« VorigeDoorgaan »
one of the strangers should wish to go to the church in the night, another, through fatigue, be unwilling to rise, there should be a guardian to watch each of them, both him going through the obscure places of the monastery to the church, and him remaining in his bed. And the door of the cell should be locked from within, and the key hidden, so that he who wishes to leave it must rouse the guardians to have the doors opened, in order that by these means charity may be exercised, and the things of the monastery kept safe. Similarly during the day, if one of the guardians be occupied, the other must keep a watch over the strangers from afar *." The zeal, too, with which strangers were received had an Homeric, or rather Biblical character. Father James, of St. Martin, prior of the convent of Mercy at Barcelona, used to lie in wait for pilgrims in the street, like another Abraham, and introduce them into the convent, and exercise towards them all hospitality +. The monastery of Weingarten being destroyed by fire in 1196, the blessed Meingosus, the abbot, gave a memorable example of hospitality; for before he rebuilt the monks' cells, he constructed the hospice for the guests and for the poor, while he and the brethren dwelt in tents, living the more frugally, that they might be liberal to the poor strangers, in each of whom they received Christ. In some monasteries, as at the Hieronymite convent of Guadaloupe, the refectory boards used to be spread sometimes as often as seven times a day for the guests of all ranks, who came in crowds to dine with St. Jerome. Hospitality was not to end even at the departure. Guests were to be given provisions for the road when they left the monastery—" ac proficiscentibus juxta posse cœnobii viaticum imponendum §." Travellers who lodged with St. Honorat in his monastery of Lerins felt as if arrived in their country and in their own house, such cordiality did they experience; and when they left it, they seemed to leave their home, their relations, and their friends. This is what St. Hilary says. A great number of strangers came to visit him; for no one passed without interrupting his voyage for that purpose, and he received those whom he had never before seen as if they were his ancient friends. When Mabillon travelled, he found these manners still flourishing. He spoke with delight of that frank and joyous cordiality which he experienced in the monasteries of Italy, though it is true, he adds, that in this respect they surpassed those of France. The monks of Pontigny have been charged with a breach of hospitality in requesting St. Thomas of Canterbury to depart,
* Regula Magistri, c. lxxix. ap. Luc. Holst.
+ Hist. de l'Ordre de la Mercy, 314.
+ Bucelinus, Chronolog. Constant.
lest their brethren elsewhere should incur persecution on his account; but Mathieu Paris gives rather a different version of the circumstance from that generally repeated, for he says only that Louis, king of France, came to Pontigny, and in order to shelter the Cistercian order from the king of England, took away Thomas with him to Sens, after the archbishop had received hospitality during two years from these monks *. At all events, it was in monasteries that the great archbishop met with the most gracious reception, as he testified in the affecting interview which he had with the abbot of St. Albans, only eight days before he suffered. On that occasion, turning to his clerks who attended him, Look you what has happened, my friends," said he; "this lord abbot, who has no obligations to me, has this day been more kind and more polite to me than all my brethren and all the bishops my suffragans." Sometimes particular nations regarded certain religious houses as in an especial manner their hospitium. The monastery of Latiniacus, in the diocese of Paris, was a public hospice for all Irishmen travelling in France +. Especial revenues were sometimes held for the purpose of entertaining strangers. In the abbey of Waltham, founded by Harold, the means of hospitality were copiously furnished; and the dean had a larger share of provisions than the others, for this reason-" quia pluribus habebat benefacere quam simplex canonicus." The expenses incurred everywhere by this practice must have been considerable. The abbey of Monte Cassino having, as we have just seen, a great house in the town of St. Germain, which was kept open to all qualified persons passing, the cost of this hospitality amounted often to the sum of 3000 ducats per annum. Sometimes when there was any backwardness manifested in the exercise of hospitality, the monks themselves interfered to induce their superior to resume the ancient usages. Thus, at St. Edmundsbury, Hugh the abbot was remonstrated with; for, says Jocelin of Brakelond, on the third day after Master Dennis became cellarer, three knights with their esquires were received in the guest-house that they might there be refreshed, the abbot then being at home, and abiding in his inner chamber; all which, when this magnanimous Achilles had heard, not willing to waver in his stewardship as the others had done, he rose up, and took the key of the cellary, and taking with him those knights to the abbot's hall, and approaching the abbot, said, My lord, thou well knowest that the rule of the abbey is, that knights and lay folks should be entertained in your hall, if the abbot be at home; I am not desirous, nor indeed am I able to receive those guests it belongeth unto thee to enter
Yepes, Chron. Gen. ii. 232.
