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At the Council of Trent in 1546, when they came to settle the article of original sin, the conflicting opinions had nearly proved a fatal stumbling-block. The Franciscans were very anxious to make an especial exemption of the virgin, and the Dominicans, with the same assiduity, endeavoured to compres hend her by name under the common law. The legate had been labouring with all diligence to divert the discussion of the question; but as politics grew warm, he wrote to the pope, Paul III. who enjoined them to observe the brief of Sixtus IV.* Upon receipt of this, the legate, supported by the wiser prelates, exhorted both parties to cease from their contention, and to make common cause against the Lutherans.' “ They were, on both sides, contented to be silent, so that their opinion were not prejudiced; yet the Franciscans said that the Canon was against them if the Virgin were not excepted, and the Dominicans that they were condemned if she were. It was necessary to find a way how it might be declared that she was neither comprehended, nor affirmatively excepted; which was, by saying, they had no intention either to comprehend or except her. Afterwards, at the great instance of the Franciscans, the others were content it should be said, only they had no meaning to comprehend her; and to obey the Pope, it was added, that the constitutions of Sixtus IV. should be observed.The ingenious method of eluding, but not subduing the difficulty, did not escape the remark in Germany. . In the early part of the XVIIth century, a Spanish visionary, named Mary d’AGREDA, in a Life of the virgin written in obedience to repeated injunctions from on high, gave a particular account of the conception, which she affected to discover in the twenty-first chapter of Revelations. This work abounded with so many absurdities, that the Sorbonne found it necessary
* This pope, who was a Franciscan, had written upon this subject before his exaltation to the chair of St. Peter, and made two bulls, one (in favour of the celebration) in 1476, the other in 1483, condemning it as undecided.
+ See Book II. pp. 162-73, and p. 176, of the Hist. of the Council of Trent, translated by Sir Nathaniel Brent, from the Italian of Pietro Soave Polano, (Paolo Sarpi Venetiano.) Lond. 1676. fol. .
Bayle, to whom we refer the reader, cites the title, as follows, from the translation of Thomas Croset: La mystique cité de Dieu, miracle de la Toute-puissance, abîme de la Grace, Histoire divine de la vie de la très Sainte Vierge Marie Mère de Dieu, notre Reine et Maitresse, manifestée dans ces derniers siecles par la Sainte Vierge à la Saur Marie de Jesus, Abesse du Convent de l'Immaculée Conception de la ville d'Agreda, de l'Ordre de Saint François, et écrite par cette même Sæur, par ordre de ses supérieurs et de ses confesseurs. .
of the juncto undertook to manage the designe ; for they said, the people were so much disposed to believe dreams and fables, they must dream of their side, and endeavour to cheat the people as well as the others had done."*
The remainder shall be given in the words of our MS., and the notes will supply all the material variations of Burnet's narrative.t
“Anno 1509, contended the two orders of preaching friers, I and the friers minoris,ß mightely, of the conception of the Virgin Mary : the friers minoris held she was pure, and conceived without any originall sinn, the preaching friers said she was conceived like other men in originall sinn.
"When much was handeled in this manner, and a disputation held about it att Heydelberg, yet nothing concluded in it, it came to passe, that the preaching friers presumed to establish and confirm their opinion by false miracles; Doctor Wigandus, a preaching frier, writt a book against the clean conception of the virgin Mary, and accused herein the holy fathers, that they had all erred in this point, wherefore Wigandus was cited to Roome.
“ Now this false councell of the false miracle was concluded on Anno 1506, in the chapter, and a fitt place enquired after, they had a feare of Franckfort, because of the manifold strange merchants which resort thither [sic], who might prie into their evill pretention, also Neurenborch they thought was to cunning for their fancie, also they chose Bern in Switserland, where there was an honest, simple, unlearn
* From “Some letters containing an account of what seemed most remarkable in Switzerland, Italy, &c. written by G. Burnet, D.D. Rotterdam, 1686;" a work of which we hope to give a full account at a future period.
+ The translator of Mosheim refers to the following authors as recording the fraud at length. Rucher, vol. vi. Hist. de la Reformat. en Suisse, and HOTTINGER, Hist. Eccles. Helvet. i. p. 284. He likewise states Jetzer to have " died some time after at Constance, having poisoned himself, as was believed by some.” This would almost appear a mistake, see infrà p. 31, and the note. : This was the original title of the Dominicans, who were mainly instituted for the purpose of public instruction. They were called Fratres Majores, in opposition to the Franciscans, and Jacobins in France, from the Rue de St. Jaques, which contained their first convent built at Paris.
