Зображення сторінки

in his diocese or his contributions to the series of instructive books issued by the Society of St. Jerome. During the erection of the Cathedral of Djakovo he visited it several times daily, studying the plans with the architect, and inspecting almost every stone. As a priest he was indefatigable; he had revived the custom of reading the Epistles and Gospels aloud in the Croat tongue; and he continued to preach until the infirmities of age, weakening his powerful and melodious voice, forced him to abandon the pulpit. The distribution of the Holy Eucharist was his dearest privilege; he often traveled to distant villages in order to celebrate Mass on a First Communion day. On these occasions he addressed the children familiarly; reminded them that. Croat meant Catholic; that their attachment to their religion was the guarantee of their future as a nation; and gave them his blessing often with tears of emotion running down his cheeks.

Strossmayer has been accused of ambition-even of aspiring to the greatest of all dignities, the sceptre wielded so powerfully by his compatriot, Sixtus V.; but to those who knew him personally, as well as to those who study impartially the record of his life, it is plain that his zeal for the Church and his devotion to his own nation were the barriers to his elevation to the archiepiscopate.

One of the most edifying moments of his career was that in which he hastened to pay homage to his newly-appointed superior-his inferior in years, in services to the Church, and in mental qualifications. At the aged prelate's approach, the new Archbishop advanced to meet him and, in confusion, reversing the usual order, bent down to kiss his hand before Strossmayer could protest. Tears stood in the eyes of all present, and only the countenance of one remained serene. He, whom Hungarian statesmen thought to mortify, was well content to work in any capacity in the Lord's vineyard. The pallium which Leo XIII. soon after conferred on the Bishop of Djakovo, and a letter expressing the warmest appreciation of his services to the Church, sufficiently demonstrated the esteem in which he was held by the Head of Christendom. As an instance of the Bishop's conciliatory spirit, we may recall the following:

He had contributed largely to the erection of a new church in honor of the Blessed Virgin, on Mount Tersatt, in Dalmatia, where the Holy House of Nazareth is supposed to have paused in its miraculous journey to Loreto. When invited to officiate at the dedication, however, he waived the honor in favor of one who was considered his great political rival, but who had ever remained his dear brother in Christ, Bishop Stadler, the upholder of the Austrian element in Bosnia.

It was Bishop Stadler who pronounced the funeral panegyric on the Bishop of Djakovo when he was laid to rest, in the Cathedral of his own foundation, amidst the tears of a nation and in the presence of numerous representatives from neighboring states and of envoys from several crowned heads of Europe.

The orator took for his text the motto of the deceased prelate, the motto to which he had so faithfully adhered: All for Faith and Fatherland," and showed that this valiant son of the Church had accomplished so much, because he was essentially, and beyond all else, a man of prayer.

I have always loved, beyond any human converse, that which solitude procured me face to face with my Creator."