* Ad ann. 1166.
Hist. Abb. Cassinens. 624. VOL. VII.
tain; else take back the keys of your cellary, and appoint some other cellarer at thy good pleasure.' The abbot hearing this, nill he will he, entertained those knights, and ever afterwards entertained knights and lay folks according to ancient rule, and in the same way as now they are received when the abbot is at home. Once upon a time Hugh the abbot, wishing to reconcile matters with Master Sampson, appointed him his subsacrist; and he, although often accused, yet was the oftener promoted from one office to another; at one time he was appointed guest-master, at another time pittance-master, at another time third prior, and again subsacrist; and many there were who then strove against him that afterwards flattered him. But he, not acting as the other officials did, never could be induced to turn flatterer; whereupon the abbot said, that he had never before seen such a man as Sampson the subsacrist, whom he could in no wise bend to his will. The abbey being vacant, the prior above all things studied to keep peace in the convent, and to preserve the honour of the Church in entertaining guests, being desirous of irritating no one, of not provoking any body to anger, in fact, of keeping all persons and things in quietness, nevertheless winking at some acts in our officials which needed reformation."
Here we should observe, however, the peculiar character of the monastic hospitality, as employed in subserving to a desire of the moral improvement of those who are its objects. In very early times it would seem as if the guests were expected to imitate, at least by engaging in some useful employment, the example of their hosts. Thus, in an ancient rule we read, "When any brother or guest comes to the monastery, in consideration of the fatigue of his journey, he may remain without doing any thing for two days. After which interval he is to be told to labour either in the fields or at some art, or else to leave the monastery; and if he consents he is to be set to work with the brethren, but if he declines he must depart; and his bed is to be prepared for the next guest who may arrive. But spiritual guests, though they may not be able to labour on the very day of their arrival, will be sure on the following day, when they see the brethren working, to seek employment of their own accordne non solum otiosi sed et miseri a laborantibus judicentur *." At Monte Cassino certain monks were especially deputed to serve the guests in the hospitium, and excite and prepare them for confession and communion. The truth however is, that the place itself, as we before observed, conduced to produce these effects. The example, the chant, the discourse of the monks were all instrumental. When James II. visited La Trappe for the first time, he went to communion, and as he kneit
* Regula Magistri, c. lxxviii.
on the steps of the altar, the choir, as the office of the day required, sung the verse, "Confundantur superbi, quia injuste iniquitatem fecerunt in me; ego autem exercebor in mandatis tuis." Every one present, we are told, was struck at the coincidence, seeing a king so humbled before the Divine Majesty *!
