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The bodies of the early confessors who died in prison were given to hounds, the ashes and bones of those that were burnt were thrown into rivers, to prevent the faithful from preserving them. “The Pope then does wrong," exclaimed St. Jerome, " when he offers sacrifice to the Lord, over what we account the venerable bones, but what you call the vile dust of the dead men, Peter and Paul, and considers their tombs as the altars of Christ ?-Oh, impious assertions, to be denounced to the ends of the earth !"2 The bones of the martyrs are placed under the altar, as St. John beheld the souls of the martyrs under the altar in the Apocalypse, xix.3 “ But if thou askest me,” says St. Ambrose, 4
4 • what dost thou honour in the flesh now resolved and consumed ? I honour, in the flesh of the martyr, the scars received for Christ his name ; I honour the memory of one who liveth by the perpetuity of his virtue ; I honour the ashes consecrated by the confession of our Lord ; I honour in the ashes the seeds of eternity; I honour the body which shewed me how to love our Lord, which for our Lord's sake taught me not to fear death, which honoured Christ in the sword, and which with Christ shall reign in heaven.” To the like effect speaketh St. Basil,5 St. Gregory Nazianzen, St. Cyril, St. Chrysostom," and St. Augustine. Such, then, is the antiquity of the holy and venerable practice of the church, and such the respect for the bodies of the common dead which distinguished the Christian chivalry. But it was an anxious concern for the souls of the departed which chiefly affected and spiritualised the character of men. This followed immediately from the faith of the Christian chivalry. Poets have incidentally given examples of the labour and zeal of the clergy in this respect, as when the lady says to him who dreaded surprise :
Oh, fear not the priest, who sleepeth to the east !
For to Dryburgh the way he has ta’en ;
Stolberg, viii. 165.
And there to say mass, till three days do pass,
For the soul of a knight that is slayne. It was for this holy purpose that many of those solemn and beautiful chapels, which astonish the traveller in the midst of forests and savage passes, were raised. The annals of the house of Coucy can furnish a mournful instance. Three young Flemish gentlemen were studying the French language in the Abbey of St. Nicholas aux Bois, three leagues from Coucy. One day being out hunting in the woods of the abbey, without dogs, they pursued the game upon the manors of the Seigneur Enguerrand IV. of Coucy, and being taken by his guards, were put in prison, and the seigneur gave orders to have them hanged, which was instantly executed. Complaints of this horrible outrage being made to the king of France by the Abbot, and Gilles de Brun, constable of France, the sentence was thus far modified, that his life should be spared on paying 10,000 livres, founding three chapels over each of their graves for the repose of their souls, and going with a certain number of knights to the assistance of the Holy Land.
Not far from Dublin is a chapel, with a village named Chappel-Isod, built by King Anguish, for the soul of his daughter, la belle Isod, celebrated in romantic literature, wife of King Mark of Cornwall. St. Julian was a knight who retired
from the world, and founded a sumptuous hospital for the accommodation of travellers, who, in return for their entertainment, were required to repeat Paternosters for the souls of his parents, whom he had ignorantly slain. It was a consoling and happy reflection, that men might in this way be instrumental in promoting the spiritual welfare of strangers whom they had never seen.
While Sir John Froissart and Sir Espaenge de Lion are riding together, the latter relates, among other histories, the account of a battle, in which two brave squires were slain, “and to thentent,” he says, s that this batayle shoulde be had in remembrance, wher as the two rs fought ther was set a crosse of stone; beholde, yonder is the crosse ; and with those words,” says Sir John Froissart, we came to the crosse, and there we sayd for their
| Hist. de la Ville et des Seigneurs de Coucy, 8vo, p. 68.
souls a Paternoster and an Avemaria.” In the Romance of Jean de Saintre, upon the return of the French army after defeating the infidels in Prussia, there was a grand entertainment at Paris, and there were some, it is said,
qui apres que les tables furent ostees parlerent de dancer ; laquelle chose ouye, le Roy et la royne dirent que pour l'amour des trespassés dont len ne devoit mye estre joyeulx ja n'y seroit chanté ne dance faicte.”
Holinshed, relating the murder of King Edward II. in Berkley Castle, says, while the horrid deed was performing, “his crie did move many within the castell and towne of Berkley to compassion, plainly hearing him utter a waileful poyse, as the tormenters were about to murder him, so that dyverse being awakened therewith, as they themselves confessed, prayed heartily to God to receyve his soule, when they understood by his crie what the matter meant.”
