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THE AGE OF FAITH IN THE WEST-(Continued).
OVERTHROW OF THE ITALIAN SYSTEM BY THE COMBINED INTELLECTUAL
AND MORAL ATTACK.
Progress of Irreligion among the mendicant Orders.
Publication of heretical Books.—The Everlasting Gospel and the Comment on the Apocalypse. Conflict between Philip the Fair and Boniface VIII.- Outrage upon
and death of the Pope. The French King removes the Papacy from Rome to Avignon.—Post
mortem Trial of the Pope for Atheism and Immorality.--Causes and Consequences of the Atheism of the Pope. The Templars fall into Infidelity. Their Trial, Conviction, and
Punishment. Immoralities of the Papal Court at Avignon.--Its return to Rome.
Causes of the great Schism.-Disorganization of the Italian System.Decomposition of the Papacy.—Three Popes. The Council of Constance attempts to convert the papal Autocracy into a
constitutional Monarchy.-It murders John Huss and Jerome of Prague.- Pontificate of Nicolas V.-End of the intellectual influence of the Italian System.
ABOUT the close of the twelfth century appeared among the mendicant friars that ominous work, which, “The Everlastunder the title of “The Everlasting Gospel,” ing Gospel.” struck terror into the Latin hierarchy. It was affirmed that an angel had brought it from heaven, engraven on copper plates, and had given it to a priest called Cyril, who delivered it to the Abbot Joachim. The abbot had been dead about fifty years, when there to it by the was put forth, A.D. 1250, a true exposition of the General of the tendency of his book, under the form of an introduction, by John of Parma, the general of the Fran
ciscans, as was universally suspected or alleged. Notwith. standing its heresy, the work displayed an enlarged and masterly conception of the historical progress of humanity. In this introduction, John of Parma pointed out that the Abbot Joachim, who had not only performed a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, but had been reverenced as a prophet, received as of unimpeachable orthodoxy, and canonized, had accepted as his fundamental position that Roman Christianity had done its work, and had now come to its inevitable termination. He proceeded to show that there are epochs or ages in the Divine government of the world; that, during the Jewish dispensation, it had been under the immediate influence of God the Father; during the Christian dispensation, it had been under that of God the Son; and that the time had now arrived when it would be under the influence of God the Holy Ghost; that, in the coming ages, there would be no longer any need of faith, but that all things would be according to wisdom and
It was the ushering in of a new time. So spake, with needful obscurity, the Abbot Joachim, and so, more plainly, the General of the Franciscans in his Introduction. # The Everlasting Gospel” was declared by its adherents to have supplanted the New Testament, as that had supplanted the Old—these three books constituting a threefold revelation, answering to the Trinity of the Godhead. At once there was a cry from the whole hierarchy. The Pope,
Alexander IV., without delay, took measures Attempts to destroy the
for the destruction of the book. Whoever kept
or concealed a copy was excommunicated. But among the lower mendicants—the Spiritualists, as they were termed—the work was held in the most devout repute. With them it had taken the place of the Holy Scriptures. So far from being suppressed, it was followed, in about forty years, A.D. 1297, by the Comment on the The Comment Apocalypse, by John Peter Oliva, who, in Sicily, on the Apo- had accepted the three epochs or ages, and calypse.
divided the middle one—the Christian-into seven stages : the age of the Apostles ; that of the Martyrs; that of Heresies; that of Hermits; that of the Monastic System ; that of the overthrow of Anti-Christ, and that of the coming Millennium. He agreed with his
predecessors in the impending abolition of Roman Christianity, stigmatized that Church as the purple harlot, and with them affirmed that the pope and all his hierarchy had become superfluous and obsolete-" their work was done, their doom sealed.” His zealous followers declared that the sacraments of the Church were
Spread of now all useless, those administering them having trines among no longer any jurisdiction.
The burning of thousands of these Fratricelli” by the Inquisition was altogether inadequate to suppress them. Eventually, when the Reformation occurred, they mingled among the followers of Luther.
To the internal and doctrinal troubles thus befalling the Church, material and foreign ones of the most vital importance were soon added. The true reason of
Approaching the difficulties into which the papacy was falling dificulties of was now coming conspicuously into light. It the Church, was absolutely necessary that money should be drawn to Rome, and the sovereigns of the Western kingdoms, France and England, from which it had hitherto been largely obtained, were determined that it should be so no longer. They had equally urgent need themselves of all that could be extorted. In France, even by St. Louis, it was enacted that the papal power in the election of the clergy should be restrained ; and, complaining of the drain of money from the kingdom to Rome, he applied the effectual remedy of prohibiting any such assessments or taxations for the future.