§ The Franciscans, by the humility of their founder, were not called fratres, but fraterculi. Fraticelli,Ital. Frères Mineurs, Fr. Fratre Minore, Lat. This expression probably alludes to the idea entertained in the XIIIth century, from the pretended prophecies of Joachim Abbas, that Francis was the angel, Revelat. xiv. 6, who was to preach the true gospel. See Mosheim, Cent. XIII. P. II. ch. ii. § 33 and 34. And shortly after, Pierre d’Olive considered St. Francis as entirely transformed into the person of Christ. Ibid. § 36. . ,
ed, boorish, people, yet very valiant, who, if their bussiness succeeded, might help them to defend their opinion, if need required: with this conclusion, four preaching friers of the observants att Bern, undertook the bussiness, being the superiors of the cloister, viz. the prior, supprior, preacher, and the procurator, whose names, for brevitie's sake j omitte, as being unworthy of names.
“They begann diligently to seek an opportunity, with the first conveniency, to produce the miracle, and because they might do it with more security, they conjured the divell, (for one among them was a magician, which they thought very convenient for their purpose,) the divell, whom they had called, appeared presently to them in the form of a blackamore, and after this they had consulted together of the matter, the divell promised them his assistance, with this condition, that they should totally give themselves over to him as his own; also they gave themselves over to the divell, and seigned the writing with their own bloud : in the meane while it happened, that a simple honest young man, aged 23 years, a journeyman tayler, came to begg for the ordre, to be a brother of the lowest degree in the cloister, which was presently denyed him, but he beseeched the holy fathers so earnestly, saying he came not with empty hands, but profered them 53 florins and some clothes of Damask and red silk, and prayed them to admit him into the order ; this moved the four devote fathers, who presently agreed to take the fish, the 53 florins, and not to lett him escape out of the nett; besides, they thought this taylor to be so simple and fitt for their purpose, therefore they consulted about it, and took him in, and the ready money in their hands.
“When they perceived the grosse simplicity of the brother, they thought to prove him if he would fitt their purpose : also vpon twelf day* Anno 1507 they beganne to trie his simplicity, they threw stoones against his cell and ratteled making a great noise, as if it had bene a ghost, whereby he was terrified; in the mourning, he complained of it to the 4 friers, then they thought their bussinesse would proceed, then they prepared for him a sleeping-place in the procurator's cell, in a hole, and hung in it a bell, which, if any apparition came to him, he should ring, they gave him also holy water, and other relicks, in his cell.
“ After that, vpon a night, vpon the Friday before St. Matthias, the supprior, disguised in a white sheete, making a hideous noise, as if he had brought the divell along with him, came into the cell, so that the brother almost dispaired, and the sweat rann down all his body; then the ghost opend and shutt a little chest that the brother had in his cell, oftentimes, and took his couering from his sleep place, also, that he remained onely in the cappe of his order, in greate fear, so that he rang the bell, then the seeming spirit drew nearer to him, and took him by the neck, then the brother cried out, now God help thee, and his gracious mother, when j cannot help thee; then answered the false ghost, O sonn and servant of God, thee and thy brothers might help
* According to Burnet," the very night after he took the habit, which was on Lady-day, 1507."
me, when for 8 dayes you whip yourselves with rods vntill the bloud come, and say 8 masses for me in St. John's chappel, and you lay by it vpon your face with your arms stretched out, and as often as you say a pater noster kisse the ground, and then j shall be released; this chastising seemed heavy to the brother, yet he promised to tell the fathers of it, wherewith the ghost seemed well contented, and desired him to be earnest with the fathers, that this pennance was made for him, then he would come again the next Friday, about 9 or. 10 o'clock, with a great noise, whereof he should not be afraid, for the divell which plagued him, would do him si. e. Jetzer] no harm, being a holy man. With the words, left the false ghost the brother in his sweath, going away with a great noise, rejoycing that he had so cunningly deceived this novice, in hopes, this beginning would prove well to the end, according to their purpose.
