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veneration for him than the populace. Crowds of gentlemen used to repair to his monastery for confession. Many nobles hired houses in Placentia in order to be near him. The counts of Oropese and of Torreson used to spend whole weeks in the convent. Don Ferdinand Enriquez, uncle of the admiral of Castille, and Don Diego Saurez, came expressly from Madrid in order to see him, and were so impressed by his words that they wished to remain with him; but as he refused permission, they took a house near Pedrosa, where he then was. The Emperor Charles V. always received him with singular honour, and used to express publicly his veneration for him. The king of Portugal, who compelled him often to visit Lisbon, would have him to lodge in his palace, the Princess Mary and the Infant Don Lewis making themselves his penitents. At Madrid, the virtuous Princess Jane of Austria, sister of Philip II., then reigning, used to testify the profoundest veneration for him. "A great thing," says a modern author, "is a great book; but greater than all is the talk of a great man. There are men who utter words that make us think for ever, who condense in a sentence the secrets of life." Such was this friar. The count of Nieble, brother of the holy bishop of Coria, was another of his admirers, who took a house near Pedrosa in order to be near the convent where he resided. His nephew, Don Lewis Enriquez, used to follow him about wherever he went, on foot, in order to listen to his discourses. Don John Albarado, who at first used to ridicule his own sister for her piety, was so changed by his preaching that the saint had great difficulty in preventing him from becoming a monk. The Infant Don Lewis, son of Don Emmanuel, king of Portugal, wished to renounce the crown to embrace the order under him, and he could only be prevailed on to abandon his resolution by obtaining leave to retire to Salveterra, in the diocese of Evora, where he built a convent for those barefooted friars with whom he used to join himself in all their offices of devotion. On the last day of Easter, according to the custom at Pedrosa, solemn mass was to be sung, and St. Peter of Alcantara having been desired to celebrate it, the crowd was so great that the church could not contain them, and mass was sung at a magnificent altar in the open air, in the midst of a plain. The whole multitude were in tears, when, lo! a furious storm gathered suddenly, and seemed to break over them; the lightning played around the altar, the thunder horribly groaned, the wind and rain, of which they heard the fearful sound on all sides, completed the horror of the moment; but no one left the spot, and not a drop fell upon it. The hollow murmur of the raging tempest, one gradual solitary gust, came upon the silence, and died off "as if the ebbing air had but one wave;" but while those tall oaks were bent close to them, the lights burned on the altar without
flickering. After mass the crowd pressed forward to kiss the saint's habit, and testified with acclamations their admiration and their wonder *.
If the life of one member of the monastic family could exercise such a widely extended moral action on society, we may fairly infer that the general result could not have been insignificant. For, after all, there was nothing singular or exceptional in this friar. One might cite examples without end. St. Gertrude, to quote another, had such grace of persuasion on her tongue that no one, we are assured, was so hard of heart as to be able to hear her without at least feeling the wish to be virtuous t. Many testified that a single word from her lips affected the hearts of those who heard her more than the long sermon of the greatest preacher. Frequently obstinate persons whom no one could humble were softened and converted by her conversation. There were few convents or monasteries in which some persons more or less resembling her in this respect were not found. Look back to the seventeenth century, and the Carmelites of Paris. Mother Martha of Jesus, who in the world had been Mdlle Fors du Vigear, is thus described: "God had given her with many eminent qualities such an amiable manner that it was impossible to resist it." The superioress was that Mother Agnes, who could console the queen of England, counsel the Chancellor Le Tellier, enchant Madame de Sévigné, and inspire Bossuet with veneration. "So then we are never more to see," he writes, hearing of her death, "this dear mother; we are never more to hear from her lips those words which charity and sweetness, faith and prudence, always dictated." Mdlle de Guise had offered 100,000 livres to have permission to enter this convent whenever she wished. Mother Agnes refused, saying that no money could repair a breach of the rule, and the number of visits it allowed to a stranger each month was limited. Nothing perhaps can yield a greater insight into the character of the action we are considering than the depositions made by several great ladies of the French court respecting the Mother Magdalen of St. Joseph, which M. Cousin has published from the archives of the convent. Thus the queen mother says," She could not suffer any word opposed to charity, and she often recommended me to banish all backbiting from the court." The Princess de Condé says, "It was Mother Magdalen who first gave me the thoughts of eternity; for before knowing her I was very much devoted to the world. She used to speak very freely to me on subjects that she thought necessary, and I have observed her address the queen in the same man
Lib. ii. c. 14. + Insin. Div. Piet. seu Vita ejus, lib. i. 7.
i. c. 13.
