Witch Burnings and AutoDaFe of Little Children


Old Ancker's widow. The wife of Liebler. The wife of Gutbrodt. The wife of Hocker.


Two strange women (names unknown). The old wife of Beutler.


Tungersleber, a minstrel. Four wives of citizens.


A strange man.


Lutz, an eminent shop-keeper. The wife of Baunach, a senator.


collaborators, in the course of eighteen years, burned at the stake 10,220 persons, 6,860 in effigy, and otherwise punished 97,321! . . . With unutterable disgust and indignation, we learn that the papal government realized much money by selling to the rich, dispensations to secure them from the Inquisition."

The fat tailor's wife. A strange man. A strange woman.


A strange girl of twelve years old. A strange man, a strange woman. A strange bailiff (Schultheiss). Three strange women.


Baunach, a senator, the fattest citizen in Wurzburg. A strange man. Two strange women.


A strange man. A mother and daughter.


Steinacher, a very rich man. A strange man, a strange woman.


Two women and two men.


Two strange women.


A little girl nine or ten years old. A younger girl, her little sister.


The mother of the two little girls before mentioned. A girl twenty-four years old.


A boy twelve years of age, in the first school. A woman.


A boy of ten years of age.


A boy eleven years old. A mother and daughter.


Two boys, twelve years old. The daughter of Dr. Junge. A girl of fifteen years of age. A strange woman.


A boy of ten years of age. Another boy, twelve years old.


Gobel's child, the most beautiful girl in Wurzburg. Two boys, each twelve years old. Stepper's little daughter.


A boy fourteen years old.

The little son of Senator Stolzenberger.

Two alumni.


Sturman, a rich cooper. A strange boy.


David Croten's boy, nine years old.

The two sons of the prince's cook, one fourteen, the other ten years old.


Two boys in the hospital. A rich cooper.


A strange boy.


Weydenbush, a senator.

The little daughter of Valkenberger.

The little son of the town council bailiff.


A strange boy. A strange woman. Another boy.


The infant daughter of Dr. Schütz. A blind girl.

in the twenty-ninth burning, seven persons.

The fat noble lady (Edelfrau). A doctor of divinity.



"Strange" men and women, i.e., Protestants, 28 Citizens, apparently all WEALTHY people, 100 Boys, girls, and little children, 34

In nineteen months, 162 persons.

"There were," says Wright, "little girls of from seven to ten years of age among the witches, and seven and twenty of them were convicted and burnt," at some of the other brande, or burnings. "The numbers brought to trial in these terrible proceedings were so great, and they were treated with so little consideration, that it was usual not even to take the trouble of setting down their names, but they were cited as the accused No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, and so on.* The Jesuits took their confessions in private."

What room is there in a theology which exacts such holocausts as these to appease the bloody appetites of its priests for the following gentle words:

"Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of Heaven." "Even so it is not the will of your Father . . . that one of these little ones should perish." "But whoso shall offend one of these little

"Sorcery and Magic"; "The Burnings at Würzburg," p. 186.

ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck and that he were drowned in the depths of the sea."

We sincerely hope that the above words have proved no vain threat to these child-burners.

Did this butchery in the name of their Moloch-god prevent these treasure-hunters from resorting to the black art themselves? Not in the least; for in no class were such consulters of "familiar" spirits more numerous than among the clergy during the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries. True, there were some Catholic priests among the victims, but though these were generally accused of having "been led into practices too dreadful to be described," it was not so. In the twenty-nine burnings above catalogued we find the names of twelve vicars, four canons, and two doctors of divinity burnt alive. But we have only to turn to such works as were published at the time to assure ourselves that each popish priest executed was accused of "damnable heresy," i.e., a tendency to reformation — a crime more heinous far than sorcery.

