PROGRESS OF THE ORDER
I. Fervour of Our First Brethren. II. The Rigorous Discipline and Perfection in all Virtues. III. Their Heroic Humility. IV. Their Virtue of Chastity. V. Their Fervent Prayer. VI. Their Practice of Confession. VII. The Thought of Emptiness of Human Pleasures. VIII. The Piety of the Brethren. IX. The Word of God. X. The Thought of Death. XI. The Thought of Present and Future Pains XII. Special Revelations. XIII. Their Devotion to the Mother of God. XIV. How They Were Harassed by the Devil. XV. Chastisements Inflicted by the Devil. XVI. Temptations of Novices.. XVII. Gluttony. XVIII. Temptations of Cupidity. XIX. Temptations of Self-will. XX. Philosophical Curiosity. XXI. Thoughts of Ambition. XXII. Impatience and Phantasms. XXIII. Revelations and Other Comforts Bestowed on Them. XXIV. Miracles Wrought by the Brethren.
FERVOUR OF OUR FIRST BRETHREN
FOR the renewal of fervour in the present day, and the uplifting of our minds from earthly to heavenly things, and that prayer and regular observance may continue to flourish in our midst, we propose to recount some examples of the fervour of our first brethren, which are well worthy of imitation.
Words cannot express the spirit of religious fervour which pervaded the Order in the days of our holy fathers Dominic and Jordan. Wherever we turn our eyes the same scene offers itself. There you might have beheld some who, after their daily confession, bewailed with deep-drawn sighs their own sins and those of others, while others again prolonged their nightly vigils until daybreak, rousing their flagging energies by countless genuflections. Seldom, if ever, was the church to be found without watchers, and as a result, when anyone was wanted by the porter he was surer of finding him praying in the choir than elsewhere. A pious religious tells us that in a very short space of time he heard the confessions of over one hundred brethren, sixty of whom he found had kept baptismal innocence of mind and body, a grace they could not have preserved without much fervent prayer and religious watchfulness, which are the special safeguards of purity of heart. Others were so eager for contemplation and so fervent, that seldom did they rise from prayer without having first obtained some special grace from God. One tells us how he could never sleep at night until he had first watered his couch with his tears. Another relates that as he stood in prayer before the altar at Bologna, he saw one of his brethren rapt in spirit and uplifted bodily from the ground.
In those days they looked forward to the hour of compline as to a festival, and directly the signal was given they hastened to the choir from all parts of the convent, lovingly commending themselves to each other's prayers. Then, when the office was finished, and the parting greeting had been devoutly paid to the Queen of the universe and special advocate of the Order, they gave themselves up to severe disciplines. After this they visited all the altars in turn, prostrating themselves humbly before each, and shedding such lamentable tears that, had you been standing near, you might have mistaken it for the mourning at some great funeral. Many were so touched on hearing or seeing the like that they gave themselves to the Order. This done, far from retiring to rest, some withdrew into the chapter-house, others to the more retired corners of the cloisters or church, where, after rigidly examining their consciences, they disciplined themselves with rods and scourges so that the sound could be heard some way off. After matins some betook themselves to their books, fewer to their beds, most hastened at once to prepare for their daily confession before offering up the holy mysteries. At daybreak the bell rang for the saying of mass, whereupon several ran to each priest for the favour of being allowed to serve, and often a holy contention would arise as to whom he had first asked to do this holy duty.
Who shall tell of their devotion to the blessed Virgin! When the matins of her office had been devoutly recited they hastened lovingly to her altar, so that not a moment of time might be wasted which could be devoted to prayer. After matins and compline they surrounded her altar in a triple row, and kneeling thus they fervently commended themselves and the Order to her protection. They had her image and her Son's in their cells, so that whether reading, or praying, or sleeping, they might cast loving glances upon them.
They exchanged mutual kind deeds in the infirmary, hospice, or at table, even stooping to wash each other's feet, and deeming him happiest who forestalled the others in such charitable offices. Oh, how often did they strip themselves of their cloaks and scapulars to bestow them on brethren whose faces they had very likely never seen before. Such joy and fervour beamed on their faces as they waited on each other, that they seemed to be serving God and his angels instead of men. One was so overcome with sweetness of spirit that in the joy of his heart he used to kiss the very knives he was cleaning.
In those days they were all wonderfully rigid in keeping the silence. One abstained from drinking for eight days, while another used to pour cold water over his food to deprive it of all relish. A third, during the whole of Lent, drank only once a day, and never spoke a word unless he were addressed. Many seldom tasted the dishes set before them, while others, more anxious to avoid notice, were content to deny themselves every day some portion of their food.
In the pursuit of their apostolic ministry for which the Order had been intended from the beginning, God poured out upon them such marvellous zeal and fervour that many could not eat without qualms of conscience unless they had preached that day to many or to a few, and in this matter the Holy Ghost made good, by inward unction, whatever was wanting to them in acquired knowledge. They often drew many to conversion by the simple text of the seven canonical hours, which, together with St Matthew's Gospel, St Dominic used frequently to expound to them.
When the General Chapter held in Paris decreed that some of our, brethren should be sent to the Holy Land,(1) Master Jordan in the course of his address told them that all who were willing to go should intimate the same to him. He had hardly finished speaking before all were lying in prostration on the ground before him, entreating with tears to be sent to that country which our Lord's blood had hallowed. Brother Peter of Rheims,(2) who was then Provincial of France, was so moved at the sight that he rose from his seat and prostrated himself with the rest, and cried out to Master Jordan: 'Good Master, either put all these beloved brethren under my care, or send me with them, for I am ready to join myself with them until death.'
Pope Innocent(3) having bidden the Provincial of France to send some of his brethren to preach among the Cuman Tartars, in hopes that abundant fruits might be reaped among them, on the announcement of this decree in the Provincial Chapter so many and such distinguished friars offered themselves for the task that it came to be known as the chapter of tears.' Nor was it without good cause, for some wanted to be sent, and begged the favour with tears, while others grieved over the departure of brethren, whom they loved well, to such incredible hardships and martyrdom; here one group wept for joy on getting the coveted permission, there another bewailed their misfortune in being refused.
On his elevation to the mastership of the Order, Brother Humbert commanded all the brethren to acquaint him with the names of those who were willing to learn the tongues of barbarous people, and cross the seas to spread the name of Christ. Who can fully give the numbers, the rank, or the far distant countries of those who offered themselves for the task, entreating him by the death of the Son of God, and by the blood which he shed, to send them forth, since they were all ready to suffer death for the sake of bearing the faith and glory of salvation to such heathens!
But oh! what pen can fittingly describe their fervour, not merely in Bologna, but the world over, when the body of our holy father St Dominic was taken up, as was manifest in their preaching and recurring miracles!(4) Wherefore we leave it in his hands ' who knoweth all things fully and doeth all things well, who is blessed for evermore. Amen.'
THEIR RIGOROUS DISCIPLINE AND PERFECTION IN ALL VIRTUES
So exacting were they regarding the correction of faults, more especially the fault of possessing even the merest trifle, that the least transgression in giving or getting was severely punished. Hence it happened that a certain brother having accepted a garment of poor stuff without permission, Brother Reginald of blessed memory disciplined him severely in the chapter, and had the garment burnt before them all in the cloister. But as the brother instead of humbling himself and acknowledging his fault broke out into open murmurs, the man of God bade him prepare for further chastisement. When this was done, lifting up his tearful eyes to heaven, he exclaimed: 'O Lord Jesus Christ, who didst impart to thy servant Benedict(5) power to dislodge the devil's shaft from the heart of one of his monks by the rod of discipline, grant I pray thee that by means of this scourging the temptation of Satan may be chased from out this brother's heart.' After this he beat him so severely that those round him were moved to tears. Then that brother rising up cried out: 'Father, indeed I am very grateful to you; you have undoubtedly driven the devil out of me, for I felt as it were a serpent going sensibly from within me'; and having thus begun well he afterwards became a very fervent and humble religious.
Another who had yielded to the temptation of abandoning his state, and had been caught in the act of running away, was brought before Master Reginald in the chapter-house at Bologna. After he had humbly confessed his fault the Master bade him get ready, and then beat him severely, now commanding the devil to go out of him, and then begging the others to pray for him, hoping thus by prayer and penance to expel Satan from his heart. After some time the brother cried out: 'Stop, father, and here me: I assure you the devil is driven out of me, and I promise to be faithful for the time to come.' At this all the brethren with joy gave thanks to God, and the brother kept to his resolve.
As one of the brethren was on his way in the fulfilment of some obedience, he met St Dominic, who was then returning home from one of his missions. After interchanging a few words, the saint, knowing in spirit that all was not going on well with him, enquired whether he had any money about him. Seeing he was found out, the brother owned that he had; whereupon the blessed Father told him to throw it away, and gave him a suitable penance.
THEIR HEROIC HUMILITY
MANY notable instances of the humility, obedience, and other virtues of Friar Giles of Spain,(6) who was a man of high standing and rare virtue in the Order and in the world, are recorded by Master Humbert who was during many years his companion and bosom friend in the convent at Paris. Many a time when he was confined to the infirmary he would slip out to the cells while the brothers were at their lectures, and tidy up such as he found in disorder. In like manner he would perform the most menial offices in the infirmary, and although he had formerly been a skilful physician, yet he always thankfully took what medicines were given him, even though of the most contrary kinds. Whenever anyone needed his help he at once laid everything else aside and put himself joyfully at his neighbour's disposal, teaching others by word and example that not only should corporal works be put on one side for the sake of brotherly love, but even prayer and works of piety. He injured no one, and readily obeyed every behest of superiors, so that his whole life was given to prayer, spiritual reading, catechising, and devout contemplation, thus utterly despising all less profitable studies. Although profoundly learned, he loved above all things to listen to the lives of the saints, and used often to quote from them, while his chief delight was to pass over self for others, notably in the ministry of preaching. His whole life was a subject of edification to all, for it stirred them to fresh sentiments of love for their Order, for holy poverty, and true obedience. Novices going to him with their difficulties always came away comforted. Although delicate by nature, and infirm in his latter days, he was always attentive to the sick, whom he enlivened by his pleasantries of speech. He used to advise them not to put over much trust in medicines, but to look more to our Lord, bidding them, however, take what was set before them and all would go well with them, since grace is stronger than nature, and Christ mightier than Galen. When idle conversation was started he would keep silent awhile, and then very quietly say a few words about God and holy things. In this way he brought the offender back to some more becoming topic, and idle talk seldom tarried in his company, nor could it be shown that he had spoken a single idle word in a whole twelvemonth. He never quitted the post assigned him by superiors, save from necessity or when his neighbour's welfare seemed to call for it. Many a time he was so rapt in devout thought as to appear quite unaware of visitors' presence in the infirmary, and on waking from his reverie -- as if returning from another world -- he would stand up and greet them as though they had newly come. In the letter which he wrote from Spain to Master Humbert, he described how the hearts of saints are even in this life illuminated by an inner light, even as their bodily eyes are by the outward sunbeams, a statement he could scarcely have been emboldened to make had he not experienced it in himself. The companion of his journeys tells us how he often saw him caught up in sudden rapture as he sat by the roadside, without paying the slightest heed to what was going on around him, and when he came to himself again he would lament with deep groans the withdrawal of those heavenly favours.
An upright and fervent friar, who had served the Lord during many years in great purity of heart without experiencing any of those comforts and delights of which he had heard and read, as he stood one night before a great crucifix in the church began fretfully to complain thus to our Lord: 'Lord, I have heard that thou excellest all creatures in pity and goodness: behold I have served thee these many years past, " keeping to the rough path because of the words of thy lips," giving myself entirely to thee, and striving with my whole heart to observe the rules of my Order. Still I feel convinced that if I had served the most exacting of task-masters but one-quarter of the time, he would have shown me some token of good-will, by a kindly word, or a favour bestowed, imparting some secret, or at least by an approving smile, while thou, Lord, hast not vouchsafed any heavenly sweetness, nor given me the slightest token of favour. Thou who art sweetness itself art bitter to me, and harder than the most callous of masters. What is the meaning of all this, and what can be the cause of it?'
As he repeated these and other presumptuous words, suddenly a great crash was heard as if the church were falling in, while overhead resounded the noise as of a pack of wolves trying to tear off the church roof. Sorely frightened and trembling in every limb, he looked round and saw a hideous monster standing close by, who with uplifted club smote him to the ground. All maimed and in an agony of pain he crawled to an altar hard by, where the stress of his pains forced him to lie, and there he was discovered next morning by the brethren, utterly helpless and suffering severely. Not knowing what had happened, they bore him off to the infirmary, where for three weeks he lay prostrate, his body meanwhile becoming so offensive that hardly anyone could go near him. At last he began to mend, and when cured of his distemper of body and arrogance of soul, he went back to the spot where he had merited wrath, in the hopes of there obtaining pardon of his sin. There he put up this prayer: 'Lord, "I have sinned against heaven and before thee " (St Luke xv 18), and I own that I am not deserving of thy mercies or unwonted favours; thou hast smitten me in thy justice and mercifully healed me.' Prone upon the pavement, thrice he most earnestly and suppliantly begged pardon for his previous foolish thoughts and words; then presently a voice sounded in his ears: 'If you would enjoy comforts and spiritual sweetness, you must first become as vile in your own eyes as the worm and the dirt which you tread beneath your feet.' He took heart from the words, got up, and after due thanks to God, lovingly and eagerly from that hour espoused holy humility. He himself told the whole affair to the Master of the Order, and lived afterwards to attain high perfection, and hold rank of office among his brethren.
Another incident can be told which befell a German friar. Enlightened by grace this man began to realise the thought of his own nothingness, and to contemplate God's mercies As he pondered over these words of Wisdom, 'She went down with him into the pit' (x 13), and called to mind how our Lord had stood by him in so many perils, he became all inflamed with divine love, and carried away by the excess of his devotion. For three whole days and nights he lay languishing with love, neither eating nor drinking, beyond a little which the brethren poured into his mouth with a spoon. At last he attained such perfect peace of soul that nothing could ever ruffle him in the least degree.
