« PoprzedniaDalej »
investigation of the subject as regards the Christian art of the first three centuries. In no one picture of those which even Dr. Northcote himself could claim as antecedent in date to the age of Constantine, is there anything which would appear strange or out of place, on doctrinal grounds, in an illustrated Bible, put forth, let us say, for the use of English Sunday Schools by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. And this being so, our readers may judge what amount of evidence, in favour of modern “Marianism,” is to be obtained from the witness of really primitive Christendom at Rome.
Fourth Century. One picture there is in the Catacombs, not yet described, which may perhaps be as early as the fourth century. We ourselves believe that it should be assigned rather to the fifth century than the fourth. But as we wish to meet upon common ground of fact, as far as may be, those from whom we differ in our conclusions from those facts, we will assume that it belongs to the century immediately succeeding the three already ex. amined.
The picture of which we speak," is a fresco in the Cemetery of St. Agnes on the Via Nomentana. It is a picture of the Virgin Mary and Holy Child ; the picture here, for the first time, being in the character of a portrait of the two, as distinct from the suggestion of a historical (and Scriptural) subject. In point of style, it departs widely from the older type, and is of Byzantine character, probably painted (as most of the later work at Rome was) by a Byzantine artist. Neither the Holy Child, nor the Virgin, have the nimbus; the latter is in the attitude of prayer (like that of the Oranti already described). A growing taste for costly ornament is indicated in the addition (here first seen) of a necklace of jewels about the neck of the Virgin. On either side is the sacred monogram, which spoke to early Christians at once of Christ, and of Christ crucified.
Here again, though there is great degradation, in point of taste, in the figure of the Virgin Mary as compared with that seen in the Holy Family at Bethlehein above figured (p. 831), yet there is nothing to which, on doctrinal grounds, any English Churchman need for a moment object.
What do our readers suppose to be Dr. Northcote's comment upon this fresco ? It is scarcely credible that a man of real piety, as we doubt not he is (though of superstitious piety), should bring himself so to write. He says, seriously, that the Divine Infant “is placed in front of his virgin mother simply to
1 De Rossi, Imagines Selectæ, etc., Tab. vi. Northcote, p. 257. Students of antiquity should further observe the surroundings of the picture as shown to Bosio, p. 451; Aringhi, tom. ii. p. 209.
show who she is.” And he evidently thinks that there is a strong argument in proof of Mary worship in the fourth century, in the fact to which he calls special attention, viz., that “the Christian monogram on either side is turned towarıls her." What a picture is here of the kind of comment which passes current for conclusive argument, when men go to antiquity with their heads full of modern Romanism, and come away again, bringing back precisely what they had taken with them.”
For ourselves, we need not dwell further upon this picture, though it is one of considerable interest as bearing upon the history of art at Rome. In respect of our own theological enquiry, we have only to note, that in this picture (whatever be its real date) we pass from the representation of Scriptural history to the representation of Scriptural personages as such. This transition is one which is not without significance as bearing upon the gradual development of Image-worship in the Church. But in itself, this picture, like those earlier frescoes already considered, presents nothing that on doctrinal grounds can be objected to. Far from this being the case, if we place ourselves in the same position as those earlier Christians, all unwitting as they must have been of the ages of gross ignorance and superstition which were approaching, we can enter into and share the feeling of devotion, and of true Christian faith, with which they, in committing their departed ones to the grave, would find their one comfort in the thought of the unfailing love and ever present power of Him who was born of Mary. It was the truth of the Incarnation which they embodied in their pictures of the Virgin Mother and her Holy Child. “Christ crucified,” they recalled, even in the emble. matic letters inscribed beside Him; Christ the Good Physician, of body and of soul, in their oft-repeated pictures of the healing of the sick, or the giving sight to the blind; Christ the Bread from Heaven, in the miracle of the loaves; Christ the Prince of Life, in the raising of Lazarus from the grave; Christ the Star risen out of Jacob, and the Desire of all nations, in the star-led Magi, laying their offering at His feet in Bethlehem; Christ, above all, under that form which to Christian hearts is the tenderest and most loving embodiment of their Lord, the Good Shepherd, bearing back upon His shoulders the lamb that, but for Him, had been lost.
We pass now from these memorials of primitive faith in the Catacombs to a new series of monuments, and of far other character, in the Churches above ground, from the fifth cen. tury of our era to the present time.
(To be continued.) • In our own judgment, this picture belongs, at the earliest, to the fifth century. Like Dr. Northcote, we have a “multitude of reasons” (somo three or four) for our opinion, but we will not here enlarge upon the matter.
of the antorer, we mat how far it has
“L'ABBAYE AUX HOMIES." It has been calculated, that at one time there were in France thirty thousand churches, fifteen hundred abbeys, eighteen thousand five hundred chapels, two thousand eight hundred priories. What havoc was wrought among this magnificent array of ecclesiastical establishments at the outburst of the Revolution by the destroyer, and how far it has been since completed by the restorer, we may not stay to en. quire. The novelty of the antiquities which greet the eye of the traveller is often most startling; and at times completely dissipates the charm attaching to scenes of historic interest. In a sanitary point of view, if Aristotle is rigbt, French towns have gained by the streets and boulevards driven ruthlessly through the most picturesque portions for which they were conspicuous; but it is well nigh impossible to repress feelings of compassion for the relics of the past, which protrude in the midst; as for instance, in the case of the tower of St. Jacques de la Boucherie at Paris. There is a story that it was preserved in the Revolution with some undefined object of preserving it for conversion into a shot manufactory, and it seems almost a pity that the design was not carried out; so purposeless does it stand out now in the presence of uncongenial elements, like the mast of a ship which has been engulfed in the waste of waters.
