him. One day, when the university in a body was conducting him, as in triumph, to take possession of a new professor's chair, and while he listened with pleasure to the general applause, a hermit stepped forth from the crowd, and said, "Whither goes the proud doctor? Brother, think of what thou wert, and art, and will be. Beware lest science cause thy ruin, and lest pride blind thee while thou enlightenest others. Remember that contempt of the world and of one's self is more profitable to salvation than the most learned commentary that thou canst publish upon law." After the ceremony he retired pensive to his chamber, and began to reflect seriously on the words of the recluse; the spirit-blow was struck, and the result was his resolution to renounce the world. So, leaving Paris secretly, he proceeded to Montserrat, and thence to Barcelona, where he took the habit of the Order of Mercy, and lived a model of all humility ever afterwards *. The general character of the instructions of religious men which produced such effects may be judged of from the words ascribed to St. Bruno by a poet and monk of his order:

"O docti juvenes, omnes erravimus una,

Temnite divitias, quas nec deferre valetis
Vobiscum post fata, precor, si verba magistri
Penditis; et si me digno servatis honore,
Linquite Pentapolim, fugitiva sæcula mecum,
Atque specus cum Loth, montesque subite latentes.
Aspicitis, quantum præsens hæc vita caduca est;
Erigite ad cœlum mentes; ibi patria nobis,
Nostra quies illic, æternaque mansio pacis ;
Ast ubi tot quondam terraque marique potentes
Sunt reges? Ubi quæso duces?

Nunc ubi bellorum quondam virtute periti ?
Aut oratores ubi sunt, clarique Poetæ ?
Pictores, medicique graves, sophiæque magistri ?
Viventi servire Deo suavissima res est;
Sunt lachrymæ dulces, suspiria dulcia, dulces
Prolixæ excubiæ, jejunia dulcia, dulce
Subdere se imperiis atque inter septa morari.
Quid facimus chari comites? ad claustra quieta
Nos citat omnipotens per tot miracula, numen.
Cedamus patria, moniti meliora sequamur +."

There are narratives, too, which leave us to conclude that friendship and affection for some who had already embraced the monastic state entered largely into the motives which led others to choose it for their own. Father Charles, converted to the

*Hist. de l'Ord. 282.

+ Vincentinus Carthus. de Origine Carthus. Ordinis.

Order of Mercy in the time of Pope Boniface VIII., had come to Barcelona a young man, as ambassador from Sardinia, and it was affection for these fathers which moved him to demand their habit. A curious instance of his discernment with regard to character is related; for when Don Roger of Catalonia, a favourite of Don James II., king of Arragon, obtained an order from his superiors for the new convert to leave his convent in Sardinia, and come to Catalonia, which intelligence caused him to weep, he said aloud, "God pardon Don Roger, who tears me from my beloved solitude, for no other reason but that he wishes to know from me if our house descends in a right line from the Count Sumer d'Argel, who was guardian of his cousin Sinifred, count of Barcelona, in 940. Write to him that it is so, but let

him leave me in peace *."


In fine, that a casual visit to a monastery has been known to induce men to choose the life within it is a fact attested by many historians. Andreas, archdeacon of Verdun, coming for the sake of prayer to Clairvaux, but without any intention of remaining there, was converted by what he saw on entering the chapter; for at the mere spectacle of the order of that holy crowd, and their angelic conversation, he was suddenly changed into another man, renouncing the world so promptly as not even to require an hour for saluting his friends, or disposing of his affairs. Trithemius relates another instance: "When William," he says, was abbot of Hirschau, Gebhard, who afterwards succeeded him, was a canon of Strasburg; a man nobly born, learned and eloquent, but daily growing prouder and prouder; and, as riches increased, thinking least of all of conversion, but, like many clerks who are intent on secular affairs, careless of his salvation. Towards the poor, and especially towards monks, he showed himself a scorner and enemy, so that he seized the vineyards of Hirschau, which were in Alsace, and kept them for his own use, knowing that the Abbot William, for his fidelity to the Roman Church, had no aid to expect from King Henry. However, being admonished by good men, he repaired to Hirschau in order to come to an arrangement with the abbot. He came, proud, elate, swelling, showing no love for religion in any thing; but Almighty God, in whose hand are the hearts of men, made this Saul a defender of religion; for, from observing the brethren, and hearing the abbot's conversation, he resolved to renounce the world, and in that cloister, under the monastic habit, become a servant of God." To these instances may be added the story of the martyr, Father Thibault, a gentleman of Narbonne, who, being a gay, accomplished knight, and about to be married to

* Hist. de l'Ord. de la Mercy, 218.
+ Mag. Spec. p. 322.

the most beautiful lady of that city, was attacked by his rivals, and obliged to slay one of the assassins in self-defence, which compelled him to fly into Spain, where, on a visit to the devout chapel in the monastery of our Lady of Montserrat, he was converted to a religious life *. A more remarkable example still of the same kind is related by these fathers. "Raymond de Toulouse, son of the Comte de Montfort, and Georges de Lauria, his cousin, son of the Admiral Don Roger de Lauria, were,"

