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BX 957 .B7 1883 

Brock, Mourant, 1802-1856. 

Rome: pagan and papal 




Regina Saba, Queen of Sheba {From a cut in the " Nuretnburg Chronicle.") 




Formerly huumlent of Christ Cluirck, Clifton. 
A itthor of 
The Cross : Heathen and Christian," " Short Chapters on tlie Sacraments," etc. 

" He being dead, yet speaketh." 



\.All rights reserved,] 

Hazell, Watson, and Viney, Printers, London and Aylesburj'. 

I .HEC. NOV IBbii 



TTOR many years, both at home and while sojourning 
''- in other lands, I have been much interested in 
observing the various religions of the world, and in 
collecting such information respecting their traditions, 
ritual, and usages, as would enable me to comp arethem. 
And my intention was that, if it pleased God to grant 
me health, I would, after retirement from clerical duties, 
digest my miscellaneous papers, and shape them into 
a book. 

But this was not to be : health failed, and my purpose 
was postponed from year to year. Last autumn, how- 
ever, finding that a few of the papers which appeared 
in the Rock had met with much acceptance, I thought 
it might, perhaps, be well to revise and republish these 
together with some others. But feebleness of body 
again interposed, and rendered me quite unable to 
decide the question. So I called upon my friend Mr. 
Pember — author of " EartJis Earliest Ages',' and " The 
Great Prophecies" — with a bundle of MS. in my hand, 
and asked his opinion. He replied that the MS. con- 


tained much interesting information of a kind likely to 
be valuable at the present time. 

This answer determined me ; and when I further told 
him how unfit I felt to undertake the completion of my 
own work, he kindly consented to help me by digesting 
and revising the papers, verifying those extracts which 
were within the range of his library, and seeing the book 
through the press. 

For the cuts of the Council of Florence, taken from 
the Bronze Gates of St. Peter's, I am indebted to the 
courtesy of the family of the late Rev. W. B. Marriott. 

I have also to thank Dr. Lewis of Berkeley Square, 
Bristol, for the loan of many curious books from which I 
have culled much interesting matter. 

Nor must I forget many other friends and acquaint- 
ances, who have most kindly helped me, either by 
gathering or .copying notes, and to whom I beg to tender 
my grateful thanks. 

Clifton, Juue, 1883. 

A few days after he had written his preface, the 
venerable author was called into the presence of Him 
who turneth the shadow of death into the morning. 

He had requested that he might be spared to bring 
out a second edition of his useful " SJiort Chapters on the 
Sacraments" and his petition was granted, so that he 


was enabled to send copies of that work to some of his 
friends on his eighty-first birthday. 

He had conceived a dread of lingering illness, and 
was wont to pray that, if such were the will of God, it 
might not fall to his lot. This desire also was remem- 
bered by his gracious Lord, 

On Friday, June 29th, he retired to rest in his usual 
condition, but became ill in the night, and, after an 
hour's laborious breathing, the command went forth — 
" Loose him, and let him go ! " 

A gentle calm stole over his face, he gasped out the 
words, " Old things are passed away ; behold, all things 
are become new," and quitted the sick chamber for 
the Paradise of God so quietly that his sorrowing family 
scarce knew the moment of his departure. 

"Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their 
labours; and their works do follow them." 

G. H. P. 















VALISM ........ 64 






CHAP. p^^g 


WATER . . . . . . , .10^ 





























XLIII. BRIGANDAGE ....... 253 







IN Southern Italy there are two cities hard by each other : 
the one teeming with hfe, the other a city of the dead. 

These cities are Naples and Pompeii. The latter, accident 
ally discovered after an entombment of nearly seventeen 
centuries, began to be disinterred from thfe debris with which 
Vesuvius had overwhelmed it. This consisted, not of streams 
of lava, such as those beneath which Herculaneum was buried, 
but of ashes and pumice stone, intermingled with mud and 
water. By its removal an astonishing spectacle was presented 
to the modern world, a complete specimen of ancient civiliza- 
tion, with its arts, habits, and domestic arrangements, all laid 
bare to view ; nay, even the very forms and features of some 
of the inhabitants of the overwhelmed city. 

How, you will perhaps say, is the latter possible? Italian 
skill has cleverly solved the difficulty. 

The volcanic ashes in which a human body was buried, 
were so delicately pressed upon every part of it by the water, 
which was also ejected from the mountain, that the form, 
whether male or female, was perfectly moulded. In process 
of time the body decomposed, but the impression upon the 
ashes which clasped the vanished form was still left. 

Now mark the artist's skill. Professor Fiorelli — honoured 

be his name — has found a mould, and, see ! he makes openings 

into the cavity, and pours in plaster of Paris, so as to fill 

it completely. He digs out the figure, now become solid ; 

.^ I 


he brushes off the ashes adhering to it ; and lo ! there comes 
forth from the ground a Pompeian man, matron or maid, 
horse or dog, an exact facsimile, whichever it may be, of its 

The remains of the buried city disclose the fact that the 
habits of the ancient Roman differed but little from those 
of the modern Italian. 

To this effect Professor J. J. Blunt, a most competent autho- 
rity, in the third chapter of his Vestiges of AncieJit Manners 
(Murray, 182S), writes as follows: — "From the discovery of 
Pompeii many connecting links between ancient and modern 
times may now be accurately traced. The same features 
present themselves in the general view of Pompeii as those of 
a modern Italian town. It exhibits indications, too, of the 
same gregarious habits as are still conspicuous. The ancient, 
like the modern, inhabitants of Italy ever preferred town to 
country life. The splendour of their sacrifices, the amusements 
of the Theatre, the Circus, the Baths, etc., have been succeeded 
by a magnificent Mass, the Opera, the Caft^s, the Piazza, and the 
Corso. . . . Lapse of time, and the glories of history, have 
almost persuaded us that such men as the ancient Romans 
could not have thought, acted, and spoken like beings of this 
nether world. By a nearer acquaintance, however, the spell is 
broken, and the more that acquaintance is increased the more, 
I am convinced, shall we find that they resembled their 
present descendants." 

We shall be able to test the truth of these remarks as we 
proceed, and shall see that in many points, and especially in 
matters of religion, the Italy of the present does indeed sur- 
prisingly resemble the Italy of the past. Let us illustrate this 
from what has been, and is daily being, disclosed in Pompeii, 
instancing some of the ordinary habits and usages of society. 

An Englishman going for the first time to Naples, or indeed 
\o any town of Italy, is surprised to find that, contrary to the 


custom of his own country, the grandest houses are built in 
the form of a square, with a garden and fountain in the centre \ 
and that the ground floor and entrance to these mansions are 
occupied by shops, the best rooms being always upstairs. If 
he seeks the prototype of these modern dwellings, he will find 
it in the old Roman residences, and among them are those of 
Pompeii, where shops fronting the street are found in the 
basement story, and where the inner square with the little 
garden and fountain belonging to the dwelling, are the 
almost invariable rule. 

These fountains are usually, as in Naples and other modern 
Italian towns, either jets or little cascades, to serve which 
there are leaden supply pipes, with cocks and the usual modern 
appliances. On these ancient pipes, too, may be seen, as 
now-a-days, the stamp marked with the plumber's name. 

This correspondence of ancient with modern usage may be 
found also, in the Museum at Nismes, on a leaden pipe fished 
out of the Rhone, which in times of yore conveyed water 
through the river from a much esteemed fountain for the use 
of the dwellers on the opposite bank. In the Museum at 
Bath, too, there is a piece of a Roman leaden pipe similarly 

No glowing fire])lace cheered the occupants of a Pompeian 
saloon — poor enough truly is the modern Italian wood-fire — 
but in place of this northern comfort stood a brazier for 
charcoal. This is still the case in Naples, and in those towns 
of Italy where the English, and other northern visitors, have 
not yet taught the natives the use of fireplaces. Formerly 
nothing would have been found anywhere but these braziers 
and the miserable scaldinos, or open earthern pots of heated 
charcoal. I have even seen, at Pistoja in Tuscany, a bed 
heated with a scaldino. It was in the next room to mine, so I 
went to witness the operation. 

The Pope's Swiss Guard, in their noble guard-room at the 


Vatican, keep themselves warm by standing round a great 
open brazen vessel filled with live charcoal. As I contem- 
plated them, I thought of Simon Peter, at the palace of the 
High Priest in Jerusalem, standing with the guard, and 
" warming himself," probably, at just the same kind of fire, the 
" fire of coals " — i.e., charcoal — of the New Testament. 

One may also see in Pompeii the shop-signs so common in 
modern towns. For example, the figure of a goat, or of a 
cow, to indicate the sale of milk ; and so also the signs of 
various trades. Among them is a pictorial advertisement of a 
schoolmaster, found also at Herculaneum. Here you have it, 


And characteristic of the calling it certainly is, showing that 
pedagogues two thousand years ago were just as fond of 
torturing boys with the birch as they used to be in our own 
country in my boyish days. It made me twist as I looked 
at it, and thought of the petty tyrant who ground me with 
oppression in tender childhood. Not that I would be under- 
stood to imply that boys never require the rod. No doubt 
they do sometimes, and it would be a good thing if our 
magistrates could see that occasionally men do also. 

At Siena, again, in the noble Piccolomini library adjoining 
the cathedral, there is, in one of the many illuminated choir 
books, an illustration of the same disagreeable subject. 

As one walks along the deserted streets of Pompeii, the eye 


is arrested by notices of municipal elections, with the names of 
the different candidates, which may still be seen upon the walls, 
where also the titles of the several guilds are yet to be read. 
Italy, always famous for its fraternities, received them from 
ancient Rome. For Sir W. Gell, in one of his charming 
volumes on Pompeii, says : — " In this street was an inscription 
of the Fruitsellers ; and it seems that there must have been a 
fraternity of almost every trade or profession." 

Among these he mentions the corporations of Goldsmiths, 
Fishmongers, Woodmen, Carmen, Porters, Muleteers, etc. 

Inscriptions, too, of a different kind may be seen upon the 
walls — scribbles, lampoons, personalities, scurrilities, and others 
of a still more objectionable character. Blackguards then, as 
blackguards now ! 

We have already noticed the similarity of medieval shops 
in Italy to those of the ancient Romans at Pompeii. In the 
towns of the Riviera of Nice such shops are still to be seen 
— stone counters and shutters, with an entire absence of glass 
For example, there are several of them in the old town of 
Mentone, in the " Rue Longue." 

It is just the same with the kitchens. The Continental 

Stove in kitchen of Pansa's house. 

kitchen of the South is the kitchen of Pompeii, and it helps us 
to discover the kind of cooking which furnished Roman dinners 
— those of Lucullus for instance. For the old Roman, like the 
modern Italian, had the range of low arches supporting little 
hollow squares, for charcoal fires, uj)on which were fitted iron 
gratings for the stewpans. There you see the various utensils 


of the culinary art, much the same as those in present use. 
There, too, stand the jars, large and small, as conspicuously as 
in the kitchens of modern Italy or of the East, their great size 
frequently putting one in mind of Hadji Baba and the Forty 

An interesting instance of old Roman economy struck me in 
connection with these earthen amphorae. I found that one or 
two of them, having been cracked, were stitched in several 
places with wire. And good the mending has proved to be, to 
have lasted, as it has done, through the best part of two thou- 
sand years. I have seen the same thing at Nismes, and with 
as enduring a result, in some similar Roman pottery. 

But the Italians do not merely follow the Romans in the 
method of cooking their food, — the food itself is of the same 
character as that of their predecessors : and to this fact the 
discoveries at Pompeii give ample testimony. One of the 
disinterred streets has been named " The Street of Fruits," 
from the stores of fruits which were found in it. Figs, raisins, 
chestnuts, plums, fruit in glass bottles — think of that, English 
housewives ! — oil, lentils, hempseed, etc. : all these have come 
to light in abundance. Bread, too, has been found, and 
various other things, such as money, scales, and moulds for 
pastry. And quite recently the tablets of a Pompeian gentle- 
man, containing his private accounts, have been added to this 
curious list. In the Pompeian pictures, again, the old Roman 
taste is represented by sausages, hams, onions, garlic, and other 
savoury viands. In the Museum, one of the most curious 
relics of edible antiquity is some honey in the comb. With 
great interest I looked upon it — honey eighteen hundred years 

The ancient Romans began their dinner with oysters : modern 
Europe has copied their example. As to sausages, they 
delighted in them ; and let the shops of Naples or modern 
Rome testify how truly the Italian people prove their descent 


in this point. Only see them, reader, on the eve of Good 
P>iday — that is the best time, and the place the Piazza Navona 
at Rome, or near the Pantheon ; for in those localities the shops 
of the Pizzicaruoli, or porksellers, are to be found. A season 
of fasting it is, to be sure ; but those sausage-shops do not look 
like it, splendidly illuminated as they are, and with their 
savoury and abounding goods arranged in varied and fantastic 
devices. Did one ever see such festoons of sausages as in 
modern Rome ? But where are the pigs fed ? 

Oxford, the savour of thy sausages — how did it excite my 
undergraduate breakfast sensibilities ! But the sausages of 
Imperial Rome : must not they have been, and still be, sublime ? 
Perhaps ; but I like the Oxford ones better. 

Water tap from Pompeii. 



IN the former chapter we iUustrated the striking similarity of 
the secular arrangements and usages of modern Italy to 
those of the ancient Romans. That similarity may also be 
detected in matters connected with religious worship. 

Paganism, or the rejection of the One God and the worship 
of other persons or things, is that to which the great masses of 
the human family have ever shown themselves inclined, and 
may, therefore, be considered to be the religion of human 
nature. And the element of Paganism, that in which it lives 
and breathes, is the material and the visible, and not, as is the 
case with Christianity, the immaterial and the unseen. Pagan 
worship is sensuous ; that is, it belongs to the senses. Christian 
worship is not sensuous, but spiritual. For the object of 
Christian worship is God — a Being unseen, but revealed to 
faith by His Word, and not by sight. 

There is, therefore, this distinguishing difference between 
Christianity and Paganisrn : that whereas the one is conversant 
with faith, the other is conversant with sense. " There be 
many that say, Who will show us any good ? " " Show us 
good ! " There is the voice of sense, of the sensuous or natural 
man, whether Pagan or baptized. And opposed to this voice 
is another, " Lord, lift Thou up the light of Thy countenance 
upon us." Such is the cry of faith, and of the spiritual man. 

In these two voices we recognise the two religions of the 


earth : the religion of nature, which naturally belongs to all 
men ; and the religion of faith, which belongs to but few : the 
religion of Cain and of Abel, of the unregenerate and of the 
saints, of the world and of the Church. 

In the following pages we shall see that the Church of Rome, 
though she holds some essential truth, allies herself most 
closely, by her materialism, to the sensuousness of natural 
religion, and so symbolizes with Pagan worship, from which 
also most of her ceremonies are derived. 

Another means by which she corrupted, Christianity, namely, 
by the adoption of Mosaic ceremonial, I do not notice. 
Suffice it to say that we Christians have nothing to do with 
Jewish ceremonies, or with temple-worship. Judaism was an 
infantine dispensation, the shadow of a Substance since mani- 
fested — that is, of Christ. It was but a voice, " the voice of 
one crying in the wilderness " of Heathendom. To the law 
belonged only beggarly elements long since done away in 
Christ. Woe to us if we seek to reinstate this effete dispensa- 
tion ! Christ is our " all in all," and Christ is to be worshipped, 
not with ceremonies, incense, bowings, and prostrations, but 
with the heart. 

Christ loved not ceremonies. He invented none ; only, out 
of the many which He was accustomed to see going on around 
Him, He partially adopted, or rather adapted, two — Baptism 
and the Lord's Supper. Both the rules and rites which He 
instituted for His new society were of the utmost simplicity, 
independent alike of place and of ritual. 

I may, however, remark with respect to Jewish ceremonies in 
connection with Romish ritual, that I have been much struck 
by the little allusion made to them by Roman Catholic 
antiquarian writers. They freely refer to the Heathen origin of 
much in their Church, but to the Jewish element — so far as I 
have seen — there is seldom an allusion. And the reason I 
take to be partly as follows. While these ecclesiastical writers 


are well acquainted with the classical authors, they know their 
Bibles but little, or not at all. The writers in Picart, and Du 
Choul in his learned work full of classic lore, often refer 
Romish ceremonies to Heathen sources, but rarely ever 
mention Jewish rites. The inference, I apprehend, is that they 
were not acquainted with them. 

It remains, therefore, a curious fact, that while Roman 
Catholics in England are apt to deem themselves insulted if 
one should refer any of their ceremonies to Paganism, their 
brethren on the Continent take quite a different view, and regard 
the adaptation of Pagan rites with satisfaction. To them it 
was a clever device on the part of their ancestors that they 
Christianized Heathen customs by appropriating them ; so 
that, on this head, they have nothing in common with the feel- 
ings of our Roman Catholic neighbours. Ecclesiastics in 
Rome itself fully recognize what has been stated above, and 
rejoice in it. 

It is more than thirty years ago since Hobart Seymour wrote 
the following words : — " In England, Romanists are usually 
indignant when it is said that their ceremonies were originally 
Heathen. In Italy, on the other hand, that origin is claimed 
for them as a proof of the wisdom of a Church which has 
converted a Heathen people and their Heathen customs into a 
Christian people and Christian ceremonies." — Pilgrimage to 
Rome, p. 228. 

To have "a right judgment in all things" is good ; and no 
doubt our Roman Catholic countrymen arrive at their more 
correct view of such a method of conversion through their 
intercourse with a people \yho are enlightened by the Word 
of God. 

But the learned antiquarian Du Choul, "a good Catholic," 
thus expresses himself: — "if we closely investigate the subject, 
we shall perceive that many institutions of our religion have 
been taken and translated from Egyptian and Heathen 



ceremonies. Of this kind are tunics and surplices, the 
crowns made by our priests, their bowings around the 
altar, sacrificial pomp, the music of the temples, adorations, 
prayers and supplications, processions, and litanies. These and 
many other things — plusieurs autres choses — which the folly and 
superstitious ignorance of the Heathen refer to their gods and 
deified men, our priests adopt in our mysteries, and refer to 
the One Sole God, Jesus Christ." — Discours de la Religion 
des Anciens Romains, escript par Noble S. G. Du Choul, 
Coiiseiller du Roy, et Bailly des Montaigncs Du Dauphine : a 
Lyons, 1580; 4to, p. 339. 

The date of this book is about eight 
years later than that of the Massacre 
of St. Bartholomew (1572) ; so that 
our author may probably have wit- 
nessed the event. 

He gives, observe, ten or eleven il- 
lustrations of our subject, and affirms 
that there are many others. And he 
is no mean authority, for Moreori writes 
of him that " he was of his day the 
greatest investigator into antiquity." 
He lived, too, at Lyons at a time 
when Roman antiquities were being 
continually disinterred. 

This cut represents a baptismal font 
in the cathedral at Naples, of which I 
had a careful drawing made many years 
ago. A glance will show that it was 
originally a large Bacchic vase, for 
upon it may be seen the masks and 

... - . , Font in N.iples C.nthedral, 

thyrsi which were formerly used in the originally a Vase dedicated to 

worship of the obscene god. 

A similar vase — but not so fine — was, some years ago, 


pointed out to me by the sacristan in the Church of the Bocca 
Veritatis at Rome ; and it, also, though once consecrated to 
Bacchus, is now used for the Christian rite of baptism. 

These fonts present a good illustration of the way in which 
Rome unites Christianity with Paganism. Indeed, in the one 
at Naples a third element is introduced : Christian baptism is 
carried on by means of a Heathen vase surmounted with a 
Jewish apex, representing the son of Zacharias baptizing Jesus ! 

In the cathedral at Syracuse— where also may be seen many 
noble pillars which once supported a Heathen temple — there 
is a third antique font, cut from marble, of vast size, and 
exhibiting a Greek inscription. 

And at Naples there is yet a fourth vase, the prince of all 
these Heathen vessels in beauty, though not in size. It is 
of Greek workmanship, and its material is white marble, the 
base being exquisitely sculptured in relief. No doubt it once 
adorned some Bacchic temple : but in later times it seems, 
like a well known Venus, to have been used by boatmen 
as a column for mooring their craft, and the hawsers have left 
their indelible mark upon its beauty. Subsequently, it became 
the baptismal font of the church at Gaeta, but at last found a 
more fitting home in the splendid Museum of Naples. 

The subject of the sculpture is Mercury giving the infant 
Bacchus to the Nymph Leucothea, who gladly stretches out her 
arms to receive him. But her neck, as well as the body of 
Mercury, is sadly cut by the sailors* hawsers. Dancing fawns 
with Bacchantes playing on musical instruments attend their 
god, and make up the total number of the figures to nine. 
There is a Greek inscription commemorating the fact that — 
"The Athenian sculptor made this." 

Now, the adoption of these four vases — and no doubt other 
examples might be found — while it shows that the Christianity 
of Rome has no special horror of Paganism, at least so far as 
the worship of Bacchus is concerned, illustrates also the state- 


ment made above, that Roman Catholics on the Continent by 
no means shrink from that general adaptation of Heathenism 
which their English brethren so indignantly repudiate. 

For see how freely the Italian priests use for the baptismal 
water of the Church those vessels from which once copious 
libations were wont to be poured out in honour of the Ogygian 
deity, amid the bowlings of his drunken worshippers. 

"Would you, then, never adapt anything Heathen to Chris- 
tian use ? " 

I would not say so much, but would certainly avoid Heathen 
sculptures and emblems. 

It is with pleasure that I recall what I have seen in some 
Pagan temples in Nubia — and, unless I am mistaken, also at 
Philse in Egypt — where the idolatrous paintings on the walls 
had been daubed with Nile mud — obliterated, but not destroyed 
— by Christian worshippers, in order that their attention to their 
own service might not be distracted by Heathen blazonry. 

With those long ago deceased Christians I have great 
sympathy ; for painted windows are to me what, I suppose, 
painted walls- were to them : they sometimes fascinate my 
imagination to the injury of devotion, and more frequently 
offend my tafste. 

Ancient Priestess of Isis.' 

Modern Priest of Rome 



Part I. 

THE corruption which Rome inherits began in the earliest 
days of the Church. As our Lord teaches, tares were 
from the first sown with the wheat. The prevalent idea of the 
purity of the early Church is a fiction : the Apostolic Church 

* These illustrations, whicli form a striking parallel, represent an ancient 
Heathen priestess and a modern Roman priest, each with the aspersorium 
and aspergillum ; that is, the holy water vessel and the sprinkling brush. 
The priestess is from a fine marble in the Capitol at Rome : the priest may 
be seen every day. 



itself was not pure. And if that was not pure to which the 
Pentecostal efifusion of the Spirit belonged, what purity can be 
subsequently looked for ? See how the corruption was spread- 
ing even during the lifetime of the apostles. The Church of 
Galatia had turned away from the Gospel to the Law ; the 
Colossians were scarcely in a better condition ; the Corinthians 
were walking disorderly ; the Hebrews were in a critical state. 
At Miletus the elders of the Ephesian Church were warned by 
Paul of ** ravenous wolves," and told that ruin was imminent 
to their communion. Peter, James, and Jude give sad note, in 
their several epistles, of gross scandals which were then prevalent. 
And, last of all, the Lord's messages to the Seven Churches of 
Asia reveal deplorable corruption in their general condition. 

This brings us down to about a.d. 96. 

But if it went ill with the Church so far, things were much 
worse afterwards. By the rod of persecution the Christians 
were in some degree kept in the right path : but in the times 
of Constantine, when public persecution had ceased, worldliness 
and superstition openly took the lead. The effusion of the 
Spirit was small, and the standard of piety became propor- 
tionally low. Then priestly. power and monkery asserted their 
sway, and Mariolatry began to come into prominence. And, 
while glorying in the faith of their martyred predecessors, the 
early Christians soon passed from venerating their memories to 
worshipping their bones. Then, as Jortin remarks : — " Itinerant 
monks, as pedlars, hawked their relics about the country, and 
their graves became the haunts of superstition. The Fathers 
of those times — Athanasius, Gregory Nazienzen, and others, 
but particularly Chrysoslom with his popular eloquence — con- 
tributed to the utmost of their power to encourage the 
superstitious invocation of saints, the love of monkery, and 
the belief in miracles wrought by monks and relics. Some 
of these Fathers were valuable men ; but this was the disease 
of their age, and they were not free from it. In the fourth 


century they usually introduced an irregular worship of saints 
on the following plea : — ' Why should not we Christians show 
the same regard to our saints as the Pagans do to their heroes ? ' 
The transition from lawful to unlawful veneration was easily 
made. As the Pagans from honouring their heroes went on 
to deify them, so it was easy to see that, unless restrained, the 
Christians would conduct themselves in much the same manner 
towards their saints. And the Fathers gave the evil encourage- 
ment by their many indiscretions. Praying at the tombs of the 
martyrs was one of those fooleries which the Fathers should 
have restrained. What an idea did it give of the Almighty to 
weak Christians ! As if fie would show more favour to their 
petition because it was offered at a place where a good man 
lay buried ! " — Remarks on Ecclesiastical History, Vol. iii., 7-17. 

The same writer — he was Prebendary of St. Paul's and 
Archdeacon of London in the middle of the last century — in 
speaking of Justin Martyr, observes : — " Without detracting from 
the merits of this worthy man, truth and plain matter of fact 
extort from us that he and the rest of the Fathers are often 
poor and insufficient guides in things of judgment and criticism, 
and in the interpretation of the Scriptures ; sometimes in points 
of morality also, and of doctrine." — Vol. ii., 163. 

So early, and so extensively, did Paganism begin to leaven 
the Church ; and convenience, and also the course of events, 
forwarded the evil. For the Heathen temples and the Heathen 
courts of justice — the latter stately and convenient buildings 
termed basilicas, that is, royal structures— were naturally 
utilized as places of Christian worship. In the case of the 
second class of edifice the metamorphosis was especially easy. 
The apse, which the Heathen magistrate and his assessors were 
wont to occupy — he being seated on a lofty chair, and they on 
semicircular ascending grades of solid masonry — was now used 
by the bishop and his presbyters. There were rails — cancelli, 
whence the words chancel and chancellor — which separated the 


apse from the rest of the building. Close to these stood the 
Heathen altar., which gave place to the Christian communion- 
table. At the gates of the basilica — certainly at those of the 
temple — might have been the vessel for the liistral water, or 
water of purification, which remained as it was before, except 
that it was now called holy water. The images of the gods, 
if they were not removed, received new names, and, by a process 
of anointing and sprinkling, were turned into Christian saints. 
Sometimes, however, they were removed, and their places 
supplied by others less unsuitable. The hangings, draperies, 
and many of the ornaments, remained ; the body of the build- 
ing with its two galleries was left unaltered. These basilicas 
formed the pattern for our noblest churches, one of which, yet 
in existence at Bethlehem, is supposed to be the oldest Christian 
structure standing. The grandest in Europe is St. Paul's, out- 
side Rome — one of those many wonderful buildings erected 
to captivate the imagination of man and powerfully assist in 
bringing him under the sway of superstition. 

Enthroned in an edifice thus royal and splendid, the bishop 
became a person of the greatest importance, and his office was 
much coveted. Not infrequently his election was attended 
with bloodshed. As Gibbon (chap, xx.) says; — ^" The inte- 
rested views, the selfish and angry passions, the arts of perfidy 
and dissimulation, the secret corruption, the open and even 
bloody violence, which had formerly disgraced the freedom of 
election in the commonwealths of Greece and Rome, too often 
influenced the choice of the successors of the apostles." The 
historian is speaking of the era of Constantine, who died 
A.D. 3 '-,7. The See of Rome, as being that of the capital, 
was of course the most coveted, and its bishops, who soon 
assumed a Heathen imperial title, that of Pontifex or Pontiff, 
naturally rose to the first distinction. 

And so Paganism began to recover its power, and to prevail 
among the Christians themselves. '* The gay and splendid 



appearance of the churches helped to allure the half-converts. 
New amusements made up for those which they had quitted. 
If they had been superstitious before, they might be so still. 
In the room of gods and goddesses they had saints male and 
female — lord and lady protectors — to whom they might pay 
their respects. Instead of sleeping in their former temples, they 
could slumber over the bones of the martyrs, and receive as 
good information and assistance as before. If they longed 
for miracles, prodigies, visions, omens, divinations, amulets and 
charms, they might be supplied." — -Jortin, Vol. iii., lo. 

In regard to the sleeping in the churches, we may remark 
that this is still practised at Jerusalem, in the church of the Holy 
Sepulchre, a night or more before " the holy fire." On one 
occasion I was much surprised to see a quantity of bedding in 
the church, and a number of both sexes waiting to occupy it. 
The sight was curious, but painful, and I was told that strange 
vows are made in connection with this ancient Heathen custom. 

Du Choul (p. 319) says that in Pagan times the skins of 
victims which were part of the temple furniture formed the 
bedding. But he adds that, when Christianized, the custom 
became so abused that Constantine did away with such noc- 
turnal devotions, p02(r les insolences que Von y faisoit. 

Something similar was, however, formerly carried on in St. 
Peter's at Rome, and continued even into the present century. 
At Easter a large cross was illuminated in the church, while 
the rest of the building was left in darkness. But all kinds 
of abominations compelled the discontinuance of the practice. 
Human nature, bad enough in the light, is still less to be trusted 
in darkness. However, when at Rome in 1852, I was told of 
something in St. Peter's even worse than this. 

Thurifers, or Incense-bearers. 
Heathen. Christian. 



Part II. 

IN the preceding chapter, allusion was made to the irregu- 
larities and violence which frequently disgraced the election 
of a bishop in the early times of the Church. " In the latter 
half of the fourth century," writes Dean Milman, "the streets 

* The illustrations represent youthful incense-bearers, Pagan and Papal ; 
the former from an engraving after the antique in Montfaucon's great work. 
Their duty was to attend upon the priest during the sacrifice, etc. An 
incense-box is seen in the hand of each, styled acerra by Pagan, and naviccllo 
by Papal, Rome. The Heathen official was called camilliis : the Christian 
is named thurifer or acolyte. See Rich's Diet. 


of Rome ran with blood during the contest of Damasus and 
Ursicinus for the bishopric of that city." 

" One cannot say of Damasus, the successful combatant," 
remarks Archdeacon Jortin, "that he fought a good fight 
when he fought for his bishopric. His bravos, hired gladia- 
tors, and others, slew many of the opposite party ; and great 
was the fury of the religious ruffians on both sides in this 
holy war. Pious times, and much to be honoured and 
envied ! " 

The historian Ammianus Marcellinus — an honest Pagan, 
as Gibbon calls him — relates that Juventius, the governor 
of Rome, was quite unable to put an end to these disorders, 
and was at last compelled by the violence of the Church 
factions to withdraw from the city. " Ultimately," continues 
the historian, " Damasus got the best of the strife by the 
strenuous efforts of his partisans. It is certain that on one 
day one hundred and thirty-seven dead bodies were found in 
the Basilica of Sicinius, which is a Christian Church." He 
adds that he does not marvel at the efforts which men put 
forth to obtain such a rank and power ; " since, after they 
have succeeded, they will be secure for the future, being 
enriched by offerings from matrons — Damasus was called the 
' ear-tickle of the ladies ' — riding in carriages, dressing splen- 
didly, and feasting luxuriously, so that their entertainments 
surpass even royal banquets." Strange contrast to the humble 
poverty of the apostles of Christ ! 

It was in a.d. 366 that Damasus fought for the Popedom, 
in the sixtieth year of his age. " But," says Jortin, " the 
strangest part of the story is that Damasus was a saint, and 
that miracles were \\Tought in his favour after his death ! " The 
world will love its own, and here is an example of those whom 
it deifies ! What matter, whether they be Heathen heroes or 
Christian saints ? 

Pope Damasus died towards the close of the fourth century, 


and here is a bird's-eye view from Gibbon of what followed in 
the Church. 

*' If, in the beginning of the fifth century, TertuUian or 
Lactantius had been suddenly raised from the dead, to assist 
at the festival of some popular saint or martyr, they would have 
gazed with astonishment and indignation on the profane 
spectacle which had succeeded to the pure and spiritual 
worship of a Christian congregation. As soon as the doors of 
the church were thrown open, they must have been offended 
with the smoke of incense, the perfume of flowers, and the 
glare of lamps and tapers, which diffused, at noon-day, a 
gaudy, superfluous, and, in their opinion, a sacrilegious light. 
If they had approached the balustrade of the altar, they would 
have had to make their way through the prostrate crowd, con- 
sisting for the most part of strangers and pilgrims, who resorted 
to the city on the vigil of the feast ; and who already felt the 
strong intoxication of fanaticism, and perhaps of wine. Their 
devout kisses were imprinted on the walls and pavement of 
the sacred edifice ; and their fervent prayers were directed, 
whatever might be the language of their Church, to the bones, 
the blood, or the ashes, of the saint. . . . Whenever they 
undertook any distant or dangerous journey, they requested 
that the holy martyrs would be their guides and protectors on 
the road ; and if they returned without having experienced 
any misfortune, they again hastened to the tombs of the 
martyrs to celebrate, with greatful thanksgivings, their obliga- 
tions to the memory and relics of those heavenly patrons. 
The walls were hung round with symbols of the favours they 
had received ; eyes, and hands, and feet, of gold and silver ; 
and edifying pictures, which could not long escape the abuse 
of indiscreet or idolatrous devotion, represented the image, the 
attributes, and the miracles, of the tutelar saint." 

Such was the semi-Pagan worship carried on in the Christian 
Church in the fifth century. 


In the beginning of this age died St. Chrysostom, Bishop of 
Constantinople, who lived in the reign of Theodosius. He 
has left us copious and instructive details of the state of 
society in his capital and country at that period. In delineat- 
ing its corruption, he also inveighs against the luxury of the 
times, and especially the dress of females, which he describes. 
He represents the stage as obscene and abominable, and tells 
us of rope-dancers, balancers, etc.; so that those who have 
read Kingsley's wonderful historic romance, "Hypatia," will at 
once perceive the source whence the author obtained some of 
his facts. Moreover, he censures the manner in which mar- 
riages were celebrated— the hymns which were sung in honour 
of Venus ! the indecent plays which were exhibited to the 
guests, and the introduction of other abominations which were 
offensive, not to Christians only, but to the very Heathen 

St. Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria in Egypt, comes a little after 
Chrysostom, and died a.d. 444. This saint was a remarkable 
man, and one who pushed his pretensions of priestly power to 
the utmost degree. His letters show the height to which the 
episcopal power aspired before the religion of Christ had 
become that of the Roman Empire. He demands implicit 
obedience for the priest of God, who is the sole infallible 
judge, or delegate of Christ, Judex vice Chris fi. "He was 
made bishop," says Jortin, " and made himself lord and 
master, of Alexandria." " He acted like a sovereign prince, 
and shut up all the Novatian churches, taking away their plate 
and furniture, and all the goods and chattels of their bishop." 

At that time there were some forty thousand Jews residing 
in Alexandria. These had made an onslaught on the Chris- 
tians, and it was thus that Cyril took his revenge. Without 
any magisterial sanction, he led a seditious multitude at dawn 
of day to destroy the synagogues, and succeeded in effecting 
his purpose. The Jews, taken by surprise and unarmed, were 


not able to resist ; they were driven out of the city, and the 
pillage of their quarter rewarded the exertions of the Christian 
mob. Thus was Alexandria impoverished by the loss of a 
wealthy and industrious colony, which had been for centuries 
protected by special statutes. 

But a yet darker crime is, it is to be feared, connected with 
Cyril's patriarchal chair. The Roman governor of Alexandria, 
Orestes, was attacked in his chariot and severely wounded by 
five hundred moiiks from the desert, the creatures of Cyril, 
from whose hands he was delivered by some loyal citizens. 
The ringleader of the monks, who was cruelly executed, was, 
though a rebel and assassin, treated as a martyr by Cyril, who 
buried him with grand solemnities, and highly eulogized him 
. from the pulpit of the cathedral. Shortly afterwards something 
worse followed. Orestes and Cyril were at variance, and a 
rumour was abroad that their reconciliation was impeded by a 
person renowned, not merely in that city, but throughout the 
whole of civilized Europe. This was the celebrated Hypatia, 
whose statue in marble some of my readers may have seen in 
the last Paris Exposition. It is thus that Gibbon tells her dark 
story : — 

" Daughter of Theon, the mathematician, she was initiated 
into her father's studies. Her learned comments have eluci- 
dated- the geometry of ApoUonius and Diophantus, and she 
publicly taught, both at Athens and Alexandria, the philosophy 
of Plato and of Aristotle. In the bloom of beauty, and in the 
maturity of wisdom, the modest maid refused her lovers and 
instructed her disciples. The persons most illustrious for 
their rank or merit were impatient to visit the female philo- 
sopher, and Cyril beheld with a jealous eye the gorgeous train 
of horses and slaves which crowded the door of her academy. 
. . . On a fatal day, in the holy season of Lent, Hypatia was 
torn from her chariot, stripped naked, dragged to the church, 
and inhumanly butchered by the hands of Peter the Reader, 



and a troop of savage and merciless fanatics : her flesh was 
scraped from her bones with sharp oyster-shells, which lay 
near, and her quivering limbs were delivered to the flames. 
The just progress of inquiry and punishment was stopped by 
seasonable gifts ; but the murder of Hypatia has imprinted 
an indelible stain on the character and religion of Cyril of 
Alexandria." " At the mention of that injured name," adds 
Gibbon in a note, " I am pleased to observe a blush even on 
the cheek of Baronius." 

Cyril professed his innocence ; but since he would neither 
give up, nor even excommunicate, the murderers, we can draw 
but one inference. 

The monks of Alexandria, with their patriarch Cyril, shared 
a Paganism which they held in common with that " rout that 
made the hideous roar," the murderers of the sweet-voiced 
Orpheus. They had indeed been baptized, but what ditference 
was there in heart between them and the fierce Bacchantes who 
tore the poet's limbs asunder ? Were not both monks and 
Thracian women Heathens alike ? " " By their fruits ye shall 
know them." 

And yet this Cyril was a saint ! 

A caiitillns, or Heatlien acolyte, usually of noble birth, who acted as attendant to 
the priest at the altar. Copied from the Vatican Virgil. 



WE have sketched some of the corruptions of early 
Christianity ; it is time to inquire to what causes they 
were mainly due. And the answer undoubtedly is — To the 
compromising spirit of the nominal Church. 

" Rome," says Professor Blunt, " was under a temptation to 
mingle sacred and profane together. It did not, like Con- 
stantinople, rise at once a Christian capital. The Gospel was 
gradually introduced into it, and had to win its way by slow 
degrees through the ancient sympathies and inveterate habits 
of the Pagan city. It was a maxim with some of the early 
promoters of the Christian cause to do as little violence as 
possible to existing prejudices. They would run the risk of 
Barnabas being confounded with Jupiter, and Paul with Mer- 
cury. In the transition from Pagan to Papal Rome much of 
the old material was worked up. The Heathen temples became 
Christian churches ; the altars of the gods, altars of the saints ; 
the curtains, incense, tapers, votive tablets, remained the same ; 
the aquaminarium was still the vessel for holy water ; St. Peter 
stood at the gate instead of Cardea ; St. Roque or St. Sebastian 
in the bedroom, instead of the " Phrygian Penates " ; St. 
Nicholas was the sign of the vessel, instead of Castor and 
Pollux; the Matre Deum became the Madonna; "alms pro 
Matre Deum " became alms for the Madonna ; the festival of the 
Mater Deum, the festival of the Madonna, or Lady Day ; the 
Hostia, or victim, was now the Host ; the " Lugentes Campi, " 
o*r dismal regions. Purgatory ; the offerings to the Manes were 
masses for the dead." 


Such is the testimony of Blunt, who adds in a note that the 
very name Purgatory is Heathen ; since the annual Feast of 
Purification in February was called " Sacrum Purgatorium." 

" This mode of acting," says Picart, in regard to the same 
subject, " was not intended to Paganize, but wisely to counter- 
mine Paganism, and as a counterpoise — covime tin contre-poids 
— to parry the reproaches that the Pagans made against the 
Christians" (vol. i., p. i6). 

" Wisely to countermine " ! Such is the wisdom of this 
world. But "the wisdom of this world is foolishness with 
God" (i Cor. iii. 19). 

The following quotation, also from Picart, illustrates the 
principle, alluded to above, of doing no violence to sinful 
prejudices and habits ; in other words, of doing evil that good 
may come. " In order to win the Pagans to Christ, instead 
of Pagan watchings and commemorations of their gods, the 
Christians rejoiced in vigils and anniversaries of their martyrs ; 
and, to show that they had regard to the public prosperity, in 
place of those feasts in which the Heathen priests were wont 
to supplicate the gods for the welfare of their country — such 
as the Amba7~valia, Robigalia, etc.— they introduced rogations, 
litanies, and processions made with naked feet, invoking 
Christ instead of Jupiter" (vol. i., p. 26). And this, according 
to the writer, is the reason why " our fetes and ceremonies have 
generally a Pagan origin." 

Thus we trace what has been faithfully called the introduction 
of a baptized Heathenism. As Didron expresses it, " Chris- 
tianity — his kind of Christianity-^«//<3? // necessary to appro- 
priate the images of Paganism, and to purify them with a 
Christian ideality." 

Yes ; and Mahomet also found tlie same necessity in intro- 
ducing his false religion : nor is the reason difficult to discover 
in either case. Neither a depraved " Christianity," nor Islam, 
possessed an innate power that could grapple with and over- 


come the older idolatrous creeds : therefore both false systems 
were constrained to compromise. The tribes that were to be 
" Christianized " were allowed to transfer the peculiar worship 
of their old divinity to a patron saint of similar attributes. And, 
in much the same way, Mahomet also was forced to suit 
himself to circumstances, as the following remarks — copied 
from the Times of January 3rd, iSSo — will show : — 

" The old Sabean ceremonies and superstitions were so 
intimately connected with the social life of the Arabs that 
Mahomet was compelled to leave them almost as they were, 
contenting himself with forbidding a few of the most glaring 
and vicious abuses. Thus the mummeries of the Haji pilgrim- 
age, with the visitation of the sacred mountains of Safa and 
Merwa, where two favourite idols used to stand ; the custom of 
pelting the Devil in the vale of Mina ; the sacrifices on the 
same spot; the festival of the new moon, and a thousand 
other Pagan rites and observances, were left to temper the 
creed of the iconoclastic prophet." 

In opposition to this time-serving complaisance on the part' 
of false Christian and Mahometan, with what majesty does the 
uncompromising simplicity of the religion of Jesus stand forth, 
proclaiming in the ears of all men : — 

" He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life ; and he 
that believeth not the Son shall not see life ; but the wTath of 
God abideth on him " (John iii. 36). 



IN further confirmation of the previous chapters on the 
early corruption of Christianity, we quote the following 
passage from Merivale's Lectures on Early Church History, in 
which the Dean gives his view of the Paganized condition of 
the Church in the fifth century — a period which many are wont 
to consider comparatively pure. 

"But neither Leo— that is Leo the Great, Pope from 
A.D. 440 toA.D. 461 — nor, I think, the contemporary doctors 
of the Church, seem to have had an adequate sense of the 
process by which the whole essence of Paganism was, through- 
out their age, constantly percolating the ritual of the Church, 
and the hearts of the Christian multitude. It is not to these 
teachers that we can look for a warning — 

" That the fasts prescribed by the Church had their parallel 
in the abstinence imposed by certain Pagan creeds ; 

" That the monachism which they extolled so warmly, and 
which spread so rapidly, was, in its origin, a purely Pagan 
institution, common to the religions of India, Thibet, and 
Syria ; 

"That the canonizing of saints and martyrs, the honours paid 
to them, and the trust reposed in them, were simply a revival 
of the old Pagan mythologies ; 

" That the multiplication of ceremonies, together with proces- 
sions, lights, incense, vestments, and votive offerings, was a mere 


Pagan appeal to the senses, such as can never fail to enervate 
man's moral fibre ; 

"That, in short, the general aspect of Christian devotion 
was a faint, and rather frivolous, imitation of the old Pagan 

" The working of true Christianity was never more faint among 
the masses ; the approximation of Church usage to the manners 
and customs of Paganism never really closer. 

" Surely we must complain that all this manifest evil was not, 
at this time, denounced by the teachers of the Christian Church; 
nay, that it was rather fostered and favoured by them." 

A little further on he remarks : — 

" The spirit of the old (Heathen) traditions had become to a 
great extent merged in the popular Christianity, and actually 
assimilated to it." 

" The multitudes. half-Christian and half-Pagan, met together 
in those unhappy days to confuse the Feast of the Nativity with 
the Feast of the Saturnalia (in honour of Saturn) ; the Feast of 
the Purification with the Feast of the Lupercalia (in honour of 
Pan) ; and the Feast of Rogations with the Feast of the Ambar- 
valia (in honour of Ceres)." 

Such is the opinion of Dean Merivale. We will now cite 
the testimony of a layman to the same effect, an extract from a 
well-known book, Mathetd's Diary of an Invalid: — 

" Amongst the antiquities of Rome you are shown the Temple 
of Romulus, built round the very house in which they say he 
lived. Need we go further to seek the prototype of the tale of 
the house of Loretto ? 

" The modern worship of saints is a revival of the old adoration 
paid to heroes and demigods. 

" What are nuns with their vows of celibacy, but a new edition 
of the vestal virgins ? 

" What the tales of images falling from heaven, but a repetition 
of the old fable of the Palladium of Troy ? 


" Instead of tutelary gods, we find guardian angels. 

" The canonization of a saint is but another term for the 
apotheosis of a hero. 

" The processions are clearly copied from ancient patterns. 

" The lustral water, and the incense of the Heathen temple, 
remain without alteration in the holy water and in the censer 
of the Church. 

" The daily 'Sacrifice of the Mass' seems to be copied from 
the victim — hostia — of the Heathen ritual. 

" The ceremonial of Isis to have been revived in the indecent 
emblems presented by women ; e.g., at Isernia, near Naples, up 
to the year 1790, as votive offerings at the shrine of S. Cosmo 
in that city. 

" Nay, some would trace the Pope himself, with the triple 
crown on his head and the keys of heaven and hell in his 
pocket, to our old acquaintance Cerberus with his three heads, 
who keeps guard as the custos of Tartarus and Elysium. 

" The very same piece of brass which the old Romans wor- 
shipped as Jupiter, with a new head on its shoulders — like an 
old friend with a new face — is now, in St. Peter's, adored with 
equal devotion by the modern Italians. 

" And, as if they wished to make the resemblance as perfect as 
possible, they have, in imitation of his Pagan prototype, sur- 
rounded the tomb of the Apostle with a hundred ever-burning 

'• Centum aras posuit, vigilemque sacraverat igneni." 

Virg. ^7''.ii. iv. 200. 

The writer further observes that " some traces of the old 
Heathen superstitions are indeed constantly peeping out from 
under their Roman Catholic disguises. We cannot so inocu- 
late our old stock but that we shall relish by it. If anything 
could have improved the tree, it must have borne better fruit 
by being grafted with Christianity. But in many particulars, 



so far as Italy is concerned, all the change produced has been 
a mere change of name " (p. 90). 

Just in the same strain Forsyth, a man well acquainted with 
Italy, and possessed of a fine classic taste, writes as follows :— 

" I have found the statue of a god pared down into a Chris- 
tian saint ; a Heathen altar converted into a church box for the 
poor; a Bacchanalian vase officiating as a baptismal font; a 
Bacchanalian tripod supporting the holy water basin; the 
sarcophagus of an old Roman adored as a shrine full of relics ; 
the brass columns of Jupiter Capitolinus now consecrated to 
the altar of the Blessed Sacrament ; and the tomb of Agrippa 
turned into the tomb of a Pope." — Forsyth's Italy, p. 134. 

