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AN ACCOUNT Of the prominent features of the rites of the Roman Catholic and Greek ·
churches, which British Protestant troops were liable to be called on to attend and assist, at the time the trial took place.
It was sufficient for my defence before the Court Martial, to bring forward the objectionable nature of that tutelar saint worship which I was ordered to promote. I shall here state the nature of a part of the mass-worship, and the manner in which our Protestant troops (infantry as well as artillery) are ordered to join in it at Malta ; and give some further particulars respecting Roman Catholic hell-ringing, and of the processions, or rather of the images, the idolatrous honour and worship of which are promoted by the processions and salutes. This is necessary to give my friends and the public in England, a view of all the offensive particulars presented to the mind, by the order delivered to me to execute, as I stated in the advertisement. As some members of the Court Martial, the Prosecutor, the Officiating Judge Advocate, and the General Officer in command whose orders caused my request, were accustomed to attend ; and as some might have taken a part in the rites within the church, which I shall ,describe, (every officer being liable to be ordered on this service) it was not necessary for me to press them on the attention of the Court. I confined myself to the functions I had to perform outside the church.
The half-past ten o'clock salutes are well known to be the mass-salutes. At one part of the daily worship at the mass, the priest holds a wafer over his head, which wafer is then worshipped by those in church as the “ BODY, BLOOD, soul, and DIVINITY, of our LORD Jesus Christ."* A peculiar and well known ringing is made at this moment with the church bells; and the priests on their grand occasions, (if they have not the military to do it for them) fire their own patteraro salutes. And when the military fire these salutes for them, and the church or monastery is within sight of the battery, a man on the top of the church gives the signal when the soldiers are to commence firing. This ringing and firing being part of the WORSHIP rendered to the object at that moment elevated, as will be seen when treating of the bell.
These rites also serve to acquaint the devout persons of their commu. nion who are not in church of the transubstantiation just effected, that
* Extract from the Catechism of the Council of Trent, translated by Roman Catholic authority, p. 213.-Sect. 31. “And now in this place the pastors must " explain not only that the true body of Christ, and whatsoever belongs to the true “ body, as bones and sinews, but also that whole Christ, is contained in this sacrament.”
Sect. 33. “ But because his body, blood, soul, and Divinity, are joined together, all " these will be also in the sacrament.”
they may join in the worship; and they are also intended to quicken their devotion, as will be seen in the prayers for bell baptism. The men in the streets take off their hats when the ringing and firing commence; and many persons are to be observed saying their prayers and crossing themselves, some on their knees, worshipping the object kuown to be elevated at that moment. The same worship is to be seen almost daily paid by the inhabitants to this object, as it is carried in procession through the streets; and I have seen a form of prayer addressed to it, with the future rewards which will attend its devout use, printed and posted up in conspicuous places in the shops of the inhabitants.
A Maltese of some respectability told an acquaintance of mine that he was surprised that I could object to glorify God, as I had done :-the great body of the people being ignorant of the serious objections which Protestants have to the tenets and practices of their religion. The priests are careful not to excite enquiry by telling them of the particular things we protest against, or of the nature of our protestations : and the generality cannot but think, that those who join in these rites and ceremonies, do so in the same mind and spirit with themselves. It is next to impossible they can suppose, that the persons who assist at the rites can believe them to be grossly idolatrous. I heard of an instance where a Maltese priest said to his people that the attendance and honour which Protestants paid to their religion proved we thought their religion was the right one. · The surprise of the Roman Catholic above mentioned would arise, not only at my hesitation to worship what he is taught every man ought to worship, but also at my hesitation to perform acts which are considered by his church of so honourable, so religious, and so meritorious a nature; not knowing how much I differed from him. For our tolling and firing was not as so much manual labour to assist their rites, but a part of the worship itself.
That I may not appear to be misled by prejudice or misinformation on what Roman Catholics are taught to believe their bells do for them, I insert what the Bishop of Challons lately pronounced after christening six new bells, as published in the Paris papers of the 26th of August last, by which we learn what sort of opinions are held and propagated by the dignitaries of this church: I give also the prayers he used at the christening.