[ocr errors]

they tell us, miraculously called to the Order of Mercy by the following circumstances:-The count, passing through Barcelona, on his way to Montserrat to accomplish a vow, was received with public honour, and conducted by the sheriffs to see the places of most interest, and, amongst others, to the convent of St. Eulalie, as one of the most beautiful in the city. While he examined the building, his third son, the count of Toulouse, aged fourteen, strayed alone into the cloister. His father sent to search for him, but he was terrified on seeing him enter the church quite pale and changed. The boy, in answer to his inquiries, informed him that as he was regarding an image of the Blessed Virgin holding her arms extended, from which descended a mantle, enclosing many cardinals, bishops, princes, monks, and slaves, he heard a voice inviting him to follow their example, and become her son; and he now besought his father's permission to remain in that house, and become a monk. This conversion exposed the order to a cruel persecution; for several grandees calumniated it in consequence, and his cousin, son of the admiral, aged twenty-four, commander of a squadron, resolved to proceed to Barcelona, break open the gates of the convent, and carry out his cousin by force. He put to sea, and disembarked at Barcelona in the first hours of the night, while the monks were singing matins. At the head of a troop of soldiers he invested the convent, and entered it sword in hand. At that moment God changed his heart instantaneously; for on entering the choir he thought he heard a voice, though no one else heard it, which caused him such emotion that he fell back on the pavement. On recovering from his swoon, he charged the lieutenant to lead back the soldiers to the galleys. He remained in the church, threw himself at the superior's feet, told him of his project to carry off his cousin, and his resolution now to follow his example, and demand the habit. He remained some days in the monastery, and finally received the habit of a knight of the order. It is added, that the two cousins ever afterwards corresponded faithfully to the grace of their miraculous conversion †."

Upon the whole, then, omitting farther examples, as our space

* Hist. de l'Ord. de la Mercy, 107.

+ Id. 215.

is limited, whatever may be thought of instances like the last, and of all which show men acting through the impression of an inexplicable motive, it seems not illogical to conclude that the religion which produces an institution that draws men to embrace a life of innocence, self-sacrifice, and often, as we shall presently see, of great active virtue, by such pure and unearthly means as have been now enumerated, possesses at least the qualifications necessary to a candidate for the supremacy of truth.

But here another avenue presents itself, formed by the general results affecting the common society of the world which are obtained by means of monasteries; and the first of these consequences that may be noticed is the pacific influence which extends from them; for it is evident that they constitute certain centres of peace, from which that divine virtue is more or less diffused through the society that surrounds them. The woods have often, in some way or other, been associated with the love of peace and security. Strabo tells us that the population inhabiting the confines of the forest of Ardenne, when in danger of warlike invasions, used to retire with all their families into its profoundest depths, and there hide themselves, having previously blocked up all entrances with brambles and the twisted boughs of trees*. In Christian ages the alliance between the sons of the forest and pacific men must be traced in the number of monasteries which attracted the latter, and caused them to dwell in the woods. "What is to be thought of these monasteries," says William of Newbury," and other such places, which in the days of King Stephen were built, but that they are castles or camps of God, in which the soldiers of Christ keep watch and ward against spiritual wickedness? And as in this age, in the decline of the king's power, the great men of the kingdom built castles and citadels for themselves, and thus, by the malice of the devil, discords were made to superabound; so has there been established this wise and salutary provision of the great king, who, against the king of pride, caused, as was becoming to the king of peace, such fortresses to be erected. In that one reign more than a hundred monasteries of men and women were raised in England t." Peter the Venerable, in his defence of Cluny, takes the same view, saying, "Let us suppose that a castle is given to monks. It immediately ceases to be a castle, and becomes an oratory; nor does any one after that transformation fight there against corporeal enemies in a corporeal army, but all are employed in repelling spiritual enemies by spiritual weapons. So that what was before a fortress of war for the devil, now shelters those who fight for Christ; and what was before a den

* Lib. iv.

+ Guil. Neub. Rer. Anglic. lib. i. c. 15.


of thieves, is made a house of prayer." In fact, the desire of obtaining this result is often expressed by benefactors as their motive in befriending monasteries. The Marquis Albert, for instance, in 1156, confirming a donation to the monastery of Heusdorf, begins with these words: I, Albertus Aquilonalis, by the grace of God marquis, make known to all future generations of the faithful, and of the religious serving God, that I always contended for peace and desired tranquillity; and knowing that formerly by their most serene prayers, this mode of government, this light of administration, existed, and that it was by their intelligent providence that laws and rights were maintained amongst mortals, and that scandals were taken away; therefore I have always sought to secure and confirm all the legitimate possessions of religious houses*.” The pacific object explains, too, the minute pains with which, by the monastic legislation, every occasion of quarrel was guarded against. Thus, among the constitutions of Camaldoli we read, "Sunt graves culpæ si frater cum fratre intus vel extra Eremum lites habuerit ;" and again, in an ancient rule we read, "He who never asks pardon, or does not pardon others from the heart, seems to be without any cause in the monastery-sine causa in monasterio esse videtur +." Peter the Venerable, in a letter to Pope Eugene III., says, "that only a wicked man or an enemy could advise monks to take a part in war, that it would be a monstrous prodigy to see them so engaged, and that the world would treat such an enterprise with immense ridicule." In fact, every monastery contained some proof or other that it was men of peace who sought their centre there. The epitaphs even on the sepulchres of different abbots of the imperial monasteries of Weissenburg supply a kind of evidence; for on the tomb of Chuno, who died in 1248, were inscribed the words, "Spes miserorum, cella nudorum, lux populorum;" on that of Edelinus, who ruled in 1288, “Litis sedator Edelinus, pacis amator;" on that of Eberhardus, who died in 1381," Princeps pacificus, omni virtute politus ;" and on that of John, who was at the Council of Constance in 1434,


Prudens, magnificus Johannes, pacis amicus." We read that, by the advice of his friend St. Germain, St. Domnole, bishop of Mans, built a monastery in one of the suburbs of Mans, in which those whom the tempest of this vast sea of the world had driven about might breathe peace safely in the port of religious tranquillity, and where he himself, after the duties of his ministry, might occasionally take the refreshment of holy contemplation. "The world," says Bucchius, "is agitated by a sevenfold wind which raises its waves; for the tempest of the vices of pride, ava

+ Regula S. Donati.

* Thuringia Sacra, 330.
Yepes, ii. 148.

« VorigeDoorgaan »