erected; but without the
smallest grounds of probability, as shown by the learned Dom Pomeraye.

[22] It is worthy of remark that the idea of representing S. Joseph
holding our Lord in his arms is comparatively modern, and in utter
opposition to the ancient school of Christian art, who always ascribed a
secondary position to this saint, and never made any representation of
him that would convey the least idea of his entertaining any _paternal_
affection for our Blessed Lord. I have attentively studied this subject,
and never yet found any ancient representation that does not fully bear
out my assertion. This is one of the many instances where modern art,
disregarding ancient traditions, seeking the pretty and the pleasing, in
lieu of the mysterious and sublime, has imparted the externals of
importance to S. Joseph that the church has never recognized. _Our
Divine Lord as an infant was always represented in the arms of the
Blessed Virgin, and no other_, in all ancient mosaic painting and
sculpture, and I believe that these modern images of S. Joseph, which
have such astonishing vogue among devout people, if brought before an
episcopal council, would be condemned as tending towards erroneous

[23] The usual description of articles made by nuns in their recreation
were produced by scissors and paste, little gilt paper nick-nacks, fit
only to please children of a very tender age, and, indeed, bad for them,
as tending to corrupt their early notions. Every convent had a
glass-case, in which their miserable productions were reserved, and
shown and sold to visitors. I have heard of a very devout man, a member
of the English church, who went to see a convent in the centre of
England, imbued with the most reverent idea of conventual architecture;
cloisters, chapter-houses, oratories, dim oriels, and all the
associations of old religious buildings. What, therefore, was his
astonishment, at being driven up to what he conceived, from its external
appearance, was a new parochial union; nor was it lessened on his being
shown into a modern-looking, ill-furnished parlour, containing one of
these glass-cases full of trumpery, and invited to become a purchaser;
when, in his confusion, he found himself the fortunate possessor, minus
seven shillings, of a paper donkey and two paniers of sugar-plums, and
was glad to make a speedy retreat, with this singular reminiscence of
the modern daughters of S. Benedict. It is, however, a great
satisfaction to know that a better spirit is arising in several
cloistered communities, who now reproduce the sacred vestments in the
integrity of form; and we may hope and trust that the time is not far
distant when all the external objects of these convents will harmonize
with the venerable habit they wear, and with that internal spirit of
piety which they have so wonderfully maintained amid degenerate taste.

[24] The clumsy manner in which the old church-doors were fitted, and
their opening direct into the body of the building, combined with the
length of Protestant sermons, have been the primary cause of pews. In
many churches they were almost necessary to protect the legs and head
from cutting drafts; and if these pews are now removed, and replaced by
open seats, without remedying the doors and currents of cold air, the
old partitions will return. The first thing is to remove the cause—the
effect will follow. Long sermons, also, have contributed much to
pew-making. A person assisting at an office where there is frequent
change of posture does not attach much importance to his seat, but when
he is fixed for a whole hour's sitting, the case is different; and hence
the comfortable contrivances in the modern English churches where the
sermon is everything, and the divine offices and liturgy but little
considered. Pews are essentially Protestant, but I have seen incipient
erections of the sort even in Catholic churches.



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