And indeed all writers who are acquainted with antiquity — 
be they lay or clerical, Protestant or Papal, Italian or foreign — 
agree as to the Pagan origin of Rome's present usages and 
ceremonies. It is a palpable fact that, in very early times, the 
nominal Church made a compromise. She soon ceased to 
cry, "Come out from among them, and be ye separate; and 
touch not the unclean thing." There was no sound of the 
trumpet, no alarm of war, no protest, no extermination of 
idolatrous practices. A living Church in the midst of a sinful 
and adulterous generation must be an aggressive Church : but 
here all was compromise, polite assent, dilution, " the wine 
mingled with water." There was, just as there is now, a tacit 
consent to keep unpleasant subjects in the shad-e. There was 
peace when there should have been the shout of battle, and 
" Paganism was assimilated, not extirpated." " The leaders 
of the Church," says Merivale, " were afraid of any spiritual 
movement which should extend the limits of their dark outlook. 
They scouted the more spiritual reformers of the age, whom 
God will never suffer to be altogether wanting in His Church, 
and branded them as heretics, while they suppressed the 
testimony of their teaching." 

How striking the likeness in the men of the present day to 


the Christians of the fifth century ; for the spirit of compromise 
is again abroad. And yet everything beyond St. Paul's 
" decently and in order," everything belonging to the old 
Heathen rites, such as gorgeous ceremonial, "high ritual," 
" stately worship," — not one of these things belongs to the 
Gospel, not one is to be found in the New Testament, not one 
is countenanced by the teachings of our Lord and His apostles. 
All are but devices of the natural unregenerate heart _of man, 
and have, therefore, appeared in all ages, and among all 
nations, whatever their religion might be. 

Strange that those compromising priests of the early Church 
should not have been able to decipher the mind of Him, 
Whom they professed to own as God, by His direction given 
to His ancient people in circumstances very similar to their 
own. For the Israelites, like the early Christians, were set 
in the midst of an idolatrous people, and it is thus that they 
were commanded to deal with the abominations around 
them : — 

" Ye shall utterly destroy all the places wherein the nations 
which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high moun- 
tains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree : and ye 
shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn 
their groves with fire ; and ye shall hew down the graven 
images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of 
that place " (Deut. xii. 2, 3). 

But the teachers of the early Church could not resist the 
goodly Babylonish garment, and the shekels of silver, and the 
wedge of gold ; they did not prayerfully consider God's hatred 
of everything idolatrous : for had they done so, Christianity 
would not have been handed down to us the jumble of 
Heathenism which it is. 

Would that many clergymen in the Church of England 
would take warning from the mistake, and would earnestly 
study the Word of God with the view of ascertaining His mind 


upon this point : they would then no lOnger show that inclina- 
tion toward the idolatrous Church of Rome which is now so 
painfully apparent. 

" Idolatrous Church of Rome, did you say ? " some might 
ask in surprise. Yes. On four counts at least Rome can be 
proved guilty of idolatry without any difficulty. 

She worships graven and molten images, and to justify the 
idolatry frequently omits the second commandment in her 
catechisms, and divides the tenth into two, in order to make 
up the number. 
She worships dead men and women, and angels. 
She worships relics, especially pieces of the cross, to which 
she gives the highest kind of worship, called Latria. 

She worships a piece of bread in the Mass, in that Sacrament 
which the Church of England, in her Thirty-ninth Article, desig- 
nates as " a blasphemous fable." 

On these four counts, then, without going further, we 
maintain that Rome is guilty of idolatry. 

In our Protestant churches images are allowed by law for 
ornament, but not for worship. Unfortunately this permission 
opens the door for many abuses. For who shall say where 
ornament ends, and worship — that is, idolatry — begins? Or 
what true believer can read the denunciations of the Almighty 
against images, and all that is connected with them, and not 
exclaim, — " Perish images from Protestant churches ! " ? 

The Moslem enters our places of worship, and says, — "These 
Christians are idolaters ! " 

The Jew looks into our churches, and cries, — " These 
Christians are idolaters ! " 

Both thQ one and the other execrate our Christianity as 
idolatry, and should we, for the sake of ornament, forsooth, 
cast this scandal and stone of offence in our brother's way ? 
" Woe to that man," said the Lord of the Church, " by whom 
the offence cometh ! " 



In this respect, both the mosque of the Moslem, and the 
synagogue of the Jew, are more pure than the church of the 
Christian ! 

" Look," said a Polish Jew to his son, the latter, from whom I 
heard the story, being a recent convert to Christianity — " Look," 
said he, taking the youth to the window, and pointing to the 
image of a saint at the opposite corner of the street, " there is 
the idolatry by joining which you have degraded yourself, and 
dishonoured your ancestors." 

The father, however, was mistaken : it was not to an idolatrous 
form of Christianity that the young man had become united. 

" Look, look ! aunt," said a little boy just come from India, 
as he entered an English parish church adorned with these 
legalized graven images, " Look at the idols ! " The child in 
his simplicity took them for Siva, Vishnu, or other Heathen 
gods. One cannot help remembering to have read something 
about " little ones," and that it would be better for him who 
puts a stumbling-block in their way, if a millstone had been 
hanged about his neck, and he had been cast into the sea. 



WE have already, in our third and fourth chapters, passed 
in review several facts illustrative of the early corruption 
and subsequent Paganizing of the Christian Church, from the 
times of the apostles to about a.d. 450. The subject is a painful 
one. But at a time when everything ancient — that is, post- 
apostolic — in Church matters is lauded and held up to imitation, 
it becomes a duty, however disagreeable it may be, to inquire 
what the truth really is. And hitherto our investigation has not 
strengthened our trust in antiquity. The extract from Gibbon's 
twenty-eighth chapter showed generally that Christian worship 
in the early part of the fifth century presented ''a profane 
spectacle " ; because it was to a great extent a mere reproduction 
of Pagan ceremonial. Then, again, the actions or writings of 
Damasus, Chrysostom, and Cyril, the bishops respectively of 
Rome, Constantinople, and Alexandria, prove that in those 
great centres — the capital cities of Roman Europe, Asia, and 
Africa — the state of religion was as corrupt as it could have been 
in the provinces. And what else could have been expected, 
seeing that two of the three saints, namely the Pope and the 
Patriarch, were, if not themselves men of blood, at least the 
abettors of murderers and assassins. The basilica of Sicinius 
at Rome, bespattered with the blood of the hundred and thirty- 
seven victims of ecclesiastical violence, and the great metro- 
politan church of Alexandria, desecrated by the ferocious 
murder of the gifted Hypatia, attest how little Christianity 
had subdued the Paganism of the age ; while the writings of 


Chrysostom give painful evidence to the same effect. Such, 
then, was the state of reHgion in the Church up to the middle of 
the fifth century. 

Some brief notices of intermediate times may be useful? 
before we pass on to expose the gross darkness which was 
brooding upon Christendom when the light of the Reformation 
began to dawn upon it from the Word of God. 

But was there no light through the long intervening period 
of gloom ? Oh, yes ! God did not leave Himself without 
wdtnesses. In the desert, in the monastery, in the city, here 
and there in dens and in caves of the earth, in the mountains 
of Piedmont, Dauphine, and elsewhere, they might have been 
found ; often destitute, afflicted, tormented, and yet the salt of 
the earth of whom the world was not worthy. Such were the 
secret ones of God ; such were His elect, His faithful witnesses, 
who carried on the apostolic succession of the Spirit, and 
with whom was the fulfilment of the promise, " Lo ! I am with 
you always, even unto the end of the world." But the sword 
of persecution, and the torture and flames of the Roman 
Inquisition — the Holy Office — cut off these holy ones in countless 
multitudes. Many of them were in the Church of Rome, but 
not of her : and of these not a few gradually learnt to look 
upon her as the woman sitting upon a scarlet-coloured beast, 
the mother of harlots and abominations, drunken with the 
blood of the saints. They testified against her idols and idola- 
tries; and, in answer, she slew them. Very remarkable among 
the testimonies of the period is that of Uante, one of those 
who escaped the sword. 

" To you, St. John referred, O shepherds vile, 
When she, who sits on many waters, had 
Been seen with kings her person to defile — 
The same who with seven heads arose on earth, 
And wore ten horns to prove that power was hers 
Long as her husband had delight in worth. 
Your gods ye make of silver and of gold, 
And wherein differ from idolaters ? " lufcnio, xix, lo6. 


How terrible a comment have we upon the svords " drunken 
with the blood of the saints " in the slaughter of the Vaudois, in 
A.D. 1686. Dr. Gilly informs us that, in the course of six 
months, out of a slender population, over twelve thousand were 
destroyed by imprisonment, fire, and sword, — 

"Slain by the bloody Piedmontese, who roll'd 
Mother and infant down the rock." 

We will now adduce some evidence respecting the state of 
things in that period of the Church which is well called the 
Dark Ages. 

Cardinal Baronius, the annalist and ready apologist of all 
Rome's evil deeds, thus describes it : — " It seemed as if Christ 
again slept a profound sleep in the ship of His Church, and 
there wanted disciples in the midst of the storm to awaken the 

Lord with their cries They had thrust into St. Peter's 

chair, which was the throne of Christ, monstrous men, most 
debauched in their lives, abandoned in their morals, and in all 
respects abominable." (Quoted by Townsend in his Accusations, 
p. 103.) 

"Against the Catholics," says Jortin, " their enemies alleged 
— ' You have turned your love-feasts into Pagan sacrifices, and 
your martyrs into their idols, whom you serve with the very 
same honours. You appease the shades of the dead with wine 
(libations) and with funeral feasts. You celebrate the festivals 
of the Heathen, and their manners you retain without any 
alteration. Nothing distinguishes you from Pagans, except 
that you worship apart from them.' " The archdeacon adds, 
" In this there is falsehood and truth. Pagans had, with 
Paganism, begun to enter into the Church." 

In regard to the appeasing of the dead with wine at their 
saints' festivals, this practice was considered good both for dead 
and living. As to the dead, " they thought they pleased the 
saints by pouring fragrant wine upon their tombs," after the 
manner of the Heathen. As to the living, they thought it good 


for themselves, and drank freely at the martyrs' graves. " Oh ! " 
cries a saint of the time, "that they would offer with more 
sobriety ; that they would not be quaffing wine within the sacred 
precincts ! " 

In the ninth century, Michael, the Emperor of the East, a foe 
to those images of which the Orthodox were so fond, in describ- 
ing the worship of the Churches to the German Emperor 
Louis, says, " They sang before the images." This, however, 
is common enough now. Last Christmas I was at Aries and at 
Nismes, and heard young girls singing before an image of Mary 
in both places. It was at night, and the idols were beautifully 
and tastefully illuminated, while the other parts of the churches 
w^ere in darkness. The effect was admirable, and the singing 
to the idols very sweet : but the virgins of Aries were more 
melodious in their songs than the virgins of Nismes. I have 
witnessed the same practice at Florence, and at Antwerp. 

But let me say a word respecting the grand old church at 
Aries, to which we have just referred. Observe when you go 
there, reader, a curiosity — one of many — in the noble cloister 
of the cathedral ; namely, the capital of one of the columns 
which represents the dream of the Magi. There they are, three 
little men all tucked up most comfortably in the same bed, and 
fast asleep. The old sacristan called my attention to this 
mediaeval eccentricity. *' Voila ! " said he, " Monsieur perceives 
that they have their crowns on instead of night-caps ! " And 
Eure enough they had. 

To return to the Emperor Michael. " Before the images," 
he says, " they sing, worship, and implore." Of course : but 
this. Heathenish as it is, we may see, alas ! every day. What 
follows is, however, more startling. *' Many dress the female 
figures in robes — a common practice still — and then make 
them stand godmothers to their children(!). They offer up to 
them the hair first cut off, just as the Heathen did. Some 
presbyters scraped the paint from the images, mixed it with the 



Apotheosis or Canonization Heathen. 

Assumption Christian. 


Eucharist, and gave it in the Communion. Others put the 
body of our Lord — that is, the bread — into the hand of the 
images, and made the communicants take it thence." — Jortin, 
vol. iv., p. 480. Such presbyters must have belonged to the 
genus wooden, as given by Boniface in a bon mot attributed to 
him. " Formerly," said he, " the Church had golden priests 
and wooden chalices ; now she has wooden priests and golden 
chalices." Boniface was an Englishman known as " the 
Apostle of Germany," and, although he was canonized, 
seems to have been a true servant of Christ. He was Arch- 
bishop of Mentz, and, which is much more, a laborious 
missionary among the Pagans, who murdered him in the 
seventy-fifth year of his age, a.d. 755. "The day," said he, 
" for which I have long waited is come ! " And so he departed 
in peace — a saint passing to his rest. 

We observed that he was canonized. This process, an 
invention of the tenth century, was adapted from the custom 
of deifying heroes so common among the ancient Greeks and 
Romans. The illustrations on the preceding page will show 
the similarity of Heathen and Christian apotheosis or assump- 
tion. The first group is taken from a marble of the Empress 
Faustina at Rome, as given by Montfaucon ; the second is 
from a Roman Catholic picture representing the assumption 
of our Lord's mother. The ceremony of canonization is 
very costly, for the fees demanded at Rome are many and 
large ; but the result is that the canonized person becomes a 

I have before me a long alphabetical list, published at 
Naples in 1846, and entitled Universal List of the Saints from 
the Beginning of the World to the Present Time. It is im- 
possible to number God's elect ; the Lord alone knoweth them 
that are His, and they are a great multitude which no man 
can number. Yet this list may be perfectly correct ; for Rome 
can count her own saints : but that is"(|uite another matter. 



THERE is in Scripture the record of an anxious inquirer 
who, nearly three thousand years ago, asked what he 
could do to expiate his sins — ^how he could find peace for his 
soul. The answer was that the Lord required him to do 
justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with his God. 
And so far as it went, this answer was good ; though we, with 
our present light, would be able to refer such an inquirer at 
once to " the Lamb of God, Who taketh away the sins of the 

Upon the conscience of this inquirer there was a burden of 
guilt so heavy that he would have made any sacrifice to be 
delivered from it. " Shall I," he cried, " give my firstborn for 
my transgression ; the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul ? '' 

And as it was with him, so throughout all generations it 
ever has been, is, and will be, with every conscience-stricken 
sinner. As soon as man feels a sense of sin, he will, if he be 
ignorant of the Atonement which Christ has made, manifest an 
earnest desire to find some way of expiating his iniquities, and 
of recommending himself to God. This is the religion of 
nature ; and it is ever conspicuous in Heathenism, which is the 
outcome of nature. 

As a rule, man is sure, sooner or later, to feel himself a 
transgressor ; and, as a transgressor — if he be ignorant of the 
One Atonement— he seeks to make expiation for himself. 
Hence came self-inflicted tortures, scourgings, penance, priva- 
tions, pilgrimages, and retirements to the hermitage or the 


cloister. And the universality of these religious practices — 
common, as they are, to all countries and all times— prove 
that they are no characteristic of particular races, tribes, or 
classes ; but that they indicate a want felt by all humanity. 

To meet this universal want, to calm the palpitating heart of 
anxious men, and to guide their steps into the way of salvation, 
God has given the glad tidings of His Word, which speaks peace 
through the sinners' Friend, the Lord Jesus Christ. And how 
stands the case? Man thinks he must do something to 
recommend himself to God. No, says the Scripture : for in 
the first place you can do nothing to recommend yourself; 
nor, again, is there need, since you are already recommended. 
Christ is your Saviour, and all that is to be done, or can be done, 
has been accomplished by Him. Your part is but to believe 
on Him : then His perfect atonement becomes effectual for you, 
and His wealth of righteousness is put to your account. 
" Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." 

Such, then, is God's simple and gracious method of salvation. 
This is His way of peace and holiness, and He declares that 
there is none other. Man, however, has many devices for the 
attainment of the same end, and we will now say a few words 
respecting one of these devices— that of self-inflicted privations 
and pains. Look at these scourges. One of them is Heathen 
— ancient Roman ; the other is Christian — modern Roman. 
The former is from a marble in the Capitol Museum at Rome, 
and is figured in F. Righetti's great work (plate 130). The 
marble is very remarkable. It represents a priest of Cybele, an 
archigalliis in full costume, with medals on his head and a 
picture hung round his neck, displaying the sacred vitta or 
garland, and bearing the aspcrgilluin, or pot of holy water, and 
the whip which these priests' of " the Great Mother " were wont 
to use upon themselves. This whip was a terrible instrument 
of torture, similar to iheflage/li/^n, or metal-loaded scourge, with 
which slaves were punished. The thongs, it will be noticed, 



are loaded with small squares : these are bones — pastern, or 
knuckle bones, kmicks — of sheep, which must have inflicted a 
terrible punishment. 

The other is from an original which I bought at Rome, in 
the Lent of 1852, at the church of the Flagellants. It is a 
severe instrument when applied to the bare back ; its length is 
about two feet, and it is made of stout cord. There is a 

Rome Pa?an. 

Rome Papal. 

peculiar way of using it which was once explained to me by a 
French ex-Trappist. The operator kneels down and strikes 
over his shoulders, right and left — over the right shoulder with 
a back-handed blow. This is done rapidly, according to the 
zeal of the flagellant ; and, I need not say, with a very painful 

In the church at Rome the disciplina was at night, and was 
thus arranged. The monks assembled and sat in the choir, 
where I also sat with them, A few candles only were burning, 



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just SO many as to enable the brother who handed round the 
scourges to see his way. All the candles except one were then 
extinguished, and by that feeble light I saw a little, while I 
heard much, of what was going on. The brethren — some of 
them at any rate, perhaps all — laid aside their garments and 
commenced the discipline. The church resounded with the 
strokes, but I heard no cries : all the monks were kneeling — 
some thirty or forty, perhaps — on the choir floor, opposite 
to each other. The exercise lasted some minutes ; then the 
candles were relit, and we departed. A strange experience ! 

Ill-tempered people will say that the flagellants lashed the 
benches instead of themselves. I cannot tell. But the im- 
pression left upon my mind was that the discipline was real ; 
while the impression left upon my heart was sad and painful. 
Every lash told me that " by His stripes " they were not healed ; 
every reverberation echoing through the roof was a denial of 
the glad tidings oifree salvation, for they by their pains and 
penalties were seeking to purchase it. They were as those Jews 
who, " going about to establish their own righteousness, did not 
submit themselves to the righteousness of God " (Rom. x. 3). 
While everything had been done for them by Another, they 
were seeking to do everything for themselves : they were 
stultifying the work of Christ, and raising up a righteous- 
ness in opposition and antagonism to His. Such is the whole 
monastic system. It is " another Gospel," a device of the 
natural man for saving himself 

Poor men ! My heart bled for them, and I longed to see 
them delivered out of such Pagan darkness into the light of 
the glorious Gospel of Christ. For what real difference is there 
between the priests of Cybele, the Corybantes, or Galli, 
scourging themselves to appease their deity, and these flagellant 
monks ? They were both alike in worshipping, not the God of 
Scripture, but a being of their own depraved and sensuous 
imagination ; in following, not the guidance of God's Word, but 


the instincts of their own corrupt nature. In both cases the 
worship was Pagan ; whether a pretence or a reality, it set 
forth the shedding of man's blood as the ransom for man's sin, 
and thereby ignored and trampled under foot the precious 
blood which was shed at Calvary. 

The flagellant priests of Cybele were, like the modern monks 
who exercise the same vocation, ascetics ; and they were well 
known in the same great city of Rome. x\sceticism — a term 
derived from a Greek word which means discipliiie — together 
with monkery, had its origin, like most other superstitions, in 
the East. Thence it found its way to Rome and the West, at 
the time of the introduction of the worship of Cybele from 
Phrygia, if not earlier. There is a curious story respecting the 
conveyance of the miraculous image of Cybele to Rome, very 
similar to those which are told of other images of the same 
character. The ship which brought it from Phrygia ran 
aground in the mud at the entrance of the Tiber, and no power 
could move it, until, so runs the story, a young girl — whose 
character had been aspersed, poor thing — came, and, attaching 
her veil to the galley, drew it miraculously into the river. 
Such miracles are not uncommon in the region of superstition, 
whether of ancient or modern Heathenism. Have you, reader, 
been to Lourdes ? 

Besides the Corybantes, there were other monkish priests at 
Rome in early ages, such as those of Serapis the Egyptian 
Nile-god, so famed for the magnificence and glory of his worship. 

The great "high place" of this divinity was Alexandria, 
where from an artificial mound rose the sumptuous temple 
erected either by Alexander or by the Ptolemy who imme- 
diately succeeded him. " There," says Milman, " all around 
the spacious level platform, rose the habitations of the priests 
and of the ascetics dedicated to the worship of the god. 
The temple was ascended by a hundred steps ; and beneath 
were the dark chambers used for orgies which would not 



bear the light of day, and where the noblest and most beautiful 
women were sacrificed to the lust of the officials of the 
temple."— Milman, Bist of Christ, vol. iii., p. 68. 

By the aid of torches I have visited some of these dark 
subterranean precincts. Their vastness, no less than the fine 
and delicate finish of all the huge stone-work of their formation, 
amazed me. And what obscurity, coupled with what hopeless- 
ness of escape ! Fitting places, indeed, for evil men and for 
deeds of darkness. 

Two instances have now been given of the early introduc- 
tion of asceticism into Europe from the East. The practice 
seems, however, to have found its way among us at a still more 
remote period ; for it was one of the earliest and most wide- 
spread manifestations of the corruption of pure and primitive 

In Chaldea, Thibet, China, Japan, and in India, priestly 
celibacy has been a custom from time immemorial, and the 
history of those countries bears copious testimony to the 
abominations which have flowed from it. In Athens there 
were sacred virgins bound to celibacy ; and again in Scandi- 
navia we hear of an order of nuns of noble family, whose duty 
it was to keep alive the sacred fire. The similar office of the 
Vestal Virgins at Rome, and the dreadful fate which awaited 
them in case of incontinency, are well known. In Peru, under 
the rule of the Incas, the same institution existed in the Virgins 
of the Sun. " These," says Prescott, " were young maidens 
dedicated to the service of the deity, who at a tender age were 
taken from their homes and introduced into convents, where 
they were placed under the care of certain elderly matrons, 
— j/iamaconas, that is. Mother Priestesses — who had grown grey 
within their walls." Their duty also was to keep watch over 
the sacred fire ; and to be buried alive was, as in the case of 
the Roman Vestal, their dreadful doom if their frailty yielded 
to temptation. So, too, the incontinent nun of later times, 


when the mason had done his murderous work, found her 
living tomb in the wall of the convent. 

One cannot but think of the scene in " Marmion," which 
depicts the end of poor Constance, — 

" Sister, let thy sorrows cease ; " 

and of the offending monk, — 

" Sinful brother, part in peace." 

In 1852, travellers on their road to Rome were shown a 
skeleton so immured in a wall at Perugia. And Scott, in his 
notes to " Marmion," mentions that "among the ruins of the 
abbey of Coldingham were some years ago discovered the 
remains of a female skeleton, which, from the shape of the 
niche and position of the figure, seemed to be that of an 
immured nun." 

Execrable system, which first dooms its victims to an en- 
forced celibacy, and then with irresponsible power, and in 
secret tribunal, condemns them to the horrors of a terrible and 
lingering death if they yield to the instincts of outraged 
humanity ! Yet such is the system which many among us 
would wish to see re-established in our own country ! 



WHILES John the Baptist "came neither eating nor 
drinking," and made his home in the wilderness, 
our Lord " came eating and drinking," and dwelt among men. 
Taking advantage of this fact, His enemies were wont to 
say : " Behold, a man gluttonous, and a wine-bibber, a friend 
of publicans and sinners ; " in other words, a sensualist and an 
associate of the profligate and the vile. 

Now, by following the solitary and ascetic life of John, and 
declining the social life of Christ, the monastic system of 
Christendom declares its choice of the former and its rejection 
of the latter ; shows its preference of the Law to the Gospel, of 
John to Jesus, of man to God. Monasticism is thus, from age 
to age, a permanent witness to the fact that the wisdom which 
is from beneath is opposed to the wisdom which is from above, 
that man's plan of salvation is diverse from God's. 

Monasticism repudiates marriage ; but it can find no Scrip- 
tural authority for such a course. The first celibate and the 
first solitary was Adam. But God said, "It is not good for 
man to be alone " ; and so having formed Eve, He brought 
her to Adam to be his companion and his wife. Rome, on the 
contrary, affirms that the state of the solitary and the celibate 
is the nearest to perfection. 

God says : "Increase and multiply." Rome builds monas- 
teries, and forbids to marry. 

God says : " I will, therefore, that the younger women 
marry, bear children, guide the house " (i Tim. v. 14;. Rome 



confines them within the gloomy walls of convents, and pro- 
hibits obedience* to God's command. 

And this the apostate Church does in the face of the 
fact that our Lord honoured wedlock by His presence and 
miraculous assistance at the marriage in Cana of Galilee — in 
the face of the prophecy, "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, 
that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith . . . • 
forbidding to marry " ! 

Indeed, so reckless is Rome of Divine authority that she 
pronounces the monastic life to be the perfection of Christianity 
— the highest of all spiritual attainments. She styles it " the 
religious life " pa?- excellence ; calls those who practise it " the 
religious " ; and whether they be men or women, considers 
.that they amass through their vows such a wealth of righteous- 
ness and merits that they can spare some for others who are 
not " rehgious " like themselves, and even for the souls in 

But now comes the question, Why is Rome thus opposed to 
marriage ? 

Because by means of celibacy she is enabled to detach from 
society, in all countries, a multitude of men and women whom 
she uses to forward her own selfish interests and intrigues 
to the detriment of society. Consider how vast a power she 
wields throughout the ^hole world in those myriads of monks 
and nuns who stand ever ready to do her bidding ! Nay, how 
mighty an engine does she possess in that one department of 
the system, the confessional ! Abolish celibacy, and you remove 
her chief support and stay. Who, then, can wonder at her 
earnest and impassioned appeals for its maintenance and 
extension ? 

But the question might be asked, Can you, then, pefceive 
no good thing in connection with monasticism ? I should 
be sorry to say so much as that. Nay, what chance would it 
have had in the world unless there had been some good mingled 


with it ? It must have had something whereby to allure the 
many excellent and honest individuals who have submitted 
themselves to it; and to those who, despite the influences 
brought to bear upon them, have rested, not on it, but on 
Christ, it may have been sometimes beneficial. Often, for 
example, amid the wars and massacres and anarchy of the 
Dark Ages, cloister life provided an asylum for the persecuted, 
the weary, the hopeless, and the ruined. And, to men and 
women of a certain temperament, it must have presented great 
attractions, promising as it did — and not always without some 
fulfilment of the promise — a quiet and comfortable home, 
the society, perhaps, of spiritual and intellectual companions, 
opportunities for retirement, study, and devotion, time for the 
cultivation of the contemplative life, and an absence of gnaw- 
ing cares and of many of the temptations of the world. 

But after all has been said, nothing can countervail the truth 
of God. For the monastic life is, as we have seen, unlawful : 
it is opposed both by the example of Christ and by the precepts 
of His Word ; it is a retrogression from the liberty of the 
Gospel to the bondage of the Law, from faith to works. Besides 
which the system of monastic vows is sinful, and the forcible 
detention of its ^•ictim through all the long years of life soon 
becomes intolerable. The cloister, if you will ; celibacy, if you 
will ; but no vows. God will have us to preserve our liberty. 
" Be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage," is His 
command : and how terrible a yoke have multitudes found 
these vows to be ! No ; however well-intentioned, however 
useful it may have been at the first, the whole system is wrong ; 
and the vow should be broken as soon as the conscience, 
through the Word of God, is convinced that it is sinful. 

But monks and solitary ascetics are by no means confined 
to the Romish Church. On the preceding page are representa- 
tions of two anchorites ; the one Christian, the other Pagan ; 
the one ancient, the other modern ; the one from Europe, the 


Other from Asia. Both of them are inhabitants of the desert : 
both are in a state of nudity, disgusting and pitiable objects : 
both have their beads, which are more necessary to them than 
clothing : both are holy men in the estimation of their co- 
religionists, and bear the name of saints. 

The first picture represents St. Giles, and is adapted from 
Mrs. Jameson's JMonastic Orders. The second is taken from 
a series of drawings " illustrating Hindoo Mythology," which 
were lately lent to the South Kensington Museum by Colonel 
Ouseley. The use of the chaplets, rosaries, or beads, which 
may be seen in both pictures, is one of the many Heathen 
practices which have been imported into Christianity. 

I might add a description of two other such saints — 
Mohammedans, and held in the highest veneration — from my 
own personal observation. It was in Egypt that I saw them ; 
the one was walking in the neighbourhood of a town ; the 
other, whom I will describe, was seated near the Nile in Upper 
Egypt, not far from a village where he had lived — so I was 
told — for fourteen years. Both of these men were perfectly 

Observing one day a number of people assembled at some 
distance, I inquired what was going on, and, on being told 
that a saint was the attraction, went to see him. I found the 
holy man surrounded by about thirty men and women who had 
their eyes fixed admiringly upon him as he sat upon the ground, 
undraped — in the conventional language of art — and presenting a 
disgusting appearance. His body was much covered with hair 
of a reddish colour, while the hair of his head was like the wool 
of sheep ; his skin, scorched by the fierce sun, was scorbutic 
and scarlet ; his person was large and fat — these ascetics are 
well supplied with food by the people; and his countenance 
was sensual in the extreme. Such was the unclothed and 
unwashed creature, dignified by the name of saint, which I saw 
in the country where, in times long past, Simon the Stylite, and 


Other ascetics his predecessors, had in their ignorance degraded 
and bestialized our common humanity. 

The crowd of admirers which surrounded him were kissing 
his hand • while the women touched his filthy flesh and then 
kissed their finger, hoping thereby to receive some virtue in 
regard to progeny. Even our dragoman, as well as some of the 
ship's company, did the same as the others. The former I 
rebuked for so doing, because I knew him to be a Syrian 
Christian. " I beg your pardon, sir," said he, " I kissed my 

Kissed his thumb ! I remember, when a child in Devonshire, 
hearing just the same thing said of a man who had been sworn 
on the Testament in a court of justice. *' No ; he did not kiss 
the book, he kissed his thumb." And so his oath was invalid ! 

INIen are alike in all parts of the world : the astute Syrian 
and the Devonian clown have the same nature, and the same 
tendency to resort to subterfuge. And, because this is the 
case, all men have, if left to themselves, one religion, that of 
their common nature. Look at the two saints rei)resented 
above, the European and the Indian, the Christian and the 
Heathen : what difference is there between them ? Then 
compare them with the saint of the Nile. Is not he, too, of 
precisely the same type? European, Asiatic, and African, 
differing as they do in nationality, language, colour, habits, and 
faith, are yet, as unregenerate men, one in spirit ; and, being 
ignorant of God's Word, carry out, each in his peculiar creed, 
the leading instincts of natural religion. Our own fathers were 
no better ; and had not the light of the gospel shone into our 
hearts, we should be like them. " But for the grace of God, 
there goes John Bradford," as that good man said when he saw 
a criminal being led to execution. 



WE will now take a brief glance at the history of Monkery. 
As we have before observed, it is of Pagan and very 
early origin, " It maintained its authority among all the older 
religions of the remoter East," says Milman {Hist, of Christ.^ 
ii. 35). It was introduced into Europe from Asia, and was 
commonly practised in various nations long before the Christian 
era. It was also found to be existing in America when that 
continent was discovered. Thus, the system was by no means 
new or peculiar when it was introduced into the Church : it was 
merely the adaptation of an old custom, which had been for 
centuries connected with the worship of the Heathen gods. 

It seems to have first crept into the Church in the following 
manner : In earlier times, the Christians were cruelly perse- 
cuted, and many of them fled, as well they might, into the 
wilderness, and there supported life in whatever way they 

They must have lived in somewhat the same way as the 
Heathen hermits did, and probably gave many hints to those 
who came after them. But a little later, in the reign of 
Constantine, the persecutions ceased, and a period of rest 
followed ; bringing with it, however, a corruption so frightful 
and so universal, that numbers of pious men were more alarmed 
at the profligacy and wickedness of the world than they would 
have been at its hostility ; and so, ignorant alike of what was 
due to their God, to their families, and to their fellow-men, they 
abandoned their station and their duties, and fled to join the 


hermits in the desert. Then a rage for celibacy and asceticism 
set in. Marriage was reprobated, and true chastity was said 
to be confined to the unmarried state ; while those who had 
already entered into wedlock were taught that, if they would 
attain to a high degree of holiness, they must thenceforth lead 
separate lives. Many obeyed these teachings, receiving the 
traditions of men rather than the Word of God. Thus, the 
wilderness became peopled with anchorites, who soon began 
to devote themselves, like the Indian Fakirs, to the most 
terrible penances. It is stated that there were over 100,000 
of these unfortunates in Egypt alone, in the fourth century. 
Many of them were deeply in earnest ; but they were ignorant 
of God's Word — the only source of light; and so they thought 
to appease and please Him by their sufferings, in accordance 
with that religion of nature which belongs to all of us, and 
springs from an instinctive consciousness of guilt. 

As the celibates and solitaries of the desert multiplied, they 
began to form themselves into societies, and so, after a while, 
the monastic system was developed. 

Then different religious orders arose, the most important of 
which was the Benedictine, so called from its founder Benedict, 
who was born in Italy, a.d. 480. He was a most remarkable 
man, and, as Sir James Stephen remarks, " A profound genius, 
of extensive learning, and in the very first rank of legislators." 
The fraternity which he founded, with its numerous branches 
ramifying in all directions, exercised for centuries a vast in- 
fluence over Europe, in theology, literature, agriculture, and 
other matters. And, unlawful and faulty as monasticism is, 
neverthelesSj in those early days, before its corruption had 
passed all bounds, it certainly did confer great benefits upon 
the surrounding barbarism and savagery of Europe. When 
almost everything besides was vile, monkery, then in its prime, 
was better. 

Moving a little lower down the stream of time, we come, in 


the thirteenth century, to those wonderful institutions, the 
Mendicant Orders, which were also by their vows opposed to 
the Gospel. These were the Franciscans, Dominicans, Augus- 
tines, and Carmelites — the latter deriving their name from 
Mount Carmel, in Palestine. 

In regard to the two former, it was in the year a. d. 1216 
that, without previous concert, Dominick the Spaniard, and 
Francis of Assisi the Italian, met at Rome. The first of 
these men was a fierce zealot, the other an amiable enthusiast ; 
but both of them were wholly devoted to the Papacy, and they 
had each conceived a new order of things by which to aid the 
Pope in crushing heresy, in checking the uprisings of the 
human mind, just awakening, as it then was, to the Gospel 
after its long and deep slumber. Pope Innocent III. approved 
of their schemes, and the two men bade each other farewell, 
and departed from Rome " to divide," as Sir James Stephen 
says, "the world between them." Well and rapidly did they 
succeed. The ferocity of the followers of the one, acting 
through the medium of the terrible Inquisition, and the gentle- 
ness of those of the other, which everywhere provided access 
for them to the homes of the people, combined to make their 
work effectual and complete. 

By a play on their name, the Dominicans were called Domini- 
canes, the Lord's dogs, and the emblem of the community was 
a dog with a firebrand in his mouth — uncleanness, ferocity, and 
fire ! No one can dispute the aptness of the device ; for how 
terrible were the fires kindled by that brand in Spain, the 
Netherlands, Italy, Sardinia, India, and other places ! 

As to St. Francis, violent proceedings were not congenial to 
his mind ; he was too amiable and gentle. He dealt in visions, 
revelations, and such things; nay, he would even preach to 
the birds and the fishes, and one of his sermons to the former 
is still extant. " Yet," says Sir James Stephen, " he would 
draw up codes and canons with the precision of a notary." 


There is no doubt that by his influence, and that of his followers, 
he greatly assisted in extinguishing the light of the Reformation. 
A portrait by Sassetta represents him as trampling upon the 
emblems of various vices ; and, among other things, upon a 
printing press — the type, in monkish estimation, of heresy. 

Later, and immediately upon the Reformation, came the 
Jesuits, whose founder, Ignatius Loyola, a Spanish soldier, 
died in a.d. 1556. It was mainly through the address, talents, 
courage, and intrigues, of the members of this indefatigable 
organization that the Papacy recovered so much of the ground 
which it had previously lost. For, as Lord Macaulay observes, 
" during the first half-century after the commencement of the 
Reformation, the current of feeling in the countries on this 
side of the Alps and of the Pyrenees ran impetuously towards 
the new doctrines. Then the " tide turned, and rushed as 
fiercely in the opposite direction. ... It is difficult to say 
whether the violence of the first blow or of the recoil was the 
greater." — Essay on Ranke's History of the Popes. 

But the means used to bring about this "Catholic revival" 
were very diverse. " The great effort," says Michelet, " of the 
ultramontane reaction about the year 1 600 was at the Alps, in 
Switzerland and Savoy. The work was going on bravely on 
each side of the mountains, only the means were far from being 
the same ; they showed on either side a totally different 
countenance — here the face of an angel, there the look of a 
wild beast ; the latter pliysiognomy was against the poor 
Vaudois in Piedmont. In Savoy, and towards Geneva, they 
put on the angelic expression, not being able to employ any 
other than gentle means against populations sheltered by 
treaties, and who would have been protected against violence 
by the lances of Switzerland." 

We will not, however, pursue the history of these orders any 
further ; but wish to say a few words respecting the Benedic- 
tii"te monastery of St. Alban, an essay on which is included in 


one of the volumes of Froude's recent work, entitled Short 
Studies on Great Subjects. 

Among some old English records, which are now in the 
course of publication under the authority of the Master of the 
Rolls, are The Afinals of the Abbey of St. Aiban, the "wealthiest 
and most brilliant of all the religious houses of Great Britain." 
These annals were collected by the historian Walsingham. who, 
having been himself a monk of the abbey, may probably be 
trusted not to give what he would consider a bad character to 
his Alma Mater. His details are very amusing and instructive. 

According to tradition, St. Alban was the protomartyr of 
Britain. He was a Roman citizen, and is said to have been 
put to death during the Diocletianic persecution (a.d. 303) for 
sheltering his friend Amphibolus, a deacon. In his honour, 
and over the sumptuous shrine — a part of which is still existing 
— supposed to contain his remains, and another shrine said to 
be that of his friend, the present noble church was erected. 

But did these persons ever exist ? Or has all this great 
architectural display of shrines, monastery, and church, this 
acquirement of lands and other possessions, a purely fictitious 
origin, and is it merely due to the tricks of ignorant or design- 
ing priests ? 

I cannot tell. But there is no authority but tradition, and 
we know how unreliable tiiat is. The whole story is extremely 
uncertain, and one of the latest authorities, a contributor to 
Smithes Dictionary of Christian Biography, writes, " St. Alban, 
if ever he existed ;" while in reference to Amphibolus he adds, 
" This is a twelfth century fiction." The name Amphibolus is 
Greek, and in that language signifies a cloak : there are those 
who think that this good Amphibolus is nothing more than the 
saint's cloak/ 

Why not? The mistake would be no more unlikely than 
that which gave rise to the fable of St. Oreste, whose monastery 
may be found on the mountain anciently called Soracte. You, 


perhaps, know the story. Horace says of the old mountain : — 
" Vides Lit alta stet nive candidum Soracte " (*' Thou seest 
how deep with snow Soracte stands "). The name is now softened 
into S. Oresti, with the S separated, which is the Itahan method 
of writing "Saint." And in this manner a new saint, one of 
very many, has been added to the Roman calendar, and a 
monastery has been erected in his honour upon the mountain 
which gave him birth and name. There the mythical Church- 
god is now taking the place of the old Heathen god Apollo, 
ofwhom Virgil writes, " Sancti citstos Sonicfis Apollo " (" Apollo, 
guardian of holy Soracte"). — Virg., yEn. xi. 785. 

St. Viar, a Spanish saint, has a similar parentage. An 
ancient stone fragment was found with the letters S. VIAR 
inscribed upon it. " A saint ! " they cry, and his fame is spread 
abroad. The antiquaries, however, read the fragment other- 
wise, and science laughed at superstition. The letters are 
old Roman characters, and, if complete, would have read, 
PrefectuS VIARum ; that is, in plain English, Overseer of 
roads / The stone was a portion of an inscription in honour 
of some Roman official connected with the highways. Such 
is the story of St. Viar, and there are others of the saintly 
brotherhood who might be shown to have as strange an origin. 

But to return to the great church and monastery of St. Alban. 
It was founded a.d. 793, by a murderer, the Saxon king 
Ofifa, a descendant from Odin, who thought thereby to atone 
for his crime. And the then Pope, Adrian I., himself as 
ignorant as Offa, confirmed him in his error by giving him 
license to found a monastery, " in tuorum peccatorum remis- 
sionein " — " for the remission of your sins." 

Of course there were the usual miracles leading to the dis- 
closure of the spot where the relics of the saint were to be found. 
And after their discovery they w-ere placed in a magnificent 
shrine adorned with gold and jewels of such great value that a 
gallery, or loft — which you may yet see — was erected close to it 


for the watchers who guarded its treasures by day and by night. 
If you visit it, do not forget to notice the curious stair of blocks 
of ancient oak. In the shrine itself, and under it, you will 
observe certain holes. These — the Guide to the Abbey tells us — 
" were possibly intended for the admission of diseased limbs, 
or of cloths to be applied to them, which, placed beneath the 
martyr, might derive thereby some special virtue." 

Much the same thing is done to-day at the famous tomb of 
St. Antony in Padua. I have myself seen people rubbing their 
heads up and down on the tomb, in the hope that some of the 
goodness of the saint's dry bones might soinehow get through 
the thick stone to them. It was a pitiful and sorrowful 

But how were the relics of St. Alban discovered ? Heaven 
lent its aid, and somebody had a dream ; in consequence of 
which, bishops, monks, and priests were seen moving towards 
the appointed spot in long procession, carrying banners, and . 
chanting hymns. " Suddenly lightning flashed out of the sky, 
and struck the ground before their feet. Then, terrain percutiunt 
— they strike the earth ; and the bones of the saint were found 
entire, and placed in a loculus, or box — Anglice, locker — inlaid 
with gold and set with sapphires." 

This is Papal Rome's manner of procedure in such cases, 
and it is easy to show that she has borrowed it from Paganism. 
How like, for instance, is the story of St. Alban to that of the 
finding of the relics of Theseus as narrated by Plutarch. When 
the Athenian Cimon was searching for these remains, it is said 
that he espied an eagle breaking up the earth with its beak and 
talons. He recognised this as a Divine omen, and, like Offa 
and his ecclesiastics, at once began to dig. Of course he 
found ; and the bones of the Hero were received at Athens with 
as much gladness as those of the Saint at St. Alban's. 

But we may carry out the parallel a little further. The 
Pagans erected a magnificent temple called the Theseum over 


\.\\t relics of the Hiro, while over those of the Saint the 
Christians built a noble church which they named St. Alban's. 
And yet again, the Pagans celebrated the " invention " of the 
bones of their god by setting apart a day in honour of the event : 
the Christians, following them to the letter, commemorated 
their discovery in the same "manner. Whether it be dealing 
with heroes or with saints, the religion of nature is, in its objects 
and manifestations, always the same. 

St. Alban did not always remain in his box. Once upon a 
time he manifested hinriself in the shades of evening to a monk 
who was reciting his office in the church. A discussion was 
being carried op in those days touching the identity of the con- 
tents of the locker, and the monk was among the doubters. 
But suddenly the shrine which contained it burst open, and an 
awful form strode out of the obscurity, and stood before the 
prostrate unbeliever. "■ Ecce, ego A/baniis /" "Behold, lam 
Albanus ! Didst thou not see me issue from my tomb ? " 
" Yea, Lord and Martyr," replied the monk. Whereupon the 
blessed St. Alban went back into his locker — Beatus Albanus 
rediit m lociilum. 

The community of St. Alban's, like all other religious com- 
munities, was best in its earliest days. Wealth, and those 
invariable concomitants of wealth, luxury and idleness, worked 
its ruin. That which at first showed so fair, became so foul 
that its ill odour reached to Rome, " and shocked even the 
tolerant worldliness of the much-enduring Pope." He, 
Innocent VIII., enjoined Cardinal Morton to visit St. Alban's 
and report upon it. The original of tlie report is now in 
Lambeth Palace, and in it the Cardinal states that " the 
brethren of the abbey were living in filth and lasciviousness 
with the nuns of the dependent sisterhoods, the prioress of the 
adjoining nunnery of Pray setting the example by living in 
unrebuked adultery with one of the monks." There is much 
more to the same effect, " the details of which cannot be quoted 


even in Latin," says Froude, and with which I should be sorry 
to defile this book. 

Alas that our rulers in State and Church should have lately 
selected a place so desecrated by pollution for the seat of a 
Protestant bishop ! " The only reason for this arrangement of 
the new diocese — which is inconvenient, and opposed to the 
wishes of a majority both of clergy and of laity — is, so far as I 
can see, the ecclesiastical fancy to revive the memory of St. 
Alban." So writes to me a friend for many years an incumbent 
in South London, which is now a part of the newly-arranged 

" To revive the memory " of one who probably never 
existed ! Such is the present tendency to superstition in high 
places in the Church ! Such is the outcome of the " spiritual 
revival," falsely so called, of the last thirty years. A spiritual 
revival in the Church of England I utterly deny ; an eccle- 
siastical revival, hostile to what is spiritual, and delighting in 
services, ceremonies, dresses, processions, congresses, priests, 
bishops — provided they are favourable to it — and ecclesiasticism 
generally, I admit. St. Alban's is a " consecrated place," which, 
in the eyes of many, renders it sanctified. Froude declares 
that it is stained by every crime, even to the sin of Sodom, 
and was in the olden time "a nest of fornication, the very 
aisles of the church being defiled with the abominable orgies 
of incestuous monks and nuns." 

Froude thus concludes his essay : " There is a talk now of 
restoring St. Alban's. We are affecting penitence for the 
vandalism of our Puritan forefathers, and are anxious to 
atone for it. * Cursed is he that rebuildeth Jericho ! ' " 



SINCE there are so many who desire to restore the priestly 
and monkish dominion of the Middle Ages, it is most 
important that we should understand what it was. We will, 
therefore, endeavour to get a few more glimpses of the religion, 
and morality of that period. The following remarks of Hallam 
are instructive.- 

" In that singular Polytheism, which had been grafted on 
Christianity, nothing was so conspicuous as the belief of per- 
petual miracles. , . . Successive ages of ignorance swelled the 
delusion to such an enormous pitch, that it was as difficult to 
trace, we may say without exaggeration, the real religion of the 
Gospel in the popular belief of the laity, as the real history of 
Charlemagne in the romance of "Turpin." It must not be sup- 
posed that these absurdities were produced, as well as nourished, 
by ignorance. In most cases they were the work of deliberate 
imposture. Every cathedral or monastery had its tutelar saint ; 
and every saint his legend, fabricated in order to enrich the 
churches under his protection by exaggerating his virtues, his 
miracles, and consequently his power of serving those who 
paid liberally for his patronage. 

"That the exclusive worship of saints, under the guidance of 
an artful, though illiterate, priesthood, degraded the understand- 
ing, and begot a stupid credulity and fanaticism, is sufficiently 
evident. But it was also so managed as to loosen the bonds of 


religion and pervert the standard of morality. . . . They — the 
saints — appeared only as perpetual intercessors, so good-natured 
and so powerful, that a sinner was more emphatically foolish 
than he is usually represented, if he failed to secure himself 
against any bad consequences. For a little attention to the 
saints, and especially to the Virgin, with due liberality to their 
servants, had saved, he would be told, so many of the most 
atrocious delinquents, that he might equitably presume upon 
similar luck in his own case. 

"This monstrous superstition grew to its height in the twelfth 
century." — Middle Ages (i860), vol. iii., pp. 298 — 300. 