But we must not be beguiled into wandering away from the more immediate subject of our meditations, the “Abbaye aux Hommes," at Caen, which has been so long and so deservedly the cynosure of travellers in Normandy. Marred as it is by the surrounding buildings, which have nothing in common with the glorious structure, and are a sorry substitute for the old conventual fabric which sheltered the Benedictine monks when the abbey was first founded, and flourished under the rule of its two successive abbots, Lanfranc and Anselm,-in itself, the Church of St. Etienne presents" a thing of beauty" upon which the eye rests with delight. The choir is a later addition, as are also portions of the side aisles; but the main body of the church stands forth in all the simplicity and majesty of its original design, a noble specimen of Norman architecture, admirably consonant with the spirit of its founder.
But a while ago, we were lingering in the aisles, casting a farewell glance around upon what had afforded us so much interest and pleasure, when the western doors were thrown open,
ters, chanish Churh Rome ha the main front o
and up the nave, in solemn procession, came priests and choristers, chanting the preliminary portions of the funeral service of the Romish Church. There was a fair amount of that pomp and display which Rome has at her disposal, as the rites were paid to some petty official, the mayor of a neighbouring commune. The corpse was deposited in front of the choir ; friends and neighbours, who had followed in long array, gathered around it; the mass was sung, and ever and anon the glorious organ over the western door pealed forth its solemn strains ;
" While bells tolled out their mighty peal
For the departed spirit's weal.” All around was peaceful and solemn in the freshness of the early morning; and in musing on the scene before us, we could not help reverting in thought to other funeral rites, which in yet greater pomp and splendour, but with far more awful and tumultuous accessories, had been celebrated within the same walls somé eight hundred years ago.
Then it was the body of the mighty founder which was being committed to the grave. In the whole compass of history we know nothing more awful than the account recorded, realizing in most literal exactness the awful passage of Scripture which might have formed the text for the sermon preached over his remains: “ Dominatur homo homini in malum suum. Vidi impios sepultos qui etiam cum adhuc viverent in loco sancto erant, et laudabantur in civitate quasi justorum operum : sed et boc vanitas est.” (Eccles. viii. 10.) Out of good nature, and for the love of God, the naked and dishonoured corpse of the conqueror, which had been left plundered on the ground, had been transported from Rouen by a private gentleman named Herluin. He had hired men and a hearse at his own expense, and removed the body by water and sea to Caen; there it was met by a procession headed by the abbot Gilbert. But even the short passage from the boat to the abbey was not without its fearful incidents; a dreadful fire broke out in the town, and the procession dissolved, even the priests forsaking the ranks, and leaving only the monks to convey the body onwards. At length the churchmen seem to have awakened to a consciousness of the shamefulness of their conduct. When the day ap. pointed for the funeral came, all the bishops and abbots of Normandy came and gathered around the open grave of him who had been their lord and their benefactor. William of Rouen, Odo of Bayeux, Gislebert of Lisieux, Anselm the future primate of England, then abbot of Bec, with many others less known to fame, in the habits of their order, with crosses and candles and censors, assembled within the sacred walls. The citizens of Caen flocked to the solemnity, and filled the nave to
oferi-2. Servey, however, ezi the Bobo of Lisesi c i L 003, 2:6.12 te perse to pray arise de care and uşadami Le had eiacy siives, zen a cica of Card, Amen. Fisz Arco, stepped torrard roc ide omad, and in en accetis, at the futut ice opec tier coa ich the cope was, escaimed:-“ Prats and Busers, this lard is mile, it was the size of my father's boase. This han, for who you are in paring, took it from me by fire, and built his church upon it. I have not söi it; I have not pawned it; I have not forfeited it; I have not giveo it; it is mine bs right, and I demand it. In the dane of Gud, I forbid the body of the spoiler to be placed here, or to be covered with my glebe.” The crime was too gotorives to be gaissani by the monks whose charch towered over the ruins of Asselin's borome; his voice could not be stilled, nor could perhaps the forlearance of his fellow citizens be reckoned upon. Sixty shillings were given for permission for immediate sepulture; and a subsequent charter, granted to the abbey by Henry the Second, records a formal entry, specifying that a final arrangement was made with Ranulf Fitz Asselin for an anconditional surrender of the ground. Once again the interrupted rites proceeded, but tbe grave was too small. We cannot even allude to subsequent horrors. Again bishops and abbots and priestà dispersed confounded and panic-stricken, and with maimed and huddled rites the interment was brought to a close. But not even so were the ashes of William to find a continued resting place. Centuries passed away, but at length terrible wars arose-warstermed in France“wars of religion.” As the historian of the Abbaye records, the Cardinal of Tournon, who among his other offices was Abbot of St. Etienne, "eut le malheur de donner le signal des persécutions, et par suite des exécutions sanglantes, qu'eurent à subir les nouveaux religiondaires. Il ne prévoyait pas les terribles représailles qu'ils sçauraient exercer plus tard contre les Catholiques." Upon the Cardinal's abbey the storm foll heavily in due season. The conventual buildings were well nigh demolished; the rich plate and vessels were melted; the choice relics, including amongst others one of the stones with which St. Stephen had been stoned, were scattered to the winde; and the tomb of William was broken open in search of concealed treasure. Then the remains of the mighty king were ignominiously cast forth; and only one thigh bone, somewhat larger than those of ordinary men, was recovered; it was sealed up in a small leaden box a few inches in size, and deposited onco more in the ground under a tomb subsequently twice domolished. This bone, covered with a flat slab bearing an