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rewards and punishments, if not eternal, are made a marketable commodity.
Over the gateway of many churches in Rome is to be seen posted up the words: "Indulgentia plenaria, perpetua et quotidiana, pro vivis et defunctis." Sometimes the sentence is on a marble slab in the church; sometimes it is a written, framed tablet of parchment, hanging upon a column; sometimes it is in gilt letters on a metal plate; at others, on a loose printed paper. On the inner wall of the church of St. Sebastian, which stands without the walls on the Appian Way, is a marble inscription which declares that "whosoever shall have entered it [i. e. the catacomb] shall obtain plenary remission of all his sins, through the merits of the one hundred and seventy-four thousand holy martyrs, and of forty-six high pontiffs, likewise martyrs," who were interred there. "So many are the indulgences of the Lateran church," it is declared, "that they cannot in any wise be numbered but by God alone."*
* The following are taken from various churches in Rome. In St. Luigi dei Francesci, "Whoever prays for the king of France has ten days of indulgence," by Pope Innocent IV. In St. Pietro in Carcere, "S. Sylvester granted every day to those who visited it 1,200 years of indulgence, doubled on Sundays and commanded festivals, and besides, every day the remission of a third part of sins." In St. Cosmo and Damian, Gregory I. granted to all and each one visiting this church of St. Cosmo and Damian 1,000 years of indulgence, and on the day of the station of the same church, the same Gregory granted 10,000 years of indulgence." On a marble slab near the door of the church of St. Saviour di Thermis is the following: "Indulgences conceded in perpetuity by high pontiffs in this church. Every day of the year there are 1,230 years of indulgence; for all Lent there is plenary indulgence; for the pilgrims there is every day plenary indulgence.” — Romanism as it exists in Rome, by the Hon. J. W. Percy, pp. 48-53.
The great facts of our future, spiritual existence, so simple and sublime, so incapable of being symbolized by the gross objects of sense, are robbed, in the sermons of the Italian preachers, of their true efficiency, and made to assume the most grotesque, or repulsive, material forms. The Paradise and Gehenna of the Moslems, the Elysium. and the Hades of Virgil, might find exact counterparts in the discourses of many professed Christian preachers.
Three or four years ago an eloquent Italian friar preached in Rome. His subject was the Last Judgment. And he handled it in a manner to terrify the poor audience to the utmost degree, using every art his imagination could suggest. Sometimes he threw a veil over the Madonna's face, or turned her round, for she moved on a pivot, and exhibited her back to his audience in token of alienation of feeling; sometimes he shook her garments, which were black, allusive to the train of thought in which he was indulging; he then produced an iron chain and scourged himself violently with it, the harsh clank of which against the panels of the pulpit, united with the heavy sounds of the ropes with which some of his hearers were lacerating themselves, together with the sobs and shrieks of the females, were terrifying to the firmest nerves.
On the following evening, his subject was Hell. It might have been Omniscience itself that was speaking, so intimate was the knowledge displayed of the secrets of that unknown world. Towards the end of the discourse, he called for a lighted pitch torch, which was in waiting, and, deliberately rolling up his sleeve, held his wrist immediately over the flame. Such was the torment, he said, to which every member of the sinner's body would be subjected through all eternity. There was no flinching on the part of the
friar, so strongly were his nerves strung; nor was there any deception.*
Now this method of exhibiting truth was extraordinary only in degree. It habitually appeals to the inferior part of our nature. It seeks to reduce every proposition to sensible proof. It likes to trust in nothing which cannot be seen and weighed and measured. In short, its tendency is to supersede the use of the reason by reducing the highest and most spiritual truths to the level of the outward sense.