We refer those who would learn how the Catholic clergy united duty with pleasure in the matter of exorcisms, revenge, and treasure-hunting, to volume II., chapter i., of W. Howitt's History of the Supernatural. "In the book called Pneumatologia Occulta et Vera, all the forms of adjuration and conjuration were laid down," says this veteran writer. He then proceeds to give a long description of the favorite modus operandi. The Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie of the late

Eliphas Levi, treated with so much abuse and contempt by des Mousseaux, tells nothing of the weird ceremonies and practices but what was practiced legally and with the tacit if not open consent of the Church, by the priests of the middle ages. The exorcist-priest entered a circle at midnight; he was clad in a new surplice, and had a consecrated band hanging from the neck, covered with sacred characters. He wore on the head a tall pointed cap, on the front of which was written in Hebrew the holy word, Tetragrammaton — the ineffable name. It was written with a new pen dipped in the blood of a white dove. What the exorcists most yearned after, was to release miserable spirits which haunt spots where hidden treasures lie. The exorcist sprinkles the circle with the blood of a black lamb and a white pigeon. The priest had to adjure the evil spirits of hell — Acheront, Magoth, Asmodei, Beelzebub, Belial, and all the damned souls, in the mighty names of Jehovah, Adonay, Elohah, and Sabaioth, which latter was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who dwelt in the Urim and Thummim. When the damned souls flung in the face of the exorcist that he was a sinner, and could not get the treasure from them, the priest-sorcerer had to reply that "all his sins were washed out in the blood of Christ ,* and he bid them depart as cursed ghosts and damned flies." When the exorcist dislodged them at last, the poor soul was "comforted in the name of the Saviour, and consigned to the care of good angels," who were less powerful, we must think, than the

* And retinted in the blood of the millions murdered in his name — in the no less innocent blood than his own, of the little child-witches!

exorcising Catholic worthies, "and the rescued treasure, of course, was secured for the Church."

"Certain days," adds Howitt, "are laid down in the calendar of the Church as most favorable for the practice of exorcism; and, if the devils are difficult to drive, a fume of sulphur, assafffitida, bear's gall, and rue is recommended, which, it was presumed, would outstench even devils."

This is the Church, and this the priesthood, which, in the nineteenth century, pays 5,000 priests to teach the people of the United States the infidelity of science and the infallibility of the Bishop of Rome!

We have already noticed the confession of an eminent prelate that the elimination of Satan from theology would be fatal to the perpetuity of the Church. But this is only partially true. The Prince of Sin would be gone, but sin itself would survive. If the Devil were annihilated, the Articles of Faith and the Bible would remain. In short there would still be a pretended divine revelation, and the necessity for self-assumed inspired interpreters. We must, therefore, consider the authenticity of the Bible itself. We must study its pages, and see if they, indeed, contain the commands of the Deity, or but a compendium of ancient traditions and hoary myths. We must try to interpret them for ourselves — if possible. As to its pretended interpreters, the only possible assimilation we can find for them in the Bible is to compare them with the man described by the wise King Solomon in his Proverbs, with the perpetrator of these "six things . . . yea seven . . . which doth the Lord hate," and which are an abomination unto Him, to wit: "A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood; an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief; a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren" (Proverbs vi. 16, 17, 18, 19).

Of which of these accusations are the long line of men who have left the imprint of their feet in the Vatican guiltless?

"When the demons," says Augustine, "insinuate themselves in the creatures, they begin by conforming themselves to the will of every one. . . . In order to attract men, they begin by seducing them, by simulating obedience. . . . How could one know, had he not been taught by the demons themselves, what they like or what they hate; the name which attracts, or that which forces them into obedience; all this art, in short, of magic, the whole science of the magicians?"*

To this impressive dissertation of the "saint," we will add that no magician has ever denied that he had learned the art from "spirits," whether, being a medium, they acted independently on him, or he had been initiated into the science of "evocation" by his fathers who knew it before himself. But who was it then that taught the exorcist? The priest who clothes himself with an authority not only over the magician, but even over all these "spirits," whom he calls demons and devils as soon as he finds them obeying any one but himself? He must have learned somewhere from some

* St. Augustine, "City of God," i, xxi., ch. vi.; des Mousseaux, "Mœurs et Pratiques des Demons."

one that power which he pretends to possess. For, ". . . how could one know had he not been taught by the demons themselves . . . the name which attracts, or that which forces them into obedience?" asks Augustine.