# RUGES, a city “from whose towers (to borrow the words of Matthew Arnold) still breathe the enchantments of the Middle Ages,” can boast high antiquity, an eventful history, great prosperity, and importance in the past. From a very early date, probably from the time of the Romans, there stood, about nine miles west of Ghent, a fortified camp or castle on a small oblong-shaped island, formed by the confluence of the river Boterbeke with the Roya, and a broad moat connecting the two streams, in the northwest corner of Flanders. This lonely, desolate spot, hemmed in by forest and marsh, was little more than a dismal waste. Caesar mentions it as a barren, unhealthy land, and Eumenius says of it that the land seemed to float on the ocean, and when trodden on quaked underfoot. Its name of Brugge, or Bruggestock, was perhaps taken from the brugge, or heather and undergrowth which surrounded it, or from the brigge (bridge) whereby it was approached. Some chroniclers say that the fort was erected in the fourth century to protect the bridge, the ancient seal of the city being a castle and bridge. Hard by the fort, on the mainland, was a small sanctuary, supposed to have been built by St. Eligius in the seventh century; tradition asserts that on the site of that chapel St. Saviour's Church now stands. Towards the close of the year 630, as is recorded in a life of St. Amand, Bishop of Bourges, by one of his disciples (Boll. Acta SS. vi. Feb.) that prelate, having journeyed to Rome, was praying before the tomb of the Apostles, when suddenly he heard the voice of St. Peter, bidding him return to Gaul, where he must preach the Gospel. So impressed was he by the reality of the command, that he instantly set out for the North, and presently reached Sens. There he was told that there was a country beyond the Scheldt called Gand, where dwelt a wild people who had forgotten God and worshipped trees; so rude was this land, and so fierce its inhabitants, that no missionary dare venture thither. “This must be the field,” quoth Amand, “which St. Peter would have me till,” and, with a small band of followers, he landed on the further side of the Scheldt. The newcomers were received with unmistakable signs of hostility by the settlers around the fortress of Brugge; the saint himself was seized and plunged into the river. This so terrified his companions that they fled in dismay; but Amand fearlessly continued the work he had begun, and in course of time won the confidence of the people, many of whom he baptized, and whose idol temples he destroyed. For thirty years he remained in that district, teaching and preaching and enduring all manner of hardships. Presently he was joined by other missionaries. Churches and monasteries were built, the land was brought under cultivation, villages and small towns were formed. Several of these towns in the neighborhood of Bruges claim as their founder one or other of the missionaries who at that time evangelized the country. In the eighth century St. Boniface and St. Walburga are said to have visited Bruges, the former founding a church in honor of our Lady, the latter the parish church which bears her name. Already in the seventh century Bruges had a civic organization of its own, and appears to have been a place of some importance. Charlemagne secured the tranquillity of Germany by subduing the Saxons. Some of these Saxons, however, settled in Flanders. This accounts for the difference of language in the northern and southern provinces; in the former Flemish, in the latter Walloon is the vernacular. The early governors of Flanders, appointed by Charlemagne and his successors, bore the title of Forester, because they had charge of the vast forests about Bruges. They had also to defend the coast against the Normans, who made descents, ravaged the country, and left a trail marked by the ashes of towns and villages, the ruins of churches and monasteries. So much were these ferocious pirates dreaded that the Brugeois added a petition to their litany: “From the fury of the Northmen deliver us, O Lord.” The title of Forester was changed to that of Count on the appointment of Baldwin Bras. de fer, who carried off and married the fair Judith, daughter of the King of France. He was the first of the long line of Counts of Flanders, whose power was gradually augmented as Bruges, their chief town, extended its limits and increased its commerce. Thither Emma, the widow of Canute, went to live when driven from England. Entering as an exile, she quitted it later in triumph when her son, Hardicanute, who had joined her at Bruges, was elected King of England. In the eleventh century Arwulf, Bishop of Soissons, was sent to preach to the Flemings, and to convert the then Count. Arwulf was the means of transforming him from a cruel, warlike ruler to a peaceful, devout Christian. The Bishop's labors and those of the monks of the Benedictine Abbey of Oudenburg, which he founded and where he died, completed the civilization and evangelization of Flanders. During the rule of Charles the Good a famine desolated the land. The Count daily fed a hundred destitute poor in Bruges; and on being reproached for this liberality, answered : “I know how needy are the poor and how selfish the high born.” He was murdered while kneeling in the Church of St. Donatus; his body was left lying in the desecrated edifice until one of his servants wrapped it in a winding sheet and placed four candles round it. The assassin was hurled to death from the Church tower. During the reign of Thierry of Alsace, who for forty years ruled well and wisely, St. Bernard came to Bruges preaching the crusade. “Worn with fasting and mortification,” says an ancient writer, “pale, seeming scarcely to live, the saint's appearance moved men almost as much as his words.” Count Thierry more than once took up the sword of the crusader; on his return from one of these expeditions he brought to Bruges a treasure which has had no little influence on the artistic and religious development of this city, which for centuries has attracted and still attracts to it thousands of pious pilgrims. When Thierry was about to leave Jerusalem, his brother-in-law, Baldwin III., King of Jerusalem, gave him, as a guerdon because of the valor he had displayed, a crystal vial in which was a crimson fluid, said by tradition to be some drops of the Precious Blood of Christ, collected by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus when they washed the blood-stained body before laying it in the sepulchre. Thierry received, on his knees, the sacred relic, which was closed by gold stoppers; but he said a rough

« НазадПродовжити »