In a note Hallam gives some examples of the stories used 
by the monks, from which we extract the following : — 

" At the Monastery of St. Peter, near Cologne, lived a monk 
perfectly dissolute and irreligious, but very devout towards the 
apostle. Unluckily he died suddenly without confession. The 
fiends came as usual to seize his soul. St. Peter, vexed at 
losing so faithful a votary, besought God to admit the monlc 
into Paradise. His prayer was refused ; and though the whole 
body of saints, apostles, angels, and martyrs joined at his 
request to make interest, it was of no avail. In this extremity 
he had recourse to the Mother of God. ' Fair lady,' he said, 
' my monk is lost if you do not interfere for him.' . . . The 
Queen-m.other assented, and followed by all the virgins, moved 
towards her Son." 

" The rest," says our author, " may be easily conjectured." 
And he adds, " Compare the gross stupidity, or rather the 
atrocious impiety of this tale, with the pure theism of the 
Arabian Nights, and judge whether the Deity was better 
worshipped at Cologne or at Bagdad." 

We will quote one other story from the same source, in 
which " the Virgin takes the shape of a nun, who had eloped 
from the convent, and performs her duties ten years, till, tired 
of a libertine life, she returns unsuspected. This was in con- 



sideration of her never having omitted to say an *' Ave " as 
she passed the Virgin's image." 

These and other examples are taken, Hallam tells us, from 
a collection of " religious tales, by which the monks endea- 
voured to withdraw the people from romances of chivalry." 
Certainly this was casting out Satan by means of Satan. 

Of a similar tendency is the story of St. Kentigern, who 
figures in the armorial bearings of the city of Glasgow. It is 
furnished to me by my friend Mr. Macgeorge, and is taken 
from his Armorial Insignia of the City of Glasgo^v (Glasgow, 

" The fish with the ring in his mouth" in the ancient seals of 
the Bishopric of Glasgow, refers to the story of St. Kentigern 
and the lost ring of the Queen of King Cadzan. It is given 
in the office for the day of the saint in the Breviary of 

" The Queen, enamoured of a certain knight, gave him a 
ring which the king had before presented to her. The king, 
aware of her unfaithfulness, got it from the knight, and, after 
throwing it into the Clyde, demanded it from the queen, 
threatening her with death if it were not produced. Having 
sent her maid to the knight, and failed to recover the ring, 
the queen despatched a messenger to Kentigern, telling him 
everything, and promising the most condign penance. The 
saint, taking compassion on her, sent a monk to the river to 
angle, directing him to bring alive the first fish he might take. 
This being done, the saint took from the mouth of the fish, 
which was a salmon, the ring, and sent it to the queen, who 
restored it to the king, and thus saved her life." 

The crest of the city of Glasgow, adopted from this vile 
story, is the saint vested as a bishop. On the shield is a 
salmon on its back, holding up to the saint a ring in its mouth; 
the supporters are two salmon, each with a ring in its mouth. 
The whole fable is represented in the seal of Bishop Wyschard 


— made about a.d. 1271. The legend to the seal, on which 
are figured the saint, the king, and the queen — but not the 
knight — briefly tells the story: — ^'' Rex furit: Hccc plorat : 
Patet aurum : Dum sa?icti/s orat." That is, in English, " The 
king rages : she laments : the ring turns up : while the saint 
is praying." 

The hymn appointed for the 7iiore solemn altar service of 
the saint's day thus sums up the story : — 

" Moecha mosrens confortatur, 
Regi reconciliatur, 
Dum in fluctu qui jactatur 
Piscis profert annulum." 

Which, perhaps, may be freely rendered : — 

"Saint queen and knight an evil union make 
With monk, who, with a hook, the fish doth take. 
The adulterous queen is by the saint consoled, 
Who kindly cloaks her guilt, and brings the tell-tale gold." 

The moral tone of this Scotch saintly story is not, it must 
be confessed, higher than that of the two which have preceded 
it. And even in the present day the Church of Rome seems 
to have the same low estimate of her gods. 

Some years ago, Ali Pasha, at that time governor of Egypt, 
presented the Pope with some pillars of oriental alabaster for 
the magnificent Basilica of St. Paul, which was then in process 
of reconstruction. They were designed by the architect to 
support the Baldachino, or canopy of the high altar, in which 
position the reader. may now find them. In the winter of 
1852 I was in Rome, and went to see them. They were lying 
on the ground at the time, ready for erection, and splendid 
monoliths they were. As I stood, with a group of friends, 
looking at and admiring them, the old Cnstode, who was 
exhibiting them, remarked, " I am sure the Virgin will never 
allow those columns to be erected to the honour of St. Paul." 


"But why?" we asked. "Oh, she will be jealous," was the 
reply; " she will want them for herself." 

Thus calmly did the votary attribute the vile passion of 
envy to his goddess. One is carried back to Homer and the 
courts of Olympus, to the gods the greater and the gods the 
less, to their squabbles, envies, intrigues, and uncleanness : 
and one is moved to ask, — What difference is there between 
gods Heathen and gods ecclesiastical ; between the Pantheon 
of Olympus and the Pantheon of the Church ? 

The courteous intimacy implied in the chivalrous phrase 
attributed in our first story to St. Peter, when he addresses the 
Virgin as " Fair lady," reminds me of an Irish fact — not story 
— illustrative of the great familiarity existing between the gods 
and their ministers. 

I can vouch for its authenticity, having received it from two 
independent quarters ; and one of my informants, an Irish 
archdeacon who knew the persons concerned, has furnished 
me with their names. 

A Roman Catholic priest. Father James O'AI. of B ,while 

taking a friendly glass with some of his brethren, was summoned 
to attend a parishioner — a woman in child-bed at the point of 
death. The priest dismissed the messenger with a promise of 
speedy attendance, but at the entreaty of his friends, jolly 
fellow that he was, he stayed to take another and another glass 
of punch. More than once was the messenger sent away with 
the same assurance. Again he appeared, not, however, for 
the same reason as before, but to inform the priest that his 
presence was not now needed, since the poor woman had just 
passed away, without having received the last Sacrament of 
the Church — Extreme Unction, the priest's passport to Paradise. 
At first the priest was so agitated by the anger of his parishioner, 
and so ashamed of his own neglect, that he forgot the power 
he possessed over the invisible world. But, on recovering his 
presence of mind, he told the man that there was no cause for 


alarm in regard to the departed, since he could make it all 
right. Then, calling for a piece of paper, he wrote a few lines, 
and screwing the paper tightly together, desired the man to 
place it in the mouth of the corpse. At the same time he 
charged him on no account to allow the paper to be opened, 
or the charm would vanish and the soul be ruined. 

The man went off satisfied, and so far all was well. But 
unfortunately the curiosity of the doctor was excited, and he 
felt a great desire to see what Father James had written on 
the screw of paper. Accordingly he persuaded the nurse, and 
at a convenient moment she secretly withdrew the paper, and 
brought it to him. 

" The words written on the paper," says the archdeacon in his 
letter to me, " were these : * Dear Saint Peter, please admit 
the bearer — she is a parishioner of mine ; ' and I think there 
was something added about being late, owing to company. 
Dr. H. saw the paper, and often told the story to the late 
bishop, Mr. L. : and many a laugh Mr. L. and myself have had 
over Father James and St. Peter ! " 

However, the Irish priest had only followed the example of 
no less a man than St. Gregory, called " the Great," of whom 
Mrs. Jameson, in her Sacred and Legendaiy Art (vol. i., p. 323), 
relates the subjoined story. 

A monk under the excommunication of Gregory had died 
unabsolved, and when the saint heard of it he was filled with 
horror ; but at the same time was by no means without resource. 

" He wrote upon a parchment a prayer and a form of 
absolution, and gave it to one of his deacons, desiring him to 
go to the grave of the deceased and read it there." 

The charm — which seems to have been valid only if used in 
a particular place, that is, at the grave — was successful ; for 
" on the following night, the monk appeared in a vision, and 
revealed to the saint his release from torment." 

The following modern instances from the East, for the 


correctness of which I am able to vouch, are not inapt illustra- 
tions of this kind of superstition. 

A priest of the Greek Church was importuned to go to a sick 
person, and being at play was unwilling to do so. " There," 
said he, taking off his cap and giving it to the messenger, 
" place that on the head of the sick man, and it will answer all 
the purpose." The messenger went away well-contented ! 

An indolent bishop of the same Church, too lazy to go to a 
distant ordination at which a part of his duty was to breathe 
on the candidates, adopted this expedient. Having procured 
a couple of bladders and filled them with his breath, he 
despatched them to the ordination, directing that puflFs from 
them should be blown upon the heads of the candidates. 

Such are a few specimens of medievalism as it was, as it is 
still in many parts, and as some would have it to be again in 
Protestant England — " which peril. Heaven forefend ! " 

Before closing this chapter, let us glance for a moment at 
the applicability of Hallam's remark on saint-worship to the 
examples we have quoted. "It was also so managed," said 
the historian, " as to loosen the bonds of religion and pervert 
the standard of morality." 

In the first instance, the profligate monk of Cologne dies 
in his sins and irrepentant. Yet, because he has a friend 
at court, and through favour of the Queeij of Heaven, he 
escapes punishment. 

The Virgin, for ten years, takes the place and duties in the 
convent of the dissolute nun, and for what purpose ? That 
the latter may live an a!bandoned life, undetected, as long as 
she pleases. And, when she is tired of it, the Virgin puts her 
back again into the convent, and enables her to re-appear 
among her former companions as a chaste woman, nobody 
having the least suspicion of what she had been doing. She 
thus receives from her heavenly patroness the power to hood- 
wink the conventual authorities, and the privilege of being 


able to spend the rest of her days in peace and lying 
hypocrisy ! 

In the third, St. Kentigern is exhibited as a patron of vice. 

In the fourth, the old Custode of St. Paul's attributes envy 
of the meanest kind to the Virgin, without a suspicion that he 
is injuring her character. 

In the fifth, the moral and religious tendency of Father 
James' story is in every respect deplorable. 

In the sixth, St. Gregory is proved to be Father James' 
precedent and authority, both in magic art and in pious fraud. 

Lastly, in the seventh and eighth instances, the conjuring- 
cap of the card-playing Greek priest, and the bladders of the 
idle Greek bishop — but of what use is it to make remarks on 
such a tricky and amulet-kind of religion ? 

There can be no question as to the truth of Hallam's saying. 
Saint-worship does indeed loosen the bonds of religion and 
pervert the standard of morality. And saint-worship ever has 
been, and still is, prominent in the religion of Rome. 


Part I. 

FROM the earliest times to the present hour the use of 
charms or amulets has been universal. The strange 
power of fascination which belongs to them is due, I conceive, 
to the fact that the natural mind, being ignorant of God, 
must have some object of veneration or superstition. Hence 
the nations vi^hich have become enlightened by the teaching of 
the Bible have, in a greater or less degree, cast off such follies ; 
while the Church of Rome has retained them, together with 
many other Pagan usages and customs, merely superadding a 
drapery of Christianity. For she throws something, indeed, 
over the nakedness of her Heathenism ; but it is a veil so 
transparent that no practised eye is needed to detect the 
(lentilism which lies beneath. 

The following extract is interesting. 

" It is curious to note in Rome how many a modern super- 
stition has its root in an ancient one, and how tenaciously 
custom still clings to the old localities. On the Capitoline 
hill, the bronze She-wolf was once worshipped, as the wooden 
Bambino is now. It stood in the Temple of Romulus, and 
thither the ancient Romans used to carry children to be cured 
of their diseases by touching it. On the supposed site of the 
temple now stands the church dedicated to St. Teodoro. 
Though names must have changed, and the temple has 
vanished, and church after church has here decayed and been 


rebuilt, the old superstition remains, and the common people, 
at certain periods, still bring their sick children to the saint, 
that he may heal them with his touch." — Roba di Roma : quoted 
in Hare's Walks in Rome., vol. i., p. 223, 

We implied above that Romanism has not so much adopted 
as continued Heathen usages. And such is indeed the fact. 
Though called by the preaching of the Gospel to cast off 
Heathenism, she still carried it with her in her profession of 
Cliristianity, and made Christ, so to speak, a con-templar god 
— or, fellow in the temple — with "gods many and lords many." 
She forced the, in one sense, unsocial religion of Christ into 
Heathen company, somewhat as the Emperor Alexander 
Severus introduced the statue of Jesus among the deities of 
his Lararium, or private chapel. 

This will be shown as we proceed ; but, as an illustration of 
her general spirit, I will here quote an inscription from an altar 
in the cathedral at Luca. It is given in C. S. Bird's Romanism 
(Hatchards, 1851), and runs as follows : — " Christo Liberatori, 
ac Diis Tutelaribus ; " that is, " To Christ the Deliverer, and 
to the Guardian Deities," the latter being those saints who 
specially preside over Luca. The Heathenism of this will be 
apparent to those who know that the titles here given to the 
gods and heroes of the Church Pantheon are identical with 
those given by the ancient Romans to their gods and 

The Lares have been already mentioned ; they were little 
images representing the household gods, and were universally 
used as charms. " To what extent they were employed in this 
capacity," says Blunt, " may be guessed from the number of 
small antique figures still existing — formed of bronze, ivory, 
bone, and other materials — bored, and evidently intended to 
be worn about the neck. 

" In like manner, to this day, there is scarcely an individual 
of the lower classes in Italy, or Sicily, who is not provided 


with an image, or print, of a favourite Madonna or Saint, 
suspended from the neck. 

"I remember a shop at Trepani, in Sicily, where the principal 
stock consisted of figures of the Virgin of that place, carved 
in bone, about an inch in length, and actually having no per- 
ceptible difference from those in use among the Romans 
eighteen hundred, or two thousand, years ago." — Vestiges, p. 40. 

In 1877, the writer of this book bought one of these charms 
in Rome ; it was made of bone, and perforated so as to be 
worn round the neck of a woman ; being, in fact, a charm for 
children. He gave it to the British Museum, since it was of 
such a character that he did not care to keep it. Museums 
are the proper depositories of such things, where they become 
lasting witnesses of the foulness of Heathenism, and of the 
truth of such statements as those in the first chapter of 
Romans, and similar Scriptures. 

In Dyer's Pompeii, p. 446, there is an engraving of a neck- 
lace taken from a box which was found in the hand of a 
female skeleton at Pompeii. The poor owner was evidently 
fleeing with her little treasure when she was overwhelmed by 
the outburst from the mountain. She seems to have been a 
worshipper of Isis, since her necklace is composed of no less 
than thirty-five pieces, all of which are consecrated to the 
goddess and her belongings. Thirty-five charms, and yet 
unavailing to ward off her doom ! Two of them are of the 
same character as the one deposited by the writer in the 
British Museum. 

In the museum of the late Sir Richard Colt Sloane, at 
Stourhead — and also in the British Museum — are some ///(?///, 
which he obtained in 17 19 at the cathedral of Isernia, near 
Naples, where they had been offered ex voto ! So that, up to 
that time, at least, the worship of the obscene god Priapus 
seems to have been continued' in Isernia under Roman 
Catholic direction. 


But before we can compare the modern usages of Roman 
superstition with early days, we must know something of the 
Pagan doctrines and practices in regard to charms, and to this 
end we will now devote a few pages. 

The following translation from the eighth Eclogue of Virgil 
will exhibit the popular ideas respecting charms some thirty or 
forty years before the birth of Christ. The rendering is that 
which was given in the Fortnightly Review, vol. xxii., p. 87. 

" Bring forth water, and wind round this altar a soft woollen fillet. 
Richest of vervain and strongest of frankincense burn on the altar. 
These be the magic rites whereby the cold heart of a husband 
Fain would I seek to entrance. 'Tis but the charm that is wanting ; 
Back to his home from the city, my charms, draw the wandering Daphnis ! 

" Charms have the power to draw down the truant moon from the heavens. 
Circe by charms transformed the trusty band of Ulysses. 
Crushed by the force of charms the cold snake lies dead in the meadow. 
Back to his home from the city, my charms, draw the wandering Daphnis ! 

" Like as this image of clay grows hard, and the waxen one liquid 
Under the self-same fire, so let my love work upon Daphnis. 
Sprinkle the cakes, and light up the crackling laurel with sulphur. 
Daphnis burns me, and I burn this laurel, and wish it were Daphnis. 
Back to his home from the city, my charms, draw the wandering Daphnis ! 

" See how the quivering flames have laid hold of the horns of the altar ! 
Now, while I dally, it burst forth unbid 1 Be the sign a good omen ! 
Something is certainly there ! and Hylax barks on the threshold ! 
Shall we believe it ? Or is it a dream from the brain of a lover ? 
Stay, my charms ! From the city he comes, the wandering Daphnis ! " 

But after all, the testimony of Virgil is comparatively modern. 
Hgre is evidence of an earlier date. In the Swiss Lake of 
Brienne are the remains of a prehistoric Lacustrine village ; 
and there human skulls have been found, submerged in the 
lake, with round pieces cut out of them " for use as amulets." 
Bits of infants' skulls were once used for this purpose, and were 
" put inside the heads of the dead to protect them from evil 
beings in the world of spirits. The same custom prevailed 
among the American Indians of Michigan, and in the South of 


France, in Sweden, Germany, and Austria." — The Times, Nov. 
1 6th, 1878. Charms, then, were known even in the prehistoric 
period, and when we come into historic times, they may be 
traced in every country. Ancient Egypt bears witness to their 
use. Examine the mummies in the British Museum, and you 
will find them fortified with amulets. I have counted as many 
as twenty upon one mummy. 

Assyria also, in her recently discovered literary treasures, 
brings the same fact to light. The talismanic principle is to 
be seen in her very careful arrangement of lucky and unlucky 
days ; and her monarchs wore talismans upon their persons, as 
their disinterred statues reveal. 

Again, in Persia, similar customs prevailed ; for we read that 
Haman (b.c. 520) was casting lots for a whole year before he 
could hit upon a lucky day for the destruction of Mordecai 
and his nation. — Esth. iii. 7. 

In Asia Minor, we have — say ten centuries before Christ — 
the Palladium of Troy, an image of the goddess Pallas con- 
sidered to be a charm of such power that until it was removed 
the city could not be taken. So Ulysses and Diomedes, as the 
story runs, contrived to steal it. Again, at Ephesus, the figure 
of Diana, " the image that fell down from Jupiter " (Acts xix. 
35), was also a talisman. 

Passing from Asia into Europe, we find,' some seven centuries 
before Christ, the wondrous Ancile in the palace of the second 
king of Rome, that shield " not there conveyed by mortal 
hands," the sure pledge of empire. To protect the treasure 
from theft on the part of such rogues as Ulysses, " fertile in 
counsel," and his not very respectable friends, Numa caused 
eleven other shields to be made exactly similar to the Ancile, 
and committed the whole twelve to the twelve Saliiy or leaping 
priests of Mars. 

While in Dresden, in 1S79, 1 saw, in the Museum on the other 
side of the Elbe, a good illustration of the first line quoted 


above from Virgil, " Wind round this altar a soft woollen fillet." 
It is "a triangular pedestal of a candelabrum in Pentelican 

On it are three sculptures in low relief, very arresting. In 
the first of them Hercules, bad fellow, steals a tripod ; and 
Apollo pursues him. A pretty pair ! 

In the second, which contains the illustration, a priest with 
flowing hair and long cloak, and a young priestess in a Doric 
robe, are consecrating a torch, perhaps for a torch race : both 
are standing on tip-toe, in accordance with the ancient custom 
of officiating priests. A bowl is set to catch what may fall 
from the torch, and both torch and bowl are bound round with 
fillets. But another feature of the picture interested me more 
than the illustration of Virgil, because it exhibited a modern 
priestly act to which I may again refer. This was the very 
peculiar position of the fingers of the consecrating persons in 
holding the fillets. " The priest with his right hand, the 
priestess with both hands, touch the torch in a sacred manner, 
holding up the third, fourth, and fifth fingers, the thumb and 
forefinger being crossed (priore digito in erectum pollicem 

In the third picture, we have again both priest and priestess ; 
but the latter alone is in the act of consecrating a tripod, with 
the same peculiar arrangement of the fingers and thumb of the 
right hand. 



Part II. 

AS we move on down the stream of time, the number and 
variety of amulets and charms increases. We will now 
notice a few of them, and may begin with the charm which was 
worn by all, or nearly all, of the Roman youth. 
This — it was not of a very delicate character — 
was enclosed within a small globe of metal or 
leather called the bulla, and was hung round the 
neck, just as in the present day the Neapolitan 
or Spanish peasant wears his charm. 

Then, again, bells, when jingled, were con- 
sidered by the ancient Romans to act as a 
powerful charm for the driving away of evil 
See Rich's Die, p. 666. 


"tunsaque concrepat sera, 
Et rogat ut tectis exeat umbra suis " 

Ovid, Fasti, v. 4. 

" The bells he jingles, and requests the shade 
That speedy exit from his roof Ije made." 

This superstition still prevails in Italy. "Why are the 
church bells making that noise? "said an inquirer to a peasant 
of that country. The answer was, " Per cacciare il Diavolo, 
Signore " — " To chase away the Devil, Sir." 

Bells were very common among the Romans. In the 
Museum at Naples are several from Pompeii. The writer has 



an old Roman bell which he obtained at Perugia : its shape is 

nearly square ; it is made of bronze with an iron clapper, and is 

fairly sonorous. It stands three 

or four inches high, and may, 

perhaps, have been worn by 


Lustral, or Holy water, was 
also used by the Heathen as a 
charm for the purification of 
persons, of houses, and of temples. At the gate of the Pagan 
temple stood a vessel filled with it for the use, as in modern 
Roman Catholic churches, of those who entered. At funerals, 
too, the Heathen used this charm just as their Church suc- 
cessors do now. So Virgil (y£//. vi. 229-31), in describing the 
obsequies of Misenus, says of ^neas : — 

" From branch of olive thrice the holy clew 
Of lustral water sprinkling on the crew, 
The men he puyified." 

The use of candles at funerals is another Heathen custom, 
though now adopted by the Roman Church. Rich {A?-f. 
Candela) proves this from Varro, and gives an illustration from 
a sepulchral marble at Padua. 

On leaving home for a journey, a Roman 
Would repeat some verse or incantation, as 
a protection from evil. t3 

For the same purpose he would also 
habitually carry some small image, or other 
sacred object, suspended from his neck. Thus it is recorded 
of Sylla that " he wore, and used to invoke, a little golden 
Apollo hung round his neck" (Hare's i?^;;;^, p. 224); which 
reminds one of Louis XI. of France, who was wont to wear his 
"gods protectors" — i.e., saints — leaden though they were, in 
his hat ! 

A magic property was also imputed by the Romans to coral, 


a branch of which was thought to be eminently efficacious in 
affording health and protection to infants. See Blunt's Vestiges, 
chap. X., where Pliny is quoted and mentioned as having been 
" most industrious in recording the charms of his own time." 

Did you ever, reader, drive from Perugia to Assisi ; or from 
the station on the Ferrara and Bologna line to Cento, to see 
the Guercinos in that little town ? (As regards the pictures of 
the illustrious artist, however, to examine which was my sole 
object in visiting the town, I confess I was disappointed.) 
Well, then, you may have noticed that the road to each of the 
two places abounds in charms. "What are all those slender 
wooden crosses stuck in the fields ? " I asked my rustic com- 
panions in the public carriage. " What are they for?" "To 
drive away the devil, and evil spirits ; and the pictures of saints 
you see in the trees are, Signore, for the same purpose." 

Two thousand years ago, for the same purpose, there used 
to be suspended in the fields — what ? Masks of Bacchus ! 
Now crosses and pictures of saints have taken their place. 
And not only in Italy : for I have seen the same charms in the 
fields north of Munich. 

Of the Heathen usage, the suspension of oscilla, or little 
masks, there was a good illustration in the Exhibition of the 
Royal Academy of 1879. It was in a small and charming 
picture of a Pomona Festival by Alma Tadema. In the British 
Museum one of these faces of Bacchus is preserved with the 
ring attached to it by which it used to be suspended. 

Another talisman of Heathen Rome is the lightning of 
yupiter, which is represented on the opposite page, from a 
medal of Augustus. 

I give this from Du Choul, who informs us that " the 
Heathen— /^j G^ot/ZA— held it in singular estimation, ... be- 
lieving that after it had been consecrated by the Chief Pontiff 
—for the consecration of such things by a priest belongs 
as much to Heathendom as to Christendom— it preserved 


from tempests, and possessed a certain virtue." — La Religion 
des Anciens Jiomains, p, 2S6. The "S. C." on the medal is, 
I beheve, for Saiatus consulto — " by decree of the Senate." 

To pass on to more modern times, since the next chapter 
will treat of the ages intervening, we quote the following in 
regard to Heathen America. 

"The Spanish missionaries in the fifteenth century were 
amazed to find the cross as devoutly worshipped there as by 
themselves. It is not generally known that the cross is originally 
and properly a Heathen emblem, perhaps the most ancient and 

most universal of any throughout the world, east or west, 
north or south. The Spaniards found it everywhere in America, 
and made of every material. It figured on the vestments of 
priests, and was worn as an amulet by the people. ... It 
was beheved among the inhabitants both of north and south 
to be endued with power to restrain evil spirits." — The 
Pre-Christian Cross, Edin. Review, Jan. 1870. 

Here, again, is something respecting China, taken from 
Picart's History of all Religions, vol. ii., p. 214. 

" Navaretti informs us that the Chinese, after sacrificing to 
Confucius, carry home what remains of the sacrifice, which is 



given especially to the children, in hope that it will make them 
become great men." In other words, the consecrated elements 
are expected to act as a charm. 

An artillery officer, related to myself, told me that, in the late 
Chinese war, he was present when a Tartar, badly wounded, 
was brought in as a prisoner. Though the poor fellow expected 
little mercy, his great anxiety was, not for his own safety, but 
for that of something which he wore suspended round his neck 
— his charm. This, and terror lest it should be taken from 
him, seemed to occupy all his thoughts. 

Lately there appeared in some English journals a piece of 
advice to distressed Chinese, copied from a Chinese newspaper. 
Certain wags had been making free with some native tails by 
removing them from the heads of the proprietors. The result 
was a general feeling of insecurity and alarm ; and how did the 
journalist endeavour to allay it ? By suggesting a charm ! 
Meet these foreign devils, said he, thus : — Fold such a paper 
in such a manner, carry it on your person, and your tail is 

The kind of charm referred to — that is, written paper— \s 
also very commbn among the followers of Islam. I have by 
me several specimens which I obtained from one of the crew 
of the Nile boat, a Hadji, or pilgrim who had been to Mecca, 
and so, according to Mohammedan ideas, had become a holy 
man. He wore them on his person. They are of leather, 
about two inches square, and contain bits of paper. 

Fifteen hundred years ago the learned Heathen author 
Quintus Sammonicus recommended the same kind of amulet. 
Letters were to be written in a peculiar form upon several 
pieces, and "then," said he, "tie them together, and hang 
them by a linen thread to the neck of the patient." 

tn the Graphic of February 22nd, 1879, appeared an illustra- 
tion by their artist in Affghanistan, the subject of which was 
' Camels passing under the Koran." The explanation given is 


as follows : — " Returning from pasture, camels are driven every 
Thursday evening — their Saturday night — under the Koran, 
which, placed in a turban, is suspended between two lances. 
The drivers are most particular to see that every camel passes 
under the book. It is a charm against sickness and other evils." 

The evil eye is well known as a charm of malignity which must 
be met with more potent charms. It was lately stated in the 
Athenmim, in reference to Holman Hunt the painter, that " his 
models in Jerusalem had all forsaken him, having taken it 
into their heads that they were under the influence of the 

I have myself had a similar experience in the same country. 
On the high lands of Benjamin, at Jeremiah's town, Anathoth — 
a wretched desolate place, where, however, there is a fine 
Roman pavement — I was looking compassionately upon a sick 
sheep. The owner at once became very angry, because, as our 
Dragoman told me, he considered that my evil eye injuriously 
affected his property. 

A recent number of the Jewish Chronicle, i n giving an 
account of the inauguration of the religious head of a sect 
of Jews at Jerusalem, informs us that the new dignitary was 
protected from the evil eye by hands dipped in the blood of 
a sheep just slaughtered, the mark of the ten fingers being 
imprinted on his door. The Chronicle also states that at 
Tangier a red hand, painted outside a door, is a favourite 
charm for the same purpose. 

The belief that some had power to injure by their look was 
as prevalent among the ancient Greeks and Romans as among 
the superstitious of modern times ; and the evil eye is 
frequently alluded to by the Classical writers ; as, for instance, 
in the following verse of Virgil {Ed. iii. 103) : 

" Nescio quis teneros oculus mihi fascinat agnos." 
" Some unknown eye does fascinate my lambs." 

Various amulets were used to avert its influence, the most 


common of these being the />/ia////s — the turpicula res of Varro 
— hung round the necks of children. See Smith's Diet. 
Ant., Art. Fascinmn. 

An Irish correspondent of mine writes to me as follows : — 
" The Church has continued these charms, of which some are 
decent, some the contrary ; and many of them are, or were, 
placed in churches. I am told that several taken from old 
churches are in the museum at Dublin. They are statues of 
naked women which were formerly placed over the entrance 
doors of the buildings as lucky objects." If the eye rested on 
them the first thing in the morning, it was supposed that a 
person Avould be free from bad luck for the rest of the day. 
They were called Shela-na-gigs. 

What the Shela were to the outside, that St. Christopher is to 
the inside of the church, his decent and respectable figure being 
often painted on the wall opposite the door, to catch the eye of 
the worshipper as he enters, " for good luck." Hence the old 
distich, the original Latin of which I regret that I have mislaid: — 

" Betimes to see St. Christoph is good luck : 
That day shall see thee by no evil struck." 

Lastly, Fetish, so common in Africa, is a widely-spread charm, 
constituting the whole religion of many peoples. In Maa/iillans 
Magazine for July, 1878, we are informed by Max Miiller that 
" the Portugtiese mariners first gave the name of Fit-igos, i.e., 
Fetish, to the ornaments worn by the Negroes of the Gold 
Coast, because they themselves were perfectly familiar with the 
Fici-tigo {sic) or amulet." Indeed, since they all carried crosses 
or beads blessed by their priests they were themselves, in a 
sense, fetish worshippers. 

Ample evidence has now been laid before the reader to show 
the antiquity, universality, and continuity in the human family, 
of the use of charms ; to prove that, belonging, as it does, to 
all nations and all times, its universal development manifests a 


universal principle inherent in the human race ; that principle 
being the kind of superstitious reverence which forms so large a 
part of the Religion of Nature. 

In the following pages we propose to demonstrate how fully 
this principle is recognized and sanctioned in the Church of 



Part I. 

OUR sphere is now more limited than in the two previous 
chapters : we have to consider the use of charms in the 
Church of Rome. 

In speaking above of " the Hghtning of Jupiter," we quoted 

Du Choul, as testifying to the great power attributed to it by 

the ancient Romans. And, from the same author, we gave a 

cut of the charm as imprinted upon a medal of Augustus. 

We now subjoin a representation of a modern charm, equally 

potent, taken from another learned Roman Catholic author 
(luoted in Picart. It is the Agnus Dei, and forms a good 
pendant to Du Choul's *' lightning of Jupiter." 


The Agnus Dei, that is, Lamb of God, is " a medal made 
of wax mixed with oil and balm," on which is stamped " The 
Lamb and Flag," the well-known device of that once powerful 
and profligate order of monk-warriors, the Templars. Together 
with " The Saint Petershead," " The Salutation," and one or 
two similar subjects, it yet figures among us as the sign of a 

From Du Choul we have already learnt in how great estima- 
tion the Romans held "the lightning of Jupiter," as a protection 
against tempests, and as possessing "a certain virtue." He 
also tells us (p. 285) that " the little Agnus Dei when blessed, 
and bells when consecrated, obtain virtue, the one to drive 
away tempests, the other to expel evil spirits." 

The " little Agnus," then, takes in the Church the place and 
efficacy of " the lightning of Jupiter," so far as the weather is 
concerned ; while the bells, able even in Ovid's time to fray 
the ghosts, are equally potent in the spirit world. 

Here are influences exerted upon the natural and the super- 
natural ! But why are the bells, and not the Agnus, supposed 
to be capable of the hardest work ? 

Perhaps on the score of the length of their pedigree ; for 
the bells were originally well-known Heathens, though they are 
now baptized Christians. You are doubtless aware that bells 
are baptized. But the Agnus only appeared in comparatively 
recent times, to take the place of the Heathen " lightning of 
Jupiter," which could not be baptized. So the bells keep their 
own : they are now in the Church just what they were thousands 
of years ago in Heathendom, whereas the Agnus is only an 
interloper, lately come into fashion. 

To the passage quoted above, Du Choul adds : — " In like 
manner, salt and water — that is, holy water — by means of 
benediction and exorcism obtain force and virtue to chase away 
evil spirits " — the same power as that which is attributed to the 


But how very strange that salt-and- water should be able 
" to chase away evil spirits ! " Is this anywhere mentioned 
in Scripture ? 

Scripture ! No. But who supposes that Church ways and 
doings have any necessary connection with Scripture ? Nay, 
the priest, the charmer, and the charms — these are more to the 
point ; these are the powers which put virtue into " the salt 
and water," into the " benediction and exorcism ; " that which 
avails is the incantation, the " Double, double, toil and 


" When in Salamanca's cave 
Him listed his magic wand to wave, 
The bells would ring in Notre Dame." 

And there is nothing which the priest cannot do. Of late 
years, since a.d. 12 15, he has even taken to assert that he can 
turn a morsel of bread into God Himself ! He does it — so he 
says — every day, though his senses and ours declare the false- 
hood of the assertion. 

But to return to the Agnus Dei. If the Heathen Pontifex 
Maximus could by consecration infuse such power into his 
charm, " the lightning of Jupiter," we may well suppose that 
the consecration of his successor, the Church Pontifex, would 
bestow no less virtue upon the Agnus Dei. The following 
doggrel verses, a literal translation of the old French in Picart, 
will leave us in no doubt upon this head. They were sent by 
PoTie Urban V. to the Greek emperor, to explain to him the 
value of an Agnus Dei, in order that he might properly appre- 
ciate three with which the Pope at the same time presented 


' ' Thunder it chases, 

Sin it effaces, 

From fire it saves, 

And flood when it raves. 

Sudden death shuns it, 

Devils revere it. 

Enemies fear it. 


Far from danger are set 
Both children and mother 
Who to make it are met. 
Where good is found, 
It makes it abound. 
Big pieces or small 
Are alike good to all." 

So the spell of the Pope is even more efficacious than that 
of the Heathen. And after all, the Agnus must be as potent 
as the bells, and more so still ; for, " sin it effaces." 

But how subservient to the priesthood must the laity have 
been, that the former could dare, in the person of their chief 
and in the name of religion, to palm off such barefaced lies 
upon the vi^orld ! What an illustration of the ancient saying, 
"The people wills to be deceived. Deceived they shall be." 

Modern Heathenism also has its parallel to the Agnus. The 
following account of what has lately happened in Thibet is 
taken from the Illustt'afed Missionary Nezt's, 1879. 

" A priest of Laboul had died, one who would, the people 
considered, be reckoned among the gods. So, after having 
burnt his body, they mingled the ashes with clay, from which 
small medallions were made, distributed everywhere, and kept 
in sacred places." 

Thus, the customs of Heathenism, ancient and modern, "the 
lightning of Jupiter," and the medallions of Buddha, form with 
the Agnus of Papal Rome a trio alike illustrative of the natural 
religion, which is the basis of them all. Neither in Rome nor 
in either of the other false systems is there any power to rise 
from the grossness of sense to the spirituality of faith. The unre- 
generate man can deal only with the tangible and the sensuous ; 
beyond this he has no perceptions, no capacity of reception. 
" Can a man enter a second time into his mother's womb, and be 
born?" "Show us the Father." "Except I shall see in His 
hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of 
the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe." 



Part IL 

WE will now adduce a few more instances of the use of 

Just as Sylla, the Dictator (d. B.C. 68), consulted a little 
Apollo hung round his neck, so Pope Gregory XIV. (a.d. 
1590) put his trust in a figure of St, Philip Neri, "by which 
image he believed that his life was saved in an earthquake at 
Beneventum." — Hare's Rome, vol. ii., p. 168. 

In Spain, during the age of chivalry, a knight was not 
allowed to enter the hsts until he had made a declaration that 
he had no relic or charm upon him. Ford, in his Handbook 
for Spain, informs us that even now, few Spanish soldiers go 
into action without such a preservative ; that the Duchess of 
Abrantes hung the Virgin del Pilar round the neck of her 
favourite bull-fighter, who escaped in consec^uence; and that 
Jose, his own guide, attributed his frequent escapes from 
danger to an image of the Virgin which never quitted his 
shaggy breast. 

Spanish robbers, Ford adds, have always been " remarkably 
good Roman Catholics." They, too, wear their charms; 
while " Italian banditti always wear a silver heart of the 
Madonna." — Vol. ii., p. 192. 

In the Times of Sept. 2 ist, 1879, the Naples correspondent 
wrote as follows : 

" The fanatics, who are the observers of the superstitions 


practised in Naples, are those who supply the most abundant 
materials for the police courts. Crime and superstition go 
hand-in-hand. The brigands who were taken red-handed in 
this province were invariably found to have rosaries and relics 
around their necks." 

I remember a painful example of this confidence in amulets 
at Devonport a few years ago, in a case in which it would not 
have been expected. It was that of an aged and well-known 
clergyman, who on his death-bed held a consecrated medal 
with the greatest tenacity. 

" Mary," said a Protestant minister to a sick convert from 
Romanism, "what are you doing?" She had been fumbling 
with something under the bedclothes while he was reading the 
Scriptures, and made no reply to the question. It was, how- 
ever, repeated, and at last tlie truth came out in the shape of 
some medals, and other consecrated toys, which she had been 
keeping about her. "And must I give them up ? " she said in 
a pitiful voice. " Yes," he replied, " Christ will not share 
your heart with idols." 

But this case is surpassed by that of two educated English 
ladies of my acquaintance who were not satisfied unless they 
had a crucifix in their bed — I suppose as a charm ! 

The following story, which I heard from an Indian judge, 
is a good instance of the trust which superstitious minds put 
in these charms. About forty years ago, my friend stayed 
at Rome on his way to the East, and presented a letter of 
introduction to Bishop Baggs, honorary chaplain to the Pope. 
He had frequent intercourse with the bishop, who evinced 
great anxiety to win him to " the true faith," and on one 
occasion said, "Will you wear this medal for nine days, 
while I and others pray for your conversion ? " Some virtue in 
the medal was to dispose him to conversion ; but it did not, 
and he remains a good Protestant up to the present time. 

The following extract from Sterling's Cloister Life of 


Charles V. illustrates the influence of charms over a great 

"Towards eight in the evening," his chronicler relates, 
" Charles asked if the consecrated tapers were ready. ' The 
time is come,' said he, ' bring in the candle and the 
crucifix.' These were cherished relics which he had long 
kept in readiness for the supreme hour. The one was a taper 
from Our Lady's shrine at Monserrat; the other a crucifix 
which had been taken from the dead hand of his wife at 
Toledo. He received them eagerly from the Archbishop, 
Carronza, the Primate. ... On his bosom was placed the 
crucifix of the Empress, and at the head of the bed hung a 
beautiful picture of our blessed Lady." 

So died the great Emperor ! 

The lamented Prince Napoleon had— as a Roman Catholic 
soldier commonly would — a charm upon him when he was 
killed by the Zulus. It was a medal of the Madonna; and a 
London newspaper stated that the Zulus would not detach it 
from his neck, because they believe that " charms," if removed 
from the last wearer, bring his luck with them. 

It is recorded that the Duke of Monmouth, when taken 
prisoner at Sedgemoor, was found to have similarly fortified 
himself with several charms tied about his body ; while his 
" table book " — purchased in this century at a book-stall in 
Paris, and now in the British Museum — is filled with songs, 
recipes, prayers, and charms. But all did not avail to save 
him from defeat and the block. 

A good story connected with our subject is told by a 
correspondent of the Times in a letter dated Rome, May 26th, 
1879. It relates to one of the then newly-made Cardinals, 
Monsignor Pie, the well-known Bishop of Poitiers — the man 
who denounced Napoleon III. as Pontius Pilate, was most active 
in recruiting the Antibes Legion for the Papal army, and sup- 
ported Pio Nono in his most ultramontane measures. Here it is. 


" An amusing story is told of Pie's having ordered a grand 
funeral mass for a Pontifical Zouave who was supposed to have 
fallen at Castel Fidardo — of his having extolled in glowing 
language the exalted virtues and heroism of the defunct, 
whom all should strive to imitate ; while the man himself was 
in the church, attending his own funeral ceremony. 

" At the end of the service, however, the man was arrested as 
a runaway debtor, to the scandal of all good Catholics. 

" To escape from his creditors he had taken service in the 
Papal army ; had fallen, shamming death, at the first encounter, 
and to get clear off after the battle was over, had changed 
clothes and passports with an officer of his own regiment, who 
had been killed. He had been cunning enough to leave the 
officer's scapular on the body, and to put the beads into the 
pocket of, and the decorations upon the breast of, his own 
jacket in which he had dressed the corpse. 

" These things, found on the body of a private soldier, were 
taken as undoubted proofs of his virtues and valour. Accord- 
ing to the passport, the defunct was a native of Poitiers, Pie's 
diocese, and when the news of so edifying a death reached 
him, he thought the occasion too valuable not to be improved 
— with the result as above. 

"And the result was also improved by the Liberals, who 
published an account of the affair in double columns. In the 
one was the discourse delivered by Monsignor Pie ; in the 
other the police report of the martyr's antecedents and short- 
comings !" 

We have before seen that several famous cities were in 
ancient times supposed to be preserved by charms such as the 
Palladium and the Ancile. Just in the same manner the 
images and relics of saints are the security of cities now. Thus, 
there is an annual procession on the fifth of September at 
Pegli, near Genoa, in honour of St. Rosalia ; because in 
A.D. 1667 she protected the place from a prevailing pestilence. 


In a church near Nice a lady once drew my attention to 
an ugly little image of the Virgin, which she told me had saved 
the town from cholera.. She quite believed it, poor thing, and 
I well remember the energy of her statement. I had previously 
asked her if the tawdry little goddess was miraculous : " Molto 
niiraculoso, Signore," was her reply. 

We have already seen that the Bulla — there is a fine speci- 
men in gold in the Vatican Etruscan Museum — contained the 
charm which blessed the children of Heathen Rome ; a parallel 
may be found in these days. 

" V/hat, madam," said I to a French lady, "permit me to 
ask, is that object hung round the neck of your infant ? " 

" That, sir," she replied, " is a medal blessed by the priest, 
to keep the child from harm." 

So the Heathen usage is continued in the Christian custom. 

The coral charm, before alluded to, acts precisely the same 
part now as it did in old Rome, " affording health and i)ro- 
tection to children," So wrote Pliny, and so his people still 
believe, and even now protect their children with coral against 
evil spirits. 

Did you, reader, ever observe how the old painters often 
deck even the Holy Child Jesus with this Heathen talisman ? 
We give a specimen above, after a picture by Pinturicchio, in 


the National Gallery. The four detached ornaments belong 
to the Child Jesus in other pictures — by Lippi, Crivelli, and 
others — also in the National Gallery. See pp. 37, 88, 151, 
270, and 330, of the authorised catalogue, 1876. 

Seven examples may, I think, be found in the gallery. 

Sometimes the charm is attached to a coral necklace, and 
bracelets of the same material are occasionally added. 

Nor is this amulet represented only on canvas. Among the 
bronzes in the South Kensington Museum it may be seen in 
bronze on the necks of a pair of children — seventeenth century 
— a Child Jesus and a Cupid. What a union ! 

We have already remarked that a superstitious Pagan blessed 
himself on leaving home, by some form of incantation thrice 
repeated. The worshipper of Papal times blesses himself by 
signing the cross three times. 

The use of Lustral, or Holy Water, by the ancients has 
also been noticed. They applied it to the purification of 
houses, as well as persons, and even in this they are still 
followed. " The modern Italians," says Blunt, " use holy 
water as a charm. All their rooms are annually sprinkled with 
\X.r— Vestiges, 1^. 172. The writer has himself witnessed this 
ceremony in Florence at Easter. 

Modern holy water is mixed with salt ; how very ancient 
and Pagan this custom is, the following rendering from Theo- 
critus (xxiv. 95-7) will show: 

" With sulphur let the house be purified ; 
Then, from a full urn, sprinkle on the floor 
Pure water, mixed with salt, from side to side ; 
For so the holy custom doth provide." 

I conclude the chapter with a specimen of the unlimited 
popular belief in this charm. It is quoted from a letter which 
appeared in a Roman Catholic journal, from one who is en- 
trusted, apparently, with the care of Irish Emigrants. 

" A storm was raging, when an old woman sent for me. I 



went to her. She said she had a bottle of holy water, and 
that if I sprinkled the ship with it, it might still the storm. 
I complied with her request ; after which she desired me to 
throw the bottle into the sea, so that it might calm the rage of 
the angry waters." 

Christ using His cross as a charm to break open the gates of Hell, in order that 
He might bring forth the Old Testament saints, with Adam and Eve at their 
head. From a French miniature of the thirteenth century. 



Part III. 

WE have stated that, in Pagan China, the remains of a 
sacrifice to Confucius are carried away and given to 
children as a talisman, "to make them become great men." 
A few instances will now be cited of the uses to which the 
consecrated wafer filched from "the Sacrifice of the Mass " is 
applied in Christendom, by way of a charm. 

The following are from Picart. " Sometimes," he says, " it 
is used as a love-charm, or philtre, both for honourable 
purposes, and by priests in dishonest love. Here is an ex- 
ample of the former. 

"'A woman of Ancona,' says the Monk Bassius, Svith an 
unfaithful husband, reserved part of the wafer in her mouth, 
took it home, and then made it into a philtre to win back his 
love.' " 

Very much like the passage of Virgil quoted in a former 
chapter — 

" Back to liis home from the city, my charms, draw tlie wandering 

Again ; we find, also from Bassius, that the wafer has been 
used as a bee-charm. The bees belonging to a certain woman 
were barren ; so one day she did not swallow the Host at the 
Communion, and, "after taking it out of her mouth, placed it 
in one of her hives." 

It will also serve as a gardt n-charm. A young girl of the 



Isle of St. Nicholas had a garden which was eaten up by 
caterpillars. So she, like the others, hides the wafer in her 
mouth, and then, "breaking it into morsels, sows it broadcast 
among the vegetables." 

Again ; " a woman of virtue and of piety," whose son 
Accacius was born blind, cured him by a poultice made of 
this charmed bread. 

But the wafer can develop still more extraordinary powers. 
It was the custom, Deacon Amaliri, of Metz, informs us, to 
bury the dead with a wafer laid on the stomach ; and this, he 
adds, was done in the case of St. Cuthbert. Now, there was 
a certain man so wicked that when, after his decease, attempts 
were made to bury him, his dead body was twice cast out by 
the earth. His relations were distressed and perplexed, and 
appealed for advice to no less a person than St. Benedict. 
The saint directed them to use the charm just described, and 
gave them a wafer for the purpose with his own hand — de la 
prop7-e ??iain. This treatment proved successful, and the corpse 
was comfortably settled in its grave. — Picart, xi. 49-65. 

Picart considers that the custom of burying with a wafer is 
a relic of Paganism, and that the wafer on the stomach was 
substituted for the coin which used to be put into the mouth 
of the corpse for the purpose of paying Charon's fee. 

In the Twenty-eighth Article of the Church of England it 
is affirmed " that Transubstantiation hath given occasion to 
many superstitions." If any of us have not hitherto realized 
the force of this, we can hardly fail to do so after considering 
the quotations just given. 

To one believing in Transubstantiation, the desire to have 
the Host buried with him is surely most natural and proper. 
It certainly would be my wish had I faith in the doctrine ; for 
how comforting the idea of having God with one's flesh in the 
grave ! 

