Before leaving the subject, let us give one or two more instances from the Chronicles of the Lives of the Saints, selected from such narratives as are fully accepted by the Church. We might fill volumes with proofs of undeniable confederacy between the exorcisers and the demons. Their very nature betrays them. instead of being independent, crafty entities bent on the destruction of men's souls and spirits, the majority of them are simply the elementals of the kabalists; creatures with no intellect of their own, but faithful mirrors of the WiLL which evokes, controls, and guides them. We will not waste our time in drawing the reader's attention to doubtful or obscure thaumaturgists and exorcisers, but take as our standard one of the greatest saints of Catholicism, and f See the "Life of St. Dominick" and the story about the miraculous Rosary; also the "Golden Legend."
select a bouquet from that same prolific conservatory of pious lies, The Golden Legend, of James de Voragine.*
St. Dominick, the founder of the famous order of that name, is one of the mightiest saints on the calendar. His order was the first that received a solemn confirmation from the Pope,+ and he is well known in history as the associate and counsellor of the infamous Simon de Montfort, the papal general, whom he helped to butcher the unfortunate Albigenses in and near Toulouse. The story goes that this saint and the Church after him, claim that he received from the Virgin, in propria persona, a rosary, whose virtues produced such stupendous miracles that they throw entirely into the shade those of the apostles, and even of Jesus himself. A man, says the biographer, an abandoned sinner, was bold enough to doubt the virtue of the Dominican rosary; and for this unparalleled blasphemy was punished on the spot by having 15,000 devils take possession of him. Seeing the great suffering of the tortured demoniac, St. Dominick forgot the insult and called the devils to account.
Following is the colloquy between the "blessed exorcist" and the demons:
Question. — How did you take possession of this man, and how many are you?
Answer of the Devils. —We came into him for having
* James de Varasse, known by the Latin name of James de Voragine, was Vicar General of the Dominicans and Bishop of Genoa in 1290. f Thirteenth century.
spoken disrespectfully of the rosary. We are 15,000. Question. — Why did so many as 15,000 enter him?
Answer. — Because there are fifteen decades in the rosary which he derided, etc.
Dominick. — Is not all true I have said of the virtues of the rosary?
Devils. — Yes! Yes! (they emit flames through the nostrils of the demoniac). Know all ye Christians that Dominick never said one word concerning the rosary that is not most true; and know ye further, that if you do not believe him, great calamities will befall you.
Dominick. — Who is the man in the world the Devil hates the most?
Devils. — (In chorus.) Thou art the very man (here follow verbose compliments).
Dominick. — Of which state of Christians are there the most damned?
Devils. — In hell we have merchants, pawnbrokers, fraudulent bankers, grocers, Jews, apothecaries, etc., etc.
Dominick. — Are there any priests or monks in hell?
Devils. — There are a great number of priests, but no monks, with the exception of such as have transgressed the rule of their order.
Dominick. — Have you any Dominicans?
Devils. — Alas! alas! we have not one yet, but we expect a great number of them after their devotion is a little cooled.
We do not pretend to give the questions and answers literally, for they occupy twenty-three pages; but the substance is here, as may be seen by any one who cares to read the Golden Legend. The full description of the hideous bellowings of the demons, their enforced glorification of the saint, and so on, is too long for this chapter. Suffice it to say that as we read the numerous questions offered by Dominick and the answers of the demons, we become fully convinced that they corroborate in every detail the unwarranted assertions and support the interests of the Church. The narrative is suggestive. The legend graphically describes the battle of the exorcist with the legion from the bottomless pit. The sulphurous flames which burst forth from the nose, mouth, eyes, and ears, of the demoniac; the sudden appearance of over a hundred angels, clad in golden armor; and, finally, the descent of the blessed Virgin herself, in person, bearing a golden rod, with which she administers a sound thrashing to the demoniac, to force the devils to confess that of herself which we scarcely need repeat. The whole catalogue of theological truths uttered by Dominick's devils were embodied in so many articles of faith by his Holiness, the present Pope, in 1870, at the last Ecumenical Council.
From the foregoing it is easy to see that the only substantial difference between infidel "mediums" and orthodox saints lies in the relative usefulness of the demons, if demons we must call them. While the Devil faithfully supports the Christian exorcist in his orthodox (?) views, the modern spook generally leaves his medium in the lurch. For, by lying, he acts against his or her interests rather than otherwise, and thereby too often casts foul suspicion on the genuineness of the mediumship. Were modern "spirits" devils, they would evidently display a little more discrimination and cunning than they do. They would act as the demons of the saint which, compelled by the ecclesiastical magician and by the power of "the name . . . which forces them into submission," lie in accordance with the direct interest of the exorcist and his church. The moral of the parallel we leave to the sagacity of the reader.
"Observe well," exclaims des Mousseaux, "that there are demons which sometimes will speak the truth." "The exorcist," he adds, quoting the Ritual, "must command the demon to tell him whether he is detained in the body of the demoniac through some magic art, or by signs, or any objects which usually serve for this evil practice. In case the exorcised person has swallowed the latter, he must vomit them back; and if they are not in his body, the demon must indicate the proper place where they are to be found; and having found them they must be burned."* Thus some "demons reveal the existence of the bewitchment, tell who is its author, and indicate the means to destroy the malefice. But beware to ever resort, in such a case, to magicians, sorcerers, or mediums. You must call to help you but the minister of your Church!"
