Imatges de pÓgina

a king of Burgundy is spoken of who never existed ; a fable in short acknowledged to be absurd by all the learned who have not lost their reason.

Behold what Don Ruinart narrates seriously! Let us pray to God for the good sense of Don Ruinart!



[ocr errors]

How does it happen that, in the enlightened age in which we live, learned and useful writers are still found who nevertheless follow the stream of old errors, and who corrupt many truths by admitted fables? They reckon the era of the martyrs from the first year of the empire of Dioclesian, who was then far enough from inflicting martyrdom on anybody. They forget that his wife Prisca was a christian, that the principal officers of his household were christians; that he protected them constantly during eighteen years; that they built at Nicomedia a church more sumptuous than his palace; and that they would nerer have been persecuted if they had not outraged the Cæsar Valerius.

Is it possible that any one should still dare to assert,

that Dioclesian died of age, despair, and misery;": he who was seen to quit life like a philosopher, as he had quitted the empire; he who, solicited to resume the supreme power, loved better to cultivate his fine gardens at Salona, than to reign again over the whole of the then known world?

Oh ye compilers! will you never cease to compile ? You have usefully employed your three fingers; employ still more usefully your reason.

What! You repeat to me that St. Peter reigned over the faithful at Rome for twenty-five years, and that Nero had him put to death together with St. Paul, in order to revenge the death of Simon the magician, whose legs they had broken by their prayers?

To report such fables, though with the best motive, is to insult christianity.

[ocr errors]

* Here follows the silly legend of St. Romanus, already given.-T.

The poor creatures who still repeat these absurdities, are copyists who renew in octavo and duodecimo old stories that honest men no longer read, and who have never opened a book of wholesome criticism. They rake up the antiquated tales of the church; they know nothing of either Middleton, or Dodwell, or Bruker, or Dumoulin, or Fabricius, or Grabius, or even Dupin, or of any one of those who have lately carried light into the darkness.


We are fooled with martyrdoms that make us break out into laughter. The Tituses, the Trajans, the Marcus Aureliuses, are painted as monsters of cruelty. Fleuri, abbé of Loc Dieu, has disgraced his ecclesiastical history by tales which a sensible old woman would not tell to little children.

Can it be seriously repeated, that the Romans condemned seven virgins, each seventy years old, to pass through the hands of all the young men of the city of Ancyra--those Romans who punished the Vestals with death for the least gallantry?

A hundred tales of this sort are found in the martyrologies. The narrators have hoped to render the ancient Romans odious, and they have rendered themselves ridiculous. Do you want good well-authenticated barbarities—good and well-attested massacres, rivers of blood which have actually flowed-fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, infants at the breast, who have in reality had their throats cut, and been heaped on one another? Persecuting monsters! Seek these-truths only in your own annals: you will find them in the crusades against the Albigenses, in the massacres of Merindol and Cabrière, in the frightful day of St. Bartholomew, in the massacres of Ireland, in the vallies of the Pays de Vaud. It becomes you well, barbarians as you are, to impute extravagant cruelties to the best of emperors; you who have deluged Europe with blood, and covered it with corpses, in order to prove that the same body can be in a thousand places at once, and that the pope can sell indulgences ! Cease to calumniate the Romans,



your law-givers, and ask pardon of God for the abominations of your

forefathers! It is not the torture, you say, which makes martyrdom; it is the cause. Well! I agree


that your victims ought not to be designated by the name of martyr, which signifies witness; but what name shall we give to your executioners? Phalaris and the Busiris were the gentlest of men in comparison with you. Does not your inquisition, which still remains, make reason, nature, and religion boil with indignation? Great God! If mankind should reduce to ashes that infernal tribunal, would they be unacceptable in thy avenging eyes?


The mass, in ordinary language, is the greatest and most august of the ceremonies of the church. Different names are given to it, according to the rights practised in the various countries where it is celebrated; as the Mosarabian or Gothic mass, the Greek mass, the Latin mass. Durandus and Eckius call those masses dry, in which no consecration is made, as that which is appointed to be said in particular by aspirants to the priesthood; and cardinal Bona relates, * on the authority of William of Nangis, that St. Louis, in his voyage abroad, had it said in this manner, lest the motion of the vessel should spill the consecrated wine. He also quotes Génébrard, who says that he assisted at Turin, in 1587, at a similar mass, celebrated in a church, but after dinner and very late, for the funeral of a person of rank.