Useless to remark that we know the answer beforehand: "Revelation . . . divine gift . . . the Son of God; nay, God Himself, through His direct Spirit, who descended on the apostles as the Pentecostal fire," and who is now alleged to overshadow every priest who sees fit to exorcise for either glory or a gift. Are we then to believe that the recent scandal of public exorcism, performed about the 14th of October, 1876, by the senior priest of the Church of the Holy Spirit, at Barcelona, Spain, was also done under the direct superintendence of the Holy Ghost? * It will be urged that the

* A correspondent of the London "Times" describes the Catalonian exorcist in the following lines:

"About the 14th of October it was privately announced that a young woman of seventeen or eighteen years of age, of the lower class, having long been afflicted with 'a hatred of holy things,' the senior priest of the Church of the Holy Spirit would cure her of her disease. The exhibition was to be held in a church frequented by the best part of the community. The church was dark, but a sickly light was shed by wax lights on the sable forms of some eighty or a hundred persons who clustered round the presbyterio, or sanctuary, in front of the altar. Within the little enclosure or sanctuary, separated from the crowd by a light railing, lay, on a common bench, with a little pillow for her head to recline upon, a poorly-clad girl, probably of the peasant or artisan class; her brother or husband stood at her feet to restrain her (at times) frantic kicking by holding her legs. The door of the vestry opened; the exhibitor

— I mean the priest — came in. The poor girl, not without just reason, 'had an aversion to holy things,' or, at least, the 400 devils within her distorted body had such an aversion, and in the confusion of the moment, thinking that the father was 'a holy thing,' she doubled up her legs, screamed out with twitching mouth, her whole body writhing, and threw herself nearly off the bench. The male attendant seized her legs, the women supported her head and swept out her dishevelled hair. The priest advanced and, mingling familiarly with the shuddering and horror-struck crowd, said, pointing at the suffering child, now sobbing and twitching on the bench, 'Promise me, my children, that you will be prudent (prudentes), and of a truth, sons and daughters mine, you shall see marvels.' The promise was given. The exhibitor went to procure stole and short surplice (estola y roquete), and returned in a moment, taking his stand at the side of the 'possessed with the devils,' with his face toward the group of students. The order of the day's proceedings was a lecture to the bystanders, and the operation of exorcising the devils. 'You know,' said the priest, 'that so great is this girl's aversion to holy things, myself included, that she goes into convulsions, kicks, screams, and distorts her body the moment she arrives at the corner of this street, and her convulsive struggles reach their climax when she enters the sacred house of the Most High.' Turning to the prostrate, shuddering, most unhappy object of his attack, the priest commenced: 'In the name of God, of the saints, of the blessed Host, of every holy sacrament of our Church, I adjure thee, Rusbel, come out of her.' (N. B. 'Rusbel' is the name of a devil, the devil having 257 names in Catalonia.) Thus adjured, the girl threw herself — in an agony of convulsion, till her distorted face, foam-bespattered lips and writhing limbs grew well-nigh stiff — at full length upon the floor, and, in language semi-obscene, semi-violent, screamed out, 'I don't choose to come out, you thieves, scamps, robbers.' At last, from the quivering lips of the girl, came the words, 'I will'; but the devil added, with traditional perversity, 'I will cast the 100 out, but by the mouth of the girl.' The priest objected.