THEIR VIRTUE OF CHASTITY
A DEPRAVED woman, under the mask of piety, for a long while had evil designs on a friar of the Order, who was guileless in soul and comely in body. Under some plausible pretext she got him to her chamber, carefully veiling her wicked intent. As he sat there innocently conversing for some time, her deceit had to unmask itself, for never an improper thought crossed his mind. Presently, a suspicion of her intentions broke upon him; straightway he started up and fled like a scared deer. All this was kept a profound secret, but it chanced that at that very time Master Jordan went to visit a possessed man in the hope of delivering him by prayer. On his adjuring the devil to go out of the man, Satan replied that he would not depart until that friar should appear who had stood in the midst of fire and come out of it unscathed. Now as he kept on repeating the same thing without mentioning anyone in particular, the bystanders were thoroughly perplexed, and knew not how to proceed; still, believing the blessed Master to be a very holy man they asked him to repeat his visit from time to time. It so chanced that on his third visit this very friar was his companion, and no sooner had he arrived than the devil went out with a terrible cry. It was only when the brother heard of the devil's words from the Master's lips that he told him the whole story.
We have heard it related of Brother Dominic of Spain,(7) who was at one time St Dominic's companion, that after the players and loose characters were driven away from the royal court. through his efforts,(8) a handsome courtesan was bribed by the rest to tempt him violently under the pretence of going to confession. But the holy man, detecting the fraud, made this reply: 'I am waxing old and indifferent, come again to-morrow and I will have everything in readiness.' Then he prepared a huge fire, and, lying down in his habit amid the flames, invited her to bear him company. Terrified beyond measure at such heroic virtue, and observing that his body and even his habit were unscathed by the fire, she was moved to sorrow for her sin, and crying aloud, brought many to witness the miracle. Divers other friars I have known and heard of, who, girt with the cincture of chastity, escaped from dangers of this kind, but let what has been said suffice.
One good friar was driven to such straits that he was threatened with instant death by the sword if he did not consent to sin. He escaped the danger to soul and body, and kept the fair name of the Order intact, by the constancy of his virtue and his ready wit. 'Woman,' he replied, 'you must know that I wear an iron chain and a hair cloth: let me at least go to lay them aside.' By this device he was suffered to depart, and so escaped the craft of the enemy.
THEIR FERVENT PRAYER
A GERMAN friar, distinguished for his piety, who from an early age had been in the habit of revering and compassionating our Lord's wounds and sufferings, used frequently to salute those wounds, five times a day, thus: 'We adore thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, and we bless thee, since by thy cross thou hast redeemed the world.' At each salutation he would entreat our Lord to fill him with his holy love and fear. He tells us how Christ once appeared, and let him taste such marvellous and surpassing sweetness from each of his sacred wounds, that thenceforth all worldly joys and pleasures became bitter as gall to him. He was, moreover, in the habit of honouring the blessed Virgin, paying his daily homage to that heart which had so believed in Christ, and devoutly venerating the womb which bore him, the breasts which nourished him, and the hands which once tended upon him. He would prostrate himself in spirit before each, and say a Hail Mary in devout memory of those virtues which had won for her the sublime dignity of being the Mother of God-that is to say, her faith, humility, charity, chastity, mildness, and patience; beseeching her at the same time to obtain for him these same virtues from our Lord. One Saturday the blessed Virgin appeared to him and endowed him with those very virtues which he had held in such singular veneration, and which he used daily to ask of her. From that moment he put aside all study and other pursuits, and gave himself up entirely to prayer, in which he experienced singular delight. But his brethren, noting his conduct, accused him of making himself unfit for the duties of the Order by not applying himself to study, whereupon he asked our Lord to turn some of that delight into knowledge, so that he might benefit the souls of others to the glory of his name. His suit was granted, for his scanty store of learning was so increased that he preached fluently in German and Latin, and was endowed with a rare understanding.
While one of our English brethren, a lector in theology and a good preacher, was supping with the family of a soldier, the house unexpectedly took fire. From the scarcity of water and difficulty in getting help the flames spread rapidly. While his companion was bustling about and adding to the general uproar, this brother threw himself on his knees, and by his prayers not merely checked but extinguished the fire, and so utterly, too, that not a trace of it could be seen. He secretly communicated this prodigy to the Master of the Order, neither exaggerating it through vain-glory, nor yet unprofitably concealing it, but to no one else did he breathe a word about it.
A heavy downpour of rain once overtook two of our brethren while journeying to a distant convent, in joyful fulfilment of an obedience. In dismay they said to one another: 'Peradventure this act of obedience does not find favour with God.' As they could find no shelter, one of them called to mind how St Dominic(9) had miraculously turned aside a like storm from himself and his companion, so, regaining confidence, he made the sign of the cross against the angry clouds and began to pray. The descending torrent parted at once, falling to their right and left, and so they held on untouched for over a league, nor did so much as a single drop fall on them, although they watched it falling heavily on either hand.
A Spanish soldier who had taken the cross and kept putting off the fulfilment of his vow, died, and appeared soon after to his son bearing a very heavy cross, and besought him to have pity on him. The son, who was a youth of excellent parts, gathering from this that his father was suffering because of his vow, took up the cross in his stead. Coming to Bologna, on his way to embark at Brindisi, he met several of his companions there who had joined the Order, and who, on learning the object of his journey, exhorted him to take up the cross in the way they had done, assuring him that the brethren's prayers and the holy sacrifice of the altar were the speediest means of bringing souls to perpetual light and rest. He consented, and being now a friar himself, began readily and devoutly to serve the brethren while they were saying mass, humbly requesting them to remember his father's soul. About the same time Brother Albert went to preach in Florence, where the devil was then manifesting secret and even future events by the mouth of a possessed man. Amongst other marvels which he recounted to the bystanders, he said that the Friars Preachers, who were so devout to God and his holy Mother, inflicted grievous injury on him and his from their preaching, by drawing people to confession, through their prayers and the holy sacrifice. He then told of a Spanish soldier, slain in the wars, who had been delivered by their prayers, mentioning every point in detail of the son's vow and after-history. Not knowing of the occurrence at the time, Brother Albert paid little heed to his words, but after returning to Bologna as he was one day conversing with the brethren with this same novice present, he happened to hear a great disturbance in the church made by a possessed man who was being dragged along to St Dominic's altar, so he told the whole story just as he heard it related in Florence. The Spanish novice was overjoyed at hearing of his father's deliverance, recounted the vow of his father, and his own vow, and from that time became more attached than ever to his Order.
Two others who had finished their theological studies in Paris and were journeying homewards to their own province, came to the outlying country which skirts Poitiers. Now as they had been on the road from dawn until past mid-day they were both of them hungry and footsore, yet there was only one straggling hamlet in sight, where the folk were few and poor. There the wearier of the two wanted to halt and beg their bread from door to door, while the hungrier brother was in favour of pushing on to a more thriving village, lest they should faint altogether on the road if they fared badly where they were. To this the weary one replied: 'Good brother, cannot God provide enough for us in this humble village?' To whom the other answered: 'No doubt he can, but such is not his usual way of dealing.' 'Have no fear on that score,' said the first, 'for our Lord will undoubtedly provide for all our wants.' As he was yet speaking there drove up the chatelaine of St Maxence,(10) a wealthy and noble lady, and her son, with a number of attendants. Noting their weary and hungry looks, she turned to her son and said: 'Son, by your love for God and myself, get down and help those poor brethren.' At her bidding the young man leapt down from his seat, and getting out several freshly made fish pies, made ready for his mother's use, and plenty of bread and wine and cheese, he spread them out and invited the brothers to make a hearty meal, as being poor and having a long way yet before them they would find it hard to get accommodated elsewhere. When they had eaten their fill the older said to his companion: 'Let us now commend our generous benefactor to God's protection, that he may watch over him and bring him to life everlasting.' They knelt down side by side and said the Veni Creator with the Our Father and prayer, and after taking their leave of him, and repeatedly commending him to God's care, held on their way.
Some considerable time after this, as one of them was returning from Spain to assist at the General Chapter in Paris, he found the same young man in the noviciate at Poitiers,(11) and in astonishment Asked the prior where that novice came from. On learning that he was none other than the chatelaine's son he called him aside, and asked: 'Do you remember, brother, how you once at your mother's bidding fed two of our brethren who were journeying from Paris?' 'Right well do I remember it,' said the novice, 'and what is more, I thank God for it now, since in answer to their prayers he gave me a vocation to their Order.' Then the friar rejoined: 'Learn now that I was one of the two, and from that day we often prayed together that you might have a happy life and a blessed end.' We have this account from the pen of Brother Giles of Portugal, a man of the greatest holiness and attainments, for he was one of the two, and was afterwards Provincial of Spain.
A holy and venerable brother of the English Province named Richard,(12) during the illness of which he died, was caught up to the judgement seat and heard the blessed Virgin complain of some who said her office negligently, hurriedly, and irreverently. After this he heard our Lord Jesus Christ say: 'Let us send this man back to his brethren to warn them against the like.' Regaining consciousness the sick man raised himself up and told the brethren what he had heard, exhorting them to say the hours of Mary the Queen of Heaven with still greater devotion: and so saying he slept in the Lord.
Another aged brother of devout life relates that while the brothers were saying the Matins of her office, he saw the blessed Virgin accompanied by two maidens come to the dormitory door and say: 'Take courage, take courage, brave men!' This he told the prior, so that he might exhort the brethren to still greater devotion towards the blessed Virgin, and the fervent recital of her office.
THEIR PRACTICE OF CONFESSION
THERE was a friar in the convent of Langres(13) who had kept his baptismal innocence, and who on account of the cleanness of heart which he preserved in the world and in the cloister, did not go to confession twice or thrice a week as the others did, but only once a fortnight, or once a month. One night it seemed to him that he was caught up to the judgement seat, where on the top of a high hill he saw Christ enthroned with the blessed Virgin by his side. In the valley below stood the whole world, and all had to come up one by one and stand before the judge, at whose sentence some were led off to the torments of hell, others to everlasting joys, and others again to purgatory. When the brother stood before the judge in his turn he was condemned to the pains of purgatory. Upon this the blessed Virgin began to plead his cause, saying: 'Son and Lord, why dost thou send him there? He is but a tender youth and cannot endure its torments: besides he is clean in the flesh, and is a member of that Order which has rendered such great services to thee and to me.' ' I sent him there,' said Christ, 'because he so seldom confessed: however, at thy entreaty I will spare him this once.' Returning to himself the brother repaired his fault, and told the vision to many.
While another of our religious was standing in prayer before the altar at Bologna, the devil, seizing him, dragged him violently across the pavement to the middle of the church. Hearing him cry out, more than thirty brethren who were praying in the church at the time ran to his aid, and seeing him dragged along tried to hold him back, but to no purpose. Terrified at the sight, they sprinkled him with holy water, again to no purpose, while an older friar who tried to check him was dragged along in the same way. He was at last with difficulty brought to St Nicholas' altar, and on the arrival of Master Reginald confessed a mortal sin he had concealed in confession, and was forthwith freed. Wonderful indeed was their fidelity to the silence, which after compline is always rigorously enforced, for during all that terrible commotion not a single word was spoken.
One of our brethren of the Roman Province, who in the world had taken pleasure in singing and listening to coarse songs and ditties without ever mentioning it in his confessions, being laid low upon a bed of sickness, heard these same airs constantly ringing in his ears, but the old feeling of delight was now changed into trouble and vexation of spirit. Although very weak in body he got up one day and went to where the prior, who was also in the infirmary, was lying, and telling him of the affair, confessed all his early follies. With the absolution he was rid of the troublesome refrains, which never more returned.
Another friar, who belonged to the Province of Lombardy, a man of remarkable piety, and holding high office among. his brethren, tells us how, when he was a novice at Bologna in the time of St Dominic, and as he lay asleep one night on the pavement before the altar, he heard a voice bidding him go and get his tonsure renewed. Waking at once he understood this to be a caution for him to make his confession over again, and to go more fully into the particulars of his faults.
He made his confession afresh at St Dominic's feet with abundant sorrow and more exactly than before. Again he slept, and dreamt he saw an angel come down from heaven bearing a beautiful golden crown in his hands, and singling him out from the rest, put it upon his head.(14)
There was a sick brother of the convent at Narbonne (15) who wanted to make his confession, but the prior would have him put it off until after vespers and the procession, as it was our Lady's Assumption day. The brother, however, pleaded: 'Nay, father, but I cannot wait, let me confess at once, for by God's gracious invitation and command I shall join his blessed Mother and the angels in to-day's procession.' He made his confession at once, and a little later fell asleep in the Lord.
A novice at Lausanne, (16) after making what he judged to be a good and careful confession, saw the devil in human form standing before him on the eve of his communion, who thus mocked him: 'You fancy you have made a good confession, but for all that there is much written down in this paper which makes you mine.' Then the brother wanted to see it, but the devil, being unwilling, fled away and seemed to stumble over a stoup of holy water at the door, and dropping the paper, disappeared. The novice examined it, and actually found written on it sins he had forgotten. He confessed them with much sorrow in the morning, and thus was the devil's trick to discourage him turned by God's mercy to his advantage. It was the novice's confessor, a holy and trustworthy man, who made it known to the Master of the Order.
CAUSES WHICH LED MANY TO EMBRACE THE HOLY RULE
(1) THE THOUGHT OF EMPTINESS OF HUMAN PLEASURES
MASTER ROLAND of Cremona, of whom mention was made in the First Part, after being present with his friends at a grand banquet, decked out in very costly attire, and having spent the whole day in pleasure, began to enter seriously into himself when evening was come and the day's folly over. Moved inwardly by divine grace, he rebuked himself in the following terms: 'What has become now of the pleasure of our feasting, and has not our carousal come to a speedy end with our laughter?' For a long while he pondered over the fleeting nature of all worldly pleasures. On the morrow he took himself to the Order, wherein he became famed for holiness and learning, and toiled zealously during many years in God's service.
(2) THE PIETY OF THE BRETHREN
A PRIEST who lodged close by the friars in Paris, as be lay in bed on Saturday night, heard them chanting aloud the matins of the blessed Virgin's office. Touched by grace he began to upbraid himself: 'Wretch that I am, here I lie at my ease in bed while they are praising God.' In the early morning he betook himself to St James' convent, and humbly sued to be received to the holy habit.
