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sound of singing that seemed to come from above him. The next year at the same season, and the next again, the same melody was repeated, whereat being more and more astounded, he fell into a profound fit of musing, but as might be expected to very little purpose. Hereupon some goodhumoured angel took upon himself to enlighten the holy man, and a voice was heard in the air, saying, "the angels are keeping their annual holyday on account of its being the birth-day of the blessed Virgin. Now as you are a Carmelite, it is your business to promulgate this matter to the world and get a festival appointed, for she is partial to your people and in her life-time was exceedingly fond of visiting your houses.*
* "Ex his unus erat super alto vertice montis
Fac igitur, fac ista palam solennia mundo,
Illius, et patres vivens invisere vestros
Helijæque domos priscas fontemque solebat."
BAPTISTA MANTUANI FASTORUM, Lib. ix.
The following free translation will be found to give a tolerably cor
rect notion of this holy business.
One of these holy men his home had made
On mountain high where pine-trees flung their shade,
This festival was for a long time without either octave or vigil,* 'till the former was instituted by Innocent the Fourth in 1244, and the latter in 1370 by Pope Gregory the Eleventh, and with much more show of reason than is usual in such cases. The cardinals had met in conclave to elect a new pontiff upon the death of Gregory the Ninth, and, not being able for many days to agree upon any one, the people of Rome began to get tired of such trifling, and in consequence handled them rather roughly. In this dilemma the cardinals applied to the Virgin for help, and
And, still a Carmelite in heart and name,
He led the life of those from whom he came.
He almost doubted if he waked or dream'd;
Another year-another-and again,
At the same hour he heard the self-same strain,
And such things the world at one time not only wrote and believed, but branded those who dared to doubt them as enemies alike to man and God!
* A vigil is the fast held the night before a festival, and in a wider sense it signifies the eve of such festival. An octave is the eighth day after the same, which in former times was observed with much solembut this too was occasionally used, with a more extended meaning, to signify the whole of the eight days that succeeded any principal feast.
faithfully promised her an octave to her feast, if she would only be good enough to teach them to know their own minds. The offer was graciously accepted, and Pope Cælestine was by her mediation elected; but, as he lived only a few days, the addition of the octave was made by his successor, Pope Innocent the Fourth.*
HOLY ROOD DAY Exaltation of the Holy Cross September 14.-The meaning of this phrase has been variously explained by the old Roman Catholic writers upon the subject, but none of their explanations are altogether satisfactory. The story which seems most to have prevailed is, that the Emperor Heraclius having defeated Cosroe, king of Persia, and taken from him the real cross previously found by Helena, it was then both really and metaphorically exalted. In substance the tale amounts to this-Cosroe, king of Persia, having subdued all the nations of the east, in the year 615 marched to the conquest of Jerusalem. Here on coming to the holy sepulchre, he took fright-it is not said how or why-and suddenly retreated, but not before he had carried off that
* "Olim etia non habuit octavam; sed Innocentius, Papa, quartus, ea instituit. Vacante n. Romana ecclesia per obitum Gregor. papæ noni, cardinalibus cocordare nequeuntibus Romani post plures dies eis īclusis multiplices molestias inferebant, pp quod cardinales reginæ cæli voverunt quòd si ejus meritis concordaret et abire liberè possent, octavam suæ nativitatis diu neglectam celebrandam de cætero statuerunt. Sicque ad Cælestinum Papam covenerunt et liberati sunt. Sed quia idem Cælestinus vixit solùm 28 diebus non potuit votu implere, quod postmodu dictus Innocêtius ejus successor implevit.". Durandi, Lib. vii. cap. 28.