3. One of the most striking forms under which Italian Catholicism appears is that of a baptized Paganism. It is an extraordinary mixture of Roman polytheism and Christianity. The stranger at Rome can at times with difficulty recollect whether he is walking in the streets of Augustus's Rome or in those of Pius the Ninth. He turns a corner and passes out of Jesus Street and enters Minerva Street. He gazes upon Vespasian's amphitheatre, and then listens to a friar preaching in the centre of it. Looking at the inscriptions on the churches, he reads, "Santa Maria sopra Minerva, Santa Maria in Lucina, Santo Apollinare, Santo Martino." The saints Cosmo and Damiano are worshipped where there was a temple of Romulus and Remus. A noble building, at this moment nearly perfect, dedicated to Antoninus and his wife Faustina, is now the church of St. LoOne descends out of a church into the Mammertine prison where Catiline's fellow-conspirators were confined. The ancient Romans had a great number of local gods, who presided over particular places or occupations. St. Martin is now the protector of the millers. St. Luke is the patron of sculptors, painters, and architects. A likeness of the Madonna, painted by him, says the Roman almanac, ex
* Rome Pagan and Papal, 1846, p. 244.
ists in the church of Santa Maria Maggiore. St. Erasmus is the advocate against spasmodic sufferings, St. Rocco against plagues, St. Bonosa against the small-pox, and St. Martha against epidemic diseases.* People take their feeble children to the church of St. Theodore, at the foot of the Palatine hill, where the Roman matrons formerly dedicated their children to Romulus. On a certain day the cardinals are seen sweeping up the nave of St. Peter's, in their scarlet robes, in order to kiss the bronze statue of the Apostle, which, it is said, was once dedicated to the worship of Jupiter Capitolinus. No Roman Catholic will pass it without going through the ceremony. Three of the toe-nails of the right foot are worn away. Cicero, describing a statue, says that its mouth and chin were somewhat worn, because the people in their prayers and thanksgivings were accustomed, not only to worship it, but to kiss it. On the left side of the church of St. Mary, on the Capitoline hill, are exposed, at Christmas, two images of Augustus and the Cumaan Sibyl, respectively, in memory of the popular tradition, that the Sibyl predicted the birth of our Saviour, and that Augustus therefore erected an altar to her memory. Particular churches in Rome are filled with votive offerings, from penitent criminals, or from those who have escaped various dangers. The ancient mariner vowed to Castor and Pollux, or to Neptune; the shepherd dedicated his pipe to Pan; the poet vowed to Apollo; and the successful general to Jupiter Feretrius.
Nothing is more striking than a Roman Catholic funeral, especially when it occurs about midnight. The body, placed on a bier, is borne on men's shoulders, with the face exposed. Two files of hooded monks chant the offices for
* Rome Pagan and Papal, 1846, p. 24.
the dead in a low and melancholy tone, each bearing a gleaming torch. The exact counterpart of this might have been witnessed in Rome two thousand years ago. The Pagan brought an animal or the fruits of the earth as an offering on the altar. He performed a lustration with water and incense. He supplicated Vesta and Janus with grain. and wine. The Christian brings a composition, which to the senses appears to be nothing but flour and water, but which, as he asserts, is the very body of the Lord Jesus.
Christmas is the Saturnalia of the Romans; New Year's day too was a day of great account in ancient Rome, and it is equally so in modern Rome. The Carnival is a representation, in innumerable particulars, of the Saturnalia and the Bacchanalian Lupercalia of the ancients.*
* The Carnival commences on Saturday and continues eleven days, excepting the two Sabbaths and Friday. A long and straight street the Corso - is filled with masked persons, soldiers, horses and carriages, slowly passing in two lines and then returning. The maskers are decked in all kinds of fantastic garments, women's clothes, horns on their heads, tails sticking out of their bodies, occasionally pretending to drink out of empty bottles in their hands, reeling as if intoxicated, etc. In each of the carriages are from two to eight or ten persons, largely provided with flowers tied together in knots, and with little balls made of lime in the form of sugar-plums. These flowers and balls are thrown with great vigor into the balconies and windows of the houses, or into the faces of those who are in the streets, and are returned in large measure from every direction. In some cases, halfpints or pints of these plums are poured down in rapid succession upon the heads and faces of persons passing. This most grotesque scene, in which the whole population of the Eternal City seems to be engaged, is finally closed by the racing through the street of five or six poor horses, without riders, urged on by the shouts of the people, and by little goads or nails, fastened to tin plates which they wear.