We have now reached the pontificate of Boniface VIII., an epoch in the intellectual history of Europe. Under the title of Celestine V. a visionary hermit had been raised to the papacy-visionary, for Peter Morrone (such Peter Morrone was his name) had long been indulged in appari- becomes pope. tions of angels and the sounds of phantom bells in the air. Peter was escorted from his cell to his
supremo position by admiring crowds; but it very soon became apparent that the life of an anchorite is not a preparation for the duties of a pope. The conclave of cardinals had elected him, not from any impression of his suitableness, but because they were evenly balanced in two parties, neither of which would give way. They were therefore
The miracle of Loretto.
driven to a temporary and available election. But scarcely had this been done when his incapacity became conspicuous and his removal imperative. It is said that the friends of Benedetto Gaetani, the ablest of the cardinals, through a hole perforated in the pope's chamber wall, at midnight, in a hollow voice, warned him that he retained his dignity
at the peril of his soul, and in the name of God terrified into commanded him to abdicate. And so, in spite
of all importunity, he did. His abdication was considered by many pious persons as striking a death-blow at papal infallibility. It was during his pontificate that the miracle of Loretto
occurred. The house inhabited by the Virgin
immediately after her conception had been converted on the death of the Holy Family into a chapel, and St. Luke had presented to it an image, carved by his own hands, still known as our Lady of Loretto. Some angels chancing to be at Nazareth when the Saracen conquerors approached, fearing that the sacred relic might fall into their possession, took the house bodily in their hands, and, carrying it through the air, after several halts, finally deposited it at Loretto in Italy. So Benedetto Gaetani, whether by such wily procure
ments or not, became Pope Boniface VIII., A.D. VIII. elected 1294. His election was probably due to King
Charles, who held twelve electoral votes, the bitter personal animosity of the Colonnas having been either neutralized or overcome. The first care of Boniface was to consolidate his power and relieve himself of a rival. In the opinion of many it was not possible for a pope to abdicate. Confinement in prison soon (A.D. 1296) settled that ques
tion. The soul of Celestine was seen by a monk Pope Celestine ascending the skies, which opened to receive it
into heaven; and a splendid funeral informed his enemies that they must now acknowledge Boniface as the unquestioned pope. But the princely Colonnas, the leaders of the Ghibelline faction in Rome, who had re
sisted the abdication of Celestine to the last, Quarrel of Boniface and and were, therefore, mortal enemies of Boniface,
revolted. He published a bull against them ; he excommunicated them. With an ominous anticipation
of the future—for they were familiar with the papal power, and knew where to touch it to the quick-they appealed to a “ General Council.” Since supernatural weapons did not seem to avail, Boniface proclaimed a crusade against them. The issue answered his expecta
ns. Palestrina, one of their strongholds, which in a moment of weakness they had surrendered, was utterly devastated and sown with salt. The Colonnas fled, some of them to France. There, in King Philip the Fair, they found a friend, who was destined to avenge and to inflict on the papacy. a blow from which it never recovered.
This was the state of affairs at the commencement of the quarrel between Philip and Boniface. The Crusades had brought all Europe under taxation to Rome, and loud complaints were everywhere made against the drain of money into Italy. Things had at last come to such a condition that it was not possible to continue
Pecuniary the Crusades without resorting to a taxation of necessities the clergy, and this was the true reason of the of Rome. eventual lukewarmness, and even opposition to them. But the stream of money that had thus been passing into Italy had engendered habits of luxury and extravagance. Cost what it might, money must be had in Rome. ennial necessity under which the kings of England and France found themselves—the necessity of revenue for the carrying out of their temporal projects—could only be satisfied in the same way. The wealth of those nations had insensibly glided into the hands of the Church. In England, Edward I. enforced the taxation of the The King of clergy. They resisted at first, but that sovereign England comfound an ingenious and effectual remedy. He clergy to pay directed his judges to hear no cause in which an ecclesiastic was a complainant, but to try every suit brought against them; asserting that those who refused to share the burdens of the state had no right to the protection of its laws. They forthwith submitted. In the nature and efficacy of this remedy we for the first time recognize the agency of a class of men soon to rise to power—the lawyers.
In France, Philip the Fair made a similar attempt. It was not to be supposed that Rome would tolerate this