Imatges de pÓgina
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The order of heaven was, that the body of St. Stephen should be transported to Jerusalem.

Either Lucian did not clearly understand, or he was unfortunate—he dug and found nothing; which obliged the learned Jew to appear to a very simple and innocent monk, and indicate to him more precisely the place where the sacred relics lay. Lucian there found the treasure which he sought, according as God had revealed it unto him. In this tomb there was a stone

on which was engraven the word cheliel,' which sig. • nifies crown in Hebrew, as stephanos' does in Greek.

On the opening of Stephen's coffin, the earth trembled, a delightful odour issued forth, and a great number of sick were cured. The body of the saint was reduced to ashes, except the bones, which were transported to Jerusalem and placed in the church of Sion. At the same hour there fell a great rain, until which they had had a great drought.

Avitus, a Spanish priest, who was then in the east, translated into Latin this story, which Lucian wrote in Greek. As the Spaniard was the friend of Lucian, he obtained a small portion of the ashes of the saint, some bones full of an oil which was a visible proof of their holiness, surpassing newly-made perfumes, and the most agreeable odours. These relics, brought by Orosius into the island of Minorca in eight days, converted five hundred and forty Jews.

They were afterwards informed by divers visions, that some monks of Egypt had relics of St. Stephen which strangers had brought there. As the monks, not then being priests, had no churches of their own, they took this treasure to transport it to a church which was near Usala. Above the church some persons soon saw a star which seemed to come before the holy martyr. These relics remained not tong in this church; the bishop of Usala finding it convenient to enrich his own, transported them, seated on a car, accompanied by a crowd of people, who sang the praises of God attended by a great number of lights

and tapers.

In this manner the relics were borne to an elevated place in the church, and placed on a throne ornamented with hangings. They were afterwards put on a little bed in a place which was locked up, but to which a little window was left, that cloths might be touched, which cured several disorders. A little dust collected on the shrinę suddenly cured one that was paralytic. Flowers which had been presented to the saint, applied to the eyes of a blind man, gave him sight. There were even seven or eight corpses restored to life.

St. Augustin,* who endeavours to justify this worship by distinguishing it from that of adoration, which is due to God alone, is obliged to agreet that he himself knew several christians who adored sepulchres and images. I know 'several who drink to great excess on the tombs, and who in giving entertainments to the dead, fell themselves on those who were buried.”

Indeed, turning fresh from paganism, and charmed to find deified men in the christian church, though under other names, the people honoured them as much as they had honoured their false gods; and it would be grossly deceiving ourselves, to judge of the ideas and practices of the populace by those of enlightened and philosophic bishops. We know that the

sages amongst the pagans made the same distinctions as our holy bishops. We must," said Hierocles, “ acknowledge and serve the gods so as to take great care to distinguish them from the supreme God, who is their author and father. We must not too greatly exalt their dignity. And finally, the worship which we give them should relate to their sole creator, whom you may properly call the God of gods, because he is the master of all, and the most excellent of all.” Porphyrius, who, like St. Paul,ll terms the supreme God, the God who is above all things, adds, that we

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must not sacrifice to him anything that is sensible or material, because, being a pure spirit, everything material is impure to him. He can only be worthily honoured by the thoughts and sentiments of a soul which is not tainted with any sinful passion.

In a word, St. Augustin,* in declaring with naïveté that he durst not speak freely on several similar abuses on account of giving opportunity for scandal to pious persons or to pedants, shows that the bishops made use of the same artifice to convert the pagans, as St. Gregory recommended two centuries after to convert England. This pope being consulted by the monk Augustin on some remains of ceremonies, half civil and half pagan, which the newly converted English would not renounce, answered, cs We cannot divest hard minds of all their habits at once; we reach not the top of a steep rock by leaping, but by climbing step by step.”