In the Crusade a party was sent expressly to search for the body of Jacob de Avennis, who had killed fifteen Turks with his own hand before he fell. When found, the princes assisted at his burial, when a solemn mass was sung for his soul. The old poem on the battle of the thirty English and thirty Bretons concludes thus, praying devoutly for the souls of all who fell :
Si pry a cellui Dieu qui nasqui de Marie
Or en dites amen trestoux que Dien loctroie. A large stone cross, between Ploermel and Josselin, marked the spot where the battle had been fought. The families De Serent, De Tinteniac, and Du Parc, are descended from knights who fought in this memorable battle. But if men were thus affectionate towards the souls of strangers, we may conclude that they were not wanting in tenderness for those who had been known and dear to them. There still exists a long prayer which used to be made by the good people of Dauphiné, in the churches of Grenoble, for the soul of Bayard. Humanity rejoiced that in consequence of this sublime faith, an orphan had still occasion to repeat the words “My father and my mother.” René d'Anjou said to his weeping friends who stood round
his death-bed, praying for his recovery, “C'est pour l'ame; oui, c'est pour l'ame seulement qui je vous conjure de prier." St. Thomas à Becket, being in full expectation of his martyrdom, wrote to the Pope to beg that his holiness would say for him the prayers for those in their agony. We have a sublime instance in the poem of Roderick, when Roderick and Severian come by night to the church to visit the tomb of the king's father. Roderick had thrown himself prostrate on his
An awful voice in tones
Pale, and in tears, with ashes on his head. It was Pelayo praying for his guilty mother; for ever from that day when he heard the dreadful tale of her remorse,
Did he for her who bore him, night and morn,
Stood up in sackcloth.
Well we knew she thought
Save in her prayers, been known to pass her lips. When Louis IX. was at Japhet, news came of the death of his mother. “Si tot quil le sceut il commença a plurer et sagenouilla devant l'autel de sa chapelle et pria moult devotement pour l'ame de sa mere. Apres ce que
roy eut dit ses oraysons, les prelas et la clegie sassemblerent et chanterent vigiles de mors et la commandation de l'ame.” St. Augustine's prayer for his mother is very affecting :
“Nunc pro peccatis matris meæ deprecor te : exaudi me per medicinam vulnerum nostrorum, quæ pependit in ligno, sedens ad dexteram tuam te interpellat pro nobis. Scio, misericorditer operatam et ex corde dimisisse debita debitoribus suis : dimitte illi et tu debita sua.
Si qua etiam contraxit per tot annos post aquam salutis, dimitte, Domine, dimitte, obsecro : ne intres cum ea in judicium. Super exaltet misericordia judicium, quoniam eloquia tua vera sunt, et promisisti misericordiam misericordibus.”] This devotion recommends itself to the judgment and the heart
Sir Thomas Brown, though a disciple of the moderns, writes as follows: “A third opinion there is which I did never positively maintain or practise, but have often wished it had been consonant to truth and not offensive to my religion, and that is the prayer for the dead; whereunto I was inclined from some charitable inducements, whereby I could scarce contain my prayers for a friend at the ringing of a bell, or behold his corpse without an orison for his soul; it was a good way, methought, to be remembered by posterity, and far more noble than a history.” And he afterwards speaks more firmly, saying, “I never hear the toll of a passing bell, though in my mirth, without my prayers and best wishes for the departing spirit.” Generally, however, in consequence of that close connexion which subsists between opinions, those who followed the new learning were remarkable for their systematic abandonment of this feeling. Reliques of saints which had been venerated were burnt or thrown into rivers : the graves of the common dead were left to be trodden under by swine, and their bones cast among rubbish. Henry VIII. suffered the grave of his own sister, at Bury St. Edmunds, to be thus exposed; and we owe the existence of the abbey church of Peterborough at this day to the tyrant's fear, lest Charles V. would resent the profanation of his aunt's grave. Tombs were defaced, or were looked upon as mere curiosities, and shewn as such. Ctesippus, son of Chabria, who sold the stones of his father's monument, on which the Athenians had expended 1000 drachmæ;" or Cato, of whom Julius Cæsar said that he passed his brother's ashes through a sieve in search of the gold that might be melted
I Confess. ix, 13.
2 Athenæus, iv. 143.