Page images
PDF
EPUB

box filled with gunpowder, and out of the box hung a long thin match that was to burn slowly, and was hidden among the leaves of the tree. As soon as the monk, or his assistant, had touched the match with a lighted coal, he began his sermon. In the mean time the magpie returned to er nest, and finding in it a strange body which she could not remove, she fell into a passion, and began to scratch with her feet and chatter most unmercifully. The friar affected to hear her without emotion, and continued his sermon with great composure; only he would now and then lift up his eyes towards the top of the tree, as if he wanted to see what was the matter. At last, when he judged that the match was near reaching the gunpowder, he pretended to be quite out of patience; he cursed the magpie, wished St. Anthony's fire might consume her, and went on again with his sermon. But he had scarcely pronounced two or three periods, when the match, all of a sudden, produced its effect, and blew up the magpie with its nest; which miracle wonderfully raised the character of the friar, and proved afterwards very beneficial to him and to his convent.

Galbert, monk of Marchiennes, informs us of a strange act of devotion in his time, and which, indeed, is attested by several cotemporary writers. When the saints did not readily comply with the prayers of their votarists, they flogged their relics with rods, in a spirit of impatience, which they conceived was proper to make them bend into compliance.

When the reformation was spread in Lithuania, Prince Radzivil was so affected, that he went in person to visit the pope, and pay him all possible honours. His holiness on this occasion presented him with a box of precious relics. Having returned home, the report of this invaluable possession was spread; and, at length, some monks entreated permission to try the effects of these relics on a demoniac who had hitherto resisted

every kind of exorcism. They were brought into church with solemn pomp, deposited on the altar, and an innumerable crowd attended. After the usual con

jurations, which were unsuccessful, they applied to the relics. The demoniac instantly became well. The people cried out “A miracle!” and the prince, lifting his hands and eyes to heaven, felt his faith confirmed. In this transport of pious joy, he observed that a young gentleman, who was keeper of this rich treasure of relics, smiled, and appeared by his motions to ridicule the miracle. The prince, with violent indignation, took our young keeper of the relics to task; who, on a promise of pardon, gave the following secret intelligence concerning them :-He assured him that, in travelling from Rome, he had lost the box of relics, and that, not daring to mention it, he had procured a similar one, which he had filled, with small bones of cats, and dogs, and other trifles, similar to what was lost. He hoped he might be forgiven for smiling, when he found that such a collection of rubbish was idolized with such pomp, and had even the virtue of expelling demons. It was by the assistance of this box that the prince discovered the gross impositions of the monks and the demoniacs, and he afterwards became a zealous Lutheran.

The following account of the liquefaction of the blood of St. Januarius is related by a respectable eyewitness:-"The grand procession on this occasion was composed of a numerous body of clergy, and an immense number of people of all ranks, headed by the archbishop of Naples himself, who carried the phial containing the blood of the saint. A magnificent robe of velvet, richly embroidered, was thrown over the shoulders of the bust; a mitre, refulgent with jewels, was placed on its head. The archbishop, with a solemn pace, and a look full of awe and veneration, approached, holding forth the sacred phial which contained the precious lump of blood; he addressed the saint in the humblest manner, fervently praying that he would graciously condescend to manifest his regard to his faithful votaries, the people of Naples, by the usual token of ordering that lump of his sacred blood to assume its natural and original form; in these pray

[ocr errors]

ers he was joined by the multitude around, particularly by the women. My curiosity prompted me to mingle with the multitude. I got, by degrees, very near the bust. Twenty miuutes had already elapsed since the archbishop had been praying with all possible earnestness, and turning the phial round and round without any effect. An old monk stood near the archbishop, and was at the utmost pains to instruct him how to handle, chafe, and rub the phial; he frequently took it into his own hand, but his manœuvres were as ineffectual as those of the archbishop. By this time the people had become noisy; the women were quite hoarse with praying; the monk continued his operations with increased zeal, and the archbishop was all over in a profuse sweat with vexation. An acquaintance whispered it might be prudent to retire. I directly took the hint, and joined the company I had left. An universal gloom overspread all their countenances. One very beautiful young lady cried and sobbed as if her heart had been ready to break. The passions of some of the rabble without doors took a different turn; instead of sorrow, they were filled with rage and indignation at the saint's obduracy-and some went so far as to call him an old ungrateful yellow-faced rascal. It was now almost dark, and, when least expected, the signal was given that the miracle was performed. The populace filled the air with repeated shouts of joy; a band of music began to play; Te Deum was sung; couriers were despatched to the royal family (then at Portici) with the glad tidings; the young lady dried up her tears; the countenances of our company brightened in an instant; and they sat down to cards, without further dread of eruptions, earthquakes, or pestilence."

The mysteries, as they were called, or representations of the Divine Being, the crucifixion, &c. were formerly very common in the church of Rome. They served for the amusement and instruction of the people; and so attractive were these gross exhibitions in the dark ages, that they formed one of the principal orna

ments of the reception which was given to princes when they entered towns.

In the year 1437, when Conrad Bayer, bishop of Metz, caused the mystery of the Passion to be represented on the plain of Veximiel, near that city, Christ was personated by an old gentleman named Nicholas Neufchatel, of Tourain, curate of Saint Victory, of Metz, and who was very near expiring on the cross, had he not been timely assisted. He was so enfeebled, that it was agreed another priest should be placed on the cross the next day, to finish the representation of the person crucified, which was done; at the same time, the said Nicholas undertook to perform the resurrection, which being a less difficult task, he did it, it is said, admirably well. Another priest, whose name was John De Nicey, curate of Metrange, personated Judas; and he had liked to have been stifled while he hung upon the tree, for his neck was dislocated; this being at length luckily perceived, he was quickly cut down, and recovered.

Addison, in his travels through Italy, makes mention of a wonderful sermon having been preached to the fishes by the famous St. Anthony, who lived about six hundred years ago, and is the favourite saint of Padua, where a magnificent monument has been erected by the Catholics to his memory.

It seems that when the heretics would not regard his preaching, he betook himself to the sea-shore, where the river Maxechin disembogues itself into the Adriatic. He here called the fish together, in the name of God, that they might hear his holy word. The fish came swimming towards him in such vast shoals, both from the sea and from the river, that the surface of the water was quite covered with their multitudes. They quickly ranged themselves, according to their several species, into a very beautiful congregation, and like so many rational creatures, presented themselves before him to hear the word of God.

After addressing them for a length of time, he concluded in the following words:" And since for all

[graphic]

HENRY IV. OF GERMANY,

Having displeased Pope Gregory 7th. was compelled by that Pontiff to do penance three days before his residence in the depth of winter.

[graphic]

TORTURE BY THE INQUISITION

This bloody Tribunal in order to extort a confession from its victims often put them to extreme tortures one method is seen in the engraving

« PreviousContinue »