Yes, and that, too, of having Him certainly with us in life. 


The larger Wafer used in the Mass. 

The small Wafer given in the Communion to the people. 


Were I a believer of the type of the woman of Ancona, or the 
girl of St. Nicholas' Isle, I fear I should long ago have 
yielded to sore temptation, just as they did, to effect such a 
purpose ; and would wear the filched wafer ever round my neck. 
I entirely sympathize, not with their theft, but with the cravings 
of their humanity. 

Of the caterpillars we will not say much : the girl, though 
sincere, must have been idle ; or why did she not pick them 
off with her fingers ? But the wife of Ancona — conceive ! To 
be able by means so simple to restore the love of her 
" wandering Daphnis " ! 

The quantity of bread given to the recipient in the Sacrament 
has also been a cause of superstition : for the Church of Rome 
uses a large and a small wafer, figures of which may be seen 
on the previous page. 

" Pride," says Picart, " leads some laics to desire to com- 
municate with the large wafer — grande Hostie — in order to 
distinguish themselves from those — pour se distinguer des autres 
— who have only the small one." And he describes the 
manner in which the Sieur of Schlosperg, in the Tyrol, was 
punished by God for this sin, the pavement of the church 
yawning at his feet to swallow him up. St. Theresa, too, he 
says, avowed that she was glad to receive a great wafer ; and 
so others, piously but ignorantly, " in order to obtain more 
abundant grace — en vue de recevoir des graces plus abondantes." 

Well, poor things, who blames them ? I am sure I do not : 
it would have been the same with me but for the grace of God 
through the Reformation. We are all alike enwrapt in nature's 
night until the Word of God shines into our dark heart. 

Another powerful amulet, among Heathens and Christians 
alike, is the Cross. 

Here is what T/ie Poor Man's Catec/iisin teaches in regard to 
it. " This sacred sign is a means of preserving us from evil 
spirits, which disappear at its siglit." How imi)udent a stat-e- 


ment, when we remember some of the scenes in which the 
cross or crucifix has been prominent ! 

An engraving iUustrating this charm, and intended for the 
instruction of young people, is sold in Paris. It depicts a 
child calling his good angel to succour him against a serpent 
which crawls towards him. In the child's hand is a cross, and 
the angel says, " Carry that sign before thee in confidence, and 
the serpent will be powerless at thy feet." How well this 
" Catholic " print agrees with another verse of the passage 
quoted above from Virgil's Eclogue : — 

" Cnislied by the force of charms the cold snake lies dead in the meadow." 

The following from Picart (i. 102) is curious. 

In Toulouse there is a considerable portion of the cross, 
which is exhibited twice in the year. At those times it is 
steeped in water, and the water is afterwards given to the sick, 
who find it a great comfort — qui s'en trouvent extremement 

Among some of the Heathen inhabitants of America the 
cross is, according to the testimony of the Spanish mis- 
sionaries, used as an amulet, and called "the wood of health" 
(^Edinburgh Ranew, Jan. 1870). It appears, therefore, to be 
good for health by way of an infusion in France, and as 
a solid in America ! 

But of the universal prevalence of the cross as a Pagan 
charm we say no rnore here, because the subject has been 
already treated in an illustrated work by the present writer, 
entitled The Cross: Heathen and Christian, and published by 
Messrs. Seeley. 

The scapular and the rosary are also powerful charms. Of 
the efficacy of the latter the following story — from Ford's 
Handbook for Spain, vol. ii., p. 192 — is an example. 

" A robber, shot by a traveller, was buried. His comrades 
passing by, sometime afterwards, heard his voice. They opened 


the grave, and found him alive and unhurt ; for when he was 
killed he had a rosary round his neck, and consequently, St. 
Dominic — its inventor — was enabled to intercede with the 
Virgin on his behalf." 

A saving efficacy is supposed to reside in a Monk's dress, 
and I am told that it is still usual in Spain for sick persons to 
have one put on in order that they may die in it. " A monk," 
says Picart (vol. i., p. i8i), "imagines that he exhales from 
his body corpuscles, or particles, of piety, and that if a dying 
man be covered with his holy garb, these particles will go 
straight to the heart of the latter. Thus, as regards dignity, 
the Monk can always put his dress on a par ivitli Baptism and 
7i.<ith the Passion of Christ T 

From what follows — extracted from the Daily Ncios, March 
25th, 1879 — it will be seen that a similar virtue is supposed to 
proceed from the bodies of Heathen Monks even in the 
present day. 

" The Phongees, priest-monks in Burmah, have great in- 
fluence. There are whole districts in Mandalay devoted to 
Phongee monasteries. A Phongee has no bother about any- 
thing at all. He is forbidden to have any money, nor does he 
want it : he wears a bright yellow garment. People bring him 
his food — rice from this admirer, or from that. His life is 
celibate: he is not supposed to let his eyes rest upon a woman, 
but has a quiet knack of giving a sly glance out of the corners 
of them. He never goes hungry, and when he dies, has a 
funeral the pageant of which may last for days. When dead, 
he is plunged into a cask of honey ; and, after such a time as 
may be sufficient to allow the virtues of him — 'corpuscles of 
piety' — to pass into the honey, he is fished out, and i)ious 
people greedily consume the honey." 

So closely is the monachism of Heathendom allied to that 
of Churchdom; so clearly do they exhibit their common origin 
in the Religion of Nature. 



Homer tells us of the wonder-working cestus, or girdle, ot 

Venus — 

" The broidered cestus wrought with every charm 
To win the heart." 

Like it is the girdle of the Virgin of Tortosa in Spain. " It 
was brought from Heaven by herself in a.d. 117H, and became 
the Palladium of the city. Like the Bambino Jesu of the 
Ara-Coeli at Rome, it is also particularly invoked by women 
in child-birth." — Ford's Handbook for Spain, vol. ii., p. 160. 

Lucky and unlucky days, as in the already quoted case of 
Haman, were much regarded by the Heathen. In the Assyrian 
monuments great stress is laid on them ; and reference to 
them may be found also in the Classical authors. " Days," 
says Aulus Gellius (v. 9), " of ill-repute for their bad omen, 
and forbidden, are termed superstitious, on which one must 
neither perform religious rites nor begin any new undertaking." 
Christianity puts all days except the Lord's day on a level : 
but superstition ever resists this, and exalts one day above 
another to the bane of the Church of Christ. " How turn ye 
again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire 
again to be in bondage? Ye observe days " (Gal. iv. 9, 10). 

Numerous are the Saints' days of Rome ; and it is sad to 
know that our bishops and clergy are pressing the observance 
of them upon us, as well as that of the forty days of Lent. 
Neither of these, so far as I can understand, suit that " liberty 
wherewith Christ hath made us free." What is Lent but a 
" yoke of bondage ? " Its observance may be traced among 
Heathens ancient and modern : long fasts and oft-repeated 
prayers are ever characteristic of the Religion of Nature. 



WHENCE comes the holy fire which one sees ever 
burning in Roman Cathohc churches ? 

Having this morning — "Holy Saturday," April 12th, 1879 
— witnessed its generation by the priests, just outside the gate 
of the large church at Mentone, I am able to tell. 

Saturday in " holy week " is a great day for Church cere- 
monies, especially for those which are connected with " holy 
fire" and "holy water." 

The week has been, of course, ceremonious and sombre. 
T.ast Sunday the blessing of palms and branches took place : 
the ceremony was performed in the church with "holy water" 
manufactured a year ago. As I was going to the Protestant 
place of worship on that day, I met with a number of people 
carrying home consecrated palms, in order to place them in 
their houses, and use them as charms. Of two persons who 
bore them, I asked their use. " Eor charms," was the reply — 
Contre les main'ais esprits, et pour chasser le Diab/e." These 
palms, like the holy fire and water, are renewed at the same 
time every year. The old ones are burned : and with the 
ashes, my informant tells me, he made the sign of the cross on 
his forehead on Ash Wednesday. So at Rome, on the same 
occasion, and with similar material, I have seen the Pope in 
grand state charming the Cardinals as they knelt before him. 

There are many other sights in this week, such as the table 
set out for the Supper, the washing of the pilgrims' feet, and 
the procession, on the night of Good Friday, of the dead 


Christ. This is a figure as large as life, and shocking to look 
upon. It is placed upon a bier, and, accompanied with lights 
and music and chanting, it is carried through the town upon 
men's shoulders from church to church. For a while it is 
deposited in a public place on its illuminated catafalque, and 
then it is borne back in procession to its pretended tomb in 
the church. Such is the manner in which I have seen the 
ceremony performed. 

Subjoined is a list of the usual doings in Roman Catholic 
countries during Passion week ; it is extracted from the 
Monaco journal, April, 1879. 

Offices De La Sef)iai?ie-Samfe A La Cathedrale. 

6. Avril. Dimatiche des Ranieaiix. 

Benediction des palmes faite par Mgr. I'Eveque. Procession. 
Grand' Masse, a laquelle Sa Grandeur assistera en cappa. 
Chant de la Passion. 

L'apres-midi. — -Vepres, Sermon, Salut. 

Mercredi Saint. 
Trois heures et demie. — Office des Tenebres. 
jEUDi Saint. 

Sept heures du Matin. — Communion generate, donnee par Sa 

Matin. — Grand'Messe Pontificale. Benediction des Saintes 
Huiles. Procession au Reposoir. Lavement des pieds par Mgr. 

L'apres-midi. — Office des Tenebres. 

Du soir. — Procession de la Confrerie des Penitents. Sermon 
a la Cathedrale. 

Vendredi Saint. 

Matin. —Chant de la Passion. Adoration de la Croix. Pro- 
cession du Reposoir. Messe des Presanctifies. 

Apres-midi. — Les trois heures d'agonie avec chants. Sermons 
suivis de I'Office des Tenebres. 

Huit heures du soir. — Procession du Christ mort de I'eglise des 
Penitents a la Cathedrale. Sermon. Chant du " Stabat Mater." 


Samedi Saint. 
Huit hcures et demie du Matin. — Benediction du Feu. Chant 
des Propheties. Benediction des Fonts. Grand'Messe Pon- 

We said that the week has been sombre : but its oppressive- 
ness will presently be relieved by an Easter outburst of enjoy- 
ment and dissipation — a natural reaction after the enforced, 
and therefore unscriptural, observance of Lent. Since Thurs- 
day even the bells, always so offensively noisy in advertizing 
the Clergy and their doings, have been silent. In some places 
— as, for instance, in Malta — the people are called together 
during these days by the clapping of boards, a process which 
I have also witnessed at the Armenian monastery in Jerusalem. 
But, at any rate, the silence is frequently broken by the rattling 
of Judas' bones — a statement which may fairly require some 

Well, the said bones are pieces of wood, used as a sort of 
Castanet, which the boys rattle in the streets more or less 
throughout Lent. This is one way in which the people show 
their piety, by rattling the supposed bones of the traitor : 
while, at the end of Lent, they belabour his image with clubs, 
and afterwards burn it. In the same manner one may some- 
times see the effigy of Judas burned amid execrations, at this 
time of the year, on board the Portuguese ships in the London 
Docks. Truly there are strange ways of expressing piety ! 

But we will now watch the ceremony of the blessing of the 
fire. Just outside the door of the church, on the right side 
and on the upper step, is a little heap of shavings and 
fircones ; and many children in picturesque dresses are stand- 
ing near to see the sight. Immediately within the door a 
lectern has been placed, and the service-book is laid upon it ; 
so that everything is now ready for the ceremony. 

Soon after nine o'clock, a company of priests, handsomely 
dressed, with acolytes, etc., march in procession from within to 


the door. They bring with them a censer, a vessel of holy 
water with a sprinkler, and a plate upon which are laid some 
small candles, a piece of incense, an apparatus for striking a 
light, and four lemon-coloured and lemon-like balls. There is 
some trouble in producing the light, since the Papacy will 
have nothing to do with the " lucifers " of the nineteenth 
century, and rigidly adheres to the old flint-and-steel as 
appointed by her rubric. 

So there is a long pause, while the priest is contending with 
his difficulties. At length, however, the light is obtained in 
the orthodox way, the shavings and fircones are kindled, and 
from them the incense in the censer, and also the candles. 
Now follows a brief ofifice in the porch, and the candles, objects 
in the plate, etc., together with the fire itself, are all sprinkled 
with holy water — that is, with the old holy water consecrated 
a twelvemonth ago. Now a procession is formed, and as it 
slowly advances up the church, those who compose it chant, 
and, at stated intervals, fall on their knees, until in this manner 
they reach the altar, where some candles, v/hich have been 
previously extinguished, are relighted with the newly-obtained 

Such was the ceremony, and very Heathen and wizard it 
seemed. Picart gives an engraving of it, but no explanation. 
Foye's Romish Rites furnishes the following additional particu- 
lars, among others. — That the priest blesses the new fire in 
front of the church, then blesses five grains of incense to be put 
into the wax taper, and sprinkles them with holy water ; and 
also that three candles, previously blessed, and fixed on a 
triangle elevated upon a cane, are lighted at intervals. 

Later, in the same morning, the water ceremony is performed ; 
but this takes place within the church. I extract from Foye 
the following particulars in regard to it. 

It appears that there are three kinds of holy water, two of 
which are used for the consecration of churches. 


Of these two, the first is considered to be inferior, since 
nothing but salt is used in its preparation — " salt exorcised for 
the salvation of those that believe." It serves for sprinkling 
the building. 

The other is made up by a mixture of salt, ashes, and wine 
— all blessed, of course. This appears to be the holier of the 
two, and is used for the consecration of the altar. 

The third cldss of holy water, that which is referred to above 
as being consecrated on " Holy Saturday," is used for baptisms 
during the following year ; and also, as I gather, for sprinkling 

In its preparation — amid many exorcisms of devils and 
evil spirits, and forms of prayer — the following ceremonies 
are observed. 

The priest divides the water in the font, with his hand, in 
the shape of a cross. 

In exorcising the water, he touches it with his hand. 

In blessing it, he thrice makes over it the sign of the cross. 

In dividing it, he pours it towards the four quarters of 

He breathes thrice into it in the form of a cross. 

He lets down the great Paschal candle a little into it, and 
says, " The might of the Holy Ghost descend into this 
fountain-plenitude" — /;/ hanc pleiiitiidincin fontis. 

Then he takes the candle from the water, and again merges 
it more deeply, saying the same words as before, but in a 
higher tone. 

The third time he plunges it to the bottom, again repeating 
the formula with a still louder voice. 

Then blowing — sufflans — thrice into the water in the form of 
the Greek letter Psi, he says, " Impregnate with regenerating 
efficacy the whole substance of this water ;" and so takes the 
candle out of the font. 

Besides these doings, various oils are poured into the 


water, and mixed with the hand ; and, still more strange, spittle 
is mingled with it, as I have once seen with my own eyes in 
the grand Baptistry at St. John Lateran in Rome ! 

" The miglit of the Holy Ghost descend into this fountain- 
plenitude, and impregnate tvith regenerating efficacy the whole 
substance of this water. 

Such is the spell. Exorcisms first chase all evil spirits from 
the water, then incantations and charms^dividings, oils, cross- 
ings, breathings, candle-plungings, and other things — cause the 
might of the Holy Ghost to descend and impregnate the water 
with regenerating efficacy. It is no longer ordinary water, 
such as that wherein the eunuch or Cornelius and his friends 
were baptized ; but, by the power of charms, it has become an 
ecclesiastical compound, and those to whom it is administered 
are made new creatures and regenerate, not — so far as I 
understand — because they are brought by faith to Christ, but 
through the mere application of the fluid impregnated with 
virtue by an ecclesiastical process. And the only man who 
can make and apply this " Elixir of Life " — of eternal life ! — is 
the priest. 

To the Law and to the Testimony, and how cruel a decep- 
tion is this system of magic detected to be. It is not the 
water of Baptism which regenerates, but the Word of God 
implanted in us by His Spirit. Hear the evidence : — 

" Of His own will begat He us with the Word of truth "' 
(James i. 18). 

" Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorrup- 
tible, by the Word of God which liveth and abideth for ever " 
(i Peter i. 23). 

" That He might sanctify and cleanse it — the Church — 
with the washing of water by the Word " {Eph. v. 26). 



THE Feast of the Purification, or Candlemas, was, as 
Picart tells us, substituted for the Heathen festival 
called Ambarvalia ; in which processions were made through 
the fields, and a sacrifice was offered for purification. At the 
same time it also took the place of the nocturnal perambula- 
tions with lighted torches, which commemorated the wanderings 
of Ceres, when she traversed the country in search of her 
daughter Proserpine, whom Pluto had carried off. 

In the early ages of the Church, it could not but be noticed 
that these Roman feasts were the causes of much debauchery, 
and consequently Christian PontiiTs were anxious to do away 
with them. It was, however, thought necessary to give the 
people some equivalent ; and, with this view, the second day 
of February was devoted to the Feast of the Purification. It 
was called Candlemas, and the torches and wax tapers, formerly 
carried about in honour of Ceres, were now connected with 
the Holy Virgin ; while the people were permitted to indulge 
in the diversions and pleasures which such occasions never 
failed to inspire. See Picart., vol. i., p. 163. 

Thus Ceres went out, and Mary came in ; torches disap- 
peared, and candles succeeded. 

In Sicily, a similar transformation was effected, but with the 
difference that there Agatha, the patron saint of Catania, and 
not Mary, was substituted for the Heathen goddess Ceres. 

The following extract will show that Picart is not alone 
in his opinion respecting the design oi these adaptations, 


which were as common as they were ruinous to the purity of 

" Theophylact, Patriarch of Constantinople, with a design of 
weaning men from Heathen ceremonies, particularly those of 
Bacchus, substituted Christian festivals partaking of a similar 
spirit of licentiousness, which led to a still further adoption 
of rites more or less imitated from the Pagans." — Chambers' 
Book of Days, Jan. 14. 

Judaism, Gnosticism, and Heathenism — these from the first 
were the tares sown with the wheat. 

During his stay in Sicily, Professor Blunt witnessed the 
festival of St. Agatha, and was much struck with its corre- 
spondence to that of Ceres. He mentions, among other things, 
the fact that the day of observance, February 2nd, is the 
same ; and also that, according to the testimony of Ovid, the 
fete of Ceres commenced with a horse-race, at which the 
Town Council were present, which is also the custom at St. 
Agatha's festival. 

Candles and torches of an enormous size used to be dedi- 
cated to the " Bona Dea." Similar offerings are now presented 
to the saint, and in a similar manner. 

The goddess was borne to her temple upon a splendid 
throne, and in great state ; the saint is conveyed to her 
cathedral with equal pomp, and on a silver throne. 

Ovid tells us that at the Eleusinia, or festival of Ceres, all 
were draped in white, and at the feast of St. Agatha, the 
favourite colour is also white. 

To the programme of each of the festivals there is appended 
a grand procession, during the progress of which the ancient 
cry to the goddess was, " Hail, Ceres ! " while " Viva, Sta. 
Agatha ! " is the modern greeting addressed to the saint. 
And it is certainly remarkable that the day of the modern 
procession coincides with that of the ancient, both of them 
being the fourth day of the festival. 


Lastly, in the matter of relics the goddess resembled the 
saint ; for the relics of the former were deposited in a holy 
basket, which was conveyed in a consecrated cart ; while those 
of the latter are placed in a sacred chest, and carried in a 
sacred car. Goddess and saint, basket and chest, cart and 
car — how exact the parallel between ancient and modern 
Heathenism ! 

Relics have ever been objects of reverence in Heathen 
worship. According to Varro, the original sow which verified 
an augury to yEneas was preserved by the priests at Lavinium 
— a somewhat strange fancy ! To the bones of Theseus, which 
were laid up at Athens, we have already referred. Men have 
always had a passion for such things : what has been, is ; and 
what is, will be. 

The relics of St. Agatha, as Blunt tells us, are her veil — by 
means of which the eruptions of Mount Etna have been more 
than once stayed, if you are disposed to believe it — her foot, 
and her breast. According to the legend, both her breasts were 
cut off; where the other is I do not know, but how much 
better if such things were buried out of sight. These relics 
are generally to be seen in her pictures, so that one can easily 
recognize her. I shall never forget the look of contempt which 
a painter, who was copying something in a gallery at Florence, 
gave me when I pointed to St. Agatha, and said, " Who, pray 
sir, is that saint ? " Much more polite was the treatment I 
received at Naples, from an artist of whom I inquired the 
name of the painter of the Virgin, in copying which he was 
busily engaged. He not only told me the name, but added 
the undesired information, " And the original, sir, was his 

While staying at Orvieto, in South Italy, in the May of 1879, 
I was much struck with the very pleasing effect of a procession 
which had assembled to perform some such ceremony as 
that of the ancient Ambarvalia. Led by the clergy of the 


cathedral, beneath the spacious roof of which it had been 
marshalled, and composed of various guilds of the town in 
their many-coloured costumes, its distant appearance was 
charming. First traversing the streets of the town, it then 
emerged into the country, passing through vineyards, corn- 
fields, pastures, and woodlands, with streaming banners long 
drawn out. As it wound round the rocks of that magnificent 
scenery, and went in and out among the olive-trees, the sight 
was certainly dehghtful. But what was the use of it? 
Heathenism and processions have, indeed, always kept com- 
pany ; but where in the New Testament do we read of such 
a thing in association with Christianity ? 

Among the many remarkable pictures at the Luxembourg, 
there is one which well illustrates our subject. It depicts an 
imitation of the Heathen ceremony of Ambarvalia. The priest, 
with his attendants, is seen carrying the Host, as he winds his 
way through the cornfields in spring, and blesses them with 
holy water and other mystic rites. It is difficult to realize that 
the subject is " Christian," and not Heathen. 



MANY are the objects of worship to which the heart of 
man has turned aside from God. Among tliese are 
the heavenly bodies (Job xxxi. 26-28), the brute creation 
(Rom. i. 23), fire, the generative principle, the productive 
principle, the frame of nature, and fetish. But there is also 
another and very prevalent kind of idolatry ; that is, the 
worship of dead men — ancestors, heroes and heroines, gods 
and goddesses, and saints male and female. 

•This is hero-worship ; and is called Demonolatry, or the 
worship of the spirits of dead men who, by ecclesiastical 
authority, whether Christian or Heathen, have been canonized, 
and are thus supposed to have become qualified recipients of 
public worship. 

But of these — since they are invisible, and the nature of 
man desires something which can be laid hold of by the senses 
— tangible representations have been made in the form of 
images and pictures. 

" Images," says the Roman Catholic writer in ricart, " are 
nearly as ancient as worship itself; and no wonder, since their 
origin is due to the weakness of humanity. Man could not 
long fix his attention on purely spiritual objects, and, therefore, 
insensibly turned to the material, and tried, so to sjjcak, to 
render the object of worship palpable. 

" It is true that the use of these signs becomes dangerous. 
Formerly God was obliged to forbid it to the Jews : the 
Christians, however " — mark the writer's irony — " thought 


that they might without risk imitate their predecessors, the 

" Serenus, Bishop of Marseilles, in order to preserve the new 
converts from the guilt of idolatry, destroyed the images in his 
diocese. But St. Gregory, the Pope (d. 604), ordered them to 
be restored, considering that pastoral instruction would correct 
the grossest of popular errors." — Picart, vol. i., chap. 3. 

Fallacious and ruinous idea, too clearly manifested by 
the prevalence and endurance of idolatry in Christendom ! 
I suppose Gregory thought as did a traveller of the last 
century, who, after remarking upon the difficulty of teaching an 
illiterate peasant to comprehend an immaterial and invisible 
God, adds, "But set up before him the figure of a fine 
woman, with a beautiful child in her arms — the most interesting 
object in nature — and tell him she can procure him everything 
he wants ; he knows perfectly well what he is about, feels 
himself animated by the object, and prays to her with all his 
might." — Bridone's Tour, vol. i., p. 163. 

" The ancient Heathen also, long before the introduction 
of Christianity, attributed the power of working miracles to the 
images of their gods and heroes. Livy, that ingenious Pagan 
fabulist, adorned his pages with an infinity of piiracles and 
prodigies, among which are several relating to images. And 
Cicero — not one of the credulous — often mentions religious 
marvels; as, for instance, the sweating of statues. He assures 
us that the statue of Apollo at Cumae perspired, as also that 
of Victory at Capua." — Picart. 

And such things are still believed, as we may easily discover 
from well-known instances of sweating saints and winking 
Virgins. Here is an example from the Report of the Syrian 
Schools at Bcyrout, 1876. "The priests publicly announced 
that, on a certain day, the image of the Virgin would perspire ; 
and that all must come and dip their fingers in the perspiration, 
and make the sign of the cross." 


In May, 1876, I was at Clermont Ferard, the capital of 
Auvergne, in France, and upon entering a shop close to the 
famous Sanctuary of Notre Dame du Port, found myself 
confronting a grisette who was selling prints and images of this 
same Lady of the Port. 

*' But tell me, Ma'm'selle, tell me, pray," said I, " is the 
image in the church yonder really miraculous ? " 

" Certainly it is, Monsieur. It has performed many — 
many miracles." 

She, too, believed the lie, poor thing. So I went to see the 
idol ; and lo ! there it was, a mean diminutive little thing, but 
painted of course by St. Luke, as most of these images were 
if you will only be good enough to believe what you are told. 
It was placed above the altar, in a crypt brilliantly lighted with 
candles, adorned with many votive offerings, and at the time 
occupied by a crowd of worshippers ; for the Fete of the image 
was then going on. The sight was touching ; for all seemed, 
and many no doubt were, much in earnest. 

One incident specially affected me. A young servant girl, 
brimming over, no doubt, with love of the image, offered a 
rosary, and Soeur Marie, an habituee of the church, mounting 
some steps and kneeling upon the altar, hung the little gift 
round the idol's neck. 

Dear child ! no doubt she gave the tiny offering with all her 
heart : but, oh ! that that heart had been drawn to Christ 
instead of to the senseless image ! Then her adoring love 
would have been worship, and not idolatry. 

In the Museum of the Capitol at Rome, there is another 
girl, portrayed in marble — not French, but Roman ; not 
modern, but ancient ; not a worshipper of the image of Mary, 
but of the image of Hygeia, the goddess of health, to whom, 
as you see in the cut on the opposite page, she is presenting 
the usual offering of cakes. 

She lives now but in marble. Yet once she, too, was warm 




with life, and her heart beat with emotions Hke that of the 
French girl. How similar their circumstances ! Each of them 
had a patroness, revered her image, would have kissed it with 

lively feeling, and sought to gain favours from it. Both of 
them offered gifts, the most acceptable they could procure; 
the one the rosary, the other the cakes. The Roman girl did 


SO for the restoration of her health ; the French maiden for 
the success, it may be, of a love-affair, or, perhaps, for pros- 
perity in some little " commerce " which she was meditating. 

Here then are two girls equally, we will say, well-intentioned, 
pious, and devout, yet the one is called a Christian, and the 
other a Heathen. Nay ; it is not so. In the particular acts 
of worship of which we have been speaking both girls were 
alike Heathen : for both performed a Heathen rite, and both 
bowed down to a graven image. Such things are idolatry ; 
and it matters little whether they be done in the temple of the 
goddess Mary at Clermont, or before the image of the goddess 
Hygeia in the temple of ^sculapius at Rome. 

A great contrast to the pretty Heathen votary and her 
goddess is a wooden idol, about six inches high, and painted 
in blue, red, and yellow, which people venerate at Le Puy, the 
capital of the volcanic region of Auvergne in the centre of 
France. It is a black Virgin, and is represented on page 119. 

I visited Auvergne, in the August of 1 861, to examine the 
remarkable church-architecture of the district, and then 
obtained a portrait of this beauty. How hot it was that 
summer ! — the thermometer in the carriage at 93° — it should 
have been a good vintage. 

But, to return to the Black Virgin, I am thoroughly puzzled 
in regard to the attractiveness of ugliness ; for in England, 
alas ! we have an artistic school devoted to it. How often do 
we see children enamoured of their very ugliest doll ; and 
certainly in the churches the most hideous images, and this 
Black Virgin of Le Puy among them, are generally the most 
popular. There is an instance of this at Dijon, and I have 
a vivid remembrance of a little ugly deformity in Rome, 
brought — so they say— from Jerusalem. It may be found 
in the church just outside the city gate, below the Vatican 
palace; and the last time I was there, a lovely basket of 
camellias, the offering of Pio Nono, lay before the image. 



Evidently beauty is no necessity to an object of adoration ; 
for the black deformities abound in France and Italy. And 
could there be anything more offensive than the volto sacro, or 
" sacred countenance," of our Lord at Luca ? How frightful, 
again, are the gods worshipped by the Heathen of modern 

times. And even the idols of the old Etruscans, a people of 
taste, are, as we see them on their monuments, often not 
merely ugly, but ridiculous. The attraction of ugliness certainly 
is a puzzle. 

The Black Virgin of Le Puy is actually called the Mother 
of God ! " Mother of God ! " exclaimed John Knox, when, 
during his captivity in France, they presented to him a similar 


image to kiss, " Mother of God ! Why, it is only a painted 
board ! " 

My beauty, too, is, as you may infer from the woodcut, only 
a painted board. Together with the rest of its kind, it pro- 
bably originated in a Byzantine type. " Those artists," says 
Cardinal Wiseman, " occupied the field for centuries ir Italy, 
and degraded the types of sacred art under revolting fomis." 

However, the revolting forms still retain their hold upon 
the masses ; or, in other words, upon the depraved taste of 
idolatrous hearts. 

Addressing a priest in the stately cathedral of Cologne, I 
asked, '* Why, sir, do you allow in this noble building a thing 
so contemptible, and so unsuited to the place, as that doll ? " 
My question referred to a gaudy image of the Virgin in a 
glass case. 

*' Sir," he replied, " the people like it, and we do not refuse 

Yes, " My people love to have it so ! " But who will answer 
the question which follows : — " What will ye do in the end 



WE will now turn from Noire Dame du Port, and the 
Black Virgin of Le Puy, to an image more renowned 
than either of them — the bronze statue of St. Peter, in the great 
temple called after his name, at Rome. On the next page 
you will see a picture of it, ugly and vulgar as it is celebrated. 
How often have I seated myself before it, and watched, with 
painful interest, its devout worshippers, while every passer-by 
was careful to show his veneration for the ugly idol ! The 
scene is an exact repetition of the acts of Heathen ancestors, 
some two thousand years ago, as described in the lines of 
Lucretius — 

" So oft the crowd respectful, as they pass, 
Salute and touch the consecrated brass." 

But what is "the consecrated brass " in this case ? It seems 
pretty generally agreed that the image, in whole or in part, was 
re-cast from the bronze of a statue of Jupiter. The author of 
// Vaticano lllustrato — see Tavola 75 — observes that Torrigio, 
who wrote of it in the eighth century, believed it to have been 
executed in the fifth century, by order of Leo the Great. 

"This metal," he says, "which previously served for a false 
divinity, now serves for a sacred and devout use. It is thus 
that the Church of Jesus Christ converts the remains of 
superstition and error to a better cause ; for whereas, before, 
the metal only exposed human madness, and the folly of the 
Gentiles, the Church now exhibits it as a monument of faith 
and devotion. 



" On the apostle's foot are imprinted the kisses of the people 
who assemble there to obtain the indulgences granted by the 
Roman Pontiff. 

" Remembering that the bronze from which the statue of 
the Prince of the Apostles was formed was, in remote times, 

an ornaraent of the Capitol, we will add a few words on the 
object presented to us. 

"Jupiter Capitolinus was so named from the temple of the 
god on the Capitoline Hill. In one hand he held the thunder, 
in the other a javelin. He was covered with a purple robe 
similar to that of the Roman emperors. 


" In the Vatican Basilica, on various annual solemnities, it 
is also the custom to clothe the statue of St. Peter in full 
pontifical dress, and so to present it for the worship of the 
faithful, rich with gold and gems." 

Thus far our author. Here, then, we have successively on 

the two hills, the Capitoline and the Vatican, two great gods — 
the one belonging to ancient, the other to modern, Rome ; the 
one Pagan, the other Papal; the one identified with the 
Empire by the imperial mantle, the other made one with the 
Papacy by the tiara and pontifical robes. 


Jove and Peter are their names : each of them has his hill, 
his dome, and his throne : each is a dumb idol of brass or 
bronze : to each belongs gorgeous array, incense is offered 
to both of them, and they alike receive the adoration and 
kisses of prostrate multitudes. 

Wherein do the two gods differ ? If we are to look only to 
outward appearance, certainly the earlier statue of Jupiter, 
with its Greek inspiration, has some power to attract, whereas 
the stolid stupidity of its inartistic Roman successor repels even 
to loathing. But which am I to worship, the Capitoline or 
the Vatican Jove ? 

Call up some ancient Roman from the dead, show him the 
"Christian" worship at St. Peter's, and ask him what he 
thinks. He would at once reply that Rome has not changed 
her gods, and he would tell the truth. 

But Rome is wise enough to meet the times, and, while she 
retains the old worship, she retains it under modified forms. 
She has baptized her ancient gods, and they have come out 
with new names, in new dresses, in new temples, and with 
a new cult suited to the age. Of course : but the substance is 
always the same ; it is but the form that varies. 

The religion of the seven-hilled city is still the religion of 
Numa, of Tarquin, of the consuls, and of the Caesars ; the old 
gods are still there, but with changed names, and with Christ 
and His human mother adopted among them. The Capitoline 
Jove has moved to the Vatican, but is still the chief of the 
gods in Rome's Pantheon, though he now holds keys in the 
place of the thunderbolts, and on festive days is clad in 
pontifical vestments instead of the imperial mantle. 

Name, place, form, attributes, garments — all these change; 
but the substance, the perpetual brass, never ! 



WHILE I was walking ia Antwerp cathedral, some 
years ago, my attention was arrested by a man who 
was very devoutly and affectionately kissing the recumbent 
figure of a saint. He did this in a most orderly and systematic 
manner, first from top to toe, and then from heel to head, 
completely covering the idol with lines of kisses. 

Picart (vol. i., p. 13) thus refers to this strange custom of 
ancient and modern Heathenism. 

" Another ceremony common among idolaters is kissing the 
objects which they venerate. They kiss their idols, addressing 
them in soft and tender language, holding them by the knees, 
and offering them fruits and flowers. 

"Influenced by a like superstition, the Mohammedan pilgrims 
kiss a certain black stone at Mecca. And the modern Indian 
and American idolaters observe a similar custom. 

" With us, the priest kisses the altar, the cross, the relics, the 
thurible, the paten, and the chalice. And again the priest's 
own hand is kissed. 

"But when the devotees cannot embrace the object of their 
adoration, they kiss their own hands, and thus send their 
kisses to the gods. This act of devotion is most common 
among the Spanish and Portuguese, who make the form of the 
cross with the first finger and thumb, and then kiss the hand 
in honour of the image from which they are separated by 

In writing on the same subject. Blunt observes — " At 


present nothing meets the eye more frequently than the wood 
of a crucifix deeply worn by the lips of the devout. Nay, I 
have seen the waxen image of a saint duly provided with a 
bronze foot to prevent attrition ; and the toe of the statue of 
St. Peter formed out of the metal of an old Jupiter Capitolinus, 
in the great church of the same saint at Rome, is worn per- 
fectly bright. 

" It appears also, from Cicero, that the mouth and chin of 
the image of Hercules at Agrigentum in Sicily were polished 
in the same way. 'In that temple,' says he, 'there is a bronze 
statue of Hercules, than which it would not be easy to find 
anything more beautiful. Its mouth and chin are slightly 
worn away, because the people, in their prayers and thanks- 
givings, are not only in the habit of worshipping, but also of 
kissing it.' 

■''Lucretius, again, tells us that, in his day (d. B.C. 55), the 
hands of the idols were apt to suffer in a similar manner. 

"Then, near the doors, the reverend statues stand, 
Worn down, and polished, in the outstretched hand. 
So oft the crowd respectful, as they pass. 
Salute and touch the consecrated brass." 

" Where it may be remarked, that the people offered this 
salutation in passing, as they entered or quitted the temples ; 
the very custom actually existing at this day." 

In the writer's work, TJie Cross : Heathen and Christian, 
p. 83, will be found an illustration and description of the 
bronze crucifix at the Mamertine Prison, in Rome, the face of 
which is entirely worn away by the kisses of the people. 
This crucifix forms a suitable pendant to Cicero's Hercules — 
the one adored at the present time in Rome, the other formerly 
worshipped in Sicily. Intervening centuries have not changed 
the worship : it is of the same kind, whether offered to Jesus 
or to Hercules. It is the outgoing, the sincere affection, cf 
the unregenerate heart towards forbidden idols — the religion 


of nature, unrestrained, uninstructed by grace, and directly 
opposed to revelation. 

The bronze of the rude idol in St. Peter's at Rome is 
brightly polished by the kissings and rubbings of the worship- 
pers: the Pope himself kisses it when he visits the Basilica. 
There is a picture of this statue in the work of Ciacconius 
(4 vols, fob, Rome, 1677), together with the following in- 

"Cardinal Baronius (d. 1607) was the first to introduce its 
worship : for, going daily to St. Peter's, he placed his head 
under its feet, devoutly kissing them and saying, '■Pax et 
obedientia.' Which laudable custom others followed, to the 
wearing away of the brass of the statue." 

In the church, Sopra Minerva, near the Pantheon, the foot of 
Michael Angelo's marble statue of Christ has been worn by 
kisses, and is protected by a bronze sandal : needlessly so 
now, however ; for it has no worshippers. There is, strange 
to say, a fashion in worship as in other things. And at Rome, 
the worship of Christ — I speak with reverence and sorrow — 
has gone out of fashion, and a goddess has taken the place of 
God. It is Mary, and not Jesus, who reigns there. 

If you doubt this, sit for a while, as I have done, before the 
statue just mentioned — or any other statue of the " Man of 
sorrows " — and observe how many worshippers you have to 
record. Then go to the Augustino, and stay a while before 
the famous image of Mary in that church. Write the sum of 
the multitude of her adorers, and you will see that, if He has 
units, she has hundreds for each of them. 

Often have I sat contemplating the scene in the latter 
church, which is very remarkable, and very sad. The sick, 
the sorry, the careworn, the afflicted, and the earnest, resort 
thither : and can you wonder ? For the statue they believe to 
be miraculous ; and she whom it represents is their divinity. 

As I sat before the image, and the suppliants defiled 


between it and me, I used to imagine myself in the Rome of 
eighteen hundred years ago, occupying a seat in the temple of 
the healing god ^^sculapius. 

And just as in his temple there 7uerc, so in Mary's church 
there are, votive offerings suspended on the walls around, and 
votive pictures, too, declaratory of healings wrought, and of 
favours received. 

Then there is the mysterious holy oil, which supplies the 
ever-burning light, and is good for anointing — mighty to heal. 
The deaf and the blind anoint themselves with it ; and I have 
watched mothers blessing the eyes, ears, and members of their 
babes with its potent touch. Awful in the sight of these 
worshippers is the idol of superhuman size, and gemmed and 
bedecked with gold and silver. The people bow before it, 
kiss the dust, as I can testify, in their profound reverence. 
The foot of the image has been partly kissed away by the 
devotees, and the marble is now protected with bronze. 

Strange and sad scenes of genuine Heathenism have I, at 
various times, seen enacted before that idol. If, reader, you 
desire to investigate the worship of the Roman i)eople, go to 
the church of S. Augustino, and, if possible, on a fete day. 
Till you have visited either this, or some similar place of 
materialistic worship — there are many such in Rome- — you can 
scarcely realize the identity of Pagan with Papal Rome. 

How exclusively and continually has adoration by kissing 
characterized false worship. 

Two hundred years before Christ, men kissed the beard of 
Hercules at Agrigentum. 

Six hundred years before that period, apostate Israel had 
turned to the Egyptian god Apis, and the rule of worship was 
— " Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves " (Hos. xiii. 2). 

A century earlier, and Israel was bowing the knee to Baal, 
and adoring with kisses the blood-stained idol of Phoenicia. 
(i Kings xix. 18). 



Thus, in the multitudinous kisses which are daily bestowed 
upon images in Rome, and wherever Rome is obeyed, we 
cannot but recognize a continuance of the old world's idolatr)^ 
The only change is that the images of Jesus and Mary are 
substituted for those of Hercules and Apis ; so that we have 
a new edition of the old religion in a Church binding. 

It may, however, be urged that the modern images are 

Well, that is just what Livy and most other ancient authors 
assure us was the case with the statues of the gods in their days. 

Bas-relief on Arch of Titus representing that Emperor's deification 



WE have already referred to the clothing of images ; and 
any one who has visited Roman Catholic churches on 
the Continent will have seen statues of the Virgin dressed in 
splendid robes, and decked with gold, precious stones, and 

The Duke de Montpensier was, some little time ago, 
lauded in the Tablet, because he had presented the Virgin 
with a magnificent dress of tissue of gold trimmed with white 
lace, and with a silver crown ; and a similar act of piety is 
recorded of the dissolute Queen of Spain. 

Yet this, too, is imitated from the old Pagan worship, in the 
sacred ceremonies of which the clothing of the gods occupied 
an important place. 

Thus, when Hecuba, the Trojan queen, was about to lead 
the penitential procession through the streets of Troy to the 
temple of Pallas, she received the following direction : — 

" Bring your gifts ; and on the knees 
Of fair-haired Pallas place the fairest robe 
In all the house, the amplest, best esteemed." 

The royal lady obeyed, and 

" Her fragrant chamber sought, wherein were stor'd 
Rich garments, by Sidonian women work'd, 
Whom god-like I'aris had from Sidon brought, 
Sailing the broad sea o'er, the selfsame path 
By which the high-born Helen he convey 'd. 
Of these, the richest in embroidery, 
The amplest, and the brightest, as a star 



Refulgent, plac'd with care beneath the rest, 
The Queen her offering bore to Pallas' shrine : 
She went, and with her many an ancient dame. 
But when the shrine they reach 'd on Ilium's height, 
Theano, fair of face, the gates unlock'd, 
Daughter of Cisseus, sage Antenor's wife, 
By Trojans nam'd at Pallas' shrine to serve. 
They with deep moans to Pallas raised their hands ; 
But fair Theano took the robe, and plac'd 
On Pallas' knees." 

See Homer's ///(?(/, vi. 269-311. 

This extract establishes the antiquity of the custom beyond 
question, and points as clearly to its unchristian origin. 

The statue of St. Peter in its ordinary dress I have already 
introduced to the reader. Above is the same idol as it appears, 
in the nave of the grand Basilica, in full dre>s on a fete day. 



The second woodcut, given below, represents the Heathen 
uoddess Cybele, the wife of Saturn, the Idcean mother, also 
clothed in her best dress. 

She was usually called the mother of the gods, and this 
figure is taken from Montfaucon (tome i., part i., p. 19). In 
point of dress, she certainly forms a good pendant to the 

Christian saint. 13ut from whence did she derive her very 
singular costume with its striking ecclesiasticism ? Evidently 
from the same source as that from which Roman Catholic 
ecclesiastical dress came. And if the reader will take the 
trouble to examine the Assyrian and Babylonian antiquities in 
the British Museum, he will probably come to a conclusion 
as to what that source was. 



WE must not dismiss the subject of the images of the gods 
without saying a few words respecting the most famous 
and universal of all — that of the Mother and Child. 

If we examine old pictures of the Madonna, or Madonna 
and Child, in the National Gallery, we cannot but be struck 
with the fact that she is rarely, if ever, made to resemble a 
Jewish woman ; but is of fair complexion, with blue eyes and 
golden hair. At first an easy explanation seems to offer itself. 
Of course the painters naturally sought their models among the 
beautiful women of their own country. But when we reflect 
that these painters were for the most part Italians or Spaniards, 
such a suggestion only increases the perplexity, and confirms 
whatever suspicion we may have previously entertained, that 
there is some distinct reason for so general a practice. 

The fact is that here again we have pure Paganism under a 
Christian name. The so-called Virgin Mary and Infant Jesus 
are nothing more nor less than the yellow-haired Aphrodite and 
Eros of the Greeks — the Venus and Cupid of the Romans. 
Under the disguise of Mary, there is still being carried on the 
worship of the goddess of nature — of her who, with a mere 
variation of name and appearance to suit the peculiar race of 
her votaries, has ever been the chief object of veneration to 
Pagan peoples. She is the Mylitta, or " great goddess," of 
the Assyrians and Babylonians, the Astarte of the Phcenicians 
the Isis of the Egyptians, the Diana of the Ephesians. Her 
shrines may be found in India : the Jesuit Missionaries were 


astonished when they met with her in Thibet, China, and 
Japan : she was known to the Aztecs of Mexico. There is, 
perhaps, no part of the world in which some traces of her may 
not be detected. 

She seems to have made her formal entrance into the Church 
through some miserable compromise at the first Council of 
Nice. Hosius and the orthodox party found that they would 
be outnumbered by the Arians, and, therefore, invited the 
Egyptians to come to the rescue, offering to condone their 
worship of Isis on condition that she should thenceforth be 
called the Virgin Mary. Consequently we find the Melchite 
section at the Council of Nice holding that there were three 
Persons in the Trinity — the Father, the Virgin Mary, and the 
Messiah their Skni ! " And thus," says Newman, in his Develop- 
itient, p. 405, "the Arian controversy opened a question which it 
did not settle. It discovered a new sphere, if we may so speak, 
in the realms of light, to which the Church had not yet assigned 
its inhabitant. . . . Thus there was 'a wonder in Heaven' ! A 
throne was seen far above all created powers, mediatorial, inter- 
cessory, a title archetypal, a crown bright as the Morning Star, 
a glory issuing from the eternal throne, robes pure as the 
heavens, and a sceptre over all. And who was the predestined 
heir of this majesty ? Who was that Wisdom, and what was her 
name? 'The mother of fair love, and fear, and holy hope,' 
'exalted like a palm-tree in Engeddi, and a rose-plant in 
Jericho,' ' created from the beginning before the world,' in God's 
counsels, ' and in Jerusalem was her power ' ! The vision is 
found in the Apocalypse, a woman clothed with tlie sun, 
and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown 
of twelve stars. The votaries of Mary do not exceed the 
true faith, unless the blasphemers of her Son come up to it. 
The Church of Rome is not idolatrous, unless Arianism is 

Such is the triumphant strain of an English Cardinal over 



1. The Egyptian Venus. 7. M.idonna and Child. 

2. The Mexican. 

3. The Indian. 

4. The Cyprian. 

5. The As.syrian. 

6. The Chinese. 


I. Mary suckling her Infant. 
c. Lactuary for milk of Mary. 

3. Lieb-Frauen-iNIilch. 

4. Indian Venus and Babe. 

5. Isis and Horus. Horus was the son of Isis, whose name was changed to Jesus when 
his mother became the Virgin Mary, about the time of the first Council of Nice. Though Isis 
was a mother, the ancient Egyptians believed in her perpetual virginity ; and King, in his 
(inosiics and Their Remains, describes a sard in his collection representing her standing 
before her husband Serapis, with the legend, 17 /cupia'Tcis 0171^, " Immaculate is our lady 
Isis." Here, then, we have the source from whence the doctrine of the Immaculate Con- 
ception was derived. There is no hint of such a thing in the Scriptures, but there is in 
Egyptian Paganism. Several other things, supposed to be Christian, come from these 
Egyptian deities, and among them the I.H.S. so prominent in churches. This device 
was copied from Egyptian altars, where it stood for the initials of the Pagan Trinity — 
Isis, Horus, and Serapis. 