While the brethren in Bologna were taking the discipline after Compline, an evil-minded scholar set himself to peep through a chink in the door, but instead of deriving edification, only made it an occasion of mocking. Then he hurried off to a companion and urged him to come and have a look as well. 'Come along,' said he, 'and I will let you. see the greatest simpletons in the whole world; I mean the Friars Preachers, for they whip themselves as if they were so many mules, and tear their own bodies.' The other was only moved to compassion on hearing of it, and begged that he might be allowed to see it. Next evening the fellow brought him to the spot and told him to see for himself what those silly men were doing. As the youth gazed on that strange spectacle, not from mockery or curiosity, but from feelings of devotion, his heart melted, and in self-reproach he cried out: 'If these holy men chastise themselves so sharply for God's sake, what is likely to become of a poor sinner like me!' Moved by the divine goodness he chose to follow their manner of life.
(3) THE WORD OF GOD
WHEN Brother Reginald, the former Dean of Orleans, was preaching with great success at Bologna,(17) and drawing many clerics of note to the Order, Master Moneta, who was then a professor in the arts, and famous all over Lombardy, began to fear lest he should be captivated by his eloquence: so he tried to keep away from him as far as possible, and strove by word and example to stop his own students from attending the sermons. Some of them tried one St Stephen's Day to get him to go with them to the sermon, and not having an excuse to offer he consented, but on condition that they should hear mass first at St Proclus. They set off, and under his persuasion heard three masses, in order that he might spend the time and escape the sermon. On finally coming to the friars' church they found that Master Reginald had not yet finished, but from the crowd which filled the building Moneta had to stand in the doorway of the porch, and was captivated by the first words he heard: 'Lo, I see the heavens open,' cried the preacher, 'they are open to-day that we may enter in: whoever will may pass in through those open portals. Sluggards, look at them and tremble, lest the gates be closed before your eyes and you enter not, you who shut out God from your hearts and tongues and hands. Why, then, do you delay, for lo, the gates are open?' When the sermon was over Master Moneta sought out Brother Reginald, and falling at his knees unfolded his whole life and behaviour, and made his religious profession there and then. He wore his secular dress, by dispensation, for one year more, on account of the many obstacles in the way, and as hitherto he had proved a hindrance to many, so now he began to draw numbers to the service of God and to the Order. He brought them to our brethren's sermons, and led now one and then another to the noviciate, renewing his own profession in each. When he at last put on the holy habit, words cannot describe his singularly holy life, and the proficiency he attained in preaching and teaching, and putting down heresy.
One of our most famous brethren(18) was sent in his youth to the schools in Paris, and meeting there the Order of Preachers, which had just sprung into existence, called to mind how the Carthusian monks, who used sometimes to stay in his father's house, had often prayed for him to die either among themselves or in the Order of Preachers. Now although by the help of grace he seldom fell into sin, and even wore a hair cloth occasionally for his spiritual advancement, gave alms, was present at the divine offices in the church and functions on holidays, and went every day to hear the sermon in the church of Notre Dame, still he never felt drawn by Master Jordan's preaching or by any one else's sermons to become a religious in any Order at all. After graduating in the arts he entered on a course of Canon Law, and without the knowledge of his friends attended the morning school of theology. Chancing one holiday to remain behind after vespers in his own parish church, that he might assist privately at the office of the dead, when the other scholars were gone out, the parish priest came up to him while the lessons were being read, and this conversation took place: 'Friend, may I ask whether you are one of my flock?' 'I believe I am,' said the youth, mentioning where he lodged. 'Since, then, you belong to me,' continued the priest, 'I shall open my mind to you. Do you remember what promises you made to God in baptism?' 'No; what promises did I make?' asked the student. 'You promised to renounce Satan with all his works and pomps; for when the priest who baptised you asked you whether you abjured him, your sponsors who held you in their arms made answer in your name and said, "I do renounce him." ' 'But why do you put this question to me now?' asked the student. 'The reason for my making the enquiry,' said the priest, ' is because there are many students who for long years put up with great privations and hardships here in Paris, in prosecuting their studies, and yet the end of all their study is only one of Satan's pomps. In their hearts they are saying to themselves: "When you shall have studied in Paris and become a master in your faculty, you will return home famous, and be reputed a great theologian: benefices will be presented to you, and no doubt you will rise to be a dignitary of the Church": and what is all this, may I ask you, but a pomp of Satan? Beware, friend, of harbouring any such motives in your studies. Think, too, how many priests and professors are daily quitting the world and joining the Jacobin friars,(19) and you will see that everything after which we aspire in this world is only one of Satan's pomps.' As he concluded these words the lesson in the choir ended too, and the solemn response was intoned: 'Woe unto me, O Lord, for I have sinned exceedingly in my life: what will become of me, unhappy man that 1 am? whither shall flee for refuge save only unto thee, my God.' What with the words of the priest's warning and the singing of the choir, it seemed as if two trumpets were sounding in his soul, and the effect was a great compunction of spirit and floods of tears. Going out from thence, wherever he went, he carried with him the memory of those terrible words: 'What will become of me, unhappy man that I am? or whither shall I flee save only unto thee, my God.' As he turned these things over in his mind, an interior voice seemed to whisper in reply: 'Fly to the Friars Preachers at St James'.' For some days after, as he went to pray in Notre Dame, such a spirit of fervour and compunction came over him that forthwith despising the world, he betook himself to a friar of his acquaintance at St James', and took his advice about entering the Order after he had paid his debts. He then called upon his professor, who was afterwards known to the world as Cardinal Hugh de St Cher, and acquainted him with his determination, begging him at the same time not to put any hindrance in his way. On hearing this his master thanked God, and assured him of his best wishes for success: 'Learn, besides, that I have made the same resolve, but am at present only hindered by my pressing business from carrying it out, since it demands my fullest attention. Go with confidence, and be assured that I shall follow you.' The student then entered the Order on St Andrew's Day, and in the next Lent Master Hugh followed his example, taking the habit on the feast of St Peter's chair.(20)
When Master Jordan was preaching at Vercelli, (21) which was then a resort of scholars, during the first few days of his stay he drew thirteen men of note in the schools, besides others, to the Order. At that same time Master Walter of Germany, so renowned for his skill in the physical sciences, was Regent in the arts, whose services had been secured at an enormous outlay. Hearing of Master Jordan's arrival he told his friends and scholars not to mind his instructions: 'Beware of attending his sermons,' said he, 'for like a courtesan he tries to seduce people by his winning address.' But now a wonder came to pass, wrought undoubtedly by the right hand of the most High : for he who had done his best to stop others from listening to his words fell the first victim himself, and when from feelings of softness he felt inclined to resist, he would beat his ribs with his clenched fists and say, as if spurring himself onwards, 'You shall go: yes, go you shall, notwithstanding all your feelings ! ' He went, and being admitted, became a model of edification to many.
A cleric of note in that same city, and well read in law, on learning that many of his friends and scholars had joined the friars, at once forgetting self and the open books before him, which he did not even wait to close, and his household goods, set off alone for the convent, like one crazed. Meeting a friend in the street who wanted to know where he was hurrying to at such a pace and without his servant, he replied without even stopping: 'I am going to my God.' On reaching the spot where the brethren were then staying, for as yet they had no convent in the town, and finding Master Jordan standing among the brethren, he threw off his silk gown, went on his knees, and cried out: 'From this hour I belong to God alone.' Without further enquiry or delay Master Jordan answered: 'Since you belong to God, we then in his name deliver you over to his service'; and raising him up gave him the habit. These two accounts are furnished by one who was present on both occasions, and was himself one of the two mentioned.
Two fellow students(22) in Paris were in the habit of daily reciting the office of the blessed Virgin, one of whom having made up his mind to enter the Order, used frequently to advise his friend to follow his example. One day as they were saying the vespers of her office together, the one who did not feel so drawn became conscious, all at once, of a peculiar feeling of devotion, and with tears in his eyes said to his companion at the end of the office: ' I will no longer refuse your generous proposal, but am ready to go with you at once to that blessed brotherhood to which you have so often pressed me.' After attending matins that same evening in Notre Dame, they mutually enquired what had stirred their affections most. 'I was most touched by St Gregory's exposition of the gospel ' (the one for the third Sunday in Advent), said the first. 'While I,' said the other, 'felt moved most at the second response, "He shall teach us his ways," etc., and again at the verse, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of God, and to the house of Jacob": for God seemed literally to be calling us to enter St James' convent, which is his house (23) and stands upon a hill too.' So they entered together, and excelled in holiness of life.
Brother Peter of Lucrin, had thoughts for a long time of becoming a friar, yet on account of the eminent position in the world his talents had won for him, he kept putting it off and constantly changing his mind. While saying the Compline of the Lady office one evening, it chanced that while he recited these words of the psalmist: 'How long, O Lord, shalt thou be unmindful of me unto the end? How long shalt thou continue to turn array thy face from me? So long as I shall adhere to my soul's desire (Ps. xii 1, 2) he was so overcome with the spirit of compunction and blinded with tears, that he could not continue, so falling on his knees, he repeated over and over again the words: 'How long shall 1 continue in my soul's resolve? How long shall my enemy prevail against me? Hear me, O Lord God, enlighten mine eyes that I may never sleep in death.' After passing the night saying compline in this fashion, he gave himself to the Order without more ado in the morning.
(4) THE THOUGHT OF DEATH
BROTHER GUERRIC DE ST QUENTIN,(24) who attained great proficiency in philosophy, medicine, and the natural sciences, and afterwards taught theology with great success in Paris, thus acquaints us with the story of his vocation. Hearing one day the words read in the church, 'Adam lived nine hundred and thirty years, and he died,' and so on with the rest of the patriarchs who died after such long lives, and feeling terrified at the thought, he began to cry out: 'All -- yea, the longest lived -- must die! What will become of us, for we must likewise die!' Moved by this wholesome thought he joined our brethren, and now the holiness of his life and his depth and clearness in teaching are known all over the Order and the Church of God.
Brother Octavian of Florence, (25) a man of noble family but of yet nobler virtues, and a remarkable preacher, gives the following as his reason for coming to the Order. Happening in the course of his studies at Bologna to be present at a funeral, he caught sight of the ghastly features of the corpse as it was being hurried to the grave, and he was so disgusted with the indecent haste with which it was put out of sight under ground, like some foul and loathsome object, that he conceived at heart a lasting remembrance of death, and a wholesome fear; and so he turned his steps straight to the Order, wherein he ended his course happily.
Brother John di Colunna,(26) a Roman patrician, and nephew to one of the cardinals, having been sent by his uncle to Paris to study there, while a mere stripling, felt drawn to join the Order from the burning words of Brother Jordan of holy memory, but at the same time he was kept back by a prelate of note. Having pledged his word to this dignitary not to take the step without again consulting him, he set off one day, with Master Jordan's sanction, to tell him of his final resolve. After searching about in quest of him for some time, he unexpectedly came across him laid out dead in the choir of a neighbouring abbey church. This untimely end only whetted his desire, so he started straight off to fulfil his longed-for purpose. Such was his constancy and fervour in the noviceship that when his old master came to see him, in the hopes of reasoning him out of it, he so silenced him by his answers before the brethren, although but a child in years, that the other retired ashamed and amazed.
Meanwhile, at his uncle the cardinal's request, Pope Gregory sent a peremptory letter summoning him to Rome, and binding all prelates under precept to help on his journey, wherever he might be found; but the novice getting to hear of it fled with another brother, and went secretly from place to place through France and Germany, that he might not be seized, nor anyone incur excommunication on his account. Who shall recount the hardships and difficulties he went through to the day of his profession! Strange to say, the legates who were in search of him, armed with the papal letters and bulls, were not infrequently in the same house with him, but without ever discovering him.
THE THOUGHT OF PRESENT AND FUTURE PAINS
A SCHOOLMASTER of Novara,(27) in Italy, who had made a vow to enter the Order, and had even fixed the day for his reception at Milan, was held back by affection for his pupils and love of the world. So he went to another town, hoping still to continue his school without the annoyance of meeting the friars daily. On the very day he broke his engagement he became blind, and so continued for three days. Conscious at last of his sin, he went to confession, and recovering his sight he became a member of the Order, and persevered in it until his death.
There was a scholar in Bologna of rather fastidious ways, concerning whom it was thrice revealed to a devout soul that if he were only rightly counselled he would give up the world. Accordingly, the brother to whom the vision was granted, went to the sub-prior, a countryman of the youth, and told him what he knew; the only reply he got was that it was next to impossible for a man of means who enjoyed his ease to give up the vicious habits of youth. As the brother, however, urged that nothing was impossible in God's hands, the sub-prior on reflection thought that after all God might possibly bring it about, so he went to see the youth. But when on entering his rooms he noticed the costly furniture and hangings, his heart failed him, nor would he so much as broach the subject. The student soon surmised that something was amiss, and suspecting that he meditated a homily on the vanities of the world, turned abruptly to his countryman and said: 'I do not want to hear a word from you unless you promise not to mention God's name in my presence.' 'Very well,' said the brother, 'we can talk about home and your parents, and in conclusion just say two words about God.' 'Agreed,' said the scholar, 'but mind you do not make it three.' After the conversation had gone on gaily for some time, the sub-prior rose to take his leave. 'Now, let us have these two words about God,' said he. 'Friend Recald, can you guess what sort of place is in store in the next world for those who do not penance in this?' 'No, I cannot,' was the reply. 'Then just hear how the prophet Isaias describes it"Beneath thee shall the worm be strewn and the maggot shall be thy covering," ' and with a few words of explanation the brother went home. The thought of those worms and maggots took such hold of the scholar's brain that for days he could think of nothing else. In vain did he strive to banish the thought by pleasure and gay society: on the contrary, they only sank deeper into his soul. Very soon after he came to crave admittance into the company of the brethren, choosing rather to lie on a hard bed for the rest of his days and then be carried to paradise by angels in death, than to enjoy his comfortable couch and be afterwards buried in hell, amid endless gnawings of worms and maggots, the very thought of which was so unbearable for only a few days upon earth.
JAMES, once prior of Bologna, used often to relate how a lawyer, eminent for ability, made a bargain with a friend that whoever died first should appear within thirty days to the survivor. The friend died, and coming on the thirtieth day was questioned by the lawyer as to how he then fared. He received for answer that he, the dead man, was in purgatory, and as to its pains, not all the mountains and visible things in this world, if heaped up in one blazing pile, could equal its intense heat. Being asked whether there was no remedy or solace for the suffering souls, he replied: 'We have, true enough, but it comes so seldom; at the present time souls are very badly off, for they lack prayers owing to the wars between the Pope and Emperor.(28) Many suffrages are lost owing to the edict pronounced, and at this hour many souls might have been set free if the customary masses had been offered up.' On enquiring next whether peace would soon be restored, the other made answer: 'Peace will not be proclaimed, for men have drawn down this calamity on themselves by their sins.' 'And what do you think now of my state of life?' asked the lawyer. 'You are in an evil state and profession.' 'What am I to do then?' 'Fly the world,' said the departed soul. 'Whither must I fly?' 'Fly to the Order of Friars Preachers,' saying which the figure disappeared. The lawyer was very much troubled, so he went to Brother James, the prior, and told him everything; after this he settled his affairs, and withdrew into the cloister.