* "Rituale Romanum," pp. 475-478. Parisiis, 1852.
"The Church believes in magic, as you well see," he adds, "since she expresses it so formally. And those who disbelieve in magic, can they still hope to share the faith of their own Church? And who can teach them better? To whom did Christ say: 'Go ye therefore, and teach all nations . . . and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world?' "*
Are we to believe that he said this but to those who wear these black or scarlet liveries of Rome? Must we then credit the story that this power was given by Christ to Simon Stylites, the saint who sanctified himself by perching on a pillar (stylos) sixty feet high, for thirty-six years of his life, without ever descending from it, in order that, among other miracles stated in the Golden Legend, he might cure a dragon of a sore eye? "Near Simon's pillar was the dwelling of a dragon, so very venomous that the stench was spread for miles round his cave." This ophidian-hermit met with an accident; he got a thorn in his eye, and, becoming blind, crept to the saint's pillar, and pressed his eye against it for three days, without touching any one. Then the blessed saint, from his aerial seat, "three feet in diameter," ordered earth and water to be placed on the dragon's eye, out of which suddenly emerged a thorn (or stake), a cubit in length; when the people saw the "miracle" they glorified the Creator. As to the grateful dragon, he arose and, "having adored God for two hours, returned to his cave"+ — a half-converted ophidian, we must suppose.
* "Mœurs et Pratiques des Demons," p. 177.
f See the narrative selected from the "Golden Legend," by Alban Butler.
And what are we to think of that other narrative, to disbelieve in which is "to risk one's salvation," as we were informed by a Pope's missionary, of the Order of the Franciscans? When St. Francis preached a sermon in the wilderness, the birds assembled from the four cardinal points of the world. They warbled and applauded every sentence; they sang a holy mass in chorus; finally they dispersed to carry the glad tidings all over the universe. A grasshopper, profiting by the absence of the Holy Virgin, who generally kept company with the saint, remained perched on the head of the "blessed one" for a whole week. Attacked by a ferocious wolf, the saint, who had no other weapon but the sign of the cross which he made upon himself, instead of running away from his rabid assailant, began arguing with the beast. Having imparted to him the benefit to be derived from the holy religion, St. Francis never ceased talking until the wolf became as meek as a lamb, and even shed tears of repentance over his past sins. Finally, he "stretched his paws in the hands of the saint, followed him like a dog through all the towns in which he preached, and became half a Christian"! J Wonders of zoology! a horse turned sorcerer, a wolf and a dragon turned Christians!
These two anecdotes, chosen at random from among hundreds, if rivalled are not surpassed by the wildest romances of the Pagan thaumaturgists, magicians, and spiritualists! And yet, when Pythagoras is said to have subdued animals, even wild beasts, merely through a powerful mesmeric influence, he is pronounced by one-half of the Catholics a bare-faced impostor, and by the rest a sorcerer, who worked magic in confederacy with the Devil. Neither the she-bear, nor the eagle, nor yet the bull that Pythagoras is said to have persuaded to give up eating beans, were alleged to have answered with human voices; while St. Benedict's "black raven," whom he called "brother," argues with him, and croaks his answers like a born casuist. When the saint offers him one-half of a poisoned loaf, the raven grows indignant and reproaches him in Latin as though he had just graduated at the Propaganda!
if it be objected that the Golden Legend is now but half supported by the Church; and that it is known to have been compiled by the writer from a collection of the lives of the saints, for the most part unauthenticated, we can show that, at least in one instance, the biography is no legendary compilation, but the history of one man, by another one who was his contemporary. Jortin and Gibbon demonstrated years ago, that the early fathers used to select narratives, wherewith to ornament the lives of their apocryphal saints, from ovid, Homer, Livy, and even from the unwritten popular legends of Pagan nations. But such is not the case in the above instances. St. Bernard lived in the twelfth century, and St. Dominick was nearly contemporaneous with the author of the Golden Legend. De Voragine died in 1298, and Dominick, whose exorcisms and life he describes so minutely, instituted his order in the first quarter of the thirteenth century.
Moreover, de Voragine was Vicar-General of the Dominicans himself, in the middle of the same century, and therefore described the miracles wrought by his hero and patron but a few years after they were alleged to have happened. He wrote them in the same convent; and while narrating these wonders he had probably fifty persons at hand who had been eye-witnesses to the saint's mode of living. What must we think, in such a case, of a biographer who seriously describes the following: one day, as the blessed saint was occupied in his study, the Devil began pestering him, in the shape of a flea. He frisked and jumped about the pages of his book until the harassed saint, unwilling as he was to act unkindly, even toward a devil, felt compelled to punish him by fixing the troublesome devil on the very sentence on which he stopped, by clasping the book. At another time the same devil appeared under the shape of a monkey. He grinned so horribly that Dominick, in order to get rid of him, ordered the devil-monkey to take the candle and hold it for him until he had done reading. The poor imp did so, and held it until it was consumed to the very end of the wick; and, notwithstanding his pitiful cries for mercy, the saint compelled him to hold it till his fingers were burned to the bones!
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