6. The Milky Way. 

7. The Hindoo goddess Siva — Nature — standing on a sea of milk pressed from her own 

8. Diana — Nature — mother and feeder of all. 

9. The Milk Cave of Bethlehem, formed in white chalk. "The. friars," says Mr. 
Stephens, "sometimes show a grotto where they say the Virgin took refuge from a 
shower of rain, and her milk overflowed ; and now there is a faith among the people that, 
if a woman to whom nature has denied the power of nursing her children comes to this 
grotto, and prays before the altar, the fountain of life will be opened to her. Nor was 
the virtue of the place confined to those who should resort there in person ; for the friars 
having prayed for, had obtained, a delegation of the Virgin's power ; and a small portion 
of white powder from the rock, swallowed in a little water, would be equally efficacious to 
women having faith ! " — Gadsby's IVandcrings. 


the work of those who opened the flood gates of corruption 
upon the Church. Once admitted, the Pagan goddess, under 
her false name, soon became the popular favourite, and was 
quickly allowed to take her seat as Queen of Heaven within 
the Church, just as she had previously done without its pale- 
As soon as we understand her origin and real nature, we are 
no longer liable to that bewilderment which was recently 
expressed by the reviewer of a London newspaper at the fact 
that infidels like Strauss and Comte worked round, in spite of 
their apparent antagonism, to the same conclusion as Cardinal 
Manning — to the worship of a young woman, of about thirty 
years of age, with a child. 

Our plates (I. and II.) will illustrate this worship, and give 
some idea of its universality. 



AMONG the many Pagan usages in connection with the 
images of the gods was that of suspending, in their 
shrines, offerings which had been vowed in times of distress or 
anxiety. If the trouble had been disease, a model of the limb, 
or part of the body, affected would be set up as a testimony to 
the healing power of the god. If his interference had been — • 
as was supposed — successfully entreated for sick animals, or 
for the safe return of a ship, figures of the creatures or of the 
vessels would be hung up, and so on. 

This practice has been largely adopted by the Church of 
Rome, as the cuts will show. They are figures of votive offer- 
ings for the most part collected and presented to the Bristol 
Museum by the author : the material of the antiques is terra- 
cotta, and that of the moderns white metal, both being coarse 
in their structure. They are arranged in two divisions, the 
first consisting of Pagan, and the second of Roman Catholic 
offerings : and they are numbered in pairs, so as to illustrate 
each other (see Plate III.). 


1. Ancient Roman lady, possibly offered 
after deliverance from death. 

2. A baby. 

3. Roman citizen devoting his heart to 

4. Female head. 

5. An ear in terra-cotta. 

6. Part of face. 

7. An eye. 

8. Woman's breast, life-size. 
g. Hand, life-size. 

10. Le?. 

11. Foot. 

12. Horse. 

13. Sheep, in terra-cotta. 

14. Pig. 
13. Cow. 
16. Ship. 


1. Portuguese lady. Each of these is 
about two inches high. 

2. A Bambino. Eleven inches high 
purchased by me at Rome. 

3. A youth making a similar offering. 

4. Female head. 

5. An ear in silver. 

6. Part of face in white metal. 

7. An eye. 

8. Woman's breasts, life-size, 
g. Hand, life-size. 

10. Leg, in wax. In this case I saw the 
patient in the shop explaining to the artist 
where the sore had been 

11. Foot. 

12. Horse. 

n. Sheep, in silver. 

14- Pig. 

15. Cow. 

16. Ship. 

Iris with Nimbus. 



EVERYONE has noticed the disc of Hght, or kiminous 
circle, which, in ecclesiastical pictures, usually surrounds 
the head of the Virgin Mary, or of a saint, as well as that of 
Christ. It is called the nimbus, or sometimes, the aureola ; 
although the technical meaning of the latter term is restricted 
to the oval or circular halo which surrounds the whole body of 
a saint. 

It is often supposed to be an exclusively Christian symbol, 
indicative of divinity or holiness: but such an illusion is quickly 
dispelled by a little research. For it appears in representations 
of the gods and goddesses of Babylon, of Greece and Rome, 
and even of India and China. A passage of Virgil — ^n. xii. 
162-4— will give us some clue to its meaning. 

In describing Latinus, the poet says : — 

" Cui tempora circum 
Aurati bis sex radii fulgentia cingunt, 
Solis avi specimen." 

" Twelve golden licams around his temples play, 
To mark his lineage from the god of day." 

It appears, therefore, that the nimbus is the symbol of the sun- 


deity, or denotes some connection with him. Hence Apollo 
is often represented with it. And in a well-known painting, 
found in Pompeii, of the scene between Ulysses and Circe, the 
head of the latter is surrounded by a luminous circle, because 
she was the daughter of the Sun. But in course of time, this 
ornament seems to have been given to any deity : for the Latin 
commentator Servius, in interpreting Virgil's description of 

" Nimbo effulgens et Gorgone sceva," 

explains nimbus as " the luminous fluid which encircles the 
heads of the gods." 

In earlier times, however, the meaning of the symbol was 
more confined, and doubtless another expression of it is to be 
found in the circular tonsure of priests and monks. To how 
early a period of the world's history this custom dates back, 
we may judge by the fact that God warned the Israelitish 
priests against it, by the mouth of IMoses, in the words, 
" They shall not make baldness upon their head " (Lev. xxi. 5). 
It was, therefore, no doubt practised by the Egyptian priests 
in those days, as we know it to have been by the Chaldean, 
and may be traced in many parts of the world. For instance, 
more than five hundred years before Christ, Buddha shaved 
his head, and commanded the tonsure to his followers. And 
again, Herodotus, when writing of the Arabs, about four and 
a half centuries before Christ, says, " They have but these 
two gods, to wit, Bacchus and Urania (that is to say, the sun 
and moon), and they say that, in their mode of cutting the hair, 
they follow Bacchus. Now their practice is to cut it in a ring 
away from the temples " (iii. 8). The same custom was common 
to the priests of Osiris and Isis, and also to those of Pagan 
Rome. In fact it may be traced from Egypt and Babylon, 
through all the great Pagan systems, down to Papal Rome. 

But to understand its full significance, we must remember 


that in the obscene nature-worship which is at the bottom of 
all false religions, the sun — and also the kindred element of 
fire — is the male emblem, and consequently the meaning of 
his sign was extended in such a way as we cannot here 
describe. A feminine emblem, used in connection with it, was 
what is now called the pallium. This was often adorned with 
crosses, but not in remembrance of Christ, however convenient 
it may sometimes be to give such an explanation : for these 
were phallic crosses. And it is high time that Christians 
should understand a fact of which sceptics have been long 
talking and writing, namely, that the cross was the central 
symbol of all ancient Paganism. What it represents must 
remain untold : but it was probably made the medium of our 
Lord's death through the crafty devices of the Wicked One, 
into whose hands He was for a while delivered, with a view to 
the future corruption of Christianity, and the carrying on under 
its name of all the abominations of the Heathen. 

Earth is, indeed, set thick with snares, and teems with tempta- 
tions and enticements from the simplicity of the faith. " But 
the wisdom that is from above, is first pure ; " and " blessed is 
the man that endureth temptation : for when he hath been 
approved, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord 
promised to them that love Him." 

Derived as it was from the Pagans, the nimbus is not of 
frequent occurrence in Christian representations during the 
times of persecution — the first three centuries, and part of the 
fourth. Nor is it often found in the Catacombs, as a com- 
petent authority, M. Didron, informs us. But as soon as 
unrestrained corruption set in, this Heathen symbol was openly 
adopted by the Church, and began to appear upon the heads 
of her deities, angels, and saints, as well as upon those of 
Jupiter, Apollo, Mercury, and the Heathen Emperors. From 
that time to this it became so general that it is unnecessary 
to give examples here, though one or two will be found, in 



company with their Pagan models, in the large plate at the 
end of the chapter. 

We select, however, three pictures from Didron, and one 
from our own collection, to illustrate less known uses of the 

The first is that of a Persian king, whose head is surrounded 
by a pyramidal flamboyant nimbus. 

This figure seems to prove the truth of Didron's observation, 
that in the East the nimbus is not merely an attribute of holi- 
ness, but " a characteristic of physical energy, no less than of 
moral strength ; of civic or political power, as well as of 
religious authority." Presently we may, perhaps, be able to 
show how this comes about. 

That which surrounds the head of the king is, doubtless, a 
flame — sun and fire worship are closely connected — and we 
may compare Virgil's lambere flamina comas. 


In the South Kensington Museum, I have noticed several 
Indian miniatures with similar adornment. And at the present 
moment a Chinese saint or goddess — figured below — with fine 
circular nimbus, looks down upon me benevolently from my 
own study walls. 

The next illustration is somewhat startling. It is ta]cen 
from a Byzantine miniature of the tenth century, and " repre- 
sents Satan standing before Job, who is seated sadly upon the 
ruins of his house. The demon is nimbed, and holds in his 
hand a brazier wherewith to set on fire the habitations he has 

But probably Satan has a better right to the nimbus than 
any one ; for, in his character of Prince of this World and of 
the Power of the Air, he seems, under the name of the Sun- 
god, to have been the real object of worship from the earliest 
times down to the modern Yezidis, who still venerate him as 
Sheik Shems, or the Lord Sun. His name Satan becomes 
Sheitan in Chaldee, and in Greek is changed into Titan, a 




name applied to one of the race of giants who rebelled against 
the gods, and also to the Sun-god. For more on this subject 
see Eart/is Earliest Ages (Hodder and Stoughton), chap. iii. 

If, then, the nimbus originally belonged to the Prince of 
this World, it is easy to understand how it became a symbol 
of all that he gives, and was used as a characteristic of 

physical energy and of civil and political power, as well as 
of authority in certain religious systems. 

After what has been said, our fourth illustration, from a 
miniature of the twelfth century, will follow naturally. 

" It represents," says M. Didron, " the seven-headed mon- 
ster of the Apocalypse, the leopard with claws like a bear. 
His heads have a nimbus of blue, and one — that in the centre, 
the smallest in reality, but unquestionably the greatest in its 



hierarchical importance, and sovereign of the others — has a 
crimson nimbus of the colour of fire. One of the heads is 


without a nimbus; it is undoubtedly intended for that which, 
as we are told in the Apocalypse, was wounded to death." 

In the large plate, the illustrations on the left, numbered i to 
6, are Heathen examples of the nimbus. No. i is the god 
Pan; No. 2, Nemesis, the goddess of Retribution; No. 3, a 
Heathen emperor ; No. 4, the Moon ; No. 5, the Sun ; and 
No. 6, the Hindoo deity Siva. 

Of the Christian figures on the right. No. i is a monk ; No. 
2, a saint; No. 3, a Christian empress; No. 4, a Christian 
queen ; and No. 5, a figure from St. Peter's at Rome. 


" ^n 




WE have already mentioned the Mamertine Prison. This 
curious rehc of antiquity was originally constructed by 
Servius TuUius, after whom it was called the TuUianum. It 
is supposed to be the most ancient building in Rome — a fact 
which may, perhaps, be allowed to excuse us if we digress for 
a i^v^ moments to describe it, before speaking of the miracles 
said to have been wrought by St. Peter within its gloomy 

It is a dark and horrible place of Oriental pattern — like some 
prisons in Asia which date back to a time earlier than the 
founding of Rome — and was used for the confinement and 
execution of State prisoners. Among its victims we may 
mention Jugurtha, king of Mauritania, starved to death by 
IMarius ; the brave Gaul Vercingetorix, killed by order of 
Julius Caesar; and the accomplices of Catiline, strangled at 
the bidding of Cicero, who went forth and announced their 
death to the people by the emphatic word, "Vixerunt!" 
"They have lived !" The remains of the stairs which he as- 
cended are still to be seen : they were called the " Scalas 
Gemonise," or " Steps of Sighs," with which we may compare 
the " Bridge of Sighs " at Venice. 

Originally there were three prisons, one above the other ; 
the upper of which, now destroyed, was above ground, and 
admitted light and air to the prisoners. Immediately beneath 
this was the middle cell, which was underground, the only 
access to it being by a man-hole from above. This was the 



career interior^ the inner or lowest prison ; and those who 
were confined in it were in darkness and in chains. Under- 
neath this again was the Carnifieina, or place of torture and 
execution, represented — but not well, since it is made to seem 
too spacious — in the cut. 

The vault is small, in the shape of a beehive, and perfectly 
dark. The condemned was let down into it by a rope, through 
the aperture, or man-hole, in the ceiling, through which also 
his body was dragged up again by an iron hook — tincus — after 
the execution. The small doorway on the left hand, though 
ancient, does not belong to the original construction ; it gives 
admission to a low subterranean gallery, now filled with rubbish, 
but which takes a direction towards the Tiber, and was, perhaps, 
used for carrying the dead bodies to the river, when they were 
not dragged out of the prison for exposure on the Gemonian 
stairs. In speaking of these prisons in his day — B.C. 35 — 
Sallust says that " the filth, stench, and darkness were 

Their arrangement reminds one somewhat of the Castle of 
Chillon, on the Lake Leman ; where there is first the Hall 
of Justice(!), then the Chamber of Torture, and, lastly, the 
hatch through which the bodies of the guilty or innocent, as 
the case might be, were shot into the calm waters below. Nor 
was Chillon without its oubliette, whence some fifty years ago, 
together with bones and other debris, there was taken out the 
high-heeled shoe of one who had been a lady of quality. 


What ages of blood were those, in which men planned their 
dwellings with a deliberate intention to murder ! 

At Herculaneum, a similar prison to the Mamertine has 
been discovered with the three parts entire : it would seem, 
therefore, that this was the usual arrangement of such places 
in ancient Italy. 

But we must now go on to the two miracles attributed to 
St. Peter : for although it cannot be proved — and indeed, with 
the evidence in our possession, is improbable — that he ever 
was at Rome, tradition, nevertheless, affirms that he suffered 
imprisonment in the dungeon of the Mamertine. 

The first of the wonders is an intaglio, or indentation, made 
by his head when, as recorded in the inscription, it was dashed 
by the " shirri" or police, against the rock. The second is a 
fountain which, in answer to his prayer, sprang up miraculously 
to supply water for the baptism of the gaolers whom he had 

In regard to the intaglio, the profile is, as may be seen by 
the cut at the end of the chapter, exceedingly rude, and is 
probably a natural or accidental indentation in the tufa-rock, 
helped out by the chisel. It is on the right side of the fuoderti 
stone stair as you descend, and the Custode, in passing down, 
puts his candle within the grating, and so exhibits this manifest 

The origin assigned to the fountain is equally fabulous : its 
spring is, perhaps, as old as the present condition of the earth. 
At any rate it is mentioned by Plutarch as existing in Jugurtha's 
time, that is, more than a hundred and fifty years before the 
date of Peter's incarceration, if such an incarceration ever 
took place. 

Both of these lying wonders are, then, easily refuted — the 
first, because in ancient times there were no stairs from which 
Peter's head could have been dashed against the wall; the second, 
by Plutarch's testimony to the prior existence of the fountain. 


Let it not, however, be supposed for a moment that St. 
Peter has the monopoly of wonderful springs at Rome : there 
are no less than three which are attributed to St. Paul. These 
may be found in a locality near the city, where the latter 
apostle is said to have been beheaded, and from them the 
place takes its name of Tre Fontani-, or Three Fountains. 

The story is that the head of St. Paul, when severed from 
his body, made three rebounds, and that three fountains sprang 
up miraculously to mark the sacred spots. " In proof of the 
truth of the miracle," says Hare, "it is asserted that the water 
of the first fountain is still warm j that of the second, tepid ; 
and that of the third, cold ! " 

Unfortunately for the credit of the story, the whole place is 
so spongy that fountains are to be seen on all sides. Nay, 
upon entering the church I saw the water, even there, collected 
in little trenches round the pillars. See Hare's remarks upon 
the humidity of the place in his Walks in Rome. 

But I noticed one good thing at the Tre Fontani, the 
Eucalyptus, or blue gum-tree of Australia, which has been 
planted for some years, and, although it does not show so fine 
a growth as in the Riviera of Nice, is, nevertheless, exercising 
a most healthful influence upon that malarious and fever- 
stricken spot. This fact has been recognised by the Italian 
government, and a grant of land was made to the Trappist 
Monastery on condition that a certain number of the healing 
trees should be planted every year. 

In 1877 a resident monk told me that, since the trees had 
been established, he and his brethren were able to sleep in 
the monastery even in unhealthy seasons, which they could 
not do previously ; so great had been the salubrious effect 
exercised by the trees on the malaria-poisoned air. He added 
that they were also accustomed to drink a decoction made 
from the leaves of the Eucalyptus, which, when bruised, emit a 
resinous odour. 


We scarcely need to add that there are many wonderful 
springs in the mythology of the Romish Church besides those 
of Peter and Paul. And among others, St. Alban, the tra- 
ditional, but probably — as we have already shown — fabulous, 
proto-martyr of England, has the reputation of having called 
up a spring for the more selfish purpose of satisfying his own 
thirst. See Fronde's essay on the Abbey which bears this 
saint's name. 

But, leaving the Romish Church, we find that stories of 
marks of the gods impressed upon rocks, like that of St. 
Peter's profile in the Mamertine, and fables of miraculous 
fountains, are common to all false religions and systems, and 
seem to possess a powerful attraction for the heart of the 
natural man. 

The " Mountain of the Holy Foot," in Ceylon, is a good 
illustration of this statement. It received its name from the 
supposed impression of a gigantic foot on a stone at its 
summit, to which multitudes of pilgrims wend their way for 
the purpose of worshipping the holy mark. 

This mark was affirmed by the Brahmans to be the footstep 
of Siva, and by the Buddhists to be that of Buddha, when he 
strode across the ocean on his journey to Siam. The Gnostics, 
again, attributed it to leu, the Mohammedans declared it to 
be the print of Adam's foot — whence the mountain is known 
as Adam's Peak — " whilst the Portuguese were divided be- 
tween the conflicting claims of St. Thomas and the eunuch 
of Candace, Queen of Ethiopia." Here, then, we have the 
authorities of no less than five great religious systems agreeing 
in their recognition of the sacredness of the same mark, and 
differing only in regard to the particular divine person to whom 
it should be assigned. What an instance of the unity of 
principle in error ! 

Another example of these lying wonders, an impression five 
feet in length, may be seen in the South Sea Islands' depart- 


ment of the British Museum. But a still better illustration 
was given in the Daily News of November gth, 1878. 

Hoosan Abdul, a town known as far back as the time of 
Alexander the Great, lies near the Grand Trunk Road from 
Lahore to Peshawur. Here the Great Mogul Akbar, the 
illustrious Emperor of Delhi, had a palace ; now the neigh- 
bourhood is occupied by a British camp. 

The place is famous for a sacred tank, formed by a 
miraculous spring issuing from beneath a miraculous mark in 
the rock — a combination of wonders precisely similar to the 
mark and fountain of St. Peter in the Mamertine. The story 
given by the Daily News correspondent runs as follows : — 

" It appears that the Sikh apostle, coming one day thirsty 
and foot-sore to the bottom of the hill — crowned even then 
by the still more ancient shrine of the Mussulman saint Baba 
Wali — ventured to demand from the spirit of the earlier ascetic 
the hospitality of a cup of water. But the good Mohammedan, 
scandalised even in his grave by such a request from the 
founder of a new sect among the infidels, ungenerously replied 
by flinging at his head a massive stone, some dozen tons in 
weight, which might fairly justify the American phrase of 
' putting a rock at him.' Baba Nanak, equal to the occasion, 
fielded the rock, and, laying it gently on the ground, left the 
indeUble impression of his fingers upon its solid surface. Of 
course a spring at once gushed forth to satisfy the apostle's 
necessities, and the stream which it afforded flows on to this 
day as proof positive of the miracle. 

" But the irreverent Mohammedans declare that this hand- 
mark was really cut by a certain Mussulman stone-mason of 
Hoosan Abdul for his own amusement." 

Such is an Eastern church-fable, to which the Western 
church-myth bears a close affinity. Both of them evidently 
came from the Father of Lies, and they combine to demon- 
strate the fact that, in the matter of fable and the marvellous 


J! fi 'ii 'i 









in religion, the so-called Christian in the West is in agreement 
with the Pagan of the East. Until a man is convinced of sin 
by the Spirit of God, and descries the Life which is the Light 
of men, he abides in darkness, whether he be Christian, 
Mohammedan, Brahman, or Buddhist. 

On the opposite page we have given a few specimens of 
marks or impressions supposed to have been made by gods 
or supernatural powers. No. i represents the mark of Peter's 
face on the wall of the Mamertine Prison. No. 2, the marks 
of his knees in connection with the story of Simon Magus. 
The stone is preserved in the Church of Santa Francesca 
Romana, at Rome. Nos. 3 and 4, Mary and her tear, both 
from the Crypt of St. Peter's. The reference is to the story 
that she was once insulted by some youths who struck her 
upon the cheek with a ball. No. 5, Marks of St. Peter's knees. 
No. 6, the feet of Jesus from the Church " Domine quo vadis." 
The story is that Peter was in Rome during the Neronic per- 
secution, and that the brethren, fearing for his life, besought 
him to fly. Moved by their entreaties, he was proceeding to 
leave the city by night, but as he came to the gate he saw the 
Lord just entering by it. Whereupon he exclaimed, " Domine 
quo vadis ? " that is, " Lord, whither art Thou going?" And 
the answer was, "I am coming hither to be crucified again." 
Peter felt the rebuke, and turned back into the city; while the 
Lord left the impression of His feet on the place where He 
met the apostle. No. 7, the foot of Mary — very common in 
Spain and Italy. No. 8, the feet of Buddha — very common, 
nearly as much so as those of Christ. No. 9, the foot of 



IN the previous chapter we had a remarkable example of 
the way in which superstition clings to places, in the case 
of the mark on the stone at Adam's Peak, which has been 
referred to their respective deities and saints by Brahraans, 
Buddhists, Gnostics, Mahometans, and Roman Catholics, 

The impressions on the rock at Hoosan Abdul, together with 
the spring and sacred tank, are another instance of the same 
thing. In early times, the locality was sacred to Buddhist and 
Brahman divinities ; then, when the sword of Islam had passed 
over the conquered land, the honours of the place were trans- 
ferred to two Mahometan saints. Finally, when the Sikh 
reaction introduced a renovated form of the old Hindoo creed, 
Buddhist, Brahman, and Mussulman, were all alike deposed, 
and the rock bore testimony to the miraculous power of Baba 
Nanak's hand. 

These are remarkable illustrations, in a regular catena, of the 
tenacity with which natural religion adheres to localities and 
to wonders. Whether it be in the Mamcrtine Prison, at Rome, 
Jerusalem, Hoosan Abdul, Benares, Mecca, or elsewhere, the 
perceptible, the material, and the palpable, is that to which 
the idolatrous heart of man is ever prone. 

The history of the world testifies to this fact on almost 
every page, and teaches us how men will risk their very lives 
to gain or defend that which they believe to be holy ground. 
Take the Crusades as an example — that marvellous psycho- 


logical phenomenon. And the spirit which inspired them has 
scarcely died out. Even in the days of Louis Philippe we 
were on the brink of something like them ; when, through 
priestly influence, the same " holy places " all but involved 
Europe in the flames of war. 

And again, how much the question of the keys of the holy 
places had to do with the Crimean War. It is doubtless true, 
as Kinglake has it, that " a crowd of monks, with base fore- 
heads, stood quarrelling for a key at the sunny gates of a church 
in Palestine, but beyond and above, towering high in the 
misty North, men saw the ambition of the Czars." Yes ; but 
it was " the strife of the Churches " that inflamed the hearts 
of the Russian- people, and filled them with enthusiasm to obey 
the Czar. It was the reiterated assurance — confirmed by 
signboards purposely set up on the roads — that their march 
was in the direction of Jerusalem, which fired their zeal, and 
supplied them with a fanatical devotion. 

Sanctuaries and miracles all men must have, until the Spirit 
of God has taught them to understand spiritual worship, and 
has removed from them the veil that is spread over all nations. 
If the Hindoos have their sacred tank, the Irish have their 
holy wells ; if Baba Nanak has left the marks of his hands on 
the rock at Hoosan Abdul, Peter has also imprinted his knees 
on the stone which is built into the wall of the Church of 
Sa. Francesca Romana in the Forum. And such facts, multi- 
tudes of which could be easily collected, help to demonstrate 
the substantial unity of all natural religions, no matter what 
the differences of period, race, or mode of worship, may be. 

The religio loci, or local superstition, finds its most abundant 
illustration in Rome itself, where in many cases the Christian 
performs his devotions at the sanctuary formerly used by the 
Pagan Romans. The Temple of Vesta, the goddess of fire, 
is now the Church of the " Madonna of the Sun ; " that of the 
twin brothers Romulus and Remus is now dedicated to the 


twin brothers S.S. Cosmo and Damiano ; that of Anna Perenna, 
the sister of Queen Dido, has become, with a slight alteration 
of name, the Church of Sa. Anna Petronilla, the mother of 
the Virgin. 

" In converting the profane worship of the Heathen to the 
sacred worship of the Church," says the author of the Guide 
Book, Rovia Moderna, " the faithful used to follow rule. 
Hence the temple of Rhea, 'the mother of the gods,' 'the 
good goddess,' they have dedicated to the Holy Virgin. In 
the place once sacred to Apollo now stands the Church of 
S. APOLL-inaris. The altar of Bacchus becomes that of 
S. BACC-o. On the site of a temple of Mars is erected the 
Church of Sa. MAR-tina, the inscription on it being : — 

" ' Martyrii gestans virgo Martina coronam, 
X Ejecto hinc Martis numine, templa tenet. " 

(Mars hence expelled, Martina, martyred maid, 
Claims now the worship which to him was paid.) 

The conversion of Apollo's temple upon Mount Soracte into 
the church and monastery of S. Oreste we have already noticed. 
But the great type of all these changes is the Pantheon. 
There it stands, almost perfect, a noble monument of the 
splendour of Heathen piety, dedicated by Agrippa " to Jupiter 
and all the gods." 

But the ancient deities have been driven from their abode, 
and their place has been occupied by a new tribe. 
Au'os (iaatXivu, rbv At" i^eXrjXaKW';. 

The king has been deposed, and a queen has succeeded ; for 
Pope Boniface HI. expelled Jupiter and all the gods, and 
conveyed the building to St. Mary the Virgin and all the 



IN talking of holy places, one's mind instinctively turns to the 
pilgrims who frequent them ; and I am now going to say 
a word or two concerning these people — nothing, however, 
connected with famous stories and times long past, which my 
readers might get from other books, but merely a few trifling 
incidents of my own experience among modern pilgrims. 

The year 1877 was the Jubilee at Rome, and, on the 5th of 
May, I found myself there in the midst of many pilgrims, French, 
German, Flemish, arid some EngUsh — quite two hundred of 
them were in the hotel. 

And what sort of people are pilgrims ? Divest your mind, 
reader, of all association with Chaucer's Canterbury Tales ; do 
not think of poor Ophelia's ditty — 

" How should I your tnie love know 

From another one ? ^ 

By his cockle hat and staff, 
And his sandal shoon." 

For modern pilgrims are very prosaic persons, just like every- 
body else. Nor do they think of toiling along the hard road 
with peas in their shoes : they travel in first and second class 
carriages ; nay, I have even seen them luxuriating in coiipcs- 

After journeying from Pisa with about a hundred of them, 
I have lived among them ever since, and find that, as in 
Chaucer's time, they know how to enjoy themselves, and are 
by no means dolorous company. Yesterday was Friday, and a 


jour inaigre ; consequently we were not allowed flesh, but 
there was no reason to regret its absence. We sat down, a 
hundred and twenty in number, to a better dinner than that of 
the day before : there was plenty, variety, and delicacy, with 
abundance of good wine, and the meal was enlivened by much 
fun and talk. It was a strange fast ! 

But, to enter upon particulars, here is a specimen of a 
fasting dejeimer a la fourchette^ or second breakfast. 

Opposite to me sat a lady and gentleman, and, being curious 
to see how modern pilgrims fasted, I watched them. This was 
their meal : — A poached egg apiece ; a boiled egg apiece ; 
macaroni with sauce and grated parmesan for one ; two little 
red mullets and lemon for one ; artichokes ct Vhuile for two — 
with plenty of bread and wine. The lady finished her repast 
with a glass of Chartreuse. 

A little incident set the opinions of these good people upon 
pilgrim-fasting in a still stronger light. The lady, a charming 
young Frenchwoman, put a piece of fish into her mouth, and 
I observed her delicate cheek flushing indignantly. " Ccst 
froid," said she ; and with some little anger pushed the plate 
from her, as she called to the garcon to remove it. 

So evidently, from my experience both of the dinner and of 
the dejeimer, fasting pilgrims are particular in regard to their 
meals, and must have proper sauces and adjuncts, with every- 
thing in plenty and everything en regie. 

On my first Friday here I made an amusing mistake. The 
hotel possesses two spacious dining-rooms adjoining each 
other, and, on entering the principal one at dinner-time, I was 
confronted by the chief waiter, a very fat man, who — according 
to the custom on meagre days — without any preface, addressed 
every guest as he came in with the to me mysterious words, 
" Gras 071 Maigre ? " 

Not being prepared for the inquiry, " Fat or Lean ? " I was 
taken quite aback, and for the moment could not make it out, 


the absurdity of the connection between the very fat man and 
maigre helping considerably to push my mind off the scent. 
So, following instinctively, I suppose, the grossness of nature, I 
replied " Gras /" and sat down upon the nearest vacant seat. 
However, I soon repented of my choice, rose, and went into 
the other room. 

The pilgrims at the time in Rome were mostly French. On 
one of their grand field days I went, at eleven o'clock in the 
morning, to see them assembling at the foot of the great Vatican 
stairs, the scala regia, on their way to an interview with Pio 
Nono, which, a long time before, had been arranged for that 
noon. Being over fifteen hundred in number, they spent more 
than an hour in assembling, during a part of which time the 
great bell of St. Peter's just above them was pouring forth its 
mighty voice. 

The Pope met them in the ducal hall of the Vatican — a 
noble room, but, to the French, of inauspicious memory; for its 
painted walls commemorate the massacre of St. Bartholomew, 
1572, when some thirty or forty thousand of their country- 
men were slaughtered. The Pope of that time, Gregory XIII., 
went in solemn procession to the basilicas to thank God for 
the bloody deed, and ordered Vasari to record it in three large 
pictures. I have often seen them, but not lately, since the 
public are now excluded. 

Among the many pilgrims, I met with one who greatly 
interested me, a very ancient man, and a senator of the 
kingdom, Monsignore Di G — — , Bishop of C., in South Italy» 
I won his heart by certain little courtesies at breakfast, where 
we used to meet, and mention him to show how diverse 
Italian habits are to our own. His breakfast did not include 
anything to eat, but consisted of one cup only of black coffee, 
with a wine-glassful of brandy poured into it. 

After breakfast he used to go to a neighbouring church, the 
steps of which he could scarcely ascend for very age. And, 

1 1 


Strange to say, he had no servant. One morning I followed 
him, with the intention of offering my arm to help him up the 
steps. But lo ! he was leaving for Naples, after his light 
breakfast ; and I could do no more than assist him into the 

The French pilgrims in Rome were from six dioceses. 

Among those at our hotel was the Bishop of Brieux, with his 

Breton flock. It was interesting to see so many bishops passing 

up the Vatican stairs, from France and other countries. Some 

of th^m were splendid in their apparel, and green, gold, white, 

purple, and violet, delighted the eye. Even military pomp 

must yield the palm to ecclesiastical. Soldiers have indeed the 

advantage of number and solidity of movement ; but in beauty 

and costliness of dress the priests far surpass them. They are 

the most gorgeously attired men in the Western world, just as 

the Greek priests are in the Eastern : yet both of these are 

sworn to renounce the pomps and vanities of this wicked world ! 

There were but very few laymen among the fifteen hundred 

pilgrims ; the number was mainly made up of priests and 

women. The latter were all in black, with black veils, the 

Court dress of the old regime, which was and is very strict. 

Many of both sexes were carrying bags, bundles, boxes, packets, 

and parcels — a proceeding which seemed a little inconsistent 

with Court dresses. However, the mystery was soon unravelled; 

for I noticed some persons carrying exposed in their arms the 

things which the majority had enclosed in cases. It appeared 

that the packages contained rosaries, medals, crosses, and such 

wares, which were being conveyed to the Vatican to receive 

the Pope's blessing, in order that they might thenceforth act 

as charms. It was curious to see how great a weight of these 

things some of the ladies were cheerfully sustaining. Now I 

understood the meaning of those cigar boxes and various 

parcels which I had seen priests and others carrying about 

the streets for some days previously. 


In regard to the ranks of society from which the pilgrims 
came, I was surprised to see none, or almost none, of the 
peasant class ; there were, perhaps, half-a-dozen well-to-do 
women from North Holland. No, on every side there were dress 
coats, and black veils thrown over the head. I did see one 
lady in white stockings, and another in boots, and a priest with 
a hole in his stocking — poor man, he had no wife to mend it ! — 
but otherwise the dressing seemed to be unexceptionable. 

Nevertheless, the pilgrims were not, so far as I could learn, 
drawn from the upper class of society, but seemed to be, for 
the most part, middle-class people of comfortable means. For 
instance, out of the two hundred who were staying at the same 
hotel with myself, there were but one or two families who 
were at all distingue. 

However, that is a matter of little importance ; the great 
fact before us is the vital power of Popery, which is able to 
make large bodies of people, from different parts of the earth, 
assemble to what they call the capital of Christendom, we the 
capital of Antichrist, for the purpose of doing honour both to 
it and to the Pope. 

This is a grave matter, which demands consideration, and 
somethins; more. 



IN the French Journal, Le Signal, of November 22nd, 1S79, 
I observed a notice of certain penances performed by 
women in Brittany. The penitents crawl on their knees many 
times round the sacred places of pilgrimage ; and this act is 
called •' mortification.'^ 

The Irish often perform this kind of penance by proxy, 
giving a few pence to a poor woman, who thereupon will go 
thirty or forty times round the sanctuary on bare knees. Of 
course this is not done without considerable suffering ; the 
stones are reddened with the blood of the devotees ; and 
frequently the recklessness produced by pain and exhaustion 
makes them indifferent to the indecent exposure of their person. 
Incapacity for their domestic duties, owing to the laceration 
and swelling of the knees, necessarily follows. Thus bleeding 
knees are to be seen around the holy wells, and at other places 
in Ireland, just as they are in Brittany. 

Something of the same kind is beginning to be common in 
England, and for a kindred reason. Ladies, as a sort of 
meritorious penance — so they are instructed — kneel, in church 
or oratory, on the bare stones. The result is " the housemaid's 
knee"; and a case of this kind has lately fallen under my 

Now let us go back some eighteen hundred years, to the 
times of Heathen Rome, and we shall find a similar penance 
in fashion. Juvenal, in one of his Satires (vi. 522-6), speaks 


of a superstitious woman who is conscious of sin, and thus 
describes her efforts to expiate it : — 

" She will break the ice and go down into the river in the 
depth of winter ; she will dip herself three times in the Tiber 
at early dawn, and bathe her timid head in its very eddies ; 
then, naked and shivering, she will go and crawl on bleeding 
knees over the whole extent of the Campus Martius." 

How common such penances were among the Pagan 
Romans we may see in the following words of Tibullus 
il. ii. 83) :— 

" I would not hesitate, if I had done wrong, to prostrate 
myself in the temples, and to give kisses to the consecrated 
thresholds ; I would not refuse to crawl over the floor on my 
knees, and to beat my wretched head against the holy door- 

Bretons, Irish, English, and ancient Romans, are alike pos- 
sessed of the universal idea of the natural man, that by his 
sufferings he can atone for his sins. 

Dion Cassius relates of Julius Caesar, that on one occasion 
he ascended the steps of the Capitol on his knees in order to 
avert an evil omen ; the same thing was done by Claudius. 
Indeed, as Blunt remarks, "the practice of creeping upon the 
knees seems to have been a superstition generally prevailing 
among all classes, and is one among several expiatory rites." 

On the steps of Ara Coeli, answering, in the present day, to 
those which were pressed by the knees of Csesar and Claudius, 
one may even now occasionally witness the same penance in 
course of performance by modern devotees. But at a little 
distance are some much more frequented steps ; I mean the 
Scala Sancta, or Holy Stairs, where, from morn to eve, numbers 
of persons may be seen laboriously toiling up the ascent in 
the old Pagan fashion. 

We began this chapter with an allusion to superstition in 
Brittany ; it might be expected to linger there, since some 


parts of the province are said to have been Heathen within 
the last two centuries. Indeed, from the first introduction of 
Christianity into that country, it would appear that Christ was 
degraded to a level with the old gods, as in so many other 
cases. The early missionaries made ineffectual efforts to over- 
throw the Celtic worship, and at last, tired of failure, changed 
their plans, and began to engraft their own faith upon the old 
idolatry of stones and fountains. These measures were suc- 
cessful ; but that which resulted was not Christianity. The 
dolmen, or table-stone, was converted into a chapel ; the 
menhir, or upright stone, into a pedestal for the crucifix — it 
often serves this purpose even now ; the sanctity of the foun- 
tains was preserved, and the gods were gradually changed into 
Christian saints. Hence a strange jumble ! Those who call 
themselves Christians are seen making pilgrimages to sacred 
fountains, the holy water from which is poured over the 
affected part of the diseased. And, in the depth of night, the 
barren woman hastens to some solitary stone, as her Hindoo 
sister does to the Hngam, hoping to become a mother by virtue 
of her contact with it. See the article on Brittany in the 
Handbook for France, which goes on to describe the too 
obvious results of such a religion : — " The pilgrimage being 
over, and indulgence for past sins obtained, the penitents are 
no sooner shriven than they begin to run up a fresh score at 
the riotous festivals which follow these assemblies." 

Roman Standard. 



A CURIOUS instance of the percolation of Heathenism 
into Christianity is to be found in tracing out the myth 
of St. George and the Dragon. The following is Gibbon's 
account of the original of the hero :— 

"George, from his parents or his education, surnamed the 
Cappadocian, was born at Epiphania in Cilicia, in a fuller's 
shop. From this obscure and servile origin he raised himself 
by the talents of a parasite ; and the patrons, whom he 
assiduously flattered, procured for their worthless dependent 
a lucrative commission, or contract, to supply the army with 
bacon. His employment was mean ; he rendered it infamous. 
He accumulated wealth by the basest acts of fraud and cor- 
ruption • but his malversations were so notorious that he was 
compelled to escape from the pursuit of justice. After this 
disgrace, in which he appears to have saved his fortune at 
the expense of his honour, he embraced, with real or affected 
zeal, the profession of Arianism. From the love, or the 
ostentation, of learning, he collected a valuable library of 
history, rhetoric, philosophy, and theology; and the choice of 
the prevailing faction promoted George of Cappadocia to the 
throne of Athanasius. The entrance of the new archbishop 
was that of a barbarian conqueror ; and each moment of his 


reign was polluted by cruelty and avarice. The Catholics of 
Alexandria and Egypt were abandoned to a tyrant qualified 
by nature and education to exercise the office of persecutor ; 
but he oppressed with an impartial hand the various inhabitants 
of his extensive diocese. . . . The messenger who proclaimed 
at Alexandria the accession of Julian, announced the downfall 
of the archbishop. George, with two of his obsequious 
ministers, Count Diodorus, and Dracontius, Master of the 
Mint, were ignominiously dragged in chains to the public 
prison. At the end of twenty-four days, the prison was forced 
open by the rage of a superstitious multitude, impatient of 
the tedious forms of judicial proceedings. The enemies of 
gods and men expired under their cruel insults ; the lifeless 
bodies of the archbishop and his associates were carried in 
triumph through the streets on the back of a camel ; and the 
inactivity of the Athanasian party was esteemed a shining 
example of evangelical patience. The remains of these guilty 
wretches Avere thrown into the sea; and the popular leaders 
of the tumult declared their resolution to disappoint the 
devotion of the Christians, and to intercept the future honours 
of these martyrs, who had been punished, like their predeces- 
sors, by the enemies of their religion. The/ears of the Pagans 
w^ere just, and their precautions ineffectual. The meritorious 
death of the archbishop obliterated the memory of his life. 
The rival of Athanasius was dear and sacred to the Arians, 
and the seeming conversion of those sectaries introduced his 
worship into the bosom of the Catholic church. The odious 
stranger, disguising every circumstance of time and place, 
assumed the mask of a martyr, a saint, and a Christian hero ; 
and the infamous George of Cappadocia has been transformed 
into the renowned St. George of England, the patron of arms, 
of chivalry, and of the garter." 

St. George was thus turned into a military saint, but he 
was unprovided with a suitable history. However, "the 


deficiency," says Mr. Baring-Gould, "was soon supplied, just 
as the story of Hippolytus, son of Theseus, torn to pieces by 
horses, was deliberately transferred to a Christian of the same 
name, St, Hippolytus." Here is the fable, which we may 
compare with the history given above. 

George was born in Cappadocia, and entered the army in 
early youth. He was put to death in the Diocletian perse- 
cution, enduring no less than seven martyrdoms, extending, 
with unheard-of tortures, over seven years ; through which 
he converted the Empress Alexandra and forty thousand 
men ! 

But Christians are not the only persons who venerate him, 
and pray at his shrine. The Mussulmans also do so ; and 
about the year 900, one of their number, Ibn Wakspiyu, trans- 
lated an ancient Nabathsean volume into Arabic from the 
Chaldee. In this book there is much about Thammuz or 
Adonis, the Sun-god, and it is related of him how he was 
tortured, often put to death, and as often rose again. 

Now in the month which after him is called Thammuz, his 
festival was held, and down to a.d. 900, at least, in Bagdad 
and other places a great wailing was made for him, especially 
— as in the days of Ezekiel, B.C. 594 — on the part of the 
women. Owing to the remoteness of the time, no one, says 
Ibn, knows exactly what his story was, nor why they lament 
him. But he goes on to state, that what is said of Thammuz 
is the same as that which is told by the Christians of the 
blessed George. 

"We have, then," remarks Mr. Baring-Gould, "the myth of 
St. George identified with that of Thammuz." The worship 
of St. George and its popularity in the East is mainly due to 
his being a Christianized Thammuz, the Sun-god, who, with 
the year, dies and lives again. 

Thammuz, Adonis, Osiris, Baal, and St. George, were all 
names under which the sun was worshipped. 


In the legend of St. George, two ladies are prominent — a 
widow with whom the youthful knight lodged, and an empress 
in whose house he died, and who was herself martyred. So, 
too, in the story of his prototype, Thammuz or Adonis, there 
are two ladies, Venus and Proserpine. Both of them are 
enamoured of him, and he divides the year between them, 
spending half of it with Venus on the earth, and the other 
half with Proserpine in the realms below. Mr. Baring-Gould 
thus cleverly draws the parallel : — 

" It is, I think, impossible not to see that St. George is a 
Semitic god Christianized. A few little arrangements were 
necessary to divest the story of its sensuous character, and to 
purify it. Venus had to be got out of the way. She was 
made into a pious widow. Then Proserpine had to be 
accounted for. She was turned into a martyr. Alexandra the 
Empress accompanies George into the unseen world. Conse- 
quently, in the land of light he was with the widow, in that 
of gloom with the Empress; just as Adonis divided his year 
between Venus and Proserpine. 

"As to the fable of the dragon, combat with these imaginary 
monsters belongs to all mythologies, whether Pagan, Paynim, 
or Church ; everywhere there are dragons and their slayers, 
from Hercules and the Hydra, Apollo and the Python, down 
to the many specimens which may be found to-day in the 
fanes of China and Burmah." 

St. George's encounter is said to have taken place on the 
coast of Syria, near Beyrout, not far from the scene of Perseus' 
famous exploit, the rescue of Andromeda, to which we shall 
presently have to call attention. It is commemorated in the 
following verses : — 

"O Georgi, Martyr inclitc, 
Te decet laus et gloria, 
Per quern puella regia, 
Existens in tristitia, 
Salvata est." 


That is, 

*' O famous martyr George, 
Glory and praise to thee, 
Who saved the royal maid 
From dire calamity." 

" Thus," says Mr. Baring-Gould, " sang the clerks from the 
' Sarum Hours of the Blessed Virgin,' on St. George's day, 
till the time of Pope Clement VII. (d. 1534), when the story 
of the dragon was cut out." And well it might be ; for the 
light of the Reformation had begun to shine, and was revealing 
its Heathen features. 

The story of the encounter is as follows : — A lake near a 
town was infested by a monster, who had many times driven 
back an armed host, and who was wont to approach the walls 
of the city, poisoning by his exhalations all who came near 
him. At first sheep were thrown out to him as food, and, 
when they failed, men. And so at length the lot fell upon 
the king's daughter to be devoured ; but as she was sadly 
awaiting her doom, St. George happily appeared, and, making 
the sign of the cross, brandished his lance, and forthwith 
assailed the dragon. There was a terrific struggle ; but at last 
the monster w'as so thoroughly subdued that the saint bade 
the maiden pass her girdle round him, and lead him along. 
He followed her in the gentlest manner, and in this way was 
brought into the city, where his appearance produced the 
greatest excitement, and the Pagans fled in all directions. 
St. George, however, recalled them, and then appeased their 
fears by cutting off the dragon's head. 

Of course the end of the story ought to have been that the 
maiden and her deliverer fell in love with each other, were 
married, and lived happily ever afterwards. But such a moral 
would not have suited the interests of the priesthood, and, 
consequently, the result is of a very different kind. The king 
and his people, twenty thousand men, besides women and 


children, are baptized ; baptism being the great missionary 
aim of a Paganized Christianity. 

Among Heathen myths similar to this Church fable, that of 
Andromeda is, perhaps, most exact in its parallelism. The 
lady, of course a great beauty, was the daughter of Cepheus, 
King of ^■Ethiopia. Her mother, Cassiope, by vaunting her 
own beauty against that of Juno, had grievously offended that 
goddess. To punish her, an aquatic monster was sent to 
ravage the territories of Cepheus ; and the oracle declared 
that nothing could stay the calamity unless the daughter of 
Cassiope were exposed to his fury. Accordingly Andromeda was 
chained to a rock at Jaffa, and left to her fate. But happily she 
had her St, George in the person of Perseus, who, on his return 
from the slaughter of Medusa, happened to pass that way just 
in time to rescue the doomed maiden from the jaws of death. 
But from this point the Heathen myth, following the course of 
nature, is far more picturesque and pleasing than its ecclesias- 
tical imitation. The damsel and her deliverer are smitten with 
a mutual love, marry, and have a numerous and lovely offspring. 

Thus the Pagan story, at any rate, leaves a pleasing impres- 
sion ; while the termination of the Church legend disappoints. 
The simple reason of the difference is that the latter is tortured 
into a form consistent with the ideas of a celibate priesthood, 
whereas the former closes in obedience to the sweet and hal- 
lowed law of natural affection. Enforced celibacy is a far worse 
enemy to our common humanity than either of the monsters 
slain by the two famous knights could possibly have been. 

We have already alluded to the fact that the localities of 
both adventures are in Syria. At the beginning of the Chris- 
tian era, the chains which bound Andromeda to the rock of 
Jaffa were exhibited to the credulous. And now, as the 
traveller crosses a stream a little to the north of Beyrout, his 
attention is directed to the scene of the conflict between 
St. George and the Dragon. 



THE story of the Dark Ages to which the title of this 
chapter refers, whether it be a true history or a fable, 
is so famous, and at the same time so characteristic of the 
period to which it is assigned, that it seems worth a few words. 

A vivid reminiscence of my childhood, in the early years of 
this century, is a certain circular toy of Tunbridge ware which 
formed the centre of the round game of Pope Joan. After 
losing that association, I cannot remember to have heard the 
name of the Papessa for more than fifty years, and always 
regarded her as a fabulous personage. But at the end of that 
time, in 1878, happening to be in Siena, where the interior 
of the cathedral displays portraits of the Popes down to 
Alexander III., and having been told that the effigy of Pope 
Joan was once among them, I questioned the sacristan. 

"Come here, sir," said he, politely, "and I will show you 
where she used to be." 