“ The bells, placed like sentinels on the top of the towers, watch over “us, and turn away from us the temptations of the enemy of our salva« tion, as well as tempests and storms. How delightful it is to hear " them sigh in the air the hymns of Sion. Is there any event of our life “ in which the bells do not chime in with our affections? They have a “ voice which serves as an organ to express our joy and our grief. They
speak and pray for us in our troubles, they inform heaven of the “ necessities of the earth. It is you, Mary, who will have to an5 nounce the festivals, and proclaim the glory of the Lord, [Mary “ weighs 8,560lbs.] And you, Anne, will be charged with the same “ employment.-Oh! what touching lessons will you give, in imitation of “ her whose name you bear, and whom we honour as the purest of Virgins 6 [Apne weighs 6,300lbs."] After stating the employments of the others, the Bishop called upon the faithful to join their prayers to his, beseeching the Divinity to preserve and shelter from all accident this happy and holy family [of the bells.]*
* The following abstract or summary of the ceremonies enjoined for the consecration or christening of bells, is taken from the PONTIFICALE RoMANUM, and shews that the above are not mere figures of oratory, but the serious tenets of the Roman Catholic Church. I subjoin the whole of the Latin Prayers from which the extracts are made.
"A signal or bell (says the PontifiCALE ROMANUM) ought to be blessed before it be put into the belfry, after this order of preparation.
First let the bell be hung or placed in such a situation that the high .6 priest can conveniently touch it inside and out, handle it, and walk
round it. Then let there be placed near the bell that is to be blessed 6a seat for the high-priest; a vessel of the water that is to be conse'crated for the purpose ; a vessel for the holy water; a vessel with salt; and clean white linen to wipe the bell with when it shall be necessary, &c.; the holy oil, &c.; the censer with incense, &c. &c. &c.'
Then the following Psalms are sung, 50, 53, 56, 66, 69, 85, 129..
Then follows the consecration of the water, and the salt, when this prayer, among others, is used,
“ Bless, O Lord, this water with a heavenly blessing, and let the power of the IIoly Spirit accompany it, that when this vessel, [the bell] which is prepared to call the children of the Holy Church, shall be sprinkled there
DE BENEDICTIONE SIGNI VEL CAMPANÆ. Signum vel campana debet benedici, antequam ponatur in campanili, hoc ordine. In primis debet campana ipsa ita suspendi et sitrari, ut commode possit intus et extra tangi, tractari, et circuiri : deinde prope ipsam campanam benedicendam paratur Pontifici faldistorium ; vas aquæ benedicendæ ; aspersorium ; vas cum sale; lintea munda ad extergendum campanam, quando opus erit ; vas olei sancti infirntorum, sanctum chrisma, thymiama, thus, myrrha, et thuribulum cum igne. Diaconus etiam accipit amictum, albam, cingulum, manipulum, stolam, et dalmaticam albi coloris. Quibus ordinatis, Pontifex in sacristia, aut alio convenienti loco paratus amictu, alba, cingulo, stola, pluviali albi coloris, et mitra simplici, baculum pastoralem manu gestans venit prope campanam, ubi sedens super faldistorium ibidem sibi paratum, dicit cum ministris Psalmos sequentes, videlicit :
ORATIO.-Benedic Domine hanc aquam benedictione cælesti, et assistat super eam virtus Spiritus Sancti : ut cum hoc -yasculum, ad invitandos filios sanctæ Ecclesia
· When the bells of a church at Gozo were christened by the Bishop of Malta, during a visit I made to that island in the year 1821, a friend of mine, present at the ceremony, heard the priest in his oration declare that every person who subscribed his money towards the expense of the bells would stay a day less in purgatory for every toll which the bells would make for them.
with, it may, wherever its tinkling shall sound, cause to depart all the power of secretly plotting enemies, all the airy shades of hobgoblins, the attack of whirlwinds, the blasts of lightnings, the blows of thunderbolts, the destructions of tempests, and all the power of stormy winds. And, when the children of Christians shall hear the clanging of this bell, may an increase of devotion be begotten in them, that, hastening in to the bosom of the Church, their Mother, they may sing unto thee a new song in the church of the saints,-a song, that shall embrace in its sound the shrillness of the trumpet, the variety of the harp, the sweetness of the organ, the exultation of the drum, and the jocundity of the cymbal, until they shall, by these their services and prayers in the temple of Thy glory, prevail to bring down a multitude of the hosts of angels. This we beg through Thy Son Jesus Christ, our Lord : who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end."
Then follow other prayers begging a Divine power on the salt, that it may dispel all power of evil spirits, storms, &c. &c. &c.