The Dean of Angers, a man of good family, and wealthy, and learned, being struck down by a serious illness began to take thought of his soul's welfare. He would frequently ponder thus within himself: 'O Lord my God, what must I do to be saved? To whom shall I have recourse? Lord God, be pleased to enlighten me.' This thought so possessed him that from that hour he could neither speak nor think of anything else. After spending the greater part of the night in such ejaculations, he seemed all at once to see our Lord Jesus Christ standing at his bedside, who said to him: 'If you want to be saved, enter among my followers,' and on the Dean enquiring who they might be, Christ made answer: 'Go and seek out the Friars Preachers.' When morning was come he bade the priest bring him the Body of Christ, while his friends gathered round, weeping and lamenting the departure of him whom they loved in the flesh. When the priest was about to communicate him in their presence, he thus addressed them: 'I have had the Body of Christ brought, that in his presence, before whom none may dare to lie, I may acquaint you with what happened to me last night.' And telling them of his vision and the rest, he wound up by saying: 'Since Christ has invited me I will delay no longer.' He sent at once for the brethren, and asked them to give him their habit without delay. At this intelligence his friends and relatives set up a loud wailing, and strove by every means to dissuade him from his purpose, but with a stern voice he bade them begone: 'These,' said he, ' care little for the man, but are eager for his spoils.' He then was carried to the convent, where he took the habit and some time later slept in the Lord, surrounded by the brethren who were making fervent supplication for him. They were all deeply consoled at his death among them, for up to that time he had been anything but friendly towards them. Thus did he show a noteworthy example of a true conversion, besides leaving them a goodly supply of books, which they then sadly lacked.
A skilled lawyer of note in Amiens, after leading a bad life, at last was laid on his bed of death. He gave orders for all his plate and books to be laid out before him, and fell asleep. The dean and canons who were present waited very patiently in hopes that his weak frame might gain some strength: after a brief space he started up shouting loudly: 'Quick, quick, draw the boat to the shore.' When the bystanders tried to calm him by reverting to the previous conversation, he broke in with the story of his dream: 'I seemed to be all alone upon the ocean in quite a small craft, when a herd of black creatures like swine appeared and tried to drown me; but on my crying to the Lord for help I saw two men standing as upon a shore dressed in white habits and with black cloaks, who on my entreating them to save me, said: "Come away with us, and do not be afraid." They were in the act of drawing me to the shore when I woke with the cry which you heard.' His friends tried to soothe him by saying the dream was a sign of good luck, while he maintained, on the contrary, that it was no dream at all, but a forerunner of some dreadful thing that was going to happen. 'Let the Friars Preachers come at once and receive me as one of them,' he cried with tears, 'that so I may escape the perils which beset my soul here in the world.' As he was yet speaking two of our brethren entered the room. Full of joy on beholding them he clasped his hands and begged them to admit him without delay. After consulting with the prior he was admitted, and died a few days later among them, full of confidence in God's mercies, and strengthened by a good confession.
Brother Henry of Germany, a truly fervent man and a great favourite among the people, has left us this account of his vocation. He had an uncle living at Montmartre, a soldier by calling, who, after adopting and educating him, defrayed the expenses of his stay in the schools at Paris. Death at length overtook him while travelling in Germany, and appearing shortly after to his nephew, he spoke these words to him: 'If you wish to deliver me from my present pains, take up the cross and be a crusader, and when you return from Jerusalem, you will find an Order, newly established, in Paris,(29) which you must enter. Have no fears on the score of their poverty, do not despise their fewness in number, for they will one day grow into a great people unto the salvation of many.' The youth took up the cross as advised, fulfilled his vow, and on his return to Paris found a handful of friars recently come from Toulouse, who had just secured a place of residence. Without further hesitation he embraced their state, and very soon after this his uncle appeared again to tender his grateful thanks, since by his help he had been freed from purgatory.
Not less remarkable was the calling of Brother Peter(30) of Aubenas, one of our lectors in Provence, who crowned a saintly life by a holy end. Although well disposed towards the friars, while yet practising medicine in the world, the Waldenses of Lyons led his soul so far astray that he knew not which creed to profess. He felt more drawn towards the Waldenses, because of their greater outward show of piety, while at the same time he could not help observing the happy countenances and modest ways of our brethren. While in this frame of mind, and not knowing which way to turn, he earnestly, and with many tears, asked for God's guidance. Then falling into a gentle slumber, he seemed to be walking along a strange road with a grove of trees on his left, wherein he espied the Waldenses walking about with dejected looks and split up into various factions, while on his right ran a long and lofty wall. Coming eventually to a gate, and looking through, he beheld a lovely meadow studded with trees and flowers, in which a vast assembly of Friars Preachers appeared standing round in a circle. Their shining countenances were all turned heavenwards, and some of them held Christ's Body in their uplifted hands. Charmed at the sight he tried to join their company, but the angel who kept the gate forbade him, saying: 'You may not enter here just yet.' At this point he awoke to find himself weeping bitterly, but free at heart from all his previous anxieties, and settling all his worldly affairs, he took their habit a few days later. I myself have often heard him tell this story, and others besides.
In the diocese of Florence, in Tuscany, there was a youth who, from childhood, was bent on devoting himself to God's service, but being of a simple and confiding nature he was led away by heretics to join their sect because of their outward show of sanctity. As he was standing in the open sunshine one day with some companions, a heretic with whom he was acquainted said: 'See now, friend Florimond, how Lucifer bestows his warmth upon us.' 'What is that you say?' cried the conscience-stricken youth. 'Do not you know,' said the heretic, 'that it was the devil who created all visible things?' Astonished at such a reply, the youth called together as many heretics as he could find, and addressed these words to them: 'I have now spent twelve years with you, and not one of you has up to this dared to tell me that it was the devil who created this visible world. If you can prove your doctrine, I am quite willing to profess it; but if I can prove the opposite, you must, on your part, abjure your errors and give ear to the truth.' On this, there was a great discussion, but the Albigenses, failing to make good their teaching by solid argument, withdrew in confusion.
After this, the youth shut himself up in his chamber, and gave vent to his feelings in tears, which eventually found favour with God. After earnestly praying for guidance it occurred to him to take up the New Testament and look for the way of salvation therein. After saying an Our Father, he thrust his knife into the Testament, and opening it in Christ's name, found the point resting on the words: 'Let them alone, for they are blind and leaders of the blind' (St Matt. xv 14.). From this he understood, by divine inspiration, that he ought to quit those blind guides, since they did not possess the sure way to salvation. But another doubt yet remaining, he prayed once more: 'Behold, good Lord, thou hast shown me what to avoid, teach me now whither I ought to turn, for Jews, Saracens, Waldenses, and the Roman Church all profess to have the sure way to everlasting life.' Then after praying for some time longer, he thrust his knife once more into the book, and on opening it his eyes caught the words: 'The Scribes and Pharisees have sat in the chair of Moses, what things soever they say unto you do ye, but according to their deeds do ye not.' Understanding that this agreed better with the Roman Church, which is the fulfilment of the Jewish type, he became a convert to the true faith, and directing his steps to the Order some time later, he laboured long and arduously in the defence of the faith, strengthening Catholics, and converting heretics by his preaching.
A scholar from Tuscany, who wanted to join the Order, was opposed by his father, who sought to dissuade him by reminding him of the sorrow which his elder brother's departure had caused him, when he joined the brethren the year before. Touched in heart, the young man began very earnestly to ask God to make known his good pleasure as to whether he ought to follow his father's wishes or enter the Order. He dreamt that night he was looking at a house which had no roof but the sky, and from the centre of which a great ladder stretched up to heaven. It then appeared as if all the souls that were to be saved flocked towards -the house, and among them he recognised his brother. Seeing them mount heavenwards, and his brother with the rest, he wanted to bear them company, but could not stir. Starting up with tears in his eyes he cried out: 'Oh, if I had only entered the Order of Preachers, I should now have been ascending up to heaven in my brother's company.' As he repeated these words, sobbing bitterly, it broke upon him that God was calling him in this way to follow his brother's example; so leaving his father and everything else at once, he betook himself to the Order.
In the year 1252, a doctor of Salamanca(31) went one Sunday morning with a company of scholars to our church to hear the sermon. Soon it began to rain heavily, and as they were prevented from returning home, the sub-prior pressed them to stay to dinner, and afterwards lent the doctor the cloak of one of the brethren to prevent his clothes from being spoiled. As he put it on the sub-prior observed pleasantly in the chapter-house, in the hearing of everybody: 'I protest before you all, and you are witnesses to the fact that Master Nicholas has to-day taken the habit of the Order.' The Master with a smile admitted that it was so, and wore it all day for amusement, both in the streets and at home among his scholars. During the night he was seized with a violent fever, so much so that he and the doctors despaired of his recovery. Terrified at his approaching end he tried to pray, and as he did so he heard a voice which cried aloud: 'Thinkest thou that I will have only the persons of the Friars Preachers to be respected and honoured, nay, not merely their persons, but even their religious habit? Since you have treated it with contempt, learn that you shall not wear it without being punished!' He heard these words of warning repeated three separate times while wide awake, as he solemnly avowed. In great fear he sent for the brethren, and then for God's glory and his soul's welfare, and to the edification of many, he reverently and devoutly took the habit which he had previously worn for sport, and afterwards wrote a detailed account of it to the Master of the Order.
THEIR DEVOTION TO THE MOTHER OF GOD
BROTHER TANCRED (32) who was formerly prior in Rome, and of whom mention was made in St Dominic's legend, informs us how on taking thought of his perilous state as a soldier in the Emperor's court at Bologna, and having prayed the blessed Virgin to watch over his salvation, she appeared to him in sleep and beckoned him to follow her, saying: 'Come away to my Order.' Starting up at once he knelt down and renewed his petition, and again falling asleep he saw two men in the Friars Preachers' habit, one of whom, a man of venerable looks, said to him: 'Have you asked the blessed Virgin to show you the way of salvation: come with us and you shall find it.' Awakening a second time, and not remembering ever to have seen that fashion of religious dress before, he concluded that the whole thing was nothing more than a dream. Wishing to hear mass next morning he asked his host to show him the way to the church, so the two set out together for St Nicholas' church, where the Friars Preachers had only recently arrived. On entering the cloister they were met by two of the brethren, one of whom was Brother Nicholas, the venerable prior, in whom he recognised his monitor of the night before. Convinced by this of his supernatural call, he hastily put his secular affairs in order, and entered the Order in that same convent.
There was a youth in Burgundy who used often to implore the Mother of God to be his guide and get him the grace to enter whatever Order was most acceptable to her, reciting daily for this purpose the following versicle: 'Show me, O Lady, the way wherein I should walk, for I have lifted up my soul to thee'. Now before this he had made up his mind to join another Order, when quite in an unlooked-for way the prayer he had addressed daily to the helper of Christians seemed to be drawing him to the Order of Preachers. Furthermore he was told by a holy and learned director that he might safely abandon his first resolve provided he entered this Order, which at that time seemed to be more serviceable for the Church's wants. Following Mary's guidance he gave himself to the Order, for he had always been most attached to it, and this devotion grew in fervour when he came under the influence of its special graces. As he lay awake one night thinking over the happiness of his present state, he beheld the glorious Virgin accompanied by two maidens draw near, while their garments exhaled a most agreeable perfume; and on sitting up to assure himself that it was a sober reality and not a phantom of his brain, he distinctly heard her utter these words: 'Since you have begun well, son, go on manfully.' He was much comforted in soul at the words, and strengthened in his resolve of abiding in the Order.
Brother Henry (33) of blessed memory, who was the first prior of Cologne, on being pressed to join the Order by his friend Jordan of Saxony, who had vowed to do the same, sought our Lady's guidance in the church of Notre Dame in Paris. Feeling no sensible change come over him, a result which he set down to his own hardness of heart, he began thus to complain of his lot: 'O ever-glorious Virgin Mary, I now understand that thou art not willing to number me among thy servants, and I am doomed to have no part in the company of Christ's poor.'
This longing after the poverty of the gospel had taken hold of his heart ever since it had been revealed to him how much it avails those who embrace it when they come to stand in the presence of an inflexible judge; for some time previously to this he had dreamt that he was standing with some others before Christ's tribunal. Feeling sure of his innocence and conscious of no crime, he believed he would escape censure; but one standing at the judge's right hand cried out: 'What have you ever parted with for Christ's sake?' He awoke up shivering from fear, and profiting by the lesson made up his mind from that hour to embrace holy poverty, but was kept back by his natural fondness of ease.
As he was on the point of leaving Notre Dame, sad and downcast after his nightly vigil and prayer, his heart was visited by him 'who regards the lowly.' With floods of tears he poured out his soul before God, his heart melted and what had heretofore seemed unbearable now became sweet and agreeable. Refreshed inspirit he got up from his knees, and hurrying off to Master Reginald, vowed himself entirely to God's service. He redeemed his vow a few days later, when he entered, bringing a companion with him. This is the same Brother Henry, who in the first days of the Order, although so young, became a winning preacher, and whom his beloved friend, Master Jordan, saw after death amid choirs of angels, and asked his blessing that he might preach God's word with profit.
A Parisian scholar was in the habit of going every day to Notre Dame, and there fervently putting himself under the patronage of the Mother of God, beseeching her with unwearying entreaty to bring him to that state of life which was most agreeable in her eyes; but unhappily he was led away by evil companions to the practices of a vicious life. One night as he was going with them into a house of evil repute, our merciful and tender-hearted Saviour, at his holy Mother's prayers, put out his hand to save him, for, as he himself told me, on arriving at the place he was held to the pavement as firmly as adamant. Terror-stricken, he entered into himself, and cried out: 'I will have recourse to the blessed Virgin, since I see that my presence here is displeasing to God.' On making this promise his feet were once more at liberty, and going to the church he thanked this merciful Virgin for having thus preserved his chastity of soul and body, and a few days later, under her guidance, he found an abiding refuge in the Order.