So he took me with him to the great western door, and, 
after opening it to give light, pointed to a portrait on the 
north wall, near the west corner, and said, " There, sir, that 
was her place." 

But if she were a fabulous person, how could she have found 
her way into that grand cathedral, and taken her place in the 
company of the Popes ? By what means was the necessary 
sanction of the Bishop of the diocese, the Canons, and the other 
authorities of the church, obtained ? I carried my difficulty 
to two friends who were learned in such matters. The first 


told me that for five-and-twenty years he had felt convinced 
that her story was a fact ; the other observed, " There is every 
reason to believe it." 

These answers disposed me to study the subject, which I 
did, though I can by no means claim to have waded through 
the whole vast mass of literature connected with it. 

The story is as follows : — Joan was of English origin ; she 
was beautiful, talented, and learned ; but incontinent, an 
intriguer, and false. 

While yet a girl she disguised herself as a male, and entered 
a monastery in order to join a monk for whom she had con- 
ceived a passion. Subsequently the lovers fled, and, after 
wandering hither and- thither for some time, repaired to Athens 
with the view of perfecting themselves in Greek studies. 
There the monk died ; and Joan, broken-hearted, but still 
disguised, went to Rome and opened a school. It was not 
long before she had the satisfaction of seeing her lecture-room 
crowded with literary and distinguished men, and of knowing 
that the city was filled with the fame of her extraordinary 
learning and ability, and with her reputation for piety. She 
rose higher and higher in public estimation, until at last, upon 
the death of Leo IV. (a.d. 855), she was elected Pope, and 
"reigned prudently during two years, five months, and four 
days." At the end of that time, when passing in a public 
procession near the Colosseum, — between it and the famous 
Church of St. Clemente, — she was seized with the pains of 
labour, fell to the ground, and died. 

So runs the tale. Baring-Gould, in his amusing Myths of 
the Middle Ages, thus disposes of it : — " It need hardly be 
stated that the whole story of Pope Joan is fabulous, and rests 
on not the slightest historical foundation. ... A paper war 
was waged upon the subject, and finally the whole story was 
proved conclusively to be utterly destitute of historical truth." 

Such strong language from a clerical author, to whom the 


present Premier, Mr. Gladstone, has granted a literary pension, 
ought to carry weight. But, though I would not contradict 
it absolutely, I am, at the same time, prepared to maintain that 
no one who has carefully and impartially sifted the evidence 
could be justified in making so unqualified an assertion as 
that which ha-s just been quoted. 

But our author makes another, which may be positively 
denied. It is, that " the great champions of the myth were 
the Protestants of the sixteenth century ; " of whom we are 
then told that " they were thoroughly unscrupulous in dis- 
torting history and in suppressing facts." 

The " myth " was, however, as we shall presently show, 
established and recognized by Roman Catholics centuries 
before the Reformation. And Mr, Baring-Gould's characteri- 
zation of the Protestants is a shameful calumny, at which, 
however, we cannot profess surprise when we read his lauda- 
tion of their persecutors, and find him describing the Papal 
system as " a Church where every sanctuary is adorned with 
all that can draw the heart to the Crucified, and raise the 
thoughts to the imposing ritual of heaven." 

Why has not this writer, and why have not many others of 
the same class, honestly joined themselves to the Church 
which they delight to honour? Why have they remained in 
a communion which owes its constitution and its articles of 
faith to that Reformation which they are ever eager to vilify, 
and which Mr. Baring-Gould is said to have described as "a 
miserable apostacy " ? 

" The whole story was proved conclusively to be utterly 
destitute of historical truth." 

Let us see how this statement bears the test of investigation. 
But before we adduce direct evidence, it would be well to 
inquire whether Rome was at the time so holy and so pure 
that such an episode would have been impossible, or, at least, 
in a high degree improbable. 


The date assigned to Pope Joan is a.d. 855, and Marriott, 
in writing of that and the two following centuries, calls them 
" a period of darkness, both intellectual and moral (especially 
so at Rome itself), such as the Christian world has never 
known either before or since " ( Vestiariu/n Christianum, 
LXXXIII). In support of this statement he quotes the 
testimony of the great Roman annalist, Cardinal Baronius, 
who, in commenting upon a.d. 912, writes as follows : — 

" What at that time was the condition of the Holy Roman 
Church ! How superlatively foul, when harlots, most powerful 
as they were most disgraceful, were ruling at Rome, at whose 
will sees were changed and bishops appointed, while — horrible 
and shocking to tell ! — false Pontiffs, their lovers, were from 
time to time thrust into the Chair of Peter ! Such men are 
entered in the lists of Popes only to record the lapse of time ; 
for who could affirm that those were legitimate Roman 
Pontiffs who were lawlessly thrust into their office by 
whores ? " 

These are strong words, but they were not written by 
Protestants of the sixteenth century. Is it impossible that 
among the false Pontiffs Joan might have been thrust into 
the chair of Peter by some of her lovers. Cardinals who were 
quite aware of her sex ? 

" For a contemporary picture," says Marriott, " of what 
Rome then was, — a picture which more than justifies such 
language as the above — see the Sixth Book of the Historia 
Luitprandi Episcopi. He also adds that " Genebrardus, Arch- 
bishop of Aix [Chronographice, lib. iv., p. 553), speaks of this 
l)eriod of awful corruption, in the Papal See itself, as lasting 
for one hundred and fifty years, and through a succession of 
fifty Pontiffs." 

With such testimony before us, we may surely dismiss the 
question of impossibility, and boldly affirm that no antecedent 
improbability can be alleged against the story of Joan. 


For direct evidence to its credibility we shall rely upon 
these three facts : — 

I. A medallion of Joan, set in its proper order among the 
portraits of the Popes, existed for some two and a half 
centuries in the Cathedral of Siena. 

II. A statue was erected to her at Rome, on the spot where 
she is said to have died, and it remained in its place until 
the times of the Reformation. 

III. Her reign is recorded, and her portrait given, with those 
of the other Popes, in the Nuremberg Chronicle (a.d. 1493). 

(i) In regard to the medallion at Siena, I have already 
mentioned my own experience. Murray's Guide contains the 
following notice : — " Pope Zacharias was originally the bust 
of Pope Joan. It had the inscription, 'Johannes VIII, 
Femina de Anglia ' (that is, 'John VIIL, an English woman '). 
In 1600, it was metamorphosed by the Grand Duke, at the 
suggestion of Clement VIII. and Cardinal Tarugi." 

There can be little doubt as to the truth of this statement, 
in proof of which we will adduce the testimony of the Jesuit 
Bower (b. 1686, d. 1766), who was Public Professor of 
Rhetoric, History, and Philosophy, in the Universities of Rome, 
Fermo, and Macerata, and also Counsellor of the Inquisition 
in the latter place. From his Lives of the Popes, London, 
i759> ■^ve gather the following information respecting the 
medallion : — 

That it was in its place at Siena in the time of Baronius 
(b. 1538, d. 1607). 

That it was fixed between Leo IV. and Benedict III., and 
bore the inscription, "John VIIL, an English woman." 

That, at the request of the Cardinal Archbishop of the city, 
Tarugi, the features were altered in 1600. 

And that some time previous to 1677, since every one knew 
that it had once represented the female Pope, it was broken 
or removed, in order that her very memory might be abolished. 



The destruction of the figure took place in the Pontificate 
of Alexander VII, (1655-67), who, being himself a Sienese, 
was, perhaps, jealous for the reputation of his native town, 
and, therefore, finally removed the scandal from it. 

After its disappearance in 1677, the learned Franciscan 
and Provincial of his order, Antonius Pagi, passed through 
Siena, and some curious particulars of his visit are given by 
Bower : — 

" How great care was taken at Siena to abolish all remem- 
brance of Pope Joan, as well as of the statue with which she 
was honoured in the stately cathedral of that city, will appear 
from what happened to the very learned Father, Antonius 
Pagi, as related by himself 

"Since Pagi, when passing through Siena in 1677, was very 
desirous of being informed upon the spot of every particular 
relating to the famous statue of the she-Pope in that cathedral, 
he applied for information to the religious of his own order. 
But, to his great surprise, they all pretended never to have heard 
of such a statue. Thereupon Pagi, finding that they declined 
— he knew not why — to enter upon the subject, repaired to 
the cathedral, and, addressing most of the prebendaries as 
they came out of the choir, told them that he wished to see 
the statue of Pope Joan, and begged that they would show 
it to him, since it might afford him some new light to confute 
the fable, and confound the heretics. But they all walked 
off, without so much as deigning to give him an answer. 

" When they had gone, a man advanced in years accosted 
him, introduced himself as one who had long been attached 
to the cathedral, and said that since his inquiries were not 
])rompted by idle curiosity, but by a desire for the good of 
the Church, he would furnish him with such information as 
might be thought necessary for so worthy a purpose, on 
condition that he undertook never to disclose the source 
from whence he obtained it. With this condition Pagi 


readily complied ; and thereupon the old man answered all 
his questions, showed him the place where the statue had 
stood, and told him how it had first been changed into that 
of Zachary, and at what time it had been altogether removed, 
namely, in the Pontificate of Alexander VII., a native of 

" Here I cannot help observing," continues Bower, *' that 
the promise of secrecy insisted on by the old man, the clownish 
behaviour of the dignitaries of the Church in one of the most 
polite cities of Italy, and the shyness of the friars, averse to 
enter upon the topic of the female Pope even with a very 
learned man of their own order, who, they knew, would make 
a good use of their information, plainly show that an order 
had been issued by the Inquisition commanding all the in- 
habitants of Siena to observe a strict silence with respect to 
Pope Joan and her statue." 

In 1699, Montfaucon, the learned French Benedictine 
monk, after an antiquarian tour in Italy, in the course of 
which he was received by the Pope with great distinction, 
returned home through Siena, and subsequently wrote as 
follows in his Antiquities of Italy. 

" On a cornice in a row (in the cathedral) are the images 
of a hundred and seventy Popes, from the shoulders upwards, 
all in clay. The first is St. Peter {the first now is Christ), 
the last, Adrian IV. Order is not observed ; for some are 
double, the Anti-Popes being inserted, and the true omitted. 

" Pope Joan was formerly there ; but, at the request of 
Clement VIII., the then Duke of Tuscany changed the name 
of Joan into Zachary. 

" These heads of Popes were made and placed there a.d. 

The reader will observe that this learned antiquary and 
very decided Papist does not speak, as is now the custom, 
of the story or fable of Joan, but mentions her as he would 


any other Pope — " Pope Joan was formerly there." This is 
not, of course, conclusive as to his opinion, and I have not 
studied his numerous folios sufificiently to know whether he 
has elsewhere expressed himself upon the subject. But his 
mode of speaking in the passage just quoted favours the idea 
that he believed in the existence of the female Pope, as he 
certainly did in that of her statue. 

So much, then, for the medallion, which was unquestionably 
permitted to remain in the cathedral at Siena for some two 
centuries in its original condition as Pope Joan, and in its 
altered form as Pope Zachary for half a century longer. The 
fact that it was placed in such a position in a.d. 1400 certainly 
indicates a general belief, on the part of the ecclesiastics of the 
time, in the historical reality of the person represented, and 
an utter indifference to the scandal of her story. We now 
pass on to our second point, the statue in the street of 

(2) In the King's Library at Paris there is a manuscript of 
John Burcardt, Bishop of Horta, who was " Master of Cere- 
monies of the Pope's Chapel " during the reign of five Pontiffs, 
from 1483 to 1506. Entirely and deservedly trusted by his 
employers, of whom he was a close observer, and with whose 
private life he had abundant opportunity of becoming ac- 
quainted, he was accustomed to amuse himself by writing a 
daily Journal of the proceedings of the Papal Court. Soon 
after the year 1785 an account of his manuscript, with extracts, 
was prepared by a Committee of French Academicians, and 
published by order of the King. In 1789 it was translated and 
published in England (London, R. Faulder), and from that 
edition I take the subjoined passage, dated Dec. 27th, 1487 :— 

" The Pope, returning in state on horseback, passed through 
the street in which the figure of Pope Joan is placed in memory 
of her lying-in. Now it is pretended that the Popes, in their 
cavalcades, ought never to pass through that street. The 


Pope was, therefore, blamed by the Archbishop of Florence 
and some other prelates for having gone that way." 

But this feeling was not universal among the dignitaries ; for 
Burcardt relates that he talked about the matter to one bishop 
who said " that it was nonsense, and that the very mention of 
it savoured of heresy." 

M. Brequigny, the academician who translates and comments 
on the extracts from Burcardt, remarks on the passage just 
quoted: — "The year [1487] produces a fact which appears 
to me worthy to be selected," that is, from the general matter 
of the Journal. And presently he gives his reason for the 
preference : — " It seems by this that at Rome there was at 
the time a general belief in the story of Pope Joan." 

So late, then, as the end of a.d. 1487 the statue of the 
Papessa was to be seen in a street of Rome. And it appears 
to have remained there for many subsequent years ; for when, 
about A.D. 15 1 1, Luther visited the Imperial City, this scan- 
dalous exhibition was one of the many things which horrified 

" Another day, passing down a wide street leading to 
St. Peter's, he halted in astonishment before a stone statue, 
representing a pope, under the figure of a woman, holding a 
sceptre, clothed in the papal mantle, and carrying a child in 
her arms. It was a young woman of Mentz, he was told, whom 
the cardinals elected Pope, and who was delivered of a child 
opposite this place. No Pope, therefore, passes along that 
street. ' I am surprised,' says Luther, * that the Popes allow 
such a statue to remain ' " ( D'Aubigne's History of the Refor- 
mat mi, vol. i., p. 195). 

Even Bower — whom we have already quoted, and who, like 
other post-Reformation Papists, endeavours to cast contempt 
on the story of Joan — makes this admission : — " We cannot 
doubt that a statue was to be seen in the place where Joan is 
supposed to have been delivered of a son." 



He also mentions Theodore of Neim, who was secretary to 
two Popes, and who tells us that the statue was standing when 
he wTote, in a.d. 1413. "In his time," says Bower, "the 
fable of the female Pope obtained universally. Not that we 
can hence believe the story to be true, but only that it was 
believed when the statue was erected, as it was believed when 
the medallion was placed in the cathedral of Siena " (Vol. iv., 
P- 257). 

So general a credence may well have produced the old 
monkish line — 

" Papa Pater Patrum : peperit Papessa Papellum. ' 
"Popes father Fathers : but the Papess Joan 
Mothers a Pope — brings forth a little one." 

(3). We have now to notice the evidence of the Nuremberg 
Chronicle, a curious history of the world, brought down to 
A.D. 1493, the date of its publication. It is written in much 


abbreviated Latin, printed in black letter, and adorned with 
woodcuts. Besides numerous pictures of kings, legislators, poets, 
philosophers, and other celebrated persons, sacred and profane, 
it also contains portraits of the Popes and Emperors, the 
former beginning with Linus and ending with Alexander VL, 
who assumed the tiara about a year before its publication. A 
great curiosity it is, but very troublesome to read on account 
of its many abbreviations. 

In this Chrotiicle Joan is found in her proper place among 
the Popes ; her portrait is reproduced on the opposite page. 
In it she wears a triple crown, just the same as that of her 
brother Pontiffs ; but she does not carry a staff with a double 
cross, as they do, since her hands are occupied with her child. 
No objection is made to her, nor is there any particular notice. 
About ten lines are devoted to her history, and she is described 
in the index to the volume as " Johannes Papa Septimus Ang- 
licus mulier fuit in habitu virili." That is, " Pope John VII., 
of English extraction, was a woman in male disguise.'' 

The Chrotiicle states that her Pontificate lasted two years, 
five months, and four days. And it further records, that, after 
her death, two things were observed with regard to the Popes. 
The first, that they never proceeded to the Lateran by the 
way of the street in which she died ; the second, that from 
that date means were taken, at his election, to substantiate the 
sex of a new Pope. 

The last clause alludes to the sedes stercoraria on which 
formerly the Popes were made to sit at their installation. 
From Burcardt's Journal we learn that this custom was practised 
as late at least as the coronation of JuHus II., a.d. 1503, 

Bower admits it as strong historic evidence of the general 
early belief in a Papess. It would seem that it must have 
originated in something of the kind, although a silly attempt 
has been made to explain it from Psalm cxiii. 7, a verse which 
was probably used to hide its real significance. 


As to the conjectures mentioned by Bower to explain away 
the episode of Joan, they are as disgraceful to the Holy See as 
the story itself. " Aventinus," says he, " will have it that the 
fable originated in Pope John I., who was raised to the See by 
Theodora, an imperious courtesan. And Pauvinius is of 
opinion that Joan Rainiere, another famous courtesan, who with 
uncontrolled power governed both John XII. and the State, 
was in raillery called the she-Pope." 

A comparatively recent Roman Catholic historian of the 
Popes, the Spaniard Lorente, who wrote in 1822, is, I observe, 
quoted as accepting Joan, and placing her in the Papal suc- 
cession of the year 855. 

It will be noticed that we have supported all our arguments 
by Roman Catholic authorities. The Protestants of the six- 
teenth century did undoubtedly press their opponents with 
this as well as with other scandals of the Papacy, but they were 
by no means " the great champions of the myth " ; and a more 
decided refutation of Mr. Baring-Gould's baseless charge could 
not be found than the Words of the Jesuit Bower, who thus 
expresses himself in regard to Joan : — 

"She owes her existence and promotion to the Roman 
Catholics themselves. By them the fable was invented ; it was 
published by their priests and monks before the Reformation, 
and was credited upon their authority even by those who were 
most attached to the Holy See, St. Antoninus, Archbishop of 
Florence, being among them. Nor did they begin to confute it till 
the Protestants reproached them with it. yi-Ineas Silvius (Pius II., 
died A.D. 1464) was the first to question the fact by saying 
that ' the story was not certain ' " (p. 259). It will be noticed 
that the character of this negation is sufliciently qualified. 

Thus even Bower, anxious as he was to get rid of the story, 
establishes several points in favour of its authenticity, and finds 
himself compelled to admit its possibility. And he speaks in 
just the same strain as other authors respecting the morals of 


the time, affirming that Rome " was profaned by the bullies, 
lovers, and bastards, of public prostitutes, who governed the 
city with absolute sway, and raised their favourites to the See 
of St. Peter "(p. 251). 

The main points, then, which we have been enabled to extract 
from the testimony we have adduced are as follows : — 

That Protestants neither invented nor popularized the story 
of Joan. 

That if it were an invention, "it was invented and published 
by priests and monks before the Reformation, and credited 
upon their authority even by those most attached to the Holy 

That the immorality of the Papal court at that time, and 
subsequently, made any iniquity possible at Rome. 

That for some centuries the episode of a Papess seems to 
have been generally accepted as a historical fact in the Roman 
Catholic world. 

That the Papists did not begin to confute the story until the 
Protestants reproached them with it. 

That the name and portrait of Joan appear with those of 
other Popes in the Nuremberg Chro?iicle, a Roman Catho»lic 
work published before the Reformation, in a.d. 1493. 

That a statue in commemoration of herself and her sad end 
was erected by her co-religionists on the spot where she died, 
and remained there for centuries. 

That her medallion, duly inscribed with the words " Joannes 
VIII. , Femina de Anglia," was placed in the Cathedral of Siena, 
and up to the year a.d. 1600 was to be seen there among the 
effigies of preceding and subsequent Popes. 

In regard to the last two points I would ask, When in the 
capital of a country, and with the sanction of the authorities of 
that capital, a statue is known to have been erected in a public 
place, in commemoration of an event said to have happened 
on that spot to the ruler of the country ; and when, in one of 


the most notable and splendid buildings of that country, the 
bust of the same ruler has also been seen, associated, in a 
complete collection, with portraits of the other rulers of the 
^and — -with such evidence before us, are we justified in affirming 
that both the event and the ruler so commemorated are fables 
" utterly destitute of historic truth " ? 

I think not ; and must confess my own conviction that Joan 
is a historical person, and her story in the main a fact. This 
was the general belief for centuries, during those times of 
corruption when immorality was a very venial sin, and such a 
history brought no blush to the cheek. But the Reformation 
dawned, and the Word of God began to teach men to discern 
between light and darkness, between right and wrong : the 
Spirit convinced even the world of sin. A certain sense of 
shame and concealment, which in the case of the wicked is 
ever the companion of shame, ensued, and men strove to deny 
a fact of which they were no longer disposed to speak either 
with bravado or indifference. Hence the change in Roman 
Catholic writers in regard to this subject : they were no longer 
acquiescent or apathetic, but were stimulated by an intense 
anxiety to discredit so shameful a story — an anxiety sometimes 
leading to extravagance like that of the Bollandist Du Sollier, 
who talks of " fabella sexcenties jam exsufflata, convulsa, et 
obtrita." At the same time the whole tone of society was 
raised by the dissemination of the Holy Scriptures, a more 
healthful public opinion began to spread through Europe, and 
those who wished to obliterate the memory of Joan were 
helped by the fact that men now found it difficult to conceive 
of such a state of things as would render the intrusion of a 
female Pope possible. And so the story was speedily conveyed 
from the realm of fact into the dreamland of fable. 

Eoman Augur with Crozier. 



THE subject of the previous chapter brought before us the 
terrible corruption of the Papacy ; we will now inquire 
into the process by which a new Pontiff becomes possessed of 
the chair of St. Peter. 

In 1878 the whole Roman world was thrown into a state 
of excitement by the death of Pio Nono, and the consequent 
necessity of electing a new Pope. 

But Rome was, from time to time, subject to similar excite- 
ments two thousand years ago ; for in Heathen ages there was 
a Pontiff at the head of the world's religion just as there is 
now. Nay, in those ancient times he was even called by the 
same name as his modern successor. Julius Caesar, as well 
as Leo XIII., had the title of Pontifex Maximus, or Sovereign 
Pontiff. AVhen Pagan Rome assumed her Papal disguise, it 
was usual — as we have already seen — to change Heathen into 
Christian terms, though the usages continued to be the same ; 
but in this case the name remained as well as the office. 

"The ancient Romans," says Du Choul, "had many orders 
and colleges of priests, such as the greater and lesser Pontiffs, 


Flamens and Arch-flamens, Augurs, Salii, and their colleges 
and presbyteries, like our Canons." They had also "their 
method of consecrating their Pontiff and other ecclesiastical 
dignitaries, just in the same manner that we consecrate our 
Pope, cardinals, bishops, archbishops, and others." "When 
the Pontifex IMaximus died, the other priests — petits Foniifices — 
chose his successor, just as our Pontiff is at this day elected 
by the Cardinals. To the Pontiff were submitted all things 
sacred. His duty was to take charge of reUgion and of cere- 
monies, and, above all, to take heed that no strange customs 
prejudicial to the ceremonies of religion and of their gods were 

Thus, then, according to the testimony of Roman Catholics 
themselves, the Heathen PontifT was, like his successor the 
Pope, elected by a college and a sort of conclave of Cardinals ; 
and with the selfsame object, that he might take care of 
ceremonies and of the gods, and keep out strange customs, 
or, in other words, extirpate heresy. 

How energetically the Papal Pontiffs have taken care of the 
gods, and kept out " heresy " by treachery, faggot, fire, and 
sword, is too well known. If the Heathen Pontiffs persecuted 
the Christians fiercely, their successors have persecuted them 
fiercely and perseveringly, even up to our own times. 

The proper number of the Cardinals who elect the Pope is 
seventy. In 1878 there were sixty-two, of whom thirty-six 
were Italians ; four years earlier there were but forty five. 
The necessary majority for the election of a Pope is two-thirds 
of the whole body ; and the manner of procedure is to vote 
by ballot twice in the day, until the majority has been secured. 
The names of the candidates are written on slips of paper, 
which are then placed in a vessel in the Sistine Chapel. If 
an inspection proves the result to be indecisive, the papers 
are burnt, and the smoke issuing from them signifies to the 
expectant crowd that the election is not yet made. 


"After each failure," says the Daily Telegraph, "the Con- 
clave is the scene of the usual by-play of a contested election. 
Cardinals visit one another in their cells, and parties are dis- 
solved and reformed for the next scrutiny. In this manner 
the fortunes of the various parties change twice a day. . . . 
Like an English jury, the Cardinals who elect are supposed 
to be entirely secluded from the world, though it is certain 
that in mediaeval and later times they received communications 
which were intended to affect their choice. Unlike an English 
jury, however, they were not starved." 

Before proceeding to the election the Cardinals have to 
take the following oath : — " I call Christ the Lord, Who is 
to judge me, to witness that I elect him whom I believe God 
would wish to be elected." Terrible words, when we call to 
mind the elections which such jurors have sometimes made ! 

"Ordinarily," continues the Telegraph, "only old men used 
to be elected to the Papal chair. In 1846, the favourite 
candidates in opposition to the late Pope were all more than 
sixty-seven, while he himself — Pio Nono — the youngest of the 
Cardinals, was only fifty-four. It followed that the Cardinals 
would be great in proportion as their future master lacked 
energy to make his will felt. Hence the brief reigns of Popes 
as compared with those of other sovereigns. For example, 
since the Conquest there have been only thirty-five sovereigns 
of England, whilst during the same period there have been 
over a hundred Popes. A darker reason is sometimes given. 
Italy was a land of secret poisoning, and a troublesome ' Holy 
Father ' was seldom known to live long." 

" In an election, that which every member of ' the Sacred 
College ' pursued was his own interest. It little mattered 
whether they chose the best man or the worst. All they 
cared for was to ensure the election, either of him who could 
lead them inost ably the way they wished to go, or of him who 
would most passively follow the lead of the bom rulers among 


them. Next to a stern Hildebrand or a dommeering Sixtus V., 
what best answered their purpose was a profligate Julius III. 
or a tipsy Gregory XVI. Often in the perplexity of counsels 
the election was virtually adjourned — hamely, they chose what 
they called a dead Pope, ''Papa de tomba,' some decrepit 
valetudinarian— a mere stop-gap. . . . Everything is keenly 
contested, and in order to keep out one whom some or many 
have cause to dread, mediocrity and insignificance become 
the pathway of success " {Times, Feb. 9th, 1878). 

The same writer observes that " the Cardinals, in choosing 
a Pope, had to please first themselves, then the Roman people, 
then the Italian Princes, finally the European Monarchs. It 
was now the genius of a man, now the tact of a diplomatist, 
now the gold of a prince, now the will of a monarch, which 
preponderated; not unfrequendy the craft of a mere subor- 
dinate agent. 

" For hardly of less consequence than the Cardinal Nephews, 
Cardinal Protectors, Cardinal Princes, were often the ' Con- 
clavists ' — private secretaries, za/ets, sick-iwrses ; many of the 
Conscript Fathers are old, and need nursing — and others acting 
as scouts, spies, and messengers of the locked-up Cardinals, and 
in many instances, by a timely warning, or a lucky stratagem, 
forwarding or frustrating the combination of their employers, 
and determining the chances of a contested election." 

After alluding to the intrigues and corruptions which have 
so often signalized transactions said to proceed by Divine 
inspiration, the writer (quotes the following from Cartwright's 
Constitution of Papal Conclaves : — " Conclaves are filled with 
manoeuvres practised by plotting Cardinals who have the 
visible impress of that cautious and cunning temperament 
which never operates but under a mask, and never contem- 
plates to work otherwise than by stratagem." 

But language so strong is not confined to Englishmen. We 
may gather testimony of the same kind from M. Petrucelli, in 



his Histoire DiploDiatiqiie des Conclaves, 4 vols., 1S66. The 
author states that he has read more than a hundred thousand 
official despatches, most of them unedited., with the result that, 
for the general character of Conclaves, he endorses the report 
given to the King of Spain, in the sixteenth century, by Cardinal 
Mendoza, who had been present at three consecutive Papal 
elections, and had twice " a narrow escape " of becoming a 
Pope. The following is an extract from this Report : — 

" I must declare that a Papal election is a school of deceit 
and malice rather than of religion. Princes at a distance do 
not know the thousandth part of what a Conclave is. Were a 
prince with his own eyes to behold the proceedings of a 
Conclave, he could not fail to be convinced, were he a God- 
fearing man, that it is to the Papacy — shamefully bought and 
sold as it now-a-days is — that all the evils of Christendom 
should be ascribed ! " 

In proof that this sad condition of things still continues in 
our own times, we may cite the testimony of the Ultramontane 
Marquis de Costa, Ambassador of Sardinia in 1829, at the 
election of Pius VIII. Writing to the Prime Minister of his 
master. King Charles Felix, he says — 

" Flatteries, deceptions, treacheries, pledges and promises 
given and broken without a shadow of shame, all the ordinary 
incidents occurring at every Conclave, did not certainly fail to 
reproduce themselves in the present instance ; so that I heard 
more than one pious, upright, and noble-hearted person declare 
that it would be impossible for any man of character to take 
an active part in a Conclave for more than once in his' lifetime, 
unless he were compelled to do so by the strongest sense of 

Chateaubriand, who was in Rome at the same time (1829), 
speaks to the same effect ; and what we read in the works of 
M. Petrucelli and of Mr. Cartvvright with respect to the 
election of Pius IX., in 1846, is sufficient to satisfy us that the 


usual intrigues were as much at work on that as on any previous 

In the face of such iniquities, what can we say of the men 
who would dare to utter the terrible oath quoted above? And 
after their outspoken denunciations of the Conclave, could 
either Cardinal Mendoza or the Sardinian Ambassador have 
denied that it was ''a synagogue of Satan " ? 

Gods in the Air. 

The upper cut, from a French original, represents the gods Apollo and Diana spread- 
ing the pestilence in defence of their votaries ; the lower, from Raphael's great picture in 
the Vatican, depicts the gods Peter and Paul also helping their people from the air. 




IN his charming work, The Renaissance in Italy ^ Mr. Symonds 
gives utterance to some weighty observations on the sen- 
suousness of the Roman ecclesiastical system, some of which 
we will now submit to our readers. 

" Intent," says he, " upon absorbing all existent elements 
of life and power, the Church conformed her system to the 
Roman type, established her services in basilicas and in Pagan 
temples, adopted portions of the antique ritual, and converted 
local genii into saints. . . . The Christianity she formed and 
propagated was different from that of the New Testament^ 
inasmuch as it had taken up into itself a mass of mythological 
anthropomorphic elements. Thus transmuted and mate- 
rialized, Christianity offered a proper medium for artistic 
activity" (p. 27). 

" The spirit of Christianity and the spirit of figurative art are 
opposed, not because such art is immoral, but because it 
cannot free itself from sensuous associations. It is always 
bringing us back to the dear life of earth, from which the faith 
would sever us. It is always reminding us of the body, which 
piety bids us to forget. Painters glorify that which saints and 
ascetics have mortified "(p. 25). 

" The old gods lent a portion of their charm even to Christian 
mythology, and showered their bloom of beauty on saints who 
died renouncing them. II Sodoma's St. Sebastian is but 
Hyacinthus, or Hylas, transpierced with arrows ; so that pain 


and martyrdom add pathos to his poetry of youthfulness. 
Leonardo's St. y^o/m the Baptist is a faun of the forest, ivy- 
crowned and laughing. Roman martyrs and Olympian deities, 
heroes of the Acta Sanctorum and heroes of Greek romance, 
were aUke citizens of one city — the city of the beautiful and 
the human. . . . How the high-wrought sensibilities of the 
Christian were added to the clear and radiant fancies of the 
Greek, and how the frank sensuousness of the Pagan gave body 
and fulness to the floating wraiths of an ascetic faith, remains a 
miracle. . . . There are not a {ew for whom the. mystery is 
repellent, who shrink from it as from Hermaphroditus " (p. t,^). 

Repellent, indeed ! For, as our author presently remarks, 
" the thoughts which art employs must needs immerse themselves 
in sensuousness." Certainly they must do so, since art deals 
with the things that are seen ; but true Christianity is concerned 
with the things which are not seen. And so the religion of 
Rome, being sensuous, depends much upon art ; whereas the 
religion of Christ, from its spiritual nature, is altogether inde- 
pendent of it. Nay, art — I mean ecclesiastical art — is the 
deadly foe of faith, since it leads men away from the unseen, 
and from the Word of God, to the material and the sensual. 

" Because," says Mr. Symonds, " painting sufficed for Mari- 
olatry, and confirmed the cult of local saints ; because its 
sensuousness was not at variance with a creed that had been 
deeply sensualized, the painters were allowed to run their course 
unchecked. . . In the pictures of Raphael, a new Catholicity, 
a cosmopolitan orthodoxy of the beautiful, was manifested " 
(pp. 32-36). 

"The masterpieces of Titian and Correggio lead the soul 
away from penitence, away from ivorship eiwi, to dwell on the 
dehght of youthful faces, blooming colour, graceful movement, 
delicate emotion. . . How can the worshipper endure the 
contact of those splendid forms, in which ' the lust of the eye 
and the pride of life,' professing to subserve devotion, remind 


him rudely of the goodliness of sensual existence ? The sub- 
limity and elevation which art gives to carnal loveliness are in 
themselves hostile to the spirit that holds no truce with the 
flesh " (p. 26). 

" A single illustration may be selected to prove how difificult 
even the holiest-minded and most earnest painter found it to 
effect the proper junction between plastic beauty and pious 
feeling : — Fra Bartolomeo, the disciple of Savonarola the 
Florentine Reformer, painted a St. Sebastian in the cloisters of 
St. Marco, where it remained until the Dominican confessors 
became aware, through the avowals of female penitents, that 
this picture was a stumblingblock and a snare to souls. . . . No 
other ideas but those of heroism, constancy, or faith, were meant ; 
but the painter's art demanded that their expression should be 
eminently beaufifid, and the beautiful body of the young man 
distracted attention from his spiritual virtues to his physical 
perfections. The picture was withdrawn" (p. 29). 

Unfortunates, who under the pretence of religion are thus 
tempted by Pagan ApoUos ; or, if they be of the other sex, 
have set before them Venus the beautiful ! For what is a St. 
Sebastian but an Apollo or a Perseus cast in the mould of 
manly perfection, and leading its beholder far from the quiet 
paths of spirituality? What is a recumbent Magdalene of 
Correggio, or of Guido, but an Aphrodite with dishevelled 
charms, dangerous to contemplate, and filling our excited 
imagination with the splendour and sensuality of Hellenic 
fable ? Such, even before the rise of Greek art, must have been 
the effect of the giant imaged heroes of Egypt — those awful 
forms ! Nor can we forget the solemn charge which Ezekiel 
brings against tlie wicked and corrupt Aholibah : " For when 
she saw men pourtrayed upon the wall, the images of the 
Chaldeans pourtrayed with vermilion, girded with girdles upon 
their loins, exceeding in dyed attire upon their heads, all of 
them princes to look to, after the manner of the Babylonians of 


Chaldea, the land of their nativity : and as soon as she saw 
them with her eyes, she doted upon them, and sent messengers 
unto them into Chaldea" (Ezek. xxiii. 14-16). 

All men naturally delight in the religion of the eye, and 
therefore it is that Rome, who for her own ends would sway the 
world — therefore it is that she abounds in imagery of every 
kind to satisfy the cravings of the corrupt human heart. By 
forms, whether of beauty or of hideousness, according to the 
taste of the worshipper, she seduces multitudes, and by means 
of their imagination holds them in thraldom. Nay, of such 
importance does she consider this among her other arts, that, 
to defend it, she sometimes mutilates the Word of God by 
striking out from her catechisms the commandment which says, 
" Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven images." 

I have noticed a curious instance of this omission on the 
noble bronze gates of the Madelaine in Paris. The subject 
depicted upon them is the Ten Commandments, displayed in 
acts of human obedience and disobedience to the laws of God. 
For example, there are pictures in bronze of Cain's act of 
murder, of the stoning of the Sabbath breaker, and of the 
covetousness of Achan ; but there is no illustration of the Second 
Commandment — that is suppressed. 1 could scarcely believe 
the testimony of my own eyes when I detected this. 



IN the previous chapter we saw that art, though not 
evil in itself, has been made so in its ecclesiastical ap- 
phcation, and that painters, with the sanction of the clergy, 
have done much to Paganize Christianity. We will now turn 
from painting to sculpture. 

The pulpit of the baptistery of Pisa, a full-sized cast of 
which may be seen in the South Kensington Museum, is 
well known. It is the work of the great mediaeval sculptor, 
Niccola Pisano, and is thus criticised by Mr. Symonds : — 
" Carved upon this pulpit, Madonna assumes the haughty 
pose of Theseus's wife ; while the High Priest displays the 
majesty of Bacchus leaning on the neck of Ampelus. Nor, 
again, is the naked vigour of Hippolytus without its echo 
in the figure of the young man — Hercules, or Fortitude — 
upon a bracket of the same pulpit." 

While I agree with the criticisms of our author in regard 
to the wife of Theseus, she seems to me to be most fully 
represented in the panel of the pulpit next to the door, on 
the right. For there, yet more grandiose than elsewhere, 
the gentle Mary is represented as the haughty Heathen 
Queen, and made to assume the air and character of a proud 
Grecian beauty. 

"These sculptures of Pisano (c. a.d. 1265)," continues 
Mr. Symonds, "are a symbol of what happened in the age 


of the revival of art. The old world and the new shook 
hands. Christianity and Hellenism kissed each other. . . . 
And yet they still remained antagonistic. . . . Monks lean- 
ing from Pisano's pulpit preached the sinfulness of natural 
pleasure to women whose eyes were fixed on the adolescent 
beauty of an athlete. Not far off was the time when Filarete 
should cast in bronze the legends of Ganymedes and of Leda 
for the portals of St. Peter's ; when Raphael should mingle 
a carnival of more than Pagan sensuality with Bible subjects 
in Leo's Loggia ; and when Delia Porta should place the 
naked figure of Giulia Bella — the mistress of the infamous 
Alexander VL — as an allegory of Truth upon her brother's 
tomb in the choir of St. Peter's. 

" Filarete's gates, besides a multitude of living creatures, 
represent the best known among Greek myths, such as the 
Rape of Proserpine, Diana and Actaeon, Europa and the 
Bull, and the Labours of Hercules. Such fables as ' the 
Fox and the Stork,' ' the Fox and the Crow,' and old stories 
like that of the Death of ^schylus, are also included in this 
medley" (p. 108). 

A medley indeed ! Such incongruous minglings are, however, 
by no means confined to the gates of St. Peter's. I have 
seen them in many other places ; as, for instance, at the 
cathedral of Como, the fagade of which is adorned with 
equestrian statues of the Plinies. Another example may 
be found in the Certosa — that is, the Carthusian monastery 
— of Pavia, between that town and Milan, a rich and beautiful, 
but not very tasteful, building. On its fagade I observed 
medallions of Alexander the Great, of the Roman Emperors, 
and of I know not how many other Heathen celebrities. 
But there are two delightful things at the Certosa — the 
nightingales in May, which seem to be ever singing, and 
the charming frescoes of Luini. 

In 1874 I took a journey from Mentone to Perugia to 


see the famous frescoes with which Perugino, the master of 
Raphael, adorned his native town about a.d. 1500. The 
most celebrated are in the little Sala del Cambio, or Exchange, 
and very delightful they are. But the strange grouping of 
sacred with profane much surprised me. Moses and David, 
Solomon and Isaiah, were matched with Numa and Leonidas, 
with Socrates and Trajan. Also Neptune and Venus and 
Apollo and the Sibyls were in the not very suitable neighbour- 
hood of the Nativity and the Transfiguration. 

But who were the Sibyls? They were mythical Heathen 
prophetesses, very popular at Rome, and in later years 
adopted into the Christian mythology ; for the priest must 
appropriate everything that represents power. According to 
mediaeval legends, they stand next in dignity to the prophets 
of the Old Testament, with whom they are made to alternate 
in Michael Angelo's celebrated work in the Sistine Chapel. 
Five are there portrayed — the Sibyls, Persica, Erythrsea, 
Delphica, Cama^a, and Libya ; while the prophets chosen 
to be their companions are Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Joel, and 
Isaiah, with Jonah and Zechariah, one at either end. In 
the Church of Sa. Maria della Pace are four Sibyls, painted 
by Raphael, also in the vicinity of prophets ; and in Sa. 
Maria sopra Minerva there are four more. " As in the Greek 
Church," writes Mrs. Jameson, "the sages of antiquity were 
admitted into the ranks of the prophets, the Latin Church 
acted in a similar way by the adoption of the Sibyls." She 
adds : ** They are twelve in number ; and the Church of St. 
Jaques at Dieppe has twelve niches reserved for the twelve 
figures of these Pagan witnesses to Christianity." In calling 
them witnesses to Christianity, she appears to refer to the 
supposed Messianic prophecies found in the Sibylline writings, 
but ought to have known that these are manifest interpola- 
tions, " pious frauds " of the second century, perpetrated in 
all probability by men who, like Jacob, did not deem the 


Lord capable of carrying out His own purposes without 
the help of their miserable craft. 

It would be easy to adduce many other instances of the 
union of Scriptural and Heathen figures in Romish churches ; 
we will, however, mention but one more, in the Church of 
St. Augustine at Deauville near Havre. There, over the 
altar, and in heroic size, appears the patron saint ; Vice 
and Error are chained before him, and he is supported on 
the right by Moses, Isaiah, Demosthenes, and Cicero, and 
on the left by Paul, John, Socrates, and Cato. 

But if such comminglings of clean and unclean were allowed 
in churches, they must also have become common in private 
dwellings ; and of this I noticed a strange illustration — though 
not in sculpture — at the South Kensington Museum in the 
summer of 1877. It was an elegant object of art — seventeenth 
century — styled " A domestic altar," and came from northern 
Italy. It was small, apparently of metal, gilt, exquisite in 
shape, and highly ornamented. The centre was a painting on 
agate, the most prominent of two domestic scenes for this 
domestic altar. It represented Mary suckling her child, with 
Joseph looking on — a very favourite subject, especially with 
Italian artists. The second scene — subservient, like all the 
other ornamentation of the piece, to the central group, and 
placed just above it — was made up of Vulcan, Venus, and Cupid, 
who, by the way, was not the son of Vulcan. Such were the 
three unholy Heathen deities evoked to be the companions 
of the Holy Famil)'. I shrink from pointing out the exact 

On either side of the central group stood a man-at-arms. 

Below it was Christ bound and bleeding, and supported by 
angels ; but the latter were curious figments of the artist's 
fancy — female angels ; in other words. Heathen genii. 

Heathen Caryatides, also female, supported on either side 
the frame of the central picture. And the terminal ornament 



to this "domestic altar" was the shepherd Paris, with three 
naked Heathen goddesses, Juno, Minerva, and Venus, standing 
before him ! 

Had such a composition been merely intended to illustrate 
a Pagan myth, there would have been little fault to find with 
it. But when we know that it was used to beautify a Christian 
" domestic altar," what can we say but that the Christianity 

which the altar represented must have sunk to the level of 
its Heathen embellishment. 

It is worth notice that the female figures on the altar-piece 
were to the males in the proportion of eight to five. In 
regard to the peculiar angels, we quote the following from 
Mr. Symonds : — 

" Correggio's angels are genii disimprisoned from the chalices 


of flowers, houris of an erotic paradise, elemental sprites of 
nature wantoning in Eden in her prime. They belong to the 
generation of fauns. Like fauns, they combine a certain 
wildness, a dithyrambic ecstasy, a delight in rapid motion, as 
they revel amid clouds of flowers." 

But if the Church derived her idea of saints, angels, and 
devils from the Heathen, it was natural that she should seek 
their forms from the same source. What does the reader 
think of those in the cut on the preceding page ? A sturdy 
tailless devil, and a sweet sentimental-looking angel ! he 
may perhaps exclaim. No, they are neither devil nor angel ; 
they are not even ecclesiastical, much less Scriptural, icons. 
They are purely Heathen fancies, and were found in one 
of the disinterred houses of Pompeii. The first is a satyr 
of the forest ; the second is taken from a pleasing com- 
position representing Thetis holding Achilles by the heel and 
dipping him in the Styx. An attendant is looking on, while 
the genius of the place — the figure which we have copied — ■ 
winged, and with a circular nimbus, leans over a rock to con- 
template the scene. 

Such is the origin of conventional angels and devils. To 
the satyr the " Church " attached a tail, and he forthwith be- 
came the Prince of Darkness in the chambers of her imagery ; 
while the Pagan genius, the nymph of the river or the grove, 
was transmuted into an angel of God. 

Medal of Eugenius IV. 

Medal of John Palaeologus II. 



TT7E have recently alluded to the Bronze Gates of St. 
VV Peter's, of which, remarkable as they are, very few 
descriptions have been written. We propose, therefore, to 
give some particulars respecting them. 

From the narthex — that is, the corridor forming the great 
vestibule which extends along the whole front of the church — 
there are several grand gates of entrance into the building 
itself. Of these, one is walled up, since it is never opened 
except in the year of Jubilee. . Another, the central gate, is 
the ordinary entrance. A third, to the left of the last-named, 
is the bronze two-leaved gate, of which we are about to speak, 
and which is only opened on state occasions. It was wrought 
about the year 1447, by the Tuscan artist Antonio Filarete, 
for Pope Eugenius IV. 

Its elaborate relievi are discoloured with age, save where 
exploring fingers, following out the various myths and floral 
traceries, have polished the brazen records, and made them 


plain. Higher up, and beyond the reach of touch, there is 
much that cannot be deciphered, even with the aid of a glass- 
As works of art, these gates are inferior to those which 
Ghiberti executed, about a.d. 1440, for the Baptistery at 
Florence ; they are, however, full of interest, and have some- 
what of a Byzantine look. Of course they were originally 
made for the old cathedral, which stood on the site of the 
modern St. Peter's. 

They exhibit a strange jumble of subjects — Scriptural, Tra- 
ditional, Ecclesiastical, and Pagan ; and, set as they are at the 
entrance to the chief of Rome's temples, form a fitting illustra- 
tion of the more than semi-Paganism which one may expect to 
find within. 

For subjects from Holy Scripture, there are our Lord and His 
mother ; for traditional subjects, the martyrdom of Peter and 
Paul ; for ecclesiastical, the Council of Florence, and other 
events in the life of Eugenius IV. There are also quantities 
of charming fruits and flowers, mingled with beasts, birds, 
forms of creeping things, and a multitude of other objects, 
often arranged as a setting to the more important and 
central tableaux, some of which we will enumerate. 

First, there are several illustrations of our old friend ^sop 
— the Fox and the Stork ; the Lion, the Fox, and the Ass ; 
the Wolf and the Ass ; the Wolf and the Lamb ; and the Fox 
and the Crow, so pleasantly turned into verse by La Fontaine. 
In this scene, by the way, the cheese is curiously rendered. 
What the shape thereof was in ^Esop's day and country I do 
not know ; but here it resembles a big sausage, and is not very 
unlike those cheeses encased in reeds which are sold in the 
streets of S3Tacuse. Probably this was the prevailing shape in 
the times of the cunning artist. 

Then we have fabled beings of another kind — loathsome 
satyrs, with whom are mingled Roman Emperors ; nymphs 
not quite Christian, or even decent, in their propensities ; a 


sacrifice to Proserpine and Bacchus ; Circe extending her cup 
of enchantments ; and Ulysses and the Syrens. Romulus and 
Remus are draining the dugs of the she-wolf j Phryxus and 
Helle ride to Colchis on the ram of the golden fleece ; the 
hunter Actaeon surprises Diana and her nymphs as they are 
bathing in the translucent wave ; unwilling Daphne is chased 
by Apollo ; and well-pleased and brazen-faced Europa mounts 
the bull. Here, again, Nessus strives to abduct the fair 
Dejanira, and is slain by the poisoned shaft of Hercules ; the 
Roman ruffians violently carry off the Sabine maids ; and 
many other acts of woman-lifting, of violation, and of spoiUng, 
are represented. 