"bishop was not cognizant of this freak of the clergy"; but even if he were, how could he have protested against a rite considered since the days of the apostles, one of the most holy prerogatives of the Church of Rome? So late as in 1852, only twenty-five years ago, these rites received a public and solemn sanction from the Vatican, and a new Ritual of Exorcism was published in Rome, Paris, and other Catholic capitals. Des Mousseaux, writing under the immediate patronage of Father Ventura, the General of the Theatines of Rome, even favors us with lengthy extracts from this famous ritual, and explains the reason why it was enforced again. it was in consequence of the revival of Magic under the name of Modern Spiritualism. The bull of Pope Innocent VIII is exhumed, and translated for the benefit of des Mousseaux's readers. "We have heard," exclaims the Sovereign Pontiff, "that a great number of persons of both sexes have feared not to enter into relations with the spirits of hell; and that, by

The exit, he said, of 100 devils out of the small Spanish mouth of the woman would 'leave her suffocated.' Then the maddened girl said she must undress herself for the devils to escape. This petition the holy father refused. 'Then i will come out through the right foot, but first' — the girl had on a hempen sandal, she was obviously of the poorest class — 'you must take off her sandal.' The sandal was untied; the foot gave a convulsive plunge; the devil and his myrmidons (so the cura said, looking round triumphantly) had gone to their own place. And, assured of this, the wretched dupe of a girl lay quite still. The bishop was not cognizant of this freak of the clergy, and the moment it came to the ears of the civil authorities, the sharpest means were taken to prevent a repetition of the scandal."

their practice of sorcery . . . they strike with sterility the conjugal bed, destroy the germs of humanity in the bosom of the mother, and throw spells on them, and set a barrier to the multiplication of animals . . . etc., etc."; then follow curses and anathemas against the practice.

This belief of the Sovereign Pontiffs of an enlightened Christian country is a direct inheritance by the most ignorant multitudes from the southern Hindu rabble — the "heathen." The diabolical arts of certain kangalins (witches) and jadugar (sorcerers) are firmly believed in by these people. The following are among their most dreaded powers: to inspire love and hatred at will; to send a devil to take possession of a person and torture him; to expel him; to cause sudden death or an incurable disease; to either strike cattle with or protect them from epidemics; to compose philtres that will either strike with sterility or provoke unbounded passions in men and women, etc., etc. The sight alone of a man said to be such a sorcerer excites in a Hindu profound terror.

And now we will quote in this connection the truthful remark of a writer who passed years in india in the study of the origin of such superstitions: "Vulgar magic in india, like a degenerated infiltration, goes hand-in-hand with the most ennobling beliefs of the sectarians of the Pitris. it was the work of the lowest clergy, and designed to hold the populace in a perpetual state of fear. It is thus that in all ages and under every latitude, side by side with philosophical speculations of the highest character, one always finds the religion of the rabble."* In India it was the work of the lowest clergy; in Rome, that of the highest Pontiffs. But then, have they not as authority their greatest saint, Augustine, who declares that "whoever believes not in the evil spirits, refuses to believe in Holy Writ?"+

Therefore, in the second half of the nineteenth century, we find the counsel for the Sacred Congregation of Rites (exorcism of demons included), Father Ventura de Raulica, writing thus, in a letter published by des Mousseaux, in 1865:

"We are in full magic! and under false names; the Spirit of lies and impudicity goes on perpetrating his horrible deprecations. . . . The most grievous feature in this is that among the most serious persons they do not attach the importance to the strange phenomena which they deserve, these manifestations that we witness, and which become with every day more weird, striking, as well as most fatal.

"I cannot sufficiently admire and praise, from this standpoint, the zeal and courage displayed by you in your work. The facts which you have collected are calculated to throw light and conviction into the most skeptical minds; and after reading this remarkable work, written with so much learnedness and consciousness, blindness is no longer possible.

"If anything could surprise us, it would be the

* Louis Jacolliot, "Le Spiritisme dans le Monde," p. 162. f St. Augustine, "City of God."

indifference with which these phenomena have been treated by false Science, endeavoring as she has, to turn into ridicule so grave a subject; the childish simplicity exhibited by her in the desire to explain the facts by absurd and contradictory hypotheses. J

[Signed] "The Father Ventura de Raulica, etc., etc."

