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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. 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.
sions. "We came," say John Bollandus, Henschenius, and Papebroch*, "to the abbey of Monte Cassino on the 16th of March, 1661, and we can truly say, 'sicut audivimus ita et vidimus in civitate Domini virtutum, in civitate Dei nostri et in monte sancto ejus."""It is not for us," they add, " to describe the buildings, nor the admirable charity with which we were received, nor the splendour of virtues which appeared in these most devout monks." The learned Bacchinius, in his dissertation on the origin of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, says to Dom Gattula," under your guidance we visited the archives,-versabamus diu noctuque, manu, mente, sermonibus, cartas istas auro, longe gemmisque prætiosiores, et inter ingentes earum acervos positi otio illi indulgebamus, quo a rerum omnium curis longe remoti, ea solida felicitate fruebamur, quæ sola in hac mortalium conditione veræ felicitatis nomen meretur †." The blessed brother Peter Nolasco, of the convent of the Order of Mercy in Tarragone, on arriving in that city a pilgrim from St. James, returning to his country, had been received charitably by the monks of the convent of St. Antonio without the walls, where hospitality was shown to all strangers, in which house he was so edified by all that he saw and heard, that he lost the remembrance of his dear country, the Tyrol, and resolved to remain there and demand the habit, which was accordingly granted to him .
Ancient writers speak of the great spiritual profit which guests used to receive from visiting the monastery of St. Martin of Tours. "Thither hasten," they say, "kings and the princes of various nations, with their wives, impelled by holy vow? There flourish charity, the love of God, and the love of men, proceeding from a pure heart, and faith not feigned; there flourishes hospitality to the poor, to strangers, widows, and orphans, and especially to those of the household of faith; there flourish discipline, obedience, justice, silence, reading, meditation, and the service of God, day and night; there, too, abundance is found, because as our seniors deliver to us where first the kingdom of God is sought, all the rest will certainly be added §." Recently an Englishman who visited Spain with views far from prejudiced in favour of these institutions, describing his visit to the monastery of St. Yuste, laments that future travellers, in consequence of its menaced destruction, may not have the lot to be welcomed as he was there by those worthy men. "The day," he says, was passed in sketching and sauntering about the ruined buildings and gardens with the good-natured brother
Tom. iii. Martii Act. S.S.
Hist. de l'Ordre de la Mercy, 638.
§ De Gestis Episcop. Turonens.
Hist, Abb. Cassinens. 767.
hood; at night-fall supper was laid for the monks at a long board, but the prior and procurador had a small table set apart in an alcove, where, bidden to a spare but cheerful meal, I sat an hononred guest. As the windows were thrown open to admit the cool thyme-scented breeze, the eye in the clear evening swept over the boundless valley; and the nightingales sang sweetly in the neglected orange garden; and how often had Charles V. looked out on this self-same and unchanged scene! When supper was done, I shook hands all round with my kind hosts, and went to bed in the chamber where the emperor breathed his last. Long ere day-break next morning, I was awakened by a pale monk, and summoned to the early mass which the prior in his forethought had ordered. The chapel was imperfectly lighted, and the small congregation consisted of the monk, my sun-burnt muleteer, and a stray beggar, who, like myself, had been sheltered that night in the convent." Such were the impressions of a Protestant on visiting this abode, not of indolent, useless men, as some are resolved to represent the monastery, but a house eminently constituted to please and delight the most intelligent; not a proud and wretched habitation,
"Sed felix, simplexque domus, fraudumque malorum
The names of guests preserved in the monasteries furnished often a curious document, of some historical interest. Before the disasters of '93, there was kept thus in the abbey of the Sainte-Baume in Provence, a register called the Journalier, in which were inscribed the names of distinguished persons who had visited it. There were inscribed those of popes Stephen IV. and John VIII., the former having come into France in 816, to crown Louis le Débonnaire, and the latter having visited Provence in 878. Mathieu Paris even, in his great chronicle of England, mentions the most remarkable of the guests who were received in his abbey from time to time. Thus, in a passage connected with an instance that betrays his credulity, he says, "In 1252, some Armenians, of whom one was brother of the holy man who died at St. Yves, came to St. Albans to pray. In fact, the holiness of their faces, the length of their beards, and the austerity of their manners, testified their sanctity. Now these Armenians, who seemed men worthy of credit, replied to all questions respecting the East which were addressed to them." Some of their replies, however, as he gives them, would be thought at present as stunning as their beards. But this allusion to the conversations of guests within the cloister, may lead us to reflect a moment upon the old romantic traditions which can often be heard related under such roofs. The early monks did not disdain * Statius, Sylv. iii.
such memories. Some will have read with pleasure those conversations held in the desert, when the seven hermits, Peter, Stephen, John, George, Theodore, Felix, and Laurus, used to meet every Saturday at three o'clock in the afternoon, and after dining together on dates and olives, converse on various themes. Under the monastic roofs of the west are conversations without gall, without bitterness, denoting men formed by nature like doves, who will keep alive the flame of amity, where all discourse flows innocent, and each free jest is taken as it was meant. "At Alcobaça," says a traveller in Spain, "after supper when old convent tales went round, with legends of interposing angels, and anecdotes of friars long dead and gone, I retired to my cell through the never-ending galleries that echoed to my steps, and beneath the lamps that hung at great intervals, and dimly lit up those high and gloomy corridors." To look out from such casements at the night, and upon woods and mountains, after a storm, is not a bad termination of a day spent in visiting a monastery, or ill calculated to send us thoughtful and wondering to our beds.
"Jamque fere medium stellata in veste tenebat
Humida nox cursum, et pluviæ ventique quierant,
In the convent of the Dominicans at Bornhem, where that revered friend of the stranger who was mentioned before we set out upon these journeys, was receiving his education, there was an ancient raven kept, and it was so old that the most aged father of the house did not remember its first coming there. It would be well to hear the voice of that bird while these tales are being related, and moreover to have added all the circumstances of a fearful night. Let the wind be murmuring amongst old rooms; let the swallow-nests, the guest of summer's masonry, falling with a startling noise from the windows, and the jutting frieze be giving warning of the dark and rainy season's return; let the clouds scowl, make the moon dark, the stars extinct, the trees bending and groaning, the bells tolling, the owls shrieking, the toads croaking, the minutes jarring, and the clock striking twelve. The monk has read some aged stories worthy of a place in the book which has been lately published under the title of the Night-side of Nature. Yet it is not from the iron-bound clasped volume of Cæsarius
* Ceva, Jesus Puer, ix.