Another scholar, after finishing his course in the arts, returned home to see his friends before beginning his course of theology. Calling to mind, on the return journey, the meekness of a certain abbot to whose prayers he had commended himself, he was so overcome by the spirit of compunction, that he could not keep his saddle, but falling upon the ground, lay weeping and groaning on the road. After a while he felt moved to push on to Paris, and there enter the Order of Preachers, which had only lately come into existence: so he got up and went on to the city. But when he came to reflect on the poverty and hardships of the Order, and hearing some evil reports circulated against the brethren among his companions, his courage failed, and with tears he implored light and guidance from heaven. After much prayer the blessed Virgin appeared to him one night in sleep, and showed him the friars' dwelling, their manner of receiving novices, the chapter-house and habit, and how and by whom it would be bestowed. Moved by this vision he went straight to the convent in the morning, and was admitted, where he found everything just as God's holy Mother had shown him in his sleep.
HOW THEY WERE HARASSED BY THE DEVIL
BEFORE our brethren settled in many provinces where now, by God's grace, they are flourishing, and to the great profit of souls, the devil, in guise of a courier, came up with two of them on the road to the General Chapter in Bologna.(34) As they walked along together, he enquired whither they were going, and on being informed of the aim of their journey, he next asked what were to be the subjects for discussion in the chapter. In all simplicity they told how that it was contemplated sending out the friars to preach in various quarters of the globe. ' Do you think,' said he, 'that they are likely to go to Greece or Hungary?' 'By God's grace they most certainly will,' was their reply, whereat the seeming courier took one bound into the air, and vanished like smoke, crying the while: 'Your Order will be our confusion!' On coming to Bologna, they told this to St Dominic and the rest, who were met together in chapter, in our Lord's name.
In the year 1221, Brother Paul of Hungary, formerly a professor of Canon Law in Bologna, started out with four companions to conquer for Christ the Tartar tribes. During a few days' halt at Turin they drew to the Order three scholars, who offered themselves likewise for this difficult enterprise. As they were praying one night in the church a troop of devils, frantic with rage, appeared in visible shape, crying aloud with accents of despair: 'Why have you come to rob us of what justly belongs to us? Miserable indeed are we to be conquered by mere striplings.' With this they appeared to rush with one accord towards the brethren, as if to tear them in pieces. This story rests on the word of Friar Sadoc, a religious of grave authority in word and work, who afterwards became prior of Sandomir.(35)
For a whole year after our brethren settled in Santa Maria Novella, in Florence,(36) the devils were heard every night wailing with awful cries, because the friars had come to a spot which for many years had been given over to them as the scene of every abomination. These cries were likewise heard all over the neighbourhood of the convent.
The devil again appeared like a horned monster to one of the brothers, as he was praying before the great crucifix in the church by night, and threatened to kill him. The brother sought safety in flight, and ran into the cloister; but still the enemy pursued him. Finally he fled into the chapter-house, upon which the foul fiend cried out: 'You have taken refuge where I cannot get at you, but wait a while and I will have you yet.' The devil spoke the truth this once, for the brother at his instigation left the Order, but some time after, by the mercy of God, returned again.
A fervent and learned brother, named Martin, was for three years constantly beset by Satan, who kept appearing to him in all manner of shapes in the hopes of scaring him. After he had gone to Rome in company with Master Jordan of blessed memory, as he was one day studying out of a handsome bible the devil again appeared and began to dance round him, crying out the while: 'An idol, an idol!' On the brother asking him what he meant, the fiend answered: 'You are making an idol of that book.' 'Why are you always vexing me?' said the brother. 'Because you are altogether mine': saying which he disappeared. Although the brother was not conscious of any fault, yet the devil's words alarmed him, so he went to Master Jordan and told him all, finishing by these words: 'I do not know of anything he can bring against me, except it be this bible, which I now leave in your hands to dispose of as you please.' Knowing by inspiration that the devil was only trying in this way to hinder the brother from studying, and to check his spiritual advancement, Master Jordan said to the brother: 'I now return it to you again in God's name, and go on using it for your own benefit.' From that hour the tempter ceased to vex him, being no doubt overcome by his humility and the prayers of our venerable Master.
In the days of this same Master Jordan there was a friar possessed by the devil in Bologna, who used to annoy his brethren by day and night, and frequently spread abroad false reports about them, although he had at times to own the truth. Occasionally he would expound the Scriptures most learnedly, although he had never studied them. One morning while the brothers were in the schools beyond the infirmary he turned to those who were standing by and said: 'They are at this moment discussing whether Christ be the Head of the Church,' going over the same with looks of pain and rage, as though they tormented him exceedingly. 'Wretch,' cried out Master Jordan, 'why dost thou vex our brethren and urge them to commit sin, since thou art only the more severely punished in consequence?' Then the demon made this reply: 'If I do so, it is not that I have any liking for sin, for it is abominable even unto me, but it is for the sake of the gains it brings me; just as the scavenger who cleans out the sewers in Paris does so, not that the stench is pleasant to him, but he puts up with it for the sake of the money.'
A holy man named Friar Peter of Aubenas had his eyes opened one day and a beheld a multitude of evil spirits in visible shapes on the roof of the cloister and cells. Their foul presence was also made known to him by a sickening stench. After a little space it seemed to him that a fair company of holy angels descended to the same spot, putting the devils to hasty flight. One of the angels seemed to incense the place where the unclean spirits had been, with a thurible shedding a heavenly fragrance expelling the stench of hell.
Friar Raoul used to declare that the vile spirits were allowed so often to torture and beat him, that he thought no limb of his body had been free from their torments. Sometimes they would gather around, when he was praying, and try to affright him by horrible shapes, their eyes seeming to flash with the fire of hell. At another time when he was standing before a crucifix, a dark shadow seemed to rise before and hide it from his eyes, to prevent his holy contemplation. Seeing that they could not distract him in his prayer, they appeared in ludicrous guise, hoping thus to lessen his union with God.
In the time of Pope Innocent IV,(37) while one of our brethren was exorcising a possessed person, the devil began to howl through his victim's mouth: 'Oh, what unbearable injuries you Friars Preachers and Minors inflict on us; but we shall ere long take our revenge!' At this the brother commanded him in the name of Jesus to say how this would come about, whereupon the spirit replied: 'Two of our ablest leaders have taken up arms in this matter; one will stir up bishops and princes against you, while the other will vex and torment you by continual forced changes of dwellings, and of public opinion.'
CHASTISEMENTS INFLICTED BY THE DEVIL
IN the early days of the Order one of the brethren went from Bologna to Faenza, and while there accepted a present of forty shillings and a pair of shoes. On his return to Bologna he went to bed without informing his prior of what he had received. Hardly had he lain down before some evil spirits appeared, carried him to a neighbouring vineyard recently purchased by the friars, and there they beat him without mercy. Not until their cudgels were broken did they desist, leaving him half dead. Hearing his moans his brethren went to the spot after matins, and found him all livid in body, and covered with bruises from head to foot. Great sores were even starting from his hands, nor at this time are they quite healed.
A religious of the convent of Genoa who, in passion, had said disrespectful things to the prior, instead of humbling himself and asking pardon, actually left the house in a rage to seek lodgings elsewhere. God permitted the evil spirits to surround him on the road, and they beat him so soundly that he bad much ado to crawl back to his cloister. He suffered from the effects of this scourging for a long time, and bore on his body the marks of his punishment.
After all had retired to rest for the night in the convent at Bologna, a lay-brother began to be horribly tormented. On hearing his cries the others got up and summoned their master, as well as St Dominic, who was staying there at the time. By their joint order he was carried to the church, although ten of them were scarcely equal to the task. Directly he entered, all the lights were suddenly blown out. As the devil never ceased tormenting the brother, St Dominic exclaimed: 'In Christ's name I bid you to declare why you punish him in this severe way, and when and how you entered into him." Being thus solemnly adjured the devil was forced to answer, and he said: 'I torment him since he richly deserves it. Yesterday when he was out in the town he drank without permission or making the sign of the cross over his drink; so I entered into him while he was drinking, nay, he swallowed me in a pint of wine.' As he was still speaking, the bell sounded for matins, whereat he cried out: 'I can tarry no longer, for the white-hooded brethren are rising to praise God.' Straightway he went out of the brother, and left him lying on the church floor like a dead man. They carried him to the infirmary, and next morning he awoke quite well and without any knowledge of what had happened.
A friar of Siena, who was addicted to the vice of covetousness, was one day hurled by an invisible hand from the top of a high rock close by the infirmary. In his fall he caught a glimpse of a dark figure descending by his side, which whispered: 'It is a judgement of God, it is a judgement of God!' On the prior coming to where he lay, almost at the point of death, he declared all that he had seen and heard: and it was a whole year before he recovered, when, heaping sin upon sin, he apostatised from the Order altogether.
TEMPTATIONS OF NOVICES
WHEN Brother Giles of Spain first entered as a novice, after having led a delicate life in the world, the hard bed and rough habit were a very great trial to him. On mentioning this to his confessor, the latter rejoined: 'Brother, call to mind the life of ease you led in the world, bear this patiently and joyfully for the pardon of your sins, and rest assured that our Lord will send you comfort.' These words sank so deeply into his mind that from that hour the temptations ceased altogether, nay, more, what had heretofore seemed hard, now became easy when he bore in mind that all this procured for him the forgiveness of his sins.
In the world he had been of a merry and lively disposition, but when, on entering religion, he tried to keep the silence, and refrain from passing remarks in jest, his whole system became, as it were, inflamed, so that it was next to impossible for him to hold in his buoyant spirits. If he managed to keep quiet for any length of time, his throat and tongue became quite parched. One day he began to suspect by the light of the Holy Spirit, that after all this might only be a delusion of the devil, so from that moment he firmly made up his mind to keep the silence and stay in his cell, even though he were to be brought to death's door in consequence. In reward for this heroic resolve God took away his lightness of disposition to such an extent that thenceforth silence bee-.me agreeable to him, and he began to prefer his cell, without feeling any of his former weariness for it, nay, more, by a rare disposition of Providence, he even surpassed the rest in this respect. The Master of the Order learnt this from his own lips when in the infirmary with him at Paris: nor was he ever again known to have uttered one idle word to the end of his days, but kept heroic silence, except when cheering the downcast, or talking of heavenly things.
As Brother John the Teutonic, the fourth Master General of the Order, was conducting a young Italian novice of noble parentage, named Thomas of Aquin, to Paris, the youth's relatives took him prisoner,(38) trusting to the protection of the Emperor Frederick, in whose service they were engaged.
They carried him off to a lonely castle and shut him up for more than a year, taking every precaution that none of the brethren, nor even a letter of theirs, should reach him, and trying, meanwhile, in every possible way to make him abandon his holy resolve. By God's help, however, they could neither prevail upon him to put off the habit, nor do anything contrary to the rules of the Order, so that in despair of ever changing his resolution, they set him at liberty. On returning to his brethren he was sent to Paris, where he became a Master in Theology, and a mighty pillar of knowledge in the Order.
A novice of Besançon(39) was tempted to return to the world with the intention of disposing of his paternal heritage, and then of returning at once to the Order with the proceeds. While he was turning this scheme over in his mind a fellow novice came up to him and begged of him to listen to what he had to tell him, yet without being offended. On receiving the assurance that he would not take offence, the other narrated this story: 'I dreamt last night that a stern judge came with a noisy crowd, and after putting a rope round your neck they were dragging you off to execution, while I stood by in terror, not daring to interfere on account of the judge and those around him. Look carefully to your state of soul, brother, lest any temptation lead you astray.' Galling to mind his projected departure, the novice cried out in alarm: 'Tell me, for God's sake, did you see them actually hang me?' 'No,' said the other, 'I saw nothing beyond what I have mentioned to you.' At this the brother understood how the devil, by tempting him to return to the world, was in reality dragging him on to an infernal gallows. He instantly vowed to serve God and the blessed Virgin for ever in the Order, renouncing utterly the worldly goods which had all but deprived him of a true and heavenly inheritance.
Another of the same convent of Besançon dreamt that he saw our Lord filled with indignation against one of his brethren, and exclaim:'Begone, for one so foul is unfit to live among the clean!' whereupon the novice in question seemed to depart, and return no more. This riddle was solved next day: for in the morning a novice with whom God was indeed displeased, put on the secular dress, provided stealthily by outsiders, and made off through a window.
Another novice, who had frequently been tried by temptations against faith, and had been advised by his master to pray more, was counselled one night in sleep to say this prayer : 'O God, who justifiest the ungodly, and willest not the death of the sinner, vouchsafe to defend with thy heavenly aid thy servant who trusts in thy mercy: shield him with thy constant protection, that he may ever rightly serve thee, and by no temptation be ever separated from thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord.' Having never seen or heard of this prayer before, and scarcely hoping to find it set down in any book, he carefully turned it over in his mind until he had committed it to memory. Next morning on acquainting the novice-master with what had occurred, he was told that it was the prayer prescribed in the missal against temptations. By its daily recital he got relief for a time, but soon the assaults began again as before. Just about that time there came to the convent a brother who had a few linen clothes stained with the blood which had oozed from the tunic in which St Peter of Verona had been martyred for the faith of Christ. Many of the wealthier citizens on hearing of it came to the convent and begged that the crystal phial containing the relics might be filled with wine, and most of them who drank of it were cured of their complaints, but the novice could not bring himself to believe in the miracles. One morning as he was serving mass, a woman came up and asked him to give her some of the wine. As he lowered the mouth of the phial towards a bottle which the woman held to receive it, some drops of blood oozed from it on to the altar cloth, and one clung so firmly to the phial, that although the prior tried repeatedly to wipe it off with a cloth, it could not be removed. Then the novice, believing God had wrought this wonder to strengthen his faith and that of others, gave very hearty thanks, and was entirely freed from all his previous temptations.