In some monasteries, by grant of the Holy See, especial privileges were administered in regard to pilgrims visiting them. Thus, the bull of Benedict IX. to the abbey of St. Victor, at Marseilles, speaks of the power of absolution there of old possessed, as justifying its designation of a second Rome. "Each penitent," it says, "coming to that abbey on foot, the doors shall be open to him, and then he being absolved,-libere ad propria redeat lætus; eo scilicet tenore, ut transacta peccata sacerdotibus confiteatur et de reliquo emendetur. This was the same indulgence as that of the jubilee, which remitted all canonical penalties." It supposed that the penitent should come on foot,
-qui tritis passibus venerit. This is the oldest document of the kind existing, and this says expressly, that "it only confirms an ancient usage+." The monastic guests were expected to conduct themselves with charity and decorum while in the abbey ; but, unfortunately, this was not always what they did, and Mathieu Paris relates instances. In general the monks expected that guests should not exact hospitality as a right. The archbishop of Canterbury, Boniface, was received in 1253 with great honours at St. Albans by the monks, after having written letters to ask for hospitality as charity; but at Belvair, having neglected that preliminary, he was repulsed. Similarly, the Legate Otho always asked hospitality as a charity; but when Robert, bishop of Lincoln, at Hartford, refused to do so, he was rejected, which made him very angry; so that it was only by reason of the Legate Otho's intervention that he withdrew his censures. In 1252, Geoffroi de Lusignan, brother of the king, intending to lodge at St. Albans, sent his mareschal beforehand to announce his arrival. When this officer came to the gate of the court of the monastery, he cried out, without saluting the porter, "Here will come shortly my lord, who is not far off, and who is to lodge here. Where will he sleep?" "Where he likes," replied the porter. "It will be no where else then but in the palace, that you call the King's Hotel," rejoined the officer; "for he is of royal blood." "Be it so," said the porter; only the custom with us is for all those who would lodge here to ask hospitality as a charity, and not imperiously to exact it; for this is a house of charity." But the mareschal, looking angrily at the porter, said, "What gammon are you prattling? Where are the stables for
Hist. des Trappistes du Val Sainte-Marie.
+ Monuments inédits sur l'Apost. de Sainte-Marie Magd. en Provence, tom. ii. 639.
the horses?" He was shown a vast lodge, capable of holding three hundred horses easily. Now, the same day there had come to St. Albans honourable men, religious and laics, whose horses were lying down after eating. The mareschal entering, burst into a fury at seeing them there, tore all the halters, and put the grooms to flight by high threats; nevertheless, the abbot was constrained to suffer all this under a tyrant king.
In 1256 another instance occurred; for when Prince Edward came to visit Earl Richard, his uncle, at Wallingford, his suite proceeded insolently to the neighbouring priory, and entered forcibly without asking hospitality. They plundered food, wood, provender, broke the doors, windows, stools, struck, reviled the servants of the monks as if they were vile slaves or robbers, filled every place, and left only the refectory to the monks. Such were the banditti that Edward kept for his courtiers and attendants *.
But let us return to those who had the grace to profit by the monks' hospitality. While they remained their language was expected to be gentle, charitable, and pacific. Guests in the monastery," says the rule of Camaldoli, “are not to be permitted to speak evil against their neighbours t." It was expected, too, that they should conform to certain usages of the house. Dom Mabillon, on his journeys, when he had to sleep in a monastery, used to endeavour to arrive there before complin, in order not to cause trouble to the community. He had in view, probably, that silence after complin, when the doors are closed, and all things composed in their places for the night, when even strangers arriving are to be received with a tacit ministry. To the latest times all the delicate and pious traditions of hospitality were preserved in the Benedictine monasteries. In the guest chambers were found books, a crucifix, an arm chair, also pen and ink and paper. The greatest men were often deputed to wait on guests as of old. When St. Thomas of Aquin was at Bologna, a certain religious guest in the convent asked permission to go out and take with him the first friar he met. St. Thomas was the first whom he met, and not knowing him, he signified to him the prior's order. St. Thomas instantly obeyed, and when he could not walk as fast as the guest, this man reproved him; but hearing afterwards that it was St. Thomas, he made his apologies as well as he could, and implored forgiveness. We see therefore, again, from this point of view, how the visit to a monastery could hardly fail to produce deep impres
+Constitut. Erem. Camald. c. 53.
Regula Magistri, c. xxx.
§ Règles de la Congregation de St. Maur.
Anton. d'Escobar, in Evang. Comment. vol. vii. 133.