ner, so that no one could leave her without a stronger desire to serve God. She used to insinuate herself into minds with such a grace, that not only it was impossible to feel hurt at what she said, but one felt constrained to enter into her sentiments. When she heard any ladies remark that such and such a sermon was not fine, 'Hola!' she used to cry in her agreeable, pleasant way, En voyla plus que vous n'en faites; c'est la parole de Dieu.' What she spoke to me most upon was the proper use of afflictions, and how we should despise the things of this world. I remarked that she never uttered a word contrary to charity." Madame de Longueville says, "She used to speak to the queen and to the greatest ladies with a certain majesty and authority, and seem as if she had a right to teach them. It was always, however, with the greatest respect that she spoke, and nothing that she said could be taken ill. You might have thought that she had passed all her life at the court, she was so civil. In general she used to enter into other people's sentiments, opening her own heart to them, and by these means she opened their hearts to herself. As for me, I used to tell her my most secret thoughts; I used never to be tired listening to her, and her advice was always the best. It is incredible what pains she used to take to inspire me with affection for the Blessed Virgin; but her piety appeared in every thing, and her love of God was beyond all description. When I heard of her death, I wept for her as if she had been my own mother." The Duchesse d'Epernon says, " She made use of her intimacy with the queen to draw the ladies of the court to virtue and piety; in fact, she inspires us all with piety." The Duchesse de Lesdiguières says, "I used to think it the greatest happiness on earth to be in her company. And I have often heard how she used to exhort the princess, and also the duchesses of Longueville and of Aiguillon, to visit the prisons and hospitals, and to give to poor people, and assist them.” Thus was the society of the world edified by the inhabitants of the cloister. The influence of the retreats, in fact, was so great that some secular courts adopted to a certain extent a mode of life that might be qualified as religious. Montfaucon, in the epistle of dedication to Como III., grand duke of Tuscany, prefixed to his Monumenta Italica, compliments him on the distributions of his charity and the discipline that reigned in his palace. "Hinc ille ædium tuarum ordo," he says to him, "disciplinaque vivendi, quas ad coenobiis cujus piam rationem et normam instituisti ; ratus nihili esse has fluxas caducasque opes, fortunas, ditiones, nisi ad perennem illam felicitatem dirigantur." "In the second half of the seventeenth century,” says the Duc de Noailles, "the monasteries, in which almost all families had relatives, even in those of the severest orders, were in constant relation with the
world. The laity, in its turn, made retreats in these monasteries; men used to purpose privacy till they had digested some sad thoughts, and reconciled passions that were at war within them. They had correspondents also in these houses; they received direction from them; there was a perpetual communication between the world and solitude, between the court and the cloister. In the midst of the world even persons practised in a high degree piety and good works, and those whom passions had for a while misled returned sooner or later to religious sentiments. Whatever might have been the dissipation of life, there was in souls a root of faith which shot forth and flourished again after having been dried up. It is curious to remark, however, that all that action which St. Francis, as we have just seen, required from his friars on their journeys, exists by means of the same simplicity, more or less, wherever such men are met with even at the present day. Goethe's description, for instance, of the Capuchins at Realp, though written by a stranger, is full of charms. The discourse of the good superior on the subject of his preaching, and generally on the truth of the Catholic religion, cannot be read without interest. He spoke to this stranger in the inn on the rule of faith, on the error of making it founded on the private judgment and on the Scripture; he spoke on the stability, unity, and certainty of Catholicism, on the peace and happiness of all who receive it, and on their immortal hopes of meeting again in another world. "We listened to him attentively," says the philosopher, "and he seemed to be quite content with our way of receiving his instructions."
But we must not remain longer observing the external action of these religious persons. One secret to explain their influence consists, no doubt, in the fact that they frequently are endowed with those qualities which cannot be recognized without securing love for their possessors. Men talk of thoughts being hidden from the world. "Hide the sun and moon!" exclaims a great observer; "thought is all light, and publishes itself to the universe. It will speak, though you were dumb, by its own miraculous organ; it will flow out of your actions, your manners, and your face." We might say of each worthy wearer of the. hood,
"If ever Heaven's high blessings met in one man,
And there erected to their holy uses
A sacred mind fit for their services,
Built of all polished honour, 'twas in him:
Their simplicity, too, must conciliate the favour of the low, as well as obtain the respect of the noblest intelligences; for, as
Hist. de Mdme de Maintenon.
the same author observes, "Nothing is more simple than greatness; indeed, to be simple is to be great." My lord," says the Benedictin monk to Foscari, in Shirley's play of the Grateful Servant, "the truth is like your coat of arms, richest when plainest." Such is the monastic character, having nothing to correspond with the quarterings, differences, bends, and pretences of heraldic blazon. The study of men in a religious order seems to be life, not language; and if they have been practised in its sweet rules, their tongue has learned simplicity and truth. Those who knew them were not prone to suspect their intentions, even when circumstances seemed to justify fear. "No," says Juliet, before drinking the mysterious potion prepared for her by Friar Laurence,
It is not what I dread
For he hath still been tried a holy man.
I will not entertain so bad a thought."
And when the same friar, being interrogated at the tomb, and circumstantial evidence seeming to exist against him, explains the whole brief tragedy in those clear, brief words that are so characteristic of his order, the prince believes him, and only rẻplies,
"We still have known thee for a holy man."
That is, for one whose dove-like simplicity, like that of Brother Leo, would have pleased the lover of innocence, St. Francis. Similarly of Father Remigius, a Capuchin friar at Munich in 1527, we are told that "he was most eminent for candour, innocence, and simplicity, doing nothing by dissimulation, but every thing in a frank, open manner, so that no one could resist the attraction of his discourse; that he used to speak to persons of every condition in the same affectionate, fraternal manner; and that in return he was loved by every human being*" Vasari, relating a circumstance that seemed hardly credible on the testimony of the Padre Guiseppe Mangiuoli, who had been twice general of his order, adds, a holy person who would not for all that the world could offer assert a thing that was not entirely true." Such seems to be the type of the monk in the judgment of our old poets. "Here is a friar," says Lidian, in the Lover's Progress, "that came along with me. You shall hear his testimony. Look upon him! such holy men are authors of no fables; their lives and their opinions, like brightest, purest flames, still burn upwards." To the monk they would apply the sentence,
Always truth was policy enough for him;
He was as true as truth's simplicity,
And simpler than the infancy of truth."
Raderus, Bavaria Sancta, iv. 172.