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intellectual thraldom where had previously existed a simple dominion of brute force ; the change was for the better in those early times, there is no doubt; but such a Church could never have attained the perfection of modern times without a reformation. The Reformation restricted the papal dominion within just bounds, and sowed the seeds of moral and intellectual liberty among Romanists and seceders alike, although in different degrees.
But the same arguments that are used to justify the proceedings of the early Church, when the objects to be attained were good, are also applied to the most inhuman persecutions carried on when the objects were simply atrocious, and are made to apply in the present day, when the objects to be gained are still the same-the moral and intellectual serfdom of the human race.
Thus, according to M. Capefigue, the orders of St. Francis, the mission of the Dominicans, and especially the Holy Inquisition, were among the things which were more especially justified by the habits, the manners, and the necessities of the time.
We must,” he says,
transport ourselves into the midst of those terrible disorders of the Albigenses, Stadingues, Lollards, Wickliffites, Bohemians, rebels against the ties both of family and of property! We must study the noble efforts made by Spanish patriotism against the Moors, in order to comprehend the imperious necessity of a social police indispensable to every age under diverse forms; the same argument applying in the present day to the assumption of power by the emperor-elect of the French, without whom France would no doubt have been a victim to the gravest accidents of a general disorder and anarchy. The disciples of Saint Dominic (the name causes an involuntary shudder) were commissioned to persuade and to convert. Well-informed and active, they travelled through fields and towns alike, proclaiming the eternal order of Society.” But when anarchy gained the ascendancy, they constituted themselves into a tribunal to inquire into and to judge cases of heresy. The children of St. Francis, on their part, imposed poverty on themselves; they could possess nothing; to them the terms thine and mine were perfectly unknown. This regular democracy, guided by Providence, seemed to say to the irregular bands of trampers, vagabonds, and Albigenses (a curious classification), “We are poor voluntaries under a government and an organisation which imparts nobility to misery, by placing it under the law of the Lord.'
“I know,” adds Capefigue, “ that these are not the ideas entertained in our times; the education of the present day has another direction given to it; and indeed it requires to express such to possess that zealous love of truth, which makes one indifferent to all hopes of a vulgar popularity.”
Gregory, surnamed the Great, was the first pontiff who aimed at universal power-unity, Capefigue calls it; but unity under one head, whether in civil, military, or ecclesiastical matters, is simply despotism. Gregory began by imposing the dogma of Nicea and the Roman Catholic symbol on all alike, as the universal faith. The “heresy" of Arius was at that time all powerful among the Lombards: he took measures to coerce and subdue the people to his rule. The patriarchs of Constantinople refused their allegiance to the new seat of ecclesiastical
dominion: he was obliged to temporise, but neglected no means of bringing them under his control. He wished to spread the faith afar, and in unconverted regions, and England was the first country to which he sent his haughty missionaries. Within the Church his hymns and psalms superseded all others; and jealous even of literary or philosophical rivalry—an Omar in pontifical robes-he committed the treasures of the Palatine library, founded by Augustus, to the flames. In a similar spirit, Boniface V., the fifth in succession of the popes of Rome, consecrated the Pantheon-a beautiful edifice, which the Cæsars had dedicated to all the gods—to the Virgin Mary and all the saints-a dedication, Capefigue says,
which associated itself, by its yearning towards universality, to the original destination of the work of Agrippa.
Popedom, at its origin, had to struggle not only against what remained of the democratic municipalities of Rome, but also against the exarchs of Ravenna, who represented the Greek emperors on the one hand, and the Lombard kings on the other; but, with the tact of eastern despots in our own times, it played the jealousies of these powers against one another to its own especial profit.
The great struggle of the rising power was, however, with Constantinople. There there was at once rivalry of city and rivalry of doctrine. Honorius struck out the path for the future popes, by advocating Monothelitism, or the unity of the will of Christ and the two natures in one, against the Eutychianism of the East. St. Martin (Martin I.) rejected the Ecthesius symbol adopted by Heraclius and Constans, and died in exile. It was in vain that Agathon demanded a sixth general council, that Sergius exchanged the papal seat for one of stone, or that John VI. proclaimed the absolute sovereignty of the pontiff; the Roman Church would have lost its liberty, had not another Gregory come to its rescue. Himself a Roman patrician, he fought successfully against the capriciousness of the corrupt civilisation of the Byzantines, and the impatience of the Barbarians (Goths), who held Lombardy, and he established the supremacy of the holy seat on a firmer basis than heretofore.
M. Capefigue makes out that the alliance of the Frank-Germans of the north of Gaul materially influenced the progress of papal supremacy. The Frank kings, rivals of the Lombards, became the natural auxiliaries of Roman Popedom. The Merovingian kings became the cherished sons of the “Church," and the Pope repaid their fealty by the grant of immunities and privileges. Whenever a monastery sprang up on the banks of the Seine and the Loire, the Sovereign Pontiff assured to it a special jurisdiction, by a bull sealed with the pastoral ring. By a decree of a council held at Arles, every monastery was declared to be under the rule of its abbot, over whom the count or civil magistrate, held no jurisdiction whatsoever.