“In the mourning, the poor foolish brother diligently related all what had happened vnto him to the 4 friers, desiring the release of this ghost, and their assistance in the pennance, which they easely graunted him, as being the contrivers of the apperition. Then this was noised abroad, and there arose a great rumor and concurrence of people to hear of this ghost and penance : the preacher, doctor Stephen, preached thereof in his sermon, and expounded the ghost and the penance, that there was such a blessed life in their ordre, which was manifested by this, that the brother sought help by them; further, he teached that there was a voluptuous life among the friers minoris, especially at Bern, whose cappes did alwayes smell of wine, and therefore led an offensive life, and brought it so farre with other words, that the friers minoris were much sleighted by the people, and a more concurrence came to the preaching friers, where they saw this holy man dayly prostrated on the ground, behind the priest att masse, but this was among other things intended, that the great brotherhood of St. James att Bern should be given to them.
“Afterwards, the 4 principall occasioners of this wonderfulle and strange historie agreed, that Doctor Stephen, in a confession, should know of the brother his minde and former life, and principally, if he had any doubt of this ghost: the brother had no doubt in the least, and abode constant in his simplicity, therefore they prepared against the aforesaid night, and carried in the brother's cell and the two next him, the holy sacrament, holy water, consecrated lights, a piece of the holy crosse, and such like reliques, and the prior spoke some prayers in the cell, admonishing the brother to take heart and be bold, and not to fear att all, for this time they would know, whether it were a good or an evill spirit, when all things were putt in ordre, it happened vpon the Friday night, att the promised hour, that the false ghost, together with other evill spirits, conjured vp for that purpose, came with such a rattle in the cloister, that all that were in it were terrified, and after a terrible noise he came to the brother's cell, then began the brother to adjure him by the holy passion of Christ, that he should assist him, wherevpon the ghost answered, O brother, it is not needfull to adjure me, but the evill spirits which are round about me and torment me. Immediately, through his simplicity, he adjured the
evill spirits to be quiet, and demanded some questions, which the ghost left vnanswered, and threw a piece of lighting wood in the chamber to him, and then began to tell a long story, viz. that he had bene a master of the Scriptures att the high scoole at Paris, and after that was made a priest, and came into the order of this convent, where in a short time he was made Prior, he gave himself also a name of a long deceased Prior, also that he was soone deprived of his Priorship, and being angry was returned to Paris, and there on a certain time did climbe* out of the cloister, and falling into bad company in strange disguise, was killed vnconfessed, wherefore j am come, (saith he,) in such torment, and because also that j was excommunicated, for an vnmarried woman, which j oftentimes privatly enticed into the cloister.
.“ Also be named some which were deep in purgatorie, and said there was nothing more pernicious to a frier then proper goods, and in this cloister, (said he,) is one who hath some crucked pennies of his own, which the divell often numbers over for gladnesse : this he said, because he should be the better believed, if he discovered secret things and shewed where things were hid: in the mourning he ordered that this money was brought into the Prior's cell: to whom the propriety of it was not hurtfull.
“ Also the ghost thanked the brother and his paters, for the benefit they had shewed him, with this addition, that so his Paters would say 30 masses for him, and read 4 vigilies, and that you would whip your self once more till the bloud come, and then j should be delivered from this paine, which i have now suffered for 160 yeares, and be quite released; and for a seigne, he threw a lanthorn vpon the sleep place in pieces. It is wearisome to tell all the fantastic tricks this false ghost played with the brother, which he himself writt down, in hopes, that if their bussinesse prospered, to sett out in print, as a thing to be chronickled, but the leafe is turned, and their own writting did discover them, therefore it is against their will, with shame anough come into the chronicle.
* In our own Universities, there are statutes, De muris noctu non scandendi, which we fear are held in little reverence by junior members.
+ Burnet's account is, that in two visits, the pretended ghost "talked much of the Dominican Order, which he said was excessively dear to the B. Virgin, who knew herself to be conceived in Original sin, and that the Doctors, who taught the contrarie, were in Purgatorie: That the Storie of St. Bernard's appearing with a spot on him, for having opposed himself to the feast of the Conception, was a Forgerie: but that it was true that some hideous flies had appeared on St. Bonaventure's tomb, who taught the contrarie ; that the B. Virgin abhorred the Cordeliers for making her equal to her Son, that Scotus was damned, whose Canonisation the Cordeliers were then soliciting hard at Rome, and the town of Bern would be destroyed for harbouring such plagues within their walls.” p. 35. Alexander de Hales, The IRREFRAGABLE DOCTOR, was a native of Gloucestershire, who took