The reply of the same pope to Constantine, the daughter of the emperor Tiberius Constantine, and the wife of Maurice, who demanded of him the head of St. Paul, to place in a temple which she had built in honour of this apostle, is no less remarkable. St. Gregoryt sent word to the princess that the bodies of saints shone with so many miracles, that they durst not even approach their tombs to pray, without being seized with fear. That his predecessor (Pelagius II.) wishing to remove some silver from the tomb of St. Peter to another place four feet distant, he appeared to him with frightful signs. That he (Gregory) wishing to make some repairs in the monument of St. Paul, as it had sunk a little in front, and he who had the care of the place having had the boldness to raise some bones which touched not the tomb of the apostle, to transport them elsewhere; he appeared to him also in a terrible manner, and he died immediately. That his predecessor, also, wishing to repair the tomb of St. Lawrence, the shroud which encircled the body of the martyr was imprudently discovered; and although the labourers were monks and officers of the church, they all died in the space of ten days, because they had seen the body of the saint. That when the Romans gave relics, they never touched the sacred bodies, but contented themselves with putting some cloths, with which they approached them, in a box. That these cloths have the same virtue as relics, and perform as many miracles. That certain Greeks doubting of this fact, pope Leo took a pair of scissars, and in their presence cutting some of the cloth which had approached the holy bodies, blood came from it. That in the west of Rome, it is a sacrilege to touch the bodies of saints; and that if any one attempts, he may be assured that his crime will not go unpunished. For which reason, the Greeks cannot be persuaded to adopt the custom of transporting relics. That some Greeks daring to disinter some bodies in the night near the church of St. Paul, intending to transport them into their own country, they were discovered, which persuaded them that the relics were false. That the easterns pretending that the bodies of St. Peter and St. Paul belonged to them, came to Rome to take them to their own country; but arriving at the catacombs where these bodies repose, when they would have taken them, sudden lightning and terrible thunder dispersed the alarmed multitude, and forced them to renounce their undertaking. That those who suggested to Constantine the demand of the head of St. Paul from him, had no other design than that of making him lose his favour. St. Gregory concludes with these words : “ I have that confidence in God, that you will not be deprived of the fruit of your good.will, nor of the virtue of the holy apostles, whom you love with all your heart and with all your mind; and that if you have not their corporeal presence, you will always enjoy their protection.

* City of God, book xxii. chap. 13.

+ Letter xxx. ind. xii. b. 3.

Yet the ecclesiastical history pretends, that the translation of relics was equally frequentin the east and west; and the author of the notes to this letter further observes, that the same St. Gregory afterwards gave

several holy bodies, and that other popes have given so many as six or seven to one individual.

After this, can we be astonished at the favour which relics find in the minds of people and kings? The sermons most commonly preached among the ancient French were composed on the relics of saints. It was thus that the kings Gontran, Sigebert, and Chilperic, divided the states of Clothaire, and agreed to possess Paris in common. They made oath on the relics of St. Polyeuctes, St. Hilary, and St. Martin. Yet Chilperic possessed himself of the place, and merely took the precaution of having a shrine, with a quantity of relics, which he had carried as a safeguard at the head of his troops, in hopes that the protection of these new patrons would shelter him from the punishment due to his perjury. Finally, the catechism of the council of Trent approved of the custom of swearing by relics.

It is further observed, that the kings of France, of the first and second races, kept in their palaces a great number of relics; above all, the cap and mantle of St. Martin; and that they had them carried in their trains and in their armies. These relics were sent from the palaces to the provinces, when an oath of fidelity was made to the king, or any treaty was concluded.

RELIGION.

SECTION I.

The Epicureans, who had no religion, recommended retirement from public affairs, study, and concord. This sect was a society of friends, for friendship was their principal dogma. Atticus, Lucretius, Memmius, and a few other such men, might live very reputably together; this we see in all countries : philosophize as much as you please among yourselves. A set of amateurs may give a concert of refined and scientific music; but let them beware of performing such a concert before the ignorant and brutal vulgar, lest their instruments be broken over their heads. If you have but a village to govern, it must have a religion.

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