Thus encouraged by the greatest authorities of the Church of Rome, ancient and modern, the Chevalier argues the necessity and the efficacy of exorcism by the priests. He tries to demonstrate — on faith, as usual — that the power of the spirits of hell is closely related to certain rites, words, and formal signs. "In the diabolical Catholicism," he says, "as well as in the divine Catholicism, potential grace is bound (liée) to certain signs." While the power of the Catholic priest proceeds from God, that of the Pagan priest proceeds from the Devil. The Devil, he adds, "is forced to submission" before the holy minister of God — "he dares not LIE."§

We beg the reader to note well the underlined sentence, as we mean to test its truth impartially. We are prepared to adduce proofs, undeniable and undenied even by the Popish Church — forced, as she was, into the confession — proofs of hundreds of cases in relation to the most solemn of her dogmas, wherein the "spirits" lied from beginning to end. How about certain holy relics authenticated by visions of the blessed Virgin, and a host of saints? We have at hand a treatise by a pious Catholic, Jilbert de Nogen, on the relics of saints. With honest despair he acknowledges the "great number of false relics, as well as false legends," and severely censures the inventors of these lying miracles. "It was on the occasion of one of our Saviour's teeth," writes the author of Demonologia, "that de Nogen took up his pen on this subject, by which the monks of St. Medard de Soissons pretended to work miracles; a pretension which he asserted to be as chimerical as that of several persons who believed they possessed the navel, and other parts less comely, of the body of Christ."*

"A monk of St. Antony," says Stephens,+ "having been at Jerusalem, saw there several relics, among which was a bit of the finger of the Holy Ghost, as sound and entire as it had ever been; the snout of the seraph that appeared to St. Francis; one of the nails of a cherub; one of the ribs of the Verbum caro factum (the Word made flesh); some rays of the star that appeared to the three kings of the East; a phial of St. Michael's sweat, that exuded when he was fighting against the Devil, etc. 'All which things,' observes the monkish treasurer of relics, 'I have brought with me home very devoutly.' "

And if the foregoing is set aside as the invention of a Protestant enemy, may we not be allowed to refer the reader to the History of England and authentic documents which state the existence of a relic not less extraordinary than the

* "Demonologia"; London, 1827, J. Bumpus, 23 Skinner Street. f "Traite Preparatif a l'Apologie pour Herodote," c. 39.

best of the others? Henry III. received from the Grand Master of the Templars a phial containing a small portion of the sacred blood of Christ which he had shed upon the cross. It was attested to be genuine by the seals of the Patriarch of Jerusalem, and others. The procession bearing the sacred phial from St. Paul's to Westminster Abbey is described by the historian: "Two monks received the phial, and deposited it in the Abbey . . . which made all England shine with glory, dedicating it to God and St. Edward."

The story of the Prince Radzivil is well known. It was the undeniable deception of the monks and nuns surrounding him and his own confessor which made the Polish nobleman become a Lutheran. He felt at first so indignant at the "heresy" of the Reformation spreading in Lithuania, that he travelled all the way to Rome to pay his homage of sympathy and veneration to the Pope. The latter presented him with a precious box of relics. On his return home, his confessor saw the Virgin, who descended from her glorious abode for the sole purpose of blessing these relics and authenticating them. The superior of the neighboring convent and the mother-abbess of a nunnery both saw the same vision, with a reenforcement of several saints and martyrs; they prophesied and "felt the Holy Ghost" ascending from the box of relics and overshadowing the prince. A demoniac provided for the purpose by the clergy was exorcised in full ceremony, and upon being touched by the box immediately recovered, and rendered thanks on the spot to the Pope and the Holy Ghost. After the ceremony was over the guardian of the treasury in which the relics were kept, threw himself at the feet of the prince, and confessed that on their way back from Rome he had lost the box of relics. Dreading the wrath of his master, he had procured a similar box, "which he had filled with the small bones of dogs and cats"; but seeing how the prince was deceived, he preferred confessing his guilt to such blasphemous tricks. The prince said nothing, but continued for some time testing — not the relics, but his confessor and the vision-seers. Their mock raptures made him discover so thoroughly the gross impositions of the monks and nuns that he joined the Reformed Church.