This clearly shows, what I have so often insisted upon already, the early corruptions of Christianity, and the constant tendency of its followers to lapse into Pagan observances. Nothing can well be more opposed to the spirit of the Christian faith than votive offerings; the whole of the tenth chapter of Hebrews is devoted to their reprobation, but a single passage from this epistle will be enough to set the question at rest" Sacrifice, and offering, and burnt offering, and offerings for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein."
portion of the cross which had been left behind by Helena, the mother of Constantine. Infatuated, if not rendered half mad by this long career of success, he now took it into his head that he would be worshipped as a God, and formed a tower of gold and silver inlaid with sparkling gems; in this he set the images of the sun, moon, and stars, caused rain as if he had been a God to be showered down upon the place below from secret pipes and aqueducts, and imitated thunder by means of cha. riots drawn about in a subterranean cavern. That he might the more enjoy his state of deification, resigning his sceptre to his son, he took up his abode in this tower upon a throne, with the cross in place of the Son on his right hand, and a cock on the left hand for the Holy Ghost, while he himself personated the Father.*-When this * Exaltatio sõte crucis solēniter ab ecclesia celebrat qd in ea fides qm plurimum exaltata fuit. Anno ẽm đni DCXV, permittete Duo flagellari ppl'm suū p sevitia paganōr, Cosdroe, rex prsar, oia regna terrar suo impio subjugavit. Hiefl'm aut vēies a sepulcro dni territs rediit; sed tñ partē sancte crucis sĉta Helena ibidē reliquat asportavit. Volēs at ab ōibs coli ut de3, turrim ex auro et argeto et iterlucentibR gemis fecit, et ibide solis, et lunæ, et stellar imagines collocavit, p subtiles ēt et occultos ducts qsi des aquam desup infundebat; et in subterraneo specu eq qdrigas trahētes i circuitu ibat ut qsi turrim moverēt et tonitruū simularēt. Filio iĝr suo regno tradito in tali pħano pphan3 residet et juxta se cruce dni collocas appellari ab õibs se deu jubet. Et, sicut legit in libro mitrali d offō, ipe Cosdroe, i throno residēs tanq př, lignū crucis sibi a dextris posuit loco filii, et gallu a sinistris loco spus sĉti; se verò jussit přem noiari. Tuc Eraclis ipator exercitu copiosum collegit et cōtra filiù Cosdroe juxta Danubii fluviù dimicaturus advenit. Tādē utrisque pncipibs placuit ut sup pōtē soli confligerent; et qui victor existeret sine daño utriusque exercit' ipium usurparet. Decretü et exiit ut cumque p'ncipe suu juvare pŝumeret cruribs abscisis et brachiis ob ħ continuò in flumiē mergerēt. At Eraclis totum se deo obtulit, et sĉte cruci devotione qua potuit cōmedavit: Ambobs itaq i conflictu duratibs Eraclio victoria dus contulit."-OPUS AUREUM, fol. ciii. folio. Lugduni, 1526. This work is often referred to under the name of HISTORIA LOMBARDICA; it forms the basis of the Golden Legend published by Wynkyn de Worde.
came to the ears of the Christian emperor, Heraclius, the latter being offended at such an insult to his own faith, collected a mighty army, and met the son of Cosroes by the Danube, when it was agreed that they should fight it out between themselves upon a bridge, and whichever conquered should have the other's empire. If any one presumed to interfere in favour of either, he was to have his arms and legs cut off and be flung into the river. Heraclius gained the day; but he hardly seems to have acted on the square with his opponent, for he went after Cosroes himself who knew nothing of what had happened, and, finding him as usual upon his throne, insisted that he should turn Christian, and upon his refusal to comply with this demand smote off his head without farther ceremony.
From this and the other like monstrous fables on the subject, differing only in detail, it may be fairly inferred that Cosroes was a bitter opponent of the Christians, whose faith nevertheless in the end prevailed, and hence the phrase the exaltation, or triumph, of the cross.
Another custom peculiar to this day seems to have been the going into the wood a nutting. Thus in the old play of Grim, the Collier of Croydon :
"This day they say is called Holy-Rood Day,
STURBRIGE, STERES-BRIGGE, STURBITCH, OR STIRBICH, FAIR; September 19.—This fair is held in a field about half a mile square, bounded on the north by the Cam, and on the east by the Stour,† a brook running into the river
GRIM, THE COLLIER OF CROYDON, Act IV. Scene 1.
Stour, or Sdour, is water in the Brittish. Bech, or Beck, means a little brook or rivulet. On the other side the river is Waterbech and Landbech, which take their name from the Carsdike." Dr. Stukeley's VOL. II.