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exists even as a superstition." But it is not the Breviary only that asserts the authenticity of these relics of St. James and his two disciples. Their authenticity is declared by a decree of the Sacred Council of Rites, July 25, 1884. This again is confirmed by the Apostolical Letter of Leo XIII., the Kalends of November 1884,1 in which he writes of this discovery, and others of the bodies of the Saints, as "heavenly gifts, blessings and graces of which we have most need." "Thus in the course of this our century, in which the power of darkness has declared war against the Lord and His Christ, have been happily discovered, by divine permission, the sacred remains of St. Francis of Assisi, of Ste. Clara, the Virgin Law-giver, of St. Ambrose, Pontiff and Doctor, of the martyrs Gervasius and Protasius, of the Apostles, St. Philip and St. James, and to this number must be added that of the Apostle St. James the Greater, and his disciples Athanasius and Theodore, whose bodies have again been found in the Cathedral of the city of Compostella." Then it proceeds: "A constant and universal tradition, which dates from Apostolic times, confirmed by public letters of our predecessors, relates, etc., etc." 2 With this may be
1 Mgr. Duchesne mentions these decrees and decisions only in a note at the end of his treatise: "Les décisions de ces autorités (l'archevêque de Compostelle et la Sacrée Congrégation des Rites) ont été ratifiées et proclamées dans la bulle Deus omnipotens, du 1er novembre 1884."
2 Dr. Bernard O'Reilly, alluding to this Bull as one of the remarkable acts in the life of Pope Leo XIII., writes: "After founding many Churches throughout the Peninsula, James returned to Jerusalem with alms for the afflicted Christians of Palestine, among whom famine prevailed. Then was held
compared the Brief of January 29, 1894, granting indulgences for the sixth centenary of the Translation of the Holy House of Loretto.
In all Churches, in every form of Christianity, there will always be some difference between the intellectual appreciation of the same facts, by the learned and the unlearned, by the babes and by the full-grown in Christ; a difference fully recognized by our Lord and His apostles. We are not to cause the little ones to offend, our knowledge is not to slay our weaker brethren (1 Cor. viii. 7–11). Yet, allowing this, can it be rightful, for the heads of any Church so authoritatively to declare the literal truth of facts, which the more learned members of their Church have ceased to believe in, which they have thoroughly disproved; and to impress and impose on the unlearned the belief in facts thus disproved, as is done in these decrees and encyclical letters of Pope Leo XIII?
the Council of Jerusalem, in which James took part." Life of Leo XIII., by Bernard O'Reilly, D.D., LL.D., p. 557 (Sampson Low, 1887).
MINOR CHRISTIAN LATIN POETS OF THE
WE must not expect from these minor Christian Latin poets of a debased age any really fine verse. Almost the whole of the true and noble poetry of the early Christian Church passed into the Liturgies. Many of the prayers of the Eastern Church, of the so-called Apostolical Constitutions, and, especially, those of the Egyptian Churches, are really magnificent prose-poems. We shall discover nothing at all equal to the Gloria in Excelsis, to the Te Deum, to the hymns of Prudentius (348-405). Our poets belong, unhappily, to an age of superlatively bad taste. All that we can say in their favour is that their poetry is less studied, less full of affectations, tortured into fewer wordy conceits,
1 Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum (vol. xvi.). Poeta Christiani Minores (Pars I.). Vindobonæ. (F. Tempsky, 1888.)
Patrologia Cursus Completus, accurante J. P. Migne. Tomus xix. (Parisiis, 1846.)
The biography of most of these poets is uncertain, and the dates given are those determined by some allusion as most probable. They must be taken as equivalent only to the old floruit.
less disfigured by tawdry patches, than is the prose of many writers of that age. It often sins against the laws of ancient metre, and it has not yet attained to the free exercise of the new and perhaps nobler laws of rhythm and of rhyme which the despised barbarians were unconsciously building up out of the ruins of ancient classical prosody. We hear in them only the first lispings, the tentative efforts, which will hereafter swell into the trumpet tones of the 'Dies Ira;' which will sound the knell of all earthly things in the plaintive wail of Notker's Funeral Hymn; which will tell of the yearnings of the saints for their heavenly home in the Jerusalem hymns, and melt all hearts to grief in the 'Stabat Mater dolorosa,' which, in the 'Jesu, dulcis memoria' of St. Bernard,1 will give expression to well-nigh all that the Name of Jesus tells to those who really love Him. I have no such jewels to offer to my readers now. I can set before them no such dainties. It is a homely feast to which I would invite them ;-to an examination of curiosities only, not of priceless gems.
The poets of whom I write lived at the close of the fourth, or during the fifth century. They all belonged to the upper classes of society. They were among the last members of a caste of Provincial Roman nobility which was destined shortly to give way to the ruder barbarian, and later feudal nobility which rose upon its ruins. Almost
1 According to Dom Guéranger, incontestable MSS. assign this hymn, long attributed to St. Bernard, to a pious Benedictine abbess, who lived in the fourteenth century. L'Année Liturgique. Le Temps de Noël, vol. ii. p. 324, 325 (Oudin, Paris, 1875).
all of them were Gallo-Romans, and chiefly from Southern Gaul. As I hinted above, they had not yet wholly emancipated themselves from the influence of classical heathen poetry. The spell of the mighty magician, Virgil, was still upon them. Just as the influence of Plato moulds the thoughts of the Alexandrian Church, and as that of Aristotle reigned supreme in the Middle Ages, so Virgil's rich poetry overpowered, with its mighty music, the feeble strains of those who had unlearnt their native tongue, to speak, fluently enough, but never quite as natives, the accents of Rome. Many a long piece, both pagan and Christian, in this and the succeeding ages, is a cento of Virgil's writings; -a mosaic, laboriously constructed, in which the whole vocabulary of the poem, every turn and phrase, even whole lines, are transferred bodily from the works of Virgil. Strange was the lot of the great master then! He was the purest of all the Latin poets. Yet the dying pagan muse, turned harlot in her dotage, used him to build centos of filth and dull indecency, from which he in his own age turned aside with dignified disdain. He was the most religious of all the poets of ancient Rome; he really believed in her ancient gods, and in the might of the Eternal City; and now he was forced to sing the praises of an obscure Provincial, whom a Roman governor had crucified in a distant land, but who was now reigning, from the Tree,1 supreme above all earthly kings and Cæsars. This was the use to which the great poets of ancient Rome were
1 A varia lectio of the Septuagint Version. Psalm xcv. (our xcvi.) 10.