The state of society at this epoch, when the Roman Catholic Church, and indeed an early Christianity generally, was perpetually placing itself in antagonism to the feudal principle, and gradually destroying it, by emancipating the serfs, or still more frequently taking them into their own bosom, may be judged of by some of the acts of councils passed subsequently to the great fundamental act, which, by establishing the independence of the monasteries of the feudal counts or barons, assured their immunity under all and every provocation.
For example, it was enacted at the Council of Agde, (A.D. 506), that those who should neglect to present themselves at the sacrament on Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost, should be expelled from communion altogether. In another act, all kinds of superstitions, fortune-tellings, and enchantments are forbidden. It was in vain that the feudal lords and the laity generally exclaimed against their serfs being taken away from them, to be made “clerks,” to the prejudice of their lords. Nor does this exchange of serfdom to the soil, for a moral servitude to the Pope, appear to have much improved their morality. By the enactments of the Council of Albon (A.D. 517), the “clerks” were ordered to live with one another a holy life, without communicating with the laity; and it was especially enjoined that no clerk should visit females but in daytime, and that in the presence of witnesses. At this epoch the Kyrie Elieson was chanted at every mass. Sometimes, however, the laity exhibited symptoms of rebellion. In a council held at Paris, and which was composed one-half of feudal chiefs, Chilperic, who received the bishops
“ tabernaculum ex ramis factum,” ordered the pallium to be torn over the head of Pretextat, Bishop of Rouen. But the bishops kept on steadily gaining in power, and that by means peculiar to a young religion, in which the superstitions of a semi-barbarous people were made to play no unimportant part. We have examples enough of this in our own history, as in the case of St. Dunstan and others. Capefigue himself avows that the middle ages were the times of implicit faith. “Miracles were everywhere; God intervened incessantly; the natural order of things was then an exception, and cold reason a thing that was utterly impertinent.” When there were not miracles, there were good deeds--things by which to win over the multitude. Take, for example, some of Capefigue's “immense services rendered by the bishops to the populations of Gaul:”
In the south, Saint Honorat, Bishop of Marseilles, saved his flock from a fatal epidemic; in the north, Saint Waast raised up the walls of Arras, devastated by Attila, and peopled the desolate city ; Saint Severin cured the leprous; Gilles (Ægidius) became the patron Saint of all Occitania ; Agricola protected Orange, the city of temples, circuses, and triumphal arches ; while the Roman province of Limoges adopted Saint Martial for its protecting spirit. No end of miracles were operated at the tombs of Saint Martin, of Tours, nor did Saint Germain yield to him in power over the marvellous. You have ever continued (says Capefigue) to be the great celebrities of Paris, Saint Germain, Saint Denis, Saint Cloud, Saint Marcel, Saint Martin, and Saint Medard, and your names are attached in an indelible manner to the towns, the suburbs, and the hamlets, which bind Paris with a chain of people. Laborious cultivators, active tradesmen, or workmen, never forget your benefactors!
In the midst of these generations of people (continues Capefigue), having a natural tendency to the fabulous, everything was marvellous or supernatural. At every new event, the excited world was agitated from one end to the other, nothing remained of the natural law, and every one was busy in the monasteries writing their legends. The tomb had no longer its inflexible decrees, it opened at the bidding of a pious Cenobite ; the shroud was transformed into the purple. Life was an accident ; death paved the way to eternal life; who could have put a bridle on the licenses of force, if the legends had not exalted miracles in order to stay and punish the powerful? A poor monk in the desert was stronger than an armed baron, for he had at his command the whole of the marvellous army of Heaven!
From the sixth to the eighth century, two passions, which would appear to be opposed to one another, pre-occupied the mind of the western world—these were solitude and pilgrimage. As to those who secluded themselves in hermitages, Capefigue would have us seriously believe that submissive does protected the recluses, and licked their feet, while birds brought them food in baskets of flowers! The others, who lived in monasteries, gathered around them the runaways from municipal and feudal rule, and thus villages sprang up like tracery round a window. Such was the origin of New France, Gallia Christiana. As to pilgrimages, beginning with Rome, they gradually extended to Jerusalem. The most enterprising of the earliest pilgrims were the Saxons. According to Capefigue,“ Christianity gave a moral aim to the spirit of adventure among the Barbarians ; it presented to their eyes the aspect and the hope of a celestial city, to spare the devastation of a material city.”