But over much of this sort, and especially over the adul- 
teries of Jupiter, there figured in perpetual brass, I cast a veil. 
Homer does indeed make the shameless god recount his 
exploits, and that to Juno his Queen ! Homer, however, was 
a Pagan, and had little opportunity of knowing better. But 
what shall we say of Christians, nay, of professed ministers of 
Christ, who deliberately record in brass and glorify such deeds 
of darkness, exposing them to the gaze of all men, on the 
gates of their most renowned and central church ! It is 
scarcely possible to believe that they are there, and that for 
nearly five centuries, first in the old and then in the present 
cathedral, they have been advertising the sympathy of Papal 
with Pagan Rome to the nations who come up to worship, 
have remained as the brand upon the forehead of the woman, 
proclaiming her to be " the mother of the harlots and the 
abominations of the earth " ! 

For centuries the Popes, the Bishops, and the Clergy of 
the " Holy Catholic Church," as they are pleased to style 
themselves, have habitually passed and repassed those brazen 
ofi"ences, from generation to generation, and yet have given no 
sign of disgust or indignation. Surely ecclesiastical celibacy 
must be a thing very far removed from true purity and holiness. 


But if purity and holiness be lacking, it is vain to expect 
honesty of purpose and truth, and of this we shall find a sad 
example as we turn from the subordinate subjects portrayed 
upon the gates to consider some of the principal relievi, four 
in number, which set forth the praise and glory of Eugenius IV, 
by recording certain events of his pontificate. The subject of 
one of these is the coronation of the Emperor Sigismund ; 
those of the other three, some leading incidents in connection 
with the Council of Florence. " And," says the late Rev. 
W. B. Marriott, " the general idea which, evidently, it was 
intended herein to set forth, is that of the union in the person 
of the Pope; as God's vicegerent upon earth, of supreme 
power, both temporal and spiritual.'' 

By the kind permission of Mr. Marriott's family I am enabled 
to present the reader with plates of three of these relievi. They 
are taken from drawings prepared by an Italian artist for his 
learned and interesting works, Vestiarium Christianum, and 
The Testimony of the Catacombs. 

The first represents, in one of its compartments, the corona- 
tion of the German Emperor Sigismund by Eugenius IV. 
The Emperor is at the feet of the Pope, who is placing the 
crown upon his head, while his German attendants stand 
behind him. The whole is admirably executed, with careful 
attention to the costume of the time, the two groups being 
united by wreaths of flowers. 

In the other compartment we have the procession of the 
Pope and Emperor through the city to the Castle of St. Angelo, 
the inferiority of the Emperor being signified by the placing of 
his name beneath his charger, while that of the Pope is seen 
above. To receive them the Governor of the Castle, bare- 
headed and banner in hand, comes forth mounted upon a 
noble charger. In my humble opinion he is the finest figure 
of this masterly casting, and the chef-d' xiivre of Filarete. 

The second relia'o is intended to illustrate the journey of 


John Palseologus II. from Constantinople to Ferrara, and its 
castings are arranged in three groups. 

On the left, the Emperor, having set out from his capital, is 
seen seated in his galley on the voyage. Beside him is Joseph, 
the Patriarch of Constantinople ; trumpets are braying, and 
the rowers stand to their oars. Fore and aft may be seen the 
two-headed eagle, the standard of imperial Rome after her 
division into the Eastern and Western Empires — previously to 
that time she bore the single-headed eagle. In this case it 
may be the ensign of Sigismund, Emperor of the West, from 
whom Eugenius possibly borrowed the vessel ; but more pro- 
bably it is that of Palseologus himself, hoisted in his honour 
in the Pope's galley, by which he was conveyed to Italy ; 
not the eagle which is now borne by Germany and Austria, 
but that which appears upon the standard of Russia, and 
sicrnifies the claim of her Czar to be the Caesar of the Eastern 

The central group exhibits the landing of the Emperor and 
his suite in the Venetian territory, the Emperor wearing the 
great shaded helmet of the Byzantine Empire, called the 
Kajx-qXavKLov. Behind, and close to him, is the patriarch, clad 
in mandyas and cowl 

The third and last subject of this first set of scenes is the 
reception of the Emperor and Patriarch at Ferrara by the Pope. 
The Emperor is bare-headed, and on bent knee at the feet of 
Eugenius ; the Patriarch stands humbly at the door, until it 
shall please the vicegerent of Christ to take notice of him ; 
while the Pope wears his tiara and sits enthroned. Thus did 
it suit the pride of the papacy to represent the event, and in 
such a manner was Filarete commanded to perpetuate it. But, 
in the words of Marriott, " f/ii's last scene is tvholly imaginary^ 
nothing of the kind having really occurred. What actually hap- 
pened was the exact opposite of what is here represented, and 
that in every particular, from first to last, almost without a 

--— — -^ 


t Feri's 

THE. OUNLlL Uh tijUHi 



rthe UU1.C1I bDcji 




single exception." And in commenting generally upon the 
relievi, the same learned writer also observes, " In some im- 
portant particulars they represent events, not as they really 
did occur, but as, according to Roman theory, they ought to 
have occurred." 

The third set of scenes also contains three actions. 

On the left is the Council of Florence, July 6th, 1440. In 
this scene, the Emperor is seated as well as the Pope ; but the 
Papal supremacy and pride are still asserted and maintained. 
For .while the Emperor's seat is placed on the ground, that of 
Eugenius is set on a raised dais, or platform. On the left of 
the Emperor stands the Patriarch, who died before the separa- 
tion of the Council ; the two orators, Roman cardinals, and 
others, fill up the picture. 

The next group exhibits the Emperor and his suite leaving 
Florence after the termination of the Council, in order to 
embark at Venice. All are on horseback, and the dresses are 
very curious and suggestive. On the Emperor's left is the 
learned Bessarion, Archbishop of Nic^ea, who, in spite of his 
learning and rank, stooped to be bribed by Papal gold. 

The third group gives the last scene — the embarcation for 
Constantinople. Again the trumpeters appear, but the rowers 
are not yet in their places ; nor is the sail — the great lateen 
sail, which is still in use — unfurled ; for the ship is riding at 
anchor. As before, an ensign with the double eagle is at the 
prow ; but above it floats the Lion of St. Mark, an indication, 
probably, that this galley, at least, was Venetian. 

In heraldic details Filarete seems to be most minute and 
careful. But he has greatly failed in his figure of the Emperor 
ascending the ship. It is difficult to conceive such an absurd 
bundle of a man to be the same as the stately horseman in the 
central group. Both artist and Emperor seem to have been 
more familiar with equestrian than with marine affairs. 

The last of the four relievi is divided into two compart- 



ments— the first depicting the reception of the envoys from 
Eastern Churches by the Pope ; the second, the solemn entry 
of the envoys into Rome. 

Taken together, then, these tableaux are intended to exhibit 
the supremacy of the Pope over Sigismund, Emperor of the 
West, and Paloeologus, Emperor of the East, together with 
the Patriarch of Constantinople and all his clergy. And if 
facts would not lend themselves to this purpose, they were 
wrested until they became subservient. 

Such are the bronze gates of St. Peter's, cast in com- 
memoration of that Council of ill repute which was moved 
from Ferrara to Florence a.d. 1440, the only Council which 
ever met for the exclusive purpose of re-uniting Christendom. 

It was arranged that there should be a joint declaration 
of the Eastern and Western Churches on the disputed point, 
the Procession of the Holy Ghost. A definition was drawn 
up by the Latins, to which the Greeks agreed, and the latter 
left the Council with the understanding that they were to 
retain their own rites. However, it would not have suited 
the purpose of Pope Eugenius to admit this : he delayed 
the assistance he had promised them against the Turks, and 
diplomatized until he thought he could tell Europe that they 
had conformed to the Roman rite. Mr. Foulkes, in his power- 
ful pamphlet. The ChurcJCs Creed and the Crown s Creed, thus 
speaks of the whole transaction : — " Of all Councils that 
ever were held, I suppose there never was one in which 
hypocrisy, duplicity, and worldly motives played a more 
disgraceful part. How the Council of Basle was outwitted, 
and Florence named as the place to which the Greeks should 
come ; how the galleys of the Pope outstripped the galleys 
of the Council, and bore the Greeks in triumph to a town 
in the centre of Italy, where the Pope was all-powerful ; how 
they were treated there ; and why they were subsequently 
removed to Florence, would reveal a series of intrigues of 


the lowest order, if I had space to transcribe them : unfor- 
tunately they were too patent at every stage of the Council 
for the real object of its promoters to admit of the slightest 
doubt. Between John Palseologus and Eugenius it was a 
barter of temporal and spiritual gains from first to last. One 
had his capital to guarantee from attack ; the other his 
position in Italy to establish. Each hoped to be victoi-ious 
through the other — Eugenius over the Basle fathers, Palsologus 
over the Turks. The more sailors and soldiers the Pope 
promised, the greater submission the Emperor engaged to 
extort from his bishops to the teaching of the Latin Church." 

Such is the testimony of a learned Roman Catholic and 
upright man to the character of the council of Florence. 
And they are acts of this ill-conditioned assembly — not worse, 
however, so far as I know, than several others — which Pope 
Eugenius boldly commanded Filarete to execute in bronze 
for the gates of St. Peter's ! Brazen deeds in brazen castings, 
and set, as we have already seen, in shameless framework 
of immoral actions — the latter illustrating the lusts of the 
flesh, the former the desires of the mind. 

As for the Emperor and his followers, it fared ill with 
them on their return to Constantinople. So badly were 
they received that they were induced to disown their acts 
to their countrymen. " The very bishops who were parties 
to the transaction found it necessary to express their reproba- 
tion of it " (Grier's Epitome). 

Bell from Padua. 



AFTER arriving at Padua and settling yourself in your 
hotel, the Stella d'Oro, your first business will be to 
step into a cab, and, as the driver is shutting the door, to 
say, " II Santo." 

In less than ten minutes he will set you down at the church 
of St. Anthony, who is "the saint ^^ par excellence at Padua. 
He was born at Lisbon in a.d. 1231, and, though he lived 
but thirty-six years, is the same greatly-tried and wonder- 
working saint whose temptations Teniers and other Dutch 
painters have so comically portrayed. The Dutch evidently 
had a fancy for the grotesque side of II Santo. 

The vast church which contains his shrine, built from the 
designs of the famous Niccolo Pisano, is filled with remarkable 
works of art. It has seven domes, and is thus somewhat 
oriental in its appearance. The saint's sanctuary is, I suppose, 
the most splendid and the most popular in Italy. It is 
separated from the church by an arcade of round arches, on 
fine marbH columns, supporting a magnificent screen, glittering 
with varied marbles, and adorned with exquisite sculptures. 


This sinctuary, which is a side chapel, contains the tomb 
of the saint, and in front of it the general worship is carried 
on in the church by hundreds of devotees. But within the 
sanctuary, at the back of the tomb, a very strange ceremony 
is performed. The tomb is raised some five feet above the 
floor of the church, and is placed about eight or nine feet 
from the back wall, so that there is space to walk behind 
as well as on the otaer sides of it. During ray visits to Padua 
■ — the last was in 1879 — I have often rested upon a ledge 
which runs along the north wall, and watched the proceed- 

The suppliants approach, cross themselves, and then with 
the right hand touch the large perpendicular marble slab 
which forms the back of the tomb, the front and surface 
of it being used as the altar for Mass. They place either 
the tips of their fingers or the whole hand upon it, and, 
while carefully preserving their contact, recite their prayers 
for some minutes, apparently under the impression that virtue 
is flowing into them from the saint through their fingers. 
I have seen as many as ten right hands placed at one time 
upon the slab. Other suppliants stand near praying, and 
waiting until the departure of earlier comers shall have made 
room for them. On one occasion a very little lady was 
standing by me, and, seeing her need, I moved out of her 
way. She acknowledged the civility with a bow, and at once 
performed the accustomed rite, with hand uplifted to the 
shrine, which she could with difiiculty reach. On another 
occasion a very odd worshipper presented herself, the oddness 
consisting in a mixture of grandeur and poverty : she wore a 
fine dress with a long sweeping train, but had no shoes on 
her feet. Often devotees may be seen rubbing their head 
against the stone, sometimes passing their hand over it, still 
more frequently kissing it. 

It would be difficult to connect such worship with the Chris- 


tianity of the New Testament ; while in the splendid decora- 
tions of the shrine there is pure, or perhaps it would be more 
correct to say impure, Heathenism. 

I allude to the marble arabesques, of which there are many 
executed in low relief, with exquisite skill, by an artist who 
seems to me a dangerous rival of Donatello. Nothing in 
marble can be conceived more beautiful than some of his 
female forms : in design as well as execution he exceeds 
Niccolo Pisano. On one of his works we may discern his 
name — " Matteus Allio faciebat." 

There is of course the usual amount of beautiful women, 
bare to the hips, which terminate in foliage, large-breasted 
sphynxes, griffins, hippocampi, and other monsters — strange 
decorations, if the Lord Jesus is supposed to have anything 
to do with the place ; but still not quite so mischievous, per- 
haps, to holy purity and undistracted worship as the following. 

On the left pilaster of the shrine, sacrifices are depicted in 
three marble panels. In one, some thin-robed half-clad women 
are leading an ox decorated as a victim ; in another there are 
two girls clothed in the same transparent drapery, with a Cupid 
raised on a stool, sacrificing at an altar. The third exhibits 
two other girls similarly vested, carrying a wreath, and appa- 
rently forming a part of the sacrificial procession. Above these 
are the three Graces in a state of nature, and far too beautiful 
for the place in which they are. Another group in the same 
perfectly nude condition, and of equal beauty, consists of two 
nymphs and a child ; another of two nymphs and a youth 
wounded or languishing, and so on. All the figures are a foot 
or more in height. 

On the in-ide of the other pilaster are figures too gross to 
be described. Suffice it to say that they are men playing on 
instruments, while women dance — a group corresponding to 
one on the opposite pilaster, where women are playing and 
boys dancing. 


Tnese incentives to passion in a so-called Christian church, 
one of the most frequented in Europe, and at a shrine of more 
than ordinary renown ! And the priest every day celebrating 
the mass in close vicinity to such obscenities, as he has done 
for certuries ! 

How near is superstition to licentiousness ; how ill-defined 
the boindary between Papal and Pagan Rome ! 

But ihere is in this church of St. Anthony another painful 
manifestation of Heathenism — the famous bronze Paschal 
Candelabrum of Riccio. It is a splendid specimen of art, but 
of Pagat art ; yet great prominence is given to it by the clergy 
of this ciurch ; for it stands on the right of the high altar, from 
which it is separated only by another fine casting, the effigy of 
a bishop 

It was set up in 15 16, and was the work of Andrea Riccio, 
the son of a Milanese goldsmith, whose portrait — the curls, 
from whch he was called Crispi, escaping from his round cap — 
may be :een, in the choir of the church, in his noble bas-relief 
of Davie dancing before the Ark. 

It is Aery lofty, and is raised on a pedestal of white marble. 
" Four ^phynxes," says Perkins, in his Italian Sculptors, " sit at 
the angfes of the base, as if guarding the secret meaning of its 
ornameits, some of which Oedipus himself would find it diffi- 
cult to penetrate." 

Abov^e the Sphynxes come four castings of Heathen subjects, 
ir which naked men and women, Jupiter with lewd surround- 
ings, sea-monsters, licentious triumphs of Neptune and Venus, 
and other Paganisms, are placed in offensive juxtaposition to 
the same number of Scriptural subjects just above them, the 
only figures which redeem the work from entire Heathenism, 
j^et even these are not all Scriptural : for one of them is Christ 
delivering souls from Limbo — the fable being treated by the 
artist in the same way as by the Limoges enameller in a plaque 
which may be seen at the South Kensington Museum. 



Above these come Centaurs mounted by children ; women 
in classic attire, or in no attire at all ; winged genii, cuf)ids, 
giiffins, et hoc gemis omne. 

One cannot look at them without the thought — If such are 
the morals which Rome honours in Church, how must it be 
out of Church ! 

However, bad as Riccio's candlestick is, there miglx have 
been something worse ; for Perkins tells us that another artist. 
Da Grandi, having produced a design for a sculpturd to be 
erected in the same church, " its extreme Paganism so «^ocked 
the Commissioners that they dismissed him." How |t could 
have been more Pagan than the candlestick, or even th« shrine 
of the saint, I am unable to say. 

Everywhere in that age the Church was mingled, not merely 
with the world, but with the Heathen world. 

And, alas ! the tide, which receded somewhat at the Reforma- 
tion, is now returning upon our land with rapid advance 



SUPERSTITION is not without its burlesque side, and 
since St. Anthony furnishes several instances of the fact, 
we will, while the saint is before us, relate one or two of them, 
and also some others with which he is not connected. 

In the Daily News of August 4th, 1879, a curious story- 
appeared in reference to him. It was taken from the lisbon 
Revista Militar — the official military journal of Portugal — and 
described, from the State Archives of Rio de Janeiro, the form 
of " conferring on good St. Anthony the grade of Lieutenant- 
Colonel in the Portuguese army by King John VI." This 
distinction was a reward to the saint for services rendered to 
the said army. " Therefore," runs the document, " we have 
resolved to raise (!) him to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel of 
Infantry. He will receive the usual pay through our Field 
Marshal, De Cuntra. Given at our capital, August 1st, 18 14." 

Agreeably with this it is officially added, " that, from the 
date of his commission as an infantry officer, Lieutenant-Colonel 
St. Anthony has been borne on the strength of the Portuguese 
regular army down to the present da)', somebody, or rather, 
a succession of somebodies, having regularly for sixty-five con- 
secutive years drawn the pay of this eminent member of the 
Church militant." 

But we will go back to the time when St. Anthony was still 
in the flesh. Then his miracles were countless ; the Church 
at Padua is filled with representations of them, and some are 


very characteristic of the morals of the time. But the most 
famous of his wonders is his sermon to the fishes, a picture 
of which may be found on the south side of the church, near 
a vestry door. There they are, both saint and fishes, and I 
have stood gazing at them for a long time, fascinated, not 
exactly by their beauty, but by their quaintness. In the 
Borghese Palace at Rome there is a picture of the same scene 
by Paul Veronese. 

The story is this. When the saint was at Rimini, the people 
would not hear him. Whereupon he repaired to the shore, 
and stretching forth his hand, cried, " Hear me, ye fishes ; for 
these unbelievers refuse to listen." 

" And truly," says the chronicler, " it was a marvellous thing 
to see how an infinite number of fishes, great and little, lifted 
their heads above water, and listened attentively to the sermon 
of the saint." 

He addressed them as "Cari et sancti pisces," "Dear and 
holy fishes." And, continues the legend, at the conclusion of 
the sermon, the fishes bowed to him with profound humi- 
lity, and with an appearance of reverent religion. So the 
saint pronounced his benediction, and the congregation dis- 

While we are on the subject of fishes, we may mention the 
strange tradition respecting the John Dory. How this inhabi- 
tant of the sea got his name of John, I do not know; perhaps 
it was an affectionate tribute to his good fellowship, because 
he is such a capital dinner companion. According to some, 
the whole name is a corruption of the French Jaune dorce, i.e., 
gilded, or golden, yellow ; this, if not altogether right, may be so 
at least as regards the origin of Dory. The French, however, 
turn Golden John into a sort of a saint, only they do not call 
him St. John, but connect him with St. Peter. Hence it has 
been supposed, with some probability, that Dory is derived 
from adore, i.e., " worshipped." The story is that this was the 


fish out of whose mouth Peter took the tribute-money, and 
that the conspicuous marks on its side are the impressions of 
the apostle's finger and thumb. 

There may seem to be a difficulty or two in the way. 
Troublesome quibblers, for instance, may suggest that the 
Dory is a salt-water fish, while the Sea of Galilee, into which 
Peter cast his net, is fresh water. They may go on still further 
to urge that the Sea of Galilee has no outlet whatever into the 
Mediterranean, and, therefore, request to be informed in what 
manner the Dory took his journey overland. They may also 
affect to think it improbable that the marks should appear in the 
Dory's children or grandchildren, though he may have displayed 
them in his own body ; or they may, perhaps, even deny that 
the apostle's fingers could have left such impressions behind 

But the first two objections are trifling, and no good purpose 
is served by disputing about trifles. Let them pass ; and as 
to the others, see what Mr. Darwin has to say on the subject 
of transmitting impressions to posterity ; remember, as we 
have already shown, that Peter left the marks of his head and 
knees upon rocks, substances far less impressible than the soft 
body of a fish, and where is the improbability of the story ? 
The French Catholics found no difficulty ; and, consequently, 
the fish was popularly canonized, and holds a proud pre- 
eminence among his fellows, something like that of our stately 
Sir Loin among joints. 

If St. Anthony preached to the fishes, the birds also had 
their apostle in the person of St. Francis, whose sermon, 
addressed to them as " Brother Birds," is still extant. In the 
fine church dedicated to this saint at Assisi, there is a picture 
by Giotto representing the scene, among the audience in which 
I was particularly struck with the demeanour of a little wren. 

But, before taking a final leave of St. Anthony and his 
church at Padua, we must mention one more of his wonders, 


the memorial of which, in the shape of a bronze by Donatello, 
may be seen in the Chapel of the Sacrament. 

It is concerned with a mule at Rimini, of which we are told 
that, "rejecting the fodder which her master gave her, after 
a rigorous fast of many days, she prostrated herself before the 
Host which the saint was carrying to confound the heretic Bon- 
villo, who denied the real presence of our Lord in the Sacrament." 

The audacious impudence of such a story — you can buy a 
book containing it in the vestry of the church — would be, we 
should think, sufficient to keep many other Bonvillos in the 
same kind of unbelief. 

But a Latin work entitled Historia Societatis Jesu informs us 
that there have been pious asses as well as pious mules. Its 
author, a Jesuit of high repute, narrates as follows : — "A priest 
who was carrying the host to a sick man had to pass through a 
drove of asses. To his utter astonishment the beasts not only 
made way for him, but fell devoutly on their knees as he 
passed. They then formed into line, followed him in proces- 
sion, and waited at the door till he had performed his ministra- 
tion. Nor did they return to their pasture till they had received 
his benediction." 

We may not inaptly conclude this chapter with a notice of 
the Feast of the Ass, which — together with the Feast of Fools, 
the Boy Bishop, and other buffooneries — was once an institu- 
tion of the Church. Till I knew of it, I never could under- 
stand what Francesca meant by introducing a braying ass into 
his picture of the Nativity, which is now in the National 
Gallery. In the company of certain very ugly singing angels — 
neither angels, as we know them, nor human beings, can be 
anything but ugly when they have their mouths open — the 
creature stands, and in his fashion also sings, lifting up his 
ugly head. One almost seems to hear his discordant bray 
drowning the angels' song. But in former times such a voice 
was sometimes heard in Roman Catholic congregations, as 


we may see by the following extract from Hone's Ancient 
Mysteries : — 

" The Feast of the Ass, anciently celebrated at Beauvais 
every year on the 14th of January, commemorated the flight of 
the Virgin into Egypt with the Infant Jesus. To represent the 
Virgin, the most beautiful girl in the city, with a pretty child 
in her arms, was placed on an ass richly caparisoned. Thus 
mounted she preceded the Bishop and his clergy, and they all 
went in grand procession from the cathedral to the church of 
St. Stephen. On entering the chancel they ranged themselves 
on the right side of the altar ; the mass immediately commenced, 
and the Introit, Lord, have mercy upon tes, Gloria Patri, the 
Creed, and other parts of the service, were terminated by the 
burden of Hee-Havv, Hee-Haw, in imitation of the braying of 
an ass ; the officiating priest, instead of saying Ita Missa est at 
the end of the Mass, concluded by singing three times Hee- 
Haw, Hee-Haw, Hee-Haw," and was answered by a general 
braying from the congregation. 

From the Missal composed for the service of this Feast by 
an Archbishop of Sens, who died in 1222, these additional 
particulars have been gleaned : — 

" The Anthem being concluded, two canons were deputed 
to fetch the ass to the table, where the great chanter sat to 
read the order of the ceremonies, and the names of those who 
were to assist in them. The animal, clad with precious priestly 
ornaments, was solemnly conducted to the middle of the choir, 
during which procession a hymn in praise of the ass was sung 
in a major key." Its first and last stanzas have been thus 
Anglicized : — 

" From the country of the East 

Came this strong and handsome beast, 
This able Ass — beyond compare 
Heavy loads and packs to bear. 

Huzza, Seignor Ass, Huzza ! 


" Amen ! bray, most honoured Ass, 
Sated now with grain and grass : 
Amen repeat. Amen reply, 
And disregard antiquity. 

Huzza, Seignor Ass, Huzza ! " 

Another Feast of the Ass was anciently celebrated in France, 
in honour of Balaam's ass. At one of them, Warton tells us, 
" the clergy walked in procession on Christmas Day, habited 
to represent the prophets and others. Moses appeared in an 
alb and cope, with a long beard and a rod. David had a green 
vestment. Balaam, with an immense pair of spurs, rode on a 
wooden ass, which enclosed a speaker. There were also six 
Jews and six Gentiles. Among other characters, the poet 
Virgil was introduced singing monkish rhymes, as a Gentile 
prophet and a translator of the Sibylline oracles. They thus 
moved in procession through the body of the church chanting 
versicles, and conversing in character on the nativity and king- 
dom of Christ, till they came into the choir." 

Palm Sunday, the Festival of Christ's entry into Jerusalem, 
was another time at which the ass was prominent. In refer- 
ence to the celebration of this day in England, Hone quotes 
from an old book the words : — " Upon Palme Sundaye they play 
the foles sadely, drawinge after them an asse in a rope, when 
they be not moch distant from the woden asse that they drawe." 

Some kind of performance with an ass used to be almost 
universal at this festival. At Easter 1879 the Naples corre- 
spondent of The Times wrote thus :■ — • 

" All the incidents of Palm Sunday, when Christ entered 
Jerusalem riding upon an ass, are, as it is well known, drama- 
tized. One marks the progress of civilization in the diminution 
of these ceremonials. Time was when the Neapolitans were 
accustomed to place an ass at the head of the procession with 
a figure on it. This is now omitted, and the procession of 
priests enters the church followed by the mob, who rush in 
after them." 



ONE of the least known and yet one of the most in- 
teresting cities of Italy is Orvieto. Its name is pro- 
bably a corruption from Urbs Vetus, a city of ancient Etruria. 
Its situation, on a highway between Rome and Florence, is 
remarkable and picturesque. It is built on a lofty plateau 
of rock, precipitous on every side, which being strengthened 
by fortifications rendered the city impregnable during the 
middle ages. 

Thither in troublous times — and such were frequent — the 
Popes were wont to flee — like Bishop Hatto to his castle 
on the Rhine — that the rocky fastness might afford them 
security against their foes. Indeed, at different periods, no 
less than thirty-two Popes are recorded to have sought refuge 
in this stronghold, from the lofty steeps of which they could 
defy all assailants. 

Nor were they likely to suffer from the calamity most 
incident to such a site — want of water ; for the place contains 
a magnificent well, constructed by Langallo, and called San 
Patrizio, after St. Patrick. This well is similar to the grand 
work of the Sultan Saladin at Cairo, and is probably unique in 
Europe. It is cut in the rock, and winding round it in an 
outer walled circle are two sets of steps for mules, one de- 
scending, the other ascending, with a door to each on the top. 
The stairs are paved with brick, and sufficiently lighted by 
seventy window-shaped openings looking into the vast shaft. 


The shaft itself is open to the top, and is a hundred and 
seventy-nine feet deep and forty six in diameter. It is a noble 
work, and its proportions and symmetry are most striking. 

The well at the fortress of Konigstein on the Elbe is fine, but 
is not to be compared with that of Orvieto. There is, however, 
a remarkable likeness between the German and the Italian 
fortresses in regard to their respective precipitous sites. In 1S79 
I passed with my daughter almost directly from the latter to 
the former, and we were much struck by the similarity of their 

Even the visitor who does not care for antiquities can 
scarcely fail to be interested in the curious and picturesque 
city of Orvieto, in the well, and in the beauty of the surround- 
ing country. The well, which would seem less uncommon 
in the East, but is a wonder in the West, should be visited in 
passing, as you approach or leave the hotel, since the distance 
is considerable. Nor must the Etruscan Cemetery, lately 
unearthed, and described and figured in Dennis' Cities of 
Etniria, be neglected. It is of curious construction, very 
ancient, and perfect. Fragments of pottery are lying here and 
there, and also large wrought stones, some of which appear to 
have been connected with Phallic worship. When I visited 
the place a young mother and her little daughter were waiting 
to show us the Cemetery, both of them very interesting, and, 
though southerners, fair as the moon. 

In 1263, when Urban IV. was residing at Orvieto, the 
Roman world was excited by the report of a wonderful miracle 
said to have taken place in the neighbouring town of Bolsena, 
and hence called the miracle of Bolsena. To understand it we 
must remember that the doctrine of Transubstantiation had 
now been promulgated for nearly fifty years, but was not so 
universally received as its supporters wished. The story runs 
as follows : — 


A young Bohemian priest, who was somewhat sceptical in 
the matter of the dogma just mentioned, was staying at 
Bolsena, and, while celebrating mass there, beheld blood in 
abundance flowing from the broken parts of the wafer, and 
also bubbling from the cup, just as it is now represented in the 
Church of Sa. Christina. Moreover, the blood flowed freely 
over the pavement of the chapel — a dark, damp, half-subter- 
ranean place — in which the miracle occurred, and its stains are 
still shown under a grating on the floor — at least they were as 
late as 1879, ^^hen I saw them. 

Of course the priest was immediately converted, and betook 
himself to Orvieto to make the wonder known to the Pope, 
and to get absolution for his former unbelief. Then Urban 
sent the Bishop of Orvieto, in whose diocese the miracle had 
taken place, to fetch its signs, the wafer and the linen, which 
were carefully conveyed to Orvieto. 

Thus was a bold and well-timed falsehood, of a kind suitable 
to the age, devised for the purpose of popularizing the useful 
doctrine of Transubstantiation. Nor was the Church slow to 
follow up its advantage, and to make the most of it. Urban 
went forth in state to meet the evidences of so great a wonder : 
the red-stained napkin — or corporal — was exhibited ; the 
wafer bearing the marks of a copious enundation of blood was 
set before the eyes of the people. Who could doubt proofs so 
clear ? A church, the sjjlendid cathedral of Orvieto, was 
ordered to be built in commemoration of the prodigy. And 
Ugolino Vieri, the great artist of Siena, was commissioned to 
construct a reliquary — with a fagade like that of the cathedral, 
worthy of treasures so inestimable ; a task which he executed 
with marvellous skill and rapidity. 

Chiefest of all, a bull was published (1264), directing that the 
event should be commemorated by the perpetual observance 
of a new festival, that of Corpus Christi — the body of Christ — 
which has given its name to one of the colleges at Oxford. It 



is known in France under the name of the Fete-Dieu, or God's 
Festival, when Le bon Dieu, as the French call it, or in other 
words, the wafer, is carried through the town, and people at 
the windows exclaim, " God is passing ! " 

In so suspicious a manner, by a report of what had 
happened in " a dark and dirty vault " — for so the chapel is 
described in Murray's Guide — situated in an obscure country 
town, and on the testimony of a foreign stranger, was the 
imposture of Transubstantiation confirmed. Devised to suit 
the gross darkness of the age, and followed up with the most 
determined and unblushing effrontery, the story was successful. 

The reliquary, to which we alluded above, is a great curiosity 
and a marvel of art. It is large, no less than four hundred 
pounds of silver having been used to make it. Its chief beauty 
lies in the statuettes, and especially in the enamels, with which 
the front is covered. Though it is more than five hundred 
years old, the lustrous blue, as brilliant as can be conceived, 
which is the prevailing colour, is still fresh and perfect, except 
in the case of one enamel. This, from the handling to which 
it has been subjected by being carried every year with the 
wafer in the procession of Corpus Christi, and possibly some- 
times to the sick, is nearly obliterated. A piece of red coral, 
or something like it, marks externally the precise spot where, 
within, in the upper part of the reliquary, the miraculous host 
is said to be preserved. 

M. Darcel, in his interesting Notice Dcs Emaiix Du Louvre 
(Paris, 1867), speaks of Ugolino's tabernacle as the most re- 
markable work of that age which has come down to us, and also 
gives his opinion that the peculiar lustrous enamel was probably 
discovered by the accidental falling of a few drops of water 
upon the heated metal. " But," says he, " no one interested 
in these things can ever see them, since, with the exception of 
two days, they are kept under the custody of four keys, which 
it is impossible to unite." The Guide Books also state that 


considerable difficulty is experienced in getting a sight of the 

However, a secret was disclosed to me, which enabled me to 
accomplish the task with the greatest possible faciUty. On 
arriving at Siena one day from Rome, after having just passed, 
as at other times, under the very walls of Orvieto, I met a 
French gentleman at dinner, who told me that he had seen the 
relics, and that the landlord of the Belle Arli ha.d arranged the 
matter for him. I at once wrote to the landlord of the Belle 
Arti, begging him to perform the same kind office for me, and 
on the next day started for Orvieto.. 

But before describing the visit, let me put together the dates 
of the events which have been enumerated in connection with 
the historic cathedral of the place. 

A.D. 1 215. The term and doctrine of Transubstantiation 
adopted and confirmed by the fourth Lateran 

1263. The miracle of Bolsena. 

1264. Bull of Urban IV. for the establishment of the 

festival of Corpus Christi. 
1290. The Cathedral of Orvieto founded. 
1309. The Cathedral opened for service. 
1338. The silver Reliquary made. 

1357-63. The Chapel of the Reliquary adorned with 

mural paintings made expressly with reference 

to the sacrament of the Eucharist. 

These historic dates connected with the Cathedral of Orvieto 

are by no means unimportant, closely united as that edifice is 

with the doctrine of Transubstantiation, which it will be noticed 

is, comparatively, a modern innovation. On that dangerous 

deceit, as the Thirty-first Article of the Church of England 

calls it, rests another fable, that of Priesthood, and on the fable 

of Priesthood is raised the mighty and overshadowing fabric 

of the Church of Rome. 


Part I. 

UPON my arrival at Orvieto I went to the Belle Arti. 
Imagine an hotel named the Fine Arts in England ! But 
what do we northern barbarians know of such matters ! 

The hotel proved to be an old palace, and I soon found my- 
self installed in a noble painted chamber, one of its apartments. 
The head waiter did the honours of the house for his master — 
an artist ; hence, no doubt, the name of the inn — and procured 
the permission to view the relics, for which I had asked. 

He was a young Italian, a nice obliging fellow, who had 
recently been connected with a tragic event in French history. 
Serving as valet to Monseigneur Darbois, Archbishop of Paris, 
at the time of the Communist emeiite, he was imprisoned with 
his master. At the final scene, when the Archbishop was shot, 
he was present, and had he been a Frenchman would have been 
executed with the prelate ; but the Italian Embassy at Paris 
interfered, and he was saved. 

" Did you not," said a lady to me ; " Did you not observe 
an expression of melancholy about the young man, marking 
him as one chastened by suffering?" Women are of quicker 
perception than men. Yes, I did observe it, after the remark, 
and still see it with my mind's eyes. 

The shade on the man's countenance put me in remembrance 
of the fine delicate and melancholy face of Platina, the man 
of letters and historian of the Popes. He appears in a great 


mural picture of Melozzo da Forli in one of the rooms of the 
Vatican picture gallery, the third on the left as you enter, in 
the midst of a wicked surrounding of Roveres and Riarios. 
Poor fellow ! he had a painful retrospect ; for having been 
suspected by his evil master Pius II., a previous Pope, he 
had been stretched on the rack. 

But to return to Orvieto. At ten o'clock in the forenoon I 
repaired to the Cathedral by appointment, having previously 
visited it, both the day before and early the same morning, 
to acquaint myself with localities. Of the fagade I will only 
say that there is, perhaps, nothing in Italy to equal it. 
Designed and executed, as it was, by artists of inimitable skill, 
its materials — marble, mosaic, and bronze — are worthy of their 
handling, for it is a miracle of art. Its site, too, is admirable, 
being free from any surroundings. 

Of the interior, the transept is the most remarkable part, 
and is formed by two chapels, both of them shut in by gates. 
The one, the chapel of the Sacrament, or of the Santissimo 
Corporale, is so called because within it is deposited the 
corporal, or napkin, stained with the blood of Christ (!), as 
well as a piece of the wafer from which the blood flowed. 

Both of these chapels are entirely covered with grand or 
curious frescoes. That of the Sacrament — with which we 
have at present to do — has two series of pictures, besides a 
noble one of the Crucifixion which is walled up and apparently 
in part destroyed, as also are other valuable works in the same 

The pictures on the right of the chapel give the history of 
the miracle of Bolsena. The unbelieving priest is massing, and 
in blank astonishment at the appearance of blood flowing from 
the cup and wafer. Next to this, bishops are seen examining 
the blood on the altar. Then the Bishop of Orvieto conveys 
the signs of the miracle to the Pope, who goes forth and meets 
him on the bridge of Rio Chiaro — or the Brook Clear — which 


is just under the walls of Orvieto, and over which one still 
passes in journeying westward. In this last scene the white 

gloves of the Pope are conspicuous. Two or three other 
pictures complete the series. 


The pictures on the left wall represent the administration of 
the sacrament to the sick and others, depicting some curious 
miracles. For instance, the host flies out of the priest's hands 
into the air, while Christ appears just above it, and an angel is 
preparing to catch it in a napkin. Again, the priest elevates 
the host above his head, and it becomes a little Christ ; the 
same wonder is repeated as he holds it before him ; and a 
Christ is also seen coming out of the cup. Indeed, there is a 
prodigality of wonders — far too many. 

Among them is the history of a young Jew, a convert. He 
is first seen at the sacrament with other lads : then his irritated 
father seizes him violently by the neck, and throws him, head 
foremost, into a fiery furnace. But lo ! he is miraculously 
delivered from the furnace, and his mother, supposed appa- 
rently to be a Christian, exhibits him to the astonished people. 

But there is one thing in this remarkable series which is 
most interesting, and is yet unnoticed in the guide books. In 
a picture of the communion, the cup is being admi?iistered to the 
laity. I had a careful water-colour drawing of this picture 
made upon the spot by Professor Ferrari. 

A Roman Catholic friend, who had joined me in examining 
the pictures, looked at this one in astonishment, and ex- 
claimed, " Why, they are giving the cup to the laity ! " 
"Yes," said I, "I was waiting to see whether you would 
observe it." 

These pictures exhibit red wine in the cup. In the Church 
of Rome the wine ordinarily used in the present time is as 
frequently white as red. Yet our own people, I think, are so 
superstitious that many of them would be shocked if they were 
offered white wine at the Lord's Table. Tent wine — that is, 
vino tinto, or tinted wine — is with us considered to be most 
correct, because, as I have heard it said, it most resembles 
blood ! 

In the Orvieto pictures of the administration of the cup to 


laics, it is to be observed that an assistant, and not a priest, 
stands holding in his right hand the cup, and in his left a 
small glass vessel, or cruet, containing the wine. In one case 
the acolyte is in the act of administering to a youth who, in 
company with several others, is on his knees. 

Now the date given as that of the completion of these 
pictures is a.d. 1363. Up to that time, therefore, it must 
have been usual to administer the cup to the laity in the 
cathedral of Orvieto, the city of the Popes. 

By what authority, then, did the clergy of the Church of 
Rome withdraw the cup from the laity, after the latter had 
received it for so many centuries ? Surely the Communion as 
at present administered in that Church is only a mutilated rite, 
and no sacrament at all. 

Early one morning in this very same chapel, with the picture 
of the laity partaking of the cup in full view, I saw a woman 
receiving, not the sacrament, but the bread. Nothing could 
have been more irreverent than the whole proceeding. While 
looking intently at the pictures, I had not noticed that a white 
cloth had been spread upon a desk, indicating that a com- 
munion was about to be celebrated. A priest with an 
acolyte came up suddenly to the altar near which I was 
standing, and the latter commenced some form of words 
with his eyes fixed — naturally enough, poor child ! — upon 
the stranger. 

Meantime, the priest took a host — previously consecrated — 
out of the cibbrio or pix, gabbled some short office as fast as he 
could, and at the same time employed his hands in folding 
the corporal. He then took a wafer to the kneeling woman, 
who was the only communicant. The acolyte followed him, 
and while he administered, held a napkin under the woman's 
chin. Then the priest returned to the altar, locked up the 
cibdrio, made his obeisance, and, with the boy at his heels, 
was off as quickly as he had entered. It was the most rapid 


administration I had ever seen ; the whole ceremony did not 
occupy more than three minutes. 

There were two things like fruits upon the altar. They 
were, I suppose, the appendages called apples — hollow orna- 
mental vessels, in the shape of fruits, which are filled with hot 
water to warm the priest's hands in cold weather. 


Part II. 

THE hour appointed for my inspection of the reUquary 
had passed, the service was over, the music had ceased, 
the clergy were waiting; but of the laity a few visitors only 
were present in the great church. 

" For whom are you waiting ? " said I to the sacristan. 

"For a Milor Anglais, sir," he replied, ''who appointed to 
come and view the holy relics." 

" Le voila," said I, pointing to myself, and enjoying the 
joke, '* Je suis le Milor Anglais." 

Four priests, two of whom were, I believe, canons, together 
with four attendants bearing six candles, were awaiting us, and 
upon our arrival at once formed into procession, and moved 
towards the Chapel of the Sacrament. Upon entering it they 
arranged themselves before the reliquary, and commenced to 
intone an office. I was taken by surprise, and not a little 
shocked ; first at the profanity of prayers to the Almighty in 
the presence of, and in honour of, this gigantic fraud, and 
then at the thought that I was in a way paying for these 
prayers — a thing I had not realized. 

The office was short, and at its conclusion we mounted 
some temporary steps to a platform before the reliquary, about 
six feet from the ground.- A priest had preceded us for the 


purpose of unlocking the great outer case in which the silver 
shrine is enclosed : for it is offered to the public gaze only, I 
believe, once in the year. 

There are two things to be seen : a stained piece of linen — 
the corporal — stretched, framed, and glazed ; and the front of 
the leliquary. The linen, perhaps fifteen inches square, is in 
no way remarkable. The slight stains upon it may have been 
of blood, or of anything else ; nor has the cloth the appearance 
of age. 

The priest was very courteous, and indeed, with one ex- 
ception at Rome, I have never met with priests who were 
otherwise. He gave .us plenty of time, and with a taper 
enabled us to see each of the many rich enamels. This 
occupied some fifteen minutes, and on descending I was 
vexed to find that we had been all this time detaining 
the other clergy, since a closing office was customary, 
of which I had not been aware. When this had been 
completed the ceremony was over, the doors were locked, 
and we departed from the chapel into the body of the 

Having thus noticed the materialistic confirmation of the 
materialistic dogma of transubstantiation by the sensuous fable 
of Bolsena, and its connection with the famous cathedral of 
Orvieto, let us now pass to the opposite transept formed by 
the splendidly decorated Chapel of the Madonna, a chapel 
which has no equal in Italy or the world. 

On the vaulting are some noble works of Fra Beato Angelico, 
among which I was especially struck with a majestic figure of 
Christ surrounded by a group of saints, which, although it was 
painted five centuries ago, seems as fresh as if the brush had 
been only just laid down. 

All the side walls were executed by Signorelli, an artist 
scarcely known in England, but possessed of transcendent 
powers. They exhibit several great and splendid compositions. 


excellently wrought, and of about the same date as the work of 

It would be a great pleasure to dwell at length on these 
grand conceptions of a lofty imaguiation, and to expatiate on 
the brilliancy and rich variety of the illustrious artist's creative 
powers as exhibited by them ; but this would be beside our 
purpose, which is to call attention to the strange mixture of 
Heathenism with such sublime Christian compositions as 
The Resurrection, The Judgment, The Fall of Antichrist, and 
The End of All Things. For while these imposing frescoes 
are painted immediately under the vaulting of the ceiling, 
there is just beneath them another series of pictures partly 
allegorical — from Dante— and partly Pagan ! 

Five Heathen poets have been introduced by the painter, 
and one Heathen philosopher, Empedocles of Agrigentum — 
that is, Girgenti in Sicily. The poets are Homer, above as 
you enter, and Lucan on the right ; the latter is, however, I 
suppose, now destroyed, because a Cardinal's tomb has been 
placed against the portrait. On the other side of Homer is 
Empedocles, a very perfect and interesting picture, the left arm 
of the philosopher resting on the lower part of a circular 
window, out of which he is leaning sideways, and looking 
upwards at the picture above him, " The End of All Things." 

On the left wall also are portraits of Dante and Virgil in 
square painted frames, surrounded by many smaller illustra- 
tions of Dante's adventures with his conductor Virgil in the 
nether regions, and of other subjects from the Divina Conedia. 
All kinds of strange and fabulous forms and conceits are to be 
seen there ; it is a wonder-land of captivating romance. And 
such is the character of the ornamentation which, with gorgeous 
arabesques, sphinxes, and monsters, surrounds all the portraits. 
In some of the persons introduced into these decorations 
Signorelli seems to be illustrating the lines of the Jiifenw, when 
in speaking of Hector, Aeneas, Lucretia, Brutus, Empedocles, 


Saladin, and other heroes and heroines who were shut up in 
Limbo, Dante says : — 

" Souls with sedate and placid eyes were there ; 
And looks of dignity around they cast ; 
Seldom they spake, but sweet their voices were." 

And, perhaps, in selecting some of the illustrious persons 
whose imaginary portraits he has painted, he was thinking of 
the lines : — 

" Four mighty shades I saw come us toward. 
Their aspect neither grief nor joy betrayed. 
' Observe him well who bears in hand the sword ' — 
To me the master kind his words addressed — 
' Before the three who cometh as their lord. 
'Tis Homer, sov'reign poet unsurpassed. 
Th' other is Horace of satiric fame ; 
The third is Ovid ; Lucan is the last.' 

***** st: * 

The beauteous college thus I saw unite 
Of that lord paramount of loftiest style, 
Who soars above the rest with eagle flight." 

Scenes from their own writings embellish the portraits of the 
Heathen poets. Thus Homer is decked with subjects from 
his shield of Achilles ; Lucan with cameos from his Pharsalia ; 
and so on. 

Passing now to the right wall, we find ourselves face to face 
with those acquaintances of our boyhood, Ovid and Horace. 
Elsewhere we should have liked to see them : here we cannot 
help exclaiming with surprise, What in the world has brought 
you into a place of this kind? — you, Ovid, with your Art of 
Love, and not too decent stories of Metamorphoses ; and you, 
Horace, too often saying what you had better have left unsaid? 
And we fancied we heard them reply just as naturally, "Ask 
the Pope, the bishop, and the priests, who ordered us to be 
placed here. It was none of our doing. We do not feel at all 


comfortable, having been accustomed to society of a different 
kind. The place is not to our taste, as you seem to know ; we 
told Signorelli as much, when he wanted to put us here. But 
he said the priests liked our writings so much that they would 
have us. So here we are doing penance." 

Ovid occupies a part of the wall just opposite to Virgil ; while 
Horace faces Dante. All the poets are represented as standing 
at inter-columhar and open windows. 

Ovid's head is crowned with laurel ; his clothing is a tunic 
with a short black cloak thrown over it ; and his finger is 
pointing to a passage in an open book which he holds. Four 
small circular compositions — iondi—\n chiaroscuro, taken from 
his works, surround him. 

In one of them Pluto is seen in his gloomy chariot, beneath 
the shadow of ^tna, anxiously gazing around to see whether 
" earth-shaking" Typhon is working mischief in his fiery realms. 

Then Venus appears, calling upon Cupid to inflame the 
infernal king with his ardent shafts. 