A novice named Baldwin in the convent of Ghent,(40) in Flanders, was grievously tempted to leave the Order, moved by such considerations as the following. While in the world he had enjoyed the revenues of a large parish which he faithfully administered, besides giving abundant alms, whereas he was now eating the bread of alms himself, without being able to make any return or assist the needy. Furthermore, he was debarred from preaching, or visiting the sick, or hearing confessions, whereas in the world he had been doing all this at his own good pleasure. Although his brethren sought to dissuade him, he was fully bent on returning to the secular state. One morning he fell asleep before the blessed Virgin's altar, whereupon she appeared to him carrying in her hands what looked like two goblets, and coming up to him spoke thus: 'Baldwin, why weepest thou? Thou art athirst, come hither and drink.' When he had tasted the proffered goblet, the blessed Mother asked: 'What thinkest thou of this wine?' 'It is sour, and lies on the lees,' was the answer. Our Lady then gave him the second goblet, and asked again, 'What thinkest thou of this cup?' "This,' replied the brother, 'is a sweet and pleasant wine, clear of dregs.' 'Even so,' rejoined the blissful Virgin; 'and know that even as the one wine is superior to the other, so likewise does your manner of life at present in the Order surpass that which you used to lead in the world. Fear not, deal manfully: I will be your help.' The vision passed away, and the brother persevered, becoming afterwards a useful and eloquent preacher in the Order.
A novice of Sens(41) had a like temptation, and feeling sure that he could not withstand it any longer, projected a speedy flight. But before leaving he opened his mind to a fellow novice, who after vainly trying to dissuade him, exclaimed at last: 'Poor soul, will you at length barter good for evil? Put your girdle round your neck, and throw yourself before the altar of the blessed Virgin. Cry out to her from the depths of your heart: "O Lady, behold thy client, keep me in good, and let me not be confounded in my hope " ' (Ps. cxviii 116). He did so, and in the same hour his temptation ceased.
Who can recount all the crafty suggestions made by the devil to disturb the novices, and to induce them to abandon the religious state! At one time he tempted them to indiscreet fervour and extreme abstinence, as happened to Master Jordan; at another he would tempt them to laxity and neglect of duty, as was seen in the over-delicate novice who, owing to the excessive heat, did not sleep in his habit, and whom the blessed Virgin would not bless in consequence. Again he would try to upset their minds by over much fondness for parents and kinsfolk; while at other times he would endeavour to lead them to disobedience, knowing well the spiritual harm he could thus inflict on them. Sometimes he would trouble their peace of soul by suggesting evil thoughts and foul dreams, at others he strove to beguile them into faults against poverty, and undue attachment for books and trifles. I myself knew a novice who was sadly distressed at no longer seeing a dog he had reared, and, strange to say, he felt this more than the great sacrifices he had made of truly valuable things. Satan, in fact, tries the courage of novices in every way; by sickness, by low spirits, by flattery, by detraction, and divers other artifices, so that we may well call him the tempter of a thousand schemes, for by his crafty deceits he slays unwary souls unceasingly. Novices should therefore always stand on their guard, and, above all, frankly disclose all their temptations in their frequent confessions, putting more trust in their director's advice than in their own opinions.
VARIOUS KINDS OF TEMPTATIONS
A FRIAR Of the Polish Province(42) dispensed his two companions on a journey from the abstinence of the Order without sufficient reason. That night in a dream he thought he saw the devil enter his room, and on his demanding his errand, Satan cried: 'I am come to have an eye on those friars who by your leave ate flesh to-day.'
A canon regular, who had joined the noviciate in the same Province of Poland, being overcome by the recollection of the more dainty food he bad shared with his former brethren, went back to his old cloister again. Soon after this he fell into a trance, and it seemed to him that before the judgement seat of God he beheld all the meat he had consumed during his life. The sight appalled him. He repaired his error by hurrying back to the Order, as soon as his strength permitted, and there happily ended his course.
A novice, in a moment of youthful weakness, stole a tart which met his eye, but having no opportunity to eat it, as he was summoned to the choir, hid it with a view to enjoying it afterwards. During the office he was distracted by wondering how he should be able to dispose of his stolen dainty. His novice master, a spiritual-minded man, from across the choir saw a figure enter and approach the novice, putting a tart before his mouth to distract him. The office ended, he called that novice aside, and asked whether he was disturbed by any temptation. The youth replied that he knew nothing amiss, either not adverting to the fault- he had committed, or wishing to conceal it. Upon this the novice master related what he had witnessed in the choir; then that timid novice ingenuously owned his fault, and was forthwith relieved of his sin, his temptation, and his tart.
(2) TEMPTATIONS OF CUPIDITY
ONE of the brethren appropriated ten ducats of money without permission, meaning to use upon himself what belonged to the common purse. Soon after he fell ill, and, when nearing his end, Brother John the infirmarian said to him: 'Rejoice, brother, for you will soon be in God's presence; remember me when you get to heaven.' 'Alas, far from it,' cried the other, 'for in the window opposite I see the devil waiting with open jaws to seize upon my wretched soul, since up to this hour I have concealed a sum of money.' When the infirmarian recovered from the shock of such an avowal, he did his utmost to get him to pluck up heart by telling him stories of God's mercies, and by other reasons, and then begged him to let him fetch the prior, that restitution might be made. This was done, and the moment absolution was given by the prior, the sick man saw the devil take to flight: after this he was filled with heavenly comfort, and shortly afterwards expired peacefully.
A lay-brother attached to the sisters' convent at San Sisto, in Rome, was gifted with prophecy during his last illness. After he had foretold many things which eventually did come to pass, someone standing by said in mockery: 'And now say, if you can, what will happen to me.' 'Miserable man,' said the brother, 'give up the money you have stolen. You sold a load of hay, the property of the sisters, and you hid the price; hear, then, what will befall you: you will die within the year, and none of your brethren will be present at the time.' His words, unhappily, came true, for when his interrogator was all alone at Tivoli, in charge of the convent stores, an ulcer quickly gathered in his throat and choked him.
TEMPTATIONS OF SELF-WILL
ONE of the brothers at Perugia,(43) in the Roman Province, growing tired of saying midnight matins, walked out of the choir on the night of St Augustine's feast, and went to bed just before Lauds. As he lay in bed, he was positive he saw St Augustine come up to his bedside, and heard him reproach him for having followed his peevish self-will. As the saint turned to go away, the brother cried after him: 'What am I to do then?' 'Do penance,' said the saint, and disappeared. He got up at once, hurried down to the chapterhouse, and was in time for the sermon then preached to the brethren.
One who had long been an exemplary religious and a very capable professor began to introduce some rash novelties into his lectures, which were censured by the more experienced among the brethren. When cautioned, he refused to put a stop to them: even the Master General and diffinitors of the General Chapter tried to convince him of his mistake before being compelled to punish him severely, but he was as obstinate as before, and would not obey. A venerable and saintly prior, whose testimony is beyond all suspicion, testifies that he saw a devil on this man's head as he stood in the chapter-house. He confided this secret to a friend, but with the injunction for him not to divulge the name should he repeat the story.
(4) PHILOSOPHICAL CURIOSITY
AN English friar, having to preach before an assembly of students, made up his mind to introduce as many philosophical reasonings and axioms as possible into the matter of his sermon. As he slept during the night before the sermon, Christ our Lord appeared before him showing him a bible having a very foul binding. On the brother remarking its unbecoming condition, Christ opened it and showed the internal beauty and spotlessness of its pages, saying at the same time in tones of severe reproof: 'My word is fair enough, but it is you who have defiled it with your philosophy.'
A friar from Lombardy who was studying in England(44) was in doubt as to whether he should give his chief attention to theology or philosophy. As he slept he saw a figure holding in its hands a long scroll from which it read an interminable list of the damned, who are bound down in endless torments. On the brother venturing to ask for the reason of their doom, the figure replied: 'They are damned solely on account of their philosophy!' This taught him which was the more profitable study.
Another, whose whole mind had been given to the pursuit of philosophy, declared that he was rapt in spirit once to the judgement seat of God, and was there told that he was not a religious but a philosopher, whereupon he was stripped and beaten without pity. When he awoke he felt the pains in all his limbs as if he had been scourged bodily.
THOUGHTS OF AMBITION
A PRIOR of the English Province tells us how he once heard an illiterate peasant, who was possessed by a devil, give the most profound answers in Greek, Latin, French, and English, to all manner of questions. On asking the spirit if he had been created in heaven, he replied that he had, and that his name was Pride of soul, and what was more, he had seen the face of the Lord. But when the brother adjured him to tell him how God was at the same time one and three, the terrified demon cried out: 'Let us creatures be silent, for it does not behove us to speak of such matters, nor indeed can they be expressed in words.'
A brother of the Roman Province after praying for a long while to our Lord to give him true knowledge and show him how to attain it, had this vision. Before him was set a book with all manner of questions, at the end of which was written: 'Master, this man makes no request beyond that of serving thee in all simplicity of heart.'
One of the brothers who deemed himself worthy of the episcopate, began to turn over in his mind what wonderful services he might render to God in that high state. When this thought recurred to his mind, as he was praying one night after matins, he not only rejected it from his heart, but even entreated God with tears to keep him in the state of holy poverty and free from all preferments and dignities. Just then he fell asleep, and seemed to see the Spirit of God, which spoke these weighty words: 'Let these evils -- carnal affection for parents, popularity, the wickedness of the times, family affairs, the loss of spiritual wealth, scandal to the Order, and uncertainty of their end -- be so many motives for making thee and thy brethren shun dignities, for it is written: "A most severe judgement shall be for them that bear rule" ' (Wis. vi 7). Waking suddenly he wrote the words down, and carried them in his heart ever after.
Another, while walking along the highway, began to imagine what sort of a bishop he would make. As he was turning this over in his mind he presently tumbled into a ditch, but when he got over the surprise, he gaily exclaimed: 'Get up, my lord, you have certainly fallen into good quarters, for in reality the see is worthy of the occupant.' He said no more than the truth, for if he had been made a bishop he would undoubtedly have fallen into the deeper mire of many sins.
(6) IMPATIENCE AND PHANTASMS
BROTHER NICHOLAS DI JUVENAZZO,(45) while asleep after matins in Naples, dreamt that he was addressing these words to the brethren in chapter: 'My brothers, our fathers in founding this Order intended us never to quit it, neither from carnal temptations which are alluring, nor from the world's enticements since they are hollow, nor on account of the devil's assaults which are cruel, but we ought to vanquish them all for Christ's sake.' On awakening he delivered the same in an address to the brethren.
The same brother, on being elected Provincial of the Roman Province, told this story in his address that day: 'A devout brother who once got into a passion with me over some trifling matter died a few days later without asking pardon, and shortly afterwards appeared to me as I was lying sick in the infirmary. Calling to mind that he was dead, on his asking forgiveness I said to him: "Go, brother, and ask forgiveness of our Lord Jesus Christ, for you are now in his hands." He departed and craved pardon of Christ our Lord, but got for answer: "I will not forgive until you first get forgiveness from your superior." He came back again that same night, and after telling me all that Christ had said, once more begged my pardon, which I readily gave him. Before going away again he turned round and said to me: "Ah, Brother Nicholas, see what an evil it is to offend a brother, and how serious a thing it is to be at variance with him".'
A brother in Rome was on very bad terms with the procurator of the house. To bring about peace the friar told him to say the Our Father every day for him, but this answer only vexed him worse than before, and made him dislike the procurator all the more. One day he was suddenly struck down, and lay for some time like a dead man. Coming to himself after some time he began to exclaim, 'I am in hell,' and then began to curse the Order and the brethren. The whole community gathered round him and prayed for him, and when more tranquil they heard him moan these words: 'For pity's sake, O Mother of mercy, compassionate me.' As he afterwards solemnly assured us, he seemed during all that time to be in the heart of a burning fire, in punishment for his anger, and it was entirely owing to the unbearable heat that he began to blaspheme; but on their making intercession for him he was delivered. In proof of his statement he showed them his body, upon which were marks of burning.
In the year 1230, which witnessed the death of Master Conrad in Germany, a heretic of that country(46) came to one of our brethren whom he loved exceedingly and said: 'If I show you Christ and his holy Mother, the apostles, and saints, all join company with me, will you believe in the truth of our teaching?' Fearing to be deceived by phantoms the brother answered him: 'I shall not fear or hesitate to profess your faith provided you really show me this sight'; so the other joyfully fixed a night for fulfilling his pledge. But before setting out for the place the brother reverently put the body of Christ in a pyx, and brought it with him concealed carefully under his scapular, beseeching the divine clemency meanwhile not to let him be deceived by any phantom. The heretic led him to a cavern in the heart of a neighbouring mountain, in which they suddenly beheld a magnificent dazzling palace, fragrant with perfumes, with golden seats set around, on which sat a king with a fair queen by his side, while a white-robed throng stood reverently by. At this sight the heretic threw himself down upon his face in adoration, but the brother, approaching nearer, drew out the pyx and presented it to the queen, saying, 'If you are the queen of heaven and earth, behold your Son, and adore him as your God.' Instantly the whole pageant vanished, and the place became so horribly dark that it was all they could do to grope their way out again. The heretic was converted, and both told the whole affair to Master Conrad, who was then the Provincial of Germany, and he used to recount it frequently to the brethren, suppressing, however, the names of the witnesses and the locality.
One of the brothers of the convent in Paris gave himself up entirely to prayer to the detriment of his studies and teaching. The devil was also in the habit of coming to him, feigning to be the blessed Virgin, at one time praising his state of soul, and at another revealing future events. The brother happened to mention this fact to Brother Peter of Rheims, who was prior at the time, and was advised to spit in the face of the phantom if it appeared again: 'For if it be the blessed Virgin,' said he, ' she will not be vexed, being always most humble of heart, nay, she will excuse you on account of your obedience; while if it be the father of lies he will make off in confusion.' The brother simply did what he was told and spat accordingly, upon which the devil roared in anger: ' Curse upon you, where did you learn such gross manners!' He went off ashamed of himself, and never ventured to come again.
Another tells us how on retiring to his cell after matins to resume his studies, directly he fixed his eyes on the book he used to go to sleep. After rubbing his eyes to no purpose he thought within himself: 'Well, this is something strange, for I have had more sleep than usual, and yet I feel drowsy.' Straightway a voice resounded: 'It comes of not shutting the gates.' 'How then are they to be shut?' he enquired; and again the answer came, 'Shut them from the forehead to the breast, and from shoulder to shoulder.' Catching at the meaning he made the sign of the cross, saying, 'Depart from me, ye spirits of evil, and I will search into the word of my Lord.'