Pierre le Chantre also speaks of the two-fold, threefold, and even four-fold mass, in which the priest celebrated the mass of the day or the feast, as far as the offertory, then began a second, third, snd sometimes a fourth, as far as the same place; after which he said as many secretas as he had begun masses; he recited the canon only once for the whole; and at the end he

* Pook i. chap. 15, on the Liturgy.

[ocr errors]

added as many collects as he had joined together masses.

It was not until about the close of the fourth century that the word mass began to signify the celebration of the eucharist. The learned Beatus Rhenanus, in his notes on Tertullian,t observes, that St. Ambrose consecrated this popular expression,‘missa,' taken from the sending out of the catechumens, after the reading of the gospel.

In the Apostolical Constitutions, we find a liturgy in the name of St. James, by which it appears, that instead of invoking the saints in the canon of the mass, the primitive church prayed for them. “We also offer to thee, O Lord,” said the celebrator, “ this bread and this chalice for all the saints that have been pleasing in thy sight from the beginning of ages: for the patriarchs, the prophets, the just, the apostles, the martyrs, the confessors, bishops, priests, deacons, sub, deacons, readers, chaunters, virgins, widows, laymen, and all whose names are known unto thee.” But St. Cyril of Jerusalem, who lived in the fourth century, substituted this explanation:“After which,” says he, we commemorate those who die before us, and first the patriarchs, apostles, and martyrs, that God may receive our prayers through their intercession." This proves (as will be said in the article Relics) that the worship of the saints was then beginning to be introduced into the church.

Noel Alexander|| cites acts of St. Andrew, in which that apostle is made to say,—" I offer up every day, on the altar of the only true God, not the flesh of bulls nor the blood of goats, but the unspotted lamb, which still remains living and entire after it is sacrificed, and all the faithful eat of its flesh;" but this learned dominican acknowledges that this piece was unknown

* Bingham, Origines Ecclesiasticæ, vol. vi. book 15. chap. iv. art. 5.

+ Book iv. against Marcion.
# Book viii. chap. 12.
8 Fifth Catechesis.
Century 1, p. 109.

of me.

until the eighth century. The first who cited it was Ætherius, bishop of Osma in Spain, who wrote against Ælipard in 788.

Abdias relates* that St. John, being forewarned by the Lord of the termination of his career, prepared for death and recommended his church to God. He then had bread brought to him, which he took, and, lifting up his hands to heaven, blessed it, broke it, and distributed it among those who were present, saying,—"Let my portion be your's, and let your's be mine." This manner of celebrating the eucharist (which means thanksgiving) is more conformable to the institution of that ceremony.

St. Luke indeed informs us,t that Jesus, after distributing bread and wine among his apostles, who were supping with him, said to them,—“Do this in memory

St. Matthew,f and St. Markę say, moreover, that Jesus sang a hymn. St. John, who in his gospel mentions neither the distribution of the bread and wine, nor the hymn, speaks of the latter at great length in his Acts, of which we give the text, as quoted by the second council of Nice:

“ Before our Lord was taken by the Jews,” says this well-beloved apostle of Jesus, " he assembled us all together, and said to us,-Let us sing a hymn in honour of the Father, after which we will execute the design we have conceived. He ordered us therefore to form a circle, holding one another by the hand; then, having placed himself in the middle of the circle, he said to us, Amen; follow me. Then he began the canticle, and said, Glory be to thee, O Father! We all answered, Amen. Jesus continued, saying, Glory to the Word, &c. Glory to the Spirit, &c. Glory to grace, &c. and the apostles constantly answered, Amen."

After some other doxologies, Jesus said, “ I will save, and I will be saved, Amen. I will unbind, and

* Hist. Apostol. book iv. art. 22, 23.
+ Chap. xxii. 19.
# Chap. xxvi. 30.

Chap. xiv, 26.
Col. 358.

« AnteriorContinua »