Quickly the consequence of the mischief follows in the rape 
of Proserpina, fair daughter of Ceres, who is seized and hurried 
away by her captor as she is gathering flowers in the beautiful 
])lain of Henna, a central spot of Sicily. Take this fable in one 
way, and the history of the world is ever repeating it, in the 
premature death of the young. The subject has peculiar 
charms for the poet and the painter. Not long ago, in the 
waiting-room of the station at Turin, I was looking at a vast 
])icture illustrating it, which there adorns the wall, and which 
had this legend :— 

" Dis, dark as Erebus, black as an ^thiop, with powerful 
arms seizes the damsel fair as the morning, bright as the snows 
of her native ^tna. She shrieks, she cries. To her mother, 
to her companions, but most of all to her mother, she calls for 
aid. In vain ! The grisly king hurries her away ; and flowery 
Sicily for ever vanishes from her eyes." 


Then, as Ovid has it : — 

"The gathered flowers, from her rent vesture falling, 
Do strew the ground. " 

And lovely those Sicilian flowers are, as any one who has 
seen them can testify. I have by me a list of some which the 
fair maid would have been likely to cull in spring, and among 
them is the exquisite little blue iris which adorns the ruined 
theatre at Taormania and other heights of Sicily. It grows, 
too, in the flowery land of Palestine, especially on the vast 
porch of the ruined Church of the Templars, at Jerusalem, 
which has been ceded by the Turkish Government to Germany, 
and in clearing which at the time thirty thousand ass loads of 
rubbish were carried forth. 

Next in the series of pictures comes Ceres in her chariot, 
the mother of the maiden, seeking with torches for her lost 
child. Possibly the origin of the fable may have been as 
follows : — 

Ceres, a queen, or potent lady with landed possessions 
in the island, by growing corn for which Sicily was famous, and 
the cultivation of which she probably introduced, is afterwards 
revered as a goddess of corn. She has an only daughter who 
dies at an early age, or, in the language of the myth, is forcibly 
carried away by Pluto, the god of the dead. There is a grand 
funeral ceremony at night, with a torch-procession, the Queen 
being the prominent mourner. 

It was, then, probably, by teaching the rude Sicilians the 
method of cultivating grain that this queen, or lady, became 
a benefactress to the island. The people sympathised with her 
in the loss of her child, and decreed that the funeral should be 
annually commemorated at Henna, where the daughter died. A 
torch-procession was the principal part of the ceremony, and 
by it for centuries the sorrows of the distracted mother were 
kept in remembrance. 


Time rolled on, and a new religion was introduced ; but 
festivals are more tenacious than faiths, and often survive them. 
Under the new regime the feast of torches becomes the feast 
of candles ; the name only is changed, and the festival, still 
held in February, is called Candlemas. I have witnessed it in 
the Pontificate of Pio Nono, when the tapers were given out by 
the Pope himself. 

While in Sicily I met with another instance of the persistence 
with which ancient customs linger on. At Messina I saw a 
person surrounded by a densely-packed crowd of men and 
boys, to whom he was reciting verses of their poets. It was 
marvellous to see the rough fisher-boys, with upturned eyes, 
hanging on the lips of the reciter. But it was no new sight ; 
two thousand years ago their fathers were wont to delight 
themselves by listening to the verses of Euripides, just as they 
do now to those of Tasso or Ariosto. Indeed, it is recorded 
that some of the Athenian prisoners captured at Syracuse, and 
condemned to work in the neighbouring quarries, were for 
their powers of recitation freed from bondage, in spite of the 
bitter hatred with which the Syracusans' regarded the invaders 
of their island. 

But, to return to the chapel of the Virgin. Its painted walls 
are adorned wnth many other Heathen fables besides those 
which we have mentioned, and among them with the story of 
Orpheus, " the sacred interpreter of the gods." 

There you may see the impassioned minstrel making his 
perilous descent into Hades, and lulling the ever-watchful 
triple-headed guardian of Pluto's realms to slumber with the 
enchanting notes of his lyre. Now his resistless spell soothes 
the pains of Tartarus, and anon it is stealing gently over the 
Infernal Powers, and subduing even their pitiless hearts. 

" Stem Proserpine relented, and gave him back the fair." 

Then, rejoicing in the attainment of his object, he begins his 


return to the regions of day, closely followed by her for whom 
he had dared so much. But, alas, impatient youth ! he breaks 
the law of the grim deities ; ere the permitted time he turns to 
look upon his Eurydice — and in a moment all is lost ; she is 
snatched from his embrace for ever. 

But how near is the sublime to the ridiculous ! Signorelli's 
strict orthodoxy has caused him to make a ludicrous jumble, 
and instead of representing Eurydice as vanishing away, or, at 
least, surrounding her with evil genii — such for example as may 
be seen on Etruscan tombs — he has introduced ecclesiastical 
devils ! There they are, three of them, making greedy havoc 
of the poet's love, whom they are seizing neck and limb. 

In my time I have examined the devils of many a painter, 
and must certainly pronounce these of Signorelli to be the 
most malevolent I have ever noticed. Some of the most 
comic — and ecclesiastical devils are often intensely comic — 
are those in the narthex of the grand old Basilica of St. 
Lorenzo, the Church of the Cemetery, at Rome ; they are 
occupied in plaguing the unfortunate St. Anthony, and appear 
to be drawing considerable amusement from their occupation. 
Another very ludicrous person of the same class is to be seen 
in the porch of the cathedral at Berne. He has a Swiss 
basket upon his back, in which he is carrying off to the abode 
of woe a doomed bishop. Still more strange — the bishop 
looks out from the basket, and gives his professional blessing 
to the people as he is being hurried away. 

But among the various species of ecclesiastical devils, which 
are generally either of the human or the bestial type, there 
appears to be also a feathered tribe, living in trees like 
birds. Montfaucon, in his Antiquities of Italy, mentions them 
in connection with the Church of Sa. Maria at the Porta del 
Popolo in Rome. *' In the inscription set up in the choir," 
he says, " we have this account, which for its singularity is 
here inserted." He then gives the original Latin of the in- 



scription, together with a translation to the following effect : — 
"This altar was solemnly erected by Pope Paschal II. — a.d. 
1118 — in this place by Divine inspiration, by which he soon 
drove aw^ay the tall devils who, sitting on a nut tree — tuicis 
arbori insidentes — cruelly insulted from thence the people as 
they passed by — transeuntem hinc populum dire insultantes." 

The inscription then goes on to state that the Church of 
Sa. Maria was built on the site of the Pope's altar. Certainly 
Montfaucon does not seem to be far wrong in characterizing 
this account of "tall devils" perched upon a nut tree and 
insulting the passers-by as singular. 

There are some strange devils among the decorations of 
Fairford Church in Gloucestershire. Among them is the 
grimmest I have ever seen — a grand monster in painted glass 
at the w'est end, who is called Beelzebub. Upstairs, again, 
there is a very comical little one — smart, a beau in his way, in 
a gay mauve mantle — walking daintily on tiptoe, and playing a 
violin. One of his companions has a blue tail, and is wheeling 
away a woman in a barrow to a place to which she is very 
unwilling to go. However, she cannot help herself. The 
barrow is two-wheeled, with eight spokes to each wheel, and 
is particularly well made ; the woman is robed, and sits grace- 
fully in it. 

But the idea of the barrow is by no means exclusively 
"Christian," Mrs. Hamilton Grey, in her Sepulchres of 
Etruria, describes a tomb found at Tarquinii, and dating back 
to some seven hundred years before Christ. In it is a figure 
robed in white, wearing a conical white tiara, and with one 
hand upraised apparently in the act of benediction. " Had it 
been drawn in our days," remarks Mrs. Grey, " it might have 
passed for the Pope." And in this same ancient tomb there 
is also an evil genius, or Heathen devil, wheeling off a soul to 
the judge of the dead in a hand-barrow, just as at Fairford 
Church. Truly, men unenlightened by revelation have much 


the same ideas respecting religious matters, whether they dwell 
in Etruria or in Gloucestershire ; whether they are now alive, 
or passed out of the world some two or three thousand years 

The same tomb exhibits another curious parallel to Medie- 
valism. The soul of a person deceased is seated in a hand- 
barrow ready to be carried off, and an evil and a good genius 
are struggling over it, the one pushing the barrow in the way 
in which he wishes it to go, while the other strives to impel it 
in an opposite direction. 

In the narthex of the Church of St. Lorenzo at Rome there 
is a similar scene on a larger scale ; the devils think themselves 
triumphant, and are capering about in delight at the prospect 
of carrying off the sinner upon whom they have set their mind, 
and who is none other than the Emperor Henry II. But 
St. Laurence, the patron of the church, suddenly bethinks 
himself of a golden cup which Henry had recently offered at 
his shrine, and casting it into the balance turns the scale. 
The emperor's sins kick the beam, as his merits weigh down 
the opposite scale, and the rashly exulting devils are dis- 
appointed of their pi"ey. 

But we have digressed at too great length, and must close 
our chapter on the Chapel of the Virgin witliout attempting 
to describe the many other Heathen decorations of the walls. 

Mask from the Cathedral of Orvieto. 


Part III. 

PASSING from the Chapel of the Virgin into the body of 
the great church, we find this part disfigured by a 
number of gigantic marble statues of modern date, ranged by 
the columns along the middle aisle, and for the most part 
executed in as bad a style as those of Bernini in St. Peter's. 
The original decoration consisted of beautiful frescoes, ara- 
besques, and reliefs, thoroughly Heathen in character, but 
excellent in design and execution. 

One of the statues, that of St. Paul, is a bad imitation of the 
Farnese Hercules at Naples ! 

Within the rails of the apse are two others, of life size or 
larger, by Mochi, representing the salutation of Mary by the 
angel. These are described in the guide books as "cele- 
brated " ; but in neither figure is there anything to admire ; 
indeed, I never saw anything more repulsive than the face of 
the Virgin. " She is represented as starting from her seat at 
the salutation of the angel, her eand grasps the chair with 


almost convulsive energy, and her countenance wears a dis- 
agreeable expression of indignation." — Murray. 

The last-mentioned feature puzzled me. I looked, and 
looked, but could not understand that expression of anger, 
and, probably, never should have done so had I not, when 
staying at Bologna on my way north, gone to the public library 
to search for De la Valle's History of the Cathedral of Orvieto. 
The librarian politely set before me a small quarto, printed at 
Rome in 1791, and, as I turned over its leaves, my eye rested 
on some Latin verses which supplied the desired information. 
They were as follows : — 

' ' Pennatum properare ducem vocemque salutis 
Improvisa timet : nee sponsa innupta Tonantis 
Esse velit. Thalamos fugiat, toedasque recuset 
Ferre maritali dextra. nisi pronuba sanctos 
Virginitas et Divus Amor jungant Hymenaeos." 

Which we may, perhaps, freely render : — 

' ' Down from the stars the winged leader hastes : 
His voice of salutation frights the ear 
Of her astonishment. Nor will she be 
The Thund'rer's unwed bride. Let her the bed 
Avoid. Let her the torch refuse to bear 
In matrimonial hand, nor yield except 
Married Virginity and Love Divine 
The holy wedlock join." 

Here is a strange origin for Christian statuary, one of the 
scandalous amours of Jupiter ! De la Valle, in commenting 
upon the lines, makes no observation on the angry expression 
with which Mary meets pennatum ducem, " the feathered 
Mercury," alias the angel, nor does he note their Heathen 
character. On the attitude of Mary, however, he remarks : 
*' Her movement may best be compared to that of a Spartan 
virgin from the antique." 

This group certainly affords a fitting illustration of the 



principle which is 

M maintainedthrough- 

^ out the whole cathe- 

^ dralof Orvieto, nay, 

g throughout the 

p whole system of 

J Rome. ButRoman- 

M ists do not always 

^ approve of it. 

= While travelling 

g from Munich to 

% Dresden with my 

M daughter, in 1879, 

g we fell in with 

B Monsignor B , 

g Prelate of the 

^^= Pope's household, 

P who knew Orvieto. 

M Upon our speaking 

^ of the Heathen 

% character of the 

= Cathedral, he ob- 
" Cetie 

Cathcdrak est U7i 

g L/nistiajiisiiie pa- 

= ga?//si:" He had 

= seen it with his 

g. own eyes, and was 

=) able to judge for 

^ himself 

And I had in- 

|i tended, reader, that 

■m you to some extent 

= should be enabled 

= served, 



to do the same, and with that view employed an ItaUan artist 
to copy a few of the decorations. But some of his drawings 
proved too indehcate to be retained, though I had cautioned 
him to be careful in his selection. However, on the opposite 
page I have given an example, from the font, of the generally 
Heathen character of the ornamentation. 

Voluptuousness mingled with sportiveness pervades the 
whole building. Among the arabesques is a humorous but 
improved repetition, on a small scale, of the fountain of the 
manikin at Brussels ; also a copy of Donatello's charming 
laughing boy, with bronze water works, which is now in the 
IMuseum at Arezzo, and which has been imitated in "a domestic 
fountain " to be seen in our own South Kensington Museum. 

But one brilliant work of Mosechino is specially conspicuous. 
It is a beautiful group of figures in white marble — women and 
children — in highest relief and nearly of life size. It forms a 
reredos, or back, to a large and prominent altar in the transept 
looking west. I cannot enter into details : it must suffice to 
say that the vomen are as voluptuous and enticing as skill 
could make tliem, and are placed just before the eyes of the 
officiating priest. 

Naked youths in pairs crown the pediments of the side 
chapels, where, not to mention sundry questionable arabesques, 
beautiful femae forms in colour, and decolletees, help to make 
up the ornamentation. 

Such a sty'.e of decoration might be more suitable in a 
theatre, though even there it would be highly objectionable. 
But for a house of prayer it would be difficult to imagine any- 
thing more ir.congruous and demoralizing. 

§0' f r I 

Blood drops from St. Christina's feet, preser\-ed in a glass case in her c'lurch at Bolsena. 



FROM Orvieto to Bolsena is a drive of two hours, over 
high ground commanding splendid landscapes at the 
beginning and at the end of the journey. First one looks 
back on the picturesque city of Orvieto, which from one point 
bears a striking resemblance to the south-east corner of Jeru- 
salem. And then the close of the drive reveals the lake, with 
its blue waters and islands, on which one descends, by a wind- 
ing road, to the poverty-stricken and rarely visited little town of 
Bolsena, the scene of the famous miracle which we have 
already described. 

Both town and miracle are the better known for RafFaelle's 
great picture of the latter in the stanze of the Vatican. Yet 
the artist has not shown the slightest regard in his composition 
either to place or person ; for as to person, he has introduced 
into the picture his contemporary and liberal patron the war- 
like Julius II., and as to place, he has depicted a spacious 
and well-lighted building, whereas it is a dark half-subterranean 
chapel belonging to an insignificant church, that of St. Chris- 
tina, which has the credit of the transaction. 



On arriving at this church one is a little surprised to find, 
just outside the door, a sculptured Roman sarcophagus orna- 
mented with Bacchic figures in bold relief, and so indelicate 
that they seem extremely unsuitable neighbours for a Christian 
place of worship. 

The chapel itself, in which the Bohemian priest was officiat- 
ing when blood flowed from the wafer, is low, vaulted, and 
green with damp. It contains, however, one work of art well 

worthy of attention, a composition of Robbia's relating to the 
history of Sa. Christina, and consisting of several small figures, 
which cannot, however, be examined without the aid of lights. 
The altar, occupying the place of one anciently dedicated to 
Apollo, and the exact locality of the miracle, are covered by a 
stone baldachino, or canopy, supported by four columns of red 
marble. In front of this altar, let into it, and protected by an 
iron grating shown in the cut, is a stone impressed with a 
hideous pair of feet, very similar to those of the " Quo vadis " 


at Rome. The legend is that the feet of a certain Christian 
lady of the neighbourhood, named Christina, were attached to 
this stone by her persecutors, and that she was then thrown 
into the lake. But the stone, contrary to its nature, willed not 
to sink but to swim ; and the saint, standing upon it, was thus 
conveyed in safety to the opposite shore, where she landed, 
leaving the prints of her feet upon the stone as indubitable 
evidence of the truth of the miracle. I remember to have 
seen a duplicate of the footprints in the lower church at 

Besides the blood-memorials of the miraculous wafer and cup 
which we have already mentioned — the stains on the pavement 
covered with a grating — there are also others kept in a gallery 
of modern date up a flight of steps. Since, therefore, I had 
asked to be shown everything that was to be seen, a messenger 
was despatched to fetch the priest, who presently appeared— a 
good-tempered dark little man. He at once robed himself, and 
proceeded, according to custom on such occasions, to light 
candles while the by-standers devoutly crossed themselves. 
Next came a short office, the people kneeling, and then the 
evidences or remains of the miracle were disclosed. They 
were kept in a sort of press, and were revealed by the drawing 
up of blinds. On the top of the press was a representation of 
a large cup with blood welling abundantly from it. The relics 
appeared to consist mainly of pieces of stained linen, on which 
were spots said to be drops of the blood of Christ, and to ex- 
hibit — each of them — His lineaments ! We strove to discover 
a likeness to any human figure, but without success ; however, 
some of those who were present affirmed that they could discern 
it, and certainly had the general belief on their side. 

In looking through the Graphic of January 7th, 18S3, lob- 
served a curious parallel to this fancy. It was an account, by the 
Hungarian traveller Count Szechenyl, of asyringa tree growing 
in China which is believed to have worked many miracles, and 


on which a mandarin is said to have discovered a leaf bearing 
a perfect portrait of Buddha. M. Hue, the Jesuit missionary, 
also makes mention of this tree. 

Another testimony to the close connection of all natural 
religions ! To whatever race or clime they may belong, their 
principal characteristics are ever materialism and credulity. 
In Europe, the natural man sees a miraculous Christ in a spot 
on a dirty piece of linen ; in Asia, he discerns an equally 
miraculous Buddha on the leaf of a tree. 

It was in 1879 that our party drove from Orvieto to Bolsena. 
In former days I remember passing through the place on the 
journey from Rome to Siena by the Alalle Paste when the road 
was patrolled by soldiers on account of the brigands — even now 
it is not particularly secure. The Austrian Envoy had just 
been robbed of his effects, and even of his decorations, and, 
which was still worse, his postilion had been shot through the 
leg. This was in 1852. 

The town, if one may dignify it by such a name, is situated 
near the lake — " the great Volscian Mere " of Macaulay, and 
the largest lake in Italy — at the bottom of a hill of unusual 
length and steepness. A carriage and pair of horses may be 
obtained for a visit from Orvieto at a very moderate rate — from 
twenty to five-and-twenty francs for the day. There are some 
curious Etruscan tombs between the two places, but off the 
highroad, which is good though hilly. The singing of the 
nightingales is enchanting, and reminded me of the Certosa 
of Pavia. 

Leo X., who was a sporting man, used to fish at Bolsena and 
hunt at Viterbo, greatly shocking his Master of Ceremonies by 
riding out of Rome in boots. On such occasions he resided, 
not in the Castle, the picturesque ruins of whicli still remain on 
and within the walls, but in one or other of the two lake-islands 
where the Farnese family had villas. 

The whole neighbourhood of the lake is now desolated by 


malaria, and, so far as population is concerned, almost a 

When we entered the town, we were surrounded by a squalid 
set of half-clad miserables, from whose bodies we were quickly 
covered with — insects of provoking activity. Among them, 
however, was one old man of a higher type, who, while I was 
buying some coins from him, showed me a letter from his 
daughter in London. She was the wife of a tradesman in the 
Haymarket, and I afterwards called upon her with a message 
from her father, and found her a well-to-do, handsome, and re- 
spectable woman, and a great contrast to her country cousins 
at Bolsena. 

There is no hotel in the place ; the want of a railroad has 
caused its glory to vanish, since it is no longer a considerable 
thoroughfare. We dined in a large upstair room, at a rough, 
strange kind of place to which our driver took us ; but we were 
not badly entertained. I wished to taste those classic eels, for 
eating the greatest possible quantity of which a certain Pope 
was in the habit of preparing himself secundum artem, like an 
old Roman ; but we were unable to procure any. There was, 
however, an abundant supply of another fish, which the Papal 
fisherman Leo X. — a poor successor to him of the Galilean 
lake — must often have captured and consumed. So, with good 
bread and excellent wine, we ate the delicate long-snouted 
tenca^ fried as English cooks can fry neither fish nor anything 
else — for Italians are famous for their frittura — and as we ate 
talked of Leo X,, and longed for the pleasure of Roscoe's good 
company. For our excellent wine we paid less than half a 
franc a bottle, and for the remainder of our repast in proportion. 

A charming drive back to our hotel at Orvieto concluded 
a day of great enjoyment. 



IN the previous chapter, mention was made of the prevalence 
of brigandage in the neighbourhood of Bolsena in 1852. 
It was not, however, until a recent visit to that part of the 
country that I fully realized the insecurity of the south of Italy. 

We were about to make an excursion from Orvieto, and one 
of our party was the lady of an Italian Colonel quartered in 
the town. When the carriage which she had kindly ordered 
for us drove up, I was surprised to see a soldier seated on the 
box. In reply to my inquiries she said, " The Colonel thinks 
it will be as well for him to accompany us." The region 
through which we drove was indeed wild, and very suggestive 
of brigands, after they had been mentioned to us ; however, 
nothing unpleasant occurred. 

Just as we were starting the lady said, " Look down the 
valley : you see that nice house not far from the city walls ? 
Well, for five years its occupants have been wishing to visit 
their estate in the neighbourhood — some eight or ten miles 
away — but they dare not, for fear of being murdered." It was 
a case of vendetta, as I afterwards understood. 

But what the lady then told us was a still darker story. Signor 

A B , a gentleman well known in the place, was 

awakened from sleep one night by some men, who presented a 
letter, which he was requested to read at once. Calling for a light, 
he looked at it, and then, folding it up again, observed that he 
would peruse it in the morning. " That will not do," replied the 
messengers, '* the letter is concerned with your father, who is 


in the hands of banditti." " Indeed,'' said the son ; and, be- 
stirring himself immediately, he read, or thought that he read, 
the letter. " Yes," said he, " and at such a place I am to meet 
them and pay the ransom. Let us go at once." The horses 
were saddled, and they soon arrived at the appointed place ; 
but no one was waiting. Again the son referred to the letter, 
and found that he had misread it, and ridden in the wrong 
direction. He then betook himself to the place which had 
really been mentioned, but when he arrived on the spot the 
time fixed for the payment of the ransom had passed, and the 
corpse of his father lay on the ground pierced with many 
wounds. The son, a considerable landed proprietor, has since 
the murder been shunned by his acquaintances. 

Not long after this excursion, I was journeying with my 
daughter to Perugia. When we were near the lake — the ancient 
Thrasymenus, the scene of the dire defeat of the Romans by 
Hannibal — we were joined by a pleasant and intelligent French 
woman, a Sister of Charity, who was returning from a visit to 
her friends in Paris and on her way to Todi, where she had 
been labouring for some sixteen years. In speaking of the 
state of the country, she told us that she had known of six 
recent assassinations by brigands in the neighbourhood. 

There are two causes, at least, which contribute to this miser- 
able state of insecurity. One is that the Italians do not choose 
to recognise it. " Brigandage, sir ! " said an Italian senator 
to me sixteen years ago — he was a Prince Somebody, but I 
forget his name, whom I was in the habit of meeting daily at 
a table dlwte in Florence, and who knew England well — 
" Brigandage, sir ! There is no such thing either in Italy or 
Sicily." Could one have conceived such perversity ! 

Another cause is the rarity of capital punishment — the miser- 
able pusillanimity, or softness, or whatever you like to call it, 
— which persists in giving the colouring of extenuating circum- 
stances even to the most atrocious murders. Man will be wiser 



than God ; therefore, man must suffer. The primeval law of 
the Almighty is, " Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man 
shall his blood be shed." The nations, and Italy among them, 
say, " Nay, it shall not be so " : and the result is that unre- 
strained murder stalks fearlessly abroad. 

One is glad to see this suicidal opposition to God given up 
in some parts of the world. Three of the Swiss Cantons have 
lately repealed their rebellious law against capital punishment. 
Experience has taught them that to spare the murderer's life 
does not conduce to the welfare of society. But in our own 
country the development of a mawkish feeling, which amounts 
to rebellion against God, is deplorable. Scarcely a malefactor, 
no matter how atrocious his crime, is sentenced to death with- 
out a number of people, wiser than the laws, than the admini- 
strator of the laws, and than God Himself, the Author of laws, 
raising a mischievous clamour for a reversal of the sentence, 
and so doing their best to frustrate the great Legislator's method 
of removing the guilt of blood from the earth. 

We add a i&w particulars of Italian brigandage to illustrate 
the relations which have subsisted between it and the Romish 

A clever French writer, M. De Santo-Domingo, travelled in 
Italy about the year 1820, and, during his stay in Rome, moved 
in high ecclesiastical society. He was a strong Gallican and 
good Roman Catholic, but not a Papist. Consequently, being 
a firm partisan of the Bourbons, he does not hesitate to cast 
severe blame upon Pius VII. for, in effect, dethroning that 
family by consenting to officiate at the coronation of Buona- 
parte. This he does in his work called Roman Tablets, which 
is a collection of facts and anecdotes of manners, society, and 
government at Rome ; and is of so caustic a character in its 
treatment of the upper classes there, that on his return to Paris 
the author was prosecuted before the Cour Royal — apparently 
at the instigation of the Pope's nuncio — fined, and imprisoned. 


The book was suppressed ; but it had already run through 
several editions, making a great stir upon the Continent, and 
had been translated into English — London, 1826. 

In arraigning the government of the Pope, he observes in 
regard to brigandage, one of the crying evils of the day : 
" Travellers will testify to the truth of my assertion that almost 
every brigand possesses a house, a piece of ground, some cattle, 
and a lawful wife. They obey a chief who exercises over them 
the power of a dictator ; they also experience all the advantages 
which result from absolute power. They are dressed in a 
uniform manner, and wear suspended on their breasts a silver 
heart, containing some holy relic, and bearing on the outside, 
in relief, the image of the Virgin." 

Our author then gives a short account of the robber-bands 
which ravaged the country during the time of Pius VII., whose 
Pontificate lasted from 1800 to 1823. 

Their fame was, I suppose, fairly diffused ; at any rate, a 
vivid remembrance of my boyish days is connected with sundry 
popular prints, exposed in the shop windows, and representing 
combats between the Pope's soldiers and the brigands — ^for 
even these usually too good friends were wont sometimes to 
quarrel, and in the conflicts which ensued — if one may trust the 
prints — the women took no small part, manfully aiding their 

One of these bands was under the leadership of Diecinove, a 
wretch who signalized himself by his horrible cruelties, craving 
more for blood than for gold, and subjecting his victims to pro- 
longed tortures before he killed them. There was not a place 
in the environs of Rome where he had not spread terror and 
carnage. This monster proposed an armistice with the Papal 
government, and his offer was eagerly accepted. 

" As soon as he and his companions had received from the 
holy Father their pardon as assassins, and their absolution as 
Christians, they resolved, now that they were protected by the 


shield of impunity, on visiting the theatre of their exploits to 
view again the villages still reeking with the blood which they 
had shed. This they did, and, since they abstained from 
murder and pillage, demanded money on their departure from 
each place as a reward for their lenity : nor had any one the 
rashness to refuse them. Thus they continued to rob without 
risk, and in a manner under the protection of the government, 
which was fully informed of their conduct, but was willing 
nevertheless, to grant the same amnesty to other bands of 

" The chiefs Masocco and Garbarone, again, displayed an 
infernal genius in the invention of new crimes, and on my 
arrival at the city of Fonnino, their ferocious exploits were the 
one theme of conversation. The Pontifical government, having 
failed to cai)ture these monsters, did not blush to treat with 
them as between nation and nation, and the Cardinal Secretary 
of State was deputed to carry on the negotiations. He had an 
interview with Masocco and his lieutenants near Terracina, and 
these men would have been content to receive the pensions 
and lucrative employments which were offered to them. 

" But Garbarone, the other chief, not finding the conditions 
sufficiently advantageous, redoubled- his depredations, and 
abandoned himself to his ferocious disposition. Again depu- 
tations were sent from the court of Rome, with still more 
seducing offers, to entice the banditti to accept a pardon and 
the remission of all their sins. Garbarone received the pro- 
posals with disdain, and answered them by fresh outrages, so 
that all that part of the country was filled with cries of distress, 

*' At last the rector of Terracina, a man greatly esteemed for 
his piety and virtue, armed himself with a crucifix, and went in 
search of the brigands. He succeeded, partly by his eloquence, 
but more especially by his offers, in persuading them ; and 
then, not content with his first success, wished also to reform 
them, and with this view conducted them to his college, where 



the children of the richest famiUes in the neighbourhood were 
being educated. At first the banditti showed great zeal in all 
pious exercises ; the soul of the good rector melted with tender- 
ness at their penitent behaviour, and he confessed them and 
administered the sacrament to them repeatedly. 

" Suddenly the scene changed. After having fully informed 
themselves of the resources of the families to which the children 
with whom they were living belonged, they, one night, carried 
them all off to the mountains. The rector was absent, and on 
his return discovered too late that he had introduced wolves 
into the fold. 

" The evening before the occurrence of this catastrophe at 
Terracina, I stayed there for some hours, and, on my arrival at 
Valatri, took a seat in the public conveyance for Rome, and 
entered into conversation with Signor Fasani, a Roman, who 
spoke much of his happiness in his son. 

" When we reached Rome, Signor Fasani and myself took 
lodgings in the same hotel. The next morning he entered 
my room, pale with anguish. ' Yesterday,' said he, ' when I was 
speaking to you of my son, he had been carried off by a horde 
of assassins.' Before I could reply, a letter was brought in, and 
he started as he recognized the handwriting of his son. The 
message was as follows : — ' My dear father, do not be unhappy. 
I am in good health, and among very good people, who take 
the greatest care of me, and pay me the greatest attention : 
but if you do not send me two thousand crowns immediately, 
they will kill me.' 

" Hastily collecting all the money he could, he sent it off, 
with a promise that the remainder of the stipulated sum should 
be forwarded as quickly as possible ; and the fathers of the other 
children, who had received similar letters, did the same. The 
brigands released the greater part of their prisoners, and re- 
tained but three, of whom one was twelve years old, another 
thirteen, and the third fourteen. Signor Fasani's son was one 


of these three, and the following is his narrative : — ' When the 
robbers, after having taken us from the seminary, found that 
we could not walk as rapidly as themselves, they lifted us upon 
their shoulders, and did not halt until they had reached the 
mountains. Oa the way they met with some shepherds, whom 
they ordered to bring two fat sheep. After the repast, of which 
we partook, they recited a short prayer, in which they returned 
thanks to St. Antonio for having assisted them to carry out 
their plans. Then one of them read a book, in which, among 
other histories,' was that of an adventurer called Ricardo, whose 
extraordinary enterprises excited in them transports of admira- 
tion. Afterwards they kissed the image of the Virgin, which 
they always carry about their person, and lay down to sleep. 
... I had now seen twelve of ray companions released ; myself 
and two others only remained, and were kept tied together by 
the arms with a cord. The second in command of the band, 
observing that I was uneasy in mind, said, " Fasani, keep up 
your spirits : we are thinking of putting an end to your cap- 
tivity. Meanwhile, preach us a sermon on death." I obeyed 
as well as I was able, little thinking that I was pronouncing 
my own funeral oration. When I had finished, the brigand 
dragged us to a little distance among a group of rocks which 
overhung a precipice, drew his poniard, and buried it in the 
bosoms of my companions. In their fall the cord which tied 
us together pulled me also to the ground, and I fell covered 
with their blood. I threw myself at the feet of the assassin, 
implored his pity, and begged him in the name of St. Antonio 
to spare my life. All this took place with the rapidity of 
lightning. He suspended his poniard, and appeared to hesi- 
tate. " Do not stab him ! " cried the chief, " it will bring us 
ill luck : he has invoked St. Antonio. And he is the last. Let 
us offer a votive picture to St. Antonio." 

'"I was then unbound: the chief spoke kindly to me, and 
gave me a ring, and this pass.' 


"The child showed me the pass, of which the following is 
an exact copy : — 

" ' Every detachment of the company is commanded not to 
stop the bearer, Fasani. 

The Trinity, Virtue, 
Ant: Mattai 
Ed : Aless : jMassaroni.' 

" If,'' the French narrator very justly observes, " the lad had 
simply invoked the name of God, he would have been mur- 
dered. By employing the name of St. Antonio he was 
saved ! 

" Another head of a company of brigands was Bardone. 
This man was trained from childhood by his mother to deeds 
of blood, and no single act of generosity can be recorded to 
his honour. On the contrary, he added refinement to his 
cruelty. After he had exhausted all possible crimes, he wished 
to abdicate the dictatorship of the mountains, and made an 
offer to the Pope to do so provided he received as compensa- 
tion a furnished house, a pension, and a public employment, 
with a supply of absolutions and indulgences. The Holy 
Father assented to his conditions, and the robber-chief made 
his entry into the capital of the Christian world, surrounded 
by a curious multitude, who felt a keen interest even in his 
murders. For at Rome — and alas ! of late in England also — 
men generally transfer to the murderer the pity which is due 
to the victim. Place one of them between an assassin and the 
assassinated, and he will at once sympathise with the former, 
and say, ' Poor fellow 1 he has killed a man ! ' 

" Bardone found a house prepared to receive himself and 
his wife near the bridge of St. Angelo, and the office of prison- 
keeper was assigned to him. He is still living in the same 
place, and walks in the streets of Rome with as much uncon- 


cern as if he were an honest man. Why should he not? Has 
not the holy water cleansed him from all the blood with which 
he was polluted ? Can he feel remorse after having received 
from the Sovereign Pontiff the absolution of all his crimes ? 

" A number of his brethren in crime enjoy the same advan- 
tage of citizenship. Four of them lately presented themselves 
at the door of the Cardinal Secretary of State's carriage to 
demand an augmentation of pay, threatening that, if their 
demands were not conceded, they would return to the moun- 
tains. The Cardinal promised them everything. 

*' And thus," observes our author, " Rome has again become 
what it was at its origin under Romulus, an open asylum for 
robbers. In this respect the Pope resembles Romulus ; the 
latter, however, founded only a profane city. But by what 
fatality is this place, where the religion supremely, excellent 
above all others (?) has established its throne, become the 
rendezvous of ruffians, brigands, and the most atrocious 
assassins, the receptacle of all the vices most degrading to 
humanity, the common sewer of the most filthy depravity ? " 
— Roman Tablets. 

This is indeed strong language for a confirmed Roman 
Catholic to use, and it needs no further comment from us. 



" T T 7"HY, you are a thorough persecutor!" said an acquaint- 

V V ance of mme to a young clergyman who had been 

expressing himself strongly on the subject of intolerance. 

" Yes," was the reply, " I am ready to burn, or to be burned." 

Such a feeling is, I suppose, common enough to the natural 
man. Whatever his convictions may be, he is disposed, if he 
has the power, to force them upon others, and, should he meet 
with resistance, is often irritated by it to such a pitch of fury 
that he is ready for deeds of fiendish cruelty. There is nothing 
more terrible than the odiicin theologicum ; nothing more unlike 
the love of Christ ; nothing which more plainly illustrates that 
profound knowledge of the human heart which led Satan to 
say, " Ye shall be as God." 

And in this point there is the closest resemblance between 
Pagan and Papal Rome. How cruelly the former dealt with 
Christianity as soon as she discovered its true nature we 
have learnt from our childhood : the Ten Persecutions are a 
household word. But were Trajan or Diocletian worse perse- 
cutors than some of the Popes and the monarchs and prelates 
who followed their example ? Did the gardens of Nero present 
a more atrocious spectacle than the Quemadura di la Cross ? 
was the Colosseum more cruel than the innumerable torture- 
chambers of the Inquisition? Nay, in this point, as in so 
many others, Pagan and Papal Rome are in perfect agreement. 

As a specimen of the persecuting spirit of the latter, we may 
quote a passage from Pascal the younger. In his Cases of 
Conscience that writer is urging upon good Roman Catholics 


the duty of denouncing to the Inquisition any of their kinsmen 
or relatives who may be suspected of heresy, and by way of 
encouragement gives them the following example : — 

" Year after year the people of Italy and Spain are sum- 
moned to kneel before the altar of St. Ferdinand of Castile, 
and to bless God for ' the model king ' who, when a heretic 
was burned, came forward, and with his own royal hands 
heaped fagots upon the pile." 

This fact is also mentioned in the Roman Breviary, and is 
thus commended : — 

"In him — Ferdinand — the virtues of a king shone out 
brightly — magnanimity, clemency, love of justice, and, above 
all, zeal for the Catholic faith, and a burning desire to protect 
and propagate its religious worship. He showed this espe- 
cially by the vigour with which he pursued heretics. He 
never allowed them to exist in any part whatever of his 
dominions. And when they were discovered, he himself with 
his own hands carried the fagots to burn them." — Breviarium 
Romaiium, Roma, 1843. See Feast of St. Ferdinand III., 
on the 5th of June. 

Such are the models which Rome lifts up for imitation, such 
the persons whom she delights to canonize. 

However, another Spaniard, Cyprian di Valira, tells us of a 
nobleman of Valladolid who surpassed even this " blessed 
example." For he denounced his two daughters to the In- 
quisition ; and, when they had been condemned, asked and 
obtained permission to furnish fagots for the pile from his own 
forests. At the execution, after he had seen the victims safely 
chained to the stake, he kindled with his own hand the fire 
which was to consume his children ! 

But since we have been quoting examples of Spanish 
bigotry, my readers may, perhaps, be interested in the follow- 
ing extract from the Daily News of May 15th, 1869. It was 
given to me by Mr. A. Guinness, who has recently authenticated 


it at the office of the paper, and relates to the famous, or rather 
infamous, Quemadura di la Cross, or Burning Place of the 
Cross, at Madrid : — 

" While the Cortes were debating upon religion, the workmen 
of the corporation of Madrid were laying bare one of the most 
conclusive historical records of the awful deeds committed in 
its name by the fanatics of olden times, who sought to per- 
petuate Catholic unity by the destruction of all who opposed 
it. I allude to the time of the Inquisition, when the Church 
of Rome believed that the best way to put down error was to 
burn the heretics. In making some new streets it became 
necessary to cut through the spot where tradition recorded 
that the burnings of the Inquisition used to take place, and 
which has always gone by the name of the ' Quemadura de la 
Cross,' or ' Burning-place of the Cross.' 

" These excavations have not only confirmed tradition as to 
the spot, but have revealed something of the sad and cruel 
deeds themselves. The remains of the fires have been exposed 
in regular layers of long black bands, some of them 150 feet 
in length, and of varying thicknesses, with the spaces between 
them, which are from one to two feet, filled in with earth. A 
new road had been cut right through the spot, at a level of 
some twenty or thirty feet, and the cutting thus eftected having 
been neatly faced leaves the original sandstone and clay 
formation on each side like a wall. There the black bands 
I have alluded to are distinctly seen, and at first sight seem 
like geological strata. There is, however, nothing of the coal 
formation in the hills on which Madrid is built. It is 2,400 
feet above the level of the sea, and the formation is exclusively 
sandy limestone. One must seek in other than geological 
causes the presence of these black bands or layers. They are 
the veritable remains of the Inquisition fires — pulverised and 
blackened earth and coal, greasy even yet with human grease. 
Pieces of burnt clothing, calcined bones, and partially burnt 


hair have been taken out. All Madrid has been to the spot, 
and thousands have carried away some of the black mass itself, 
or of the cruel records found in it. 

"To-day's Imparcial, speaking of it, says : — ' It is the place 
where Catholics, pious and bewitched monarchs, permitted 
rational human creatures of all ages and conditions, and of 
both sexes, to be burnt alive, the victims of implacable In- 
quisitors, slippery monks, and impious defenders of the faith, 
as those executioners of human thought called themselves. It 
is where that unjust and dark Tribunal did its work, where 
they caused men and women, boys and girls, accused of 
sacrilege, heresy, compacts with Satan, and such like, to 
breathe their last in the midst of horrible torments. There 
the coal whose remains we now see, after being blessed by the 
Dominican fathers, burnt all who did not think or believe as 
the king and the monks thought or believed, or who would 
not serve the interests of tyranny, royal or clerical. There, in 
the bands one over another, in the manner of geological strata, 
we see, mixed up with fatty black earth, pulverised remains of 
muscles consumed by the live coal, calcined bones, remains of 
garments singed by the flames, halters stiff with coagulated 
blood, locks of hair imperfectly burnt — irresistible witnesses to 
the fact that brothers of ours expired amidst the flames, their 
hearts beating with energetic protests against men worse than 
hyaenas, judges of perfidious heart and granite soul, who con- 
demned them to die amidst agonies without number, and in 
the name of Christ delivered them to those fires.'" 

Thus, while in the land of Assyria, in response to the efforts 
of Rassam, Smith, and other successors of Layard, earth was 
giving up her long-buried witnesses to the truth of the Old 
Testament histories — at this same time the hands of labourers 
at Madrid were laying bare proofs of cruel outrage perpetrated 
in the name of Christ upon innocent persons by the most 
terrible secret tribunal which the world has yet seen. 



IN Pagan times the great opposition to Christianity was 
carried on by the secret societies of the initiated, who at 
first tried to stamp out the new religion by persecution, and 
then, more successfully, to corrupt it by foisting themselves 
among its teachers and counsellors. 

A striking parallel is found in the secret society of the 
Jesuits — that indefatigable Order which undoubtedly saved the 
Romish Church from destruction at the period of the Reform- 
ation, and has ever since proved the chief stay and strength 
of the system of disguised Paganism which we have been 
endeavouring to expose. But energetic as its members showed 
themselves to be in times that are past, it is probable that they 
were never more so than in the last few years. To their exer- 
tions we may refer the fact that the tide of Popery is again 
setting in upon the Protestant countries of England, America, 
and Germany. 

Some five-and-twenty years ago a priest, in the course of 
conversation with an English lady at Teneriffe, remarked, — 
" Your nation will soon lose its Protestantism, and return to the 
bosom of the true Church. In about twenty years the change 
will be in rapid progress, and I will tell you how you may know 
that it is going on. You will see crosses put up everywhere — 
in your churches, in your churchyards, and in your houses." 

Alas ! the sign is indisputably before our eyes, and there is 
too much reason to fear that the prediction is proving true. 

With that patient persistence which would be likely to 


characterize highly-educated men, trained to regard their indi- 
vidual efforts as a mere contribution to the action of a vast and 
skilfully-directed organization engaged in carrying out a plan 
which will avowedly require many years for its accompUshment, 
the Jesuits have worked on. They have gradually secured a 
great influence over the Press ; they have become clergymen 
and ministers of various denominations, and whenever, in such 
positions, it did not seem advisable to infuse their own tenets 
into their teaching, they have been content to be orthodox for 
the sole purpose of spreading that doctrine of tolerance and 
Christian charity which is ever upon their lips, until they have 
accumulated sufficient power to enforce obedience to their own 
iron tyranny. For they ever recognize the fact that it is as 
important for their object to attenuate Protestant feeling, and 
to enfeeble Protestant organization, as it is to propagate their 
own views. Nor, it is to be feared, are they unmindful of that 
rule of I heir Order which directs them to spread revolutionary 
sentiments, and to encourage sedition and anarchy, in those 
countries in which the supremacy of the Pope is not recognized. 
Hitherto the British empire has been their great obstacle, but 
the result of their labours may now be seen in every part of it," 
both at home and in the colonies and dependencies. 

We cannot, however, in this book enter into the details of 
their history ; but before dismissing the subject would just point 
to the remarkable parallel between the Jesuit revival in Europe, 
about A.D. 1600, and the so-called Catholic revival which is now 
vigorously progressing in England. 

The Jesuits, we know, were the chief agents in rolling back 
the tide of spiritual light which flowed from the Reformation ; 
and principles identical with theirs, employed first by Dr. Pusey 
and the Oxford Tractarians, and since by the whole body of 
the sacerdotal clergy, have in our own country opposed, and to 
a considerable extent checked, the flow of evangelical truth 
which some forty years ago was bidding fair to cover the land. 


In both cases the spiritual revival was counteracted by a 
Catholic revival. 

But let facts speak for themselves. About forty years ago, 
Mr. Dodsvvorth, who, more honest than his fellows, openly left 
the Church of England for that of Rome, wrote as follows to 
his friend Dr. Pusey : — 

"You have led us on to that Church system of which Sacra- 
mental grace is the life and the soul. By your constant practice 
of administering the doctrine of penance ; by encouraging 
auricular confession, and giving priestly absolution; by teaching 
the propitiatory sacrifice of the Eucharist, and the adoration of 
Christ really present upon the altar ; by your introduction of 
Roman Catholic books, rosaries, crucifixes, and devotion to the 
five wounds ; by seeking to restore monastic life — I say by 
teaching and practice you have done much to revive among us 
the system eminently called Sacramental." — DodswortJi s Letters 
to Pusey. Pickering, 1850. 

" Done much," indeed ! Every doctrine and practice men- 
tioned by Mr. Dodsworth is in direct opposition to the Articles 
of the Church of England. Yet it was through the persistent 
use and propagation of them by a clergyman, under oath at the 
time to believe and teach those Articles, that the " Catholic 
revival " sprang into life and grew in the Church of England ! 

Whether Dr. Pusey, and other leaders of the movement, 
actually belonged to the Society of Loyola or not, will perhaps 
never be disclosed until He comes " Who will both bring to 
light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the 
counsels of the heart." 



WE must now, for the present at least, bring our subject 
to a close. Of prepared material we have, indeed, 
sufficient for several additional chapters, but this is an age of 
brevity, and enough has been said to show that the transition 
from Paganism to Popery effected but little change in the prin- 
ciples and practice of Rome, and left her religion much the 
same as it was before, save that Christian names and terms 
were now given to the Heathen deities and rites. 

Would that the eyes of Englishmen could be opened to the 
fact ; sturdy efforts might then, perhaps, be put forth to coun- 
teract the sleepless propagandism by which our land is being 
filled with Popish churches, monasteries, convents, and schools. 
And alas ! the evil is not confined to our land : in the United 
States of America, Rome is making even more rapid progress, 
so that some statesmen are beginning to feel alarm at the 
possibility of her power becoming paramount. If, again, we 
turn to Germany, the prospect is still gloomy : for we find that, 
after a desperate and ineffectual struggle often years' duration, 
Prince Bismarck is virtually surrendering to the Pope. Every- 
where in the so-called Protestant countries Rome seems to be 
triumphing ; while in other parts of Christendom, where she is 
better known, her influence is gradually yielding to the pressure 
of Secularism. 

What shall the end of these things be ? Earth has need of 
her rightful King, and Christians should pray more earnestly, 
" Come, Lord Jesus ! " 


But in preparing to meet Him, let us take heed that we fall 
not into the errors of human religion, and remember that it is 
no mere Church-holiness which we need : it is not that which 
is made to consist in obedience to certain rules of man's inven- 
tion, or in submission to some human system ; not that which 
is derived from membership with one church or another ; not 
that which deals with meats, drinks, saints' days, Lent, seasons, 
hours, priests, altars, and buildings made with hands. 

Such things pertain to man's method of holiness, to the 
holiness of the Scribes and Pharisees, of which Christ teaches 
that, unless ours exceeds it, we shall in no wise enter the 
Kingdom of Heaven. But God's method sweeps them all 
away, and directs us for the attainment of holiness to two 
things only, to the Holy Word, and to the Holy Spirit, Who 
can apply that Word so as to make us thereby believers in 
Christ Jesus, and members of His holy and invisible Church, 
nay, members of His own body, of His flesh and of His bones. 
And if we be thus created anew, sin is washed away, and we 
have the unspeakable privilege of living for our Lord now, the 
joy of knowing that nothing can separate us from the love of 
Christ, and the certainty that we shall shortly enter the gates of 
glory, and dwell in the golden city for ever. For did not our 
Saviour pray — 

" Fatlier, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me. be with Me 
where I am ; that they may behold My glory which Thou hast given Me : 
for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world " ? 

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