REVELATIONS AND OTHER COMFORTS BESTOWED ON THEM
IN the early days of the Order a fervent novice, while praying one night at his bedside, saw the devil under the guise of a huge ape who kept gnashing his teeth and shouting: 'I will have my revenge on them, for I will burn this house down and all the friars in it, since they are all leagued against me.' The timid brother on hearing this forbade him in God's name to do so: whereupon the monster gave a mighty leap into the air, exclaiming: 'What! do you even dare to command me, you who until a while since were one of ourselves? nay, you shall perish first!' He then seized the poor brother so tightly that he could neither cry out nor help himself. But happening to think of the blessed Trinity, from the depths of his soul he ejaculated the words: 'In the name of the Father and of the Son,' and then feeling his tongue at liberty he shouted, 'and of the Holy Ghost.' He then found his arms were free, and he was able to make the sign of the cross.
After this the devil rushed into the next cell and began writing down his wicked schemes on a slip of paper. Seeing him busied in this way, and not daring to summon the brethren, or even stir from the spot, the brother said devoutly one Hail Mary. This was too much for the foul fiend, so in a rage he tore the paper into fragments with his teeth and made off, making such an uproar, and upsetting the lamp in the corridor, that the whole house heard the disturbance.
On another occasion the devil threatened to throttle him, but on his making the sign of the cross and saying the Hail Mary (which he had heard was a sure preservative against all enemies) the evil one took to flight.
When this brother had spent thirty years in constant preaching, and had just finished a course of sermons in a certain city, he seemed to behold the Mother of God present her Son to him as the reward of his ministry: and such unspeakable comfort filled his soul at the sight, that for eight days he could hardly contain himself for joy. After preaching on the threefold glory of the saints on the feast of St Peter of Verona, he fell into an ecstasy after matins, when it seemed to him that as he entered the choir he beheld assembled there the choirs of martyrs, confessors, and virgins, with the blessed Virgin standing in the middle beside the holy martyr Peter of Verona, all singing together the canticle of eternal joys with the triple Alleluia, and the antiphon, ' Light everlasting shall shine upon thy saints, O Lord.' On her beckoning him to come forward the brother drew near, and joined in the psalmody. After this she took him by the hand and led him to her Son, with the words: 'I likewise present this man to thee.'
As he knelt on another occasion before the blessed Virgin's altar, he again fell into an ecstasy, wherein it seemed to him that as he drew nigh to kiss the feet of the child Jesus, whom the virgin Mother pressed to her bosom, he derived from them such marvellous sweetness, like to the flavour of honey, that on regaining consciousness he felt the actual taste of honey for a long time on his lips. These manifold and consoling examples are told of him by one who learnt them confidently from his own lips, and who, furthermore, assures us that still greater wonders might be told regarding him.
A doctor of theology(47) in Paris, a man of great fame and learning, who rendered great services to the Church besides, during the time that the Master General was doing battle for the Order in the court of Rome, at the trying period when bitter enmity prevailed against the brethren, saw in a dream a great crowd of brethren looking up to heaven, who called out to him: 'Look, look!' He also gazed upwards, and saw emblazoned on the sky these words in letters of gold: 'The Lord has delivered us from our enemies, and from the hands of all them that hated us.'At that same time the letters issued by Pope Innocent against the Mendicants were, through the favour of the most High, recalled by Pope Alexander, his successor.
While this same brother was asleep, his deceased sister appeared to him and told him that she was then suffering in purgatory, but would be liberated in a fortnight. When he enquired about his dead brother, she said he was in heaven, but when he asked whether he would himself die before long and secure his eternal salvation, she replied: 'If you but persevere you will be saved, but you will attain your last end very differently from us.' A fortnight later his brother appeared and told him that their sister had just then joined him in heaven. On putting again the question as to his own salvation, this answer was returned: 'Brother, such a question is unbeseeming, for you are in the sure way that leads to eternal life. Hold fast to what you now have, and finish as you have begun; learn also for a certainty that none -- or very few -- of your Order will be lost.'
The Chancellor of the University in Paris, having decreed(48) that this same Brother Thomas should maintain his thesis publicly next day for the doctorate, that same night this brother beheld a figure come and stand before him with an open book in which were written the words: 'Thou waterest the hills from above, the earth shall be filled with the fruit of thy works" (Ps. ciii 13). He therefore chose them for the text of his thesis.
A pious brother of the convent of Metz, while devoutly meditating on Christ's passion, seemed to behold our Saviour's mangled Body before him, as if it were but newly taken down from the cross, so prostrating himself reverently he began to salute with compunction the wounds in the hands and feet. Then drawing closer he pressed his lips against the deep wound in our Lord's side, like the child at the mother's breast, and as he did so a drowsy feeling came over him, and he fell asleep. On awaking he found his mouth full of blood, and his throat and breast were covered with clotted drops of it.
Master Jordan, of ever blessed memory, tells of a young German religious whom Christ communicated one Maundy Thursday, and who, on the ensuing Good Friday, vas permitted to feel the pains of the passion in his body. What is more wonderful still is that he was bidden to prepare himself for each torment in succession, and he underwent it without being able to see who inflicted it.
Brother Albert of Germany(49) relates how, during the time he was Provincial, a novice under age and of insufficient education was taken into the Order, but whose spirit of piety and other good qualities more than atoned for these shortcomings. Someone having remarked in jest that the Provincial was thinking of sending him away, which he dreaded beyond everything, the poor youth became very downhearted, more especially after hearing the words of holy Simeon read on the night of our Lady's Purification: 'Thinkest thou that I shall see him, or thinkest thou that I shall endure?' Going to his prayers after matins he began very sorrowfully to apply these words to his own case, saying: 'Lord Jesus, thinkest thou that I shall ever behold thee? thinkest thou that I shall remain in this Order?' While he was repeating these words with great earnestness, a voice was heard to say distinctly: 'You shall indeed behold me, and persevere in your Order.'
Another who had during his noviceship so weakened his body by fasting, watching, and other austerities, that he could hardly stand, prostrated himself humbly in fervent prayer, and poured out this petition with great earnestness and many tears : 'My Lord Jesus, thou knowest how I have erred in chastising my body too severely against my brethren's advice, nor can I excuse my fault; still, since I only aimed at pleasing thee by doing so, look on me now with an eye of pity, so that I may be able to fulfil the duties of the Order with the rest of my brethren.' On rising from his knees he found himself cured of his weakness and bodily ailments, and continued to serve God faithfully during many years after.
A brother of the convent of Limoges had for a long time been vexed with grievous temptations in addition to a dangerous and painful malady. He used often to invoke the Mother of mercy, and spent whole nights at a time in prayer in hopes of obtaining relief; and as in each cell there was an image of our crucified Lord, like an open book of life or of the art of God's love, he would continually turn the eyes of soul and body towards it in most earnest entreaty. As his devotion increased, he began first to kiss the feet, and then, taking courage, he clasped the crucifix lovingly to his bosom. While in the act of kissing his crucified Lord one night, with hot tears of compassion, he felt the taste of a heavenly dew in his mouth which was sweeter than honey, and he became aware of a fragrance surpassing all earthly perfumes, which gladdened and strengthened him in soul and body. The result of this was that he became so detached from all worldly comforts, that thenceforth study and contemplation became his only delights. One night, when he had finished paying his devout homage to the Mother of God, he fell fast asleep and had this dream. He saw the blessed Virgin accompanied by two maidens come to him, and after condoling with him in his trials and infirmities, she gave him three lovely apples, saying as he tasted them: 'These will strengthen you and make you fit to undertake vast labours, and they will prove a sovereign remedy for all your ills of mind and body.' On awaking he found himself hale and strong and in good spirits, and never ceased to bless God and his holy Mother.
Brother Peter(50) of Sézanne, in France, a prior and lector of the Order, has left us this account of a Saracen's conversion:
'In the reign of the Emperor John, I and several of our brethren went by the Pope's command to Constantinople, to put an end if possible to the Greek schism. About the same time a Saracen monk arrived there clad in a poor habit, a man of rare attainments in many ways, a zealous stickler for the traditions of his ancestors, of simple and modest mien, yet utterly devoid of all spiritual gifts of the soul. As he stood one day conversing with some of our brethren in the church porch, hoping to proselytise them and gain some followers, I was sent for, and went out to see him. I own that his facility of language astonished me, for none of us possessed the like: but when in the course of our conversation he blasphemed against our Lord Jesus Christ, saying that he was a mere man and not God at all, I was filled with indignation and felt livelier sentiments of faith than ever I had experienced before. I told our brethren to be quiet, and then asked the Saracen whether it was not one of their laws that anyone daring to blaspheme against Mahomet should be beheaded without mercy if he fell into Saracen hands. He owned that such was indeed their law, so I continued: "Therefore you must either lose your head, or Mahomet's law is unjust, as I shall show you. If any man in a Saracen's presence blasphemes against Mahomet, whom you affirm to be one of God's prophets, but who nevertheless is not God, the same shall justly incur death: likewise then whoever presumes in the hearing of Christians to blaspheme against Christ, whom we confess to be not merely a prophet, but the God and Master of the prophets, the same must by a similar just law be put to death by them. You see now how the law stands which you have quoted in favour of Mahomet." To all this he had not a word to say. "Fear not," I continued, "you shall not be put to death, for Mahomet's law is unjust: still you shall not go unpunished for your blasphemy against God."
'With this I sent word to the chief officer of the Emperor's household, who had the blasphemer led to prison between two guards. When confined in the cells the monk neither ate nor drank on that or the following day, but, as his fellow prisoners testified, sat immovable in prayer. I then bethought me of paying him a visit, and taking a companion with me, who was a fluent speaker in Greek and Latin, we arrived at the prison shortly after daybreak. We found him seated on a stone bench, but on our entering he came forward to meet us, and bade us listen to what he was going to tell us. "Before you came in," he said, "while I was asleep on this stone bed I thought I saw our abbot, who offered me a morsel of the very coarsest bread imaginable, after which you came up and pressed me to accept of a whole loaf of singular whiteness." As he said this I drew out a small loaf of fine white bread which, unknown to my companion, I had brought, and gave it him to eat, bidding him observe how our Lord had fulfilled his dream. He took it thankfully, and while he was eating it I explained his dream to him. "The piece of coarse and nauseous bread you saw, which is the common food of dogs and swine, represents Mahomet's teaching, which carnal minded men who war against the truth devour greedily, yet remain empty at heart the while: and you saw it in your abbot's hand, for it was he who taught you that wretched doctrine. On the other hand, the white loaf represents our Lord Jesus Christ, who feeds and nourishes his own with true knowledge and wisdom, for he is the Living Bread come down from heaven. This is our supersubstantial bread, the splendour of God's glory, and the figure of his substance, who is entirely partaken of by all yet remains ever living, one, and entire. The same whom you blasphemed only the day before yesterday we now present to you as the object of your faith and veneration."
'After this we took our departure, and he, being freed from prison soon after at our request, went for instructions to the Friars Minor,(51) who however sent him back to us. He was then carefully instructed by our brethren, and after passing forty days in solitude and prayer in the old Greek church which stood in our garden, set himself to learn the Lord's prayer and the Creed. He abjured his errors, was baptised on the feast of St Paul the Apostle, whose name he took at the font, and continued to serve God for many years after with great humility and devotion. May God be blessed for evermore. Amen.'
One of the brothers began one night to create a fearful disturbance in the dormitory, so that the prior and others awoke and ran to help him. When a light was brought the prior asked what ailed him, but the terror-stricken man never for a moment took his eyes away from one corner of his cell. In this way the night passed, but being again visited by the prior at daybreak after he had had a few hours' sleep, he owned that he had seen the devil, and had been frightened at his fearful looks. When asked to tell what kind of shape he had assumed, the brother said: 'I really cannot describe him, but I can assure you that if I had to choose between a blazing furnace on one side and that awful face on the other I would not hesitate a moment to cast myself into the flames rather than look on it again.'
When Louis the Dauphin, the son of St Louis, King of France, was lying dangerously ill in Paris,(52) one of our brethren in that city, who was not aware of his illness, dreamt that he saw the king standing on a high throne holding the royal crown in his hands, and having his two sons Louis and Philip on his right and left; but instead of putting the diadem on the head of Louis, who was the elder, he placed it on the brow of Philip. When the sick boy was recommended to the brethren's prayers by the prior in chapter, the brother called to mind what he had witnessed: and some time later the Dauphin died, while his younger brother inherited the kingdom.
MIRACLES WROUGHT BY THE BRETHREN
THE Friars Minor of Albi, in Langeudoc, having long sought for fresh water in vain, Brother Maurice of Toulouse, of our Order, a man of gentle birth, humble of heart, a true lover of poverty, and a zealous missionary, chanced to be passing that way, and feeling for their distress, prayed a short while and then showed them where it was to be found. 'Dig here in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,' said he, 'and you will find it in abundance.' A well was sunk on the spot and an abundant supply of water found, which continues to this day.
That devout and tender-hearted man, Brother Walter, who was formerly lector and then prior at Strasbourg, came to visit the nuns at Colmar(53) and to appoint various officials of the convent. One of them, named Cunegunda, was then lying sick of a low fever, and on her enquiring what office she should have to fulfil, got for reply. 'Sister, your fever shall be your office.' From that moment she would touch no more medicine, avowing her firm determination of fulfilling her office to the letter, until he who had imposed it should release her from it, nor did she believe that medicines would be of any benefit in the meantime. On his return to the convent some six or seven weeks later, getting to hear of her devotion to duty he took compassion on her and said before the whole community: 'In Christ's name I now absolve you from your office.' In token of accepting the obedience, the sister made her prostration and arose perfectly cured.
We are assured by eye-witnesses that often during the secret of the mass, or when saying other special prayers, he was seen uplifted high in mid-air, upheld miraculously. Having occasion during his priorship to impose an office on one of his brethren, the brother asked him to pray that his fever might depart first, and that then he would be ready to fulfil it. 'Let it cease, then, this moment,' said he, and making the sign of the cross over him, healed the brother at once.
On another occasion, while he was praying for a young woman who had made a vow of virginity, he felt the words become bitter as gall in his mouth. Time unfolded the mystery, for the woman before long abandoned her immortal spouse and married a mortal one. It came to pass that a sister of the convent of Strasbourg was possessed by a devil, and vexed the community very much. After long prayer and fasting this same Brother Walter set out for the convent with a companion, and on the road they met a company of angels who greeted him joyfully, saying: 'See, we likewise are come to help you.' He gave order that she should be brought before him, and ere he rose from his knees the spirit went out from her, leaving her half dead, but by the help of his prayers she soon got well.