This is history. Bayle shows that when the Roman Church is no longer able to deny that there have been false relics, she resorts to sophistry, and replies that if false relics have wrought miracles it is "because of the good intentions of the believers, who thus obtained from God a reward of their good faith!" The same Bayle shows, by numerous instances, that whenever it was proved that several bodies of the same saint, or three heads of him, or three arms (as in the case of Augustine) were said to exist in different places, and that they could not well be all authentic, the cool and invariable answer of the Church was that they were all genuine; for "God had multiplied and miraculously reproduced them for the greater glory of His Holy Church!" In other words they would have the faithful believe that the body of a deceased saint may, through divine miracle, acquire the physiological peculiarities of a crawfish!

We fancy that it would be hard to demonstrate to satisfaction that the visions of Catholic saints, are, in any one particular instance, better or more trustworthy than the average visions and prophecies of our modern "mediums." The visions of Andrew Jackson Davis — however our critics may sneer at them — are by long odds more philosophical and more compatible with modern science than the Augustinian speculations. Whenever the visions of Swedenborg, the greatest among the modern seers, run astray from philosophy and scientific truth, it is when they most run parallel with theology. Nor are these visions any more useless to either science or humanity than those of the great orthodox saints. In the life of St. Bernard it is narrated that as he was once in church, upon a Christmas eve, he prayed that the very hour in which Christ was born might be revealed to him; and when the "true and correct hour came, he saw the divine babe appear in his manger." What a pity that the divine babe did not embrace so favorable an opportunity to fix the correct day and year of his death, and thereby reconcile the controversies of his putative historians. The Tischendorfs, Lardners, and Colensos, as well as many a Catholic divine, who have vainly squeezed the marrow out of historical records and their own brains, in the useless search, would at least have had something for which to thank the saint.

As it is, we are hopelessly left to infer that most of the beatific and divine visions of the Golden Legend, and those to be found in the more complete biographies of the most important "saints," as well as most of the visions of our own persecuted seers and seeresses, were produced by ignorant and undeveloped "spirits" passionately fond of personating great historical characters. We are quite ready to agree with the Chevalier des Mousseaux, and other unrelenting persecutors of magic and spiritualism in the name of the Church, that modern spirits are often "lying spirits"; that they are ever on hand to humor the respective hobbies of the persons who communicate with them at "circles"; that they deceive them and, therefore, are not always good "spirits."

But, having conceded so much, we will now ask of any impartial person: is it possible to believe at the same time that the power given to the exorcist-priest, that supreme and divine power of which he boasts, has been given to him by God for the purpose of deceiving people? That the prayer pronounced by him in the name of Christ, and which, forcing the demon into submission, makes him reveal himself, is calculated at the same time to make the devil confess not the truth, but that only which it is the interest of the church to which the exorcist belongs, should pass for truth? And this is what invariably happens. Compare, for instance, the responses given by the demon to Luther, with those obtained from the devils by St. Dominick. The one argues against the private mass, and upbraids Luther with placing the Virgin Mary and saints before Christ, and thus dishonoring the Son of God;* while the demons exorcised by St. Dominick, upon seeing the Virgin whom the holy father had also evoked to help him, roar out: "Oh! our enemy! oh! our damner! . . . why didst thou

* De Missa Privata et Unctione Sacerdotum.

descend from heaven to torment us? Why art thou so powerful an intercessor for sinners! Oh! thou most certain and secure way to heaven . . . thou commandest us and we are forced to confess that nobody is damned who only perseveres in thy holy worship, etc., etc."+ Luther's "Saint Satan" assures him that while believing in the transubstantiation of Christ's body and blood he had been worshipping merely bread and wine; and the devils of all the Catholic saints promise eternal damnation to whomsoever disbelieves or even so much as doubts the dogma!

0 0

Post a comment