“ The spirit of the Church,” says the same writer, “called for active propagandism.” So it is with every creed-Romanist, Protestant, Dissenter, or Unitarian; each labours to make converts. Power is ambitioned by all, and numbers are power. “ The conversion of the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity," says Capefigue, “ was one of the finest victories of the • Church,' which only used a simple monk to bring it about.” After St. Augustine was Bishop of Canterbury, where Bertha had before his arrival founded a little place of worship, he addressed himself to Gregory upon questions of dogma and discipline, which he had found to differ among the Gauls to what were acknowledged or practised at Rome. The Pope's advice was characteristic :
I am quite agreeable that you should select, whether in the Roman Church, or in the Gallic Church, whatever you think will contribute most to the glory of God, and that you should adopt it into your new Church; for we must not esteem things on account of places, but the places on account of the things. Make up, then, a bouquet of whatever you shall find that is most holy and most fragrant in the rites of each Church. (Epist. Greg., lib. ii., epist. 52, 54-64.)
Gregory, at such an early period of papal dominion, avoided as much as possible hurting local prejudices and customs, or interfering with ancient national traditions. As in other countries, especially Gaul, wherever there was a Druidic monument, or sacred retreat, a chapel, a monastery, or a church now rose up. “It is grievous, considering all the good done by Gregory,” Capefigue remarks,“ to observe the hatred which the English bear towards the Pope;" yet, a few pages further on, he himself acknowledges that no one is long a protector without aspiring to power
and domination. We, alas ! know that too well, it is daily proclaimed to us in trumpet tones by the meek dignitaries of a hostile Church, that never ceases to aim at subjection—that never for a moment wearies in the great struggle for supremacy in unfortunate Ireland, devastated as by plague, war, fire, and famine, by the insatiable hunger and thirst for power and dominion of the ministers of popedom.
The origin of female monastic establishments is not a little characteristic of the evils that sprang up inevitably from the unnatural law of celibacy adopted by the pastors and monks of the Romish Church.
From the sixth to the seventh century the monastery of Lerius had become the most celebrated of solitudes, and the popes consecrated its existence. Emigrations became from day to day more numerous; the piety of the monks, the charming aspect of cultivation in the little plains clothed with orange groves, attracted pilgrims; and as the severe rule of the order excluded women from this little terrestrial paradise, some pious virgins asked the Abbot of Lerius for a copy of his statutes, so that they might found a monastery on the neighbouring shores of the Mediterranean, in a place already celebrated in the history of Paganism. The forest of pine-trees, which clothed the shore for a vast distance in that neighbourhood, had long since been devoted to Venus, la déese des amours; she had an altar in the wood, Ara luci. The Abbot of Lerius replied, “ that nothing would be more agreeable to God than to purify a place devoted to profane loves, by the foundation of a holy retreat consecrated to the chastity of virgins and of matrons.”
Such was the origin of the monastery of Arluc (Ara luci), under the jurisdiction of the abbey of Lerius, and such the permanency given to the purport and traditions of the same grove sacred to amorous mysteries.
At these times monasteries and convents rose up chiefly on islets of the sea, on the crest of rugged precipices, or in the depths of silent groves ; there
were, however, exceptions, as the Monastery of Asnai, erected in Lyons on the
site of the circus renowned for its scenes of martyrdom. Gregory of Tours—who had witnessed the miracles enacted at the funeral of St. Germain, when “slaves saw their chains break, and paralytics rose up in joyful choirs to celebrate the saint”—distinguished himself by his haughty ecclesiastical disregard of temporal power, even to that of the king himself, whom he threatened with the vengeance of heaven if he did not observe the ordinances of the canons; as also by attaching his name to the worship of the Holy Mary; and by stealing the legend of the Seven Sleepers from the East, and introducing it to the Francs as the Legende des Sept Dormants de Marmoutiers. St. Columbanus, who is often confounded with Columbkille, “the dove of the churches," and the converter of the Picts, strengthened and extended the power of the Church in the Jura and the northern cantons of Switzerland. He was succeeded in his pious labours by St. Gall. Like Columbanus, of Breton descent, but Irish by birth, Št. Amand was the apostle of Belgium. Assisted by St. Bavon, he studded the country with cells, pious and fertile stations, which became, with the lapse of time, the rich monasteries of St. Amand and St. Bavon. “ If,” says Capefigue, “Belgium is now splendidly cultivated, it owes it to these monks—laborious workmen—who emancipated the Saxon-Scandinavian race from a savage condition.” At an epoch of transition like this, men were at once workmen and missionaries. The legend of St. Eloi, Clothaire II.'s favourite jeweller, written by his friend St. Ouen, exhibits the skilful workman, the charitable philanthropist, and the religious propagandist, united in the same person. In other instances miracles accompanied the installation of the “Church.” Thus, St. Romain destroyed a Hydra that ravaged the country around Rouen, and his elevation to the mitre was celebrated by the destruction of a temple consecrated to Venus. Others were politicians, like St. Léger, who was minister of state under Childeric. Others, again, were partial to literary pursuits, as St. Ouen, the biographer of St. Eloi, and the friend of St. Guar, who civilised the banks of the Rhine. St. Bounet, from a magistrate, became a bishop, renowned for his statutes. St. Hubert, from the Nimrod of the Ardennes, became the religious hero of