Then follow Psalms 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150. The bishop, afterwards, with the thumb of his right hand, makes with the holy anointing oil the sign of the cross on the top of the bell, and then says a prayer, of which this is a part,
6 Grant, we pray Thee, that this vessel, [the bell] prepared for Thy Many years ago, I saw the Roman Catholic worship at Hull; and I asked why a little boy lifted up the petticoats of the priest, and tingled a little bell under them. I was told, it was to drive the devil out.
præparatum, in ea fuerit tinctum; ubicumque sonuerit hoc tintinnabulum, procul recedat virtus insidiantium, umbra phantasmatum, incursio turbinum, percussio fulminum, læsio tonitruorum, calamitas tempestatum, omnisque spiritus procellarum : et cum clangorem illius audierint filii Christianorum, crescat in eis devotionis augmentum, ut festinantes ad piæ matris Ecclesiæ gremium, cantent tibi in Ecclesia Sanctorum canticum novum, deferentes in sono præconium tubæ, modulationem psalterii, suavitatem organi, exultationem tympani, jucunditatem cymbali; quatenus in templo sancto gloriæ tuæ suis obsequiis et precibus invitare valeant multitudinem exercitus angelorum. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum : qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti, Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum. Amen.
Quibus finitis, surgit Pontifex cum mitra; et cum pollice dexteræ manus facit ab extra supra campanam de oleo sancto infirmorum signum crucis : quo facto, deposita mitra, dicit:
OREMUS.-Deus, qui per beatum Moysen legiferum famulum tuum tubas argenteas fieri præcepisti, quas dum Levitæ tempore sacrificii clangerent, sonitu dulcedinis populus monitus ad te adorandum fieret præparatus; et ad celebranda sacrificia conveniret, quarum clangore hortatus ad bellum, molimina prosterneret adversantium;
Holy Church may be sanctified by Thy Holy Spirit, that, by the touch of its sound, the faithful may be invited to their reward. And, when its melody shall sound in the ears of the people, may the devotion of faith be increased in them; may all the snares of the enemy, the rattling of hail, the storm of whirlwinds, the violence of tempests, be driven far away; may the angry ragings of thunder be moderated ; may the blasts of the winds become healthful, and be rendered gentle; and may the right hand of Thy power [displayed in the bell] utterly silence all these aërial tempests ; so that, hearing it, they may tremble at it, and flee before the BANNER OF THE HOLY CRoss of thy Son, marked thereupon, &c.”
Then follows Psalm 28 :after which, the bishop, with the thumb of his right hand, makes with the holy anointing oil seven signs of the cross outside the bell and four within it, at equal distances, repeating at the making of each cross the following words :-“ Be thou sanctified and consecrated, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, in honour of Saint M., [Mary, or Anne, the name of the bell] Peace to thee.”
Then follows this prayer:-- 0 Almighty and eternal God, who causedst the walls of stone, by which the army of the enemy was surrounded, to fall down before the ark of the covenant at the sound of trumpets, do Thou anoint this bell with Thy heavenly blessing, that,
præsta, quæsumus, ut hoc vasculum sanctæ tuæ Ecclesiæ preparatum sanctificetur & Spiritu Sancto, ut per illius tactum fideles invitentur ad præmium. Et cum melodia, illius auribus insonuerit populorum, crescat in eis devotio fidei ; procul pellantur omnes insidiæ inimici, fragor grandinum, procella turbinum, impetus tempestatum ; temperentur infesta tonitrua; ventorum flabra fiant salubriter ac moderate suspensa : prosternat acreas potestates dextera tuæ virtutis ; ut hoc audientes tintinnabulum contremiscant, et fugiant ante sanctæ crucis Filii tui in co depictum vexillum : cui flectitur omne genu, cælestium, terrestrium, et infernorum, et omnes lingua confitetur, quod ipse Dominus noster Jesus Christus absorpta morte per patibulum crucis regnat in gloria Dei Patris, cum eodem Patre, et Spiritu Sancto, per omnia sæcula sæculorum.-Amen.
Interim Pontifex cum mitra stans facit eum pollice dexteræ manus de oleo sancto infirmorum septem cruces exterius super campanam, et deintus cum chrismate quatuor pari distantia, dicens, dum quamlibet crucem facit:
Sanctificetur, et consecretur, Domine, signum istud: in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti : in honorem Sancti N. Pax tibi.
Deinde finitis Antiphona et Psalmo, ac faclis crucibus prædictis, Pontifea stans, deposita maitra, dicit:
OREMUS.Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui ante arcam fæderis, per clangorem tubarum muros lapideos, quibus adversantium cingebatur exercitus, cadere fecisti;