Often when saying mass for the dead he was permitted to know the state of the souls for whom he was interceding; as for instance, whether they had entered into rest, or were yet suffering in purgatory, and how long they had yet to remain there.
As he was saying mass, a deceased friend appeared before him and thanked him for his deliverance after six weeks of detention in purgatory, whereas he had been condemned to suffer during two years.
While meditating on our Lord's bitter passion, in the house of the Friars Minor of Colmar,(54) he felt such pains in the places of the five wounds that he could hardly keep from crying out, and this was often the case with him.
Feeling eager on another occasion to learn how great had been our blessed Lady's dolours during her Son's passion, it was revealed to him that it was as if a sword had transfixed her soul.
During one of Brother William(55) of Germany's sermons, one of his auditors persisted in disturbing him by brawling and shouting. Failing to silence him by gentle words, the brother said in the hearing of the congregation: 'Know this for certain, that you shall not leave this church unpunished.' From sheer contradiction the fellow rose to march out, and went mad on the spot, so that his friends had to bind him fast. Returning with Brother Theophilus, his former companion, to that town some ten weeks later, he was asked by the friends of the man to forgive the injury, and pray for his recovery; he did so, and the madman recovered. By his prayers he likewise restored a nun to health who was suffering from a fever, and then told her to give hearty thanks to God.
A lady brought her son, who was afflicted with a painful and mortal malady, to Brother Henry, the elder of that name, a German by birth, and asked him to pray for his recovery. Overcome by her entreaties he knelt down and prayed for the young man, and then laying his hand on him restored him to perfect health in the presence of many who were eyewitnesses to the fact.
When staying with a solder's widow he also restored her son to perfect health when the boy was at death's door.
Two of our Spanish brethren, in the course of their ministry, came to the convent of the Sisters in Madrid, the same nuns to whom St Dominic had given the habit of holy religion. While one of the two was preparing a sermon to be preached to the Sisters, he was very much disturbed by the ceaseless crowing of a cock, and although repeatedly driven away from the door, the undaunted bird still returned and drove the brother wild with his defiant challenge. Catching up a stick at last, he effectually silenced him by one square blow. Reflection brought remorse for the deed; he began to repent him of his hasty temper, and the loss he had brought on the Sisters. So taking up the dead bird in his hands he prayed thus: 'O Lord God, who didst create this cock, and who canst do all things, restore him to life once more and with the help of thy grace I will keep more careful guard over my temper.' The prayer was hardly ended before the cock flew out of his hands on to the ground, and flapping his wings crowed lustily, but not so tiresomely as before. Brother Giles of Spain wrote an account of the miracle to the Master of the Order, having himself heard it related by the brother to whom the incident had occurred.
A Spanish priest who was quite blind of one eye felt convinced that if Brother Laurence(56) from England would only put his hand upon it he would recover his sight. The brother complied with his urgent request, and the sight was restored immediately.
This same Brother Laurence meeting a young man who was loath to pardon an enemy, after many fruitless attempts at moving him to do so, told him at length that it was the devil within him who was preventing him. The youth retorted hotly that he had nothing to do with Satan, and went his way. Three days later he was possessed by a fiend who tormented him horribly, so he went to the brother, and, following his counsel, was delivered.
Some heretics went one day to the convent in Milan meaning to make sport of Brother Theobald,(57) who was a holy and simple soul, and to scoff at his reputed miracles. One of them, pretending to be suffering from a fever, went up to him as he knelt absorbed in prayer before the altar, and with pretended humility said : ' For God's sake, holy father, make the sign of the cross over me, for I am suffering from a burning fever, and firmly believe you have the power to heal me.' 'I pray God to heal you,' said Theobald, 'provided that you really have the fever, but if you have not got it may he send it you directly.' 'Brother Theobald,' continued the heretic, 'considering you are a saint, you ought not to say the like to the unfortunate; please to make the sign of the cross over me and I shall be healed.' 'What I have said, I have said,' was the only reply. At this the man withdrew in confusion, but before he was out of the church he was seized with a violent fever, so he hurried home instead of joining his friends to brag of his adventure. Being now in a very low state, he called his wife, who was a good Catholic, and told her to send at once for Brother Theobald of the Friars Preachers. Seeing she was in no hurry to comply with his request, he again and again implored, nay commanded, her to send for the brother, who on getting the message declined to come until the next day, that his chastisement might have a salutary effect. When he came to the house the heretic confessed his malicious purpose together with his other sins and after abjuring his heresy was signed with the cross by the brother and recovered straightway.
This Brother Theobald had a special grace of healing enmities. After making peace with several who had been enemies, as he was going home he met, approaching from opposite quarters, a man whose brother had been murdered, and the actual murderer. Taking the assassin's hand be led him up to his victim's brother, and besought him to forgive him for the love of God. Full of resentment, as if he at that moment was looking on his brother's remains, the man began both by word and gesture to give vent to the hatred which raged within him, and refused absolutely to come to terms. Brother Theobald did not lose confidence, but renewed his entreaty, saying: 'In the name of God Almighty who made heaven and earth, who suffered for us, who pardoned and prayed for his murderers, I command you to make your peace with this man before you go a step further!' Strange to say the man stood as if rooted to the spot until he complied. Another brother of the murdered man hearing of what had happened was filled with hatred and fury, and started off determined to be avenged. The servant of God, however, soon calmed his wrath, and told him to take the murderer home with him, treat him kindly, lodge him, and then come back next day together to be reconciled in his presence; all of which he did.
Brother Peter Sendre(58) of Catalogna by God's power wrought many miracles, among which these have been attested to upon oath by impartial witnesses, viz.: thirteen blind recovered their sight by his touch; four deaf persons, seven lame, five cripples, and twenty-four who lay at the point of death were all perfectly restored by his prayer and his invoking the holy name of Jesus. A woman who suffered from a fracture of the spine and contraction of all her limbs, had herself carried to the church where he was preaching. Not being able to get near him because of the crowd which thronged around him, she waited until it had dispersed; then taking up some willow twigs on which he had been sitting, and invoking the blessed Virgin and her servant Peter, she applied them to all her joints successively. These presently expanded with a crackling sound as of hard wax, and she found herself erect and well.
There was a holy and observant religious of our convent at Pavia(59) whose name was Brother Isnard, a very eloquent preacher, through whom God brought about many conversions and worked a number of miracles which were sworn to by the testimony of trustworthy witnesses. Among these cures may be reckoned five lame persons who recovered the use of their limbs, four deaf, two dumb, three blind, and three maimed, who were all healed by the simple touch of his hand and pronouncing the holy name of Jesus. He raised a dead child to life by the same means in the presence of a vast assembly of people.
Six young men who were in danger of being drowned were rescued on invoking this holy man Isnard. A paralytic who ate the scraps of his meal was cured: his spittle cured a withered arm, and a kiss from his lips cured one afflicted with dropsy. A man who had been paralysed for fourteen years recovered by the simple blessing with the sign of the cross. Some heretics made this promise: 'If this simple brother can deliver our friend Martin from the devil's power, we will esteem him as a saint.' Brother Isnard drove the devil out of him by a kiss; and this man Martin afterwards served God and the brethren devoutly for many years at Pavia.
A heretic who made light of his miraculous powers said one day in a jesting spirit: 'If that big jar over there moves along of its own accord and breaks my leg, I shall then begin to believe in his sanctity, but not before!' Hardly were the words out of his mouth than the jar was upon him, impelled by no mortal hand, and broke his leg. Another whose peas were constantly being trodden down by man and beast put them under his protection, arid from that hour they were never harmed again. A devout lay-brother saw in sleep the entire populace and clergy of Pavia flock to the convent and ask that one of the brethren should be given them for their bishop. He mentioned this to the sub-prior, and when both of them broached it to Brother Isnard, who was then prior, he at once prostrated himself at the sub-prior's feet, made a general confession of his life, and so died holily and humbly in the Lord. He was a virgin in mind and body to the end, and was famous for very many miracles after death, as we shall tell hereafter.
When Master John the Teutonic was preaching the crusade in Basle(60) for the recovery of the Holy Land, a citizen of the town took the cross, together with his son, who was a canon. When the man's wife came to hear of it she screamed out in passion: 'May as many devils seize him who gave you the cross as there are leaves on this tree.' Her punishment came swiftly, for great tumours broke out at once all over her face, and her body was struck with leprosy. Repenting sincerely of her speech, she sent for the Master, who heard her confession, and healed her by the touch of the hand. Her son, the canon, was so moved at the sight that he entered the Order, exchanging in this way the temporal cross he had assumed for a more lasting one, and afterwards became a gifted preacher and a prior among his brethren.
While this holy Master General was preaching from a hillock to a vast throng of people, there came up a nobleman who had pitched on that very spot for a duel, and who began to annoy him in every possible way. After repeatedly and with much forbearance requesting him to desist, Brother John fervently besought our Lord Jesus Christ to bring about, by his almighty power, what he himself could not do. The nobleman instantly went mad, and was led away by his distressed friends. He afterwards recovered by the sign of the cross which the Master made over him, and then he and his friends took the cross from his hands.
One of the brethren, who for many years had suffered from want of sleep and from continual headaches, was lying in the infirmary, weary in mind and body, when chancing to observe, through the open door, some brethren just returned from preaching, who were washing their faces in the lavatory, he begged to be carried thither. This done, he began with tears to pray with all the earnestness of his soul after this fashion: 'O Almighty God, the gracious rewarder of good works, by the sweat of thy servants which thou dost regard with complacency, look now upon me and make me a sharer and companion in their labours.' As he spoke he poured the water they had used upon his head, and instantly got well in head and body, so that he afterwards continued strong and hale, sharing in all the conventual duties, and preaching for many years to the greater honour and glory of God, and the salvation of his own soul.
2 Quetif, i, p 115.
3 Innocent IV, February 20, 1253 (Bull. Ord., i, p. 226). Humbert being Provincial (1244-5f), he was elected Master-General in 1254. (cf. Denifle, i, p. 317). His letters here referred to are dated 1256.
4 Berthier, pp. 46-8.
5 St Gregory's Dialogue, Bk. 2, chap. iv.
6 Beatified by Benedict XIV. Died May 14, 1265 (Quetif:, i, p. 241).
7 Berthier, p. 76. Dominic of Spain, or the Little, one of the earliest of St Dominic's companions, with the saint before the Order was begun; died in 720.
8 Alphonsus of Castille.
9 Berthier, p. 31.
10 Just south of Poitiers.
11 Founded 1219.
12 Possibly Fishacre, of Oxford, a voluminous writer and lecturer; died 1248 (Denifle, Archiv, ii, p. 234; Quetif, i, p. i i8).
13 Founded 1230.
14 Friars Ventura and Stephen of Spain were both novices at Bologna under St Dominic; both became provincials of Lombardy. The story may relate to one or other of them (Analecta, i, p. 272).
15 Founded 1220.
16 Founded 1230.
17 Cf. Queetif., i, p. 122; Denifle, Archiv, ii, p. 232. Reginald was in Bologna December 21, 1218, till October 11, 1219. Hence the conversion took place on the Feast of St Stephen, December 26, and he became a friar at the end of 1219 or beginning of 1220.
18 B. Humbert de Romans, the fifth Master-General, Provincial of France 1244-54; cf. Berthier, Opera B. Humberti, i, pp. 1-25 (Rome, 1888).
19 The Dominicans of Paris were so called from their noted convent of St James, which stood until the Great Revolution.
20 He joined the Dominicans, therefore, February 22, 1226. He was the first Dominican cardinal.
21 He preached there in 1229 (when these thirteen entered the Order) and in 1231 (cf. Denifle, Cartul., pp. 131, 290).
22 Cf. Berthier, Opera B. Jordani, p. 21.
23 Domus Jacobea may mean Jacob's house, or St James' convent.
24 Quetif., i p. 113; Denifle, Archiv, ii, p. 206.
25 Florence founded 1219.
26 John di Colunna was the name also of the Cardinal, the uncle of the Friar who joined the Order in 1226.
27 Near Milan.
28 1239, etc.
29 The friars were sent by St Dominic to Paris in 1216. They began their convent in 1217.
30 Quetif., i, p. 177.
31 Founded in 1225 or 1226.
32 Quetif., i, pp. 90, 91. Joined the Order in 1218, died in 1230 (cf. Berthier, Opera B. Jordanii, p. xi and p. 31).
33 This is another Friar Henry (junior), joined the Order February 12, 1220, sent to Cologne as prior in 1221, died October 25, 1221 (Berthier, pp. 20, 108, 112).
34 Either 1220 or 1221. The Province of Hungary was founded after the chapter of 1221.
35 Martyred with forty-eight companions, and beatified by Pius VII.
36 They arrived in 1220 and received St Maria Novella on November 8 of that year.
37 He reigned 1243-54.
38 In 1243, freeing him in 1244.
39 Founded in 1224.
40 Founded in 1221.
41 Founded in 1224.
42 The province founded in 1228.
43 Founded 1220 or 1233.
44 Oxford was then the General House of higher studies.
45 He built the Priory of Perugia.
46 Cf. Bullarium, p. 51, No. 80.
47 St Thomas Aquinas. He taught in Paris 1253-4. The letters were recalled by Alexander IV, December 22, 1254 (cf. Denifie, Cart., i, p. 267).
48 February, 1256.
49 Brother Albertus Magnus, beatified by Gregory XV, Provincial 1254-9 (Quetif., i, p. 162b).
50 He was sent with Friars Hugh, O.P., and Peter, O.P., and Friars Aimon, O.F.M., and Ralph, O.F.M., by Pope Gregory IX, May 18, 1233 (Bull., i, p. 50, No. 77).
51 Both Franciscans and Dominicans had each a convent in Constantinople in 1332 -- but cf. Analecta, i, p. 565.
53 Founded 1232. Les Annales et la Chronique de Colmar, p. 10 (1854).
54 Dominican Priory was only begun in Colmar in 1275.
55 Quetif, i, p. 136a.
56 One of the earliest of St Dominic's disciples (cf. Analecta, i, p. 396).
57 Called sometimes Tibalt and sometimes Robald, was a native of Albenga near Genoa. He founded convent of St Eustorgio. He had received the habit from St Dominic in 1220.
58 Died in 1244.
59 Pavia founded in 1220 by Blessed Isnard of Vicenza.
60 In 1225 and 1227.
INDEX PART ONE PART TWO PART THREE PART FOUR PART FIVE PART SIX