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would hallow their assemblies, before which they might kneel in prayer and adoration.1 In 1825 Bishop Thémines was obliged to declare the doctrine of the universal priesthood of all believers, as the sole means of maintaining the existence of La Petite Église: "Many assert that the laity ought not to meddle with religious matters: I tell you, on the contrary, that the Apostolic Succession is the saving dogma of the world, Omnis homo miles, every man a soldier." 2
Still some of the older laity were left, men of real piety and instruction, who could preserve the older traditions of the Church. These, however, dropped off one by one; many of them, when bishop and priest failed them, joining the national Church. Then women took their place. Strange
1 Some of these consecrated Hosts were preserved for many years, and hence arises the curious liturgical question : "How long does the real Presence remain after consecration?” It is difficult to give a precise answer: but we may infer something from the recommendations of the Church as to the Eucharist. The Roman Ritual says: "The priest shall frequently renew the portions of the most holy Eucharist, which may be understood by twice every month, after the use and prescriptions of most dioceses." The Sacred Congregation of Rites says: "Once a week it shall be renewed
but it seems to us hard to believe in the permanence of the Real Presence in Hosts, preserved seven or eight years in a barn at Taulan." La Petite Église, pp. 360-1 note. In the Plenary Council of Latin America, held at Rome in 1899, the rule is laid down: quinque saltem Particulæ consecratæ assidue serventur in tabernaculo, quæ, octavo quoque die, vel, si loci humiditas id requirat, etiam sæpius renoventur," no. 370, ad finem.
"The Diocese of Perpignan has the remarkable privilege of possessing in a state of marvellous preservation five centenary Hosts consecrated during the worst storms of the Revolution." La Semaine de Bayonne, January 18, 1899. 2 Drochon, p. 211.
opinions crept in here and there, laxity in some, undue and excessive severity and asceticism in others, largely prevailing. The bitterness of sectarianism increased, with an almost fanatic hatred of Pius VII. and of the Church of the Concordat. But, worst of all, the children were growing up uninstructed, and the band that had been noted, even by their enemies, for piety and strict morality, began to be indifferent and irreligious. There came the unreasoning attachment, the obstinate clinging to what their fathers had held under different circumstances, the spirit of separation for separation's sake; for, except in matters of ecclesiastical discipline, there was never any strictly dogmatic divergence between La Petite Église and the national Church. Overtures from the remnant of the Jansenists, from Protestant bodies of various kinds, from the Church of Utrecht, were constantly rejected. To the essentials of the Roman Catholic Faith, as far as they have been able to do so, they have clung to the end. Widely as we may differ from them, for this we cannot but honour them.
At length it seems probable that the members of this little Church, if Church it can be called which has remained since 1847 without priests, without sacraments, without any of the ordinary means of grace, will listen to the earnest invitation which Pope Leo XIII., following the example of his predecessors, has addressed to it by his Brief to the Bishop of Poitiers, July 19, 1893, and will return to the Church of Rome. The schism has not been one of fundamental doctrine, but of matters of
1 Yet La Petite Église may be considered as a protest
discipline, and of the proper relations between Church and State. The story of La Petite Église, like that of our own Non-jurors,1 is full of instruction and of warning. It tells plainly the mischief of schism, even when the originators of the schism are confessedly men of piety and earnestness. Cut off from the life of the Church, the vigour of the separated member soon becomes attentuated. But there is more than this to be learnt from the history of La Petite Église. Twice it seemed as if the larger Church were about to adopt its principles, and to justify its existence after all. The little Church opposed the undue influence of Napoleon in framing the Concordat of 1801. In 1810, after long forbearance, Pius VII. excommunicated Napoleon; but the Bull of Excommunication was not allowed to be published in the emperor's dominions. The French clergy, as a body, continued to offer the usual prayers in church for him, and the few who refused to pray for the excommunicated emperor were suspended, and gave occasion for fresh schisms,
against the ultramontane doctrine of infallibility. The rise of this doctrine after the Concordat is thus sketched by M. L. Bourgain: "Le clergé, dépouillé de tout, n'a plus aucun avantage ni social ni légal: par conséquent, il est libre. Eh bien, n'ayant plus de motifs pour être gallican, il deviendra ultramontain." Vol. i. p. 15. A somewhat cynical defence of present ultramontanism in France. The whole passage is worth reading.
1 La Petite Église has produced no writers to compare with our non-juring divines. The names of Bishop Ken, of Spinckes, of W. Law-the author of The Serious Call-of Nelson, Hickes, and others have no parallel in La Petite Église. And an interesting question arises. Had all the old bishops accepted the Concordat of 1801, would modern ultramontanism have become so exclusively the dominant mark of the French Church as is unhappily the case now?
which are often confounded with La Petite Église. Yet again, in 1817, a fresh Concordat was arranged with Pius VII., consented to by Louis XVIII., and by the French bishops and clergy, by which the Pope undid his former work, and gave La Petite Église almost all that they had contended for. The first four Articles of this Concordat were:
Art. 1. The Concordat celebrated between the Sovereign Pontiff Leo X. and King Francis I. is reestablished.
Art. 2. As a consequence of the preceding article, the Concordat of July 15, 1801, ceases to have effect. Art. 3. The so-called Organic Articles, which were drawn up without the knowledge, and published without the approbation of his Holiness, April 8, 1802, are annulled, at the same time as the aforesaid Concordat of July 15, 1801, as to all that is opposed to the doctrine and laws of the Church.
Art. 4. The sees which were suppressed in the kingdom of France by the Bull of his Holiness, Nov. 29, 1801, are restored in the number agreed by common accord as the most advantageous for the good of the Church.1
No wonder that when they heard of the acceptance of this Concordat by the king and the clergy, six out of the seven surviving bishops of La Petite Église submitted to the Pope. Only Bishop Thémines held out, to wait until the Concordat was legally adopted. But this legalization was impossible: no ministry of the Crown was strong enough to force it through a hostile parliament. The Concordat of 1817 never passed into law; but the six bishops could not retract their submission. From 1817 to 1823 the French clergy
1 I take this from the Spanish translation of Baron Henrion's Historia general de la Iglesia, tomo viii. p. 219. (Madrid, 1854.)
scarcely knew under which Concordat they were governed; that of 1801 was tacitly resumed, and is still law, but the dispute between the Government and the clergy as to whether the Organic Articles form part of it or not is still unsolved. Can there be a greater illustration of the ever-changing relations between Church and State, the impossibility of applying any unbending rules to them, or of establishing anything more stable than the best modus vivendi according to circumstances? The same Pope, as far as was in his power, destroyed the Concordat which he had himself established, and promulgated another which granted all the principles, the negation of which had caused the schism of La Petite Église, with all its subsequent errors and misfortunes!
At the end of a paper already too long, I may close with a quotation from the work of the latest historian of La Petite Église. Speaking of the charity of England to the émigrés, bishops and priests, of the Revolution, M. Drochon remarks: "Without any doubt it is to this kindness that England owes the movement of return to the Church of Rome which is now evident. The seed of heroic virtues then sown in the land by our French priests has slowly germinated, and the harvest is being gathered in this generation. We hail beforehand the happy day, perhaps close at hand, when this great nation, again become the Isle of Saints, shall resume its place in the Catholic family." 1
1 La Petite Église, p. 164.